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CNN This Morning

Today, Biden Leaves for Shortened Overseas Trip Amid Debt Drama; Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) Says She Hasn't Been Gone Despite Three-Month Absence; Dwayne The Rock Johnson Shares Struggles with Depression. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 17, 2023 - 07:00   ET



REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Like the Ethics Committee to move rapidly on this.



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: The Ethic Committee announced an investigation back in March looking into whether George Santos engaged in unlawful activity related to that 2022 congressional campaign that was filled with lies. Santos was also indicted last week on 13 federal criminal charges, including wire fraud, money laundering, theft to public funds and making false statements to the House.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Also this, CNN This Morning continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lawmakers in North Carolina voting to ban most abortions after 12 weeks, overriding a veto by the state's Democratic governor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We seek to balance protecting unborn babies while ensuring the safe care of mothers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When women's health is on the line, I will never back down.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: President Biden and House Speaker McCarthy called the debt ceiling negotiations productive.

MCCARTHY: The president selected two people to directly negotiate with us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one of those like taking a wonder with your eyes closed in traffic.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Default is a disaster, full stop.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: Artificial intelligence is moving so fast, it can baffles even the people that create it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is some chance that it goes wrong and destroys humanity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to work with the government to prevent that from happening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are we going to see any action being taken? That is the question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A high schoolteacher using the N word in a Missouri classroom, a 15-year-old student suspended for three days over the recording.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're protecting the status quo more than they are encouraging the students to apply critical thinking skills.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The number one pick in the 2023 NBA Draft goes to the San Antonio Spurs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome in perhaps the greatest draft prospect in NBA history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is really a special moment I'm going to remember for the rest of my life. I'm trying to win a ring ASAP, so be ready.


COLLINS: Be ready.

HARLOW: Be ready. That's going to be really fun to watch him in the league.

COLLINS: Also, it's a good message not just for them but also for Washington.

HARLOW: Yes, get ready because the clock is running out on something a lot less fun but critically important to all of you, and that is the debt ceiling and raising it. The president, President Biden, is now cutting major foreign trip short as the pressure builds to try to reach a deal with Republicans by June 1st and prevent economic calamity. It comes after another round of talks with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other congressional leaders yesterday.


MCCARTHY: I did think this one was a little more productive. We're a long way apart. But what changed in this meeting was the president has now selected two people from his administration to directly negotiate with us.


HARLOW: President Biden is still heading to Japan. He leaves today for the G7 summit. The White House is scrapping plans to visit Australia and a historic first time stop in Papua, New Guinea. It was a trip that was supposed to showcase America's power against China, so critical in that region.

COLLINS: Yes, absolutely. And President Biden is apparently trying to bring some levity to the tense congressional meeting he had with leaders, a rare meeting where Kevin McCarthy was in the Oval Office.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Get a good picture of all of us. We're having a wonderful time. Everything is going well.


COLLINS: Joining us now is White House press Secretary Karine Jean- Pierre. Karine, thanks for being here. I think the big question that everyone has this morning is whether or not an agreement can be reached by June 1st. What do you think?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, the president said yesterday that he is optimistic as it relates to the budget, that we can come to a responsible bipartisan budget on spending, on appropriations, how we move forward, how do we see the value of this country. So, he said that yesterday. And he made clear as well, and we have said this, that the meeting yesterday was productive but it was also direct on how America is going to pay its debt and not default for the first time.

So, those are the two conversations that they had. Again, the president has said he directed his team, his staff to continue to have those meetings so we can get to a place where there is a budget on his desk. And he is looking forward to speaking to the congressional leaders later this week on the phone and seeing them once he returns from his overseas trip.

COLLINS: And we're told, Arlette's reporting, that the team of emissaries met last night. Do you know when they are set to meet again?

JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have a set time on when they're going to meet again. As you know, they've been pretty much meeting on a daily basis. It's been productive. And so we expect that to continue. But, again, the president is optimistic.

Look, as you know, Kaitlan, we have said this over and over again. The president has said this. We are not a deadbeat nation. We pay our debts. This is something that Congress should do. They have done this 78 times since 1960. So, as it relates to the debt limit, that is something that we can do.

The president on March 9th put forward his budget. It was very clear.


He showed the value that he sees when it relates to the American people, how to be fiscally responsible, $3 trillion cutting in the deficit by over ten years and making sure that we get rid of that wasteful spending when it comes to big oil companies, when it comes to big pharma, cutting that down, that wasteful spending. And, so, that's what the president had put forth.

And now, we're having that discussion with on the budget, how to move forward in a bipartisan way, in a responsible way, and that's what you've been seeing from this president from the last couple days.

COLLINS: How long does the president want this debt limit hike to last? Does he want it go into 2025?

JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I'm not going to negotiate from here. As you can understand, these conversations are currently happening on the staff level. As you saw, the president met with the four congressional leaders. I am just not going to do that from here. This is something that needs to get done as it relates to the debt limit as soon as possible. We have to get this done.

As you know, Kaitlan, as well, this -- if we do not deal with the debt limit in the way that Congress has dealt with it 78 times since 1960, it could trigger a recession. We could lose millions of jobs. All of the successes that we've seen in the last two years from this president with 12.7 million jobs, unemployment at historic lows, that could be wiped away. We think about our retirement accounts. That could devastate retirement accounts. So, that's what the president has made clear. He's held the line on this when it comes to Congress acting and doing what is their constitutional duty.

COLLINS: And there appear to be some areas where they do agree. The White House has said initially they were not going to negotiate on this. But, of course, these negotiations are now happening behind the scenes. It seems there is some agreement on the caps of the spending, the undesignated COVID funds. But when it comes to the stricter work requirements that Republicans say they want to be part of this, is that something that the White House is open to doing?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, and here's the reality of this. Here are the facts. Republican proposals, they want to cut health care. They want to increase poverty. And it's not going to save much money. And these are the same proposals that they had tried to pass when there was a unified Republican government, if you will, and they couldn't get it done then.

And so, look, I'm not going to negotiate from here. The president is hoping and is optimistic that there will be a responsible bipartisan budget that would be on his desk that we can move forward with.

COLLINS: I understand you say you're not going to negotiate from here but this is an important point. Because over the weekend, the president spoke publicly about this, he seemed open to potentially agreeing to something on this. We heard Kevin McCarthy say yesterday he feels it's a red line.

But then we have Democrats saying they believe it's ridiculous that that would be at the center of the negotiations. That's what Dick Durbin said. Ro Khanna is saying he would have a very hard time voting for something that has work requirements. So, I do think it's important to know whether or not stricter work requirements are on the table here.

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, look, when it comes to SNAP and other programs like that, work requirements have been the law since 1980, something that the president voted when he was a senator. So, that has been in place for some time. It has been law. And I just stated, I just laid out what the Republicans proposals are, which is an increase in poverty, which is the proposal to actually doesn't save much money and taking away health care from millions of Americans. That is something that the president is not for.

Look, we're going to continue -- we're going to continue to work towards a bipartisan reasonable budget that the president -- that can get to the president's desk that he can sign. That's what his team is working towards. That's the conversation that he's had with congressional leaders, and also holding the line very firmly on what Congress needs to do, which is increase the debt limit. We've been clear about that. The president has been very clear about that. We're not a deadbeat nation. This is something that is the Congress' constitutional duty. That has been done 78 times since 1960.

COLLINS: The president, as you know, you're set to leave with him to go to Japan in just a few hours from now, also had to cancel scheduled trips to Papua, New Guinea and Australia, critical visits at a critical time, as the U.S. is working to counter China's influence. Is the president concerned about domestic politics are undermining his foreign policy?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you stated, Indo-Pacific is incredibly important. That's why we have the quad. That's why we continue to grow that relationship and continue that relationship, and it is critical, right, as we look at Americans' role globally.

But the other message, too, is Americans do not default. America does not default on its debt. That's why the president is cutting his trip short. That's why he's going to return, continue these conversations that he's had with congressional leaders, as he has directed his staff to continue their daily conversation. He's optimistic. He's optimistic that we'll get to a reasonable bipartisan budget deal that can get to his desk that he can sign. But, again, America does not default.


So, this is something that Congress needs to act on as it relates to the debt limit and he's going to continue to stand firm on that.

COLLINS: And, Karine, before we let you go, let's talk about what happened in North Carolina last night, where you saw the Republican supermajority there vote to override the veto from the Democratic governor when it comes to that abortion bill basically banning abortions after 12 weeks, most of them in the state of North Carolina. I was struck by the statement the White House put out just because it seems we've seen this successive part of issuing of statements from the White House on abortion restrictions that are happening all across the United States. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we've been clear here. We've been seeing from, as you stated, state houses, Republican majority, state houses continuing to put these restrictive laws on women's health care, women's decision on their own body. We've been very clear the Biden- Harris administration is going to continue to fight for women's health care, for women's reproductive right. That stands. We've been saying that for several months now since Dobbs, since the Dobbs decision was done just last June, which was almost a year. And we've put in some processes in place to make sure that women's health care are protected.

Look, the president has also been clear that we need to make sure that Roe becomes a law of the land. He is also called on Congress to do just that. But we've called out these horrific bills across the country. We'll continue to do that. A woman should decide what they -- what she wants to do with her own health care. That should be a private decision that she should be making with her and her family and her doctor. And that's -- we've been very clear on that and we'll continue to fight for women to have that freedom.

COLLINS: Karine Jean-Pierre, thank you for making time for us before you head to Japan with the president. Thanks so much.

JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks, Kaitlan.

HARLOW: Now to this. There are questions surrounding Senator Dianne Feinstein after her brief exchange yesterday with reporters on the Hill. The Democrat recently returned after an extended absence from Capitol Hill recovering from shingles. So, a reporter asked the 89- year-old lawmaker how she's been received by her colleagues since she returned to Washington. Let me read you the exchange. It was not on camera, but here it is.

Verbatim, quote, what I have heard about what, she asked, about your return. The reporter replied, I haven't been gone, she said. You should. I haven't been gone. I have been working. You've been working from home? Is that what you're saying, the reporter asked. No. I've been here. I've been voting. Please, either know or don't know, close quote. CNN has reached out to Feinstein's office for comment, no word back.

But joining us now is Benjamin Oreskes. He is one of the reporters that asked the questions. He's a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. So, you were there. We weren't there. Is there nuance missed in what I just read?

BENJAMIN ORESKES, POLITICS REPORTER, LOS ANGELES TIMES: I mean, no. I think that, you know, given the ample amount of reporting that we've seen in outlets like my outlet, San Francisco Chronicle, the New Yorker, about her memory loss, her struggles to keep up an intense schedule that a senator requires, we felt it was important to put this out into the world. Obviously, there is a charitable interpretation of this. She's been back for a week. Maybe she thought I was, you know, talking about the last week.

But given what has been reported and had been reported over the last of couple years, it sort of seemed in line with that. And, you know, this is someone whose absence was felt deeply by colleagues partially because they're close to her and also because it made the work of government more difficult. And sort of seeing her in one of the brief moments, she's been pretty shielded from reporters. We were trying to show what she is like right now. We don't get a lot of opportunities to hear her talk. This was important for that reason.

COLLINS: Did her office say anything after this exchange happened? Did they try to clarify what she was saying? Have you heard anything from them?

ORESKES: No is the short answer. We've reached out to them. We told them what we were going to say. We all have audio of it and there were multiple staffers with her at that moment and they had nothing to say after we went to them.

HARLOW: Senator Blumenthal has been a really vocal voice, speaking in support of her on her return, saying essentially she is fully capable of doing her jobs. I wonder if you're hearing the same from the rest of her Democratic colleagues in private.

ORESKES: It's a mix. I mean, obviously, you know, we've been reporting on this story from D.C. and from California, where there is an incredible amount of anxiety. You have to remember, her seat is open. People are -- three people are running. Three prominent Democrats are running, definitely from her colleagues in D.C. They are confident that she can vote and they're happy to have her back and they sort of say she is the master of her own fate. She's in control of her own health decisions. And if she feels like she is healthy, she should be here.

HARLOW: Benjamin Oreskes, thank you very much. And you said you have the audio, right? So people could go and listen for themselves? Okay.


HARLOW: All right. We'll try to play that for people later.


Thank you very much for your reporting.

COLLINS: Also, a new study that was released overnight on the rising rate of depression in the United States, numbers that you'll want to see.

HARLOW: Yes. Meanwhile, Dwayne the Rock Johnson opening up about his own mental health struggles. That's all ahead.



DWAYNE THE ROCK JOHNSON, ACTOR: I just didn't know what it was. I didn't know what mental health was. I didn't know what depression was. I just knew I didn't want to be there. I wasn't going to any of the team meetings, I wasn't participating in anything.

Years later, I went through it again when I got a divorce. I didn't know what it was. Years later, around 2017 or so, I went through a little bit, but knew what it was at that time. And, luckily, at that time, I had some friends who I could lean on.


COLLINS: That is The Rock. Dwayne The Rock Johnson, opening up in a very candid way about his own battle with depression on a recent episode of the Pivot podcast. He's not alone, though. A new Gallup survey that was just released this morning actually shows 29 percent of adults have been told by a doctor or a nurse they have depression and 18 percent of those adults are currently being treated for it.

Joining us now to talk about that report is clinical psychologist at NYU Health, Dr. Rebecca Barry.


Thank you so much for being here.

I think Poppy and I are both so struck by these numbers and hearing from a celebrity, hearing him talk about it I think is important, but it is something that everyone seems to be dealing with, a lot of people.

DR. REBECCA BERRY, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST, NYU LANGONE HEALTH: These are very high numbers. And, interestingly, we have seen a growing trend in the rates of depression in adults, also our young people as well.

And it's prominent to see it displayed here for us to talk about and I'd love to discuss also some of the reasons why we may be seeing these numbers right now.

HARLOW: So why?

BERRY: I think over the years we've seen a trend in women reporting increasing numbers of depression and anxiety. We know that coming out of the pandemic, there were a number of factors there that led people to be forced to think about how they're feeling.

And I think a lot of people started talking about it from a mental health professional level as well as just from in the medical field. I think we are getting better at understanding what depression looks like and what these mental illnesses look like, and we're getting better at diagnosing them, particularly amongst certain groups as well.

HARLOW: I wonder what people should do and to figure out if they're just down or sad or depressed, right?

BERRY: I think it's a hard thing to think about because we don't -- a lot of people have these feelings. We want to make sure that people don't feel alone in what they're experiencing. It can be very confusing, as we saw from The Rock, it and be confusing and hard to know what am I feeling and what this means.

And many people often think that, well, nothing can be done about this. I must just kind of suppress this or just deal with it. And, really, we want to encourage people to talk to their support systems if they're there, or at least reach out to some type of treatment team, medical team to get support.

We do have a number of -- when they're available -- good resources for individuals, but it could be hard to know what do I do with these feelings and I don't want to be a burden on someone with these feelings.

COLLINS: Yes, I do think it's tough for people. The other thing is -- it's obviously tough for people, but I'm saying tough for people to talk about it. Symptoms, I think, is something that people want to know. As Poppy was saying, how do you know when you've crossed that threshold that you are there, and know this is something that you should seek treatment for?

BERRY: Right. I think an individual, if they can be aware of what they're going through hopefully can ascertain whether or not these feelings really are above and beyond what is common for them. And if these symptoms, such as loss of interest in pleasant activities, really a withdrawal from normal routines of life, not really showing up for your friend's activities and whatnot, and really just a fatigue, excessive need for sleep. If those things persist for a long period of time, for more than a two week period and cause significant disruption in any major life area, then that really is a good time to say, hey, maybe I could start to talk to someone or really just ask for support.

HARLOW: And may be what about listening to people around you that love you, your friends who say, you seem -- like something seems different?

BERRY: Right. And oftentimes it can be hard, if an individual is in the midst of a depression, for them to really sometimes accept that support because they don't want to be a burden. They feel like perhaps sometimes no one might understand exactly what I'm going through. So, there can be a little bit of a divide there.

HARLOW: Is this because of COVID, just this elevated number? And if it is, is it reversible? Because now, more people are going back to work, they get to be with people. Kaitlin makes me happier every morning. You know, like really, just talking to people.

COLLINS: Does it change that?

BERRY: That is a great point. I think that getting back into the routine of work where you can feel a sense of accomplishment and mastery and be around wonderful people can certainly help with that. And I think that COVID certainly provided a lens into what we were experiencing. And for many individuals and communities, we saw a rise in these depression rates due to the circumstances and the stressors. COLLINS: Dr. Berry, obviously really important numbers for us to all keep a track of it and to check on your friends and family and make sure everyone is okay. Thank you.

BERRY: Thank you so much.

HARLOW: So, some unwelcome news for Home Depot and a concerning sign for the state of you, the U.S. consumer, the company reported slower sales for its first quarter, a 4.5 percent drop across its stores.

We're joined now by CNN Business Reporter Nathaniel Meyerson. They were booming because we were all redoing things in our home during COVID when we couldn't go out. Is this now because we are going out?

NATHANIEL MEYERSON, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Right, Poppy. So, you look at Home Depot sales from 2019 to 2022. Home Depot was a real winner during the pandemic. Sales boomed in 2020 when we were stuck at home, we weren't going out, weren't going to movies and traveling, just spending on home renovations, remodeling the kitchen, doing our outdoors, our backdoors. But now, sales are starting to slow down, down 4.2 percent last quarter from a year ago.

So, why is this happening? Fewer big ticket purchases, expensive purchases, like grills and patio furniture. Home Depot said consumers are taking on smaller home renovation projects. And so Home Depot is projecting its first sales decline, annual sales decline since 2009.

HARLOW: This is very different than, say, a Bed Bath & Beyond scenario for many reasons, but also a lot of the things from there you could order online, et cetera.


A lot of things from Home Depot or Lowe's, you have to go, buy the lumber, feel it. They're huge items, right?

MEYERSON: Totally. So, yes, Home Depot has been one of the better performing brick and mortar stores. This is not a Bed Bath & Beyond story or some of these other retail bankruptcies. People still do want to shop in stores. We saw retail sales last month up 0.4 percent from the month prior.

But people are changing how they're spending. We're still shopping online, buying from Amazon's, buying from Amazon. We're going out to bars and restaurants more, but we're not spending on these big ticket expensive goods, like electronics, T.V.s and furniture.

HARLOW: That's so interesting. Okay. Thank you, Nathaniel. Good to have you on. I appreciate it. Kaitlan?

COLLINS: Also this morning, a high school student has been suspended after she recorded her teacher reportedly -- repeatedly, I should say, using a racial slur. Now, the family is challenging the suspension and also wants an apology.

HARLOW: Also, Silicon Valley Bank CEO getting absolutely grilled by senators on Capitol Hill after the bank's collapse forced the government to step in.


SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): Becker, you made a really stupid bet that went bad, didn't you? And the taxpayers of America had to pick up the tab for your stupidity, didn't they?