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CNN This Morning

White House Says, Biden will Leave G7 Dinner Early for Debt Ceiling Briefing; Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) Buses Migrants to Denver; Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) Bout with Shingles Included Contracting Encephalitis. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 19, 2023 - 07:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Nathaniel Meyerson, thank you for that.

And CNN This Morning continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The G7 Summit will soon be welcoming a special surprise guest, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a very dramatic in-person appeal, almost certainly for more powerful weapons as Ukraine works to regain territory.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: When our countries stand together, we stand stronger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Disney is scrapping a $1 billion plan to build an office complex in Florida. This is the latest battle in the war with Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is leaning in, not shying away from this fight with Disney, planning to continue to rally on the campaign trail.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This party is no longer the pro-corporate party, and that is a huge shift in America.

REPORTER: Senator Feinstein, do you still feel like you're fit to serve?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New health revelations coming to light, complications including encephalitis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She could be left with difficulties of memory.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): We all have health issues. She is performing, doing her job.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: Did four children survive a deadly plane crash in the Amazon jungle? The mystery and search is intensifying. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president's tweet was related, the information, quote, could not be confirmed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once the rivers start to swell, it makes it more difficult to navigate. The rivers are kind of a highway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Harrison Ford fought back tears as presented with an honorary Palme d'Or, a lifetime achievement honor at the Cannes Film Festival premiering the fifth chapter of Indiana Jones.

HARRISON FORD, ACTOR: You gave my life purpose and meaning and I'm grateful for that.


COLLINS: Good morning, everyone. Good to have you with us on this busy, busy Friday morning, especially busy overseas. This just in moments ago, as the White House now says that President Biden is going to leave a dinner with fellow G7 leaders early because he's going back to his hotel to get an update from his team on the debt limit negotiations.

The crisis back in Washington has been overshadowing Biden's crucial foreign trip during a critical moment in Russia's invasion of Ukraine. We're now learning also this morning that Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is also going to Japan to meet face-to-face with President Biden and the other G7 leaders. Sources tell CNN he's going to arrive Saturday evening and meet with them on Sunday.

Just this morning, the G7 leaders put out a statement vowing to support Russia -- vowing to support Ukraine against Russia's brutal invasion for, quote, as long as it takes. And we're told a big topic of discussion will be whether or not to send those F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine's Air Force to potentially help them turn the tide in this war. Sources say the U.S. is now signaling it will not block U.S. allies from exporting them.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Zelenskyy has been on a whirlwind of diplomatic missions across Europe. He just arrived in Saudi Arabia to meet with the Arab League. He has been pushing allies to send more weapons as his troops prepare for a crucial counteroffensive. One of the Zelenskyy's demands has been those F-16 fighter jets.

Nic Robertson is live on ground in Eastern Ukraine, not far from the frontlines. Nic, glad to have you with us.

His trip, the fact that he's going in person, he's not joining them remotely, he's going because he thinks it's crucial to be face-to-face with President Biden for F-16s, I'm sure, but also with these other European leaders.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. We know the F-16s are going to be, you know, top of the agenda for Zelenskyy because it has been for some time. He knows he's beginning to win the argument, that he's won over some of those European leaders. He was meeting with them in the capitals earlier in the week. Those leaders met in Iceland a couple of days ago. And there, they came up with a plan to help get Ukrainian fighter pilots trained for the F-16, to help Ukrainian's figure out how to purchase F-16s.

Zelenskyy's advisors are saying it's extremely important for him to be there in person to explain their thinking, to put forward their proposals, to put forward their arguments and really give the leaders the best and most accurate up to date sense of what is happening in the war here in Ukraine. And for Zelenskyy, that is quite simply going to come out with the need to push for more ammunition and the need to get those fighter jets. And he thinks the best way to get this done for him, be there in person, make the case face-to-face.

COLLINS: Yes. It's a powerful argument to make. But before he gets to Japan, he's just landed in Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia, Nic. And, obviously, there are some very wealthy gold state leaders there that have provided a substantial amount of assistance to Ukraine. What is the expectation for this stop before he gets to that G7 meeting?

ROBERTSON: Yes, it's expected to have a bilateral with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Look, the crown prince of Saudi, perhaps not well liked on some aspects on the world stage, but he has been hugely busy behind the scenes trying to help with things like prisoner releases, prisoner exchanges, and this will be a topic of conversation for Zelenskyy. But they also talk about the Muslims in Ukraine, the Crimean Tatars, who are facing political oppression in Crimea under the Russians.


That will be a topic of discussion.

But what Zelenskyy recognizes is and his -- sorry, that's an air raid warning just being cleared here. They come in quite often. What president Zelenskyy will be talking about is the plight of the Tatars in Crimea under Russian rule. But also he recognizes that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wants to play a role in stabilizing and a potential peace deal down the road, said that will be part of the conversation there as well.

The foreign minister of Saudi was in Kyiv a couple of months ago talking about support of the country can get. President Zelenskyy understands as well. And, yes, has a relationship with Putin, can get in Putin's mindset. There is a lot that Zelenskyy can get out of this meeting.

HARLOW: Nic, thank you for being there for us on both those fronts.

COLLINS: Yes, remarkable to see that with Saudi Arabia, as they've obviously tried to walk a very fine line with all of this.

Joining us now for the military perspective on this is retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton, a CNN military analyst and former member, I should note, of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. Thank you so much for being here.

Obviously, the F-16s is something we've been talking about for so long. Whether or not they are going to be able to get them, develop this air superiority, Ukraine has not been able to do so far. But the pushback we've heard from the U.S. has been it takes so long to train the Ukrainian forces on these F-16s. What's the sense of how it could help though?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, that's a great question, Kaitlan. So, let's take a look at the F-16, because what you're looking at here is a very versatile aircraft. And, you know, when you see what it can do, I mean, it can fly at 1,500 miles per hour. It uses what are known as radiation detections to target air defense systems.

So, this is very important, because what it's going to be able to do is it's going to be able to go after Russian air defense areas, such as the S-300, the missile system that is there, the S-400, potentially, but those are also dangerous weapons for this kind of aircraft. It is not a stealth fighter. It has a 20 millimeter gun. It is basically an air-to-air and an air-to-ground combat platform. And that is a main reason because of its versatility that the Ukrainians want this aircraft.

COLLINS: Yes, very versatile, obviously something they could use. We've seen how they've tried to make up for not having them.

The new reporting from CNN is that the U.S. is signaling to allies that it may allow the export of F-16s, which would allow other countries that have these, obviously, made in the U.S., to be able to send them to Ukraine. Which countries is it exactly that have the F- 16s that could have the capability of potentially sending them?

LEIGHTON: So, these are the countries in NATO besides the United States that actually fly the F-16, everyone from Turkey and Greece, all the way up through Romania, Poland and then, of course, the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Denmark, and then the Netherlands and Belgium. So, these countries are critical for this.

One country that has made that transition very effectively from Soviet-era fighters to the F-16 is Poland. Another one is Romania. So, these two countries would be the most likely ones to help with that transition because they're also interested in getting newer generation fighters that are even newer than the F-16 and this will be one way to do that, provided their F-16s to Ukraine and then to -- for the Ukrainians -- be able to use them against Russian targets.

COLLINS: Yes. And with these F-16s, I've talked to people at the Pentagon about the reluctance to say what are, yes, we will allow U.S. allies to export theirs or we ourselves will send them. But it's also an argument we heard about the tanks, about other pieces of equipment that they did eventually send to Ukraine. What is your sense of what they'll do here?

LEIGHTON: So, what I think they're going to do, Kaitlan, is, looking at all the different platforms and weapons systems that we have provided to the Ukrainians, you know, everything from anti-aircraft missiles, the Stinger, a variety, the 155 millimeter Howitzers, the drones, the Switchblade drones, and, of course, as you mentioned, the tanks, the Patriot missiles, all of those become important packages. So, my sense is that what they're going to do is they're going to let the Ukrainians have the F-16.

You had mentioned earlier that one of the key things is training pilots. Two countries have indicated that they would like to train the Ukrainians on western platforms. Those would be the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. And that could very well make the difference.

The training system that we currently have in place takes about nine months for most people to train into the F-16 and then be proficient in that aircraft. The Ukrainians might be able to do it within 69 days if they just move from their platforms, the Soviet-era MiG-29s and SU- 27s, into the F-16. They won't be completely proficient of that timeframe. But it is something that they could potentially do given the fact that they have a lot of combat experience already.


COLLINS: Yes. And all this is being discussed in Japan right now. So, we'll see what they decide.

Before I let you go, I want to ask you, though, about this development that happened overnight, where Central Command is now saying that they're investigating a strike that happened just a few weeks ago in Syria that initially they boasted about, saying that it killed a senior leader of Al Qaeda. But now, they're investigating whether or not it was a civilian who was killed.

LEIGHTON: Yes. So, this is one of those situations where the battle damage assessment of a raid has come back. And what the Pentagon believes right now, Kaitlan, is that they may not have hit the right target, the intended target. So, instead of hitting an Al Qaeda leader, like you mentioned, they hit a civilian, this is something that, if it is true, is going to be very unfortunate because you do not want to antagonize the local population.

And this also points to a weakness in this over the horizon idea that the Biden administration has had that you can prosecute a war against terror without having many boots on the ground in the region. That is something that is very dangerous if you don't have the right intelligence sources to help with that.

COLLINS: Yes. The Pentagon will be facing a lot of questions about that. Colonel Cedric Leighton, thank you for joining us with your expertise this morning.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Kaitlan.

HARLOW: Meantime, Denver this morning has become the fifth city in the country to be sent migrants from the state of Texas. The city of Denver saying they received a bus of 41 migrants yesterday. Texas Governor Greg Abbott writing, quote, until the president and his administration step up to fulfill their constitutional duty to secure the border in the state of Texas, will continue to bus migrants to self-declared sanctuary cities, like Denver, to provide much needed relief to our smaller border towns. Now, Texas has previously bussed migrants to Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. And here in New York, New York City Mayor Eric Adams says the city is bracing for the arrival of 15 more buses carrying asylum seekers in just the next few days. A new arrival center opens today with hundreds of rooms held for those migrants at the Roosevelt Hotel. It is the ninth humanitarian emergency response and relief center in the city.

Our Polo Sandoval is live in New York outside of that hotel and migrant arrival center. It's been tens of thousands of migrants that have arrived here in New York, and it has enraged some parents that some of them have been housed in public school gymnasiums. Are they moving away from that to these hotels or is this in addition to that?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's the indication, Poppy. And for important perspective here, that drop in migrant apprehensions that we witnessed along the southern border just about a week ago, that is not translated to any sort of relief in terms of what the city has been doing to try to keep up with the number of asylum seekers arriving in New York City. In fact, that number has only surged.

There are two city council source that's were invited to participate in a closed door meeting with the Adams administration tell me that that number now has increased to close to 600. That is a dramatic increase over the 200 to 300 that were arriving here just a couple of weeks here.

Mayor Adams sharing with the city council that he expects at least 15 buss to arrive in New York City from Texas in the coming days. We saw one such bus arrive at Port Authority just a few moments ago. The migrant families aboard that bus transferred on to an MTA bus that came to this welcome center that was just opened up today. In fact, we may have some footage to show you. It shows some of these families now.

This is that welcome center that the city has been working to open this. Basically, the main hub where many of these asylum seekers had come in from the southern border will make their first stop in some cases, especially those families with children, will potentially be able to shelter here. As for those migrants that do not have children, they will likely end up in more common spaces in terms of the shelter system.

But, really, what we have is the city trying to still keep up with the demand as they expect these numbers to continue to rise. There is a possibility that we could see them drop eventually. But that, at this point, is not the case, as the city continues to, again, keep up with shelter needs.

Now, finally, I can tell that you that the city continues to ask city officials throughout the region to look for other options, and for now, this is going to be one of the solutions to housing here in addition to well over 100 shelters that have opened up.

HARLOW: What about the funding? That is what the governor, Governor Hochul, New York City Mayor Eric Adams have been pleading for much more federal funding. Where is this city on that and the state on that? And also what is the mayor saying this morning about this new arrival?

SANDOVAL: So, initially, the city had put in a request for well over $300 million in FEMA funding. You recall that happened earlier this year. Recently, FEMA came out with that decision and deciding that only about $30 million would be allotted to the New York City efforts and saying that they really wanted to focus -- federal officials wanted to focus on the immediate border regions.


They did say, however, that New York City received some of the most funding out of any other inland community. But the mayor says that is still not enough. What he continues to call for is the Biden administration to step in and work out this issue of the work authorizations that, Poppy, we've talked about at length in the past.

HARLOW: Yes, we have. Polo, again, great reporting. Thank you for being there for us this morning.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, in Washington, lawmakers on Capitol Hill got into a pretty explosive argument yesterday over whether or not those three self-proclaimed FBI whistleblowers are actually whistleblowers.


REP. STACEY PLASKETT (D-VI): Mr. Chairman, these individuals have been determined not to be whistleblowers. They've been determined by the agency not to be whistleblowers. Are you deciding that they're whistleblowers?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Yes, the law decides. Did you not listen to Mr. Levitt's testimony? Did you not read the law? The law decides that they are whistleblowers.

PLASKETT: His attorney is asserting that they were whistleblowers.


COLLINS: That was an exchange between Republican Congressman Jim Jordan and Stacey Plaskett, a Democrat on that committee. Jim Jordan called on three men to testify yesterday as part of his efforts to, in his words, show that the FBI is weaponizing itself against conservatives. The three people that he invited to testify said the agency retaliated against them for not towing the line during the investigations into January 6th.


STEVE FRIEND, FORMER FBI AGENT: Nonetheless, the FBI cynically elected to close ranks and attack the messenger.

MARCUS ALLEN, FBI ANALYST: Despite my history of unblemished service to the United States, the FBI suspended my security clearance, accusing me of actually being disloyal to my country. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: But if you watch that, it is also important to note that before the hearing, the FBI actually sent a letter to Congressman Jordan's subcommittee. In it, the agency said that officials stripped two of those three men that you saw there who testified of their security clearances after multiple violations and security concerns. The agency says that both men also expressed alternate theories about the attack on the Capitol.

HARLOW: Ahead, Senator Dianne Feinstein's office contradicting her denial about complications that she has endured from shingles. The new revelations about her health, ahead.

COLLINS: Also, Disney's battle, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is only heating up as the company now says that it's scrapping plans that would have brought thousands of jobs to Florida, ahead.



HARLOW: Welcome back. We are learning a lot more this morning about the illness that kept Senator Dianne Feinstein away from Washington for nearly three months. Senator Feinstein's office has confirmed to CNN the 89-year-old lawmaker had encephalitis and still suffers from Ramsay Hunt Syndrome. This is after Senator Feinstein told reporters that she just had, quote, a bad flu amid ongoing questions about her health and her mental wherewithal as she returned to the Senate.

Our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now. Sanjay, good morning.


HARLOW: Her office is now saying, yes, she had encephalitis. They're seeing it resolved on its own. Can you give us a sense of how serious this can be especially for older people?

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, this can be really serious. I mean, people have often heard the term meningitis, which refers to sort of an inflammation of the lining of the brain, the outer lining of the brain. With encephalitis here, it's really the brain. Encephalitis is an inflammation of the entire brain or certainly large parts of the brain. And for obvious reasons, that can be significant.

It can challenging to diagnose initially because people may have fever, they may have headache, they may have symptoms that sort of overlap with other things, but they also develop other symptoms, confusion, lethargy, sometimes even weakness, things like that, seizures could be a possibility. People can die from this.

And someone who is 89 years old, likely her immune system was weakened already. She had shingles. That was probably the sort of instigating event here which led to all these other problems, but it can take a while to resolve. Even if the fever and headache and sort of the short-term symptoms resolve more quickly, the longer term symptoms, that could take months sometimes. Some people never really have full resolution.

COLLINS: Sanjay, you mentioned that it is hard to diagnose. Why is it so hard to diagnose?

GUPTA: Well, a lot of times, you have to have some sort of suspicion. Again, the initial symptoms, they can seem like flu-like symptoms, for example. So, you have to have suspicion. And then you have to do these tests to really be certain of the diagnosis. An MRI scan may show inflammation of the brain. Is it enough inflammation to say encephalitis? They may do EEG to see if this is affecting the electrical patterns in the brain.

And then even a lumbar puncture. When you do a lumbar puncture, you're taking fluid that bathes the brain and the spinal cord and you're basically trying to determine does that fluid have evidence of the virus or evidence of the virus had been there in some way. So, it's challenging. And then also to know exactly what point do you say it is resolved? That can be a challenge as well. Young or old, it can be hard, but especially challenging in the other way (ph).

HARLOW: And on top of this, she is still having complications from what's known as Ramsay Hunt Syndrome. I certainly don't know much about that. I think most of viewers probably don't know. So, what is it? And how can it affect someone especially in a key role like hers?

GUPTA: Yes. You know, a lot of people have heard of shingles. And what shingles is if you've had chickenpox as a kid, the virus that caused that likely never left your body, just sort of stays dormant. And then for some reason, when you're an adult, it reactivates. That's why people get the shingles vaccine when they turn 50. They should get it. In this case, it can be reactivated for all sorts of reasons and it can infect different nerves.

With Ramsay Hunt, and I'll show you this image here, it affects a specific nerve in the face. It's called the facial nerve. And can you see it there. If you look at somebody's face who has had a Ramsay Hunt or has it, their face will look sort of frozen or even paralyzed. It can affect their eyes.


It can affect their mouth. They can develop ulcerations. They can affect hearing. It can be really painful. Anybody who's had shingles knows how painful it can be. Now, superimpose that on your face and inside your ear and inside your mouth. That's what that is.

You may have heard of Bell's palsy. It's similar to Bell's palsy except think of this as more serious. It can be more severe in terms of symptoms and it can take longer to resolve.

Now, you treat it with antivirals, because, again, it's a virus that probably caused all this in the first place. Use antivirals, use steroids. If you use those things quickly, more likely to recover, but just like with encephalitis, it can take a while. HARLOW: Sanjay Gupta, thank you, Doctor, very much for helping us understand all this.

COLLINS: Yes, just to get a pick of what she is going through.


COLLINS: All right. Speaking of politics in Washington, Governor Ron DeSantis has been privately telling donors he believes there is only two people who can win the 2024 election. He is one of them. The other, President Biden. Is he right? We're going to talk about that next, and, of course, the third person there, former President Trump.



COLLINS: Biden, Trump, and me. That's a quote from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, how he sees the 2024 race.