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CNN This Morning

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to Announce Presidential Candidacy on Twitter; Former President Trump Planning to Disrupt Governor Ron DeSantis Presidential Campaign Announcement; White House and Congressional Leaders Continue Negotiations over Debt Ceiling; Man Arrested and Charged after Driving U-Haul Truck into Barrier Near White House. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired May 24, 2023 - 08:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. Big day in politics.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, if you're wondering what that was. It's something that's been basically months in the making. But there are big questions about whether or not it will help his numbers, what it looks like going forward.

HARLOW: Yes. We are talking about Ron DeSantis. What you just saw was a clip of a hype video for him ahead of his big announcement tonight. It's just one of the big stories we will be watching today.

COLLINS: Yes, a lot of big stories. Obviously, the Florida governor is set announce he is running for president. Here is how he is doing it, on Twitter with Elon Musk. We have new CNN reporting about how one of his biggest challengers, if not his biggest challenger, former President Trump, is planning to undercut DeSantis's campaign launch.

Also, speaking of Trump, the special counsel that is investigating the former president is about to get some crucial documents from the National Archives today. They could end up potentially being key evidence in his probe.

HARLOW: And the man accused of ramming the barricades right near the White House and threatening to kill the president will appear in court. New details about what the suspect said after the crash.

Also, we're keeping a very close eye this morning on Guam. The island getting slammed by one of the most devastating storms we have seen there in decades.

COLLINS: And today marks one year, hard to believe it, since that mass shooting in Uvalde that left 19 elementary school children and two teachers dead. President Biden is planning to address the anniversary, calling for an end to the gun violence epidemic happening in America.

This hour of CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

HARLOW: Today is the day Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will officially launch his presidential race. We are told he is going to make that announcement tonight during a discussion on Twitter with Elon Musk. A source tells CNN former President Trump and his allies have coordinated a plan to undermine DeSantis's campaign launch. It includes a social media blitz by conservative commentators and Trump surrogates appearing in Miami where DeSantis is set to begin meeting with donors today.

Trump has already been attacking DeSantis, you know that, relentlessly now for months. The governor is widely considered to be Trump's toughest competition for the GOP presidential nomination. But DeSantis has been slipping in the polls recently leading up to the launch of his campaign. So we have team coverage on this. Steve Contorno following all things camp DeSantis In Miami, Kristen Holmes is following all things Trump. So let's start with you, Steve. Today is the day.

STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: It is. And this is what we have been waiting for for months now. There has been this long, slow rollout of Ron DeSantis's campaign. He has done a book launch, he's done a national tour, he's traveled the country, he's traveled internationally. He's signed a bunch of bills. He's put together this agenda that he is going to run on. And today is the day where he will officially announce he is running for president.

He will do so on Twitter, as you mentioned, which is a very unconventional way to introduce yourself as a presidential candidate. Most of the time we see candidates do these announcements in their hometowns or somewhere else of political significance. But he will be joining Elon Musk in a Twitter Spaces chat. We have been told this will be unscripted and there will be a Q&A and an opportunity to sort of engage with the audience.

And then from there DeSantis will speak on FOX News later tonight. As you mentioned, he is meeting with donors tomorrow and then he will start hitting the campaign trail for this challenge to Donald Trump and attempt to wrestle the future of the GOP from the former president.

COLLINS: And of course, the former president is the GOP frontrunner in this right now. Kristen, you know as well as I do he has been attacking DeSantis long before this announcement became official today. How are they planning to respond today specifically, though?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Kaitlan. And even this morning he has already been posting on his social media site about Ron DeSantis. It clearly is living rent-free in his mind. And this is really what he and his team have been most focused on. As you said, he is likely his chief rival. And part of this has been a plan that they have been working on really for months, how to get the oxygen away from Ron DeSantis and put it back with Trump, which is something that we know Trump is markedly good at.

Part of this will involve a rollout of videos, including one of Trump looking directly at the camera, addressing DeSantis's candidacy. Another part of the plan, as Poppy mentioned, is going to be this social media blitz. Something that Trump's team has spent a lot of time focusing on is getting these conservative commentators with huge followings to back the former president. They brought them to Mar-a- Lago. They've flown them on the plane with the former president to campaign events. They are likely to try to tap into that network today.

So things that we are looking at, surrogates will be hitting the airwaves as well. They're going to be attacking DeSantis on a number of different policies, including when he was in Congress as well as since he has been governor. That's reforming entitlement programs, trade policy, China, DeSantis's COVID-19 response, which we know is something that Trump advisors themselves are a little bit concerned that Trump is vulnerable on.


They are taking this very seriously. Those polls, of course, recently showing Trump with a huge lead. But that is not something they are taking for granted. I can't find one Trump advisor who will tell me that this is over.

COLLINS: Definitely far from over. We will see what the fundraising looks like as well. Kristen Holmes, Steve Contorno, thank you both.

Also, this morning, this is the other big story today, which is happening in Washington as we've seen this deadlock that has been happening. The White House and House Republicans have just eight days left to reach a deal to raise the debt ceiling as that deadline to avert what economists say would be catastrophic default is rapidly approaching.

After House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Biden both hailed productive negotiations, things seem to change as McCarthy reportedly rankled the White House when he said there is still only one concession he is willing to make.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have been asking for the White House to make a number of concessions. What concessions are you willing to make, and what are those concessions?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R-CA) HOUSE SPEAKER: We're going to raise the debt ceiling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's your concession? That's it?



COLLINS: That comment, saying that that was his only concession, outraged Democrats who say they believe McCarthy is refusing to compromise as the White House has been seeking a deal in good faith.

HARLOW: So as these negotiations continue, hopefully in the right direction, conservative hardliners in Congress are growing skeptical about Janet Yellen's June 1 deadline. Listen.


REP. MATT GAETZ, (R-FL): I don't believe that the first of the month is a real deadline. I don't understand why we are not making Janet Yellen show her work.

REP. RALPH NORMAN, (R-SC): She will extend it, but right now she is using June 1st. Everybody knows that's false.

REP. CHIP ROY, (R-TX): The fact is we passed a bill that will raise the debt ceiling. The fact is we are going to have cash in June. The fact is we are not going to default on our debt. That's just completely false. We have got the money to do it. So everybody just needs to be patient.


HARLOW: So that's what they think. What are the facts? How firm is the June 1st date? CNN anchor and chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here to help answer that question. Help! Help!

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Let's follow the money, shall we? I'll show the work for you here. June 1st, Janet Yellen's earliest estimate, you just heard from Mark Zandi at Moody's and many others who say there is no reason to disagree with her. That's the earliest possible date that the U.S. bank account goes below zero. Moody's has a scenario that's more like June 8th because of tax receipts that could be coming in and maybe some more moving of money around that the treasury can do until then. The best case scenario, August 8th.

So what's the problem here? We are running out of money pretty quickly. A year ago, that cash balance was more like 800 to $900 billion. Right now it's sitting at $68 billion. And $68 billion, keep that in the back of your mind, June 1st we have Medicare payment of $47 billion and on the 2nd we have a $25 billion Social Security payment. That's $72 billion. I can add more here. We have another $2 billion for Medicaid and we'd have another $12 billion for veterans benefits. All of that will be going out the door the first two days of the month. So that's the kind of math that we're facing here. You are going to get tax receipts on the 15th but that's on the 15th. That's why so many people are worried about the first week in June, you guys.

HARLOW: Moody's, you know, one of the biggest rating agencies in the world, what -- they are sort of best-case scenario is August here? How do they get to that?

ROMANS: Let's walk to that August number. You are talking about money coming in, right. So pass go on June 15th. On June 15th, you've got about $79 billion coming in, in tax revenues. We don't know for sure because California, Alabama, and Georgia tax collection there has been delayed because of bad weather and natural disasters. You have got corporate money coming in. So maybe that gives you a chance to get to June 30th. What happens on June 30th? There are more extraordinary measures the

treasury secretary can do, if you can get that long, and that is the spending investments into some federal retirement accounts. That could free up maybe $145 billion. But on June 30th you have $98 billion in payments due, including $12 billion in interest. You cannot miss that payment. That's how you can squeak by, by finding every nickel in the couch cushions until you get there. If everything absolutely goes right, maybe, maybe there is a one percent chance you could get to early August.

This is why the June 1st deadline is so important. It is prudent to plan for running out of money at that time. That's when the treasury has to decide whether to prioritize paying its bills, whether to delay paying Social Security recipients, whether to delay playing military contractors, maybe who is going to feel the pain first. Those are the kinds of questions we are asking in the largest economy in the world.

COLLINS: Obviously, what we are watching in Washington is not just about these numbers but also the political blame game. What Biden said in his press conference in Japan was, would he be blamed on the merits, he doesn't belief he should, but maybe on the politics. And we also have new numbers, Christine, on how Americans see this, what they want to happen in Washington.

ROMANS: Yes. And this actually was surprising to me.


First of all, I was really surprised that 15 percent of people said don't raise the debt ceiling, allow a default. Those are the ultimate, I guess, contrarians of the world who want to see the U.S. economy go up in smoke. But 60 percent said only raise the debt ceiling if there are spending cuts. I think that shows that the public is aware that debt and deficits long term are a concern for the United States of America.

But I would make this point I have been making for some time. The debt ceiling is not an instrument of fiscal discipline. The budgeting process and the ballot box, quite frankly, are where those decisions are made. This is the least efficient way to address debt and deficits is by not raising the debt ceiling or tying spending cuts to the debt ceiling. The big drivers of the nation's debt are not what they are talking about. Social Security, Medicare, net interest on the debt, and tax receipts that are too low. So they are not talking about the real things that will fix the debt and deficit problem.

HARLOW: Christine, that was fascinating. Thank you, thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

HARLOW: I hope you can take that monopoly board to Washington.

ROMANS: It's nice, right?

HARLOW: It's great. And they need to collect more than $200 after they pass Go, by the way. ROMANS: Go straight to jail, man.

COLLINS: Gosh. We'll see what they decide there.

Also, we are getting some new updates this morning into what happened yesterday, this scene here. A U-Haul truck that crashed intentionally, according to the authorities, was being driven by a 19-year-old. This 19-year-old reportedly, as you can see here, drove this truck into a security barrier near the White House. And that 19-year-old is now set to appear in federal court today. Prosecutors say that Sai Kandula told officers that he aimed to, quote, get to the White House, seize power and be put in charge of the nation, and that he was also, quote, prepared to kill the president, and would hurt anyone that stood in his way.

Police say that after he crashed he pulled a Nazi flag out of his backpack, later telling investigators that Nazis have a great history. He also praised Hitler, apparently, for being a, quote, strong leader. Kandula, as you can see here, says he had been planning the attack for six months and flew to Washington from St. Louis earlier that evening.

HARLOW: This just in. Police in Virginia arresting a man for having firearms on preschool property. We will tell you what we know ahead.

COLLINS: Also, in South Carolina the Senate there in the state has just passed a bill that would ban most abortions after just six weeks. We will speak to a Republican lawmaker who has been fighting that bill next.



COLLINS: South Carolina now poised to become the latest state to ban abortion after just six weeks. The State Senate voted yesterday to ban most abortions after early cardiac activity is detected. That can be as early as six weeks before many women even know that they're pregnant. The bill offers very few exceptions, including fatal fetal anomalies, like heart and brain defects and the health and the life of the mother. It would also make exceptions up to 12-week for cases of rape or incest. A filibuster of five women who have now come to be known as the sister senators tried but ultimately failed to block the measure.


STATE SEN. KATRINA SHEALY (R-SC): Men are a hundred percent responsible for pregnancy. Men are fertile a hundred percent of the time. So, it's time for men in this chamber, and the ones across that hall and all across the state of South Carolina to take some ejaculation responsibility. We in the South Carolina legislature are not God. We do not have the right to make decisions for someone else.

STATE SEN. SANDY SENN (R-SC): It bothers me that it has been admitted in this chamber and acknowledged that what we're doing here today is going to not do away with illegal abortions. It is going to cause illegal abortions. And so, women, everybody, when you look back years from now, and your teenagers end up dying because they have gone to get an illegal abortion because they didn't know they were pregnant at six weeks, it is our fault.


COLLINS: That bill now heads to the desk of Republican Governor Henry McMaster who has said he would sign it into law as soon as possible.

Joining us now is one of South Carolina's sister senators that you just heard from there. Republican State Senator Sandy Senn, good morning. We talked about this last week, you were saying it was going to basically be a nail-biter to see if your male colleagues stood with you and the other women on this. What's your reaction waking up this morning knowing that the governor is planning to sign this into law as soon as he can?

SENN: Well, I mean, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. Actually, it came down to one male. And, you know, I'm thankful that they stood with us before. But basically, at the last minute, he caved, and when he did, the other two went with him. So, that left us with just five. I can tell you we would certainly be a lot more powerful if we could elect just three more women. With three more women, this whole situation would have turned out a lot differently.

COLLINS: Yes, and I know you and your other colleagues were wearing buttons talking about electing more women yesterday. You referenced that vote there, it was from Senator Tom Davis, who ultimately was the reason this passed yesterday. Do you have a message --

SENN: Yes.

COLLINS: -- for the -- for the governor, this morning on this bill?

SENN: I won't be able to convince the governor. He's -- you know, I don't fault true believers. There are a lot of men in the chamber who just are true believers. They think that this is the way to go.

But I do fault moderates, and those who are basically making trades and doing whatever they're going to do, or just trying to say what they think is maybe -- stove off a primary. I do fault them because they know better. They have children, they've even spoken of their children before and how they don't want their daughters to be in situations like this. And yet, then, they turned around and voted for it.

But the bottom line is I can't just keep licking my wounds. I'm going to have to get spring back in my step. And hope that basically, I have to focus toward getting more female colleagues elected.

COLLINS: I'm from Alabama. I know what the abortion access looks like in the South. South Carolina was one of the last remaining states where women could go and have access to abortions.

SENN: Right.

COLLINS: What is your message to women this morning?

SENN: That I'm very sorry that we disappointed you, but we tried.

COLLINS: I can tell this is -- this is emotional and personal for you.


SENN: It is, but anyway, like I said, we've got it -- we got to get it back together. And we will. We're all five meeting here in about the next hour and coming up with some game plans. We were very heartened to see all of the support in the lobby. I'm very thankful to see so much Republican support. I cannot tell you how -- it's just overwhelming. I had a lady from Ireland write me today. Who was an -- she is a Republican, though, she's originally American. And there are just so many people that have reached out. And so, giving us that kind of encouragement is really needed.

COLLINS: You're a Republican, and as part of this, you know, you bonded together with the other female colleagues, some who are Democrats, some who are independents in this. But given how widespread the abortion discussion has been on a national level. The things like what happened in South Carolina yesterday, hurt Republicans ultimately, you think?

SENN: Yes, absolutely, it does. And I don't understand why my colleagues don't see that. I think that just for so long, they have beaten that, oh, I'm pro-life mantra. And we are all pro-life. But they've taken it too far, and I really feel sorry for the women in Florida. They're now going to have to, you know, South Carolina was -- and I don't want our state to be an abortion destination. But we're putting women in the southeast in a total bind. If you don't have money to fly, or a lot of money and time for gas to go all the way up the East Coast, then, you know, you're just in trouble.

And I think about the young, young victims, you know, of rape and incest, or, you know, those just had boyfriends and got in trouble. I feel so sorry for them, because I think they need a little bit of time. I don't, you know, they don't need a lot of time. I think they need to make up their mind, but I certainly would have thought that first trimester would have been a better option than where we are now.

COLLINS: State Senator Sandy Senn, thank you for your time this morning.

SENN: Thank you.

HARLOW: I think she brings up such an important issue that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the late Justice said years ago, which is, to not have access always disproportionately affects poor women. And that's what she's talking about there as if you don't have the money to go to another state. This affects you more.

COLLINS: And we've talked to her, we had her on just last week. We've talked to her a bunch during this but also, she and the other sister senators have been --


COLLINS: -- interviewed multiple times. But I mean, you see there, she had tears in her eyes as she was talking about this. It's incredibly personal for them.

HARLOW: She feels like she let, you know, many of their constituents down.

COLLINS: And they faced a lot of backlashes over this. I should also know they fought bill -- fought bill -- fought bill -- fought bill. They had protesters, they had threats, that's the primary --

HARLOW: That's right.

COLLINS: -- them from their colleagues. Yes.

HARLOW: That's Right, great interview. Also, this just in, we're learning that police arrested a man with weapons in his car. They arrested him for trespassing in a Virginia preschool. The Fairfax County Police released this photo. Look at those weapons, showing what they say they found during the search of the car. The large weapon at the top is an AK-47. Athena Jones, our colleague, has been following all of this at a preschool.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is truly frightening. This is information coming directly from the Fairfax County Police. They tweeted about that photo, and they said this happened yesterday, but they're just now tweeting it out this morning. This man was from Florida, 32 years old. He was found trespassing on preschool grounds in McLean, Virginia that is only about a mile away from the CIA.

This man as name is Eric Sandow said that he was -- he was -- he told police he was headed to the CIA and so Fairfax County Police they arrested him and detained him. Execute a search warrant on his car and that is when they found those weapons. You can see an AK-47, a smaller handgun and tons of ammunition. Truly, truly frightening here, to know this man really was only a few minutes from the CIA. But also, he was on the grounds of a preschool and given, you know, the number of terrible gun violence incidents in America over the years. This is just truly chilling. Poppy, Kaitlan?

HARLOW: Athena, thank you for the update.


HARLOW: Chilling, indeed.

COLLINS: Let us know what you hear from the authorities. It's been one of those days that is seared into the minds of so many Americans certainly mine. One year ago today, is when a gunman entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and changed the lives of so many, killing ultimately 19 children and two of their teachers. Texas Governor Greg Abbott is asking for all flags to be flown at half-staff today. And is issued a statewide call for Texans to take part in a moment of silence. HARLOW: And this afternoon, President Biden will deliver remarks from the White House grand staircase to remember all of those lives lost and to reiterate his call for congressional leadership to stop gun violence. Shimon Prokupecz joins us from Uvalde. Shimon, you have been at the center of trying to get answers for these families about the response and lack of response to save these children's lives. And I can't imagine how hard it is for you to be there today, with still so many unanswered questions. But it is an important data mark.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: No, it certainly isn't. And I think this is a day that many of the family members here, you know, have been dreading, have said that it's going to be a tough day, a day where it brings them back to what happened here a year ago. And part of what makes it so difficult for them is that they haven't had any kind of closure. So many questions still remain, so much of the accountability that should have already occurred, has not occurred.

And at every turn, they're just stonewalled, or they're told, we're still investigating. And we still don't have answers for you. And just a couple of days ago, some of the family members of the children who died, the parents and other family members came here to go inside the school for the first time since this happened. And they described just a very sterile kind of scene, and much of the rooms have been cleaned out, a lot of the desks are gone, and many of the places in these rooms where their kids took their last breaths.

They were able to stand there and just think about their kids and what their kids went through. They still don't exactly know what happened in those moments. But for today, many of them, it'll be a way to have some unity where we don't see that in this community. This is a community that is very much divided over what should be -- what people should be doing, whether or not to move on, whether or not to keep remembering this. So, for many of the family members certainly, this is going to be a day where they're going to try to have some kind of moment together, it's kind of reflect on their loved ones and those that they've lost. But obviously, moving on and having any kind of closure, we're nowhere, nowhere near that.

COLLINS: Yes, nowhere near that. I mean, it's just it's hard to see this and also, to look at the divisions that happen because of this but are still so deep in that community. Shimon, I know you'll be there all day. You've been covering this closely and talking to these families getting answers for them. Thank you, Shimon. And we'll be right back after this.