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Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) is Interviewed about the Debt Limit; Trophies Tour Ahead of 2023 Finals. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired May 25, 2023 - 08:30   ET



REP. MIKE WALTZ (R-FL): And Marine Corps veterans. And so Seth's right, you're right, when you see those pictures, how young they were, their friends, their family that, you know, they don't get to enjoy them this Memorial Day. It's a reminder. And it's a reminder of how controversial this memorial was. The fact -- it's also a reminder, though, of how great America is. The fact that this memorial was designed by a Chinese American woman who was an immigrant and a college student at the time is just incredibly powerful.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: And we learned also today, I learned anyway from one of the speakers about, this was -- when it was built, there were only three memorials on -- when one of the guys was growing up. And now there are all these war memorials because -- and this was the first one of them.

REP. SETH MOULTON, (D-MA): Yes, in fact, we just got approval for the 9/11 war memorial to remember all of those who we lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it's going to be placed, they just announced the decision, to place it between the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. So, we'll have a prominent place on the wall - on the mall, on the National Mall for, you know, for all those we lost so recently in our wars and who won't have the opportunity this Memorial Day to be with their friends and family and build a life back here in America.

TAPPER: Poppy and Kaitlan, it's just a, you know, with all the divisions in Washington, all the anger throughout the country, it is humbling to participate and watch something like this.

Congressman Waltz was nice enough to invite CNN to participate and film this and be a part of it and it's very moving.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Please tell him we appreciate that, to both of them, and, Jake, to you for always highlighting veterans issues. Always, always. We appreciate it. Thank you.

KAITLAN COLLINS: And it is, you know, such a rare moment to see a Democrat and a Republican standing there talking about this. And Washington is also such a special place to be on Memorial Day because -

HARLOW: I know you were saying you miss it this time of year. COLLINS: Well, and it was something that I didn't fully appreciate

until I lived there. And, you know, they're there at the Vietnam Memorial and he - they talked about having to move. There were so many flowers and wreaths and cards.

HARLOW: And letters.

COLLINS: But also to go to Arlington National Cemetery is probably the most humbling thing you can do. He was talking about how young people are. You go to section 60. You see, you know, those numbers on there of just how young they were, early 20s.


COLLINS: It's really special.

HARLOW: Yes. Thanks to Jake for that.

OK, ahead, the economy. The GDP report, which means how much did our economy grow, just came out. What it says about how we're doing.

COLLINS: It also comes ahead of a week of a critical deadline to make a deal on the debt ceiling. The ratings agency Fitch overnight warning that the U.S. could lose that perfect credit rating. A top Republican in Congress, Foreign Affairs Chairman Mike McCaul, joins us next.



HARLOW: All right, news on the economy. The U.S. economy grew faster in the first quarter than previously reported, increasing 1.3 percent in Q1 up from an estimate initially of 1.1 percent. Jobless claims also came in higher than last week's revised numbers. Both datapoints come just a day before the Fed's preferred inflation gauge comes out.


COLLINS: Also overnight, the credit ratings agency Fitch placed the U.S. on rating watch negative, which is not a good thing. It means the credit rating agency could downgrade the U.S. debt if lawmakers don't agree on a bill that raises the debt limit. Sources inside the Republican Party are warning that they believed as of last night prospects were grim for passing a debt limit increase by June 1. That is despite negotiators continuing to vow they are making progress on a potential deal. Last night on the House floor the Republican majority leader, Steve Scalise, congratulated his party for having passed their version of a debt ceiling bill through the House, while criticizing the Democratic-led Senate for failing to do the same.


SEN. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): Well, the House has already voted to address the debt ceiling. In fact, on April 26th - the House is not in order. That for more than four weeks the Senate has not even taken up action

on that bill. In fact, the Senate's not even in session today or this week.


COLLINS: Scalise, obviously, being booed by Democrats in the chamber there. He announced the House is going on recess later today, but members will get a 24 hours heads-up if they need to return for a vote should President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy strike a deal.

Joining us now is the Republican Congressman Mike McCaul of Texas, who is also the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee - or House Foreign Affairs.

Thank you so much for being here today.

You said you had hoped to get a deal by the end of this week.

REP. MIKE MCCAUL (R-TX): Hi, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Where do talks stand right now?

MCCAUL: I think we're getting very close. I'm the eternal optimist. I know that Kevin McCarthy's been meeting with the president, you know, one-on-one, but also the staff has been working very hard. And I think it's really down to details at this point. Nobody really wants to default on the full faith and credit of the United States. I think, as you pointed out, it would have a disastrous effect on our financial markets. So, as I understand it, it could be as early -- a deal could be cut as early as tomorrow and then lawmakers, they'd have to write the bill and then 72 hours we come back, which would be next probably Wednesday, is my guess, to vote on a debt ceiling increase along with meaningful spending cuts.

COLLINS: So, if they could reach a deal as soon as tomorrow, does that mean lawmakers should still leave Washington today if no deal is made by then?

MCCAUL: Well, what they do is typically they have to write the bill, of course, and write it according to the details of the compromise. And then - and then there's a 72-hour period by House rules. And then it goes to the Rules Committee. Then it goes to the floor. So, you know, I'm just -- again, this is speculative, but I would say midweek next week. And so I think lawmakers will probably return Monday or Tuesday and then possibly vote on Wednesday. At least I hope so. I don't think anybody wants to default on this.

Look, we passed a good bill. We voted to raise the debt ceiling responsibly, but we wanted, you know, spending cuts in return for that. And that's what's being negotiated right now.


COLLINS: Are Republicans prepared to make any new concessions that you're aware of that would get them to a deal by tomorrow with the White House?

MCCAUL: Well, as I understand, the president wants to cap spending at 2023 levels. The speaker and Republicans want to cap it at 2022. That's non -- that's discretionary non-defense spending. And so that's really where the negotiations lie right now. And also the Covid -- unspent Covid funding. Those are really the two big highlights that are being negotiated right now.

COLLINS: You keep talking about how bad it would be if the U.S. defaults. That seems pretty obvious to everyone. Economists say that as well. But I want you to listen to something that former President Trump said about the idea of the U.S. defaulting on its debt.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT (May 10, 2023): We have to start paying off debt. But when we have a debt limit and they use that very seriously. I mean they came in, Schumer came in with Nancy Pelosi, and they were using, we'll violate it, we'll do whatever. They talked a whole lot different than they do right now.

I say to the Republicans out there, congressman, senators, if they don't give you massive cuts, you're going to have to do a default.


COLLINS: Are those comments from the GOP frontrunner reckless?

MCCAUL: Well, look, we -- this is my tenth term in Congress and we go through this - I've seen this movie many times. And we go to the brink. Sometimes the government's been shut down. It doesn't favor anybody.

Now, I think responsibly it's not the right move. And, you know, I think it's important that we reach, you know, a compromise. I think we will, you know, in this case.

You know, we've done this before. And the few times that we have shut down the government it's been very temporary. And we have seen the markets respond in a very negative way.

So, you know, I - I think that with -- I think that what the former president is trying to say is we're at $32 trillion debt right now for the nation. We're handing that down to our children. And we have to start, you know, taking responsibility for that. We can't sustain this path. A $32 trillion debt that we're going to pass down is, to me, is really immoral and irresponsible.

COLLINS: Yes, but what he was saying is it was a different standard when he was in office and he said they shouldn't use the debt limit as a negotiating tactic, which is now what's happening and he said it's different just because he's no longer president.

But I do want to ask, you're also the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as I said. You're investigating the exit of Afghanistan, the withdrawal. You were at the State Department, able to viewed some key documents. Have you heard from State Department officials whether or not they are going to share those documents with the rest of the members of your committee yet? And, if so, are you prepared to pull that contempt resolution that you had prepared for Secretary Blinken?

MCCAUL: Well, I did have a chance to read the classified cable. Very stark, dire warnings from our embassy employees, 23 of them, on the ground in Kabul a month before it fell. Everything they predicted actually happened. And it's unfortunate the administration didn't listen to what they were saying because they were actually spot on. And I applaud them for taking the courageous step to do a dissent cable, which is very extraordinary, Kaitlan. It's very rare that that's done.

And so the way I look at this is, I got to read it and so did the ranking member. But, you know, I think the rest of the members of the committee, pursuant to the subpoena, have every right to see this as well.

We have a lot of Afghan -- Afghanistan veterans. You saw two of them with Tapper in that piece prior. And, you know, the two that chair the oversight, one Brian Mast, who lost his legs in Afghanistan, and the other one, Jason Crow, the Democrat, served in Afghanistan. I can't really look them in the eye and say, hey, I got to read this thing, but you're not going to get access to it yourself.

Frankly, I think the American people should be able to read what their embassy employees were thinking at that time. Their state of mind is critical a month prior to the fall of Afghanistan. And everything they predicted in that cable actually happened. And that is the immediate collapse, the Taliban taking over, leaving American citizens behind, and our Afghanistan partners that we promised we would protect and save them, and yet we left them behind only to be hunted down by Taliban. I think it's really incredulous.

And I don't -- I'm negotiating with the secretary, to answer your question.


MCCAUL: I'd prefer not to go down the contempt road and I don't think he wants to either. He'd be the first secretary of state ever to be held in contempt by Congress.


COLLINS: Right. So, no word on whether you're prepared to pull that resolution.

One last question. Yesterday we saw Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announce that he is running for the Republican nomination in 2024. Last night he was asked about a key issue that is going to be asked to every Republican presidential candidate, that was on Ukraine. This what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you are elected president, you may be the first one in a while to have worn the uniform. How would you address the ongoing war in eastern Europe between Russia and Ukraine on day one of a Ron DeSantis presidency?

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Well, first, I think what we need to do as a veteran is recognize that our military has become politicized. You talk about gender ideology, you talk about things like global warming that they're somehow concerned, and that's not the military that I served in. We need to return our military --


COLLINS: He didn't really answer that question. He didn't answer that question. Do you believe anyone who is running for your party's nomination for president should be able to clearly articulate their position on Ukraine?

MCCAUL: I do. I think they should be honest with the American people where they stand. This is a very important issue. You know where I stand on this. I think we absolutely need to support Ukraine in this fight against Russian aggression. When I went to Taiwan, and when I was in Asia, all the leaders there said whatever happens in Ukraine impacts Taiwan.

This is a struggle for the global balance of power. Putin and Xi, Chairman Xi, China, are allies. Putin has decided to invade Europe. Largest invasion since World War II. And Chairman Xi is threatening the Pacific, the likes of which we haven't seen since my dad's war, World War II.

And so I think an honest discussion is important with any candidate. I do think privately, and I've talked to advisors to a lot of these potential nominees, that privately they do support what we're doing. But they need to have the moral courage to stand up and speak the truth about what's happening in Ukraine, including the war crimes and the atrocities that I get briefed on that are really outrageous and just sickening, to be honest.

COLLINS: Yes. And I should note, Trump, who is the frontrunner, also wouldn't say if he wanted Ukraine to win or if Putin was a war criminal.

But Congressman Mike McCaul, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, we always appreciate your time on this show. Thanks so much for coming on this morning.

MCCAUL: Thanks, Kaitlan, and congrats on your new show.

COLLINS: Thanks so much.

HARLOW: We're going to miss her, Congressman.

All right, two of the most revered trophies in American sports. The NBA's Larry O'Brien Trophy and the NHL's Stanley Cup, they're here. There. I can't believe they're letting you oversee them, Harry, but we have the morning number, a big zero, that's next.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Total awe. Can't believe it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Larry O'Brien, baby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any of you guys have a Stanley Cup over there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll go with you.



COLLINS: What happened when Larry met Stanley? Well, they went to the Katz Deli, of course. We are talking about two of the most revered trophies in American sports, not about football, but the NBA's Larry O'Brien trophy and the NHL's Stanley Cup, both of which have taken home -- been taken home by some of the biggest names in their leagues. The two trophies have toured New York City ahead of the NBA and NHL 2023 finals. Both set to get underway in the first week of June. The next stop on their journey, right here in studio, CNN THIS MORNING, with our very own senior trophy report Harry Enten.

Harry, I'm assuming this morning's number is two?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I've got to tell you, you know, five-year-old Harry is so excited right now. My goodness gracious. They're right over here. I can touch them. Oh! It warms -

COLLINS: You're not supposed to get that close, actually.

ENTEN: I - there's a restraining order in place.

Look, what's so amazing about this is, you know, if we think about the NBA and Stanley Cup championships, zero times have they been won by the same city in the same season. And that could change this year with the Heat and the Panthers down in Florida on the NHL side. But the fact is the fact that the two of these are in the same place at the same time is something that is truly unique.

And, you know, you're wondering, you're looking at these things, how heavy are these trophies? Well, the NBA, the Larry, 29 pounds. You look at the NHL, look at that, 34.5 pounds. So, these are quite heavy things. That is why I'm not going to be picking them up. I can probably not pick up any trophy that was more than 10 pounds. And then you're just wondering, who are these guys. Well, Larry

O'Brien was a former NBA commissioner, while Frederick Stanley, in fact, was a Canadian governor general who donated the original cup to the amateur hockey champion of Canada. Of course, now it's, of course, the Stanley Cup Professional.

And if you're just wondering of how many of these trophies exist, they're 49 of the Larry O'Brien are awarded every year to the winner. There are only three Stanley Cups. There's just one that goes around to the different cities, one in the Hall of Fame, and the original. This is not the original.


COLLINS: Which one's heavier?

ENTEN: This one is heavy - slightly heavier.

COLLINS: The bigger one.

ENTEN: I - this one is slightly heavier. I'm definitely not lifting it. No way, no how.

HARLOW: I knew all of that, right.

ENTEN: Of course you did.



COLLINS: Thanks, Harry.

ENTEN: Bye, Harry.

HARLOW: Keep an eye on those.

COLLINS: All right, to see who takes home the Stanley Cup this year, you can tune into TNT for the NHL final. Until then it is game five of the NBA's Eastern Conference finals tonight. Poppy is going to be watching very closely.

HARLOW: All of it. So, we're here.


Today is Kaitlan's last day on the show. She is not going far. So we're really excited for you, 9:00 p.m., primetime. Lots of sleep. But before you go, I've learned a lot sitting next to my friend Kaitlan at this desk. Here are just a few things.

First, Auburn must never win. Roll tide.


HARLOW: Second, Nick Saban, whoever that is, apparently can do no wrong.

Third, dress to impress.

And, most importantly, if you're a politician or anyone in power and you think you can pull a fast one on Kaitlan Collins or try to dodge her questions, think again.

In all seriousness, you have been such a big part of this show. You've made so much news, like this sit down you did with the Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, remember that, and, of course, your coverage from Poland surrounding President Biden's surprise trip to Ukraine. You brought your signature style to interviews with lawmakers here at home, like with Senator Rick Scott.

And we cannot forget the fun moments. Even ones at my expense.


HARLOW: A day after Lohan agreed to pay $75,000 in a fine on top of the $25,000 he earned from the company, Soulja Boy Austin Mahone (ph), Lil Yachty, Ne-Yo and Akon also fined. The SEC also charged crypto entrepreneur Justin Sun with securities fraud, market manipulation and failing to disclose paid relationships with celebrities.


HARLOW: That's Kaitlan laughing at me.

COLLINS: I mean Lil Yachty.

HARLOW: Unable to pronounce the names of celebrities. Almost made me not be able to finish that read.

In all seriousness, the gift of this show for me has been you. Thank you for all the laughs, the fun, the many Starbucks orders, mostly the friendships.

So, I was thinking about this last night. And I was reminded of this article I read from my hometown paper, "The Minneapolis Star Tribune," in 2015. It was when Fleetwood Mac was going back on tour together. And Stevie Nicks said this of her longtime friend Christine McVie. She said, I never want her to ever go out of my life again. And that has nothing to do with the music and everything to do with her and I as friends. And I feel the same. And I am so proud of you. And I can't wait to see you shine in primetime.

COLLINS: And what picture is in your office?


COLLINS: Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie.

HARLOW: Because you gave it to me like the third week of our show. And it will remain in my office. And I am still going to call you every day.

Don't you love it when I call you?

COLLINS: Because I love -- Poppy knows how much I love to talk on the phone.

HARLOW: Every day.

COLLINS: We'll still be on the same floor. I'll just be a different time zone essentially but we'll still be together and I'll be watching you every single morning and everyone else here because you've done such an amazing job and it's really hard -

HARLOW: We love you. Bye.

COLLINS: Not a colleague, you're my friend.

Thanks for watching.

"CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts right after this break.