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CNN This Morning

Airports Brace for Busiest Memorial Day Weekend Since 2005; White House, GOP Negotiators Move Closer to Debt Limit Deal; Washington Post Reports, Trump Workers Moved Boxes Day Before FBI Came for Documents; Spine Implants Help Man Walk for First Time in 10-Plus Years. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 26, 2023 - 07:00   ET




You can do test a million different properties to see if they'll work. With A.I., what you do is that the computer learns, and it learns what's working and what's not. And so you can test many, many more properties or many molecules, many more potential drugs at once. You can do hundreds of millions. You can do a billion until you land on the right one.

So, these researchers, they came up with one. They put it on a mouse who was wounded and had an infection with that bacteria. And they found that not only did it work but I didn't harm the good bacteria.

Now, I will say, this is a great day to be a mouse. This is a wonderful day to be an infected mouse. This is not going to be on the market for humans any time soon. It takes years because you need to make sure this is and you need to convince a pharmaceutical company that they'll make money off of it. Both of those things are pretty challenging.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Okay. But this morning we'll celebrate for --

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: For mice everywhere.

HARLOW: Yes. Elizabeth, thank you.

CNN This Morning continues right now.

Well, good morning, everyone. It's the top of the hour. Not trying to scare you there. We'll tell what that was in a moment.

HILL: In case you're traveling for the holiday weekend.

HARLOW: So happy to have my friend, Erica Hill, next to me today and next week. But that video was a flight in South Korea today. Someone apparently opened the emergency exit door while the plane was coming in for landing. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt. This, as here in the United States, the summer travel season is kicking off and it's promising to be the busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2005. Air travel roaring back after the pandemic. We'll take you live to Reagan National as they face a critical stress test.

HILL: The Washington Post reporting that Donald Trump's employees moved boxes at Mar-a-Lago the day before FBI agents came look forging for classified documents last year. And the former president also allegedly held what are being referred to as dress rehearsals for moving his stash of sensitive records.

HARLOW: And this remarkable story to tell you about, a man who was paralyzed for more than a decade, is walking again after receiving digital implants in his brain and his spine. Two people directly involved in his medical breakthrough will join us live.

This hour of CNN This Morning starts right now.

Airport across the country gearing up for the busiest Memorial Day weekend. We're smart. We're not flying anywhere. And two decades as America bounces back from the pandemic. Take a live look inside Chicago O'Hare and Reagan National, just outside of D.C. The demand for flights has been skyrocketing and AAA is predicting nearly 3.5 million of you will fly this weekend. That is a jump from last year as well as 2019, before COVID struck.

Pete Muntean joins us live at Reagan this morning. Pete, the real stress for airlines, are they ready?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: A huge test for the airlines, Poppy. The TSA anticipates screening 10 million people between Thursday yesterday and Monday Memorial Day. Although the numbers we have seen so far may make that a conservative estimate, 2.43 million people at airports on Wednesday screened by the TSA, 2.56 million people on Monday. Both of those numbers bigger than the same day back in 2019 before the pandemic.

The number to beat now, the pandemic era air travel record set back on Friday, 2.66 million people. Airports insist they're ready. The TSA insists they're ready. And airlines insist they're ready after the big summer meltdowns of last year that really kicked off with Memorial Day.

Think back to then. The airlines canceled about 55,000 flights over the totality of the summer. This time around, they insist that they are right staffed. They have added 48,000 people industry wide and that they are right sized, operating fewer flights, using larger airplanes. They say that the meltdowns are a thing of the past. But passengers hope that that is actually the case. Listen. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If things run smoothly, people do their job sufficiently, then it's a great trip.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pack your patience. Come prepared. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I get home without a hitch.


MUNTEAN: Airlines say the delays now could be on the federal government, because the FAA is short about 3,000 air traffic controllers nationwide. That's what they say they would need to have optimal staffing levels. And we have seen air traffic control shortages caused delays even this week on Sunday and Monday. It was a problem in Denver.

So, now, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is insisting that will not be the case and really extreme weather is the biggest cause of cancelations and delays, Erica. And we are hearing from the FAA that they're worried about thunderstorms today in Florida, also possibilities of more delays in Denver. Just check FlightAware, though, the cancelations in the U.S. very, very low. We're only talking about 60 nationwide right now and about 400 delays, although we'll see if any ground stops pop up later today, Erica.

HILL: Yes, we'll see what happens with those storms. Pete, I appreciate it, as always. Thanks.

New this morning, a man has been arrested after he allegedly opened a plane door while that plane was still in the air.

So you can see the air coming in there. It happened in South Korea. The Asiana Airlines plane was just about three minutes from landing. It was some 700 feet in the air when that door was opened. An official telling CNN a man in his 30s who was sitting at the emergency exit appeared to open the door. The plane did land at the airport. This was southeast of Seoul. Officials say 12 people suffered minor injuries from hyperventilation.

HARLOW: Well, this morning, there is some new cautious optimism over the debt ceiling negotiations. Sources tell CNN the White House and Republican negotiators are moving closer to a deal to avoid potential default by next Thursday. That is the day that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says it is, quote, highly likely that the U.S. will not be able to pay all of its bills. We are told the agreement would raise a debt ceiling for two years while also capping federal spending on everything but the military and veterans. But to be crystal clear, there is no deal in place yet, and there are still several issues that need to be resolved.

I'm happy to be joined now by the deputy treasury secretary, Wally Adeyemo. It's good to have you, Wally. Good morning.

WALLY ADEYEMO, DEPUTY TREASURY SECRETARY: It's good to see you. Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: So, you just heard our reporting and the front page of The New York Times today. Their headline is that negotiators are, quote, closing on a deal. Is that accurate? Are they that close? ADEYEMO: What I can tell you is that we're making progress and our goal is to make sure that we get a deal because default is unacceptable. The president has said it and the speaker has said it, and we have to get something done before early June when the Secretary has said that it's highly likely that we will no longer have the resources to pay our bills.

HARLOW: Will the administration rule out work requirements on food stamps, SNAP, and TANF, which is cash assistance, or are they open to that to get a deal done?

ADEYEMO: So, I'm not going to negotiate in public. But what I will say is the president has been very clear about what he values in terms of making sure that we protect the most vulnerable Americans. It's why he's been a supporter of the Advanced Child Tax Credit, which dramatically reduced child poverty, and he's going to continue to fight to make sure that we have policies in place that continue to protect the most vulnerable, but also while also growing the economy.

HARLOW: But this isn't a question about negotiating in public, nor is it a question about eliminating those benefits. It's a question of whether the administration is open to what the Republicans have proposed. Some more work requirements for food stamps and cash assistance. Is that off the table or on the table for the White House?

ADEYEMO: I'm not going to talk about what's on the table or off the table, but what I will talk about is the fact that the president is committed to making sure that we have a good faith negotiations with the Republicans to reach a deal, because the alternative is catastrophic for all Americans.

People often think about the debt limit as something that only affects financial markets but it also would mean that we aren't able to meet our commitments to those same recipients you just talked about, to our seniors, to our veterans. And we know that that's unacceptable.

HARLOW: Is the administration okay with a debt ceiling increase that expires next year or does it have to go into and through, really, 2024?

ADEYEMO: What the President has made clear is that we cannot do anything that does not increase the debt limit before we reach the point where we can no longer pay our bills. This is Congress' responsibility. Congress has done it 78 times, and he expects Congress to do it again in order to make sure that we can meet our commitments, not just to our creditors, but to our seniors, to our veterans, and to all the individuals who rely on the government every day.

HARLOW: Fitch Ratings yesterday came out and put the whole U.S. economy on ratings watch negative. And then that was two days ago. And then yesterday came out and did the same for mortgage-backed, government-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

We saw what happened in 2011 with S&P downgrading the credit of the United States. Do you believe, with these warnings from Fitch that the United States is once again on a path to a credit rating downgrade, even if there is a last minute deal?

ADEYEMO: My hope is the answer to that question is no, but it's important to remember what happened in 2011. Even though we raised the debt limit at the last minute, the stock market went down by 17 percent. And as you know well, 401(k)s owned by all Americans took a hit because of that.

We're already seeing the cost of this debt limit impasse. A few weeks ago, we auctioned off debt for the U.S. government and we paid $80 million more than we would have but for the debt limit impasse. So, the cost of the American people, the decision to create this manufactured crisis is real and we need to end it as soon as possible.

HARLOW: And if you lose AAA credit rating, that cost goes even higher.

Let me ask you, Wally, about prioritization, right. I know Treasury has said it's not feasible to prioritize payments in the case of a default.


But what we learned from reporting after 2011 is that, in fact, Treasury and the Fed did have contingency plans. You guys, you weren't there then, but put together a plan to say here's who we're going to pay. You advised agencies about what was going to happen in the case of default.

I'm just wondering if you are giving guidance to agencies now if we're to default, who gets paid first?

ADEYEMO: So, was in government in 2011. I've served at the Treasury Department for about ten years now.

HARLOW: Were you in the room for those negotiations? That's what I was referring to, yes.

ADEYEMO: I was not in the room for those negotiations. But what I can tell you is that as the deputy secretary, I'm the chief operating officer of the department and I'm in charge of making sure that we're able to make payments, take in money.

And one thing that I think you know well is that, for example, the IRS, who brings in 95 percent of our payments, their computer systems are operating on Cobalt, a language that is no longer taught. They were built before we had the personal computer, before we had the ATM machine. And because we've underinvested in places like the IRS and our payment system, we're not in a position where we can make sure that we can make some of our payments, not all of our payments. The systems are built to make all of our payments. And the idea of us prioritization is truly default by another name.

HARLOW: So, are you saying there would be no prioritization? I guess I'm wondering if there is even a deal at the last minute. Let's hope there is one. Wouldn't Treasury have to be prepared to triage for at least several days? ADEYEMO: So, Poppy, what I'm saying is that we don't have the capability to naturally triage and decide this payment is made. And that payment is not because the way that our systems are set up. And, ultimately, the only thing that we can do is what Congress has done 78 other times and prevent default.

The idea that we're having this conversation in the United States where we have the resources to pay our bills is something that we shouldn't be doing. And ultimately, as the person who's responsible for making sure the department runs, I can tell you that I don't have any confidence that we have the ability to be able to do a type of prioritization that will mean that all seniors, all veterans, all Americans get paid.

HARLOW: Final question on the 14th Amendment, both the president and Secretary Yellen have said legally it would be very challenging to invoke, especially at this point. But if there is no deal as we approach next Thursday, will the administration attempt to invoke the 14th Amendment?

ADEYEMO: So you've heard the president and the secretary. The 14th Amendment can't solve our challenges. Now, ultimately, the only thing that can do that is Congress doing what it's done 78 other times, raising the debt limit.

We don't have a plan B that allows us to meet the commitments that we've made to our creditors, to our seniors, to our veterans, to the American people. The only plan we have is the one that's worked for more than 200 years in this country, which is the United States of America needs to pay all of its bills and pay them on time. And Congress has the ability to do that, and the president is calling on them to act on that as quickly as possible.

HARLOW: Is that a no?

ADEYEMO: So, the question was whether the United States would use the 14th Amendment. I think the president and the secretary have been very clear that that will not solve our problems now. So, yes, that is a no.

HARLOW: Thank you, Wally. I know you have a lot of work ahead. Good luck.

ADEYEMO: Thank you.

HARLOW: I appreciate it. Erica?

HILL: There is new reporting from the Washington Post that Donald Trump's employees moved boxes at Mar-a-Lago the day before the FBI came looking for classified documents.

HARLOW: Also, big changes could be coming to the notorious hell week for Navy SEALS after a candidate died. We'll tell you what found on that investigation.


HILL: New details this morning in the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation. The Washington Post is reporting that workers for former President Trump moved boxes just before the FBI was set to retrieve classified information from his Florida home.

So, according to the report, evidence suggests those boxes were moved into a storage area on June 2nd. On June 3rd, that's when the DOJ arrived at Mar-a-Lago. This was, of course, part of that grand jury subpoena. A couple of months later, the FBI conducted a court approved search of the property, a source telling CNN at the time this was in part because investigators developed evidence indicating there may still have been classified documents at the residence.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, The Post writes that investigators see the timing of when the box is removed as a sign of possible obstruction. That's on all, though, The Post also reporting prosecutors have evidence that the former president kept classified documents in his office where they were visible and that he even showed them to others.

So, here's what the former president is saying. Here's what he said when he was asked about it by Kaitlan Collins.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Did you ever show those classified documents to anyone?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Not really. I would have the right to. By the way, they were declassified after --

COLLINS: What do you mean, not really?

TRUMP: Not that I can think of. I don't have anything. I have no classified documents. And, by the way, they become automatically declassified when I took them.

COLLINS: No, you have to declassify them.

TRUMP: Let me ask you --


HILL: Let's bring in now CNN Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig. He's a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern district of New York, also a former federal and New Jersey state prosecutor. So, Elie, when we look at this, The Washington Post is reporting that the investigators have come to see this as timing, as somewhat suspicious in terms of when things were moved and that it's a possible indication of obstruction. Based on what we all know publicly at this point, do you see it that way?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I do. I think there're several details in this new reporting that do go to the issue of obstruction and potential documents crimes. We prosecutors as a whole are obsessed with intent, right? Usually, the easy part of a case is showing the physical movements. In this case, where were the documents, where were they moved, that kind of thing. Not that it's easy, but it's easier. The harder part is getting into the person's head. Did the person know and did the person have criminal intent?

And even a detail like we just saw, the fact that Trump had these documents, classified documents, showed them to people, that establishes, A, he knew he had classified documents, B, he did something improper with them. You can't show classified documents to outsiders. And, C, he essentially lied publicly to Kaitlan. And prosecutors will use that. They'll say, look, if he thought there was nothing to hide, why would he get up in the town hall and say, I don't think, not really, I never showed him to anyone, when in fact he did.


So, right there just one important piece of intent evidence.

HARLOW: The fact that this is coming out now, what does it tell you?

HONIG: Well, it tells me that prosecutors are in the latter stages of their investigation. I think they're sort of cleaning up the loose ends and trying to tie things together. Also, we have another indication, which is that Trump's team has ask for a meeting with the attorney general on this.

Now, I don't think they get a meeting with Merrick Garland. I think the response from DOJ will be the person who's running this is Jack Smith. If he wants to give you an audience, he will. And typically as a prosecutor, you would, and typically that would happen, though, towards the very end stages of an investigation.

HILL: And that's not unheard of to ask for that meeting either.

HONIG: Not only is it not unheard of, it is not at all uncommon. It is very common in a case like this. You would expect there to be a meeting. What would happen is defense orders will come in and say, here are weaknesses in your case, here's why you shouldn't charge our guy. It doesn't work often, but sometimes it can convince prosecutors.

HILL: But they're not getting that information back necessarily. They may go in and say, here's why we think that this is really not worth your time. You should probably stop, quibble your head, there's nothing here. It's not like prosecutors are going to look at them and say, oh, you know what, you're right, or oh I have this other thing though that that it's going to make me want to continue. They're not going to get much out of that.

HONIG: The standard prosecutor response is thank you very much for your presentation. We'll take it under advisement, and that's it.

HARLOW: They're looking at here two things, mishandling of classified documents but also obstruction. And the real question here, especially with the dates, June 2nd, these boxes were moved, June 3rd, the FBI comes to search them. We've also learned from this reporting in The New York Times there was a dress rehearsal before the subpoena of how to deal with sensitive papers.

The last time the grand jury met was May 5th, right? That was weeks ago. Does that indicate anything to you?

HONIG: It tells me that prosecutors are now putting pencil to paper or using the keyboard. They're putting together I think their prosecution memo where you say, okay, here's all our evidence. Here's what we make of it. It is interesting that there's not been any witnesses for three weeks now, but I think they're getting into end phase.

The last thing you would do when you're ready to seek an indictment, when you have the proper approvals, is then go back to the grand jury and in the federal system, you can summarize. You can say, here's all the evidence you've seen. We now present a draft indictment for you to vote on. And, Poppy, that evidence is so crucial as to intent.

We had this past weekend, Tim Parlatore was one of Trump's former attorneys, was on with Paula Reid, and he said, things get moved, this is a working place of business. That doesn't mean it's criminal. And what prosecutors are looking for is things like the timing. If there are movements happening the day before, then that's suspicious.

HARLOW: But would they have known that they were coming on the 3rd?

HONIG: Yes, because -- so, this is important to understand. This is not the search warrant. That was in August. That was two months later. But --

HARLOW: This was that first search?

HONIG: The subpoena, right? And so DOJ said, we're coming to town tomorrow, June 3rd, to pick up the docs.

HARLOW: Can I just note one thing? The Post reporting does include a statement by John Irving. He's a lawyer representing one of the two unnamed employees who moved the boxes and said that the worker did not know what was in them and was only trying to help the Trump valet, Walt Nauta, who's getting a lot of attention right now as well.

But intent, does it matter if the person who moved him didn't know what was in them, but the person who asked for them to be moved, that's the intent that matters?

HONIG: Exactly. Intent matters for everybody. It may well be that the person who physically moved the boxes didn't know what was in there, was just told move that box from that room to that room. That person is not going to be criminally liable. The person who has a problem is the person who had the boxes moved for a reason.

HARLOW: Thank you, Elie, very much.

Okay. So, we told you about this amazing medical breakthrough, a man who had not walked in more than a decade now walking naturally on his own, thanks to new technology. We're going to be joined by the doctors who made it possible, next. HILL: Plus, we will tell you what prompted this reaction from graduating students at UMass Boston, will feel good on your Friday.



HARLOW: A man paralyzed in a motorbike accident more than a decade ago can walk again. That's right. Researchers in Switzerland developed technology that linked his brain and his spinal cord. And now the man says it worked so well that he's had to learn how to walk naturally again.

Our Meg Tirrell reports.


MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Gert-Jan Oskam was unable to take a single step after a spinal cord injury left him paralyzed more than a decade ago. But now he can stand up and walk, even over tough terrain, and go upstairs.

Technology is turning Oskam's thoughts into actions. Electrodes implanted over his brain collect signals from the region that controls movements. A computer analyzes them to predict how he wants to move and then messages electrodes implanted in his spinal cord that allow him to make those movements.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I only have to think about movement, and I can start and stop.

TIRRELL: While electrical stimulation has helped other paralyzed patients walk again, they've had to turn on implants that send a continuous signal to their spinal cord. Oskam's success is documented in a new scientific paper in the journal, Nature. He was the first participant in a clinical trial for the technology, and researchers are hopeful about future possibilities.

He says he can walk about 110 yards, depending on the day, a little more than a football field. He can also stand without supporting himself with his hands for a few minutes and is looking forward to gaining even more function.

Meg Tirrell, CNN reporting.


HILL: I mean, impressive is only putting it mildly.

We're joined now by two people directly involved in this medical breakthrough. G. Courtine is a neuroscientist and spinal cord specialist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, and Dr. Jocelyne Bloch is a neuroscientist and neurosurgeon who implanted the device in Gert-Jan Oskam.

I mean, we are all just fascinated by this story. Gee, as we look at this device, which is known as a brain spine interface, I know you've been working on similar things, this is really building on some of your previous work, the fact that you've figured out a way to basically get around.