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CNN This Morning

White House, House GOP Reach Agreement In Principle; Texas House Votes To Impeach Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton; Ukraine Shoots Down More Than 50 Russian Drones Over Kyiv; Ukraine Says It Gained "Valuable Information" From Belgorod Incursion; Anti-Putin Russians Claim They Launched Incursion In Belgorod Region. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired May 28, 2023 - 06:00   ET



AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you. Welcome to CNN THIS MORNING on this Sunday. I'm Amara Walker.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. It's good to be with you. And thanks for being with us.

Here's what we're watching this morning. Lawmakers finally reach a tentative debt ceiling deal, but of course the fight is not over. Now President Biden and House Speaker McCarthy they have to try to get their members onboard from each of their representative parties. Can they pass the agreement and get it to the president's desk by June 5th?

WALKER: An unprecedented move, the Texas House of Representatives votes to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton after an investigation into corruption, abuse of power and obstruction of justice. We'll have the latest on the historic action and what happens next.

BLACKWELL: Look at these remarkable new images of the sun. We have never seen the sun this way. Powerful telescope captures photos of the sun's surface. We will talk about how they could help scientists studying the sun and the solar system.

WALKER: And a group of bipartisan lawmakers in Washington comes together to mark Memorial Day. We're going to show you how they are paying tribute to the fallen.

BLACKWELL: All right. We're beginning with that race in Washington to crack the legislation to raise the nation's debt ceiling and avoid this historic default. Last night, White House and Republican negotiators reached an agreement in principle but there are still concerns that the nation could default.

WALKER: The proposed legislation still needs to be written and passed before June 5th, the date Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen set as the date that the government will run out of cash. And there are skeptics in the House and Senate who will have to be won over before the measure makes it to the president's desk. CNN's Manu Raju has more on what the legislation will likely include.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: After a furious round of negotiations and staring at the prospects of the first ever debt default in American history, the speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, reached a deal late Saturday with President Biden to raise the national debt limit and do that for two years time. And also to include a range of other spending cuts and other policy concessions that Republicans had demanded including pairing back some social safety net programs that have been central to their efforts here. But the White House conceded on that and those accounts. They ultimately shook hands, reached an agreement in principle and now the real challenge begins because there is push back.

Some conservatives do not believe this bill went far enough. They believe that it is a retreat of sorts from the Republican position demanding even deeper spending cuts. This proposal would cut spending, go back to 2023 levels of federal spending. Republicans wanted to go back -- some of the conservatives wanted to go back to 2022 levels but the White House had conceded substantially on that approach. They did not want any cuts whatsoever as part of this agreement.

On the Democratic side many did not want any sort of work requirements on social safety net programs like food stamps. Also, they have furiously opposed any spending cuts. And so, expect some opposition from Democrats.

Now, Kevin McCarthy in speaking to reporters in the immediate aftermath of this deal said that a vote would occur on Wednesday. Then the bill text would be released on Sunday. That gives them some 72 hours essentially to begin to lock down the votes.

The question is going to be how many Republicans will defect? We do expect several dozen Republicans at least 35 at the moment warning they will vote against it. That number is expected to grow. But how many more will vote against this plan?

And Kevin McCarthy keep a majority of his conference behind it. That is the hope and the expectation at the moment from Republican leaders. But that does not mean that is enough to pass the House. They will need to get support from Democrats. The number of House Democrats were concerned about this bill will have to be convinced to vote for it.

We do know that the House Democrats are going to get briefed by White House officials on Sunday. That will be part of the White House's effort to try to get their members in line. Can they get that coalition together, get it through the House by Wednesday? And then they have to worry about the United States Senate which can take time to get any legislation through, several days, sometimes up to a week depending on how members respond to this bill.

So still some major questions. Despite significant agreement that was reached late after these frantic negotiations, still uncertain whether they can get there and avoid the nation's first ever debt default by June 5th, the deadline for Congress to get the bill through both chambers and get it signed into law.


Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.

WALKER: Getting it signed into law, that is going to be the hard part. Let's go now to CNN White House reporter Kevin Liptak. As we said, the hard work begins now. We know that anytime there is a compromise there will be concessions. How confident, Kevin, is President Biden that he will have enough support from Democrats on this?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. Well, I think what you are hearing from the White House is cautious optimism this morning. But it is very guarded optimism, of course, because the marathon here isn't over. The threat of default is not on the table and the work really now begins on trying to consolidate support among Democrats and Republicans around this bill.

Really the most intensive phase is yet to begin. And you do see in this package it's a compromise package. There are things that Democrats won't like and there are things that Republicans won't like either, and you are already starting to see both the left and the right starting to balk at some of what is included in this package.

And just to tick through some of where those snags might arise, this package raises the debt ceiling two years. And that's critically beyond the 2024 election. Many Republicans had hoped for a shorter term increase. It freezes this domestic spending but it increases defense and veterans spending. Republicans had hoped for much deeper cuts.

It does impose some new work requirements on food stamps and this is something that many Democrats had said were a non-starter. They warned it could send more Americans into poverty. Even the White House said that it was cruel and senseless, but this is an area where President Biden did have to compromise.

You also see in this package new rules around energy permitting. That had been a key priority for some Republicans. President Biden late last night did issue a statement acknowledging that this agreement reflected a compromise with Republicans.

He said, it is an important step forward that reduces spending while protecting critical programs for working people and growing the economy for everyone. And, the agreement protects my and my congressional Democrats' key priorities and legislative accomplishments. The agreement represents a compromise which not everyone gets what they want. That's what -- that's the responsibility of governing.

So, the question really now is whether this can make it through a very sharply divided House. The president and the White House will really need to consolidate support among Democrats because not all Republicans will be onboard. Of course, they are working against a very tight deadline, June 5th, that's the day that the Treasury Department says they will run out of cash to pay their bills in full. Guys. BLACKWELL: Kevin Liptak for us there. Thanks so much. Here with me now is White House reporter for "Politico" Daniel Lippman. Daniel, good morning to you.

OK. So we have made the point this morning.


BLACKWELL: I think everybody will continue to reinforce this, that -- you know, the essence of compromise is not everybody gets what they want. Republicans were not going to get everything in the bill that they passed last month.

But we are overnight getting some reaction from some of the members of the Freedom Caucus, those Republicans who are critical of it. Let's put up the tweet from Bob Good where he says, I am hearing the deal is for a $4 trillion increase in the debt limit. If that is true, I don't need to hear anything else. No one claiming to be a conservative could justify a yes vote.

Now, that $4 trillion is an estimate. It's through 2025. But what -- gauge for us the Republican response and if it's any more than the expected voices who are disappointed, outraged, balking at this deal.

LIPPMAN: Yes. When you have Congressman Bob Good, who is notorious for kind of being a gadfly for leadership, criticizing the deal and not too many other people. You have Jim Jordan saying this is a great deal and he has long been a thorn in the side of Republican leadership. Then I think Republicans and Kevin McCarthy are feeling pretty good that this is something that they can get through.

They are going to lose some members. They're going to need some Democrats to support this bill. But, you know, I don't think someone like Bob Good recognizes what compromise means.

And there is a Democratic Senate. There is a Democratic president. And so, you know, if he wants to run for president and do his own debt limit deals then I am sure he's -- you know, the office is open.

But this is not -- I don't think Republicans are terribly concerned that they are going not be able to pass this. This is a huge test for McCarthy and also they do check before they do a deal that they can actually get most of these members.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the Democrats will have to compensate getting some of their members to vote for this, for the Republicans who will not support it. We're also hearing from Chip Roy, hearing from Dan Bishop as well. But if we all remember from the speakership fight, those 15 votes, part of the compromise was the single vote of a member who could propose a resolution to vacate the chair.


Is the disappointment or anger or any way you want to describe what we are seeing from those on the right potent enough that this jeopardizes McCarthy's speakership? Are you seeing anything there this early? LIPPMAN: We haven't heard of people, including Bob Good, threaten that overnight since this deal was announced. And so, that's pretty good news for McCarthy. I don't think he would make a deal where his speakership is threatened.

I think a lot of Republicans believe that McCarthy did a pretty good job of managing the media and getting their message out about how we want to raise the debt ceiling. But with the debt at, you know, $31 trillion and spending always growing, although they are not really addressing defense spending, that they feel like they won the messaging battle against the White House.

And a lot of Democrats felt the White House was MIA and did not get Biden's principles out there about how -- why are we negotiating with -- over the future of the economy and they didn't really get people to talk about how this was kind of a hostage situation, as they saw, that Matt Gaetz, the Republican from Florida, openly said this was kind of a hostage move. And so, I think they feel like pretty good that they were able to win the public narrative on this.

BLACKWELL: Well, the battle over the narrative is not over. This fight, as we know, continues until at least, at least that the bill is signed by the president.

Let's turn to the Democrats now. The expanded work requirements, raising the 20-hour week requirement for able-bodied childless adults for food stamps from 49 to 54 -- 55. We're going to, of course, wait for the legislation to be written and released today.

Is that enough to lose significant Democratic support considering what we heard from Pramila Jayapal, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, some of the progressive members of the caucus?

LIPPMAN: I don't think it's going to be a total deal breaker because they are likely to kind of -- not every Democrat is going to vote for this, of course. But for the average Democratic member, they don't want to defy Biden, who is part of their party, on this huge deal. They don't want to plunge the American economy into default and have that on Democrats -- half of Democrats' shoulders.

And so I think you -- I don't know about polling, but it's going to be hard for them to message that if you are able-bodied without dependents that you shouldn't be trying -- at least trying to get a job for -- you know, to get some of the government aid that taxpayers who do have jobs and work hard at those jobs have to pay to fund those programs. And so I think that is also kind of predictable backbiting about -- in a very -- you know, if there was a totally liberal world then, of course, you'd have more of this European social safety net. But I think that's not where most Americans are. And so I think they recognize that.

BLACKWELL: OK. Daniel Lippman with that today. And speaking of -- thank you, Daniel -- the Democratic messaging, CNN will have, of course, more on the debt ceiling agreement on "STATE OF THE UNION." Jake Tapper will speak with congressional progressive caucus chair Pramila Jayapal. That begins at 9:00 a.m. right here on CNN. WALKER: It was a stunning development in Texas. Republican lawmakers in the statehouse have voted overwhelmingly to impeach one of their own, the state's Republican attorney general. The vote against Ken Paxton was 121-23. And as Rosa Flores reports, it comes after a legislative investigation accused him of years of corruption.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, Amara, Ken Paxton has been impeached by the Texas House of Representatives. And under the Texas constitution that means that he is immediately suspended and that the Texas governor has the power to appoint a replacement.

But let me take you inside this historic vote. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have all members voted? There have been 121 ayes and 23 nays, two present non-voting, three absent. The resolution is adopted.


FLORES: Now, this is Republicans policing Republicans. The Texas House is led by Republicans. And the committee that investigated Ken Paxton is a Republican.

And he issued a statement after this historic vote that said in part -- quote -- "Throughout the course of the investigation, we discovered numerous activities that constitute unethical and potentially criminal conduct. These violations of the public trust are alarming and show a systemic pattern of behavior that every member of our committee felt needed to be addressed in a public forum."


Now, this is already a historic vote. Ken Paxton is the first attorney general in the state of Texas to ever be impeached. But there was another bombshell during this long debate that happened in the House on Saturday. And that was that several members of the House stated that Ken Paxton called them, threatening them, that if they voted yes there would be political consequences.

So, there is concern about this. So much so that one member took to Twitter saying -- quote -- "I will be submitting a journal statement to amend charge document to include abuse of power, intimidation of House members, and Senate jury tampering in light of Charlie Geren statements that AG Paxton called and threatened House and Senate members."

I asked Ken Paxton's office about those threats and I did not hear back. Now, Ken Paxton did take to Twitter in response to his impeachment saying in part -- quote -- "I am beyond grateful to have the support of millions of Texans who recognize that what we just witnessed is illegal, unethical, and profoundly unjust. I look forward to a quick resolution in the Texas Senate, where I have full confidence the process will be fair and just." So, what happens next? The trial happens in the Senate. And what we know is that the lieutenant governor serves as a judge. The 31 senators serve as jurors. And that a two-thirds vote of senators present is required to convict. Victor and Amara.

WALKER: All right. Rosa, thank you. And still ahead, Ukraine staves off a Russian aerial assault. Officials report they have shot down dozens of Iranian made drones overnight. We're going to go live to eastern Ukraine for an update.

BLACKWELL: Plus, three former Jackson police officers indicted after the death of a man in custody on New Year's Eve. We'll walk through the details of the charges they face.

Plus, we are going to take you as close to the sun as we can. Stunning new images show what is happening on its surface in unprecedented detail. What scientists have taken away from these pictures. That's coming up.



WALKER: Ukraine's ministry of defense is calling it the largest drone strike on the country to date. The air force claims to have shot down 52 of the 54 Iranian-made drones Russia launched late into the night. The mayor of Kyiv says at least one person was killed in the drone attacks which left extensive damage to some of the buildings in the capital city and sparked several fires.

BLACKWELL: Meantime, Russia carried out a number of deadly strikes across Zaporizhzhia and Kharkiv, in those regions. The head of the Ukrainian military in Zaporizhzhia says they fought through more than 100 attacks Saturday. One person was killed. Dozens of structures were destroyed, and in Kharkiv 61-year-old -- a 61-year-old woman was killed.

Sam Kiley joins us now from eastern Ukraine. So, Ukraine's defense systems seem to be doing its job in Kyiv. What can you tell us about these drone strikes?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was the 14th day this year in which, as far as the Ukrainian authorities are concerned, Victor, that the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv has been the focus of these air attacks by Russia. Now, they have been using a variety of different missiles. Essentially, I think, probably testing out the air defenses.

So a few -- about a week ago there was a concentration on the use of cruise missiles. Now, we have got 52 -- 54 Shahed so called drones. They are not drones. In that they are not flown remotely by a pilot. They are simply fired off into the airspace carrying 40 kilograms of explosive. Sound a bit like a lawnmower when they fly past.

But they are unsophisticated, cheap and designed to try to overwhelm air defenses. And, of course, do damage if they do descend and explode or create the space for the more powerful cruise missiles or S-300, the repurposed surface to air missiles being used to attack civilians that we have seen so much across the country.

I think this though, Victor and Amara, should be seen really as almost part of a tit-for-tat series of strikes. There has been several strikes inside Russian-held Ukraine and indeed some mysterious drone attacks inside Russian territory, too, all of them attributed to the Ukrainians, particularly in Mariupol and Berdyansk down on the coastline there on the southern coastline of Ukraine. Very important logistic spaces for the Russians in prosecuting their war particularly here in the east of the country. They are getting attacked very regularly almost on a daily basis so far this week and over the last week.

WALKER: Yes. And we are also getting information, Sam, about what was gained, the information that was gained from this cross-border incursion into Russia's Belgorod region earlier this week. What do we know about that?

KILEY: Well, we talked to some of the soldiers who participated in that. They are Russians fighting for Ukraine. They are dissident Russians. They hoped, and this is part of that intelligence mission, to galvanize opposition groups within Russia to take more of a stand to increasingly destabilize with pin prick attacks across Russia against Putin's regime.

The Ukrainian intelligence, of course, saying essentially two things by saying that they garnered valuable intelligence. The first is they were able at a local level, at a tactical level to test the Russian defensive capabilities, work out reaction times, see how the air defenses and the surface-to-surface missile defenses fired up, whether they fired up in response to this cross-border operation, what the reaction of the local communities there, some of which may be sympathetic to Ukraine indeed.


And the other one is psychological. Rattling the Russians, keeping them off balance.

WALKER: Sam Kiley, appreciate it. Thank you very much. Joining me now is retired Air Force colonel and CNN military analyst Colonel Cedric Leighton. Good morning to you, colonel. Thanks for being here.

Let's talk more about these anti-Putin Russians who are claiming responsibility for this attack at least into the Belgorod region in Russia. This isn't the first attack that we've seen within Russia's borders. How much of a threat are these anti-Putin Russians to Putin?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think -- Amara, good morning. I think what we have to look at is that this is, you know, a movement to do reconnaissance plus it's also a move to take a look and see what can actually happen with the Russian defenses. So if the Russians, for example, had stopped them at the border, that would have presented some type of information to them. On the other hand, what you are looking at is you have got the capability to go into these areas to do some damage. These -- you know, these movements are very tactical in nature. They are not going to change the course of the war by themselves, but psychologically they are extremely important because what they show is that Russia is penetrable. It is not some country that is -- you know, a country that is completely walled off. There are a lot of vulnerabilities there and it's highlighting those vulnerabilities.

WALKER: And how does Putin balance these vulnerabilities, especially when he needs these borders? I mean, he actually yesterday just stressed the importance of protecting these borders near combat zones saying, look, these are -- you know, we cross these borders to transport military personnel, weapons and aid.

LEIGHTON: Well, that's one of his great difficulties because the things that he is talking about and his exhortation to secure those borders is actually a problem for him because he doesn't have the physical capacity to do that except in localized areas. So that's the big difference. It's basically showing the lie that Putin is telling his people and it's also making it very clear that the facts on the ground are different from what he is saying.

WALKER: And, you know, as we continue to see these aerial assaults from Russia, you know, in the form of drones, from, you know, made in Iran and also cruise missiles, what are we learning in terms of how robust Ukraine's air defense system is holding up and how much more aid they need regarding the air defense system?

LEIGHTON: Yes. So, the key thing here is supply. And what we are talking about is not only supply of the big weapon systems such as, you know, the Patriot missiles, plus IRIS-T and other systems that are designed to provide the air defenses that Ukraine needs. The Ukrainian air defenses have been highly, highly effective. You know, the ratio of kills to missiles that actually got through is very high in favor of downing these missiles and drones. So the Ukrainians have been very effective.

What is really important, though, is for them to continue to get the right munitions in order to perform that mission. They have the capability. They have been able to protect their systems sufficiently to really create, you know, a problem for Russian attackers, and that problem is manifesting itself in these very high kill ratios that favor the Ukrainians.

WALKER: Then how significant will the delivery of these U.S.-made F-16 jets be, if and when that happens? And also, because as you know, during the G7 last week President Biden did announce that the U.S. would support and approve the transfer of these F-16 jets. We know it's mostly the Ukrainian -- excuse me, the European allies who have a handful of these jets.

But we also heard from the Dutch prime minister who said, look, we haven't gone there yet. We haven't approved the delivery of our F-16s. I mean, what's the calculus here? And is there a concern that these F- 16s will not arrive in time, of course, after the training has been finished?

LEIGHTON: So the training is for the pilots alone is going to take a minimum of four to five months. That does not include the training for the maintenance personnel and other associated elements of the Ukrainian air force that will have to be retrained because they are used to using old Soviet tactics and techniques.

The F-16s are not going to arrive in time for this part at least of the spring or summer counteroffensive for the Ukrainians. So we have to be clear about that. So even with the Dutch prime minister making those comments, I think, we are still on the path to provide F-16s to the Ukrainians, but that's something that is definitely going to be a future capability for them.

WALKER: Colonel Cedric Leighton, we'll leave it there. Thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: Coming up, CNN goes inside a religious community center where a common space has been transformed to accommodate migrants.


Up next, the leader of the organization shares her personal migrant story. How she plans to partner with the city to help more people?


BLACKWELL: Three former Jackson, Mississippi police officers have been indicted for a man's death after a confrontation. We're going to show you some of the body cam footage, but a warning first, it is graphic.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands behind your back now! Put your hands behind your back, both of them.


BLACKWELL: The video shows officers pinning down Keith Murriel and tasing him multiple times in a hotel parking lot. This is New Year's Eve. Attorneys for Murriel's family says that an independent autopsy found Murriel died because of failure to receive aid after a severe beating. Kenya McCarty, Avery Willis are charged with secondary murder. and James Land, seen in the middle here, charged with manslaughter, are also facing a civil lawsuit.

This morning, New York City officials say the recent surge of migrants is putting a huge strain on the city's finances. Listen to this. They estimate that the city will spend more than $4 billion to help asylum seekers by July of next year.


WALKER: And right now, more than 44,000 migrants are in the city's care and more than 70,000 have passed through intake facilities. Let's go now to CNN's Polo Sandoval in New York where officials have partnered with a mosque to help shelter the influx of migrants.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Just below a bustling Brooklyn interstate, this brick building offers shelter in the face of New York City's ongoing migrant crisis.

SONIYA ALI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MUSLIM COMMUNITY CENTER: We have 17 migrants that are staying with us. And so, basically, each bed is their living space.

SANDOVAL (voiceover): Soniya Ali helps run the Muslim Community Center, which she says for the last nine months or so, has collectively offered respite to 75 asylum seekers of all faiths. As New York City struggles to keep up with the demands of housing nearly 45,000 homeless migrants, this organization does what it can to help shoulder that weight, all while hoping to live up to the guiding principle that's painted outside.

ALI: As a Muslim, it's an obligation upon us to help house, you know, migrants and people who are travelers. And basically, we decided to, you know, take that step.

SANDOVAL (voiceover): Ali was five when her family immigrated to the U.S. from Kashmir.

ALI: I can definitely understand what they're feeling when they talk about you know their families and their children that they've left to buy behind or their, you know, wives or whomever it is that they've left behind. I understand that because I do have family members that are back home that are not here. And you do feel that sense of longing. So, I understand that part of their journey and their situation.

SANDOVAL (voiceover): Ali says her community center is among the faith-based organizations that have applied to team up with the city of New York starting this summer. A local government official familiar with the city's planning tells CNN the city will soon announce the program that seeks to open up to 50 faith-based shelters starting in July, each offering about 19 beds. The goal the official says is to count on at least 950 additional beds for asylum seekers by the fall. However, institutions will have to meet building codes to house large groups, the official says. For Ali, that means installing fire sprinklers.

ALI: This is something that might take a little bit longer than we expected. The -- what -- from what I was told or what I'm aware of is that there's two slots, June and September. We were hoping for June, but it doesn't look like it, so we're probably going to be approved in September.

SANDOVAL (voiceover): The plan to use some of New York City's houses of worship comes as the city and state are forced to get creative to expand shelter space.

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): There's some schools that have empty dorms. There are some schools that are not reopening. There are former correctional facilities which are not ideal but that is space if we can change the environment.

SANDOVAL: That's some new and unusual options emerge. Faith-based communities are already offering sanctuary.

ALI: Spiritually, it has been humbling to hear the stories and to be able to know that we're making a difference in these -- in these individuals' lives.

SANDOVAL (voiceover): Polo Sandoval, CNN New York.


WALKER: Up next, a Memorial Day Act of Service. A bipartisan group of lawmakers come together to clean the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. And CNN takes a look at how partisan politics takes a backseat to honoring America's veterans.



WALKER: This Memorial Day, a group of lawmakers put aside their differences and they came together to help clean the Vietnam Memorial wall.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Jake Tapper shows us why honoring America's veterans is a nonpartisan endeavor.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Etched into these enormous pieces of black granite, which emerged from the National Mall like a wound, are the names of 58,318 servicemen and servicewomen who lost their lives fighting in one of America's longest wars, the Vietnam War.

In a town so often divided, members of Congress from both parties were united and came together to wash this wall by hand ahead of Memorial Day. Republican Congressman Mike Waltz from Florida is a Green Beret who did combat tours in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Africa. He organized this bipartisan event several years ago with fellow lawmakers who have also served.

REP. MIKE WALTZ (R-FL): It's a reminder to us the sacrifices that have been made for this country and it's a reminder to us as members of Congress both sides of the aisle that at the end of the day, we're all American. We're all veterans who were willing to die together just a few years ago, then we can come together, roll up our sleeves, and move the country forward.

TAPPER (voiceover): Retired Lieutenant General and Michigan Republican Congressman Jack Bergman is one of only three Vietnam veterans left serving in the House.

REP. JACK BERGMAN (R-MI): I normally come here alone. I never -- once I get here, I'm never alone because I know who I'm visiting.

TAPPER (voiceover): A wall full of the names of friends and Americans who did not come home.

REP. MIKE THOMPSON (D-CA): I have friends whose names are on that wall, people -- kids that I grew up with and people that I serve with. And from that perspective. it was powerful.

REP. JIM BAIRD (R-IN): The opportunity for he and I to be here is just I think very important. And it really -- it really pays tribute to what we're here for.


TAPPER (voiceover): Republican Congressman Jim Baird from Indiana and Democratic Congressman Mike Thompson from California both served in Vietnam but only just realized all they have in common.

THOMPSON: We're both at Fort Benning, Georgia. We're both married to nurses and we're both wounded in Vietnam. And as Jim pointed out, you know, we're here to work together for the American people and maybe that will help us get there.

TAPPER (voiceover): For Republican Congressman John James of Michigan and Democratic Congressman Pat Ryan of New York, Congress is a college reunion.

TAPPER: So, you guys were in the same class at West Point?

REP. JOHN JAMES (R-MI): Yes, F1. Go, firehouse.

REP. PAT RYAN (D-NY): We lived across the hall from each other.

JAMES: Our class, class 2004, was the first class to take our oath of affirmation after the Twin Towers fell. That means we are all committed to our service after we knew we'd be going to war. We've suffered the most casualties of any West Point class since the Vietnam War.

RYAN: I wear this bracelet that actually has our West Point classmates names on it, etched on it. And the interconnection between our generation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Vietnam generation.

TAPPER (voiceover): And maybe, just maybe, the camaraderie will thaw some of the partisanship division we see just down the road.

JAMES: The long gray line is neither blue nor red. It's more red white and blue and it links every generation, those who understand that we need to continue to sacrifice to make this nation prosperous and free.

TAPPER (voiceover): Jake Tapper, CNN Washington.


BLACKWELL: Thank you, Jake, for that story. Still ahead, a remarkable and unprecedented look at the Sun. A

powerful telescope gives us a glimpse of the star's surface as it approaches the peak of an 11-year solar cycle. What is that? We'll explain.



WALKER: A powerful telescope has captured unprecedented and really beautiful images of the sun's surface revealing sun spots and other features in new detail.

BLACKWELL: Also, Saturn's iconic rings may not be visible from Earth in the future. Data analysis of NASA's 13-year Cassini mission is unveiling new insight into how long those rings have been around and when potentially they'll vanish from sight.

Let's bring it now President of Explore Mars Incorporated, Janet Ivey, to discuss that and more. Let's talk -- first, good morning -- about the sun and these amazing images. We're seeing some dark spots here. We're seeing what I'm learning are some bridges. What do we see?

WALKER: It looks like pasta.

JANET IVEY, EXPLORE MARS INCORPORATED: No, it's amazing because what the Inouye telescope has captured are these beautiful dark sunspots. And we are in a time of solar maximum. The sun goes through an 11-year solar cycle. So, solar minimum to solar maximum. We're in solar maximum. What these sunspots are revealing, they're seeing this -- it's weird because it's like plasma pushing upwards and then cooler plasma pushing downwards. It's just beautiful. They kind of look like honeycomb or flames coming out.

These are regions that are huge magnetic regions that solar flares can occur and then that can cause a lot of problems here on Earth when they happen. But as just an image and beauty, it's beautiful. And what's really weird is that, Victor, some of those sun spots are three city blocks long. And then the one really big one you might be looking at is at least as big as the entire planet of Earth. Because here's a little sun fact that everybody needs to know, over one million suns could fit -- I mean, one million Earths could fit inside the sun. Amazing.


WALKER: Right. We can't even fathom. These images are really beautiful and we're both lovers of art. And I love the color yellow or chartreuse. I have it in my living room. I would love to just blow that up and just -- because it looks like acrylic art or, you know, pasta as -- like noodles, right?

BLACKWELL: Back on the pasta.

WALKER: OK, so, let's go to Saturn's rings.

IVEY: It looks beautiful.

WALKER: Go ahead.

IVEY: Oh, Saturn's rings are amazing. And this is new information. Remember, Cassini crash dive at the end of its mission. And what it was doing, it would sort of dive in between those rings. And scientists noticed these interesting phenomena called ring rain. And so, there -- for a long time we thought maybe something crashed into Saturn, that material dispersed, and then you know, the gravitational pull of Saturn pulled those rings and they began to spin around it.

Now, there may be some other evidence that maybe there was once a moon and maybe the gravitational instability call -- caused that kind of debris field. But remember, a lot of Saturn's -- what's in Saturn's rings are things made of comets, asteroids, ice rock, and dust. But what they're seeing is every time those rings that never stop spinning get hit with something out there in our Solar System, it's sort of shearing off some of that -- some of that ice rock and debris in there.

So, scientists theorize that billions of years from now that they may disappear. So, I hope they stick around for a long, long time.

BLACKWELL: Well, so, we have a little time, billions of years from now. They won't disappear on Monday. We've got -- we can enjoy it for a little while longer. OK.

So, let's turn now to NASA's Mars rover Perseverance. Friends call him Percy. We're getting some new video looking inside the Belva Crater. What are we seeing?

IVEY: So, Belva Crater is kind of like a crater in a crater. Remember, Perseverance landed in a place called Jezero Crater and its main mission is looking for life. But this vista really kind of has some scientists puzzling. Like, the way that the rock is sort of scattered and some of the mosaic and the way the sand structures really suggest that there was faster-flowing water through this region.

And as Danny Roja and Ted Lasso says, football is life. Well, water means life. So, that is the quest of Perseverance is that we're looking for those bio -- you know, biosignatures. We're looking for fossilized life, microbial life. But what you're seeing is just really this amazing crater within a crater that we know that flowing water existed at one point in history. More to come I'm sure as scientists keep reviewing that.


BLACKWELL: All right, Janet Ivey, always good to have you on a Sunday morning. Thank you so much.

WALKER: I always learned something new. I didn't know Saturn -- the rings were made up of asteroids and debris and stuff. It's so super cool.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And new for me is a million Earths into the Sun. I had no idea.

WALKER: Yes, yes.

BLACKWELL: All right, thank you, Janet.

WALKER: I appreciate it, Janet. Good to see you. Still ahead, an agreement in principle. President Biden and Speaker McCarthy reach a late-night deal to raise the nation's borrowing limit. And now, well, the hard part begins. They have to sell it to their party.