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DeSantis Hits New Hampshire; Pentagon Cancels Drag Show; T.J. Newman is Interviewed about Her New Book; David Spergel is Interviewed about Unidentified Objects. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired June 01, 2023 - 06:30   ET




ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley's husband is set to deploy to Africa with the South Carolina Army National Guard. A person familiar with the matter tells CNN that Michael Haley will likely remain overseas through the spring of 2024, which, of course, accounts for most of the presidential campaign season. The former South Carolina governor releasing a statement saying, quote, our family, like every military family, is ready to make personal sacrifices when our loved one answers the call. We could not be prouder of Michael and his military brothers and sisters.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, just hours from now, two top Republican presidential hopefuls will hit the campaign trail in early voting states. Former President Donald Trump heading to Iowa, just missing his opponent, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. DeSantis spent his first full day campaigning there yesterday. He's now headed to New Hampshire.

And their trips come as two more GOP hopefuls get ready to get in the race. CNN has learned former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will announce his bid on Tuesday, and former Vice President Mike Pence is set to do the same on Wednesday.

Jessica Dean is live in Laconia, New Hampshire, this morning.

Jess, good morning to you. So, what will we see from DeSantis there today?


We expect to see him doing the traditional campaign swings all through New Hampshire. And he was here not too long ago, roughly about a month ago, where he headlined the dinner -- the annual fundraising dinner for the state GOP party. And he broke some fundraising records. It was the biggest fundraiser they've ever had. So, we're going to see him doing multiple swings through New Hampshire.

This follows the similar playbook in Iowa yesterday as we really see his campaign taking shape and seeing him really maximize this first week of being out on the campaign trail in these early states, which will be so important there in the beginning of the primary season. So, we expect him to spend a lot of time in these states. And, to boot, he'll be circling through South Carolina tomorrow and then back to Iowa for this weekend.


We are also seeing him kind of road test new policy ideas as he's out on the road talking to voters. One would be to give back pay to members of the military who re-enlist due to the -- who left after an - and will re-enlist after leaving due to the Covid vaccine policy. Another would be for universities to pick up the tab if students can't pay their loans back. So, we're starting to see some of these policies also come out on the campaign trail.

So, Poppy, we expect to see more of that today. His first stop will be happening right behind me.

HARLOW: What are we going to learn from Mike Pence? He's been on this book swing for months now, you know, weighing a presidential run. Now he's going to make it official on Wednesday. Sounds like right before CNN has its town hall with him.

DEAN: Right. And so, as you mentioned, this GOP field is getting ever more crowded. We're seeing more and more people jump in. He's going to get in on Wednesday.

Of course, a lot of eyes have been on him as he's been on this book tour and really keeping himself in the spotlight as he contemplated whether he would get in or not. So, we expect to hear his reasoning behind getting in.

And, of course, he's kind of orchestrated all of this with the announcement, with a video all in Iowa. And then our town hall will take place later that night. And, of course, that comes the day after former New Jersey governor and former GOP presidential hopeful Chris Christie gets in the race.

So, Poppy, a potential debate stage getting more and more full as the days go by.

HARLOW: I'm (ph) seeing images of 2016 in my mind, and a whole lot of them on the debate stage.

DEAN: Yes.

HARLOW: Jessica, thank you for the reporting.

DEAN: Yes.

HARLOW: As we just mentioned, our very own Dana Bash will moderate that CNN Republican town hall with former Vice President Mike Pence. That is Wednesday, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

And then before that, this Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, join Jake Tapper as he moderates a CNN town hall with former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. HILL: This morning the Pentagon is ordering a Nevada Air Force base to

cancel a drag show set for today. This, of course, is the first day of Pride Month. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has spoken in support of Pride Month in the military. A Pentagon spokeswoman, however, says he has now drawn a line at allowing shows to be hosted at military bases because, we're quoting here, hosting these types of events in federally funded facilities is not a suitable use of DOD resources.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand joining us now live from the Pentagon.

So, what's, I think, perhaps even more interesting, Natasha, is that Nellis Air Force Base has already hosted two drag events in the past. Third time is not the charm here. So, why the about-face from the Pentagon in 2023?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Erica, so this would have been the third drag show that Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada would have hosted in celebration of Pride Month. They have done this numerous times before. But this year the Pentagon actually stepped in to cancel it. It had already been approved by Air Force leaders and it was set to move forward. But when Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin found out about it, the fact that it was moving forward, he stepped in and he ordered that it be canceled.

Now, this obviously comes at a moment when these kinds of drag shows are becoming politically contentious with conservative policymakers, Republicans on The Hill arguing that these military bases should not be hosting these events because they should not be essentially using taxpayer money to fund them.

And we should play a clip from a House Armed Services Committee hearing on March 29th when Representative Matt Gaetz, a Republican, questioned Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley very angrily about these drag shows that have been taking place on bases across the country.

Here -- take a listen.


REP. MAT GAETZ (R-FL): At Nellis Air Force Base you had the drag unelis (ph) on June 17th. Who funded these things, Mr. Secretary?

LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Listen, drag shows and -- are not something that the Department of Defense supports or funds.

GAETZ: Why are they happening on military bases? I just - I just showed you the evidence. Why are they happening?

AUSTIN: I will say again, this is not something that we support or fund.

GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIR, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: That's the first I'm hearing about that kind of stuff. I don't read those news stories. I don't know what you're talking about. I'd like to take a look at those because I don't agree with those. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERTRAND: So, as you mentioned, Erica, Austin has spoken out in support of Pride Month in the military before. He said, quote, LGBTQ+ citizens have fought to defend our rights and freedoms from the founding of our nation to the Civil War and beyond.

But, obviously, given the politically contentious environment and his testimony that -- where he specifically said that the military does not support or fund these kinds of drag shows on bases at this time, the military wanted to make sure that he - that his testimony was accurate.

And so now what we're seeing is, according to an Air Force official, they say that consistent with his congressional testimony, the Air Force will not host drag events anymore at these installations or facilities, Erica.

HILL: Natasha Bertrand, really appreciate the reporting this morning. Thank you.

HARLOW: All right, ahead, this is so fascinating, could a very popular weight loss drug also help people stop smoking, stop drinking, stop biting their nails?


What researchers say about addictions and Ozempic.

HILL: Plus, Samantha Jones is back, my friends. Kim Cattrall reprising her iconic "Sex in the City" role.


KIM CATTRALL, ACTRESS, "SEX IN THE CITY": I am so sick of these people with their children. I'm telling you, they're every. Sitting next to me in first class. Eating at the next table, like (INAUDIBLE) -


CATTRALL: Look at that. This place is for double cappuccinos, not double strollers.



HILL: And just like that, she's back.


KIM CATTRALL, ACTRESS, "SEX IN THE CITY": Honey, you put up a very good fight but you have no idea who you're dealing with.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HILL: Actress Kim Cattrall returning to her signature role of Samantha Jones, the sexually voracious publicist from "Sex in the City." She, of course, played Samantha for six seasons and in two movies, but then famously declined to appear in the first season of the reboot series "And Just Like That."


Media reports that her cameo for season two was secretly filmed in March in a parking garage here in New York in Queens.

Seems like exactly where you'd find Samantha.

HARLOW: Not at all where I thought I would find Samantha Jones. More like at Bergdorf Goodman, but, you know, there's there.

HILL: I think so.

HARLOW: OK, next to this story that we love. From flight attendant to best-selling author, T.J. Newman is making waves as a female author entering the airplane action thriller space. Her first best-selling novel "Falling" garnered so much success the book will soon be adapted into a motion picture from Universal Pictures. And now, just in time for summer, T.J. is out with a new edge-of-your-seat thriller called "Drowning: The Rescue of Flight 1421." And she joins us in studio this morning.

Good morning.

T.J. NEWMAN, AUTHOR, "DROWNING": Good morning.

HARLOW: We love your story. It's about hope. It's about perseverance. And we'll get to all that in a moment.

But let's talk about the new book because just reading snip of it, it does have people on the edge of their seat. Here's part of it. Six minutes and 37 seconds after flight - after the flight had taken off, Flight 1421 crashed. From the moment of impact until the plane came to rest was nine seconds and somehow the plane was still in one piece. The passengers who had survived the crash thought it was a miracle. They thought they were the lucky ones. They had no idea the worst was yet to come.

Duh, duh, duh.

Tell us about it.

NEWMAN: That's -- I mean that's - that's what the book is. It's a flight from Honolulu to San Francisco that crashes into the ocean six minutes after takeoff. The passengers evacuate until an explosion forces those who didn't get out in time to close the doors. But it's too late and the plane floods and sinks with 12 people trapped inside, including a father and his 11-year-old daughter. And now their only hope of survival lies with an elite rescue team on the surface led by her mother and his soon-to-be ex-wife.




HARLOW: Told you duh, duh, duh.

HILL: I know. I know. The duh, duh, duh is so perfect.

As Poppy said, we're super excited about the book. But I think what we both really love is your story. The fact that you didn't give up on this dream. You were rejected famously 41 times. Your first - your first book. And, yet I love, in the latest review from "The Washington Post" for this book, they write, the expertise displayed in her first book was no fluke.

You had that fear as a first-time author that maybe this was a fluke. It was not. How does it feel to see that in print?

NEWMAN: It's - it's so validating. I worked so hard on this book. I worked so hard on the first book. I worked so hard on this book because I just - I wanted to prove to myself and to say thank you to everyone who read my first book and loved my first book and told me that they loved it. And to have the privilege of their time and attention was not something I take lightly or for granted. And I wanted to give them the best story that I possibly could.

And to be here sitting with you on CNN talking about it, it's surreal. You know, when I - when I came from the airport last night, the cab drove passed, you know, the old crew hotel, where I stayed as a flight attendant, and then it drove past the old apartment in Queens that I lived in when I was a struggling actor in New York and just getting rejected and I just kept thinking, I'm going to be on CNN in the morning talking about my book that I wrote. And I was driving past all those old memories. It was - it's all just surreal.

HARLOW: Our viewers are looking at these pictures of you as a flight attendant over the years. I think we might have some photos of you in your actress days back when you were trying to make it as an actress. And you wrote about this recently. You said, as a twenty something I spent years pursuing my Broadway dreams in New York which ended me with embarrassingly thin resume, buying a one-way ticket home to Arizona. And you slept on your twin beds, your twin beds as a child. And for years you wrote figuring out my life on every to-do list you had.

Talk to people who have that hope but who haven't achieved it yet.

NEWMAN: I hope, if there's one thing from my story that people can take away, it's that it can happen. If it can happen to me, it can happen to you. I didn't know anybody about publishing. I didn't know how to get a book published. I was just willing to do the work and then just kept researching and kept going until I got everything that I wanted. And it's been really, really nice to have sort of that response from people who have heard my story and who I have seen that I didn't know anybody. I didn't have an in. And my whole background was in rejection. I submitted this -- my first book to 41 different agents. And all 41 rejected me. And my 42nd was my one and only yes. But it only takes one yes, right? And so I hope if there's anything that people take from this it's keep going.


If it can happen to me, it can happen to you.

HILL: That's great.

You also wrote some really powerful words for Maria Shriver's "Sunday Paper." I would encourage people to read about paying it forward and being the example and really owning your dream.

It is such a treat to have you here this morning. We are so excited for your success and for this book. Can't wait for number three. No pressure.

HARLOW: Can't wait. No pressure. Number three.

Congratulations to you.

People write things down on cocktail napkins because they become a reality, right? That's part of your story on the flight writing this down.

Be sure to check out "Drowning: The Rescue of Flight 1421," available now.

HILL: Just ahead, more on this first on CNN reporting. Federal prosecutors have obtained audio recording of former President Trump acknowledging he held on to classified documents. The legal and political implications are just ahead.

HARLOW: Also, NASA holding its first ever public hearing on UFOs. We're going to talk to the chair of the NASA team studying them. That's next.



HILL: Are we alone on a Wednesday? NASA held its first ever public hearing surrounding that age-old question. This summer, a panel of 16 scientists who published their first report on unidentified anomalous phenomena, also known as UAPs, or to us common folk, UFOs. Pentagon officials report there have been more than 800 sightings of unidentified objects in the past 27 years, but only 2 percent to 5 percent of those are really, quote, anomalous.

Joining us is the chair of NASA's UAP Independent Study Team, astrophysicist David Spergel.

It's great to have you here with us.


HILL: Every time that word comes out of my mouth, I feel like I'm going to mangle it.

HARLOW: Which one? Unidentified -

HILL: I'm not saying it again.

HARLOW: You did it perfectly.

HILL: That one I can do.

This was a seven-month study. What was the big takeaway here?

SPERGEL: I think the big takeaway is, we need better data. So, our job was -- is really not to understand the nature of the events in our report, but to give NASA a road map of how it can contribute to our understanding.

Now, the military is actually our lead agency in studying these events because some of the events, like we saw that Chinese balloon a couple months ago, are military and intelligence community issues.

But NASA is different. NASA is a citizen agency. And NASA can bring in the scientific method. It can bring in really citizen scientists, as well as professional scientists, to address this.

And what we found is most events are explainable. They're balloons, they're commercial jets, drones, weather phenomenon. But there are some events where we don't have good enough data to see what's going on.

HILL: Ah-ha.

HARLOW: But how do you get it? Because part of why you do this, you've said, is to remove the stigma that commercial and military pilots often feel like they won't be taken seriously if they report something they don't know what it is. How do you get more data? From whom?

SPERGEL: I think what we want - we'll end up recommending, and we're still not at our final stage, but for NASA to make use of things like the three to four billion cell phones we have and develop apps that can record information from your phone. Your phone not only takes good images, of course gives you a location, it measures sound, it measures gravitational field, it measures local magnetic field. So, you can imagine encrypting all of that data and uploading that to websites.

HARLOW: If people voluntarily upload it, right?


HARLOW: Because the first think I think of is major privacy concerns.

HILL: Right.

SPERGEL: Only -- people only are going to do this if they see something they don't understand.

HARLOW: And they want to share it.

SPERGEL: And they want to share it.


HILL: Do you think it would be, my guess, too, that there is a lot of interest in people participating in that?

SPERGEL: I think there is. I mean this question of are we alone is really a fundamental question.

HILL: Yes.

SPERGEL: I think just -- people want to understand what's out there. I think that's one of the sources of curiosity, right? You see something you don't understand. You want to figure out what it is. And I think this is an opportunity to engage the public in what we do as scientists.

Now, one of the things we do as scientists is we don't always jump to the most exciting conclusion. When we see things we don't understand, we try to get good data. If you can see something -- if you take a picture and I take a picture, just by combining those two images we can figure out the distance to the object. If we take multiple pictures, we can infer its velocity. If five or six people take pictures, you can verify the quality of the data.

One of the problem in some of the data that we see is optical effects inside the camera. If I point my camera in one direction and the sun's over there -


SPERGEL: I think we've all taken pictures where the sun does really weird things.

HILL: Yes.


SPERGEL: And you want to have multiple images and verifiable data if you are going to draw interesting conclusions.

HARLOW: Sure. And I'm sure that would help prevent against AI being used to create things that aren't really there, which has got to make your job a lot more complicated.

SPERGEL: Somewhat more. Though I think one can do things to encrypt and - the data on a phone.

HARLOW: You would know a lot more about that than I would.

Thank you, David. This is really interesting. We'll continue to track it. SPERGEL: Terrific.

HARLOW: Appreciate it.

HARLOW: And CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump seems to indicate on this tape that he has taken (INAUDIBLE) classified document and that he is limited to declassify something which would undercut the argument that he's been making all along.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: They become automatically declassified when I took them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be at a country club and be talking about plans for a possible military invasion.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Recordings are like gold to prosecutors.