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CNN This Morning

Senate Passes Debt Limit Deal, Averts Default; Trump Responds to Reports of Recording on Classified Docs; Repair Work Began 4 Days Before Building Partial Collapse; Trump and DeSantis on the Trail and Escalating Feud; Trump Calls Use of 'Woke' Into Question But Still Uses It. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired June 02, 2023 - 06:00   ET





CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Drake, his latest, "Search and Rescue."


And No. 3.




ROMANS: That's country superstar Morgan Wallen.

All right. Thanks for joining me, everybody. I'm Christine Romans. Have a great weekend. CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Friday morning, everyone. I am Erica Hill here with Rahel Solomon. Poppy Harlow is off today. Nice to be Friday. Isn't it?


HILL: We are here for that. Let's get you started this morning with "Five Things to Know" for this Friday, June 2.

The debt ceiling bill, now on its way to President Biden's desk after passing through the Senate last night, and once signed, the threat of a U.S. default is officially off the table until after the 2024 election.

SOLOMON: Also, new questions this morning about that partial building collapse in Davenport, Iowa. Just days before the wall came crashing down, an engineering firm said that, quote, "bricks appear ready to fall imminently." And you can see the gap between the brick facade and the interior wall in these new pictures. Three people there still missing.

Former President Trump now responding to CNN's exclusive reporting that prosecutors have him on tape acknowledging that he held onto a classified document once he left office.

HILL: The Denver Nuggets one step closer to making franchise history this morning after beating the Miami Heat. They are up, taking the first game in the NBA finals.

SOLOMON: And an eighth grader from Florida crowned the new national spelling bee champ. We will put him to the test -- and test ourselves -- when he joins us live on CNN THIS MORNING, which starts right now.

HILL: I think our spelling bee champ will spell us under the table.

SOLOMON: Yes, I think so, too. Once upon a time, I was a good speller.

HILL: I believe that.

SOLOMON: Once upon a time.

HILL: I absolutely believe that.

SOLOMON: Before texting was a thing, and now I'm aging myself, so I we'll just stop here.

HILL: We'll stop there. How about we talk debt limit? How about that?


HILL: The debt limit crisis finally over this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On this vote the yeas are 63. The nays are 36. The 60-vote threshold having been achieved, the bill is passed.


HILL: With just days to spare, the Senate passing that debt-limit deal late last night and preventing an economic catastrophe.

President Biden is now set to sign the bill and address the nation later today at the White House. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer giving a thumb's up after the deal passed. He's also been billing this as a victory for Democrats.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): House Republicans were ready to take default hostage in order to pass a radical, hard-right agenda that never could have passed with the American people.

So many of the destructive provisions in the Republican bill are gone. This bill was a total rejection of what the Republicans wanted, and look at the vote. that proves that our strategy was the right strategy.


HILL: That strategy, though, was rejected by some members of his own party, some Senate Democrats refusing to vote to support that agreement.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): We should never have been put in this position to begin with. This is about paying the ransom to a bunch of hostage-takers, and that is not how we should run this government. It's not good for the people of this country.


HILL: CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox joins us live from Capitol Hill this morning. So the debt limit deal ends up with decent bipartisan support in the House and the Senate. What is the feeling there this morning?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a coalition that you probably are going to see again, Erica, as the year drags on. That's because you have divided government here. You have a House of Representatives controlled by Republicans. You have Democrats controlling the Senate and the White House.

And I just want to go back to the amazing feat last night in the U.S. Senate, not because they passed that, but because they were doing it so quickly. They had about a dozen amendment votes, and one after another Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, was keeping track of how long each vote was taking.

I just want to tell the American people, usually the U.S. Senate does not move that quickly. Typically, it takes them about an hour, sometimes even more, to have a single vote. Last night, they kept members on the floor. They were trying to move through about a dozen amendments very expeditiously.

Finally, they got there shortly before midnight.

But one thing that became very clear last night, this is a bipartisan coalition. You're going to see again at the end of September lawmakers will have to pass their spending bills.

We also know they have to pass a farm bill. They made some assurances last night that there could be another supplemental spending bill for Ukraine.

So this is a bipartisan coalition that is going to have to come together on Capitol Hill again and again, because we're in divided government, Erica.

HILL: And we'll see how they end up doing that. Lauren, appreciate it. Thank you.

SOLOMON: And new this morning, former President Donald Trump responding to CNN's reporting that Special Counsel Jack Smith now has audio that proves Trump knows the Pentagon documents he took from the White House were still classified.

Sources say the document is about a possible attack on Iran and that Trump is recorded telling two people without security clearances that he cannot share the information.

Here's how Trump responded when asked about the documents at a Fox town hall last night. Listen to this.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: First of all, do you know who this call may be with? Do you know anything about it?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know anything about it. All I know is this: everything I did was right. We have the Presidential Records Act, which I abided by 100 percent.

Biden has 1,850 boxes with a lot of classified stuff that he's not supposed to have in his case. I have the right to declassify as president.


SOLOMON: CNN's Paula Reid joins us now. Paula part of the team that broke this story. So Paula, what do you make of Trump's response?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a lot to unpack there. Certainly, in his first public comments in response to our first-on-CNN reporting about this audio recording.

First of all, he tries to suggest that he did nothing wrong. That's something that we've heard repeatedly from the former president whenever there are questions about his conduct.

He then goes on to do something his attorneys have done also in the court of public opinion, which is try to conflate his obligations under the Presidential Records Act with his responsibilities to protect classified material and defense information, right?

He's saying that we completely complied with the Presidential Records Act, which requires him to return any -- any materials that are produced during his presidency to the government. They're -- they belong to the American people.

Now, we know they did not fully comply with that, because they returned 15 boxes on their own to the Archives after the government suggested that, Hey, I think we're missing some things.

Then, of course, the FBI also searched his Mar-a-Lago property last August and recovering even more materials.

But here on this recording, the concern is that he's suggesting that he's still in the possession of classified materials. Here once again, he suggests he has the power to declassify those.

But what our sources tell us in on this recording, he suggested -- suggests that he is aware of the limits of his ability to declassify. So even though he's trying to say I did nothing wrong. It was the Presidential Records Act. I declassified them, that just doesn't comport with the facts or what our sources tell us about this recording.

SOLOMON: Paula, as you know, there are the political implications. There are the legal implications of all this. Does Trump's constant denial impact the case against him?

SOLOMON: Well, it's something certainly that prosecutors will make note of. But look, it's not a crime to lie to reporters or to lie at a town hall.

Certainly, prosecutors will take note of the things they say publicly, but it's only a crime if you lie to federal investigators.

The biggest problem is politically. If voters feel that they've heard this again and again and again, they may just sort of tire as some of his competitors on the campaign trail have tried to suggest. There are going to be, quote, "less drama."

But there's also a core group of people who believe that the former president is, indeed, the victim of a political, quote, "witch-hunt," right? Of politically motivated investigations.

That's why we're hearing on the campaign trail so many attacks against the FBI. But when you listen to a recording like this, look, it's clear. This is not an unfounded investigation. Will it result in charges. That's, though, unclear.

SOLOMON: Paula Reid, thank you.

HILL: We have new details this morning about what happened in the days leading up to that partial building collapse over the weekend in Davenport, Iowa. Just four days before this wall came crashing down, engineers had warned parts of it could crumble.

The city has released that report and pictures.

Three people are still believed to be inside.

CNN's Brynn Gingras has been going through that new report this morning. So Brynn, what are we learning here?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so not only did they know that this had issues, but they documented it with those pictures.

Four days, just as Erica said, before this partial collapse, work was underway to fix the facade and wall issues. Now, the city of Davenport just released a proposal from the engineering company. That's dated on May 24. The collapse happened last Sunday, four days later, on May 28.

And part of that report says there are several large patches of clay brick facade which are separating from the substrate. These large patches appear ready to fall imminently. Now, let's just look at these pictures. You see a gap right here

between the brick exterior and the rest of the building. Then the report actually talks about windows that had been bricked over, quoting, "The clay brick facade on and between these openings is bulging outward by several inches and looks poised to fall."

Now, this is what we're talking about. You can see the cracks that are between this building and where those windows used to be.


Then there's this from elsewhere in the building: "The window openings were never filled with brick or block. This lack of bracing helps explain why the facade is currently about to topple outward."

Words like "fall imminently," "poised to fall" and "about to topple outward" appearing throughout the report as we see more pictures of the work just getting underway.

One masonry contractor who did not work on the building but did put in a bid on it says he saw evidence of a big problem when he was inside a few months ago. And he says he was at the scene shortly before the collapse, sounding the alarm.


RYAN SCHAFFER, CO-OWNER, RA MASONRY: You can just hear noises and see debris falling. And there's a guy working, and I said, "If you value your life, get away from that building." And then an hour later, I heard that the building fell.


GINGRAS: Now, remember, there are three people still missing in this building. Rescuers can't go in because of the fear of that building collapsing on them.

Families sleeping on the concrete next to this building, trying to see if they can get -- hear from or just any word about their loved ones.

We do know that the city did have some response to these -- this paperwork. They did say that they are adding an additional demolition company to assist with the recovery and demolition work, shoring materials, equipment, and heavy rescue and removal equipment, which will arrive last night.

And then we also know that they are actually holding a press conference later today. So we should get some more details on what's the next move for this building, but still such a tragic scene there in Iowa.

HILL: It really is and tough for the families to learn and to see some of those pictures, as well. Brynn, thank you.

SOLOMON: Now to some severe weather. Heavy rain in Northwestern Texas triggering chaos and dangerous flash flooding, shutting down highways and streets near Lubbock, pushing this heavy truck and several vehicles off the roadway. Just take a look at this dramatic water rescue.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to get wet, but hop out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got you. All right. Come on. Go this way. Watch out. Watch out. Watch out.


SOLOMON: Crews rescued and worked to rescue several people who were stranded on this flooded highway that looks more like a river here. These pictures just incredible. Officials say nearly seven inches of rain fell in a two-hour time frame near O'Donnell, and drivers should expect detours as roads are shuttered.

HILL: That is rough.

Well, the Trump/DeSantis rivalry getting heated on the campaign trail. We're going to take a look at some of the highlights, if you will, of the candidates' visits to early primary states.

SOLOMON: And a judge has now approved the settlement for the family of cinematographer that was shot and killed on the "Rust" movie set. Coming up, what we know about the deal with Alec Baldwin and other producers of the film. We'll be right back.


SOLOMON: Welcome back. The Republican field growing even more with more big names expected to jump in next week. But for now, all eyes are on the two leading contenders: former President Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. They are both campaigning in early primary states while escalating their ongoing feud.

CNN congressional correspondent Jessica Dean is live in Manchester, New Hampshire, for us this morning.

Jessica, good morning. So the focus is on Trump and DeSantis as they make these first big campaign swings. What are they saying?


It was a big question about how these two men would interact. For months before DeSantis got in the race, he really wouldn't say anything about the former president while taking a lot of incoming from Trump.

And now that he's in, we are seeing him starting to go back. He's calling it a counterpunch, while Trump really trains his eye on DeSantis. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEAN (voice-over): The two leading GOP presidential contenders hitting the campaign trail, making key stops in early voting states.


DEAN (voice-over): Florida Governor Ron DeSantis continued his first campaign swing with a series of stops in New Hampshire.




DEAN (voice-over): While former President Trump was in Iowa.

DeSantis is campaigning on a conservative platform, making the case a two-term president would be best.

DESANTIS: It will require a daily grind for not just one term, but I think for two full presidential terms.

DEAN (voice-over): Hitting Trump on a potential vulnerability: that he can only serve one additional term.

DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I heard DeSantis go out and say -- and talk about eight years, we need eight years. You don't need eight years. You need six months. We can turn this thing around so quickly.

DESANTIS: Why didn't he do it his first four years?

DEAN (voice-over): New Hampshire Representative James Spillane switching his endorsement from Trump to DeSantis, citing Trump's treatment of his former press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany.

REP. JAMES SPILLANE (R-NH): He can't be trusted to stay loyal to the people who have supported him in the past. And it's -- it's a problem. And those kind of negative attacks and the vitriol does not play well in New Hampshire, and it's not good for the United States.

DEAN (voice-over): DeSantis held a series of events on Thursday in New Hampshire, appearing onstage and also amongst crowds, where he talked to voters. He was asked by a reporter why he wasn't taking questions from voters.

DESANTIS: What are you talking about? I'm out here talking with people. Are you blind?


DESANTIS: Are you blind? DEAN (voice-over): Trump and DeSantis are crisscrossing the country as

the Republican field for president is growing more crowded. Both former vice president Mike Pence and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie are expected to enter the race next week.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum is also expected to make an announcement.

And in an attempt to boost Sen. Tim Scott from the crowded field, the super PAC aligned with him is planning a $7 million campaign advertising blitz in New Hampshire and Iowa.

Meanwhile, Trump commenting on his competition at a town hall event.

TRUMP: I don't understand what they're doing. It is what it is. You know, I really go after the one who's second, and I think the one who's second is going down so much.


DEAN: And you can really tell who is in President Trump's head, so to speak. They are the one who is second. That would be Governor Ron DeSantis.

He is on to South Carolina today before returning back to where he started the week in Iowa. He'll be there for an event with Senator Joni Ernst.

And Erica and Rahel, we are certainly seeing this primary season heat up. Just a reminder to everyone: It is only June of 2023.

SOLOMON: Jessica Dean, thank you for that sobering reminder. Things are heating up, and it's only June.


HILL: Jessica Dean is about to get a lot of airline miles.

As we look at what is happening over the last decade, the word "woke," you've heard it a lot the last couple of years. It's gone from what was a battle cry a kind of hash tag used by Black Lives Matter protesters, to a political buzz word. It's a catch word umbrella term that seemingly is used to describe people and ideas that conservatives just don't like.

SOLOMON: The thing is, even former President Trump is acknowledging that the word has really lost its meaning as he continues to use it.


TRUMP: And I don't like the term "woke," because I hear "woke, woke, woke." You know, it's like just a term that use -- half the people can't even define it. They don't know what it is.

A lot of things going on with our military, with the woke and all this nonsense. They're not learning to fight and protect us from some very bad people. They want to go woke. They want to go woke.



HILL: Some irony there, but yes.

SOLOMON: Let's bring in CNN political commentator and "New York" magazine columnist, Errol Louis.

Errol, good morning. Do you think it is ironic that now we have Republicans arguing amongst themselves about what woke is and what woke isn't. Because I'm old enough to remember just a few years ago when woke was something very different.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, yes. Thirty-six months ago, an entirely different universe.

Well, yes, look, it's typical of Trump to sort of change the terms of the debate as it suits him in the moment. He can do that. He can execute those kind of flip-flops within one speech, actually, and his followers are not that interested in the niceties or the particulars of being consistent about this or that term.

And so, look, what he has done -- and I can't believe that the Republican challengers don't quite get this yet. But what he has done since 2015, since 2016, all throughout his political career, what he has done is just redefined and scrambled what politics is.

The -- the DeSantises of the world, all of these other traditional politicians are acting as if voters have some list of issues. And if your promises match their list of issues, then they're going to support you. That is not what Trump support is about at all.

It is about him and him personally. And woke means whatever he decides it means that day in that moment. And his followers are not particularly interested in any of the rest of it.

And I think Ron DeSantis is going to discover that as he fails to close the gap, the 20- to 30-point gap between him and Donald Trump.

HILL: There is a larger, if we take that 30,000-foot view of what the term has come to mean, what it symbolizes. And it's also -- it feels like it has become this license, right? Or maybe it's underscoring the shift in this country to grievance politics. Real or imagined, and mostly imagined in many cases.

That all of a sudden, there is this comfort level and almost an encouragement to attack anyone and anything that is different from you, and somehow blame whatever ills you or bothers you on whatever is different. Either how someone feels, or looks, whatever it may be.

So it's become also -- when I see it, it's become this effort to run on exclusion as opposed to inclusion, and it seems sadly effective.

LOUIS: Oh, yes, it was very effective. Listen, the election of Donald Trump was the primal scream of the white working class that thinks that Washington is lying to them, Wall Street is exploiting them, and Hollywood is laughing at them.

And that hasn't gone away. And really, it just all now consolidates into this idea that we've got these enemies out there, and we're going to support the person who helps us fight against them.

And that's what January 6th was about, and that's what the Trump phenomenon is about. And that's what the presidential election is going to be about, at least the Republican primary is going to be about.

And so woke is just, like, sort of a nice little buzzword. It consolidates the whole thing. It's them who are causing the problem. That might be immigrants. That might be people of color. That might be the -- the you know, education from K through 12, all the way through the academy about ideas and books that you're not comfortable with, the transgender movement, LGBTQ rights.

All of it gets dumped together into one sack, and people say, like, there's this woke stuff, diversity. You know, we don't want diversity. We don't want inclusion.

OK, you don't want any of those things, that's fine. But it's a good way to lose a general election, by the way. But it is a very real movement. There are people who feel very put upon. They have good reason to, frankly.

There's an economic underpinning to all of this that is very real. People are losing their livelihoods, losing their jobs. The deindustrialization of the country has not stopped. And so, you know, the politicians who want to exploit that are really what we're seeing. They're really kind of driving the bus at this point.

SOLOMON: Errol, unfortunately, we don't have a lot of time left, but you say here that some of Donald Trump's challengers are not understanding what his support really is about.

So what would a third candidate -- not a DeSantis but a third candidate -- need to do to really swing things in their favor if they're misunderstanding the Trump support right now?

LOUIS: Well, I think the Republican Party and those who want to lead it have been putting this off for a long, long time.


But they're going to really have to sort of decide what are the principles on which this party is based. And then they have to go on a massive, massive educational program to try and talk to people about what they believe, about free markets, about, you know, evangelical Christianity and the morality in politics and so forth.

You don't hear people talking about that. It's really this kind of tribal pull of those who are your enemies, and I'll go smash them for you. That's not how you do it. SOLOMON: A source says that (ph).

LOUIS: Yes. And they've now gravitated to somebody who is a master of that kind of politics, and his name happens to be Donald Trump.

HILL: Well, it's going to be a lot to watch.

SOLOMON: And it's only June.

HILL: It's only June.

LOUIS: Plenty of time.

HILL: The good news is we'll get to see a lot of you, Errol. So that's a win.

LOUIS: Thanks.

HILL: There we go.

Just a reminder, as we mentioned, the president will make remarks later tonight, and we'll have those for you. That, of course, about the signing of that debt bill.

SOLOMON: And also, a quick programming note. Dana Bash, she's actually going to be moderating a CNN Republican presidential town hall with former Vice President Mike Pence. That is Wednesday, live at 9 p.m. Eastern, so be sure to watch that.

And this Sunday at 8 p.m., join Jake Tapper as he moderates a town hall with former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. A lot to watch.

Meantime, coming up for us, six days, six waves of attacks. Another day of strikes. Kyiv residents waking up to another day of strikes from Russia. We are live on the ground in Ukraine.

HILL: And Bill Cosby now facing a new sexual assault lawsuit. Details on the allegation. This latest one, which dates back to the '60s. That's just ahead.