Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Biden To Sign Debt Limit Deal As Soon As Today; Fitch Warns It Could Still Downgrade U.S. Credit Rating Despite Debt Deal; Van Der Sloot Facing Extortion And Fraud Charges; FDA To Allow Imports Of Cancer Drugs From China Amid Ongoing Shortage. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired June 03, 2023 - 07:00   ET




RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN ANCHOR: Very good morning to you and welcome to CNN THIS MORNING, it is Saturday, June 3rd. Yes, I'm Rahel Solomon in for --

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, she is Rahel Solomon.

SOLOMON: Amara Walker is off today.

BLACKWELL: And yes, I am Victor Blackwell, thank you for spending part of your morning with us. Thank you for coming down to Atlanta.

SOLOMON: So good to be here.

BLACKWELL: For the show.

SOLOMON: -- I'm here.

BLACKWELL: She's here Saturday and Sunday. So, be back with us tomorrow.

SOLOMON: We miss you in New York, but so good to be here with you in Atlanta.

BLACKWELL: Oh, thank you.

SOLOMON: And here is what we are watching this morning.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No one got everything they want, but the American people got what they needed. We averted an economic crisis.

SOLOMON (voice-over): President Biden there taking a victory lap from the Oval Office after the Senate passes that bipartisan debt deal to avoid an economic meltdown. Next steps that could soon come as soon as today, and why Monday is a critical day in this process. BLACKWELL: Plus, an update to an CNN exclusive after former President

Trump is heard on tape talking about a classified document in his possession after he left the White House. His lawyers now admit they can't find it.

SOLOMON: And the mystery in Texas. How an out of the blue phone call led police on a four-day manhunt and the discovery of a possible serial killer.

BLACKWELL: And June is Pride Month, but some corporations are now whether determining how or even whether they should publicly show support for the LGBTQ community. How they're trying to navigate solidarity after recent corporate backlash?


BLACKWELL: We begin, though, in Washington where President Biden is expected to sign a bill as soon as today to suspend the nation's debt limit through January 2025. Now, Congress approved the measure just days before the U.S. face the risk of defaulting on its debt for the first time in history. The nation reached its debt limit in mid- January.

SOLOMON: Since then, the Treasury Department has been taking extraordinary measures to buy some time for congressional negotiators. Last night, for the first time, President Biden addressed the nation from the Oval Office describing the disaster that's been averted.


BIDEN: Passing this budget agreement was critical. The stakes could not have been higher. If we had failed to reach an agreement on the budget, there were extreme voices threatening to take America for the first time in our 247-year history and to default on our national debt. Nothing, nothing would have been more irresponsible. Nothing would have been more catastrophic. No one got everything they wanted, but the American people got what they needed.


SOLOMON: CNN White House Reporter Jasmine Wright joins us this morning. Jasmine, good morning. So, we know, look, this move through the Senate very quickly how soon before the president is expected to sign this legislation?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, President Biden said that he would sign it today on Saturday. And as of last night, we know that it was making its way to his desk before it reached that moment, Rahel. We saw President Biden really taking victory lap in the Oval Office doing his first time addressing the nation from that location, really, as he went into detail about how both he and Republican negotiators compromise to avert a potential catastrophe.

Now, that was a 180-switching strategy from the president who over the last few months and the last few days, really, avoided talking about negotiations specifically as not to endanger the high stakes negotiations going on behind the scene. And even after the deal was reached on Sunday, for the last few days, we haven't seen him really claim it as a win like he did last night, really try not to jeopardize any Republican support that was needed to pass the bill through Congress. But, of course, here we are now, it's passed, and it is making its way to the President's desk.

Now, last night, we heard him talk in depth about what was in the bill and almost as importantly what is not in the bill, what his Democratic negotiators in the White House really fought to keep out of the bill, those Democratic priorities that were on the chopping block when it comes to Republican desire. Now, he also talked about the importance of bipartisanship and how it was critical in clinching this deal, really the formation of a new narrative here. Take a listen.



BIDEN: I know bipartisanship is hard, and unity is hard, but we can never stop trying. Because the moments like this one, the ones we just faced, were the American economy and the world economy is at risk of collapsing, there's no other way. No matter how tough our politics gets, we need to see each other as, not as adversaries, but as fellow Americans treat each other with dignity and respect.


WRIGHT: So, that last line is going to be really a through line in terms of President Biden's last two years and, and how it's going to go or how they want it to go really for the future as we enter the campaign season of 2024. Now, that economic calamity is no longer hanging over the White House's shoulder, we know that White House officials view President Biden especially after these last few weeks as a president who can really navigate these highly intensive -- oh, excuse me, a bug there -- these highly intensive negotiations with Republicans in terms of trying to save the American people from, think, something a disaster which would happen if we would have defaulted. Now, we know President Biden over these last few weeks, though he's remained silent, we heard him last night in the Oval Office, a very formal setting, trying to get this, trying to get the last word. Rahel and Victor.

SOLOMON: So, crisis averted for the nation, but also crisis averted for Jasmine Wright there.

BLACKWELL: This is just not your morning. First, at the 6:00 hour, the (INAUDIBLE) went out. And now, we got --

SOLOMON: But we thought, we thought, it was very smooth of Jasmine.

BLACKWELL: Yes, very smooth. We got a bumblebee the size of a key, flying around your face. All right. We made it.

WRIGHT: I don't know if we're going to make it to the 8:00, guys. I'll try.

BLACKWELL: See you at 8:00.

SOLOMON: Jasmine Wright, thank you. We'll see you then. Well, celebrations for the debt ceiling bill could be short lived. That's because Fitch ratings on Friday said that it is keeping the U.S. on rating watch negative and plans to make a decision on a potential downgrade by the end of September.

BLACKWELL: So, Fitch also expressed deep concern about the gridlock and worsening polarization in Congress. A credit rating downgrade would raise the government's borrowing costs and forced Washington to spend more money on interest, and less on education, and health care, and defense, and other priorities.

SOLOMON: That said, for now, U.S. markets like the Newsday soared on Friday as Wall Street cheered Congress passing the debt ceiling bill. All three major averages ending the week higher with the Dow. How about this? Jumping 700 points on Friday to post its best one-day gain since January.

BLACKWELL: Let's get some analysis here. Let's start with our CNN Global Economic Analyst and a Global Business Columnist, Associate Editor of the Financial Times, you got a lot of titles, Rana Faroohar; and Laura Weiss --


BLACKWELL: -- Tax and Economic Reporter for Congressional Quarterly and Roll Call. Good to have you both. And Laura, let's start with the President's Oval Office address. And, you know, we saw both the President and the Speaker they had some dissent within their parties. But we heard from Speaker McCarthy, he called this a win for his people, although many of them did not believe it. We didn't hear the President call this an outright win. Explain what you saw and heard from the President.

LAURA WEISS, TAX AND ECONOMIC REPORTER, CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY: Yes, the President both, you know, did focus on bipartisanship on unity, didn't shy away from framing himself as someone who pursues that kind of bipartisanship and compromise. But at the same time, did you sort of framed this in the context of his legislative agenda over the last two years, but not so much as a part of that agenda, but as something that averted a crisis that could have undermined his other legislative wins? So, you saw sort of a two-part view there on you know, how these negotiations went and ultimately, what Democrats were both able to achieve but almost equally importantly able to keep out of this deal which he also sort of took some more credit for.

SOLOMON: And Rana, I want to bring you into the conversation because I'm not sure if you just heard that Fitch update there, that Fitch essentially keeping the U.S. rating watch negative essentially until September. And I wonder from your point of view, you know, we have said a lot crisis averted, but this may still not be without consequences.

FAROOHAR: Right, because, well, for starters, you know, the U.S. had to do some very short-term auctions late last week. We got more of those coming this week just to get through the next few days, as the bill winds its way through the process. It's interesting, those are paying higher interest rates than we've seen on treasuries, or treasury debt of any kind, I should say in years. And what that means is, even though the stock market likes a deal, rightfully so, I mean, essentially, we've gotten over the biggest hurdle, which is that yes, we can still govern. Yes, we're not going to go into default. But when treasury bills are paying a higher interest rate, that means investors are going to like those.


And longer term, that may start pulling a little bit of liquidity out of the stock market, as investors opt more to buy treasury bills, rather than to stay in stock. So, you know, there's a ripple effect here. That's going to take weeks, if not months to play out.

BLACKWELL: Laura, Fitch is holding off on this decision until late September. Of course, that's when we'll be in again, another fight in Congress over funding the government, there has to be some more money coming in by October one. What, from the, the members of the Freedom Caucus, is that the second bite at the apple? Are they saying what they didn't get this time, they're certainly going to demand next time. Talk about the political expectation in late September.

WEISS: Yes, absolutely. So, we're still seeing how the Freedom Caucus is reacting to this, obviously quite upset about the deal that Speaker McCarthy struck, and could have a range of tools in their -- you know, use to sort of respond to this and show their frustration and anger. And the government funding deadline, you know, that really will continue this conversation. You also saw in the Senate, that there were Republicans concerned about limiting defense funding and wanting an emergency supplemental. So, I think we're going to have a lot of different factions here who weren't completely satisfied, coming back and continuing some of those conversations.

In a way, this helps with that fight, somewhat, setting some of these top line numbers. But at the same time, there's still a lot more to determine, underneath in terms of how government funding is allocated. And it's certainly another opportunity for that back and forth. You know, in addition, President Biden talked about wanting deficit reduction through, you know, raising taxes on people making over $400,000 per year closing what he described as tax loopholes. And Republicans have talked about still wanting to push the rest of their priorities that didn't make it into this bill. So, I think we'll still see various parties trying to complete their objectives.

SOLOMON: And Rana, we're going to we don't have a lot of time left, but I do wonder, because this debt ceiling fight, this time has reignited the debate about whether we should do away as a nation, we should do away with the limit altogether. And I wonder if you think that after this time, that holds any water or if in two years and 2025, we will be here again, talking about this yet again.

FAROOHAR: I fear, though, that we might, but it is worth noting that a lot of countries that you know, need to borrow and do all the same things the U.S. does to pay us budgets, don't have a debt ceiling limit process, you know, and they don't have to go through this every few years. I think that's not a bad thing to consider. Just because we are going every single time every few years. We're here again, the markets really don't like that. It just it brings up again and again and again, the danger of the gridlock in Washington and that's dangerous for the U.S. economy.

SOLOMON: It's a great point. I mean, it's what Fitch said in that report that the repeated brinksmanship is part of the reason why it's just keeping things the way it is until September. Rana and Laura, we'll leave it here. Thank you both for being with us this morning.

Well, lawyers for former President Trump say that they have not found the classified documents he's per discussing on tape. CNN was first to report on the recording where Trump talks about the document. Prosecutors issued a subpoena after asking the Trump aide about the recording before credible grand jury. The document in question involves a potential attack on Iran. details from CNN Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn Polantz now.

KATELAN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Rahel and Victor, Donald Trump's legal team has been unable to produce to the Justice Department the exact document that the former president was captured on tape talking about an apparently waving around in a meeting with some of his aides and some people working on a book in 2021 After he left the presidency. So, this all goes back to that audio tape that we were reporting on earlier in the week. And that audio tape captured Donald Trump talking about an apparent plan to attack Iran, something he had been presented with by the Pentagon at the end of his presidency, and he had a lot of anger over the fact that he couldn't attack Iran.

And now the Justice Department revealed itself; two, the Trump lawyers and others just two months ago in March that they had a hold of this audio tape and they were zeroing in on this particular episode in July of 2021. They revealed it because they asked a witness about what happened in this meeting, and then shortly after sent a subpoena to Donald Trump and his attorneys saying, if you have this record, turn it over, and if you have any other records related to Iran, related to General Mark Milley the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during Trump's presidency, that he was very unhappy with, please turn all of that over that needs to go to the grand jury.


Donald Trump's team looked for these sorts of things. And they made some productions to the Justice Department According to our sources, speaking to Caitlin Collins, Paul Reed, and me, but they were not able to produce what they believe would be the exact record that Donald Trump would have been alluding to when he was shaking a paper around and captured on that audio tape. So, what does this mean?

Well, it's another piece of this long investigation where the Justice Department has a history of not trusting that Donald Trump has provided all of the classified records in his possession back to the federal government, as they have demanded now in two subpoenas that we know about one in May of last year and this additional one, just two months ago.

But it also is possible that the Justice Department already has this document in their possession, that they got it back from Trump and boxes he returned, or maybe they found it in that FBI search of his property in August of last year. But it just isn't clear at this point in time. They did send this subpoena the Trump team looked for the document and they couldn't identify it in a way where they could provide it back to the hands of the federal government. Victor and Rahel.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Katelyn. Attorneys have begun working to get Van Der Sloot, the prime suspect in the Natalie Holloway disappearance back to the U.S. While he may not be staying in the country for long despite his impending trial on extortion charges here.

SOLOMON: Plus, a man calls police claiming they're probably looking for him. That strange phone call leads police to wonder if they now have a potential serial killer on their hands. We will break down how this all unfolded.


SOLOMON: Welcome back. The prime suspect in the 2006 disappearance of Natalie Holloway is being moved to a different person in Peru today. It's the first time in Yurin Van der Sloot's extradition. It's the first step rather and you're in Vancouver suits extradition to the U.S.

BLACKWELL: Early this morning he will be moved from a maximum-security prison in Southern Peru to the capital, Lima. Then he will be extradited to the U.S. but only for a short time. Currently, Van Der Sloot for murder of a Peruvian woman. And once the legal proceedings are done in the U.S., t wants him to finish that sentence. Back in Peru. The charges in the United States all stem from extortion and fraud.

SOLOMON: Yes, Van Der Sloot is accused of luring Natalie Holloway's family, two Aruba to show them where her remains were for the price of $250,000. Well after receiving $25,000 He took a family representative to a home in Aruba and said that her remains were in the foundation. He then took the money to Peru for a poker tournament and then e- mailed the family that everything he told them was false bands are sued is facing a maximum of 50 years in prison here in the U.S.

BLACKWELL: Police in Texas have arrested a man they say call to confess to killing two people and now they may believe they believe that he may be connected to eight to 10 more unsolved murders in the Austin area.

SOLOMON: CNN's Ed Lavandera reports the suspects are old Meza has a long criminal history and has already been convicted and served time for killing an 8-year-old child.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN REPORTER: Victor in Rahel, on May 24th, a man called The Austin Police Department and spoke with an investigator in the conversation started with these chilling words: "My name is Raul Meza and I think you are looking for me." And in the course of what happened next, a 14-minute phone conversation. And according to the arrest warrant affidavit, during the course of that conversation, Meza Meza essentially confessed to two different murders. The first victim is 80-year-old, Jesse Fraga, he was murdered in the Austin area in early May.

And according to these court documents, he was a roommate of Meza. And also, Meza talked about the murder of 66-year-old Gloria Lofton who was killed in May of 2019. Investigators say not only do they have evidence that Meza committed those two murders, they also suspect he might be connected to another eight to 10 murders that they say have evidence and circumstances that are very similar to these other cases that they're working. So, that's why they're describing this as a potential serial killer situation. But what is even more troubling is when you look at the criminal history of Raul Meza.

In 1982, he was convicted for the murder of an 8-year-old girl in the Austin area and served about 11 years in prison before he was released. He's been in and out of the prison system ever since. And in that conversation with the detective that was recorded, he says, that he was last released in 2016 and then started committing murders once again. And what investigators say is even more chilling is when they arrested him and took him into custody. Five days after calling the Austin Police Department. He was found with holding a bag that had duct tape, zip ties and a gun and he apparently told investigators that he was ready and willing to carry out more murders.

One other detail that was released in this arrest warrant affidavit is that apparently, there was DNA evidence that came out a year after the murder of Gloria Lofton back in May of 2019. And according that DNA evidence, it pointed to Raul Meza as the possible suspect in that case, but it's not clear why it wasn't until three years later that investigators were able to track down Meza and arrest him for his involvement in these in these murders. And obviously, a lot of questions as to whether or not this last murder could have been prevented if he had been taken into custody earlier. Victor and Rahel.

SOLOMON: All right. Ed, thank you coming up for us. The CDC says that millions of people are not properly taking the medicines that they've been prescribed.

Coming up next, how high prices are forcing many Americans to make some tough choices. We'll be right back.



SOLOMON: Welcome back, and here are some of the other top stories we're following this hour. At least 288 people are dead and more than 1000 injured in India state of Odisha after a deadly train crash.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SOLOMON (voice-over): Sirens there wailing as emergency workers

desperately search for survivors after three trains collided Friday evening. And you can see, the possessions of passengers really, just strewn inside cars, the mangled wreckage left behind. It's one of the worst rails the country has ever experienced. Indian Army is helping evacuate and treat the injured.

BLACKWELL: Ford is warning owners of at least 143,000 Lincoln SUVs to park the vehicles outside and a way from buildings, because they could potentially catch fire. Ford officials say, the problem stems from a battered, battery monitoring sensor that could get damage when parts around the service causing a short circuit and overheating. Model years 2015 through 2019 are affected. The owners are also being advised to take their SUVs to a dealer and have a fuse installed. It'll cost you nothing.

The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season is making its way through the Gulf of Mexico. Tropical Storm Arlene is weakening, but it could still bring some rain and some flooding to South Florida.


SOLOMON: CNN's Allison Chinchar joins us now. Allison, good morning.

So, heading through the Gulf of Mexico, where is it heading exactly?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: All right. So, the good news is it's heading away from the United States. The bad news is it's headed down south towards Cuba. And that's where it's going to go in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Right now, Tropical Storm Arlene sustained winds of 40 miles per hour, gusting up to 50. And it's moving south southeast -- south southeast, excuse me, just about nine miles per hour.

It is expected to weaken very rapidly here over the next 24 hours. So, this is likely to become a tropical depression. And then, remnants of that here in just the next 24 to 36 hours. But even before it does that, it is still expected to have some impacts.

This is a look at Florida over the last 48 hours. We've had a tremendous amount of rain. So, even though the storm is moving away from this area, we do still have the potential for some of those outflow winds to trigger more showers and thunderstorms across Florida, which is why you have this flood watch in effect for many communities in South Florida.

And even if you're not in here, say Tampa, Naples, all the way down to Key West, not necessarily in the flood watch, but still have very high-end rain chances today.

Also, if you have plans for the beach, we're looking at rip currents and some high surf as well. This is just the first name storm of the season. It runs all the way through November 30th.

NOAA's official forecast is calling for 12 to 17 named storms, five to nine hurricanes, one to four major hurricanes. Colorado State, another entity that puts out forecasts also scaling for a roughly near average season for this year.

BLACKWELL: All right. Allison, thank you very much.

SOLOMON: And coming up for us. From pulling clothing off the shelves to backlash over an influencer campaign. Coming up, we will discuss how corporate brands are facing high stakes when it comes to supporting LGBTQ issues.

We'll be right back.



BLACKWELL: The FDA is allowing companies to import Chinese made chemotherapy drugs temporarily because of the ongoing record shortages in the U.S.

The agency is working with the Chinese drug maker Qilu, a pharmaceutical to bring in the drug cisplatin to boost supplies. A Canadian company will distribute the medication starting Tuesday.

And according to the National Cancer Institute, platinum-based drugs like this one are prescribed for up to 20 percent of cancer patients.

There is an alarming report from the CDC this morning that millions of Americans are not taking their medications because of the high cost of prescriptions.

SOLOMON: The data shows that many adults between the ages of 18 and 64 say that they've tried to save money by skipping doses, taking less than prescribed, or even just delaying a prescription refill.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen takes a closer look at the report.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Victor, Rahel, new CDC data shows that more than 9 million Americans are not taking their prescription drugs as often as they should. They're rationing the drugs because of financial reasons.

Let's take a look at the folks who are the most likely to be rationing their drugs. First of all, it is the uninsured. The survey showed that 23 percent of people who don't have insurance have rationed their prescription drugs over the past 12 months.

And when we look at demographics, there is certain groups that are more likely than others to be rationing their prescription drugs.

That includes black people, Hispanic people, women, and people with disabilities.

Now, obviously rationing prescription drugs can lead to terrible medical problems. So, it's terrible for those patients who are doing the rationing. But since in many ways, we all are in one system, and to some extent pay for each other's care. Really, it's bad for all of us. Victor, Rahel.

SOLOMON: Celebrations are underway this weekend to kick off Pride Month. And while Americans and some Americans champion LGBTQ causes and messages. Many U.S. corporations are facing some pretty high stakes this year when it comes to supporting transgender issues.

Major brands like Target and Bud Light were targeted by right wing media ads online for initiatives marketed towards trans customers and allies.

And now, other companies are under pressure to define more clearly their commitments to LGBTQ issues.

For more on all of this now, here with me is Jared Watson. He is an assistant professor of marketing at New York University.

Jared, good morning. Welcome to the program.


SOLOMON: So, both target and Bud Light have faced even more backlash among LGBTQ organizations for how they handled this. So, essentially getting hit on both sides of this.

Was there a better way? Or what is the better way -- best way to take a stand or to define your position or platform?

WATSON: Sure, I think two key things need to go on. One is you need to have the voices in the room that are affected by the statements you're making.

And so, Target, Bud Light, need to have the allies there. They need to have the afflicted communities, they need to have their corporate leadership, all on the same page.

The second one is you have to be committed, right? You have to understand the pros and the cons, and you have to stick through. And what we've seen actually is Bud Light and Target have both faltered in their follow through for their initial campaigns.

SOLOMON: So, when does that --


WATSON: And so, when you're thinking about how to --

SOLOMON: I'm sorry, go on.

WATSON: Go ahead.

I was going to say, so, when you're thinking about how to fix that, that's just forecasting, right? So, that's just literally saying, we have a plan in place. Let's see it through to the end.

SOLOMON: And so, when does that forecasting begin? Because it can sometimes appear, at least on the other side, as a consumer that when there is a hot button social issue that companies sometimes knee jerk react, at what point as a company, do you start to think about what is our platform or position on X issue, so that you are not making decisions, perhaps, in a rash fashion?


WATSON: Sure. So, you have to think about who your target market is, and what you're hoping to achieve with this campaign.

And so, if that target market, right, has congruency with that campaign, if it makes sense for that group, then, go for it.

What we've seen here today is, you know, Bud Light's core customer, is not that same core customer that is supporting the Pride movement, by and large.

And so, when they rolled this campaign out, right? They caught their core customer by surprise. And that would suggest that they needed to do much more calibration upfront, right? That you need to think about the worst-case scenario, along with the best-case scenario, when you're doing that forecasting from the very beginning.

SOLOMON: And how much of that calibration should also take into account other stakeholders like the people who work for your company?

WATSON: Oh, absolutely. So, you know, one distinction between the Bud Light issue and the Target issue is that Target seems to have pivoted as a result of fear for their employee's safety. Right.

That's very different from caving to the pressure from their consumer base. And so, Target, I think it's a little bit more leeway with their response. Certainly, they have to recalibrate and figure out how to move forward. But you absolutely need to think about all stakeholders in every situation.

SOLOMON: And Jared, really quickly, I just want to read some points for you. So, glad that some research concluded that 75 percent of non- LGBTQ adults feel comfortable seeing LGBTQ people in advertisements. 70 percent of non-LGBTQ adults agree that companies should publicly support this community through hiring practices, advertising, and so forth.

And even if you think about, for example, some of the book bands we have seen around the country, why is it, it appears that a small group of people who disagree can seem to have so much weight on the public?

WATSON: Well, I think there are two key points. So, one is we look at the LGBTQ community as a monolith. And that's not the case. Right? There is many subgroups within that.

And what -- we've happened to see widespread, you know, acceptance for the lesbian, the gay, and starting to see that for the bisexual community, I think the transgender support legs behind.

So, as a result of that, when we do take these statistics, and we see 75 percent of support for that community, a lot of that is probably weighted to the lesbian and gay community and people are probably responding differently to the transgender community.

And so, that's one thing to consider with all of this.

SOLOMON: Yes, it's a great point. Jared Watson, there is a --



SOLOMON: There is a --

Unfortunately, I've been told we have to wrap. There is a lot we could discuss on this and I'm sure we will.

WATSON: No worries.

SOLOMON: We will have you soon. Thank you, Jared. Have a great weekend.

BLACKWELL: Still ahead, it sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie. The Pentagon now says it's tracking more than 800 potential unidentified phenomena.

Could scientists and experts be one step closer to figuring out exactly what these things are?



BLACKWELL: Right now, the U.S. is currently tracking or investigating 800 or so potential UFO cases. Do not be alarmed, a lot of them, with exception of a small percentage can be explained.

That's according to a top Pentagon official who testified during NASA's first public meeting on UFOs, or UAPs as they're known this week, featuring a panel of experts working on a report set to be published next month.

Now, the study aims to assess these unexplained phenomena and whether they pose any public safety risk.

Joining us now is Hakeem Oluseyi. He is an astrophysicist and visiting professor at George Mason University.

Professor, good to have you on the show. Let's start with the big question. OK? Everybody wants to know if this -- these things other worldly -- what we've learned from this panel is maybe two to five percent of the 100 or so 50 to 100 reports that come in each month are really unexplained.

And we also learned from a member of the panel that there's absolutely no convincing evidence that these are extraterrestrial.

What would the convincing evidence have to be to say, yes, they came from somewhere else.

HAKEEM OLUSEYI, ASTROPHYSICIST AND VISITING PROFESSOR, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: You know, it's really tough, because, you know, when we, we have seen objects into our solar system from somewhere else, and the typical signature that they came from somewhere else is the speed at which they're moving.

You know that the higher the altitude from which something falls, the faster it's moving? Well, if something enters our solar system from elsewhere, you know, the laws of physics makes it almost -- it's not exactly the same. But as if it fell here, from that amazingly far distance, right? And again, that's what makes this sort of interstellar travel so difficult.

Because if you do go to another star system, right? If we were to do it, if some other alien species that's technologically advanced, were to do it. When you get to your destination, you're going to be moving so fast, that it's going to be difficult to slow down and go into orbit around the planet.

That's why when you see a mission, like New Horizons that went to Pluto, it didn't stop at Pluto and go into orbit it, you know, kept on going, it just did a pass by.

So, you know, there are, you know, short of that, right? What else could there possibly be, right? You have to basically capture the thing and analyze it and see that it's not of earthly origin.

And just having a picture of it, you just can't eliminate an earthly origin.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And you know what, that's where I want to go next. Because one of the themes of this meeting was that they need better data, they need higher quality data.


OLUSEYI: Exactly.

BLACKWELL: But a lot of what we see is coming from cell phone cameras, or ring cameras are commercial pilots.


OLUSEYI: That's right. Yes.

BLACKWELL: Because the things that are coming from some of the government vehicles, some of the military, that's classified because of the technology. So, how do you get that short of capturing the thing?

OLUSEYI: Yes. So, can I say I told you so?


OLUSEYI: So, for the last two years, I've been on here talking about how we need better data. And the other thing about it is how the data can actually fool you. And cameras, in particular, can really fool you, because light can come in from various directions, bounce around, there could be dust inside the camera, there could be artifacts on your detector.

There is so many ways you can be fooled. And in many cases, you have a moving camera, you're on a moving platform observing a moving object, right?

So, unless you do a very rigorous detailed analysis, you can be fooled.

And you know, I'm happy to see that David Spergel, the cosmologist, I've known him for 20 years. He is, you know, he studies very subtle phenomena about the universe.

And so, for us, astrophysicist, you know, we've been doing this for a long time. We've been observing the universe with cameras and telescopes, and taking, you know, making these detailed measurements from them. And what we see is that, yes, what you think you see with your eye is not necessarily what you're going to find once you do your rigorous analysis.

So, the key thing to me about this is that, you know, up to now, it's been about the past, this meeting has been about the future.

Just like with the Chinese balloon, we do need better eyes, on our skies and in our airspace, and it has to be designed to do the job that we're asking it to do.

Your cell phones to commercial pilots, even a military ones, they're not designed to look for every range of possible thing that could be in the sky. They're typically designed for specific jobs.

BLACKWELL: Yes, yes. And you know, it's interesting, you mentioned your friend, Spergel, who suggested that there should actually be an app for this.


BLACKWELL: Where people -- several people see it, you can collect information through this app, velocity, density, and maybe you can get some more answers.

Thank you for being with us.


BLACKWELL: We will look forward to this report from NASA coming out a little later this year. We'll have you back. Hopefully we get some answers there from NASA.

OLUSEYI: Thank you, sir. I look forward to it.

BLACKWELL: All right. Thank you. SOLOMON: Good stuff there, Victor. And still ahead, just call them the bakery bandits. What a bear and a burglar have in common and their cupcake crimes that were all caught on camera.



SOLOMON: Welcome back. Two criminals, one on the west coast in Canada, the other on the East Coast in Connecticut, let's say they both break into bakeries.

BLACKWELL: OK. So, they go into these bakeries, and they steal cupcakes. But while the one in Vancouver, Canada was a man, the one in Connecticut was a hungry bear.

CNN's Jeanne Moos has more on the thieves. Let's just call them plainly.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What does this Connecticut bear have in common with a half-baked burglar at a bakery in Vancouver? A sweet tooth for cupcakes.

The guy was caught on surveillance cam, kicking in the door of a bakery called Sweet Something.

EMMA IRVIN, BAKERY OWNER, VANCOUVER, CANADA: You know it is a very Canadian break-in. He was really respectful.

MOOS: He toured the store, use the restroom, sat down for a rest, and then got a mop and a bucket and tried to clean up the mess he made breaking the glass.

MOOS: How was he as a mopper?

IRVIN: You know, he didn't do the best job. You can give him like an A for effort.

MOOS (voice-over): This bear in Avon, Connecticut likewise gets an A for effort. She entered the garage at a bakery called Taste by Spellbound, while a van inside was being loaded with goodies.

MOOS: How were you first alerted to the bear?

MIRIAM STEPHENS, BAKERY OWNER, CONNECTICUT: By one of my employees, making noises that I've never heard her make before.

MOOS (voice-over): Owner Miriam Stephens and one of her employees did an end run around the building to see if the bear was gone. Then, turn tail at the side of her. The bear dragged a container outside loaded with 60 cupcakes.

STEPHENS: I honestly think she ate the paper along with the cupcake. And she's just stuffing it down. MOOS: 60 cupcakes for the bear, six chocolate champagne cupcakes were taken by the guy in Vancouver. He also used the store cell phone to take several selfies, wearing orange sunglasses.

MOOS: Are you going to press charges against the guy?

IRVIN: We've asked the police not to. Do they really care about the six-cupcake thief, like we're not upset about it.

MOOS (voice-over): And nothing upset the bear until an employee drove towards her, honking the horn. The bear was later caught in a barrel trap, then, released a distance away.

Both bakeries capitalized on the capers by selling cupcakes decorated with orange sunglasses and bears. Just think of the advertising potential. We dreamed up this ad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't bear to be without cupcakes? Forget yelp. You yelp when you see who loves our cupcakes enough to eat 60 of them.


MOOS: The bear left her mess behind, but the guy cleaning up with a mop takes the cake. Not to mention the six cupcakes.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.