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CNN Presses Putin Official On Possible Prisoner Swap For Americans; Kevin McCarthy Wants To Pass A Debt Limit Bill; Biden Announces Reelection Bid; Loaded Gun Found In Second Grader's Backpack; CNN Presents "On The Lookout." Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired April 25, 2023 - 23:00   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Hi, everyone. Thanks for tuning in to this hour where we bring you "Tomorrow's News Tonight." We have our great lineup of reporters here to share their scoops with us. We have Priscilla Alvarez, Matthew Chance, Rahel Solomon, and Shimon Prokupecz. Great to have all of you, guys, with me tonight.

Okay, so let's start with the latest on Americans detained in Russia. CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance was at the U.N. today. And Matthew, you spoke, I understand, to Sergey Lavrov, and you asked him directly about the Americans who are detained.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You don't get many opportunities to confront the Russian foreign minister very often these days. And so, I was in New York. I didn't actually know he was coming to New York. It was a happy coincidence that he was. So, I got myself to the U.N. and spoke to him directly about what was the state of the negotiations, how these American citizens were going to be swapped for something here in United States, somebody here in the United States. Take a listen to that question.


CHANCE: Could you give us some details about what contact you may have had with U.S. officials about the fate of U.S. citizens being held in -- in Russian jails? Have any contacts been had?

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): The channel for the discussion of these matters exists. And this is work that is not public in nature. And publicity here will only complicate the process for reasons which are understandable. There's no need to tell you, professionals, about why.




So, he was shutting you down there. CHANCE: He shut me down. But I did ask him, you know, look, what

would you want in return, what would Russia want in return for Evan Gershkovich?

CAMEROTA: That's the most important --

CHANCE: It's a big question because we don't -- we don't know the answer to that. And he started talking about how there were 60 Russian citizens who had been taken under dubious circumstances and held in American jails. He did not say 60 for 2, but clearly, this is the group of Russian citizens who he and his colleagues are negotiating for with American -- with their American counterparts.

CAMEROTA: So, Priscilla, what do we know about is the White House -- what the White House is doing on all of this front?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Every time this comes up, the White House is quite clear in saying that this is a priority for them, that they are working to try to obtain the release of these Americans, Paul Whelan, "The Wall Street Journal" reporter. But it always comes down to what is the exchange. And we have talked here before about the exchange of Brittney Griner and Viktor Bout.

And that, to some degree, was controversial domestically here in the U.S. because it was a big exchange. And these prisoner swaps that -- it's very delicate territory for the Biden administration. But they have certainly said that this is a priority for them.

They've also gone so far now to say that they are wrongfully detained with -- in the case of "The Wall Street Journal" reporter, which essentially gives them a little more effort (ph) when it comes to them saying that the espionage charges against this reporter are unfounded. But it's a difficult situation because it comes down to, what do you exchange? What do you -- what comes from that?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Right. But also, these things take forever. And, like, no matter what happens, these people, they spend all this time in these horrific conditions, in these jails in Russia. And, you know, it takes time. And the politics of it are always extraordinary.

You know, Viktor Bout, when they did that exchange, I mean, there was controversy because people felt that it was an unfair, perhaps, exchange. They also --

CAMEROTA: Certainly. I mean, a basketball player for a notorious --

PROKUPECZ: Well, it wasn't. But then they were right. Well, why didn't we try to get Paul Whelan also? Right? So, there was all that controversy. Sometimes, you wonder, like, how much does the Biden administration right now want to give back into that mix? But the fact is, who else is out there?


You know, only the Russians really know. I don't know that we here in the United States publicly know who they really want.


RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And that's my question for Matthew, because you obviously covered Moscow quite a bit for quite some time. Were you surprised to hear Lavrov say that there was this group of 60 Russians that had been detained under dubious circumstances?

Because even last night on the program as we were all talking about it, we couldn't think of a Russian, a prominent, a high-profile Russian that was in American custody that would even perhaps be considered for something like this.

CHANCE: That why I asked him the question.


CHANCE: Because I've been asked numerous times. You know, what -- what do the Russians want to return these Americans back -- back home? I think we have a good answer. So, now, at least I've got that. But, I mean, the big problem for Evan Gershkovich, "The Wall Street Journal" reporter, and Paul Whelan is that the biggest bargaining chip the Americans had, Viktor Bout, has already been exchanged.


CHANCE: As you say, there's no one else. But there are these 60 people now.

PROKUPECZ: Look, these are sometimes people that maybe are not making the news. You know, the U.S. government spends years, months investigating potential Russian spies or Russian spies here in the United States, and then they arrest them and maybe it doesn't make news, but for the Russians, they are big figures and there are people that they want back. So, maybe it's something that kind of a situation.

CHANCE: I think 60 can't be all spies.


CHANCE: These people are going to be criminal.


CHANCE: People who have done credit card fraud or, you know, some -- some other kind of felony.

CAMEROTA: Criminals. Maybe the administration, the Biden administration, is willing to hand them over.

CHANCE: Maybe it is. Maybe it is. I certainly think that Paul Whelan's family and Evan Gershkovich's family --

CAMEROTA: Yeah. CHANCE: -- would -- would consider that to be a pretty fair swap.

ALVAREZ: It is dangerous territory, right, because then we get into the practice of prisoner swaps on a regular basis. And it puts -- I mean, you can probably speak to this the best, it can put American citizens at risk abroad. Journalists. I mean, this was quite the step to detain a U.S. journalist in Russia.

CHANCE: I was warned in Moscow by diplomats that the British government, for instance, doesn't negotiate for hostages. I mean, obviously, they probably do, but they were told that they wouldn't be the enthusiasm, perhaps, for an exchange of prisoners with Russia if a British citizen were to --

PROKUPECZ: Was that directed at you, meaning like they were telling you or --

CAMEROTA: Yes, to be careful.

CHANCE: They were just telling me in general, but it would have applied to me as well as some British.


CAMEROTA: Okay, let's talk about Alexei Navalny, um, who is the opposition leader, who, of course, is in prison and just subjected to awful treatment. So, what's the latest?

CHANCE: Uh, I mean, he's in terrible, terrible state. He is in prison for 11 and a half years. Of course, he was poisoned with, you know, uh, you know, nerve agent. Terrible. He recovered from that. He came back to Russia, and he was arrested and put in prison for, I think, a total of 11 and years. He's serving a sentence now on various charges. Um, there are more criminal cases against him.

And his condition inside prison as well is really awful. I mean, a couple of weeks ago, when I was in Moscow, his team were talking about how they believed he may have been poisoned again because he had constant sickness and illness, which indicated sort of a slow poisoning to slowly get rid of him.

And it's just really illustrative of the brutality in Russia that not only did they try to poison this person and put him in prison, but even once behind bars, these people are constantly pressured. Um, got another case against him as well. He got into a fight, apparently, in his prison cell and being charged with that. It could be another five years.

CAMEROTA: I was also reading that, you know, he can't trust what he's eating when they present him with food --


CAMEROTA: -- because either it will be poisoned or it's just sort of, um, rancid. And so, he's not getting enough food. I mean, it's bad on every single level. CHANCE: It's not going to be great for him food wise or in any other way. In fact, I think we spoke -- CNN spoke to his daughter, who is 22 years old. She studied in America. Yeah, Dasha Navanaya (ph). Take a listen to what she had to say.


DASHA NAVANAYA, DAUGHTER OF ALEXEI NAVALNY: (INAUDIBLE) he can purchase in the canteen, which is -- which doesn't seem like this big of a problem. But food and the Russian prison system was bad. And my dad has had some problems with losing weight.

And now, the situation has gotten so ridiculous that he buys the food, which is, you know, oats. It's nothing. It's nothing luxurious. He bites the oats. The oats are brought to him, shown to him, and then are just destroyed. So, he can't eat.


CAMEROTA: Awful. Just awful.

CHANCE: It's just terrible, isn't it? And it's Navalny. There's somebody else called Vladimir Kara-Murza as well in prison. And you just have to be so concerned that these people, these big democratic hopes really, big critics of Putin, may well not last their prison sentence.

PROKUPECZ: Do you ever see a situation where the U.S. will get involved and try to swap someone for Navalny to get -- is that -- I mean, is that even a possibility?


CHANCE: Never say never. Never say never. Right? But, I mean, I can't imagine the Russians being very enthusiastic.

PROKUPECZ: Right. I mean, they really, really -- I mean, they really, really hate him.

CHANCE: They want to keep him. They want to close him down.

SOLOMON: What is interesting is his daughter said, when talking to Jim Sciutto earlier, the best thing she can do, the best thing that he needs right now is international attention. And I wondered about that in terms of what that could actually bring about despite the fact -- you know, despite all of us, just knowing the pure horror that he's going through.

One thing, I wondered, is just how different that judicial system is. I mean, we get this sort of glimpses into the Russian legal system when, you know, we have cases like Brittney Griner. Obviously, Evan Gershkovich. But can you speak a little bit, too, just how different that judicial system really is? Because his daughter was talking about that earlier, too, and I just thought it was really shocking.

CHANCE: Well, I think the judicial system is not something you recognize in this country as being particularly just. I mean, 99% of all cases that go to court in Russia, they were guilty verdicts. People -- people are just not found not good. Once you're in court, that's it. You're -- you're done for.

And with people like Alexei Navalny and other critics of the Kremlin, they want to close them down. They want to silence them. And so, they're doing everything they can to put pressure on them and to keep them in prison under lock and key for as long as possible. They're not -- they're not going to be getting out any time.

PROKUPECZ: There's not -- is there any hope for Navalny? Does he ever get out? I mean, if he's getting into fights -- I mean, they could be setting him up inside. So --


PROKUPECZ: -- what hope is there?

CHANCE: Well, there's -- you know, there's always hope, I suppose, isn't it?

CAMEROTA: Well, he's an incredible -- he's an incredible human being, as we know. We've covered, obviously, in a special on CNN. But just his fortitude is extraordinary.

PROKUPECZ: I'm just always struck, you know, like the fact that he went back. He knew what was going to happen. And that scene where he goes back and he has met at the airport and --


PROKUPECZ: -- he knew it.

CAMEROTA: I know. Because he believes in that cause.

CHANCE: Extraordinary. I just want to say one thing extraordinary. For every -- everybody who stands up to the Kremlin, given the risks, given that they will lock you away and they will ruin your life if you do that, I think, is an extraordinary act of bravery.

CAMEROTA: Matthew, thank you for all of that. Really interesting to hear about it. Okay, meanwhile, back here, there's supposed to be a vote on the debt ceiling tomorrow. But is that really going to happen? Rahel has got the details on the debt ceiling and why all of us should care what's going to happen tomorrow. It is okay. She's going to tell you individually, yes. And Shimon, who has no idea why to care.





CAMEROTA: Kevin McCarthy wants to pass a debt limit bill tomorrow, but he may not have the votes. The proposed bill would limit growth in government spending, it would block student loan forgiveness, it would rescind funding for the IRS, and introduce tougher requirements for Medicaid.

Rahel has been following this story for us. So, Rahel, you know, I think that some people can -- because they often have this debt ceiling fight, it can feel like dysfunctional politics, politics as usual, but you're saying that it has real implications for every one of us and everyone watching.

SOLOMON: I'm going to go with option D. It's all of those things, right? I mean, yes. I mean, the reality is the closer we get to this "X" state, essentially the date that the Treasury Department can no longer use the creative accounting measures, essentially what they've been using since January, the closer we get to that date, the more likely it is that we will all feel it in some way.

Think the markets tumbling. So, if you have money invested in your 401k, think -- you know, think about that impact. Think about borrowing costs going up for mortgages, for student loans, which is really controversial right now. But that would also have an impact there.

We can also start to see joblessness, right? It certainly increases the risk of a recession. And so, what would it -- it would likely create is the beginning of a chain of reactions that would be damaging, to say the least.

Every economist I talked to on this story, and I've been covering it since January essentially, but every economist I talked to, every econ professor I talked to, they all say the same exact thing, which is it would be damaging, it would be catastrophic, it would be destructive, but that is why it won't happen, because every politician knows that. But we'll see.

CAMEROTA: But they do always play chicken, right?

ALVAREZ: I was going to say, they're going to wait until the last minute. I mean, this is the pressure that the -- that President Biden is facing is. He has stood firm on saying that he is not going to budge. He's not going to negotiate on this. But even Democrats are getting nervous and wondering, well, shouldn't we come to the table at this point?


SOLOMON: Senator Manchin said --

ALVAREZ: Exactly. And, look, I mean, this is -- I've talked to White House officials about this, and they point to Kevin McCarthy. They say, well, if he can't even coalesce his own party around this, then why should we wait into this?

And we're seeing that play out in real time. I mean, he had -- can only afford to lose four votes. He has already had four Republicans publicly, at least, say that they don't plan to vote, and he has already signaled that they may not vote tomorrow. It could happen at some other point --


CAMEROTA: -- Matt Gaetz on an hour or two ago who talked about that very thing. So, let's listen to that.


UNKNOWN: Speaker McCarthy can lose four right now. How many holdouts are there, yourself included?

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Twice that. So, I do not expect that there will be a vote as plans tomorrow on the McCarthy debt limit increase. I think there are still a few details. We have to work out on work requirements, on some of the green new deal tax credits that we would like to see repealed. There is some disagreement in our conference about that. And if we're able to get that done, I don't think it will be tomorrow, I think that there's still some time for the cement to dry.


CAMEROTA: So then, what happens --


CAMEROTA: -- if they don't get it done tomorrow?

ALVAREZ: Well, McCarthy is already signaling that, right, by saying that he is open to it continuing throughout the week. But look, I mean, there is an interesting dynamic at play here because should they pass this, what does the White House do?


At this point, Biden has already said and threatened that he would veto this proposal. Of course, just given what we heard there from Gaetz and from other Republicans, the proposal may look a little different. The legislation may look a little different if it gets to the finish line, when it gets to the finish line. And so, then it becomes, does the White House come to the table?

If President Biden talks with House Leader McCarthy, isn't it considered or framed as a negotiation? Is it the two of them just talking it through? Remember, they haven't met face to face since February. So, this is really all coming to a head and it really is going to come down to these two leaders potentially having talked to one another and sort out how they avoid the default that economists are really nervous about.

PROKUPECZ: Right. But then the other thing is, does this in some way show, I don't know, the chaos with the Republicans? You know, you have Matt Gaetz who's really becoming this figurehead and sort of this disrupter of what the speaker is trying to do.

And, you know, I kind of wonder, like, is this what Biden wants, right, kind of to show this kind of they're not organized and can't -- they can't get it together? And what role that's playing perhaps in all of this because -- I don't know. What are they going to do in the end if they can't come to an agreement?

ALVAREZ: I mean, look, it wasn't that long ago when McCarthy had multiple votes just to become the speaker. So, it was clear from the beginning that these factions were going to come up. And again, when you hear from the White House, they do punt to Republicans. They have -- they say, you have to sort out how you're going to proceed before you come to us and point the finger at us, because they already presented their budget.

CAMEROTA: Matthew, how does this play overseas? Does it? Are people aware of this kind of dysfunction?

CHANCE: I'm not entirely sure that everybody in America understands.

PROKUPECZ: Well, that's exactly right.

CHANCE: The consequences that will happen if they don't reach an agreement on this. And certainly overseas -- I mean, I've lost count of the number of times as well. We've sort of been in this position. I've watched from afar as, you know, the debt ceiling plan is not reached or and as a deal the last minute.

But, I mean, we're talking about a sovereign debt default. Aren't we? We're talking about a massive stock market crash. We're talking about a spike in unemployment. We're talking about financial Armageddon if this happens.

And I think what is worrying, when you read a bit about it and when you understand it, is that how frequent America comes to this crisis situation. It's happening all the -- all the time, which is, you know, really kind of scary when you think of the global economy and how fragile it is and what could happen if it goes wrong.


SOLOMON: Matthew makes a great point there when he said the global economy. We like to think sometimes in our world here in the U.S. that it is just U.S. centric, but this would have impacts beyond our borders.

CHANCE: The biggest in the world.

SOLOMON: Exactly. This would have impacts around the world.

CAMEROTA: All right. Well, we've been warned. Thank you very much.


CAMEROTA: Yeah. Exactly. So, President Biden has launched his reelection campaign, making it clear that in next year's election, he's going to take aim at what he calls MAGA extremists. Priscilla has all the details, next.




CAMEROTA: President Biden formally announcing his bid for reelection today. In his video announcement, Biden made it clear that he will still fight what he calls MAGA extremism.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Around the country, MAGA extremists are lining up to take on those bedrock freedoms, cutting social security that you paid for your entire life while cutting taxes from the very wealthy, dictating what healthcare decisions women can make, banning books and telling people who they can love, all while making it more difficult for you to be able to vote.


CAMEROTA: Okay, Priscilla is covering this for us. Okay, so, Priscilla, his first message is sort of focused on what he thinks the evils of MAGA extremism are. Is that going to be his ongoing message for the next year or this is just the opening salvo?

ALVAREZ: It's a continuation, really. I mean, if you go and look back at his video from 2020, he was talking about the battle for the soul of the nation. And that to this video today was an extension of that.

So, it's key that he also started with January 6th. He's making it quite clear, he is running against former president Donald Trump. When you go to his events, he talks about the MAGA Republicans. He talks about, you know, this is the Republican Party that is not one that looks like that of your father or your grandfather. So, these are themes that have been coming up and it's clear that that's what he's leaning into.

Now, this is a message that we're going to see come up for the foreseeable and going into the election but at a wider scale. So, we now know that they have the first T.V. ad buy that will start tomorrow in battleground states. This will be sort of a pivotal moment as they sort of broaden out that message.

We also know that throughout the day, President Biden was talking to Democratic governors, talking about his campaign message. His advisors were talking to key parts of the coalition and voting blocs, women and Latinos to, you know, get them sort of excited about this bid.

And, of course, as we talked about last night, the White House press secretary in the meantime was fielding questions about his age because we've been talking now for some time that it was -- he is already an old president. He's going to be, by the end of the second term, even older. And so, the White House press secretary was talking about this today, too, because she was asked about it. And, you know, her message was people said that in 2020 and look where we are now. Um -- [23:30:00]

PROKUPECZ: She also said she wasn't sure if he was going to complete, right? What did she say? She has caused some controversy today.

CAMEROTA: Oh, she did? What did she say?

PROKUPECZ: Well, it was in response to the fact someone asked if he was going to finish his eight years.

CAMEROTA: The second term.

PROKUPECZ: Yeah, the second term. I think -- I don't exactly remember but she sorts of said -- well, I kind of sort of hinted, well, I don't know, I don't want to get into it. So, of course, obviously, people felt that she should have said, yes, that's his intention.

She later explained herself to say, look, I am trying to stay out of the campaigns. But, obviously, she said, of course, he's going to finish his term if he was elected again. So, she already kind of -- I think the messaging there was a bit strange and kind of stepped in it a little bit.

ALVAREZ: Yes, she said she didn't want to get ahead of it.


ALVAREZ: And that she -- and this is sort of the tricky part of an incumbency and running for reelect, is that we get into this territory where the White House is fielding questions. They're punching to the campaign when it has to do with the campaign. So, we're starting to see the beginning of that.

But we should also know where Vice President Kamala Harris was today. She is featured prominently in the video. There were questions about whether she was going to be the running mate. She certainly is. And she was at an event on reproductive freedom and protecting the rights of women.

And so, these are all things we saw on the video and they came to life all in the same day as President Biden talked to union members, as she was out talking about reproductive freedom and democracy.

CAMEROTA: Okay, let's listen to that for one second.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Fundamental freedoms are under attack in our country today. And it is the tradition of this university and dare I say the tradition of our country to fight for freedom, to fight for rights --


-- to fight for the ability of all people to be who they are ---


-- and make decisions about their own lives and their bodies.


CAMEROTA: So, will we see her deployed much more now for the next, you know, campaign season?

ALVAREZ: I think so. And we've already seen some of that. I mean, outside of this, if you just look a few weeks ago when we saw the situation play out in Tennessee with the lawmakers who were booted off given their protests on gun reform --

PROKUPECZ: Yeah, she was --

ALVAREZ: -- she was there. She was --


ALVAREZ: She didn't have public events that day.

PROKUPECZ: She brought a lot of energy.


PROKUPECZ: I think so many people commented on that speech and how energized she was. And I wonder if this campaign ad and the way she's featured in it so prominently, if that gives her a newfound voice, perhaps some energy.

The other thing, though, in watching that campaign ad and his announcement, I should say, I am just struck a little bit by the way it opens and in terms of fear, right? Like do you want to go back to this time of this chaos and be afraid sort of in that opening shot of January 6?

CAMEROTA: Yeah. Rahel, what are your -- I can't help but notice your eyes popping.

SOLOMON: Well, I mean, there was this RNC ad that came out today as well that use A.I. that you want to talk about generating fear.


SOLOMON: I mean, that was --

PROKUPECZ: That's what Trump is going to do, right? It is sort of crime and border and fear, fear, fear. Are you going to have these two campaigns that are going to sort of say, you know, you can either be afraid of going back to this or be afraid of this?

ALVAREZ: There are two visions of the country that they're each trying to project. But that ad that you're referring to, I think we have a clip of it and we should play it because --

CAMEROTA: So, this is the RNC. ALVAREZ: This is the RNC.

CAMEROTA: They used artificial intelligence to create their ad. That's interesting.

ALVAREZ: We should watch it.

CAMEROTA: Let us watch it for a moment and see what that looks like.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): This morning, an emboldened China invades Taiwan.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Financial markets are in free fall as 500 regional banks have shuttered their doors.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Border agents were overrun by a surge of 80,000 illegals yesterday evening.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Officials closed the city of San Francisco this morning, citing the escalating crime and fentanyl crisis.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Who is in charge here? It feels like the train is coming off the tracks.


CAMEROTA: What part of that is artificial intelligence?

ALVAREZ: So, if you notice on the upper left-hand side, it said, built entirely by A.I., in the small white font. And this is probably the most explicit use of A.I. for political reasons that we have seen so far. And strategist have been saying, we will likely see more of this. And it sorts of created this dystopian view of what could happen if Biden were to have a second term by catching on all the themes that we talk about, crime, the border, and the economy.

What was interesting, what struck me, I had just a few days ago been sitting across from the Homeland Security secretary who was saying he was so concerned about where A.I. was heading because of -- you know, because people may mistake it for misinformation, because of the way that it can be exploited.

And so, this is a concern already in the federal government and to see it used in this way really brought that to life.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. No, it's here. It's here. It is happening. Matthew, what are your thoughts?


CHANCE: It's scary, isn't it? It's scary to see how the American political debate is all based on either fear of going back or fear of the future under the opposition. And all on this culture war issue as well, this issue -- I mean, Kamala Harris was talking about abortion, right? She was talking about -- about that.

It is extraordinary as an outsider to sort of see how an abortion is such -- purely political debate here. Where is it? You know, if anything, it's an ethical debate about whether you think the right of life should be enshrined in the Constitution or not.

But it's also a practical debate. It struck me when I was listening to her speak. I've covered a couple of countries that have, you know, ease their abortion laws. In Ireland, I was there when they did that. In Portugal many years ago when they legalized abortion there as well. And they did it for practical reasons. You see, you cut through all the ethics of it and you're never going to convince -- you never going to bridge that divide, for instance, about whether it's right or not.

It's a practical, um, argument because if you ban abortions or you make it not possible for people to legally get abortions, they still get them. They just get them illegally. And so, people die.


CHANCE: I don't like the fact that, you know, it is -- I mean, dystopian was the word I was going to use, but you stole it from me.

PROKUPECZ: You know, with abortion, it's just -- it's -- this is going to be a key argument of this -- of this election, right? I mean, it's --

CHANCE: It's incredible.

PROKUPECZ: -- kind of incredible, right, that to think that this is still so much at the forefront of --

ALVAREZ: It is interesting, what Alisyn said, when she asked, what part of this was A.I.? That's the point, right? I mean, "The Washington Post" cited a source saying that he believes the company that's behind this is the same company that posted those photos. For example, Pope Francis with the --


ALVAREZ: -- white puffer coat which, you know, sort of a funny example. But, I mean, who could tell that that wasn't a real thing, and that's the scary part.

CAMEROTA: It's very scary. It is very scary because --

CHANCE: I think (INAUDIBLE) real thing.



SOLOMON: I just thought --


ALVAREZ: But listen, it's also the future.

PROKUPECZ: You just thought the Pope was like --

CAMEROTA: It's here.

ALVAREZ: It's here.

CAMEROTA: All right, guys, we'll keep talking, but I have to get to this because security at an elementary school in Florida opened a second grader's backpack and discovered a loaded gun. Shimon has been following this and lots of other stories about the saturation of guns in America, so we'll get to that, next.




CAMEROTA: Police arresting a Florida dad who is now facing charges after security found a gun in his second grader's backpack at school. The father told police that he put the gun in his student's backpack by mistake. This is the same school district as Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School where a school shooter killed 17 people.

Shimon, how did the father mistakenly put a gun in his second grader's backpack?

PROKUPECZ: I have no idea. You know, it's not entirely clear. But, you know, sadly, this is not uncommon, this happens, where parents or, you know, of kids winds up in the wrong bag. Perhaps they think they're putting it in their bag and then it goes into the kid's bag.

It's just hard to think that someone would be so careless with a gun, especially when you -- you're living in a house with kids. It's not uncommon. Unfortunately, how many times have we seen kids shoot themselves, you know, with guns that are just laying around at homes.

Um, the other thing, they found two more guns in his car. And so, he has been arrested. The thing is this -- this caused quite a scare there. I mean, the school went into lockdown. Police surrounded the entire area, they have to evacuate, they have to tell other parents this was happening. So, yeah, I mean, just didn't only affect one person. This affected an entire school district, an entire school campus.


PROKUPECZ: And think about just how on edge people are right now in this country.

CAMEROTA: Right. I mean, that's the thing, even a scare. This was -- this wasn't anything. This wasn't transpired. This wasn't an act of shooting. It was just a scare and everything has to go into lockdown and it affects all the kids, as you say, and how nerve-racking --

ALVAREZ: And not long ago, there was a six-year-old who shot his teacher --


SOLOMON: That's right.

ALVAREZ: -- in Virginia.

PROKUPECZ: You can't take chances anywhere now, right? And any school, elementary school, junior high school, high school, college, like any time there's any sound of someone possibly having a gun, that's it. You know, it's chaos. It is just a sad state of affairs that we live in.

CAMEROTA: What has been happening in Uvalde? Did you just spend --

PROKUPECZ: So, we were just there last week. We were working on a documentary. That's going to come out. But last week, the families gathered at the state capitol in Texas. They're trying to get gun legislation passed. Obviously, it's Texas. It's not going to happen.

But what's really sad is that these parents had to spent 13 hours waiting to testify before this committee. Um, and finally, they did get the opportunity close to midnight to testify and it was just grueling, just awful. You can imagine the parents of these kids testifying.

But, you know, this is the thing that we're seeing across the country state -- on the state level where victims of crime are trying to get some kind of legislation passed. You know, today in Washington State, Governor Jay Inslee signed a new legislation where they're banning AR- 15s. There's a 10-day waiting period now. I mean, this is significant.

The waiting period -- you know, banning AR-15 is fine. But, you know, even this 10-day waiting period is significant because it's something certainly that may have prevented what we saw happened in Louisville.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. A waiting period has -- I think there is demonstrable proof that waiting period -- in the states that have waiting periods, they have fewer of these.


PROKUPECZ: Because sometimes, what happens is people are sadly just having a bad day. They were just feeling a certain way and they just go. They snap and they go in. It's so easy to buy these things.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. And Matthew, I was just going to ask you because this is such an American problem. It's a uniquely American problem. We have more guns here than we have people. I think 393 million guns in private use at the last count. And so, whenever I talk to people from another country, they say, what -- why do you have school shootings? What -- what is happening? They can't understand it. And I have no, of course, explanation.

CHANCE: I'm just fascinated listening to you guys talk about, you know, how it happens so often, that you put a gun in your -- PROKUPECZ: You have poisonings to worry about. You know, we have, you know, guns to worry about.

CHANCE: But I tell you, I remember very well 2012 and the Sandy Hook. The killings there. Twenty children, I think it was. All six and seven years old. It was the same age as my daughter.

And so, I remember thinking, oh, my God, surely this is the moment that America acts against weapons because, frankly, my view then and still now is that if you -- if you don't ban guns regardless of the constitutional rights, when your children are being massacred in their classroom, you're never going to ban guns, frankly, because that's -- if you cross that red line, I mean, what else -- what other outrage could it be? We are seeing all these people being shot when they're going into the wrong house and stuff like that.


SOLOMON: Or the wrong driveway.

PROKUPECZ: The fact is they're just -- you know, there's two issues going on. Right? You have the assault rifles and the ban on that. But then the other part of it is that there are just too many illegal guns, handguns on the street, and that's what's going on, too, in some in some of these instances.

You know, the everyday crime that we don't necessarily cover, people that are shot, I mean, several dozens of people a day are getting shot and killed here.

CAMEROTA: Because of our Constitution, there will never be a ban on guns.

CHANCE: I understand. I understand that.


ALVAREZ: The White House --

CHANCE: These tragedies are going to be --

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean --

CHANCE: -- a fact of life.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. Very quickly.

ALVAREZ: I was going to say, if you look at the White House statements alone, you start to see the evolution to once again. That isn't every statement now and that that is what we are seeing as a response to these incidents. And it really does speak to the state of affairs that they are acknowledging we are here again almost on a weekly basis.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. ALVAREZ: But to your point, Shimon, I think there are two parts of this, right? There are the mass shootings that they're responding to and asking Congress to, you know, move on reform. And then there are people that have a gun legally and someone goes in their driveway. And what does that say about the state of the country?


CAMEROTA: -- wrestling with lately.


ALVAREZ: A very complicated issue.

CAMEROTA: And guys, I have to ago. Rahel, I owe you one. Okay, very good. After the break --

PROKUPECZ: I think she will be back.

CAMEROTA: We have another segment. We have this segment for whatever you wanted to bring up. So, up next, we do have "On the Lookout." Our reporters are going to tell us the stories they're looking out for on the horizon. We will be right back.




CAMEROTA: Okay, we are back with our fabulous panel of reporters to tell us what stories they are keeping an eye on. We call it "On the Lookout." Okay, Priscilla, what are you looking for this week?

ALVAREZ: Sticking to the theme of the week with the announcement of the campaign. Money, donors fundraising. What does that look like? How does that take shape? that was one of the big pushes to launch the campaign and do it soon so they can build that entire operation and get that going. They know it's a grueling few months ahead, and so they're going to want to shore up as many funds as they can to support this campaign.

And we know, too, or at least we expect that President Biden will have donors and fundraisers in Washington later this week. So, really speaks to them, really accelerating all of those efforts for a busy 2024 campaign. That's what I'm keeping an eye on.

CAMEROTA: Okay, thank you very much. Matthew?

CHANCE: I wonder how Ukraine is going to play into these early stages of the presidential campaign. I'm certainly going to be watching what happens in Ukraine. As I mentioned to you last night, the start -- we think of a long heralded Ukrainian counteroffensive in Ukraine. We're watching that. As that builds, to what extent will the United States give even more weapons to that?

CAMEROTA: Because you're also saying there's training going on.

CHANCE: There has been going on for a while. A couple of Ukrainian pilots have been trained on F-16s. That operation may step up. They haven't agreed to give F-16s to Ukraine yet, but obviously the pressure is on Ukraine really wants those planes to strike at Russian forces. And, you know, in the end, they could well get them.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Thank you very much. All right, Rahel?

SOLOMON: Earning season rolls on, and it's a really big week for tech earnings. So, tomorrow, we'll hear from Meta when they report after the bill. Meta is always really interesting because it's Meta, it is Facebook. We have also been spending a lot of money on the Metaverse. And so that'll be interesting.

But then Thursday, we hear from Amazon. And Amazon is especially interesting because Amazon is obviously a massive company. It has its Cloud computing business, but it's also what's happening with ecommerce. The last time we heard from the company, they reported that consumers were starting to pull back.

Of course, that is something that we focus on quite a bit as we try to read the tea leaves and understand what's happening with consumers. Are they still spending? Are they pulling back on discretionary items? What that means in terms of the larger economy? So, Amazon is certainly something that we get a lot of attention on Thursday.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Shimon?

PROKUPECZ: I'm watching Hunter Biden. He's expected to be in court on Monday. A judge there has ordered him to appear at a court there. It's over a paternity case.

CAMEROTA: That's interesting because it's different than the other investigations.


PROKUPECZ: One hundred percent.

CAMEROTA: This is completely different. It is a paternity case.

PROKUPECZ: It is a paternity case. He has been paying child support. But something is going on. And the mother of this kid wants him there. She wants him in court. She told the judge that he's playing games and that -- oops, sorry about that -- that she wants him jailed. Uh, so, the judge there has ordered him to appear.

And so, we'll see if he shows up and, you know, what's going to happen there. But certainly, right now, he is expected to appear at this courtroom in Arkansas on Monda. So, certainly, it is going to be interesting.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Thank you all for those previews. Great to have you, guys, tonight. Thanks for all of the stories. Really fun. Tomorrow on "CNN This Morning," Poppy's wide-ranging interview with Kim Kardashian. What she has to say about her journey to becoming a lawyer, motherhood, and what she's asking for from the Biden White House.

Thanks for watching tonight. Our coverage continues now.