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CNN Tonight

House Passes Debt Limit Deal As Lawmakers Race To Avert Default; Sources Say, Trump Captured On Tape Talking About Classified Document He Kept After Presidency; Tech Experts Warn The Public Of AI's Societal Risks; Defense Department Studies More Than 800 Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena; Bill Requires FAA To Conduct New Evacuation Tests Considering Airline Seat Size. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 31, 2023 - 22:00   ET


L.Z. GRANDERSON, OP-ED COLUMNIST, LOS ANGELES TIMES: They feel as if Donald Trump emasculated Mike Pence.



GRANDERSON: And they blamed Mike Pence for that.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: All right, everyone.

GRANDERSON: And that goes on. That means something.

PHILLIP: A great conversation here tonight, Gloria, Audie, Jason and L.Z., thank you all very much.

And a quick programming reminder for you this Sunday, Nikki Haley will join CNN for a presidential town hall at 8:00 P.M. Eastern Time. The former vice president, Mike pence, will be here next, Wednesday, for a town hall of his own. And you can catch that at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time only right here on CNN. Thank you for joining us.

"CNN TONIGHT" with Alisyn Camerota starts right now.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone. I'm Alisyn Cameorta. Welcome to CNN Tonight.

Breaking news, in just the past few minutes, the House voted to pass the debt limit bill. This is a huge relief for President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy and, you could argue, the global financial system. A vote could happen in the Senate as soon as tomorrow. We're going to take you live to Capitol Hill.

CAMEROTA: Plus, first on CNN, the Justice Department has an audio tape of Donald Trump at a meeting in the summer of 2021 acknowledging that he kept a classified Pentagon document after he was out of office about a potential attack on Iran. Sources say he suggested he would like to share that info with a group of people at his golf club but he was aware that there were limits to his ability to declassify documents. That, of course, is the opposite of what he later claimed that he could just declassify anything by thinking about it. So, what does this development mean for the special counsel investigation? A lot more only in a moment.

And Neil deGrasse Tyson is here to tell us what we need to know about today's NASA hearing on UFOs, including video of an object that scientists say is totally unexplained. We'll show it to you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't understand. How can they just disappear? They have no means of transportation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No earthly means of transportation.


CAMEROTA: Okay. Let's begin with our breaking news and CNN's Melanie Zanona live for us on Capitol Hill. Melanie, this debt limit bill just passed the House. 71 Republicans voted no, though. So, tell us what happens next.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes. So, now, all eyes turn to the Senate where Chuck Schumer is planning to take the first procedural step tomorrow in order to tee this up for a vote. But in order to move quickly, it is going to require the cooperation of all senators.

And while there are signal that there's some willingness to cooperate, it is going to take a little deal making and a little agreement. One of the things that they can do is offer some amendment votes. Those would be likely to fail. That would theoretically get all the lawmakers, even those opposed to the underlying bill on board. So, they can try to move quickly on this.

But, Alisyn, I will tell that you this big bipartisan vote that we saw in the House tonight is only going to make it a lot easier in the Senate to move this along, to have more members come on board. And it really is a big victory for President Biden, as well as Speaker McCarthy. And as you mentioned, it is a huge relief because it was not certain that they would get here. It was a long and rocky road, weeks of intense negotiations. So, it looks like Congress will avert a crisis but just barely with only days to go until that June 5th deadline for default, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Okay, yes, not a moment too soon. Melanie, thank you very much for helping us with that breaking news.

Okay. Now, let's turn to Donald Trump captured on audiotape talking about a classified Pentagon document about a possible Iran attack. It was after he left the White House. Sources say this conversation took place at his golf club in New Jersey in July of 2021 and that the people that Donald Trump was talking to did not have security clearances to see classified information.

So, what does this mean for the criminal investigation into his handling of national security secrets? Let's bring in CNN's Senior Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn Polantz. We also have our former Jon Sale, former Watergate prosecutor, former Federal Prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers and National Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem.

Katelyn, I want to start with you. I imagine that this audiotape is of great interest to the special counsel. So, do we know how this will affect the investigation?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Alisyn, we know it is something that the investigators have obtained and they want to build up exactly what happened in this meeting and very likely why this document was in Donald Trump's hands.

So, one of the other things in this reporting was a whole team of us, Kaitlan Collins, Paula Reid and I. We were able to confirm that the person who Trump says provided him this document, so that's the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, during his presidency. This document is about plans the United States has potentially to bomb Iran, if that is something the president would so choose to do, which Donald Trump was talked out of during his presidency by Milley.


But he has this document, and it is a document that the prosecutors have asked, or they at least have questioned Mark Milley in their criminal investigation of the mishandling of classified information. So, they're looking at that.

And then we also know that there is grand jury activity about what exactly happened in this meeting. So, they have this audiotape. And we were able to confirm that there's a number of people at Bedminster in July of 2021 who are with Donald Trump, as he's being recorded, as he's talking about this plan that he says Milley provided to him that would undercut Milley, discredit Milley. And he's rustling around a paper, right? So, on the audiotape, you can hear him rustling a paper.

And those people, one of those people, Margo Martin, a communications aide to Donald Trump, has been into the grand jury to testify. So the Justice Department is putting some oomph behind this as recently as March.

And so this is something that they're interested in, obviously, because of what the document is itself, something that he is apparently acknowledging on the tape is classified, that he wishes he could declassify or couldn't show more people widely because it is classified, that he doesn't have the power to make it public at that time after he leaves the presidency. And that is also of interest in addition to the document itself.

Here's what Donald Trump has said in the past about his ability to declassify, which has apparently undercut quite broadly by what is said on this tape.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: There doesn't have to be a process, as I understand it. There's different people say different things. But as I understand, that doesn't have to be. If you're the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it's declassified even by thinking about it.

No, I don't have anything. I have no classified documents. And, by the way, they become automatically declassified when I took them.


POLANTZ: So, our sources are telling us that that on this tape, it quite bluntly captures Donald Trump essentially recognizing that that is not the case, what he was telling Kaitlan Collins in that town hall and in that previous interview.

Now, I should say, CNN has not heard this tape at this time. We just have had multiple sources describing to us what happened here. And then just last hour, Kaitlan Collins was just able to ask, along with Abby Phillip, Jim Trusty, the lawyer for Donald Trump, the person who's defending him in this case, working with the Justice Department. Trusty basically gave his response to this story. He didn't deny that this tape exists. This is what he said instead.


PHILLIP: Did you know that this tape existed and are there --

JIM TRUSTY, COUNSEL FOR FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: I am not going to try a case based on the government leaks, but we need to just recognize the significance of the moment, which is DOJ and FBI or some combination of them are engaging in a leak campaign.

I'm not going to dignify the DOJ leak.

When he left for Mar-a-Lago with boxes of documents that other people packed for him that he brought, he was the commander-in-chief. There is no doubt that he has the constitutional authority as commander-in- chief to declassify. It does not have to go through some sort of bureaucratic process to be declassified.

PHILLIP: But did he declassify this document that we're referring to?

TRUSTY: We're not going to try the case leak by leak.

I'm not trying my case in the press.


POLANTZ: Now, Alisyn, one thing that we have learned, this came from dogged source reporting and a lot of experienced journalism, both on the legal side as well as understanding what sort of things happen in a case like this.

And one thing that Trusty is talking about there is he's talking about the classification of documents, whether these documents are classified or not. Did Donald Trump declassify them? But at the end of the day, we know the law, one of the laws that the Justice Department has been looking at in this investigation on whether Donald Trump mishandled classified records or national security records. And that law only requires that these records be out of the hands of the protected hands of the federal government, in the hands of somebody who isn't authorized to have them where they might have them, and they don't even necessarily have to be classified at all. It just needs to be mishandled national defense information. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Katelyn, thank you for all that.

Let me bring in Jon Sale. Now, Jon, you, at one time, had been asked to join Donald Trump's legal team. You politely declined, I believe. But what did you think of his attorney who you just heard on CNN and give his rationale that, basically, there is no bureaucratic process that the president has to go through?

JON SALE, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Well, I think that's probably right, because it's similar to the pardon, that there is a whole process for somebody to get a pardon. It's promulgated in the code of federal regulations. Most people go through it, but the president doesn't have to do it if he doesn't want to.

But I think we're missing the point. I think that the Espionage Act is what comes into play here, and that does not matter whether or not documents are classified.


It is not the spies and the James Bond part of the act. It is a ten- year felony to willfully retain documents that pertain to the national defense.

Well, my God. I mean, he's talking about assuming the tape -- we haven't heard the tape, but assuming the tape reflects what the excellent reporting says it does, to be at a country club and be talking about plans for a possible military invasion of Iran, I mean, what could be more dangerous than that to the national defense?


SALE: And, you know, General Petraeus pled guilty to doing that. And Donald Trump, although he's afforded the presumption of innocence, he's not above the law.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Jon, I think that's very interesting that you're talking about the Espionage Act, and we'll get into that, but why are you saying that? Can you help clarify the thinking that he doesn't have to go through a bureaucratic process to declassify things? If you just think it in your head, don't you have to tell the apparatus that you are declassifying something? Why wouldn't he have to go through a bureaucratic process, just to help us understand?

SALE: No. My point, there is an argument that some constitutional scholars say just the inherent power of the executive, he doesn't have to go through those processes. I'm not saying that argument is right. But I'm saying that the Espionage Act just bypasses that and doesn't give him the benefit of that defense.


SALE: This overcomes what I would call the who cares defense, because people may not care about hush payments to a stripper, but they sure as heck are going to care about talking about military secrets at an unsecured country club.

CAMEROTA: Okay, thank you for explaining that.

Katelyn, one last question before I bring in the rest of our panel, do we know who made this audiotape?

POLANTZ: We don't. And we actually also don't know exactly how the Justice Department was able to procure it. But we do know that there were two things happening at that time when Donald Trump was meeting with these people, with the people in this room. There were people around him who he wanted to have taping him, almost as an insurance policy every time he was talking to journalists or doing interviews. And so there were tapes being made of Donald Trump talking to groups of people. His press aide, Margo Martin, was in that meeting.

And then the other people in the meeting, they were working on a book. They were working on Mark Meadows' book, his former chief of staff at the end of the presidency. So, it's very plausible that they too may have been recording the conversation, but we don't know at this time where the Justice Department got it from.

CAMEROTA: Okay, thank you very much.

Okay. Let me bring in Jen and Juliette. Okay, a lot to dissect here. First, national security. So, if this really was about an attack plan that was presented to the president when he was president, from the Joint Chiefs chair, Mark Milley, about Iran, your thoughts on what all that means.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So, it's not -- if it's only four pages, it's not a detailed plan. This isn't like the entire military was ready to pounce. Lots of ideas are thrown out by presidents, by national security advisers. The military is trained to provide some documents to give them a sense of how it might be done at the sort of strategic level. This is not an operational plan. But the fact that it was asked for is classified. We're talking about it now because it was secret, that a president asked for what would it mean to actually attack Iran. Now they know. Now we know. Now our allies know.

I think the second thing about the national security issue is we tend to put this as a Trump issue. It is also a President Biden issue because the rest of the world is looking. They are looking at a Republican Party that has not banished Trump. He is more likely than not, at least from the polling, to get the nomination.

So, if you're an ally and you're sharing information and you're thinking about what's this country like in 15 months, this is what it's like. This is a potentially future president, not just a past president, who is going to willy-nilly use the classified information, the secret information that our allies give us. And worry -- no proof yet -- but I worry that if you're thinking about what does the United States national security apparatus look like a year from November, it's very different than it looks like now. And it will have consequences for the Biden administration, too.

CAMEROTA: Okay. So, Jennifer, tell us what you think as you listen to all of this, in particular the Espionage Act versus the Presidential Records Act and everything, that the legal jeopardy that this could present.

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. So, if it is as advertised, of course, we haven't heard it yet, but, of course, it is bad news for the former president, good news for prosecutors. It does potentially a few things, right? It expands the scope of the investigation.

We've been looking at documents that were recovered in 2022 from Mar- a-Lago. This is now a document, or at least information potentially passed at Bedminster in 2021. So, it expands the scope, potentially a whole another charge, right? We're talking about out this particular document information in that document.


And as was being said before, you have the issue of a classified document. That's kind of one set of charges. And then you have this national defense issue under the Espionage Act, which doesn't actually require a document that's stamped classified that's mishandled, right? That's about giving over information, mishandling information. So, you have potentially all new charges.

Then you have the proof of intent. This is a great tape, if it exists, as we've heard, because it's shows that he does understand that he can't just declassify by thinking it in his head. Things aren't automatically declassified. It helps them prove that. It debunks his defenses. And, finally, recordings are like gold to prosecutors.

I mean, this is why front and center in the Georgia case has always been the Raffensperger call, right, because you hear the defendant in his own voice, in his own words, saying something that, at the time of trial, he definitely doesn't want anyone to hear him saying, like here, basically debunking his own defenses, so, gold for prosecutors.

CAMEROTA: Friends, thank you for helping us understand all of this. I really appreciate all of your expertise.

So, what are the political implications of all of this for Donald Trump as he runs for a second term? My panel has thoughts. That's next.


CAMEROTA: Okay, more on our CNN reporting. Sources say that federal prosecutors have obtained a 2021 audio recording of Donald Trump talking about a classified document that he kept after leaving the White House.

Joining me now, we have CNN Senior Political Analyst John Avlon, Juliette Kayyem is back with us, we also have former Democratic Congressman Mondaire Jones and also former Trump White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci.


Great to have all of you guys.

Anthony, I'll start with you. You know how Donald Trump operates. Are you surprised that there is an audiotape of this?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I'm not surprised, but I'm also not going to be surprised about the doubling and tripling down on the lie. He's the guy that's caught with his hand in the cookie jar. You've got the photos, you've got the DNA. It's not my hand on the cookie jar.

CAMEROTA: But the idea that he would want to share classified information with his guests at Bedminster golf club.

SCARAMUCCI: It's the tremendous insecurity that he has. And I think that was the thing that people were always worried about with him. He's trying to show these people that he's in shock himself that he has access to this information. And so he's sort of tipping it to them to make himself feel good about himself. It's like a reinforcement mechanism.

CAMEROTA: And, Congressman, that he knew at the time he couldn't show it to them because it was classified and he was no longer in office and he didn't have the power to declassify it.

MONDAIRE JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, this is not surprising, but it does, for evidentiary purposes, establish that he's lying in terms of his saying that he thought he could declassify or that he had already declassified these documents by fiat, not going through the traditional process of declassification.

SCARAMUCCI: And just everybody remember, it works for him, his M.O. and his methodology. Yes, it does.

JONES: He may well be --

SCARAMUCCI: His base will buy everything he's saying.

JONES: And likely will be prosecuted for. But in terms of whether there will be political ramifications, no. I mean, I don't even know that his being incarcerated would prevent him from being the Republican nominee.

CAMEROTA: Do you think this makes it more likely that the DOJ prosecutes?

JONES: Oh, I think it is an indication of the fact that Jack Smith is close to a prosecution, to an indictment in particular, and that that is imminent, that that's likely to happen.

CAMEROTA: John Avlon?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, this establishes, apparently, the thing that's hardest to establish, which is intent, right? Remember all that hand wringing? Well, how can we really know it's a lie if we don't know what's in his heart and mind? Well, I mean, you could look at the pattern, or in this case, you apparently have him on tape bragging about having the documents that he denies having and knowing that they're classified and he's not supposed to have them or secret in this case.

So, yes, if you're going to enforce the law without fear of favor, you would bring charges, and the court public opinion is what he defies. Court of law is tougher to spin your way out of.

CAMEROTA: Here's what the Trump campaign spokesperson says about all of this. The DOJ's continued interference in the presidential election is shameful and this meritless investigation should cease wasting the American taxpayers' money on democratic political objectives. Any thoughts on that, Juliette?

KAYYEM: Yes. I mean, it's -- right. It's predictable. They're going to push a narrative that this is just a political attack having to do with the election.

I'm old enough to remember when Democrats were considered careless about national security and Republicans were like the serious party. And I think the Republicans, whatever happens in the primary, are more likely than not to be stuck with a candidate or someone who is in front for the next 14 months, who is not just a past danger to our national security and classified information, but a future one.

And I don't think the Democrats -- let me just put a differently. I don't think the Democrats can stop this. It is going to take the party, taking its historic role in protecting America, to begin to understand the danger he is. It's a danger. It's not like a slip. It's a total danger of what he's doing.

SCARAMUCCI: They won't do it.

KAYYEM: I know.

JONES: I do want to make the observation that the so-called weaponization committee that House Republicans have set up, which is really an obstruction of justice committee --

CAMEROTA: To find out if the -- because they claim the FBI was weaponized?

JONES: The FBI and the Department of Justice, and now Kevin McCarthy recently saying that, what, he would find the Republican FBI director, Chris Wray, in contempt. All of this has been in preparation for the prosecution of Donald Trump by the Department of Justice to create an environment where, when that ultimately happens, the base of the Republican Party is going to say, see, I knew that these agencies were weaponized.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Hold on. I just want to tell you one while we have you. I just want to ask you one more thing, because we also have other breaking news, and that is that the debt ceiling bill just passed through the House. So, let me play for you what former President Donald Trump just said about that on a radio show.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I would have taken the default, if you had to, if you didn't get it right. But that's not where they were going. And I think it was an opportunity, but it was also -- they got something done. Kevin worked very hard. Everybody worked very hard, I mean, with a lot of good intention. I would have taken a different stance, but it's done. They've got the vote.


We knew they were going to have the vote. And we'll get it fixed in two years.


CAMEROTA: Your thoughts, Anthony?

SCARAMUCCI: No. I mean, there were times in 2016, where you would walk back onto the plane with him, he's like, why did you say that? He said, oh, well, you know, it sounded good at the time. He doesn't believe any of that. And so he's saying that --

CAMEROTA: What part doesn't he believe it, because there were two different things? One was, that was great, they got it done, and one was, I would have taken the default --

SCARAMUCCI: Well, no. He's got to praise Kevin McCarthy because Kevin McCarthy has been in his back pocket for this whole time, particularly after the J6 incident. So, he's doing that. But he's also saying that he would have taken the default because he's trying to be a bomb thrower in the Republican Party, and he's trying to scare all of them. And they are scared, okay?

And so they'll never do what they're supposed to do, which is rally together and say, this is an existential threat to the United States, a threat to the American democracy and global civilization, and we're going to take a stand against them and get him out of the party. They won't do that. And those are all signals from him to let them know that he stole the big bully at the lunch table. They should be very afraid of him and his base. And that's why he's saying that nonsense that he doesn't believe, because, remember, he ran up the deficit $8 trillion in four years, and every time the debt ceiling came up, he was moving very quickly, three years, whatever it was, to get the debt ceiling passed.

So, he doesn't believe any of that. But he's a great showman. He's got very good political instincts, and he's very dangerous. So, let's just call it for what it is so that we can try to stop him from regaining the presidency.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Guys, stick around. We have to take a very quick break because human extinction, that's what we're talking about next. That's what experts are warning artificial intelligence could lead to. John Avlon is going to give us a Reality Check on all of this.




CAMEROTA: We have talked a lot about artificial intelligence on this program, particularly the dangers of it, like how ChatGPT tried to get a reporter to leave his wife. But now, tech experts warn that we could be on the verge of the apocalypse. John Avlon gives us a reality check. John.

AVLON: Hey, Ali. You know, how much of what we talk about will actually matter in a year's time, let alone 10 or 20? Well, it does seem clear that the rise of AI, artificial intelligence, will be one of the stories that define our times. And I'm betting 2023 will be seen as the year that it finally started to go mainstream.

As you know, this technology is moving incredibly fast, along with its potential for good and for evil. And that's why a 22-word statement issued by some of the leaders in AI should snap you out of any short attention span stupor you may be in.

Here's what they said, quote, mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war. You got that? Risks of extinction. Now, this is not a cause for panic as much as it is a call for action. And unusually, some tech business leaders are begging for government regulation. Here's the CEO of OpenAI, Sam Altman, at a recent congressional hearing.


SAM ALTMAN, CEO, OPEN AI: It is essential that powerful AI is developed with democratic values in mind. And this means that U.S. leadership is critical. I think if this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong and we want to be vocal about that. We want to work with the government to prevent that from happening.


CAMEROTA: Good. John, right there, right there. I have to interrupt because that's the terrifying warning. And so, what -- are we supposed to do something about this or just sit and wait for the apocalypse?

AVLON: I am glad you asked. That is the right question, Ali, because we all need to move from fixating on problems to finding solutions. There are a lot of proposals right now and given that the average senator who grew up in an era where mimeograph machines were considered current technology, it's understandable that some folks are skeptical about their ability to take on AI oversight.

Quote, technology is moving quicker than Congress could ever hope to keep up with, admits Colorado Senator Michael Bennett. Now, he's updated a proposal to create a federal digital platform commission modeled on the FDA. Other business leaders from IBM, the former CEO of Google, have also weighed in with their own suggestions. Take a listen.


CHRISTINA MONTGOMERY, VICE PRESIDENT IBM: There must be clear guidance on AI uses or categories of AI, supported activity that are inherently high risk. No person anywhere should be tricked into interacting with an AI system. Congress can mitigate the potential risks of AI without hindering innovation.

ERIC SCHMIDT, FORMER CEO AND CHAIRMAN OF GOOGLE: This is a case where the industry needs to do a little self-reflection and the government needs to be a bit more aggressive. The U.S. should do this in such a way that's consistent with free speech. I'm in favor of free speech, of humans, and not of robots.


AVLON: Now look, this is all happening fast, but in a larger sense, we're scrambling to catch up with something that was anticipated by science fiction writers decades ago. Because it was back in 1942 that Isaac Asimov came up with his nerdishly famous, "Three Laws of Robotics", which were designed to ensure that robots did not harm human beings.

So, if Asimov could anticipate the problems we're dealing with 80 years ago, surely we can proactively focus on wise constraints for technology that promises to be both a benefit and a threat to life as we know it. And that's your Reality Check.

CAMEROTA: Okay, John, thank you very much. Come back over here so we can have a conversation about it. Also joining our panel tonight is Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Great to have you here.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, ASTROPHYSICIST: Hello, hi, hi, thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: So, you have a very big brain and you think all the time.

TYSON: Are you saying that I have a fat head? Is that what you're saying?


CAMEROTA: Not at all.

SCARAMUCCI: She kind of said that.

CAMEROTA: And you think about the universal impact of things. Does AI scare you?

TYSON: So, there's part of me where it doesn't scare me at all, if I may share that piece of me --


TYSON: -- because as a scientist who specializes in fields that deeply rely on the power of computing, I've seen the power of computing grow exponentially as it applies to my work.


And we've been using neural nets, too, for the computer to make decisions about data that's coming in at a rate that we cannot otherwise keep up with as human beings. So, so, we're in the same sandbox as AI. We've been that for decades. Okay? So, now, watch what happens.

So, all of a sudden, the AI power of computing crosses a line in the sand. Now, it can write your term paper. Now, people lose their lunch over this. I sort of feel bad I missed out on that. Okay. Oh, it writes your term paper. You want me to feel bad for you about that?

It's we, in the physical sciences and the military, by the way, any time computers became more powerful, we said, great. Let's have it do stuff that we can't do, don't want to do, don't have the ability to do. You set it off to the best and then think of something else. It continued to advance our understanding of the universe with a computer as a tool.

CAMEROTA: That's really good. That's really good and it's really comforting me. But why don't you worry about the dark underbelly of it?

TYSON: Look, we always can and should. What I'm saying is, it crossed into the world of liberal arts by composing your term paper and all of a sudden, it's headlines everywhere. And that just was odd to me because computers beat us at chess long ago and it beat us at Go and it beat us at Jeopardy. It's -- it's been taking our lunch money from the beginning. And all of a sudden, liberal artists, it touches them, and the whole world has to run for the hills. So, that's the part of me that says, that's the part of me.


TYSON: So now, about the existential risk. Is it fundamentally different? By the way, that quote, that 22-word quote, was perfect. Is it fundamentally different from when computers had the power to launch missiles? No. You put in checks and balances so that that does not happen. I was on a Pentagon board -- the Defense Innovation Board, where we addressed the role of AI in kill decisions. Do you want AI deciding whether the military is going to kill it? No, you don't. So, you put a human being in the track.


TYSON: Okay, so that the computer is not autonomous in that decision. There are ways to mitigate what might be catastrophic and existential.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I thought that message was unbelievably careless, unhelpful. Like let's just scare everyone. We created this thing. Now, help us because we don't know what to do. I am old-fashioned. I believe in the human species and our capacity to assert agency over this.

CAMEROTA: That is correct.

KAYYEM: It can come. It can also be used for good. I mean when I think about disaster management, crisis management, movement of things, getting things to people in need. All of that is gonna benefit. And this quote comes out and it's like, everyone is just freaking out as if we're --

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, it is from the creators of the technology who are sounding the alarm that it could be the end of civilization. So, that's where I think we have to take it seriously.

KAYYEM: They are also investors. They are also people who are -- this is a commercial enterprise. I don't mean to be cynical, but I'm kind of sounding kind of cynical. Like, I mean, give us a solution that doesn't terrify everyone's mother.

CAMEROTA: Okay, go ahead, Anthony.

SCARAMUCCI: Let me just say this. You wanna commit a crime, you have a small group of people commit the crime. And if you put too small of a group of people in charge of the Jackson balances, it will be a disaster for the civilization and so you've got to get a very wide berth of people involved because a small group of people can get malevolent and we know that. We know that from history, we saw that in Nazi Germany, you need a very large group of people to protect the civilization.

CAMEROTA: Okay, all right.

AVLON: With transparency and scientists avoiding industry capture, all that this great good, but let's be realistic about the war.

TYSON: Tandem moral code that evolves along with the science and science is moving fast.


TYSON: So, so get on it. Okay, yeah, I don't have any problems with that moving alongside it but -- but one of those messages was let's put a moratorium for six months. That's not gonna happen because the rest of the world --

SCARAMUCCI: I'm going to send you my paper tomorrow. I want an A from you. I'm going to have it produced in about seven seconds.


SCARAMUCCI: That would be the first A that I've gotten in 35 years. CAMEROTA: That's awesome. Thank you. I feel better. I really

appreciate that. Thank you, friends. All right. Meanwhile, NASA holding a public hearing about UFOs today. Obviously, we have to hear what Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks about UFOs and how does he explain the unexplainable, inexplicable, whichever word it is. The truth is out there.




CAMEROTA: Spooky. The Defense Department is studying more than 800 unidentified anomalous phenomena. That's over the past 27 years. This came out at a public hearing today with members of a NASA task force. But they say that of those 800 cases, only 2 to 5 percent are considered truly unexplained. But what are those?

My panel is back, including Neil deGrasse Tyson, Author of "Starry Messenger". Two to five percent. That's a lot, Neil, of things that they can't explain -- NASA scientists cannot explain. Here's one that they showed today that they have no explanation for. Here's the video that they showed in this hearing today. Let me pull it up. Let's see if we can figure out what this is.


CAMEROTA: Okay, okay, oh, do you see that thing just fall down? Where did that thing go? Seems like they should go to find that one. It just kind of like fell out of frame That one that one doesn't seem as mysterious to me as some of the other things but that was one that they showed that they can't explain. Do you? Oh, oh, there it is. Okay. I mean, I think that's just a football. I think that was just somebody tossing a football around.


CAMEROTA: What did you say --

TYSON: They should put you on the panel. If you --

CAMEROTA: You're right, with genius insights like that. Why isn't NASA calling me?

TYSON: So, I have two reflections on this. One, as a scientist, if you're an active research scientist, you live on the boundary between what is known and unknown in the universe. So, if you live a day where there's something that you cannot explain, that's the day you live for. Just think about that. If we explain everything, there'd be no science. We'd be done.

So, yes, the universe brims with mysteries. So, to a scientist, if three or four out of 800 objects cannot be explained, that's, okay, that sparks curiosity. And that's why there are the panels. And by the way, NASA, just to make this clear, NASA has been looking for life in the universe for decades, for at least 45 years. The Viking mission that landed on Mars had scoops and things to test for life. So, it's not like NASA's not interested in life.


TYSON: This has been a major activity and driver of the spending, of the hardware, of everything.

SCARAMUCCI: So, if they had the goods, they would come right out to the American public right now?

TYSON: Of course! Why --

SCARAMUCCI: 100 percent. No problem. We've had alien civilizations visiting, we just want to give you that announcement. Are we ready for that? I mean, come on.

TYSON: Here's the thing, here's the thing. The people who want to think that we have been visited or have found it, it's just odd because how -- you know the number of smartphones in the world right now is about six billion.

CAMEROTA: And people catch things all the time, UFOs on their phones all the time.

TYSON: Well, well, what I'm saying is no, no, yes, right. Oh, by the way, of course UFOs got rebranded as UAP, but yeah, who are they fooling?

CAMEROTA: We know that's a UFO.

TYSON: All right, okay. So, just to be clear, if there's a light in the sky or just something that darts across. okay, fine, let's find out more about it. But because you don't know what it is doesn't give you carte blanche to say, I know that is visiting aliens from outer space observing us.

CAMEROTA: Okay, okay.

TYSON: You can't go from, the U means unidentified, to I have identified it.

CAMEROTA: What about this one?


CAMEROTA: Here's one. Okay, this is a -- these are U.S. Navy pilots. Right?

TYSON: Are they human?

CAMEROTA: They said that -- they're human pilots.

TYSON: Then they have human susceptibilities to everything.

CAMEROTA: They say that they've never seen anything do this before. It defied aerodynamic laws. It should, wait, wait, wait, we're not at the good part yet. Watch this, watch this. So, there it is. Okay, it's not moving. It's moving. Hold on, maybe they're saying something. Okay, so what's that right there?

TYSON: I don't know. Okay, and I'm okay with that. That's what, okay. That's what I've been for. Okay, either, wait, wait. It could be a detector issue, something with the, there could be Vaseline on the lens, that something. Because why is your best image of fuzzy monochromatic tic tac in restricted Navy airspace all over the Earth? Do you realize a million people are airborne at any given moment with a window. All right. Don't you think if aliens were invading Earth, this could be crowdsourced to everybody's smartphone? So, what came out in the conference today, I sat through the whole thing.

CAMEROTA: Yeah, give us the headline.

TYSON: What came out was a suggestion that maybe, by the way, that panel was an independent panel. None of them are NASA employees.


TYSON: That's a FACA rule thing. Okay, so what they suggested maybe is that NASA create an app that you run on your smartphone, he said, if you think you see an alien, do this with your smartphone and take the picture and then send it to this clearing house. And then we have data from multiple sides and that will help build the data case for the Unknown Aerial Phenomena or anomalous phenomena.

SCARAMUCCI: Say something comforting about it like you did with AI. Say something comforting about it because --

TYSON: Okay.

SCARAMUCCI: I think people don't know if they want to get comfortable.

TYSON: I've got to get through something that's a little uncomfortable, okay? It seems to me that if we're being visited by aliens, we wouldn't need congressional hearings to establish that fact. You just see, I'm just spit balling here. I'm just thinking, okay.

CAMEROTA: We would know that this was that fact. Correct.

TYSON: Billions of photos are uplifted to the internet every day.

UNKNOWN: I'm saying here, I'm sorry.

TYSON: Billions of photos. And cats, cats that jump from a table to a couch and fall go viral. You think if someone caught an alien that won't go viral?

CAMEROTA: Okay. I like that about aliens.

SCARAMUCCI: He's not that comforting. He's a very comforting person but he's really not --

TYSON: I'll give you some company.

SCARAMUCCI: I wanted him to tell us something that he really knows that's comforting.

TYSON: Here it is. Ready? I'm not convinced that we, as humans, are smart enough to be of interest to any aliens at all.


SCARAMUCCI: My mother thinks I am.

TYSON: Okay, I got another one. I got one. Here's another one. Here's another one.

UNKNOWN: You cannot criticize the entire species.

TYSON: Have you seen the space debris that's orbiting Earth? Okay. So, I don't think we've been visited by aliens yet because they saw the space debris. What the hell are you guys doing down there? We're not coming anywhere near your planet because you're embedded in the middle of your own garbage.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Comforting, not comforting, but I agree, that's a mixed message. But I like this.

SCARAMUCCI: The truth of the matter is that people shouldn't worry about it. I think that's the number one message.


SCARAMUCCI: Whatever it is, it's been observable for multiple decades and they shouldn't overly worry about it.

CAMEROTA: Okay, well, here's an interesting transition. Here's something you are worried about. Do you feel like your airline seat is shrinking? Congress also wants to do something about that. While you're taking pictures of aliens, your seat is shrinking.




CAMEROTA: Flying economy has been likened to being packed like a sardine. Well, now two Senate Democrats are asking the Biden administration to take a look at airline seat sizes. This bill would require the FAA to conduct new evacuation tests with more realistic conditions that actually include the size of and space between the seats.

I'm back with Neil deGrasse Tyson and Juliette Kayyem. Okay, I'm 5'3", what's the problem with the airline seats? Are they uncomfortable or something? Who doesn't like them?

TYSON: I'm so not 5'3" and so -- CAMEROTA: I'm somewhere in between.

TYSON: So just, it's odd that now people are worrying about the seats. And have we checked to see whether just Americans rear ends have gotten bigger over the decade?

CAMEROTA: That's what you're concerned about.

TYSON: Is that why we're complaining now? Because we got fat asses?

KAYYEM: In defense -- in defense of the larger -- this is the reason why this is done is because all the testing done for these darn evacuations, allegedly, that will save us in a crash are done with about 70 passengers on a plane. So, it's like, when was the last time you were on a plane with 70, just 70 passengers?

CAMEROTA: I mean, they're more packed. We live in a packed world and so the question is -- or packed airplanes -- the question is, can those packed airplanes actually evacuate? And if they can't, maybe we should rethink, you know, how we're thinking about evacuation or when evacuations would occur. This is in the 0.001, you know, percent likelihood that you are going to be able to survive a crash and actually evacuate.

CAMEROTA: It happens. It does.

TYSON: The Hudson River. Yeah.

CAMEROTA: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Got it. So, our --

TYSON: But just to be clear, you're not all lining up in file order to exit one. There are multiple exits on the sides of the plane. So, you don't have to go the full length of the plane to get past everybody else. You just got to go to your nearest exit, which might be behind you.

CAMEROTA: Wow, there's a leitmotif here.

TYSON: But I've got a point about you being 5'3". I had this idea that they knew if you're traveling alone, solo, and they knew your height, that there was a seat appropriate for your height so that everybody had the same comfort level. Because most of our height difference, of human height differences, is in our legs. It's not in our torso. That's why we can all sit on three chairs and we're all looking at each other in the eye that I'm a foot taller than you.

CAMEROTA: That's right.

TYSON: So, in a chair, the height doesn't matter. But the leg room -- so put me in a place where I'm as comfortable as you are and you can pack people so that everyone is equally as comfortable.

CAMEROTA: That's brilliant. But I also feel like you should invent that since it doesn't exist. So --

TYSON: But that would be a way to equalize this issue. CAMEROTA: There you go.

TYSON: Because little children don't need whole big area. You don't, either.

CAMEROTA: Right. That's good. Okay, quickly.

KAYYEM: I don't think it -- my sense is that people's discomfort on planes has to do with the fact that people talk on planes to strangers and my goal, my ideal airline is one in which no one actually speaks.

CAMEROTA: Okay, got it. So, you want a silent airline and you want less junk in the trunk. Got it.

TYSON: But also, I think what's really going on here, the subtext here -- the subtext is we're packed in like sardines and if the temperature gets a little hot or a little cold, people get triggered, the patience levels get triggered and we get all these viral videos of fights breaking out on airplanes.


TYSON: And so, I think it's really about that.


TYSON: And so, we got to have to stop the fighting on the airplane.

CAMEROTA: Great. Great. Use your viral video to take a picture of the UFO out your window. Good. We've worked it around. Give the people something that they want and don't talk. Don't talk to me.

TYSON: And if you're a baby, don't cry. Okay.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh, you're wonderful. Thank you, guys. Great to see you. Coming up, some of our favorite reporters are here with the stories they're working on for tomorrow. Thank you. That was awesome. Thank you. I know this. I know. And they're illegible. I know. This --