Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Biden & House GOP Teams Set Talk Framework After Tuesday Meeting; North Carolina GOP Lawmakers Override Governor's Veto, Ban Abortion After 12 Weeks; ChatGPT CEO Urges Lawmakers to Regulate Artificial Intelligence. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 17, 2023 - 05:00   ET




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was an overwhelming consensus I think, in today's media.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Nothing has been resolved in this negotiation.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy did manage to agree on one thing during debt talks. They will now let other people do the negotiating.

Plus --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The House has overridden the governor's veto and the bill becomes law.


ROMANS: A late night battle over abortion as lawmakers in North Carolina override the governor.

And even the boss behind ChatGPT admits that artificial intelligence could be dangerous unless it is regulated carefully.


ROMANS: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Christine Romans.

We begin with signs that Democrats and Republicans in Washington are both starting to hear the clock ticking down towards government default if something isn't done. There are now just 15 days until June 1st, the earliest estimated date the federal government will not be able to pay all of its bills. Congressional leaders from both parties emerge from their meeting with

President Biden Tuesday, unable to point to clear progress on a deal to raise the debt ceiling, other than to say they have agreed on a process for getting there.


MCCARTHY: Nothing has been resolved in this negotiation. So the only thing that has changed is we finally have a format that is proven to work years in the past.


ROMANS: Okay, a format.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more from the White House.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden on Tuesday emerge from his negotiations with congressional leaders saying the discussions were productive, and that they are making progress towards a deal which could avoid the U.S. potentially heading towards default. Of course, there has been some progress in these negotiations that has been held mostly at the staff level in the days leading up to the meeting. Talk about a potential spending caps, and other areas of agreement between Democrats and Republicans.

But make no mistake, there are still huge gaps between the two sides, and some major sticking points, including for example, on the notion of work requirements for some of these safety net programs, a disagreement between the two sides on that.

And amid some of this progress, but also the major sticking points that remain, President Biden, canceling the second portion of his foreign trip. You still scheduled to go to Japan on Wednesday, but he is canceling the second portion of that trip to Australia and Papua New Guinea. Here is the president on Tuesday.

BIDEN: I am cutting my trip short. I am postponing the Australia portion of the trip, and my stop in Papua New Guinea, in order to be back to the final negotiations with congressional leaders. There's an overwhelming consensus I think in today's meeting, with congressional leaders, that defaulting on the debt is simply not an option.

DIAMOND: Now the president has appointed to senior level staffers to now lead these negotiations with the speaker of the House. They are the president's counselor Steve Ricchetti and his director of the Office of Management and Budget, Shalanda Young. Those two senior advisers will join the White House's legislative affairs director, Louisa Terrell, who's been leading those staff level negotiations.

But it does signal this ratcheting up of this, that we are getting to a more serious phase of these negotiations. The president himself, he said that he was going to be in touch with Speaker McCarthy over the phone that while he is in Japan and that he will then meet again with those congressional leaders when he returns to the United States next week.

Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.


ROMANS: In meantime, America's corporate titans warning of a devastating scenario, potentially disastrous consequences if Congress in the White House can't reach an agreement to lift the debt ceiling.

In an open letter, CEOs of more than 140 companies, including some you see here, get this, high inflation is created stressors in our financial system including several recent bank failures. Much worse will occur if the nation defaults on our debt obligations, which would weaken our position in the world financial system.

All right. Lawmakers in North Carolina voted to ban most abortions after 12 weeks, overriding a veto by the state's Democratic governor along party lines.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The House has overridden the governor's veto, the bill becomes law notwithstanding the governor's objections. So, be notified.


ROMANS: Protesters chanting "shame" there after the vote. Governor Roy Cooper had pressed for GOP lawmakers who previously vowed to protect abortion rights. Any one of them couldn't stop the override, but to no avail.

The abortion ban includes exceptions for rape and incest up through 20 weeks.


Medication abortions will now be banned after ten weeks.

In Kentucky, a Black Republican is now set to face off against a popular white Democratic incumbent in race for governor. CNN projects Trump endorsed state Attorney General Daniel Cameron has won his party's nomination in a race seen as a key test of the former president's continued influence on the GOP grassroots.

In his victory speech, Cameron put a local spin on one of Martin Luther King's most famous lines.


DANIEL CAMERON (R), CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR OF KENTUCKY: Tonight, we proved that here in Kentucky, the American dream is alive and well because here in Kentucky, you aren't judged by the color of your skin, but by the content of your character.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Cameron will face off this fall against Democrat Andy Beshear, who defeated an unpopular Republican to win the job back in 2019.

All right. Turning now to the war in Ukraine, a retired U.S. Army Special Forces soldier has now been identified as the American killed by Russian artillery in the embattled city of Bakhmut.

CNN's Clare Sebastian live in London this morning.

What do we know about this American, how he wound up in Bakhmut and how he was killed?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he was as you say Christine, a retired U.S. Army veteran, U.S. Special Forces soldier. He spent two years in the active duty army, followed by 18 years in the National Guard. He had gone to Ukraine last spring, according to his uncles, speaking to the Idaho state minister in his home state, he felt a calling to do humanitarian work.

CNN also spoke to a friend of his in Ukraine, another American who runs a nonprofit there. He linked up with him, or is doing humanitarian work and was also doing some training for Ukrainian troops, drawing on his own army experience. It is not exactly clear how we ended up in Bakhmut, perhaps as part of that training. We just don't know.

But we know a little bit about how exactly he was killed, according to his friend, who ran the nonprofit. Speaking to the Ukrainians he was with, they were in a building which was hit by really heavy Russian artillery barrage. The building then started to collapse, and some of those he was with got out, some Americans included, according to his friend, he of course did not. We don't know whether he was killed by the artillery itself or the building collapsing, but that gives you a sense of the type of battle we continue to see in Bakhmut, intense, chaotic, street by street, buildings collapsing. Of course, you see this in the destruction in Bakhmut, Ukraine, the deputy defense minister says that they have taken around 20 square kilometers in the suburbs to the north and south of Bakhmut.

Meanwhile, Russia continues to bring in new paratroopers, according to Ukraine, they are making some gains within the town itself. So this is far from over. And I think that in this context, a challenge now for the family of this American retired soldier is to bring his body back home for a proper burial.

ROMANS: All right. Clare Sebastian, thank you so much for that. It's a shame.

All right. Just ahead, a young girl who vanished six years ago, just returned with her father. Plus, a baseball player's battle with sudden twisting wind. Look at that, and the man who saved him from the swirl.

And a tech boss's point blank warning about A.I.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROMANS: All right. In just a few hours on Capitol Hill, the second hearing focused on A.I., artificial intelligence in as many days. Today's house subcommittee hearing follows one Tuesday on the Senate side, featuring the head of the company that runs ChatGPT.

Now, lawmakers are now suddenly forced to grapple with the promise and the perils of artificial intelligence.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan has more.


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): And now, for some introductory remarks.

Too often we have seen what happens when technology outpaces regulation.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): a Senate hearing on ai.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The proliferation of disinformation, and the deepening of societal inequalities.

O'SULLIVAN: Beginning with a senator allowing an AI voice tool to give part of an opening statement.

BLUMENTHAL: If you were listening from home, you might've thought that voice was mine, and the words from me. But, in fact, that voice was not mine. The remarks were written by ChatGPT.

O'SULLIVAN: ChatGPT, the AI bot that became a global sensation and highlighted just how powerful AI technology can be.

SAM ALTMAN, OPENAI CEO: My name is Sam Altman.

O'SULLIVAN: The CEO of the company behind ChatGPT testifying before Congress for the first time today.

ALTMAN: 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.

O'SULLIVAN: Not downplaying the power and the danger of the technology his company is pioneering.

ALTMAN: Artificial intelligence has the potential to improve nearly every aspect of our lives, but also it creates serious risks we have to work together to manage.

O'SULLIVAN: Altman joined on Capitol Hill by an IBM A.I. executive and Gary Marcus, a former NYU professor and self-described critique of A.I. hype.

GARY MARCUS, FORMER NEW YORK UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: We acted too slowly with social media. Many unfortunate decisions got locked in with lasting consequence. The choices we make now will have lasting effects for decades, maybe even centuries.

O'SULLIVAN: The wide-ranging implications of A.I. reflected in the topics discussed like jobs.

ALTMAN: Like with all technological revolutions, I expect there to be significant impact on jobs. GPT-4 will, I think, entirely automate away some jobs, and it will create new ones that we believe will be much better.

AD ANNOUNCER: Overrun by a surge of 80,000 illegals yesterday evening --

O'SULLIVAN: Voter targeting and the use of deepfake video and audio in elections.

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): Should we be worried about this for our elections?

ALTMAN: It's one of my areas of greatest concern.

O'SULLIVAN: National security. How A.I. could be used by America's adversaries.

BLUMENTHAL: There are huge implications for national security, I would tell you, as a member of the Armed Services committee. Classified briefings on this issue have abounded.


O'SULLIVAN: Even the music industry where A.I. has been used to clone famous recording artists' voices and create whole new songs.

SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Who owns the right to that A.I.-generated material? I went in this weekend, and I said, write me a song that sounds like Garth Brooks, and it gave me a different version of "Simple Man."

O'SULLIVAN: Senators eager not to repeat mistakes of the past.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): We cannot afford to be as late to responsibly regulating generative A.I. as we have been to social media, because the consequences, both positive and negative, will exceed those of social media by orders of magnitude.


O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Today's hearing, in Washington, D.C., barely scratching the surface of this issue of A.I. that is going to touch all of our lives, every aspect of society. But, agreement on Capitol Hill, among Democrats and Republicans that something has to be done about A.I. What that is and what that is going to look like remains to be seen, and no doubt there are going to be many, many, many more hearings on Capitol Hill about this technology.

Back to you. ROMANS: Interesting how engaged all those senators were. They know

that this is literally the industrial revolution here and they want to be on the right side of it.

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, whose company owns ChatGPT, sharing some of the concerns of lawmakers. Here's what he said.


ALTMAN: My worst fears are that we cause significant, we the field, the technology, the industry cause significant harm to the world.


ROMANS: All right. Let's bring in Zhanna Malekos Smith. She's a cyber law and policy fellow at the Army Cyber Institute at West Point.

Could not think of a better person to talk to us about that this morning. Thank you for getting up early for us.


ROMANS: So, I feel like there's a consensus growing that A.I. needs some sort of regulation as it continues to develop. Do you agree? And what does that look like?

SMITH: Yes. On the one hand, the policy regulation and the legal issues created generative A.I. tools like ChatGPT, in the clip you played earlier, poses challenges to creators, companies and users. But on the one hand, perhaps more optimistically, the challenges are not unmanageable.

And from a systems engineering standpoint, there is a lot of value, first improperly defining the valleys of this problem set. As Albert Einstein famously remarked, if you had one hour to solve a problem, he would spend the first 55 minutes just thinking about the problem and then, five minutes thinking about solutions.

And at yesterday's Senate hearing on a high, they really highlighted the diverse array about the concerns of, what is the optimal framework for regulation as well as the impact of generative A.I. tools, whether it be copyright infringement, disinformation campaigns or the hyper targeting of consumers with apps-based business models of A.I. Ultimately, additional focus needs to be given to understanding the full array of capabilities of generative A.I., as well as the significance of this tool to most effectively align government and private actors together here for regulation frameworks.

ROMANS: Sure. To say nothing of kind of, wild, dystopian ideas about military capabilities here where you have military capabilities, where A.I. is deciding which targets to hit. You know, that could make war more efficient but also more terrifying and unpredictable.

What stood out to you most from yesterday's hearings? SMITH: For me, it was the question of, what might be safety standards

for what A.I. models look like? Also, is a reasonable care standard a proper and fitting standard to impose here for online platforms? Essentially, what are the trade-offs that we are navigating here to not inhibit the growth of open sourced platforms, at the same time, protecting users rights, privacy and other community interests?

And A.I. tools are often described as being both a sword and a shield. And I think that is a very fitting framework to apply here when we look at the discussion yesterday on Capitol Hill, that this technology could be yielded for both offensive purposes, you mentioned the military component of this, but also in the private sector, there are offensive purposes, defensive purposes as well. I'm thinking specifically of cyber enabled schemes that are using A.I. generative tools. Whether it is applying machine based learning to smooth voices, create deepfake videos, or render synthetically generated text.

ROMANS: Yeah, it's just a whole new frontier, here. I mean, we have been using artificial intelligence, we have been doing this for sometime, slowly and surely. Now, I feel like you are sort of at this tipping point of how this will work through the economy, and how we live.

Zhanna Malekos Smith of the Army Cyber Institute, thank you so much.

SMITH: Thank you.


ROMANS: All right, nice to see you.

All right. The U.S. Secret Service is investigating how an intruder entered National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan's home last month. Reports of the incident at Sullivan's home emerging only one day after a man with a baseball bat attack a U.S. congressman's office.

CNN's Brian Todd has more.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Congressman Gerry Connolly told CNN his district office in Fairfax City, Virginia, was an easy target for a man wielding a metal baseball bat.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): Enraged, in an enraged state.

TODD: The suspect injured two of Connolly's aides with the bat and damaged much of the office. Connolly said his staff was still cleaning up the blood on Tuesday morning.

He told CNN's Manu Raju this incident exposes a hole in security for members of Congress.

CONNOLLY: I think we're going to have to reassess the security we provide or don't provide district offices. Here in a commercial office space like me, you have no security, none. TODD: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says he spoke to Connolly about the incident and said this about security at members' district offices.

MCCARTHY: It's something you have to be continually cognizant of. And what we've done in the past is we've put more money in where people could protect their and look at their district offices.

TODD: Connolly says he's met with Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger to discuss beefing up security at his office. On Tuesday, Chief Manger told a House committee about the alarming rise in threats against lawmakers.

CHIEF TOM MANGER, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: It's gone up over 400 percent over the last six years.

TODD: Manger cited the most disturbing high-profile attacks against members of Congress and their families, like the assault in late October targeting then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband captured on this police body cam video.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the hammer.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is going on right here?

TODD: These incidents spotlight what could be the toughest challenge for Capitol Police and the Secret Service, protecting members at their homes and offices back in their home districts. The U.S. Capitol Police doesn't protect those unless there's a specific known threat to that member. Starting last summer, lawmakers can receive up to $10,000 each to secure their homes and a GOP source tells CNN members can get fund to secure their offices with equipment like intrusion detection and video monitoring.

MATT DOHERTY, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT IN CHARGE, U.S. SECRET SERVICE: Extremely minimal especially since the Capitol have a disadvantage, they don't have a field office infrastructure like Secret Service and FBI to protect their jurisdictions.

TODD: From former Secret Service Agent Matt Doherty, who once wrote guidance for how to protect lawmakers, recommendations that could be implemented almost immediately, have a vestibule of double glass doors, require visitors to be buzzed in, and train staff to spot trouble.

DOHERTY: Hopefully, if they're trained in observing concerning behaviors, they would know that this person was a little off and perhaps not buzz them in.


TODD (on camera): Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger recently discussed the need to provide extra layers of security for members of Congress. But he was very careful about one aspect of the plans. Major and said that he could not disclose details of the improvements because, quote, we cannot afford to make it easier for any potential bad actors.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

ROMANS: Quick hits across America, now.

A girl at last seen by her father when she was nine years old has been found and reunited with him. Police say Kayla Unbehaun who is now 15, was abducted by her non custodial mother six years ago.

Talk about tough playing conditions. A dust devil suddenly form that youth baseball game in Florida Sunday. That is a seven your catcher caught in the middle. He told local station WJX8 that the dust did not stop him from getting right back into the game.

All right. CNN projects Philadelphia Democrats will nominate Cherelle Parker to be the city's next mayor. She would be the first Black woman to hold that job.

All right, coming up, court arguments today over abortion pills and suspects sentenced in a 100 million dollar heist. But where are the rest of the jewels?



ROMANS: Five men are headed to prison for a $123 million jewel heist in Germany, four years ago. Police have recovered many of the precious stones, but for the rest of the treasury may never be found.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen has more.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): It is one of the most brazen heists in modern history. Robbers shattering glass cases with hammers, and making off with tens of millions worth of museum artifacts in Dresden, Germany, in 2019.

I don't to tell you how a shocked we are, also about the brutality of this break in, the museum's director said at the time. This is of invaluable art historic and cultural historic value.

The gangsters first started a fire causing a power outage in the Green Vault Museum, then they broke in and stole 21 pieces of historic jewelry.

Some of the most valuable in the world studded with more than 4,300 diamonds. The total insurance value of the loot, around $130 million.

Five of the six suspects all members of an infamous Berlin mobster clan have now been convicted by a German court. One defendant was acquitted. The sentences range from four years and four months, to a little over

six years. However, some are walking free after a plea bargain with the prosecution causing angry reaction throughout the country.

Three of the main offenders among the adults have been released today, the presiding judge said.

But where are the jewels?

While robbers did tell investigators.