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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Biden Defends Debt Ceiling Agreement and Urges Congress to Approve; Erdogan Wins Unprecedented Third Term As Turkey's President; Three Killed, Five Wounded in New Mexico Motorcycle Rally Shootings. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 29, 2023 - 05:00   ET



OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, I'm Omar Jimenez in for Christine Romans. It's Memorial Day here in the U.S, we're glad you're with us. Let's get going. We begin this -- we begin this morning with President Biden defending the deal he made with Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to raise the debt limit for two years.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And it takes the threat of catastrophic reform off the table. Protects our hard-earned and historic economic recovery. And the agreement also represents a compromise which means no one got everything they want.


JIMENEZ: Now, McCarthy agreed to raise the debt limit in exchange for cuts to the budget. Even so, the president insisted to reporters he wasn't actually negotiating on the dead limit.


BIDEN: Especially, we want to try to make it look like I made some compromise in the debt ceiling, and I didn't. I made a compromise on the budget.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what they wanted you to make, compromise on the budget, and that's what you've done, even though you haven't gone as far as they wanted, isn't that right?

BIDEN: Sure, yes --


Well, I can't think of an alternative?


JIMENEZ: Now, the president praised McCarthy, although he avoided predicting whether the speaker actually had enough Republican votes to pass the agreement, which is, of course, the next major hurdle here.


BIDEN: I think he negotiated with me in good faith. He kept his word. He said what he would do. He did what he said he'd do, and I have no idea where that votes -- I expect he does. But I don't think he would have made the agreement.


JIMENEZ: Now, for more on the efforts to persuade lawmakers to approve the deal, let's go to CNN's Eva McKend in Washington.


EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER (on camera): President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy racing to sell this tentative debt-ceiling agreement to lawmakers, but so far pushback from hard right conservatives like Congressman Chip Roy of Texas and Ralph Norman of South Carolina. They both sit on the powerful House Rules Committee that ultimately plays a role in shepherding legislation to final passage.

And progressives, they're pushing back as well. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal who leads the 100-plus members in the House progressives caucus, saying the White House has reason to worry. And that the decision to negotiate to make work requirements more stringent for some food stamp recipients, she referred to that decision as unfortunate.

So passage is not guaranteed. And all this is unfolding as the June 5th debt-ceiling deadline ticks closer. A consequential week ahead here in Washington, the house will return on Tuesday, giving leadership a chance to whip its members in person ahead of an expected Wednesday vote. Eva McKend, CNN, Washington.


JIMENEZ: Eva, thank you. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan winning re-election last night in a runoff that will extend his rule into a third decade.


RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT-ELECT, TURKEY (through translator): We are not the only winners. The winner is Turkey. The winner is all parts of our society. Our democracy is the winner.


JIMENEZ: So let's bring in CNN's Nada Bashir live in Istanbul. So Nada, President Erdogan initially failed to get the needed 50 percent of votes in the first round. And yesterday, he beat his runoff opponent by less than 5 points, despite having all the advantages of an incumbent. So, he won, but what does his win actually say? NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, look, it's clear that President

Erdogan is facing some pretty big challenges. And there has been rising discontent in Turkey over the last few months and years. The economy is a huge issue. The recent earthquake in Turkey southeast has also played a major part in people's decision to vote. We spoke to people heading to polling stations who told us they felt like it was time for a change.

And we can't forget President Erdogan has been in power now for more than two decades. And for those hoping for a change of political direction in Turkey, there's not really a feeling, that, that is going to happen under Erdogan's further term in office. And we also, of course, spoke to his supporters -- and I have to say, yesterday outside his party headquarters, it was a real feeling of jubilation, victory and triumph. Take a look.


BASHIR (voice-over): Cheers of triumph, a declaration of victory. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan secure yet another term in office. After a closely-fought runoff election on Sunday, Erdogan of the incumbent AK Party came away with just over 52 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results.


The comfortable win in the face of what many analysts believe to be his biggest political challenge in over two decades.

(on camera): We're here outside the AK Party's headquarters in Istanbul. You can see the crowds behind me. Thousands of President Erdogan's supporters have gathered to celebrate his election victory. And there's a real sense of jubilation of triumph here. These are some of his most ardent supporters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We love him very much. He's our father, our grandfather, our everything. We voted for him because we trust him. We love him very much, we are always with him.

BASHIR (voice-over): In the opposition camp, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of an alliance of opposition party fell by more than 2 million votes behind Erdogan. A bitter blow to a once-optimistic coalition, hopeful for change in Turkey.

KEMAL KILICDAROGLU, TURKISH OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): In this election, the will of the people to change an authoritarian government will continue(ph), despite all the pressures.

BASHIR: The challenges ahead for the president are many, chief among them, the economy. Turkey is in a depths of severe cost of living crisis with soaring inflation and a plummeting lira, caused in large part by Erdogan's own unorthodox monetary policies. Meanwhile, anger over the state's poor preparation and chaotic response to February's devastating earthquake is still raw with more than 50,000 people killed and millions more displaced by the disaster. On the global stage, Turkey's strongman has cemented the country's

place as an influential power broker in the region, sometimes at the cost of straining relations with the West. But at home, his leadership has stoked fears over the future of democracy in Turkey. Over recent years, Erdogan has doubled down unquestioned dissent, centralizing his grip on state power and ensuring his near-total influence over the country's media.

Despite criticism, supporters maintain that this is a win for political stability. For opponents, however, Sunday's results has only deepened fears that the country could be heading ever closer towards authoritarian territory.


BASHIR: And look, Omar, the consequences of this election will certainly be far-reaching. Turkey is, of course, a key member of the NATO alliance, and in recent months, we have seen Turkey positioning itself as a potential mediator for peace agreements between Russia and Ukraine. So this will certainly be a significant term for President Erdogan. Omar?

JIMENEZ: Nada Bashir, thank you so much. Here in the United States, at least, three people are dead and five others wounded after gunfire at a biker rally in Red River, New Mexico, Saturday. The event draws tens of thousands to the area for Memorial Day weekend. This man, Jacob David Castillo is charged with murder. Police say a confrontation between rival gangs is behind the shootings. CNN's Mike Valerio has more.


MIKE VALERIO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, law enforcement in New Mexico tell us this motorcycle rally will continue because they say the violence was between two rival criminal biker gangs, rather than rain them gunfire shot upon members of the public. And because of that violence, law enforcement say, that they're going to roughly double the police presence from around 30 officers that they initially had to between 65 and 70 officers.

So when we expand the aperture, when we look at why this matters to this corner of the country, this is the town of Red River, New Mexico, it is situated in the mountains very close to the Colorado border. And they have a tradition of every Memorial Day for the past 41 years of hosting this motorcycle rally, families, motorcycle enthusiasts come to this small town.

But the mayor tells us more and more often in recent years, members of criminal motorcycle gangs have also become part of the rally. And that is where she said the trouble begins. So miles away in Albuquerque, earlier in the day, somebody took a photo, somebody got angry about that photo, and the anger according to law enforcement carried over into the town of Red River, one of those gang members opens fire, ultimately killing three people, wounding five others.

One of whom had injuries severe enough to be air-lifted to a major hospital in Denver. This is the state's police chief talking about the absurdity of how this all began.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're being told it was over somebody taking a picture with a different gang. It's something as stupid as that.

VALERIO: Then I think the second major layer of this is certainly the economic toll. This is a town of 450 people that expects 25,000 people to descend upon Red River.


So the mayor told us that businesses are closed. Main street had been shut down for much of the criminal investigation, permits from merchants had been revoked. So this economic toll will certainly, largely be felt for months to come. Listen to what she told us.

MAYOR LINDA CALHOUN, RED RIVER, NEW MEXICO: Businesses were having record-breaking days on Friday and Saturday. So this is a huge economic impact to our community. Most of them are being very compliant, you know, they understand what our reasoning is. And then, you know, some feel like we're being unreasonable.

VALERIO: So the hope, the mayor say is that things will be as normal as possible on Monday, Memorial Day. And for the next several days to come, they're going to have a meeting in the middle of the week to discuss how they will host this rally in the years to come. Mike Valerio, CNN, Los Angeles.


JIMENEZ: Mike, thank you. The top military official in Ukraine says its forces --


Excuse me, destroyed 67 targets launched overnight in a series of Russian air attacks.





JIMENEZ: Now, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces says dozens of cruise missiles and drones were shot down by forces around Kyiv. The police chief of the Kyiv region says nearly all Russian targets were destroyed, but that homes and infrastructure in the region were also hit. He says there were no deaths or injuries. CNN's Sam Kiley is live in Kramatorsk, Ukraine.

Now, Sam, last night's air attacks followed a huge wave of Russian drones targeting Kyiv the day before. It does seem like Russia is ramping up its attacks, is that in line with what you're seeing on the ground? If so, what is the context in the ramp-up? SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there has

been an increase in the focus of attacks against the Ukrainian capital. Towns like this in Kramatorsk and nearby Sloviansk, which are only within artillery range of the Russian frontline get hit too, but that is not necessarily part of this one of the strategic effort being made by the Russians, and we saw it last year when actually the numbers of missiles and drones were even higher nationwide when they were going after the energy sector.

Now, it seems that the Ukrainians, in particular, are trying to wear down the air defenses over Kyiv. The air defenses have been successful and very effective. People occasionally hurt or affected by falling debris, but mercifully, very low casualties. But that comes at a cost, and that cost is in the form of air defenses.

Some of the Iranian cheap drones can be shot down with relatively primitive anti-aircraft cannon. But their cruise missiles, and there were a lot of cruise missiles fired last night, need to be shot down by sophisticated air defenses such as the Patriot and other similar- type missiles donated by NATO partners. They're very expensive.

There isn't an infinite supply of them, and it is precisely trying to wear those down ahead of a potential Ukrainian offensive that I think is the Russian tactic here, firstly. And secondly, of course, the more vulnerable they can make Kyiv, the more vulnerable they hope to make the command centers in Kyiv ultimately, President Zelenskyy.

JIMENEZ: Sam Kiley, thank you so much. Ahead, shocking new video of a driver and passenger shooting each other on a North Carolina bus. Details on what happened. Plus, people remain unaccounted for after part of a historic apartment building collapsed in Iowa. And Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is awaiting trial in the state Senate after the Republican-led house voted to impeach him. Coming up, why they want him out.



JIMENEZ: It's a different kind of Memorial Day weekend this year in Washington, as party leaders try to convince fellow lawmakers to back the tentative debt limit deal reached on Saturday. All while -- all while trying to ensure they are the ones perceived as giving up too much.


BIDEN: They said they'd only do it on condition that they'd have all these cuts in it. I said, I'm not going to do that, you pass the debt ceiling, period, I'll negotiate with you on the cuts. So something totally different attached that was attached before. Especially, you want to try to make it look like I made some compromise in the debt ceiling, and I didn't. I made a compromise on the budget.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JIMENEZ: Let's bring in CNN political analyst and Washington Bureau Chief for the "Boston Globe", Jackie Kucinich. Jackie, good to see you, obviously, a big deal that a tentative deal was reached, but as we know in Washington --


JIMENEZ: A tentative does not mean, done. I mean, what are the major hurdles we'll have to get this past the finish line? Because there are members of both parties that still have concerns here?

KUCINICH: Right, and you know, McCarthy has this group of lawmakers that were never going to vote for it, you know, at all no matter what was in it, the end. But it's the others, the ones that are kind of on the bubble there. And he has to get enough -- the majority of the majority, which he says that he can get in order to get this thing over the line.

But you know, some conservatives who were saying that they didn't get enough, they didn't push hard enough. There are those who really wanted the bill that they passed at the end of April to be the framework. That was never going to happen. But you know, they really don't like what is coming out of this.

On the Democratic side, the work requirements, issues like that have upset a lot of the progressive side. However -- there are -- and there are also Democrats who think that they shouldn't have been negotiating on this at all. I would be surprised if the number of Democrats that they need won't vote for this.


But it really isn't, it's going to be a heavy lift with these leaders now as we go forward. And that there's going to be 72 hours, they have to read the bill, and then we would -- at least, see what's on the house floor.

JIMENEZ: Yes, so you have -- you know, fight over work permits for federal food aid on one side, fights for --


JIMENEZ: Larger spending cuts on another side, it's times like this, I mean, we're thankful I don't work in Washington as a lawmaker --


But out on the campaign trail, obviously, we've got a lot to look forward to here, 2024 coming very fast. Campaign season is basically here, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, he's hitting the campaign trail this week, his first trips as an official presidential candidate, and he's reportedly raked in more than $8 million in the first 24 hours. But he still remains behind Trump in polling. So what does he have to do to close this gap?

KUCINICH: Well, he seems to be coming at Trump a bit more in conservative media. But for Ron DeSantis, he hasn't -- you know, his -- he's been kind of in his Florida bubble for the last couple of years. We're seeing him do a little bit more retail politics. But I really don't think we're going to get a sense of who Ron DeSantis or how Ron DeSantis will be as a candidate until he's forced to face criticism, be it from the media or hear it from a Republican debate.

And that's when we saw a lot of candidates knocked out of contention in the last time there was a very large Republican field. So really is the -- the jury is out. I wouldn't count him out, he obviously has a lot of money, he obviously has a lot of support out there. But the jury is still out on Ron DeSantis whether he can go the distance against Trump.

JIMENEZ: No, it's a great point, we'll see if this field expands even more, of course, as people like Chris Sununu, Chris Christie, others consider jumping in this race as well. Jackie Kucinich, thank you so much for being with us this Memorial Day.

KUCINICH: Thanks, Omar.

JIMENEZ: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton now awaiting trial in the state Senate after an overwhelming majority of the Republican-led house voted to impeach the Republican attorney general for corruption, abuse of office and obstruction. Now, under state law, he's now temporarily suspended from duty until the Senate trial. CNN's Rosa Flores has more from Houston.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Ken Paxton has been impeached by the Texas House of Representatives, and under the Texas constitution, that means that he's immediately suspended and that the governor of Texas has the power to appoint a replacement. But let me start by taking you inside the Texas house for this historic vote.

DADE PHELAN, SPEAKER, TEXAS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Have all members voted? There have been 121 ayes and 23 nays, two present not voting, three absent. The resolution is adopted.

FLORES: This is a case of Republicans policing Republicans in the state of Texas. In the state of Texas, Republicans lead the house, and the chairman of the committee that investigated Ken Paxton is also a Republican, and he issued this statement after the vote, saying in part, quote, "throughout the course of the investigation, we discovered numerous actives that constitute unethical and potentially criminal conduct.

These violations of the public trust are alarming and show a systemic pattern of behavior that every member of our committee felt needed to be addressed in a public forum." Now, this vote is already historic because Ken Paxton is the first attorney general in the state of Texas to ever be impeached. Now, there was another bombshell during the hours-long debate leading up to this historic vote.

And that was when several members said in open forum that members of the house had received calls from Ken Paxton threatening them, that if they voted yes, there would be political consequences. There was concern about this, so much so, that one of the house members took to Twitter saying in part, quote, "I will be submitting a journal statement to amend charge documents to include abuse of power, intimidation of house members and Senate-jury-tampering in light of Charlie Geren statements that AG Paxton called and threatened House and Senate members."

Now, I asked Paxton's office about this, and I did not hear back, but Ken Paxton did take to Twitter in response to his impeachment, saying in part, quote, "I am beyond grateful to have the support of millions of Texans who recognize that what we just witnessed is illegal, unethical and profoundly unjust. I look forward to a quick resolution in the Texas Senate where I have full confidence the process will be fair and just."

So what happens next? The trial happens in the Senate. And what we know is that the lieutenant governor serves as a judge, the 31 senators serve as jurors, and that a two-thirds vote of senators present is required to convict.



JIMENEZ: Quick hits across America now, in North Carolina, shocking video released of a driver and passenger shooting each other on a Charlotte bus, leaving both injured.




JIMENEZ: The exchange happened earlier this month when the passenger demanded to be dropped off at an undesignated stop. He's being charged with assault, the driver though fired from his job. The transport system said he didn't follow proper protocol. Emergency crews rescue at least seven people and continue to search for others after part of a historic apartment building collapsed in Davenport, Iowa, Sunday. The mayor says there are still people unaccounted for.

And no injuries reported after a large fire erupted at the Columbia island Marina near Arlington, Virginia, early Sunday. D.C. fire officials say several docks and at least three boats were damaged. And next, the Putin ally promising nukes for everyone. How could he possibly deliver on that? And mystery in Venice. Why is the canal water now fluorescent green?