Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

Awaiting House Votes On GOP Debt Limit Bill After Last-Minute Rewrite; Awaiting Key House Vote In High-Stakes Debt Limit Showdown; Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, (D-IL) Is Interviewed About Debt Limit Bill, U.S.& South Korea, Ukraine, China; U.S. & South Korea Unveil New Steps To Deter North Korean Threat; Zelenskyy: "Long And Meaningful" Call With Chinese Pres. Xi; E. Jean Carroll Testifies: "Donald Trump Raped Me". Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 26, 2023 - 17:00   ET



BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Since China is the only known country with pandas in the wild, China loans the animals to other nations as a practice of panda diplomacy.

Well, our coverage continues right now with Wolf Blister in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks so much for watching.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, we're standing by for House votes on a Republican plan to raise the nation's debt limit after a last minute rewrite. And we're tracking Speaker Kevin McCarthy's 11th hour efforts to get GOP holdouts to fall in line.

Also tonight, President Biden strikes a landmark deal to send a nuclear submarine to South Korea for the first time in some 40 years. The President and his South Korean counterpart going to new lengths today to deter North Korea's Kim Jong Un and his escalating nuclear threats.

And gripping testimony under oath by the woman who alleges Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in a department store dressing room decades ago. CNN was inside the courtroom as E. Jean Carroll took the stand.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Let's go right to Capitol Hill right now for the latest on the very high stakes showdown over raising the nation's federal debt limit. CNN Congressional Correspondent Jessica Dean is following all of this for us.

Jessica, Republicans have been scrambling big time to hold a vote today on their plan to raise the debt ceiling. Where do things stand right now?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the chamber is just here to my right and we are set to begin a series of votes that is expected to include the vote on this debt ceiling legislation here at any moment. But the big question remains, does House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have the votes, the 218, to get it over and through the finish line? And that's just the thing we aren't sure of right now.

Based on trying to talk to the people who have said they will never vote to raise the nation's debt ceiling, people who are still holding out, we do know that he and GOP leadership have made a lot of progress in pulling over some undecideds into the yes column, and they did that by making some concessions. They made some tweaks to the bill that include throwing out a repeal of a tax credit for ethanol that was concerning some Midwestern congressmen and women, they were concerned about that. They got rid of that. They did some things to Medicaid work requirements. That was something Matt Gaetz really wanted tighten.

So they have made some changes and they have been able to garner more support, Wolf. But again, the question remains, can they get there with the 218? We're about to find out here in just as they are pushing to get that vote done this afternoon. So we're keeping a keen eye on that.

And just to give everybody the broader picture, Wolf, the hope here, if it passes through the House, remember, Democrats hold a slight majority in the Senate, so this legislation is not going anywhere once it gets to the Senate. But McCarthy's hope is that once it passes out of the House, that it forces President Biden to the negotiating table. Wolf.

BLITZER: We shall see what happens, and it's all coming up within the next few minutes. Jessica Dean, I want you to stand by. We'll get back to you in just a few moments.

I want to go over to the White House right now where President Biden is standing firmly in his vow to veto the Republican debt limit bill. Let's bring in our Chief White House Correspondent, Phil Mattingly.

Phil, will this vote in the House do anything to shift the dynamics on negotiations? They're firmly and repeatedly, the White House, firmly and repeatedly have rejected the notion of negotiating.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, just hits on a key point here. There's some precedent to the idea of the House Republican majority passing something just to kind of launch actual negotiations. Here's the difference about this moment when you talk to White House officials, they've made clear what precedent -- what has been precedent is what they don't want to follow. They don't want to go down the path that they've been going down over the course of the last decade plus of these battles. They want to take fights over the debt ceiling off the table entirely, negotiations over budgets, over long term fiscal priorities, certainly, willing to have it, not on the debt ceiling.

So, as the House kind of strains its way toward trying to get this across the finish line as House Republican leadership does, President Biden making clear he has a pretty simple message. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They haven't figured out the debt limit yet. Happy to meet with McCarthy, but not on whether or not the debt limit gets extended. That's not negotiable. I noticed they quote Reagan and they quote -- they quote Reagan all the time and they quote Trump, both of which said -- it says, I'm paraphrasing, it would be an absolute crime to not extend the debt limit.


MATTINGLY: Wolf, it's pretty clear from what the President said, answering shouted questions after a press conference with the South Korean president earlier today, that there is no wiggle room, there is no movement, there is no shift underway, no matter what happens on the House floor in the coming moments here.


And I think that underscores two realities. One, that the White House feels like they hold the political high ground here, both in terms of the message, but also in terms of the pathway that they want to consider. They're saying, put a clean debt ceiling increase on the floor, we'll pass it, we'll sign it, and then we can talk about longer term fiscal items. Whether or not that's sustainable is almost entirely dependent on keeping Democrats together on Capitol Hill. They've been working hard with that behind the scenes, but they're also watching very closely what the new speaker, what his new majority are able to do on this, and if that shifts at least the public perception of a debate where they feel very comfortable in their position that negotiations over this issue shouldn't be something that's even on the table at all, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Phil, stay with us. I also want to bring back Jessica Dean, she's up on Capitol Hill, along with our Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger and our Senior Political Correspondent, Abby Phillip.

Abby, this is clearly the biggest test so far of the new Speaker's position in the House of Representatives. The stakes are clearly enormous, not only for him and for Republicans, but for Democrats, indeed for the entire country right now.


BLITZER: Hold on one second. We got to fix your mic. Let me ask Gloria that question. Stakes are clearly enormous right now.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, they are. This is really a test of whether Speaker McCarthy can govern and whether he is able to come up with some kind of a bill that would unite the anti- spending right wing of the party with the more moderates in the party. And even though we all know this is kind of dead on arrival, if this were to pass in the Senate, even passing a bill that's dead on arrival in the Senate is actually a victory for him.

BLITZER: Because it's so, so important right now. He's putting his reputation on the line as a speaker.

BORGER: He is. He is. And the question was, remember, it took 15 votes to get him to the speakership. So you know, the real question is that now that he's there, can he actually do anything? And so far what they've done is passed a bunch of partisan kind of easy pieces of legislation that they knew weren't going to go anywhere that united the Republicans.

This is the one piece of legislation that doesn't unite Republicans. And so, I think it's a real test of McCarthy's strength, and it's really a test for the Republican Party about whether on something as important of the debt limit, they can get their act together. Because, remember, this is not about authorizing new money, this is just about paying our bills.

BLITZER: You know, let me go back to Phil Mattingly over at the White House.

Phil, the pressure is clearly dialing up, though, at the same time on President Biden. If this bill passes the House, will he ultimately have no choice but to negotiate on this sensitive issue with the speaker?

MATTINGLY: You know, it's interesting, Wolf, that has been what has often occurred, right? You take a hardline position, there will be no negotiations. Multiple administrations in the past have said we don't think we should negotiate on this issue. It's too important, it's too critical, is the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. This shouldn't be in the framing, to some degree, a hostage for longer term negotiations.

This shouldn't be leverage. This should be something like it's just done and then you move on to something else. I think a difference to some degree is the experience of the team in the White House right now, including the President, who as vice president negotiated or helped lead the way out of these issues back in 2011 and 2013, and recognizing that this is a perilous path to continue to go down. At some point, they needed to put their foot down and say no longer.

And that is very clearly the posture, the position that they've taken up to this point. I think the question becomes, do they feel like it's sustainable if they're getting to really, really close to the X date until the point where you actually breach the debt limit. Will they continue to hold that position? I think it's an open question right now. All I would say is, despite the fact the calendar is ticking ever so close to that deadline, there are a lot of moves, a lot of parts of the sequence that still need to play out tonight being a critical component of those next steps.

BLITZER: Pressure is really enormous right now, Abby.

PHILLIP: Yes, absolutely. And I think that how this is going to play out, no one really knows exactly, but it's going to be some version of both sides caving a little bit. The White House on the kind of the timing of it all, they're saying we won't talk about the longer term debt until after the debt limit is done, but that conversation actually might need to happen simultaneously. And on the Republican side, Republicans might have to quietly acknowledge that the debt limit is going to be raised and that perhaps these broader debt deals that they might want can be negotiated now, but not passed until after that happens.

So we'll see how that plays out. But I think both sides are going to be playing of tango here until they get to the point where they think that they have no choice but to get in the same room with one another and hash out both of those conversations simultaneously.

BLITZER: And I just want underscore to both of you and to our viewers, the real world consequences of failure to raise the nation's debt ceiling, take a look at this. We got there. You can see what the likely impact would be. Likely, there would be a recession. Borrowing costs would increase.


There would be an increase, dramatic increase in unemployment in the United States. Federal benefits and salaries would be in jeopardy right now.

PHILLIP: And this is exactly why the White House feels pretty confident in taking the position that they did. One of the lessons that they learned from the Obama era is that the American people did not really look that kindly on the brinksmanship in Washington. And a majority blamed Republicans for how that was largely handled. Even in the Trump era, when Trump and Republicans brought the country to a government shutdown that lasted for weeks, they suffered politically significantly as a result of that.

So this kind of politics does not really work well for the party that is holding out. And that's why the White House thinks that they can take this position.

BORGER: And I think Speaker McCarthy knows that. He's been around for a while. He understands that this would not benefit the Republican Party if, in fact, people say, for example, their Social Security benefits suddenly were in danger. You know, there are ways to get around that, but I think that it would not benefit the party that is really holding out.

Now, there is going to be a lot of back and forth. We've covered this before. This is not the first time this has happened. It's a lousy way to run a government. It's a lousy way to try and figure out how to pay your bills.


BORGER: This shouldn't be happening in this country. Some people have proposed ways to automatically raise the debt limit, for example. But politically, it would be a disaster. And I think the speaker knows it, but he's got people in his caucus who have never voted to raise the debt limit, ever.

PHILLIP: And also, Gloria, I mean, one of the things about what McCarthy is dealing with is several members who believe that it's possible to just kind of pick and choose which bills that the federal government pays, which a lot of economists and people in the government say that is not on the table. But he has people who have that fringe view, and that is one of the reasons why they're willing to go up to the edge of this.

The other point, they're talking about lifting the debt ceiling for a year, which means that could put us right back in this position in the middle of a presidential election year next year. So this story, no matter how this turns out, this summer is not over anytime there.

BLITZER: Yes, we covered Congress for a long time, and the administrations, and this comes up every year or two, as we all know.

Guys, stand by. We're standing by for the actual vote in the House of Representatives. A critically important vote. We'll have live coverage, standby for that as well.

Coming up, in addition to that, the leaders of Ukraine and China hold a long awaited phone call, their first since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Plus, new charges against jail Putin critic Alexei Navalny. Why the Russian opposition figure could face decades of additional prison time. Stay with us.



BLITZER: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says held a long and meaningful phone call with China's leader Xi Jinping, the first conversation between the two men since Putin's invasion of Ukraine last year. CNN's Nic Robertson is standing by for us in Kyiv with new information.

Nic, what else can you tell us about this phone call?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLAMATIC EDITOR: Well, the Ukrainians are taking it very positively. They're saying this hour long phone call was longer than they'd expected. Both sides are agreeing to exchange diplomats, the Ukrainians sending an ambassador to Beijing, which, as we both know, takes a little time to work out behind the scenes. So clearly before this phone call, there has -- there have been conversations going on, and that's taken as being positive by the Ukrainians.

But President Zelenskyy, keeping to his position on his peace proposals, telling President Xi that there can be no peace with territorial compromise, that Russia has to get out of Ukraine, has to leave Ukraine to the 1991 borders. And of course, we know just a month ago, President Xi was in Moscow with President Putin. They've been very close, those two leaders. They know each other very well. They've had five phone calls this year compared to the one that President Zelenskyy has just received. So the perception here in Ukraine and among Ukraine's allies is that China is much more pro-Russia than it is pro-Ukraine. In fact, President Xi's peace proposal basically does not acknowledge the fact that Russia illegally invaded Ukraine. But President Xi has told President Zelenskyy today he will not stand and watch this fire. He will not put fuel on the fire. He will not profit from this war. This is what he's saying, that he wants to help, but clearly the two sides still far apart, Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, Nic, on the battlefield right now, do new satellite images just released suggest Russia may actually be preparing for a Ukrainian military counter offensive?

ROBERTSON: They really do. There's a base in the north of Crimea. If you look at this base earlier on in the year, the satellite images show that Russia had tanks, artillery, military hardware at this base. The most recent satellite image shows it's all gone. And it seems to indicate that the Russians think that the Ukrainian potential advance could come close to the north of Crimea, perhaps along the coast, the southern coast of Ukraine, and sweep along, cutting that land bridge between Ukraine and Crimea.

And that's perhaps what the Russians are reacting to. It's not clear. We talked to a lot of Ukrainian officials here, Military Intelligence, foreign ministry diplomats, no one is giving any clues about where that potential offensive might come. But the Russians seem to be giving clues about where they think it might come. It might be along that southern coast, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Nic Robertson reporting from Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, thank you very, very much.

In Russia, meanwhile, the jail Putin critic Alexei Navalny is potentially facing decades of additional prison time as prosecutors unveil new charges accusing him of terrorism and extremism. Our Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen is joining us right now with new information.


Fred, what can you tell us about these new accusations against Navalny?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, these terrorism accusations certainly is something that seems to have caught Alexei Navalny by surprise as well. He had a hearing today which was really procedural. It was about the extremism case. And apparently on the sidelines of that, he found out that he was also supposed to be tried for terrorism as well in a military court in a secret trial. Now, Navalny says that the absurd thing about these terrorism allegations, that he allegedly committed this act of terrorism while he was already inside a penal colony in -- to the east of Moscow. Here's what we're learning.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE) PLEITGEN (voice-over): The Moscow court literally silencing a Kremlin critic. As Alexei Navalny speaks via video link, his sound is abruptly cut off. It looks like they will limit the time for me to go through the court documents, he was able to say then the audio is muted.

While some were chuckling, the situation for Alexei Navalny has become even more serious. The court ruled Navalny only has 10 days to review hundreds of documents from an extremism case against him. And his supporters say Navalny has now learned he will also be charged with terrorism.

"Now Alexei will have two large trials," his spokeswoman tweeted, "first on extremism in total for all episodes up to 30 years. Most likely it would begin before the end of May. Then on terrorism up to 35 years."

Navalny's health is also deteriorating, in part because he's limited in the amount of food he can get in prison his daughter told CNN.

DARIA NAVALNAYA, NAVALNY'S DAUGHTER: The situation has gotten so ridiculous that he buys the food, which is, you know, oats, it's nothing. It's nothing luxurious. And he bites the oats. The oats are brought to him, shown to him, and then are just destroyed.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Navalny supporters say it's all part of a massive crackdown against the opposition figure and his anticorruption foundation, which has been banned and declared an extremist organization in Russia, they believe at the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Navalny has called on Russians to protest Putin's invasion of Ukraine, where Moscow's forces are making virtually no progress. And Ukraine says it's preparing for a major counter offensive.

Yevgeny Prigozhin of Russia's Wagner private military company saying his forces feel abandoned by the Russian army. "The Ukrainian army is fully ready to move and cut our flanks," he says. "Nobody has ever covered our flanks. All those stories about preventing the Ukrainian reserves from entering Bakhmut are total crap. Now a single shot was fired by the Russian army."

While Russia's forces struggle on the battlefield, in Ukraine, the attrition against the Russian opposition continues. After Alexei Navalny's hearing, he was sent straight back into solitary confinement, his supporters say.


PLEITGEN: And he's going to be spending at least two weeks in solitary confinement, those supporters say, as well, Wolf. And that brings the total number of days that Alexei Navalny so far has spent only in solitary confinement to 158, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Fred Pleitgen reporting for us. Thank you very much, Fred, for that report. Very important information. Up next, the United States is planning to deploy a nuclear submarine to South Korea for the first time in decades. We'll have details on a new agreement to counter North Korean aggression. That's coming up right after a quick break.



BLITZER: President Biden is outlining very important and brand new moves to counter the North Korean threat, including an agreement to deploy a U.S. nuclear submarine in South Korea for the first time in decades. Let's get an update right now from our Pentagon Correspondent Oren Liebermann. He's over at the Pentagon for us.

So what do these steps mean, Oren?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is specifically an indication of how important the U.S. views the relationship between Washington and Seoul. President Joe Biden calling it an ironclad alliance between the U.S. and South Korea. For the first time since the early 1980s, the Biden administration committed to deploying a U.S. nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine to South Korea as a sign of just how important that relationship is. Again, an ironclad alliance that Biden talked about. It's also an indication of how important the Indo-Pacific region is as the U.S. shifts towards its focus there and away from the wars of the past, the wars of the Middle East.

In terms of the bigger picture here, also, it's an indication that the U.S. doesn't see diplomacy as a truly viable track at the moment. Repeated outreaches, some attempts to get some sort of process going with North Korea have failed with Pyongyang not responding to U.S. outreach. Instead, the U.S. has shifted its focus to South Korea, and we've seen more drills, more exercises between the U.S. military and the South Korean military. And now this latest step, committing to sending a ballistic missile submarine to South Korea. It would be an Ohio class ballistic missile submarine, part of the U.S. nuclear triad.

Now, the U.S. hasn't said which submarine it might be, but it is worth noting that the USS Maine an Ohio class ballistic submarine did surface in Guam. So perhaps, since it's already on its way there, Wolf, that might be the port visit we see coming from the U.S. Naval fleet.

BLITZER: Very dramatic moment indeed. Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon, thank you very, very much.

Let's get reaction right now from Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi. He's a key member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. I know we have a lot to discuss. But first, on this one issue, if Speaker McCarthy's debt limit bill passes the House and it's going to come up for a vote any moment now, should President Biden start actual negotiations with the speaker?

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL), INTELLIGECE COMMITTEE: Well, I think that the President should always, you know, entertain talks with the speaker, but it's not going to be based on this bill. This bill is dead on arrival. You know, basically, it cuts funding for science, education, health care research, and even renewables, including the electric vehicle tax credits that my constituents and others are relying upon to buy their next EV.

So, this particular bill is going nowhere. But we should extend the debt limit. We should increase the debt limit and pay our old bills. That's what the American people want us to do.

BLITZER: When you say it's dead on arrival, you mean even it's going to -- even if it passes the House very narrowly with strictly Republican votes, it'll die in the Senate, the Senate won't pass, is that what you're saying?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Sure. And it would obviously, you know, receive a veto from the President as well. So, this is not a serious bill. It's not a bipartisan bill in any way, shape or form.

BLITZER: The clock is clearly ticking, as you well know, to avert a default and total economic disaster here in the United States. Can President Biden afford to wait? Will he need to agree to some major spending cuts?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I think the American people want us to pass a clean increase in the debt limit. Just to make it very clear, an increase in the debt limit merely authorizes us to pay our old bills for goods and services that were already rendered in the past. That means that if we did not increase the debt limit, we would not pay our bills and it would amount to a national diamond dash. And that would be catastrophic for the full faith and credit of the dollar, and it would nuke our economy.

BLITZER: Let me get to another major issue that we're following right now. As you just heard, the United States and South Korea are significantly ramping up coordination right now on nuclear deterrence against North Korea. What message do you believe the deployment of this nuclear submarine to South Korea sends to North Korea?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I think what it sends is that any kind of use of a nuclear device in South Korea, where we have 28,000 troops deployed, by the way, would merit a response that would be the end of the North Korean regime. So, I think that this is essential. This is just an extension of our mutual defense treaty that we already have in place with the South Koreans. And I think it's prudent.

BLITZER: On another very sensitive issue, as Congressman, China's President Xi Jinping spoke today with Ukraine's President Zelensky for the first time since Russia's invasion more than a year ago. But do you expect Xi to put any real pressure on Putin to end his war?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I'm not sure. I would hope so, but I'm not holding my breath. I think that his visit to Moscow and his refusal to ask the Russians to basically withdraw from those areas that they've already taken from the Ukrainians and this criminal invasion of Ukraine is a sign of maybe the seriousness of their peace proposals up to this point. All that being said, they do have leverage with Moscow. My hope is that they would use it to, you know, bring Putin to his senses.

BLITZER: Let's see if they do. Congressman Krishnamoorthi, thanks, as usual, for joining us.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you so much.

BLITZER: Just ahead, the dramatic testimony by Donald Trump's accuser alleging he raped her decades ago and describing the fear that she says kept her silent for many years.



BLITZER: In a New York courtroom today, a grave allegation against Donald Trump was said aloud and under oath. E. Jean Carroll taking the stand in her civil lawsuit against the former president and accusing him of rape. CNN's Paula Reid is just outside the courthouse for us.

Paula, tell us more about Carroll's testimony today and the allegations that Trump has repeatedly denied.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Carroll has waited decades for this moment. Today, she spoke for the first time in a courtroom, under oath, at times speaking through tears as she recounted an alleged sexual assault by Donald Trump.


REID (voice-over): Writer E. Jean Carroll taking the stand in the second day of her civil battery and defamation case against former President Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you looking forward to testifying today?

REID (voice-over): The first question her attorney asked why she finally took her case to court, "I'm here because Donald Trump raped me and when I wrote about it, he said it didn't happen. He lied and shattered my reputation, and I'm here to try to get my life back." Carroll alleges Trump raped her in a department store in the 1990s.

E. JEAN CARROLL, SUING DONALD TRUMP: It was a fight. It was -- I want women to know that I did not stand there, I did not freeze, I was not paralyzed. It was over very quickly. It was against my will 10o percent, and I ran away.

REID (voice-over): She spent hours Wednesday testifying on the alleged assault, which Trump denies. She told the jury she didn't picture anything about what was about to happen when the pair were shopping in the New York Bergdorf Goodman. Through tears, she said the open dressing room door they entered "plagued me for years because I just walked into it, walked in." She told the jury Trump shoved her against the wall, and then the assault began.


"I always think of why I walked in there to get myself in that situation, but I'm proud to say I did get out, I got my knee up and pushed him back." She's now suing Trump for unspecified monetary damages and to get him to retract this October 2022 social media post, reading in part, "I don't know this woman. This woman is not my type." But in 2019, Trump acknowledged this photo from the 1980s showing the two chatting.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have absolutely no idea who she is. There's some picture where we're shaking hands, it looks like, at some kind of event.

REID (voice-over): Trump, who isn't expected to appear at the trial unless called to testify, posted Wednesday, calling the case a, quote, "made up scam." The judge in this case reacting strongly to Trump's public statement, telling his lawyer that it opens up the client to a, quote, "potential liability."


REID: Tomorrow, Carroll will face more questions from her own attorneys, and then she will face cross examination by Trump's lawyers who have alleged that she completely made up this story for political purposes. And, Wolf, even the most experienced defense attorneys know that cross examining someone who alleges they have been sexually assaulted is a delicate task.

BLITZER: Paula Reid in New York for us covering this trial. Thank you very, very much.

Let's get some analysis right now from CNN Legal Analyst Joey Jackson.

Joey, thanks for joining us. You just heard E. Jean Carroll's harrowing testimony today under oath. Did she achieve what she needed to do today in front of the jurors?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Wolf, good evening. By all accounts, at least, that's happened till now, right? And let's remember, there's not cameras in the courtroom, so we're relying upon what's being reported and noting.

With respect to what she said, I think there are three critical things that needed to be done, which apparently she's doing. Number one is to tell your story in compelling detail as we look at her there. Number two is to indicate to that jury how it impaired, affected, or influenced your life. And number three is really to buttress it by establishing that you have no ulterior motive for testifying other than you want your day after 30 years to tell your story. And so, by all accounts, she's done that.

The critical inquiry, Wolf, will obviously be under cross examination, right? She's under direct. That's the ability of your lawyers to elicit responses from you, get out the information from you, tell the jury what happened to you. Under cross examination, she'll be attacked, of course, by the defense team who says this didn't happen.

BLITZER: It's a stark contrast, clearly, to former President Trump. It's unlikely, we're told, he will actually testify, but he's made a series of very disparaging comments about this case as recently as this morning. Could that actually, though, undermine his own case?

JACKSON: I think it can undermine it, and here's why. Certainly, jurors are instructed, Wolf, that you're not to pay attention to any of that, nothing in the media, nothing in newspapers, nothing on Twitter or anything else. Having said that, the judge was none too pleased with regard to his tweeting and his statements and really accused him of trying to influence the jury. And so, in the event the judge has to take this a step further, not only in reminding his lawyer to tell your client to stop, but to give an instruction to the jury that would be damaging. At the end of the day, obviously, Wolf, the case will be won or lost by the testimony elicited in that courtroom.

BLITZER: Joey Jackson helping us appreciate what's going on. Thank you very, very much.

Other news we're following. The FBI now says the casualty count from active shooter incidents here in the United States reached its highest level in some five years in 2022. Brian Todd is digging into this disturbing new FBI report for us.

Brian, what did you find?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, 2022 was marked by some of the most horrific active shooter situations in American history. Tonight, we've got a breakdown of those incidents and the weapons used.


TODD (voice-over): A horrific mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, kills 19 students and two teachers, 17 others wounded. A racist gunman kills 10 people, all of them black, and injures three others at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, shootings that contributed to a grotesque new finding from the FBI. A new report from the Bureau saying the number of casualties from active shooter situations in the U.S. was the highest in 2022 than it had been in five years.

STEPHEN GUTOWSKI, FOUNDER, "THE RELOAD" FIREARMS POLICY PUBLICATION: It's something that we've struggled with now for years. We've seen an increase in these sorts of attacks over the last decade or more.

TODD (voice-over): The new FBI report says the casualties, dead and wounded combined, reached 313 from active shooter incidents last year, 100 killed, 213 wounded. In 2021, the FBI says 103 people were killed in active shooter incidents, 140 wounded, for a total of 243 casualties.

[17:45:16] The incident with the single highest total casualty count in 2022 didn't have the most deaths, but had a large number of wounded. The 4th of July parade shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, where a gunman killed seven and wounded 48 others.

GUTOWSKI: The Highland Park incident is one of these worst case scenarios when you're talking about an active shooter attack because you've got someone firing from an elevated position into a big crowd.

TODD (voice-over): And those shootings last year were not dominated by AR-15 or other rifles. The FBI report says, of the 61 total firearms used by active shooters, 29 were handguns, 26 were rifles, three were shotguns, and three firearms classified as unknown. The report comes as the states seem to be going in different directions with their gun laws. Yesterday, Washington State tightened its laws banning the sale of most assault style weapons, enacting a 10-day waiting period and training requirements for all gun purchases.

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): These weapons of war of assault weapons have no reason other than mass murder.

TODD (voice-over): While the governor of Nebraska just signed a law allowing residents who are at least 21 years old to carry a handgun without a permit, experts agree there's no clear solution. But CNN Analyst John Miller says studying the psychology of the active shooter is critical.

JOHN MILLER, CNN ANALYST: There is a connection numerically with domestic violence. There's also something called leakage, which is in a very high percentage, 85 percent to 95 percent of active shooters. You find them either telling people directly what they're going to do before it happens or giving broad hints that could have been identified if people reported it.


TODD: A jarring but hardly surprising statistic from the new FBI report. The Bureau says of the 50 shooters who carried out active shooter attacks in 2022, 47 of them were male. The FBI says three shooters from those incidents in 2022 actually remain at large. Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Brian Todd reporting for us. Thank you very much.

Coming up, attorneys for Hunter Biden meet with officials over at the Justice Department about the criminal probe into the President's son.



BLITZER: There's breaking news on Capitol Hill right now. The House of Representatives has just finished voting on a Republican bill to raise the nation's debt limit. Let's check in with CNN's Jessica Dean. She's up on Capitol Hill.

So, Jessica, how did the House vote?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a big victory for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Wolf, as 218, he crossed the threshold. This has passed the House this debt ceiling legislation. It came so close, 218 is right there, it is the bare minimum that he could get, but he was able to get those.

There were four Republicans who voted no, three of whom are absolute -- they will never vote to raise the debt ceiling, the fourth of whom is Congressman Matt Gaetz, who had tried to get some concessions. They had bent and gone back into this bill to try to make some amendments to make him happy. But again, he still voted no. But the bottom line here, Wolf, is now this legislation has passed the House.

Now, again, zooming out for everyone, remember, it goes over to the Senate, and it's not going anywhere because it needs 60 votes, and Democrats hold a slight majority over in the Senate. But what Republicans and Kevin McCarthy are hoping very much is that this legislation passing this afternoon forces President Biden to come to the negotiating table and talk about putting together a deal that would include some spending cuts that would be tied to raising the debt ceiling.

Now, the President and Democrats have been very united in that they will absolutely not negotiate. They want a clean bill, which just means it's only focused on the death ceiling. I asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer about this earlier today because we've had fellow Democrat Senator Joe Manchin calling for talks with Republicans. I asked Schumer what happens now now that this passes? If more Democrats start saying that there should be talks, what do they do?

And he really remains steady, Wolf. They really want to keep saying and keep forcing that message that they want a clean debt ceiling bill. But that's where this story goes now.

Now that this legislation has moved through the House, the question is now, what happens next? What does President Biden do? And how hard does House Speaker Kevin McCarthy push?

BLITZER: There's a lot of speculation as you know, Jessica, that it doesn't have the votes in the Senate to pass it in the Senate. And even if it did, the President would veto this legislation, right?

DEAN: That's absolutely correct, and he said as much. So, we know that this legislation is really for show only. It was a show of unity for Republicans that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy wanted to get them all on the same page. And we used unity loosely because obviously there were a lot of factions here, and they had to do some cajoling on different sides and different factions to make sure that they had the votes to get this legislation over the finish line.

But again, their thought process here is that if they can pass something out of the House, the line from the White House from the Senate Democrats has been, show us your budget, show us your plan. Now, House Republicans are saying here it is, here's our budget, here's our plan, come to the negotiating table, and let's get a deal done. The question is, what's the next move? Wolf.

BLITZER: This was clearly, Jessica, the biggest test for Speaker McCarthy since he became speaker, right?

DEAN: There's no question about this. This was a huge test of his leadership. And, of course, so many people remember how this all started off with the multiple rounds of voting for him to even win that speakership.

And then the big question was, what's going to happen with the debt ceiling, frankly? Because he does have members of his own party who have said out loud, under no circumstances will they ever vote to raise the debt ceiling. And with this very small majority that they have, again, reminding everyone can only afford to lose four votes, that means he really has to keep everyone in lockstep when there's just such a wide spectrum of beliefs within the House GOP. So, yes, a major test of his leadership.


And again, to be able to get this over the finish line is a good sign for Kevin McCarthy in this moment. That is what he and leadership obviously have had their eye on and we're very focused on.

BLITZER: All right, Jessica Dean following the breaking news. Very important breaking news up on Capitol Hill. We're going to have much more on this coming up right at the top of the hour. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Speaker McCarthy is speaking right now. Let's listen in.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: -- limit the growth in the future. We're going to save by pulling back this unspent COVID money. We're going to grow this economy by making us energy independent again and getting more people, encouraging them back to work.

The sad part here is now the Democrats need to do their job. The President can no longer ignore by not negotiating. Senator Schumer, if he thinks he's got a plan, put it on the floor, see if you can pass it, and then we can go to conference. But now, the President can no longer put this economy in jeopardy.

We lifted the debt limit. We've sent it to the Senate. We've done our job. The only body in here that's done theirs. The Senate, I got to give them credit. They did name March Maple Syrup Month, and they have thanked Yukon and congratulate them for their basketball win. But they've done nothing when it comes to the economy or the debt limit.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- when it does go to the Senate, ultimately, and they inevitably make changes, this was already a very tight vote for your conference. How are you going to keep everyone on board when it seems like even minor tweaks could mean someone falls off?

MCCARTHY: That's so interesting because all your questions before is, how could I ever pass the bill? All your questions before says, we never could. We're the only body that passed anything. Why do you assume the Senate can pass anything? Because I haven't seen them do anything.

So right now, this is the only place that has lifted the debt limit. So the Democrats are putting the country in jeopardy. The President, by ignoring to even negotiate. The majority of Americans overwhelmingly want us to sit down and negotiate, to make sure we end our dependency on China, to stop the inflations the Democrats created by spending $6 trillion. No one in America believes there's not one place that you can't find a place that you could have savings in what Washington spends. I think it's up to them now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaker McCarthy --

MCCARTHY: Yes, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you now in order to bring President Biden to the deal besides passing (INAUDIBLE)?

MCCARTHY: I don't know what we're supposed to do. We've done our job. I've sat down with the President on February 1, he ignored the rest of the time. He treats it just like the border. He wants to ignore it and thinks it goes away.

That doesn't work in America. He's putting the American economy in jeopardy by his lack of action. Now he should sit down and negotiate.

We passed this early. We are, in April, way ahead of the debt limit. We are the only party to take fiscal action in a sound mind that would lift the debt limit so we wouldn't have economic damage. We've also put us back on a path to end the Washington wasteful spending and to grow our economy and make us stronger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Speaker McCarthy, Speaker McCarthy.

JACK MERCHANT (PH), EPOCH TIMES: Hi. Thank you. Jack Merchant (ph) with the Epoch Times.

If there isn't long term agreement on the debt ceiling increase, would you and the House Republicans be open to like a week or weeks long or months long?

MCCARTHY: We just passed the bill. It's not our job to modify it. The Senate could pass our bill or send us something that they have, and we'll go to conference. Otherwise, we've done our job. We're the only ones to lift the debt limit to make sure this economy is not in jeopardy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On President Biden, at this point, has there been any progress at all on any potential meeting?