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Stunning Video, Trump Reacts Under Oath To Rape Accusation; Russian Mercenary Chief Pulling His Private Army From Bakhmut; At Least Eight Fake Electors Granted Immunity In Georgia Trump Probe; Biden On Debt Ceiling Showdown; McCarthy Is "Honest" But Agreed To "Extreme" Things To Become Speaker; DeSantis Touts Blockbuster Legislative Sessions For Florida Conservatives. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 05, 2023 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Be sure to join me this Sunday on State of the Union. I'm going to be talking to the number two Democrat in the Senate, Senator Dick Durbin, and a joint interview with the chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Congressman Mike Turner and Democratic Congressman Jim Himes. It's at 9:00 A.M. and noon Eastern on Sunday only on CNN.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll see you Sunday morning.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, stunning video of Donald Trump answering questions under oath about E. Jean Carroll's rape accusation. We'll show you the footage that could make or break the civil trial against the former president.

And we're also in Ukraine right now, where the chief of the private Russian Wagner Group says he's pulling his forces from Bakhmut. I'll get reaction from the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States.

And later this hour, we're expecting more protests in New York over the death of a man on the subway after being held in a chokehold by a passenger. I'll speak with the New York City public advocate who is demanding charges.

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 get straight to our top story this hour, the never before seen video of Donald Trump testifying under oath about E. Jean Carroll's claim he raped her in the mid-1990s.

CNN's Kara Scannell is joining us from New York right now. She has details. Kara, what stands out to you from this truly remarkable videotaped deposition?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this was a deposition that former President Trump sat for in October of last year. He was under oath having to answer questions about these allegations brought by E. Jean Carroll. She alleges he raped her in a New York department store in the mid-1990s and that he defamed her when he denied the rape, said he didn't know her and that she wasn't his type. Here he is doubling down on those statements. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: That she's not my type? Yes. Because it's not politically correct to say it, and I know that, but I'll say it anyway. She's accusing me of rape, a woman that I have no idea who she is. It came out of the blue. She's accusing me of rape, of raping her. The worst thing you can do, the worst charge, and you know it's not true too. You're a political operative also. You're a disgrace. But she's accusing me, and so are you, of rape, and it never took place. And I will tell you, I made that statement and I said, well, it's politically incorrect, she's not my type, and that's 100 percent true. She's not my type.


SCANNELL: Now, Wolf, at another point in the deposition, Trump showed a photo of him with his then-wife, Ivana Trump, meeting in a photo where they're seeming to be engaged in some conversation with E. Jean Carroll and her then-husband John Johnson. This photo was taken a few years before the alleged assault. So, Trump was given this photo and asked to look at it because he has denied knowing who she is. Take a listen to his reaction to the photo.


TRUMP: I don't even know the woman. Let's say I don't know who -- it's Marla.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You say Marla is in this photo?

TRUMP: That's Marla, yes. That's my wife.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Which one are you pointing to?

TRUMP: Here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The person you just pointed to was E. Jean Carroll.

TRUMP: Oh I see. Who is that, who is this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the woman on the right is your then-wife, Ivana.

TRUMP: I don't know. This was the picture. I assume that's John Johnson. Is that Carroll, because it's very blurry?


SCANNELL: So, there you see that Trump is mistaking E. Jean Carroll for his second wife, Marla Maples. And later in the deposition he's asked were all your wives your type, and he says that they were. Now, another part of the deposition, part of Carroll's case is showing -- or they have two other women that have accused Trump of assaulting them. They have testified at the trial. And that is what Carroll's attorneys say is a pattern, that if a woman comes forward with an allegation, Trump denies it and then insults them.

They were asking questions about one of those women, Jessica Leeds. She testified that Trump had groped her on an airplane when they were sitting in first class. They put her allegations to Trump and then showed him a campaign clip where he did what they alleged as pattern. Take a listen.


TRUMP: Hopefully our great movement, and there's never been anything like this in the United States, and the only way they can figure to slow it down is to come up with people that are willing to -- they all -- I was with Donald Trump in 1980. I was sitting with him on an airplane. And he went, I'm going to go after him

Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you. Man, you don't know.


That would not be my first choice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you said in that video that Ms. Leeds would not be your first choice, you were referring to her physical looks, correct?

TRUMP: Just the overall. I look at her, I see her, I hear what she says, whatever. You wouldn't be a choice of mine either, to be honest with you. I hope you're not insulted. I would not, under any circumstances, have any interest in you.


SCANNELL: Now, Wolf, this is the exact video deposition the jury was shown just yesterday in this case, and that is what they will hear from the former president. He's elected not to testify in his own defense. He hasn't attended this trial, and he's required to, it's a civil case. But what this means is that this will what the jury hears from the former president denying these allegations, and the jury is expected to get the case on Tuesday. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Kara, stand by. I also want to bring in our legal and political experts for some analysis right now.

And, Elie Honig, this deposition is the only time the jury heard Trump in his own words during this trial. How do you think it sat with them?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think it went well for Donald Trump, Wolf, because, look, jurors are human beings. They are inherently going to size up the parties in front of them and they're going to be influenced by human emotions. Do I like this person? Do I empathize with this person? Do I trust this person? And I think some of the clips that we showed beyond being utterly irrelevant to his defense are absolutely going to offend and put off some of these jurors, and I think we'll see that reflected in the verdict.

BLITZER: Nancy Erika Smith, as civil rights attorney, is with us as well. Nancy, you've held depositions when representing women in sexual harassment and assault cases. We saw Trump become agitated and combative at times. Have you seen, though, anything like that before?

NANCY ERIKA SMITH, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: I have not seen anything like this before, and, basically, I think it helps E. Jean Carroll's case tremendously. We know that rape is not about sex. We know that. There's plenty of social science about it, and it makes sense. It's about misogyny, the hatred of women, and, secondly, it's about power and domination. And those are the three things he exhibited in spades in this deposition. His misogyny comes about by disparaging every women, and there are a dozen of them who have publicly accused him of sexual assault. And then he exerts domination and power by insulting E. Jean Carroll's lawyer right in the deposition, saying things that I've never heard anybody say in a deposition, ever.

So, in my view, it's really clear why his lawyer, Mr. Tacopina, doesn't want to have him on a witness stand. He's also low energy, like he accused Jeb Bush, I think. He contradicts himself repeatedly. And about the Access Hollywood tape, this is amazing. He says it's true that you can do anything you want to a woman without permission when you're famous or when you're a star, fortunately or unfortunately. So, he's saying it's fortunate that rich, powerful and famous men can assault women. I think it's devastating to his case.

BLITZER: Yes. And on that point, Kara, you've listened to the whole, what, 45, 26 minutes of this videotape deposition, how significant is it that Trump also spoke about that infamous Access Hollywood tape under oath?

SCANNELL: Well, I mean, to Erika's point, right, when Trump was initially asked about the Access Hollywood tape back in 2016 when it became public, he was campaigning, and then he dismissed it as locker room talk. Well, E. Jean Carroll's attorney questions him on this and specifically asked him about the statements that he made and pushing him to acknowledge each of those steps, as Erika was saying. So, I mean, I think you should just listen for yourself.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In this video, I just start kissing them, it's like a magnet, just kiss, I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything, grab them by the (BLEEP). You can do anything. That's what you said, correct?

TRUMP: Well, historically, that's true with stars.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: True with stars that they can grab women by the pussy?

TRUMP: Well, if you look over the last million years, I guess that's been largely true. Not always, but largely true, unfortunately or fortunately.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you consider yourself to be a star?

TRUMP: I think you can say that, yes.


SCANNELL: And so this is all part of Carroll's team's effort to place a pattern here showing that this is something Trump felt he was entitled to do. Some of the witness testimony has been that he either forcibly either kissed them or groped them without their consent. So, part of this -- this is all part of Carroll's effort to try to show the jury that this is something that Trump did repeatedly. Wolf?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he excused it. I mean, he effectively said in the Access Hollywood tape, I was just telling the truth, because that's exactly what the truth is. And it kind of reminded me of after Charlottesville when Trump said, well, there are good people on both sides.


Well, there weren't good people on both sides in Charlottesville and there's no fortunately here. There's just an unfortunately that if it's true, that -- what is he saying? That it's okay for some people to do this because they're stars? And, by the way, I guess you can say I'm a star too. So, it undermined, I think, the entire case here.

And I'm not an attorney, but if I were his attorney, I would be cringing at what Donald Trump just admitted to in this deposition because he kind of said, well, you know, it's what happens. It's not so bad. And, by the way, I would never -- you know, this is all a big hoax, but I'm a star, and it's been true for the last million years that stars can do that kind of thing.

BLITZER: Yes. I mean, it's amazing. Elie, Trump has until 5:00 P.M. on Sunday to make a last-minute decision to testify in his own defense. That's what the judge has granted him. With what you've seen and heard so far, is that something he should consider?

HONIG: Oh, no, Wolf. I think we just saw in those clips exactly why Donald Trump is very, very unlikely to testify. I mean, honestly, when I saw those clips at first, I wasn't even sure they were real. They are very much real. But I was wondering, is this parody? Is this reality? It's reality.

These answers he's given are, as was pointed out by others, self- contradictory, in a way, self-incriminating, it's not a criminal case but harmful to his own case, undermining his own defense. And I think his lawyer -- I know Donald Trump has alluded to the possibility that he might testify or come in and try to confront these allegations. He is not going to do that. Any lawyer would be out of their minds to allow him to do that. I think that's just posturing and I think the judge wants to call him out on this and give him every chance to do that.


BORGER: Can I just say that I've spent the last bunch of years talking to lawyers who have represented Donald Trump? And all would say, no, no, no, he can never testify. Because no matter how much we tell him what he ought to be saying, and I'm sure they briefed him and talked to him about this, about what he ought to be saying in his deposition, he doesn't listen.

BLITZER: Yes, that's important. All right, guys, thank you very much.

Just ahead, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States joins me in THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll discuss the bomb shell claim from the chief of Russia's Wagner Group that he's pulling his troops from a key city.



BLITZER: The chief of the private Russian fighting force on the frontlines in Ukraine just went on a stunning tirade against the military leadership in Moscow. The profane rant that has claimed he's pulling his troops from the key city of Bakhmut could be a turning point in the battle.

Our Chief International Security Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh has our report from the war zone.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Not something you do or should see often.

YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, HEAD OF WAGNER GROUP: These men here who died today are Wagner PMC, their blood is still fresh.

WALSH: Perhaps Russia's most prominent figure, Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of mercenary group, Wagner, using a backdrop of fresh corpses from his own men to make a point. Most of what he said can't be broadcast.

Hours later, he escalated yet again saying flatly his men would leave Bakhmut, the city he and Moscow made their main prize all winter but failed to capture.

PRIGOZHIN: One month ago, they stopped giving us ammunition. We are receiving only 10 percent.

On May 10, 2023, we are leaving the settlement of Bakhmut. We have 2.5 kilometers left to take out of 45 kilometers.

WALSH: And then as if he hadn't made his point to a country where criticism doesn't happen, he accused Russia's defense minister of being mind the deaths of tens of thousands.

PRIGOZHIN: And the difference of the dead and the wounded, and it is tens of thousands of people. They lie on the conscience of those who did not give us ammunition, and this is the minister of defense, Shoigu, and this is the chief of the general staff, Gerasimov.

WALSH: Prigozhin has recently talked a lot, but this time, it really matters, and it's incredibly rare criticism of the top in Putin's Russia. The target of his ire was visiting troops in the south. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, still Putin's military head, last seen together two weeks ago despite a disastrous year of war, making criticism of him potentially criticism of Putin.

Today, Putin met his security council nominally to discuss annual Victory Day Parade celebrations. To not spoil this, Wagner won't leave Bakhmut until one day after, Prigozhin said.

Another topic that was bound to be on the agenda, this apparent drone attack on the Kremlin, which Moscow has accused Washington of masterminding yet provided little evidence to support. It's a ludicrously bad look for the Kremlin no matter what's happening behind closed doors.

Ukraine perhaps launching a counteroffensive imminently seized on the battling display of disunity, saying this could be a turning point in Bakhmut, and Wagner was actually short of people, not shells. Impossible to have guessed in the dark meat grinder of winter here, but a large part of Moscow's troops would simply say they are leaving just as Ukraine's big push begins.

What comes next is likely also unpredictable, but these atrocious signals from Moscow have careless disregard for troops, an appalling security at the heart of government can't be boosting Russian frontline morale and what were unthinkable a year ago.


BLITZER: CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reporting from the war zone in Ukraine, thanks very much.

Joining us now, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova. Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us.

As you heard, the head of the Wagner Group, the Russian group, has made outrageous claims before.


So, do you expect his mercenaries to withdraw from Bakhmut, which they failed to capture?

OKSANA MARKAROVA, UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Wolf, for having me. Look, we see the quarrels between different war criminals. He might not be getting the ammunition or whatever he's not getting from the Russian army, but our great defenders did not see the stop of the military attack and aggression there. And today, a day after that claim from Prigozhin, Russians have used phosphorus ammunition, and our Special Forces put out even a video about it.

So, they are not motivated, and definitely they do not know what they are fighting for because it's our land, it's our country, and they are simply committing war crimes one after another starting with the crime of aggression. Whatever this means, whether they will be replaced with someone or they will remain there, it doesn't matter actually. We just have to keep focus on liberating more of our territories. And while we always thank our friends here for all the support we are receiving, this is the moment to double down and actually get to peace faster.

BLITZER: Do you think, Ambassador, that this Russian infighting that we're now seeing threatens Vladimir Putin?

MARKAROVA: Well, you know, they have been pretty dysfunctional since the day one. We all remember, spoke about how this is the second largest army, and they failed miserably on the battlefield since then. I mean, it's very difficult for us. The destruction they caused us is enormous. There are cities destroyed, people killed. But they were not able to achieve any of their objectives. And, hopefully, with the continued support and with the new counteroffensives, we will be able to deny them right to any of our territory and, hopefully, we will liberate our people.

BLITZER: CNN has learned, Ambassador, that Russia has been jamming the GPS need for Ukraine to operate some sophisticated U.S.-made rocket systems, forcing Ukraine to come up with what are called workarounds. How concerning is that as Ukraine prepares to launch this long-awaited counteroffensive against invading Russian troops?

MARKAROVA: Well, whatever they do, desperately looking for some remedies. They actually suggest get out from Ukraine and stop their war. And think about the justice because this is the main word for what will happen not only to Putin and everyone who made decisions but also to everyone who supported and everyone on the battlefield.

But, you know, whatever they will try, we are ready, and we will keep fighting. We will not surrender. And our armed forces and our great president have shown again and again and again that we are very creative, and we are very resilient, and we will bravely defend our country.

BLITZER: Ambassador Oksana Markarova, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck to you, good luck to all the people of Ukraine. We really appreciate it very much.

MARKAROVA: Thank you, Wolf, and thank you to all American people.

BLITZER: Coming up, just in to CNN, significant new cooperation from key players in the Georgia probe into former President Trump and his allies. What they could reveal about efforts to meddle in the 2020 presidential election. We have new information. That's next.



BLITZER: All right. This just in to CNN, prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, have granted immunity to at least eight fake electors in their probe of Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Let's get details from CNN's Sara Murray. Sara, what can you tell us?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, what we're learning from a new court filing is that 8 of the 16 Republican fake electors, at least eight, have accepted immunity deals from District Attorney Fani Willis as part of her sprawling investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election in the state of Georgia.

Now, this is significant because they are relatively recent cooperators as of April, according to these court filings. And earlier in this investigation, the district attorney had said all 16 of these fake electors were targets as part of her probe. She made it clear she was investigating this fake elector scheme, putting forward these fake slates of electors who try to block the certification of the 2020 presidential election results. So, now, she's got a new handful of new cooperators on her hands.

This is part of the reason that we have been told we saw this delay or rather an extension in when she's actually going to bring these charges. She recently informed law enforcement. She was likely to make an announcement on who, if anyone, she would charge between July and September of this year. Previously, we heard it could be a little bit earlier than that.

But, look, they are going to be getting information from these cooperators, they're going to be sifting over that and trying to decide who, if anyone, to bring charges against in this case. And the district attorney had previously said that some of these fake electors were beginning to turn on each other, were beginning to incriminate each other. An attorney who represents these eight who have accepted immunity deals insists they're not turning on each other, they're not or offering incriminating evidence, but, obviously, they have something that the district attorney wants enough to offer them these immunity deals, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. Sara Murray, stand by. I also want to bring in our Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig. Elie, what does it mean practically for these fake electors to now be granted immunity?


HONIG: Right, Wolf. So, immunity is a powerful tool that prosecutors can use to get at testimony from people who may have been involved in a crime. There're really three steps. First, the prosecutor issues a subpoena or requests testimony. Then the recipient of that claims the Fifth Amendment, says, I'm not going to testify because it might incriminate me. And then the countermove by prosecutors is to say, okay, we're not going to use your testimony against you. You're immunized. And now, you have to testify because you no longer have a Fifth Amendment right.

BLITZER: So, Sara, how does this fit into the broader investigation in Georgia?

MURRAY: Well, look, the fake elector probe is one part of what she's looking at. And, obviously, she's going to want to know from these folks what interaction they have had with higher levels of the Trump campaign about sort of the organization of this plot. But they're also looking at false testimony given in front of Republican lawmaker -- or given in front of lawmakers in the state of Georgia by people like Rudy Giuliani. They're looking at unauthorized access to voting machines or to election machines in one rural county Georgia. And, again, of course, they're looking at this phone call that Donald Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, as well as calls Trump made to other Georgia officials trying to pressure them to overturn the election.

BLITZER: Elie, does this tell you anything about the prosecutor's strategy right now and what type of charges potentially the former President Trump could potentially face?

HONIG: Well, Wolf, it tells me that prosecutors are trying to climb the ladder here. They're trying to use the testimony of these eight fake electors, A, to implicated the other fake electors, but also, I think, you want to move up the chain of command here. The main question I would have for these folks that they now have to answer is who came up with this idea and who coordinated it.

And now, as to potential charges as Sara laid out, there are charges under the Georgia code for attempting to interfere with an election, But we've also had previous reporting at CNN that prosecutors are looking at potential conspiracy charges, which means two or more people who come to an agreement to commit a crime or even, according to our reporting, racketeering charges, which would mean some organized group working together to commit a series crimes, and that's consistent with Sara's reporting just now.

BLITZER: Elie Honig, Sara Murray, guys, thank you very much.

Coming up, we'll go live to London for an update on tomorrow's coronation of King Charles III, last minute preparations underway right now over at Buckingham Palace.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: In Britain, final preparations are under way right now for the first royal coronation in some 70 years. King Charles III will be formally crowned tomorrow during an elaborate service over at Westminster Abbey.

Let's get an update right now from CNN Royal Correspondent Max Foster, who is joining us from London. Max, how will all of this unfold?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, at the moment, we have been seeing heads of state go in and out of Buckingham Palace for a big that reception. It could be one of the biggest gatherings of heads of states ever. All heads of states with whom Britain has diplomatic relations have been invited. So, either they're here or their representatives. So, that's been interesting to see. Then they'll go along to the service tomorrow preceded by a procession from here to Buckingham Palace. The king and queen will be in a carriage, a relatively small procession. Once they get there, a very solemn ceremony. At the center of it is the crowning and anointing of a king who will be -- who is head of the Church of England, who will be making promises to God and declaring his allegiance to God. And then Prince William, the Prince of Wales, will declare his allegiance to King Charles.

All of this ceremony and ritual rooted in 1,000 years of history. At the same time, Charles and the church and the government desperately trying to make it relatable and relevant to young people as well and a more diverse community that Britain is than it was the last coronation. There will be this spectacular celebration afterwards, 4,000 members of the military, a mile-long procession from the Abbey back here to Buckingham Palace, and then the fly pass and the balcony appearance.

BLITZER: Max, I want you to stay with us. I also want to bring in the CNN Royal Historian Kate Williams and we're also joined by the British journalist and broadcaster Bidisha Mamata.

Bidisha, the last time Britain saw a coronation was back in 1953. So, give us a big picture. How significant is this moment?

BIDISHA MAMATA, JOURNALIST AND BRITISH BROADCASTER: This is enormously significant. Unless you are in your late 70s, you are not going to have any kind of living memory of the previous coronation. You will know the coronation only through that very silvery black and white beautiful-looking footage of a young queen, who is then a mother to two children, and she was going to go on to have two more. And it will look to you like an image of an England, a Britain, which is so long gone, the post-war period of trying to rebuild, trying to ask yourself, ask the nation, what kind of Great Britain do we want.

We are coming into this coronation with a certain amount of pageantry and pomp, but also so many questions around what does the monarchy stand for, what is the relationship between the splendor and grandeur we're going to see tomorrow and all through tomorrow and the way that ordinary people live now.

BLITZER: Kate, when you look at the way King Charles is putting on this coronation, does that signal how he plans to actually rule?

KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL HISTORIAN: Yes. This coronation is both historic. It dates back to William the Conqueror, the first monarch crowned in Westminster Abbey in 1066, and before that to King Edgar of the Anglo-Saxons in 973, all these aspects of enthroning, of anointing of taking the oath. But the king has put his own stamp on it, particularly in terms of the music. There's a lot of a modern music, including by Angelo (INAUDIBLE), a great musical composer, and many female composers.


And there also has been a great -- huge amount of roles, a great difference in making it -- it's still a Church of England service, he's still defender of the faith, even though in 1994, he said he wants to be defender of faiths. But there are roles for people of faiths. It is really reflecting the fact that when you look at the census of the United Kingdom, very fewer people are Church of England compared to how they were in 1953.

And Charles' moment, this is a huge moment, particularly in the fact that he has what he has so long desired, Camilla by his side crowned as queen. This is the last time we saw a crowning of a queen beside the king was in 1937 with the king's parents. And that moment by the side, which was something that even in 2020, we were told, wasn't going to be happening. I think for Charles, it's a great moment of triumph and recognition that he wants to be king, but Camilla will be by his side.

BLITZER: Yes, she will be.

And, Bidisha, on that point, King Charles is clearly trying to make this a more inclusive event, but how notable is it that Meghan Markle won't be attending after she and Prince Harry raised concerns over racism in the royal family?

MAMATA: I think that, clearly, there was a sort of culture clash and that Meghan Markle married into this family not quite knowing what she was going to be greeted with, and I do believe that the royal family made every effort to include, accept. I guess that these two parties didn't quite feel that it was a goer.

But the thing is Meghan Markle has good reason to be staying behind. It's her son's fourth birthday tomorrow. And I think it's absolutely fair enough that even at a time of coronation and celebration, everyone has family duties. In fact, that's what makes the royal family somewhat relatable, that you're not going to have every couple together on the day. Not everyone can fly in.

There are lots of disgruntled heads of state and famous people who are probably gnashing their teeth silently that they're going to be having to watching the coronation on T.V. instead of partying it up at the Abbey. That's real life. And the challenge for King Charles is how do I maintain my kingship and my royal presence in the real world when so many people are looking at the other news headlines and saying to themselves, but there's a cost of living crisis, the price of everything has gone up. I can't buy a house. I can't afford to have kids because I can't get on the property ladder. What are you doing for me, King Charles? And even though it's not his responsibility, he is still a figure head. He still has to answer all of those questions about ordinary life, family life, responsibility, and duty.

BLITZER: Yes, good point.

Max, as King Charles is about to be crowned, how do Britains feel about the royal family after that rift and Prince Harry's rather explosive book?

FOSTER: Well, we'll wait and see. This is the first big event that Charles is making his own. The funeral was, of course, really looking back at the queen's reign. He had a role there. He had a say in how that all unfolded as well. But this is all about King Charles and the kind of king that he wants to be. It will be a much more diverse congregation. There are other religions involved in the service.

As Kate was saying, children will be involved in the service. He's trying to make it as inclusive as possible, trying to make himself as relatable as possible without being the same sort of character that his mother was or that his children are. He's trying to elevate himself in the world's consciousness. But we'll wait to see whether or not people will take to him.

The main feature really tomorrow for a lot of people tuning in, I think, will be the history, the pomp and the pageantry, something that Britain does incredibly well, and then Charles is going to have to break through that as a person to establish himself with this monarchy going forward.

BLITZER: Max Foster, Kate Williams, Bidisha Mamata, guys, thank you very, very much. Important note to our viewers, CNN's special coverage of the coronation of King Charles III begins at 5:00 A.M. Eastern tomorrow morning.

Coming up, President Biden just weighing in now on the debt ceiling showdown with Republicans while riding the wave of a better than expected jobs report. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: Just in, President Biden is speaking out in his upcoming meeting next week with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy over the nation's debt ceiling.

CNN's White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond is joining us right now.

Jeremy, what is the president saying about his showdown that's expected with the speaker?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're just days away from President Biden's first meeting with McCarthy in months, less than a month until the U.S. could possibly default on its debt.

And in a new interview with MSNBC, President Biden is talking about how he views Kevin McCarthy, whether or not he views him as an honest broker. Listen.


INTERVIEWER: Is Kevin McCarthy an honest broker for you to negotiate with?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he's an honest man. He's in a position he had to make a deal that was pretty, you know, 15 votes -- 15 votes where he just about sold away everything that he -- that the far, far right. There's the Republican Party and there's the MAGA Republicans. And the MAGA Republicans really have put him in a position where in order to stay speaker, he has to agree -- he's agreed to things that maybe he believes but are just extreme.


DIAMOND: And those comments from President Biden really do speak to the challenge that lays ahead here. Kevin McCarthy has very little wiggle room as he is negotiating with the president over this debt ceiling increase in terms of the slim majority that he has in Congress. And at the same time, here at the White House -- White House officials are continuing to insist that they are not moving off their position, which is that they will only accept a clean debt ceiling increase and separate discussion, separate negotiations over the budget, over spending and appropriations.


Now, the question is, can those two things somehow can into alignment on Tuesday when President Biden sits down with the speaker of the House and the other leaders of Congress. You know, there's some discussion here at the White House of whether or not they can get started on some kind of a budget and spending negotiations, to put that on a separate track from the debt ceiling discussions, that's certainly how the White House would like things to proceed, but not clear as of yet if the house speaker is willing to do that.

Today, also, we saw the strong jobs report, more than 250,000 jobs created. And that is really the story that the president put these two things together in a meeting earlier today here at the White House, where he talked about the fact that, look, this U.S. economic recovery is continuing to show strength in terms of the labor market, with 50- year low unemployment at 3.4 percent.

But making clear also that all of that is at stake as the United States barrels towards this potential June 1 deadline to lift the debt ceiling. As we know, economists have warned that there could be millions of job losses in a prolonged failure to pay the government's debts. And so, all of that is at stake, as we head into this meeting.

BLITZER: Yeah, certainly is, the stakes are really enormous.

Jeremy Diamond over at the White House, thank you.

This note to our viewers, coming up on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" right after THE SITUATION ROOM, the mayor of Atlanta speaks out about gun violence in his city and weighs in on the subway chokehold death in New York City. That's coming up 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Just ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis taking a victory lap on his state's legislative wins. But when will he decide on running for president in 2024?

Plus, CNN's acclaimed decade series is back with the 2010s, showcasing the transformative period that saw the rise of social media, huge political and social unrest, and the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The 2010s have ushered in a new era called click TV.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The "like" button was a market genius.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: It can be frustrating this business of democracy.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: -- president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a moment that said we have to tell our stories.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I may be the voice of my generation, or at least a voice.

ANNOUNCER: "The 2010s" premieres Sunday at 9:00 on CNN.




BLITZER: Tonight, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is rounding out a blockbuster legislative season for his conservative agenda amid growing speculation about whether he'll officially enter the 2024 presidential race.

CNN's Brian Todd is following the story for us.

Brian, all eyes now are on the governor's next moves.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf, from his rivals, to the media to voters, so many people are now watching closely to see when, not if, Ron DeSantis announces a run for president. This is a man on a serious role tonight after that state legislative session where he got just about everything he wanted.


TODD (voice-over): With the end of Florida's legislative session today.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: We've been able to go on a historic run that has never been seen before in the state's history.

TODD: The window Ron DeSantis was looking for is now wide open for him to run for the Republican nomination for president. And, today, he addressed the white hot anticipation of a White House bid.

DESANTIS: We'll get on that relatively soon. I mean, it's -- you either got to put up or shut up on that as well, so we'll see.

TODD: Today, DeSantis also made another key chess move in his high- stakes battle with Disney, signing a land use bill that could void Disney's agreement with the state of Florida that allows Disney to have its own special taxing district in the area around Disneyworld in Orlando.

DESANTIS: No corporation should have their own government. No one should be exempt from laws that everyone else has to follow.

TODD: DeSantis has been fighting with Disney since last year when he backed a new Florida law limiting instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. Disney spoke out against the bill. Why would DeSantis take on a monolith in the entertainment world that's one of the biggest employers in his state?

MARC CAPUTO, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE MESSENGER: If you talk to Republicans, a lot of the base doesn't like Disney, it doesn't like these -- this is their phrase, these so-called woke corporations. So, that degree, it's beneficial to Ron DeSantis.

TODD: His battle with Disney punctuate waits a hot streak where DeSantis has been able to get the Republican controlled Florida legislature to do his bidding, including just in this legislative session alone, a near total ban on abortions after six weeks. A law allowing Floridians to carry concealed guns in public without permits, a measure eliminating unanimous jury decisions to send someone to death row, and a bill making child rapists eligible for the death penalty.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, THE WASHINGTON POST: DeSantis has spent a lot of time focusing on the culture war issues. He's built his brand around that.

TODD: But it comes with political risk. CNN's Steve Contorno reports some top Republican donors are openly worried about DeSantis' culture war agenda, and DeSantis' rivals for the GOP nomination have him square in their sights.

Former President Donald Trump using a nickname to attack the governor.

TRUMP: Desanctis is very low and crashing. He's crashing and burning. He's failing again because now he's getting a chance to campaign without Trump, to put it mildly.

TODD: The GOP candidate Nikki Haley has now openly invited Disney to move to her home state of South Carolina, tweeting, quote, SC is not woke, but we're not sanctimonies about it either.


TODD (on camera): How seriously are Donald Trump and his allies taking Ron DeSantis? Just one political action committee that supports Trump has spent about $8.6 million on ads going after DeSantis. Most Republican primary polls do show Trump leading DeSantis by pretty healthy margins -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yeah, very healthy margins indeed. Brian Todd, thanks very much.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always follow me on Twitter and Instagram @wolfblitzer. Tweet the show @CNNSitRoom.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.