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Jury Says, Trump Liable For Sexually Abusing And Defaming E. Jean Carroll; Sources Say, Federal Criminal Charges Filed Against Rep. George Santos (R-NY); Debt Limit Talks Wrap Up At White House Without Any Breakthrough. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 09, 2023 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. And just for the record, I wasn't going to buy it on Amazon. I just wanted to see -- I wanted to see if it was available. What a horrible story, those poor kids. Nick Watt, thank you much. I appreciate it.

The major stories this evening, a jury finding Donald Trump liable of sexually assaulting and defaming E. Jean Carroll, the Justice Department charging Republican Congressman George Santos, the White House meeting about the showdown over the debt ceiling. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room. I'll see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, Donald Trump is found liable for sexually abusing and defaming the writer, E. Jean Carroll. We're getting new reaction right now to the jury's verdict and the order for Trump to pay up to $5 million in damages.

Also tonight, CNN has learned that federal criminal charges have been filed against Republican Congressman George Santos amid investigations into his astonishing pattern of lies and fabrications. Stand by for details on our exclusive reporting.

And President Biden and congressional leaders just wrapped up critical talks at the White House, and there is no sign of any breakthrough on raising the nation's debt limit as the clock ticks forward a potentially very, very dangerous default.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in The Situation Room.

We begin our coverage tonight in New York with the bomb shell verdict in E. Jean Carroll's civil case against Donald Trump. The former president found liable for sexually abusing Carroll and defaming her.

CNN's Jean Casarez is joining us with a closer look at this historic jury decision. Jean, this verdict came, what, just hour -- just 2.5 hours of the deliberation by the jurors. Give us the latest.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is correct. And, Wolf, we have just gotten -- CNN has just received a statement from E. Jean Carroll, she says the world finally knows the truth and this is a victory, a victory for other women who have not been believed.


CASAREZ (voice over): A Manhattan federal jury found former President Donald Trump sexually abused E. Jean Carroll in a department store dressing room in the 1990s and subsequently defamed her. Carroll alleged Trump sexually assaulted her in the Bergdorf Goodman in the spring of 1996 and later defamed her when he denied her claims.

The jury found his conduct was sexual abuse, sufficient to hold him liable for her civil battery claim, even though the jury found she did not prove his assault met the rape threshold.

E. JEAN CARROLL, SUED DONALD TRUMP: The minute he went like this, I proceeded into the dressing room. The minute he closed that door, I was banged up against the wall. I hit my head really hard, boom.

CASAREZ: After deliberating for some 2.5 hours, the jury recommending Trump pay Carroll a total of $5 million, more than $2 million in damages on the battery claim and nearly $3 million on the defamation claim.

Carroll, in her suit, sought damages for this October 2022 social media post claiming Carroll's account was, quote, a complete con job. Her story was completely made up. And that this can only happen to Trump. That's only one of dozens of denials Trump made about Carroll's rape allegations publicly.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I have no idea who this woman is.

CASAREZ: And privately like these he made during his pre-trial deposition.

TRUMP: She's a whack JOB. She's not my type. I think she's sick, mentally sick.

CASAREZ: That's the only time the jury heard from Trump during the trial, other than clips from the Access Hollywood tape that surfaced right before the 2016 presidential election. Carroll's team used that now infamous video to establish Trump's character playing portions again during closing arguments.

Trump: I'm automatically attracted to beautiful women. 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what you said, correct.

TRUMP: Well, historically, that's true with stars. Not always, but largely true, unfortunately or fortunately.

CASAREZ: Trump's lawyer in the case, Joe Tacopina, pressed Carroll during cross-examination, asking why she wasn't yelling out during the encounter. Crying on the stand, Carroll told Tacopina, I'm telling you he raped me, whether I screamed or not, I don't need an excuse for not screaming.

Shortly after the verdict, Trump denied knowing Carroll, calling the verdict a disgrace, and through his attorney, called his loss a result of politics.

JOE TACOPINA, TRUMP LAWYER: He is firm in his leaf, as many people are, that he cannot get a fair trial in New York City.

That's probably an accurate assessment based on what happened today.



CASAREZ (on camera): And Joe Tacopina is saying that they will definitely appeal this case, that many rulings were biased, they were not in favor of the defendant, and they do have that chance on appeal, and as he just said, even if it's a civil trial, the defendant deserves a fair trial, and this was not that.

BLITZER: Jean Casarez reporting for us, thank you very much.

Let's get some more on all of these major developments, the legal and political experts are joining me now. Shan Wu, let me start with you. What do you think were the most significant factors that went into the jury's decision?

SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think her demeanor, Jean Carroll's demeanor apparently was very persuasive, and I think that Trump's defense team obviously did not put on the case. They don't have to put on the case, but I think in hindsight, that was probably a strategic error.

His absence, I think, was a huge strategic error because it allowed the jury to only have one side of things. And then when they did actually hear from Trump, of course, it was the very worst of him, the portions of the deposition where he's really leaning into his very sexist comments.

So, I really think they weren't able to really rebut the evidence put on by Ms. Carroll's team, which was strong evidence, very well presented, but they really didn't do anything to counter that.

BLITZER: And, Kara Scannell, what are you hearing from E. Jean Carroll and Trump's lawyer.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, E. Jean Carroll tonight is declaring victory. She issued a written statement. And what she said, I filed this lawsuit against Donald Trump to clear my name and get my life back.

Today, the world finally knows the truth. This victory is not just for me but every woman who has suffered because she was not believed. She didn't make any statements here on camera but that is what she said after she had left court. Now, Trump's attorney, Joe Tacopina, did answer questions from reporters, and he was asked if he had spoken with former President Trump, Tacopina said that he did, and here's what he said next. Take a listen.


TACOPINA: Proceed, and go forward, obviously, you know, he's firm in his belief, as many people are, that he cannot get a fair trial in New York City based on the jury pool. And I think one could argue that that's probably an accurate assessment based on what happened today. And, you know, again, it's something that we're very confident on the appellate issues here.


SCANNELL: And so some of these appellate issues that he raised, he said he's going to raise with the appeals court. One that they weren't allowed to test the DNA that Carroll said she had on the dress that she wore the day of the alleged rape, that was something that was litigated in advance and the judge disallowed it because of some delay in their going back and forth over it.

He also said he was going to challenge the judge letting the Access Hollywood tape come into the trial and be played before the jury. Carroll's attorneys relied on that in their closing arguments. They said it was essentially a confession. So, he's going to argue that that should not have been allowed to come in.

And they also wanted to argue that part of Carroll's defense was funded by a person, Reid Hoffman, who has donated to a lot of Democratic causes. Part of their defense was that Carroll was politically motivated in the case. The judge did not let that in. So, those are at least some of the issues that they are going to raise on appeal, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. David Chalian, our political director, this comes as Trump is about to face voters fairly soon in New Hampshire. He wants to be president of the United States again. What are you -- you were there for us in New Hampshire right now. What are the political implications for him in the aftermath of this verdict?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, Wolf, you know that Donald Trump is no stranger to running for the presidency while dealing with a swirl of controversy around him, and that is no different this time around for him.

I think there are two key things to watch here. One, do voters who are with Donald Trump who have proven to be the stickiest supporters in the history of modern American politics, does this have any impact on them? My guess is no.

But the other sort of fallout question to watch here is, as Donald Trump is now the clear frontrunner for the Republican nomination, and he and his campaign team are plotting a course to win back the White House, they are doing that with great consideration to try and win back independent and suburban women in those critical battle ground states, does a story like this, does a verdict like this, complicate Donald Trump's mission to win some of those voters back? That's what we have to be watching for in the months ahead here.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, can I just add that this case doesn't help those independent voters, those fence sitters who are thinking of Donald Trump but might not want to vote for him in a primary. This doesn't help them say, oh, yes, I'm going to go for Donald Trump now. I think that it helps them go in another direction and think about it again, and say, well, maybe -- particularly if you're a woman, maybe I don't -- you know, I'm not interested so much in Donald Trump.


You know, as for the solid base, as David is talking about, I think they're with him no matter, particularly as Kara was talking about, given the fact that they're going to say, and I was talking to a Republican strategist about this today, they're going to say that this is a political case funded largely by a Democratic donor.

BLITZER: And, Audie Cornish, just how significant is it that for the first time a former president of the United States, and a current presidential candidate has been found liable for sexual abuse?

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think everyone is incredibly focused and rightfully so of the sexual nature of this. But I would note E. Jean Carroll's actual statement where she talks about clearing her name.

Reputational smears and going after the motivations of the people who level allegations against them is a very important part of the former president's approach to campaigning and to dealing with crisis and scandal of which this is kind of an original sin, right, connected back to that October 2016 kind of tape, the, quote/unquote, Access Hollywood tape.

And in this moment in court, it's a different ball game, right? It's one thing to just toss this stuff out on Truth Social or Twitter or whatever, it's another thing to say these things in court and to say these things in the public and have that scrutinized in court with evidence. And I think that has significance going forward because, again, this is a very key tool for him to weaponize people, their background, their motivation, who they are, and we're finding out there may be limits to that.

BLITZER: And, Shan, how do you think Trump is going to navigate not just this verdict but the mountain of other criminal investigations he's facing?

WU: He doesn't have too much choice on how to navigate it. His tried and true technique is to delay, delay. I mean, he's delayed a lot of these for a long time. They're all beginning to roll downhill as of now, and he can only take them on one at a time. Certainly with the civil case, I think you see a hint of what might happen, were he to be found guilty in a criminal case, like Alvin Bragg's case, which is he'll deny he's liable. He's say the trial was fixed, and that's going to be his continuing strategy, just to move forward into the political realm and just ignore these things. But I think that's his only plan for the navigation.

I think we're actually seeing that this is the kind of tail end of legal maneuvering that can go on. Sure, there will be an appeal. But with all the investigations, the attempts to derail them through advanced legal maneuvering, we're beginning to see that those are all failing one by one, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, indeed. All right, everybody, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, CNN's exclusive new reporting on criminal charges against Republican Congressman George Santos.

And we'll have the latest on the debt limit talks that ended just a short while ago over at the White House. Is there any hope, any hope of prevents a catastrophic default?


BLITZER: Tonight, the Republican Congressman who stunned the political world with his brazen history of lying now is facing criminal charges.

CNN's Katelyn Polantz joins us now with CNN's exclusive reporting on the new charges against Representative George Santos of New York. Katelyn, tell our viewers what we do know about these new charges.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Wolf, other than the fact that this Republican Congressman who has been under fire basically from the moment he took office, we don't know much other than that he has been charged, so George Santos is facing charges brought by federal prosecutors in New York.

We also know from a lot of the reporting from CNN and others that there has been several ongoing investigations around George Santos, a lot of issues related to his history before he was running for office as well as when he was running for office, and some of those investigations relate to campaign finance.

And what he was saying in his reports to the federal government about his campaign and the money he had, some questions that have arisen in the past about that, that we do believe would be part of an investigation are about him helping two very rich people who were donors to him as a Republican candidate transferred the sale of a yacht, a super yacht.

We also know that he had reported a very sizeable loan to his campaign, almost a million dollars, $700,000 or so. And there was a big question of where would he get that sort of money. And so we don't know what these are yet. We do expect him to present himself in federal court to face charges as soon as Wednesday, and we do know that these would be out of New York. But what is in court right now is under seal, and George Santos has faced a lot of questions in the past, not just related to campaign finance but related to potential bad checks, credit card fraud potentially, and all kinds of other things about his past. Wolf?

BLITZER: There's certainly a lot of history there. All right, Katelyn Polantz, thank you very much.

Let's get some more on all of this. Our legal and political analysts are joining us. Elliot Williams, these charges are under seal, but what could Santos be facing potentially from your perspective?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, first things first, Wolf, welcome to the single craziest day in the history of American law. So, putting that aside, you know, I think it might be irresponsible to really speculate as to what might be in there now if we're talking, broadly speaking about crimes associated with political campaigns, what you usually tend to find are mail fraud, wire fraud, those are using either the mails or electronic communication to defraud people of money.

And you see that in the context of political candidates, false statements, or potentially campaign finance violations, any of those, and some of the other crimes that Katelyn had identified there, the financial irregularities or improprieties that could be charged as federal crimes.


Not everything can get into federal court. Some things would be state crimes. These are just the things that would bump it into federal court. But I think we'll find out much more tomorrow as to what these crimes might actually be.

BLITZER: Norm Eisen, you've got a lot of experience in this area. Santos could, as we just heard, appear in court as early as tomorrow. So, what do you expect we'll learn then?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we do know some of the reported irregularities in his campaign finance forms and, Wolf, those are signed under penalty of perjury, and there's other rules that apply. So, for example, there has been questioning, where did he get that $700,000.

He appears to have had quite modest means, suddenly a jump in his finances. If he obtained those funds and they were not really as he represented a loan from himself or from other people that, could be both a false statement and also a campaign finance violation. So, we'll find out soon enough, but that is the serious place where observers are watching.

BLITZER: You're absolutely right. Does this put, Gloria, new pressure on the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, to take some action against Santos?

BORGER: It might but I doubt that he'll respond to that kind of pressure at this point. Look, this is -- if Santos were, say, to be forced to resign, you'd have to hold a special election. You hold a special election, the Republicans could lose the seat very easily. And if Republicans were to lose the seat, Speaker McCarthy's margin gets even smaller.

And that's something he does not want. That is why he's never talked about Santos resigning when Republicans in New York State were talking about Santos resigning. That's why McCarthy hasn't touched it. So, we have to watch and see what McCarthy does.

But my bet is, you know, his margin is so slim that he's not going to force Santos to do anything because he doesn't want that special election.

BLITZER: Yes, he certainly doesn't. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, what congressional leaders are revealing about the debt limit standoff after emerging from their talks over at the White House with President Biden.



BLITZER: This hour, top Republicans and Democrats remain far apart in their standoff over raising the nation's debt ceiling after meeting with President Biden at the White House just a little while ago.

Jeremy diamond is at the White House for us. Jessica Dean is up on Capitol Hill. First to you, Jeremy, what are we hearing about these talks that just concluded?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, Wolf, we have just learned that President Biden is going to be delivering remarks on these talks. This comes after we heard from the other congressional leaders who were in this meeting, and the picture that these leaders painted was quite grim, when you consider the fact that we are perhaps just over three weeks away from the country hitting the debt ceiling on the brink of default. The speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, said both sides basically reiterated their positions, but there was no movement. Listen.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Everybody in this meeting reiterated the positions they are at. I didn't see any new movement. The president said the staff should get back together. But I was very clear with the president, we have now just two weeks to go. If Chuck Schumer could pass something, we would go to conference right away and solve that, but I don't think Chuck Schumer can pass anything. They haven't dealt with it. Unfortunately, the president has waited 97 days without ever meeting. (END VIDEO CLIP)

DIAMOND: And so, essentially, Wolf, after this meeting where we stand is where we were before. The only thing that has changed is that there's an agreement now for the conversation to continue. There are going to be staff meetings between the speaker's office and the White House, and then on Friday, President Biden is set to convene those congressional leaders here at the White House once again.

But, essentially, the positions remain the same. The White House is continuing to call for a clean debt ceiling increase whereas House Republicans and Senate Republicans alongside with them are saying spending cuts need to be a part of this discussion. The Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, he said that Democrats asked Speaker McCarthy in this meeting to take the threat of default off the table, and Senator Schumer said that speaker McCarthy refused to do so. Wolf?

BLITZER: Jessica, you're up there on Capitol Hill. How are lawmakers reacting?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, just like Jeremy said back here on Capitol Hill, it's a lot of the same as well. People are pretty entrenched. And this is really seen as step one of what will be a multistep process as they try to get to some sort of a solution and a very, very condensed timeline.

We saw Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, he came back, he talked to us briefly, and it was interesting to hear him say, Wolf, and he said this, both at the White House and when he was talking to us at the Hill, he underscored that the U.S. will not default on its debt, and that is something that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that Speaker McCarthy simply would not say or take off the table. And, again, when they were there at the White House, Speaker McCarthy would not answer that directly.

So, that is where we really see the Republican leadership kind of going in different directions in terms of their messaging and what they're putting out, but we are expecting to hear from speaker McCarthy and here in just a few minutes here on Capitol Hill. But the fact remains, Wolf, and just to remind everyone, the House GOP has passed its debt limit legislation out of the House.

It was done on party lines with that very small majority that Kevin McCarthy is working with there in the House, and now the Senate is not going to take that up.


It's simply a no go for the Democratically-controlled Senate. And that's where we sit right now, Wolf. That's where we will continue to sit. Everyone now looks forward to Friday to see if they can make any movement there.

BLITZER: We'll have live coverage of President Biden once he walks out of the White House and delivers his remarks on this debt limit. The stakes are enormous right now for the entire country, the U.S. economy is at stake with this issue. We'll have live coverage of that. That's coming up.

Also tonight, officials in Allen, Texas, just gave a long awaited update on the shooting that killed eight and injured several others in an outlet. Police say they still don't have a motive for the massacre, although they have confirmed the gunman did have some neo-Nazi ideas.

CNN Security Correspondent Josh Campbell has our report from the scene of the massacre.


HANK SIBLEY, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: Why did he do this? Well, the big question is we don't know.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Law enforcement revealing new details today about the investigation into the gunman who opened fire at a Texas outlet mall, saying he had no prior criminal history and was not on their radar.

He went on a shooting rampage on Saturday, killing eight people, including three children, and wounding seven others. The shooter, a 33-year-old Hispanic man from Dallas, killed by a police officer minutes after the rampage began was armed with an AR-15-style rifle and had eight weapons in total. He wore a vest holding extra ammunition and was dressed in tactical gear with an insignia that read RWDS. Authorities say they believe it stands for Right Wing Death Squad.

SIBLEY: We do know that he had neo-Nazi ideation. He had patches, he had tattoos. Even his signature, you know, verified that.

CAMPBELL: Online, the shooter posted his support for Nazi ideology and shared images of target practice and his many weapons, weapons law enforcement says were purchased legally through private gun sales, which in Texas don't require federal background checks.

We have learned the gunman also posted rambling sexist and anti- Semitic missives on a Russian social media website and screen shot showing the busiest times at the Allen Premium Outlet Mall. The account appears to show he staked out the venue before the shootings.

SIBLEY: To me, it looks like he targeted the location rather than a specific group of people. He was very random in the people he killed. It didn't matter the age, race or sex. He just shot people.

CAMPBELL: The victims include 20-year-old Christian LaCour, 26-year- old Aishwarya Thatikonda, 32-year-old Elio Cumana-Rivas and three members of the Cho family, Cindy and Kyu Song and their toddler son, James. Two young sisters, 8-year-old Sofia and 11-year-old Daniela Mendoza were also killed.

Meanwhile, brave bystanders who rushed to help are speaking out in graphic detail.

JOSHUA BARNWELL, SHOOTING WITNESS: Just massive atrocious bullet wounds. CAMPBELL: Joshua Barnwell says America can't become numb to the true cost of the nation's gun violence epidemic.

BARNWELL: I want people to really and truly understand the depths of the depravity that occurred and, you know, and if in the detail it upsets them, then I'm glad because it should because it was a disastrous situation.


CAMPBELL (on camera): Now, Wolf, in addition obviously to this immense tragedy, we're hearing those stories of bravery, including that gentleman you just heard from there. We also know that it was an Allen Police Department officer who took down the shooter, rushing to stop the gunfire.

We're also learning today, Wolf, from the Texas Department of Public Safety that one of those killed, Christian LaCour was a security guard at this mall. He was shot and killed, Wolf, according to police, while trying to evacuate people to safety.

BLITZER: All right. Josh Campbell reporting for us, thank you.

Just ahead, we're standing by for remarks from President Biden after a truly critical White House meeting with top lawmakers on raising the nation's debt limit. We'll have live coverage.

Also coming up, we'll go live to El Paso, Texas, where officials are urging migrants to turn themselves in before the expiration of Title 42.



BLITZER: We're expecting to hear from President Biden any moment now after he held a very important closed-door meeting with congressional leaders on raising the nation's debt limit. We're going to bring you those remarks live as soon as they begin. Stand by for that.

In the meantime, there's other important news we're following with the Trump-era immigration policy known as Title 42 about to expire. Border Patrol officials are conducting an operation targeting undocumented migrants near the southern border.

CNN's Rosa Flores is in El Paso, Texas, for us. She'll give us an update right after we hear from the president.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: To make sure America does not default on its debt for the first time in history. I'm pleased but not surprised to hear Republican minority leader of the United States Senate saying at our meeting that the United States is not going to default, never has, and it never will. He's absolutely correct. We agree to continue our discussions, and we're going to meet again on Friday.

In the meantime, our staffs are going to meet today and daily between now and then, and everyone at the meeting understood the risk of default. Our economy would fall into a significant recession. It would devastate retirement accounts, increase borrowing costs. According to Moody's, nearly 8 million Americans would lose their jobs and our international reputation would be damaged in the extreme. The last part is me, international.


Moody's did not say the last part about damages to the extreme.

I made it clear during our meeting that default is not an option, repeated that time and again. America is not a dead-beat nation. We pay our bills and avoiding default is a basic duty of the United States Congress. In fact, they did it three times under my predecessor without once, not one time creating a crisis, rattling the markets or undermining the unshakable trust the world has and America's commitment to paying its bills.

I'll remind you, the national debt went up 40 percent under my predecessor, and that's the problem we're dealing with today. I might note parenthetically in my first two years, I reduced the debt by $1.7 trillion. No president has ever done that. I told Congressional leaders that I'm prepared to begin a separate discussion about my budget, and spending priorities but not under the threat of default.

As I said, I've already cut the deficit by $1.7 trillion my first two years in office, and the budget just submitted to Congress cuts another $3 trillion in debt over the next ten years, my budget that I submitted. I made it clear that we can cut spending and cut the deficit. For example, my budget cuts $200 billion in spending by strengthening Medicare's power to negotiate for lowering prescription drug prices.

In addition, that's on top of the $160 billion in budget savings we passed last year by being able to reduce the price of insulin and other drugs for those on Medicare. And my budget cuts $30 billion, $30 billion in spending on tax subsidies for big oil companies.

They made $200 billion. They don't need a $30 billion subsidy to drill. It makes no sense. Why are we handing them a $30 billion tax subsidy? And, you know, it's time to stop doing that, and that's what my budget does.

Among other things, my budget also funds the Internal Revenue Code so that there's enough agents to thoroughly look at the taxes of billionaires in America. This Congressional Budget Office said says it would raise $200 billion. Larry Summers, the former secretary, says it raises twice that amount. It will raise a lot of money. Why do they want to get rid of the people who, in fact, would be able to do those audits?

And my budget has some of the strongest anti-fraud proposals ever proposed. It strengthens the number of inspector generals. Remember, I know of you covered me with my arguments in the past with the last administration for cutting the inspector generals, as to how the money was being spent. And inspector general is a watchdog for taxpayer dollars, and it's estimated that we'd save $10 for every dollar spent on funding inspector generals.

My budget cuts wasteful spending, closes loopholes and does one more thing. It makes the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations begin to start to pay some of their fair share, just some of their fair share. Speaker McCarthy offered a very different way forward. He's proposed deep cuts that I believe are going to hurt American families, and millions of Americans relying on Medicaid for their health care would be at risk of losing that.

And there would be 30 million fewer outpatient visits for veterans to the V.A. hospitals, and we just increased the V.A. budget so they could accommodate seeing these folks. And we would have to cut 30,000 law enforcement agents, FBI, DEA, Border Patrol, 100,000 teachers and support personnel would lose their jobs. All of that would hurt Americans and leave folks behind.

Look, now, I know the speaker says, well, I'm not -- he uses the L word, the lying word, but says I'm not telling the truth. All I ask him inside was if you're not going to cut any of those programs and you're saying the cut is 22 percent across the board, then you're going to have to cut a hell of a lot more with the programs that are left.

Now, we're not going to do that either. I'm not sure. I don't think they're sure exactly what they're proposing. And the policy Republicans takes cuts in defense off the table, the cuts they have to make to other programs will be even deeper than that.

And one last thing that's very important. The speaker is saying he's been trying to get me to sit down with him for 97 days. 97 days ago, we did meet in my office. I said to him at the time, I'm happy to talk with you. You submit your budget, I'll submit mine, and we'll talk about it. And I don't want to get any press person point anybody out, but I think you all remember my saying that. I submitted my budget on March the 9th in detail.


He passed his plan, I think, in the last or second to last week in April.

Five days later, after he finally put forward something, I called on him to invite -- invite him to a meeting with the other leading members of the Congress.

Look, over these last few days and weeks, there's going to be -- there's a lot of politics posturing and gamesmanship, and it's going to continue for a while. But I am squarely focused on what matters. And we're getting to work.

And I've said all along: Let's discuss what we need to cut, what we need to protect, what new revenue we can raise, and how to lower the deficit to put our fiscal house in order. But in the meantime -- in the meantime, we need to take the threat of default off the table.

As this meeting ended -- as the meeting ended -- excuse me -- I suggested we continue to meet, and the leaders -- our staffs continue to meet, and the leaders meet again on Friday to continue our discussions to see what progress we've made.

So let me end where I began: This nation has never defaulted on its debt. It never will.

And thank you. And now I'll take your questions.

Yes, ma'am.

REPORTER: Will you roll out a short-term debt limit increase? And are you concerned that Speaker McCarthy, at least publicly, will not take the threat of default off the table?

BIDEN: I don't know what he thinks -- what McCarthy thinks -- Speaker McCarthy thinks. I think he knows better. I think he knows that default would be disastrous. And I think he knows what he's passed could not possibly pass anywhere in the Congress; it's dead on arrival.

And so, I -- but I don't know his -- the depth of his thinking.


REPORTER: And what about a short-term debt limit increase? Are you ruling that out? Is that not okay for you?

BIDEN: I'm not ruling anything out. I said I'd come back and talk. I'm just ruling -- there's one thing I'm ruling out is default. And I'm not going to vote -- I'm not going to pass a budget that, in fact, caused massive cuts.

I'll give you one example. They want to cut the I -- the legislation we passed, the IRA. Well, guess what -- what they want to cut? They say that we're spending too much, giving tax breaks to people who are moving to renewable energy, and that by getting rid of those tax breaks we can -- we can -- we can save -- save money.

Well, you all saw -- one of you probably wrote the article in today's "New York Times" about Texas. They're making significant progress on solar and wind and renewable energy and hydrogen. And guess what? They want to cut it. You know why? I don't think it's anything to do with anything other than the oil companies don't like it.

REPORTER: How certain are you at this point that a default can be avoided with so little time left?

BIDEN: Well, I'm -- I'm absolutely certain because I -- you have the 95 percent of the member -- well, I shouldn't say -- I won't be -- put in a number. An overwhelming number of the members of Congress know it would be a disaster.

REPORTER: Mr. President, if you do -- you said you're certain you're not going to -- they're not going to -- there won't be a default.

Are you willing to take unilateral action, like invoking the 14th Amendment, to make sure that doesn't happen?

BIDEN: Well, the question -- I have been considering the 14th Amendment. And a man I have enormous respect for, Larry Tribe, who advised me for a long time, thinks that it would be legitimate.

But the problem is it would have to be litigated. And in the meantime, without an extension, it would still end up in the same place.

I'll be very blunt with you: When we get by this, I'm thinking about taking a look at -- months down the road -- to see whether -- what the court would say about whether or not the -- it does work.

Yes, sir?

REPORTER: Do you have time to get a deal and get it through before the deadline of as early as January 1st, and Secretary Yellen has warned about?

BIDEN: Oh, I know we have the time. I mean, we could do it easily if they -- but we do we have the will?

REPORTER: And you mentioned the 14th, sir. There's other proposals like prioritization of payments and minting the coin. Can you speak to whether either of those have been studied by your staff?

BIDEN: No, I can't because I don't think anybody has studied the minting of the coin issue. But there have been discussions about whether or not the 14th Amendment is -- can be invoked.

REPORTER: Is that the most likely unilateral executive path, worst- case scenario?

BIDEN: Look, yeah, but I --

REPORTER: -- worst-case scenario?

BIDEN: I -- I don't -- I don't think that solves our problem now. I think that only solves your problem if -- once the court has ruled that it does apply for future endeavors.

Yes, sir?

REPORTER: Mr. President, do you trust Kevin McCarthy?

BIDEN: I trust Kevin will try to do what he says. I don't know that -- I don't know how much leeway Kevin McCarthy thinks he has in light of the fact -- and I'm not being a wise guy when I say it took 15 votes for him to acquire the speakership. And, apparently, he had to make some serious concessions to get it from the most extreme elements of his party.


So, I -- but I don't -- I just don't know. REPORTER: How long an increase are you seeking? How long would you like to extend it either by dollar value, or do you want it suspended indefinitely?

BIDEN: Well --

REPORTER: The limit, I mean.

BIDEN: No, no, no, I think we should -- it should be more than -- for more than a year so we can move things along. And I think the discussions are somewhere in two -- the two-year. But there's no certainty of when -- how long.

REPORTER: Past the election though?

REPORTER: Mr. President, was Speaker McCarthy's message to you behind closed doors the same one that we heard from him at the sticks: that he will absolutely not decouple raising the debt ceiling with cuts? Did he send that message to you?

BIDEN: I don't want to violate a -- basically a trust that we had that we can -- you can talk openly and make -- and raise possibilities in the White House with the -- on a closed meeting.

REPORTER: On another topic, sir. Today, former President Donald Trump was charged with battery and defamation. Your reaction to that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm unaware of it. I heard that as I've been walking from room to room, but I can't comment on it. I don't know.

REPORTER: Let us ask it this way: What was the tenor of the meeting? Was it civil? Was it frank?

BIDEN: The tenor of the meeting was -- with three of the four participants -- very measured and low key. Occasionally there would be a little bit of a -- an assertion that maybe was a little over the top from the Speaker. But nothing, you know -- anyway.

REPORTER: Do you expect any -- do you expect any substantial progress by the time you get back to meeting on Friday?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it's going to depend a lot on -- I've been doing this a long time. I don't mean budget negotiations for the debt ceiling. But sometimes -- how can I say this?

One of the ways in which senators or congresspersons are able to back off some of the things they've done is if they're -- give their staff some leeway, and the staff has then said, well, we're going to do this. And it moves -- it kicks the can down the road a little bit.

REPORTER: Is there any chance you would postpone your trip for the G7 as a result of this? Or are you -- are you still committed to going on that trip?

BIDEN: I'm still committed, but obviously this is the single most important thing that's on the agenda. REPORTER: Mr. President -- Mr. President --

REPORTER: Let me get someone who hasn't asked a question yet. Anybody? I'll call -- I'll ask yours as well.

Yes, ma'am?

REPORTER: So there is doubt that you might not go on your trip? And you say this is the single most important issue.

BIDEN: I'm sorry?

REPORTER: Is it possible that you stay here and you don't find a solution?

BIDEN: It is possible, but not likely. In other words, if somehow we got down to the wire and we still hadn't resolved this, and the -- the due date was in a matter of -- when I was supposed to be away, I would not go. I would stay until this gets finished.

REPORTER: Are you more -- are you more or less optimistic than you were this morning after this meeting?

BIDEN: More.


BIDEN: Because I'm a born optimist.

REPORTER: Mr. President, was it a mistake under the Obama administration, when you were vice president, to negotiate on the debt limit in the summer of 2011, since that set a precedent under a divided government to at least negotiate and have discussions over raising the debt limit?

BIDEN: No, in the sense that -- I got a call that morning at six o'clock saying that the Republican leader would only talk to me, and there was no time left. And so I sat down, and I got instructions from the White House to settle it. And that was my job. But I had no notice.

REPORTER: Sir, just to put a finer point on today --

REPORTER: Mr. President, Speaker McCarthy said he asked you numerous times --

BIDEN: Okay, I'm going to -- let me go with you and you and then to the person with a camera. No, I'm joking.

REPORTER: Speaker McCarthy said that he asked you numerous times if there was anywhere in the federal budget for cuts, but he did not get an answer. So is there anywhere --

BIDEN: He got a specific answer. He got a specific answer again today. The first --

REPORTER: Which is what?

BIDEN: I -- well, you didn't listen either. So why should I even answer the question?

I -- we cut the deficit by $160 billion -- billion -- B-I-L-O-I-O-N -- dollars on the Medicare deal. We cut the deficit by raising the tax on people making -- 55 corporations that made $40 billion to 15 percent. And the list goes on. So --

REPORTER: But in terms of what he is proposing, is there any room for negotiation?

BIDEN: What's he proposing? Did he tell you? Did you hear him?

REPORTER: Well, he talked about --

BIDEN: No, no, I'm not being facetious. Did he tell you what he's proposing?

REPORTER: He -- he was talking about the bill.

BIDEN: Yeah. But what -- what does it propose?


Do you know?

I'm not being a wise guy. You all are very, very informed people. Do you know what that bill cuts?

REPORTER: He -- there is a long list of things that it -- it cuts that he --

BIDEN: No. No, it doesn't say. It says -- does it say what it's going to cut or just say generically it's going to cut?

You get the problem. You've answered.

REPORTER: Mr. President, Speaker McCarthy told us outside that he wants at least you to consider cutting and clawing back some of the unspent COVID relief funds. Would that be something that you would consider, even if it's independent of these debt limit discussions?

BIDEN: The answer is I'd take a hard look at it, because there's still -- we don't need it all, but the question is what obligations were there made -- commitments made, the money not dispersed, et cetera. I have to look -- take a hard look at it. It's on -- it's on the table.

REPORTER: And just briefly, sir, to put a finer point on it, the lawmakers came out today, and their message was, essentially, there wasn't much substantial progress in the meeting. Do you agree with that?

BIDEN: I listened to everything they said. I didn't hear them say that. REPORTER: Well, they said there was no movement.

BIDEN: Yeah, but what else did they say?

REPORTER: The Speaker said there was no movement.

REPORTER: So do you think that there was any substantial progress, aside from agreeing to meet again?

BIDEN: Yes, among three of the five -- of the four, yes, there was substantial movement in the sense that everyone agreed that deficit -- defaulting on the debt is off the table.

Last one, okay?

REPORTER: Title 42, is the United States ready for the surge of people that's going to come across the border starting later this week?

BIDEN: I spent close to an hour with -- with the Mexican President today. We're doing all we can. The answer is: It remains to be seen.

We've gotten overwhelming cooperation from Mexico. We also are in the process of setting up resi -- offices in Colombia and other places where you could -- where someone seeking asylum can go first.

So -- but it remains to be seen. It's going to be chaotic for a while. And, as an example, as I raised in the meeting, when they said, well, we're going to cut, and no spending more money. So what the hell happens? If you cut -- you're going to cut people at the border? You're going to cut agents at the border? We -- we need more at the border, not less at the border.

Folks, thank you very, very much. I appreciate your time. And I'm sure we're going to be talking more about this.

Thank you.

REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. President.

BIDEN: Whatever the cameraman wants to know, I'll answer.

Thank you very much. I really mean it.

REPORTER: He wants to know if -- if the U.S. defaults, will you be able to say that you did everything in your power to avoid it?

BIDEN: I promise you --

REPORTER: I think he said.

BIDEN: -- I will do everything in my power to avoid it. Thank you.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: So there you see the president of the United States promising the United States will not default. But there seems to be little, if any, progress during the course of this meeting he had with the congressional leadership earlier today.

Jeremy Diamond, you're our White House correspondent. What was the strategy behind President Biden holding this meeting today when, clearly, both sides, Speaker McCarthy and the White House, they are dug in and they are dug in deeply right now?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They certainly are. And the only thing that there seems to be agreement on right now, Wolf, is that there was no real progress in this meeting other than simply agreeing to continue the conversation about spending and budget negotiations. Now, you heard the president say there, default is not an option.

What he also focused on was really directly rebutting some of what we heard from the speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, earlier. The president pushing back on this notion that he didn't engage for 97 days for no reason, nothing that he had told McCarthy to submit your budget. The president noted that he submitted his budget in March and then reached out to McCarthy five days after he passed this bill.

There was clearly an effort by the president to try and single out the speaker. At one point, he said that the conversation was very measured, with three of the four leaders and he noted there were some over-the-top assertions by the speaker himself.

BLITZER: Jessica Dean, you're up on Capitol Hill. How is Speaker McCarthy framing all of this, though?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, Wolf. As Biden was speaking, Speaker McCarthy was also speaking here. So I was listening to kind of dueling messages. McCarthy has doubled, tripled down on where he stands on all of this.

No movement from him at all, he maintains that the president has got to negotiate the spending cuts with him in order to get this deal done. And, interestingly, Wolf, again, he was asked directly if, like Biden and McConnell and Schumer, he would agree that the U.S. will not default. He would not directly answer that question. Instead, kind of skirted around it, which was very interesting and telling.

BLITZER: Yes, it was. Gloria Borger, final thought from you.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the president made it very clear he's not yet ready to do the break the glass option, which would be invoking the 14th Amendment. I think that he showed a little bit of lag when he didn't rule out any kind of short-term extension, say, until September 30th, which is what's been talked about on Capitol Hill. And then they could do some budget afterwards.

So, he didn't -- he didn't rule that out. What was also striking to me was the way he talked about the speaker of the House, saying he doesn't have a lot of leeway. Remember, it took him 15 votes to become speaker. BLITZER: All right, guys. We're going to stay on top of this story

because the stakes for the U.S. economy and the American people are enormous right now.

To our viewers, thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.