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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Netanyahu Meet amid Opposition Effort to Oust Israeli Prime Minister; Women Leaving Workforce in Record Numbers During Pandemic; Naomi Osaka Pulls Out of French Open Citing Mental Health. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 1, 2021 - 10:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is in Israel today where he just met with embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This meeting comes as Israeli opposition leaders press forward with their push to oust him from that position.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Nic Robertson joins us now. You know, I wonder how much of a political Hail Mary this is for Graham, but tell us first what is the status of this coalition government, this unity government to oust Netanyahu? Is it on course or still risks ahead?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, Jim. It still seems to be potentially on course. It's a strange coalition because it is almost the sort of anything but Benjamin Netanyahu coalition. Yair Lapid, a centrist party, will involve probably one of the Islamic parties as well as the -- as well as Naftali Bennett from the sort of right-wing, as a right-wing party.

So it's an odd combination, and Naftali Bennett as well when the conflict with Gaza began just a few weeks ago, said that he was going to pull out of a potential opposition coalition. Now, he is back in it. So, yes, it does seem to be down to the current prime minister, Netanyahu, to see if there is some weaknesses in it that he can exploit. But the clock is against him. He's only got a few days to do it.

And at the moment, this coalition does seem to be holding its ground, Jim.

HARLOW: If Bennett and Lapi do take over and they would essentially swap rolls after a few years as foreign minister and prime minister until new elections in 2025, what would that mean though for the prospect of a two-state solution? Because a lot of the analysis I read say it doesn't move that forward at all.

ROBERTSON: It doesn't. And indeed Naftali Bennett has said that he is forming this coalition because he doesn't want to put the country through a fifth election. But it's hard to see how a government that constitutes so many desperate elements can stay together. I mean, look at the tensions that exist with the Arab-Israeli parties through this latest conflict. All you need is one point of contention, one conflict to spark up again, and that could destroy that coalition.

Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett have different political views. Naftali Bennett gets to be prime minister first, he is viewed as being on the right. So you can see the potential there for an escalation and tensions with Palestinians to mount and grow. So there are many ways that you could see this potentially break down.

You know, I think for Israelis at the moment, there is a sense of, you know, they really don't want to go through a fifth election and any government that is a better option than a fifth round of elections. But in a years' time, you can really see that people may feel entirely different if it is a government that is really just delivering the same political stasis that has existed up until now. And that political stasis isn't just in terms of politics. It is writ large across a potential for a realistic peace solution in the region.

HARLOW: Nic Robertson, thank you for all of your reporting on this. Obviously, we're just in the region covering the conflict there. We appreciate it very much.

Well, the danger still has not passed in the Democratic Republic of Congo where scientists say they cannot rule out a second volcanic eruption.

SCIUTTO: Plus, piles of rubble from the first eruption, there is still being found in the crater of that volcano, which could then cause hazardous ash to fall once again on to neighboring cities there.

CNN's Larry Madowo, he is live from Kigali, Rwanda, this morning. And, Larry, we've seen you walking those lava fields, right, in the middle of this. What is the latest? And do scientists have a good handle on it, right? I mean, can they really tell what happens next?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim, Poppy, the simple answer is that they're not sure. They're saying today that the Goma Volcanic Observatory is every day they're flying around the mountain and it's still not possible for them to rule out the possibility of a grand eruption or a water eruption.

Goma it is surrounded by Lake Kivu. And they're saying under the lake but also deep analysis of the results show there is magma under the urban zone of Goma.


So any of these could lead to a catastrophic event. And they've told people that even though there is no abnormality reported on the lake, they should stay away from it because conditions could change rapidly.

They're saying, the results show deep presence of magma under the city of 2 million. It's a really dangerous situation. At the same time, 400,000 people were evacuated for a fear of a second eruption. They're (INAUDIBLE) that people Rwanda are getting tired. Some of them are starting to return home because the conditions where they're being held in churches, in mosques, are less than ideal.

This is Agnes Milongo, one of those who was --


AGNES MILONGO, DISPLACED RESIDENT: We know that cholera is in this area, so it is dangerous. There are limited toilet facilities and they're not hygienic. And I'm also afraid that we might get COVID-19 because we don't even have masks.


SCIUTTO: Yes, we lost Larry there at the end. But as you heard, from one of the residents there, there are multiple threats at the same time beyond the volcano, the pandemic as well. Larry Madowo, our thanks to you.

HARLOW: Millions of women in particular were forced out of the workforce during the pandemic as school shuttered. The vice president just weighing in on that issue this morning, you'll hear from her next.



HARLOW: We are just days away from a crucial May jobs report after April's jobs numbers were much weaker than economists expected. A big concern for the Biden administration is the mass exodus of women from the workplace. About 165,000 women left the workforce just last month. 2.5 million have been out of work since the beginning of the pandemic.

This morning, Vice President Kamala Harris of the administration is working to try to empower women who are now left -- have been left with an impossible choice between their job and kids and are now left sitting on the sidelines.


KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: If you lift up the economic status of women, you lift up economic status of families and all of society benefits.

I'm focused on working with community banks to make sure that women entrepreneurs will have a vision that they are respected and they can go to a place that they receive dignity, that believes in their vision.


HARLOW: So let's talk about this and a lot with Neel Kashkari, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. It's great to have you, Neel.

And you've talked a lot about the disproportionate adverse impact on women in particular in this pandemic and the workplace. What is your level of concern right now and what is the potential impact of the economy if most of them don't get back to work?

NEEL KASHKARI, PRESIDENT, FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF MINNEAPOLIS: Well, Poppy, we have to find a way to bring them back to work. I mean, this is about our economic potential. It is certainly about fairness for those women and their families but it is also about our economic potential as a nation and our vibrancy.

And so right now, there are roughly 8 million to 10 million jobs lower than where we should have been had had the pandemic not been here. We know a lot of those are women. We know that child care issues, fears of the virus, there are a lot of issues that are keeping people on the sidelines and we have to bring them back in, again, for their sake but for all of our sakes.

HARLOW: And the impact on the economy will be what if we don't?

KASHKARI: Well, much lower economic potential. I mean, right now, there is a big debate happening in economic circles about is the economy overheating. With all of these fiscal stimulus, are these higher inflation readings here to stay or not? I don't think they are here to stay because I believe we're going to bring women back into the labor force and workers who have been displaced. But if we fail to do that, then these high inflation readings become a lot more concerning because then it would signals we're overheating the economy.

HARLOW: That's so interesting, a direct correlation in your mind between whether we get these women back to work or not and the inflation debate.

All right, so let's talk about inflation. I don't have to tell you what Larry Summers, former treasury secretary, thinks about inflation. His language is getting more colorful by the way. He thinks it's the wrong assessment from the White House that it is temporary or transitory. I think the latest thing he said is, quote, the sense of serenity and complacency being projected by the economic policymakers that this is all something that can easily be managed is misplaced.

My question to you is what if the White House has this wrong? No one wants the White House to be wrong. But what if they are? Are the consequences dire?

KASHKARI: No. If the White House wrong and if we're wrong, if I'm misreading the labor market and we are actually at full potential and these inflation readings are here to stay, the Federal Reserve has the tools to adjust interest rates, to keep inflation in check and to prevent it from spiraling out of control.

But let me tell you something. There was a lot of complacency in the ten years following the great financial crisis when millions of Americans were on the sidelines. So it took ten years to rebuild the labor market. And we cannot have another ten-year recovery.

So while I appreciate the fact that some people are really worried about inflation, they didn't seem that worried when millions of Americans were on the sidelines in the last recovery. HARLOW: Okay. All right, so part of this debate is the hiring shortage, and we've heard it from restaurant owner after restaurant owner. So many businesses can't find people to take the jobs they want to hire them for. You know, 23 states have now said, okay, we're cutting the federal boost to unemployment of $300 a week because we think that's an incentive for folks to stay home.

You have said there is some truth that the additional unemployment may be a disincentive. How much truth?

KASHKARI: We don't know for sure. It is very hard to disaggregate how much of it are the generous unemployment benefits, how much of it is because schools have been closed and not fully reopened and how much of it is people are still afraid.


You know, we spent a year telling people to socially distance, take precautions, protect themselves, and a lot of people are still nervous about that.

And so I'm optimistic that in three or four months, schools will be fully reopened. Hopefully, the virus will really have been crushed. And those unemployment benefits will expire. Those three factors we know are having some effect. Which one is the biggest? I'm not sure.

HARLOW: Okay. That will be studied after, it sounds like, you're saying. I'm sure it will be.

Question for you on parental leave, because this ties into a rebounding economy as well. People might not know this but you -- you're the father. We have a cute picture of you here with your newborn son and you have a little girl as well. You took paternity leave, a month off paid paternity leave for both kids. You actually missed some important fed meetings as a result of your son being born. But you were lucky, you got paid for this time, just like I got paid for the time I took with my two little kids.

You're a Republican there are some Republicans do not believe it should be federally funded, right, by the taxpayers to have mandated leave. This is the debate in the Biden administration in Congress right now. Having experienced the benefit of it through your employer, what do you think?

KASHKARI: Well, there is no question I benefited tremendously and I cherished that time being able to be there with my new children and there be with my wife, importantly, to help her. It's enormously important. I also recognize these things aren't free. You know if, the federal government imposes this on employers, does it end up raising the cost of wages, in a sense, the cost workers, and does that have some effect on the job market?

And so I think that Congress and the administration are absolutely right to look at it. I think these things are complicated. I'm in favor of more generous policies to support families but I also recognize we need to be honest about the analysis to make sure we understand what all the pros and cons are.

HARLOW: Right. Someone has got to pay for it. Who is it going to be is the ultimate question. Congrats on your little boy, Neel. Thanks so much.

KASHKARI: Thank you. Great to see you.


SCIUTTO: Well, top paid female athlete in the world has withdrawn from the French Open, saying she needs to protect her mental health, a very personal statement from her in public. Could that public struggle though change how the sports world deals with athletes and depression?



SCIUTTO: It's an announcement that rocked the tennis world. Tennis Star Naomi Osaka, highest paid athlete, female athlete in sports, withdrew from the French Open citing in a very public and revealing statement her own mental health.

HARLOW: That's right. Andy Scholes joins us now with more. Andy, good morning to you.

Obviously this brings up questions about her future in tennis, but most importantly is the mental health issue she is highlighting and bravely putting out there.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTA ANCHOR: Yes. And, Jim and Poppy, this is just a powerful stance from, as you mentioned, Jim the highest paid female athlete in the world. And this came down to Naomi Osaka saying that doing media sessions was not good for her mental health. And then you have the grand slam tournaments coming out and saying, well, you have to do it or you're not going to be able to play.

Now, Osaka won her opening match Sunday. She spoke on the court afterwards but not with the media. She was then hit with a $15,000 fine. And then the grand slam tournaments released a joint statement threatening further punishments, including disqualification. So, Osaka then decided to withdraw from the tournament.

And a lengthy social media post, the four-time grand slam champion further explained her position saying she's battled depression since winning the 2018 U.S. Open. She gets anxiety from public speaking. Now, Osaka added, when the time is right, I really want to work with the tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans.

Now, former pro turned-broadcaster Patrick McEnroe, he told, us tennis federations, they badly mishandled this.


PATRICK MCENROE, TENNIS BROADCASTER: I think Naomi's statement she released yesterday was a lot better. It was a lot clearer about what her issues are and are moving forward, how to put mental health at the forefront of a conversation, which we're now having, which is I think great news. But I thought that the statement from Roland Garros, from the French federation and the other three majors was totally misguided. I mean, the fact that they threatened her with disqualification right out of the gate and the first public statement was, to me, way over the top, and I think part of the reason that she ultimately withdrew.


SCHOLES: Yes. And the president of that French tennis federation, guys, he read a statement to the press about Osaka withdrawing, wishing her the best, but then did he not take questions from the media, which many found, you know, to be ironic since that is how this whole thing started.

SCIUTTO: Interesting. When a tournament like that loses arguably the biggest star, I mean, that is a big loss.

Okay, another phenomenon happening here in the U.S. and the NBA. So fifth time less than a week, you got fans just behaving badly, you know, in the NBA playoffs. And I wonder as I watch this, part of me looks at this and says, okay, fans are back in the stadiums first time in years. It's like letting the kids out of house, right? They're misbehaving. But is there a broader issue going on here that the athletes are concerned about?

SCHOLES: Well, they certainly don't want what has been happening to continue, Jim and Poppy. But, you know, we've had a season worth of incidents, it seems, like in a week now. We have, you know, fan throwing popcorn, fan throwing a water bottle, fan even spiting at a player. Now, last night, in the Wizards-76ers game, we had a fan running on to the court. And you can see the fan sprinting down the concourse and just going on to the court. He just ran over there and slapped the back board. He didn't really go towards any of the players. He was quickly tackled by security and removed.


The Wizards ownership group releasing a statement saying the fan is going to be banned from the arena, charges are being pursued with police. But players and coaches, they just want this nonsense to stop, but, Jim and Poppy, really no way to stop a fan from running down the concourse on to the court. So, you know, other than fans stop being knuckleheads, there is really no solution. They NBA can't put up nets or anything, so --

HARLOW: I have a solution, act like an adult. I mean, give me a break, Andy.

SCIUTTO: There was a street (INAUDIBLE) at a Nets game the other day too, by the way.

HARLOW: Really?

SCIUTTO: That is still happening, apparently.

HARLOW: Okay. Thank you, Andy, very much.

SCHOLES: All right, have a good one.

HARLOW: Thanks to all of you for joining us. We will see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. At This Hour with Kate Bolduan starts right after a short break.