Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

Trump's Legal Team Agrees To $200K Bond In Fulton County; NYT: Prosecutors Insisted On Harsher Hunter Biden Plea Deal As IRS Whistleblowers Came Forward; Millions Under Flood Warnings As Hilary Moves Across U.S.; Trump To Skip Debate, Giving GOP Rivals An Opportunity; Trump Dominates New Polls Ahead Of Wednesday's GOP Debate; California Store Owner Fatally Shot After Confrontation Over LGBTQ Flag; Any Moment: Biden Lands To Tour Fire-Ravaged Maui. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired August 21, 2023 - 16:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Our breaking news coverage of Donald Trump's legal team's bond agreement in Fulton County continues in just a moment.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts in just a few seconds. Thanks for being with us today.

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: President Trump's bond has just been set.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Former President Trump's attorneys just negotiated bond terms with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. All of the 19 defendants in this case, including the former president are expected to turn themselves into the Fulton County jail by the end of the week.

Also, Tropical Storm Hilary drenching California with a year's worth of rain in a single day. Twenty-five million people from southern California into Idaho are now under flood watches as the National Hurricane Center warns flooding could be life-threatening and catastrophic as this storm moves east.

Plus, a California store owner shot dead over a pride flag hanging outside her clothing store. The suspected gunman also dead. What authorities are now learning about the dispute.


HILL: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Erica Hill, in for Jake Tapper.

We do begin with breaking news this afternoon. You are looking at live pictures here of the Fulton County courthouse where Donald Trump's lawyers just finished meeting with the Fulton County D.A.'s office. At that meeting, Trump's lawyers agreed to a $200,000 bond as part of the former president's release conditions when he surrenders to face charges over his effort to overturn Georgia's 2020 election results. We are also learning details about the release conditions for at least

two of Trump's co-defendants, former Trump attorney John Eastman who's agreed to pay a $100,000 bond and former poll watcher Scott Hall who agreed to a $10,000 bond.

Trump is expected to turn himself in on either Thursday or Friday which, of course, will be just hours after the first Republican debate. Eight Republican hopefuls expected to share that stage Wednesday night, but overshadowing their appearance, the frontrunner who won't be there. Donald Trump is choosing to skip the big event, a decision he's made before, but it still is one that remains extremely rare in U.S. politics. Also rare? A candidate who's facing 91 criminal charges, a number of firsts in this 2024 cycle.

Let's begin our coverage this afternoon with CNN's Paula Reid who is in Fulton County, Georgia, in front of the courthouse there.

So, Paula, what more do we know about this agreement for Trump's release conditions?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, according to these conditions, in addition to that $200,000 bond, the former president is also prohibited from threatening anyone else in this case including co-defendants, witnesses or victims and that includes any sort of threat on social media. Even reposting is barred. That's notable, Erica, that's the first time we've seen it and it's significant especially because we've seen the former president use his social media accounts to go after judges, district attorneys, even to discuss the grand jury in this case.

Now, we know all of the defendants in this case, including former President Trump, have to turn themselves in by Friday of this week. But before you can surrender, you need to negotiate your bond agreement which is why the former president's legal team came down here to Fulton County to meet with the district attorney and try to hash out some of the details.

HILL: And to know, Paula, too, that in terms of these other co- defendants, there have been a couple of other agreements for these release conditions. What more do we know about those?

REID: That's right, Erica. At least four other of Trump's co- defendants have negotiated bond agreements here today.

Among them, conservative attorney John Eastman, he was the one who tried to design a plan whereby the former Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the election. He has agreed to $100,000 bond. He was really the first one -- the first bond agreement that we saw appear today.

Also, one of the most notable names among this list. Another co- defendant, Scott Hall, a bail bondsman himself, he has posted $10,000 bond. Now, both of them are prohibited from talking to any other defendants in this case. And lawyers for two other defendants were also spotted here in court today. So, as of now, at least four have negotiated their bond, plus the former president. So, five down, Erica, 14 more to go.

HILL: All right. Paula Reid, appreciate it. Thank you.

Also with us, CNN senior legal analyst, Elie Honig.

So, Elie, as we look at this, what do you make of what we see here in this bond agreement? The former president agreeing to this $200,000 bond. The conditions also very interesting.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Erica, a burst of normalcy in a case that is anything but normal. But this is the way you would absolutely expect it to go. Both parties have incentive here to reach an agreement because Fani Willis now gets to set the stage for their surrender.


Donald Trump and the other co-defendants take away the risk that they will not reach an agreement and then be arrested and potentially locked up.

So, now that Donald Trump and these other four defendants have an agreement, that sets the stage for them to surrender. And as Paula said, they have until Friday. But once the agreement is in place, then we can move along with the processing part of this.

HILL: So you know once it is in place. Could you see it happening sooner? Is everybody on Thursday now or perhaps?

HONIG: Sure, so they have the ability to surrender at anytime between now and Friday at noon. Important to keep in mind, this jail facility is open 24/7. So at this point, I think it is just a matter of scheduling logistics and convenience. I'm not sure that I see tactical play either way here in whether one surrenders on Tuesday, or Thursday, or Friday morning.

HILL: So, I was struck by, we saw this in John Eastman's bond agreement, right, that the defendant can't communicate directly or indirectly about these terms with other codefendants or communicate with potential witnesses. What was interesting, though, and what we're seeing from Donald Trump, as Paula pointed out, that there is also conditions in here that include but not limited to posts on social media or reposts of posts made by another individual on social media in terms of intimidating people related to this case.

Were you surprised by that?

HONIG: I think it's smart by the D.A. and by really Trump's team to agree to this. Because whenever you set the kind of condition that we're talking about here, you are not to speak to any witness, you are not to say anything threatening, there is always wiggle room there, right? There's some room for interpretation. So if I'm in the D.A.'s shoes here, I want to be as explicit as possible.

We know what Donald Trump does. He does this over and over again. He tweets or Truth Socials out things in coded language and sometimes he does in fact tend to repost things that others have posted and then try to distance them.

So I think it is a smart move to call out that tactic in advance and say that is something that we know you do and we're not going to tolerate.

HILL: It's going to be interesting to see what happens moving forward as we talk about this surrender. So, now that there is this agreement, there has been a lot of discussion about the possibility of Donald Trump being finger printed, having his mug shot taken. What that could mean. What do you think will happen here?

HONIG: Well, it's an interesting sort of conundrum here for the D.A. because on the one hand, I think that you want to send the message that everyone will be treated equal and I think these bond agreements we're hearing about now are consistent with that. This is what happens in every case and why should there be exceptions.

On the other hand the other three cases against Donald Trump, the decisions have been made by various law enforcement and prosecutorial decision-makers that we don't need to have a mug shot. Mug shots are really only in case someone flees or needs to be identified by the public. I don't think either of those things would be an issue for Donald Trump.

And If I'm in Donald Trump attorney's shoes here, I'm not sure where I would come out on this. On the one hand, it's humiliating, let's just be honest, to have a mug shot taken. But on the other hand, who knows whether he will use it for political advantage or potentially to further inflame the jury pool, things that you don't want to do when you try to keep the temperature as low as possible.

HILL: So you talk about if you're his attorneys, what would you think about that in terms of whether they may politicize it? But what if you are the district attorney here? What if you're -- what if you're in that jail? How do you weigh that political element?

HONIG: Yeah, I think if you're the D.A., you have to be aware of the fact that everyone is watching every move here and that ultimately you're going to be picking your jury from this population.

But I do think there's a powerful point to be made of no exceptions. Obviously, we're not going to do anything that compromises the Secret Service's need to protect this person. We're not going to insist on handcuffing him, for example. I -- we've heard from our Secret Service experts that that would not be acceptable. I wouldn't challenge that.

But something like a mug shot if I felt strongly enough about sending the message that everyone is treated equal here, then I might well go ahead with it.

HILL: So we'll be watching for that. Meantime, I was struck by this piece written by retired conservative judge, J. Michael Luttig, and Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe. So, they make the case in a piece in "The Atlantic" that the Constitution prohibits Trump from ever being president again. So, they write all officials who ever swore to support the Constitution and who there after either engage in the insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution or give aid or comfort to the enemies of that Constitution, are automatically disqualified from holding future office and must therefore be barred from election to any office.

You know, you and I were talking, full disclosure, we're talking earlier today, and you say this argument is flawed. Why do you think there's a flaw there?

HONIG: Yeah. Well, Erica, this is based on the 14th Amendment. These are two brilliant scholars. They are correct that 14th Amendment right bars someone who's participated in insurrection or rebellion from holding future office. The problem is the 14th Amendment tells us nothing about how that decision gets made, nor does any case law or statute that's been passed.

Does Congress decide? Is it Senate? Is it House? Is it majority? Is it two-thirds? Is it a court? Is it a jury? Is it a judge, et cetera?

And what they propose in the article is they say, well, it's self- executing, which that does not do it for me. What they are proposing essentially is that every state, local, county official who handles ballots will just decide on their own whether he is disqualified or not. That would lead to wild inconsistency and chaos and I don't think that's a viable, practical solution here.


HILL: All right. Elie, stay with me because we also have new details that we're learning today about the investigation into Hunter Biden.

"The New York Times" reporting earlier this year, special counsel David Weiss appeared willing to end the probe into Hunter Biden. Remember, this is before he became the special counsel and would have concluded the investigation with no charges. But as two IRS whistleblowers came forward, "The New York Times" reports, Weiss appeared to change his mind.

CNN reporter Marshall Cohen joining me now.

So, Marshall, this is quite the time line here. And what does it tell us not only that time line, but what does it tell us in terms of why David Weiss may have changed his mind at different points here?

MARSHALL COHEN, CNN REPORTER: Yeah, Erica, new insights over the weekend from "The New York Times" about that internal deliberation and the haggling between the Justice Department and Hunter Biden's legal team and all the politics that's hanging over every single decision in this case.

So, "The New York Times" reported that there was a moment earlier this year when some prosecutors on Weiss's team were ready to move forward with a deal that would have no criminal charges for the president's son. They investigated potential illegal lobbying, money laundering, tax evasion and gun possession charge but at a certain point this year, they were ready to end the investigation with no criminal charges. However, things at a certain point changed. And what "The Times"

report is highlighting is the fact that that was when IRS whistleblowers decided to emerge and go public with their accusations that the DOJ was treating Hunter Biden with kid gloves, going soft on the president's son possibly because of political considerations. And it was around that time, Erica, when according to this report prosecutors decided to drive a harder bargain and insist that Hunter Biden plead guilty to something.

Eventually, the arrangement was for him to plead guilty to two federal tax misdemeanors. That's what they took to a judge last month as their plan to resolve the case. But, of course, as you know, that collapsed in front of the judge when she scrutinized it and, Erica, there is still no deal.

HILL: Yeah, collapsing in rather dramatic fashion.

So in terms of where we stand today, could there ultimately be more severe charges brought against Hunter Biden?

COHEN: There could. That is up to the prosecutors to decide how they want to move the case forward. They have alluded to their ability to bring charges in other jurisdictions like Washington, D.C., and California.

And David Weiss is now a special counsel. He has the power to bring charges anywhere he wants for the crimes that he thinks are appropriate and those IRS whistleblowers, they are on record saying that they recommended felonies. So, we'll see where it goes.

HILL: Yeah. Absolutely. Marshall, appreciate it. Thank you.

Elie, glad you stuck around here.

So when we look at this, this evolution. It's really quite an evolution and a fairly short period of time, according to "The New York Times". I now you've noted on multiple occasions just how long this investigation had dragged on. Have you ever seen a federal case play out like this before?

HONIG: No, Erica, it's really inexplicable to me. I mean, first, we had basically five years of behind the scenes investigation with no transparency, no action, and some questions being asked, what's taken so long?

But in the last couple months, we've seen a pattern here. Marshall just laid it out. We've now seen it play out two or three separate times. DOJ moves toward a very lenient disposition, they are just about to lock in that lenient disposition, and then there is arises pressure either through whistleblower testimony or public scrutiny and then the DOJ backs off saying now that it is called off, we'll try to up it a bit. And that happened again.

And then they got all the way to appointing special counsel -- the same guy who's been presiding over the case for five-plus years already. So I genuinely am perplexed by what DOJ is doing here. I think that they have made a real mess for themselves and now, they're going to have to deal with the consequences of it.

HILL: So in terms of the mess and consequences, look, public trust is certainly one of them. Is there anything that you see that DOJ can do based on your experience, right, as a former federal prosecutor, to restore public confidence in this investigation? Is the only way to fix this a trial?

HONIG: It may be, Erica. You know, DOJ sort has been in a darned if they do, darned if they don't posture on this from the start. But they have made it way worse by sort of careening back and forth here. It may well be that any deal is never going to be accepted as fair.

So if I'm in David Weiss' shoes here, heaven help me, I will just say, look, we're charging everything we have. We're not in position to make a deal. It will go to trial, and we'll let a jury decide this. I think that's the only way to restore any credibility to this matter.

HILL: Elie, appreciate it as always, my friend. Thank you.

HONIG: Thanks.

HILL: After slamming into California, Tropical Storm Hilary is now pushing east heading to Nevada as the state's first ever tropical storm.

And as President Trump prepares to turn himself in at the Fulton County jail, his GOP rivals are preparing for the first Republican debate.


Why the former president says that he is skipping out Wednesday night.

(AUDIO GAP) court house in Atlanta, Georgia, a busy afternoon. We'll keep you posted on the latest developments.


HILL: Live pictures here of the Fulton County courthouse in Atlanta where President Trump's lawyers just negotiated a $200,000 bond for him. The former president is expected to turn himself into the Fulton County jail later this week.

Some really stunning video out of Mexico illustrates, as you see here, just the impact of Hurricane Hilary turning streets in to rushing rivers causing severe flooding, at least one death. Look at the power of that water there. Farther north, remnants of the storm are now moving through California and Nevada. Schools closed, flights canceled, evacuation orders in place in some areas.

And there is a chance here too that this storm could still break rainfall records even causing landslides as it moves east.

CNN's Kyung Lah is on the ground in California for us.

The storm knocking out 911 service in some areas, stranding folks in their homes.



KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a year witnessing climate extremes, this time, the chapter unfolds in southern California. Some records collapse across the entire region from rainfall to mudslides. This one sent San Bernardino firefighters running as a wall of debris rushed right towards them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mother Nature clearly put her mark on you also over the last 48 hours.

LAH: And Hilary made landfall as a tropical storm in Mexico early Sunday, slamming into the Baja peninsula. California braced for impact, the first tropical storm to arrive in 84 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not built for this kind of rainfall. That's my main concern.

LAH: In one day, San Diego got ten times more rain than what it typically sees all summer. In Palm Springs area, a year's worth of area in one day gave way to mud, trapping residents. And across the region, roads began to buckle.

And then southern California struggled from an historic storm from above, the ground shook, a 5.1 earthquake struck. Epicenter, Ojai, an hour north of Los Angeles.

CAPT. BRIAN MCGRATH, VENTURA COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: Definitely opened our eyes to anything can happen at anytime.


LAH (on camera): And flooding is still a problem here as the storm moves past southern California. Even though this looks like this might be a canal or a river, take a look, this is an actual roadway. You can see 15-foot clearance and about half of this road is under water and this is after it receded about six or seven feet good what from what I can tell.

So this is coming to Nevada, that is currently where the storm is. Hilary drenching sections of Nevada, parts of Nevada getting almost 9 inches of rain, that is double the record that was set in the early 1900s, Erica. It is still raining in that state.

HILL: Still raining, and these are all the records of course that no one ever wants to break.

Kyung, appreciate it. Thank you.

Just ahead here, what the latest polls in Iowa show with just five months to go before the caucuses.


HILL: Live pictures here for you from the Fulton County courthouse in Atlanta, Georgia, where Trump's attorneys have agreed to a $200,000 bond for the former president. We're also learning that at least six other co-defendants have negotiated the terms for their surrender. Among them, Kenneth Chesebro, the alleged architect of the fake electors plot. His team agreed to a $100,000 bond package -- bail package. So we'll keep you posted on all of those agreements.

When it comes to the former president, he may not have a physical presence at the first 2024 debate later this week, but there is no doubt he remains a dominant force in this race. He is still the leader in poll after poll.

In Iowa alone, take a look at this, Trump stands at 42 percent which is more than double his closest competitor, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

So how do any of those Republicans compete with numbers like that?

CNN's Kristen Holmes has a look now at how the GOP candidates are hoping to at least try.


MIKE PENCE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you all for being --

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Top presidential hopefuls are gearing up for the first debate Wednesday in Milwaukee without GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

PENCE: I'm just going to be me. I feel like I've been preparing for this first Republican presidential debate my whole life.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You got to be ready for anything. People have already said, you know, I'm going to be the guy that's taking most of the incoming.

HOLMES: Looking to seize the spotlight and make their case for why they should be the party's nominee.

NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Once this debate happens this week, it's off to the races. That's when you're going to start to see people really focusing in on different candidates, look at what their options are. We feel really good going into the debate.

HOLMES: The former president announced Sunday he would skip the first debate and possibly others, citing his advantage in primary polls.



TRUMP: Maybe we'll do something else. HOLMES: Trump's decision not to attend comes as a new Iowa poll shows

the former president with a commanding lead in the critical early nominating state. Forty-two percent of likely Republican caucusgoers say Trump is their first choice, more than doubling the support of his nearest rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

While no other hopeful reached double digit support, a majority of those polled said they could be persuaded to back someone other than their first choice candidate. And for those contenders who will be on the debate stage, that's the opening they are hoping to capitalize on.

GOV. DOUG BURGUM (R-ND), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're excited to be on the debate stage, the least known candidate on there.

HOLMES: So far, eight candidates have qualified for the debate, and signed a loyalty pledge vowing to support the party's eventual nominee, a step Trump has refused.

The former president's rivals calling out his decision to skip the event.

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's a coward. There's no other conclusion to come to, he is afraid of me and he's of a trade of defending his records. And if I had his record, I'd be nervous about showing up, too.

HOLMES: In Trump's absence, DeSantis is set to be the leading candidate on stage. His campaign certainly a memo to supporters and donors saying the Florida governor is prepared, quote, to be the center of attacks.

Over the weekend, DeSantis sparking backlash from Trump's backers after these comments.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A movement can't be about the personality of one individual. If all we are is listless vessels that you are supposed to follow, you know, whatever happens that come down the pike on Truth Social every morning, that's not going to be a durable.


HOLMES (on camera): Now, DeSantis' campaign did clarify later that DeSantis was referring to Trump's allies in Washington, not Trump's supporters. But again, that did receive a lot of backlash.

And I do want to note, Erica, I just learned from sources familiar with the matter, we had reported that Trump counter programming to the debate was going to sit down with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. I have learned from these sources that that was a pre-recorded interview. It will be released on Wednesday.

Unclear where it's going to be published. Obviously, we know Carlson has been posting a lot of interviews to X, formerly known as Twitter, but a lot of anticipation for that as well, one of the many things his team will be doing to counter program that debate.

HILL: Yeah, it is fascinating. Kristen, appreciate it as always. Thank you.

Let's bring in our panel now, as we dig a little bit deeper here.

So, Joe, if Donald Trump stands by his word here and does not show up on Wednesday night, what do you think the chances are that he will not dominate in absentia, that we could have a substantive, perhaps policy-based debate between these candidates?

JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, look, I think it is actually quite good. There is the old saying how do you devour a whale, one bite at a time. And so, if you look at those numbers where people trailing president Trump precipitously, the person with the largest chunk of the pie remains Ron DeSantis. So I think that you can expect people like Nikki Haley, people like Tim Scott trying to figure out how they get their seven pounds of flesh.

I think also, you've already seen preemptively Nikki Haley with that release after those comments made by Vivek as related to Israel. So, it's a good opportunity for the candidates to differentiates themselves but it's also a good opportunity I think for them those looking to climb that ladder to state their claim to fame and the best alternative.

HILL: So as they look to state their claims, Paul, how effective can that be if in fact the guy they are trying to stake a claim against isn't there?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, it's -- he's going to dominate, Mr. Trump is, even though he's not there. I think that every single Republican on that stage has to answer one question. Why you and not Trump, right?

So, it's not enough to say here's my idea on taxes or education or crime. They have to say I'm better than Trump on taxes, I'm better than Trump on education, I'm better than Trump on crime.

Because the party -- keep in mind the Republican Party doesn't even have a platform. They don't even pretend to be about ideas anymore. When I was a kid, it was Ronald Reagan's party and it was low taxes and less government, and national defense, and Christian family values. They had a platform.

This is now a cult of personality and his personality is going to dominate even if his physical presence is not there.

HILL: Which is fascinating because Joe, you mentioned Nikki Haley's comments. For folks who aren't familiar with that, Nikki Haley went after Vivek Ramaswamy last week who said that he would cut back on aid to Israel after $30 billion aid package expires in 2028.

So, Haley, of course, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. said that he was completely wrong, she posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, supporting Israel is both the morally right and strategically smart thing do, going on to say it's a part of a pattern with Vivek, his foreign policies have a common theme, they make America less safe.

Who do you think, Joe, has the most to gain here if we do really get into a policy debate?

PINION: Well, look, I think obviously I love Paul and I'd have to respectfully disagree. I think there are present of ideas alive and well within the Republican Party but they just don't get a lot of oxygen when you talk about President Trump who does have the unique ability to suck the oxygen out of the room.

As it relates to Vivek and, obviously, former Ambassador Nikki Haley, certainly, there are going to be plenty of Republicans on that stage and across the country who were appalled by those comments, to somehow say that you don't recognize that we have a Chinese communist party giving $400 billion to the ayatollah and they're not going to stop if America walks away, a Chinese communist party filling the vessel in Afghanistan is not going to stop if America walks away.

So, yes, there is certainly a deep fundamental questions need to be asked of these candidates as we get to the point where we have to figure out are these ideas simply a headline wide and a inch deep when we're looking down the barrel of a potential Third World War, when we have the first war of expansion in Europe since World War II as it relates to Ukraine and all the other myriad issues facing America including the fentanyl streaming across our southern border killing over 70,000 Americans each and every year.

HILL: Drilling down, getting details. Imagine that, Joe. I'm in. I would like to see some of that.

You know, Paul, you mentioned the cult -- the cult of personality, right? The Republican Party becoming a cult of personality in many ways.

I was struck by this. A CBS/YouGov poll which found 71 percent of Trump voters say they feel like what Trump tells them is true.


That is higher than what they hear from their friends and family as you can see there, higher than conservative media figures, higher than their religious leaders. How do you think this non-Trump candidates can get around numbers like that, Paul?

BEGALA: It's so hard. That's a great point, Erica. For me, it's sort of a heartbreaking number to look at because --

HILL: Yeah.

BEGALA: -- Glenn Kessler, the fact checker of "The Washington Post" counted just during Trump's presidency, 30,573 separate lies. Thirty -- if this guy is the -- he's the monarch of mendacity, you know, he's the prince of prevarication, he's the lord of lies, he's the pharaoh of falsehoods, and yet, they -- those who follow him believe him more than their religious leaders or their own family members. I think that's heartbreaking. I think what he's accomplished is Orwellian. He's redefining truth in

the eyes of his followers. Not as fidelity to fact but as saying things that are politically incorrect that you can't say because you'd get in trouble if you say that it worked. And that has real power and it will be very difficult for any of those folks to pierce it.

I think only way is to courageously speak the truth. You've seen Mike Pence who is 6 percent in the polls but I give him a ton of credit because he stands up courageously and says the truth is the Constitution did not give me that power to pick the president. It gives that power to the American people. And I think at least that kind of fidelity to the constitution is pretty admirable.

HILL: As we watch, I do want to quickly get your take on, Paul, this went to you, first, the Biden campaign out with its $25 million ad blitz touting not surprising the economy and targeting, also not surprising, at least seven battleground states. You see them there on the screen. They should be familiar to all of us -- Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin. They will be on during NFL games, on streaming services.

Paul, what strikes me, though, is 51 percent of Americans feel the economy is actually getting worse. There has already been this Bidenomics blitz. How does a new ad buy going to counter that?

BEGALA: You know, first, the targeting is right. They are also very, very heavy in Black and Hispanic communities. And I gave them huge props for that.

Having said that, the message is only half a message for what you are pointing out, right? They seem to want to win an argument not an election. The economy is better than you think it is. Really, really, really, we did a lot of good stuff.

If they want to get credit for that, they need to interject the threat. I just said Republicans have to say why me and not Trump? Joe Biden needs to say I did these things for the economy and Trump will repeal them, he will take away from you lower insulin price, lower health insurance prices, all the jobs I created.

They don't have that element of threat, and they have to have that to have a successful political message.

HILL: Paul Begala, Joe Pinion, always good to see you both. Thank you.

BEGALA: Joe, great to see you, buddy.

PINION: Always great to see you and beware of those half million Americans who are hiding their car from the repo man because of Bidenomics. So, again, as I say --

HILL: I'll pick that one up next time, Joe. Thank you, guys.

BEGALA: I appreciate it.

HILL: Just ahead on a much more serious note, a California store owner shot dead after a dispute over her display of a Pride flag. What authorities are now learning about this deadly confrontation, -- that's next.



HILL: Family and friends are in shock after the owner of a California clothing store was shot and killed by a man who confronted her about the LGBTQ Pride flag displayed at her store in Cedar Glen. It's near Lake Arrowhead.

CNN's Josh Campbell is outside the San Bernardino County's sheriff department.

So, Josh, it turns out this is not the first confrontation the store owner had with someone over her flags?

JOSH CAMBPELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Eric. We now live in an era where something as simple as displaying a pride flag could put someone in danger.

Our colleagues at "The New York Times" reporting that each time in the past that lawyer Carlton's flag would be torn down, she would simply put up a larger flag. But this encounter Friday afternoon around 5:00 p.m. that turned deadly. Authorities say a suspect went to her clothing store, engaged in some kind of altercation. They were called to report of shots fired. They found her there suffering from a gun shot wound. She later pronounced deceased.

Now, authorities gave chase to the suspect. They found him suspect about a mile down the road, the suspect brandishing a firearm. He was killed in an encounter with law enforcement. The investigation into him remains at this hour.

But obviously this incident shocking members of the LGBTQ community, certainly people around the country, sheriff's department, I'll read you part of their statement, they say through further investigation into this incident, detectives learned the suspect made several disparaging remarks about a rainbow flag that stood outside the store before shooting Carleton.

The suspect now dead, but that investigation continues into that motive. This just the latest incident of anti-LGBT hate that ended in violence here in the United States, Erica.

HILL: Yeah. In terms of that hate, you mentioned the investigation is ongoing, is it actually being investigated as a hate crime?

CAMPBELL: Authorities aren't saying much now other than the investigation is ongoing. I was talking to law enforcement, and it is not clear at this hour whether they have even identified that suspect. We know in past incidents where a suspect commits a deadly crime, sometimes they don't bring identification with them. So authorities are still very much looking into this individual, because he's dead, they obviously can't get a statement, but they are trying to identify him and determine whether there were past incidents here.

But certainly, members of the LGBTQ community, their allies, are in shock. They are demanding answers. We just got a statement in from the organization GLADD, they say today is a very sad day. Laura did not identify as LGBTQ+ but spent her time helping and advocating for everyone in the community. Certainly a tragedy, Erica.

HILL: Yeah. It certainly is and so disturbing on a number of levels.

Josh, appreciate the reporting. Thank you.

CAMPBELL: You bet.


HILL: Well, any minute now, President Biden is expected to arrive in Hawaii where more than 800 people remain missing after those deadly wildfires. And now, fears are growing among Maui locals over a water conflict.


HILL: Well, in a matter of moments, Air Force One is expected to touch down in Hawaii. Present Biden will, of course, survey the utter destruction left behind by the deadly wildfires. This as the mayor of Maui says 850 people are still believed to be missing. Teams on the ground are working as quickly as they can to identify the remains that have been found.


CNN's Bill Weir is in Maui.

So, Bill, you know, there was some initial criticism and criticism over the last few days about that initial response. What is the feeling -- what are you hearing from people there ahead of the president's arrival?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: It's really a mix. You get people who don't want him to come, they are frustrated by the federal response early on. There are others who are very grateful to have the federal support.

I just met -- saw -- witnessed the most amazing couple here, Matt and Shawnee Schweitzer (ph). Take a look at this, they just set up crosses along the Lahaina bypass because they wanted the president to get some sense of the loss. They only had time to put up 53 crosses and they are coming back later with the rest of the 114 in them. And they pan to tie 850 yellow ribbons in a visible place to really drive home the enormity of this loss.

HILL: That number is something. When I saw that this morning, it really struck me.

I know you have been speaking to so many folks there too who as they look forward to this rebuilding, what that can mean. There is a lot of genuine concern about history repeating itself there as they try to rebuild.

WEIR: Yes, absolutely. I mean, the average tourist to come to this beautiful place may not know the uncomfortable history of this place in relation to federal authority, but it really help set the context for what they're going through right now.

Here's a look.


WEIR (voice-over): Just the missing souls on the worried minds of Hawaiians or how and when they will rebuild. There are also deep fears over the water that flows from the mountains to the sea and aquifers and keeps Maui alive.

GOV. JOSH GREEN (D), HAWAII: There has been a great deal of water conflict on Maui for many years. It's important that we are honest about this. People have been fighting against the release of water to fight fires. I will leave that to you to explore.

WEIR: Okay. Let's do it and let's start with the American and European plantation owners. They arrived in the mid-1800s to get rich growing sugar and over the generations, diverted water from countless farms like this.

HOKUAO PELLEGRINO, PRESIDENT, HUI O NA WAI EHA: These stonewalls are built by our ancestors 500 years ago.

WEIR: Wow. Really?

PELLEGRINO: Yeah. But people like our family and other Hawaiians all throughout Hawaii saw where there plantation was in the water disappeared overnight. The water disappeared.

WEIR: Like turning off a tap.

PELLEGRINO: Yeah. Which is like our family and like many other families in Lahaina and elsewhere, they were forced to leave their ancestral land.

WEIR: And maybe work for the same plantation owner who took your water, right?


WEIR: But even after the U.S. apologized in '93 for the overthrow of the kingdom of Hawaii and even as once lush landscapes turned flammable, it wasn't until farmers like Hokuao Pellegrino fought in court for over a decade that water rights were returned.

PELLEGRINO: Even in our oceans, you know, because freshwater feeds the fisheries and grows the seaweed for the small fryer and for our turtles and other imported fishes. That's all coming back now that the waters are flowing into the ocean.

WEIR: But then came the fire and in written complaints from the powerful West Maui Land Company insinuating that firefighting efforts were hampered because a single Hawaiian farmer couldn't be reached for permission to diverge extra water.

PELLEGRINO: In this particular case, it wouldn't have made any difference. You have to understand that the West Maui Land Company Launiupoko Irrigation Company system is not tied whatsoever to the Maui Fire Department hydrant system. Helicopters weren't able to fly anyway at that point. So, you know, to even insinuate that that could have made any difference is just a complete farce.

WEIR: But with the emergency declaration, Governor Green has rolled back the water designation and told "The New York Times" that we tipped too far towards water rights for nature and natives.

KEKAI KEAHI, COMMUNITY ORGANIZER: Seventy-five percent of the water resource in Lahaina is controlled by private entities. Only 25 percent is controlled by the county government.

WEIR: It's one big reason Lahaina community leaders gather the media on Friday to call out the governor.

KEAHI: My hope is that the community has an input to build back how we see fit for our community. My fear that the community will be gone and is going to be replaced multimillion dollar homes because we get -- we have realtors who are already coming.

PELLEGRINO: It's just like colonization repeating itself all over again in just a different format, you know? It's disaster capitalism at its finest. You are throwing spears to the people of Lahaina when they are already down.

WEIR: The very first Hawaiians crossed oceans with sacred callow plans in their canoes and Pellegrino is now using descendents of those plants to make point for President Joe Biden's welcome lunch.


But he says this kind of aloha can only last if there is enough water for every living thing. The West Maui Land Company did not return a call for comment.


WEIR (on camera): The president is expected to be on the ground here in Lahaina within the hour. Land and water will be constant themes we'll be hearing all day -- Erica.

HILL: Yeah, and questions that need to be answered for that next step.

Bill, great as always. Really appreciate it. Thank you.

We will have more on President Biden's visit to Hawaii coming up next in "THE SITUATION ROOM".


HILL: You may want to think twice before handing your child a phone or tablet.

A new study published in by the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics found that one-year-old who have wanted four hours of screen time a day could have developmental delays in communication and problem-solving by the age of two. Wow.

Remember when kids weren't supposed to watch TV before two?

"THE SITUATION ROOM" starts right now.