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Seattle PD Officer Recorded Laughing After Woman Killed; UAW Strike Deadline Hours Away Amid "Challenging" Negotiations; McCarthy Meets With House GOP To Plot Impeachment Inquiry; Biden: "They Want To Impeach Me Because They Want To Shut Down The Government"; Sen. Mitt Romney Announces He Will Not Seek Reelection; Tech Leaders Endorse Regulating AI At Rare Summit In DC; Soon: Televised Pre-Trial Hearing In GA Election Subversion Case. Aired 9-9:30a ET
Aired September 14, 2023 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: In 15 hours, thousands of auto workers could walk off the job if the deal is not reached with three of the country's largest automakers. It would be the first time this has happened. And it's not just their problem how this deal could cost the United States economy billions of dollars.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy meeting with Republican lawmakers to plot the next steps of the impeachment inquiry into President Biden. The President with his first public comments on the new phase of the investigation.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But she is dead. Yes, just write a check. Just -- yes, $11,000. She was 26 anyway. She had limited value.
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SIDNER: Awful. A Seattle police officer caught on body camera laughing and joking about the death of a woman who was hidden, killed by a police car while crossing the street. Kate is on assignment today.
I'm Sara Sidner with John Berman. This is CNN News Central.
All right, midnight tonight, that is the deadline for the Big Three Detroit automakers and the United Auto Workers union to hammer out a new contract deal and avert a strike that could cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars. If they cannot reach agreement, this would be the first ever simultaneous strike of the Big Three legacy automakers, Ford, GM, and Stellantis.
The UAW president says the strike will be limited and targeted at first, but then would expand over time. Negotiations will continue until the deadline, but so far they have not gone very well. Pay hikes, job security, pensions and retiree healthcare coverage are all on the table. Dozens of business groups like the Chamber of Commerce are urging the White House to help avoid a walkout.
CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich is following all of this from Detroit Motor City. Vanessa, what is at stake? We know it could impact the economy, but it could also have a huge impact on thousands of workers.
VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, this would be historic if the union decides to strike all three automakers at the same time. And UAW President Shawn Fain already laying out his strike plans, a unique strike plan, a targeted strike which would allow for the national union to call on select unions to strike at certain times, certain days, and certain places.
The goal on their behalf is to confuse the company and to try to make it harder for them to know where these strikes are happening. It's also important to note that there will be workers still remaining at these plants while some will be on strike. The union also likely knows that just two plant shutdowns at every automaker is essentially like a total shutdown because you're taking one plant out of the supply chain link.
Also, they likely know that supply amongst the three automakers is much lower than it was in 2019. I want you to listen to first Shawn Fain, who talks about the state of negotiations. And then Jim Farley, the CEO of Ford, who last night expressed disappointment and frustration with where they're at.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHAWN FAIN, PRESIDENT, UNITED AUTO WORKERS: We're still very far apart on our key priorities, from job security to ending tiers, from cost of living allowance to wage increases. We do not yet have offers on the table that reflect the sacrifice and contributions our members have made to these companies. To win, we're likely going to have to take action.
JIM FARLEY, CEO, FORM MOTOR COMPANY: On August 29, we made our first offer almost two weeks ago to the UAW. We've made three offers since then, and we've had no genuine counteroffer on any of those.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YURKEVICH: Jim Farley said that he and chairman of Ford, Bill Ford, walked over the latest offer to the UAW on Tuesday and expected to deliver that to UAW President Swan Fain but he was not there. This was a historic offer from Ford, a 20 percent wage increase over four years. Stellantis has offered 17.5 percent, GM 18 percent. But it's not close to the 40 percent that the union has been asking for since the beginning.
And Sara, as you know, these negotiations can ramp up and slow down in a matter of moments, and these deals could come together at the last minute.
However, the strike plan that has been laid out is a signal that the UAW is not taking anything below what they're looking for. This really could come down to the wire. Will the latest offers today be enough, and will it be in time? Sara?
SIDNER: The question is, will there be a historic strike, something we have never seen the likes of before, with all three of them potentially going on strike?
Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you so much. Appreciate it. John?
BERMAN: All right, Sara.
This morning, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is meeting behind closed doors for Republicans to plot the details of the impeachment inquiry into President Biden. Now, there are some members who are simply not convinced that there is enough evidence. This says President Biden is making his first comments on this probe.
CNN's Arlette Saenz is at the White House with the very latest. What is the President saying, Arlette?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, when President Biden was in front of reporters yesterday, he declined to answer any questions relating to the impeachment inquiry. But it was when he was off camera at a private fundraiser last night, a venue that he typically tends to be a bit more candid on, that he offered his first thoughts on this impeachment.
The President decided to draw this link between the Republicans' efforts and a government shutdown at the end of the month, something that McCarthy has been grappling with within his conference as there are deep divisions over how to handle.
The President said in that fundraiser, quote, "Well, I'll tell you what. I don't know quite why, but they just knew they wanted to impeach me. And now, the best I can tell, they want to impeach me because they want to shut down the government". He added, "I get up every day, not a joke, not focus on impeachment. I've got a job to do".
Part of that job, President Biden a bit later today, will be delivering a speech as he's trying to draw further contrast with Republicans on economic issues. But it comes as behind the scenes and publicly, his advisers here at the White House have really been crafting this aggressive strategy to push back against the impeachment inquiry.
Much of what they're trying to do is avoid having anything sink into the public psyche about the President, as Republicans continue to insist that there was some type of connection or wrongdoing in the President's son's business dealing -- or in the President's son business dealings.
But what the White House has repeatedly stressed is that there is no evidence that these House committees have been able to turn up that there was any wrongdoing. And that is part of the messaging strategy that they will be employing going forward. They've been crafting a plan for this, really focusing on a possible impeachment inquiry since July, when McCarthy first floated the idea that this is the route they might be going down.
They've assembled about two dozen lawyers, communication aides, legislative staff to craft their response. There's also the campaign who started to fundraise off of this yesterday, but it's been made clear by Republicans this is something they hope that will extend into the 2024 election. But the White House is planning this aggressive pushback as Republicans make these moves.
BERMAN: And we are beginning to hear it.
All right, Arlette Saenz, thank you very much. Sara?
SIDNER: All right. With us now, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Senator from South Dakota Mike Rounds.
Good morning to you, gentlemen. I know that you were in this closed door AI meeting that we will get to in just a moment, but I do want to start with what we've been hearing from the White House. The President pushing back on this idea of an impeachment inquiry.
First to you, Senator Rounds, do you think the Republican-led House impeachment inquiry into the President is a good use of legislators' time and taxpayers' money? I mean, is this good for the American people?
SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: I'm going to let the House do their thing. We're busy in the Senate. We've got policy issues here that we're working our way through. We've got the NDAA off and going. We've got three appropriation bills on the floor of the Senate right now. We're working in a bipartisan fashion.
I understand the House has got a different flavor. I think Speaker McCarthy is doing everything he can to get a number of things across the board. I'll let him do the tactics that he believes are necessary in order to get the job done.
SIDNER: All right. Now to you, Senator Schumer. Our latest poll does show the American public is a bit skeptical that Biden himself was uninvolved in Hunter's business dealings. You look at those numbers there where 61 percent of the population thinks that there's possibility that he was involved. Does this hurt Biden's chances in 2024? Are you worried about this polling?
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MAJORITY LEADER: No, I'm not. I think that -- and you know, Mike and I may disagree on this, but we're -- we always try. The Senate is really. I just want to underscore what Mike said. In the Senate, we're working in a bipartisan way. We passed twelve appropriations bills, I think a bunch of them, unanimously, because we're working together. And I hope the House follows suit.
In my view, the Biden record is a strong one. All the things we did last summer, six of the seven in a bipartisan way. What we're trying to get done now in getting the appropriations bills passed and helping out in Ukraine and with disaster relief and things like that. So I think that record will shine through.
SIDNER: All right. Senator Rounds, I want to ask you about some news that was made by one of the very well-known Republicans, Mitt Romney, announcing he is not running for reelection, and he had some really damning words to say about your party.
In an excerpt that was published in his upcoming biography, Romney is quoted as saying, a very large portion of my party, speaking of the Republican Party, really does not believe in the Constitution. Do you agree with him?
ROUNDS: I probably would take a different approach on it. I think the vast majority of my party really does believe in the Constitution. But once again, we're a big party. We have a lot of differing points of view on a number of issues. The question is, is how do you get things done and so forth.
But, look, I respect Mitt. He's a friend, former governor. We've worked together for a number of years. He really is trying to do -- he came here to accomplish things and to work on policy. I'm sorry to see him leave the Senate, but the rest of us have got a job to do here.
None of us like, you know -- when you're in a bipartisan fashion like we're trying to be right now, you're never happy with the outcome of everything, but you try to move the ball forward. That's what we're trying to do when we talk about AI. It's what we're trying to do with an appropriations process in divided government.
And so, our leadership team talks to us regularly about the fact that we want results. We're doing our best to get the results. And, you know, Mitt's been a big part of getting results here so far, and I'm sorry to see him leave the Senate.
SCHUMER: Yes, we're talking about, you know, you've been talking about some divisive issues, but let's look at some of the things that we've worked together on. Yesterday, we had an amazing, amazing forum on AI. AI is one of the toughest issues that we're going to face, but it's going to transform lives of Americans in many ways, some for the better, getting a cure for cancer.
Mike talked very touchingly about his wife who had passed away and how wouldn't it be great if we could actually use AI to get rid of cancer, deal with world hunger, deal with our national security, but also avoid the downsides of AI. Job loss and bias and even some catastrophic type things.
And yet Mike and I, along with Senator Heinrich, a Democrat, Senator Young, a Republican, came together. Over 70 senators, Democrats and Republicans came and listened to the experts, both those who had put forward AI platforms and some who didn't like some of the things in those AI platforms.
And we all agreed we have to move forward on legislation in a bipartisan way to get things done. That was a very good thing that happened yesterday with us working together.
SIDNER: Senator Schumer, I do want to --
ROUNDS: And, by the way, our leadership team on the Republican side has been informed. They've been with us on this. They've encouraged us to continue in a very bipartisan way.
SIDNER: I want to ask you, Senator Schumer, what you did in that meeting. I think you had basically a roll call. You had everyone raise their hand who asked whether or not there should be some regulation put in place as AI gets smarter and smarter and smarter, faster than the human mind can work. What happened when you did that?
SCHUMER: I asked everyone in the room, and there were diverse views in that room. Some, as I said, people not very happy with AI and people who were putting forward AI platforms. And they all agreed we needed government involvement.
And let me give you an example why. You know, let's say a company wants to do the right thing in terms of bias, in terms of job loss, in terms of preventing catastrophe. But there could be other firms out there that don't -- that aren't as conscientious, and if they're allowed to do things on their own, they could bring the whole thing down.
So everyone agreed we need government involvement. It's a lot different than when big tech came about where there was no government involvement. We don't want to make that mistake. We have to do it in a bipartisan way. Each of us isn't going to get everything we want. But so far, there was overwhelming support among Democrats and Republicans for what we did yesterday and the path we're about to embark on, which is to try to get some legislation done.
ROUNDS: If I could, I --
SIDNER: Senator Rounds, I just want to quickly ask you something related to what Senator Schumer said, which is regulation needs to be put in place. Everyone agreed with that, including some of the companies who are creating artificial intelligence.
But can Congress get regulation in place fast enough? Because the technology is moving ahead with lightning speed and we have seen what's happened without any regulation, with things like social media misinformation, disinformation. What are your biggest concerns?
ROUNDS: Well, first of all, the companies did say that they felt that there had to be a layout of what the ground rules were. There was an agreement on that. Let me give you an example. Right now, we believe in patents and we believe in copyrights. That's government designed. But it's one that everybody believes in because it means that everybody knows where the profit margins are at.
They know how you make money and whether or not your intellectual property can be protected. That's a government regulation. They believe in that type of stuff moving forward. And we need to address that within AI.
They also talked about the fact that, look, they recognize that you can have deep fakes and that could impact elections. So there are some items that will probably take a priority over others moving forward. But once again, if we do this in a bipartisan fashion and we bring the committees in with expertise, we can work on more than one approach at the same time.
But we're going to need the committees to be actively involved in this, and we need the referees that understand AI. That's probably going to be one of the biggest challenges we're going to have, is bringing in those people that can act as a referee to actually provide that AI expertise to the committees of record.
SIDNER: I just have one last question. I know it is maybe a bit divisive, but I need to know the answer to this, and I think the American public does too, as well as Ukraine. Do you both support funding Ukraine? I'm not going to ask you about the Yankees. Do you support funding the war in Ukraine?
SCHUMER: We are both Yankee fan.
ROUNDS: Both Yankee fan.
SCHUMER: I know we're not having a good year.
SIDNER: Well, at least you are together on that and the issue of AI, but I want to ask you about Ukraine. Do you both support funding Ukraine, because it's something that was taken out by McCarthy in this upcoming very important vote to try and keep the government running here in the U.S.?
ROUNDS: We have to provide the Ukrainians with the military muscle they need to win back their territory. Absolutely, we have to support Ukraine.
SCHUMER: We completely agree on that. Leader McConnell and I agree on that. If we let Putin, who is a ruthless dictator win in Ukraine, people think, oh, then it's over. No way. For -- in a few years, we could be involved in the Baltic countries or in Belarus or in even Poland.
So the Ukrainians are not asking us for troops. They're not asking us to risk American lives. All they're asking us for is the kind of military and material support they need. And while there are some in both parties who don't want to do it, there's broad bipartisan support amidst the mainstream of both the Democratic and Republican parties in the Senate to get that done.
SIDNER: You two senators are knocking it out of the park to use a baseball pun coming together on several issues today. It is nice to see there's some cooperation between Democrats and Republicans. Thank you both for coming on the show today.
ROUNDS: Thank you.
SCHUMER: Thank you.
BERMAN: It is nice to see, but disheartening to hear our elected officials supporting a team like the Yankees.
So we are standing by in Fulton County, Georgia, a hearing for two of Donald Trump's co-defendants in the election subversion case there. We could learn new information as a trial is set to begin in five weeks.
A federal judge declares the program protecting undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children says it's illegal. So how will the administration respond?
A Seattle police officer under investigation after bodycam footage captures him laughing after a woman was hit and killed by a police car.
BERMAN: All right, happening now. We are standing by at the Fulton County court where a pre-trial hearing is about to get underway for two of Donald Trump's co-defendants in the election subversion case. There there are cameras in the courtroom. We will see it all.
And remember, this trial is scheduled to begin in a little more than five weeks. That's soon. The hearing today before Judge Scott McAfee specifically deals with attorneys Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell. But the decisions made today could shape the entire RICO case and have implications for Donald Trump, including when his trial will begin.
CNN's Nick Valencia outside the courthouse for us this morning. Nick, tell us what we're going to see.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, good morning. This day is really more of a procedural day for these two co-defendants who have already got their trial date set October 23, and they're going hurtling into that date. But the looming and critical question over this hearing today is whether or not they will be joined by the remaining 17 co-defendants.
And it was earlier this week that the district attorney, Fani Willis, laid out in writing why she wants to hold all of these 19 together in a massive trial. She said not only if we break up this case will it be an enormous strain on the judicial system here in Fulton County, four months at minimum of a trial.
They say that's without jury selection, they would call up to 150 witnesses, some of them they say are victims of intimidation. And separating these cases would, they say, retraumatize some of these victims who would repeatedly have to testify. Last week. we were in court when Judge Scott McAfee, who's presiding over this case, doused some healthy skepticism over whether or not these 19 could go to trial together, saying it would be unlikely that they would all go to trial on this October date.
And really adding to this daunting challenge for Fani Willis is that these co-defendants are going in a variety of legal directions here. You have some who are trying to waive their speedy trial. As of this morning, nine have waived their right to a speedy trial.
You have some that are trying to move their case from state court to federal court in hopes of getting their charges dismissed. And you have some, like the former president who are trying to get their case quashed altogether.
So today, on the surface, it's a pretrial motions hearing to see whether or not Chesebro and Powell will be able to talk to grand jurors, get transcripts from the special purpose grand jury, and whether or not they will be able to get the names of these unindicted co-conspirators listed in the indictment. But what will be decided here today and the potential rulings today could have ramifications for this RICO case as a whole. John?
BERMAN: And that's what we're watching for. Nick Valencia, thank you very much.
With us now, Former Federal Prosecutor Elliot Williams. Counselor, very nice to see you this morning. There is a trial scheduled to begin in five weeks that is just around the corner. What are the major outstanding issues that still need to be determined?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Who's actually going to be on trial in five weeks, John, and that's so much of litigation and criminal cases comes down after you get past the constitutional rights and things that the law expects us to protect for anybody who's charged with a crime are just the basic logistics of getting a case to trial.
And when you're talking potentially here, about 19 different defendants, all of whom have very different interests from each other, how do you make this work in a manner such that the court can schedule it and everybody gets a fair trial? That is an enormous question, and it's still not answered as of this morning.
BERMAN: How likely are we to find out before this first trial on October 23, the dates of all the trials, whether it's one, two, three, or more?
WILLIAMS: Yes. You will get -- I think, I would predict that you would get dates for trials, but not the dates for trials. What I mean is that the judge is likely to schedule dates in the future for each successive defendant. So imagine that not everybody has tried in five weeks, and I can almost guarantee that they will not be. Every defendant who's not tried will get a trial date. Now, that trial date will probably be bumped forward multiple times. And when you look at the kinds of issues that a lot of these defendants are sorting out, they may take some time to resolve and different times to resolve.
So what -- you know, Donald Trump's trial may happen on one date, but Rudy Giuliani's may not be able to happen for weeks or months after, depending on the legal issues that he's still working on. So, they will try to schedule something, but I think nothing's set in stone until those first jurors are sworn in.
BERMAN: So if you are part of the defense team planning the defense for these trials that are scheduled to this trial, that's scheduled to begin in five weeks --
BERMAN: -- and I can't stress enough how soon that is, and the fact that it'll be televised, but what do you need to get done in the next five weeks if you're a defense attorney?
WILLIAMS: I also can't stress enough how soon that is, John. That is a very short time to get ready for trial. So what are you doing? Now, right off the bat, by law, prosecutors have to provide a witness list to jurors -- to defendants, and every defendant is going through that witness list and finding criminal histories for those witnesses, past statements they've given, everything they've done, and anything they can use to pick apart those witnesses credibility or statements.
Because they're going to have to, if it in fact, it is 150 witnesses, you're going to have to find ways to poke holes in their testimony. They're also -- you know, they can also start writing their opening statements. Believe it or not, your opening statement is the one thing you can write before trial because you know the arguments you're going to make.
A lot of other things will develop along the way. But they're writing some of the presentation that they'll make to the jury and thinking about how they're going to defend themselves at trial.
BERMAN: Now, if you're Donald Trump's attorney, what are you doing this morning? You are watching these hearings that are televised. You can see these things go on. And it doesn't pertain directly to you, but it certainly relates to your case.
WILLIAMS: Certainly the timing of his case. Now, you know, I understand that he intends to file at least one motion to move the case to federal court. The -- what goes on this morning won't really have an impact on that beyond the fact that it's pretty clear that he's just not going to be tried in October. There's no way to get his case to trial in five weeks.
So I think, as with any other defendant, he's watching closely to see how the judge is ruling, how the judge is approaching the case, and then just waiting to see how it plays out. BERMAN: How much will a judge save from the bench? Judge Scott McAfee has indicated he's going to have weekly hearings leading up to this October 23 trial date. Will he use these weekly hearings to provide more information about how this will all happen?
WILLIAMS: Absolutely. And the judge actually can rule from the bench. And I remember from, you know, my days as a law clerk and frankly, as a prosecutor, the judge can have opinions written on these motions already before he sits down in court.
He can then hear the arguments of the attorneys. And if they track with what he'd already written down, he can just issue his ruling right there. And he can do that along the way for every single one of these motions. And, you know, it's as the process plays out, you begin to get a sense of the judge's thinking, you know, how he views evidence, how he views timing and scheduling and all those things, and that'll all just become more clear.
BERMAN: Yes. And I think that will be one of the fascinating things to watch. The more we hear from this judge, the more we will learn how he will operate going forward, because we're going to see a lot of him over the next year.
Elliot Williams, thank you for providing this legal decoder ring for what we're about to see in a few minutes. Appreciate it.
WILLIAMS: Thank you, sir. Take care.
SIDNER: All right. Strong words, including cussing this morning from Speaker Kevin McCarthy to those threatening his speakership. Wait until you hear his choice words that he had for them. And he's definitely, he says, not afraid of losing it.
And a 23-year-old woman struck and killed by a police car. Why comments made by another officer after that incident are being called hugely insensitive? That's ahead.