Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

Trump, 16 Co-Defendants Will Get Later Trial Date; McCarthy Dares His GOP Critics To Oust Him As House Speaker; Strike Looms As UAW, Automakers Negotiate Contracts; Aid Pours Into Libya After Flood Kill 8,000. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 14, 2023 - 15:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Today, some major developments in the Georgia election racketeering case. Donald Trump's trial will not begin until later next month, but the trial of two co-defendants will. Kenneth Chesbro and Sidney Powell. The Fulton County District Attorney was pushing for all 19 co-defendants to be tried at the same time. That is not happening. CNN National security reporter Zachary Cohen is covering the story. So now the question is, well, then, when is the former president going to face trial? And it's looking like next year maybe.

ZACHARY COHEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, the answer is TBD at this point. But the judge did sort of initiate the legal process for Donald Trump and the sixteen others were not named, Sidney Powell and Ken Chesbro, in this case, they're going to have a much more expedited timeline. Their trial is going to start or set to start on October 23rd.

But the former president, you know, they are going to start doing these pretrial sort of steps. The judge wants to get that resolved by the end of the year based on the schedule that he laid out today. So you know, remains to be seen when a trial for Donald Trump could come but it won't be happening before December.

Meanwhile, Ken Chesbro and Sidney Powell, I mean five weeks or so before we could see them start their trial process. The prosecutors and the judge said he wants to have jury selection done by November 5th. So two different timelines but you know, both things are moving forward.

KEILAR: It's amazing how speedy a speedy trial really is -- five weeks. It's wild. OK, also in court today, some pretrial wins for the defense. Tell us about these.

COHEN: Yes, it's really interesting. The judge in this case was seemed amenable to the idea that the defense attorneys could question some of the grand jurors in this case, the ones that handed down the indictment of Donald Trump in the -- or eighteen others. And that seemed to be highly unusual when it did run very opposite to what the prosecutors want in this case.

They said absolutely not. They vehemently opposed that idea. But the judge said, look, we can work out maybe some circumstance or some ways that, you know, it's maybe supervised. So they're going to come back with some options on that. But the judge did seem open to the idea of the defendants getting to question the grand jurors that indicted them.

KEILAR: That is something. Zach Cohen, thank you so much for the latest. We appreciate it -- Boris.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Let's bring back former Congressman Adam Kinzinger. He's a senior CNN political commentator. And a former Republican Congressman, as I mentioned from Illinois. Congressman, thanks for staying with us. We had to cut you short because the President was speaking. I wanted to go back to a point I think you were trying to make about the situation that Republicans in Congress are in right now.

Would you say that it's fair to describe their efforts with a potential indictment inquiry into Joe Biden as part of a way to conflate the legal trouble that Hunter Biden is in with his father, the White House, and to then create a split screen for voters because of what's happening to Donald Trump in places like Fulton County, Georgia.

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, absolutely. So look what they have become very good at -- I say this, you know, as a member of that group up until just recently -- become really good at throwing enough stuff to the wall to confuse everybody. This is what Donald Trump actually is pretty masterful at. So while he can be facing very serious charges, both federally and in Georgia, the Republicans are like no, don't, you know, look over here, where there's, you know, this Hunter Biden activity. He might have put Joe Biden on the speakerphone once. And so we're going to open an impeachment inquiry into that.

And they're really good at spending that by saying, well, no, we need an impeachment inquiry so that we can have the tools we need to -- in order to find this answer. But this will be the first time in history that without direct evidence or a serious accusation of impropriety, you're opening an impeachment inquiry simply because you want to get to an answer that you don't -- you can get to any other way. It's really disturbing and I think it just starts a really, really bad precedent for this country.

SANCHEZ: On the question of what's happening on Capitol Hill, I wanna ask you about the animosity between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy -- and you're laughing already -- between Kevin McCarthy and Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz. There was a closed-door meeting where McCarthy made clear to his members that he wasn't scared of the threats coming from Gaetz and others to have a motion to potentially unseat him as speaker, he told them, quote, move the f**king motion.

Soon after, CNN got a response from Congressman Matt Gaetz, saying, quote, how about just move the f--ing spending bills?

I think as -- I'm saying that out loud and I'm seeing your reaction, you don't miss being in Congress very much when you hear that. KINZINGER: No, I don't because I -- these dynamics, I mean Matt Gaetz,

the very first thing he said to me when he was elected, he came up to me and I was doing some TV. I was, I don't know, second or third term. And he goes oh, Adam, I know you're on TV. How do I get on TV? That was the very first interaction I had with him. All he wants to do is be famous. And so he's playing this game. Look, I have no sympathy for Kevin McCarthy, trust me.


Kevin McCarthy resurrected Donald Trump's political life when he went to Mar-a-Lago. But Matt Gaetz's job here is to basically do whatever he can to be on the headlines. He talks about this motion to vacate the chair, and I think the speaker today rightly said, then do it. Move to vacate the chair.

Because I think the best thing Kevin McCarthy -- if I was giving him advice right now -- is to call the bluff of the, you know, extreme caucus, the Freedom Club. Call their bluff, make them vote down the defense bill. Make them try to move a motion to vacate. And frankly, if they can do it successfully, you can sit back and watch as they try to find a new speaker. But there's a point at which Kevin is hitting a wall now where he can't promise anymore. He's actually got to deliver or fight and I think that's what he's trying to figure out what he can do.

SANCHEZ: I think the calculus for McCarthy partly has to be, well who else are you going to elect as speaker? Right, there were 15 roles of votes to get him elected as speaker, so they have to go through that entire process potentially again with who knows who else who. But on the question of delivering something, there's obviously government funding that dries up at the end of the month. How much of this decision to announce an impeachment inquiry of President Biden has to do with appeasing a portion of the party that he's going to need to get the government funded by the end of the month?

KINZINGER: I think there's certainly part of it. I mean, look, he went from two weeks ago saying he's not going to do it without a vote of the House, to magically all of a sudden doing it and trying to pin this on Nancy Pelosi because she did it once despite what he said two weeks ago. And so I think it's an attempt to appease.

But here's the thing. My good friend Charlie Sykes always uses the term. If you feed the alligator in the bathtub, eventually it's going to get out of the bathtub and eat you. And that's what he's done right now. You keep feeding the Freedom Club and you make him powerful and you keep giving them power to shut things down, eventually they're going to outgrow you, and that's where he's at right now. So yes, he probably does have a concern about who's going to replace him, but his number one goal is simply to stay in power. And I think he's running out of options at point.

SANCHEZ: But notably there is a strong portion of the base -- as we've seen in public polling that David Chalian was laying out for us -- that does believe in some of what the Freedom Caucus has been feeding them, especially in regards to Hunter Biden and his potential ties to the White House. So as leaders of the Republican Party, when you see the way that they're communicating with members of the base, as we get closer to primaries in 2024, is it a mistake to conflate these things and to lead voters in a direction where they're anticipating a result of a potential impeachment inquiry where they might -- where there might not be one.

KINZINGER: Yes, I think it's quite possible. It's, you know, how do you -- how do you pull that train off the track now? They've already started the impeachment train. How do you say you don't find anything? It's probably ultimately in the short term good for the base, terrible for the general election. And this is what they're going to have to face is, you know, the moderates, the so-called moderates left in the Republican Party are frustrated. I was one of them. I went through fights like this that weren't quite even as intense as this, and I can tell you how angry they are. They have to start playing hardball in some of this too.

You know, people have to say, look, I'm not willing to lose my race. Let's take even the moral side out of it and just go with the cold, hard politics for a second. I'm not willing to lose my race because people like Matt Gaetz, who just loves being on TV, is going to destroy my chance at winning my district. The moderates have got to quit saying, we're going to play with the team. And they've got to start playing hardball of their own. And frankly, Kevin McCarthy needs them to do that, even though he can't say that out loud, to give him leverage to push back as well.

SANCHEZ: Former Congressman Adam Kinzinger, do not feed the gator in the bathtub. Appreciate the perspective. Thanks so much.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: That's a great metaphor. Well, coming up, time is running out. Less than nine hours now for the United Auto workers and the big three auto makers to make a deal to avoid a strike. The latest on the talks to avoid that stoppage, after a quick break. This is CNN NEWS CENTRAL.


SANCHEZ: Now to some of the other headlines we're watching this hour.

Four of the five former Memphis police officers involved in the deadly beating of Tyre Nichols are pleading not guilty to federal charges. A federal grand jury indicted the man on several counts earlier this week, including federal civil rights, conspiracy and obstruction offenses. A fifth Officer has yet to enter his plea.

In January, Memphis police officers violently beat Nichols after he fled a traffic stop on foot. The encounter was caught on camera. The officers are also facing state charges and a federal civil law.

Over on Capitol Hill, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise is back in Washington for the first time since he was diagnosed with cancer back in August. The Congressman told reporters this morning he's currently undergoing chemotherapy, but he got the OK from his doctor to return to work. Listen.


REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA) MAJORITY LEADER: Treatments are going well so far. I think everybody took prayers because the prayers have given me strength. And my colleagues have given me incredible strength. And in every step of the way we just want to continue to focus on the job and focus on my health and not always in that order.



SANCHEZ: And despite his health battle, the Republican leader says he's already in talks with committee chairs to avoid a potential government shutdown.

And we are tracking Hurricane Lee. Right now, the category one storm is about 230 miles west, southwest of Bermuda. Winds up to 85 miles an hour. Tropical storm watches are in effect for parts of New England. Including a tropical storm warning for the Massachusetts coast from the Capes just South of Boston. Lee is likely to weaken, but it is expected to bring damaging winds, heavy rain and storm surge flooding to parts of the northeast and Canada from Friday into Saturday. Something to keep an eye on -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, the clock is ticking down on what could be a hugely damaging strike. The United Auto Workers Union and the big three automakers have until midnight tonight to work out a deal or risk shuttering production lines. The Union wants cost of living increases, pension plans for all workers, health care coverage beyond retirement, big pay raises as well, pay hikes, an immediate 20 percent raise with additional increases that add up to a 40 percent raise over four years.

One former head of Ford has a stark warning for the Union. That is, try not to go too far here.

CNN business reporter Matt Egan has been tracking that part of the story. So, Matt, listen, you're going to hear arguments like this from both sides, right. Of course, the UAW is saying we took big cuts in 2008, 2009 during the financial crisis, just trying to get back to where we were and then some. Now you have former Ford executive saying, if you go too far, what?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Jim, that warning is coming from Mark Fields, the former CEO of Ford. And even Fields concedes that auto workers, they deserve a pay increase, and they're going to get one. He said that the industry can't, quote, plead poverty because they have been profitable. But his warning is to the UAW saying basically, don't ask for the moon, because if you get it, it could end up making these companies uncompetitive, right? He says that the auto CEO, they're going to look at this very soberly and rationally. If their costs go up too much in the US, they're going to move factories and jobs overseas. And so that's why he said, quote, you don't want the UAW to win the battle but lose the war. And of course the Union would argue these companies can afford to pay

their workers a lot more, in part because they have paid their CEO's millions of dollars. Now for workers, the stakes here are massive. Let me run you through some of the numbers. Under the existing contracts, the top hourly rate is about $32 an hour. That works out to around $67,000 a year before overtime. If the UAW gets what they're asking for, that pay would go well above $80,000 a year by the end of this contract. That is big, especially given just how much the cost of living has gone up for all of us.

SCIUTTO: No question. This strike, of course, would impact the auto industry. That by itself has enormous follow-on effects. But how does it go beyond? How would a strike go beyond the auto industry specifically?

EGAN: Well, Jim, it's hard to say precisely because we've never seen a strike against all three big automakers at the same time. The head of the UAW, Shawn Fain, he argues that this would really just impact the billionaire economy. Listen to what Fain had to say.


SHAWN FAIN, UAW PRESIDENT: They pretend that the sky will fall if we get our fair share of the quarter of a trillion dollars the big three has made over the past decade. But it's not just the economy. When they talk about that and they say, we'll wreck the economy. It's not the economy that'll wreck, it's their economy. It's the billionaire economy. That's what they're worried about.


EGAN: Now, independent economists, they say that there would be a broader impact. Anderson Economic Group they put out an estimate that if there's a 10-day strike, it would cost the economy about $5 billion. It could do a real serious amount of damage to the local economy in Michigan. And then, Jim, there's this question about whether or not it could actually raise car prices. I don't think initially consumers would see an impact, but like everything else, the longer it goes on, I think the longer and the bigger the impact would be for consumers. And Jim, really the economy at large.

SCIUTTO: Yes, during the pandemic there was a long wait for cars, right? Because the disruption to the supply chain. A shame to see something like that again. Matt Egan in New York. Thanks so much.

And there is much more ahead on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.



KEILAR: To Libya, where thousands remain missing and rescue efforts continue in the wake of those devastating floods. The International Committee of the Red Cross announcing that the town of Derna was nearly destroyed by a 22-foot wave. You can see the totality of the destruction here in this drone footage. It's unbelievable. And at least 8,000 people at this point have been killed. CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman has the story.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Days after disaster struck Derna, they're still collecting the bodies. Egyptian rescue workers lower one full body bag to the pavement and go back for another.


The death toll is still unclear, but there is no doubt thousands were killed in the floods and thousands more remain missing. This survivor recounts what he saw.

The children died in front of my eyes. My neighbors died, he says. It feels like a nightmare. Until this hour I still can't believe it.

And the nightmare isn't over. The magnitude of this disaster is more than this doctor -- interviewed on Libyan television -- can take.

The numbers, he says, are awful.

In a country consumed by years of conflict and hijacked by rival foreign powers, simple things like the Weather Service were neglected, says the head of World Meteorological Organization.

PETTERI TAALAS, SECRETARY GENERAL, WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION: The If they would have been a normally operating meteorological service, they could have issued the warnings and also the Emergency Management authorities would have been able to carry out evacuation of the people.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): In Derna, the authorities urged caution and imposed a curfew before the storm, but there were no evacuations and this is the result.

Ben Weidman, CNN, Rome.


KEILAR: Our thanks to Ben Wedeman for that report.

SCIUTTO: That that story from Libya is just heartbreaking. The scale of it is beyond.

SANCHEZ: Yes, definitely.

Hey, it's been a bit of a news day here --

SCIUTTO: A little bit

SANCHEZ: -- at CNN. Stay with us for all the breaking news coverage. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts after a very short break.