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AG's Office Wants To Block Trump Witnesses; Kristy Greenberg Is Interviewed About Trump's Trial; Eight Days Till Government Shutdown; Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) Is Interviewed About The War In Gaza; Suspect Arrested In Synagogue Leader's Murder. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired November 09, 2023 - 09:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, this morning, Donald Trump's legal team is preparing its defense in the civil fraud case where he has already been found liable for fraud. The New York attorney general's office filed the letter asking the judge to block several of Trump's expert witnesses from testifying because these lawyers say the testimony relates to issues already resolved by the judge. The AG's office rested its case after hearing from Ivanka Trump.

Our Kara Scannell outside the courthouse this morning.

Kara, so what do we expect to see now and what clues do we have about the Trump defense strategy?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this morning it's going to be arguments over these motions. And Trump's lawyers are going to ask the judge for a directed verdict, that is to say that the AG's office didn't prove their case and to find in Trump's favor. Now that is a hail Mary pass because the judge has already found that Trump's financial statements are fraudulent and he has already said that he thinks that there's been enough evidence presented in this case to fill the courtroom.

And then the attorney general's team is going to go after some of these witnesses that Trump's team will begin calling as soon as Monday. That is when they will begin presenting their defense. The attorney general's office wants to block four of these expert witnesses, saying that the valuations and the accounting rules that they are going to talk about is something that has already been resolved by the judge when he found that these statements and the values placed on these properties were fraudulent.

So, that will take up the bulk of today. And then Trump's team will begin their defense on Monday. They're expected - they said they're going to call Don Jr., Eric Trump and bankers to the stand. And part of the reason, in their defense, is they're trying to say that the banks had done their own due diligence, that they didn't rely on these financial statements when they were making decisions to make these loans. And that is the key of the allegation here that is left for the AG's office to prove, that the banks had received these loans -- have issued these loans after receiving these fraudulent financial statements and then had relied on them in some way.

And so that is where the focus of the defense is going to go. Ivanka Trump wrapping her testimony yesterday. And during the cross- examination of her, they even got into some of this where she testified that the bank was excited to do deals with them. That they even sent a team of bankers down to the golf course in Florida before they agreed to underwrite a loan. So, kind of these were the initial building blocks. You're going to see a lot more of this. Trump says that their defense, assuming the judge let's them bring in these witnesses, could go as long until December 15th, John.

BERMAN: So, we're entering this new stage of the case.

Kara Scannell, keep us posted. Thank you very much.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And joining us now is former federal prosecutor Kristy Greenberg. She was also the former criminal division deputy chief for the Southern District of New York.

Kristy, thank you so much for coming in.

Let's talk about this next phase, the Trump defense that now will start being presented. You've been in the courtroom for more than one of the Trumps being on the stand, so you have a unique perspective. I saw you describe Trump's day in court as something out of "My Cousin Vinny." And I think everyone will kind of understand that.

After being in there, in the courtroom, what do you think the Trump defense is going to look like when they start laying this out?

KRISTY GREENBERG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, so the judge has already decided that there was persistent fraud based on the financial statements. So, there are six other causes of actions, falsifying business records, falsifying financial statements and insurance fraud. And to prove that they have to show that somebody, the banks, the insurance companies, actually relied on those statements, that they were material. And so you saw that, as Kara said, in the defense examination of Ivanka Trump. They were asking her, well, you know, did the banks actually care about those financials? Well, and she said, no, they did their due diligence. They came down. They sent people down to do their own independent appraisals. So, you're going to see that defense saying, this didn't matter to the bank. What mattered to the bank was the relationship with the Trump family. This was the personal, you know, wealth management group. They cared about building that relationship. They didn't care so much about these valuations.

BOLDUAN: What did you think, being in the courtroom for Ivanka Trump's testimony, after seeing it, what do you think the main purpose was for the state to call her?

GREENBERG: So, the state called her to try to get in documents. She's on a lot of these documents where she is in one of them saying, hey, make some changes to the accounting principles language in the documents. Or, you know, here are - here are various valuations of different assets. You know, here, make these different changes. Like, she's in the thick of it. She's the one who's talking to Deutsch Bank. She's the primary point of contact for the lender. So, all of these emails that she's on, even though she didn't remember anything about them, at one point she's shown a document and she said, oh, this brings back so many memories. And then every answer to every question after that was, I do not recall. But they got the documents in because she was able to say, I have no reason to believe these are inaccurate.

BOLDUAN: This gets to something I want to pick your brain on because you have overseen prosecutions on major fraud and financial crimes in your time.


The basics of this case, and I'm going to wildly generalize and simply here, wildly overstating the values of properties for financial gain, which is alleged by the AG, and a defense of, essentially, it wasn't me, I didn't know wasn't -- this wasn't on me. Would you have brought this civil case? Who's got the upper hand right now?

GREENBERG: So, again, I think the state has the upper hand because they've already got the ruling on summary judgment that there was persistent fraud, right?


GREENBERG: All they had to show there was there was financial statements that were used in business transactions and they were false. That's all they had to show. And there are significant penalties that go along with that, that are also being determined at this trial.

As to these other causes of action, even if they can't show the intent to defraud, which, again, we're not talking about, you know, minor valuation differences. We're talking about huge magnitude of error here where you're talking about like triple the size of an apartment or, you know, appraisals that they have that show value and they're like doubling and tripling what the appraisal value is.

So, again, the intent to defraud, I think you can kind of glean from the documents and glean from some of the testimony that's come out from other members of the Trump Organization saying that the Trumps are actually providing these valuations to them.

So, the intent to defraud is there, and then there's going to be this question of materiality as to these other counts. And that's where I think the defense may score some points.

BOLDUAN: I'm -- which is really getting to, I'm becoming more and more interested in seeing what the -- the case that the defense presents starting -- when they do start in this. It could be really interesting.

Thanks so much for coming in, Kristy.

GREENBERG: Thanks for having me. BOLDUAN: Sara.


Right now Mike Johnson is in the midst of his first major test as House speaker. He has eight days left to try to ensure that Congress avoids a government shutdown. You'll remember this because just over a month ago we watched lawmakers scramble to get a stop gap measure in place through next Friday. And here we go again.

CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox, I think, is with us. Yes, she is.

Hey, Lauren, what is the latest on the plan for House Republicans to try to keep the government from a shutdown?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Sara, all eyes are on the newly minted speaker and what action he's going to take. He's been trying to solicit suggestions from his colleagues across the ideological spectrum but so far he has not said precisely how he plans to try and avert a government shutdown. And as you noted, time is running short. There are a couple of options on the table. One of them is this idea of a laddered, short-term spending bill. Essentially two different deadlines with various proposals and money for various government agencies expiring on two different dates. You've heard from a lot of Senate Republicans that that idea might make things more complicated, might make it much harder for Republicans to get any actual legislative victory out of two specific deadlines. And it's something that the Senate is not likely to take up.

Meanwhile, you also have this idea of some other kind of short term spending bill into January, perhaps trying to make some additional cuts related to that short-term spending bill. But, again, that would likely go nowhere in the Senate either.

So, one of the key questions right now is, are we going to be setting up this showdown between the House and the Senate because you have Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is expected to take a procedural step on the floor later this afternoon that would set up a procedural vote early next week. So, essentially two different plans that could be culminating right now, and there's just not that much time to find the middle ground before that Friday deadline.


SIDNER: Yes, we're basically at a week.

Is there a sense of how long this - if they're able to avoid a shutdown, how long it will be?

FOX: Yes, you know, one - one of the key disagreements right now is over how long this short-term spending bill should go. House Republicans want to make sure that this goes past the holidays in December. But, obviously, Senate Democrats believe that having that hard deadline makes it much easier to get some kind of larger one-year spending bill, Sara. SIDNER: All right, Lauren Fox, thank you so much.

And tossing it over to you, John.

BERMAN: All right, Israel says 239 hostages are still inside Gaza at this hour. We're getting new information about plans, discussions, about trying to get them released. New information just in.



SIDNER: There is still no end in sight and millions of civilians are caught in the middle a month into the war between Israel and hams. Israel continues its airstrikes the ground war on the besieged Gaza Strip, which has left more than 10,000 people dead according to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Health Ministry there.

And Israel's effort to rid Gaza of Hamas, now Hamas continues to send rockets into Israel and hold what the Israeli military says are now 239 hostages in the tunnels under Gaza. Qatar is playing a leading role in the hostage negotiations today. A meeting was held to discuss one proposed plan. The release of 10 to 20 hostages in return for a three-day pause in fighting in Gaza. So far there's been no movement in that direction.

I am joined now by Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.

Thank you so much, Senator, for joining us.

I want to get firstly to something that we've just learned, that U.S. intelligence is meeting with the Qataris to discuss this -- a couple of different proposals, but one in particular. What do you think of the idea of calling for a ceasefire for a few days in exchange for the release of some of the hostages that were kidnapped by Hamas?


SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Well, Sara, I'm encouraged by this development. When I was recently in the Middle East, I met with the families of American hostages who are being held by Hamas. And I am haunted by the pictures they shared with us of their children, the conversations we had. As a parent myself, to have your child held captive in a tunnel underneath Gaza during this ongoing ground offensive would be a living hell. So I am hopeful there will be a several day pause so that significant humanitarian relief can get into Gaza. Some of the international workers and dual national citizens can get out of Gaza. There's hundreds more Americans trying to leave Gaza. And, most importantly, so that Hamas will release some of the more than 240 hostages they are holding. I was encouraged by that development.

SIDNER: All right. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made very clear just yesterday that the U.S. is not asking Israel for a cease-fire. How long do you think the United States should stick with the stance when there are thousands of civilians, men, women, and children who are being killed in air strikes, and being killed from the ground war there?

COONS: This is a very difficult campaign that Israel is carrying out against Hamas in response to their brutal terrorist attack that killed 1,400 Israeli civilians and now, into its second week in the ground offensive, we have provided a lot of advice and input to the Israelis about lessons we learned in Fallujah, in Mosul, in very difficult urban conflicts. And I, in person, with Israeli leadership, also urged them to keep this campaign short and focused and then to try a longer campaign against Hamas, in partnership with other regional actors because there is a real risk that the level of civilian suffering and death that is occurring right now in Gaza will simply inflame the feelings of not just Palestinians but the whole region against Israel. That is a real concern for me about Israel's security and the future of the region.

Secretary Blinken laid out yesterday a hoped for a future where the Palestinian Authority would provide security, governance, support in Gaza. That's a stretch from what the PA is currently able to do. But there's also been negotiations with regional partners, like Egypt, about whether or not there are other countries willing to step in and provide an alternative to Hamas. I understand why Israel cannot tolerate having Hamas immediately on its border given what happened a month ago. But the future here is murky. And in a long conversation with the president and his senior national security team last night, a bipartisan group of 10 senators exchanged ideas about what the future might look like for the Palestinian people, for Israel and for the region.

SIDNER: Well, certainly the Palestinians are going to want to be part of that conversation and should be. And there are a lot of -- of variables here that you talked about that are very difficult to work through.

I do want to ask you, because you mentioned this, there are still U.S. citizens in Gaza who want out. There is a couple in particular that we are aware of, Majid Barood (ph) is stuck there and saying that the State Department is just not doing enough to try to help them get out.

What needs to be done to finally get out more Americans, get them to safety, as they wait there in the midst of this - this war?

COONS: One of the challenges is our partner in the region, Egypt. The bipartisan group of senators with whom I traveled to Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, pressed President El Sisi to allow on out of Gaza more Palestinians, in particular Palestinian Americans. Coming to an agreement between Hamas and Egypt and Israel about who is released has been devilishly difficult. Hamas is trying to get their wounded fighters released so that they can be cared for in hospitals outside of Gaza. So far there have been some releases, but, obviously, opposition by the Israelis to releasing Hamas fighters.

So, it's been a difficult series of negotiations. There's also other ongoing negotiations about getting fuel into hospitals in Gaza, getting humanitarian relief. Later today I'll be hearing from Ambassador David Satterfield, who's the special envoy for humanitarian relief in Gaza. And if I could, Sara -


COONS: I just want to remind your viewers, we're just eight days from a government shutdown. President Biden has sent to the Senate a supplemental appropriations request that would include humanitarian relief, not just for Gaza, but for many countries across the region, including Lebanon and Jordan and Egypt, but that would be critical in this moment, as well as additional funding for Ukraine's defense against Russia and for Israel.

This is a complex package. It will be difficult for us to pass.


But we have to pass this entire package to provide critical aid to secure our border, to defend Ukraine, to aid Israel, and to provide humanitarian aid in to the people of Gaza.

SIDNER: There is such a huge need for humanitarian aid. There are civilians that are suffering every single day in Gaza. It is very difficult to watch.

I know this bill is going to be difficult to pass. There's only eight days left. Senator Chris Coons, thank you so much. I know you have a committee meeting to go to at this hour. I appreciate you taking the time to speak with us.

COONS: Thank you, Sara.

SIDNER: All right, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, in Michigan, an arrest has been made in the death of a prominent synagogue president, but police still saying the investigation is not over. Why they say they're treating -- not treating this as a hate crime. More details, next.


BOLDUAN: A break in a case that shocked the city of Detroit. Police have made an arrest in the death of a well-known beloved synagogue president. Samantha Woll, she was found unresponsive outside her home on October 21st.


She had been stabbed multiple times. And given the timing and the heightened fear of anti-Semitic attacks across the country right now, people wondered if this was motivated by hate. But police still saying they do not believe this was driven by extremism.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is following this. He's got more details.

So, what are you learning, Omar? OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, so for starters police

have doubled and tripled down saying they don't believe that this was motivated by anti-Semitism. What we are learning is that a suspect is in custody is what Detroit police are saying. That said, we don't know who it is. We don't know what charges this person --

BOLDUAN: They're not releasing any of it yet?

JIMENEZ: They're not releasing any of that, saying that this is an ongoing investigation and they want to protect the integrity of that investigation.

But, still, curious because it creates a little bit more questions over a case where people were already trying to figure out what was going on here. Specifically, police are putting out a statement saying, "while this is an encouraging development in our desire to bring closure for Ms. Samantha Woll's family, it does not represent the conclusion of our work in this case. The details of the investigation will remain confidential at this time to insure the integrity of the important steps that remain."

Now, Samantha Woll was, of course, the president of the downtown synagogue. She was found dead outside of her home a few weeks ago at this point from multiple stab wounds.

Now, a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation says that at this point law enforcement is treating this as a domestic dispute, not as a matter of extremism. But when I was there a few weeks ago and I ask police, obviously they have said this is not anti- Semitism. But I also asked if they could rule out anti-Semitism -


JIMENEZ: And they said, well, this is an ongoing investigation. We'll see where this goes.

So, while they do have someone in custody, and that is, of course, an encouraging step for people in this community, there are still a lot of questions here over who this person was and why police believe this person did it.

BOLDUAN: And appropriately being careful until they've reached a conclusion of it.

JIMENEZ: Of course.

BOLDUAN: But it's great to get these details in. And once - one small step forward in this horrible - in the case of this horrible crime.

Thank you, Omar.

JIMENEZ: Of course.

BOLDUAN: Good to see you.

John. BERMAN: All right. Scum, TikTok and five-inch heels, all a part of the Republican presidential debate. This morning, how Donald Trump is responding to the event that he skipped.