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Biden, Haley, Trump Exchanges Jabs Ahead Of SC Primary; Trump's New York Business Fraud Verdict Delayed; "What Whales Tell Us" Airs Sunday At 8:00 P.M. ET/PT. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired February 02, 2024 - 11:30   ET



SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: For Joe Biden as a campaign for the presidency is now in full swing. In the last few days, the campaign, all of them, have turned into a stream of name-calling from each candidate, albeit some of it behind closed doors.

Donald Trump says Joe Biden is the worst president in the history of our country. Nikki Haley calls Donald Trump too old and too tantrum- prone to be president. And Politico reporting today that behind closed doors, Joe Biden reportedly said Donald Trump was a sick effort.

I'm joined now by CNN political commentator and former South Carolina State Representative Bakari Sellers and Republican strategist, Maura Gillespie. All right, I'm going to start with you, Maura, because of these numbers that have come out.

They are almost shockingly strong. They are not what was predicted by the experts that watch this economy. How are the Republicans going to deal with this because it can't be a point necessarily on the trail for too much longer?

MAURA GILLESPIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think what it shows us is that a lot can change in the next, you know, six to nine months. And, you know, if these numbers continue to trend the way they are, that's a net positive for Joe Biden. Because I think there are a lot of people who perhaps don't enjoy Trump's inability to control himself and his comments and truly his juvenile behavior.

But they can't continue to support or will -- won't support a Joe Biden and Kamala Harris president -- administration because of the way things are right now with the border, with the economy, and how they're not feeling it in their pockets right now. So, I think there's a real opportunity there for Joe Biden to capitalize on this for sure.

SIDNER: Bakari, your thoughts?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The great American poet Sean Carter, also known as Jay-Z said men lie, women lie, numbers don't. Right?

SIDNER: Of course, you brought that up.

SELLERS: And so, I think what we're seeing here is that numbers do not lie. And the economy is getting stronger. It's continuously gotten stronger.


SELLERS: And particularly here in South Carolina, let's talk about black voters, right, who are going to be particularly in places like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia, North Carolina, very, very important. The second-highest unemployment rate in the history of the country was under Donald Trump. The highest being under Ronald Reagan.

The -- for the first time in American history for a full year, the black unemployment rate was under six percent. The lowest in history was under Joe Biden, right? And so, these numbers really matter.

What has to happen, though, and I hope the White House is listening clearly, the numbers are telling the truth about the economy, but people still necessarily are not filling it in their pockets. And so, that's why Joe Biden being in Michigan with UAW workers, Kamala Harris being in South Carolina today, these things matter so they can actually hear that pain from voters and be able to articulate how they've met the moment and will continue to meet the moment.

SIDNER: Yes. The messaging is important here is what you're saying. I do want to ask you because we're talking about South Carolina, and that is the home state of Nikki Haley. She is now really going after Donald Trump in a way we have not been seeing.

She says he's too old, too confused, too chaotic, and too tantrum- prone to be president. And his job likely -- especially to infuriate Donald Trump, she warns he even lacks the money to mount a proper White House run. Bakari, what do you think about these comments that she is going into as we're going into the primary in South Carolina?

SELLERS: I mean, I think -- is Nikki Haley confused? She's stealing my talking points. I mean, the fact that Nikki Haley is like, utilizing democratic talking points to attack the president -- I mean the former president of the United States, I mean, we love it.

Look, Nikki can stay in the race as long as she wants if this is what she's going to do. This is something that literally if she wanted to win probably had to be done months ago that the campaign of being Trump light is not successful for anybody. But if she wants to take -- I mean, it's true. The blessing of Nikki Haley right now is that she's telling the truth about Donald Trump with conservative bona fides.

Like she is a conservative governor. She was a -- she is a tried-and- true conservative. She's actually more conservative than Donald Trump. But she's telling the truth about the person who will be the nominee. So, I believe Nikki Haley will be very helpful for Democrats when it comes to independents and college-educated white women where this race will be won and lost.

SIDNER: Maura, when you hear this from Nikki Haley, I mean, what are your thoughts? Is she hurting Donald Trump's chances at all, or, you know, the polling shows he's still doing quite well?

GILLESPIE: I don't think these are democratic talking points. I think they're speaking for a large majority of Americans who do believe that when you look at the race as what it might be, if it's a Joe Biden versus Donald Trump again, they're both old and they're both showing, you know, lapses in mental acuity and ability to handle different things at once. And I think yes, to Bakari's point, you know, it's a little late in the game to be doing it. And I wish he had done it as we put both probably were saying these exact points months ago.

But it is important to highlight the issues that come with a Donald Trump candidate. You know, when talking about fundraising, and as you mentioned, you know, he's spending how much in legal fees, the fundraising that he is doing is for himself. It is not to go out there and campaign to win back a larger majority in the House or to go in the Senate. He's not helping any candidates, people who are eager to win a race, you know, and I think that should really speak to not only the Republican Party but to the American people in general.


Not only can Donald Trump you know, not control himself, obviously in the courtroom, or his outbursts or things of that nature, but he also is not looking to advance anyone's interest except for his own. So, it's something that I think people should really be paying attention to. And I'm glad she's finally calling it out. Let's see if it makes any impact.

SIDNER: Yes. I mean, it didn't hurt him in places like Iowa. It didn't hurt him that badly in places like New Hampshire, although Nikki Haley did get some pretty good numbers there.

Bakari, I do want to ask you lastly about this. Politico, some reporting out today about how President Biden refers to former President Trump. It says the president has described Trump to longtime friends and close aids as a sick F-word, who delights in other people's misfortunes. Your thoughts?

SELLERS: I mean, I think it's an accurate description, but that is not necessarily what's going to win you the race. This race is unique, and I think Maura may agree with me, I think most people who have dealt in politics and watched it will tell you this isn't a persuasion race.

People have their opinions about Joe Biden. They have their opinion about Donald Trump. Name-calling is not -- there's not somebody who's going to be like, oh my god, I just realized today that Donald Trump is a sick F-word. That's not going to happen.


SELLERS: This is about GOTV and getting voters to the polls. These two people don't like each other. But I will tell you this. Joe Biden has been one of the most successful grandparents in the history of the United States of America.

We know he's old, but he's praised -- you know, the numbers are telling that he's been a good leader so far.

SIDNER: Yes. You have a lot of different infrastructure. A lot of people -- actually just recently Republicans were praising, but they had voted against it. So, it's been kind of interesting to see all of this play out in this political time. Bakari Sellers, Maura Gillespie, thank you so much for coming on. Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We have new word and new timing out of New York and -- on when exactly the federal judge is going to hand down his decision on the fate of Donald Trump's business empire. The next move in Donald Trump's civil fraud trial. We'll have details coming up.

And the defense has just rested its case into trial of Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of the Michigan school shooter who is on trial herself. This morning, we've been tracking and watching along with you Jennifer Crumbley's second day on the stand. Prosecutors cross- examining her.

The court's in recess. Prosecutors now need to decide if they have more cases to lay out or if this now races toward closing arguments in this unprecedented trial. We'll be back.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, new this morning. There is new timing on the verdict in the civil fraud trial against Donald Trump. Mid-February now. That is according to a court spokesperson. Judge Arthur Engoron, who is still deliberating is considering the attorney general's argument that Trump and his company should pay $370 million for fraudulent claims.

Now in the meantime, Allen Weisselberg, the man who spent decades as Trump's chief financial officer in his real estate empire is on the verge of pleading guilty for the second time. CNN's Katelyn Polantz is with us now. Katelyn, let's start with the timing here from Judge Arthur Engoron, who initially told us all probably January 31, you'd have a verdict.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: John, it takes some time to write a verdict. We are waiting for this written opinion from Judge Engoron who heard this trial, this trial Well, that went on for months in the fall and into December.

They closed the trial about three weeks ago and the judge had said publicly, he was hoping to come to a decision on the damages that the Trump organization should face by the end of January. That obviously didn't happen. Now, we're into February.

And now, a court spokesperson is saying publicly it might not be until mid-February. A couple other weeks, things could change still for when there may be a final decision from the judge on what should happen here to the Trump company, what they should be facing for the result of this suit from the attorney general's office in New York, accusing Trump and his organization of civil fraud and asking for $370 million in a reward there to the state and additional punishment for Trump and the company. But there is a long arm here. We're not just waiting for the judge's decision on damages here. We are also watching to see exactly how quickly. Because a court- appointed monitor looking at the company say -- is saying there are inconsistencies. There needs to be corrections in this business and the way they're doing reporting.

And then in top of -- on top of that, as you mentioned, the former CFO Allen Weisselberg of the Trump organization already serving a jail sentence for unrelated tax fraud charges. He is potentially getting the squeeze from Manhattan district attorney prosecutors as they look to take Trump to trial for his business practices as well, that there is a possibility of new charges against Allen Weisselberg. John.

BERMAN: Quite -- (INAUDIBLE) for Allen Weisselberg. All right. Katelyn Polantz, thank you very much for that. Kate.

BOLDUAN: So, we also have new reporting today on how Donald Trump's legal team is preparing for the U.S. Supreme Court in oral arguments before the justices next week. At stake is -- this one is about whether or not Donald Trump will be allowed to appear on the 2024 primary ballot in Colorado. The Colorado Supreme Court you may remember ruled that Donald Trump could not because of his role on January 6. But now, what?

CNN's Joan Biskupic has some new reporting on this. Joan, what are you learning?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Sure, Kate. Good to see you. You know, the stakes just could not be higher. It will affect who is on the presidential ballot, and it could affect who becomes president. So, there's a lot of pressure on these lawyers.


And the two lawyers who will argue next Thursday, Kate, are relatively inexperienced. Jason Murray, who's representing the Colorado voters who won Trump off the ballot has never appeared before these justices. And Jonathan Mitchell, who's representing Donald Trump has had a couple of cases up there but none of this magnitude.

Both of these lawyers have other strengths. But in terms of just going up there and facing these nine justices, they need practice. And this is what they're doing now.

They've both moved their operations to Washington, D.C. as of today to do all sorts of networking with sophisticated lawyers who have argued many cases before the Supreme Court. And one of the most common practices for a lawyer getting ready for the justices are dry runs known as moot courts. These feature four or five lawyers who play the role of the nine justices, and not just give the lawyers practice, but help them expose the weaknesses in their cases, maybe figure out ways to amend things that just don't land right, and to also strengthen the points that the lawyer wants to get across.

Because, Kate, these lawyers will field dozens and dozens of questions. So, they have to be ready with answers. But they've also got to be ready, more importantly, to constantly pivot the justices to their central points.

Now, who do you get to do these? Organizers of moot courts turn to repeat players before the court. And a good place for that is anyone who served in the U.S. Solicitor General's office. That's the main set of lawyers who argue for the federal government.

Those people, former law clerks, and all sorts of other repeat players take the roles of Chief Justice John Roberts, Elena Kagan, and Brett Kavanaugh, all nine just to get someone ready for next Thursday, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, standing up before those justices, if anyone's ever sat through those, it's a different beast. It's a beast all of -- all and of its own. And then with the unprecedented nature of what the justices could be deciding here and doing here, it adds an entirely new level to all of this in the layer. It's good to see you, Joan. Thank you. Sara?

BISKUPIC: Thank you.

SIDNER: All right. Coming up. Humpback whales, once on the brink of extinction have made a spectacular comeback. Now, scientists say they're facing their biggest existential threat. This is a great story. We'll have Bill Weir come in and explain.



BOLDUAN: This Sunday, CNN will take you to the far corners -- I know corners, reaches, you decide what shape of the earth for a special report on the climate crisis. CNN's Bill Weir embedded with a team of researchers tracking humpback whales to reveal how the crisis is impacting them, and how they might actually help beat it. Bill is here. Tell me more --


BOLDUAN: Us more.

WEIR: They are the biggest allies we have, literally. The biggest allies on the planet. And it's so good we saved them from oblivion because when I was a little boy, they were on the brink of extinction.

The comeback of the humpback is one of the great stories in conservation. And a couple of years ago, some economists at the International Monetary Fund said let's figure out the value of a whale.


WEIR: What are -- what services it provide over 60-year life? Two million dollars --


WEIR: Two million dollars in our services all thanks to their poo. Check it out.

SIDNER: Of course.


WEIR (voiceover): And then they hit the jackpot. Oh, we got poo. Whale stool sample. Nice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You got a good chunk for you once they poo.

WEIR: That should be plenty. Look at that.


WEIR: That's the goal.

FRIEDLAENDER: That is the goal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There we go. We have the poo.

WEIR (voiceover): New science finds that when it comes to earth repair, whale poo has massive value. You see when whalers wiped out 95 percent of the baleen whales, we lost the planet's biggest fertilizer pumps. One pod can take important nutrients from deep water and spread them across miles of ocean surface water, feeding the phytoplankton which feeds the krill, which feeds everything from penguins to seals to whales.

WEIR: They are the gardeners of the ocean, aren't they?

FRIEDLAENDER: Yes. Instead of thinking of a food chain as going from one end to the other and stopping, it's much more like a circle. So, they're literally seeding the upper parts of the ocean with the opportunity for plant life to grow. And that's what feeds the whale food.

So, you're right. In a sense, they're basically farmers. They're recycling nutrients. There's more food available to them the more they're around.

WEIR: Yes.



WEIR (on camera): Whale laxatives. John Berman just suggested.


BERMAN: Well, the answer to all of our issues.

WEIR: It is.

SIDNER: It is all about. WEIR: But let them do their thing and let them come back. There's a little over a million whales now, live -- that are bouncing back of all species. These economists say we get four million on the planet. We could really draw down as much carbon as three or four Amazon rainforests.


WEIR: And new artificial intelligence is helping us understand their communications. A team up in Alaska had a 20-minute conversation with a humpback whale playing recordings back and forth, different cadences. We're just beginning to understand our biggest planetary roommates and literally the biggest allies now.

SIDNER: It is mind-blowing.

BERMAN: Can I just ask? Because those pictures were beautiful. Where were you?

WEIR: We were in the Antarctic Peninsula. We sailed out of the tip of Argentina and went all the way down --

BOLDUAN: You work for the same company with them?

SIDNER: I am sorry. How do you get this cash?

BOLDUAN: That's what I'm thinking.

WEIR: I cashed in a lot of frequent flyer miles using coupons. But then we also went up to the coast of Colombia where there's their breeding grounds. And so, they're just gorging and logging --

BOLDUAN: Oh, wow.


WEIR: And their couch potatoes down south. And then when they get up in the tropics, it's like spring break, and they're mating and jumping. And we go all over the world.

I confront one of the last whale hunters in Iceland about his trade. And so, this is one of the best hours we put together, like I've said.

SIDNER: We have gotten it wrong. What you're saying is all these years, we were like save the whales, save the whales. They're saving us.

WEIR: Exactly. Exactly.

SIDNER: We've gotten it wrong.

WEIR: We did save the whales. It worked the first time. And if we can do it again, oh, just as a byproduct, we'll save all of life on earth.

SIDNER: This whole episode is on Sunday, 9:00.

BOLDUAN: Easy painting.

SIDNER: He comes here and has a wonderful time. He shows us wonderful pictures. I cannot wait to see these.

BOLDUAN: Bill Weir always drops like it's a knowing.

SIDNER: It's true. It's true.

WEIR: Love you, guys.

BERMAN: That is Sunday night. One whole story. One whole hour. Only here on CNN.

SIDNER: Thank you for joining us. "INSIDE POLITICS" is up next.