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Dollar Tree Says It Plans To Close 1,000 Stores, Offer More Expensive Items; RFK Jr Says He's Picked Running Mate, Will Announce This Month; Closing Arguments Underway In Trial Of Michigan Shooter's Father; Nick Saban Rips Current State Of College Sports. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 13, 2024 - 14:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The discount chain, Dollar Tree, says it will close almost 1,000 stores, nearly all from the Family Dollar chain that it bought out. And that will leave a void for many low- income customers who rely on discount and dollar stores for groceries and essentials.

The stores have come under fire for poor conditions and for product safety issues.

At the same time, the CEO said Dollar Tree plans to offer more expensive items, including some that are worth up to $7,to cater to its new customers, many of whom make more than $100,000 a year.

We have CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich following this story for us.

Tell us, Vanessa, what led to this decision.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: You have 1,000 stores, Family Dollar stores that are going to be closing over the next couple of years. The first 600 closing this year and then about 370 over the next couple of years.

The CEO of Family Dollar saying that the reason for these closures is that inflation and fewer government assistance programs for their low- income customers has really impacted them. And that has impacted the amount of money that those folks can spend in stores.

There was a purchase that was made. Dollar -- Dollar Tree bought Family Dollar in 2015, and there was an effort to improve a lot of the Family Dollar stores.

But they were hit, as you mentioned, with safety violations, food violations that actually resulted in a fine by the Department of Justice for over $40 million and Family Dollar really took a hit there.

On the flip side though, the parent company, Dollar Tree, as you mentioned, is finding success with Americans who are making over $125,000. So those $1 items are now being -- are going to be $7 items in some cases, because they're finding more traction with those types of customers.

But ultimately, the closure and the focus on the Family Dollar family, closing 1,000 stores is really designed to set the entire company up for profitability.

KEILAR: When it comes to the issue of food availability, Vanessa, what is going to happen to that because of these store closures?

YURKEVICH: It's going to have an impact. Dollar stores, Family Dollar have been very important to Americans who are bringing in lower incomes.

Family Dollar is mostly in urban centers and they have faced obviously competition from other stores.

Dollar General, a separate company, has found incredible success in rural areas because, as you mentioned, there are places around the country that don't have access to grocery stores within a 30-mile radius. And Dollar General has, in fact, provided that for them.

But in both situations, when you have dollar stores in urban centers and in more rural areas, it can create a little bit of competition for smaller mom-and-pop shops that are providing healthy food options for people.

The problem is that when you put $1 store in these types of areas where there are smaller grocery stores, people are spending their money on perishables and shampoo and toothpaste at the dollar stores.

And not then spending that money in the grocery stores, in addition to all of the fresh produce that they're buying.

So there's a flip side to this. It's great for people who don't have access to supermarkets within a large radius. However, for some of the smaller mom-and-pop stores, it has put them out of business.

But clearly dollar stores are an important part of the American landscape. And Americans are going to be feeling the loss of 1,000 stores over the next couple of years in the Family Dollar family -- Brianna?

KEILAR: All right. Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you for that report.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: It sounds like the punchline to a joke. What does an NFL quarterback, a former governor/pro wrestler and a former TV host all have in common? Not really a joke. They're all potential V.P. picks, among others, for Independent presidential candidate, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Kennedy has told CNN that he's selected his running mate and he'll announce his decision within the next two weeks.

Let's discuss with CNN's Tom Foreman.


Tom, an interesting shortlist of candidates. Who are we talking about here?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These are the classic strange bedfellows that you hear about in life.

Let's start off with Aaron Rodgers, NFL quarterback now with the Jets. Rodgers, like Kennedy, has been one to embrace anti-vax conspiracy theories, covid conspiracy theories, that sort of thing.

This is complicated because he says -- he ran out onto the field carrying a flag at the beginning of the NFL season with the Jets. He promptly got injured and that was the end of his season.

But he's a guy who has -- has clearly shown an interest in doing other things. Says he wants to keep playing with the Jets. But then he also auditioned to be the host of "Jeopardy!" And like the Jets, he lost.

Moving on to Jesse Ventura. Jesse "The Body" Ventura, he was a former pro wrestler who won the governorship of Minnesota in 1998, promising a lot of reforms there.

He said, sort of famously, "My job is not to make people comfortable," while the deficit went through the roof, they had different things change there. He had one term. So obviously, he's succeeded. People weren't very comfortable, so he was out.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Some other notable names on their include Tulsi Gabbard, who has --

FOREMAN: Sure, sure.

SANCHEZ: -- essentially said that she's done with the vetting process.

Senator Rand Paul, as well.

FOREMAN: Sort of general political gadfly, in a way. They tend to be coming, in this case, more from the right, but not entirely.

It looks like, from all indications, that everybody on this list not named Rodgers or Ventura is probably in an also-ran position right now. They don't look like they're the front runners.

My money right now would be on Rodgers or Ventura. Probably Rodgers. But we don't know. Campaigns can make sudden changes.

But this is going to be an unusual stacking, no matter what happens. And whomever is chosen, the question is going to be, what impact does that have?

Because the real question about the Kennedy campaign is, who does it take votes away from, less so than who it gets --


FOREMAN: -- her Trump.

SANCHEZ: Potentially be a spoiler for their reelections --


FOREMAN: Yes, especially in the vice-presidential pick having anything to do with that.

SANCHEZ: These are all unorthodox characters. You yourself, I'd say, are a bit of an unorthodox character, too.


SANCHEZ: Have you been approached by JFK Jr?

FOREMAN: I have not. If anybody ever approaches me for public office, the country is doomed.


SANCHEZ: RFK might think you're a reptile, like some people do on the Internet.

FOREMAN: Some people, yes.

SANCHEZ: Tom Foreman, always appreciate it.

FOREMAN: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Thanks, Tom.

Still ahead, a Michigan jury will soon decide if a mass shooter's father bears blame for the Oxford school massacre. What we've learned about James Crumbley as closing arguments continue.



KEILAR: Right now, closing arguments are underway in the trial of James Crumbley, the man whose teenage son killed four of his classmates in Michigan's Oxford High School back in 2021.

Crumbley is facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection to those deaths. And he decided not to testify this morning in his own defense.

CNN's Jean Casarez is outside court in Pontiac, Michigan.

Jean, walk us through what happened today in court.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, they are finishing up closing arguments. In fact, it's the prosecution is having the rebuttal close. So were very close to the end. And the judge will then give instructions and then the case will be

handed over to the jury. And it is just mid-afternoon right now. So this jury may definitely at least begin to deliberate today.

But the focus I think is the closing arguments right now because the prosecution really, really driving home the point that this was foreseeable, that James Crumbley knew what his son could have done, that he could harm others.

And he knew it because of several reasons. But he never locked up the gun. He kept the gun in a place that his son could easily find it. He didn't really hide it because Ethan found it and he committed that mass shooting.

And also the prosecution is saying that in that short window of time after James Crumbley saw that math worksheet with blood and bullets, blood everywhere, a human being figure that has bullet holes, a drawing of a gun the prosecution is saying was just like that .9 millimeter that was in his backpack at school.

That James Crumbley went and he did DoorDash, which is a noble, a noble job, but he drove by his own house four times doing DoorDash and he could have gone into the house to see if that gun was still there and he didn't do that.

Now the defense, in their closing, really focusing the opposite way, that it's the evidence you don't see what shows you that he is not guilty. You do not -- didn't have any evidence that he had any knowledge that his son had severe mental issues.

He knew he was sad, but that doesn't rise to the level of having to get him help. He also did not know that his son could harm anyone, that there is nothing in his background, no discipline at all.

And I think what, for the defense, probably one of the strongest things they said was that school officials, people he knew, his son's friends, parents never expressed anything, including that morning at school that he could be a harm to others.

So no one in Ethan Crumbley's life believed he could harm others. A teacher that he known for years that went face-to-face with him during the mass shooting said, no, this can't be Ethan. He's a sweet kid.


And so, if others didn't know, how could James have known?

So this will end. It will be up to this jury. There are 15 jurors at this point, 12 to deliberate. They're randomly going to select who will be the deliberating jury.

At this point, nine women, six men. We'll see how it ends up once those five alternates are actually selected -- Brianna?

KEILAR: That's right. The shooter's mother, Jean, was convicted of the same charges last month. You, of course, covered that trial for us. We spent a lot of time watching it.

She testified in her own defense and, ultimately, that did not work in her favor. Here, Ethan Crumbley's father is not testifying in his own defense. It's an interesting choice.

CASAREZ: It's an interesting choice. And I think what it reflects is the defense believes that in the prosecution's case and through those cross-examinations, they developed reasonable doubt.

Because it takes a jury to believe reasonable doubt to vote not guilty unanimously.

Or in -- with a mistrial, at least one juror to vote that they do not believe beyond a reasonable doubt that he was grossly negligent or violated a legal duty to his child, that James Crumbley knew his son could harm others?

KEILAR: All right. Jean Casarez, thank you so much for that report. We'll continue to follow this from Pontiac, Michigan.

He was one of the most dominant forces in college sports for the last decade. And now that he's stepped away, former Alabama head coach, Nick Saban, has a lot to say about the current state of college football, and it's not very flattering.



SANCHEZ: Former Alabama football coach, Nick Saban, has a bone to pick with the state of college sports. He's not very happy with a deep- pockets mentality that he feels is sweeping the NCAA now that athletes can cash in on their name, image and likeness.

KEILAR: And it's part of why he decided to retire last year, actually.

Saban was speaking at a Capitol Hill roundtable with Senate lawmakers when he shared his opinions. And he said there's very little focus now on developing players and help helping them be successful in life.

He also said there is no framework in place to keep schools from buying their way to the best players, which melts healthy competition.

"Bleacher Report's" college football writer, Morgan Moriarty, is here with us on this.

OK, Morgan, so it -- at this roundtable yesterday, Saban said all the things that I believed in for all these years, 50 years of coaching no longer exist in college athletics.

He got quite a bit of blowback for that. He kind of got roasted to a crisp on social media.

But what are Saban's major gripes here? MORGAN MORIARTY, COLLEGE FOOTBALL WRITER, "BLEACHER REPORT": Yes. So

his comments obviously yesterday made a lot of waves and headline in general.

And I did think they were particularly interesting because he was asked in the days after his retirement, you know, did you retire because of the various issues facing college football?

Obviously, there's NIL, how that affects recruiting, the transfer portal, the kind of unrestricted free agency that we have in college football.

And he pushed back against that a little bit initially. But it's clear from his comments, yesterday, that this did play a factor into his decision.

And I think, when you have a guy like Nick Saban, who is, no question, college football's most dominant and greatest coach of all time -- I don't think there's any argument to go against that.

He did things at such a high level and created a gold standard throughout the sport. And he was able to continue and do that even with the changes with NIL and recruiting.

He was still recruiting Alabama, putting together top classes, utilizing things like NIL and the transfer portal to find success.

But it is clear that with the current model that college football and college sports has currently, there is very little restrictions over things like NIL and things like the transfer portal and how that can impact recruiting.

And I really do think that he was periodically able to kind of evaluate his program from a multi-year basis. And with the way that things are going with college athletes wanting to maximize their potential, he wasn't really able to do that.

It was turning more into a year-by-year basis. And you do see that in terms of how college sports -- obviously, college football, but college athletics have to kind of rebuild and reevaluate their rosters each and every year.

So for a guy who's accomplished so much in his career and he's -- who's already endured so much change in the sport, it was very obvious that he saw the way the sport is going and said, you know what, this is enough for me, I have nothing else to prove, I'm ready to step away.

SANCHEZ: Yes, he's accomplished everything you can accomplish in college football and more.

The counter argument to some of what Saban is saying, though, is that NIL essentially gives student athletes control over their own domain, over what they produce for programs, right?

Because as amateurs, the school is using them to rake in absurd amounts of money. And they're not actually profiting from their labor and their work.

Saban, though, kind of pitched a revenue sharing arrangement. Walk us through that.


MORIARTY: Right, so revenue sharing, this idea that something that Saban mentioned yesterday in this roundtable.

It's basically the idea that the millions and millions of dollars that these players bring in for these conferences each and every year, if you're able to kind of split that up and divvy it up more evenly among the student athletes, that will help with some of the issues that we see with NIL and recruiting.

I think that that is a good idea. I don't know if that's the end-all, be-all solution. I think the bigger thing kind of coming down the pipe for the NCAA is this notion of athletes becoming employees of their respective schools.

And we saw, last week, Dartmouth men's college basketball team voting to unionize, 13 to two. That came after the NLRB allowed them to do so, approved this unionization.

And I think that that's kind of the next big thing that's coming down the pipe for the AA. And Saban is against that.

But I do think if you have things like contracts in place, your minimum salary caps, that would help alleviate a lot of the current issues that are facing college athletics.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Morgan Moriarty, appreciate the perspective. Thanks for joining us.

MORIARTY: Thank you for having me,

SANCHEZ: The Georgia judge overseeing the sprawling conspiracy case against Donald Trump and his allies is tweaking it. He's throwing out some charges. What this means for the broader case against former president.

As Judge Scott McAfee faces his own self-imposed deadline on whether to disqualify District Attorney Fani Willis. A lot of legal drama to break down straight ahead.