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Trump Warns of Bloodbath; Trump Unable to Make $454 Million Bond in Civil Fraud Case; Supreme Court Hears First Amendment Case; Supreme Court Deadline on Texas Immigration Law. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired March 18, 2024 - 13:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Limits on free speech?

The Supreme Court hears a major First Amendment case today asking what the U.S. government can or cannot do to combat misinformation online. And the justices could soon rule on a controversial plan by Texas to arrest migrants at the border.

Plus, Trump unleashed again. His defenders said he was talking about an economic bloodbath if he should lose in November, as Democrats insist he was threatening political violence. What is clear, Trump predicted the end of U.S. elections if he loses and called January 6 convicts unbelievable patriots and hostages, so a peace rally his Ohio appearance was not.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: And evacuations under way in Iceland, a new eruption from a volcano forcing one of the country's most popular tourist attractions to clear out.

We're following these major developing stories and many more all coming in right here to CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

KEILAR: Decades of failing to enact border policies in Washington are coming to a head at the Supreme Court today, as the federal government and the state of Texas clash over who can enforce immigration laws.

At issue is a controversial Texas law that gives local authorities the power to arrest people that they suspect crossed into the country illegally. The Supreme Court's temporary pause on that law expires in just a few hours. So the justices will either extend that freeze or they could let the law take effect while legal challenges play out.

Critics say the law will effectively legalize racial profiling of Latinos in Texas. Supporters say Texas is simply taking action to curb a crisis the federal government has failed to fix.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Dallas for us.

Ed, what are you hearing there on the ground?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, everyone watching what the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce here in the coming hours, as the fate of what is known as Senate Bill 4, or S.B.4, which the Texas legislature, which is dominated by Republicans, passed back in December and was signed by Governor Greg Abbott.

This has become a signature piece of immigration border security law that Texas officials have been touting for months, but has been tied up in the courts since it was signed by the Texas governor back in December.

And, as you mentioned, what it essentially does is give local law enforcement officers the ability to arrest people who enter the country illegally or are suspected of entering the country illegally, as well as also giving judges the ability to deport people back to Mexico if they're here in Texas illegally.

This law has been challenged by a number of immigrant rights organizations, as well as the Biden administration, the Department of Justice. They're essentially arguing that immigration must be enforced with one voice, that you cannot have states kind of acting on immigration issues unilaterally.

Texas officials are saying that they have the sovereign right to defend themselves in this crisis, to defend itself in this crisis, and that they should have the ability to enforce laws as they see fit. So this is the dynamic and the struggle that is playing out between state and federal officials here in Texas.

And it was tied -- it's been tied up in the courts. An Austin judge said -- that initially stopped this law from going into effect several weeks ago said that it would be a nightmare scenario if states all across the country could pass their own form of immigration laws.

It was then turned over by a federal appeals court and allowed it to go into effect, and then the U.S. Supreme Court has stepped in and halted it. It is expected that the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue some sort of ruling on this law here today, Brianna, so very -- this is being watched very closely all across the U.S. southern border, especially here in Texas, as officials anxiously await what the U.S. Supreme Court is going to rule in this case.

KEILAR: Yes, we are waiting to see.

And, Ed, just last hour, we learned of a potential terrorism investigation after a Lebanese migrant was apprehended at the border and allegedly made threats. What can you tell us about that?


Well, the Customs and Border Protection officials acknowledged that and indicate that there is an investigation into a Lebanese man who was taken into custody in the El Paso area on March 9, and, according to a Border Patrol memo obtained by The New York Post, that that individual made threats.


Asking -- when he was asked what he is doing here, he said: "I am coming here. I'm going to make a bomb." He then later said that he was trying to escape the Iran-backed Hezbollah organization in Lebanon, and that's why he had come to the U.S., so all of this being investigated, very serious allegations there in this memo.

And border officials, we understand, are investigating this case and trying to determine exactly if there is any validity to this threat -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, we will wait to see what comes of that.

Ed, thank you for that report from Dallas -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Let's discuss S.B.4 with Brandon Judd. He's the president of the National Border Patrol Council, the union representing thousands of front-line agents.

Brandon, thanks so much for being with us today.

You joined Governor Abbott when he signed S.B.4 into law. I'm assuming your support for it hasn't changed. How would you like to see the Supreme Court handle this deadline?

BRANDON JUDD, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: Well, I'm hoping the Supreme Court is going to follow the laws. That's ultimately the people that have the -- I'm sorry.

That's ultimately the entity that gets to decide whether a law passed by a state is in fact legal. But what I can tell you is that, if the Supreme Court does uphold S.B.4, it's going to cause a drop in illegal immigration through the state of Texas, and that's going to be a huge benefit to Border Patrol agents.

It's going to be a huge benefit to those individuals that want border security. It's also going to be a huge benefit to being able to go after the cartels, the criminal organizations that are bringing in criminal aliens, aliens from special interest countries, and all of the fentanyl that is killing so many U.S. citizens.

So, yes, we want to see laws get passed that are going to free up our hands to go after the cartels, so that we can protect the American people. That's why we put on the uniform. That's what we want to be able to do.

SANCHEZ: I want to get into the pros and cons of S.B.4 with you, but I want to take a step back as far as the constitutionality question, because, as you know, the Supreme Court previously has ruled that immigration laws can only be enforced by the federal government.

There's precedent for that. There was a similar law in Arizona that got struck down about 10 years ago. Are you confident that the courts will rule with you and find that S.B.4 is constitutional, when they already have this track record of striking down similar laws?

JUDD: Well, I was involved in the Arizona law when it got passed by Governor Brewer. I knew the facts behind that law. And it was, in fact, struck down. This is a completely different set of facts in S.B.4. And so the

Supreme Court, when they look at things, they're going to look at the specifics of the law. And if the specifics of the law, if they find that it conflicts with the Constitution, they will strike it down.

If they find that it does not conflict with the Constitution, they will let it go forward, as they should. That's what their job is. And, ultimately, we will comply with what the Supreme Court decides.

SANCHEZ: So, on the details of S.B.4, one aspect of it is that it would rely on local law enforcement and their assessment of whether someone they see potentially could be undocumented.

You know that the job of border protection agents is a delicate one. You don't only enforce laws. You in many cases provide humanitarian assistance to folks. Suffice to say, it's not an easy job. And, with all due respect to local law enforcement, they would be handling duties that perhaps they haven't necessarily been trained for.

Does it concern you that they may not be equipped to handle the same kind of situations that the members of your union do?

JUDD: So, in order to enforce a law, you have to have articulable facts that leads to probable cause to take somebody into custody. Those articulable facts are going to be very plain.

And so I'm not very concerned that local law enforcement is going to be able to do that. They're doing that right now as we speak. When they enforce laws, they have to have the articulable facts that leads to that high level, which is probable cause, in order to seize somebody's person. That's an arrest.

And so I do believe that they will be able to do that. I do believe that they will be able to use their judgment. I also believe that they're going to get the training that is necessary in order to be able to articulate exactly how they came to the determination that somebody might have violated laws in entering our country illegally.

That's what law enforcement does. I have complete confidence in law enforcement. I think that the American people should also have confidence in their law enforcement.

SANCHEZ: There were cases in that Arizona scenario that we talked about a moment ago. One of the similarities is that allowed -- it allowed officers to use their discretion as to whether they found someone suspicious of being documented or undocumented.


And it led to a lot of problems with racial profiling. So there were American citizens that were targeted too. You don't see any issue with S.B.4 potentially enabling discrimination?

JUDD: So, I have heard the complaints that it could lead to discrimination. But let's use Arizona. In the short time that that was open, there just weren't very many cases that were found to have racial profiling. So, again, I trust in law enforcement. I believe that law enforcement has the best interests of the public in mind. I do not believe that law enforcement goes out of their way to violate laws.

I do not believe that law enforcement goes out of the way to racially profile, especially when we're looking at South Texas. If you look at DPS in South Texas, all -- a large percentage of those individuals that are in South Texas are also minorities. I do not believe that law enforcement, regardless of whether they're minorities or whether they're white, go out of their way to racially profile.

I believe that law enforcement has the best interest of the American people at heart, that they will, in fact, properly enforce the laws.

SANCHEZ: Brandon Judd, we have to leave the conversation there.

But especially if the Supreme Court takes this up, we look forward to having you back on.

JUDD: Thanks, Boris. I appreciate it.

SANCHEZ: Of course -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Also on the stacked docket for the Supreme Court today, a thorny dispute over free speech. The justices heard arguments over the Biden administration's efforts to remove social media posts that contained misinformation about COVID-19 and elections and whether it violated the First Amendment.

We have CNN Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic here on this for us.

Where do things stand with this, Joan?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Well, first of all, I just came from the court, and there were really almost two hours of very exhilarating oral arguments, tense at times, but a little bit of levity that I will get to in a second.

This case involves the Biden administration's attempt to tamp down on misinformation on social media stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine misinformation, also bad information about the 2020 election results. It said it was merely being persuasive to social media companies to try to get them to move problem -- remove problematic texts.

Two states, Missouri and Louisiana and about five social media users sued the government, saying that you weren't just being persuasive. You were actually engaged in coercion that violates the First Amendment rights of users.

And I thought, when we started the oral arguments, it would be a lot of nuance over how to draw that line between persuasion and coercion, but the position taken by the states, argued by the Louisiana solicitor general, was so hard and fast that several justices made clear from the outset of their comments that they were not going to go as far as the states were going.

He suggested that even mere encouragement could come up against the First Amendment, if platforms were encouraged to take down things that, again, would have health misinformation.

And let me just give you the one little part that became funny, triggered by this initial question by Sam Alito comparing social media platforms to the traditional news media.


SAMUEL ALITO, U.S. SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: I see that the White House and federal officials are repeatedly saying that Facebook and the federal government should be partners. We're on the same team. Officials are demanding answers. I want an answer. I want it right away.

When they're unhappy, they curse them out. There are regular meetings. There is constant pestering of Facebook and some of the other platforms, and they want to have regular meetings, and they suggest, why don't you -- they suggest rules that should be applied and why don't you tell us everything that you're going to do so we can help you and we can look it over?

And I thought, wow, I cannot imagine federal officials taking that approach to the print media. Would you do that to "The New York Times" or "The Wall Street Journal' or the Associated Press or any other big newspaper or wire service?


BISKUPIC: Actually, Brianna, two of his colleagues, Justice Kagan and Kavanaugh, who have worked in administrations, acknowledged that they often would call up news organizations and say, didn't like that. Editorial didn't like that news.

KEILAR: So that's how it works...

BISKUPIC: It's how it works.

KEILAR: ... Justice, with all due respect.


BISKUPIC: And at one point, the Chief Justice John Roberts, who actually once worked in an administration, clipped at the beginning of one of his questions, "First, I have no experience coercing anyone about anything," just because -- so he could get it on record.

So they brought their own personal experiences to it. But I think, bottom line, Brianna, I don't think the states are going to prevail at the Supreme Court.


KEILAR: That was a funny moment, unintentionally funny. (LAUGHTER)

KEILAR: Nonetheless, Joan Biskupic, thank you so much.

BISKUPIC: Thank you.

KEILAR: A warning for American democracy, former President Trump painting a disturbing picture if he does not win this election.

Plus, Russian leader Vladimir Putin confirms prisoner exchange talks that could have freed Alexei Navalny, they were under way at the time of the jailed opposition leader's death. What he says happened.

And starting today, getting birth control is as simple as clicking add to cart.



SANCHEZ: Donald Trump's lawyers just revealed he has a major money problem. In a court filing, they said the presumptive GOP nominee for president cannot find an insurance company to underwrite a nearly half-a-billion dollar bond.

Remember, he needs to pay the bond as part of a New York civil fraud judgment against him. You will recall the judge found him and the Trump Organization liable for fraud, conspiracy and issuing false business records. Trump's attorney quoted an insurance broker saying the bond was -- quote -- "a practical impossibility."

CNN's Kara Scannell joins us now with the story.

So, Kara, Trump's attorneys revealing all this to the court to try to delay the bond requirement, right, as Trump appeals the judgment?


I mean, they have to come up with this money in order to appeal and not have the New York attorney general move to seize their assets. And they have been asking the appeals court to allow them to not post any of this money until the appeal is over, saying that they have real estate that is worth the $454 million that the judgment, plus interest, is.

Now, they're revealing in this filing that they have approached some 30 different underwriters, can't get any of them to be willing to underwrite and secure this nearly half-a-billion dollar bond, including some of the world's largest insurance companies.

And according to these filings, Trump's lawyers are saying that the insurance companies, many of them have internal limits that they can't individually secure a bond in excess of $100 million. And he's got five times that problem.

Another problem that they have run into, they have said, is that these insurance companies and underwriters are unwilling to accept real estate as collateral for this bond. They only want cash or stock, something that can easily be turned into cash. Real estate is hard to sell and hard to turn around that quickly.

So they're unwilling to accept that. In the words of one of Trump's lawyers, he called it a major obstacle for them securing a bond. So this, as you say, is all part of Trump's arguments to this New York appeals court panel of judges to say, let us not -- we can't come up with this money, allow us to move forward and appeal, and we will settle this later on because we have these assets.

Now, the New York attorney general's office has opposed this. They say that they are ready to move forward to collect on this judgment if Trump isn't able to come up with this. Now, the decision is in the hands of the New York Appeals Court. We expect a decision that by the end of this month.

And Trump's lawyers are saying, if the judges are going to rule against him, he's asking them to allow him to appeal to New York's highest court, and then continue to allow him to have time to come up with this money. Again, we are in another situation where the clock is ticking and it will be up to the appeals court here to say where this is going to go next, if Trump will have time or if the New York attorney general's office can move forward to try to seize this judgment -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yes, his legal case is perhaps not hurting him when it comes to the polls, but definitely having an impact on his wallet.

Kara Scannell, thank you so much -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Also today, former President Trump is defending his comments that he made on the campaign trail Saturday when he warned of a bloodbath if he loses the election.

The Biden campaign says the former president -- quote -- "wants another January 6." Trump says he was speaking specifically about the auto industry, speaking figuratively about the economy that would be. Now, those comments, though, were just some of the controversial remarks that he said in Ohio.

Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (R) AND CURRENT U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to put a 100 percent tariff on every single car that comes across the line.


TRUMP: And you're not going to be able to sell those cars, if I get elected.

Now, if I don't get elected, it's going to be a bloodbath for the whole -- that's going to be the least of it. It's going to be a bloodbath for the country. That will be the least of it. But they're not going to sell those cars. China

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the horribly and unfairly treated January 6 hostages.

TRUMP: You see the spirit from the hostages, and that's what they are is hostages. They've been treated terribly. Unbelievable patriots.

If I had prisons that were teeming with MS-13 and all sorts of people that they have got to take care of for the next 50 years, right? Young people, they're in jail for years and -- if you call them people. I don't know if you call them people. In some cases, they're not people, in my opinion.


KEILAR: Joining us now is former Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who was one of two Republicans on the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol. He's also a CNN senior political commentator.

And, Congressman, I am curious what you think of the bloodbath comment, but I also want to focus on the fact that Trump said there would be no more elections if he doesn't win in November, of course, elections being the cornerstone of our democracy.

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, so, look, on the bloodbath, I guess you can make an argument that he was talking about the auto industry.

But as I was listening to that again, I caught that he said, this will be the least of our concerns. It will be a bloodbath. So, it seems like he was talking about maybe more than just the auto industry. But we know Donald Trump, with his lack of self-esteem and his, like, really being cornered right now and just desperate.


He stands in front of these crowds and he just says whatever gets him applause. And, actually, I'm more concerned not by what Trump was saying, but by the fact that there are people sitting there applauding him or standing there applauding him.

So, yes, I mean, all of those things are concerning. I think the idea that there's going to be no more elections is concerning. And what he's trying to imply is simply that there's going to be violence. He said this. If he loses, there's going to be violence again.

I mean, this is -- this is his M.O. This is everything he set up between November and January 6 of 2020 and 2021. He would fully intend to try to promote this again, because, again, Brianna, the only thing he cares about is himself. And he knows, if he loses the presidential election, he's going to jail and he will be seen as a stain on our history.

So he's putting everything into this, I think up to and including potentially provoking violence again. KEILAR: He -- it stands out that he is raising the specter of there being no more elections. I haven't actually heard that concerned voiced about any candidate, except for Trump himself. And I know some people will look at that and say, that's hyperbole.

But I wonder what you think. Do you think that's a valid concern about Trump? Or do you think the American system of government would protect against a president trying to stay in power past their term?

KINZINGER: Well, look, I typically would think that our system can protect against that.

It's different. So, for instance, now, if he loses the election, he does not have the instruments of the state like he did on January 6. He had the Justice Department. He had the ability to try to intimidate local officials. Now he's just a guy running for president again.

But, if he's president in four years, and an election comes up, look, I think the Constitution is very clear he can only be a president for two terms. So I don't think he'd necessarily sit in the Oval Office and refuse to go.

What I worry about is more of a proverbial thing, which is like half of the country, almost half of the country at one point was convinced that this election, this last election, was stolen. They were convinced that there was fraud sufficient to overturn an election, which, of course, we know that there isn't.

And what happens in a self-governance and in democracy is, when you take people's faith away that their vote can actually count, then you can lead to serious destabilization, up to and including, frankly, civil war, or at least violence that would prevent an election.

So I don't think it's necessarily a concern that Donald Trump is just simply going to refuse to leave and there's nothing we can do about it. But I do worry about the fact that he is destroying faith in democracy and in the system.

And I can't see how you get that faith back once that idea that it doesn't work permeates to the depths of who people are.

KEILAR: He's still talking about a stolen election. He did that on Saturday.

He's calling as well for the prosecution of your former colleague Liz Cheney. He claimed that she suppressed evidence. She tweeted: "Lying in all caps doesn't make it true, Donald. You know you and your lawyers have long had the evidence."

Do you think that Liz Cheney should be worried? And, also, you were on the January 6 House Committee, as I mentioned. Do you have any of those concerns for yourself if Trump wins in November?

KINZINGER: Well, I have concerns for the country. And, of course, he's going to put an attorney general in place that's -- that he's going to scream for this.

He's going to say that he wants somebody that's going to say, basically, Mr. President, I will do what you want, over the Constitution. I think people will actually tell him that. It's not going to be hard to find somebody.

So, of course, he could try to weaponize the DOJ. I don't fear it, because, look, I know that we did the right thing. I know that we told the truth. And, by the way, the evidence is out there. It's all on the Internet. People can go see it. Nothing was hidden.

This is just a made-up story. So, I don't think she's intimidated. I'm not intimidated. But, like she said, look, the lawyers -- Trump has all this stuff. He's had it for a long time. He does a really good job of projecting.

So he knows he's actually the one who's been hiding evidence from his supporters and he's the one that should be in jail. So he tries to put that on other people. We see that. This is just in his psyche. This is what a narcissist does. They deflect. They deny. They attack. And they victimize themselves. That's exactly what he's doing here.

I'm convinced, I think, if the election were held today, Trump would win, which actually is a little worrisome, of course. But I think, as these months go by, and people remember who he was, and he continues to be cornered and say outlandish things, because he can't help himself and he's scared and he has no self-esteem right now, I think it becomes more obvious to the American people who he is, and he won't win.

KEILAR: Time will tell. We will see the ultimate test in November.

Congressman, great to have you. Thank you so much.

KINZINGER: Of course.

KEILAR: So, for the first time ever, Russian President Vladimir Putin mentions Alexei Navalny by name in front of cameras.