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Lawyers: Trump Cannot Make $464M Bond In NY Civil Fraud Case; Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) Discusses About Texas New Law To Control Migrant Surge; Supreme Court Weighs Govt Power To Combat Online Disinformation; Trump Defends "Bloodbath" Remark, Saying It Was About Auto Industry. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired March 18, 2024 - 15:00   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Donald Trump has a serious problem, money. His lawyers say the former president is unable to make the nearly half billion dollar bond in the New York civil fraud case. Now they're asking the court to delay the bond requirement while Trump appeals the judgment.

And at any moment, the Supreme Court reveals its next move on a controversial law in Texas. The decision could give local authorities the power to arrest people they suspect of having entered the U.S. illegally.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: And new rules for AI. YouTube will now require all creators to label videos made using artificial intelligence.

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

SANCHEZ: We begin with a major cash crunch for Donald Trump to the tune of $464 million. That's the sum detailed in a court filing submitted today regarding the civil judgment against him in the New York civil fraud case. Trump's lawyers revealed that the former president can't find an insurance company to underwrite the nearly half billion dollar bond. The lawyers say that 30 firms were approached and citing a broker who says the finding - that finding an insurer is "a practical impossibility."

Last autumn, the judge found that Trump and his organization was liable for fraud, conspiracy and issuing false business records.

CNN's Kara Scannell is tracking all the developments.

So Kara, the bond is due in one week. What's the Trump team going to do? What are their options?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Boris. So they're waiting to see what the appeals court is going to say and we expect their decision to come this month. But the clock is ticking here and Trump's team has asked the appeals court to give them time to allow them to appeal this without having to post the bond in the case. And the New York attorney general's office has opposed that.

And to support Trump's argument today, his lawyers are trying to say that they have made an effort to try to get this bond. They've approached 30 insurance underwriters. None of them are willing to do it. They've explained to the judge that there are two issues that they've run into, even including among the world's biggest insurance companies. Many of them have internal limits where they will not post a bond in excess of a hundred million dollars. And among even some of these bigger players, they're not able to underwrite a bond that is backed by real estate, which is what Donald Trump has. Otherwise he'd have to come up with about a half a billion dollars in cash or stock. Trump's lawyers saying that he can't do that.

And so they're asking the appeals court to buy them some time and asking to the appeals court that if they're going to rule against him, to then give him time to appeal to New York's highest appeals court to try to make their case.


But the deadline is around the corner, due on Monday. Then they will wait and see what the appeals court does here. New York attorney general's office has said they're ready to move forward to try to enforce this judgment. That could mean moving to try to see some of these assets.

Now, Trump's campaign has come out with a statement from their spokesman, Steven Cheung. He says, "A bond of this size would be an abuse of law, contradict bedrock principles of our Republic and fundamentally undermine the rule of law in New York." So Trump's team, again, hoping that the appeals court leans in their favor. Boris?

SANCHEZ: Kara Scannell, thanks so much for the update. Brianna?

KEILAR: Any minute now, the Supreme Court will decide what to do with a controversial new Texas law, which gives local authorities the power to arrest anyone suspected of crossing the Mexico border illegally. Gov. Greg Abbott signed it into law amid a record surge in border crossings and a heated national debate on what to do about it. The Supreme Court's temporary freeze on the law will expire later this afternoon.

So let's talk about this now with a Democrat who represents a Texas border district, Congressman Vicente Gonzalez.

Congressman, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us. You - just to tell our viewers - supported the bipartisan border deal that Republicans killed in Congress. First off, regardless of who is at fault for that lack of action, Texas, as you know, has to deal with it. It is really ground zero for the border crisis. Are you surprised that your state would take matters into its own hands when Congress has been unable to come together and act?

REP. VICENTE GONZALEZ (D-TX): Well, I'm surprised that the state of Texas is not working closer with Border Patrol and CBP and the federal government and trying to work in the same effort on our southern border. Clearly, there's a lot more that we can do on the southern border. I've been one of the most critical Democrats on the southern border for the last eight years, both under the Donald Trump administration and now under President Biden.

So we had a great bill, a bipartisan bill, that would have helped alleviate a lot of the problems on our border. We would have had 1,100 new Border Patrol agents, 4,300 new asylum officers, over a hundred new immigration judges, which would have expedited the processing and removal of migrants and they were all killed.

This proposition that would have helped - it's what Republicans have been crying for, for a very long time. And when we finally had a bill that was a bipartisan bill that could have fixed things, their daddy, President Trump, came in and told them to kill it and it got killed.

KEILAR: Earlier today, we spoke with someone who also was in favor of that bipartisan bill that you're talking about, which is the president of the union representing Border Patrol agents. He's also in favor of this state law in Texas. Let's listen to a little bit of what he said on the program.


BRANDON JUDD, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: If the Supreme Court does uphold SB4, 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.


KEILAR: What's your reaction to what Brandon Judd said there?

GONZALEZ: Well, I think that they should work with the federal government in doing just that. But allowing one state to set immigration laws would set a very dangerous precedent. First of all, it's unconstitutional, but it would set a very dangerous precedent to have states acting as lone wolves trying to create border immigration laws. So what I suggest to the Border Patrol and every other federal agency is let's work with states and all the states in securing our southern border, and let's create policy in Washington that stops migration from coming to our southern border and that's what we had.

We had a proposal that would do just that and it was killed by the Republicans. And it's sad because I think this is an issue that is not a Democratic problem or a Republican problem. It's an American problem, and it requires bipartisan solutions.

KEILAR: Yes, that bill negotiated by Republicans, and Democrats and independents, and ultimately killed by Republicans after Donald Trump weighed in there.

Are you hearing from constituents worried that this Texas law would lead to racial profiling? I have constituents that are calling me that's saying - they're saying they're going to start carrying their passports. American citizens that feel that they need to carry their passports with them because they live in some rural area or someplace in the state where there's not a lot of Latinos, where they're concerned that people are going to - they're going to be profiled, they're going to be pulled over and harassed. And obviously that's a huge concern for me.

KEILAR: While I have you, I do want to revisit something that you said to The New Republic earlier this month on the issue of Hispanic support for the Trump GOP, for Trump, which is actually, he's been making some inroads with Latino voters. You'd said, "When you see 'Latinos for Trump,' to me it is like seeing 'Jews for Hitler,' almost, you know?"

And you stood by those comments when you were asked in a follow-up by The Texas Tribune.


And I was wondering at a time when the temperature is so high, I mean, especially after this weekend, do you think that that type of rhetoric helps?

GONZALEZ: Well, let me begin with a premise that in no way would I diminish the atrocities that happened to the Jewish people in Europe. But at the same time, when you have a presidential candidate that is saying that Latinos are murderer - that Latinos coming to the United States are murderers, and are rapists, and are poisoning the blood of this country and just yesterday or the day before, he said that the immigrants that are coming are not human.

There are some stark similarities to many of the rhetoric language that came out of the Hitler administration and Hitler himself. And I think Americans should be concerned. And I think Latinos should be very concerned and aware of what's coming out. Because this is - he says it, and then a large vast part of the Republican Party continues to parrot those remarks. And I think it puts Latino Americans at a real disadvantage and it puts targets on our back. And I think it's my job as a member of Congress to alert my community of what's coming out of Donald Trump's mouth and the harm that it can cause our community in this country if we don't stand up and speak up for ourselves.

KEILAR: We've covered what has come out of Donald Trump's mouth, some of what you've just described. I guess my question for you is, why insult Hispanics who are increasingly gravitating towards him rather than consider why that might be that they are gravitating towards him in a way where you might want to figure that out so that you can try to attract voters back to your own party?

GONZALEZ: Right. Well, I don't - it's not meant to insult Hispanics. It's meant to alert them, to wake them up, to see the similarities in the language that has been used by Hitler that is now being used by a candidate and when I see ...

KEILAR: But you liken them to Jews for Hitler, Hispanics for Trump to Jews for Hitler. GONZALEZ: Well, we - it's - they're voting and supporting something that is against their self-interest. And I think it's important to educate my community and for them to be alerted that if Donald Trump were to win an election, the policies that would come out of the administration would be very harmful to the Latino community in this country and we can't shy away from reality. We need to be bold and we need to be honest and we need to have a conversation about it and that's the only way to do it.

Sometimes making tough comments is the only way to communicate a message of some very harmful and hurtful rhetoric that has come out of the Republican Party and particularly Donald Trump.

KEILAR: I certainly appreciated the conversation that we just had about it.

Congressman Vicente Gonzalez, thank you so much for your time this afternoon. We appreciate it.

GONZALEZ: Thank you.

KEILAR: Boris?

SANCHEZ: Another major issue for the Supreme Court today, a dispute over free speech. The justices heard arguments over the Biden administration's efforts to remove social media posts that contain misinformation about COVID-19 and elections and whether those efforts violated the First Amendment.

Let's bring in CNN Media Analyst, Sara Fischer.

Sara, so two Republican-led states argued the Biden administration engaged in censorship, but it sounds like the justices were skeptical of those arguments.

SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Yes. So we heard opening arguments today and the basic thinking that came out of it was that they just don't believe that these two states provided enough evidence that the government was sort of systemically coercing these various platforms to censor certain material. Now, they had come up with different emails that were sent from Biden administration officials to these platforms during times like COVID-19 and the election, encouraging them to take down certain posts and they were trying to present that as proof that the government should be limited in their communication with social media firms because they might ask them to censor certain things.

And the judges today basically made it seem like they're not going to favor with these two states, that they're going to favor the Biden administration and say that they really didn't violate any sort of principles here.

SANCHEZ: How do the social media networks fall on this issue? Because it seems just as an outsider observing that for them, all clicks are good clicks. It doesn't matter if it's misinformation or disinformation, as long as it gets engagement, they're good with it. FISCHER: They've been super quiet on this issue. And the reason being, they themselves don't want to be persuaded by our government or any other government around taking down content. They want to operate independently. But at the same time, I think that some of these platforms did feel like they were pressured by certain Biden administration officials during COVID and other sensitive periods to potentially move content a certain way. And so you're not seeing them come out with big statements every step of this way.

Remember, we are at the Supreme Court stage now, but this has gone back and forth, Boris, for many months between appeals courts, lower courts, et cetera.


And the tech companies have been really quiet. I think that they have split interests here.

SANCHEZ: One of many important decisions set to come down from the Court at some point soon.

Sara Fischer, we hope to get you back on to chat once they do decide.

FISCHER: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Of course, thanks so much.

Still to come, Donald Trump's campaign strategy to paint a scary picture of what could happen if he doesn't win. Today, he's defending some of his comments from over the weekend. We'll look into that.

Plus, it's their first known conversation in more than a month. President Biden speaking with Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, as the rift between the two leaders deepens. What we know about what they discussed.

And later, that interview that led Elon Musk to cancel his deal with Don Lemon, what the owner of X said during a heated exchange. We'll be right back.



SANCHEZ: Donald Trump is on defense after warning of a bloodbath if he loses the election in November, though he and his team have clarified saying that he was talking about potential problems in the auto industry and the economy. The Biden campaign didn't hear it that way. They seized on the remark, accusing Trump of trying to foment another insurrection, another January 6th. Just listen for yourself.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you're listening, President Xi, and you and I are friends, but he understands the way I deal, those big monster car manufacturing plants that you're building in Mexico right now, and you think you're going to get that, you're going to not hire Americans, and you're going to sell the cars to us, no. We're going to put a 100 percent tariff on every single car that comes across the line, 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'll be the least of it. But they're not going to sell those cars.


SANCHEZ: Let's discuss with Olivia Troye. She worked as the Homeland Security, Counterterrorism and COVID Task Force Advisor to former Vice President Mike Pence. Also with us, former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent. Thank you both for sharing part of your afternoon with us.

Olivia, first to you, we're here again, trying to discern what Donald Trump meant with a controversial remark. It's part of his playbook to say these things that could be heard multiple ways, right?

OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER ADVISOR TO VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Yes. And I think he chooses these words carefully. He knows exactly what he's doing and I think you're going to continue to see more of it, and I think you're going to see it get worse, is my prediction.

He's fully aware of the way the words are portrayed and the way they come off. He fully knows that his supporters receive them in a certain way, and so whether he was referring to the auto industry, which is what they're saying, he chose that word specifically. Why should say bloodbath when you're talking about autos? He knows exactly what he's doing, and he knows the ramifications of it.

SANCHEZ: Congressman, it strikes me that Trump almost trolls the left and certain elements that are very critical of him when he says things like this. Do you think we're seeing an overreaction to his comments and that is something that Trump was trying to trigger?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think at some point people have to take Donald Trump both literally and seriously. Many of his supporters don't take him literally, but they do take him seriously. So - but I do - right now, I do think that we should take Donald Trump at his word. He did incite an insurrection or helped incite an insurrection on January 6th, why wouldn't he do it again?

I mean, his - look, he always speaks in these word salads. So he left a little wiggle room. True, he was talking about China and the auto industry, and then he said, but that'll be the least of it. So it's easy to interpret that, that there will be more of a bloodbath elsewhere. So that's how I interpreted his remarks.

And frankly, the other thing he said, too, that nobody's talking about, a hundred percent tariff on a product coming in from Mexico? I mean, talk about inflationary. That's just - it's just a ridiculous idea, but we don't even take the policy seriously anymore when he says anything. We only concerned about him and his own terrible behavior.

SANCHEZ: That is such a good point. The policy itself would make life very difficult for American consumers, to say the least.

Olivia, we mentioned your work for former Vice President Mike Pence. This news came out late Friday. I wanted to ask you about it. Trump's one-time Vice President will not be endorsing him, though Pence wouldn't exactly say how he would vote. You tweeted out that you're proud of Pence and his withholding of an endorsement. I'm wondering what you made of the news, if you were surprised, because a lot of Republicans that previously had been critical of Trump and his actions on January 6th, the way that Pence was, are now actually endorsing him.

TROYE: Yes. It's been really disappointing to watch people like Gov. Kemp and Mitch McConnell and all these other individuals fall right back in line. I say that I'm proud of Pence because I think he's absolutely right to take a stand. Obviously, he lived January 6th firsthand, but I'll also say that he knows what Trump is more so than anyone, right? He lived the four years of the administration by his side. He knows the good, he knows the bad and I think he's also appalled about what's going on right now in regards to Ukraine.

I know that Pence cares deeply about that issue in regards on how Trump behaves towards Putin and how the Republican Party is certainly the way they're behaving and they're not aiding Ukraine.


I think he's watching what's happening with TikTok and the reversal on that by some of these Republicans.

And so I'm glad to see him do this and I hope that it perhaps creates a permission structure or some sort of lane for others to follow in his footsteps. Do I wish he would have done this before? Did I wish he would have been stronger? Yes. But I'll take this and I'm grateful for his voice.

SANCHEZ: Congressman, I have to ask you about this news that Trump World is considering hiring Paul Manafort, a one-time Trump campaign chair, to help organize the Republican convention. Paul Manafort, who we should note, was convicted of tax fraud and some other stuff, who has a history of shady dealings overseas. What did you make of this report?

DENT: I feel like we're going back to 2016. As you may remember, he was also going to run the convention in 2016 in Ohio. And then just a few days before the convention, it was revealed that he was working for the Yanukovych government, which is a pro-Russian government for - in Ukraine. And that, of course, set the whole world on fire and he was forced out at that point.

So I think it's certainly very disturbing and alarming that a man who's been convicted, who has very close ties to the Russians, is somehow going to be back involved with this campaign and the next convention. I think it's outrageous. I mean, haven't they learned their lessons yet? It's just another signal of Trump's closeness to the Russian regime and putting people in place who probably share his view on Russia.

SANCHEZ: Former congressman, Charlie Dent, Olivia Troye, appreciate the time. Thanks so much.

Up next, Israeli troops surrounding and raiding al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza, where thousands of civilians are believed to be sheltering. The IDF says that a senior Hamas terrorist were trying to reestablish a base there. We'll take you live to Jerusalem in just a few minutes.