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Navarro Heads to Prison; Trump Comments on Jewish Democrats; Vedant Patel is Interviewed about the Israel-Hamas War. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired March 19, 2024 - 09:00   ET



SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: What the judge approves a settlement and these big changes happen in buying and selling homes.

Jeanna Smialek, thank you so much.

Another hour of CNN NEWS CENTRAL starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: A former Trump adviser making history today. Peter Navarro becoming the first former White House official to go to prison for contempt of Congress.

And Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric is, once again, echoing a generations old anti-Semitic trope, attacking American Jews who vote for Democrats.

And breaking this morning, after much speculation, there is new video that's been released of Kate, the princess of Wales.

I'm Kate Bolduan, with Sara Sidner and John Berman. This is CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are standing by for a history-making arrival at a federal prison in Miami. Any moment Donald Trump's former White House adviser, Peter Navarro, is expected to show up. And when he does, he will become the first former White House official ever jailed for contempt of Congress.

In a manner of speaking, he is going to prison for Donald Trump. Navarro refused to comply with a subpoena for testimony and documents from the January 6th Committee. Now Navarro publicly bragged about his work to contest and therefore delay the count from key swing states after the 2020 election. He called it the green base sweep. But he would not testify about it or even take the Fifth. And that is getting him an extended stay in Miami.

CNN's Randi Kaye is live outside the prison this morning.

How will this go down today, Randi?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we expect Peter Navarro to show up here shortly. He's actually going to hold a press conference outside this minimum security satellite prison here - satellite prison camp, just before he enters through those doors. He had this emergency request with the Supreme Court, as you know, on Friday to try and intervene, try and remain free while he challenged his conviction, but they rejected that just late yesterday. And now he is expected to serve the four months conviction, the four-month sentence here at this camp.

He does now have what's called a prison consultant, John. This is a person who has helped him sort of figure out how to transition from the outside to the inside. And this prison consultant, Sam Mangel (ph), has told CNN that he hopes that Navarro will spend the next four months inside this air condition dormitory for elderly inmates. Navarro is 74 years old. There will be about 80 men in bunkbeds in this dormitory.

We also know that he is expected to take classes. He's expected to get a job. We know from the prison consultant that he is urging him to work as a library clerk who could - he could work inside and make - perhaps stay cooler during these warmer temperatures in Florida.

And, John, on the inside, Peter Navarro will have access to make phone calls. He will have access to emails. He will also be able to watch the news. So, perhaps he'll be able to pay attention to what's happening in the 2024 campaign.

But this is one of the oldest prison camps in the country. And there were plenty of people here from Puerto Rico. This is the closest facility for the Bureau of Prisons to that territory.

And we also know that it is right next door, John, to the zoo. And the prison consultant tells us that every day the inmates inside do get to hear the lions roaring. So, for the next four months, or however long he serves here, Peter Navarro will be treated to that as well.

And we do expect that he should - he could be out in as little as 90 days, John, according to this prison consultant, because there are laws in place that allow for lesser sentences for an early release for the federal inmates.

John, back to you.

BERMAN: He will be able to hear the lions roar.

Randi Kaye, outside this prison camp in Miami, where as Randi just reported, we are expecting Peter Navarro to arrive and speak to cameras and hold some kind of a news conference.


SIDNER: All right. Renewed outrage this morning after former President Trump called out Jewish Democrats and questioned their loyalty.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Any Jewish person that votes for Democrats hates their religion. They hate everything about Israel. And they should be ashamed of themselves, because Israel will be destroyed.


SIDNER: That was Trump speaking in a podcast interview with his former White House aide and far-right conspiracy theorists Sebastian Gorka. At one point Trump goes on to say that senator -- Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is anti-Israel. Schumer is the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the United States.

Joining us now, CNN's Alayna Treene.

Alayna Treene, his remarks are drawing a huge amount of criticism, including from groups like the Anti-Defamation League.


What are they saying?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Right. Well, Sara, we heard swift backlash from a number of groups, as well as the Biden White House and the Biden campaign. I'm going to just read for you briefly some of that response. Here is White House Spokesperson Andrew Bates. He said, quote, "there's no justification for spreading toxic false stereotypes that threaten fellow citizens. None."

And then, as you mentioned, we also heard from the Anti-Defamation League denouncing and condemning those remarks as well.

But look, the Trump campaign also weighed in. And a spokesperson for the former president defended those remarks. Here's what she said. This is from Karoline Leavitt, his spokesperson. She said, quote, "President Trump is right, the Democratic Party has turned into a full-blown anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, pro-terrorist cabal." So, clearly, very different takes on that rhetoric.

But look, Sara, this is the type of rhetoric from Donald Trump that is not entirely new. It is far from the first time that the former president has targeted Jewish Americans. Donald Trump is someone who claims, and I know from my reporting, personally believes that he did more for Israel than any other president in modern history.

But there's an interesting distinction as well, Sara, about Donald Trump. And we got a glimpse of it during that interview. He often conflates support for Israel with being supportive of the Jewish population, despite trading in these anti-Semitic stereotypes. And last fall, during celebrations of the Jewish new year, we heard Trump share a post on his social media platform, asserting that liberal Jews who did not support him voted to destroy America and Israel. That was -- those were his words.

And shortly after losing the 2020 election, Trump also lamented how his support for Israel didn't seem to resonate with Jewish Americans at the ballot box. He felt at the time, and still personally feels, that Democrats wrongly got a lot of votes from Jewish people. And so, again, this is something that is not entirely new from Donald Trump. We have heard this type of language before. But, of course, some offensive remarks that are drawing criticism from

across the board.


SIDNER: OK. Questioning the loyalty of Jewish people in this country is a longtime anti-Semitic trope. We will have to see what happens with this. I know the firestorm is not over yet.

Alayna Treene, thank you so much.


BOLDUAN: Let's talk more about this.

Joining us right now is CNN political commentators Paul Begala and Alice Stewart.

Alice, let me add into, in terms of the reaction to what Donald Trump is saying here, I want to play for you what the former governor and former Republican presidential candidate, Tim Pawlenty, said to me about the impact of Trump's hate-filled language.

I'll read it to you since we just lost the sound.

He basically makes the - and now we have it back. Let's listen.


TIM PAWLENTY (R), FORMER MINNESTOTA GOVERNOR: Whatever Trump says doesn't seem to matter. We've all learned that lesson now over years. He can say almost anything, and it doesn't fundamentally change his numbers of support, at least with his base support and with some of the voters that are newly attracted to him. It's almost a, you know, immune from his sort of hysterical rhetoric on all kinds of issues. This being one of them.


BOLDUAN: Alice, T. Paw didn't agree with what Trump said at all. He made that clear in our conversation. But what do you think of that assessment, that Trump's words - because Trump's words had an impact on voters in 2020. What about '24?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think this is another example where just sticking with the facts can make the case for Republicans and the extra inflammatory language takes away from the sheer facts. And I think the case can rightfully be made that Republicans have been strong allies for Israel and the Jewish community. And former President Trump, moving the embassy to Jerusalem, is a big show of support for the Jewish people. And Republicans have been steadfast behind Israel with regard to the invasion and attack by Hamas, strongly believing that Israel has every right to defend themselves and fully supporting Benjamin Netanyahu.

And the contrast is what Trump could have pointed out is how Democrats have been extremely divided on this. You have the far left part of the Democratic Party, some even the pro-Palestinian crowd that have advocated for from the river to the sea, the annihilation of Israel, which is absurd. And that is anti-Israel. And then you have many - Chuck Schumer, with the support of President Biden, calling for regime change and Benjamin Netanyahu stepping down or new elections. And the outright continued call for a ceasefire in the midst of Israel trying to defend themselves. Those are key issues that are factual. They are accurate and do show a sign that the Democrats are not as unbored with Israel and the Jewish community as Republicans are.

And I think the case could have been made much stronger with the simple facts and not the inflamed rhetoric

BOLDUAN: Paul, Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, he said this in part in reacting to what Donald Trump said. He said, "serious leaders who care about the historic U.S.-Israel alliance should focus on strengthening rather than unraveling bipartisan support for the state of Israel."


And Greenblatt raises an interesting point in this. Who is Donald Trump trying to reach out to and to persuade with what he's doing here?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I have no idea. I have no idea. This is a man who admires Hitler. Let me say that again. Donald Trump admires Adolf Hitler. This is not my opinion. This is a reporting from our colleague Jim Sciutto who spoke to a four-star Marine general who was Mr. Trump's chief of staff, General Kelly. Kelly says that Trump praised Adolf Hitler in his presence. We know from Trump's first wife, the late Ivana Trump, that Trump kept a book of Hitler's speeches by his bed. We know that Trump traffics and anti- Semitic tropes all the time. We know that he had dinner with an alleged Holocaust denier at his lovely resort there at Mar-a-Lago.

So, there are facts about Donald Trump and Jews. It's also a fact that anti-Semitic attacks are up over 360 percent since that awful terrorist attack on October 7th. So, he is pouring gasoline onto this.

BOLDUAN: What do you think the impact is of the - on the election, though, Paul?

BEGALA: Not much. Pawlenty is right. I hate to sound cynical. Governor Pawlenty. I don't want to be disrespectful. Governor Pawlenty's right. Because a lot of this is, as they say, baked in. And a lot of Trump supporters simply deny this. They just ignore it. They say, well, he's just being a showman.

I think it's - it's a lot better, a lot more important for the Biden campaign to be turning it back onto people's lives, rather than simply attacking Trump's character. In other words, attack him on wanting to cut Social Security and Medicare. That's something he said last week. He said he was open to cutting entitlements. That - the president's going to Arizona. Arizona is full of old people, retirees. That's - that's a much more effective attack. But I just have to speak the truth, which is that Mr. Trump has a really disgusting history of admiring Adolf Hitler.

BOLDUAN: Alice, for House Republicans, you know, I'm thinking of presidential and down-ballot, as I know that you focus on as well. House Republicans now have this like wild twist of Republicans campaigning against other incumbent Republicans, something the House speaker is essentially begging them to cut out. And I'm wondering, what is a bigger challenge that you see for other Republicans this cycle? Is it having Trump at the top of the ticket, since he hasn't proven helpful any cycles since he was first elected, considering the language that he puts out, or is it Republicans eating their own in these primaries?

STEWART: Look, I mean, we have a big test in Ohio on that very issue. And that's a great question, Kate.

But, look, history, if it's any guide, as we - you mentioned, Donald Trump's endorsements haven't been that tremendous in a general election. So, I think it's best advised for Republicans to run on their own record and run on their own issues and advocate to - directly to the people. And it's proven to be better served if you don't rely on the coattails of Donald Trump in a primary, and especially in a general election.

So, in my view, what we're seeing, the stronger candidates out of the primary are the ones who keep Donald Trump at arm's length on the personal level, but advocate for the policies because Republican voters do support Donald Trump because of the policies. And certainly in a general election, his policies are better on the economy, on the border, on national security and safety. And the issues and the policies are going to be winning issues and items for Republicans in November.

BOLDUAN: Yes, that's an interesting test of that, as Jeff Zeleny was talking about, in Ohio, in that Republican primary for the Senate - the Senate race there as they vote today.

It's good to see both.

Alice, thank you.

Paul, great to see you. Thank you.


BERMAN: All right, the lead Israeli official just departed the hostage release discussions in Doha. So, what is the new information we're getting about the status of those talks?

Victims of torture by a group of police officers are calling today a day of justice as their abuser face sentencing.

And brand-new video of the princess of Wales. This is the first time we've seen her in public. Well, that's the prince of Wales, but we have video of the princess of Wales, the first time we've seen her in public since her surgery. It comes amid the swirl of rumors and speculation and the major philosophical question here, how do we treat them? Do they deserve the privacy that a normal private citizen, maybe even a celebrity or actor deserves, or are they state officials?



BERMAN: All right, new this morning, a new bleak assessment of the situation for civilians in Gaza from the U.S. secretary of state.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: A hundred percent of the population in Gaza is at severe levels of acute food insecurity. That's the first time an entire population has been so classified.


BERMAN: Secretary Blinken is headed back to the region. He will be in Saudi Arabia and Egypt to try to spur on the hostage release discussions.

And we did just get word that those discussions, which have been taking place in Doha, have broken up for the day. The lead Israeli negotiator on his way back home.

With us now is State Department Deputy Principal Spokesperson Vedant Patel.

Thank you so much for being with us.

As we said, these discussions in Doha have broken up for the day. Are you getting any information about the status of those discussions?


I don't have anything to update at the moment.

But look, you've heard the secretary speak to this a number of times.


We continue to believe that a deal is possible and it's important for those negotiations to continue and for those negotiations to continue privately. And hopefully some real progress can be made.

BERMAN: A deal is possible. You say, hopefully some real progress can be made. Has any progress been made over the last few days?

PATEL: I don't have any specifics to read out from the ongoing negotiations at this time.

BERMAN: What progress has been made in terms of getting food to people inside Gaza? We just heard sound from Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying that a hundred percent of the civilian population faces starvation. PATEL: Look, there's no way to parse words. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is dire and we need to do everything we can to get more humanitarian aid, more foodstuffs into Gaza and do so through every possible means. Whether that means land convoys through air drops and through maritime corridors as well.

Just yesterday we heard that convoy was able to successfully make its way from the southern part of Gaza to the north. That is good progress. Not nearly enough. But those are the kinds of things we want to see. And we want to see it happen more frequently and at a higher rate.

BERMAN: President Biden spoke with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, today. And we do understand the subject of Rafah came up. Israel continues to say that it reserves the right to go into Rafah with a full military operation. More than million people are there. What assurances did President Biden get from the Israeli prime minister?

PATEL: So, look, as it relates to the call between the president and Prime Minister Netanyahu, you saw the national security advisor yesterday speak pretty clearly about the topics. On the subject of Rafah, the United States has been very clear that we believe that such kind of military activity in Rafah requires a real, credible plan. One that addresses the very serious humanitarian pieces that exist in Rafah. You have to remember, and Rafah there are more than 1 million people seeking refuge. It also continues to be at region where - which is a major conduit for not just the flow of humanitarian aid, but for the safe departure of foreign nationals.

You also saw the White House announce yesterday that at the White House's invitation our Israeli partners will be sending a team to discuss in further detail planning around a potential military operation in Rafah. And we continue to believe that a plan is necessary for any kind of this activity to be taken on.

BERMAN: A plan is necessary. Does that mean that you've heard a plan? Have you received any assurances at this point at the State Department?

PATEL: We still have yet - not received any details as it relates to a plan, but we expect those conversations will continue.

BERMAN: I know that around 30 Americans were evacuated from Haiti over the last few days. How many Americans have contacted the embassy there or the State Department said they want to get out?

PATEL: So, John, the crisis intake form that we have set up as it - as related to Haiti, that number has - is approaching 1,000. But you have to remember that that is a population that includes individuals who, yes, may be interested and ready in departing Haiti, but also individuals who might just be interested in staying in touch with the embassy, staying in touch to receive more information, staying in touch to learn about what opportunities for departure might exist.

You also have to remember that since 2020 Haiti has been a level four country, meaning do not travel. And at every instance we have encouraged American citizens not just to not travel to Haiti, but that if you are there to use any means necessary to depart. We're continuing to look at what options are available in the light of limited commercial options. And we'll continue to work at this in close coordination with our embassy in Port-au-Prince.

BERMAN: Any concrete plans for another round, another airlift?

PATEL: I don't have anything to announce at this moment. But you have to remember, this is what we do. We're the United States of America. In countries around the world where we have diplomats and American citizens, contingency and feasibility planning is happening all the time to make sure that when the moment is appropriate we can execute on plans when required.

BERMAN: All right, thank you so much for being with us this morning. Vedant Patel, appreciate your time.


BOLDUAN: The victims of an out-of-control police units see today as justice finally being served. Now, the six officers in that unit will begin to learn how long they'll be spending behind bars.

And President Biden is heading out west. How he plans to hold onto and maybe even win back some of the support and voters that helped him win the White House the first time around in 2020.



BOLDUAN: So, for the first time since her surgery in January, we are now seeing new video footage of the princess of Wales out in public. We're showing it to you right here. This video was released by "The Sun," and in it you can see Kate and Prince William walking together over the weekend, reportedly at a farmers market near their home in Windsor.

Now, after weeks of rumors and concern about the princess, does this video now put to rest all of the speculation about her health?


And what of the attempt and failure of the palace really to be both in the public when it suits them.