Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

Princess of Wales Spotted in Public; Goon Squad Sentencing; Biden's Campaigns in Nevada and Arizona; David Graham is Interviewed about the RNC; Crops Threatened by Spring Freeze. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired March 19, 2024 - 09:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: 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 and also quite private at the very same time?

CNN's Max Foster is in London joining us right now.

So, Max, on this new video that we now have, is it real, and what does it show?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is not official palace material, obviously. They don't normally want us to show these things. But it does very much speak to the narrative that they've been giving us, that she is well.

You also see there that the couple are there. They're looking happy with each other as well. So, it also speaks to all of those conspiracy theories out there. So, I don't think it's doing them any harm. But they very much stuck to a plan, but they're not sharing any information in these moments. Even these moments should be private. We should be respecting their privacy whilst the princess recovers. But it's very encouraging news, I think, for all of Kate's fans and, you know, future subjects as well here in the U.K. and other parts of the world that she is indeed well.

Is it real? Well, it is from a very respected reporter. It's taken on a mobile phone by what appears to be another customer. Also, the palace aren't saying it isn't real. And at the same time, we've been running it and the palace isn't saying don't run it, which they would certainly do if this event didn't happen. They can't, obviously, speak for the actual video because it wasn't taken by them. But certainly it's pretty clear that they were there on the day that this was filmed.

BOLDUAN: And just kind of -- the walkthrough that we just had to do, Max, just speaks to the wild path that this has taken since her surgery, her being relatively quiet, the lack of detail that the palace giving out and then the pictures that were then pulled back. And since then, this has been such a really strange path that has kind of thrown this palace into quite a PR crisis.

But now we have this footage, and we'll see what happens next. It's good to see you, Max. Thank you.


SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. In the next hour, a former deputy who took part in a racially motivated torture of two black men in Mississippi will learn his fate in federal court. Hunter Elward pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a firearm, criminal home invasion to terrorize, and conspiracy. He was the officer who put a gun into one of the victims' mouths and pulled the trigger. He is one of six officers known as the "Goon Squad," to be sentenced in this horrific case. Elward is facing up to 30 years behind bars.


MARY JENKINS, MOTHER OF MICHAEL JENKINS: My son shot in the mouth and he's telling me that Michael is their problem. I want them to receive the same consideration they gave my son when they broke in that house and they tortured them.


JENKINS: That's what I want to see in court.


JENKINS: I want the maximum sentence.


SIDNER: And you're hearing from the mother of one of the victims.

A second officer, Jeffrey Middleton, will also be sentenced this afternoon.

Joining me now, CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson.

This case sends shivers down your spine when you hear what these officers did. I want to ask you about what's going to happen today in court. There will be victim impact statements, correct?


SIDNER: What kind of influence might that have on the judge in this case

JACKSON: Yes, you know, Sara, it's significant. So, we know two are pleading -- two have -- all of them have pled guilty to being sentenced today, two tomorrow, two the next day. Victim impact statements could be very compelling, very telling, and certainly very impactful. Why? Because it gives the opportunity for the victims to talk about emotionally what this meant to them, physically how they would damage, from an ongoing perspective, how it has impaired their life, how it has impaired their ability to function, what it has done to them. You couldn't even imagine, right, what they were going through at that point in time. The victim impact statements, Sara, they bring us there. More importantly, they bring the judge there. And at the end of the day, it's the judge who has to make an assessment of the criminality and then impose sentence. And certainly when you hear those statements, it's a gut wrenching day for the victims. Certainly it's a gut wrenching day in total, just based upon the nature of this particular case, absolutely.

SIDNER: We heard the mother of Mr. Jenkins there, you know, talking about that she wants a maximum sentence. Federal prosecutors are also asking for the absolute max. Does that have a big impact in this?

JACKSON: It really does. And I think there's really no way out.

So, big picture, small pictures, Sara, when you look at sentencing, you look at punishment, you look at deterrence, you look at rehabilitation. That's big picture. In terms of punishment, what is the specific and appropriate punishment given the nature of what happened here? And we know the nature of what happened here was horrific, getting into a home without a warrant, right, inflicting torture, sexual abuse, other things that were done at that particular time, pouring grease and everything else on them, just terrorizing them.

You look at deterrence. What does a judge want to do? A judge wants to stem the specific message to them that this is not appropriate and a specific message, of course, to anyone else who would think about this.


Rehabilitation less so. But I think under the federal sentencing guidelines, a judge can consider the nature and gravity of the defense, right, of the offense and what these particular people have done. And I think the judge will do so and the sentence is going to be significant.

SIDNER: We will wait and see. I know the families are asking for a bigger investigation because the two men who went through all this and endured all this torture believe this is a much bigger issue that wasn't just involving six officers.


SIDNER: We will see what happens with that part of the case. But first the sentencing. And thank you for coming in and discussing it with us, Joey. Appreciate it.

JACKSON: Of course, Sara. Thank you.

SIDNER: All right.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, just in, a brand new ad from the Biden campaign targeting voters he needs as he heads west to states he needs to beat Donald Trump. We have new reporting on the new messaging plan.

And, protect your peaches. Save your citrus. A cold snap threatening fruit, just when you need it most.



BERMAN: All right, behind me you can see pictures from just moments ago. That was President Biden at Joint Base Andrews. He is on his way west to some key swing states, Nevada and Arizona.

It comes as CNN has new reporting about how the Biden campaign plans to keep these states blue after incredibly narrow victories in 2020.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is in Reno, Nevada, this morning, which will be the president's first stop there.

This is a trip with some pretty serious expectations for the Biden campaign, Stephanie.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it's really important for him to get his message across here, John, because, as you know, yes, President Biden did win Nevada, he did when Arizona in 2020, but it looks like it's much higher stakes this time around. Expect the president to speak a lot about protecting democracy while he is on the ground here. And also look to him to really try to bring in more Latino voters, as well as more people of diverse backgrounds here.

Just taking a look at what Biden's real focus will be on while he's here, protecting also unions. Also looking at housing and trying to make it more affordable for people and really feeling like here in Nevada is the place where he can do that as well.

And also looking to create more jobs in clean energy and manufacturing as well. We should hear more of that from the president here today.

Also while he's here, he's expected to meet with local leaders here in Washoe County, which a lot of the campaign feels is very important for Biden's move here because it is such a crucial county for Democrats. So, they're looking to get in front of some of those voters, some of those people who have supported them before, and get their support again.

And then as he makes his way, later on today he's going to stop in Las Vegas, talk about that housing issue, and then he'll make his way to Phoenix, which, as we know, is a major, crucial battleground state. And while there he is also going to really make that push to Latino voters and also starting their initiative "Latinos con Biden-Harris," which they will begin in earnest while they're there in Phoenix.

In fact, we have a new ad campaign that they have launched today as they are trying to make this appeal to Latino voters.

Let's take a listen to a little bit of it right here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For our abuelos --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Insulin that costs $35.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is the difference between Joe Biden --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For women, the freedom to control our own bodies.


ELAM: Obviously, what they are very clear on is that they need to bring in new voters to their side, bring in more diversity, diverse voters to their side here for the Biden campaign. That's going to be a big push them.

The other thing that they are looking at is the fight for reproductive rights here in Nevada and in Arizona. They're thinking that could bring moderate and female voters to their side as there may be initiatives on the ballot come November, John.

BERMAN: It was really interesting in that commercial seeing it laid out as an explicit choice between President Biden and Donald Trump, which is something the Biden campaign is really hoping it does become for voters, at least in their minds, going forward.

Stephanie Elam, thank you so much for that.


BOLDUAN: And today voters are headed to the polls and five states with the balance of power in Congress are real question. At the same time, as John was just talking about, Joe Biden, Donald Trump, they are charging ahead in their general election matchup. Well now, after Trump's recent takeover of the Republican National Committee, the newly installed committee chair is facing questions about what that means for party unity.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's party unity like?

MICHAEL WHATLEY, CHAIRPERSON, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Party unity is absolutely fantastic. I mean President Trump has done an absolutely great job winning all of the first four states, winning Super Tuesday, clinching the presumptive nominee status.

You know, and it's great because that this is -- this is a movement that is going to help us all up and down the ballot all across the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: And that is a subject and focus of a new piece in "The Atlantic" titled "Trump Repeats Obama's Mistake." Here's a quote for you. "Donald Trump has long detested Barack Obama and sought to present himself as the opposite of his presidential predecessor in every way. But in his takeover of the Republican National Committee, he risks echoing one of Obama's biggest political mistakes."

Joining me right now is the writer of that piece, David Graham, a staff writer at "The Atlantic."

It's great to see you, David. Thanks for coming in.

DAVID GRAHAM, STAFF WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": Thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: So, the new chair says that Trump's version of the Republican Party apparatus will help, is helping Republicans down-ballot.


And you say, well, maybe not so much. Tell us why.

GRAHAM: You know (INAUDIBLE) the history as I was considering this move. And thinking about the way that Barack Obama kind of took over the DNC after he became president. And it's always common for a presidential nominee or a president to take some control.

But what you saw Obama do was really orient the DNC around getting him re-elected. And I see some of the same thing happening with Trump. He's more interested in his own re-election campaign. And you hear his aides saying that is the goal of the RNC. And the danger is that down- ballot races will become neglected and the party just won't have the kind of organization it needs at the state and local level.

BOLDUAN: What can -- I'm -- after reading your piece, it started making me wonder what, if anything, any party can do about it now, right? I mean can you unwind, if you want to call it, kind of a stranglehold mid election cycle?

GRAHAM: I think it's very hard to do. And part of this is the, you know, the environment we're in where parties are just not as strong. The presidential candidates are so strong and they control so much money and power and the party just doesn't have the heft that it once did. And so I think it's very hard for a party to resist this in any way, but it's especially hard in the middle of a campaign like this.

And, you know, they're kind of reinventing the RNC as they go, even while the general election has started. And it's a very strange situation to be in.

BOLDUAN: Talk to me about the lessons here. The lessons Trump could have learned from Obama and then it will continue on, if you will, because do you think any politician who reaches this point, Obama in '08, Trump now in '24, would decide that the parties should not focus on helping them get elected first and the candidates down-ballot second? GRAHAM: You know, I think it's a natural impulse. Their interest is so important. So much (INAUDIBLE) re-election or election, and that's going to be their only focus. But that's why it's important to have another organization that is worried about your Senate races, your House races, your, you know, your state legislative races.

So, I think a couple of lessons are, one, you need a party committee that remains strong. It has to be unified with your presidential campaign, but you need a strong committee, and it needs to be focused on other issues, and it probably shouldn't be (INAUDIBLE) quarters, which I think is a mistake we saw with Obama after the (INAUDIBLE) election and we may be seeing now with the RNC moving some of its functions to Palm Beach.

BOLDUAN: David Graham, of "The Atlantic," it's great to see you. Thanks for the piece. Thanks for coming on.


SIDNER: We must save the fruit at all costs. Still ahead, we're live at a farm in Georgia trying to counter the effects of a late spring freeze. What it means for their strawberry and peach crops and all the crops on their farm this year.



SIDNER: Today is supposed to be the beginning of spring, but the weather in some parts of the U.S. doesn't care about our calendars. Look at these temperatures. Much of the south seeing far, far lower temperatures than normal, near freezing temperatures. And there are freeze warnings in place that has farmers scrambling as they try to safeguard their crops against frost for a second year in a row.

Joining us now from Jaemor Farms in Alto, Georgia, is CNN's Elisa Raffa.

Elisa, what is the latest with the seasonal showdown, if you will?

ELISA RAFFA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, I mean it is cold out here this morning. It doesn't feel like we're going to ring in spring tonight. Even though we had a pretty warm winter here in northern Georgia, ranking top 20 in Atlanta.

Now the problem is -- we can still get frost through March. The problem is, is that winter was warm and things start to bloom. You can see we've got some blankets on some strawberries behind me. All that white that you see there is some covers over rows and rows of strawberries that started to pop about a week or so early, kind of triggered by some warmer temperatures.

We have some beautiful peach trees as well that have these gorgeous petals on here. All of these pinks that are also blooming. A little bit harder to protect. It's hard to put a blanket on a tree like this.

So, I want to bring in farmer Drew Echols here.

Thank you so much for having us.

How did -- how did it go this morning? You know, how did the -- the peaches do after last year was pretty devastating, right?

DREW ECHOLS, CO-OWNER, JAEMOR FARMS: Well, this morning, we -- we didn't really know what to think. We were getting forecasted anywhere from 31, you know, saw a couple 27s. But luckily we landed in around 29.

These flowers, they're pretty resilient when they have the petals on them. So, we feel pretty good about what happened last night. It's just -- you know, you're on pins and needles for a few hours there. Your nerves are shot.

RAFFA: How is it challenging to kind of keep up with these trends? You know, if winter is warm, like it was this year, you know, what does that do to (INAUDIBLE) does it get what it needs in winter? How is that difficult to kind of track as we still can get freezes?

ECHOLS: So, there's a couple issues that we worry about during the wintertime, and that's -- the first one, these trees need a certain amount of chill hours, hours under 45 degrees. And, you know, luckily we got them this year. We got all those hours early, you know, December and January. Then all of a sudden February gets here and it warms up, and that's always what we hate as peach farmers is to see a warm February because those trees are ready to go then. When they've got their hours, they're ready to go and ready to bloom.

It's just -- it makes things very, very difficult to plan. Recent years we've actually not accumulated enough chill hours and then you have erratic blooming and sometimes that affects the crop. Last year we actually bloomed two-and-a-half weeks early. So, is, you know, planning labor, planning the day-to-day work on the farm is a struggle when you're just always up against the weather.

RAFFA: I've done so many stories with farmers and you guys are always the most resilient, most adaptable people that I meet.


Thank you so much for showing us around the farm.

Again, you know, here with temperature still pretty chilly this morning. The good news is, is the cold snap won't last too long this time around.

Guys, back to you.

SIDNER: All right, Elisa Raffa, thank you so much, out there on the farm.

Maybe do some pickin. You guys go out and do a little --

BOLDUAN: Not yet. I grew up in -- in an apple orchard. SIDNER: Yes. Yes. I love -- I love going out and picking fruit.

BOLDUAN: They're not ready yet either.

BERMAN: They're not ready. Well, it was interesting, it's actually the warm February that makes it a problem because they think it's time to (INAUDIBLE).

SIDNER: Yes, they all sprout.

BOLDUAN: (INAUDIBLE) erratic blooming.

BERMAN: You have to be careful with erratic blooming.

Thank you all for being with us. This has been CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Jim Acosta is up next.