Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

Interview With Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY); Trump Faces Monday Deadline to Pay $464 Million Bond; Home Sales Surge; Frantic Manhunt. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired March 21, 2024 - 13:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: A brazen ambush, a daring escape, and now we're watching a frantic manhunt for a dangerous inmate with ties to a white supremacist prison gang. The latest on the search.

Plus, a historic down Wall Street, the Dow flirting with a number that investors once thought impossible, one thing fueling the economy right now, surging home sales, and that market could heat up even more with historic changes to how we all buy and sell homes.

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: And Dodger blues, a betting scandal involving baseball's biggest star and his best friend threatening now to overshadow opening day.

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

SANCHEZ: Right now, an urgent manhunt is under way in Idaho for an escaped inmate, a known member of a white supremacist prison gang, along with his armed accomplice.

Officials believe his escape was part of an ambush, a coordinated attack, resulting in three corrections officers being shot. Skylar Meade was being discharged from a hospital in Boise, Idaho, early Wednesday morning. He's the one on the right. He was set to be transferred back to prison, where he was doing time for aggravated battery, on a law enforcement officer with a gun.

As he was leaving, Meade's alleged accomplice, Nicholas Umphenour, opened fire, and then he took off with the inmate in a gray 2020 Honda Civic. Police are warning that both men are imminent and credible threats to law enforcement and the public as well.

CNN's Natasha Chen joins us now with the details.

Natasha, bring us up to speed with the latest on this search.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris, this all started because the Corrections Department said that Skylar Meade had injured himself and needed urgent medical care. That's why he was in the hospital.

And, as you mentioned, he was about to be discharged at around 2:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, when all of this happened, when, allegedly, this accomplished, Nicholas Umphenour, fired at corrections officers, hitting two of them. One's in critical, but stable condition. The other has non-life-threatening injuries.

When the hospital called 911, Boise police arrived and shot at an armed person at the hospital, who turned out to be a corrections officer. Luckily, that person also has non-life-threatening injuries.

Here's the Boise police chief talking about the ordeal.


RON WINEGAR, BOISE, IDAHO, POLICE CHIEF: We believe that this was a coordinated attack, an ambush on the Department of Corrections officers, and certainly a planned endeavor to free him from custody.

They are dangerous. They are armed and they have shown a propensity for violence.


CHEN: Here's what we know about Skylar Meade, the escaped inmate. He was serving time for aggravated battery on law enforcement with a firearm.

He has known ties to the Aryan Knights. He has tattoos on him suggesting that as well. He was taken to the hospital, as I mentioned, after self-injurious behavior, escaped in a gray Honda Civic. He was serving time starting in 2016, supposed to be serving 20 years.

As far as the suspected accomplice, let's take a look at him, Nicholas Umphenour, 5'11'', about 160 pounds, brown hair, hazel eyes. He's, again, a known associate of Skylar Meade, also considered armed and dangerous. There is a warrant for his arrest, a $2 million bond here, for aggravated battery against law enforcement and aiding and abetting an escape.

So, Boris, this is a very tense situation. It's been more than 24 hours now that they are out on the loose somewhere. And, again, that gray Honda Civic, who knows if they're still in that vehicle, but that's where they were last seen, and that's the vehicle that authorities have put out for people to be on alert for.

SANCHEZ: Yes, a lot for folks to be on the lookout for.

Natasha Chen, thank you so much for the update -- Erica.

HILL: We're also following some major stories on the economy this hour, looking at Wall Street, markets really rallying for a second day after the Fed decided to keep rates unchanged, and talk of future cuts now pushing the Dow closer to 40000. You can see there flirting with it for the first time in its 128-year history.


On Main Street, home sales unexpectedly soared last month, hitting the highest level in a year. And that, of course, was despite those rising mortgage rates. So, what does all this have to say for us?

Let's begin first with those markets.

CNN's Matt Egan is here with more.

So, getting close to 40000. Walk me through what we're seeing today, Matt.

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Erica, today could be a historic day for the market. Dow 40000 is within sight, flirting with that level, only around 150 points away.

And a lot of people didn't think that we would be at this point in the market right now, because a lot of investors and CEOs economists, they were predicting a recession right around now. Instead, it's looking more and more like a soft landing. And, ultimately, that's good for corporate profits and, yes, stock prices as well.

Another factor, of course, is the Federal Reserve. Interest rates are still high, at 23-year highs. But we may be getting some help on the way, because Fed officials just 24 hours ago signaled they are still planning to cut interest rates three times this year. That is good news for consumers and for investors.

I also think it's important to think about where the markets have come from just four years ago. Markets were in freefall during the scariest days of the COVID crisis. At one point, the Dow was below 19000. So, basically markets have more than doubled since then, which is pretty impressive.

One other point here is, I know that Wall Street -- what's good for Wall Street is not always what's good for Main Street. But a lot of households, more than half of the households have exposure to the stock market, either directly through stock ownership or indirectly through 401(k) plans and mutual funds.

So, really, this is good news for Main Street too.

HILL: Let's take a look to at these home prices. So home prices are up, home sales too, even with these rising interest rates.

It still looks, though, like it is a seller's market. Tough for buyers.

EGAN: Yes, still tough out there for buyers, but we are seeing that buyers are starting to dip their toes in more.

We learned just this morning that existing home sales unexpectedly surged last month by 10 percent. That is the fastest pace in a year. One of the reasons is because inventory has gone up significantly. So, that is good news for people who are trying to buy.

Maybe you're going to have a little bit more selection. I do think, though, the bad news is on the mortgage rate front. We just learned that mortgage rates ticked up again, nearing 7 percent. And then, of course, home prices, they went up again 6 percent higher year over year to a new record of $384,000.

That is good news for everyone who owns a home, because they are feeling that wealth effect. But, of course, there's a lot of people, Erica, still on the outside looking in.

HILL: Yes. Matt, appreciate it. Good to see you. Thank you -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Let's discuss the home market with an expert.

Page Turner joins us now. She's the host of CNN sister network HGTV's "Fix My Flip." She's also currently starring in "Rock the Block."

Page, thanks so much for being with us this afternoon.

I want to get your take on the landscape that Matt just laid out for us. It does sound like a seller's market.


But we need the buyers -- and hi, Boris. Thank you for having me.

We need the buyers in order to sell the homes. So we have to figure out how we're going to massage this relationship, especially with the new NAR laws that are changing, and make it work because housing -- the housing market is, what, one-fifth of our economy.

SANCHEZ: Yes, that's an important point.

I want to get to the changes in those laws, as you describe them, those policies. But mortgage rates are surging. How do you think that's factoring into your clients, how they view buying and selling right now? What are you hearing from them?

TURNER: Well there's so much chit-chatter.

And the challenge is that a lot of buyers tend to listen to the chit- chatter that goes around, especially on social media. And that's where typically people get all of their homebuying information from, instead of first going to a qualified homebuying specialist and real estate agent.

But I feel that, if we can just connect with our buyers in whatever market you're in and tell them, when I first bought my home over 25 years ago, the interest rates were well over 8 percent, and I did OK. So it's about education, and it's about really massaging the new landscape of real estate right now, because it has to work out, because, without buyers, we can't sell homes.


Part of that new landscape is the National Association of Realtors settling that major nearly half-billion-dollar antitrust lawsuit against them. They were accused of inflating commissions, and that ultimately cost home sellers.

How do you think that decision, potentially making it less expensive for your clients to buy and sell, how do you think that could impact the market?


TURNER: I think it will impact the market until we massage it out.

So, for example, for sellers, people are thinking, oh, the home prices are going to go down dramatically, and we're going to have this huge slash, but that's not true. Three percent, going from 6 percent, which was an average commission, it was not -- I have heard and I have seen around that it was required. It was never required, always negotiable.

That 6 percent, even if it turned into 3 percent, it's not enough to cause this big, huge slash in prices with homes. On the buyer's side, that's where more of my concern comes in, especially with first-time homebuyers, until we're able to figure out how we can have the 3 percent covered for the buyer if they're not able to afford to pay a real estate professional, even though right now the seller can pay the concessions on the buyer's behalf.

So there's just a lot of creativity that has to happen in the market right now.

SANCHEZ: And quite a bit of massaging, as you described it.

Page Turner, I appreciate your perspective. Thanks so much.


TURNER: Thank you, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Of course.

Still ahead this hour on CNN NEWS CENTRAL: A cash-strapped Donald Trump says that bankruptcy is not an option for him to pay bond, but does his campaign's bank account agree?

And new details about just how many London hospital staffers tried to access the princess of Wales' medical records, an important update there.

Plus: With only a week until opening day, baseball's biggest star is caught up in a scandal involving his interpreter, gambling and potentially theft.

That's still ahead. Stay with us.



HILL: Donald Trump is facing a cash crunch on two fronts. On the legal side, he's scrambling to come up with that nearly half-a-billion dollars by Monday as a result of his civil fraud liability.

Sources tell us he is now in panic mode, as he struggles to find anyone to underwrite that massive bond. And then, of course, there's the campaign side, where Trump is lagging way behind President Biden's cash haul. Part of the reason, Trump and his PACs are spending more on legal fees than they're actually bringing in.

President CNN's Alayna Treene is following all the cash here.

So, Donald Trump has really leaned into this idea that the legal and the political fights here are really one and the same. But it's becoming a pretty significant financial squeeze, isn't it?


And it's a financial squeeze on two fronts, because, one, you have the Trump campaign, which is far lagging behind the Biden campaign when it comes to their financial operations. I mean -- and we saw -- I'm just going to give you some of the numbers to underscore that.

We saw, in February, Donald Trump brought in $10.9 million, compared to Joe Biden's campaign, bringing in $21.3 million. And then, cash on hand, Donald Trump had, well, entered March with $33.5 million cash on hand, while Biden entered March with $71 million. So that just, I think, underscores some of that for you.

And, I mean, part of this, and when I talk to the Trump campaign, is that, look, Joe Biden has -- is the incumbent and he didn't really have to fend off primary challengers like Donald Trump. They're hoping that, now that Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, essentially, that this -- it will help them, he will be able to raise more money.

And we have seen over the past several weeks now, while Biden's been out there on the campaign trail, Donald Trump has actually been kind of absent from the trail ever since he secured enough delegates to become the nominee. Instead, he's been meeting behind closed doors with donors, with -- hosting fund-raisers, attending fund-raisers, really trying to raise more money for their campaign side.

But you're totally right. The legal side of this is another massive strain on their finances. And we know as well that Donald Trump's campaign has really been trying to pinch pennies where they can. They have been trying to save on Ubers, on hotels, on venues, choosing different venues or forgoing rallies altogether because of that.

And so the financial and legal part of this is very much at the forefront.

HILL: And when it comes to these PACs and other -- that are paying for these legal costs, how long can that actually continue?

TREENE: It's a great question.

I think, so, Save America, Donald Trump's leadership PAC, his leading super PAC, has been the one that has mostly been underwriting Donald Trump's legal fees. There's some other areas they have been pulling on money, but this is the one that's taking on the brunt of the cost.

And we also got some new numbers from the FEC filing as well. Save America had spent nearly $5.6 million legal bills in February. And that far exceeded the amount that they brought in. So they are very much hurting as well. And we know last year they spent more than $55 million to help underwrite Donald Trump's legal fees.

So it isn't very sustainable. And this is something -- this is why you're seeing Donald Trump and his team very concerned about not just the legal fees. He has a bunch of trials coming up, a lot of mounting expenses for that, but also these judgments and everything we're seeing play out with this $455 -- or $454 million bond that is due on Monday.

That's part of why there's panic behind the scenes, because all of this together, him lagging when it comes to his campaign fund-raising numbers, all of his mounting legal bills, those are putting immense financial strain on the campaign. And they very much -- that's why they're meeting with these donors.

HILL: Yes.

TREENE: They need to bring in as much money as they can.

HILL: I mean, it makes sense. And, as you point out, and those graphics really show, right, the devil really is in the details when you look at the difference in fund-raising.

TREENE: Right.

HILL: Alayna, thank you -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Speaking of major money and tight deadlines, Congress now has until midnight tomorrow to avert a partial government shutdown.

Overnight, they unveiled a 1,000-page, $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill that we're hoping they will be able to read all of and then vote on. The deal provides billions in added funding for things like border security, national defense and childcare.


But some hard-line Republicans are demanding a shutdown, trying to get more out of the deal, and attempting to derail or delay the process.

Let's discuss with Republican Congressman Andy Barr of Kentucky.

Congressman, thanks so much for sharing part of your afternoon with us.

So, the House is expected to vote on this tomorrow under suspension of the rules. There's already some friction there. You then also need all 100 senators, without even a single objection, to pass it. Is that really going to happen?

REP. ANDY BARR (R-KY): I think it's going to happen.

And, respectfully, if I could kind of alter the narrative a little bit, I am going to vote in favor of this bill. There's good and there's bad. It's a bipartisan compromise. But even my Republican colleagues who are going to vote no, I don't think that they want a government shutdown.

I think that's a mischaracterization. They want a fiscally responsible trajectory for our country. We're $34 trillion in debt, and we need to reduce spending. And the reason why, on net, I'm going to be for the bill is not because it's perfect. It's far from perfect.

But, Boris, what this is, is, it represents for the first time in a decade the first overall cut in non-defense, non-VA spending. That is incremental progress, not nearly enough, but it is incremental progress. And for a bipartisan, divided Congress, I think that's a win, and we will take it.

SANCHEZ: To be fair, Congressman, I think some of those colleagues of yours would prefer a shutdown to this package. They want concessions on border security specifically.

Let's look at the details. This bill provides $19.6 billion for Customs and Border Protection, including almost half-a-billion dollars for additional Border Patrol agents. It funds roughly 40,000 detention beds for undocumented migrants. It does not, though, add any money for border wall funding.

Congressman Tim Burchett, Matt Gaetz as well, they say that this is not enough. They want to get more. What's your message to those Republicans?

BARR: Well, they're right it's not enough. It's definitely not enough.

But, again, on net, what does it do? Does it marginally or incrementally help the border situation, which is a total crisis of the president's own making? Yes, it does, because it funds Border Patrol agent personnel to 22,000. That's the same level that we passed in our own Republican H.R.2 bill.

It funds additional technology at the border, including autonomous security towers and fentanyl detection equipment, in addition to cross-border tunnel detection technology. We need that. It surges the number of detention facilities that we need.

So, is it perfect? Does it finish the wall? Does it reinstitute remain-in-Mexico, all of the policies, the successful policies of President Trump? No, it does not. But it does do some of the things that will hold this administration accountable for their disastrous open borders policy.

So, look, I agree with my Republican colleagues who are going to vote no. It's not perfect. It doesn't do all that we need to do. But I'm going to do anything I can to marginally improve the situation at the border.

SANCHEZ: On that note about perhaps doing something that would improve the situation, even if it's not perfect, I want to compare what's in this spending bill to that bipartisan bill that Republican Senator James Lankford put out last month. That one would have actually provided more funding for border

security. It would include more than half-a-billion dollars for the border wall, which is something that Republicans have demanded. It would have funded 50,000 detention beds, as opposed to 40,000. On top of that, it would have expedited deportations, cracked down on asylum claims, limited humanitarian parole, also allowed the president to shut down the border if crossings passed a certain number.

And it would have provided $60 billion in funding for Ukraine, which it badly needs right now. Why support this bill, when that bill went so much further and did so many things that Republicans have been asking for, for a long time?

BARR: Valid and legitimate question, Boris, but what you fail to mention in that list of very positive reforms, and including the Ukraine assistance that I support, what it didn't -- what it also included was codifying the illegal crossings.

It surged $7 billion -- that so-called bipartisan border bill or immigration reform bill also provided $7 billion to sanctuary jurisdictions that would be a huge additional magnet for illegal migration. That's not what we need right now.

So, yes, there were some good features to Senator Lankford's efforts. There were.


SANCHEZ: The bill didn't codify allowing illegal crossings. It set a threshold of undocumented crossings that would have allowed the executive to say, shut down the border right now.

That's very different than saying, we're going to allow this many people through.

BARR: No. No, Boris -- no. No, Boris.


SANCHEZ: That's a different interpretation of what it did. And I'm not -- I'm citing Senator Lankford's own words, who described this as the most conservative immigration package put forward in a generation.


BARR: Yes.

Look, James is a friend, and he's a good man, and he is well- intentioned in what he tried to do. But his hands were tied because he was negotiating with open border people who support amnesty.

The problem we have in that bill that he negotiated in good faith...


SANCHEZ: But the White House didn't even get anything. (CROSSTALK)

BARR: ... was that it put in federal law, Boris, it put in federal law an amount of illegal crossings that simply does not exist in current law.

SANCHEZ: That's not exactly what it did, Congressman.


SANCHEZ: But the idea that he was negotiating -- the idea that he wanted to negotiate with people that were asking for amnesty, that bill didn't contain anything related to amnesty.

Democrats essentially conceded, and they gave Republicans what they wanted without a pathway to citizenship.


BARR: Boris, Boris, it had $7 billion for amnesty jurisdictions. You're just wrong. That's not true. That bill would be a magnet for more illegal immigration.

And, look, at the end of the day...

SANCHEZ: I don't think that is accurate, sir.

BARR: ... what we need is H.R.2.

What we need, Boris, is border security. We need to reinstitute the successful policies of the Trump administration. We need to finish the border wall. We need remain-in-Mexico. We need the Migrant Protection Protocols. We need to end this disastrous catch-and-release that resulted in the murder of Laken Riley and others and the crime that is happening in this country.

SANCHEZ: That bill would have done that, sir. That bill would have ended the parole program.

BARR: The American people are sick and tired of this administration's dangerous policy that has resulted in 340 individuals on the terror watch list apprehended at the southern border under his watch.

And how many got-aways, we don't even know, 1.8 million got-aways that the Border Patrol has identified. That doesn't even count the number of individuals who they haven't even detected. Americans are dying of fentanyl overdoses. The cartels are exploiting the southern border.

The Chinese Communist Party is working with the cartels to exploit this. Kentuckians are dying at record levels because of fentanyl coming across our southern border. This is a crisis that every American, whether you're a Democrat or Republican -- it's totally unacceptable what is happening at the southern border.

It's a homeland security, national security crisis. It's a crime crisis. And you know what? It could be fixed overnight if this president actually wanted to secure the border. And he clearly does not.

SANCHEZ: I think any executive action that he might take to shut down the border or to take steps that Donald Trump took would be blocked by federal courts, as the steps that Donald Trump took actually were blocked by federal courts.

It's very hard to say that all of the issues caused by immigration are just on Joe Biden...

BARR: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

SANCHEZ: ... when they have been happening for a generation, sir.


BARR: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Why is it, though -- if that's true, if that's -- if the executive actions don't make any difference and the courts really intervene, why is it that illegal crossings are so much higher today under Joe Biden than they were under President Trump?


BARR: Why is it that individuals on the terror watch list are far higher today crossing the border than they were under President Trump?

It's because President Trump shut down the border and protected the American people.

SANCHEZ: I'm not disagreeing with you on the question of whether the executive orders have been effective. It's clear that they haven't. The numbers aren't trending in that direction.

But some of the more extreme executive orders that Republicans have demanded that the White House take, just like with President Trump, they would have gotten blocked by federal courts. Further, to just blanketly say...

BARR: No, that's not true.


BARR: The president has a legal authority to protect the country.

SANCHEZ: There's a judge in San Francisco that blocked former President Trump in executive orders that he pushed forward. That same judge would have done the same thing to Joe Biden.

In fact, I'm pretty sure he did when it came to certain specific policies wrapped around remain-in-Mexico.

Nevertheless, Congressman Andy Barr, I look forward to picking up this conversation with you in the future. There's a lot to talk about. We appreciate your time, sir.

BARR: All right, thanks, Boris. I appreciate it. SANCHEZ: Of course. We will talk soon.

Next: The investigation into a data breach at the London hospital where Princess Kate underwent surgery is now growing. We have new details about who tried to access her records that have just been released.

And Massachusetts doctors say they have successfully performed a first-of-its-kind transplant. How pigs could actually save people suffering from kidney disease.

Stay with CNN NEWS CENTRAL. We're back in just a moment.