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NY AG Takes Initial Steps To Try To Seize Trump's Assets; Biden's Cash Edge Widens As Trump's Legal Fees Pile Up; Sources: D.A. Willis Plans To Request Summer Trial Date For Trump; Justice Dept Sues Apple In Blockbuster Antitrust Suit; House Expected To Pass $1.2T Spending Package Friday Morning; Speculation Swirls Over Princess Catherine's Whereabouts. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired March 21, 2024 - 15:00   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Former President Donald Trump strapped for cash in the campaign and in his personal life, too. Trump has just days to secure half a billion dollars before the New York attorney general starts seizing his assets. And Letitia James says her office is already getting ready to do that.

Plus, new CNN reporting Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis pushing forward with her goal of starting Donald Trump's Georgia election interference trial this summer before the election, how likely is that timeline and what potential obstacles stand in her way?

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: And the Department of Justice suing Apple, saying there is an iPhone monopoly. What we're learning about the "damning internal communications" and how the Fed say Apple undermines products that would make users less reliant on iPhones.

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

SANCHEZ: New York Attorney General Letitia James is ready to collect. Donald Trump has until Monday to pay nearly half a billion dollars he owes the state after being found liable for civil fraud. And James is taking steps indicating she is going to try to seize Trump's assets if he fails to post that massive bond. And if that's not enough pressure, Trump's campaign fundraising is now lagging behind President Biden's to the tune of 10s of millions of dollars. Sources tell CNN the former president is now in panic mode about his finances.

Let's start with CNN's Kara Scannell on the fraud case. Kara, Trump is on the hook for this huge sum. His attorney says that he can't pay.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Boris, that's right. I mean, the clock is ticking here. Donald Trump has come up with about a half a billion dollars to satisfy the $464 million judgment by Monday. And his lawyers say that he has been unable to get a bond. The Attorney General's Office is pushing back and this is now in the hands of the New York appeals court, who will decide whether or not to give Donald Trump more time to come up with the money or not have to post any money at all or allow him to post a smaller amount that is - that he's been asking for, so both of these things are coming to a head.

And meanwhile, the New York Attorney General's Office has already taken some steps to get into position should they move to seize assets. They've entered judgments in Westchester County, meaning that they have put on notice that they could go after some of Trump's assets there. There he has a golf course as well as this estate known as Seven Springs. It's a large family compound.

This is just kind of laying the groundwork. Whatever steps they do take, if Trump doesn't come up with the money and the appeals court doesn't step in will likely take some time. And Trump is expected to fight back every step of the way, as he had throughout this entire investigation, trial and now recovery. Boris?

SANCHEZ: So, Kara, is bankruptcy potentially on the table?

SCANNELL: I mean, that could be an extreme option that Trump could take in order to stop the collection of assets. They have fallen short in trying to get a bond, at least to date. They could also try to tap money out of some of their properties, go to a bank and try to get a mortgage or try to sell something. But, again, they're kind of running out of time here.


There's not a lot of room for them to work with and so a bankruptcy could be a move of last resort. We haven't heard the president talk about that. He's been talking more about the potential of his assets being seized.

SANCHEZ: And Kara, bring us up to speed on what the Attorney General has been doing when it comes to Seven Springs. How likely is it that that moves forward as of Monday?

SCANNELL: So that is what we've seen happen there in Westchester is the first step. It was - it's essentially putting on notice that there was this judgment that they could then move to try to get control over these properties. But this process is a long one, and it's not likely that we will see anything immediate on Monday, no padlocks on the doors, but we could see them signal what properties they are looking for or potentially targeting.

I mean, the issue they would have to come up with some properties, this could also be bank accounts, an airplane, not necessarily just the real estate. But to come up with this total of nearly half a billion dollars, so there's some work to be done to figure out how much these properties are worth, because part of the allegations and the judge's finding is that Trump inflated the value of a number of his properties over the years.

So figuring out what is worth what to get to that total could take a little bit of time. And, of course, Trump is going to fight this every step of the way.

SANCHEZ: Right. Kara Scannell, thanks so much for that.

Let's bring in CNN's Kristen Holmes, who's here in the studio with us.

Kristen, panic mode in Trump World. What exactly does that mean?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, panic mode really applies to the bond here, because that is where Donald Trump is trying to scramble constantly to figure out what he's going to do. And they really don't have any ideas how they're going to handle this and they are just four days away.

Now, when it comes to the campaign, they actually did see an increase in their fundraising. But in the big picture, they're still significantly lagging behind Joe Biden. So let's take a quick look at those February fund raising numbers. If you look at that, Trump's campaign, plus the joint fundraising committee, raised about $20.3 million. That means they had $41.9 million cash on hand.

Now, the increase comes. In January, they only got $10.5 million, nearly doubling it there. But then you look at Joe Biden's numbers, $53 million just in the month of February and they have $155 million dollars cash on hand. If you talk to Trump's advisers, they say he's the incumbent. We had to do a primary season. We had to be out there campaigning in a primary. This makes sense that the money just coming in.

One thing I do want to point out, I have been following this campaign for a long time. I've been talking to people on the ground. They have always told me that they were concerned about money. This is the first time they are actually starting to feel like money is coming in.

So, yes, the numbers don't show it, but they're starting to staff up. They feel like they can breathe again. There's going to be a huge fundraiser with some of the richest GOP donors at the beginning of April that Donald Trump is going to have. They feel like the tides are turning.

SANCHEZ: Trump, obviously, as we've seen before, uses these legal cases as a political boon. And often you get fundraising texts and emails soon after news breaks about what's going on with him in court. But they are causing him to burn up a lot of money, right?

HOLMES: Yes, they are. In terms of these legal cases, if you talk about the Save America PAC, which is his leadership PAC, which pays those legal bills, they actually spent more on legal fees than they took in, in the month of February, which is pretty striking when you look at that.

I mean, these are not going to go away. And, again, a lot of this is outside of just that insane bond number that he's scrambling to come up with. This is legal bills, legal fees, as well as lawyers for him and some people that he has decided to pay their legal fees who are in cases that were related to Donald Trump.

SANCHEZ: Yes. It's not just that civil fraud case. He also owes E. Jean Carroll ... HOLMES: Right.

SANCHEZ: ... a ton of money.

Kristen Holmes, thanks so much for the update. Erica?

HILL: In the meantime, in Georgia, the former president is fighting tooth and nail to postpone his election subversion trial past Election Day, of course. Embattled Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, however, intends to ask for a summer trial, even after a two-month detour that concluded with her narrowly avoiding getting kicked off of that case.

CNN's Zach Cohen joining us now with the very latest.

So, Zach, what more do we know about these plans?

ZACHARY COHEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, Erica. Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, is planning to re-up her request to Judge Scott McAfee overseeing the Georgia case to set a trial date and to set one before the 2024 election. She wants to - she's looking at a date somewhere as soon as this summer, and that's consistent with what she previously asked McAfee to schedule.

She asked him for a trial date on August 5th, but that request has gone unanswered. And we've since had significant developments in this case, including a chaotic two months where we've spent a lot of time talking about Fani Willis' personal life and these allegations that she engaged in an improper romantic relationship with her lead prosecutor.

But during those proceedings, those disqualification proceedings, Fani Willis took the stand herself, and she insisted that she's not the one on trial. Take a listen to what she said when she - during a hearing just a month ago.



FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: You've been intrusive into people's personal lives. You're confused. You think I'm on trial. These people are on trial for trying to steal an election in 2020. I'm not on trial, no matter how hard you try to put me on trial.


COHEN: Sources are telling me that this push, this renewed push for McAfee to put a trial date on the calendar is really consistent with what Willis said when she took the stand. Obviously, that doesn't discount these several challenges she still faces in actually getting to trial as soon as this summer.

There's several factors at play here, including the biggest one, which is this looming question around absolute immunity. It's something that President Donald Trump - former President Donald Trump - has claimed in the federal election subversion case. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to take up arguments and hear - start hearing arguments on that question in April and is expected to rule on the matter by June. And that decision could significantly impact the timeline and the future of a trial in Georgia as well.

HILL: Zachary Cohen, appreciate it. Thank you.

Well, the Justice Department is going after the second largest company in the world, Apple. In a landmark lawsuit, federal prosecutors alleged the trillion dollar tech giant has a monopoly on the Smartphone market. They say its app store and the way its devices work shut out competitors.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: They stifle innovation. They hurt producers and workers, and they increase costs for consumers. If left unchallenged, Apple will only continue to strengthen its Smartphone monopoly. But there's a law for that.


SANCHEZ: In response, Apple says, "We believe this lawsuit is wrong on the facts and the law, and we will vigorously defend against it."

CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is on the story. Also with us, CNN Business Editor-at-Large, Richard Quest.

Evan, you did not find my laugh at Merrick Garland's joke amusing, but this is something we've seen coming.


SANCHEZ: We - this is something we've seen coming for a while.

PEREZ: Yes, right. This is an investigation that's been going on for a couple of years now and people have wondered, like, where is it? The European Union took action against Apple for - the way it conducts and how it closes off its app store, fined them billions of dollars. And so the question has been, when will the Justice Department finally take action.

And what you heard today from the Attorney General is this concern that Apple is stifling the ability of new technology, sometimes more secure technology, from being able to get a foothold on its iPhones, which obviously I think 70 percent of the market is what the Justice Department says is what Apple now has control of in the Smartphone market. And it has everything to do with - everything from digital wallets, right, if you use your phone to tap to pay, Apple gets a cut nearly 30 percent. They have control over the way smart watches are able to integrate with iPhones, cloud streaming apps, everything that Apple controls, Apple says is in order to produce a better experience for customers.

What the Justice Department says here today is that, no, this is stifling innovation. It's stifling competition. It is also sometimes stifling security for users. And what they're asking the courts to do is to order Apple to essentially open up this environment to make sure that other companies can be part of it.

Right now so that's specifically the change that they want is just to open it up ...

PEREZ: Right.

HILL: ... a little bit more. What would that practically mean, though?

PEREZ: Well, a lot of people are thinking that perhaps in the end the Justice Department and courts might broach the issue of breaking up Apple, right? That's not where the department is going right now, but what they're asking the court to do is essentially order Apple to allow some of these apps and some of these other companies to be able to integrate.

We've all been on text messages with our family members, right? The dreaded green bubble.

HILL: Oh, the green.

SANCHEZ: Oh, my god.

PEREZ: Right.

HILL: The blue versus green, yes.

PEREZ: Right. And certain things are just - right, exactly. And so that's the kind of thing that Apple could really, according to the Justice Department, readily fix that they're not doing.

SANCHEZ: Richard, so Merrick Garland kind of spins Apple's advertising against them, saying there's an app for that. Well, there's a law against monopolies. What would Apple's app store look like? How impactful could this lawsuit ultimately be for their finances?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I think you - with all these antitrust lawsuits, the thing you have to bear in mind, where you start and where you finish are two very different things and that's the big risk for Apple here, because there are those of us of a certain age who will remember AT&T, who remembers Microsoft, remembers all the big antitrust litigation that the DOJ went against.


And, of course, the companies eventually either got broken up or had to give vast amounts of ground. And that's likely to happen here in some shape or form.

I'm in Brussels tonight. And, interestingly, the building behind me, the Berlaymont, which is the headquarters of the European Commission, they found a different way to go after Apple. They basically changed the laws and changed the rules.

So, for example, they said the new law is you have to allow third- party access for apps. When it came to the charger, they basically made the law that said you have to have USB-C as your charger, despite all these.

So the U.S. very much going in one particular direction, litigation, DOJ, Europe now just has found that to be not so successful, they just changed the rules, changed the law.

HILL: So it works a little bit different than - Richard just mentioned, and I remember, starting my career as a tech reporter, covering AT&T, covering Microsoft. The DOJ, right, the antitrust you're even saying that Apple actually benefited from that landmark Microsoft ruling.

PEREZ: Right, they did. And there's a lot of companies that we now know that are now in dominant positions that started out in a much more inferior and smaller position, right, the underdogs against the big behemoth Microsoft that are now doing the same thing that the Justice Department at the time said Microsoft was doing and so it is a turnabout.

One of the funniest things, if you see what Apple's development was today, you read a part of it, Boris, they mentioned that people don't want the government designing their technology, right? But that's what Richard just talked about, right?

HILL: Yes.

PEREZ: The EU essentially ordered Apple and everybody to get on the same page about the chargers, because we don't have - won't have to carry multiple types of chargers, right? And everybody complained about it, but eventually they did it and now we're all benefiting from that change.

SANCHEZ: There's a new one every three years.

PEREZ: Right.

SANCHEZ: That's the problem. Like it's hard to hook stuff up that you owned before to the new phone.

PEREZ: Right. Right.

SANCHEZ: Richard, markets, how are they doing in response to this lawsuit? I saw earlier that Apple's stock price had taken a bit of a dip. Is that a good buying opportunity?

QUEST: Oh, that's a great question. Really, that would require me to interpret whether or not how this case is likely to end. If you tell me - listen, look at the numbers first. You've led me - you led me into that trap, look into the numbers.

Apple is down some 4 percent today in a market that is generally much higher. So it is being clobbered by investors. There will be those Apple-holics that will say, yes, this is a buying opportunity in the long run. Apple has been one of those most valuable companies. The stock price has been way up there. I'm not going to get involved in that. I'm just going to tell you, expect rocky roads for Apple whilst we get some clarity on exactly how dangerous this is for the company.

PEREZ: As always, there's a Richard Quest pun for that.

SANCHEZ: I do apologize for trying to trap you, Richard. It was inevitable.

Richard Quest, Evan Perez, thank you both so much.

So we're getting new details on the attempts to access the Princess of Wales' health records at the hospital. Stay with us.



SANCHEZ: Breaking news into CNN from Capitol Hill. We've learned the House plans to pass a massive $1.2 trillion government funding package tomorrow morning, but it's still unclear if it can make it through the Senate and the President Biden's desk before the midnight deadline tomorrow. CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju joins us now.

Manu, some House Republicans have been really fighting this bill. They say they would prefer a government shutdown. What's their reaction to this news?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is an expectation that this bill will pass. Remember, this is about six months late, this bill, $1.2 trillion, more than a thousand pages in length dealing with major federal agencies and departments. It was just released this morning.

In fact, at 3 in the morning, and they're trying to push this through by the - by 11:59 PM tomorrow night to avoid a partial government shutdown. We expect the House to pass it tomorrow morning. Then it would go on to the Senate where they would need all 100 senators to consent to have a quick vote. We'll see if they ultimately get there.

Now, this doesn't mean that members are happy. In fact, there is so much fury in the ranks, particularly among Republicans about the deal that was cut, the process that led to this, and the fact that few of them will have any time to even read it.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): This is completely dysfunctional, but it's a well-honed process that has been plundering in more children's future. This is what Washington has devolved into. It's disgusting.

RAJU: Do you think the Speaker got rolled in these negotiations?

REP. WARREN DAVIDSON (R-OH): Yes, absolutely.

RAJU: Do you think that his job is at risk?

DAVIDSON: I mean, I don't think near term, probably, but the question is, next Congress, who's going to be the right person to be speaker and I think this will factor into it.

SEN. TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R-AL): It's a disaster, but since I've been up here, it's been that way. It always comes down to the last minute, everything's pushed.

RAJU: What do you say to people who are frustrated at this process that produced a thousand-page appropriations bill in the middle of the night that you have to vote on by tomorrow?

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): I'm frustrated, too. There's a better way to do this. We should have been doing appropriation bills a long time ago.


RAJU: And that comment coming from the number two Senate Republican, John Thune, who wants to be the new Republican leader in the next congress, that is going to be one of the things they will promise their members to change the process. But that is just the way this has devolved.


And, of course, this has been a particularly messy episode in this Congress. The first short-term extension of government funding to avoid that October 1st shutdown of last year led to the ouster of the Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy. Now we're at this point ending last year's business, probably just in the nick of time. But potentially they could stumble into a short-term shutdown over the weekend if the Senate can't agree to a quick vote by tomorrow night, Boris.

SANCHEZ: And fundamentally, Manu, not that much different the compromise that Kevin McCarthy struck from this one and that one cost McCarthy his job. We'll see what the repercussions are for Speaker Johnson.

Manu Raju live on Capitol Hill, thanks so much. Erica?

HILL: Well, the U.K.'s watchdog - data watchdog is reportedly assessing reports now that up to three hospital staff members allegedly tried to access Princess Catherine's medical records. So both the Princess of Wales and King Charles were treated at that same London clinic back in January. The King for an enlarged prostate, Kate for abdominal surgery.

British media report that King Charles' medical data was not compromised in the alleged breach. Again, still not clear whether Princess Catherine's was but it's important to point out, of course, this isn't the only problem for Buckingham Palace. Public scrutiny and conspiracy theories have been swirling over the last several weeks, involving the royal family after, of course, there's been little information on Catherine's condition and on the heels of these photos which appear to have been digitally edited. CNN Royal Historian Kate Williams joins me now.

So Kate, first, let's get caught up this data breach, this alleged data breach. So now the palace has been fairly quiet, in fact, telling my colleagues here at CNN, pointing them back to the clinic. but when we look at what is happening, in some ways this is almost a gift, this part of the story, to the palace because it's distracting in some ways from what has been, by most accounts, a really bungled communication strategy here.

KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL HISTORIAN: Yes. It has been a bungled communication strategy. The usual royal strategies of either giving updates or carrying on smiling and waving. What we had was radio silence. William dropping out of engagements. And the consequence was wild conspiracy theories which were fueled by the Mother's Day photo that you showed which was digitally edited and then therefore removed by so many photo agencies.

And now we have this big security breach at the hospital, very respected hospital, many royals have been treated there. And there is currently a question I understand from the media about when this breach went on. Was it during Kate was staying there? And if so, was it reported in time.

So it is a big story, obviously innocent until proven guilty. We don't know what these staff members were doing. But at the same time, I think it is a very significant story and it does really suggest that everyone was interested in this, and it's such a major global story that even staff members are trying possibly, if it's true, to get to her records.

HILL: Right. And disturbing in terms of privacy for anyone, right, whether you're a royal or not, the idea that that could happen with your medical records, incredibly disturbing. All of this is playing out. We haven't heard a lot about King Charles himself.

As we noted, he was treated - being treated at the hospital around the same time as Princess Catherine. We don't know a lot about his type of cancer, his prognosis, how he's doing. That's interesting that that's sort of been pushed to the side.

WILLIAMS: Yes, King Charles is the head of state. Kate is not. So we do need to have updates about King Charles's health. We are expecting to have a general election this year, possibly in October. It has to be by next January. Probably we might see a change of government. And the King, the monarch, has a key role in this. He can't have the stand-ins doing it for him. And we haven't been told much, but we have been told that he hopes to go to the Trooping the Colour birthday parade in the early summer, but he may be in a carriage.

So it doesn't look like we're going to see him until at least June, July, if not afterwards.

HILL: We'll be watching for all of that. Kate Williams always good to see you, appreciate it. Thank you. Still to come here, an Idaho inmate is on the run after three correctional officers are wounded in a shootout. What we're learning about the search and the surprise attack.