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Donald Trump Faces Criminal Charges in Hush Money Trial Involving Former Attorney Michael Cohen and Former Adult Film Actress Stormy Daniels; Donald Trump Yet to Meet Deadline to Pay $464 Million Bond Related to Civil Fraud Trial or Face Asset Seizure; Boeing CEO David Calhoun to Step Down; Israeli Delegations Meet with US Officials this Week. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired March 25, 2024 - 08:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We have special coverage on a day that could see Donald Trump's bank accounts frozen and his properties seized. Does he have the half-a-billion dollars he needs to post bond in the civil fraud post bond in the civil fraud trial he lost? We've got new reporting just in.

Waiting on Hamas. Israel agrees to a proposed exchange of hostages for prisoners. So what happens next? Israeli officials head to the White House.

And United facing major delays as the FAA digs into a string of incidents this month.

I'm John Berman with Sara Sidner. Kate is out today. This is CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, we're watching to see Donald Trump leave at any moment for the courthouse in New York as he faces a double legal threat today, two different cases. In one, criminal prosecution that could lead to possible jail time, in another, a nearly half-billion-dollar bond payment that is due today.

First up, a hearing in the hush money case involving his former fixer, Michael Cohen, and adult film star Stormy Daniels. That will begin in the next hour. Today is also the deadline for Trump to come up with $464 million bond or possibly see his accounts frozen and his properties seized by the A.G., properties like Trump Park Avenue, Mar- a-Lago, his Seven Springs estate, and 40 Wall Street.

Let's get straight to CNN chief legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid, who joins us from outside of the court. What do you expect to see today? And I know were getting very close to Donald Trump showing up.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, sorry. This is a big day even by Trump standards. Today was supposed to be the first day of the first criminal trial against former President Trump. But instead, his lawyers will spend the morning in the courthouse right behind me with their client, and they're going to be arguing why this case should either be postponed further or dismissed outright after 100,000 new documents, pieces of evidence, were handed over by federal prosecutors.

Now, this is a state level case. This new evidence came from federal officials related to their investigation and prosecution of Michael Cohen. And Michael Cohen is it really key in this case. The allegations here are that Trump paid hush money to former adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election to stay quiet about their alleged affair.

Now, Sara, there's nothing wrong with paying someone to be quiet about a personal relationship, but the allegation here is that this money was paid to help his chances in the 2016 election. And then he is charged with falsifying business records and trying to cover up why he was paying Michael Cohen back.

Now, in terms of this new evidence, Trump's lawyers argue that it helps their client and they need at least its 90 days to review it. But the district attorney insists that there's only a small portion of it that's actually relevant to this case. And if it helps anyone, it helps them. So Sara, today, we don't expect this case will be dismissed, but we do expect the judge will give us some clarity on when this trial will go forward.

SIDNER: There is also the deadline today for the bond payment of $464 million. Donald Trump has gone on social media and talked all about the fact that he says he has the money. His attorneys say otherwise. What can you tell us about that case today?

REID: Yes, definitely mixed messages coming out of the Trump camp, but this has been an embarrassing episode for the former president who prides himself on his identity as a very successful billionaire, because so far he has not been able to post this $464 million bond that he needs to put forward. This is related to the civil trial that he faced several months ago where he was found liable for fraud, both he, his two older sons, and the Trump Organization, the judge found, lied about their net worth to get better terms on loans and insurance rates.

And in order to go forward with his appeal, he needs to post this bond while that appeal is processed. Now, at this point, he has not been able to post this bond. Dozens of insurance companies have declined to underwrite him. So unless he can come up with this money some other way, it is possible, Sara, that the attorney general could start seizing his assets.

Now that's not something that will definitely start today. There is a process there that we know she has filed paperwork in Westchester County outside Manhattan. So that could be a place where she is prepared to seize assets if she needs to. But Sara, there's also an optics, a political question, right, about seizing property, if that's something that could potentially help Trump. So it's a huge day here in New York for former president Trump.

SIDNER: Yes, he's certainly been fundraising off of all of these cases. We will have to wait and see what happens in court today on both fronts. Thank you so much, Paula Reid, outside court for us. John?

BERMAN: All right, with us now is former assistant attorney general for the state of New York, Tristan Snell. He led the investigation and prosecution of Trump University.


Counselor, thanks so much for being with us. Paula and Sara were just talk about the political implications of maybe having property seized. But let's look at that another way. What would happen if Donald Trump were not a politician, if he were just normal defendant X who lost a civil fraud trial, what would happen to his properties and bank accounts today if he did not post bond?

TRISTAN SNELL, FORMER ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL NEW YORK STATE: the normal processes is, first you go after the bank accounts because they're the easiest things to get. That's liquid cash. He has bank accounts in New York. Those are going to be the first things that the authorities will go after. The properties would be next. There'd be no question that this process would play out during normally if he were a normal person.

He's getting special treatment, and that is the thing that really needs to stop here if. He were if he were not who he is, if he were not claiming to be this special person that is somehow above the law, then this process actually would have played out years ago, and it would have resulted in his assets and property being seized.

BERMAN: He is getting special treatment?

SNELL: Yes, he has absolutely been getting special treatment. He's been special treatment this entire way. He was able to evade accountability in this matter all these years. But we're talking about events that happened back in the back in 2010s in terms of the fraud. In terms of the falsification of business records case involving Michael Cohen, those were events that occurred back in 2016. All of this is stuff that would have come home to roost for any other defendant not named Donald Trump long before now.

BERMAN: You say he's the financial equivalent of a flight risk. What do you mean by that?

SNELL: He is. I mean that he's already shown in this case and the A.G. case, he already violated a court order that said that he couldn't move assets around during dependency of the case. He took $40 million cash out of the Trump Organization, his main holding company, and used it to pay other expenses of his, including a very large tax bill that he owed the federal government for $29 million, and including money that he needed to pay to E. Jean Carroll for assaulting and defaming her.

So we've already seen his ability to take some of these assets that now belong to the state of New York to pay this judgment, unless he manages to win on appeal. He needs to actually keep these assets in place, according to that court order. He already violated that. So my feeling is, and I feel the A.G.'s office should be pursuing this, they should be looking to expedite these collection processes because he is -- he's already proven that he will find ways to make these assets disappear and to evade the judgment that's been handed down against it.

BERMAN: Expedite how? If you are the attorney general of New York this morning, what assets or bank accounts would you try to impact, and how would you do it?

SNELL: There are a number of Trump bank accounts that are held here in New York, at least as far as anybody knows. That certainly was true as of a decade ago. As far as anybody knows, there are probably still some of those accounts that are still in New York. Any New York account or a bank that does business in New York, and that's virtually all banks, they're going to listen if they get a court order. They're not going to not pay attention to that court order. They're going to abide by that court order. So those liquid assets, that cash, that is something that can already be seized if he does not post the bond today.

The properties take a bit longer to do. There is a legal process that must be -- that must play out. That's a process, though, that takes months, not years. So this is something that could happen fairly quickly.

BERMAN: Yes, I think there's been a lot of focus on the properties, maybe because they're higher profile, but it seems to be what you're saying is that the bank accounts could be what she goes after first, and maybe even today.

SNELL: It might not be today, but could it be this week? I absolutely think that it could be. I think they've been ready for this. Trump has been telegraphing for a couple of weeks now that he is not going to be able to come up with that money, at least his lawyers are, right. His lawyers are saying we can't come up with the money. Trump is still sitting there boasting like he's going to be able to somehow come up with this money, that he just has it lying around. He clearly doesn't, because if he did this problem would have gone away by now. But the fact that we're sitting here today shows that he simply does not have the cash.

BERMAN: Tristan Snell, thank you so much for being with us and explaining what we may see as soon as today. Sara?

SIDNER: Interesting conversation.

With the looming threat of Donald Trump's property being seized, look at how that could impact the rest of New York City's real estate market.


And the Biden administration sends a warning to Israel ahead of a potential invasion in Rafah.

Later today, we'll hear from baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani about his interpreter, who has been fired over ties to gambling.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: We have major breaking news just in in the world of business and aviation. The CEO of Boeing, Dave Calhoun, just announced that he is going to step down.


He will leave Boeing by the end of the year. Of course, this follows the string of troubles that Boeing has been having -- that door plug blowing out of the Alaska Airlines flight, questions about standards at their productions among suppliers as well.

This appears to be part of a major shakeup in the entire company, not only is the CEO stepping down, we've also learned the company's chairman and the head of the commercial airplane unit will also be leaving.

Again, we are just getting this information, our aviation correspondent, Pete Muntean is digging into the details. He will have a full report just moments from now, so standby for that

Also this morning, key meetings in Washington between Israeli officials and the Biden administration. They come as the relationship has become increasingly tense.

And as the world is waiting for Hamas to respond to a proposal to release Israeli hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. CNN's Arlette Saenz is at the White House.

Arlette, what are you expecting today?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this is shaping up to be a consequential week when it comes to the war between Israel and Hamas, and these meetings here in Washington, DC really could serve as a key test of how much sway the US has over Israel's operations as they seek to root out Hamas.

Now, this will start with Israeli Defense Minister Gallant visiting Washington this week starting today with a meeting here at the White House with National Security adviser, Jake Sullivan, the focus of that meeting is expected to be on trying to get those remaining hostages out of Gaza, as well as surging more humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Gallant is also slated to meet with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken while he is here in Washington, in part to talk about is Israelis military needs as they are continuing this campaign against Hamas.

But then there is also a separate meeting that is set to take place, really drilling in on the potential operation into Rafah. This is something that the White House has been warning about for weeks, telling Israel that they should not proceed with an operation in this town unless they have plans in place to ensure the evacuation and protection of the 1.4 million Palestinians civilians who are there.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has vowed that he will move ahead with an operation there with or without the support of the US. Now, officials here at the White House are gathering top Israeli officials, including Ron Dermer, the former Israeli Ambassador to the US to talk about alternative plans for Rafah as they are hoping to avoid a catastrophic humanitarian crisis there.

And so these meetings really will serve as a key test of how much influence the US has in Israel's operations at a time when we have seen the relations between the two countries really frame.

BERMAN: Arlette Saenz at the White House, we know you'll be watching these meetings very closely. Thank you so much for being with us -- Sara.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The talks in Washington coming as Israel waits on Hamas to agree to a US proposed prisoner-hostage exchange.

Under the proposed deal, Israel would release around 700 Palestinian prisoners, 100 of whom are serving life sentences for killing Israeli nationals. In exchange, Hamas would release 40 Israeli hostages.

Joining me now is Barak Ravid, a CNN political and global affairs analyst and politics and foreign policy reporter at AXIOS.

You helped break the news on this movement. You've been following the negotiations for a very long time, very closely. Now, Israel had initially called the idea of handing over 700 to a thousand Palestinians for 40 Israeli hostages. Absurd. How did we get here? How did that change?

BARAK RAVID, CNN POLITICAL AND FOREIGN POLICY ANALYST: Well, and also three weeks ago, only three weeks ago, the same -- more or less the same proposal was given to Israel by Qatar, the mediator in the talks, and Israel rejected it at the time out of hand.

Three weeks later, Israel now accepts more or less the same proposal with the release of 700 Palestinian prisoners, among them 100 prisoners who are serving life sentences in Israeli prisons for the release of 40 Israeli hostages.

And you three weeks for those hostages in captivity, that's not a small deal, and I think if this deal goes through in the next few days and weeks, I think this will be one of the main questions: Why did Benjamin Netanyahu decide to wait three weeks to accept more or less the same deal?

SIDNER: That will be a question that certainly Israelis will be asking and I am curious, there are a couple of issues that are sort of outstanding here to have this still through: The entry of aid and Israeli military repositioning according to our sources.

What can you tell us about these two sticking points? RAVID: The number -- I think the number one issue, even more than the release of prisoners is the return of Palestinian civilians who are now mostly in the Rafah area to Gaza City and Northern Gaza.


Israel right now controls a corridor that basically splits the Gaza Strip in half, and prevents people from going to the north. One of Hamas' demands is that the IDF withdraw from this corridor so that there will be free movement to the north.

The Israelis at the beginning did not agree to any compromise on this issue. Now, after a US bridging proposal, the Israelis are willing to discuss a gradual return to the north of something between two thousand to three thousand Palestinians a day, mostly women and children.

I am not sure this is enough for Hamas, but again, this is another step from the Israeli side towards a deal.

SIDNER: I want to give some sense of what is happening inside Israel vis-a-vis what we are hearing from President Biden here in the US and to some degree, Schumer calling for Netanyahu to step away.

How is that being viewed inside Israel with President Biden in particular, warning him about what he does in Rafah.

RAVID: I think this is one of Netanyahu's biggest problems right now because Chuck Schumer wasn't only a staunch supporter of Israel, which he still is, he was a personal friend.

Netanyahu for years and years and years always said especially during the Obama presidency, said you know, I did not lose the Democrats. Look at my relationship with Chuck Schumer and now everyone is looking at this relationship with Chuck Schumer and it doesn't look good at all.

But if you want another sign of where things are going, and this is also connected to the US-Israel relationship, but also to the hostage deal and ceasefire.

Two hours from now, the Security Council is going to convene and vote on a draft resolution put forward by several of its members that is calling for ceasefire during Ramadan, but also for the release of the hostages.

The US, as far as I know from my sources, at the moment, is not expected to veto this resolution. And if this will happen, it will be the first time that a Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire will pass without the US veto since the beginning of the war, this will be a clear sign from the Biden administration that for Israel, time is running out.

SIDNER: Barak Ravid, that's big, that because the US has vetoed some of the others, and then you had Russia and others vetoing the US proposal for a ceasefire, but that would be a very big development if this went through.

Barak Ravid, thank you for your reporting. I appreciate it -- John.

BERMAN: We are getting new details this morning out of Russia about the men charged in the terror attack that left well over 100 dead there.

And then the breaking news, the CEO of Boeing is stepping down amid a series of safety incidents, a major shakeup at the aviation giant.



BERMAN: And the breaking news. We just got word that the CEO of Boeing, Dave Calhoun announced he is stepping down. He will leave by the end of the year.

This is part of a major shakeup at the company that has seen all kinds of questions about safety in its production line. CNN's Pete Muntean is with us now.

Pete, I promised moments ago when we reported this that you were digging to find out an explanation and to tell us exactly what's going on here.

What have you learned?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: The clear explanation here is that this is all stemming from the Alaska Airlines door plug blowout back on January 5th and the NTSB found that plane left the Boeing factory last October without the four critical bolts that held the door plug on, a serious quality control lapse here.

And initially, the fall man was the head of the Boeing Max program, somebody that a lot of people had not heard of.

Now, the top executives at the company are going. Dave Calhoun, the CEO who came in after the Max 8 incidents of 2018 in an 2019 that killed 346 people in two crashes abroad, he is now stepping down at the end of the year according to this latest release from Boeing. That is really significant.

Many wondering whether it is too little too late after Calhoun made his plea that Boeing airplanes are safe, not only on Capitol Hill, the top lawmakers in the Senate Committee that oversee aviation, but also to airlines CEOs like Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci, who wanted $150 million in damages from Boeing after the door plug blowout.

Also, criticism from United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby and American Airlines CEO, all of these companies, the backbone of their fleets are Boeing airplanes and many of these companies have orders for more Boeing airplanes.

We are also learning that Larry Kellner, the board chair, will retire and Stan Deal, who is the head of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, is also stepping down promoting a relative newcomer, Stephanie Pope, to that position. These have all been people heavily involved in the defense of Boeing after the door plug blowout earlier this year. This is a really, really significant shakeup.

Many had been wondering if there were going to be changes at the top of the company and now, we are seeing that that is happening right now, it is unfolding.

So this is a really huge change, John, and the fact that Boeing is doing this, there was a lot of irony here.

Dennis Muilenburg was the CEO at Boeing at the time of the Max 8 incidents in 2018 and 2019. Dave Calhoun came into power. Now, he is leaving as the result of another incident on the Max line.