Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

Trump Lashes Out after Gag Order; Biden Campaign New Ad; Biden Campaign Believes Florida is Winnable. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired April 02, 2024 - 09:00   ET



EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER DEP. ASSISTANT SECY. OF DEFENSE, RUSSIA/UKRAINE/EURASIA: Having said that, I think, you know, we have tried to reassure them that Speaker Johnson is -- does intend to do something to help Ukraine. And I think any of the options that he has put out recently alone, frankly tying it to LNG facilities, I don't think the Ukrainians differentiate. And as far as those of us who understand what's at stake here, we just want the assistance to come through.

Ukraine -- I have an opinion piece in "The Hill,", running that says basically that, you know, Ukraine is winning and if we continue to provide assistance, this will -- their victory will be assured faster with less loss of life. If we don't provide the assistance, then the victory will eventually be in jeopardy. But there are a whole host of reasons why it looks like Ukraine is winning, and so Congress should do the right thing.


Evelyn Farkas, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

The next hour of NEWS CENTRAL starts right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are standing by for the markets to open. Future for Donald Trump's social media company are down. This after he lost a billion dollars on paper yesterday. How much more could he drop today?

Breaking news. Israel says they unintentionally struck innocent people in a strike that killed seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen. We are standing by for reaction from the organization.

And then abortion on the ballot in one of the most important swing states. A Florida court opens the door to a ban on abortion after six weeks, but now voters will decide if it sticks, and Democrats see a huge opportunity.

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

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump is speaking out this morning. He just spoke out for the first time about the new, expanded gag order that he is now under, posting on social media and railing against the judge in the hush money trial he's about to face, but also notably not targeting the judge's daughter this time. That's notable because Donald Trump has targeted the judge's daughter recently, targeting her by name in several comments, even posting photos about her. The new gag order that came down late last night now bans the former president from talking about the family members of prosecutors and court staff. The judge saying that Donald Trump's words and rhetoric pose a "very real threat." His post this morning does not cross that line. He'll face another test of this newfound restraint later today as he heads back on the campaign trail,

CNN's Alayna Treene is on the trail in Michigan for us this morning.

Alayna, what are you hearing about this? How is Donald Trump and the team around Donald Trump going to handle or face this new, expanded gag order?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, look, I think they'll do exactly what they have done in the past with the gag orders, which is we'll see Donald Trump continued to rail against it. We saw him rail against it its morning, attacking Judge Juan Merchan as a corrupt New York judge. But as you noted, Kate, he did not violate the expanded gag order that was placed on him yesterday. And I think that's how they're going to continue to move forward.

They do not want to create more problems, potential new finds. It's the same thing we saw with his New York hush money case. Or, excuse me, the New York civil fraud trial when he was here and there violated some of the gag order then. They're not going to want to do that this time. But, of course Donald Trump, as we have seen play out today, is very angry about this.

But look, I also just wanted to give you a sense of what he's going to be doing in Michigan and Wisconsin today. I think it's very noteworthy because really we haven't seen much of Donald Trump since his Super Tuesday win. He's only held two campaign events since then. So, this is really him kicking off his general election campaign in earnest today.

Now, what I have heard from his team about what he's going to be talking about, he's really going to be focusing on themes that helped propel him to victory in these states in 2016, and that's immigration and crime. When I talked its campaign they said they expect him to rail against Biden's border policies here in Michigan. The headline for that event is what they call Biden's blood -- or border bloodbath. And that's what they've been referring to it as, of course referencing the very controversial phrase he used weeks ago that received a lot of backlash from Democrats and Republicans alike when he referred to a potential bloodbath on the auto industry and the country if Biden were to win.

We're also told that Donald Trump has invited the family of Ruby Garcia. She is someone who was recently killed here in Michigan by an undocumented immigrant. Police say that it was a domestic dispute.


But we'll see if her family and she come today to this event.

But look, I think, overall, again, I really just want to point out that this is Donald Trump kicking off his campaign in earnest. These are two very critical battlegrounds, both for Trump, but also for Biden. And so that's why you're seeing this big push here today, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, it's a great point and great to see you there. Thank you so much, Alayna.


SIDNER: With me now, CNN legal analyst and former House Judiciary special counsel in Trump's first impeachment trial, Norm Eisen.

Thank you so much, Norm, for being with you -- with us.

Can I ask you just first, how unusual is it for a gag order to be expanded like this?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's not normal, Sara, but it's not unheard of. The life of American law is its flexibility. And when you have a defendant, as Donald Trump is doing here, engaging in a kind of conduct that has never been surpassed, to my knowledge, in American history of attacking judges, attacking prosecutors, threatening rhetoric, it led to January 6th, one of his followers attacked the FBI in Cincinnati in 2022, you have to flex the law in order to prevent the chilling effect. Think of the message it sends to everyone and anyone if Donald Trump can make these attacks. Judge Merchan did just that.

SIDNER: And you're speaking to -- about the witnesses, which is usually who are the most protected and, of course, the jury Trump's former tech -- former press secretary, speaking of witnesses, Hope Hicks, David Pecker, the former executive of "The Enquirer," who squashed the stories that were negative about Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, Trump's former attorney who has turned on Donald Trump, the former Playboy model who also accused Trump of having an extramarital affair, Karen McDougal, and, of course, Stormy Daniels herself are all on the witness list. What does this list tell you? You see Kellyanne Conway there as well.

EISEN: Sara, when I was counsel for the first impeachment of the former president, we investigated this identical set of facts, including many of these witnesses. I took Hope Hicks deposition because the same, as the judge put it, alleged interference with an election gives rise to impeachable offenses as well.

And I think that the prosecution, Alvin Bragg, has a powerful case here. If they're calling Hope Hicks, they're calling these other witnesses, it's because they've meticulously put together a case that they're going to present to the jury of how Donald Trump allegedly, let's remember, he's innocent until proven guilty, but he allegedly kept vital information from voters in the 2016 election. That's a case of voter deception and alleged election interference. It's kind of a gateway drug to him doing the same thing allegedly in 2020. That's why we're going to hear from Hope Hicks and the others. They have critical information in the determination of DA Alvin Bragg.

SIDNER: Yes, it shows you how wide the case spreads out.

Lastly, you had pointed out that we really shouldn't ignore the context around this gag order. What do you mean by that?

EISEN: Well, President Trump, our former chief executive, is using the bully pulpit that comes with being a former president to put people in grave danger. Quite apart from his attacks on the judge's daughter, which are totally uncalled for, and which are not protected by the First Amendment. In recent days alone we saw him attack judges and prosecutors in his Easter message. He put up a heinous image, Sara, of the current president of the United States, bound and gagged in the back of a pickup truck. An obvious gesture to the kidnapping of the current president. We've never seen anyone behave like this who's a former president, who's a criminal defendant, and that must go into the calculus as well. Thank goodness the judge put in this gag order.

SIDNER: Yes, there's also the calculus of hearing from January 6 offenders who went into court and said that they were influenced by Donald Trump's words. All very interesting, the context of all of this.

Norm Eisen, thank you so much. Appreciate you for you coming on.


BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, shares of Trump Media taking a beating on Wall Street. The former president losing a billion dollars on paper yesterday. That is something to watch as the markets are about to open.

And after years of becoming much more Republican, President Biden's campaign now says Florida is winnable for them.


Where this newfound confidence comes from and why abortion rights are at the center of that.

And the breaking news this morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just responded for the first time after the IDF strike that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers, and what the Israeli military's top general is now saying.


SIDNER: President Biden going on offense this morning, saying Donald Trump doesn't trust women in a new campaign ad focused on abortion rights. His campaign releasing the ad just a day after the Florida state supreme court paved the way for a six-week abortion ban in that state.


That's before many women even know they're pregnant. The move effectively leaves very few options for women all across the southeast.

The Biden campaign believes this sets the stage to make Florida a winnable state for them in November. That's despite Donald Trump winning Florida in the last two presidential elections.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is at the White House for us.

Arlette, why are they so confident at this point?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Sara, the Biden campaign believes they have an opening to win the state of Florida, even as that state has gone Republican in the past few cycles. And they believe the big reason why is the issue of reproductive rights. The Florida state supreme courts moved forward with allowing a constitutional amendment relating to abortion to appear on Florida ballots in November. Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said that that would be a mobilizing and galvanizing force for voters heading into the election.

The Biden campaign has long argued that reproductive rights across the country can really help push voters to the polls, especially women, moderate, and independent voters. That is something that the Biden campaign is also leaning into today in a new television ad they're releasing across battleground states and the state of Florida. This new ad features President Biden speaking direct-to-camera about needing to protect a woman's right to choose and trying to portray former President Donald Trump as a direct threat to reproductive rights.

Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's running to pass a national ban on a woman's right to choose. I'm running to make Roe v. Wade the law of the land again so women have a federal guaranteed to the right to choose. Donald Trump doesn't trust women. I do.

I'm Joe Biden, and I approve this message.


SAENZ: Now, the Biden campaign believes that ballot measures in Florida, Nevada, and Arizona could help mobilize their coalition to the ballots come November. But the Biden campaign is also running up against the reality of the political electorate in the state of Florida. We have seen in the past two campaigns former President Donald Trump really improve his standing among voters there. He beat Hillary Clinton by about 112,000 votes and more than double that margin when he competed against Biden in the state back in 2020.

But one area that the Biden campaign is also saying they believe works in their favor is in the attempts to court those former Nikki Haley supporters. There were about 155,000 people who voted for Haley in the Republican primary in Florida, and the Biden campaign has been making direct overtures to her supporters, rolling out a new digital ad over the weekend and I'm told even reaching out to the people who funded her campaign, those high-dollar donors as well.

So, these are all elements that the Biden campaign believes could work in their favor with reproductive rights. And the debate around it really being one of the top issues they believe will work for them.

SIDNER: Arlette Saenz, thank you so much.


BERMAN: All right, with this now, political commentators Democratic strategist Maria Cardona and Republican strategist David Urban.

Maria, when abortion has been on the ballot since the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus Wade, how advantageous has it been to Democrats?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's been really advantageous. John, as you know, in the run-up to 2022, everyone was predicting a massive red tsunami. And it didn't happen. And one of the major reasons it didn't happen was because reproductive rights were on the ballot. The Supreme Court had just overturned Roe v. Wade. And this is an interesting point, John, the issue of repro rights is very rarely adequately and accurately measured in polls. It's an underlying issue. A lot of people kind of put it aside. They said women were going to get over it. The Supreme Court overturned it in the summer. They were going to get over it by the midterm elections in 2022.

Well, no, guess what, we're not over it and we're not going to be over it until the government stays out of a decision that should be in our hands with our families with our doctors and with our faith. And until Republicans understand that, and stop talking about any kind of ban, this is going to be an electoral kryptonite for them and it's going to be something that's going to give huge openings for Democrats. We saw it in Ohio. We saw it in Kansas. We flipped a central Florida seat that had been Republican. We flipped a Jacksonville mayoral seat that had been Republican in Florida as well. This is a huge opening for Democrats, and we're going to take it.

BERMAN: David Urban, our man in Florida, at least part of the year, what do you see there? How much do Republicans --

DAVID URBAN, SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm here -- I'm here right now, John.

BERMAN: How much -- how -- I can see the sun shining on your forehead. How much should Republicans fear this in the state?

URBAN: Yes, listen, John, so I think -- to start out with, I wish Daniel Dale were here to fact check that Joe Biden commercial because Donald Trump is not calling for a national ban.


If anything he's pretty -- he's pretty moderate on the issue. Kind of in the -- in the, you know, 15, 16 week that, you know, the middle ground position he staked out. So I'd like to just correct the record on that for Joe Biden. Secondly, I do think, listen, Maria's correct in that it has been a

winning issue for Democrats in election after election. I think it is a -- it is an issue they're going to run on. They're going to run on abortion and January 6th. Republicans are going to run on immigration, crime and Biden's age. And, you know, I think the tiebreaker here is going to be the economy. What's going to happen? Is the economy going to stay, you know, where it is now? Are people going to feel like they can't afford their car payments, food?

And, listen, I welcome Democrats coming to the state of Florida and spending money, spending their valuable resources here and trying to flip the state. I think it's a fool's errand. Florida is never going to vote for Joe Biden in the presidential election. The more money they spend here in Florida, the less money they're going to spend in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin. So, bring your trucks full of money down here. Come on, Maria, welcome to Florida.

BERMAN: I want to shift gears, if I can right now, because Erin Burnett did, I think, one of the most revealing interviews that we have seen to date with Robert Kennedy, Jr. They talked for quite a long time on quite a number of issues. And I think you ended up with a real sense of where he is, where he's positioning himself in this race, particularly vis-a-vis the two other candidates.

Listen to what he said. It raised a lot eyebrows when he was asked who the bigger threat to democracy is among the other two candidates.



ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR. (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The greatest threat to democracy is not somebody who questions election returns, but a president of the United States who will use the power of his office to force the social media companies, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, to open a portal and give access to that portal to the FBI, to the CIA, to the IRS, to SISA, to NIH, to censor his political critics.


BERMAN: Daniel Dale did do a fact check on that last part, which I recommend everyone go check out.

But, Maria, just the idea that he is saying that President Biden is a bigger threat to democracy then Donald Trump, and he -- even though he referenced right there the January 6th insurrection.

CARDONA: Yes, John, I think that was just a huge disservice to his own campaign and, frankly, his credibility, if he has any left. I think it underscored the lunacy of his campaign, the conspiracy theory basis of his campaign. And, frankly, the fact that he's in this to help Donald Trump win because that argument is exactly a extremist MAGA argument. And make no mistake, one of the biggest contributor to RFK Jr.'s super PAC is one of the biggest contributors to Donald Trump's super PAC. So, let's make sure that everybody understands that a vote for RFK Jr.

is a vote for Donald Trump. And what he represents is conspiracy theories. And the fact that he said that he believes Joe Biden is a bigger threat to democracy than Donald Trump says at all. That's beyond the pale. Joe Biden was not the candidate who inspired an insurrection and pushed his supporters to go and attack the Capitol, where many people died, including law enforcement officers. He is not someone who still denies the election of 2020. He is not someone who said that he wants to be a dictator on day one.

And so I think RFK Jr. is defining himself, but Democrats are going to do a big job of defining him as well as a MAGA extremist.

BERMAN: David, just hang on one second here. I just want to play another little bit of sound from Robert Kennedy.

URBAN: Sure.

BERMAN: And I think it will tee up where you want to weigh in here because, again, he makes clear on who he might be more critical of.



ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR. (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think there's a revolution happening in our country. And it's the same kind of thing that happened when my father was running and 1968. The polarization, the division of Americans is the most toxic it's been since the American Civil War. That is going to -- there's a whole group of people in this country, the American middle class, 57 percent of Americans who can't put their hands on $1,000 if there's an emergency in their family. For those people, if the engine light comes on in their car it's the apocalypse. You know, they're going to lose their car, lose their job. They are feeling forgotten by the Democratic Party.


BERMAN: That last part right there, David, again, it gives you a sense of what Robert Kennedy -- or does it, I should ask, is really positioning himself up against?

URBAN: Yes, listen, I think that -- I watched the interview, the entire interview, John. I was on Erin's show last night right after Robert F. Kennedy Jr. there and I had the occasion to spend a brief amount of time with him. He's an incredibly charismatic guy and does really well in retail.

But I will say, he -- he is a threat to Joe Biden more so than Donald Trump, although he sounds like a Trump populist there.


You know, poll after poll you see that he does eat away at some Trump voters, but he eats more from the Biden base. And that's, quite frankly, why they're terrified. If he's on the ticket, Katy bar the door. It's going to be a completely different race.

Now the question is that the operative part of that sentence is, if he's on the ticket, right? So, we've got to see if he can get ballot access in lots of these states, not just the handful that he's in now. If he gets on, let's say, the libertarian ticket, he's on every state in America. If he manages to get on and file and get on ballot after ballot after ballot in swing states and other states, it's going to be a game changer. And I think that Democrats are right to be spending all this money they're doing right now to try to keep him off the ballot, because they don't want to give people that choice to vote for him over Joe Biden because they will vote for -- for RFK Jr. over the Biden-Harris administration.

BERMAN: David Urban, I should have noted, you were the highlight of the Robert Kennedy interview last night on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT." Great to see you this morning on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

Maria Cardona, you're always the highlight.

Thank you both for being here.

URBAN: Thanks, John.


CARDONA: Thanks, John.

BOLDUAN: Shares of Trump media tanked after major losses were posted by the social media company. What analysts are saying about the true value of Truth Social right now.

And the breaking news this morning, Israel takes responsibility for the strike that killed seven aid workers with World Central Kitchen in Gaza. And the Israeli military's top general says now he will personally review the findings of how this tragic strike happened.