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Manhattan Prosecutors Invite Trump To Appear Before Grand Jury; GA Legislature Considers Bills To Remove Prosecutors Amid Trump Election Probe; DeSantis Visits Iowa For First Time As He Weighs White House Run; CA Residents Brace For Flooding After Excessive Snow & Rain; Economy Added 311,000 Jobs In February, Outpacing Expectations; Powell Warns Interest Rates Will Rise More Than Anticipated; Another Norfolk Southern Train Derails, This Time In Alabama. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired March 10, 2023 - 10:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Very food Friday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Erica Hill. New this morning, former President Trump has been invited to testify before a grand jury. It's all part of the investigation into those alleged hush money payments for adult film star Stormy Daniels. We'll take a closer look at whether this invitation means criminal charges are on the horizon.

Plus, Republicans descending on Iowa. It is, of course, a must place, a must up and the possible road to the White House. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had to speak with Iowa's governor just minutes from now. CNN is there on the trail.

SCIUTTO: And major economic news this morning, it's good. Employers added 311,000 new jobs last month, that's people working. Beat analysts' expectations by a longshot. What though does that mean for the Feds ongoing fight to cool down inflation? Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, he's going to join us to talk about it.

We do begin this hour with the Manhattan District Attorney's office inviting former President Trump's testify before a grand jury. And invitation means there might be about to indict him. CNN's Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid is here with more. So walk us through the likely charges here and what it means for the President.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: So over the past few weeks, we've seen an uptick in activity before this grand jury. For about five years now, they've been looking into whether the former president may have falsified business records, reimburse Michael Cohen for hush money given to porn star Stormy Daniels.

And we have seen Kellyanne Conway, we've seen Hope Hicks go before this grand jury. And just a short time ago, we saw another key witness here, Michael Cohen enter the courthouse. And he spoke. Let's listen to what he said.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP PERSONAL ATTORNEY: I have to applaud District Attorney Bragg for giving Donald the opportunity to come in and to tell his story. Now knowing Donald as well as I do understand that he doesn't tell the truth. So it's one thing to turn around and to lie on your untruth social. It's another thing to turn around and lie before a grand jury, which I don't suspect that he's going to be coming.


REID: OK, let's unpack that. So if there is an indictment here and it does look like that is highly possible because this invitation has been extended, it appears they're wrapping up their investigation. This is going to be a challenging case for prosecutors. This is conduct that occurred seven years ago.

This is at the core. It is a paperwork crime, still potentially a crime, but there's a novel legal theory that they'd be prosecuting this under. And there you have your star witness Michael Cohen, a convicted liar who constantly goes before cameras and talks about his ill will towards the former president. Any good defense attorney would seize on this. So if there is an indictment, this could be an uphill battle for prosecutors.

SCIUTTO: Convicted liar, but someone who served very closely with the president and knew former president, knew how he operated in effect.

REID: Yes, has some value. But again, his own convictions, business issues that he pleaded guilty to make it pretty easy to impeach as a witness.

SCIUTTO: Paul Reid, thanks so much.

HILL: Joining me now, former U.S. Attorney Michael Moore, partner at Moore Hall in Atlanta. Good to see you this morning. So if we pick up where Paula left off there, she laid out why this could be difficult for prosecutors. You've also said you think it may be downright risky to go after a charge here. Why?

MICHAEL MOORE, PARTNER, MOORE HALL IN ATLANTA: Well, I'm glad to be with you both. It strikes me that you don't try to put out a fire spy with a water pistol. And that's really what we're talking about here. A document crime in its basic form is a misdemeanor. And when you try to sort of get a novel away and twist it a little bit and add some things to it so that you can bump it up to a felony, that tells me how to maybe reevaluate what you're talking about with the charges


My concern is that you get three investigations going on, New York, Georgia and then the special counsel's investigation. These folks need to get into a room, they need to put their egos aside, quit worrying about who's going to be first and who's going to be the biggest case, or who's going to make their career and make a decision about what's the strongest case.

Because if he moves over first with a weak case, you give a chance for appellate courts to really make some bad law for the remaining prosecutors, as they're thinking about. You may have some battle on issues of what conduct can be charged to a former president during the time that he was acting as president.

And so these are decisions that need to be made as a group. You know, send them to Camp David, let them work it out or whatever you got to do, but they need to get into the room and talk this through. Don't move forward or something that's a misdemeanor on -- in a situation like this.

HILL: Real quickly, though, what are the chances? I mean, a, do you think any of that has happened? Have there been conversations? And, b, what are the chances of that actually happening? That they sit down together and say, OK, let's hash this out?

MOORE: Well, I would hope that they would do it for the good of the country, the good of their cases, and what really, whether or not has happened? I don't know. I don't have any inside information about that.

HILL: Yes.

MOORE: But I think we should do it. And I think it's something that would help each case if they think about moving forward.

HILL: So let's turn now to Georgia. So there's a pair of bills moving through the Republican led Senate legislature there. So essentially, what they would do is make it easier to remove prosecutors, remove District Attorneys for, quote, willful misconduct or persistent failure to perform his or her duties.

The governor support this move has been citing concerns about soft on crime, prosecutors.


HILL: Is there evidence that you've seen a prosecutor is a district attorney's ignoring crime in Georgia? Is this additional layer of oversight needed?

MOORE: No, this is about -- this is just a PR mode. And PR means power and racism. That's all this is about. You know, people want to talk about and governor wants to talk about crime and all that. Give us the resources. Give police departments the resources, give prosecutors the resources to do those things they need to do more.

Bill more jails, if you need to do that, whatever it has to be, but don't try to come in and set aside the will of the voter. I want you to think about what the Republican legislature has done in Georgia. And I'll give you a sense of why I say there's an undercurrent of racism here.

When people started lining up to vote, and it took four, five, six, seven hours ago, those numbers were too big. So guess what they did, the Republican legislature passed a bill saying you couldn't take a water. When the absentee ballot started coming in and we're being counted in a certain way that it seemed that suddenly absentee ballots were moving toward the Democratic side and that the elections were getting shifted.

Guess what the Republican legislature did. They came in, decided I needed an oversight board to try to take over local boards of election. Nonsense. And now when you've got a prosecutor and she happens to be an African American lady, but when you've got a prosecutor looking into whether or not Republican leaders, including the leader of one of the chambers, who is authored this bill or sponsor this bill, he didn't author it, but it's out of his chamber.

When you look at that, when you get somebody to investigate whether or not they stole it, or involved in fraud in the election, they want to pass suddenly an oversight by senator they're interested. Just ask yourself, have they ever passed a bill on whether or not we should recall or have a committee oversight on whether members of the General Assembly were doing their job? We have not and that tells you about what you need to know.

HILL: Michael Moore, always good to talk to you. Thank you.

MOORE: Great to be with both of you. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Well right now Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is about to take the stage in Davenport, Iowa. It's DeSantis' first time in that critical first in the nation caucus state while he has not officially launched the presidential run he is expected to.

HILL: That is for sure. Also in Iowa, GOP candidate Nikki Haley, former President Donald Trump will be making a stop there on Monday. CNN's Steve Contorno is joining us live from Davenport, Iowa this morning.

So Iowa, this is about the time that it happens, right? Once again, the political center of the universe. What are folks on the ground say?

STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: Well, Erica, there's a roomful of people behind me who are very excited to hear from Governor DeSantis. Right now, they're hearing from Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa, who will be following DeSantis from Davenport to Des Moines.

And when you talk to people here, they're basically two dynamics at play. There are people who are eager to find someone else other than Trump, who can represent the party and go against Joe Biden in 2024. I talked to one woman who said she is looking for someone she can morally and ethically supports in the next election.

But then I talked to some Trump supporters here who are -- they're open minded to DeSantis. But they said things like that he didn't worry that he might be bought and paid for. So those are the two things that the DeSantis is -- he's going to have to make those people who are open minded come to him and maybe turn some hearts and minds among Trump supporters.

But Trump is going to be fighting for these people as well. He is coming to Davenport just a few days after DeSantis is here. We also have Nikki Haley in Des Moines as you said. So everyone is starting to send on Florida.


This is Governor DeSantis' first time really ever in the state so this is his introduction of voters. Technically, he is selling a book here. He has the courage to be free, which is out and he's handing out free copies to people who come in. But the subtext to all this is of course, he is very interested in running for president. He is doing all the work, laying the groundwork for that run. And this is the first big step toward that move, Erica.

SCIUTTO: Steve Contorno in Iowa, thanks so much.

Still to come this hour, new jobs numbers out this morning. amid concerns that the Fed rate -- Fed may hike rates even more because of the strong job market. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will join us to discuss the latest news.

HILL: Plus, some stunning images out of Alabama yet another Norfolk Southern train goes off the tracks. We're going to take you live to the scene of that derailment.

Also new concerns, CNN learning Russia is sending U.S. provided weapons seized from battlefields in Ukraine, sending those weapons to Iran. The full details just ahead.



HILL: Right now, dozens of communities in California are under a state of emergency as yet another powerful storm dumps heavy rain and snowfall. This is impacting millions of residents. Tens of thousands are already without power. These dangerous conditions too are not just moving through and moving out. They're expected to stick around for days.

CNN's Natasha Chen is live for us in Sacramento County, California right now. So this is a lot to prepare for on top of what folks have already been dealing with.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Erica, a lot of people have been describing this deja vu. They're very tired of the storm after storm despite being appreciative that there's now a rain after such severe drought in previous years.

Where I'm standing, I want to show you. This is the Nimbus dam, it is releasing thousands and thousands of cubic feet of water per second. And this is flowing into the American River from Lake Natoma. This is an example of what officials have been doing to prepare for this moment. They are doing a managed release in this way to help the rivers and creeks and levees not be overwhelmed by the rain that's incoming. Now, in this particular spot, the rain was very heavy, the winds were gusting overnight, it's now moving a little bit more east of us into the foothills of the mountains, which have already had unusual snowpack from the previous storms you mentioned.

And one of the problems there could be structural collapse because when you've got a lot of heavy snow on top of those buildings, that's mixing now with the rain and getting, you know, the slush and melting and possibly causing groups to cave in.

We had one example of that last weekend, private school in Nevada City actually posting about it yesterday, their school gym actually caved in because of that weight from the snow that's mixing with the rain. We saw a local affiliate report that that happened to a structure in Grass Valley last night.

So this is something that we're continuing to watch as we watch these rivers and these dams go to work. And hopefully, if it works as the officials have planned that could really ease the flooding concerns. Now, there still are flooding concerns though in many communities that have gotten a lot of this already in the past couple of months. We'll be watching them and making sure that everyone is safe in those areas as well. Erica?

HILL: Natasha, I really appreciate it. Thank you for the update.

SCIUTTO: Later this morning, another better-than-expected jobs report shows the U.S. economy added 311,000 jobs last month. That good news, though, actually complicates the Federal Reserve's fight to bring down inflation. Moments ago, the Treasury Secretary pointed out that this month's report also shows more people are joining the labor force.


JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARY: At this point, the labor force participation rates for both adult men and women have exceeded their pre-pandemic highs. And so when more people come into the labor force, that loosens conditions ever so slightly take some of the -- helps address some of the supply demand imbalance in the labor market while creating lots of jobs.


SCIUTTO: Joining us now is the Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. Mr. Secretary, thanks for joining us this morning.


SCIUTTO: So here we are. We're months into an aggressive fight by the Fed to bring down inflation, raising interest rates. Folks are feeling that, credit cards, mortgages, business loans, et cetera. And yet the job market stays remarkably strong, even stronger than forecasts have been predicting these last few months. You, of course, follow this closely in your job. How is that happening? WALSH: Well, I think, you know, businesses, I learned are figuring out how to adjust in the reality of post-pandemic. I think a lot of the stresses that we're seeing, and again, I'm not an economist, but a lot of the stressors we're seeing were caused by the pandemic.

So the administration is working to bring inflationary pressures down. Businesses are still growing. We still have worker shortages, that people are still -- companies are still looking for more workers. And we're seeing that the impacts the economy are not affecting business like everyone thought it would. And hopefully we'll continue to move forward here.

You know, Secretary Yellen just talked about the participation rate being high -- the highest, it's pre-pandemic, and it can actually go higher. The President in his blueprint -- I don't know if the Secretary said this in a hearing, but in the President's budget, he's tackling childcare and home care. And if we can really tackle those issues, we will see more people coming into the workforce.


SCIUTTO: I want to show you this because, of course, there is concern that the Fed being aggressive here. They are, after all, raising the cost of money, it's going to bite eventually. Secretary -- rather, Senator Elizabeth Warren this week was grilling Powell about the potential for as much as 2 million people losing their jobs because of those interest rate hikes. Has your department gamed out what effect these interest rate hikes will have on the job market?

WALSH: Not necessarily. I mean, I know that the White House I'm sure, and the economists are all talking about what would that would be but we're not seeing signs of that. Last month, we saw a great -- the last three months was -- well, actually, quite honestly, the last year we've seen good job gains. And I think last month and this month, in particular, drive gains that were way over projections and we're still seeing the need for people.

We're seeing people go into industries, hospitality industry, people going into retail. These areas that were decimated during the pandemic. So, again, I know, I'm not answering the question directly. I think that, you know, there's been a lot of fear about a recession, lots of talk about recession.

But right now, the signs don't point to that. And I think that, you know, as much as the Fed does their job to bring, try and bring inflationary pressures down, we have to continue to do it on our side as well.

SCIUTTO: Listen, I know you don't like to comment on the Fed, or say an unkind word about the Fed, but let's be frank here. The Fed got inflation wrong. They said it wasn't going to be lasting, it is. They were slow, arguably, to raise interest rates, kept them really low for a long time. They have contributed to stock market bubble.

I just wonder what confidence should folks at home have that the Feds going to get this right and not tip the economy into a recession and cause people to lose their jobs?

WALSH: You know, the Federal Reserve has a job to do, and they're doing what they think they need to do. And we have a job to do as an administration, we're doing what we think we have to do. And I have a job to do here as Secretary of Labor.

And, you know, my job is really, quite honestly, is not putting people back to work. But making sure that the people in this country have opportunities into good paying jobs. It's a task the President gave me. So I'm going to stay focused on my job. And I drove here at the Department of Labor. But thank you for the question.

SCIUTTO: I should note, I believe today's your last day in the job because you got a new job yourself to be the head of the NHL players union. I do want to ask you --


SCIUTTO: -- what your plans are there. But before I do, what do you believe your successors priority needs to be?

WALSH: It's all about -- there's a lot of different things, but workforce development, job training and apprenticeship moving forward. We have -- President passed starting two years ago, tomorrow, the American Rescue Plan, and then historic legislation after that. There's so many opportunities in our country to create a pathway to the middle class.

We have to make sure that everyone has that pathway. When we talked about the unemployment rate in the country today, 3.6 percent in the job growth, in the black communities, 5.7 percent, in Latino communities, 5.4 percent. We still have ways to go in underserved communities. Without veterans in rural America, people with disabilities, I think job training, workforce development is the key thing here.

Because the first few years we passed this great legislation, the next few years about implementation are a large part of that implementation. The factors here at the Department of Labor are going to be big part of that.

SCIUTTO: Just quickly, given your change, you're going to the NHL. I know that in your new role, you won't be able to root for the Bruins, who I know you actually are rooting for, but tell us what your plans are in the NHL representing the players?

WALSH: Well, I mean, I'm going to go in there and do an assessment in the office. You know, the John Farah, the leader has been there for 14 years. And, you know, in the past has been some leadership that might have raised a lot of concerns for the players. And I'm going to look and see what's been done in the past and what hasn't been effective and what's -- how to move forward.

As you know, I take this role as collaborative role. My role will be working representing players, collective bargaining, all of that important stuff, but it's -- I have a collaborative role. So I want to build a relationship with the teams in the league to let them know that this is about working closely together.

But my first and foremost objective will be to go in there and do an assessment to see the strengths and weaknesses of the organization.

SCIUTTO: Secretary Marty Walsh, thanks so much for being a friend of the show. We wish you good luck hanging out with the hockey players.

WALSH: Thank you, my friend.

SCIUTTO: Still to come this hour, more trouble for Norfolk Southern as another one of its trains derails this time in the state of Alabama. And it happened just hours before senators were asking questions to the company CEO over the toxic train wreck in Ohio.



SCIUTTO: Well, another Norfolk Southern train derailed on Thursday this time in rural Alabama. Emergency officials in Calhoun County say about 30 cars went off the tracks. Wow, that's a mess. Fortunately, no one was hurt. There were, we should note, no reports of hazardous materials leaks.

HILL: This crash though happened just hours before Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw testified in a Senate hearing, answering lawmakers questions about that toxic derailment in East Palestine, Ohio last month.

CNN's Ryan Young is live for us at the crash site in Alabama this morning. Ryan, what are you seeing there?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we are focused right now on just what these crews are doing.