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To Avoid Going To Trial, Trump Wants To Set Federal Judges Against One Another; $454M Civil Fraud Verdict Appealed By Trump; Arguments In Historic Social Media Matters Heard By The Supreme Court; Separate Visits To US-Mexico Border Planned For Biden And Trump On Thursday; Today: Clock Ticking Shutdown As Congress Resumes; Duke Basketball Player Injured After Court Storming; Growing Measles Outbreak In Florida School. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired February 26, 2024 - 10:30   ET




JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: All right. New this morning, CNN reporting underlining that Donald Trump has a new legal gambit. He's back in court on Friday, but sources tell CNN he also wants to pit federal judges against each other in a bid to push his trials until after the November election.

CNN's Katelyn Polantz spoke the story for us. Katelyn, I mean, we knew that it was all about delay, delay, delay. But this is the plan to make that happen.



POLANTZ: So, the sources I've spoken with are saying that Trump Really does not want these two federal criminal cases he's facing to go to trial. He has the New York hush money case on the calendar for the end of March, spanning into May. So, that will take up a chunk of his calendar in court.

And then after that, there's a big question mark. Will one of these cases go to trial? Right now, his documents case in Florida, the classified records mishandling case, that's a federal case. It's scheduled to start in late May. But this Friday, his attorneys are looking to ask for a delay. That's what the sources are telling me.

ACOSTA: Right.

POLANTZ: And they want to just move it gradually. They want to move it maybe a month or two into July. And then because that case is so complicated, once July rolls around, they hope that they have to move it back again.

So, the idea would be to elbow out, not just having him go to trial in that case, but also to make sure he's not going to trial in the January 6th case, 2020 election, before Judge Tanya Chutkan. They want to ice her out. That's what one source told me.

ACOSTA: Yes -- I mean, I get this case over here, so I can't do this one over here and so on. You can understand how this can snowball out of control. I mean, you have -- we should point out, we have some breaking news that's just come in in the last several minutes.

New breaking news on Trump. He's going to file this appeal in the civil fraud case. What can you tell us?

POLANTZ: Yes, he is filing this appeal in his civil fraud case out of New York. He wants to hold off having to pay that $454 million. So, it's 100 million in interest and the other judgment. The clock is ticking for him. So, he is going to have to get relief pretty quickly. There's a 30-day window, basically, some from last week where he's going to have to start paying that money. And he certainly doesn't want to pay it and he also doesn't want to be banned from doing business in New York.

ACOSTA: Yes, breaking but not shocking news, I would say.

POLANTZ: Not at all.

ACOSTA: We have our other legal eagle here. Our Paula Reid is here. Paula, I mean, you know, we've been talking about this for some time now. He's going to try to not pay this. But he can't really do that.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's unclear if he can pay it at all, right? That's the first issue.

ACOSTA: I mean, unless he's successful with an appeal, I guess, but yes.

REID: Yes, I mean, he's going to appeal, but he still has to put up the cash or post bond. And it's unclear if he can do that. If you look at his current cash flow, he's not only dealing with this verdict, he also had the E. Jean Carroll verdict. So, these are adding up, and it's just unclear if he has enough money in his coffers or, you know, if he is worthy in the eyes of creditors or his real estate portfolio to be able to do what he has to do here. It's just unclear. We don't know.

ACOSTA: Yes, and the other thing we need to get into happening this hour, the Supreme Court is going to be hearing arguments in two landmark cases that essentially could open the floodgates to more toxic content on social media. I mean, anybody who has a phone obviously is concerned about this. But for parents who have kids are constantly worried about what's on these social media sites. This court could change, basically, the landscape for this.

REID: You're right, Jim. This case could change the internet as we know it. Because here, Florida and Texas have passed laws that would limit the ability that social media companies have to moderate what is posted on their platforms.

Now, these states insist that social media, it's a new public square. And there should be protections for people to express themselves, akin to what you have under the First Amendment which, of course, only restricts the government's ability to infringe on your speech. But here, they argue that these businesses are so big. That here they want to change the way that they are able to moderate their own platforms.


But a group called NetChoice, an industry group, has sued to block both of these laws. Pointing out the most obvious, which is, hey, the First Amendment actually only applies to the government. These companies also have a First Amendment and you are infringing on it.

But it's interesting, the justices just started asking questions. And Justice Sotomayor, she started out by asking about, of all social media platforms -- Etsy. And she talked about how they really have to be able to limit. I mean, forget about your hate speech, all those issues. She just -- they have to be able to limit what's on their platform. Otherwise, it would be infinite. Otherwise, they wouldn't be able to do business.

ACOSTA: I'm going to start selling my Duke mugs on Etsy --

REID: Did you --

ACOSTA: -- if they're going to let this go through, that's what's going to happen.

REID: You did not make that yourself, did you?

ACOSTA: I -- this was made for me. This is my little dog, Duke.

REID: It's cute.

ACOSTA: And I'm struggling on putting this on camera, but anyway, Paul Reid, very huge implications, more than just mugs, disinformation, all of that very much at play here. Paul Reid, thank you very much.

In the meantime, we do have some other breaking news to tell you -- I'll stop talking about my dog. President Biden is planning a rare visit to the border on Thursday. Let's go straight to the White House. CNN's Priscilla Alvarez. Priscilla, this is a very big deal. A lot of folks have been asking, will the President go to the border? It sounds like he's going to the border.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: He is. It's a pretty extraordinary move because not only is he going to the border, he's also planning to go on the same day that Former President Donald Trump is also at the border. What this indicates is a White House that is trying to flip the script on Republicans and seize on the issue of border security, especially after that Senate border deal that included some of the toughest security measures in recent memory tanked because Republicans backed away from it with the encouragement of Former President Donald Trump.

The White House has been hammering House Republicans on this, saying that they were ready to take these really extraordinary authorities, some that would include shutting down the border and that the Republicans just walked away from that. And we also know that after this fallout from the bill, the White House has been considering executive action to take on border security.

So, all of this culminating on Thursday in this visit to the U.S.- Mexico border by President Biden. He has visited the border before. He went to El Paso during his administration. He's going to a different part of the Texas-Mexico border this time around. Clearly trying to show, or do a counter-programming here with Former President Donald Trump.

ACOSTA: All right. Fascinating. A lot of people are going to be watching that visit on Thursday. Priscilla Alvarez, thank you very much.

Still ahead, inside the funding fight that could send the government into a partial shutdown by this weekend. Stay tuned for that.



ACOSTA: Here in Washington, lawmakers are returning from recess to deal with a possible government shutdown. The House and Senate have until Friday to pass a funding deal to avoid a partial shutdown.

CNN's Manu Raju joins us now. Manu, the text of a bipartisan deal was to be released yesterday. What happened?

MANU RAJU, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, no deal yet. In fact, this has been really the story of the 118th Congress. The inability to do some of the basic essence of legislating. Remember, they were supposed to actually approve of funding on October 1st, that was the deadline. They couldn't reach one then.

And in fact, the deal that Kevin McCarthy had to cut to rely on Democrats for a short-term extension of government funding, that cost him his job. Leaving the historic ouster of Kevin McCarthy. Then Speaker Johnson came in, the new Speaker of the House. He had to agree to kick the can down the road until January. They came in in January, kicked the can down the road till March.

And now we have a March 1st and March 8th deadline for two -- for federal agency funding, and it is uncertain whether they will get an agreement as there has been sharp finger pointing between the Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Johnson over the last day. The inability to reach a deal given divisions over some of the policy additions that Republicans are demanding to add to this larger package.

Now, this all comes as there is growing concern and frustration within the ranks, including for some members of Johnson's own conference, like Congressman Patrick McHenry.


REP. PATRICK MCHENRY (R-NC): We need to get into the mode of getting things done, not punning things and pushing off in the future.

RAJU: How worried are you about the shutdown and the fact that you guys are coming back here with only three days to avoid one?

MCHENRY: We can avoid it, but it's time to get on with the deal rather than dither. And, we can do it.

RAJU: But the problem is, he's been just too indecisive. Is that your view of things?

MCHENRY: Look, we need the speaker to be better. As a House Republican, I want him to succeed.


RAJU: Now, McHenry went on to tell me that he hopes that Johnson puts a bill on the floor to fund Ukraine. Of course, the Senate has already approved a $95 billion aid package, that includes roughly $60 billion in aid to Ukraine.

Johnson has refused to move forward on that package because it is silent on border security measures. Johnson, of course, scuttled the Senate's bipartisan deal on border security because he said it did not go far enough. But undoubtedly when the House returns this week, Jim, he will face pressure, Johnson will, from his own rank and file. Some who wanted to move on aid to Ukraine. Others just tell him to hold the line to scuttle any Ukraine aid package. And the speaker is going to have to make a decision on which way to proceed. But at the moment, siding with those hardliners who say no action on Ukraine, at least not right now. Jim.

ACOSTA: Yes, Manu and I can just hear people tearing their hair out that we might have another government shutdown on the horizon. It's just outrageous. All right. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill. Thanks as always. We appreciate it.

In the meantime, it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Did you see this over the weekend? What happened after the storming of the court? Rachel Nichols, she's another one of our favorites. She's next. We'll talk about this next.



ACOSTA: Let's take a look at some video. If you haven't seen this, you've got to check this out. A celebration over the weekend that led to a high-profile injury. A Duke player was hurt when Wake Forest fans stormed the court following their dramatic upset of the Blue Devils. He appeared to collide with a fan and had to be helped off the court afterward. The coach, of course, went nuts. I don't blame him.

Joining me now, Rachel Nichols, host of "Headliners with Rachel Nichols" on "Showtime" and Paramount+. I mean, Rachel, this is why people are saying, and the Duke head coach is calling for this, a court storming ban. I mean, I get it when you win the -- when you win March Madness, but does it have to be like every upset they storm the -- I'm surprised this hasn't happened more.


RACHEL NICHOLS, HOST, HEADLINERS WITH RACHEL NICHOLS: Yes. I mean, it has happened more. We've had players injured like this. This is just very high profile. This is Duke's leading scorer. You know, he's someone who attracts a lot of attention and he said this fan went after him. And you can see a little bit on one of the angles, the fan approaching him, slowing down, taunting him, and then they knock knees and he is now, obviously, injured.

This is a very controversial thing because this is a huge part of, sort of, college basketball lore, right? I did it when I was in college. I mean, we had a big moment in our football game. We stormed the field. It was, you know, it's something fun for fans, but it is obviously gotten dangerous for players, especially as there is a little bit more of an oppositional nature.

You know, we used to live in a time where you could congratulate the other team for doing well. It's just not like that anymore. It's much more of a, sort of, we hate you. We hate you. And some fans are taking it too far.

ACOSTA: Well, and I was going to say, can you stop this from happening? Because I mean, if thousands of kids because -- you know, who may have had a, you know, a couple of beverages before the game started out in the parking lot. How do you stop this?

NICHOLS: I don't know what you're talking -- Jim, my Lord.

ACOSTA: I don't know. I'm just having Diet Coke right now, you know, how it is.

NICHOLS: Look, it is obviously complicated, especially because it's tradition, right? So, as you say, you've got tens of thousands of fans and there's people who are saying, well, why can't they just ring the court with security? That's not going to work. I mean, there is a crush of people and security experts say that if they did make it impenetrable there, that there would be crush injuries in the stands among the fans. So, you would have fans injured in the process, and we've seen some of those injuries get pretty nasty.

So, in some conferences, not Duke's conference, but in some conferences, they fine the school if the fans rush the court. And the fines can be $100,000, things like that. But that doesn't impact the fans, right? This doesn't really impact the program if it's a rich program.

ACOSTA: Right.

NICHOLS: So, to me, the penalty should be, hey, if your fans stormed the court, it affects you in the standing somehow. It definitely affects your advancement.

ACOSTA: Interesting.

NICHOLS: Because that's what these fans care about, right? So, to me --

ACOSTA: That's right.

NICHOLS: -- my personal sitting on the sidelines solution here would be, hey, if the team is penalized in some way that matters in the stands or in their advancement over, you know, somewhere in football to a bowl game or something like that, I promise you, the fans will not storm the field or the court.

ACOSTA: Yes, and in this case, I mean, here you have a Duke player. I mean, he is integral to that team. I mean, it could alter -- I mean, you could have a whole season affected by this.

NICHOLS: Absolutely, we saw --

ACOSTA: The tournament, everything.

NICHOLS: -- we saw Caitlin Clark, you know, be affected by this. The fans stormed the court. Caitlin Clark was luckily be able to escape without injury, but she has been such a sensation this season, right? And she has just really, you know, advance the landscape of women's college basketball.

ACOSTA: Amazing.

NICHOLS: What if she just went down for the rest of the season? What if she wasn't allowed to compete in the NCAA tournament because she was too hurt? I mean, really serious ramifications for student athletes that are out there just giving their all.

ACOSTA: And I guess we should point out, you might be hurting your own team. I mean, what if it was one of their players who got hurt and then all of a sudden, now they can't make it to March Madness because they're -- they can't get out of the conference tournament, something like that. Rachel Nichols, thanks for coming on the debut program. Really appreciate it.

NICHOLS: Thanks for having me on day one. Congratulations.

ACOSTA: God. I found a way to make it happen. We appreciate it.

NICHOLS: Are we -- are -- is your staff going to storm the set after the show?

ACOSTA: We're going to storm the set, but it wasn't a big upset victory. It was just --


ACOSTA: -- we're just doing the news. That's it.

NICHOLS: All right.

ACOSTA: But --

NICHOLS: All right. ACOSTA: -- maybe Friday. Maybe Friday. All right, Rachel, good to see you. Thanks so much.

In the meantime, very concerning situation down in Florida. They're trying to contain a measles outbreak at a Florida school. It could be a whole lot harder, all thanks to the state's top health official. Why are they putting politics ahead of kids' health? It sure seems like it. We'll talk about that next.



ACOSTA: In the meantime, measles outbreak is growing in Florida. Two new cases have been reported in Broward County, bringing the total number of kids with the highly contagious disease to at least eight. CNN's Jacqueline Howard joins us now. Jacqueline, what are state health officials doing versus what the CDC recommends? This has a lot of parents worried about this.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Absolutely. But there is a disconnect between what Florida officials are doing versus what the science recommends, what the CDC says to do. So, in a measles outbreak, the CDC typically recommends that children who are not vaccinated should stay home for 21 days, that's the incubation period for the virus, if they are exposed. So, you see on your screen there, that's what the CDC guidelines say.

But in Florida, the state general -- state surgeon general said in a letter to parents that the Department of Health, the DOH, is deferring to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance. So, you see the disconnect there. That's raising a lot of questions in Florida right now.

ACOSTA: Yes, and if an unvaccinated kid is sent to school during this outbreak, how likely is it that the measles will spread around?

HOWARD: Well, that's the concern because among unvaccinated kids, if they're exposed to the virus, 90 percent of the time they will get infected. They will get sick. And if you are vaccinated, we know the vaccine is 97 percent effective. But the concern here is that measles is so contagious. If someone who's infected coughs or sneezes, the virus can linger in the air for up to two hours.

So, it can easily spread among pockets of unvaccinated kids. And what's happening in Florida, those are just a few cases that we're seeing in the U.S. So far this year, there have been at least 35 cases reported across 15 different jurisdictions here in the United States.