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CNN International: Trump Facing $464 Million Bond Deadline in New York Civil Fraud Case; Huge Crowds Morn Terror Victims at Russian Concert Hall; Israel Agrees to U.S. Prisoner-Hostage Exchange Proposal; Israeli Delegation to Discuss Rafah Operation with U.S. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired March 25, 2024 - 04:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Personally owes over $450 million as a result of this judgment. He could see the New York attorney general start the process of seizing his assets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It really is a major event that has affected this country and it has fed feelings of instability amongst ordinary people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Israel agreeing to a U.S. proposal. We obviously have to wait to see what Hamas thinks of this particular deal.

ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers joining us from the United States and around the world. I'm Anna Coren. Max Foster has the day off.

It's Monday, March 25th, 4 p.m. here in Hong Kong, 4 a.m. in New York, where in the coming hours Donald Trump will face two major legal threats. First, the former president is facing a critical deadline to post nearly half a billion dollars in bond money for the civil fraud judgment against him.

Trump says he has the funds boasting on Truth Social. I currently have almost $500 million in cash. However, his lawyer says he does not have that kind of money on hand.

If Trump fails to secure this massive bond, the state attorney general could begin seizing assets like his multi-million dollar properties. But experts say his bank accounts should be handled first as they would be much easier to take.

Well meanwhile, Trump could also learn the new trial date for his delayed criminal hush money case. There will be a hearing where his lawyers can argue for a longer postponement or have the charges dismissed altogether. The earliest the trial could begin is April 15th. Bernada Villalona is a criminal defense attorney and former New York

prosecutor. She joins us now live from New York. Great to have you with us. Donald Trump facing two major legal threats on the one day. Which one do you believe is most concerning for the former president?

BERNADA VILLALONA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY AND FORMER NEW YORK PROSECUTOR: Well, the most concerning one for Donald Trump will have to be the one having to deal with money because that is his legacy. That is his brand. That is what he built himself as being the money, money, money man. And actually landed him the presidency the first time around.

So that is the most concerning to him because it can completely take him down to zeros of dollars. Especially if his property is seized.

And we're talking about Trump Tower. We're talking about the International Hotel 40 Wall Street. His property in Westchester, Long Island.

And let's not forget that probably the property also in Florida can be at jeopardy as well if he can't pony up the money. That half a billion dollars. So that's the most concerning because even if he were to be convicted in the criminal case in New York. I think it's highly unlikely that any judge will place him in custody.

COREN: Yes, it is quite the real estate portfolio. Well, New York Attorney General Letitia James, I mean, he may begin -- she may begin going after, as you say, his assets or freeze his bank accounts if he can't produce the bond.

I mean, how soon could that process begin?

VILLALONA: It's still a process. You're not going to see on Tuesday morning padlocks be in place on Donald Trump's property at all. That's not going to happen.

What's going to happen is that if Donald Trump is not able to secure a bond for the total amount. Is that New York Attorney Letitia James, what is she's going to do is that? She's going to ask these courts to enforce these judgments, to start placing liens on these properties, to try to seize those properties and also to try to seize the money. That's in his bank accounts.

Remember Letitia James knows where the money's at, at least in New York, because that was at the ground of the entire lawsuit, her looking into his finances.

COREN: Do you believe that this half billion dollar bond, you know, placing -- is placing the Trump organization under mortal threat?

VILLALONA: I believe so. Definitely believe so. I mean, it's not what Donald Trump wants to portray in the media. Of course, look what he said just in the past couple of days where I have that money in cash. I'm not a poor person. I can pony up the money. But should I? He doesn't believe he should.


But I think the Trump organization, what this all shows us is not only did the lawsuit, the civil judgment, say, look, you're a fraud. You built your money pure on fraud. But now these banks, by not saying that they're willing to secure this bond for him, is saying that we don't trust your money. Your money is funny.

COREN: Money is funny, if only. If Trump is unable to pay the bond, as his lawyers state, I mean, it clearly proves he's facing a cash crunch. And that would undoubtedly shatter the facade that Trump has built. As you say, up over all these years about how rich and successful he is. Do you think that will change the public's perception of him?

VILLALONA: No, I think the supporters that he has, his diehard supporters, it doesn't matter what you put before him. I mean, he has four different criminal cases and still he is the Republican nominee. So I don't think it's going to change those supporters mind.

COREN: Bernada, among Trump's other legal woes, the election subversion case in Georgia, I mean is that like to go to trial anytime soon?

VILLALONA: I don't I think at this point it's going to go to trial anytime soon. At least not before the election, this year's election. And the reason why is because the judge already allowed the defense attorneys to be able to appeal his decision on removing Fani Willis as a district attorney. So while that's pending appeal, nothing's going to move on that case. So a trial date is not going to be set.

Aside from that, even if a trial date were to be set, let's think about the amount of time it would take to select the jury, which can be months. The case that is likely to go forward, of course, is the one in New York. And today we'll find out when is this case finally going to trial? Because that's what we're waiting for.

We didn't think that the New York case would be the first one to go. But here we have it in the Big Apple. Donald Trump's hometown is going to be the one to try him first.

COREN: We'll all certainly be watching. Bernada Villalona, great to speak to you. Thank you.

We are getting our first look from inside the court at the four men accused of killing more than 130 people at a concert hall outside Moscow. Each had a number of visible injuries as they went before a judge. One was in a wheelchair and appeared non-responsive.

Three of the men entered guilty pleas. All are being held in pretrial detention. Investigators say the men are from Tajikistan and have been in Russia on either temporary or expired visas.

Outside the concert hall, thousands of people gathered in the rain on Sunday to remember the victims. The death toll from the terror attack now stands at 137. More than 100 others are injured. Inside, what's left of the venue, crews are searching through debris from the devastating fire the gunmen are accused of setting. They're using robots and dogs trying to find any more bodies still in the rubble.

Well, CNN chief global affairs correspondent Matthew Chance was at Sunday's makeshift memorial and has more on how people are reacting to the terror attack.


MATTHEW CHANCE CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you join me outside the Crocus City Hall near Moscow where on Friday night, gunmen killed at least 130 people inside that prominent concert hall. You can see thousands of people have now turned out from around Russia to pay their respects, to lay flowers, cuddly toys as well, out of respect for the children who are affected. It really is a major event that has affected this country and it has fed feelings of instability amongst ordinary people.

ALEKSANDRA RUDENKO, MOURNER: I feel terrible about all the violence that exists in our world.

CHANCE: Yes, in our world. And in Russia as well. Do you feel safe in Russia?

RUDENKO: Yes, I think so. Not today because of this --

CHANCE: Attack.

RUDENKO: -- attack can be in every country. And I think that it is a problem of all world.


CHANCE: And do you feel safe in Russia now? You still feel safe or there's just so many things happening, you feel a bit more insecure?

MAXIM TKACHEV, MOURNER: You know, I don't know how to answer that question properly but I -- all I can say is that terrorist attacks, they're a worldwide problem, so this topic, well, it's not safe to feel when there are terrorist in the whole world so I should say, well this --

CHANCE: This is part of broader -- a broader problem.

TKACHEV: Yes, yes, yes.

CHANCE: You can see Orthodox priests have come out to deliver prayers at this memorial as well. This as investigators inside the burned-out rubble of the concert hall are still going through the debris and are still saying that they're finding bodies, and so the death toll could rise.

In terms of the investigations, while the authorities say at least 11 people have been taken into custody including the four suspects who they believe carried out the actual shootings inside the Crocus City Hall.

Of course, ISIS said they carried out this attack, but the Russian president Vladimir Putin, who is vowing revenge, calling it a barbaric act has said that it could be linked with Ukraine, something Ukrainian government has categorically denied.

Matthew Chance, CNN, at the Crocus City Hall, near Moscow


COREN: Well, CNN's Clare Sebastian has reported extensively from Russia and joins us now from London. Clare, what more are you learning about those four suspects who appeared in court?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anna, so all four, according to state media, said to be from Tajikistan, essentially migrant workers. And on the one hand this sets up a relatively delicate situation for Russia. They rely on migrant workers. It's an important part of the workforce, especially now at a time of critical labor shortages which are hampering its efforts to sort of ramp up the war economy. So they will not want to deter migrant workers from coming in the wake of this.

The second thing is, of course, that they did all arrive, as you say, in various states of injury, one with a bandage to the side of his head, another in a wheelchair and unresponsive. And we see this video that's been released by Russia's investigative committee showing them being sort of forcibly marched into that Moscow courthouse.

The security apparatus now attempting to show that it's getting tough, that it's in control of this situation, obviously amid questions over why this huge terror attack, the biggest in Russia in over two decades, was missed.

I think one more point to make about this legal process is that there are already signs that it may not play out in a climate of full transparency. The press were not allowed to listen to the entirety of these hearings on Sunday. So these suspects have now been held in pre- trial detention for a period of at least two months.

We know that precedent would suggest that pre-trial detention in Russia can be a lot longer than that. But I think there's a chance that we will not be able to witness all of how these trials play out -- Anna.

COREN: And Clare, now there are questions being raised inside Russia on why the massive state security apparatus failed to stop this attack.

SEBASTIAN: Yes, there are. Look, I think it's not clear at this point how much the average Russian is starting to question this. Obviously, President Putin has come out and said that there might be a Ukrainian link and the security services are attempting to look in control.

But certainly we hear from the Russian opposition, the head of Navalny's anti-corruption agency, Ivan Zhdanov, saying that, you know, this was a result, he said, of the catastrophic incompetence of our special services. He also points out that Russians have spent years being told that their rights are being eroded for this purpose, to increase their security, to prevent terrorism. And now this, he says, accusing the FSB of spending more time surveilling citizens and jailing opposition leaders than actually working on real threats.

And, of course, you have the irony, which some are pointing out, that these four suspects are facing terror charges, which, of course, Navalny was also facing. And Russia's extremist and terrorist list is populated now with opposition leaders and writers and people who oppose the war. So the Russian state is facing questions.

Obviously, we don't know, as I said, what the average Russian feels at this point. There is a sense of shock and outpouring of grief. But what we do see is a clear effort from the Russian state, both the security apparatus and the sort of information arm, the propaganda, trying to prevent this from becoming a political problem for Putin -- Anna.

COREN: Clare Sebastian in London. Many thanks.

Well, the Moscow attack has prompted France to raise its terror alert to the highest level. The French prime minister said on social media that the decision came because ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack and because of, quote, the threats weighing on France.

French officials have been working on security plans for this year's Olympic Games being held in Paris.


A cold front on the southern end of a winter storm is bringing the threat of severe storms to more than 25 million people across the lower Mississippi Valley today.

That storm is currently impacting much of the central plains, with several states under blizzard and winter storm warnings that could last until early Tuesday.

Well, still to come, Israel has reportedly agreed to a proposal that would release hostages in Gaza in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, as top Israeli and U.S. officials are set to meet this week.

And a motion to oust the U.S. Republican House Speaker has been filed. We'll tell you why Democrats may be coming to his rescue. That's later in the hour.

Plus, climate change and commercial fishing is threatening the native species of fish living in the Adriatic Sea. Details after this short break.



COREN: The hostage exchange deal. Well, CNN analyst Barak Ravid says Israel has reportedly agreed to a U.S. proposal that see the release of around 700 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of 40 Israeli hostages. Ravid says this comes after the latest round of high-level talks in Doha, Qatar, over the weekend. But adds that it may be a few more days before Hamas responds.


BARAK RAVID, CNN POLITICAL AND GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Israel and the U.S. and the Qatari and Egyptian mediators are waiting to get a response from Hamas, and what I hear from Israeli officials is that this could take between, I don't know, a day to three days because those details need to go from Hamas representatives in Doha who are negotiating to the person who really caused the shots, and this is Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar in Gaza who is in a bunker some 100 feet under the ground.


COREN: Well, meantime, it's the start of a crucial week for talks in Washington that will test U.S. influence on how Israel conducts its war in Gaza. Not one, but two high-level delegations from Israel will be meeting with Biden administration officials. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is expected to sit down with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

An official says they're expected to focus on efforts to release the hostages in Gaza, getting more humanitarian aid into the enclave, and Israel's weapons needs for going after Hamas.

Later in the week, Benjamin Netanyahu's top confidant, Ron Demer, will arrive in the U.S. to talk about Rafah. Israel says a ground invasion there is necessary to go after Hamas.

But the White House is pressing Israel to first come up with a credible plan to protect about 1.4 million Palestinians sheltering in Rafah.

Well, joining us now is CNN's Paula Hancocks in Doha, who's following developments. Paula, obviously a lot of expectation for what could come out of this week. Please tell us more about this U.S. proposal.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anna, at this point here in Doha, you just have the technical teams that are remaining, waiting for any kind of response. The decision-makers have all left, but clearly if they come back in, it suggests that there has been some kind of response from Hamas.

So one of the issues has been the number of Palestinian prisoners, and not just the number, but of course also the nature of the Palestinian prisoners. If there are, of course, those that are in prison because they have killed Israeli nationals. That is a very different matter from the Israeli side.

So what we heard just 10 days ago from Hamas with their counterproposal is they suggested between 700 and 1,000 Palestinian prisoners to be released for those approximately 40 hostages being held in Gaza.

And what we've heard from our CNN analysts, what we hear from other media as well in Israel is that the number 700 is what the U.S. bridging proposal has rested on. So we have to wait now, of course, without those making the decisions here in Doha. It does take a little longer to be able to get some kind of decision.

We heard from a source familiar with these talks, though, that there is steady progress that is being made. There are gaps that still remain, and a diplomat with knowledge of the talks also saying that it does appear that things are moving forward at this point.

So once again, it does appear to be a bit of a waiting gate to see what the response might be. Anna.

COREN: Paula, tell us more about this Israeli delegation that's headed to the U.S., and will these two sides be able to find common ground considering the very visible strain now between the Biden and Netanyahu administrations?

HANCOCKS: Well, that's right. I mean, there are gaps between the U.S. and Israel at this point as well, but we know that the Israeli defense minister, Yoav Gallant, is in Washington. He's meeting with Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, today, this Monday. He'll also meet with the U.S. Secretary of Defence, Lloyd Austin.

What we're being told by both sides is that the topics of conversation will be how to push the hostage deals -- the hostage talks forward, and also how to ensure that there is more humanitarian aid that is getting into Gaza, given the fact there are U.N. reports saying that famine is imminent in northern Gaza. It will happen any time between now and mid-May.

There is a delegation, as you say, later in the week, to talk specifically about Rafah, about this operation that Israel is determined to carry out, a major ground offensive in Rafah, where up to 1.5 million Palestinians are currently sheltering.

The U.S. has been clear on their feelings of this.


They have said it would be a mistake. They want to talk to the Israeli delegation and clearly also to Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, about what the alternatives might be, how to convince them that this would be a mistake to go into Rafah in any significant military way -- Anna.

COREN: Paula Hancocks in Doha. Good to see you. Many thanks.

Well, a week after the Israel Defense Forces began an operation at al- Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza, the Palestinian Red Crescent says the Israeli military has surrounded two hospitals in southern Gaza and their, quote, teams are in extreme danger and unable to move at all.

The IDF released this video, stating that it's conducting what it called an operation in the al-Amal neighborhood, but denies it's inside the al-Amal and Nasser hospitals. Well, Israel says it launched strikes on about 40 targets in the area, claiming it's continuing to dismantle, quote, terrorist infrastructure. CNN cannot independently verify these claims.

More than 100 children kidnapped from their school in Nigeria have been rescued. We'll have the latest details after a short break.

Plus, our obsolete cell phones and outdated computers are causing major environmental problems around the world.

But there's hope for the future if we change some things. That's ahead.