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Miami Beach Rejects Weekend Curfew, Makes Liquor Stores Close Early; Trump's Lawyers Seek To Toss Out Georgia Grand Jury Report; U.N. Report: World Running Out Of Time To Avoid Climate Catastrophe. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired March 21, 2023 - 07:30   ET




KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, you're getting a live look at Ocean Drive in Miami Beach this morning. It looks so peaceful, right, but that is also 7:30 in the morning there. The City Council, though, is trying to keep that peace for the rest of the spring break season ahead. They chose not to impose a city curfew for this upcoming weekend despite the two fatal shootings that have happened in recent days.

CNN's Carlos Suarez is live in Miami Beach for CNN THIS MORNING. Carlos, what's the thinking behind this decision because we've seen what's been playing out? We've seen the concerns overall -- the chaos. Why not impose a curfew for this weekend?

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kaitlan, good morning.

So, some of the city commissioners out here said that they did not want to punish tourists that are coming in this weekend as well as businesses for what happened last weekend. It's a move -- a decision that the city's mayor couldn't have disagreed more with. He said this was, quote, "A big mistake."

In the end, all that the city of Miami Beach is going to do moving forward right now is limit some alcohol sales. And when the chief of police was asked whether this makes the city safer, he said he didn't know.


SUAREZ (voice-over): Miami Beach commissioners voted not to impose another curfew this upcoming weekend after last weekend's violence.

MAYOR DAN GELBER, (D), MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: We have a real problem with the number of people that are coming and the guns that are coming.

SUAREZ (voice-over): The city manager issued a state of emergency and a midnight curfew on Sunday after two separate deadly shootings and, quote, "excessively large and unruly crowds flooded the city." MITCH NOVICK, OWNER SHERBROOKE HOTEL: Declarations themselves are usually impactful to those of us who run businesses here. My clientele, primarily an international crowd -- I'm going to have to give them a refund and it hurts.

SUAREZ (voice-over): The commission debated extending the curfew this weekend.

ALEX FERNANDEZ, MIAMI BEACH COMMISSIONER: These aren't spring breakers, they're lawbreakers who don't respect the police, they don't respect law, they don't respect innocent live. And I need to follow the recommendation of our law enforcement when they tell me that they need this emergency order to protect our city.

RICKY ARRIOLA, MIAMI BEACH COMMISSIONER: This full notion of we've got to do something -- we did this crap during COVID, right? I mean, let's be real. If it's not going to make a difference don't punish the businesses that are going to be affected by this and their employees.

SUAREZ (voice-over): Some commissioners argued that it's usually the third weekend of spring break that sees the most violence and that it was unfair to punish the crowds this weekend. In the end, they voted to have liquor stores close at 6:00 p.m.

The city is also preparing to deal with crowds from two major music festivals this weekend. Speaking to vacation-goers, some admitted that they were out past curfew.

SERENITY WILKERSON, FROM NEW YORK CITY: I make sure that my surroundings are safe. I'm with a friend at least -- a best friend, a close friend -- and my phone is always charged.

SUAREZ (on camera): But you broke curfew?

WILKERSON: I didn't know there was a curfew.

SUAREZ (voice-over): Some tourists said they felt safe in Miami Beach despite the recent shootings.

DANIELE MORAES, VISITING FROM BRAZIL: I think that I feel safer here than in my country, so I'm not that worried. Of course, later in the night we are going to the hotel and not staying on the streets, but we don't feel unsafe here.

CAROL THUENING, VISITING FROM MINNESOTA: I think if you play it safe and you just do what you're supposed to do and just be mindful of your area around you you're fine.


SUAREZ: And so, the chief of police was asked whether alcohol played a role in either of the two deadly shootings here on Ocean Drive last weekend, and the chief of police said it did not.

It's important to note here that the commission is still giving the city manager the power to declare another state of emergency if necessary, and so she would be able to impose a curfew if needed -- Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Carlos Suarez, thank you so much.

You know, we heard from the mayor there saying they didn't ask for spring break, they didn't want it. In our next hour we're going to speak to the mayor of Miami Beach, Dan Gelber. He's going to join us here live for what's happening and the latest.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Speaking of Florida, the governor there, Ron DeSantis, has something to say about Donald Trump's legal troubles, but probably not in the way the former president was hoping.



GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) FLORIDA: I don't know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair. I just -- I can't speak to that.



LEMON: A grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia spent months investigating Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election and now, Trump's attorneys are trying to throw out the jury's evidence and final report. Just yesterday, we reported the district attorney handling the investigation is considering racketeering and conspiracy charges.

CNN political correspondent Sara Murray following this story for us. Sara, hello to you. I know you have some new details here, so what arguments are Trump's lawyers trying to make exactly?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well look, they're essentially trying to throw out all of the work that this special grand jury did over months and months. They are saying that the district attorney Fani Willis, who has been overseeing this case, is biased and that she should be disqualified from any potential prosecution.


They are saying the judge who oversaw the grand jury made a number of bad calls in how he was overseeing this panel. They also took issue with media interviews the judge did, including one with CNN.

And, of course, they took issue with the foreperson for the special grand jury going on a media blitz insisting that she had tainted the jury pool.

Let's take a listen back to some of the things Emily Kohrs was saying about the special grand jury's work and the potential indictments they may have recommended. Take a listen.


EMILY KOHRS, FOREPERSON, GEORGIA SPECIAL GRAND JURY IN TRUMP PROBE: We definitely heard a lot about former President Trump and we definitely discussed him a lot in the room. And I will say that when this list comes out you wouldn't -- there are no major plot twists waiting for you.


MURRAY: Now, Kohrs suggested there were multiple indictments. She wouldn't go so far as to say whether Donald Trump was on that list. But the Trump attorneys are saying look, you've tainted the jury pool. This whole process basically has been ruined. We should just toss the entire work product of the special grand jury, Don.

LEMON: The question is Fani Willis, right, watching what is happening in New York today and I'm sure every day watching it very closely, do you think it could have an impact on the Georgia case?

MURRAY: Well, they are absolutely paying attention. But, of course, Don, as you know, they are looking at these potential racketeering charges. This is a complicated case if that's what they decide to bring. So they're not going to bring it until they're ready. They're not going to rush ahead with charges just because they sense the D.A. in Manhattan may be moving ahead of them.

But they are paying very close attention to the security situation and the security preparations going on in New York so that they can take some cues for when it comes time to announce whether they're going to bring charges or not in Georgia.

LEMON: All right. Sara Murray, thank you very much -- appreciate that.

MURRAY: Thanks.

COLLINS: Also this morning, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has now broken his silence about former President Trump's potential indictment and here is what he said.


DESANTIS: I don't what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair. I just -- I can't speak to that. But what I can speak to is that if you have a prosecutor who is ignoring crimes happening every single day in his jurisdiction and he chooses to go back many, many years ago to try to use something about porn star hush money payments, that's an example of pursuing a political agenda and weaponizing the office.


COLLINS: DeSantis, now, has not announced that he is running for president yet. He is currently though still Trump's most serious potential 2024 rival. He had been under pressure to weigh in on the looming indictment. Trump responded to those comments by lashing out at DeSantis on his website Truth Social, warning that the Florida governor might also one day face false accusations in the future as he is better known.

Joining us now for perspective is CNN political analyst and national politics reporter for The New York Times, Astead Herndon.

LEMON: That was real, real shady.

COLLINS: He didn't have to --

LEMON: That was real shady.

COLLINS: He could have taken the route that we've --


COLLINS: -- seen Pence --


COLLINS: -- and other Republicans take where they just criticized the prosecutor here. He made a point though of highlighting the underlying conduct here.


HERNDON: He did, he did, and it came after a couple of days of the Trump universe trying to put pressure on DeSantis. He didn't run away from that pressure in those comments, as you said. He made the kind of shady comment, saying oh, I don't know anything about that. I can't speak to that.

And I think it is in line with what we have seen him do so far. When he had the visit in Iowa he talked about not having drama in his administration -- about kind of projecting himself as a serious Florida governor.

The comments he made right after that was I'm more concerned about what's happening here in Florida. I think his comments today fit within the main -- the narrow lane that we have seen him try to criticize Trump on, which is just in terms of personality, just in terms of maybe drama, but staying away from the ideological fight because he does not want to come off as fully anti-Trump.

LEMON: You know Trump is not going to like that, though.


LEMON: I'm sure it touched a nerve. Would he -- so now what?

HERNDON: Yes. I mean, we've seen Trump lash out immediately, as you said, on Truth Social, and Trump allies are going to try to seize on this. But I think that the problem for DeSantis isn't just Donald Trump's

campaign, it's that the other contenders are also looking at him. You've seen folks like Nikki Haley. You've seen other prospective 2024 nominees kind of point their view with DeSantis recently and it has mattered.

I mean, from January 15, before and after, you've seen DeSantis do a little bit of a slip in early polling. Now that could be just people after the midterms when he was getting really rave reviews for those reelections kind of coming back to earth. And we know that polling is super early at this point. But we have seen DeSantis increasingly on the defensive and that has shown up quantitatively in the evidence.


LEMON: He's got to be careful though.

HERNDON: Yes, he does.


COLLINS: Well, yes. And Trump is clearly testing the resolve of people who normally do defend him. But Trump Jr. was not happy with what DeSantis there said. He said, "DeSantis thinks that Dems weaponizing the law to indict President Trump is a manufactured crisis," --


COLLINS: -- referencing what you said -- "and isn't a real issue." He said "pure weakness" and "Now we know why he was silent all weekend."


HERNDON: Yes. I mean, this is the wedge that the Trump universe is going to drive and it comes out of, really, that America First language.

I was just at CPAC where they talk about the DOJ and the FBI and defunding them as priorities for their political movement.

And so Trump, there, is trying to stoke that lane of the base to say although DeSantis has really reached out to you and kind -- and kind of made overtures to the MAGA wing that this is not your candidate. The candidate only for these folks is Donald Trump.

But that's not the majority of the Republican base. DeSantis is going to try to pull off some of those people but he knows that really, where he's going to make his bread and butter is going to have to be the Republican electorate at-large. That's why you do have him not fully coming to Trump's defense.

And let's remember, he's unique in this race. He was not in the last administration. He does not have to -- he might be a little more free to come at Trump more directly if he decides to do that.

LEMON: Well, he is saying I have got to spend my time on issues that actually matter to people.


LEMON: So he's going to -- can he continue, the question is, to walk this line where he avoids discussion --


LEMON: -- criticizing Trump?

HERNDON: To me, this is the biggest question about Gov. DeSantis and his candidacy. From this moment -- from this time, we've really seen him rise through kind of set plays from the governor's office. He's made these announcements. He has released them to friendly media. He's really carefully constructed a rise in the conservative world.

But when you're in a campaign and there is news coming day to day when Donald Trump is sucking up so much of news cycle he's going to have to respond much quicker and it's not going to be on issues where he's really on a home base.

And so I think that's the kind of question for the candidacy going forward is can he focus on those issues from Florida, as he's saying, as Donald Trump sucks up more and more space in the Republican primary? It's a careful line that he's trying to walk, at least right now.

COLLINS: And the other test is how Republican candidates are trying to attack DeSantis but not Trump.

HERNDON: Exactly.

COLLINS: I mean, Nikki Haley has this op-ed out about Ukraine and obviously, what DeSantis said what his position was. She said, "More surprising is the weakness from some on the right. They say the U.S. shouldn't care about Ukraine because this isn't our war to fight. Some call it a mere territorial dispute."


COLLINS: They should -- "They say we should ignore Ukraine so we can focus on China. This has it backward."


LEMON: I wonder who she's talking about?

HERNDON: The day-by-day, the same levels of (INAUDIBLE) are increasing. I mean, this is Haley --

COLLINS: But aren't DeSantis and Trump aligned on Ukraine? I mean --

HERNDON: Yes, Trump and DeSantis are aligned on Ukraine and Haley is not, pointing that out. But what she is looking at is that DeSantis, as I said, is trying to straddle both lines. He's trying to get some of the Haley base -- maybe the more suburban, moderate Republican voter. She's trying to peel those folks off to make herself more of someone considered a top-tier Trump contender.

She's -- I think the thinking here is that whether Donald Trump has his base that she may not win over, she can maybe pull folks off of -- who are supporting DeSantis. And that's why you've seen her focus a little bit more on him rather than the former president where there are much more complications with his base about how you can attack it.



LEMON: That's going to be tough though because --

HERNDON: It's going to be tough. I mean, they're all -- they're all really one foot in, one foot out and Donald Trump is someone who has got two feet in at all times.

LEMON: Yes, because people who love Trump, they love him. People who love DeSantis, they love him. So trying to peel off, it's going to be tough.


LEMON: We'll see, though.


COLLINS: Thanks, Astead, for joining us here --

HERNDON: Thank you.

COLLINS: -- on set this morning.

All right. Also this morning, California is getting ready for another round of flooding -- not what people there want to hear. But we are live with how storm-weary communities are preparing.

LEMON: What is going on in California?

And we're just moments away from China's President Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin meeting behind closed doors in the Kremlin. We're live in Moscow and Ukraine. That's next.



COLLINS: This morning, if you are waking up in California, more than 15 million people there are facing a serious flood threat as yet another of what's known as an atmospheric river is going to bombard the state. The powerful system is not only threatening heavy rain and snow but also hurricane-force winds on top of all of that. Some people have been fleeing their homes as officials are worried that roads could become impassable.

CNN's Stephanie Elam joins us now live from San Bernardino. Stephanie -- I mean, we can see from your rain jacket there but what are the conditions looking like? How are officials bracing to deal with this yet again?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's just -- I think we're on the 12th atmospheric river to hit California. It's like feast or famine here, Kaitlan, for real.

As you can see, it's really windy out here this morning and that's part of the issue. They're saying that the wind gusts could be up to 75 miles per hour in the mountain ranges and about 50 miles per hour in the lower areas.

Right now where I am, by the Cajon Pass, if you were able to go up north of me that would be the area that goes through the mountains and would take you up the 15 into Las Vegas.

But right now all of this -- you can't see it yet because it's still so early here, but the San Gabriel Mountains, San Bernardino Mountains are behind me and those are where you've seen those big snow accumulations, and they're bracing for maybe two to five more feet of snow up in those regions. That's why officials have been asking people to have supplies for two weeks just in case they are stranded there for a while. They're asking them to stay off of roads.

And then on top of that there is a threat level of flooding that is now three out of four because of this much rain. Think about all of the precipitation that has fallen here in California. The ground is saturated. That means the water runs off quickly and that could lead to flooding.

So there are some communities in California that are already being evacuated before this storm comes in, but this is just the beginning of this system, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes, wow. Just the beginning and they already want people to have two weeks of supplies.

Stephanie Elam, please stay safe. Thank you so much.

LEMON: So the climate time bomb is ticking. That's according to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. The secretary- general saying that humanity is on thin ice and that ice is melting fast. Of course, the science is not new but this report paints a very stark picture of where the world is heading, noting that no nation is on track to keep the promise they -- the promises that they have made.


Let's go now to CNN's chief climate correspondent, Mr. Bill Weir. He joins us now.


LEMON: Good morning.

The biggest takeaway from this new IPCC report? WEIR: Just so much time has been wasted.


WEIR: How much these reports have evolved in the 40 years. This is the sixth in four years and is just unequivocally stark. You -- we are committing suicide by fossil fuels and the amount of effort and speed it will take to head off the worst disasters is stunning, especially compared to the action today when you've got the Willow Project approved by the United States, China approving 80-plus new coal projects. The actions of the leaders of humanity these days does not match this warning.

LEMON: Yes. So the -- no nation is doing what -- right?

WEIR: No nation.

LEMON: So then what can -- some of the things that can still be done to try to help --

WEIR: Well, they --

LEMON: -- stave this off?

WEIR: This is the blue-ribbon science. This is the culmination of studies from around the world -- thousands of them -- and they looked at what could make the biggest difference the quickest. And the big three would be get renewable fast.

LEMON: Right.

WEIR: Solar and wind prices are coming way down. The sooner you get off of coal-fired power plants, especially, the better.

Stop cutting down forests. We don't -- we're just beginning to realize how important natural ecosystems are to drawing down carbon and helping biodiversity. And then we have to help developing countries avoid deforestation and then take care of those communities that depend on the forests. Same with coal towns and other places.

And build more efficient buildings. It's not as sexy as buying a Tesla but insulation in your house --


WEIR: -- could probably save more of the planet than a lot of things in your life.

LEMON: I'm glad you mentioned that because the IPCC now believes that it won't be enough to simply cut back on oil and gas -- because --

WEIR: Right.

LEMON: -- you talked about buying a Tesla -- but an entire industry will be needed to pull a trillion tons of carbon out of the sea and sky. WEIR: Yes.

LEMON: What exactly does that look like?

WEIR: In the last 40 years since these reports started, humanity has put a trillion extra tons of carbon into the sea and sky. That's the blanket that's heating things up. And so now it's not enough just to get off of oil and gas and stop it at the source, we have to capture that carbon and lock it back into the slow cycle blanket back under rock or under seabeds.

This industry is just kicking off. The inflation reduction money will unlock a lot more of it now. But this is the very, very tiny beginning of this industry when you essentially have to build the oil industry in reverse. All those smoke stacks that are pumping into the sky -- we've got to figure out a way to take those --


WEIR: -- and put them back into the earth.

LEMON: Oh, amazing.

OK. So the U.S. is now actively studying something that is called stratospheric solar intervention in order to buy time for this global decarbonization. What is that, and is that realistic?

WEIR: This is a growing debate. It's the idea of mimicking a volcano. When a volcano in the Philippines erupted the ash that circled the globe was enough to lower the temperature -- the shade -- about half a degree for a couple of years with no real ill effects.

Some want to do this now with airplanes. So basically spray sulfur particles way high in the sky like where the Chinese balloon was and then buy us time. If you can just turn down the sun by a degree or two for a couple of years, the argument is that gives time for humanity to decarbonize as well.

Some scientists say it's such a dangerous idea because it could throw off weather patterns, create monsoons -- all unintended consequences. They say it shouldn't be studied at all.

But you're going to hear more of this -- the longer it takes for the big fossil fuel interests to get on board. That's where the help is needed.

You know, Saudi Aramco and ExxonMobil, the most profitable companies in the world these days, and they're not going gently away from their business model.

LEMON: Of course not. A lot of money, right?

WEIR: Exactly.

LEMON: I always learn so much from you.

WEIR: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Thank you, sir. Good to see you.

WEIR: Good to see you -- all right.

LEMON: All right, CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: That President Xi is traveling to Russia days after the international criminal court issued an arrest warrant for President Putin suggests that China feels no responsibility to hold the Kremlin accountable for the atrocities committed in Ukraine. And instead of even condemning them it would rather provide diplomatic cover for Russia to continue to commit those very crimes.


COLLINS: Good morning, everyone. Poppy is off today. Don and I are here.

That's the secretary of state there weighing in because just minutes from now that high-stakes summit at the Kremlin is set to resume as Chinese President Xi Jinping is going to meet with President Putin behind closed doors again as the war is raging on in Ukraine -- something they've barely made mention of. We're going to take you live to Moscow.

LEMON: That is internationally. But domestically, boy, we've got a lot going on.

Donald Trump claims his own arrest is coming soon and now police are on alert in New York City and D.C. -- a tale of two cities, what's happening here. This is happening as the former president calls for protests.

COLLINS: And this morning, one of the nation's largest school districts about to shut down as thousands of teachers and workers are going to go on strike. Coming up, what it means for more than half a million students there.

But we're going to start this morning where moments from now two of America's most powerful rivals, Russia's President Putin and China's Xi Jinping, are set to meet inside the Kremlin behind closed doors. It's a high-stakes summit that the entire world is watching because it could have big implications for what's happening in Ukraine.

This just into CNN. A senior Ukrainian official says discussions are underway to organize --