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CNN This Morning

Chris Christie Testing White House Run; Netanyahu Says Israel Makes its Own Decisions; California Bracing for Severe Weather. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired March 29, 2023 - 06:30   ET



CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: Who's got the skill to do that? And who's got the guts to do it? Because it's not going to end nicely.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hmm, not going to end nicely. In an "Axios" interview, Christie even went as far as to say that he will never support Donald Trump for president again, even if he wins the Republican nomination. Interesting.

So, let's bring in now CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News, Mr. Errol Louis.

Good morning to you.


LEMON: Those are pretty bold comments coming from the former New Jersey governor and Republican presidential -- once Republican presidential contender. Two things. Is he vying for that, and is that a realistic solution?

LOUIS: Yes, I would -- I would characterize that as bold but not credible.


LOUIS: Chris Christie said that he -- in 2016 that he would never support Donald Trump, and then two weeks after dropping out, after losing in New Hampshire -

LEMON: Supported Donald Trump.

LOUIS: He did exactly that. Right.

The other thing about, you know, being on the debate stage, I mean, you know, it sounded very nostalgic in the run-up to the 2016 New Hampshire primary. He famously, Chris Christie, went after Marco Rubio and really, you know, sort of went after him on the debate stage and got him off, you know, off his back foot. And it sort of worked in the sense that Marco Rubio came in fifth in that crowded field. The problem is, Chris Christie came in sixth. And after close to 200 appearances in New Hampshire, he got, I think, 7 percent of the vote. He made more appearances than anybody else. He'd staked his whole campaign on New Hampshire. So, he -- I can understand him feeling nostalgic going back to New Hampshire. He had all of those high hopes in 2016, but it crashed and burned back then, and it sounds like he may be setting up to do it all over again.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: It is interesting to hear him say, though, that he won't support Trump, even if he is the nominee, because not only did he support him before, but also, you know, in 2020, he was in the White House, in the halls of the West Wing, helping him prepare for debates and helping him get ready for that.


COLLINS: I mean it's interesting. And part of what he's citing is, you know, the way Trump is still talking about January 6th, the fact that Trump played that song from what is being called the January 6th choir at his rally on Saturday.

LOUIS: You know, it's an interesting indicator. One thing about political people, even ones who haven't gone as far as they wanted, like Chris Christie, is that they have excellent political noses for when the ship is sinking. So, I read this as Chris Christie saying, this is going nowhere. Trump's not going to win. I mean and - because, again, Chris Christie has proved to us more than once that if there's a realistic shot at power, if he thought Donald Trump had a realistic path back into the White House, I think we'd be hearing something very different. I read this as him saying, this is not going anywhere. You know, that both substantively but, more importantly, politically, Donald Trump is talking about the past when elections have to be about the future. And trying to sort of make his personal grievances about what happened since January 6th the main theme of the 2024 election is probably not going to succeed.

LEMON: So, can we turn now to Nashville, because you have a lot of folks now saying, look, this is not about guns, right, this is about mental health. And this is about - I'm trying to get to the hypocrisy here, right, and hate crime legislation and so on and so forth.

This is Josh Hawley, senator. He sent a letter to the FBI director and also to the Homeland Security director, saying, I urge you to immediately open an investigation into the shooting of a federal hate crime. OK, so he wants them to investigate. That's a letter that he signed.

COLLINS: Because it's a Christian school.

LEMON: Because it's a Christian school. But then, in 2021, he was the only senator to vote against hate crime legislation. So, what gives here when it comes to these men and women in Washington who, listen, it's not just guns, right? That's a big part of it, obviously. It's also mental health. Why can't there be, you know, a multi-pronged approach to this rather than just focusing on one issue and saying we can't do anything at all. LOUIS: Right.

LEMON: You can't legislate hate.

LOUIS: Yes. Right. When people rush to the microphones to tell you about all the things that are not going to work -

LEMON: Right.

LOUIS: It's not a very promising start to finding solutions. You know, on average, if today is an average day, 117 people are going to die from gun violence today. And the same thing tomorrow and the next day and the next day. Sundays included.

What -- you know - and, by the way, more than half of those are suicide. So, you want to talk about mental health, the core problem is mental health. I mean this is a spectacular example where clearly there were some issues involving mental health. But, on any given day, when people are taking their own lives using guns, clearly we've got an underlying problem there.

So, if Josh Hawley or anybody else we're serious about it, and they are not, but if they were serious about it, they'd be pouring resources and effort and time into getting this done. And we've seen, in fact, quite the opposite over the years.

COLLINS: Yes. And we did see the gun safety legislation that was passed last summer. Republican - some Republicans did vote for that. Several -- many of them did not.

I want to show this moment, though, from yesterday on Capitol Hill.


The Senate chaplain, was is typically -- this is a really rare statement to hear from him. This is what he said about what happened in Nashville.


BARRY BLACK, SENATE CHAPLAIN: Lord, when babies die at a church school, it is time for us to move beyond thoughts and prayers.

Lord, deliver our senators from the paralysis of analysis that waits for the miraculous.


COLLINS: The paralysis of analysis that waits for the miraculous.

LOUIS: That's my kind of preacher. You know, make it a little uncomfortable sitting there on a Sunday mornings.

COLLINS: That does not happen very often.

LOUIS: Doesn't happen very often. And, you know, it's interesting, if you think about it, I don't know who names or can remove the Senate chaplain, but I suspect if there were a different majority leader, his job might be in danger right now. This is something that, you know, you wish more clergy would do, which is take a chance, speak your truth, try and get people to feel a little uncomfortable and to take action.

I don't know if his thoughts and prayers are going to be any more effective than anyone else's here because until someone takes action, we're not going to see much in the way of change. But it is very good to see this. And, frankly, it's something that would have been unthinkable a while ago. And I think for the audience, it's important to keep in mind that, you know, in the decade or so since the Sandy Hook massacre, you know, you've got Every Town for Gun Safety, you've got Moms Demand Action, you've got March for Our Lives. You've got things like this chaplain speaking out. It's good this is going to come from below.

You know, we've seen and we've exhaustively covered the fact that Congress seems to be stuck, paralysis. But there's a groundswell. And that's how social transformation happens. You know, it happens gradually, and then it happened suddenly. And I am encouraged, despite all of the tragedies that we're living with every day, that a lot of people are getting together and making clear that they're going to take some chances the way this chaplain did.

LEMON: Man of the cloth saying move beyond thoughts and prayers. That's pretty big.

LOUIS: Exactly.

COLLINS: Quite a moment.

LEMON: It's what it is.

COLLINS: Errol Louis, thank you.

LEMON: Thank you, Errol.

So, let's talk about the crazy weather that California has been getting now. The southern Sierras, storm ravaged California, they're already at record snow levels, with more on the way. The severe weather forecast coming up.

COLLINS: Also, a new bump in the road for President Biden. Quite a pretty big bump, actually. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The stark differences on the judicial overhaul bill that has roiled Israel and the remarkable comment made by President Biden last night.



COLLINS: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is firing back after President Biden urged him to walk away from his controversial judicial reform plan. Netanyahu responding to the president yesterday in a tweet, saying, quote, Israel is a sovereign country which makes its decisions by the will of its people and not based on pressure from abroad, including the best of friends.

That comes after Biden, yesterday, spoke publicly and said Netanyahu should walk away from the plan.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I don't know they're at an inflation point, but I think that it's a difficult spot to be in and they've got to work it out.

QUESTION: And what do you hope the prime minister will do on that particular law?

Biden: I hope he - I hope he walks away from it.


COLLINS: That was an incredibly notable comment from President Biden.

CNN's Hadas Gold is live in Jerusalem and tracking all of this.

I mean, Hadas, I guess the question is, how did they respond to this? Because there's always this careful, delicate navigation where the U.S. doesn't want to look like they're telling them what to do. But President Biden was pretty explicit there.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kaitlan, I mean for weeks the U.S. has been expressing careful criticism of this overhaul plan that I'll remind you will give unprecedented power in the hands of the Israeli politicians, in the parliament, allowing them to do things like overturned supreme court decisions that has since been put onto hold. But yesterday we heard those frustrations just burst into the open. These were very sharp critiques by the U.S. president, who, in addition to saying that he hopes a compromise will be reached and that Netanyahu will just walk away from this original plan, he also said that Netanyahu will not be coming to the White House in the near term. Typically, the Israeli prime minister is invited to the White House for an official visit quite quickly after coming into office. It has now been months. And now it doesn't seem as though this is going to be coming anytime soon. That underscores the frustrations that the Americans have with the Israelis.

But as you noted in the introduction there, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, although he talks about the alliance between the U.S. and Israel, and he talks about how he is committed to bringing a, as he says, a broad consensus on these reforms, he is pushing back, essentially saying, don't get involved into our business. And we're hearing even harsher critiques from other members of his government. Itamar Ben-Gvir, the minister of national security, saying Israel is not a star on the American flag. And even others going further, saying that the Americans are being fed what they call fake news on what this overhaul will do.

But this is an incredible critique that underscores currently the situation, the relationship between the Americans and the Israelis that has -- you know, Joe Biden talks about -- he has been a stalwart supporter of Israel for so many years. Netanyahu talks about how he's known Joe Biden for more than 40 years. They talked about what a great relationship they have. This is really a crisis moment in the relationship between the Israelis and the Americans and the opponents here, the opposition in Israel, are critiquing Netanyahu, saying that he is in dangerous Israel's most important relationship, its strongest ally, one that is vital for Israel's security.


COLLINS: Yes, they often talk about this, you know, 40 year relationship that they've had. But it's so fascinating because our White House producer, DJ Judd, just told me, this democracy summit that the White House is hosting right now is still going on. Netanyahu is actually speaking at it right now, virtually, of course, as you can see him there, but it's just interesting to see as this is going on with this dramatic tension behind the scenes, now we're seeing him still appear at this summit.


GOLD: Yes, I mean, it's also going to be interesting to hear how he ties in what this overhaul will do. He keeps saying it's going to strengthen Israeli democracy, not destroy it.

But, Kaitlan, the supreme court in Israel is the only check available on the laws passed by parliament. So, if you allow the Israeli parliament to overturn supreme court decisions, what checks and balances still exist then?

COLLINS: Yes, good question.

Hadas gold, thank you so much.

LEMON: A Nashville man, hearing the gunshots, got out of his car, stopped traffic, as children fled from Monday's school shooting. He's going to join us live with this -- with his video just ahead.

COLLINS: And later on we're going to get a front row seat inside America's gun culture.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ranchers, people steal their horse or cattle. I think they should be able to defend -- defend their property.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kill someone over a horse?





LEMON: Millions of people in California once again under severe weather alerts this morning as another powerful Pacific storm moves south with more strong winds, rain and snow. The Sierra Nevada's could see up to four more feet of snow, and San Bernardino Mountains, a foot or more.

What the heck is happening in California? Let's go to meteorologist Eric Van Dam in the CNN Weather Center.

That's the appropriate question for you. It appears that California is getting, you know a break, right? Not getting a break here because the temperatures are also running 10 to 15 degrees cooler than normal.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: No. Yes, sounding like a broken record once again. Yet another storm system. And, as you mentioned, it's a colder storm system because it originated in the Gulf of Alaska. So, we're drawing in that cold air from the north.

Now, go back a week when we had that storm intensify and approach the San Diego Bay region, or San Francisco Bay region, that actually created all the wind and power outages. Well, it's not going to do the same. It's actually going to stay offshore as it strengthens. But what I'm really concerned about is later this week when it starts to interact with warm air from the Gulf of Mexico.

Now, there's severe weather setup setting up across the nation's midsection. So, that's a major concern. Look at the storms lining up over the past month or so. We've had about 12 atmospheric river events. And, of course, that's created flooding concerns, but also done quit an exceptional thing to our drought conditions, eradicating extreme and exceptional drought across the central valley compared to last year to the current status.

Now, impressive snowfall totals, as Don just mentioned. Some of the snow burying houses. This is video coming out of mammoth mountain where they've been shoveling over, get this, 50 feet of snowfall. They're about to set their record for the most amount of snow later today, when it starts to snow from the storm I showed you just a moment ago.

Similar picture kind of unfolding across the Sierra Nevada's. This is broken up into three different sections, northern, central and southern. Get this, the southern Sierra Nevada's has never had this much snow. They're sitting at 283 percent snow water equivalent. So that's compared to average to date. And that's, of course, going to pay dividends once we get into these warmer spring and summer months. But, of course, if it gets too warm too quick, rapid runoff, rapid snow melt, and that means the potential for more flooding.

How does this compare to average? Well, we didn't even break average for the past three years, but this year we're going into the stratosphere. And if you're a snowboarder like me, you're jumping up with joy because you know this is the season.

Don. Kaitlan.

LEMON: Yes. Fancy graphics.

COLLINS: Nice. I like it. Very sharp.

VAN DAM: Hey. Thanks.

LEMON: Welcome to the team, by the way. Thank you.

VAN DAM: Appreciate that. Thank you, guys. It's an honor to be here.

LEMON: We'll see you a little bit later on. Thank you very much, Derek Van Dam.


COLLINS: And also this morning, we're continuing to track the developments out of Nashville, where police have now released some of the body cam footage that was worn by officers who confronted the shooter inside of the Covenant school. We'll show you what that video shows us, next.



LEMON: Artificial, but ethical, Pope Francis urging scientists to proceed with caution when it comes to artificial intelligence. At a Vatican conference this week he said, quote, I am convinced that the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning has the potential to contribute in a positive way to the future of humanity. I am certain that this potential will be realized only if there is a constant and consistent commitment on the part of those developing these technologies to act ethically and responsibly.

Now, the pope stopped short of referencing a viral and fake AI generated image of him in a white puffer jacket.

COLLINS: You know how I can tell its fake when I look at it now is the hand.

LEMON: I see it.

COLLINS: If you look at the hands. You can see it because -- if we take the chyron down, you can see it in his hands. That is how you can tell, I think that it's a doctored image.

LEMON: Oh, yes, I can kind of tell it's a doctored image because that coat is way to fancy for the -

COLLINS: Because you don't think the pope wears fancy (INAUDIBLE).

LEMON: I don't know, maybe he does. I don't know. But, I mean, it is a cool coat. Maybe someone should buy it for him.


LEMON: It's a beautiful coat.

COLLINS: I'm in trouble, I think, because I saw that initially and didn't question it.

LEMON: You did? That is like - what (INAUDIBLE) -

COLLINS: Scrolling through Twitter.

LEMON: Alright, as we say, meanwhile, CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.


ON SCREEN TEXT: Number One, new details.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Newly released body camera video from the police officers who confronted and killed a mass shooter at the Covenant School in Nashville.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you see there is a very highly trained, well- coordinated response.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was under a doctor's care for an emotional disorder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We now know that the 28-year-old had purchased seven guns in all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We cannot stand by. Our children, our future, are at risk.

ON SCREEN TEXT: Number two, the gun debate.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So I again call on Congress to pass the assault weapons ban. Pass it.

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): It just seems like on the other side, before they even know the facts, the first thing they talk about is taking guns away from law abiding citizens.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): The American people deserve a fight in Congress. And I'm not going to take no for an answer.

ON SCREEN TEST: Number three, forced to testify.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: A federal judge ordering former Vice President Mike Pence to testify about conversations he had with President Trump in the lead up to the insurrection.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're interested in this pressure campaign that Trump and his allies were applying on Pence not to certify the results of the election.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: We're currently reviewing, but let me be clear, I have nothing to hide.

ON SCREEN TEXT: Number four, banking hearing.


SEN. JON TESTER (D-MT): You did not have to be an accountant to figure out what the hell was going on.

SEN. KATIE BRITT (R-AL): We have a crisis, and you come in here without knowing whether or not you did your job. You say you want more. That's not the way this works.

ON SCREEN TEXT: Number five, Dominion versus Fox.

COOPER: We're learning about who might be called to testify in Dominion Voting Systems' $1.6 billion defamation case against Fox News over the 2020 election.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The company wants more than 80 witnesses, and they include Sean Hannity.