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Grand Jury Will Break for Most of April; Mass Shooting Changes in U.S.; Disney Accused of Stripping New Board's Powers; SCOTUS Navigated on LGBTQ+ Rights Cases. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired March 30, 2023 - 06:30   ET



DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Reporting several casualties. We're expecting to learn more at a news conference just hours from now. We'll bring you the very latest developments as we get them.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And as we wait for those updates, we also have a new update here in New York, where it could be several weeks before we actually find out if a grand jury is even going to indict former President Trump in Manhattan. CNN has learned that the grand jury investigating those hush money payments that were made to Stormy Daniels is actually getting ready to go on a break for most of next month. The former president wrongly predicted that he would be arrested last week, obviously causing quite a stir. The Manhattan district attorney, who was conducted that investigation, Alvin Bragg, says, though, he believes the former president created a, quote, false expectation that that arrest was imminent.

Meantime, back in Washington, Trump is fighting several large investigations, several defeats in the special counsel's investigation when it comes to January 6th. Right now he is trying to block some of his former aides from testifying, including, probably most notably, his White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

Let's bring in CNN's senior legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid.

Paula, we want to break down both of these, so let's start with what is happening here in New York. You were just here. This is this grand jury that we've been talking about. It did seem for a period of time that this was imminent, but now the jury, is this a previously scheduled break? What is this exactly going to look like?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGA AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: So, let's start with what we expect to happen today, next week, and then the break.

It's not unusual for grand juries to hear evidence on several different cases. That's what we expect will happen today when the grand jury meets. They're going to hear evidence on cases but not the Trump hush money probe.

Next week we also expect that the grand jury will meet on Monday and Wednesday, but we don't expect they will hear evidence on the Trump probe. But I want to be cautious here, Kaitlan, grand juries are conducted in

secret. Things can change. So, we're being a little more cautious than some other outlets in terms of what will happen next week. It is not expected that they'll hear anything on the hush money case or move to vote on an indictment. But again, I caution that can change.

But we do know that after next Wednesday, they do have a previously scheduled break for several weeks. This happens across several religious holidays and school breaks. So, it was scheduled previously, but that's not going to tamp down speculation about whether this break for nearly a month is the result of them wavering on their case. I mean there was a lot of expectation that they were nearing the end of their investigation. Of course, the former president, as you just noted, he set a false expectation that he would be arrested last Tuesday, even though his own team said there was no basis for that.

So, at this point, we will continue to watch the grand jury. But based on our reporting, there's no suggestion they're wavering on their case.

COLLINS: Yes, so we'll see what we don't know and what they actually decide to do.

Meanwhile, on the other investigation, this is the one that's into January 6th that's happening out of Washington, we saw the judge rule that former Trump aides would have to testify without being able to cite executive privilege, but now Trump is pushing back on that. What do we - what are we expecting in that front?

REID: Well, Kaitlan, this is an important reminder that the true legal threats to the former president, the bigger legal threats, right now, reside outside the empire state. Special Counsel Jack Smith, he has scored several major victories against the former president and his attorneys, especially when it comes to Trump's attempts to use executive privilege to block people from having to go before the grand jury. And we've learned that they're going to appeal one of these rulings that would have forced several of his aides, including Mark Meadows, who was basically the great white whale for January 6th investigators, to testify.

Now, all of this is happening under seal, but we will continue to report it out because this has enormous consequences, not just for Mark Meadows but for other top White House officials in the former president's administration.

COLLINS: Paula Reid, all right, we'll stay on top of it. Thank you so much.

LEMON: We want to get now to some developing news. This is out of Minnesota. Take a look at these live pictures this morning where a train carrying ethanol and corn syrup has derailed and caught fire there. At least 22 cars on that train. More than a dozen, they believe, have been overturned, derailed. Residents there are being evacuated near the tracks. This is in Raymond, Minnesota. Again, you're looking at the flames coming off of that train that has derailed in Minnesota. We'll keep you updated as we get more information on that. No reported injuries at this point, but we'll continue to check.

A shouting match over gun control playing out in the hallways of Congress.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you listening to what I'm saying?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That - that's - what - calm down? Children are dying.


LEMON: Passion around this issue, gun violence in America. Democratic and Republican lawmakers deeply divided on gun safety legislation. Next, we're going to speak to Audie Cornish about this and how the role of parents play has changed when it comes to mass shootings in schools. There's Audie. We'll see you on the other side of the break.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have control of the House. The American people need to know that they don't have the courage to do anything to save the lives of children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Co-sponsor my bill -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More guns lead to more deaths.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you co-sponsor my bill?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at the data.

States that have open carry laws have more deaths.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's - that's a - what, calm down? Children are dying.


COLLINS: That tense exchange playing out in the halls of Capitol Hill yesterday between Congressman Jamal Bowman and Thomas Massey over gun control legislation following the deadly school shooting in Nashville. That comes just days after a shooter killed six people, including three nine-year-old children.

In a new episode of the CNN podcast "The Assignment," Audie Cornish takes a look at the U.S. in this age of school shootings, speaking with Catherine Schweit, who is the creator of the FBI's active shooter program, about how the role that parents play has changed when it comes to mass shootings in schools.


KATHERINE SCHWEIT, CREATOR OF THE FBI'S ACTIVE SHOOTER PROGRAM: All you're teaching a child at that age is to listen, to follow directions, and to be quiet when they need to be.


That's it.

The other thing about training kids is, you got to lead by what they know. I think I hear parents all the time say, I don't want to talk to my kids about that, it's too scary, where kids are talking about it. They're talking about it amongst themselves. Talk to a group of fourth graders and ask what -- if they know anything about what -- what school shootings and active shooters are. They know. So I think it's naive of parents right now to say, oh, I can't talk to my kids about that, it scares me.


COLLINS: Joining us now is Audie Cornish, who is the host of the CNN podcast "The Assignment."

This podcast is fascinating because essentially what it does is something I didn't even learn until like later in like high school, but a whole generation of kids who now are being trained what to do if there is an active shooter at their school.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Katherine Schweit was tapped to start this active shooter program under the Obama administration after the Sandy Hook massacre. And at the time there was no kind of one point person in the government to -- for families, for anyone, for - for -- as really kind of coalescing the whole thing, one point of contact. And very quickly they settled on the idea that there should be some kind of training. And she even advocates for active shooter drills, maybe a couple times a year in schools, which not everyone is doing at this point, and she likens it to fire drills. She says, we haven't lost a kid to a fire in decades, but we still do them.

LEMON: This is -- I mean it's clearly an emergency considering, obviously, what happened in Nashville and what happens all too often in schools. And you saw the passion playing out in the halls of Congress right there. You had Jamal Bowman, who's from New York, Thomas Massey of Kentucky, going at each other.

I'm sure the American people probably appreciate the passion -- many in America, the passion from Massey. I just want to put up this card just as -- should this -- full screen. This is Thomas Massey's Christmas card. This is from 2021, with guns there in the card asking Santa for -- to bring more ammo. But this is sort of the sort of crazy thing that's happening in this country when you have the, you know, juxtaposed this, the passion to that photograph, that's what the kids and the parents are up against there.

CORNISH: Yes, and, I mean, I think this is why I wanted to tell this story. I grew up in the nineties. So, Columbine is my initial experience with mass shootings, especially on school grounds. And, fundamentally, we can get really mired, especially as journalists, in political paralysis in the debate about guns. But in the meantime, there's a cottage industry that is growing up to fortify school buildings, right, to have ballistic glass, to -- architects who are focused on better ways to design schools. You also have a bunch of people doing these run, hide, fight style trainings, kind of based on the FBI theory about what to do to survive a mass shooting. And then, lastly, you have teachers now embracing the idea of having to explain this to kids.

So, while politicians are doing in a way nothing, you have the rest of us now learning how to live with it and simply finding ways to mitigate the casualties.

LEMON: Right.

CORNISH: Which is, obviously, not ideal and one of the fascinating things, talking to Katherine Schweit, is she was saying, you know, I tried to retire. I'd like to not do this work anymore. And the phone calls keep coming.

COLLINS: And so essentially it's created this space where this is something that teachers have to know how to do. This is something they have to be prepared for, how to teach their students how to do this.

My mom is a fourth grade teacher and we talk about how they do this regularly. They bring the kids in. They line them up. They show them what to do because there's a lack of action and this is kind of what they're forced to do. And, sadly, one of the highlights coming out of Nashville has been seeing how well the school administrators responded. They were outside ready to tell the cops where to go inside. One of them handed the officers a key so they could get inside the door.

CORNISH: I'm so glad that you're outlining all of this because this really does show kind of the evolution, right? It's not the same kind of panic because we know more about what happens in these active shooting situations. And they're tough because sometimes, in the past, they're former students, right? And so you can do all kinds of things to the building, but a kid who's been to the training with you and been in the environment kind of knows what's going on, you know? It's a little bit tilting at windmills.

But until there is some kind of broader action, what we're all doing now is learning how to live with it and building up systems to try and kind of, like, diminish the pain. And I just don't know really if you can do that, right, especially when you're talking about schools.

LEMON: Audie Cornish, thank you

CORNISH: Yes, thanks having me.

LEMON: Thank you very much.

COLLINS: It's a really, really good podcast.


COLLINS: Everyone should listen to the whole thing (INAUDIBLE).

LEMON: Make sure you listen to it. There it is, the podcast, "The Assignment." Tune in wherever you get your podcast.

Also this morning, the battle between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Disney is still very much in play.


Why his handpicked board actually says that Disney stripped it of its powers. We'll tell you, next.

LEMON: I'm sorry we didn't get to the movie -


LEMON: Take a live look now. This is Orlando, courtesy of our affiliate WESH TV. That's Orlando. That's where Disney has quietly taken power out of the hands of the board, handpicked by Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis, using a series of legal agreements signed with the outgoing board just last month. Under these arrangements, Disney maintains control over the vast Reedy Creek taxing district for the next 30 years, and the new board cannot take action without first getting approval from the company itself.


RON PERI, CENTRAL FLORIDA TOURISM OVERSIGHT DISTRICT BOARD MEMBER: This essentially makes Disney the government. This board loses, for practical purposes, the majority of its ability to do anything beyond maintain the roads and maintain basic infrastructure.


LEMON: So, we go to CNN's Leyla Santiago, live for us in Miami.

Good morning, Leyla.

Is this new board considering legal action?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they are, Don. And you know the timing of this is interesting because this agreement by the old -- the outgoing board members was reached just in the days before the state's takeover of this improvement district. So that means that the feud between Governor Ron DeSantis and the state's largest private employer, not over yet.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Thank you. SANTIAGO (voice over): In a story with more twists and turns than any

Disney movie, the former Disney controlled Reedy Creek improvement district board pulled a fast one just before Governor Ron DeSantis and his handpicked board took over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This development agreement essentially strips the government of the government powers and give those powers to Disney.

SANTIAGO: The board quietly approved the agreement on February 8th, as Florida lawmakers met in a special session to give DeSantis control of the district.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot imagine Orange County, Osceola County, the city of Orlando or any other central government, central Florida government, allowing or agreeing to allow any private developer or property owner to have this sort of control over a government and the officials that run it.

SANTIAGO: The agreement was signed before DeSantis had a chance to pick his board members.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This development agreement, which in my opinion is void as a legal malady (ph), was passed the same day the Florida house passed the bill creating this board. And it was done to prevent us from doing our job.

SANTIAGO: Under the new deal, Disney would maintain control over much of its land in central Florida for 30 years, and in some cases the board cannot take significant action without getting approval from the company. Just last month, DeSantis celebrated gaining control of the board.

DESANTIS: The corporate kingdom finally comes to an end. There's a new sheriff in town and accountability will be the order of the day.

SANTIAGO: Following a nearly year-long spat between Disney and the governor, it stemmed from Disney speaking out against a Florida bill, which DeSantis signed into law, restricting certain classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity. And while it looks like the battle between Disney and DeSantis may not be over, Disney stands by its actions, saying in a statement to CNN, all agreements signed between Disney and the district were appropriate and were discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida's government in the Sunshine law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think anyone is trying to degrade the guest's experience or the quality of the Walt Disney World Resort. I think what we're trying to do is provide oversight.


SANTIAGO: And, listen, Don, what that oversight will look like, as I mentioned earlier, will depend on legal action that we could see coming in the next few days. But this is a massive special taxing district here. Twenty-five thousand acres between Osceola and Orange County. And, again, the largest private employer in Florida.


LEMON: Leyla Santiago, live in Miami this morning, thank you very much.

I want to get back now to two breaking stories overnight.

Officials say there are several casualties after two U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopters crashed during a training mission in Kentucky. We'll have the latest on the incident.

COLLINS: We're following that.

Also, an American journalist has been arrested in Russia this morning. New details on what Moscow is accusing him of, also how "The Wall Street Journal" is responding and the White House. We are live in Russia, next.



LEMON: Hundreds of people in Kentucky protesting outside the state capitol yesterday. They gathered as lawmakers there enacted with Democrats are calling the most extreme anti-LGBTQ bill in America.


CROWD (chanting): Trans rights are human rights.


LEMON: The Republican-led legislature overwhelmingly voted to override the Democratic governor's veto of the bill. The law creates new restrictions for young trans people in the state, including banning gender affirming care and talking about sexual orientation or gender identity in schools.

The United States Supreme Court is familiar with hearing cases related to LGBTQ rights, and CNN has brand new reporting this morning on that front.

CNN's Joan Biskupic has a rare look at secret negotiations that Chief Justice John Roberts led on several 2017 cases involving gay rights. And here's what she writes here. I quote, the negotiations in those cases not previously reported offer a glimpse into trade-offs among justices, demonstrate the chief's soft power of persuasion and show that the court's sentiment on gay rights issues can be both fraught and evolving.

So, joining us now is CNN's senior Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic. She is the author of "Nine Black Robes," out recently. A beautiful book. Very informative.

So, we're so happy to have you on. Thank you very much for joining us on this issue.

: Thank you.

LEMON: It's fascinating because when the Supreme Court declared a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, this was in 2015, Justice Roberts was so opposed that he dissented from the bench, but you have new reporting about some later actions that he took on gay rights, how these backroom dealings played a role here.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: That's right. Morning, Don and Kaitlan.

You know, he was so angry that he used his first and only descent from the bench in his 18 years for that case. But then, just two years later, he worked privately with Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote that landmark Obergefell ruling declaring same-sex marriage constitutional and he worked with him behind the scenes on two cases, one involving two lesbians who wanted both names on a birth certificate of their baby, and Arkansas was preventing that, and another case involving a Colorado baker who had been sanctioned for refusing to serve -- to bake a cake for two gay men who wanted to celebrate their wedding. And he works with Justice Kennedy, button- holed him to rule for the women in Arkansas so that both names could be on the birth certificate, but then eventually to favor the baker over the two gay men who felt like, he said, should be sanctioned under Colorado anti-discrimination law.

But it just showed, Don and Kaitlan, just how the chief, as I wrote there, would use his soft power of persuasion to try to make sure that the court isn't going to go to far to fast in any direction, and he's more of an institutionalist even though he felt so strongly about that Obergefell ruling.

COLLINS: Yes, it's a fascinating look behind the scenes, which is always what I'm -- I'm interested in. And so, I mean, what else does it say to you in a bigger picture about how he worked behind the scenes, how he negotiated with the other justices?

BISKUPIC: You know, Kaitlan, has was - during that period, up until late 2020, he was always trying to pick off individual justices to try to, you know, send the signal that, as I say, the court wasn't going to move too far too fast in either direction.