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CNN This Morning

Biden Officially Announces He's Running for Reelection; Fulton County D.A. to Decide on Charges in Trump Probe This Summer; U.S. Deploying Warships, Troops to Evacuate Americans from Sudan; Jury Selection to Begin in Lawsuit Against Trump. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired April 25, 2023 - 06:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR/CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning, everyone. It is Tuesday, April 25. Welcome to CNN THIS MORNING. We're so glad you're with us. And we do begin, though, with news about this show.

As you may have heard yesterday, CNN parted ways with anchor Don Lemon. In a statement, CNN CEO Chris Licht thanked Don for his contributions over the past 17 years, writing in part, "Don will forever be a part of the CNN family. We wish him well and will be cheering him on in his future endeavors."

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. Of course, Don was a big part of this show over the last six months. He was one of the first anchors on CNN to have me on his show. That's something I'll obviously never forget. I agree with Chris. We wish him the best.

HARLOW: We certainly do. Don was one of my first friends here at CNN. I'm so thankful to have worked alongside him and for his support for nearly 15 years here. And I wish him all good things ahead.

Kaitlan and I are really proud of this show. We are so proud of the dedicated team that works around the clock to bring you the news every morning, and our priority is you, the viewer. We're grateful you welcome us into your home each morning.

COLLINS: Absolutely. And of course, this morning we want to keep it with the focus on the news and where that belongs. So let's get to it. CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

HARLOW: And we do begin with --

COLLINS: Big news.

HARLOW: Big news. Significant breaking news. President Biden has made it official, announcing he is running for re-election. Just moments ago, he released this announcement video. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Freedom. Personal freedom is fundamental to who we are as Americans.

There's nothing more important. Nothing more sacred.

BIDEN (voice-over): That's been the work of my first term, to fight for our democracy.

BIDEN: This shouldn't be a red or blue issue.

BIDEN (voice-over): To protect our right, to make sure that everyone in this country is treated equally and that everyone is given a fair shot at making it.

But you know, around the country, MAGA extremists are lining up to take on those bedrock freedoms. Cutting Social Security, that you paid for your entire life while cutting taxes for the very wealthy.

Dictating what healthcare decisions women can make. Banning books. And telling people who they can love. All while making it more difficult for you to be able to vote.

When I ran for president four years ago, I said we're in a battle for the soul of America. And we still are. The question we're facing is whether, in the years ahead we have more freedom or less freedom. More rights or fewer. I know what I want the answer to be, and I think you do, too.

This is not a time to be complacent.

BIDEN: That's why I'm running for re-election.


HARLOW: Today is a very symbolic day for this announcement. It is the four-year anniversary of Biden entering the 2020 presidential race.

So let's start out with Arlette Saenz at the White House. We thought it was going to come today, probably. It came today. And he came out swinging against Republicans on abortion rights, book bans, Social Security, a number of things.


President Biden really is finally making it official. And he drew on those same themes from his 2020 campaign. As he said in that video, that the battle for the soul of the country is not yet complete, and voters should give him a second term in office.

The president took aim at what he described as MAGA extremists in the Republican Party. He used that imagery from January 6th, as well as protesters following the Supreme Court's decision on abortion last summer. And additionally, in that video, you saw the president highlight two

men who could -- he could face off against in a general election matchup. That is former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has yet to formal formally enter the 2024 race.

But ultimately, President Biden is hoping that Americans will look at his record on things like infrastructure and climate change and decide to give him a second term in office.

Now, advisers that I spoke to said that, just because he's launching this campaign today, don't expect his day-to-day activities to really change. They believe that, ultimately, the president's ability to win over voters is to show that he is doing the job of being president.


A bit later today, he will be speaking at a union conference as he looks to highlight his ties to labor groups.

But one area where you will see the Biden team really ramp up their activity is when it comes to fundraising. They know that they need to mobilize those -- both those high-dollar donors, as well as grassroot supporters.

But as all of this campaign is coming into focus, coming into shape today, there are still significant challenges facing President Biden as he seeks a second term in office.

His approval ratings are hovering in the low 40 percent. And additionally, the majority of Americans have said that they do not believe he should run for a second term, with many of those doubters saying that one of the chief issues is his age.

But President Biden's allies and he believe that, ultimately, voters will side with his record and choose him over the alternatives that they're seeing in the Republican Party.

HARLOW: OK. Arlette Saenz, big day behind you at the White House. Thanks so much.

COLLINS: Yes, one of the biggest days that any White House has. For more on this, we want to bring in CNN contributor and staff writer at "The New Yorker," Evan Osnos, who has written books about President Biden, including "Joe Biden: The Life, The Run and What Matters Now." That, of course, Evan, was about the 2020 run that happened, as you know, four years ago today. April 25, 2019, is when Biden made it official. And now you're seeing this again.

What are you expecting from this run, because it is going to look a lot different than 2020 did?

EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. It's quite striking that he came out of the gate right away saying, Look, in effect, this is about some big issues.

You didn't hear him doing what presidents who are incumbent sometimes do, which is talk about some of the bills they've passed. What he did was go to the heart of the matter. In the end, this is about, as he said in 2020, to his mind, this is about a battle for the soul of the nation.

He started this video on the word "freedom." And he ended, importantly, on the idea that this is a project that remains unfinished. I think that's the theme that's going to tie this 2020 campaign message, this idea of fighting for some fundamental ideas about America, with the reason why he would argue it's his job to do it, because it is a project unfinished.

And as you heard him say in the State of the Union, he wants to finish the job. And that's going to be the theme you'll hear going forward.

HARLOW: What's interesting, I think, is that he wants to finish the job while facing increasing head winds and some concern among members of his own party. So whether it's Joe Manchin just in the last, you know, 12 hours coming out and saying, Look, Biden administration, you better do what you promised to do on energy and investment or I'm going to vote to repeal the IRA, right, a huge legislative achievement; or Democrats who privately told CNN they're worried that Biden isn't sitting down with McCarthy and willing to give a little on the debt ceiling.

OSNOS: Yes. You know, in a way, he knows going into this that there are significant challenges.

Just look at his popularity. I mean, he's way lower than he would want to be. Obviously, the big question for a lot of people is about age.

And there's two ways you can handle that. You know, in a moment like this, you can either tackle those head on. But in this moment, what he said was, no, no, we have to go larger than that. This is an election that is, once again, not going to rest on people's kind of small-ball mechanical political decisions. It's going to rest on fundamental choices about what kind of candidate you believe is a better fit for the United States.

So this is the beginning of the process. And eventually, his goal is to try to say, We'll bring Democrats around to us.

COLLINS: And Evan, how does he handle the age thing, in your view? Because CNN's K-File has uncovered some reporting, you know -- this was obviously back when Biden was 29 years old, but he was running against a 63-year-old; and he made age an issue. He had several ads where he -- you now, this was -- he was running against Cale Boggs.

And in these ads, he you know, would say things like, Cale doesn't want to run. He's lost that old twinkle in his eye that he used to have.

He placed ads against him with the slogan saying, you know, he understands what's happening today. Highlighting issues that were impacting voters at the time, versus what Boggs had previously campaigned on.

Really drawing that contrast that many people are now drawing, even if they do so privately. How does Biden handle the age issue today?

OSNOS: Yes. You know, in some ways where you stand depends on where you sit. And in this moment, he is finding himself in a bit of a role reversal.

In that first election, 1972, you know, he really did have the image of being the voice of a new generation. He was an opponent of the Vietnam War.

He would tell you today that this is a moment in which there will be a time for a new generation of leadership. And in his view, he has begun that process by bringing them into the White House.

If you look at the diversity of this administration, in terms of race and gender, it really is more diverse than the previous two administrations. And his appointments to the federal bench.

But it is going to be an argument he has to make to Americans, that -- that in the midst of a continuing crisis about the very basic rights as Americans, about abortion, about democracy, about voting, that this is a time, he would say, to put a proven asset there before we turn the page.


HARLOW: I'm reminded of what David Gergen, CNN contributor and former adviser to four presidents, Republicans and Democrats, said on this network about a year ago, talking about 2024, and Trump and Biden and if it was a matchup, and both of their ages.

And he said, "We've never seen anything like that before. I think it's a real risk." And he talked about how he felt when he turned 80. And he said, you know, you're not quite -- your judgment isn't quite as clear as it was.

And I just thought it was notable to hear David say that, because now that is what the American people are looking at is the incumbent president and the front-runner, Donald Trump, in the Republican Party, both very old.

OSNOS: It's true. You know, I once had an interview with then-Vice President Biden about the subject of age. We were talking about this question. And I said, how do you think about it?

And he said, you know, I actually regret once that we encouraged my own father to retire when we did. I think it was sooner than he needed to.

He said, If you still feel you can do the job and you have physical health, then I think you should be able to do it.

And if you fast forward to today, you know, that's how he sees it. And I think oddly enough, actually, running against Donald Trump, if he is the front-runner in the end, if he is the nominee, that undermines the age argument for Republicans. Because after all, Donald Trump has already been the oldest president in American history before -- when he was in office. And so, it makes it a harder case to make.

Joe Biden would say, you know, look at me. Look at my record and look at the stakes of this election.

COLLINS: Yes. It will be a much sharper contrast if it's Governor DeSantis.

HARLOW: I was just saying, good point, Evan. Because people who we know are going to get in the race haven't gotten in the race yet.

COLLINS: And that's why the White House wants the Republican nominee to be Trump. That and for many other reasons.

Evan Osnos, thank you so much for that insight this morning.

And of course, we'll continue to follow this announcement throughout the day. Ahead in our 7 a.m. hour, we are going to be joined by Republican presidential candidate, not former President Trump but Asa Hutchinson to get his view on Biden's re-election announcement.

HARLOW: I look forward to that.

We are set to find out this summer, we've learned, whether an Atlanta area prosecutor will criminally charge former President Trump in Georgia's 2020 election interference case.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has sent a letter to law enforcement, saying the announcement could come any time between July 11 and September 1.

"The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" first reported that letter. Willis sending a warning to law enforcement, because she says the case, quote, "may provoke significant public reaction."

She is weighing whether to charge Trump or any of his allies for their attempts to overturn the results of Georgia's 2020 election.

So let's bring in our senior crime and justice reporter, Katelyn Polantz, who joins us now. It's interest -- I mean, it's a surprising letter to send. She outlined sort of this two-month timeframe. And there's a whole host of folks outside of the former president who could be charged in this. What's your take?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So we know that there are more than a dozen people that could be charged, but at the top of the list is Donald Trump, the former president, who is clearly under investigation here.

His behavior in Georgia -- that phone call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger -- that is all something that Fani Willis and her team are looking at; that the grand jury, the special grand jury already investigated and have made recommendations. And now we're just waiting for these charging decisions.

So this letter from Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Poppy and Kaitlan, it says a couple things. It says, quite frankly, that Fani Willis does plan to announce charging decisions in the 2020 election investigation. So that confirmation that they are going to be coming to a conclusion here pretty soon, giving the time line.

It's essentially an eight-week period in July going through the end of August when those charging decisions would be announced.

And the reason is this concern over security. So this letter doesn't say that Donald Trump himself will be indicted. That is something that remains to be seen. The grand jury will have to look at. But there's a clear subtext here that Donald Trump supporters may be quite angry.

And here is what Willis writes in her letter: "Open-source intelligence has indicated the announcement of decisions in this case may provoke a significant public reaction."

And she goes on, "We have seen in recent years that some may go outside of public expressions of opinion that are protected by the First Amendment to engage in acts of violence that will endanger the safety of our community. As leaders, it is incumbent upon us to prepare."

She's not mentioning January 6th itself, but obviously, she's investigating the leadup to that event, the Capitol riot. And that seems to be a nod there.

HARLOW: OK. Katelyn Polantz, thank you so much.

It's interesting, because this follows not seeing an outbreak of violence in New York after the charges.

COLLINS: Yes, but it's interesting to see just how they're preparing so far in advance.

HARLOW: So far in advance.

COLLINS: And giving everyone a heads up. And of course, the indications people read into that, what that could mean and who they could be charging.

HARLOW: And using the word "significant" --


HARLOW: -- in there.

COLLINS: We'll see what that looks like. We will obviously stay on top of that with Katelyn Polantz.

Also coming up, there are new images of American diplomats who have just been rescued from war-torn Sudan. We're now learning that the United States is sending warships and possibly troops to help those who are still trapped.

[06:15:03] HARLOW: And the police officer who fired the shot that killed Breonna Taylor in a botched raid now has a new job. How her family is reacting.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you surprised?

TAMIKA PALMER, MOTHER OF BREONNA TAYLOR: Can't say that I am. This good ole boy system.



COLLINS: You are looking there at New York this morning. But we are also getting some international news in. These are images that we are showing you here first on CNN of American diplomats after U.S. Special Forces evacuated them from war-torn Sudan.

This is a photo of the U.S. ambassador to Sudan, shaking hands with the commander at the Navy base in Djibouti, following the rescue operation.

A three-day cease fire is now under way, for now, in Sudan between these two rival military factions that are fighting for power.

Of course, the U.S. helped broker this truce. We saw the announcement yesterday from the secretary of state. We are now learning the Pentagon is deploying warships and maybe even troops to Sudan to help evacuate the Americans who are still stranded.

CNN's senior international correspondent Sam Kiley is in Djibouti and has been covering all of this.

Sam, of course, CNN journalist on the ground. You've heard gunfire despite the ceasefire. What is the state of play right now?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that that is exactly the problem, Kaitlan. We've had successive ceasefires that have been negotiated in Khartoum, in particular. Notably for the end of Eid, which was also over the weekend; supposed to be the opportunity for the international community led by the Americans to begin evacuating their staff from the -- the embassies.


But it was observed in the breach, really, there was air strikes were being carried out, particularly as French and British Special Forces were still on the ground doing evacuations. There was fighting that continued. It caused the Americans, actually, to say they wanted the remaining American citizens, an estimated 16,000 people, to shelter in place rather than even try and get out and join convoys being organized by other nations over land to get out of the country.

Now there is this cease fire. There has been reports of fighting. But it is being considered a slightly more, quote, "permissive environment."

So the British, for example, have plans to try to continue an air-lift of their citizens. An estimated 4,000 people with British passports in Sudan. They believe they may be able to get into an airstrip not far outside of the capital city, Khartoum.

But they're also, alongside the United States, sending warships to Port Sudan. And there is contingency -- it's only contingency planning at this stage, Kaitlan -- for a -- to take over Port Sudan, effectively, in order to use that as a base if -- if the fighting suddenly escalates at the end of this 72-hour period, or indeed if the ceasefire doesn't hold at all and it becomes necessary to try to have some kind of bridgehead for mass evacuations out of Port Sudan.

That's still a contingency plan. It is a last resort. But certainly, the British and Americans are getting assets in place to be able to trigger that if they need to -- Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes, clearly, they have a concern they may have to get to that last resort.

Sam Kiley, I know you'll stay on top of the updates. We'll stay with you. Thank you so much.

HARLOW: Later today, jury selection will begin in columnist E. Jean Carroll's lawsuit against former President Trump. How this trial right here in New York could play out.




So today, jury selection begins in E. Jean Carroll's battery and defamation case against former President Donald Trump. The columnist is accusing him of raping her in the mid '90s and then defaming her years later when he denied that it took place.

She says she was raped in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room, which he denies. It's a civil trial. So jail time is not on the table, but Carroll is suing the former president for unspecified damages, accusing him of battery and defamation.

Our senior legal affairs correspondent, Paula Reid, is here. I think a lot of people tuning in this morning will be saying, I've been hearing about this for a really long time. Now this finally goes to trial.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and another question a lot of people have is, Well, how does a rape that allegedly occurred 30 years ago go to trial now?

And the answer is that back in 2021, New York opened a window.

HARLOW: Right. REID: And the statute of limitations that allowed Carroll to pursue this claim. But this is, of course, just the latest in a long-running list of legal problems for the former president.


REID (voice-over): E. Jean Carroll finally getting her day in court, four years after filing a lawsuit accusing Donald Trump of raping her in Bergdorf Goodman in the '90s.

E. JEAN CARROLL, COLUMNIST: It was just a dumb thing, to go into a dressing room with a man that I hardly know, and have him shut the door. And then be unable to stop him. Sexual violence is in every country, in every strata of society.

REID (voice-over): Carroll first went public with her allegations against Trump in 2019. Then President Trump fired back at Carroll the day her article came out, denying the allegations and saying the two never even met.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have no idea who this woman is. This is a woman who's also accused other men of things, as you know. It is a totally false accusation.

REID (voice-over): Despite this photo from the 1980s, showing Carroll and Trump chatting. That, Trump acknowledges.

TRUMP: There's some picture where we're shaking hands, it looks like, at some kind of event.

REID (voice-over): Carroll's lawyers say they plan to call witnesses to back up her story. And the judge has ruled two other women who alleged Trump forced himself on them can also take the stand.

Carroll's team may also play a clip from the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape that surfaced during the 2016 presidential election.

TRUMP: You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful. I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Kiss, kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

REID (voice-over): The Trump camp has previously dismissed his comments on that tape as nothing more than, quote, "locker room talk."

Carroll's civil battery and defamation trial is expected to take up to two weeks after the jury is selected.

While Trump is not expected to appear in court, he took to Truth Social to blast Carroll ahead of the trial, saying she "is not telling the truth" and that he has to "go through years of more legal nonsense in order to clear my name of her and her lawyer's phony attacks on me. This can only happen to Trump."


REID (on camera): Carroll is seeking unspecified monetary damages, and she also wants a retraction of a social media post that the former president made about her.

A lot of people wondering if the former president will show up in court, but unlike his historic court appearance earlier this month, it is unlikely that we're going to see him in court here.

I've spoken with some of his lawyers on other cases. And I can tell you, they're quite nervous about any prospect of him getting on a witness stand right now.

COLLINS: Yes, of course. And we've heard Bill Barr, who was his attorney general, say he should never be put on the witness stand, because he doesn't think it would be very effective to any of his cases and any of the --


REID: That's excellent legal advice from the former attorney general.

COLLINS: Yes. All right, Paula. Thank you so much.

HARLOW: Thanks.

COLLINS: Also this morning, the Mississippi River now flooding and spilling into communities that run alongside it. We actually have a 3- D look at the areas that are going to be the most impacted by that.

HARLOW: Also, she's a Russian socialite with troubling ties to Russia's war on Ukraine. Now her lavish Parisian lifestyle is sparking protests. We'll tell you who, next.