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President Biden Releases Video Announcing His Run for Reelection in 2024; Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis Announces She is Currently Making a Decision on Possible Indictment of Former President Trump for Election Interference. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 25, 2023 - 08:00   ET



SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What he said when I asked him about what he thought about what happened at the Capitol and the role that the Proud Boys may have played.


ENRIQUE TORRES, PROUD BOYS LEADER: I'm not going to cry about a group of people that don't give a crap about their constituents. I am not going to sympathize with them.

SIDNER: They are doing the job that the people put them there to do, and if they don't like it, they can vote them out. They are still Americans. They are still human beings who felt that their lives were in danger. How can you not feel any sympathy or any empathy towards them like that?

TORRES: I'm not going to worry about people that their only worry in life is to be reelected.


SIDNER: So, no sympathy, but he has said that he does not believe that people should have gone in. And by the way, he was not there, so that will be one of the things the defense -- he was not there on January 6th. He had been told not to come in because he had already been arrested for something else. A judge had told him to stay out of D.C. That's where we are.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Sara Sidner, thank you very, very much. See you in an hour on CNN NEWS CENTRAL. Appreciate double duty today.

CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.


JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let's finish this job. I know we can because this is the United States of America. There is nothing, simply nothing we cannot do if we work together.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: There you go. Good morning, everyone. Top of the hour. We're glad you are with us here on CNN THIS MORNING. So there you have it. He is running again, President Biden making it official this morning. Plus, the United States considering sending troops into Sudan to help evacuate Americans who are still stranded in the war-torn country.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And on top of all of that, we are also now set to find out this summer if former President Trump is going to face criminal charges for trying to overturn the election results in Georgia. New reporting just into CNN on why it has taken this long.

HARLOW: But we start this morning with President Biden officially announcing he is running for reelection, setting up a potential rematch with former President Trump. Biden launched his 2024 campaign just a short time ago with this video swiping at Republicans over abortion rights, book bans, and attacks on democracy.


JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 health care 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 are in a battle for the soul of America, and we still are. The question we are facing is weather 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.

That's why I'm running for reelection.


HARLOW: And this all comes on a really symbolic day for his announcement. Exactly four years ago today Biden announced he was entering the 2020 presidential race.

Let's talk about all of this with CNN political correspondent, anchor of INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY, Abby Phillip, Good morning.


COLLINS: Side by side?

PHILLIP: Yes. It just really shows you how the presidency ages you. It was a lot.

HARLOW: I was thinking that. And remember when we saw the side by sides of Obama after his first term, right?

PHILLIP: Yes, lots more gray hair. (LAUGHTER)

HARLOW: So let's just get to age then, right, because that's like the elephant in the room.

PHILLIP: I mean, regardless how old you are, that is a fact of the job. So, yes. But it is an issue for this president. I don't think, though, that -- I think it's something the media loses a lot of sleep over, and, obviously, the poll numbers suggest that voters care about it to some extent. Honestly, when you talk to people around Biden, they are not fixated on that. It's probably not viewed in the top five of the biggest challenges that they face. There are some bigger, kind of almost existential ones, like, for example, what's going to happen to the economy between now and next November?

So they feel like they have bigger problems to face and that this is an ongoing issue for them that they think will not be as important to voters at the end of the day once they are faced with a clear choice.

HARLOW: I was just thinking of that because he is likely running against another old guy, or does the calculation change in the White House if it's DeSantis, for example.

PHILLIP: I think the calculation absolutely changes if it's a younger opponent. If it is Trump, they feel like they have a playbook, and they do to some extent, because in some ways Trump himself hasn't changed. It's not like Trump is kind of Trump 2.0. It's really more of the same there.


Whereas, if it's another candidate, if it's a Ron DeSantis, if it's someone, a Nikki Haley, someone else, it just poses a new set of challenges. Although I think you can see in the video that they put out this morning there is that little sneak photo of Trump and DeSantis kind of embracing. They plan to kind of lump all of these folks together.

COLLINS: Yes, they will. But when you talk to Biden people, I've heard from them, they definitely want Trump to be the nominee because they know what that rematch looks like, they think. They don't necessarily know what a DeSantis-Biden head-to-head would look like. But a lot of this Biden announcement today also is about fundraising, because that is something that he has got to get started on, and I think that is part of why they were, like, is he doing it now, will he do it later this summer? And now they are just hiding it today.

PHILLIP: Yes, this is going to be $1 billion campaign, basically, and they have to start raising money now. That money does not grow on trees. So one of the interesting things about Joe Biden, President Biden, is that he has been a pretty prolific fundraiser, and so they are getting that money spigot going right now. They are also using this as an opportunity, I think, to really put down a marker that there isn't going to be a Democratic primary. I think that kind of became less likely after the midterms. But you're going to start to see, I think, a rolling out of more endorsements. There have already been plenty, but more endorsements just to say that this is a president who has his party united in this moment.

COLLINS: Yes, we'll see what that looks like.

HARLOW: Stay with us, Abby. Don't go anywhere.

Let's talk about this, because we are set to find out we now know this summer whether an Atlanta area prosecutor will criminally charge former President Trump in an election interference case there. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis announced yesterday she is making a decision and we'll know what it is sometime on indictments between July 11th and September the 1st. But this morning we are learning about a few different matters that are delaying that announcement. The district attorney's office has picked up more cooperators and investigators and they are pouring over the evidence that those people have been providing. There is also an ongoing court battle over legal representation for some of the fake electors who are also now interested in cooperating in this probe. The D.A.'s office also wants to give security partners enough time to plan.

In a letter to local law enforcement agencies, Fani Willis writes, "We want to ensure that our law enforcement community is ready to protect the public." We know her office has been investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of Georgia's 2020 presidential election. Trump has criticized this case. He has called it politically motivated. He was not named in her letter.

Let's talk about what it means, what it could indicate. Chief law enforcement analyst Jim Miller is with us as well as CNN political commentator and former lieutenant governor of Georgia Geoff Duncan. Let me just start with you. I know you like to go by Geoff, so Geoff, instead of Lieutenant Governor. You were one of the, what is it, 75 witnesses who spoke to this grand jury. So you were in the room. We weren't. What do you make of this letter?

GEOFF DUNCAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it was a very serious process. I certainly never sat in front of a grand jury before, but it was a very sobering process to go through. I read the letter as the investigation is continuing to intensify. They are continuing to, obviously, get more and more witnesses to talk to but also to cooperate.

I think one the things that was eye-opening to me at real time when this was playing out during the post-election period how brazen Donald Trump was, right, just to be talking to a state senator, just a simple state senator, and to hear that they had had a conversation with the president the night before or had received a text message. It's going to take a lot of time to continue to connect those dots and I think that's what's going on here.

COLLINS: And John, what do you make of this idea, what we are seeing here with this letter, this announcement in such advance of what could actually happen? We don't know that it will be Trump, but the assumption that everyone makes, including people like me, is that it could be Trump and that's why she is giving such a heads-up to law enforcement. Is that helpful to law enforcement? What about broadcasting it to potentially nefarious actors? Does it potentially hurt?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: That's such an interesting question because in this bizarre world we live in, we have already seen a Trump title in a criminal court in New York City --

COLLINS: And look how he talked about that and teased it in advance.

MILLER: Exactly. And we saw a crowd, but we didn't see an overwhelming crowd.

The difference between doing that in New York where there is a 34,000 person police department where they call in almost bottomless resources as needed, and doing this in a county in Georgia, even though it's a large one, is something that she is putting her finger on, which is I want you, the sheriff, to be thinking, not a week before, but this is when it's coming, somewhere between July and September. I want you to be planning because this may be bigger than your department. So where is the Georgia state patrol? Are they in your plan? What about the next county over? What about the local police departments? What's the mutual aid? Because in the post-January 6th world, frankly, law enforcement agencies think of an event like this differently.


PHILLIP: It does seem also to me like the preparedness is a deterrent in some ways. We were expecting, or preparing, law enforcement was preparing during the indictment in New York for potential counterprotests that just never materialized, and Trump almost explicitly called for it. But I think that in some ways they probably view it as it's better to be prepared and to let these folks know we'll be ready for you rather than to not be prepared and wishful thinking that they just won't show up. That's important in the context of Trump because I don't think you can rule out the incitement. He has already shown multiple times that he is willing to do that, go right up to the edge rhetorically in moments like this to push back on these investigations.

MILLER: And the emotions are higher, too. It's not did you pay off a porn star. It's about the election. It's about the process. It's about things that Trump followers and -- we just watched on this broadcast a few minutes ago a story about the Proud Boys and their commitment and their leaning towards disorder. It's got to be front of mind.

HARLOW: Right. And potential racketeering charges, as well, a sort of whole different ballgame.

MILLER: And not just one defendant, right? This could be a number of people. So emotionally, it's going to press more buttons.

HARLOW: Let's say August, OK, for argument's sake. That falls in the middle of her window. By the way, that's also the first Republican presidential debate. So it's in a much more heated time little politically. What do you make of that and how it may alter, by the way, how the president, former president, responds to this, if he tries to get in front of it like he did here in New York?

DUNCAN: Yes, I think what we are facing is potentially another Republican perfect storm forming off the beach of Republican beach, right? All the components are coming together. The swing and a miss by Alvin Bragg, in my opinion, was one that emboldened Donald Trump. It helped his fundraising. It certainly helped his popularity amongst those core conservatives or core Republicans or MAGA folks. And we watch this continue to steamroll with him gaining momentum in the Republican primary.

But the perfect storm for us conservatives that actually want to make a difference and make policy decisions forward looking better than Joe Biden using conservative strategies is that Donald Trump is really the only Republican that Joe Biden can beat. Joe Biden's record, Joe Biden's approval ratings, Joe Biden's everything should get beaten by a Republican, with one exception, if that Republican ends up being Donald Trump. And I see that as the perfect storm.

COLLINS: Geoff, is your sense from the letter that it is likely a Trump indictment?

DUNCAN: I think definitely reading between the lines, it sounds like there is going to be serious reaction. That's what Fani Willis -- so, yes, I think that there probably is going to end up being a Trump indictment. But also I think -- look, there are a lot of important people that are in the crosshairs here. There is a current lieutenant governor that replaced me. There are sitting state senators. There's the head of the Republican Party. There's additional key individuals that were part of this fake electorate slate, that were part of a lot of this conspiracy theories and fanning the flames. There's going to be a lot of folks, I think, really called into question in this process.

HARLOW: Geoff Duncan, thank you. John Miller, Abby Phillip, thank you both very much.

COLLINS: Also this morning, these are new images that we are getting here first on CNN of American diplomats after U.S. special forces evacuated them from war-torn Sudan. You can see just how grateful these embraces are. This is a photo of the ambassador shaking hands with the commander at the U.S. military in Djibouti. That is following the rescue operation. The United States announced a three-day ceasefire that it helped broker between the two warring militaries. CNN Journalists have already heard the sound of gunfire and fighter jets despite that truce. We're also now learning, the U.S. has deployed warships, possibly troops to Sudan to help evacuate Americans who are still stranded there.

HARLOW: Also this. Tucker Carlson out at FOX News. A surprising announcement yesterday. We will be joined by a former FOX contributor who left the network because of how Tucker covered January 6th. We'll get his take on what could have gone down behind the scenes.

COLLINS: Also, on top of that, jury selection begins today in columnist E. Jean Carroll's lawsuit against former President Trump. How the trial could play out. We'll tell you next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


HARLOW: We do have really fascinating new reporting this morning about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his previously undisclosed ties to a GOP megadonor. Thomas said he thought he didn't have to disclose major gifts from Harlan Crow because Crow didn't have any business before the Supreme Court. Well, now we're learning that a company related to Crow did ask the High Court in 2004 to take up a dispute related to a copyright architectural drawing. Bloomberg News first reported the case and the relationship to Crow. So, let's go to our Senior Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic, who joins us now. Did they take up the case? And just regardless to have this request for to grant cert is significant.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: That's right, Poppy, they did not take up the case. They get, you know, they get literally hundreds and hundreds of cases each year, appeals asking the High Court to hear cases and they did not take up this one. So, on the surface, it doesn't look as serious as potentially other conflicts of interest. But the point is, we do not know. This is yet, another example of the media finding out about a financial connection between, you know, a big Republican megadonor someone who Clarence Thomas had taken these lavish trips with he said that Harlan Crow had not had any business before the Supreme Court.

Bloomberg discovers that he does, and we've double checked that indeed, this case didn't come to the court. The court rejected it out of hand, but Clarence Thomas did not disclose any kind of relationship, did not recuse himself from it. The party -- the other party, the opposing party didn't know about it, the media didn't know about it. Again, it might not be a super significant deal but in the whole, what it does is reinforce the fact that the Supreme Court itself is not fully disclosing financial --

HARLOW: Right.

BISKUPIC: -- relationships and potential conflicts of interest. At a time when it's getting more media scrutiny. Members of Congress are saying why don't you have any kind of formal ethics code.

HARLOW: Right.

BISKUPIC: You can't police yourself, and that's what it all adds up to, Poppy. Is just yet again, the appearance of potential conflicts at the court that is the last word on all the law in America, it really matters what the Supreme Court says.


HARLOW: Right, and that's why, you know, Congress Dick Durbin going to Chief Justice John Roberts and asking for more transparency was all but --

BISKUPIC: Right. HARLOW: You know, ignored. Joan, thanks very, very much for that reporting.

COLLINS: Yes, will be so interesting to see what Capitol Hill says about that. Also, this morning, something that is reverberating around Capitol Hill, Tucker Carlson is out at Fox News. The network saying, in a statement, quote, "We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that, as a contributor." That was it, the surprise announcement coming just a week after Fox News settled a defamation lawsuit with Dominion voting systems for more than three quarters of a billion dollars.

That lawsuit revealed text between Carlson and staffers where he said that he hated for President Trump despite saying other things on air, text also showing him making disparaging comments about Fox executives. Joining us now on this is CNN's Seniors -- Senior Media Reporter, Oliver Darcy and CNN political commentator, Jonah Goldberg, who we should note left Fox News after being there for 12 years when Carlson said that January 6, was a false flag operation. Thank you both for being here. And all right, I think the question this morning that even Tucker may be asking himself is why? Why now?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Yes, why is the big question and that's just unclear. To be honest, at this point in time, I think it's impossible to disconnect the decision for Fox News from the big Dominion settlement last week. I mean, that was a massive settlement. $787.5 million, they had a payout to dominion. It's unclear exactly what part of that lawsuit, I think, factored into Carlson's ultimate firing at Fox News. There are a number of factors that could have factored in, but it's unclear exactly what was its undoing as related to that lawsuit.

But we should keep in mind that the Murdochs had stood by Carlson through everything. I mean, he made white nationalist remarks on Fox News, they stood by him, he made anti-immigrant remarks they stood by him, he promoted conspiracy theories about the COVID vaccines. They stood by him. He promoted conspiracy theories and truther ism about the January 6 attack, they stood by him. He so, doubt about the 2020 election, and they stood by him. So, something changed in their calculus. And if perhaps it was just that the risk versus the reward calculation had altered, and he was just costing them too much problems and not offering enough reward. And they just decided maybe to just wipe their hands clean.

HARLOW: Yes, Jonah, I mean, as someone who didn't stand by him, right? You know -- you've known him for 12 years. You worked at -- you were a contributor there to Fox News. I wonder what you think the final straw could have been.

JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, just to be clear, I knew Tucker, I've known Tucker for 25 years. I mean, I knew what he went to Fox News.

HARLOW: Double what I thought, yes.

GOLDBERG: Yes, and but regardless, well, I think Oliver's right, I think that it's still kind of opaque and murky about what, you know, there's a reason what we call the last straw -- the last straw, because it normally straws don't break camel's backs, right? But it's all the stuff prior to the straw that makes it the decisive factor. I do think that there's, you know, the only times where I read a column, there's a -- there, apparently, it's the Abby Grossberg tapes, or Abby Grossberg lawsuit, something about that is a big part of the decision.

And also, something about the Ray Epps, episode on 60 minutes, which sort of debunked Tucker's false flag operation stuff. And I think that one of the things that a lot of people don't understand is that Tucker stick, where he called January 6 this false flag thing, where he leans into all these conspiracy theories. That's actually related to the Dominion suit in a sort of weird way and so far, as that whole idea of respecting the audience, if you follow that logic, where you say, well, we should tell the audience what it wants to hear. Why go half assed with that? Go all in, right?

And that's what Tucker did is rather than just say, oh, maybe there's something to this Dominion thing, he said, no, no, no, no. These deplorable people who stormed the Capitol, they're actually heroes and victims and murderers. And he gave -- he really force fed and pander to the audience, when he thought it wanted to hear not just this sort of half measure, you know, let's say Trump is got something going on. It may be on to something with Dominion the stuff he said, no, no, no, let's take the worst things about Trump and January 6, and turn them into positives for us, because that's what the audience really wants to hear.

COLLINS: And the thing about that is it's a really big audience, Oliver. I mean, he was one of the highest rated anchors that they had. And I think that's why, you know, it's the front page of The New York Times and The Washington Post. It was you're a one in your newsletter. And so, the question is, what does that look like going forward? Because, obviously, I've heard from people in Trump world, they're stunned by this. He was a big, you know, any conservative, if you want it to be a successful Republican. You had to go on his show essentially, people felt.

DARCY: I think there are two questions about what's next. What's next for Fox News? And what's next for the Republican Party moving forward? For Fox News.

COLLINS: They want to sing to the Republican Party, I think.

DARCY: Well, I think for the Republican Party, you had Tucker Carlson, who really shaped the Modern Day GOP. And he pushed it to the extremes. I mean, Tucker Carlson was not your average conservative. He made Sean Hannity look fairly moderate in a lot of positions. He was an extremist, and he whipped the Republican Party in that direction. And so, without him doing that, without GOP lawmakers fearing that if they didn't say the right thing that Tucker Carlson would go on his 8pm primetime perch and lash out at them.


I think that, you know, really, it doesn't -- we don't know what's going to happen. I mean, I think this is going to change the GOP in some way. And I think for Fox News, they have some problems as well, potentially, if Tucker Carlson decides to go somewhere else. They were really worried after the 2020 election, about losing an audience to the smaller competitors like Newsmax, if Tucker Carlson somehow turns up on one of those channels or does his own thing. It's not, I mean, it would not be, you know, unheard of that a significant chunk of his audience could follow him. So, I think those are the two things I'm watching right now.

HARLOW: Jonah, someone who's known Tucker for 25 years and worked at Fox for 12. Do you -- I mean, no world in which this is the end of Tucker Carlson in the, you know, in the -- in the public eye on some media platform, maybe his own.

GOLDBERG: Yes, I think is a very real possibility. He goes full Joe Rogan creates his own thing. Then he gets to do things on his terms. He will definitely want to get the last word or at least get his version of events. He may be maybe in need of lawyering up right now because of the Grossberg stuff, who knows, but I think it's absolutely true, we haven't seen the last Tucker Carlson. I do think it's important, you know, on this Republican Party question. You know, we call it Ron DeSantis, one of the first missteps he had was, he felt compelled to fill out Tucker Carlson's campaign questionnaire, and that's where he called, you know, the Ukraine stuff, a border dispute. None of these candidates know GOP people are going to feel compelled to fill out whoever replaces Tucker his questionnaire.

COLLINS: Yes, that's such a good point Jonah, because it does show just the impact that he had it. What they did was they just reached out to all these candidates to ask for their position on Ukraine and then read them live on air basically, that was --

HARLOW: And a lot of them didn't do it. Yes.

COLLINS: A major, yes, and then they later retroactively did. A major moment for DeSantis there. We'll see what the impact of this looks like going forward, Jonah Goldberg, Oliver Darcy, thank you both.

HARLOW: Well today, jury selection begins, in E. Jean Carroll's defamation case against former President Donald Trump. The columnist is accusing him of raping her in the mid-90s. She says that he forced himself on her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room, President denies at it. It's a civil trial, so jail time, not on the table. But Carroll is suing former President Trump for unspecified damages, for accusations or a battery and deformation. Both of which Trump denies and while Carroll plans to attend the trial, indications are that Trump will not. We'll keep following that.

COLLINS: Also, this morning, President Biden as we have noted, officially announcing that he is running for reelection. We'll talk about the timing, the challenges. What does a 2024 race for him look like? I had with one of his closest confidants in Washington. Senator Chris Coons is here live next.