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Today, Suspect in Court as Prosecutors Call Him a Flight Risk; Tucker Carlson Breaks Silence After Being Fired from Fox News; Rep. Kevin McCarthy's Debt Limit Bill Passes House, But Dead on Arrival in Senate. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired April 27, 2023 - 07:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: I feel like I've been talking about him all week. But that was amazing play call.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: She has been talking about it all week, by the way.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Guys, yes, it's why we call him Playoff Jimmy, right? And he is just so incredible every time the playoffs come around and just the sixth time in NBA history a 1 seed has lost to an 8 seed in the first round.

And think about this, Bucks were the favorites to win it all, they ended up winning just one playoff game and it was Playoff Jimmy rallying the Heat once again in game five, even down 16 in the fourth, came all the way back. And Butler with his bucket in the final seconds sent the game in overtime. Butler had 42 points.

The Heat had a two-point lead then in the extra period. And with time winding down, Bucks didn't get a shot off. Just a stunner in this one as Miami wins it in five.

But listen to what Giannis had to say after the game when he was asked if this season was a failure for the Bucks.


GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO, MILWAUKEE BUCKS FORWARD: Do you get a promotion every year on your job? No, right? So, every year, your work is a failure. Yes or no? No. Every year, you work. You work towards something, towards a goal, right, which is to get a promotion, to be able to take care of your family, to able -- I don't know, provide the house for them or take care of your parents. You work towards a goal. It's not the failure. It's steps to success.


SCHOLES: Yes. So, some strong words there from Giannis.

Guys, Heat now going to face the Knicks in round number two. The Knicks winning a series for just the second time in 23 years. Those fans pretty excited there in Manhattan. COLLINS: Oh, yes. It's going to be epic.

HARLOW: Kaitlan is excited.

COLLINS: Poppy is also excited.

HARLOW: CNN this morning continues right now. Thanks, Andy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Air National Guardsman suspected of leaking classified documents set to appear in court today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prosecutors say the information Jack Texeira took far exceeds what is being reported.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When authorities searched the property, they found a tablet, laptop and gaming console smashed inside a dumpster at the house.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Tucker Carlson is speaking out after his abrupt firing from Fox.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The New York Times is reporting on what it says helped lead to the breaking point, quote, between Fox News and Tucker Carlson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Rupert Murdoch's empire, no one can be bigger than the Fox News brand. And I think these messages indicate that Tucker Carlson clearly thought that he was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They yays are 217, the nays are 215. The bill is passed.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): The president can no longer put this economy in jeopardy. We lifted the debt limit. We've sent it to the Senate. We have done our job.

COOPER: The Democratic-controlled Senate and White House won't back McCarthy's plan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's important for people to understand that the debt ceiling and our future spending are two totally different things.

CAMEROTA: E. Jean Carroll took the stand in her lawsuit against former Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Carroll began her testimony with a statement, I am here today because Donald Trump raped me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump's team, in opening statements, they said this never happened, full stop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On Thursday, Carroll will continue to face questions from her attorneys and then she will face cross-examination by Trump's lawyers. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A giant panda has been caught up in geopolitical tensions between Washington and Beijing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chinese state media says Ya Ya the Panda landed in Shanghai just a short while ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many Chinese people are accusing the United States of mistreating Ya Ya. And the anti-American outrage is very serious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many on Chinese social media are saying, now that China is a global superpower, maybe it should end this panda for diplomacy.


COLLINS: Good morning, everyone. Happy Thursday. We've got a lot of headlines we're following here today.

This one is an amazing story of what we're now learning in court as we are hearing more about the Air National Guardsman accused of leaking classified military documents, now hearing that he took far more information than was previously reported.

Last night in a new court filing, prosecutors said that the information that the 21-year-old, Jack Teixeira, accessed, quote, far exceeds what was shared on the internet. And in a matter of hours, he is set to appear in a federal court in Massachusetts. What prosecutors are asking for is for the judge to keep him behind bars until a trial.

Teixeira was arrested in dramatic fashion two weeks ago accused of posting classified material online and now facing charges under the Espionage Act.

CNN's Jason Carroll is live outside the courthouse in Worcester. Jason, prosecutors released a lot of information and they're not only saying that he poses a serious flight risk, they believe he may still have access to information that they say hostile nations nation would like to get their hands on.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And that 11th hour court filing, I mean, incredible, Kaitlan. I mean, it was just packed with new information about the government's case, including new allegations that Teixeira actually viewed hundreds of classified documents, not dozens, but hundreds. That was a number that we didn't know about before. Prosecutors are worried that if he was to get out on bail, that he would not only present a risk to the country, to himself, and to others.



CARROLL (voice over): Court documents filed by the U.S. attorney's office argue the alleged leaker of classified documents, Jack Teixeira, should not be released on bail while he awaits trial, claiming he poses a serious flight risk, writing, he could take refuge with a foreign adversary to avoid the reach of U.S. law.

Prosecutors claim that the information Teixeira allegedly accessed far exceeds what has been disclosed on the internet. And, therefore, he poses an ongoing risk, both to the national security of the United States and to the community.

Included in the filing are chilling pictures from the search warrant executed on Teixeira's bedroom, showing a gun locker next to his bed containing multiple weapons including an AK-style high capacity weapon, handguns, shotguns, rifles and a gas mask. Prosecutors say law enforcement also found a smashed tablet, laptop and a gaming console in a dumpster at the house.

The alleged leaker has also obstructed justice, according to prosecutors, by telling those he was communicating with online to delete all messages, and if anyone comes looking, don't tell them expletive, also alleging he, quote, deleted the social media server where he posted government information and procured a new phone number and email address.

Prosecutors say his history surrounding guns raises questions as to why he was a candidate for the Air National Guard. The court document states in 2018 Teixeira was suspended while still in high school after a classmate allegedly overheard him make remarks about guns and make racial threats. That same year, prosecutors say, he applied for a firearms I.D. card but denied due to the concerns of the local police department over the defendant's remarks at his high school.

Court documents mention his social media posts reviewed by the FBI. One post from last November reads, I hope ISIS goes through with their attack plan and creates a massacre at the World Cup. Further writing, if I had my way, I'd kill a ton of people, seriously. I would be forcibly calling the weak-minded.

Prosecutors say the defense is indicating they may ask the judge to release Teixeira to his father's home, warning the defendant has proven to be nothing short of deceptive and coercive, exposing others to peril in pursuit of his own freedom.


CARROLL: And, Kaitlan, as for the classified documents, prosecutors worry that if he were to get out on bail, there is a deep concern that he still might have access to some of the classified documents, which is why they say he needs to remain right where he is. Kaitlan?

COLLINS: Yes. That hearing happening today, we'll see what the judge decides. Jason Caroll, thank you.

HARLOW: Tucker Carlson breaking his silence after Fox News fired him. He released this video yesterday on Twitter as new and really ugly details emerge about why the network cut ties with its primetime star.

Carlson did not mention Fox by name in this video but The New York Times is now reporting Fox executives reached a breaking point on the eve of the Dominion trial when they found out what Tucker Carlson had said in highly offensive text messages that were redacted in these legal filings. Tucker didn't mention that in the video. Here's a clip.


TUCKER CARLSON, FORMER FOX NEWS HOST: When honest people say what is true calmly and without embarrassment, they become powerful. At the same time, the liars who have been trying to silence them shrink and they become weaker. That's the iron law of the universe. True things prevail.


HARLOW: CNN Media Analyst and Axios Media Reporter Sara Fischer back with us. So, I mean, there are two things going on here. There is what Tucker said and what he was sort of implying there and then there is this stunning New York Times reporting about even worse than we thought text messages.

SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Yes. So, let's break down The New York Times reporting first. I think that the text messages matter because when you see a huge cable news star get just fired overnight and you don't have a reasonable explanation, you rely on good reporting to explain to you what actually happened.

And what actually happened matters because Fox is facing other lawsuits, right? They're facing a lawsuit from one of its former producer who alleges that it was very misogynistic culture at Fox. These text messages, per The New York Times, include potentially information that Tucker Carlson was saying about basically using the C word, using misogynistic language that could come back to bite Fox in its future lawsuits. So, that's one piece of it.

Let's go to the other piece, which is his video last night. Notable that he did not mention the firing at all, did not mention Fox News at all, did not mention where he's going. This was sort of Tucker Carlson's pep rally. It's his way to stay relevant to viewers, to make sure that they continue and the news cycle continues to follow him so that when he decides he's doing something next, we're all ready to tune in.

COLLINS: So, these messages are redacted now but a lot of news outlets are challenging, trying to get them unredacted.


So, is there a chance we could actually see what the messages were?

FISCHER: Yes, there is a chance. And I think that is also one of the reasons that Fox's management felt they had to act. Because such a huge trove of information has come out in pre-trial discovery and it has been embarrassing. But if this were to come out, then you have this sort of drip, drip, drip scenario, where even though they've settled, if more things continue to come out ahead of the lawsuit that they have with the ex-producer, this $2.7 billion lawsuit that they have with Smartmatic, it could put them in, at best, a damaging reputationally perspective but, at worst, a legally incriminating position. HARLOW: Sara, thank you very much. We'll keep following it.

COLLINS: Yes, really fascinating.

Also this morning at the White House, they're standing by the demand that they say House Republicans need to raise the debt limit without any conditions. House Republicans, as we watched closely on Capitol Hill yesterday, narrowly passed a bill to raise the debt ceiling. It cut spending, and it's an effort to force President Biden to the negotiating table. It's not actually going to happen. Senator Schumer has said it is dead on arrival in the Senate.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is tracking all this live from the White House. Good morning, Arlette. You saw President Biden in the rose garden yesterday saying he's not going to negotiate when it comes to the debt limit. What is the sense that the White House of what is happening next here?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kaitlan, for the time being, it appears the White House is holding firm in its position that President Biden will not negotiate with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy over the debt ceiling. This is a position that the White House has had for months, insisting that Republicans up on Capitol Hill, Democrats, need to raise the debt ceiling without any conditions attached to it.

House Speaker McCarthy had hopes that passing this bill over in the House would eventually push the White House to the negotiating table. But, yesterday, President Biden in the rose garden told reporters that he's willing to sit down with McCarthy to talk about larger budgetary issues but he's not going to budge when it comes to demanding a clean debt ceiling.

Of course, the clock is ticking as the debt ceiling deadline could potentially need to be raised by early June. That is also a date that could shift. But it really comes at a precarious time as a potential default would have catastrophic consequences on the U.S. economy.

But for the time being, the White House stance is holding firm and they have insisted that that bill that House Speaker McCarthy was able to get passed in the House will not become law.

COLLINS: And, Arlette, I mentioned President Biden in the rose garden yesterday during that press conference. There was also a moment in that press conference where a photographer captured the notes that President Biden was holding in his hand. And there appeared to one with the report that he was going to call, the first reporter he called, during that press conference, and now there are allegations about whether or not he had the question in advance. What is the White House saying about what happened here?

SAENZ: Well, Kaitlan, it's not uncommon for the White House to prepare these types of briefing materials for the president but it's the level of specificity that is in the spotlight in this moment. As you noted, that note card included the name and photo of a reporter and also a possible question. Now, it's worth noting that her question was not identical to what was on that note card and her outlet says that they did not submit any questions to the White House ahead of this press conference. But we have seen the president in the past carrying around these note cards with details about the events, where he needs to go, the people that he's meeting with.

Now, these types of moments are things that Republicans have seized on especially as they have tried to highlight President Biden's age. Yesterday, President Biden said that he took a hard look at his own age when deciding to run in 2024. He ultimately decided to move forward with that re-election. And he has said it will be up to the voters to decide whether he deserves a second term.

COLLINS: Yes. And we should note they did have a press conference yesterday. There have been historically few press conferences in this administration. Arlette, thanks for clearing that up. Thank you.

HARLOW: A new twist in at the drawn-out battle between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Disney. Disney is striking back against DeSantis and other officials accusing him of a lawsuit over retaliating against the entertainment giant for a top position to the so-called don't say gay bill. The governor's office responding to the suit saying, in part, we're unaware of any legal right that a company has to operate its own government or maintain special privileges not held by other businesses in the state.

Earlier this morning, in Israel, where Governor DeSantis is, here's what he said.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): In fact, they have been treated much different than Universal, Sea World and all these other places. And so they're upset because they're actually having to live by the same rules as everybody else. They don't want to have to pay the same taxes as everybody else and they want to be able to control things without proper oversight where every other Floridian has to have this type of oversight, all Florida businesses.

So, it's a little bit much to be complaining about that. I don't think the suit has merit. I think it's political.


I think they filed, you know, in Tallahassee for a reason because they're trying to generate, you know, some district court decision. But we're very confident on the law.


HARLOW: All right. How did we get here? CNN Senior Legal Analyst and former Federal Prosecutor Elie Honig is us with. For history, people just sort of getting up to speed on this. How did we get here?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, fascinating back story here, Poppy. So, it actually begins back in 1967 when Walt Disney, the individual, not the company, was looking to build his next amusement park. Now, he identified this tract of land in Central Florida, which was at the time essentially undeveloped. Then he ends up entering into an agreement between and the state of Florida to create what they call these special improvement districts.

Now, that district is about 40 square miles. That's not the scale, but it's about 40 square miles. And it basically gave Disney the right and the legal power to operate the way a municipal government would, to deal with things like land use and development, utilities, sanitation, taxation and other things.

Important to know, there is a misperception that Disney got unique treatment here. There actually are now over 1,800 of these special districts all around Florida. They're meant to encourage industry and investment. And, finally, while Disney does certainly get financial benefits out there, they're not not paying taxes. They've actually paid over $1 billion annually in taxes for the last few years.

Now, everything was fine for about 55 years, until last year when Florida passed and Governor DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education Act. As you said, this is known by some as the don't say gay bill. And this basically says that public schools cannot teach students kindergarten through third grade about sexual identity and orientation.

HARLOW: It was just extended through 12th grade now.

HONIG: Exactly, with varying restrictions as you move up the ages.

Now, Disney came out publicly against that law. They said, quote, we oppose any legislation that infringes on basic human rights and stand in solidarity and support our LGBTQIA+ cast. And that triggered Ron DeSantis who lashed out at Disney, called them, quote, Woke Disney and said echoing Democrat propaganda.

Now, we get into the power struggle that leads to the lawsuit. That improvement district is run by a five-member board. Now, historically, essentially, Disney got to appoint those five members. But Florida passed new laws basically giving that power over to the governor, to Ron DeSantis. So, he makes clear he's going to get rid of all five of the people, put his own people in. But on the way out the door, the old board, the Disney board enters into these new contracts that will last for 30 years. And then yesterday, the new board has just come in and they say, no, those contracts are void, we're not honoring them, hence, our lawsuit.

HARLOW: Okay. So, now, Disney is saying you're muzzling us.


HARLOW: You are violating our First Amendment right. You can't do that. We know from the Supreme Court corporations have a First Amendment right now.

HONIG: They do. HARLOW: So, where does this go?

HONIG: So, Disney is actually making two major claims in its complaint. The first one is the straightforward contracts argument. We both took contracts first year of law school and they're saying basically this is binding. Even though the old board entered the contracts on its way out the door, they were still in power, it is legitimate.

And they're arguing, first of all, that those contracts are valid. They're arguing a concept called reliance, which, of course, you'll remember from school as well, which means we planned around these contracts. Disney actually says we were planning to invest $17 billion and create 13,000 new jobs. And then there is the First Amendment claim. Disney's claims that it's being singled out for its political speech, they write in the complaint, Disney expressed its opinion on state legislation and was then punished by the state for doing so. And DeSantis has done that time and again. He made clear, he said, Disney and other woke corporations won't get away from peddling the unchecked pressure campaign any longer. So, they're arguing he struck back at them for political speech.

HARLOW: Right. And, really quickly, the judge, it's fascinating.

HONIG: So, the judge is an Obama appointee. He's sort of an eccentric. He leans liberal but he is unpredictable. He's actually ruled against DeSantis on other free speech cases. He actually compared DeSantis to George Orwell in 1984.

HARLOW: Okay, we'll watch. Elie, thank you, that was so comprehensive and helpful. I appreciate it. Kaitlan?

COLLINS: All right, switching topics quite a bit. Ya Ya, the giant panda, has now arrived back in her Chinese homeland this morning after she left the Memphis Zoo yesterday. It's quite a journey where she had lived for the last 20 y ears. The panda arrived in America with her playmate Lei Lei (ph) as part of the U.S.-China friendship at the time. That's 20 years ago. Things have changed quite a bit.

Video showing the once fluffy panda looking thin in recent months sparked outrage in China, though, as some accuse the zoo of mistreatment and fueling controversy on social media, allegations, I should note, that the zoo has denied.

CNN's Selina Wang joins us from Beijing. Selina, obviously, there are some questions about whether or not this is representative of the broader distrust between the U.S. and China, but Ya Ya has become this kind of symbol of what's going on here. Tell us what's going on now that she's back in China.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, it was a long journey, indeed, and, really, the backdrop of all of this is growing anti- American sentiment here in China. She had a 16-hour FedEx flight to get from America to China. She'll eventually settle down in the Beijing zoo. And for so many people here, this moment could not have come soon enough. Because for months, many in China have been petitioning for the 22-year-old panda to come home, accusing the zoo of mistreatment, again, against the backdrop of growing U.S.-China tensions.

Now, in contrast, videos of Russian pandas looking healthy and active have also been going viral on Chinese social media, many claiming it's proof that Russia is treating the Chinese bears a lot better.

Now, key information here is that Chinese and American scientists have concluded that Ya Ya has received excellent care in America and she only looks that way because of a genetic condition. But that message has not been getting through. I went to the Beijing zoo's panda exhibit a few days ago and take a listen to what people told me.


WANG (voice over): An 11-year-old boy tells me I heard the U.S. is treating the panda poorly. This man says, isn't Russia taking good care of pandas? Pandas are happy over there, not like in the U.S. And this man with his granddaughter tells me, pandas in Russia are very happy. Why? Russians and Chinese are friends. At least Russia is not sanctioning China.


WANG (on camera): So, Kaitlan, China loans its pandas out to countries as a symbol of friendship and goodwill. America has not received any pandas in two decades. And now, Ya Ya's return back to China is symbolic not of growing friendship but growing animosity between two global superpowers.

COLLINS: Yes. And you can't ignore how Chinese state media has taken on kind of this pro-Russia stance ever since Russia invaded Ukraine as well, important context to all of this. Selina, thank you.

HARLOW: Donald Trump's accuser taking the stand again today telling her story of how the former president, she says, raped her years ago in a department store dressing room. We will explain all of it to and her testimony, ahead.



COLLINS: All right. Today, a woman who is accusing former President Donald Trump of rape is expected to face questioning from his attorneys. This is E. Jean Carroll. You can see her getting out of her car outside the courthouse. She took the stand in a federal courtroom answering questions from her attorney yesterday. She told the jury, quote, I'm here because Donald Trump raped me. When I wrote about it, he said it didn't happen. He lied and shattered my reputation. And I'm here to try and get my life back.

The magazine columnist says that in the mid 1990s, she ran into Trump at Bergdorf Goodman here in New York. She says that he asked her for help picking out a gift and eventually told her to try on some lingerie. She says he then followed her into the dressing room and forced himself on her.

On the stand, she said, quote, that open door has plagued me for years because I just walked into it, walked in. Carroll says that she has suffered psychological damage and has not had a romantic relationship since that alleged rape. At one point, she broke down in tears on the stand, happy tears, though, she said, because she is finally getting her day in court.

We should note, former President Trump has repeatedly denied these allegations, calling it a, quote, made up scam. In opening statements, his attorney said that Carroll made up the story for her own personal gain.

For more perspective on this, let's bring in former Prosecutor and Criminal Defense Attorney Katie Cherkasky. Thanks so much for being here.

It's just remarkable in and of itself to see her on set after what happened with the statute of limitations and the fact that she can tell her story. What is your sense of what is going to happen today, though, because she will be cross examined by his attorney?

KATIE CHERKASKY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Sure. I mean, it's been a long time coming. This case has been around for many years. And the case is interesting because it's a civil defamation case but it deals with an allegation obviously of rape, sexual assault.

So E. Jean Carroll's side, the plaintiff's side, has to essentially show that it's more likely than not she is telling the truth about this. And there is good evidence on her side. There also have good attacks on the credibility that are going to come from Trump's attorneys. And that is kind of what we're going see today with the cross-examination.

HARLOW: Can you get into what you mean by good attacks? Because we were talking in the last hour about the fact that the president's lawyer who is going to cross her, you have to be delicate, especially in a cross-examination of a witness who says they were raped by her client.

CHERKASKY: Absolutely. And the credibility of any witness is obviously going to be at issue, especially in a defamation trial. That is kind of the bottom line. And one of the ways that attorneys attack credibility is to go after the bias motive and interest of the person providing the testimony and get into why they are providing that testimony.

So, you're going to always have questions about lack of specificity and consistencies, delays in reports, and all of these sort of factual issues that are there on top of the potential motivations that she might have had to make this claim for personal gain or financial gain. There was a book that came out about this, obviously. And many of these things were brought out by her attorneys on the direct- examination to try to take some of the sting out of that, make sure that she could explain that to the jury, because that's obviously going to be the crux of the attack there.

But, ultimately, this is a credibility case and there are things she is going to have to contend with in terms of the massive delay in the report and some of the lack of specificity that is there. But on the other side, there is many pieces of evidence coming in that show that Donald Trump had a propensity to commit this sort of act. And that sort of evidence is actually very strong.

So, the fact that the judge let in the Access Hollywood tape, the allegations from some other accusers, that is very beneficial to E. Jean Carroll's side of the case. So --

COLLINS: They're trying to say that there's a pattern here. That's what her attorneys are arguing.

She is on the stand. Is there any chance Trump would take the stand, Trump, who often thinks he can sway a jury or reporters or world leaders and his neighbor?

CHERKASKY: Well, I don't think that there strategically any reason for him to. I wonder if he can stop himself from wanting to do that. Obviously, he's been commenting on the case from outside the courtroom but I don't believe that he will testify. I think they're going to replace him with his deposition.

HARLOW: And the judge sort of admonishing Trump's lawyers for that, saying that they could -- what Trump is saying and posting about it, calling at a scam and fake, could put him in further liability, jeopardy.


CHERKASKY: Well, there is a couple things that could happen with that.