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CNN This Morning
Trump Ordered to Pay E. Jean Carroll $5M for Sexual Abuse, Defamation; Santos Expected in Court as Soon as Today to Face Criminal Charges; Biden, Congressional Leaders to Meet Again as Deadline Nears; Biden: Border Will be 'Chaotic' as Title 42 Expires. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired May 10, 2023 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR/CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's "Jury Duty," from the producers of "The Office."
And No. 3 --
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ROMANS: The spy action thriller "Citadel," on Amazon prime.
All right. Thanks for joining me this morning. I'm Christine Romans. CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. They're calling it hump day in the studio. It's Wednesday.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR/CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's like the best commercial ever. Remember, with the camel? He runs around and says, "Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike. Hump day!"
HARLOW: My producer said it's a Trump day, because there's a big Trump town hall tonight --
MATTINGLY: I've heard. HARLOW: -- on CNN.
MATTINGLY: I've heard that's a thing.
HARLOW: Questions from Kaitlan and New Hampshire voters. And we have a lot ahead before that. Phil is here. Thanks for being here this morning.
MATTINGLY: That's right.
HARLOW: Let's get started with "Five Things to Know" for this Wednesday, May 10. A New York jury has found former President Donald Trump libel for sexually abusing and defaming writer E. Jean Carroll. He has been ordered to pay her $5 million in damages. The former president is vowing to appeal.
Also, President Biden set to hold another round of debt ceiling talks with congressional leaders on Friday after yesterday's meeting did not result in any meaningful progress.
MATTINGLY: And federal prosecutors charging embattled New York Republican Congressman George Santos. Now, the nature of those charges are unclear, but we're told Santos could appear in court as early as today.
And Tucker Carlson says he's relaunching his show on Twitter. Elon Musk, however, says no deal has been made, and Carlson is still technically under contract with FOX.
HARLOW: And meet the new top dog. This year's best in show honors go to Buddy Holly. Also one of the best movies, "Best in Show."
MATTINGLY: Are you going to announce the name of the dog?
HARLOW: No, I'm not. CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.
Since you put me up to it, what's the name of the dog?
MATTINGLY: We have the pronunciation.
HARLOW: I printed it.
MATTINGLY: Which you printed, which I appreciate it. I'm just going to go with dog. Winning -- winning dog. We'll go with Buddy Holly.
HARLOW: Petit basset griffon Vendeen.
MATTINGLY: Look at you.
HARLOW: How's that?
MATTINGLY: The best.
HARLOW: Look at that. Look at that.
MATTINGLY: A good-looking pup. HARLOW: All right. We'll get to that in a minute. But we do start out with very serious, very consequential news.
New overnight, former President Trump lashing out at the jury that found that he sexually abused and defamed writer E. Jean Carroll. He was still posting on social media after midnight, calling the jurors partisan.
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DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What else can you expect from a Trump-hating, Clinton-appointed judge, speaking to and in control of a jury from an anti-Trump area, which is probably the worst place in the United States for me to get a fair trial.
I don't even know who this woman is. I have no idea who she is, where she came from. This is another scam.
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HARLOW: We should note, it was an anonymous jury, by the way, in this trial. So we'll get into all that.
The jurors ordered Trump to pay $5 million in damages to Carroll. Federal jury found the former president sexually abused her in a dressing room in a Manhattan deposit store in the mid-'90s and then defamed her last year when he called her a con job.
This was a civil trial, so Trump was not criminally charged or technically convicted of anything.
CNN's senior legal affairs correspondent, Paula Reid, is here to explain all of it. Good morning.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
HARLOW: Your coverage yesterday was excellent when this broke, really explaining everything at issue here and what the jury found. And again, I said it's an anonymous jury. So those -- those attacks from the former president come without basis on the jurors.
REID: That's right. And it's unlikely that we're ever going to learn too much about this jury or how they assessed the evidence, because even though it's their right to speak out publicly, the judge encouraged them to remain anonymous.
Now, the former president's team making a lot about the fact that they did not find him having raped E. Jean Carroll. But they had three different types of battery to consider: rape, sex abuse, or forcible touching. And the definition of sexual abuse is sexual contact without consent. But the definition of rape is sexual intercourse without consent.
So it's clear that this jury believed whatever happened in that department store may not have actually been intercourse. But at this point, you know, this is him being found libel for sexual assault, for battery, and though dozens of women have accused him of sexual assault, this is the first time it's been affirmed by a jury.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you feel?
E. JEAN CARROLL, SUED TRUMP FOR DEFAMATION AND SEXUAL ASSAULT: We're very happy.
REID (voice-over): E. Jean Carroll was all smiles walking out of a Manhattan federal courthouse Tuesday after a jury awarded her $5 million in her defamation case against former President Donald Trump.
In a statement, Carroll saying, "This victory is not just for me but for every woman who has suffered because she was not believed."
NATASHA STOYNOFF, FORMER "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE WRITER AND DONALD TRUMP ACCUSER: It's really hard to come forward about these things. And especially hard when the -- the man you are talking about is very powerful.
REID (voice-over): Natasha Stoynoff and Jessica Leeds both testified during the trial about their alleged altercations with Trump, which he denies; and they both praised this verdict.
STOYNOFF: When I heard the verdict today, I felt that nothing is more powerful than the truth.
JESSICA LEEDS, DONALD TRUMP ACCUSER: I am very pleased for Jean. I'm very pleased for that whole situation.
REID (voice-over): Trump responded to the verdict by posting this video to social media.
TRUMP: This was a very unfair trial. That's all you have to say. This was a very unfair trial.
REID (voice-over): The civil trial lasted ten days. The jury deliberating just under three hours. Trump has denied all wrongdoing and said he didn't even know Carroll.
TRUMP: I have no idea who this woman is.
REID (voice-over): However, he made these comments during his pre- trial deposition, played for the jury.
TRUMP: I think she's a whack job. She's not my type.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What you're saying there is Ms. Carroll fabricated her claim that you sexually assaulted her? Correct?
TRUMP: Yes, totally. One hundred percent.
REID (voice-over): That's the only time the jury heard from Trump during the trial, other than clips from the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape that surfaced right before the 2016 presidential election.
Carroll's team used that now-infamous video to establish Trump having a pattern of this kind of behavior, playing portions again during closing arguments.
TRUMP: You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful. I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what you said, correct?
TRUMP: Historically, that's true with stars. Not always. But largely true. Unfortunately or fortunately.
REID (voice-over): Trump's attorneys calling his loss a result of politics.
JOE TACOPINA, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: He's firm in his belief, as many people are, that he cannot get a fair trial in New York City.
REID (voice-over): Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, also criticized the verdict.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I think the New York legal system is off the rails when it comes to Donald Trump.
REID (voice-over): But Republican senator Mitt Romney didn't hold back.
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I hope the -- the jury of the American people reach the same conclusion about Donald Trump. He just is not suited to be president of the United States.
REID (on camera): This was a civil trial. This is not a criminal case, so there's no consideration of jail time. This was about liability and financial penalties, as we saw, $5 million.
The former president's attorneys have vowed to appeal. But the likelihood of success of appealing this case is pretty slim.
REID: Historically, a case like this with a civil case with a jury, with a unanimous finding of battery and defamation, particularly when they opted not to even put on a defense.
I mean, remember, former President Trump could have come; he could have testified. They had extended the deadline. He chose not to.
So it's unlikely that they're going to succeed if they choose to appeal this, which they said they're going to.
HARLOW: Fascinating. Thank you.
MATTINGLY: Great reporting.
HARLOW: Yes, great reporting throughout the whole trial.
Ahead in our 8 a.m. hour here, just a few hours from now, E. Jean Carroll is going to be here. She'll join us in studio with her attorney, Roberta Kaplan.
MATTINGLY: Also this morning, more trouble, if you thought that was even possible, for embattled New York Congressman George Santos, as first reported by CNN.
Now, the Republican lawmaker is expected in court in New York as soon as today after being criminally charged by federal prosecutors. The specific charges remain under seal, but Santos was reportedly under investigation for questionable campaign finances.
Santos has been facing intense scrutiny and calls to resign ever since it was revealed he lied about his heritage, education, and professional background and, like, 50 other things, too, it seemed like.
CNN's Brynn Gingras, live in New York outside the courthouse with more. And Brynn, what do we think these charges relate to at this point?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's still unclear, as you said, Phil, because that indictment is still under seal. But our colleagues, Mark Morales and Evan Perez reporting that George Santos, the Republican congressman who just took office in January, could, as soon as today, appear in the courthouse behind me in front of a judge on these charges.
And of course, we're looking to get more details about that.
But if you remember, CNN has reported late last year federal prosecutors were looking into the personal finances of George Santos. How does he make his money? And specifically, how did he loan more than $700,000 to his 2022 successful campaign?
There's also been scrutiny about expenditures by his campaign. So these are all things that are possibly on the table. What's led up to today is still very unclear.
But Phil, we do know that the congressman did not vote in a House vote, according to sources last night. Get -- he did get on a plane and headed here to New York. So again, we do expect him possibly as soon as today
MATTINGLY: Brynn, I think the congressman has become kind of a punch line in Washington, a late-night talk show host punchline, as well. This is a reminder that this stuff is very serious.
But there's also been a lot of it. Can you remind us how we got here in the first place? Kind of the scale of the lies that were told? GINGRAS: Oh, yes. There's a lot of material, Phil, right?
But, yes. This is serious. These are criminal charge that he is facing. And we'll get the details of that, hopefully, as the morning goes on.
But certainly, there has been a number of lies, fabrications that have surrounded this congressman after he was voted into office. The fact about his heritage, saying that he was Jewish, which isn't true. The fact that he allegedly stole from a nonprofit that was made to help a military member with their dog. The fact that his mother passed away in 9/11. His education, his work history; that he worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.
So some of these he admits or he was dishonest about. Other times he has denied that he has lied. But certainly, these are all surrounded the congressman. And now he's, as you mentioned, Phil, something more serious, facing criminal charges.
MATTINGLY: That's right. Busy day ahead. Brynn Gingras, thanks so much.
HARLOW: President Biden and the four top leaders in Congress will give it another go on Friday as they race against the clock to raise the nation's debt ceiling, or risk a catastrophic default.
Biden says he made it clear in yesterday's Oval Office meeting that default is not an option. The big question remains: can the president and the speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, reach an agreement before it is too late?
Our congressional correspondent, Lauren Fox, joins us now from Capitol Hill. It was, I think, disappointing for all Americans to see everyone come out of this meeting with -- with admittedly no progress.
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy. One of the worst signs you could see on Capitol Hill or outside the White House after a high-stakes meeting like the one that unfolded yesterday in the Oval Office is when everyone comes out and basically holds a press conference, answers reporters' questions; and that can be an indication that no real progress was made. That's exactly what happened inside the room yesterday.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Folks, welcome.
FOX (voice-over): The path to avoiding a catastrophic default still unclear, even after yesterday's hour-long Oval Office meeting.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I didn't see any new movement. The president said the staff should get back together. But I was very clear with the president. We have now just two weeks to go.
FOX (voice-over): President Biden offering a different assessment. BIDEN: Everyone agreed that the deficit -- to falling into debt is off
the table. We know we have the time. I mean, we could do it easily. But do we have the will?
FOX (voice-over): Neither side appears to be budging. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy once again rejecting the president's call to pass a clean bill to lift the debt limit.
MCCARTHY: Whatever goes forward is not just going to be raising the debt ceiling. It's going to be just like we did in the House. We will raise the debt ceiling with doing changes within our spending.
FOX (voice-over): House Republicans recently passed a bill to increase the debt limit by $1.5 trillion, while cutting domestic programs to trim the deficit. It has no path, however, of passing the Democratic- controlled Senate.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): What's really troubling about the speaker's position is it's a -- it's a partisan bill, and he says take it or leave it, or we could default.
FOX (voice-over): President Biden contemplating a work-around to raise the debt ceiling without the help of Congress.
BIDEN: I have been considering the 14th Amendment. And a man I have enormous respect for, Larry Tribe, who advised me for a long time, thinks that it would be legitimate. But the problem is, it would have to be litigated.
FOX (voice-over): Meanwhile, Senate Republicans indicating they'll be staying on the sidelines, with no plans to step in to try and broker a deal.
ROMNEY: It's time for the president of the United States to take action to make sure that we don't have a default on the debt.
FOX: And over the next several days, Poppy, there are going to be negotiations among staff members. The hope, of course, that some kind of breakthrough can reveal itself.
The principles will meet again on Friday. But there just isn't that much time left. And yesterday, Kevin McCarthy, the speaker, told reporters that he believed that a deal, at least in principle or some kind of framework, needed to be reached by next week, given the fact that this deadline could come as soon as June 1 -- Poppy.
HARLOW: Yes. OK, Lauren. Thank you so much.
You're there. That's where you usually are.
HARLOW: What do you think happens here?
MATTINGLY: I think that the optimists' take is in Washington there's always a bad meeting before the good meeting.
MATTINGLY: So --
HARLOW: I like that.
MATTINGLY: -- if -- if Friday is a productive meeting, and productive, I think people need to keep it within perspective. It's not going to be a deal or anything like that. Staff-level discussions over the next couple of days. If they start to circle around a framework that might work and leaders actually have a substantive conversation on Friday, then things are starting to move.
If this is a bad meeting followed by a bad meeting --
HARLOW: Raise the --
MATTINGLY: -- there are some problems, yes.
HARLOW: All right. Let's hope.
MATTINGLY: That's one deadline. President Biden also facing another one. Now warning, the Southern border will be, quote, "chaotic" for a while when Title 42 ends.
We'll take you live to a Texas border town that is bracing for a surge of migrants.
HARLOW: Also, two NYU students shot and killed while vacationing in Puerto Rico. What we are learning about the suspect, next.
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BIDEN: I spent, I think, close to an hour with the Mexican president today. We're doing all we can. The answer is it remains to be seen. We've gotten overwhelming cooperation from Mexico.
But it remains to be seen. It's going to be chaotic for a while.
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MATTINGLY: That's President Biden with a rather candid assessment last night that the situation at the border will be, quote, "chaotic" when a pandemic-era COVID policy expires tomorrow.
Now, Title 42 has allowed the U.S. to expel migrants out of the country without an asylum hearing. It expires at 11:59 p.m. tomorrow night.
[06:20:08] Now, the number of migrants at the border is growing. The feds estimating about 155,000. That's not a typo. Migrants are waiting in shelters and in the streets of Northern Mexico.
CNN's Nick Valencia is live along the border in Brownsville, Texas.
And Nick, we've all been kind of waiting for this moment. What are you seeing and what should we expect to see in the next 24 to 48 hours?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you heard the president there say that this is going to be difficult. And in the short term, border cities like the one I'm in here in Brownsville are really going to see the impact, and they already are.
Just a short distance from the international bridge here, where migrants are brought after they're processed and released on humanitarian parole. You're seeing scenes like this of people sleeping on the streets.
And those that we've spoken to here say that this started in the last week. City officials I've spoken to are really worried that this number could increase. So that's why they say they're working with buses, airlines, as well as federal agencies to try to get migrants onto their next destination.
They're also working with NGOs to try to create space for these migrants. But look, these NGOs, they're overwhelmed here. They're at capacity, taking in about 700 migrants per day.
And just really quickly here, I've been speaking to a lot of these nationals, Venezuelan nationals who are coming across here in recent days. And I ask them if they're aware of Title 42 ending. Some of them are. Most of them aren't.
But those that were don't really understand what it means. They think that Title 42 ending means that the border is going to shut down entirely. So one Venezuelan national I spoke to yesterday told me that he rushed to get here, thinking that the border would be closed. He says many others followed in suit -- Phil.
MATTINGLY: That's really good reporting, Nick. Nick Valencia down at the border for us. Thanks so much.
HARLOW: The U.S. has announced another billion-dollar security package for Ukraine as they prepare a counter offensive. We'll discuss where the war stands with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, joining us live ahead.
MATTINGLY: New York University this morning is mourning two business students who were killed in Puerto Rico. The two students, both Peruvian nationals, were reportedly shot and killed outside a bar Saturday morning.
Now, according to NYU, the two MBA students were bystanders, caught in a fight between two unrelated groups. They were traveling with other students on a brief vacation.
HARLOW: CNN first reported it, and this morning we're waiting to learn what charges federal prosecutors have filed against embattled New York Congressman George Santos.
Three sources tell CNN that charges have been filed under seal. Santos is expected to appear in federal court. That could happen as soon as today. And that's when we could learn the exact nature of these charges.
What we do know and can report is that the FBI and the Justice Department have been examining allegations of false statements in Santos' campaign finance filings.
Top Democrats and some Republicans have called on him to resign.
Let's bring in Robert Zimmerman. He is the Democratic candidate who lost to Santos in the election in November. He's also a strategist for the Democratic National Committee.
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE MEMBER: Just to clarify, Democratic National Committee member. It's a volunteer position I have with them.
ZIMMERMAN: Good morning. It's good to be with you both.
HARLOW: Do you know anything about what the charges are?
ZIMMERMAN: I've heard a lot of speculation. I've read speculation, as well. It focuses on his campaign finances. And that makes the most sense, because nothing about his finances ever added up or made sense. They needed the Department of Justice to step in and really do the kind of forensic work that was required.
And it's quite encouraging. It's quite encouraging to see the system of justice move forward and our Department of Justice move really expeditiously at this point to bring him to justice. Because our district's been betrayed.
MATTINGLY: You make the point, nothing about his campaign finances ever made sense. There's been a lot of litigation and re-litigation inside Washington, inside kind of the national Democratic Party. Did they miss things? Should they have taken more advantage of some pretty clear signs that this was something that was on the resume?
ZIMMERMAN: Well, I can tell you this. Our campaign and the local media did everything they could to sound the alarm and draw attention around these issues.
MATTINGLY: Then what was lacking?
ZIMMERMAN: I must tell you, the most important point right now, Phil, quite frankly, is moving forward and making sure he's -- George Santos is removed from Congress.
There's a lot of -- there's a lot of finger-pointing that's going on in Washington. But quite frankly, the finger-pointing should be directed to the Republicans in Congress who refuse to remove him. Because their keeping him in Congress makes them accomplices to his crimes; and their defending him make them complicit in his behavior.
HARLOW: But Robert, to Phil's good point, it is important to --
HARLOW: -- assess what wasn't done.
ZIMMERMAN: I've been through a lot of pints of Haagen Das, trying to figure it out.
HARLOW: What kind? What's your favorite?
ZIMMERMAN: That's a -- chocolate. Vanilla chocolate chip, for sure, coffee, and Cookie Dough Dynamo.
ZIMMERMAN: Those are the standards.
HARLOW: OK. Well, all right, fine.
But on a more serious note here, I think Phil's point is you have to look at what wasn't done. And if you look back at the DCCC press release in August of '22, it called Santos a conspiracy theorist, a flat-out liar, someone with a, quote, "history of shady finances," someone who, quote, "failed to file a personal disclosure form."
HARLOW: They ask, "What is Santos hiding?" And it even said that he has Ponzi scheme ties and called him untrustworthy. There were clear red flags --
HARLOW: -- that the DCCC knew and shared with you and your team.
MATTINGLY: And your campaign knew.
ZIMMERMAN: And we shared with the media.
HARLOW: Do you -- OK. But do you regret not digging more into that? Spending the money it would have taken to uncover some of this stuff?
ZIMMERMAN: Poppy, let's be very clear. We did the best we could with our limited resources in a limited time. We -- I became -- when I became the nominee, we had only over two -- a little over two months for the general election. And we had very little in the bank the end of August.
HARLOW: The DCCC decided against spending 30 to $50,000 to --
ZIMMERMAN: You'll have to ask them about that. I can tell you, we took the information that was given us. We went to the media and did our best to sound the alarm. And a lot of local media did pick up these issues.
But as many of your contributors on CNN have pointed out, local congressional races get lost. The marquee races get all the attention. And that was one of the problems.
We had an election year with a governor's race. The issue of crime was dominant. We lost four congressional districts because of that.
But my point to you, very simply, is obviously, we have to make sure going forward that we also -- we have to make sure, very importantly, going forward that we hold the Republicans accountable for keeping George Santos in Congress. That's really the bottom line here.
I want to see much more aggressive work done. I want to see -- and I think we have to invest in local media much more, too.