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CNN This Morning

Trump Vows to Appeal Sexual Abuse and Defamation Ruling in Civil Case; Tonight, Trump to Appear at CNN Town Hall in New Hampshire; Biden, Congressional Leaders to Meet Again Friday as Deadlines Nears. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 10, 2023 - 07:00   ET



PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: It's going to be great.

CNN This Morning continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The jury finds former President Donald J. Trump sexually abused and defamed E. Jean Carroll.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: This was a very unfair trial. That's all you have to say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I heard the verdict, I felt nothing is more powerful than the truth.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I think the New York legal system is off the rails when it comes to Donald Trump.

JOE TACOPINA, TRUMP ATTORNEY: This judgment had been overturned already once and we think it's going to be overturned a second time.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Truth-challenged Congressman George Santos has just been charged by the Justice Department.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know yet the exact nature of the charges/

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: There is this persistent question about where did this guy get his money. That could be the basis for one set of charges.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It does seem like chickens are coming home to roost. If you lie enough, eventually somebody is going to find the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The nation is closer to its first default in American history.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I know we have the time. We could do it easily. But do we have the will?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): This is a political game they're trying to play instead of sit down and really negotiate.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): By not taking default off the table, Speaker McCarthy is greatly endangering America.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The United States is not going to default. It never has and it never will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More migrants by the hundreds if not thousands arrive hourly into this Mexican border city. By no means is this their last stop.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: This is just the COVID era public health order known as Title 42 used to quickly migrants is set to expire.

BIDEN: We're doing all we can. It's going to be chaotic for a while.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Best in show tonight is the PBGV.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's Buddy Holly. Holy PBGV is on top of the world in New York, the first ever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Buddy Holly is the epitome of a show dog. And we're just so proud of him. And this is so surreal.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. We're so glad you're with us. It is 7:00 A.M. here on East Coast. Kaitlan is on assignment for a really significant Trump town hall tonight right here on CNN.

MATTINGLY: If she was going to be gone, that's a decent reason to be gone. I'll allow it.

HARLOW: She's going to be phenomenal. Kaitlan was born for this and I'm looking forward to voters getting questions answered in New Hampshire as well. Thank you, Phil Mattingly, for being here.

MATTINGLY: Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: New overnight, former President Donald Trump has been lashing out at the jury here in New York City after they found he sexually abused and defamed E. Jean Carroll. Trump was still posting on social media well after midnight calling the jurors partisan.


TRUMP: What can you expect from a Trump-hating Clinton-appointed judge, speak into 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.


MATTINGLY: So, it goes without saying the jury did not agree with that take. It took them less than three hours to reach a verdict that Trump sexually abused Carroll in a dressing room of a Manhattan department store back in the 1990s and then defaming her last year when he called her a total con job. The jurors ordered Trump to pay $5 million in damages. But he's vowing to appeal. E. Jean Carroll will join us live right here on studio just over an hour from now after her huge legal victory.

Now, it's worth noting this was a civil trial, not a criminal case. There was no consideration of jail time and it was about liability and financial penalties.

We want to bring in Federal Prosecutor Katie Cherkasky. One of the things I think everybody is trying to figure out in the wake of this, besides the fact that this is significant, this is a very big deal in terms of the jury's decision to not hold him libel for rape but hold him libel for sexual assault, walk us through that. Because I think the Trump lawyers have been trying to use that as something to muddy the waters a little bit about what this actually meant.

KATIE CHERKASKY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Sure. Well, we see this quite a lot in these kind of sex cases. And I do a lot of them. I was a prosecutor and I defend these cases all the time. But when you see a jury come back with what we will call a lesser included finding, typically what that means is that the jury believes that something happened and they don't quite know about the penetrative element to it, which is what the rape is, but that there was some sort of nonconsensual -- that comes from other witnesses.

So, in this case, for example, E. Jean Carroll told other friends after the assault that something had happened, and perhaps the jury wasn't quite able to say specifically what that act was but that there was some sort of nonconsensual touching. So, it is pretty common, quite frankly, in these sort of cases to have that sort of finding, but my guess is that it came from the corroborating evidence in addition to her testimony.

HARLOW: I think this really highlights the importance of a law that was passed here in New York not long ago, the Adult Survivors Act. And that created a one-year period in which people like Ms. Carroll could come forward and say, this is what happened to me and the legal system could actually go to work for them, because it couldn't before because of statutes of limitation, et cetera.


How significant is that?

CHERKASKY: Well, obviously, that law really gave the opportunity for this case to be litigated in the civil forum. Now, this is not a criminal consequence here. There is no conviction. There is no jail time on the table. But, clearly, if there is any sort of allegation that something unwanted happened in a sexual realm, that law covers this.

Now, the testimony of Ms. Carroll was specifically that she had been raped, so there is that disconnect there between her testimony and the finding of the jury. But it doesn't mean that the finding is inappropriate. It just means that there was some sort of lack of finding completely what she said was true had happened, but there was something along those lines that they found. And, again, this is not a beyond a reasonable doubt standard, this is a preponderance of the evidence. So, it's a more likely than not standard.

HARLOW: With a unanimous jury required.

CHERKASKY: Absolutely. So, it's still a significant finding, if not specifically what she testified to.

MATTINGLY: Stick us with. We're going to make you earn this appearance because there's a lot of stuff going on in the legal side of things in New York.

This morning, New York Republican Congressman George Santos could appear in court after federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against him. Now, those charges remain under seal. But the Justice Department has reportedly been investigating allegedly false statements on his campaign finance filings.

Santos has also been accused of violating federal conflict of interest laws, stealing cash meant for Iraq war veteran's dying dog's, I still can't get over that one, and masterminding a credit card fraud scheme.

Now, the charges come just a month after Santos announced he would run for re-election despite the fierce backlash and calls to resign, Democrats and Republicans, after reports revealed he lied to voters about much of his personal and family history.

It felt a little bit inevitable just because there was so much, and we knew that there was an investigation. What do you make now that even though they under seal, charges have been filed?

CHERKASKY: Well. I think it's long overdue. And if you're that much of a prolific liar, I found at the criminal law it's somewhat hard to stay out of jail for a significant period of time. So, obviously, there is a lot of potentials here in terms of what the charges might be likely related to campaign finance violations, potentially to embezzlement of this charitable fund and anything along those lines.

So, clearly, this does not directly impact his ability to rerun and to potentially even remain in Congress and Kevin McCarthy has said that they will wait for the charges to play out. He has a presumption of innocence under the Constitution in any criminal case. Anyone does. But I think this was an inevitability and, hopefully, this will bring to justice somebody that probably likely very much needs that to happen.

HARLOW: He could be in court as soon as today and that's when the charges would be unsealed and the public would know what they are?

CHERKASKY: Exactly. That's what we anticipate at this point.

HARLOW: Thank you, Katie.


HARLOW: We are looking at live pictures right out of Goffstown, New Hampshire. That is where former President Trump is going to take questions from voters there in that critical state, also undeclared voters in a CNN town hall tonight. Trump has quickly emerged as a frontrunner in the Republican field for president in 2024. It will be his first appearance on CNN since the 2016 presidential campaign.

That's where we find our Kristen Holmes. She joins us now. Kristen, great to see you. This is your beat and this is the first time, such a consequential week too for the former president that we're going to hear from him directly taking these voters questions here on CNN.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Poppy. And remember, when it comes to the former president, nothing is predictable. But I spoke to a number of Trump advisers who huddled with him yesterday. They went over potential questions. They talked about what the event was going to look like. And their real hope is that he stays on message, that he talks about foreign policy and the economy and immigration. Again, that is their hope. And they say, though, that it's impossible to prep someone like Donald Trump because he is going to say what he's going to say.

When I talk to these advisers, they really stress the fact that they understand that Trump has some work to do with Republican voters and that's why he's doing this town hall, because he wants to reach people outside of his bubble, of his base. It's not just that he's doing this town hall. This might be the first time he's appearing in -- that he's invited since 2016. But his campaign has been running ads on CNN as well. It shows you that they're trying to reach people, again, outside of his base.

But the real thing that we're watching for tonight is which Trump shows up and how he reacts to the questions that are asked. And I don't mean just out loud. I mean behaviorally as well. How does he -- does he gristle? How does he react reactively when it comes to a physical component of that? And that's what we're going to look at later tonight when we see him on that stage.

MATTINGLY: Yes. Kristen, it's Phil. Your reporting behind the scenes of this has been fascinating. I think we've all been trying to figure out the angle or the strategy into agreeing to do this. Are his advisers confident that he's ready for this kind of sit-down?


I'm a little bit biased when I say I sat very close to Kaitlan Collins for two years at the White House. I wouldn't necessarily want to be interviewed by her, ever. But he doesn't have contentious interviews. He doesn't confront interviewers that are willing to go after him for lying, saying things that aren't tethered to reality. Is he ready for that?

HOLMES: Well, Phil, look, this is a question that I have asked over and over again, and they believe they have prepared him to react to this in the appropriate way. But when it comes to the former president, again, he is a very reactive person. And it's unclear what we're going to get when he sits down tonight. He could have every intention of staying on message. But it really is going to depends on, again, how he reacts to those questions. And we're just going to have to wait and see. They just hope that he stays on message.

HARLOW: Kristen, thank you. We'll all be tuning in tonight. Kaitlan will moderate this exclusive CNN town hall with former President Trump. That's live tonight from New Hampshire 8:00 P.M. Eastern.

MATTINGLY: Also this morning, President Biden and the four top leaders in Congress, they're going to give it another shot on Friday as they race against the clock to raise the nation's debt ceiling or risk the first in U.S. history catastrophic default. Biden says he made it clear in yesterday's Oval Office meeting that default is not an option. After leaving the meeting, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says they failed to make any breakthroughs at all.


MCCARTHY: Everybody in this meeting reiterated the positions they were at. 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.


MATTINGLY: Now, again, the president and those top four congressional leaders will sit down on Friday, staff discussions. In the meantime, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says they have just weeks to broker a deal. The treasury secretary also says the U.S. may not be able to pay its bills as soon as June 1st if Congress and the president don't act.

Financial analysts, well, say this would be catastrophic for the nation's probably global economy and global economic crisis certainly a possibility. They're warning it could cause a recession, cost millions of Americans their jobs.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is live at the White House this morning. Hey, buddy, it's good to see you, my teammate, sorry.


MATTINGLY: Also biased towards Priscilla.

Now, President Biden is set to speak about the debt limit just a couple of hours from now. The location is very intentional. What do we expect from him?

ALVAREZ: Well, we expect that he is going to dig in his heels, too. I mean this is indicative of where the meeting was yesterday. This was an hour-long meeting between Biden and congressional leadership, and there really wasn't any new ground broken as part of those conversations with each side sticking to their stances, which is that Biden sees that they should plan to send a clean debt ceiling bill, whereas Republicans want to see spending cuts. Now, Biden, in remarks after the meeting, said that he is open to talking about spending cuts but separately with the federal budget, not an attachment to the debt ceiling. So, the two leaders, as you heard there from Kevin McCarthy, really just digging in and that is what we expect to hear from President Biden today when he speaks in Upstate New York.

Now, of course, Biden does have travel planned up against that June 1st deadline. He indicated yesterday that he may skip that if they still have not reached an agreement. But the next few days are really important with White House staff and congressional leadership staff meeting to try to find some sort of agreement ahead of that Friday meeting, again, between President Biden and congressional leadership. Phil?

MATTINGLY: A busy couple of days ahead. Priscilla Alvarez, thanks so much.

HARLOW: The United States is bracing for surge in migrants when a controversial border policy ends tomorrow. President Biden is now warning things will be chaotic for a while, that's a quote. Former acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf will join us to talk about all of that.

MATTINGLY: And Tucker Carlson announcing plans to re-launch his show just weeks after Fox News fired him. But it will not be on T.V.




BIDEN: If I get closer now with the Mexican president today, we're doing all we can. The answer is it remains to be seen. It is going to be chaotic for a while.


MATTINGLY: That was a candid assessment from the president last night. He says, we can expect the border to be chaotic when Title 42 expires tomorrow. Now, you'll remember that's a COVID-era immigration restriction that allowed border authorities to quickly deport certain migrants. U.S. officials estimate around 155,000 migrants are camped out in shelters and along the streets along the border.

Joining us now is former Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf. Chad, thanks so much for joining us. I want to start with your view of the proposals the administration has put into place over the course of the last couple weeks which try and get at several areas, whether origin, whether deterrence, whether processing speed. Where do you think they should be doing more, in your mind?

CHAD WOLF (R), FORMER ACTING SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, it's a great question. I think certainly on the deterrent side, I think a lot of the measures that they're putting in place, you know, that they announced last week and really have announced over the last several months is really talking about processing more and more illegal aliens into the country quicker and quicker. And so that is problematic, right, because that's going to continue to incentivize. That's exactly what the cartels want to hear and see because they can market that to individuals saying that you're getting into the United States quicker. They're giving you more opportunities to come to the United States.

So, we've really got to address a little bit of the deterrence. We've got to hold people accountable that if they choose to cross illegally here in El Paso or elsewhere along this border, then we hold them accountable. There are legal ways to come into the county and we need to funnel people to those ways and stop the illegal behavior, because that's what's causing the border to be in such chaos at the moment.


MATTINGLY: Along the lines, though, you say that, but the administration is, I think, as far as I know, about to roll out a new asylum rule that kind of echoes what the Trump administration did in terms of barring migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S. without first trying to seek asylum through another country. They're getting a lot of flack from Democrats, from their Congressional allies on that. Why is that not enough? That's deterrence. That's very similar to what you guys were doing. Why is that not enough?

WOLF: So, I've looked at that rule. It's a good first step. Again, I'm not sure why they basically didn't defend that rule at the beginning of the administration that was still in place from the Trump administration. So, we're two years late in that rule. There is a lot of, I would say, loopholes in that rule but it's a good first step. So, they're trying to do the right thing.

But what I will tell you is it's far too little, far too late at this point. That rule alone is not going to do it. The parole system that they have put in place, paroling in 30,000 individuals, the CBP One app, all you have to do is register on that app, and, again, you'll probably get paroled into the United States.

These continue to be pull factors that are bringing these illegal aliens in record numbers. And, again, you don't have to take my word for it. You just look at the data and the statistics. More and more individuals are coming in, more and more gotaways are coming across that border every single month. There has got to be a reason for that. And I think it's in part some of the policies that we have seen over the last 27 months.

MATTINGLY: Do you think Title 42 should remain in play? That's been your position, right, title 42 should stick around?

WOLF: Well, I think it's been extremely helpful for the Border Patrol to try to really manage the crisis that they're seeing. When you're overwhelmed to the extent that Border Patrol agents are every single day this allows them to return individuals back to Mexico in a very does expedited fashion. Without that, DHS is going to put these individuals in Title 8 proceedings and most, if not all of them, will be released into American communities.

So, if we're thinking about Americans first, and we're thinking about the safety and well-being of Americans, a Title 42 authority or like authority is very helpful when the border is in such chaos and it's overwhelmed to the extent it is today.

MATTINGLY: So, the reason I ask, and I think you get at this little bit and say Title 42-like authority, is this is obviously tied to a public health emergency. I don't think you would say here and say that COVID is still a public health emergency. I think it's been utilized long after it was really even tied to that anymore. So, the question becomes -- this takes legislative action.

And I think if there's one area of broad agreement from both parties, is that the system itself is broken despite unilateral actions depending on political party. So, what do you do? You can't actually legally still have Title 42 in place if there is no public health emergency. What is your solution here in terms of legislative process beyond kind of one-offs from the executive side?

WOLF: Well, you're exactly right. When you look at Title 42-like authority, unless the administration is going to declare a public health emergency around the fentanyl crisis, which there is probably some legitimacy to that, it is probably going to take some legislative action if you're just looking at Title 42 authority.

Now, look, there is a number of things that the president, the DHS secretary can do today to help curb this crisis. There is a number of authorities that they inherently have and can execute on today. They're not doing that. They've called on Congress to give them more authority. I think we're seeing some action in the House this week on that. But, again, the legislative process is not quick. It's slow.

So, I would -- I'm a big champion and fan of utilizing the authorities that they have today to help stem the crisis, to help bring some order back to the border and to help Border Patrol agents who have been overwhelmed now for the last 27 months.

MATTINGLY: Just last one before I let you go. Is it possible to do the deterrence you think is necessary and also maintain a safe and humane system?

WOLF: Well, I think it is. I think can you do both, but you've got to bring, again that order, that deterrence, you've got to hold people accountable. I think you can do all that while still giving individuals who are claiming asylum, who really, really need those protections found in U.S. law. How do we get them the protections early in the process so they're not waiting five years, that they don't become lost into the system? I think that is really the point here.

We tried to do that, I think, successfully with the Remain in Mexico program. This administration doesn't like that. So, what are the other alternatives? And to my mind, they haven't given -- they haven't come up with those alternatives because we continue to see these record numbers at the border every month. MATTINGLY: Yes. I don't think Remain in Mexico is viewed as safe and humane. It was effective on the numbers perspective. Chad Wolf, let's keep this discussion going for a very long time. Thanks so much for your time. I appreciate it.

WOLF: All right.

HARLOW: We do have breaking news. The chief spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces, the IDF, says more than 60 rockets have been fired toward Israel from Gaza in just the last 45 minutes.


Let's go back to Elliott Gotkine. He joins us from Jerusalem. What are you hearing? Sirens, right?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Poppy, we're not hearing sirens here in Jerusalem but they have now sounded in Tel-Aviv. And that would be seen as something of an escalation by the IDF from the part of the militants in the Gaza Strip. They don't have that many rockets that can reach that far. And this is something that will be taken very seriously.

So, sirens have been sounding in the cities and town in the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip. Mr. Hagari says that about a million-and-a-half Israelis are in or near bomb shelters right now. And earlier today, the Home Front Command ordered those people in those communities around Gaza Strip to remain in shelters until further notice.

And I can tell you that sirens are pretty much constantly sounding. We're getting constant reports from the IDF saying that they're striking either infrastructure from -- infrastructure, weapons storage facilities. And, of course, if they see a rocket that is about to fire, and Daniel Hagari made a point that these rocket launches and not with people standing next to the rocket launchers, most of them are on timers. So, they've put out they're ready to fire, if Israel spots any of these launchers that are ready to fire, that it will take them out.

And so we're seeing more and more airstrikes from Israel into the Gaza Strip. But at the same time, these rockets continue to be launched from Gaza towards Israel with sirens now sounding, in addition to those communities by the Gaza Strip in Tel-Aviv as well. Poppy?

HARLOW: Quite a distance. Elliott, thank you very much for the reporting.

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