Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

New Evidence in Classified Documents Probe may Undercut Trump; Biden in Japan to Meet with Allies as He Faces Debt Limit Crisis in U.S; Harry and Meghan Allege Near Catastrophic Paparazzi Car Chase in New York. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 18, 2023 - 07:00   ET



ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORT ANCHOR: But then Butler and Miami, an incredible third quarter, the Heat scoring 46 in the third, most ever for them in a quarter in the playoffs, second most ever given up by Boston. The Celtics, they got to back within four late in the fourth quarter in this one, but Butler coming through again. He hits a three right here to just put the game away. Heat win game one, 123-116, Butler at 35 points.

And after game, he talked about the privilege of being the leader of the Heat.


JIMMY BUTLER, MIAMI HEAT FORWARD: I really feel as though with anything in life, if you get the opportunity and you have the belief that my teammates, my coaches, Coach Pat, ownership have in me to kind of lead the charge along with Bam right now, anything is possible.

And they're trusting me with the ball on a defensive end. And I think that's what any basketball player wants, that's what anybody wants out of life is just to be wanted, be appreciated and just let you go out there and rock.


SCHOLES: Great stuff there from Butler, guys. And he was also asked if he believed this kind of run was possible when they were in that playing tournament, he said, damn right he did.


SCHOLES: So good.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I love what he said, applies to everyone's life in one way or another.

COLLINS: I know, Amazing. I can't wait to see what happens next in the end of series. Andy Scholes, we'll check back in with you. Thank you.

For everyone else, CNN This Morning continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The National Archives has proof that Trump knew the proper process to declassify documents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That completely undercut. That's what their claim has been.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: They become automatically declassified when I took them.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Hey, if you're going to declassify record, this is how you do it. He did not do any of those things.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: The Chase in New York speaking to all the fears that Harry has been so vocal about.

PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: The fact that I lost my mum when I was 12 years old could easily happen again to my wife.

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D-NEW YORK CITY, NY): Any type of high speed chase is inappropriate.

SUNNY SINGH, CAB DRIVER: The look on their faces, you could tell that they were nervous and scared.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The House voted on a resolution to refer George Santos to the Ethics Committee.

REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): If the Ethics Committee finds a reason to remove me, that is the process. This isn't about politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George Santos does not belong in Congress.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Prosecutors revealing that the Air National Guardsman repeatedly was warned about his mishandling of these classified documents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was no reprimand. He kept accessing that information and disseminating it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people need to be held accountable. The damage here is enormous.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're getting a never before seen look at the Titanic wreckage deep in the Atlantic Ocean.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: It could help unearth new details about how the Titanic sank in 1912. Experts are calling this treasure trove of new images a game changer.


COLLINS: Good morning everyone. What a night last night. HARLOW: Glad you're here. In what respect?

COLLINS: Jimmy Butler.

HARLOW: Jimmy Butler. Yes. You know, I was watching that game very closely, but we love him, we're (INAUDIBLE) Jimmy Butler.

COLLINS: She wasn't. But she was busy studying up for today. We have a lot of headlines to get to, including some new CNN exclusive reporting that says new evidence could undercut the claim made by former President Trump about automatically declassifying documents.

The National Archives is set to hand over 16 presidential records to Special Counsel Jack Smith for his investigation into Trump's mishandling of classified documents. It says they show that Trump and his top advisers were aware of the proper declassification process, that despite Trump claiming multiple times, he declassified the papers simply by removing them from the White House.


TRUMP: If you're the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it's declassified even by thinking about it.

I have the right to declassify documents, and the process is automatic if I take them with me, it's automatic.

By the way, they become automatically declassified when I took them.

COLLINS: No, you have declassify them.

TRUMP: Let me ask you --


COLLINS: They don't become automatically declassified. We've heard that from his own advisors. The 16 records, which we are now told was subpoenaed earlier this year, are going to be handed over next Wednesday to Jack Smith in his investigation. They could potentially help those investigators overcome a significant obstacle to a potential prosecution of the former president.

HARLOW: So, let's get legal insight into all of that. Let's turn to CNN Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig. Okay, big picture. How much does this matter for prosecutors?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: There is a lot, Poppy. The key word here for prosecutors is intent.

HARLOW: Right.

HONIG: How much did Donald Trump know, and did he know that his actions were wrong?

Now, the new reporting is that the National Archives, that's the federal agency that's responsible for handling presidential records during Donald Trump's presidency, sent him 16 different documents. Now, we don't know exactly what those documents say, but we do know that they related to whether, why, and how you should declassify certain classified records.


And so what prosecutors are going to argue is he knew. They told him. This is how you do it if you want to declassify. If he didn't do that, then he did not declassify.

Now, Trump has tried to argue before that these were automatically declassified. He did it by his mind, or he argued at one point that he issued a standing order that any documents I take are automatically declassified. We know that's not true because there's no evidence of it and there's contrary evidence --

HARLOW: Also no one seems to remember who was in the inner circle.

HONIG: Exactly, 18 former White House officials called that claim total nonsense, ridiculous, B.S., a complete fiction and laughable.

So, prosecutors are going to use this as key evidence of intent.

HARLOW: I was just going to -- go ahead.

HONIG: Yes. Also, if we're looking at the potential charges here, back when DOJ got permission to do the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, they listed three potential crimes. One of them was obstruction of justice. The other is destroying or concealing any government document. But the third one, this is the one that matters here, mishandling defense information. There's an argument that that only applies to classified documents. So, if Trump did declassify this one is out. But if he failed to declassify, this is still in play for prosecutors.

HARLOW: What I was going to ask is you've got to believe Trump is going to challenge us in the courts. Is that a tough bar to meet, to say you can't see these, prosecutors?

HONIG: He's very likely to challenge it in court. He's very unlikely to prevail. If he does, he'll argue executive privilege. He'll say, these were communications from Archives, an executive branch agency, over to me when I was president, so they're confidential.

It's not that straightforward, though. We've known for almost 50 years now, dating back to a famous Supreme Court case involving Richard Nixon, that, yes, executive privilege exist, but it's meant to protect legitimate strategy and policy.

HARLOW: It's not all yours if there's a possible crime.

HONIG: Exactly. Courts have been very disinclined to use executive privilege to block prosecutors from getting evidence. And Trump has tried this and people around him almost countless times. Everyone from Mike Pence, the former vice president, on down, he has lost all of these cases. His record is essentially zero wins on executive privilege, all losses. And I think if he challenges this, he'll have another one in the loss.

HARLOW: Can you help us understand big picture here? Because we all remember when Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr said in an interview a month or two ago, essentially, the most potentially harmful case against the former president right now is the Mar-a-Lago docs case.

HONIG: Yes, so four pending potential criminal matters. There's a lot swirling around Donald Trump now. Of course, he has been indicted by the Manhattan D.A. over the falsification, allegedly, of hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.

We also have pending matters down in Georgia, the Fulton County D.A., then the Mar-a-Lago documents case, which Bill Barr believes is the biggest threat, hard to sort of weigh them all, and then finally, also an investigation into January 6th.

And the way this is going to work within the Justice Department, we have Jack Smith. He is the Special Counsel. He's in charge of both of these cases, the Mar-a-Lago documents, which we were just talking about, plus, January 6th, he will have to recommend whether to indict or not. But, ultimately, this guy, the attorney general, he will make the decision, yes or no.

HARLOW: Elie Honig, thank you, so helpful as always. Kaitlin?

COLLINS: And as we track those developments back here, President Biden right now is in Japan for a major summit with world leaders as the war is continuing to rage in Ukraine. But the debt limit crisis that is happening back in Washington is looming over his trip abroad.

Just a few moments ago, he met with Japan's prime minister in Hiroshima ahead of the summit with the G7 world leaders, those leaders vowing to stand united and support Ukraine against Russia. Even in Japan, though, President Biden could not escape questions from reporters about what's happening back in D.C.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: The bottom line, Mr. Prime Minister, is that when our countries stand together, we stand stronger. And I believe the whole world is safer when we do. So, thank you again for having me here today and we look forward to the next several days.

REPORTER: Mr. President, can you guarantee allies that the U.S. won't default?


COLLINS: President Biden ignoring that question, not surprisingly.

CNN's Chief White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly is live in Japan for CNN This Morning.

Phil, obviously the president is meeting with these world leaders at a time where his domestic issues at home, hat he and Kevin McCarthy are battling out are affecting his diplomacy abroad. I understand he just got off the phone with the prime minister of Papua New Guinea, which is a trip he was supposed to be taking after being in Japan, but now no longer can because he's going back to DC.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right. That call following a call to the Australian prime minister delivering a similar message, apologizing for not being able to make the third leg of what was supposed to be a three-stop trip. And, look, Kaitlan, for the better part of two-and-a-half years, I've heard some form of Biden advisors telling me that the president can walk and chew gum at the same time. Never has that cliche been so critical or so high-stakes than at this moment right now.

If you look at what the G7 meeting is really focused on here, it is the critical geopolitical issues of our time.


And what have been a central focus of President Biden's foreign policy throughout his time in office, certainly the war in Ukraine, Russia's invasion and the ability of the G7 to stay together, the durability of a relationship that has been so critical to the support of Ukraine over the course of the year, plus that they have been trying to beat back Russia's invasion. At the same time the president trying to draw closer the alliance as it relates to China's rise and its influence.

And there's really a through line here in Japan where the president has a very close relationship with Prime Minister Kishida, where Japan has taken major steps over the course of the last several months in terms of building up its defense capacity and capability with U.S. support, with President Biden behind them every step of the way, as they recognize and their officials make clear what they've seen happen in Ukraine very much feels like something that could be a through line into their region as it comes to China and Taiwan.

And yet leaders are very cognizant of what's happening domestically. Keep in mind, the G7 is just under 50 percent of the world's global economy, a global economy that would be shattered by a U.S. debt default. They're paying very close attention to what's happening right now and the president, they can deliver on two primary focuses while he's here, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes, and not something he's likely to get resolved until he's back in Washington. Phil Mattingly, keep us updated. Thank you.

HARLOW: So, also this morning, new and conflicting details about what happened to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle right here on the streets of New York City. The couple's spokesperson described the incident as, quote, a near catastrophic car chase at the hands of a ring of highly aggressive paparazzi. This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers, close quote. That's what their team is saying.

Now, the Sussexes had to switch cars multiple times during this hours- long chase. There's a taxi driver who actually intervened at one point, and they spoke to CNN last night. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Did you feel that you were in danger?

SINGH: No, I didn't feel like I was in danger. But, you know, Harry and Megan, they look very nervous.

CAMEROTA: Sunny, had you ever seen anything else like this in your years of driving taxi?

SINGH: No. I've been driving now since 2018. This was the first time I saw this.


HARLOW: So, we know the Sussexes were pursued by photographers after leaving an event at the city's Ziegfeld Ballroom. That's right in Midtown. But the NYPD says, although there were numerous photographers who made the transportation challenging, the NYPD is saying there were no collisions, injuries, or arrests.

So, let's try to understand this better with our chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst John Miller and CNN Contributor and British Broadcaster Trisha Goddard. Great to see you, guys. Good morning.

I wish we were under better circumstances, because all we think about is how Diana died, how Princess Diana died. What do you make, John, of what the NYPD is saying and not saying?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, what they're saying is we weren't playing in this chase. Meaning this was not lights and sirens going through red lights taking off at high speed. This was a slow motion chase.

The difficulty is, and I've spoken to people on the private security team and gotten the NYPD account, is there were times when they could get some distance between them and this pack. And the near catastrophic danger, if there was one, is when the photographers, motorcycles, scooters went down sidewalks when one of their cars mounted the sidewalk to go across a corner with pedestrians there to run a red light to catch up, when they drove into oncoming traffic on 34th Street to catch up. The hazard was on that side.

In the regard of comparing it to what happened with Diana, that was a high-speed chase where the car carrying her was also moving at high- speed at different times and through that tunnel. This was much more regulated on their side.

COLLINS: Yes. But, Trisha, as you know, I mean, it's New York City. It's the streets of New York City. As Eric Adams said yesterday, even a ten-minute kind of chase like that could be really damaging, not just to them, but to anyone who lives here.

When this statement first came out, though, from them calling it this near catastrophic incident, I was reminded of this moment when Harry did his interview with Anderson Cooper. He said he's always worried about what happened to his mother could happen to them.


PRINCE HARRY: The thing that's terrified me the most is history repeating itself.

COOPER: You really feared that your wife, Meghan --

PRINCE HARRY: Yes, I feared a lot that the end result, the fact that I lost my mum when I was 12 years old, could easily happen again to my wife.


GODDARD: And when do you think back on ABC, he also said his mum was with a non-white person and this felt like it all over again. So, it is going to be really triggering for him.


I mean, there's no escaping that at all.

One of the really interesting things when we covered the coronation right after that on my show that I was doing, people were calling in and I thought everyone would be, you know, into the buzz of the new king. So many people said, not my king because of what happened to Diana. So, this is really fresh in the public psyche, this whole thing about Diana. So, it's interesting how it's playing out in the U.K.

When this story first came out, of course, I went through all of the newspapers to see who was reporting it and see who wasn't reporting it. And as you know, Prince Harry has got six law cases going on at the moment, some to do with his personal security, some to do with the media. There was one newspaper who usually is all over things like a rash, no mention until way, way down saying, hey, we did have some photographs, which we did initially publish on our website, we've now taken off.

Now, I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I'm thinking smell of rat here. So, there's so much going on. There is this battle between the tabloids and Prince Harry. And this feeds into both his security concerns and the concerns that the certain parts of the tabloid newspaper industry in the U.K. has taken a step too far.

HARLOW: Is this normal for celebrities in New York? I mean, one thing that I like about New York is that you become anonymous. Celebrities can walk around Soho in the West Village and kind of get left alone.

MILLER: Not normal.

HARLOW: No, right?

MILLER: New Yorkers are tripping over famous people all day and all night. And sometimes it's noticed and sometimes it's just a wink or a nod. But the royals or ex-royals are different, and they come with not a New York press car, but press corps. They come with the photo agencies that know the prices they can get for a photo that's different or unique or another -- you know, another advance that recruit these freelancers. And they know if I don't get the shot, I don't get the money, they get very aggressive.

HARLOW: Yes. Trisha Goddard, John Miller, thanks very, very much. I'm glad they're okay in all of this.

COLLINS: Yes. Also this morning we're tracking a new development on the border. An eight-year-old girl has died while she was in custody of Border Patrol in Texas. U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirms that the child had some sort of, quote, medical emergency while she was at a migrant facility with her family. We're told that she was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Detention facilities along the southern border have been dealing with overcrowding after a surge of migrants leading up to the title -- expiration of Title 42 last week. The agency says that federal investigators from the Justice Department are now looking into the girl's death to figure out what happened here. And we'll keep you updated as we learn more.

HARLOW: It's very sad. This is the third death in these facilities under the Biden administration. There were six under the Trump administration. Any child dying in these circumstances is terrible.

An out of control plane crashing in the middle of the road in Florida burst into flames. You see the smoke there. That video and what happened, ahead.

COLLINS: Also, for teenagers out there, a first to the nation is Montana has officially banned TikTok on personal devices, a ban that is almost certainly going to face legal challenges. What could that look like, though, if it does stand those legal challenges? And will other states follow? We'll talk about it next.



COLLINS: Montana has just become the first state in the U.S. to Ban TikTok, not on government devices, but personal ones. The governor there, Greg Gianforte, says that he signed the bill into law on Wednesday to protect citizens from foreign influence since TikTok is owned by China-based ByteDance. We should note there's no direct evidence that the Chinese government has ever actually accessed TikTok user data, but it's certainly a concern among lawmakers, not just in Washington, but across the U.S.

CNN's Omar Jimenez joins us now. I assume TikTok was kind of bracing for something like this. We've seen these bans on government devices happen. Now it's on personal.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, look, TikTok, on their end, is likely not surprised that this is happening. I mean, we've seen Shou Chew, their CEO, testify on Capitol Hill. But in this particular instance in Montana, Greg Gianforte making this move to ban TikTok.

And under this law, which goes into effect in January, the app is literally prohibited from operating within state lines. So, this is the strictest measure that we've seen. And as you laid out, the perceived fear is that TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, and that U.S. officials fear that, in some scenario, the Chinese government could harvest U.S. data through TikTok to spy on American citizens.

Now, Governor Greg Gianforte has been tweeting about this, and he said specifically that TikTok is just one app tied to foreign adversaries. And today, I directed the state's chief information officer to ban any application that provides personal information or data to foreign adversaries from the state network to protect Montana's personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party, I've banned TikTok in Montana.

HARLOW: TikTok is going to say in response, given all their past statements, that you have no evidence of us turning things over to the Chinese government. That's what they're going to say.

JIMENEZ: Exactly. And in short, the CEO has said that all of this hype is based on hypothetical scenarios based on his head that this hasn't happened yet. And that he has said that if Beijing asked for U.S. data that they would turn it down as TikTok.

HARLOW: There was that one example that BuzzFeed reported on over the summer of some Chinese bigger company, the employees getting journalist information. So, there is that to point to.

JIMENEZ: Exactly. And there are definitely things that have come out here and there, but as you can imagine, the TikTok CEO put out a statement in response to this saying, and I'll just summarize it, that the governor signed a bill that infringes on the rights of people in Montana and that people use TikTok to express themselves, earn a living and find community as we continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana.


So, look, as you mentioned, there are situations where there are concerns, and security experts have even said that, in theory, this is something that is possible. The TikTok CEO is saying, well, it hasn't been proven outright yet, and so why you're going to go on something that is, in their minds, a hypothetical.

COLLINS: You can hear the legal challenges from here.

JIMENEZ: Yes, January is a long way. We'll see.

HARLOW: Thank you, really interesting.

So, embattled Congressman George Santos avoiding an expulsion vote for now but his trouble is far from over, as some of his Democratic colleagues have urged him to resign very vocally.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Save yourself. Have some dignity.

SANTOS: Like I said, if I could --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have some dignity.

SANTOS: -- send you over my colleagues screaming here, the reality is --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New Yorkers need better. You've got to go, man. Come on, son.