Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

GOP Debate Without Trump; Marshall Mirarchi Is Interviewed About Biden's Dog; Gilgo Beach Suspect In Court Today. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 27, 2023 - 08:30   ET



MIKE PENCE (R), FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And - and American autoworkers know it.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The autoworkers will not have any jobs, Kristen (ph), because the - all of these cars are going to be made in China.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN HOST: Again, I understand the policy and the issues here, but the politics of this, particularly in this subset, under workers that I think both parties have been fighting over. You ran in 2020. You know how this works. Do you think that it resonates -- do you think it's a problem for the administration?

PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Well, this is another example of creating or contributing to a problem and then trying to play politics with it.

Look, this technology is happening. It is coming. It is coming no matter what. The problem is that China was able to build an advantage during the Trump administration because the last administration didn't take the steps that were needed in order to make sure that that EV revolution was American led.

We're taking a different approach. We're recognizing that these technologies are coming, that there's no going back to the old technology, that you're not going to be the leading economy in the world depending on strategies from the '60s and '70s. Into the 2020s, '30s, '40s, '50s we've got to make sure that we build the advantage on electric vehicles and have the policies to back that up.

The question is not whether cars are going to become increasingly electric. The question is whether those EVs are going to be made in America or whether they're going to be made in China. We are working to make sure they're made in America.

MATTINGLY: All right, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, appreciate your time, sir. Thank you.

BUTTIGIEG: Thank you. Good to be with you.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: All right, Phil, thank you.

What happens when former President Donald Trump tries to court union workers? We're about to find out.

MATTINGLY: And just into CNN, Senator Bob Menendez arriving at a federal courthouse in Manhattan where in moments he'll be arraigned on charges related to bribery.

Stay with us.



HARLOW: Look at that beautiful New York City this morning.

Well, just into CNN, also happening in New York City, New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez has arrived at a federal courthouse downtown, alongside his wife. This is the embattled senator's first court appearance stemming from federal charges related to bribery. Twenty- six of Menendez's fellow Democratic senators have now called on him to resign.

MATTINGLY: Well, we'll keep watching that.

But also this morning, former President Donald Trump headed to Michigan later today to speak with an audience, around 500 former or current union members, at a non-union plant out of Detroit. Something UAW President Shawn Fain finds, quote, pathetic.


SHAWN FAIN, PRESIDENT, UNITED AUTO WORKERS: I find a pathetic irony that the former president is going to hold a rally for union members at a non-union business. And, you know, all you have to do is look at his track record.


MATTINGLY: You know, to that point, Trump made a lot of promises to autoworkers during his first campaign. For example, in 2016, he said this in Warren, Michigan.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: If I'm elected, you won't lose one plant. You'll have plants coming into this country. You're going to have jobs again. You won't lose one plant, I promise you that. I promise you that.


MATTINGLY: That's the promise. In 2018 GM announced it would end production in five facilities in North America, including in Michigan. HARLOW: In 2017, listen to what Trump said.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: And I was -- I was looking at some of those big once incredible job-producing factories. And my wife, Melania, said, what happened? I said, those jobs have left Ohio. They're all come back.


HARLOW: They didn't. Two years later, that Lordstown auto plant shut down. It was one of the largest employers for workers in that entire area.

And autoworkers union president Shawn Fain pointed out during a short strike against GM in 2019, Trump and Republicans largely stayed on the sidelines. All of that will likely coming up at the debate tonight that Trump is skipping. A chance for the other Republican candidates to try to make their case to voters.

Let's talk about what's ahead. CNN chief national affairs analyst, anchor of "EARLY START," Kasie Hunt, is with us, CNN's senior political commentator, former senior advisor to President Obama, David Axelrod.

It's great to have you guys here.

Axe, you have an new op-ed on where you quote, of course, Yogi Barra.


HARLOW: You got to.

MATTINGLY: It's honestly the most important part of that piece.

AXELROD: Yes. Yes.

MATTINGLY: You don't even need to read the rest, for me.

HARLOW: Did you just read the first line, Mattingly?

AXELROD: A font of wisdom.

MATTINGLY: You're supposed to read all of Axe's stuff?


AXELROD: I wrote it for Phil.

HARLOW: You quote him in describing the shadows that engulfed the left field at Yankees Stadium in the afternoon as saying, quote, it gets late early out there. Why did you invoke that?

AXELROD: Because I think it's getting late early for the other Republican candidates for president. You know, some thought that when Donald Trump was indicted the first time that he would lose ground. He gained ground. The second, third, and fourth time. He has what is an almost historically large lead. And someone needs to break out here as the principle alternative to Trump or you're gong to see a repeat of what we saw in 2016 where the opponents divide up some of the vote and he romps to the nomination.

MATTINGLY: Well, Kasie, to that point, this is a space that I know you operate in as well. When you talk to donors, they're, a, both very aware of this, but, b, don't really have an answer here, right? They're - they're - they're using this debate as kind of a decisionmaker for a lot of them but have no concept of whether or not they can actually help winnow the field. So, how does this end?

KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST: Yes, no, I mean as David Axelrod knows very well, the donors are a fickle bunch and they don't always necessarily have the best political judgment, which I know strategists like him spend a lot of time thinking about and working on.

AXELROD: You think they'd hear (ph) it, Kasie.


HUNT: But, yes, I mean, these moments are really critical. And the -- I think David's point is the absolute correct one because Donald Trump's lead - I mean some of these polls we saw out over the weekend, it's expanding nationally. It's not shrinking. And, I mean, Phil, you've watched these presidential campaigns as well, Poppy, I know you've covered them, too.

The reality is that Iowa and New Hampshire do have the power to dramatically change the narrative.


After those two states vote, it becomes increasingly more difficult. South Carolina can play a role. It did for Joe Biden. It might in the context of Nikki Haley and Tim Scott. We don't know. But if Donald Trump romps in Iowa and romps in New Hampshire, it is going to be nearly impossible for any of these people to stop him. And in order to make a real dent for him -- and I think New Hampshire is potentially a place to really look because he's only sitting around 39 percent, and he's well under 50 in New Hampshire, that does suggest that if the field were to consolidate around one person, somebody could come out of there with some actual momentum, with a narrative change, especially because at that point we're going to be, what, a month out from Trump's first major trial, bringing all of that to the forefront.

But the challenge, as David says, is somebody's got to break out of the pack here. Now, the debates are an opportunity for that. But the reality is, Ron DeSantis is -- was in theory the main challenger. And, honestly, he's back on his heels here. Some of those Republicans -- other Republicans are going to be looking to try to take him out so that they can take the center of the stage when the third debate rolls around. I think Nikki Haley is really somebody to watch. She had a very strong

performance last time. And we saw some polls move a little bit in New Hampshire for her. Tim Scott has a make-or-break night, too, I think.

HARLOW: David, what do you think?

AXELROD: Well, look, I agree with everything that Kasie has said. Somebody has to break through. DeSantis, I think, is under tremendous pressure tonight because his whole campaign was predicated on that. He was that guy. He was the alternative. You remember a year ago, or a little less than a year ago, he was the flavor of the fall and he was the guy who was going to take Trump. And he's done nothing but lose ground since.

HARLOW: I mean do you remember the "New York Post," "defuture"?

AXELROD: Yes. I mean he was the - he was the candidate of the Murdoch empire.

HARLOW: Yes. Yes.

AXELROD: And he has faltered. So, this debate is particularly critical for him.

Nikki Haley did very well in the last debate and the desperate donors who Kasie refers to are now shifting their attention to her. Maybe she's the one who can do it.

But, you know, with success comes greater scrutiny. And she's going to get some attention, I suspect, on that debate stage tonight from some of the opponents as well who are taking note of her progress.

MATTINGLY: Kasie, I make a point of never asking you about Michigan -

HUNT: Really?

MATTINGLY: Because your preferences on that issue are awful generally.

HUNT: Why ever would that be?

MATTINGLY: But I'm fascinated by the 24-hour period of Biden there at the picket line, Trump there at a non-union shop but making the play for the same group. How do you think this games out, because this is a micro battle in what is becoming a macro rematch.

HUNT: Right. No, I mean they're both - you know, Biden and Trump are running general election strategies right now. And, obviously, Trump still does have - does have a primary.

First of all, go blue. I'm just going to get that out of the way, Phil.

MATTINGLY: Can you cut her mic?

HUNT: But, look, I -- Republicans also are not used to -- I mean all -- Democrats are extremely careful to always hold their events at union shops, right? That's because, honestly, this is built into the DNA of the party. And that's still the reality.

However, Trump did made pretty unusual inroads with rank and file union voters across what, you know, we kind of refer to as the blue wall. And that's the wall that put Biden in the White House in 2020 and that cracked in 2016 for Democrats and led Hillary ultimately to lose, Hillary Clinton to lose that election. And she, of course, lost in Michigan.

And, you know, I actually covered both Democratic and Republican campaigns there and I was in these union halls and they were - honestly, a lot of them were Bernie voters first and Trump voters second. And that is the phenomenon that Trump is trying to continue to exploit.

And, you know, he does have a better chance than almost any other Republican candidate of doing that. But he does also have a record now, and he didn't in 2016. And you pointed out some of the ways he was inconsistent here. I think there may be, especially in Michigan, some people who remember that.

HARLOW: So just to put a button on it, the fact that promise that jobs are coming back, they did not come back. The Lordstown plants closed.

AXELROD: Yes, videotape is inconvenient. But Trump has managed to elude accountability for so many things. And we'll see if that is held against him. It's a brilliant move on his part to go there tonight and counter program against the debate because what he's saying is, that race is over, this race is on, and he - he did force Biden's hand.

HARLOW: To go.

AXELROD: Biden, I think, went to Detroit in part because Trump was coming today. So, you know, four indictments, trials ahead, but he's still the guy who's kind of setting the scene.

HARLOW: David Axelrod, thank you.

AXELROD: Good to see you guys.

Kasie Hunt, thanks so much.

MATTINGLY: Thanks, guys.

HUNT: Thanks, guys.

HARLOW: Be sure to watch Kasie every morning, of course, and check out David's new op-ed we just talked about on

MATTINGLY: Yogi Barra.

HARLOW: Yogi Barra.


HARLOW: President Biden's German shepherd biting again. Commander bit another Secret Service agent. His 11th bite so far that we know of. [08:45:01]

A former Secret Service officer, retired Secret Service K-9, Hurricane, see, we get the pup to join us too, next.


HARLOW: So, this developing overnight. CNN has learned the president's dog, Commander, bit another Secret Service agent. This time it happened at the White House on Monday night. It is the 11th known time that the two-year-old German shepherd has bitten someone. It comes after another of Biden's dogs, Major, was sent away from the White House after at least two biting incidents.

Let's talk about this with former Secret Service Officer Marshall Mirarchi. He worked with the tactical K-9 unit and is - Marshall is with, we should introduce your special guest, obviously, retired Secret Service K-9 Hurricane, whom he takes care of now.

Thanks for being here.


HARLOW: Eleven times is a lot. Is this normal?

MIRARCHI: So, this amount of bites I guess would not be normal. It is normal for a dog to be acting out in an environment like that at the White House. You know, thousands of people walking around. Just the sheer size of the place. You know, not getting that comfort feeling that the dog gets.

But, yes, at this point, you know, I think, obviously, something needs to be done just to make sure that Secret Service agents, as well as, you know, White House staff can, you know, feel safe going to work and not have to worry about that.

MATTINGLY: It's -- I think it's a great point because, one, there's a - there's a significant staff. It's not just Secret Service. There's household staff throughout the course of the West Wing and the White House generally. But what can be done? Because I naturally side with the dog, always, because dogs are amazing. But what is the option here? Because he's been through training before after past incidents.

MIRARCHI: Yes. So that's a great point, it's never the dog's fault, right? So, this could definitely be fixed. It's just - there's -- one, you just - well, a trainer would have to identify the problem. Secret Service has a ton of them. I'm sure they'd love to do it. So, the dog is biting out of aggression, obviously. When you have dogs like German shepherds, Belgin Malinois (ph), you know, you get them because of their protection and all the attributes they have.


But, at the same time, that needs to be harnessed and trained as well. So, the aggression is either coming out of fear biting or protection. So, a trainer would be able to identify that pretty quickly and then from there, you know, you would put the dog in situations -- this would take weeks, not days. But you'd put the dog in situations that would trigger that, similar to the situations that have been happening at the White House, and you would, you know, do on the spot corrections, teach the dog that that is not OK, because at this point, you know, the dog probably doesn't even know what they're doing is wrong, he's just, you know, acting out, trying to get attention or protecting whoever is walking him.

HARLOW: Well, before you go, I want to hear about the good you have done now along with your pup. Hurricane Heroes, what is it?

MIRARCHI: So, we started a 501(c)(3) after Hurricane retired that covers medical bills for police, military, law enforcement K-9s when they retired to make sure that they can live happy lives like this guy in retirement.

HARLOW: Love that.

MATTINGLY: He also has a great Instagram account that people should check out and he's just doing great on cam. Like, I just kind of want to go hang out with him right now.

HARLOW: Wait, aren't you getting a dog soon?


HARLOW: Are your children watching?


Marshall, this is great.


MATTINGLY: It's fantastic. We appreciate it. Thanks, Marshall, so much for your expertise. And, Hurricane, love you, man.

HARLOW: All right.

MIRARCHI: Thank you.

HARLOW: Of course.

Turning the page here. Within the hour, the suspect in the Gilgo Beach murders will be in court. We'll tell you what to expect. That's next.


MATTINGLY: Well, this morning, the suspect in the Gilgo Beach killings is expected to appear in court for a status hearing. Prosecutors and defense attorneys will discuss evidence disclosure and provide updates. You remember Rex Heuermann was charged with murdering three women whose bodies were found dumped along Gilgo Beach more than a decade ago. He's pleaded not guilty to all charges.

CNN's Jean Casarez is live for us in Riverhead, New York, outside the courthouse with more.

Jean, what might we learn about the evidence considered today?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a status hearing. And what that means is anything can be brought up because they want to know the status of the case. And you can learn a lot at a hearing like this.

Now, here's what we do know. All parties will be present. The court also announced yesterday that Rex Heuermann should be present in that courtroom. So, he will be transferred from the jail right here to the Suffolk County Courthouse. He hasn't been seen in over a month.


We will be able to see his demeanor.

Now, I think one thing to look for is that you remember that 12-day search of his home after he was arrested. It was by the Suffolk County Police, also investigators. They took out so many bags, so many boxes of potential evidence. And the district attorney said at the end of the 12 days there was a lot of work to be done to see if there was any evidentiary value from any of those items. What they're looking for are either trophies that Rex Heuermann could have kept in his home from the victims, or also whether the victims had been in the home.

Also remember the prosecution asked for and received an order that they could take a DNA sample, a buccal swab, out of the defendant's mouth because one of the things that had him arrested was a pizza crust on Fifth Avenue, in the trash can, outside of his architectural office that they found he could not be excluded from a hair that was found on one of the victims. That buccal swab would be confirmatory.

We cannot forget the victims in all of this. He's charged with three counts of first-degree and second-degree murder. Megan Waterman, Melissa Barthelemy, Amber Costello, those are the three. There is one other he is a prime suspect, Maureen Brainard-Barnes. All were found in 2010. And we'll see if there's any update on him being the prime suspect of that fourth Gilgo Beach victim.


HARLOW: I'm so glad people look at their faces now and you read their names because this is about justice for them and their families.

Jean, thank you. We'll continue to follow it very much.

Thank you for joining us. Come back tomorrow after we stay up all night and watch the debate.

MATTINGLY: Watch the debate. We'll break it all down and a lot more.

HARLOW: Yes. See you then.