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CNN This Morning

Trump to Testify in Civil Fraud Trial; Biden Trails Trump in Polls in Some Swing States; IDF: 450 Targets Hit, Hamas Compound Captured. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired November 06, 2023 - 06:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. We're glad you're with us to start your week. Here are "Five Things to Know" for this Monday, November 6.

Donald Trump set to take the stand this morning. The former president and currently Republican frontrunner will be questioned in the civil fraud trial that could cost him hundreds of millions of dollars and bar him from doing business here in New York.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Trump's legal troubles are not weighing him down in new battleground polls from "The New York Times," at least not at the moment.

The former president is beating President Biden is five critical states: Nevada, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. And it's not just the states, the top lines. It's the types of voters that President Biden is losing. Trump making gains with young voters, black voters, and Hispanic voters and many more.

HARLOW: Israel's military says it is pushing towards Gaza City after cutting it off from the South. This comes as the IDF says it has struck 450 targets there within the last 24 hours.

MATTINGLY: Secretary of State Antony Blinken and CNN Director Bill Burns both in the region at this hour as the Pentagon announces a guided missile submarine has arrived in the Middle East. CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

HARLOW: It's such a contrast, if you think about Trump is going to be on the stand in just a couple of hours in this big, big trial about the core of who he is, right, a businessman in New York City. Does he lose all of that?

And then at the same time, this poll is great news for him in the battleground states.

MATTINGLY: Yes, it's -- if you expected the legal troubles, of which this is not the only issue that he's dealing with right now, to have a dramatic effect on the polling, at least at the moment, not the case at all. HARLOW: That's right. So in a couple of hours, Trump will take the

stand. He will testify for the first time about his business empire, and his reputation is at stake.

His civil fraud trial will resume at 10 a.m. Eastern Time right here in New York City. This case strikes at the heart of his identity: prosecutors accusing him of exaggerating his wealth by billions of dollars and manipulating the value of his real-estate properties.

MATTINGLY: And this all comes, of course, as Trump faces 91 felony charges in multiple criminal cases while running once again for the White House. This is the first time we'll see the former president come under extensive questioning in a courtroom.

CNN's Kristen Holmes is live outside Trump Tower. Kristen, first time he'll testify. What are we expecting to see today?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Phil and Poppy, as you noted, this is completely unprecedented. Not only is this a former sitting U.S. president, but also, he is running for president in 2024.

And you mentioned those polls. He is leading in these hypothetical head-to-heads with Joe Biden. And this is really going to be a test for Donald Trump.

As we know that he is somebody who likes to spin his own narrative. He likes to be in control of the situation, and really, he isn't in control of this situation.

Now, we do believe he will go talk to the cameras, as he does, try to turn this into a spectacle, try to put out his own words. But remember, he is under oath. And we know that lawyers have been prepping him, that they're giving him the logistics, walking through exactly what this is going to look like.

But Poppy, as you mentioned, a lot is hanging in the balance here. This is not just the fact that it's the fate of his company, but it's also his reputation, his brand.

One of the things that the New York attorney general, Letitia James, is seeking is to bar him from ever practicing business in New York again, a key part of his identity.

HARLOW: There's also -- I mean, this is the beginning of just an onslaught -- I think that's a fair word -- of trials for the president [SIC].

And what's so striking to me, Kristen, is a lot of them start on critical days in the election, like the Iowa caucuses. Walk us through the calendar for the next couple of months.

HOLMES: Well, it's been really interesting, Poppy, because I've been talking to his advisers about how they're going to manage this. And they really are just now trying to figure out that calendar that you mentioned. Now, they do believe that some of these dates are going to shift. That

actually makes things much harder for them. Because what they have to do is get these dates from the lawyers, then get, essentially, a hypothetical estimate of when he has to be in court, what that looks like, how long these trials will be, and then plan campaign dates around them.

They don't want to plan too far in advance, because they don't want to be constantly cancelling or postponing various events. So it's going to really require, essentially, a working relationship, hand-in-hand between the legal team and the campaign team to figure out how to actually run a 2024 campaign.


Now, multiple advisers told me they do believe they have a system in place, just in terms of grassroots infrastructure. So even if Trump can't be there, they have the volunteers on the ground.

But this is not an easy feat. And it's really coming together, seat of the pants, moment by moment.

HARLOW: Kristen, thanks for the reporting. A big, big day ahead for sure here in New York City.

MATTINGLY: So let's take a look at what happened when Trump testified about this case before the New York A.G.'s office last summer.



I decline to answer the question.

Same answer.

Same answer.

Same answer.

Same answer.

Same answer.

Same answer.

Same answer.

Same answer.

Same answer.


MATTINGLY: Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment more than 400 times. Joining us now, CNN senior legal analyst, Elie Honig, and CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News, Errol Louis. Guys, thanks for joining us.

Errol, let's start with you. We don't expect him to do that today. What should we expect from the former president; what should the former president expect today?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So the first thing that Donald Trump should expect is this is not going to be like anything that he's used to. This is not a campaign speech. This is not a social media feed. This is a very tightly-controlled environment in the courtroom.

He is only going to be able to -- or should only be able to answer questions as posed to him by the attorney general's office. And then there's the judge, also, who's going to be sitting next to him enforcing that.

So you don't get to go on monologues and stemwinders and say whatever you want to say in court. I think Donald Trump is going to have a little bit of an issue with that. It will be really interesting to see how the judge and the A.G.'s office tries to manage that and keep him in check in the courtroom.

HARLOW: This is a bench trial. This is one judge, and this is a judge who has already said that, when Trump took the stand previously, he thought he was, quote, "not credible." He fined him, I think it was $10,000 for that. So just talk about what he's walking into on that front.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, he has antagonized the judge, which in a bench trial is not a great idea. It's never a great idea, but it's definitely not a good idea when is also your, quote unquote, jury. He's going to be the finder of fact.

And so the judge has already said the Trump Organization has committed fraud. He's already said that. This witness is not credible, that he basically lied on the stand under oath.

A lot of the tactics, I think, are going to be trying to use the judge. I think we're going to see Donald Trump continue to use the judge as a foil, and sort of say, this system, which is rigged against me, this guy is the symbol of it.

The judge seems fairly unflappable. He doesn't -- you know, he doesn't express a lot of emotion, from what the reporting suggests. He's just kind of marching through this. He's making these decisions that are devastating against Trump's case, and he's doing it really just kind of in the normal course of things.

He's been dealing with this for three years. So he's got a real good measure of who he's going to be talking or hearing from today in court. That's not going to help Donald Trump either.

I expect him to do more campaigning than testifying, if he can get away with it. And that means talking outside of the courtroom, talking past the judge, talking about, you know, himself and his business and how all of these forces are arrayed against him, although it's going to be difficult to do that when he's going to be asked a lot of yes/no questions.

MATTINGLY: To that point, I mean, Eric Trump, I think, the president's [SIC] son, said the former president was fired up to come in and testify right here. Where are the limits here for the former president?

HONIG: So there's a couple of limits. First of all, a lot of people, by the way, think that testifying is going to be a lot different than it really is.

When you get on that witness stand, there is a lot of pressure intentionally, institutional pressure, put on that person to, one, answer the question that's asked. It's called responsiveness.

And so, if you're asked, did you have anything to do with this financial statement and Trump starts giving a campaign speech, what the A.G.'s office should do is say objection, your honor, and then the judge says "overruled" if he disagrees with it or "sustained" if he agrees with it.

Now, if Trump just keeps going, the judge -- the judge is in charge. The judge literally sits higher in the courtroom than the witness. It's like, I order you to stop. I order you to knock it off. I strike it from the record.

He can kick him out of the courtroom. I mean, the judge has various tools at his disposal which, again, ordinarily are very, very effective.

But Donald Trump is not your ordinary witness. So I'm really watching that dynamic between the judge and Donald Trump, see can the judge keep control over his courtroom?

MATTINGLY: Yes. He's already attacked the judge, the clerk, the A.G.'s office, just about everybody else in the courtroom.

Elie, Errol, thanks, guys. Appreciate it.

HARLOW: So there's a new and very alarming poll for President Biden, and it shows him trailing Donald Trump in five key battleground states. Those numbers ahead.

MATTINGLY: And new video just in to CNN, explosions in Gaza this morning. Israeli troops close in on Gaza City. We're going to have the latest from the battlefield, ahead.



MATTINGLY: Happening today, President Biden set to make a speech on the economy as he's facing new brutal poll numbers. It's been something Democrats have been talking about; now, seeing it very clearly. Hypothetical head-to-head matchups in six critical swing states show

Biden trailing former President Trump by eleven points in Nevada. He also falls behind Trump in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania. He's only two points ahead of Trump in Wisconsin.

Now Democrats are admitting publicly they're worried.


REP. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): I was concerned before these polls, and I'm concerned now. These presidential races over the last couple of terms have been very tight. No one is going to have a runaway election here. It's going to take a lot of hard work, concentration, resources. And so we have our work cut out for us.


MATTINGLY: CNN's Arlette Saenz is live for us at the White House. Arlette, I know you were talking to the campaign yesterday. What is their pushback to these numbers that they would have to acknowledge aren't exactly great?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you know, polls are simply a snapshot in time. But these latest round of pollings really present a grim and challenging picture for President Biden one year out from the election.

Look, the campaign stresses that these early polls one year out aren't necessarily predictive of the final outcomes, and they say they will win in 2024 by keeping their heads down and doing the work, not fretting about polls.

But there are some warning signs for the president in this latest round of "New York Times" and Siena poll, which shows him trailing president -- former President Trump in at least five key swing states.

And it's not just the fact that he's trailing in those states that he actually won back in 2020. He's also seeing his support winnow among some of the groups that really were pivotal to getting him into the White House in -- in the last election.


You'll see the youth vote. He is up by just 1 point, which is a pretty challenging number for the president. There's also winnowing support when it comes -- or a narrowing of support, I should say, between the former president and President Biden when it comes to Hispanic voters, black voters and also suburban voters.

But one thing that the White House will be pushing today, as the president is on the road, not in a battleground state but in his home state of Delaware, is this issue of the economy.

The president has been trying to push this Bidenomics messaging throughout the start of his campaign. He is also going to promote some investments that are being made in rail, about $16 billion to improve some of the railway systems in this country.

But even the discussions about the economy have proven so far to fall flat with many voters. There's about 19 percent of voters in these key swing states who believe that the economy is in excellent or -- or good condition.

But it's clear that the president has an uphill battle that he is facing, heading into next 2024 election in November.

HARLOW: And it seems like he has an uphill battle on almost every front in these states in the polling, whether it's the economy. Whether it's handling of the Israel-Hamas war, et cetera.

David Axelrod, of course, was very close to Biden when he was vice president in the Obama White House. Here's what he tweeted: "Only Joe Biden can make the decision. If he continues to run, he will be the nominee of the Democratic Party. What he needs to decide is whether that is wise, whether it's in his best interest or the country's."

I mean, I was stunned reading that, and I wonder what the read is of the White House.

SAENZ: Yes. You know, President Biden sees these types of warnings from Democrats all the time, just as we see them in the press. But one thing that his team continuously stresses is that he's been underestimated before. He was underestimated in 2020. And they believe that that will be the case this time around, that he has a record that is, they believe, successful that he can run on.

But there are some just very challenging figures in these polls. Concerns about his age are also a key topic of discussion. Not just among swing state voters, but also amongst Democrats.

But ultimately, what the campaign believes is that when this gets down to a race between President Biden and potentially former President Donald Trump that that contrast will really crystallize, and that is what will not just propel Democrats to coalesce around President Biden but also the country, writ large in these key swing states.

HARLOW: OK. Arlette Saenz at the White House, thanks so much.

MATTINGLY: Well, overnight, the IDF says ground troops took control of a Hamas military compound in Gaza. The latest from the war front next.

HARLOW: And the U.S. military makes a rare announcement about a guided missile submarine arriving in the Middle East. Those details ahead.



HARLOW: We're looking at live pictures of Secretary of State Antony Blinken. He is speaking in Turkey, where he just finished a meeting with his counterpart in Ankara. He also made a surprise trip to Iraq on Sunday, met with regional leaders there about growing calls for a ceasefire. MATTINGLY: And new overnight, Israel released new videos of ground and

air strike operations in Gaza. The IDF says it struck 450 Hamas targets and captured a Hamas compound in the last 24 hours.

It comes as Israel intensifies its offensive targeting Hamas's infrastructure above and below ground.

CNN's Gustavo Valdes joins us now live from Tel Aviv. Gustavo, it's a striking contrast, where you have the secretary of state going country to country to country; humanitarian aid and potential ceasefires, topics everywhere he goes; and yet, the fight on the ground led by the IDF certainly shows no signs of ebbing.

GUSTAVO VALDES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is correct, and the Israeli Defense Forces say they now basically control Gaza City. They have split the country, and they continue to make gains, territorial gains inside Gaza.

They say that they hit these 450 targets overnight that they will continue their offensive inside, and the idea is to basically go over after as many Hamas militants as they can.

The one thing that the IDF has not made a comment on is if Israeli is responsible for the explosion that happened Saturday in a refugee camp, where dozens were killed and injured. Many blame the Israeli forces for the attack, but Israel said that they are simply investigating.

Another casualty of the overnight attacks in Gaza are the -- is the telecommunication infrastructure inside Gaza, with many international aid organizations complaining that they cannot communicate with their personnel inside Gaza.

Like you said, all of this is mounting pressure for the U.S., for Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The Arab leaders in the region calling for a cease fire.

The U.S. said that the ceasefire might aid Hamas, may allow Hamas to regroup and launch more attacks. The U.S. wants just a pause.

And the Israelis have said that they will not stop unless all hostages are released.

HARLOW: OK. Gustavo Valdes reporting for us in Tel Aviv. Appreciate it.

MATTINGLY: The U.S. military making a rare announcement that a guided missile submarine has arrived in the Middle East. Nuclear-powered vessels usually operate in near complete secrecy, but this was announced on X, formerly known as Twitter, being seen as a clear message of deterrence to prevent a wider war.

The U.S. has already sent two carrier strike groups and an amphibious ready group to the area. This type of sub can carry 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles.

HARLOW: And notable that they put it out there, the picture and the fact that it's there.

MATTINGLY: Just a low-key social media flex.

HARLOW: Just a heads -- just a heads up, guys, by the way.

New polling very bad for President Biden in key swing states. Among several key voting blocs, we're going to take a close look at those numbers.

MATTINGLY: And Governor Ron DeSantis just scored a big endorsement for his presidential campaign. We're going to have the details coming up.



HARLOW: Welcome back. We have a much closer look at that "New York Times"/Siena College poll that spells trouble for President Biden's reelection campaign.

The poll shows Biden trailing Trump in five of six swing states that the current president won in 2020. In Georgia and Arizona, where Biden narrowly won, Trump leads by six points and five points respectively.

But even in states where Biden won by more than 1 point, like Nevada and Michigan, Trump is leading. And in Pennsylvania, Trump has a 4- point edge. In 2020, Biden won that state by a point.

The only key swing state that Biden flipped in 2020 where he is still ahead is Wisconsin. Even there, his lead is less than the margin of error.

And then, when you dig in more, you take a closer look, you see there are serious cracks in the key coalitions that helped make Biden president.

Among voters under 30 years old, Biden has only a 1-point lead in 2020. Biden won that age group by 24 points, when you look at the exit polls. Biden is also shedding support among black voters. He is getting 71 percent of their vote right now to 22 percent for Trump. 2020 exit polls showed Biden won 87 percent of the black vote then.

Similar trend among Hispanic voters.