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Today: Trump To Take Stand In Civil Fraud Trial; Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) On Congressional Dems Divided Over Calls For Ceasefire; Thousands Flee Northern Israel Amid Tensions Near Lebanon. Aired 7:30- 8a ET
Aired November 06, 2023 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Former President Trump has watched others testify in his civil fraud trial but now it will be his turn. Trump will take the stand today in a Manhattan courtroom. It is a pivotal day in the New York attorney general's case against him and his business.
Trump is accused of committing fraud by inflating his assets to get better terms on real estate loans. He's rejected all of the allegations, insisting he's done nothing wrong and that the case is a political witch hunt.
A reminder this is a bench trial. There is no jury for Trump to play to; just the judge -- the judge who has already fined Trump twice for violating a gag order that prevents him from speaking about the judge's staff.
Joining us now, former Trump White House communications director and the founder and managing partner of SkyBridge Capital, Anthony Scaramucci.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, FOUNDER AND MANAGING PARTNER, SKYBRIDGE CAPITAL: Good morning.
MATTINGLY: The idea that -- there has been reporting that behind the scenes, Trump is not worried about testifying. He's excited, to some degree, his son has said publicly.
Do you think he is cognizant of the fact that there are actual risks here to some degree?
SCARAMUCCI: I do. I think the president -- for all of the bluster and so forth, I think he's going to be very well coached on the stand. I think he understands the stakes of perjury. He doesn't want to trip over a wire into another potential felony charge.
And so -- and he's also a stage performer, Phil. So he will be ready for this and he'll be way more subdued. And I don't know if you've caught him at any of these indictments or arraignments. I'm not saying he's nervous in those situations but he's definitely way more subdued than the bluster you would see him at one of his rallies.
So there's a lot of facets to Mr. Trump's personality. I don't think you're going to see the bombastic facet during this testimony.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: He -- in his first deposition -- there were two in this case -- he took the fifth, like, some 400 times.
HARLOW: In the second deposition, he didn't answer questions directly. He talked about how great his presidency was, et cetera.
What would you expect him to do on the stand today -- more of the fifth or --
SCARAMUCCI: No. I think he's --
SCARAMUCCI: I think he's going to answer questions and he's going to do that (INAUDIBLE) thing he, Poppy, that he does. I don't think he's going to answer the questions directly. He's obviously going to state his innocence.
But remember, this is a civil trial and if he perjures himself it flips over to a felony, and that's a very big deal for him. He's got 91 other indictments going on at the same time.
Now, there's bluster inside the campaign related to that as well because you just showed polling. If he gets convicted, that's going to be a hammer blow to his potential election chances.
HARLOW: On the January 6 -- on that case.
SCARAMUCCI: Exactly, on the election fraud -- right.
SCARAMUCCI: So this is a -- this is a minor case that could end up being a big deal if he mistestifies. If he says something in court that is under oath that is false it's going to be a lot of trouble for him, particularly with a judge that has already given him two gag orders.
So I know the guy pretty well. He'll be very subdued. He'll be polite and respectful in that court. That's my prediction.
MATTINGLY: Do you think he -- you're in finance. You're in New York. This is Trump's world. This is Trump's kind of -- his entire being is wrapped up in this.
SCARAMUCCI: It's not just New York that's Trump's world, unfortunately.
MATTINGLY: No, I understand that. But I think that we have seen kind of the -- SCARAMUCCI: It's Trump's world -- we just happen to be living in it.
MATTINGLY: Indeed. Many days it's felt like that in the last --
MATTINGLY: -- six or seven years.
But the kind of visceral response that he's had and people around him saying this is so personal for him -- this is his -- this is his business, this is his name, this is his everything. You think he'll be able to keep it together or keep it a little bit more low-profile on the stand despite that?
SCARAMUCCI: Yeah. So that's my prediction because of the nature of him. I think people don't recognize that when it's crucial -- OK -- that second debate -- I'll just take you back to 2016. We're in St. Louis. He's under the gun. The "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" tape has come out. He has to figure out a way to stay in the race. His poll numbers had dropped significantly after the "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" tape. And he put on a pretty good to very good performance of just being objective about it.
So when push comes to shove he knows how to operate inside the bands of normal human behavior. And so, I predict he'll do that.
HARLOW: What do you make of the polling that we've gone through from The New York Times? I mean, the gains that Trump is seeing among Black voters, young voters under 30, Hispanic voters -- I wonder if that even surprised you?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, it's a number of different factors.
So one of them is President Biden if we're just being brutally honest. Many people, like those polls suggest, feel that the president is too old for that job. The second factor is there's some uncertainty about the economy and the geopolitical situation.
And there's really only two choices and usually, the incumbent -- when things are concerning to people -- concerning about their pocketbooks or geopolitically, the incumbent takes a hit. But if it's -- if it's Trump versus Biden, Joe Biden will thump him. And to quote Joe Biden, he'll beat him like a drum.
And so, you can't see that right now because the polling is so early, but the president has disenfranchised a good two-thirds of the country.
HARLOW: You think he'll thump him?
SCARAMUCCI: Oh, he'll beat him like a drum.
MATTINGLY: Yeah? SCARAMUCCI: No question. Just like he did last time. Remember, he beat him by 7 1/2-eight million votes.
SCARAMUCCI: He only beat him by 40,000 in the swing states, but I think those margins will be much wider this time.
The president has disenfranchised -- President Trump has disenfranchised a very large group of people, particularly Independents. Moreover, if you look at the case in the indictment against him that Jack Smith has filed, there's a lot of information that's going to come out related to what actually happened not just on the election fraud but also on the top secret documents. I can tell you one thing about Americans -- they don't like their top secret documents being shared with people that don't deserve access to those top secret documents.
So let's let these cases unfold. It's very, very early. President Biden is dealing with two wars right now. He's got some shaky numbers on inflation, although the economy is quite strong. And I think that's why you're seeing a little bit of a rise in President Trump. If the Republicans don't put up a different candidate they'll lose that election.
HARLOW: Be careful. The Biden campaign is going to want to bring you on with your optimistic views.
SCARAMUCCI: Trust me, they have no -- they have no -- they have no -- they have no need for me or no want for me. Although I think my friend David Axelrod -- they're probably not going to bring him on. That would be my guess.
HARLOW: No. He's going to --
MATTINGLY: That is a -- that is a fair assessment --
SCARAMUCCI: Yeah. That would probably --
MATTINGLY: -- for the state of play.
HARLOW: He's going to join us. Axe will be on with us in the next hour.
SCARAMUCCI: He's OK. Well, tell him I say hi.
HARLOW: Good to see you, Anthony. Thank you.
SCARAMUCCI: Nice to be here. Thank you.
HARLOW: With the election a year away this new polling has Donald Trump pulling ahead of President Biden in the swing states that decided the 2020 race, as we just talked about.
MATTINGLY: And this comes as Biden faces mounting pressure from his own party on the handling of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. One House Democrat accusing him of quote "supporting a genocide in Gaza." That's ahead.
HARLOW: Welcome back.
President Biden resisting calls from some to push for a ceasefire in Gaza even as some in his own party are really urging him to do that. One of the starkest calls comes in the form of an ad released by Michigan Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, the first woman of Palestinian descent. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): We will remember in 2024 --
TEXT: Joe Biden supported the genocide of the Palestinian people. The American people won't forget. Biden, support a ceasefire now or don't count on us in 2024.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: That ad says Biden to call for a ceasefire or do not count on their support for 2024.
With us now is Democratic Congresswoman from Michigan, Elissa Slotkin. Congresswoman Slotkin, thank you for being with us.
Let me just begin with do you agree with Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib that the Biden administration is supporting genocide?
REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI) (via Webex by Cisco): Well, look -- I mean, I put out a statement yesterday that I just -- I feel like as leaders, we should be really thoughtful about our language and make sure that our language is trying to find common ground, especially in a place like Michigan --
SLOTKIN: -- where we're feeling this conflict. Whether you're Arab or Muslim, or Jewish, people are feeling very raw. So I just think there should be promoting language that tries to find a bit more unity.
There was some particular language in that video that really I think riled people up, and so I've asked for that to be kind of taken back.
But in general, we have a lot of leaders across the country who are --
SLOTKIN: -- using language that are inflaming the situation.
HARLOW: I believe you're referring to the statement "From the river to the sea." Your Democratic colleague, Rep. Brad Schneider, circulating a new
letter that is calling on people to -- representatives like yourself to condemn Tlaib for using that language, and I wonder if you would sign that letter.
SLOTKIN: I'm going to look at it. I mean, look, Congress is a place where there's a constant, like, stream of letters and bills and things to sign onto. I read everything, so I'm going to look at it. But I put out my own statement because I want to speak with my own voice.
But I do think that we've got leaders across the country at a lot of levels -- I've had this conversation with local leaders, too, that are really sort of like riding the base as opposed to trying to --
SLOTKIN: -- keep things calm and (audio gap) and that's bubbling up in a very real way.
HARLOW: You know, you served -- for anyone that doesn't know -- three tours in Iraq and so you bring a very unique and important experience to the debate over ceasefire and the debate over what happens next -- what then -- which is a critical question.
This is what Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois told me last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): It is time for a humanitarian pause. It is time for us to count the injured and bring them forward, for floating hospitals and other sources that can help them. I think this is the moment we should seize.
HARLOW: Is a ceasefire needed now?
DURBIN: I think it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: What do you think -- a ceasefire now?
SLOTKIN: Yeah. You know, I think what I called for is a pause -- a strategic pause. And that's because I do believe that the Israelis have the right to go after the perpetrators of this attack -- the planners, the organizers, the funders.
But I think what we're seeing now in Gaza is a pretty dire humanitarian situation. And we need to be able to get humanitarian supplies in there. We need to be able to get people out. We need to be able to move.
And frankly, I also want to use that moment to have a real conversation about hostage release, right? We've sort of lost in some circles the thread on these hostages. What is the conversation and how do we make sure they aren't hit by Israeli action themselves.
So I think that it's an important moment for that. And as someone who served in Anbar Province and watched the U.S. go in twice to Fallujah, sometimes you have to say some hard lessons. Talk and share some hard lessons with your partners and your allies on how we tried to do similar things and it just didn't end up --
SLOTKIN: -- the way we wanted it to end up.
HARLOW: And Congresswoman, exactly to that point, you said a couple of days ago you have to be sure you, quote, "don't create more terrorists" with the way you act. That sounded to me like you're worried that -- you're nodding. What do you mean?
SLOTKIN: I'm nodding because I watched it myself in the American approach to Iraq in those early years, right? We tried to go into Fallujah to root out al Qaeda terrorists. And who could dispute going after al Qaeda terrorists?
But what we found is a) the combat was extremely deadly for U.S. forces; b) it was very difficult to tell between militant and civilian. We stopped that operation because it was so deadly on all sides and went back six months later.
And I think most people would say that effort didn't lead to peaceful coexistence, which is what we wanted. We changed strategy in the United States because of battles like that. We went to a counterinsurgency strategy that promoted getting people and economy, and a life, and water, and security so that they didn't feel they had to become terrorists. It's -- it was a hard lesson that we lost and I don't want to lose that in this conversation.
HARLOW: And as much as the president may not want this tied to politics, there are political implications.
We heard Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal pointing to it. She's really worried about how the White House handling of the Israeli-Hamas war is going to affect Biden in 2024.
One Palestinian American in Dearborn, Michigan -- in your state -- who backed Biden in 2020 said to CNN, quote, "It has become almost impossible for me morally to vote for someone that's taken the stance that he's taken in the past couple of weeks."
Congresswoman, if you couple that with The New York Times polling that has Biden down in Michigan against Trump by five points, are you worried about him for '24?
SLOTKIN: Well look, I mean, we're a year out. Obviously, everything that's going on right now will have political implications in a bunch of different ways. But I think the most important thing is that a year out from election, a set of polls is hard to be an accurate indicator.
What I focus on is what Biden has done, and especially in a place like Michigan where I can show you dirt moving in my state, in my district. New factories being built.
But there's no doubt about it. I will say that I -- it would be interesting to know what Donald Trump would have done in this moment. And I have to believe -- I do believe that Joe Biden is much more concerned and having much more frank conversations with someone like Bibi Netanyahu than Donald Trump would ever have. And I think that that's the -- that's the question that will be on order a year from now.
HARLOW: Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, thank you very much.
SLOTKIN: Thank you.
MATTINGLY: And in the Middle East, thousands of people have left northern Israel as Israeli forces and Hezbollah continue to exchange fire across the Lebanese border. We are going to be live in Tel Aviv ahead.
HARLOW: And these are live pictures of Khan Younis. This is in Gaza. A tent city housing displaced -- housing displaced people from different areas as calls grow for this humanitarian pause, as you just heard from the congresswoman, to let more aid into Gaza.
HARLOW: Welcome back.
The Israel Defense Forces chief says that military is ready to shift into offensive mode in the north at any moment. This comes as tensions flare between Israel and Lebanon with countries announcing casualties on Sunday from strikes right across that border.
Now, Lebanon's Foreign Ministry says it is working with Hezbollah to try to prevent this from becoming an all-out war in the north. But fighting has pushed more than 60,000 people to flee their homes in just that area, leaving large parts of northern Israel just completely abandoned.
Our Jim Sciutto has reporting on that. Here it is.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST (voice- over): Visit northern Israel today and you find ghost towns. Evacuations in the wake of the October 7 attacks have left communities such as Metula, Arab al-Aramshe, and Qiryat Shemona empty, except for soldiers deployed against Hezbollah.
Kibbutz Misgav Am, situated right on the Lebanon border, is among those communities now abandoned.
ELLEN WEISMAN, EVACUATED FROM NORTHER ISRAEL KIBBUTZ: We're staying here on the site.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Residents Ellen Weisman and her partner Joseph Locknew (PH) now make their home in a hotel some 40 miles south in Tiberias.
WEISMAN: Everything that's here in the middle --
SCIUTTO (on camera): Um-hum.
WEISMAN: -- from the -- all the children's things we all donated.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Residents here are among some 60,000 Israelis who have fled south.
SCIUTTO (on camera): One consequence of the October 7 attacks is a temporary migration from northern Israel south and from southern Israel north. With talk of the Israeli military creating a buffer zone inside Gaza and perhaps later in southern Lebanon, the reality today is that those buffer zones exist but inside Israel.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): For evacuees from kibbutz Misgav Am, the pain and fear of October 7 remains raw.
SCIUTTO (on camera): Apollonia (PH), nice to meet you.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Apollonia still has trouble explaining what happened to her three children.
SCIUTTO (on camera): Do you think the kids understand what happened?
SCIUTTO (voice-over): The eldest children, she tells me, understand that we're fighting for our home.
SCIUTTO (on camera): Do you talk to them about it?
SCIUTTO (voice-over): They see and they're aware.
This is the reality of Israel post-October 7 -- a country more aware than ever perhaps of the threat on its southern and northern borders. But that awareness leaves open the question of when they will go home.
Ellen and Joseph tell us it's just a matter of time.
WEISMAN: When we're told that we can go back, we'll go back.
SCIUTTO (on camera): You'll go back. If the government says it's fine --
SCIUTTO (on camera): -- you'll go?
WEISMAN: We'll go.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Sharon Ben Yair and her husband Maor Atun (PH), with 2-year-old and 6-month-old little girls, are far less certain. SCIUTTO (on camera): Will you feel safe moving back north?
SHARON BEN YAIR, EVACUATED FROM NORTHERN ISRAEL KIBBUTZ: We think we are not going to stay there. After what's happened in Gaza and all that, we don't have a -- we don't trust.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Today, they are thinking of moving further south for good or of leaving Israel entirely.
YAIR: I won lie and tell you that -- tell you that we didn't think about moving to another country.
SCIUTTO (on camera): And where -- where would you move if you thought about it?
YAIR: Maybe to Canada.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): There is another possibility that some Israelis here suggest. That after the IDF finishes its military operations in Gaza, continued skirmishes along the border will force the military's attention north and bring an invasion of southern Lebanon.
WEISMAN: They say that they'll finish in the south and then maybe start in the north, correct?
SCIUTTO (voice-over): But that prospect has a troubled history. Israel's 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon from 1982 to 2000 was costly and Hezbollah returned. And its incursion into southern Lebanon again in 2006 was costly as well, and Hezbollah returned again.
Still, what's clear for many here is that after what they witnessed on October 7, the north will never be the same.
YAIR: Until now we use -- we lived in the kibbutz and we didn't think about everything that's happened on the other side of the fence. And then now, after all of this, we finally open our eyes.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Open eyes to growing threats from the north and the south.
SCIUTTO: In so many conversations up north, both with civilians, with residents, but also soldiers, it was remarkable to us how many said they want -- they feel this country needs a war on the northern front to go into southern Lebanon to at least push the threat from Hezbollah further back from the border. But with all the attention now on attempting to keep this war from expanding, it was interesting to us that the people up there -- they feel it might be necessary. But that, of course, is a dangerous, difficult prospect of another war and perhaps a long one.
Jim, I have to ask when you talk about the broader efforts to keep the war from expanding, the U.S. military made a very rare announcement that a guided missile submarine had arrived --
MATTINGLY: -- in the Middle East. This usually operates in total secrecy. Yesterday, it was literally tweeted out or posted on X.
Explain the message that's being sent here.
SCIUTTO: Yeah. I have to say there are few movements that the U.S. Navy keeps quieter than the movements of its guided missile or ballistic missile submarines. These are part of U.S. deterrents -- nuclear deterrents for those subs that carry nuclear weapons. This one does not. But still, those movements are kept secret for a reason.
This time, they tweeted out to the world because they wanted the region -- they wanted U.S. allies to know this weapon is here, but they principally want U.S. adversaries to know. And this is part of that broader message you've heard from President Biden, Blinken, from those two U.S. carrier groups that are in the Eastern Med just near or off from where I'm standing here now -- the submarine -- which is to say if other powers -- non-state or state actors -- get involved the U.S. will respond.
MATTINGLY: Yeah, it's a fascinating development.
Jim Sciutto, thank you.
And CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.