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CNN This Morning
Trump Goes Scorched Earth on Haley as Biden Eyes Rematch; Biden on Offense, Will Tout Economy in Wisconsin Speech; Arizona GOP Chair Resigns Over Kari Lake Audio Scandal. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired January 25, 2024 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it is. It should be the answer with everybody life because, you know, I think most people think success is just like that, and that is not true. This is how it looks. And we should understand that. And the bumps are just part of the ride. It really is.
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POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: You know, I also asked him, well, are you going to coach again in the NBA? And he said, I don't know, but I will never say never.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: You knew.
HARLOW: I knew.
MATTINGLY: You knew he was coming back.
HARLOW: I knew, big fan of Doc Rivers. Good luck to him.
CNN This Morning continues right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump's pressure campaign, the former president wants Nikki Haley out.
NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bring it, Donald. Show me what you got.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's going to put a hammer to him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What argument could be formulated now that hasn't already been thought of?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's hard to see the path, but there are always things you don't know.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The former president expected to be back in the New York courtroom to really testify. PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: If he does testify, there are parameters that's going to set up controversy and that, that is the goal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you're mean to the judge, juries don't like that. You could end up with higher damages.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden bet on the American worker.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: President Biden got a major endorsement from one of the largest unions in the nation, the United Auto Workers Union.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: President is going to go to Superior, Wisconsin. He's going to continue to talk about investing in America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Voters vote their experience. He must spend the next couple months repairing all the cracks in his base.
MATTINGLY: Donald Trump is going scorched earth on Nikki Haley, threatening her donors. You all knew we'd reach this point eventually.
Good morning, everyone. I'm Phil Mattingly with Poppy Harlow in New York.
And this morning, Trump is choosing to campaign from court. We've seen it before. In about an hour, he'll be heading to his defamation trial here in New York City. We'll be watching to see if he actually takes the stand and testifies.
Now, a federal jury is weighing how much Trump needs to pay in damages for smearing his rape accuser, E. Jean Carroll.
HARLOW: Trump did spend the night attacking Carroll and the judge, by the way, in this case on a social media platform. He called the accusations a quote hoax. He called the judge a quote 100 percent Trump hater.
Overnight, Trump also lashed out at his Republican primary opponent. He called Nikki Haley birdbrain. And he warned her campaign donors they will be, quote, permanently barred from the MAGA camp if they give her any more money.
Haley, for her part, is now hitting the trail in her home state of South Carolina after losing Iowa and New Hampshire. At a rally, she fired back at Trump's victory speech, the one where he made fun of her dress and called her an imposter.
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HALEY: And out of everything that he said in his rant, he didn't talk about the American people once. He talked about revenge.
We're going to see the same thing we saw in 2018, in 2020, in 2022.
If you've lost three times, what makes you think the fourth time is going to be different?
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MATTINGLY: Well as that GOP battle continues, President Biden is getting ready to go to Wisconsin today to give a speech about the economy and highlight the millions of jobs created under his watch.
We have live team coverage from the White House to South Carolina and that's where we begin with Dianne Gallagher and Charleston.
Dianne, what was Haley's message? Big rally last night, obviously the attacks are coming full bore. What was she telling voters in her home state last night?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I know Phil in some ways, Nikki Haley now has exactly what she said she always wanted, a head-to-head matchup with Donald Trump. And it's all unfolding here in her home state.
But, look, after talking to voters, party officials here in South Carolina, and looking at polling, home state doesn't necessarily mean home field advantage. Nikki Haley finding herself in a position where she is on the attack that was on full display last night at this rally in North Charleston, just up the road from where I am now, where she went after Donald Trump, this increasingly critical tone that she has had talking about his age, his gaffes and perhaps his memory.
And she continued this repeated refrain about nobody really wanting a rematch of Trump and Biden. Again, she dissected that New Hampshire victory speech from Donald Trump, focusing hard on his demeanor.
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HALEY: Donald Trump got out there and just threw a temper tantrum. He pitched a fit. He was insulting. He was doing what he does. But I know that's what he does when he's insecure. I know that's what he does when he is threatened, and he should feel threatened, without a doubt.
We can't have a country in disarray and a world on fire and go through four more years of chaos. We won't survive it.
You don't defeat Democrat chaos with Republican chaos. Bring it, Donald. Show me what you got.
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GALLAGHER: Now, of course, Donald Trump and many of his supporters we've spoken to here in South Carolina have been pressuring Nikki Haley to drop out of the race.
Several of the voters that I spoke with cited the support of many of the top officials here in South Carolina behind Donald Trump, including Senator Tim Scott, who Nikki Haley actually appointed to the Senate back in 2012.
Haley herself here, at least as far as we're talking about U.S. House members, has just one congressman who has endorsed her. That is Congressman Ralph Norman from here in South Carolina there last night supporting Nikki Haley, telling people that she is in it for the long haul. Poppy?
MATTINGLY: Yes. It was not subtle when the Trump campaign dropped. I think like four dozen South Carolina lawmakers supporting them last night. Diane Gallagher, thanks so much.
Well, fresh off that New Hampshire double digit win, Trump is ditching the campaign trail in South Carolina for court in New York. Just hours from now, the trial is set to resume in the E. Jean Carroll's defamation case against him. The court has been canceled for the last two days due to a sick juror. Now, Trump's lawyers say he wants to testify, but that's not actually confirmed yet that he will.
CNN's Kristen Holmes joins us now. Kristen, what are you hearing from Trump's team about his mindset, the decision to go to court instead of South Carolina now?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Phil and Poppy. Well, look, when we talk about him testifying, it's 100 percent possible that he's going to take the stand. We know that he is fixated on this case and he scrolls through his social media, and we'll show you that. In addition to that, Melania Trump, his wife, has told him he needs to fight for his name. He's also told allies that he wants to testify in this case.
But the one caveat here is that he has said this before in a previous E. Jean Carroll case and his lawyers convinced him it was a bad idea. However, this whole will he, won't he, that's going to suck up the oxygen, which is exactly what he's intending to do. And that's why he's using these courtroom stops on the campaign.
Now, when we talk about the actual campaign trail, I want to talk a little bit about what you mentioned, which is Trump wanting to go scorched earth on Nikki Haley. The idea of that is good in theory. However, he's not even on the ground. Again, he's in New York.
And the post particularly about him saying that anyone who donates to Nikki Haley, well, I have some real question marks about that, because it's one thing to say anyone who works for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is not going to work for our team.
But when you're talking about money, the people who work on his campaign who actually pay the bills, they would like to see some of that big donor money coming in. They thought it was going to come in after Iowa because it had gone to Ron DeSantis. Instead, it shifted to Nikki Haley. Then they thought it was going to come in after New Hampshire. But Nikki Haley says she's not dropping out. So, you can tell that he's clearly fixated on this. The other part of this is that Senator Tim Scott actually said this in an interview yesterday that they were hoping that after South Carolina, they'd get some of that big donor money. So, something to keep an eye on, yes, he can say that, but the people who are actually paying the bills, I think they'd like to see that money come in.
HARLOW: Yes, for sure. Talk to us about where the campaign focus is now.
HOLMES: Well, the campaign focus is on completely destroying Nikki Haley. You mentioned it yourself, putting out a blast that shows all of the lawmakers that supported him in South Carolina. They have a goal of embarrassing her in her home state. We saw them do it with Ron DeSantis, and now they're going to do it with Nikki Haley.
That was part of the strategy of having Senator Tim Scott come out, endorse her -- excuse me, endorse him before New Hampshire. Because they want to say, look at this, people in her own home state do not support her. They also brought out the governor there, McMaster, who worked with Haley. They brought out congressmen from South Carolina who endorsed Trump.
And you're going to see a lot of that. You're going to see that in surrogate events as well. You're also going to see Donald Trump lashing out on social media. What we have heard is that he is very angry that she didn't drop out and he didn't like her celebratory tone in that speech.
HARLOW: Real change in tone for Iowa, for sure. Thank you, Kristen, for the reporting.
Well, the Biden team going on offense today. Consumer confidence is up. Interest rates are falling a bit. The White House hopes this is all good news for the president. They hope he's going to get some credit for the economy. He's delivering a big speech today in Wisconsin.
Priscilla Alvarez is at the White House with more. He's in Wisconsin, Janet Yellen giving a big speech in Chicago, clearly focusing on the middle of this country in the middle class, and this is after the president got a really important endorsement, right, from the United Auto Workers Union.
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Poppy. All of this goes to show that President Biden is turning the page to the general election. As you mentioned, he's going to battleground Wisconsin today, a state that he narrowly won in 2020.
And it gives him another chance to needle former President Donald Trump over something that he wasn't able to accomplish in office, which was an infrastructure bill.
Now, what the president will be doing in Wisconsin is making that connection to voters of what his legislative accomplishments have done for the voters in Wisconsin. In this case, that includes a fresh round of funding for a bridge that serves as a transit point between Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Now, of course, this comes on the heels of that key endorsement you're seeing there of the United Auto Workers Union just yesterday.
They had withheld endorsing President Biden amid concerns over his support for electric vehicles, but they came around and yesterday provided that crucial endorsement which could have a big effect in Michigan, another battleground state that President Biden only won by three points in 2020.
Now, taken together, all of this shows the opportunities and challenges for President Biden in the months to come, crucially making the connection to voters of what he's done in office and what they're seeing on the ground in living day-to-day, be it infrastructure or the economy. Poppy, Phil.
MATTINGLY: It's a huge question heading into a huge ten months ahead.
Priscilla Alvarez from the White House, thanks so much.
And in just moments, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will join us live in studio to discuss this and much more. Stay with us.
HARLOW: Also this, Boeing 737 MAX 9s, those planes could be cleared for takeoff as soon as this weekend just weeks after the door plug blew out on that Alaska Airlines flight. Our reporting on that, just ahead.
MATTINGLY: And the chairman of the Arizona Republican Party is stepping down after being caught on tape allegedly trying to bribe a candidate to stay out of the Senate race she got in. We'll play it for you, next.
HARLOW: The chairman of the Arizona Republican Party stepping down after an audio recording of a conversation he had with Republican Senate Candidate Kari Lake. It was leaked to The Daily Mail. Lake and her aide, say Jeff DeWit tried to bribe her to keep her out of the race. And the audio DeWit says he was asked by, quote, very powerful people from, quote, back east, whether there are companies that could put Lake on their payroll, and that would keep her from running.
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JEFF DEWIT, FORMER CHAIR, ARIZONA REPUBLICAN PARTY: Is there a number at which --
KARI LAKE, REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE: I can be bought?
DEWIT: Not be bought. LAKE: That's what it's about.
DEWIT: You can take a pause for a couple of years.
DEWIT: Then go right back to what you're doing.
$10 million, $20 million, 30? No, no, no. A billion? No. This is not about money. This is about our country.
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MATTINGLY: Now, DeWit denied the allegations of bribery, saying in a very long statement that his quote discussions were transparent and intended to offer perspective, not coercion.
Let's bring in CNN Senior Investigative Correspondent Kyung Lah. Kyung, this is a juicy political story on so many different levels. But can you walk us through what's transpired since the audio recording went public?
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, as soon as that audio dropped, let me tell you about the response in Arizona political circles. It was what? These are political allies. They are known as close, personal friends. They both come from Trump world.
You heard what DeWit said there in the offer. And then you only heard it because Lake recorded it, something that she is known to do to her enemies. So, all of this gets dropped, and then DeWitt decides to resign as the head of the Arizona Republican Party.
And he released a lengthy statement. I want to pull one line from it, and it reads, quote, I received an ultimatum from Lake's team, resign today or faced the release of a new, more damaging recording. I'm truly unsure of its contents, but considering our numerous past open conversations as friends, I've decided not to take the risk. I am resigning as Lake requested in the hope that she will honor her commitment to cease her attacks.
So, wipe the mud off your screen, everybody. This is your daily window into state level politics and battles in the Trump world.
HARLOW: Among friends. Here's how she responded. Let's listen.
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LAKE: He tried to act like the behavior you heard on that audio is normal communication amongst friends. It's disgusting. And I think he did a horrible job and he should have just apologized, resigned and apologized and said he's going to work to do better.
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HARLOW: She also took questions through all that. I wonder what stood out to you.
LAH: That this was a live stream and it wasn't necessarily that she took questions or what she looked like or what she said. It was the fundraising tab right below that video on the live stream that really caught my eye.
She is running to be Arizona's next senator. She is a Republican. She wants to clear the field. She is facing an expensive race against Democratic challenger Ruben Gallego. So, this recorded ten months ago, you guys, dropped suddenly today.
MATTINGLY: I'm struck by the -- in the DeWit statement of like more damaging stuff could come out. I don't know what it could be and I don't think I did anything damaging, but I'm so scared I'm going to resign. What on Earth were they talking about?
And I think, Kyung, the idea that this was -- like this -- as you noted, Trump world allies, friends, at least according to DeWit, what does this tell you right now? You've covered this state these races so closely over the years.
LAH: It is. You know, chew up, spit out politics right now. And here in this Republican Party, they are in the state of Arizona, which is a critical swing state. It is a state where we are seeing a huge battle between the MAGA Republicans and the establishment Republicans, what was brought in to try to create this bridge between the two. Clearly, that bridge, according to Kari Lake and what has transpired this week, she doesn't is certainly a vocal, visible voice in the MAGA movement in Arizona.
HARLOW: Wow. Kyung, thank you for bringing us all that.
President Biden hitting the campaign trail in Wisconsin today. He's going to focus on the economy and jobs. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre with us live in the studio to preview all of it. Stay with us.
MATTINGLY: This morning, President Biden is heading to a critical battleground state, Wisconsin, to push his economic message as he gears up for a potential November rematch with Donald Trump. Now, the president and his team clearly going on offense this week on the heels of improving consumer sentiment, which jumped a stunning 13 percent from December, reaching its highest level since July of 2021.
The Biden is leaning into how the economy will be one of the defining issues in November. So far, the work to sell the economy hasn't broken through with voters. At least according to polls, it's less than a third, so the approval of his approach.
Now, Biden's trip to Wisconsin comes a day after a very big endorsement from the United Auto Workers. That could have big implications in another Midwest swing state, Michigan. But there are deep divisions within Biden's coalition over his handling of the war between Israel and Hamas. And they've repeatedly spilled into public view, including yesterday, again, as he spoke to the auto workers.
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JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: No matter what that was, it shouldn't be --
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MATTINGLY: Joining us now is White House Press Secretary Karine Jean- Pierre. Karine, thanks so much for -- welcome to New York. It's good to have you up here. I know this is your home city.
I want to get to the economy in a sec, but to start there, because I think it's interesting. The president never criticizes that, always says First Amendment right, says he understands. Behind the scenes, how does stuff like that impact him, affect him?
JEAN-PIERRE: Look, what you see from the president, as you know, the president is very forthright. He's very open. He doesn't hide how he feels. And what you saw from him there is basically what he believes. Americans have the right to voice their concerns or voice their opinion just as long they're doing it peacefully, and he gets that. But as commander-in-chief, he has an obligation to our allies to make sure that, for example, Israel is able to defend itself.
We have to remember what happened on October 7th. What happened October 7th is Hamas, a terrorist organization, a terrorist organization that uses -- let's be very clear, uses innocent Palestinians, civilians and embeds themselves in hospital, embeds themselves in places where civilians live, and that's what they do. That is what they're doing. And so they attacked Israel on October 7th, and the president believes they have a right to defend themselves.
Now, we've been very clear they have to do that within the international humanitarian law. We've been very clear with that. We've had conversations with them. We've seen how they are now basically lowering their intensity, moving out of certain parts of Gaza, which is because that's happening because of conversations that the president has had. And one more important thing is the president has been working around
the clock to make sure we get to that humanitarian pause, because it's important that we get hostages home to their friends and families, the people who love them, and get that humanitarian aid into Gaza, the medical needs that they have, the food -- the food needs that they have. So, all of those things are critical.
MATTINGLY: There are so many moving parts.
JEAN-PIERRE: There're so many moving parts.
MATTINGLY: Several countries, most notably the White House, are working on there.
You attribute the lower intensity to the conversations the president has had with Prime Minister Netanyahu. He brought that issue up repeatedly in those conversations that you guys have read out.
I think part of the frustration you hear from Democrats who support the president on this issue is Prime Minister Netanyahu. Peter Welch, the senator from Vermont, said there's a growing impatience with Netanyahu blowing off the president, just completely disregarding our support for a two-state solution.
It seems like that publicly. The prime minister said no two-state solution. The president makes clear that's a cornerstone. Repeatedly, it seems like the prime minister is not listening when the president talks. Is that wrong?
JEAN-PIERRE: I'm going to be very careful. I'm not going to characterize what the prime minister is saying. I'm just going to not do that. What I can speak to is what the president has said. He's been very, very steadfast on this, that the way to move forward is a two- state solution. It is the right thing for the Israeli people, is the right thing for Palestinians. They need to live and feel security and leave in peace. And that is the way we can move forward.
So, I'm not going to characterize what he is saying. I'm just going to be very, very clear. And the president has been very clear, a two- state solution is the way to move forward.
MATTINGLY: But the president doesn't feel like he's being blown off by Netanyahu? Because that's the concern, even among his supporters.
JEAN-PIERRE: Well, we've also heard the president say that they've had decades, decade-long, more than several decade-long relationship, right? They are able to speak to each other in a very frank and honest way. And so they have those conversations, certainly not going to speak to those conversations in public.
We have read out the most recent conversation that they've had. We've read that out to the American people, and they get a sense of how that went. But I'm just going to continue to say and lay out where this president stands and what he believes should be next, which is a two- state solution for that reason.
MATTINGLY: Is there concern when you see the protests, that the coalition that has been so critical to the president, young voters, Arab-American voters in Michigan, places like that? It's at risk if this continues the way it's been going.
JEAN-PIERRE: Well, look, I'm not going to get into hypotheticals here. I want to be really careful, because this is a political year. What I can say is the president has always been there to listen to young voters, right?
If you think about what the president has been able to accomplish these last three years, whether it's student loans, right, making sure that he kept his promise to do everything that he can, even though he was blocked by Republicans, blocked by the courts, he took action and really moved forward with some policies, was able to get borrowers to relieve more -- about $136 billion for almost 4 million borrowers. So, that's really important. And he's going to continue to do that work.
And there are other places, too, climate change. Climate change is something that young people really, truly care about. The president has had an aggressive approach in pushing policy forward to deal with climate change.
While Republicans, if you think about the Inflation Reduction Act, which is a historic piece of legislation that deals with climate change, they didn't vote for it. So, the president -- right, they want to repeal it, exactly, as you just stated.
So, he's going to continue to make sure that he is a voice and puts policy forward for all Americans, and including young Americans as well.
MATTINGLY: One more before we get to the president's speech today. There has been a long running dispute between the Texas governor and the Biden administration that has continued, that includes the Supreme Court ruling. The Homeland Security Department has asked for access to this park that is now currently in dispute. It doesn't seem like they've gotten it. They now are allowed to cut down razor wire. Some Democrats are saying the president needs to federalize the Texas National Guard. That's something that could happen?
JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, I'll say this, you know, the border patrol agents are now, as you said, allowed to cut through the wire because of what the Supreme Court has laid out. It's unfortunate that we had to go there. It's unfortunate that there is a governor in Texas, Governor Abbott, who has politicized this issue of what's happening on the border. And it's not making people's lives safer. It's actually making it harder for law enforcement at the border to do their job.
And so we have been very clear.
We want to make sure we get something done at the border. That's why we've been having these conversations with Senate Republicans and Democrats for the past several weeks.