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Biden & Trump Set For Rematch After Clinching Noms; Hur Spars With Congress Over Biden Classified Docs Case; U.S. Announces Surprise $300M Aid Package For Ukraine. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired March 13, 2024 - 05:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: It's Wednesday, March 13th.

Right now on CNN this morning the rematch is on. Joe Biden and Donald Trump clinching their respective nominations as the country prepares for the most grueling, longest presidential campaign, general election ever.

Vladimir Putin declaring Russia is prepared to use nuclear weapons after the White House announces a new military aid package for Ukraine.

And the House set to vote on a bill that could effectively ban TikTok. But can it pass after Donald Trump said he's against it?


HUNT: All right, 05:00 a.m. on the East Coast.

Live look at Lady Liberty on this Wednesday morning. Beautiful.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt. Wonderful to have you with us.

Are you ready for the rematch? After last night's primary wins, CNN projects President Biden and Donald Trump have clinched their respective party nominations, setting up the longest general election presidential campaign ever. Both candidates quickly releasing videos to try and spread the news.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're not going to take time to celebrate. We'll celebrate in eight months when the election is over November 5th I believe will go down as the most important day in the history of our country.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Are you ready to defend democracy? Are you ready to protect our freedom? Are you ready to win this election?


HUNT: While voters were casting their ballots, former special counsel, Robert Hur, appeared before the judiciary committee to explain his investigation into President Biden's handling of classified documents. Hur decided against criminal charges, but he triggered a firestorm over his suggestion that the president had as memory issues.

Hur defended himself yesterday


ROBERT HUR, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL: My assessment in the report about the relevance of the presidents memory was necessary and accurate and fair.


HUNT: All right. Joining us to break it all down, senior political reporter for "Axios", Eugene Scott.

Eugene, good morning.


HUNT: So, for voters who apparently don't believe or couldn't believe we were going to get Biden-Trump again, here we are. It's happening..

SCOTT: Here we are, here we are.

HUNT: What -- what does it look like? I mean, this is just going to be an incredibly grueling situation for the country quite honestly. The Biden team really trying to turn the page here, saying we won. The Hur testimony kind of putting that episode behind them.

I mean, what do you expect going forward?

SCOTT: Well, from the Biden team, they're going to try to keep building off momentum of the State of the Union Address, which is why we've seen them hit the campaign trail, really trying to put out ads that pushed back on so many of the narratives that Republicans have put forward, saying that Biden should not get four more years and just hoping that a lot of the criticism he's received based on age. And, of course, Gaza and even some things like the economy let me which reports are actually quite different from how the popular public feels about him. They're hoping that their narrative takes.

HUNT: So, Eugene to go to Hur for a second, let's play a little bit more from the hearing yesterday because I will say there seemed to be a sense that, you know, everyone kind of got what they wanted out of it, every lose angry at her. Republicans took it and put it one way and there was stuff for them to seize on in there, Democrats focused on in particular the questions around Biden's memory of the time his son Beau died and basically said, you know, this is all at bogus. This is not what happened.

Watch a little bit more from the hearing yesterday

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA): You are Republican, though, aren't you?

HUR: I am a registered Republican.

JOHNSON: Yes, sir. And you're doing everything you can do to get president Trump re-elected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I have to do when I'm caught taking home classified materials to say, I'm sorry, Mr. Hur, but I'm getting old. My memory is not so great.

HUR: Congressman --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the doctrine that you've established in our laws now and it's frightening.


HUNT: So as you can see, everyone's mad at him. Who do you think came out on top here, if anyone? I'm not really sure it was the American public.


But setting that aside, I mean politically, what do you -- what were your takeaways from what happened yesterday?

SCOTT: Well, it's interesting, you know, the purpose of these so often seems like the goal is to get a viral moment. So that you can use it while you're campaigning, or that you can point to it. We here maybe trying to curry favor with maybe Biden or Trump, and it's not really clear who actually won, but what is clear is that these early, the early releases of the report, just what's not as extensive as we initially thought -- or I mean, we respectfully knew that, but I think a lot of people who ran with the main headline were perhaps surprise to find out that it didn't actually say a lot of the things that Republicans said they did.

And Hur gave an opportunity to clarify and tried to present himself as the less partisan than people in his party, you know, may his report seemed to be.

HUNT: Yeah. I mean, I think it's important to underscore that the thing that seemed to make the president most angry about this report was, again the assertion that he couldn't remember when his son Beau died. And when you go back and you read fact, we have the transcripts five hours, right? This is what it looks like printed out it's actually Biden himself that brings this into the conversation, and he's talking about a series of events that happened in a certain period.

He does remember the exact day, May 30th. And then there are sort of this back-and-forth where someone jumps in and he's kind of like, well, which exact here, oh, 2015, right? The portrait that the transcript seems to paint of this moment does seem different. SCOTT: There was so much context missing, and it reminds me of, you

know, you remember going all the rallies on the campaign trail. And would you get clips that we share or that hit the social media? And when you look at the clip or read the transcript, more fully, you realize, oh, this perhaps would sound differently if I included this part or if they heard this part. And that's what I think a lot of Democrats tried to highlight.

And even moments where Republicans try to get her to even take it further, like the whole bit about whether or not he's senile. He pushed back on that and made sure that he wasn't further misrepresented.

HUNT: Yeah. All very interesting and, of course, we haven't -- haven't heard the last bit if Republicans need to say about it, Eugene Scott, thank you very much for starting us off this morning. I appreciate it.

Up next here, the ominous warning from Vladimir Putin saying Russia is ready to use nuclear weapons if it's threatened.

Plus, a deadly blast caught on camera. We'll show you this big explosion in China.

And Ken Buck leaving Congress and not holding back as he explains why.



HUNT: Overnight in an interview with Russian state media, Vladimir Putin said, Moscow is ready to use nuclear weapons. But he did add, quote, there has never been such a need, end quote. The comment coming after the Biden administration announced $300 million in new military aid to Ukraine on Tuesday. They had claimed for months that there was no money left.

The Defense Department says the funding is possible because of savings from weapons contracts. The package includes artillery, anti-aircraft missiles, anti-armor systems, and ammunition.

Here to discuss all this, CNN's Max Foster live for us in London.

Max, I've missed you. Thank you for being here this morning.


HUNT: So these Putin comments, they come just ahead of the Russian presidential elections on Friday in which he's expected to win a fifth term in office.

What do you make of this sort of saber-rattling situation?

FOSTER: Well, he's the strongman. He's emphasizing that to the Russian public to get the vote out for him. Of course, he's going to win the election, but it'd be great for him to have a great turnout on a big result, and, you know, he's not to be messed with. He's going to protect the people of Russia.

He will also be aware that this is the one issue that I think particularly here in Europe, the general public freak out about the idea that he could fire off nuclear weapons. So it's unnerving to the general public in the countries that he feels threatened by.

HUNT: Yeah, Max, this, of course, all looming as the general election here in the U.S. is officially joined with both Donald Trump and Joe Biden clinching their respective nominations. This obviously the aid package that the Biden administration is getting out the door. It's obviously them kind of getting creative with some of the accounting.

That seems like it's not something that would happen under a Trump administration. In fact, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said this week, he met with Trump remember on Friday at Mar-a-Lago, that Trump told him, quote, he would not give a single penny to Kyiv.

And just to reminder, here's what Trump had to say about Orban. Watch.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He said, this is the way it's going to be and that's the end of it, right? He's the boss. He's a great leader, fantastic leader, Europe and all over the world, they're respected.


HUNT: So the message here seems pretty clear who gets elected, there's no more money coming from America for this. What does that mean?

FOSTER: I don't know. Does it mean that he said it one-on-one with Orban and its sort of thing that Orban would want to hear because it's a similar view that he shares. I think Orban is -- he's a right-wing pin up here in Europe and Donald Trump does have this history, doesn't really associating with right-wing strongman, and he's certainly one of those.


Let's see if he refuses to send money to Ukraine. I mean, a lot of the language does point that way, but he'll also be aware that, you know, it does create a counter threat to the U.S. if he allows Russia to push through. You wonder if he can -- you know, he feels that with Putin, he can resolve this Ukrainian crisis and take away the threat to the U.S.

You know, likely, Kasie, I've learned not to sort of rely on exactly what Trump says and what he does. So how does this all tie together? I don't know.

HUNT: Yeah, that's fair. Although I have to say, Putin has become something of a folk hero in some conservative circles. I mean, the Republican -- UCLA Republicans tweeted an image earlier this week that had conservatives like great conservatives. I forgot their exact language. I'm being a little imprecise, but the pictures were very clear with Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and Vladimir Putin in the same image.

Max, not to make a hard turn, but I have to say, I mean, I've been -- you and I've been on WhatsApp talking about this and I know your vacation got cut short because of the shear ineptitude of Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace, I guess I should be more precise in that as well.

What is the next turn of this story with the princess of Wales when are we going to find out where she actually is? Why are we not seeing her? I mean, can we still trust the palace at this point?

FOSTER: There's a question. Yeah. They've always been in -- I've been doing this a long time and they're working with the palaces and they've always been very reliable and generally they give accurate information. Of course, there's spin to what they give you, but in terms of the information they give you it tends to be accurate.

Now there are two sides to this. You know, posting, an image of your family to social media, which a lot of people would say, yeah, you can touch it. Up you can use a filter, you can crop it. You want to look good. That's how, how the system works. But this wasn't just posted to social media. It was also sent out as an editorial image to news organizations like CNN.

That image clearly was edited and manipulate -- not just edited, so it wasn't just a filter. It wasn't just cropping it, it was manipulated. And there were parts of the four people in this image who had been moved.

And we've got -- you know, it wasn't in our view, a true reflection of exactly what happened in that moment. So therefore, it's not a news picture. We had to sort of call it out.

Of course, this could have been a very minor touch-up which any mother would do to make their family look great. But there is a line in terms of journalism and AFP news agency of spoken about that from their point of view, they feel a line in journalism was crossed. So it is more complex than you see. It also feeds into all the conspiracy theories that there's been a cover up here. And I don't think any of those are going to be laid to rest until we actually see her back on engagements. And all we know is that's going to happen around Easter, but no confirmation of that.

But just imagine, Kasie, the frenzy of cameras are going to turn up to that. I really can't imagine. We have, what, two weeks or so until two-and-a-half weeks until Easter.

So have fun Internet in the intervening time.

Max Foster live for us in London. You can do anything. I appreciate it. Thanks for being here.

FOSTER: Thanks, Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Up next here, safety issues at Boeing forcing major airline to cut back on hiring.

Plus, will House Republicans bow to Trump before voting later today on a TikTok ban?



HUNT: All right. Twenty-two minutes past the hour. Here's your morning roundup.

An explosion rocks a neighborhood in China, killing one person, injuring 22 others. Official suspect it was a gas explosion that hit a fried chicken store, damaging several buildings. Yikes! Look at that.

And Southwest Airlines pausing the hiring of pilots and flight attendants after Boeing signaled, it will deliver fewer aircraft than expected this year. Boeing remains under federal scrutiny following multiple safety issues with its jets.

Dozens of performers and speakers canceling their appearances at the ongoing South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. They are protesting in solidarity with the people of Gaza and against a major event sponsorship from the U.S. Army.

All right, now, to weather, a major storm across the central plains will bring heavy snow to Denver in the Rockies and the high winds bring critical fire danger to parts of Texas and Oklahoma.

Our weatherman Van Dam tracking all of it.

Derek, good morning to you.

Texas has already really battle it, been battling these awful fires. What's next for them?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, it's not just critical, it's actually been raised to an extreme level today. And that's saying something Storm Prediction Center doesn't use that kind of categorical rating for a fire. Weather conditions, unless it means business, and what they've said exclusively within there their reporting about this, the discussion is that the fuels, the dry conditions on the ground near the Texas Panhandle have actually dried out from what we experienced a couple of weeks ago when the Smokehouse Creek Fire exploded in growth in just that 48-hour period.

That's why were showing you this multi-day time-lapse just to remind you of what happened there. They say that fuel loading could lead to widespread fire spread and conditions today. And that is all just being fueled by the strong winds that will be present across the panhandle. The dry air that is in this region, the timber box conditions, and, of course, the hot weather that is but just adding fuel to the flame, no pun intended.

So the Smokehouse Creek Fire not yet 100 percent contained. That's concerning because that means there are literally embers still burning within these two fires. The Windy Deuce Fire to the south and west of it, and it doesn't take much. Let's say winds of 25 to 30 miles per hour to take one of those embers and spread it and create further fires down the line.


Now, part of a larger storm system that is creating the wins over the planes are snowfall and this is a major snowstorm for the Denver region, but more particularly the Palmer Divide and also the Front Range. So anywhere along Interstate 25, I70 going east and west, it will be extremely difficult travel conditions from Thursday into Friday morning.

And then on top of that, we're also spin spinning off the queue a few stronger thunderstorms today.

Heads-up, slight risk, Kansas City today. But look at that, we have a moderate risk as we head into the day tomorrow. So something we're going to be monitoring for several days.

So, very active weather pattern to say to least from fires to snow, to severe weather, to round it all up -- Kasie.

HUNT: You got it all.

Our weatherman Van Dam, Derek, thank you very much. Talk to you soon.

DEREK: All right.

HUNT: All right. Up next here, Joe Biden and Donald Trump clinching their nominations and preparing for the longest presidential campaign ever.

Plus, more political fallout from special counsel Robert Hur's testimony on Capitol Hill.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you find it the president was senile?

HUR: I did not. That conclusion does not appear in my report, Congressman.