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CNN This Morning

Today: Trump Expected To Attend Classified Docs Hearing; White House Eyeing Gitmo To Process Haitian Migrants; TikTok Bill Heads For Uncertain Outcome In Senate. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired March 14, 2024 - 05:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: It's Thursday, March 14th.

Right now on CNN THIS MORNING:

We're watching for Donald Trump to show up in a Florida courtroom today. His lawyers want a judge to throw out his classified documents case.

Plus, the Biden administration eyeing Cuba's Guantanamo Bay. Could it be a haven for migrants fleeing the gangs taking over Haiti?

And the House passing a bill to effectively ban TikTok. But the Senate may have other ideas.


HUNT: All right, it is 5:00 a.m. in Washington.

Here is a live look at Denver. It's 3:00 a.m. Mountain Time out there. A winter storm is hammering the Mile-High City. It could impact 60 million Americans. We've got an update from our weatherman Van Dam tracking the storm shortly.

It's going to be near 80 degrees here in Washington, meanwhile.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt. It's wonderful to have you with us.

Today, the campaign in the courtroom collide again. A few hours from now, Donald Trump is expected to attend a hearing in his classified documents case. His team will ask the judge to throw out the charges brought by special counsel, Jack Smith. New CNN reporting suggests they plan to make the argument that Trump could legally keep any document he wanted.

Trump is not expected to speak inside the courtroom. I think its probably safe to say we'll hear from him outside of it, but we'll have to see. This comes as a former Trump employee and a witness in the case spoke to CNN about just exactly what went down at Mar-a-Lago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST, "THE SOURCE": You noticed that he had boxes?

BRIAN BUTLER, TRUMP EMPLOYEE 5: Yeah, they were the boxes that were in the indictment, the white banker's boxes. That's what I remember loading.

COLLINS: And did you have any idea at the time that there was potentially U.S. national security secrets in his box?

BUTLER: No clue. No. I had no clue. I mean, we were just taking them out of the Escalade, piling them up. I remember they were all stacked on top of each other and then were lifting them up to the pilots.


HUNT: Trump discussed the case on Newsmax last night, and he made this, I guess it's a predictable, assessment from Trump anyway of the special counsel.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And they were going after me viciously, raiding my house, everything. That's because Jack Smith is an animal. He's a total animal. He said -- he's deranged and he really is a deranged person.


HUNT: Okay.

Joining me now, Nicholas Johnston, he is publisher at "Axios".

Nicholas, good morning.


HUNT: How are you doing?

JOHNSTON: Great to be here.

HUNT: So, let's -- this is -- the thing that interests me about this is were now firmly in the general election.


HUNT: Trump is the presumptive nominee. Biden is the presumptive nominee. And yet Trump is continuing what had been a primary election campaign strategy of campaigning in the courtroom. Smart?

JOHNSTON: I mean, I think it takes away from what the original campaign is. If you look at what Joe Biden did after the State of the Union, very -- way of doing it, you do your State of the Union, hit the road, hit some swing states. You emphasize the points you made in that speech and the places that are going to matter in the fall. President Trump, of course, taking a different approach sometimes because he has to, like there's sometimes he has to be in court and I think that's going to be the split screen for this election. I think remember how these -- these legal cases weigh over the entire thing. Every minute he's in a courtroom is a minute he's not in a swing state. Every dollar he spends on lawyer, that's the dollar he can't spend on advertising. And I was thinking probably president, former President Trump's mind, that that might fire up the base.

But remember the baseline scenario here, President Trump lost the last election to win the next election, he needs to get more votes than last time and is talking about these cases and sitting in these courtrooms, a way to get new voters to the Trump cause. I think that's an open question.

HUNT: Well, that -- I mean, yeah, that is -- that is fundamentally the question that I have here. And, you know, the documents case in particular is one that, you know, I'm more focused on it in some ways only because when I talk to Republican strategists --


HUNT: -- about Trump, it's the one they're often focused on, as the one they say may present the most political danger to him, only because it is something voters can clearly understand.


HUNT: Have you come across this in your reporting?

JOHNSTON: Yeah, it's very true, first, from the polling standpoint, the number that jumps out to me in every poll. I mean, essentially, this is a tossup race. It's four or five points. Three points on each side. The one thing that really jumps out at the number of Republicans who support Trump, who say they will change their vote, do they will not support Trump if he's convicted.


Okay, great. So then, let's look at those kinds of cases. I think the documents case is probably the strongest case, the most interesting one.

But remember, there's also a question of timing, that is the case that is going slowest. The judge in that case, Aileen Cannon down in Florida --

HUNT: Arguably --

JOHNSTON: -- has not shown a lot of interesting in moving that one ahead, those dates continued to slip. So I think it's a question of whether that case even gets done before the election.

I mean, again, like there's all these different things swirling around, around this, and there's no easy answers.

HUNT: Right, now, we are and firmly and unprecedented territory --

JOHNSTON: -- for the next six months.

HUNT: We repeatedly remind everyone of here.

Let's talk Nic about something else that is facing Congress right now. The House overwhelmingly passed a bill that would effectively ban TikTok. It would force the Chinese parent company to divest it.

We're not 100 percent sure where it goes in the Senate, but the coalitions in the House of people who voted for it. Very interesting.

Trump himself came out against it. Basically, take a look at what he said recently about it.


INTERVIEWER: You don't think they should ban it right now?

TRUMP: Well, I didn't say anything other than you have to look at Facebook. Facebook is the enemy of the people. I think that something has to be done with Facebook. The one thing I will say, I don't want Facebook to get bigger because I think Facebook is an equal threat. And that includes with China


HUNT: So he's saying he thinks Facebook is as big of a threat to United States as China is.

JOHNSTON: I think this is a very interesting that politics from all over the map. Republicans and Democrats were progressives came down on all of this. It's also a fascinating story about the House. The House is practically on governable. There's very little getting done and all of a sudden this massive bill to ban the most largest social media network in the United States sails through Congress in one of the chambers and just a matter of days.

A lot of the folks who we talked to on the Hill who are very interested in technology issues are flabbergasted. They've been working on privacy legislation or A.I. legislation for months or even years. And now, this bill just shows up and now it's on its way to the Senate.

I think it speaks a little bit to the -- polite way, wacky dynamics in the House right now about how this bill can get through an over President Trumps objections and has now, as you said, facing uncertainty --

HUNT: Yeah.

JOHNSTON: -- in the Senate.

HUNT: Well, in some ways, it's, you know, it's a simpler piece of legislation than many of those regular -- JOHNSTON: It's an easy answer, but then once you dig again to the

actual legislation and how this might work, it gets much more complicated because, of course, you know, Congress isn't really focused on the details, sometimes.

HUNT: Sometimes not.

All right. Nick Johnston -- Nick, thank you very much for getting us started. I really appreciate it.

Coming up next here, Hunter Biden rejecting a Republican invitation to testify in public and Tennessee Congressman Tim Burchett is here to tell us what's next in that situation.

And new details about secret talks between United States and Iran.

Plus --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The house is gone.


HUNT: A landslide forcing evacuations in California.



HUNT: Welcome back.

The Biden administration is discussing the use of Guantanamo Bay as a processing center for migrants in case of a mass exodus from Haiti. Guantanamo Bay is just 200 miles from Haiti and it's been used for years to process Haitian migrants. Discussions to expand capacity at the site signal widening concerns in the White House about people fleeing the island. Gangs in Haiti continue to attack government structures, leaving social order on the brink of collapse.

Then there's this, new information this morning about an indirect meeting earlier this year between the U.S. and Iran. The U.S. official familiar with the matter tells CNN talks took place in Oman in January with the two sides exchanging messages through intermediaries. The talks covered a range of issues, including Iran's nuclear program and Houthi attacks on U.S. ships in the Red Sea.

This is the first known engagement between the U.S. and Iran since a prisoner swap between the two countries last September.

Joining me now from Abu Dhabi, CNN international correspondent Paula Hancocks.

Paula, good morning. It's good to see you.

What more can you tell us about these talks? PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kasie,

according to the U.S. official who's familiar with the situation, the two sides, so the American and the Iranian sides were in the same building, but speaking through a money intermediaries. So this happened in January. We understand and then, of course, think about what was happening in the wider region in January. This is when U.S. and U.K. troops were actually targeting an Iranian proxy. So the Houthi rebels in Yemen who are firing missiles on to commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

So as the U.S. is carrying out these strikes against Houthi targets, potentially around that same time, they were talking through intermediaries to Iran. Now, the Houthis was one of the topics of conversation we understand also a nuclear program. We know also that the U.S. has been targeting Iranian proxies in both Iraq and Syria as well. So a huge amount to be talked about.

Now, we understand they were also discussions about potential future engagements between the two and speaking in the future. That hasn't happened as of now, we understand from this U.S. official. The State Department, is not surprisingly, would not be drawn on this, did not confirm it and just said, there are many channels for passing messages to Iran and all of these channels have been focusing on telling Iran to stop escalation -- Kasie.

HUNT: So, Paula, shifting gears for a moment to the war in Gaza. We've learned that the first humanitarian shipment is on its way to this temporary aid port in Gaza. This is happening is how we speak -- as we speak. Experts though have worn its just a fraction of what's actually needed.

What more do we know about this?

HANCOCKS: So there's basically a three-pronged attack at this point to try and get enough aid or some aid into Gaza. The land crossings are simply not enough. There is widespread criticism of Israeli checks on the land crossings are not allowing enough through.

So we have this ship, World Central Kitchen. It should arrive later on Thursday if it does keep to its timing. And we understand from this -- this NGO that they actually have some 400 locally employed staff in Gaza. They have been on a gun as a beach for the last couple of days and nights working round the clock to build a makeshift pier.

Now we understand the pier some 60 feet long at this point, and they are going to dock at the end of this make shift pier and take off the ship about half 1 million meals, which they say will then be put in their trucks and they will distribute it to northern Gaza. And, of course, distribution is a big issue because it is so difficult and there is such lawlessness there at the moment, Kasie.

HUNT: Yeah.

All right. Paula Hancocks for us in Abu Dhabi -- Paula, thank you very much.

All right. Today, the father of a mass shooter waits for a jury to decide whether he's guilty of manslaughter for his son's crimes.

Plus, Congresswoman Lauren Boebert signaling what she won't do in her next career move.



HUNT: All right. Twenty minutes past the hour.

Here's your morning roundup.

Jury deliberations underway in the involuntary manslaughter trial of James Crumbley. He is the father of Michigan school shooter, Ethan Crumbley. He did not testify in his own defense.

Congresswoman Lauren Boebert says she's not running in Colorado's June special election to fill the seat for Republican Ken Buck. He is stepping down next week. Boebert says her primary bid to replace Buck in November for a full two-year term will continue.

A small landslide in Los Angeles this is wreaking havoc on a hilly Sherman Oaks neighborhood. It destroyed at least one home and forced the evacuation of two others. So far, no injuries reported.

All right. Time now for weather.

A major storm bringing severe weather and snow to as many as 65 million people today. Snowfall totals already over a foot for some regions in Colorado, as residents brace for even more today, especially in Denver where heavy snow is coming down at this hour, you can see it there.

Our weatherman Van Dam tracking all of it, including apparently some threats of tornadoes.

Derek, good morning.

Quite the contrast from what's supposed to be near 80 degree weather here in Washington, D.C.

What are these folks facing?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Welcome to spring. It is this collision of air masses, the warm air to the east, the cold air to the west, and what do we get in the middle? The severe weather and heavy snowfall.

So let's start with the most prominent threat right now, and that is the ongoing severe weather across portions of the middle part of the U.S. This is what it looked like overnight, a storm erupted across Kansas. I mean, that is some impressive cumulonimbus clouds and guess what?

They dropped hailstones the size of your fist from the sky, a softball sized hailstones, not going to feel that good as you walk outdoors. That's dangerous. And that's what we were warning about yesterday at this time.

There were three confirmed tornado reports across northeastern sections of Kansas. That whether progressing eastward, Chicago suburbs, about to feel the brunt of some stronger storms, nothing severe as we speak, but we do have roughly two different severe storm watches valid through about 11:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time this morning.

This is the area were most concerned with, Indianapolis, St. Louis, further south towards Springfield, just outside of Dallas and into Little Rock. This area in orange, we have an enhanced risk, large hail damaging winds, and that is also our greatest possibility of tornadoes today.

So keep an eye to the sky. It's all thanks to this low pressure and fast-moving cold front that's going to help provide the lift necessary for these thunderstorms to form. And this is part of a bigger storm system that's also producing significant snowfall across the state of Colorado.

Checkout, Nederland already over a foot, and it continues to fall from the sky and you bet you this is having major implications on the airport. DIA, Denver International, already reporting over 800 cancellations today, double-check your flight plans, could have some snowballing effects into the rest of the week as well.

Look at the I-25 corridor. It is snowing heavily downtown. You saw the live shot a moment ago. There are still winter storm warnings plastered across the Colorado Rockies. Great for the ski resorts, but a mess for travelers in and around Denver Metro drill -- Kasie.

HUNT: Yeah. I've never loved DIA, and I got to be honest, that airport, it's beautiful on the outside. Good luck navigating it on the inside. Even worse, when there's a lot of snow outside.

VAN DAM: I like the horse with the red eyes as you enter, that's my favorite part.

HUNT: Don't tell is good. It's right on-site. I'm sorry, my former campaign reporter live on -- live on the road, credentials coming out.

Derek, thank you very much. See you soon.

VAN DAM: All right.

HUNT: Coming up here. Donald Trump expected to watch as his lawyers asked a judge to throw out his classified documents case today.

Plus, the push to impeach President Biden. We're going to ask a top House Republican, what's next.



HUNT: A live look at New York City on this Thursday morning. Didn't Donald Trump star in "Home Alone 2" in that city at some point? Star might be overly generous.

Good morning. Thanks for waking up with us. I'm Kasie Hunt.

A courtroom will serve as Donald Trump's campaign trail stop again today. And there's a lot on the line for the former president. Trump is expected to spend much of the day in that Florida courthouse. He and his legal team trying to convince the judge to throw out his classified documents case.

Trump offered up this defense when he spoke with Newsmax.


TRUMP: There's something going on because they going after me viciously, then all.