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Today: Trump Expected To Attend Classified Documents Hearing; One-On-One With Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN); GOP House Majority Gets Slimmer With Rep. Buck's Departure. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 14, 2024 - 05:30   ET




DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's something going on because they're going after me viciously. Then all of a sudden it comes out that Biden took 10 times the number of documents that I did. And I took them very legally.


KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Trump did score at least a partial legal victory on Wednesday when Fulton County, Georgia Judge Scott McAfee tossed out six of the counts that were against him in his election subversion case. A number still remain, however.

Judge McAfee also promising to rule this week on whether D.A. Fani Willis can move forward with her prosecution or whether she'll face disqualification over the affair she had with her lead prosecutor.


JUDGE SCOTT MCAFEE, SUPERIOR COURT OF FULTON COUNTY: I gave myself a deadline because I knew everyone wanted an answer. And I'll tell you an order like this takes time to write. There is a lot that needs to -- I have to go through.


HUNT: And a lot on the line for the former president today.

Here with us to talk about it, Marcus Childress, former January 6 investigative counsel; and Margaret Talev, the director of the Syracuse University Institute for Democracy, Journalism, and Citizenship. Welcome to you both. Thanks for being here.


HUNT: Marcus, let's start with the nuts and bolts of what's going on today. Does he have to be in this courtroom? Is this a choice? What are we going to see play out?

CHILDRESS: Yeah, so he doesn't have to be in the courtroom. This is really motions arguing about law -- two issues, really. One about the unconstitutional vagueness of the statutes at play here and another one about the Presidential Records Act. Both are motions to dismiss. But they're not evidentiary hearings like we might have seen in Fulton County where the judge might be asking for evidence.

So I don't expect that the former president is going to testify because these are issues of law and so he doesn't need to be there. But maybe he's hoping that he can have some type of impact on the judge as she's hearing the evidence or hearing the arguments and making her decision ultimately.

HUNT: And how much of this could play into an effort to delay the case?

CHILDRESS: I think that's his go-to playbook is to delay, delay, delay. Even no matter what comes out today, I would expect that there might be some type of appeal, especially if it's ruled against the special counsel. And any type of appeal, I think the former president would declare as a victory and it would further delay the trial schedule because you have to -- you have to rule on these dispositive motions before you can get to trial or even plan for a trial.

HUNT: So, Margaret, let's talk about the politics of that reality. I mean -- you know, I've said this before but I've talked to some smart Republicans who think this is actually potentially the most dangerous of the trials for Donald Trump just because it's pretty easy for people to understand. Like, you're not supposed to take classified documents home --


HUNT: -- with you.

The Trump team is trying to muddy that -- those waters, right, in terms of their arguments today. They're trying to say no -- actually, like, I'm allowed to take whatever I want.

TALEV: I was the president, right? That's right.

HUNT: Right.

What do you make of that strategy? And what do you make of the fact that, like, we're now in the general election campaign? Does campaigning in the courthouse still make the same amount of sense as it did in the primary?

TALEV: I think it's a really interesting point because, of course, after sealing the nomination earlier this week, Donald Trump's calculus can be a little bit different. Up until now, all of his courtroom appearances have been campaigning backdrops in a primary campaign helped him to rally support and seal that nomination.

This is a different phase of the campaign. Now he may be messaging to some -- both his own base and some potential swing voters who believe that the system is out to get them. That's sort of his language, you know? They're really not just out to get me, they're out to get you. So that may work with some segment of voters.

But he is in a different mode now. He's trying to persuade the judge, who is a judge that he appointed, and he's trying to change or delay --


TALEV: -- the outcome of this case.

I think the broad strategy if you look at the way the former president has sort of conducted himself is he always wants to be shaping the narrative. You always want to be driving the narrative. If you're there it's much easier to drive the narrative than if you sit it out.

HUNT: Yeah.

Is there anything, Marcus, intimidating or designed to be intimidating about him sitting in the courtroom for the judge?

CHILDRESS: I would hope not.

HUNT: Yeah.

CHILDRESS: I mean, I would hope that the judge can be an independent arbiter and not be intimidated or even impacted by a defendant sitting at the table. But, I mean, the reality is I think there could be an impact, right? It's the former President of the United States.

I do want to touch on a point about the former president making this argument that everyone is out to get him. I think the special counsel is pushing back on that through his filings by saying this is about accountability for all. Anyone who would have taken these unauthorized -- or these classified documents would have been subject to the Espionage Act -- just like the former president who wasn't president at the time when he took the documents -- is being held accountable under this statute.

So I think there's, like, a battle of narratives, as you just said, with the president trying to drive a narrative and a special counsel trying to drive a narrative through his motions.

HUNT: Yeah.

So, speaking of the fact that he wasn't president any longer, I just want to remind everyone Trump employee #5 who is listed in this indictment -- is one of the witnesses in this case -- spoke to CNN earlier this week. Let's just watch a little bit of that interview and kind of remember what we learned earlier this week.


BRIAN BUTLER, TRUMP EMPLOYEE #5: The following day, when we're out walking, he's like hey, by the way, it's a secret. Don't tell anybody Walt's coming. And why? Well, he needs me to -- he needs me to find something out before he gets here. Well, what's that? He needs me to -- you know, how long the camera footage is saved at Mar-a-Lago. And I'm like well, that's odd. So --


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR, "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS": So he tells you that Walt's coming. That it's a secret. That no one is supposed to know. And that they're looking to see how long the surveillance footage goes back?

BUTLER: That's what he needed to find out by the time Walt got there. So that one seems really odd to me.


HUNT: So, of course, the Walt in that clip, Walt Nauta, is who is tied up in all of this. A very close Trump aide who was involved.

I mean, when I hear that, I mean, it sounds like a coverup, right? I mean, what -- how do you think this plays politically? And then Marcus, I wonder what legally you think this means?

TALEV: And it also sounds like he came forward to do this interview because he didn't think he was going to be able to be anonymous. He just didn't believe that would be possible in today's climate. So it's all very interesting.

It also tells me that there are many people who worked for the former president or at Mar-a-Lago who observed things who weren't comfortable with what they had to say and are available to talk about it when reached.

But, so far, we -- what we have seen is that people's views on this are really baked in and that most people have made up their minds about how they feel about both Donald Trump and Joe Biden. I don't know if it is a game-changer in any way. If it would significantly move voters who thought they were committed to Donald Trump away from Trump.

The one thing that we've heard consistently in polling and focus groups is that the idea of a conviction, some voters say, would be pivotal to them. If this case is the path that leads to that before November it's possible it could have an impact, and I think that's why you're seeing the delay strategy.


HUNT: Yeah. I mean, but again, it's -- how likely is it do you think we see this actually go to trial before November?

CHILDRESS: Look, it's looking tougher and tougher by the day. I mean, the more that we're having these evidentiary and legal motions hearing before, I think it's hard to set an actual trial schedule like we're seeing in the election interference case in D.C.

I do want to touch on a point again, right, about the not thinking that his identity will be redacted. I think that's a real concern. I mean, right now, there's a motion before the court about -- a reconsideration motion to keep names redacted and not from going public. And I think what you saw from that interview was maybe a fear that my name might be getting released.

And another point is that look, when you put charging documents -- the indictments -- I never included all the facts on the indictment. And so I think the former president does have some fear here that if this goes to trial there will be additional facts --

TALEV: Yeah.

CHILDRESS: -- added to the record, like we saw in that interview, that aren't in the filings. That aren't in these pleadings. Because you don't necessary put every fact in it. You just put enough to get to that indictment phase.

HUNT: Yeah -- no. That's a really interesting perspective.

So let's shift gears and talk a little bit about what happened in Georgia because I think it can be kind of confusing, right? The headlines are this judge has thrown out six of these counts. However, quite a few of them still remain in Georgia.

Margaret, how do you think this -- I mean, I will say the water has gotten so muddy around the Georgia case because of all these questions. I guess it's just an extension of the strategy we've been talking about here, right? Delay things, muddy the waters, raise questions about the entire enterprise.

What do you think that this means politically -- how the judge is handling this?

TALEV: Yeah. It's a really interesting question and I've watched, kind of, lawyers affiliated around Trump and those coming from a different perspective really argue on the merits of it. Obviously, it doesn't obliterate the Georgia case by any means, but the question is does it slow it down significantly and is that what the judge -- what the judge was signaling and what all of his actions have signaled so far?

It's not are there merits to the case. It is does this make it even less likely that it would also reach --


TALEV: -- a trial stage before the end of this year and before the end of the election where it would be the most relevant.

CHILDRESS: Right, and it goes down to timing again. And the D.A. is -- has a decision to make whether she wants to press forward with the 35 out of the 41 counts or maybe get a superseding indictment, which the judge said could be pretty easy to get because this went more to the legal elements and not to the facts alleged. So you could probably have some more specificity and go back to the grand jury and get -- and get an indictment -- a superseding.

TALEV: And there's also this interesting twist in Georgia where the governor, I think just yesterday --


TALEV: -- has signed this clarifying legislation, which could help pave the way for this --


TALEV: -- state commission to be empowered to actually remove prosecutors. So there are some questions now about whether that's another --


TALEV: -- tool in the mix.

CHILDRESS: Another tool, and why the D.A. might just press forward, right, with the 35 counts and not try to delay anything else because there are these pressures from the outside on this trial -- correct.

HUNT: Yeah. What a mess. OK.

Margaret Talev, Marcus Childress, thank you guys both very much. I really appreciate it.


HUNT: All right. Coming up next, a hard no from Hunter Biden, the president's son, rejecting an offer to testify in public. We're going to ask Congressman Tim Burchett where things go from here when he joins us live.

Plus, Lionel Messi forced to leave the pitch. The latest on the soccer star's glute injury ahead.



HUNT: No, thank you. That's what Hunter Biden is telling Congress and House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer about the committee's invitation for him to appear at a public hearing. Last month, Hunter spoke at a closed-door deposition before the Oversight and Judiciary Committees about his foreign business dealings as part of the House GOP's larger efforts in pursuing President Biden for potential impeachment.

House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan told CNN that they still plan on holding a hearing next week as part of the inquiry into the president.

Joining me now, Republican Congressman Tim Burchett of Tennessee. He's a member of the Oversight Committee. Congressman, thanks very much for being here.

REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN) (via Webex by Cisco): Thank you for having me, ma'am. HUNT: So, Congressman, what is the response or what do you think the response should be to Hunter Biden considering -- I mean, he had previously said pretty directly -- he, in fact, demanded a public hearing and now he's saying no.


BURCHETT: Well, I think his lawyer is advising him what to do here. I think probably legally, it's the right decision. Politically, I think it's the wrong decision. I think they're trying to outrun the clock out. Obviously, you're running up against election years and a divided Congress. And so, you know, I think his lawyers just advised him on those grounds and that's what they're doing.

You are correct. He did say in the beginning -- that was the holdup -- I want a public hearing. I want a public hearing. And then he marched in with his lawyer and his entourage for a little cameo in one of the committee meetings. And then when it was Marjorie Taylor Greene's turn to speak he got up and walked out.

And so, you know, it's just -- it's political theater, ma'am. I mean, I guess he's probably doing a documentary, I think somebody said. So it's going to make for good ratings.

But honestly, I think that it's -- you know, I have a saying in politics that -- and it's about -- and I'm guilty of this as well. Americans want their pizzas in 30 minutes or less, and that's about our dadgum attention span. And so, we're going to move on. You know it and I know it. Because when the CNN ratings show that Hunter Biden is not a hot issue they're going to go onto something else. And it's just the way it is.

HUNT: Well, we're talking about it, for the record.

BURCHETT: I know it because it's still an issue. But the next couple of weeks -- it's Congress, ma'am. They're going to do something else that's outrageous and you all are going to -- you all are going to magnify it, and I get that. And that's what I think about the media. I mean, it's kind of fun to watch how it goes because I'm sometimes at the brunt of your all's bayonet, so I get it.

HUNT: You have -- you have had some interesting times over the course of the last year.

I mean, speaking of media attention, Hunter Biden's attorney here said that the proceedings that you have -- the impeachment proceedings -- are not a serious Oversight proceeding and are, in fact, an attempt to resuscitate the moribund inquiry with a made-for-the-right-wind-media circus act.

Do you think that's what's -- what you guys are doing in Congress? How do you respond to Mr. Lowell?

BURCHETT: No, ma'am. I mean, he's hitting all the high notes there. I'm sure that's, again, his focus group told him that's what the market wants. But the reality is he does not want to allow his client to appear with

Tony Bobulinski and all these other people.

I mean, Bobulinski, ma'am, in those closed-door meetings -- I was impressed with him. I leaned over to the stenographer, a lady who was making some notes or whatever beside me, and I said -- I said, "Does he have any notes?" And she said, "No. Apparently, he doesn't." And he was remembering things -- he was remembering exact dates, times, places, amounts of money, and locations, and these were all over the world.

And so, I do not believe that Hunter wants to appear with these folks because his Democrats on the committee will have a hard time defending -- they'll be coming in from all angles and the shrapnel will be flying. And that's the last -- and his attorneys, frankly, won't be up there to tell him say yes, no, or don't respond kind of thing. And your emotions get carried away and you -- and you get ticked off. And that's what people -- that's what both sides want is their opposition to get mad and get up there and start responding to stuff that they shouldn't.

So, you know, I -- his attorney has probably advised him correctly. But it's rules for thee and not for me is basically --

HUNT: For --

BURCHETT: -- the (audio gap).

HUNT: It's a remarkably candid assessment of what is actually going on in these -- in these hearings, sir.

Look, at the end of the day, all of this is not aimed at Hunter. It is aimed at his father, the President of the United States, Joe Biden. And there is the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

Your colleague, Ken Buck, announced earlier this week he's going to leave at the end of the week -- end of next week Congress entirely after he had announced he was going to retire but this abrupt leaving was new.

He told reporters, quote, "We've taken impeachment and made it into a social media issue as opposed to a constitutional concept."

Is he right?

BURCHETT: Well, I'm not an attorney but there's a lot of workings going on behind him. Buck is a good buddy of mine. He would -- he and I were sitting side-by-side on January 6 when it all went down. Matter of fact, we were -- I was the very last House member to leave the House floor on January 6 and Buck was right in the mix there. So he's a -- he's a dear friend.

So I would never question what he said because he is an attorney and he gets it probably a little more than I do. I'm more of a -- I'm not an attorney. I'll just leave it at that. But there's a lot going on behind the scenes there, ma'am -- you know, with Lauren Boebert running in that seat and switching into that district. This kind of puts her in a bad position. And there's a lot of things going on behind the scenes there that are -- that are -- that have very little to do with the Constitution.


Although, I do not question Congressman Buck's reasons and motives for leaving. You know, he's a family man --

HUNT: So you think --

BURCHETT: -- and he wants to get (audio gap).

HUNT: So you --

BURCHETT: Then I suspect you'll see him probably as one of your colleagues very soon.

HUNT: So you think he is retiring or leaving Congress early specifically to prevent Lauren Boebert from being in Congress?

BURCHETT: I don't know if that's his intention but there's a lot of talk of that. You know, I -- like I said, I couldn't question his -- honestly. I mean, he's a -- he's a very moral, decent human being and I hate to see him leave. I really do.

But there is a lot going on behind the scenes. I mean, this is like -- this is a made-for-TV movie, ma'am, and it probably won't be on the Hallmark channel either.

There's a lot of -- you know, everybody wants to call this place a swamp. Well, ma'am, a swamp is a beautiful ecosystem created by God. Water is flowing in. You've got all the -- all the animals going on around it.

This is a sewer. It just -- it all flows in and nothing flows out. Washington, D.C. is just an open sewer and it continues to not disappoint me in that -- in that regard.

HUNT: Well, when you put it that way, I will say the Hallmark -- the Hallmark channel is a family channel, so I'm not going to disagree there.

Sir, you mentioned January 6, being on the floor with Ken Buck and being the last person to leave the chamber. Have you been surprised at how public perception, especially in your party, around January 6 has switched to the point that the former president is saying one of his first acts in office would be -- if he's reelected -- if Donald Trump is reelected -- would be to pardon the people that he calls January 6 hostages?

BURCHETT: No, because I think it was handled poorly from the start, ma'am. You know, I had contacted Capitol Hill Police multiple times about

what I saw. About people I saw in the tunnel that were doing podcasts or whatever they were back then. I'm not sure what the hipsters called it back then. And it was -- and I -- and I requested Capitol Police. I said hey, I was there. I'd like to tell you who I saw and what I saw them doing. And they said yeah, we'll get back to you.

Two weeks later, they did not get back to me again. I contacted them again. And then -- and it just went on with that.

And I had to go on my own volition. Rodney Davis -- actually, who is no longer in Congress -- was over the committee that oversaw that and allowed me to view the tapes in the tunnel, and I pinpointed and I showed the person who was doing it. And I still was not ever asked about it.

And that was one of the key components if you remember. They were saying they were on it. Somebody was broadcasting, telling everybody where we were -- which, in fact, they were. And, in fact, it was a member of the media.

And then, the January 6 commission -- when they did not allow then- Speaker McCarthy to rightfully appoint, I believe, Jim Jordan and some other people to it. And Speaker Pelosi did something that's never been done since I've been in Congress or since any of -- even the old- timers. And heck, some of those guys I think came over on the Mayflower. They said that they were not allowed to put Republicans that they were choosing, and that's why she picked Adam Kinzinger and --

HUNT: But does this mean that you think that the people that you saw that chased you off the floor that day should get off?

BURCHETT: No -- heck, no. They -- once they crossed those barriers they were breaking the law. But should they be denied due process? Should they still be in jail in a Washington hell hole waiting on trial, which they still are? That is not a speedy trial.

And I had people from Knoxville, Tennessee --

HUNT: Sir, are you distinguishing between the people that are being held before a trial and the people that have already been convicted? Because what Trump has said is that those that have been convicted he would pardon them.

BURCHETT: People that are going to be convicted, obviously.

And there -- and, of course, our side, ma'am -- you've got to realize you have the Black Lives Matter marches and all those riots that went across the country. Millions upon millions of dollars in destruction. And very little people -- and nobody was using any facial recognition to identify any of those rioters. I mean, standing on top of burning -- police cars -- flipping police cars, burning courthouses, things like that and no facial recognition on those folks, but then on the January 6. So I say justice should be applied blindly and it should be across the board. Everybody should be under the same rule, and they weren't. And that's just -- and you're going to have a hard time -- there's a vast majority of the population who does not trust the legal system. And when things like his happen they continue to do that.


And, you know -- and, too, it was just a horrible situation. I feel like you had some really good people that were there that got caught up in it and they broke the law --

HUNT: Right.

BURCHETT: -- and they should be held accountable.

But I'll tell you this. We had Knoxvillians that left before it even happened and posted things on Facebook that hey, I was -- I'm there -- you know, whatever. And it was before --

HUNT: Right.

BURCHETT: -- any of the violence or any of the lawbreaking. And the FBI showed up at their house. And to me, that has a very chilling effect. And I -- and I think they were wrong. I think they overstepped --

HUNT: All right.

BURCHETT: -- their bounds.

HUNT: All right, Congressman Tim Burchett. Congressman, thanks so much for the time at this early hour, especially where you are. Thanks very much.

BURCHETT: Well, I'm sure I've got plenty there that you can use for the rest of the day.

HUNT: I thought we got a few things. I appreciate it. See you soon.

BURCHETT: Ma'am, it's been --


All right, time now for sports.

The Chicago Bulls rushed their way past the Indiana Pacer in an overtime thriller.

Carolyn Manno has this morning's Bleacher Report. Carolyn, good morning.


If you went to bed early we've got you. This was a nailbiter with a clutch performance from Chicago's six-time All-Star. Twelve lead changes in the fourth quarter of this game, but the

biggest shot coming with less than three seconds left on the clock and the Bulls down by two. DeMar DeRozan swishing the fadeaway jumper to force overtime, leaving Pacers fans in disbelief.

Chicago riding that momentum into the extra period. DeRozan continuing to hit big shot after big shot. He went for a season-high 46 points and nine rebounds in the 132-129 win.

And afterwards, he talked about rising to the occasion.


DEMAR DEROZAN, FORWARD, CHICAGO BULLS: Man, it's big. It just shows you how much we wanted it. How much it sucks to get, you know, our butt whooped at home. You know, this is the best way to respond on the road against a very tough team. And we showed how resilient we are.


MANNO: An amazing finish in the first round of the WAC Tournament. Last night, Abilene Christian with the chance to win in the final seconds, but the layup is blocked. Stephen F. Austin getting the ball to A.J. Cajuste who buries the three at the buzzer for the win. Just incredible. The madness officially underway.

And musher Dallas Seavey making history as the first six-time champion in the annual Iditarod trail sled dog race. He crossed the finish line in Nome, Alaska after nine days, two hours, 16 minutes, and eight seconds in the wilderness. Overcame a two-hour penalty delay, Kasie, for failing to properly gut a moose that he killed on the trail. But he won just over $55,000 for finishing first. He credits his team of dogs for the win.

Don't you just hate it when you get a penalty, Kasie, for not gutting a moose properly when you're just trying to do your job? Isn't that the worst?

HUNT: No -- yes.

MANNO: Yeah.

HUNT: It must be.

All right, Carolyn. Thank you very much.

MANNO: Sure.

HUNT: I really appreciate it.

Just ahead here, two nominees campaigning for the White House -- one doing it from a Florida courtroom. Plus, a man arrested after federal marshals say he tried to get inside a plane's cockpit.