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Trump to Attend Classified Docs Hearing as Biden Campaigns in Michigan; Biden Administration Could Use Guantanamo Bay for Haitian Migrants; 65M+ Under Severe Storm Threat in Midwest. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired March 14, 2024 - 06:00   ET


KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: It's Thursday, March 14. Right now on CNN THIS MORNING.


The campaign in the courts. On this unprecedented collision course today, Donald Trump fights criminal charges while President Biden glad-hands with voters.

Plus, a symbolic first today. Just hours from now, Kamala Harris becomes the first sitting vice president or president to tour an abortion clinic.

And Cuba's notorious Guantanamo Bay back in the news. The Biden administration could send some migrants fleeing gangs in Haiti there.

All right, 6 a.m. here in Washington. A live look at Capitol Hill.

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

We've got one nominee on the campaign trail and the other in a courtroom. Welcome to your 2024 split screen.

President Biden is in Michigan today, working to reinforce his must- win Blue Wall in the Midwest. And he's doing it the old-fashioned way.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The thing about this campaign, and it's particularly here in Milwaukee specifically, but Wisconsin generally, and several other states, it's going to get down to knocking on doors the old-fashioned way. No, it really is. And it gets down to just making contact with people.


HUNT: Donald Trump not doing it that way. You can't work a crowd when you're sitting in a courtroom. And that's where Trump is expected to be today.

He and his legal team trying to convince a Florida judge to throw out his classified documents case, They plan to argue that the former president had the right to legally take any document he wanted.

Just a reminder: Trump Employee No. 4, Brian Butler, did tell CNN this week that he remembers moving boxes with classified material as part of this alleged cover up at Mar-a-Lago.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: You noticed that he had boxes?

BRIAN BUTLER, FORMER MAR-A-LAGO EMPLOYEE: Yes, 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 time -- any idea at the time that there was potentially U.S. national security secrets in those boxes?

BUTER: No clue. No. I had no clue.


HUNT: All right. Let's break it all down. Republican strategist Sarah Longwell joins us. Former Obama White House staffer Ashley Allison is here. And Molly Ball, she is senior political correspondent for "The Wall Street Journal." Welcome.

This is the kind of day, I think, we're going to be having a lot of these kinds of days. Although I guess if Donald Trump has anything to say about it, he's going to delay these cases long enough that we never actually see any of them really go to trial.

Sarah Longwell, the big question that I have today is that we are firmly now in general election mode, right? With two presumptive nominees. This is not the primary campaign. Do you think that this is something that is effective for Trump, in a general election, to show up these trials when he doesn't have to? It clearly worked for him in the primary, but does it work now?

SARAH LONGWELL, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, the thing to understand about the voters is there's a large gap between what Republican primary voters want and what general election swing voters will tolerate or are interested in.

And so Trump living in a courtroom is not attractive to sort of general election swing voters. They want him talking about immigration and the economy. And the visuals of him just sitting in courtroom after courtroom are not going to work well for him.

And the other thing about the voters on the legal stuff is that so far, it is like white noise to the voters. Trump has this magical ability, when he does something wrong, he goes all in, right? So there's 91 indictments, and voters can't tell them part.

And so as the cases get underway and, you know, the whole country starts to tune in to each individual case, I think people are going to start having more opinions about each individual case. And this one, in particular, the documents case, what it highlights --

see, right now, people are sort of like, well, Pence mishandled documents, Biden mishandled documents.

But this time it'll allow people to understand, yes, but Trump was told to give them back and refused. Trump engaged in a coverup to keep them from going back.


And so as those things -- he showed them around to other foreign officials. That's the kind of stuff that will start to seep in with voters during the general election.

HUNT: You think so?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Perhaps the independent -- not the base. The base is, like, where they are. And I think the question is the megaphones around him.

So Trump will push this narrative. And honestly today, most of the congressman, the senators, the folks who are also running on the ballot this election cycle have kind of fallen in line and pushed the narrative.

And so the question I have is that will they continue? Or for people who are in some of these highly contested purple districts this cycle, particularly in the House, they can't totally align themselves with Donald Trump right now in the general election.

Do they just try and ignore it? Do they pivot? Do they say, well -- you know, for independent voters who are saying, who have some questions, how are they going to handle it today? We haven't seen there be a crack in the wall right now. Or the Trump narrative, but I am interested in some of these more vulnerable districts, what happens?

HUNT: Yes. Molly Ball, what's your sense, politically speaking, to Sarah's point about how it's kind of all muddled together right now? If we start to get any separation on these cases, which one may matter the most? I mean, I've had some strategists say that this documents one might actually be the thing that could damage him the most, because it's in some ways the easiest to understand, but I'm curious what your reporting is.

MOLLY BALL, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, I think the timeline matters and the fact that we think that the New York one is going to go on trial first is going to sort of set the tone, set the stage.

And most people do view that as the weakest of the cases, and that could substantially muddy the waters.

I do think that most people do see the 91 as this undifferentiated mass and it will be hard to break through, particularly with the proceedings that are not televised. They will not all be televised. By some of them will some of them won' t.

Do people have any appetite for this, right? I think a lot of people just feel sick of it and don't want to hear about any of it. But we do hear the Biden campaign already starting to make this case in their first general election ads, that what this is about is Trump's self- interest, that they're saying that you have president who's fighting for you, and then you have this former president who's preoccupied with his own issues, his own victimhood. And that's the narrative they're going to continue to push.

And I think that has the virtue of not needing people to differentiate and pick apart all the different -- all the different aspects of all of these cases, saying well, this one's about an adult film star; this one's about national security. This one's about January 6, because I think there is a weariness with just the sheer volume of this stuff.

So by making this overriding argument, I think the Biden campaign hopes that -- that people can see this all as one thing and about an all as about Trump and his preoccupation so speaking of, you know, the way people view things, Ed Luce has this column in "The Financial Times" today.

And the headline is "Democracy Dies in Trumpian Boredom." And he writes, quote, "His untruths merit a shrug; everyone else's qualify as a scandal. This dual standard is to a large extent subconscious. In 2018, Trump's then-chief strategist, Steve Bannon, described his media tactics as flooding the zone with S-H-T. The more bizarreness Trump generates, the less people notice."

Sarar, this seems pretty on point to me. People that are running against to Trump, I mean, how do you fight back against that?

LONGWELL: Look, I think first of all, I think that's 100 percent right. The psychology of people -- people are just not built to take this.

And look, one of the main tactics of autocrats and authoritarians is to exhaust people, right? That's what they want you to be. They want you to be too exhausted to fight back. They want you to be too exhausted to sort of parse through all the noise to figure out what's going on.

And so you break through by not getting exhausted, right? Like, this is the time for Joe Biden and his campaign to roll out 1,000 surrogates to go on offense against Donald Trump and say, You do not want this guy.

And I agree with Molly. You don't have to talk about each individual case. You have to say, this guy's running for president to stay out of jail. He's got half a billion plus in legal fees that he's going to raise from you.

Those are the kinds of things you do to sort of paint an overall picture.

There's a reason that roughly 30 percent of Republicans say that, if Trump's convicted of a crime, they won't vote for him. Now that number is too high, but it demonstrates that there are people who are saying, Yes, look, get back to me when there's a verdict on something. And if he is guilty, like that matters to me.

HUNT: Yes. But Ashley, Ed Luce goes on to write, "No matter what approach America's media takes to Trump, controversy is assured. Ignoring what he says is negligence. Running his speeches live is an in-kind subsidy." OK. We can debate that. "The same applies to he- said-she-said traditional reporting. Fact-checking is for losers."

I mean, clearly, Democrats have a lot of opinions about how the media should or shouldn't cover Donald Trump. The bottom line seems to be that the Bannon strategy seems to have worked for him for a while. And what is the right answer in this environment?


ALLISON: Well, in addition to what Sarah was saying about what autocrats and dictators try and do with exhaustion, they also then try to undermine the institutions that could potentially bring you back and say, wait a minute. We have, like, the fact checkers, right? And then they discredit.

And Trump has been doing that, naming the media all these different things in his first term.

You cannot run away from the truth if you want to hold Donald Trump accountable. And I think you have to acknowledge that there are -- there's a component of the Republican Party that was just always going to be with Trump.

But I don't know if it's enough if you do all the things like fact- check, like hold him accountable by the press. People, even in their party. Not a lot, but those who want to -- the independent voters, the Republicans who are never Trumpers.

If you -- there are more of them in this country than there are the base that want to buy into allowing more people to be confused and exhausted by the narrative and to Steve Bannons.

And so I think if you cede and you just say like, wow, that strategy is working, and let's pivot, instead, and let's just pay only attention. Then he kind of gets away with it. He kind of wins.

So we can't allow his nonsense just to operate with free reign. Because that's his goal.

HUNT: Well, I mean, I think the big challenge is that it takes an electorate that's not exhausted, to your point; to actually take in whatever is going on.

I mean, I was sort of laughing over a "New Yorker" cartoon that had a guy on a couch with a blanket over his head, and the caption is, "You want me to take that off after the election, right?" It, like, speaks to something that's going on here. But at this same

time, this is arguably the most consequential election we face, certainly in the modern era.

All right, our panel is going to come back. We've got so much more to talk about.

Coming up here, another scare in the air. A student pilot accused of rushing the cockpit in the middle of a flight.

Plus, save the date. Hunter Biden just learned he could face back-to- back trials.

And escaping Haiti. Why Guantanamo Bay could house Haitian migrants if there's a mass exodus.



HUNT: Welcome back. The Biden administration could have a new plan to deal with the worsening situation in Haiti.

Discussions are underway to use Guantanamo Bay as a processing facility, should there be a mass exodus of Haitian migrants in the coming weeks.

The United Nations says over 15,000 people have been displaced as Haiti's government has been effectively overthrown by gangs.

Priscilla Alvarez joins us now from the White House with the details.

Priscilla, people are going to hear Guantanamo Bay and think one thing about terrorism. But this has often been used for migrant processing. What can you tell us about the administration's thinking in crafting this plan?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Kasie, for years, Guantanamo Bay has had a migrant center where it can hold and process migrants.

This is separate from the facility where they hold terrorist suspects, and the detainees do not mix with the migrants.

But a U.S. official now tells me that there are discussions to potentially expand that facility in anticipation of a potential mass exodus of Haitians leaving the country, given the situation on the ground there.

Now when I asked the White House about this, the National Security Council spokesperson told me the following: quote, "We are clear-eyed that economic, political, and security instability are key drivers for migrants around the world. We are closely monitoring the situation and the routes frequently used by migrants to reach our borders. And at this time, irregular migration flows through the Caribbean remain low." Now, a White House official told me that President Biden has been updated on this regularly; that he is deeply concerned about the situation in Haiti.

But what we're talking about here is Haitians fleeing by sea, trying to reach the shores of Southern Florida. They do that through makeshift vessels. Sometimes sail boats that have over 100 people for a days-long journey.

The idea here is that Coast Guard interdicts those Haitians at sea and then has a facility to take them to if there are large numbers. So they can be processed and potentially repatriated to Haiti or a third country.

But clearly, Kasie, just growing concern within the White House about what could happen in the aftermath of these worsening conditions in Haiti.

HUNT: Especially as immigration is just such a hot-button issue here in the U.S. Priscilla, thank you for that.

On a lighter note, I do want to congratulate you. You are -- you are our newest CNN correspondent, newly minted. So congratulations on your promotion. Happy to have you as a part of the show.

ALVAREZ: Thank you.

HUNT: All right. Up next here, a tale of the tape. What happened to the footage of Boeing working on the jet that lost a door plug mid- flight?

And why South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is being sued after showing off her smile. Yes. That -- she voluntarily put that on social media.



HUNT: Welcome back. Federal officials looking into the Boeing 737 MAX- 9 door plug blowout, say their investigation is being hampered by Boeing's lack of records.

The National Transportation Safety Board says Boeing has not been able to provide security footage of key work that was done last fall. It included removing and reinstalling the door plug.

Boeing tells CNN it only keeps security camera footage for 30 days, claiming that is standard practice.


All right. A winter storm ramping up in Colorado, bringing heavy snow to the Rockies. Denver could see a month's snowfall in just a few days. This is of course, the middle of March.

-That same storm packing a punch for the Midwest and the Central Plains. Our Weatherman Van Dam joins us now.

Derek, good morning. Quite a storm.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, this is really a multi-faceted storm that's dumping snow in Colorado, but also bringing severe weather to the mid-Mississippi River Valley.

You can see these storms firing up as day went to night, overnight. This is Kansas. Here's Missouri. And you can see those are called cumulonimbus clouds. And they produced significant hail, the size of your fist or roughly a softball fell from the sky in Elma, Kansas, overnight, four inch in diameter. There were three confirmed reports of tornadoes across Northeast Kansas.


And guess what? This weather is moving Eastward.

Here's the current radar. Lots of lightning, lighting up the sky from Chicago to Kansas city. St. Louis, you're about an hour or so away from the roughest part of this storm system. And that will bring up the potential for wind gusts in excess of 50 miles per hour. You are currently under a severe thunderstorm watch, with a new one issued into Southern Illinois through about 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Now, this is the greatest concern for tornadoes. You see that shading of orange? That's an enhanced risk. Sometimes we get this Southernly flow coming off the Gulf of Mexico. And then with an approaching storm, the upper-level winds are out of another direction at the higher levels of the -- of altitudes.

So that creates that potential spin in the atmosphere. And it doesn't take much to get those cumulonimbus clouds to produce a tornado and drop to the ground and create damage.

This storm system advances eastward. We see the heavy rain threat across the Gulf Coast states through the weekend. And then the snowfall part of this storm, we are already seeing over, well, approaching two feet of snow in the foothills of Western Colorado.

Check this out. Denver cancellations, 800 plus so far at DEN -- Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Warning sign if you're trying to fly West today. Our Weatherman Van Dam. Derek, thank you very much.

VAN DAM: Be careful. All right.

HUNT: All right. Just hours from now, we will see Donald Trump in a Florida courtroom. More on his team's legal strategy today.

Plus, what a student pilot said after he was accused of trying to enter the cockpit of a plane that someone else was flying.