Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Trump Warns of a Bloodbath if He Doesn't Get Re-elected; Putin Speaks Publicly for the First Time About the Death of Alexei Navalny; Netanyahu Vows to Move Forward with Operation to Invade Rafah. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired March 18, 2024 - 05:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, ANCHOR, CNN THIS MORNING: It's Monday, March 18th, right now on CNN THIS MORNING.


DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Now, if I don't get elected, it's going to be a bloodbath.


HUNT: Reaction to Donald Trump's warning for the country if he loses another election. We'll give you the context, it's important. Vladimir Putin speaking publicly for the first time about the death of Alexei Navalny.

And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defying the White House, vying, he'll move forward with his military operation in Rafah. All right, 5:00 a.m. here in Washington alive, look at Capitol Hill on this Monday morning. Happy Monday. Good morning to you, I'm Kasie Hunt, wonderful to have you with us this morning.

Republicans and the Trump campaign are once again trying to explain some pretty dark rhetoric from the former president over the weekend at a rally in Ohio, Saturday. Trump said that some migrants are quote, "not people", end quote. He called undocumented immigrants who commit crimes, quote, "animals", and he warned of a quote, "bloodbath" if he loses in November.

The Trump campaign says he was talking about an economic bloodbath for the auto industry. We're just going to play his full set of remarks and you can decide. Watch.


TRUMP: If you're listening President Xi, and you and I are friends, but he understands the way I deal. Those big monster car-manufacturing plants that you're building in Mexico right now, and you think you're going to get that, you're going to not hire Americans and you're going to sell the cars as now -- we're going to put a 100 percent tariff on every single car that comes across the line, and you're not going to be able to sell those cars.

If I get elected -- now, if I don't get elected, it's going to be a bloodbath for the whole -- that's going to be the least of it. It's going to be a bloodbath for the country, that will be the least of it. But they're not going to sell those cars --


HUNT: All right, Alex Thompson is national political reported for "Axios" and he joins me now. Alex, good morning.


HUNT: Great to have you. So, this obviously has been the subject of much discussion. Obviously, Republicans have jumped to the former president's defense and said, it's very obvious from the clip, he's talking about the auto industry.

That said, it is not uncommon for us to get comments like this from Trump, where he'll say something and you hear it kind of in isolation, and he sometimes seems like happy to let people believe what they want to believe out of it. What did you hear in those remarks and what do you think Americans should be focused on?

THOMPSON: You know, it was really interesting to see the full reaction including the Trump campaign, sort of weirdly put it in a statement that said, the Biden campaign was putting Roman Polanski to shame with their selective editing of his comments --


THOMPSON: Which were first-time for -- I've never seen Roman Polanski(ph) in a campaign statement. But the point being is -- what I think this little debate obscured is the other language in those remarks that were also -- you could interpret is inciting violence. And that's why the bloodbath got attention, is because it was part of a larger pattern, not just of this one speech, but of Donald Trump in general. He has incited violence before, the thing is that at the very beginning of this speech, the Star-Spangled Banner was the Star- Spangled Banner sung by people in prison for January 6th for writing.

And then he started his remarks -- by the way, it was not in his prepared remarks. He started his remarks by saying that on day one, he is going to help those quote-unquote "hostages". Now, if you're someone that has done, you know, violent acts on behalf of President Trump, he's out there saying, I'll defend you.

HUNT: Right, and honestly, it's not -- we covered this last week too. This is something that he does not infrequently at his rallies, talked about these hostages -- I think -- can we look and see if those comments are actually parked in this block here? I know we have them cut, exactly what Alex is talking about.

I'd love to kind of show everyone. Well, they figured that out. Let's also talk about something else that the former president said, which was around his language around migrants, which obviously since he came down that golden escalator, he talked about people bringing crime, bringing drugs, he called Mexicans rapists.

This is even beyond that at this point, and I think we can show everyone that. He talks about migrants as being quote-unquote, "not people'. Watch.



TRUMP: If I had prisons that were teeming with MS-13 and all sorts of people that they've got to take care of for the next 50 years, right? Young people that are in jail for years -- if you call them people, I don't know if you call them people, in some cases, they're not people in my opinion, these are animals. OK?


HUNT: I mean, this is again -- this is not language he has ever shied away from. And immigration has exploded as a major issue here. I mean, we're working on kind of report -- it's exploded on the "New York Post", has a cover of it about someone who reportedly, according to them, has Hezbollah ties.

CNN hasn't confirmed it yet, so I don't want to dig into that too much. Obviously, this is swirling -- is this -- you know, Donald Trump is trying to win a general election. In theory, does this help with that?

THOMPSON: Well, he clearly does seem -- I mean, it is the most bizarre -- in normal times, you would say your general election candidate, you want to pivot to the center. But in the last week, he has actually gone further in saying that he is going to help January -- people in jail for January 6.

He has, you know, really leaned in on this anti-immigrant rhetoric. He keeps saying that there's going to be migrant crime is what he's calling it. And --

HUNT: Right --

THOMPSON: Basically --

HUNT: Well, we've seen some documented examples of it --

THOMPSON: Absolutely --

HUNT: Laken Riley, other -- you know, other incidents with police in New York City.

THOMPSON: But to your point, he is not -- he's not dialing back the rhetoric at all. He is in fact going further, and that's because I think his campaign sees that him seeing -- been seen as strong is more important than anything else.

HUNT: Yes. Let's show everyone what you were talking about, the very top of this rally in Ohio, where he talked about January 6th hostages.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the horribly and unfairly treated January 6th hostages.

TRUMP: Do you see the spirit from the hostages and that's what they are, as hostages. They have been treated terribly, unbelievable patriots and they were unbelievable patriots and are.


HUNT: So, there you go. I mean, that's just kind of let people hear for themselves exactly at what you were talking about, and you know, having been at the Capitol on January 6th, I sort of -- stunned that this is where we are, but it's sort of -- it really reminds me of it in many ways in which Trump takes things that actually happened and insists something else happened instead.

THOMPSON: Yes, well, and you know, we were talking about this before where the first time he did this, was his first big rally of the campaign in Waco, Texas. And that's the first time when we saw him play the Star-Spangled Banner soundtrack.

But again, what's so striking is that, you know, the Biden campaign actually, for them, this is exactly what they want. Because the Biden campaign believed that January 6th will be the difference maker in this election. Mike --

HUNT: Yes --

THOMPSON: Donilon, Biden's top adviser has said this. So, if you're them, then Donald Trump is leaning in on January 6th, saying, yes, like those people, what they were doing, they were patriots, what they were doing was right. And if you're the Biden campaign that I mean, you saw Joe Biden say yesterday, this man wants another January 6th.

HUNT: Yes, the contrast couldn't be more clear. Speaking of the Biden campaign, you have some interesting new reporting out just this morning about the sort of -- I don't know -- they're not in front of me, but there's a rivalry between current President Biden, former President Obama. What did you learn?

THOMPSON: Absolutely, so, they don't actually talk all that frequently, but behind closed doors, Biden talks a lot about President Obama, and is constantly measuring his own performance against former President Obama. Two people told me that in some instance, he'll say, oh -- when he's talking about something that he's very proud of, he'll say, you know, Obama would be jealous of X, right?

And so -- and what was really striking also when you go through the transcript of her interview, special counsel interview, you know, Biden spontaneously brings up Obama too. Even brings up the fact that, you know, Obama preferred Hillary to him in 2016.

HUNT: That is a sore point.

THOMPSON: Yes, exactly, talks about during, you know, the Afghanistan debate in 2008, he was trying to quote-unquote, "save his a-s-s", and so it's just really striking to see how often he is thinking about Obama when he's thinking about his own performance.

HUNT: Yes, it's fine, it's part of why I think two people pay a lot of attention to David Axelrod when he says -- some of the stuff he says about the Biden campaign, it stings a little more because of it.

THOMPSON: Understand --

HUNT: I think. Alex, thank you very much. I really appreciate it. All right, coming up next, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowing Israel will invade Rafah despite warnings from the White House. Plus, Vladimir Putin's explanation for the sudden death of Alexei Navalny. And why Donald Trump is warning lawmakers not to ban TikTok.



HUNT: Welcome back. The White House is calling on Israel to present a credible plan for its invasion of Rafah. A plan that details how the Israeli military would protect the hundreds of thousands of civilians who are there right now, they fled there.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirming plans to press on with an operation despite mounting international concern. On CNN yesterday, Netanyahu addressed direct calls for new leadership in Israel that came from Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL: I think what he said is totally inappropriate. It's inappropriate for -- to go to a sister democracy and try to replace the elected leadership there. That's something that Israel -- the Israeli public does on its own, and we're not a banana republic.

It's not a fringe government. It represents the policies supported by the majority of the people. If Senator Schumer opposes these policies, he's not opposing me. He's opposing the people of Israel.


HUNT: CNN international correspondent Max Foster joins me now from London. Max, good morning. What did you make of those comments he made to Dana Bash? That of course, about Chuck Schumer saying, hey, we need -- we need a new leadership there, because of course, Netanyahu is under a lot of political pressure at home.


MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think a lot of -- you know, if there was two democratic countries, one saying the other should have elections, you would have -- of course, hear similar criticism from the country where, you know, Schumer was talking -- you know, talk about here. He's talking about elections in Israel, which is a democracy.

So, it would have caused some sort of upset, I'm sure within Israel and interference. But at the same time, what you've got there is Schumer, who is a big representative, isn't he of the -- you know, Jewish Americans versus Netanyahu, and they've -- those two groups have always worked very closely over the years as a source of, you know, Israeli government power really with the American government through the Jewish lobby, political lobby.

And I think what you saw there is a very sort of profound moment, you've got such a big representative of that community. They're turning against Netanyahu, is a huge problem for him because it's the source of international diplomacy and power, that access to Washington and to put pressure on the White House.

And now, you've got these senior figures across the political divide really calling out Netanyahu specifically in his policies.

HUNT: Yes, I mean, I think that one of the great sources of strength for Israel in terms of the U.S. -- I mean, you're right, in some -- in some ways, but really, the fact that, you know, from a sort of geopolitical perspective, the Republican Party has always been very supportive of Israel, also to the extent, you know, Jewish-Americans are very active in democratic politics, and you know, largely Jewish- elected officials tend to be Democrats here is not universally true, obviously.

But there has been this kind of universal support for Israel across both parties that has really protected Israel, and that you're seeing that really start to fray here with this war. And you know, part of that is what we're looking ahead to, which is this potential invasion of Rafah, which Netanyahu says he's -- you know, going to continue ahead with.

But the reality is, it's going to put into harm's way all of these people who have fled there, thinking that they would be safe there. What do you see in his wanting to move forward with that? And clearly, there is almost blanket international opposition.

FOSTER: Well, you know, he's vowed to defeat Hamas. He believes Hamas is holding out in Rafah. It's their last holdouts, so he feels he has to go in there. Of course, a huge question about what happens to all the civilians, more than a million civilians who were there. I was speaking to someone at the World Health Organization today, who's just been to Rafah, saying he just cannot get his head around where they're all going to go.

He says there's nothing prepared for them. There's no shelter, there's no healthcare prepared for them outside Rafah, and already in Rafah, it's absolutely desperate -- you know, already.

So, no one can really understand how Netanyahu can go in, carry out military operations without putting civilians in harm's way, or if he has some sort of plan to get them out, it's -- no one could really understand how that's going to work.

And it's a real sign of defiance because so many of Israel's allies are saying don't do this, or at least, be careful about the civilians. And if he's going in soon, there's going to be a huge outcry in Washington and, you know, all the European capitals as well.

HUNT: Yes, all right, Max Foster for us in London, Max, thank you, always good to have you.

FOSTER: Thanks Kasie.

HUNT: All right, up next, a landslide predetermined victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin is giving him a fifth term in office. The "Washington Post" says "Putin extends his rule to 2030."

He gave an extraordinary post-election address and he answered reporters' questions and confirmed previous reports that he was prepared to swap jailed leader -- opposition leader Alexei Navalny for Russian prisoners being held in the West. That was before Navalny died suddenly in prison last month.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA (through translator): As for Mr. Navalny, yes, he passed away. It is always a sad event. A few days before Mr. Navalny passed away, some colleagues told me that there is an idea to exchange Mr. Navalny, imprisoned people who are in prison in western countries -- maybe you believe me, maybe you don't.

The person who spoke to me had not finished his sentence yet when I said i agree. But unfortunately, what happened, happened. There was only one condition for him not to come back. Let him sit there. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CNN's Clare Sebastian joins us live now from London. Clare, good morning to you. Obviously, Navalny's supporters say that Putin killed Alexei Navalny. Putin has denied that. What did you make of this?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, on the one hand, Kasie, we never hear Putin say Navalny's name. This is almost an unspoken policy from the Kremlin, so it was very significant that he turned around in this post-election speech and said it. I think it shows that, you know, he's emboldened clearly by this election.

We just learned that they had 77 percent turnout with almost all votes counted. That's a record in the post-Soviet era. He himself seems to have garnered some 87 percent of the vote, which is a bigger landslide than he's seen before. But on the other hand, if you listen closely to what he said, he said the person telling him about this prisoner swap, he didn't even let him finish before he said yes.


He said the one condition of the swap for him was that Navalny wouldn't come back. So, I think, it does give you a hint of the fact that the Kremlin did see Navalny as a threat even in prison.

And I think interesting if you look at the sort of other side of this election behind the landslide victory for President Putin, the lines that we saw forming at noon on Sunday outside polling stations in Russia and beyond, heading a call from Alexei Navalny himself before his death.

And now of course, his team led by his widow -- it does suggest that despite this very strong results for President Putin, that the opposition now, much of it outside of Russia can still make an impact. So it's likely that he's still also watching what's going on here.

HUNT: All right, Clare Sebastian for us live in London. Clare, thank you very much. All right, coming up here. How police in New Mexico were able to capture a suspected cop killer. Plus, the Kennedys celebrating St. Patrick's Day at the White House. One notable family member was not there.


[05:25:00] HUNT: All right, 24 minutes past the hour, here's your morning

roundup. A suspected cop killer captured in New Mexico after an extensive manhunt. Officials Jeremy Smith was driving a BMW belonging to a missing South Carolina paramedic who was also found dead.

The State Department arranged a flight out of Haiti for dozens of U.S. citizens. Officials warn the security situation in Haiti is unpredictable and dangerous. State Department charter arrived in Miami on Sunday. The sister of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. sharing a post of the Kennedy family celebrating St. Paddy's Day at the White House with President Biden.

And speaking of some absence is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. who is running for president against Biden. All right Washington D.C. here looking extra bright and beautiful today as the cherry blossoms reach peak bloom -- it's just one problem, they're a little bit early. Let's get straight to our weatherman Derek Van Dam. Derek, good morning --


HUNT: I'm going to get ready for the traffic in D.C. to see these things, but you're telling me this is pretty early.

VAN DAM: Yes, it is, and I hope you actually have some time to go see it, because it is quite a spectacle. But they have never bloomed -- well, this is only the second time they've bloomed this early. So, that's really saying something. And the reason is because we're coming off of one of the warmest Winters in recorded history in Washington D.C.; our nation's capital.

In fact, the sixth warmest Winter on record, we reached 80 degrees in January, for instance. This is all part of the shifting climates that are happening across the world, including North America. So, get out and enjoy it while you can -- by the way, this is very interesting.

This is the last time you'll be able to see some of these beautiful cherry blossoms along the tidal basin and into the West Potomac Park, for instance, is because there's going to be a major rehabilitation effort that's going to reinforce the seawalls around that area because of the rising sea levels that have occurred, thanks to climate change as well.

Longer growing seasons, longer Winters, not as many cold snaps, that's a problem, and then of course, that impacts the earlier peak bloom of these cherry blossoms that are so beautiful. Now, it won't feel like Spring or Summer across the east coast, and much of the eastern half in the U.S., 57 percent of the lower 48, we're talking about 185 million people have the potential to drop below freezing. I warned you last week, and I took my own advice, didn't plant my

flowers, didn't plant my vegetables, because check this out, freeze warnings in place for much of the deep south, not what you'd like to see if you're a gardener. But hey, this is the reality of mid-March, we're combating these two seasons, Winter and Spring, and we'll drop just to about freezing in the city of Atlanta and to the north.

But a quick warm-up, and I will be right back to Spring and you can get out and enjoy those cherry blossoms. So, yes, hopefully you've edged out some time, Kasie, because they are truly spectacular.

HUNT: They are. All right, our weatherman Van Dam Derek, thank you very much.


HUNT: See you soon --

VAN DAM: Have a great day.

HUNT: Donald Trump challenging Joe Biden to a debate. Is he serious? Plus, why some lawmakers believe the House-approved TikTok ban will not work.