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Trump Running Out of Options With $464M Bond Due; Blinken: Ceasefire And Hostage Deal "Getting Closer"; National Security Adviser Makes Secret Trip To Kyiv. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired March 21, 2024 - 05:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: It's Thursday, March 21st.

Right now on CNN THIS MORNING:

Donald Trump just days away from potentially having his prized properties seized if he can't come up with nearly half a billion dollars.

Plus, the man Donald Trump labeled Little Marco may now be on the shortlist to be his vice president?

And baseball's biggest superstar swindled. Shohei Ohtani firing his interpreter for allegedly stealing millions.


HUNT: All right. Five a.m. here in the East. A live look at New York City on this Thursday morning. It is Thursday, which means it's almost Friday.

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

Donald Trump running short on time and options as he scrambles to put up a half-billion-dollar bond in the New York civil fraud case that he lost. If he can't pay the $464 million by Monday, he could lose some of his most prized assets, like Trump Tower, or 40 Wall Street.


LETITIA JAMES (D), NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: If he does not have funds to pay off the judgment, then we will seek, you know, judgment enforcement mechanisms in court and we will ask the judge to seize his assets. We are prepared to make sure that the judgment is paid to New Yorkers and yes, I look at 40 Wall Street each and every day.


HUNT: Multiple sources tell CNN the former president is in panic mode with the deadline fast approaching. Trumps lawyers say it is nearly impossible to secure a bond after he was turned down by 30 insurance companies. The New York attorney generals office pushed back yesterday saying that Trump hasn't nearly exhausted all of his alternatives.

"Axios" politics reporter Stef Kight joins us this morning to discuss this.

Stef, good morning. Wonderful to have you. So this is a scramble for him.

You know, he has bragged about his great wealth for basically his entire career. Now someone said, okay, put up, you got to put up half, half a billion dollars.

What are the former president's options here? I mean, they -- they are arguing that this is all political, that they are out to get him in a way that's not fair.

How this is going to play, especially with general election voters as we move into that phase of the campaign.

STEF KIGHT, POLITICS REPORTER, AXIOS: Well, if we know Donald Trump, we know that he is eyeing this with an eye towards the November elections, that he does see this as a political problem. In addition to if financial problem and I think that's going to play a huge role in how he plans to deal with this moving forward.

You know, he could file for bankruptcy, and some of these financial issues would be solved. It would take long enough potentially for him to avoid that, but that's something he doesn't want to do. He doesn't want to again, have is image as a successful, wealthy businessman be tarnished because of all of this. And there's something to be said for whether Trump is actually willing to call Tish James' bluff, tell her go ahead, try and seize my assets, and whether he'll try to spin something like that as again, another example of the justice system being out to get him. We know that he -- there's a part from that enjoys some of those loud headline moments.

HUNT: Yeah

Which of this would you characterize as a distraction? I mean, it's clear the president were reporting like he's panicking about this. He obviously took a ton of time off the primary campaign trail to go to the specific trial because this was really his stomping grounds. It's an area where he spent his entire career before politics, which was honestly much longer than his political career, has been so far.

I mean running -- winning a presidential election is hard under the best of circumstances, how do you think that impacts it?

KIGHT: I mean, certainly this is taking a lot of his time and focus and energy and as you point out, this is not the only case that he's dealing with and he taken time off the campaign trail time and time again to attend some of these -- these court hearings that to be in court, to address some of this.

So this is going to have an impact on his campaign. Of course, they see this as kind of part of the campaign that some of these moments in court have proven to be moments where the Trump campaign was able to fund raise more money.


They're trying to take advantage of these moments, but it's certainly going to be a distraction moving forward.

And it also is a financial strain. This is not the only area where Trump is struggling to pull in funds financially. We know on the political front, he also has been scrambling to try to raise funds to meet the amount of money that Joe Biden currently has ready to go as we move towards November.

HUNT: Yeah. Well, and he's also -- he's out with fundraising appeals, talking about them trying to seize these properties. There's a leadership PAC that has paid a bunch of his legal bills. And these -- these legal bills continue to mount.

What do you think the tolerance is among donors? I was talking about Tara Palmeri on the show yesterday morning and she was saying that part of his consideration for people that he may want to offer a cabinet post or the VP pick, he's thinking about, okay, how much big money can this person bring in for me?

KIGHT: Absolutely. That's all part of the calculation. We know that he has been wining and dining people at Mar-a-Lago, trying to talk to donors, people who have money talking to billionaires, trying to convince them to give, especially to as political campaign.

And you're right, we have seen the impact of these legal issues. In his PACs, we've seen just last month, one of his PACs had had to pay another $5.6 million just on legal fees. Keep in mind that these legal fees are separate from the judgments and bonds that he's trying to meet. He already had to pay a $92 million bond just recently in a separate case in the defamation case.

HUNT: Right.

KIGHT: And so, all this is stacking up and he has absolutely using this as motivation to talk to donors, talk to people who may be able to help them out here. And of course, promises of cabinet placement and other things are going to be on the table, for sure.

HUNT: Yeah. And of course, the insurance -- there was an insurance company that was willing to underwrite E. Jean Carroll bill, but no one will do it this time around.

Stef Kight -- Stef, thank you very much for starting first off this morning. I really appreciate it.

KIGHT: Thank you.

HUNT: All right. Coming up next here, a critical moment for Gaza. Negotiators could be moving closer to a ceasefire and hostage release deal will bring you the latest on that.

Plus, an empty chair for Hunter Biden as Republicans attempt to impeach his father, grind to a halt.

And the interpreter for Shohei Ohtani accused of stealing massive amounts of cash from the baseball superstar.



HUNT: Welcome back.

The Secretary of State Antony Blinken says a deal for the release of hostages and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza is, quote, getting closer, end quote. Blinken is in Egypt this morning as tensions really intensify over its planned offensive in southern Gaza.

Blinken says, quote: I think an agreement is very much possible. We worked very hard with Qatar, with Egypt and with Israel to put a strong proposal on the table. Hamas wouldn't accept it. They came back with other requests, other demands, the negotiators are working on that now.

CNN global affairs analyst Kim Dozier joins us now with more.

Kim, good morning. Thank you for being here.

Take us behind the scenes of what's really going on here, especially with Bibi Netanyahu. He was -- he gave an address to members of the Senate, virtually. But yesterday, it pretty rare situation. What is going on and how does it impact these talks?

KIM DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, look, Blinken has to accentuate the positive in negotiations like this. Even though up to this point, Hamas has, every time they're near to deal, Hamas has raised the bar, knowing that Netanyahu faces the right-wing if his own party, which will be fighting any concessions to Hamas. So it makes Hamas cooperative and the Israelis look uncooperative.

Meanwhile, this is playing against a backdrop of the U.S. is the Biden administration specifically, its putting more pressure on Bibi to get aid into Gaza. And to slow its onslaught, especially as planned on slot of Rafah.

So by reaching out to the Republicans, that's a way to needle the Biden administration give the Republicans a win with the upcoming us presidential election, you know, that painting them as the pro-Israel party but it's all a bit of theater because Netanyahu needs the Biden administration right now. He also needs that aid for weapons. That's held up in Congress right now.

HUNT: Right, very much so. Is he picking sides in the U.S. presidential election?

DOZIER: Well, he did get along well with the Trump administration, if not with Trump himself. So, you know, as you're lining up to this binary choice here in the States, world leaders are also looking at this and the Netanyahu government overall did really well with the Trump administration. They meant to the Abraham Accords, the Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as the capital.

So whatever bit of agro there is personally between Trump and Netanyahu, I think he thinks he knows how to play a future Trump administration.

HUNT: He knows how to play them. Interesting, okay.

So bottom line here, in terms of the President had -- President Biden had previewed that this deal would happen weeks ago, honestly, obviously, it did not. Blinken has now extended his trip to the region. What is the outlook there?

DOZIER: So, Blinken has added a trip to Israel. He hadn't planned one. And at that kind of looked like a snub which is bad with this rising tension between the U.S. and the Netanyahu administration.

But he seems to be coming with a message. He said this morning in Jeddah that the U.S. has introduced language that is going to propose at the U.N. calling for a temporary ceasefire.


This is again stepping up the pressure on Netanyahu to ratchet back the campaign in Gaza, at least for a time, to stop the starvation there. And it sounds like he wants to deliver that message in person.

HUNT: Really interesting. And there are some layers here to just the fact that they're doing it at the United Nations. I mean, the Israelis don't particularly trust the U.N., right?

DOZIER: Right. But at this point, you have the international community stepping up its criticism of the Netanyahu campaign inside Gaza. The E.U.'s Joseph Borrell just said they're using hunger as a weapon of war and Canada has all but stopped exports of weapons to Israel right now.

So from the Biden administration's point of view, both to silence or to try to placate the left-wing of his own party, and because of this world criticism rising, its going that a look like its on the side of Palestinians who are starving as opposed to the Israeli army that keeps going.

HUNT: So speaking of the Israeli army continuing to go, let me show you what Netanyahu recently had to say about their planned offensive in Rafah, where of course. So many hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have fled. Watch.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I want you to know that I have already approved the IDF's operational plan. And soon, we will also approve the plan to evacuate the civilian population from the battle zones.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HUNT: What do you make of that? He's saying, okay, our operation is ready to go. Also, we have plans to evacuate civilians. I mean, it's a million and a half people. I mean, is that feasible?

DOZIER: But, look, the Israeli defense minister and an Israeli working group is due in Washington, D.C. next week to discuss their plans of how to move people out. It hasn't worked in the past, but from the Israeli point of view, they've got to hit Rafah because they believe there's a network of tunnels to Egypt that Hamas use to move in supplies. And they've got to physically control the space to protect their own troops.

So that's why they want to push for this takeover of the whole area. But they haven't yet convinced U.S. officials that they can do that in a way that gets more than a million people out of the way and to safety.

HUNT: Yeah, really, really difficult for everyone.

All right. Kim Dozier, thank you very much. I really appreciate your time this morning.

DOZIER: All right. Coming up here, the plea deal that could make Julian Assange a free man?

Plus, is Donald Trump about to make a big offer to the man he wants dubbed Little Marco?



HUNT: Twenty-one minutes past the hour.

Here's your morning roundup.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan quietly visiting Kyiv on Wednesday to meet with President Zelenskyy. He tried to reaffirm that the U.S. has Ukraine's back as an aid package remains stalled in Congress.


JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: President Biden is working this on a daily basis to try to deliver this package to the House, but I cannot make a specific prediction today.


HUNT: Ukrainian troops struggling to hold off the Russians as they run low on munitions.

The Justice Department has held talks with attorneys for WikiLeaks founder for Julian Assange about a possible plea deal. Assange has spent years in a London prison fighting U.S. efforts to extradite him on espionage charges. And crime is dropping nationally, especially violent crime. According to a new FBI data, murders were down 13 percent. And burglaries dropped nearly 10 percent in the final quarter of 2023.

All right. Time now for weather. It looks like winter decided to show up, despite the fact that this is now I believe the second day of spring, maybe the third. I've lost track.

It is Thursday. Our weatherman Derek Van Dam joins us.

Derek, good morning.

So Punxsutawney Phil, our little -- our little groundhog guy. He's -- it's been a confusing situation for him.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yeah. He's basically like, I don't get paid enough. I'm going to make up my own rules. That's what he's doing this morning.

And that's really the case because even though we do have a healthy snowpack across northern New England, the major population densities as long the east coast, very little snow certainly no snow on the ground, very little snow this season. And more of the same situation across the Great Lakes and the Midwest.

But that is about to change, big changes in store, several instances of snowfall possible across, lets say, Minneapolis, all the way to grand rapids and across the Great Lakes, the storm system, not to impressive on radar just yet. But well start to see this thing deepen, strengthen as time goes forward.

So we have winter storm alerts are in place, stretching from the Great Lakes all the way to Montana. A couple of different storm systems involved. So try to stick along, pay attention to this because this is the first initial storm. A wall up of snow, Green Bay to Milwaukee, perhaps a mixture into Chicago by Friday morning. That moves to the east coast, mainly rain event for the East Coast, northern New England snow, then our secondary storm system comes in for the weekend.

Heads-up, Sunday into Monday, could bring more additional snowfall to places like Minneapolis. Remember, there are in a major snow deficit this year. The potential exists for 12, 12 inches of snow or more, not 12 feet certainly.

There is a lot of wind associated with this current storm system. And this has caused quite a bit of problems across the Mid-Atlantic States. I'm taking it out to Shenandoah Valley, these pictures tell at all. They've been battling wildfires and brush fires in the wins.

You could see gusting near to 50 miles per hour, wind subsiding, fire, danger of starting to diminish. However, those pictures really say 1,000 words here, Kasie.


You can see just what they've been dealing with here in this beautiful, beautiful part of our country. HUNT: Oh, wow, yeah, not too far from where we sit. It is -- I love

that area of the U.S.

All right. Derek Van Dam, our weatherman, Derek, thank you very much. I see you soon.

Coming up next, why Republican efforts to impeach President Biden may have just hit a wall and baseball's biggest name allegedly swindled by his own interpreter, details ahead