Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

GOP Impeachment Inquiry Fails To Deliver Evidence; Trump Facing Monday Deadline To Post $464 Million Bond; Reports: Ohtani Interpreter Fired For Alleged Theft. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 21, 2024 - 05:30   ET




KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: All right, a live look at Capitol Hill. That's Pennsylvania Avenue. Good morning. Thanks for waking up with us. I'm Kasie Hunt.

The second House impeachment hearing did not go as Republicans had hoped. The GOP witness list included former Biden family business associate Tony Bobulinski, while the Democrats called Lev Parnas. You might remember him as a former colleague of Rudy Giuliani's.


TONY BOBULINSKI, FORMER BIDEN FAMILY ASSOCIATE: I think it's laughable that the Democrats are asking Lev Parnas to weigh in on my credibility -- a convicted felon that served jail time. I have an impeccable record. Now, he warned me earlier in this hearing that they're coming for me. I look forward --

LEV PARNAS, FORMER RUDY GIULIANI COLLEAGUE: I didn't warn you. I said just keep talking and you'll be there soon.

BOBULINSKI: I look -- I look forward to that, Mr. Parnas.

PARNAS: Keep lying. You'll be there soon.

BOBULINSKI: Is that a threat, Mr. Parnas?

PARNAS: No, it's just the truth.


HUNT: The Republican-led impeachment inquiry does seem to have hit this wall. They've produced no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the president.

Democratic Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez repeatedly asked Bobulinski what crime he had witnessed President Biden commit.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): It is simple. You name the crime. Did you watch him steal something?

BOBULINSKI: Corruption statutes, RICO, and conspiracy.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: What is it? What is --


OCASIO-CORTEZ: What is the crime, sir --


OCASIO-CORTEZ: -- specifically?

BOBULINSKI: You just -- RICO. You're obviously not familiar with corruption statutes.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Excuse me, sir. Excuse me, sir.


OCASIO-CORTEZ: Excuse me, sir. RICO is not a crime. It is a category. What is --

BOBULINSKI: Oh, no. It's a --

OCASIO-CORTEZ: -- the crime? Please name --

BOBULINSKI: It's a category. Do you want me to name the exact statute on the RICO?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Sir -- yes. I reclaim my time.

BOBULINSKI: I'll leave it up to you guys to define the statute under RICO.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: OK, thank you, sir. I reclaim my time.



Joining me now, Margaret Talev, director of Syracuse University's Democracy, Journalism, and Citizenship Institute. And Mica Soellner, congressional reporter for Punchbowl News.

Margaret, what was that?

MARGARET TALEV, DIRECTOR, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY DEMOCRACY, JOURNALISM, AND CITIZENSHIP INSTITUTE, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, AXIOS: Very convincing. Uh, so, this thing looks like it's coming to an end, and now, sort of, the question -- without anything.

HUNT: Right.

TALEV: And the question is, sort of, now what? There is -- Republicans are talking -- Chairman Comer is talking about

calling President Biden to testify. The White House is calling it a stunt. Will he subpoena him? Presidents don't normally show up and --

HUNT: Right.

TALEV: -- talk to congressional committees. I mean, it's happened before but it's pretty rare.

HUNT: Right.

TALEV: This doesn't seem like one of those times.

Or is this really about trying to wrap this up and maybe try to do a criminal referral, put it in your pocket, and wait for a different president to have a Justice Department.

In any case, to your point, it's -- it has not delivered as originally promised -- this process.

HUNT: Well, I mean, and the reality Mica is that, like, they don't have the votes to actually impeach him --


HUNT: -- right?

SOELLNER: Yeah, that's exactly right. And we're going to see one of the biggest impeachment skeptics, Congressman Ken Buck, actually leave Congress this week. But that actually might make things harder for Republicans because they're going to be even narrow in their majority -- narrower in their slim majority already. So it's going to be very tough.

And there's so many people who are skeptical about this impeachment, which is very different than the way that they handled the one over DHS Sec. Mayorkas, which was a little bit more cut-and-dried, and whether or not you agree that he lived up to an impeachable offense.

HUNT: Right.

But, I mean, Margaret, like, if they had successfully laid out their case against President Biden -- if they had found evidence of any of this -- like, they probably could get the votes or maybe they could get the votes. I mean, doesn't the lack of votes speak to the quality of the pile of evidence that Republicans have or haven't come up with?

TALEV: And many of the folks they looked to to provide that testimony have become embarrassments over time.

This is just -- it's been a political process. Impeachment is always a political process. But there was this thought that they -- you know, this hope, I think, that they would be able to uncover something that showed that President Biden actually did something that met the general category of things that one might be impeached for and they just have not come up with it. And there -- many fellow Republicans, particularly in whatever you

would call it -- a frontline razor -- like, a battleground race --

HUNT: Um-hum.

TALEV: -- who think that this would just be really bad for them. There are divisions inside the party about, like, just how long to go forward with us.

But I think if part of the original goal was to say everybody gets impeached -- President Trump gets impeached, President Biden gets impeached -- that was a success if that's how you measure success. And I think that always was part of the strategy also.

HUNT: Well, I mean, and Buck, who you note is leaving, has said out loud this is -- impeachment has become something for social media; not something that's actually constitutional.


So, speaking of Republicans and -- attempting to find strength in places that Democrats typically do, Mica, there was a poll out over -- yesterday that looked at the Maryland Senate race. And we just should remember that the Senate is balanced on a knife's edge. Every single race matters.

So this is Larry Hogan, former governor of Maryland, against the top two Democratic candidates. There's going to be a Democratic primary. And look at that. He is sitting up near 50 percent against each one of these. He's at 50 percent against Angela Alsobrooks and near it against Rep. David Trone. Both of these people are running here.

This would be a massive coup for Republicans if they were to win this race. How significant do you think this is? I mean, Hogan has a national profile and serious name I.D. He was a very popular governor of Maryland.

SOELLNER: Yeah. I think it's very significant. And if you look at Hogan's record it's a lot more moderate than a lot of these Republicans and he's been able to buck former President Trump who is obviously the presumptive nominee. And I think it's going to be important in a blue state like Maryland in a bullish year for Republicans where they're trying to flip the Senate to have candidates like Hogan who are able to reach moderate and Independent voters in this year.

So I think it's very significant and kind of telling to see which direction are voters going to go with the Republican Party if they want to stay with it, and are they able to attract these Independent voters who are not attracted to Trump.

HUNT: What do you make of this poll? I mean, I was surprised Hogan wanted to run in the first place, but I guess, there you go.

TALEV: Well, we've been spending so much time this week talking about Ohio and what is going to happen to Sherrod Brown. Trump's nominee got it but maybe Trump's nominee on the Republican side is going to win and then that would -- but, like, maybe Ohio is not where it happens, right?

HUNT: Right.

TALEV: Maybe it's Maryland.

HUNT: Yeah.

TALEV: Deep blue Maryland.

Larry Hogan is really well-regarded and he's very well-known. He comes into it with high name recognition and voters in Maryland -- which, yes, Maryland is a blue state. But I lived in Maryland for many years. I grew up in Maryland.

Maryland does elect Republican governors and Republican members of Congress from time to time. And when it works, they're very popular because there's a feeling that they are not governing on the basis of partisanship but on the basis of pragmatism. That could help Larry Hogan --

HUNT: Yeah.

TALEV: -- a lot. But I still think at the end, the top of the ticket is usually what people turn out to vote for. So I think we'll see how this goes, but it shows you how precarious things are for Democrats in the Senate.

HUNT: Right. I mean, let's be real. Maryland is only a blue state because of Baltimore, right? Because of the population center in Baltimore. It's got a lot of --


HUNT: -- red around -- yes. I mean, Baltimore -- P.G. County -- you know, you've got some --

TALEV: And parts of Montgomery County.

HUNT: Parts of Montgomery County that are liberal. But, like, there is a vast swath of the state that's -- it's just less populated.

TALEV: Yeah.

HUNT: But it's not like it's culturally unanimous.

TALEV: It's not San Francisco.

HUNT: Right -- yeah, exactly.

All right. So, also speaking of the Senate, I -- we couldn't resist this one because there's new reporting this morning from CNN that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is being seriously considered as a potential running mate for former President Donald Trump.

Let's just remind everyone how Donald Trump has talked about Marco Rubio in the past. Watch this.


DONALD TRUMP, 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: So, when Little Marco spews his crap about the size of my hands, which are big -- the size of my hands. So I looked at him and I said, Marco. Little Marco would say -- I think he's gone. I think he's gone but who knows? You never know.


HUNT: Uh, Margaret? Here we are.

TALEV: And now I'll say something brilliant. I don't like -- I think we're going to see a lot of, sort of, name tryouts and names get floated.

HUNT: Trial balloons?

TALEV: Yes. And we're going to have this conversation about a lot them and all the ways in which Donald Trump has humiliated or put those potential V.P. candidates in a box if they've been around long enough to run against him or ever say anything critical about him.

HUNT: Right.

Mica, you -- I mean, you cover Rubio on the Hill. He has become certainly a Trump supporter, but I wouldn't say he's kind of one of these people with a Ted Cruz-like profile out there kind of defending the president at every turn. He has spent time focusing on foreign policy and other kinds of issues.

Is this something that any person would welcome -- the V.P. conversation -- or, like, how do you see this?

SOELLNER: Yes. I was very surprised by this news and I think it's really interesting to see who -- which voters that Trump is trying to attract. I mean, obviously, Rubio could do really well with Cuban- Americans, and then Trump really needs Hispanic voters to turn out for the Republican ticket. So I think part of that has to do with that.

But he still has a long list of people being floated as his potential V.P. pick and I think it's going to be a very competitive one and only -- I think, you know, no one knows what Trump is thinking ever, so this could -- you could have -- he could float more names.

TALEV: And it will include people who are Hispanic, African-American, women, (INAUDIBLE) of color, white men. It will include the rainbow.


HUNT: Because they're going to try to say oh, well, we've thought about -- we've thought about this.

TALEV: As for both parties, always, that's part of what the V.P. conversation is about. But in the end, particularly in the Republican Party, voters who turn out to vote are turning out to vote because of how they feel about Donald Trump and most likely not because of how they feel about whoever the running mate eventually is.

HUNT: Whoever the running mate might be, yeah.

All right, Margaret Talev, Mica Soellner. Thank you both very much. I really appreciate you being here.

All right. Up next, Donald Trump still fighting to disqualify D.A. Fani Willis from his election subversion case.

Plus, round one of the NCAA Men's Tournament about to tip off. Have you finished your bracket? I actually haven't. I need to get on this. The Bleacher Report up next.



HUNT: It's the $464 million question. How can Donald Trump come up with that much cash in a matter of days? Sources tell CNN that Donald Trump is in panic mode this morning. His lawyers say he simply cannot come up with the bond that he owes in this New York civil fraud case. The deadline is Monday.

So, as Trump and his legal team wait to see whether an appeals court will pause the judgment or allow him to pay less, the New York attorney general's office is urging the appeals court to make the former president put up the entire amount before ruling on the case.

Marcus Childress joins me now. He is a member of the January 6 investigative committee. Marcus, good morning.


HUNT: Thank you so much for being here.

So, let me just remind you and all of our -- everyone who is with us this morning about how Trump's team -- and Trump, himself, has done this as well -- but how Trump's legal team is representing whether or not he can pay this. Just watch. This is Alina Habba, who is the lawyer that you would have seen sitting next to Trump throughout this New York civil fraud trial.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does Donald Trump --

ALINA HABBA, TRUMP ATTORNEY: -- and then some.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- have that kind of money --

HABBA: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- sitting around?

HABBA: Yes. I mean, he does -- of course, he has money. You know, he's a billionaire. We know that.

They know by looking at his statements of financial condition that this guy is worth a lot of money -- billions and billions and billions of dollars.


HUNT: OK. So if this man had billions and billions and billions of dollars wouldn't he be able to spend half a million on his bond?

CHILDRESS: It's not adding up, all right? It's not adding up.

HUNT: Right?

CHILDRESS: Yeah. A lot of Americans have always speculated, right, about how wealthy is Donald Trump. And I think these legal funds are giving us a glimpse into how wealthy he is or, rather, not.

And I think that's a point that you just alluded to that the New York A.G. has been putting in her filings recently is that look, this is $464 million and if your real estate is really as -- worth as much as you say it is, then put that up. Or maybe you're misrepresenting that as well, which I think is ironic because this entire case -- why we are here is because the former president was found to be misrepresenting his business assets and that's why this court entered a judgment against him in the first place.

HUNT: So, Letitia James, the attorney general of New York -- you know, when you're in a situation like this -- I mean, the tools she has at her disposal to start potentially seizing Trump's assets or figuring out a way to generate this money, they're actually kind of simple.


HUNT: I mean, what could we see her start to do on Monday?

CHILDRESS: Look, I think on Monday, she's already said that she's going to start, right, trying to seize property assets or just, in general, like, trying to take back or secure the money that he owes.

I think the former president is really banking on the court staying this or if not staying it, at least lowering it down to that $100 million threshold. And that's why he had experts testify that a lot of these companies would not secure a bond of more than $100 million, and why his filings have now said that he's approached 30 companies to try to secure this bond.

And the A.G. is really pushing back on this saying, look, you don't have to go to one company to secure this bond. You can go to multiple to secure $50 million or $100 million here. That makes him feel more comfortable. But look, I think she's really trying to call his bluff that, look, you need to either put this money up by Monday or we're going to start seizing your assets immediately.

HUNT: Yeah. It's a -- we already showed a live shot this morning of the skyline that includes Trump Tower. It's -- some of these things have become, like, iconic in our culture, honestly.


HUNT: Marcus, in other legal news related to Trump there is the Georgia election subversion case. The judge issued a ruling that could end up being critical here in that he said that Trump and his fellow defendants are allowed to appeal his ruling that allows the D.A. to stay on the case.

I mean, what practical implication does that have in terms of whether we're actually going to see this go to trial before November?

CHILDRESS: I think this is just another example of the former president and people associated with him trying to keep our focus off of the facts of what happened in 2020.

Look, I found the Georgia case to be one of the more appealing cases because it was -- we always look at the election subversion case from a national level, right? The big lie and how it's impacting us on the national level. And this really showed it at the local Georgia level. And right now, we're focusing on whether the D.A. can stay on the case rather than focusing on the president saying find me 11,700 votes.

And so, practically -- look, you're having to devote resources to fighting this appeal at another level rather than focusing on pushing for another trial -- for a trial date. And it's unfortunate for that case, which is why I think a lot of people now are shifting their focus to this immunity and the election subversion case with the federal case in D.C.

HUNT: Because it does seem even that case, because of the judge, has more of a chance of actually moving through.


HUNT: Because there's also the classified documents case --


HUNT: -- and people have really raised questions about -- Aileen Cannon recently asked both sides for hypothetical jury instructions around --



HUNT: -- the Presidential Records Act.


HUNT: And some experts are raising questions about whether that's even relevant at that -- at this stage. Was she --


HUNT: Were you surprised she did that?

CHILDRESS: I'm pretty surprised. I mean, you normally get the jury instruction-type motions closer to trial rather than this far out. I mean, we haven't even set a trial date. We're not even a trial motions. So that did -- that did catch me off.

But everything is a delay tactic. I mean, we saw it work with the election case with it going to the Supreme Court, right? That felt like a Hail Mary when the former president filed his immunity case -- or immunity claim in the very beginning, and now it's at the Supreme Court. We're supposed to have a trial in March in that case in D.C. and now we're not even, like, there because we're arguing at the Supreme Court.

HUNT: Yeah.

CHILDRESS: And then in Georgia -- like, going back to that point, right, that was one of those cases where people were starting to flip. If you forget -- if you remember back in October, we had co-defendants that were flipping, which shows that this case was making real progress. And now you have no incentive as a defendant to flip because of these appeals and other issues that are taking precedence.

HUNT: Right. Another situation where what Donald Trump did in his pre-politics life -- I mean, he was delaying -- has -- he's something of an expert in delaying trials during and throwing sand in the gears.

CHILDRESS: Well, maybe the A.G. can hold him accountable -- maybe.

HUNT: We will see, I suppose.


HUNT: Marcus, thank you very much for being here.

CHILDRESS: Thank you, Kasie.

HUNT: I really appreciate your time.

All right, now this. Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani firing his longtime interpreter, accusing him of stealing millions of dollars to place sports bets.

Let's go to CNN's Hanako Montgomery. She is live for us in Tokyo. Hanako, he is -- Shohei is just a superstar. What allegedly happened here?

HANAKO MONTGOMERY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Kasie. I mean, he is a living legend.

So this is a developing story. But we do know from ESPN's reporting and from the L.A. Times reporting is that Ohtani's lawyers believe Mizuhara stole millions of U.S. dollars from the athlete and used it to place bets with a bookmaker who is currently under federal investigation in the United States. We also know from an ESPN interview with Mizuhara on Tuesday that he denied ever placing any bets on Major League Baseball games and said that Ohtani was never involved in any of the gambling.

Now, what we can confirm is that Mizuhara has been fired by the L.A. Dodgers. We also have a statement from Ohtani's lawyers that reads, and I quote, "In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft and we are turning the matter over to the authorities."

So, on Wednesday, we saw Mizuhara translating and interpreting for the athlete in Seoul during the Major League Baseball season opener. And by Thursday, he was out, Kasie.

HUNT: Hanako, what are we hearing from fans in Japan? I know there are many of his fans there as well as here.

MONTGOMERY: Yeah, Kasie. I mean, fans in Japan have been extremely shocked by this news, especially right now because there is just so much excitement around Ohtani being in Seoul and playing for that Major League Baseball season opener, and also the recent news about his marriage.

And adding to the fact is that Mizuhara is not a stranger. He is the longtime interpreter and friend of Ohtani. The pair have actually been working together since 2013 when Ohtani was still playing professional baseball in Japan. And the fact Ohtani trusted Mizuhara so much that he asked the interpreter to come with him to Los Angeles when he first made that move to Major League Baseball back in 2018.

So the nature of this relationship has really shocked fans in Japan and it remains to be seen how this will affect the pair's relationship, Kasie.

HUNT: All right, Hanako Montgomery for us in Tokyo. Hanako, thank you very much for that.

All right, time now for Bleacher. Time is running out to get your March Madness brackets ready. The first round of the Men's NCAA Tournament tips off in just about six hours.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Andy, good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yeah, good morning, Kasie.

Today and tomorrow -- two of the best days in all of sports. You've got 16 games on tap today and 16 more tomorrow, so you've got to make sure to get those brackets in before that first game tips off at about 12:15 Eastern.

Now, last night, Grambling making some school history. Jimel Cofer coming through with a clutch layup here to tie the game with 37 seconds left. We go to overtime. In the extra period, the Tigers pulling away from Montana State to win 88-81.

And Grambling's coach Donte' Jackson -- well, he was all fired up about making the first round.


DONTE' JACKSON, HEAD COACH, GRAMBLING STATE: Incredible. It's what March is made of, baby. You got to find a way to fight, stay in the game, and have that one last run. So, hey, listen, we let the chips fall where they may. They ain't expecting us to win this one.


SCHOLES: All right, so Grambling how has a date with Purdue in the first round tomorrow.

Colorado, meanwhile, taking care of Boise State 60-53. But Buffs a 10 seed and a pretty trendy pick to upset Florida in the first round tomorrow.


Boise State, meanwhile -- they are now 0-10 in the tournament and that's the worst record of any school ever.

All right, the action -- it starts just after noon Eastern. You can watch across our sister networks TNT, TBS, and truTV.

Now, no coach in this year's March Madness has a more compelling story than Long Beach State's Dan Monson. He was fired by the school last week after 17 seasons on the sidelines but was allowed to remain with the team through the end of the postseason. Well, then the 49ers went on a run for the ages, winning the Big West Tournament to get an automatic berth into the NCAA Tourney.

And speaking with reporters yesterday, Monson -- well, he couldn't help make light of his situation.


DAN MONSON, HEAD COACH, LONG BEACH STATE: It's like -- you guys see the "SEINFELD" when he -- when George Costanza was trying to get fired and couldn't get -- lose his job, and still going to work every day? That's me. I'm a -- I'm a "SEINFELD" episode going on right now in real life.


SCHOLES: Oh, you've got to love it.

Long Beach State is going to take on Arizona today in the first round.

Now, if you're panicking and still have to fill out your bracket, I've some final tips for you. Don't pick a 16-seed to beat a one. It happened last year but it's only happened twice ever. But pick one of those 1-seeds to get upset by an 8- or 9-seed in the second round. It's happened in 10 of the last 13 tournaments. So find an 8- or a 9- seed you like.

And believe in those 11 seeds. Since 2014, 11-seeds actually having a winning record with over 6-seeds going 19 and 17 in that stretch.

Kasie, how are you? You got your bracket filled out?


SCHOLES: You ready to go?

HUNT: I have not filled it out yet, actually.

SCHOLES: Oh, boy.

HUNT: I did clip and save the graphic that you did for us a couple of days ago. So this is the first time I might -- usually, I -- honestly, I'm just a fan. I'm not an expert by any stretch. But I might rely on you this time, so cross your fingers for me.

SCHOLES: Use all the tips I've given you and then we'll go from there.

HUNT: I've just got to remember to do it before 12:15.


HUNT: Andy, thank you. I really appreciate it.

SCHOLES: All right.

HUNT: See you tomorrow.

All right. Up next here, a manhunt is underway for an inmate and his accomplice behind an ambush at a hospital. We'll be back in just a moment.