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CNN This Morning

New York Preparing To Seize Trump Properties If He Can't Pay; Now: Blinken In Israel For Talks With Netanyahu; Flood Threats In The East, Snow In Midwest & Great Lakes. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired March 22, 2024 - 05:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: It's Friday, March 22nd.

Right now on CNN THIS MORNING:

New York's attorney general moving to seize a private estate and golf course in suburban Manhattan, belonging to Donald Trump.

And Gaza ceasefire talks resuming in Qatar as Secretary of State Antony Blinken prepares to meet face-to-face this morning with Israel's prime minister.

And Republicans believe they have the votes to pass a spending bill today. Will enough Democrats join them to try and head off a government shutdown?


HUNT: Five a.m. here in Washington, a live look at New York City. Trump Tower somewhere in there.

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

Donald Trump has just three days to post a nearly half a billion dollar bond. And if you can't find the money, New York Attorney General Letitia James is making preparations to seize some of his marquee properties, filing judgments in Westchester County, home to Trump's golf course and private estate north of Manhattan. The A.G. is already filed papers for seizures in Manhattan where Trump Tower, 40 Wall Street, several other properties are located.

Trump's increasing desperation as the clock ticks down apparent in his social media posts. This one posted around 2:00 a.m. last night, it runs 180 words. It's all in caps. It calls the judge a, quote, political hack. The attorney general, corrupt and racist. And the legal process, totally unconstitutional.

Kevin Frey, Washington reporter for New York 1 is here with me now.

Kevin, good morning. Thanks for coming in.


HUNT: So, what's the significance of this, these judgments that were filed in Westchester County.

FREY: Right. So, I mean, look, this is their move -- movement from the attorney general as we inch closer and closer to Monday, to see exactly what she's going to do in response to the fact that he's not going to pay, at least all indications are, is going to be able to post this bond, as he continues to his team says he continues to struggle to find some sort of resource to actually post it.

HUNT: So the attorney general -- they push back against what Trump is saying here by pointing to other corporations that have posted at bonds in these amounts. Is there any water at all to the Trump argument that this is an unfairly large amount of money for an individual to pay? Because they're arguing essentially -- well, part through this process, they doubled the judgment to try to put them in this situation.

FREY: Well, and it's worth noting that the AG has basically speculated, believe in that filing, that -- look, you could also to try to do smaller judgments or piecemeal judgments as well as a way of round this. There have been, I believe judgments paid at least for corporations of this amount previously. But, of course, this is the Trump brand.

HUNT: Right. So, it does seem -- it's very threatening as well to his overall political perception, right, that he is this massively wealthy man.

FREY: Yeah, and look, I mean, this is part of the Trump brand from the beginning. One, it's the fact that he -- his name is on all of these buildings. He owns all these properties.

This sort of undermines that argument that he has always made as part of his political way of negotiating on -- in Washington and beyond.

HUNT: The art of the deal.

FREY: That he's the art of the deal. That he knows how to -- his this wonderful businessman, knows how to get all this things done. He has all of this money. He's a multi-billionaire and, all of a sudden, you can't find this wealth.

So, does that undermine the argument for folks that are already die- hard MAGA fans? I questioned that because if they haven't already been against him previously, how is this going to change that dynamic? If anything, it might rile them up because part of his arguments you saw on that post overnight is that they're coming after me.

HUNT: Right. This is a situation where there is an appeal process in terms of, you know, can is -- you're going to potentially be allowed to move forward with this appeal under slightly different rules. What does the outlook for that for him?

FREY: Well, it remains to be seen. I mean, look, there are various stages in New York that they could possibly go through in terms of going to the appellate court. But he also needs to post the bond to get to that stage to begin with.

And then on top of that, there is just this overarching question of exactly what he could face when he gets to the appellate division. And it doesn't seem like New York would necessarily reverse what's already happening.

HUNT: Yeah. One option for him would be to declare bankruptcy, which comes down before.


But it seems like all of our reporting says that they're ruling that out because for some of the reasons we touched on. I mean, it would be a way out of this financial jam potentially, but politically --

FREY: But it would look pretty darn good -- look pretty darn bad of a middle of a campaign season. Again, for the reasons mentioned that this undermines his whole argument. And do you want to go through that whole rigmarole now? Do they hold off and wait until maybe November, what, fifth? We'll see.

HUNT: Which -- there has been some speculation around these filings as to which properties the AG might go after first in the event that that you start seizing things, what is -- she says she looks out at that building on Wall Street all the time. She said that in one of her interviews in the last couple of months, how what do you anticipate they will start looking at these things? I mean, do they rank them in terms of value?

FREY: I think part of it is what is the already actually have? What does he not already have liens and loans on to begin with, and then on top of that, the Westchester filings suggests that perhaps they're looking at the properties that's just north of New York City. There was also some questioning last night, perhaps could they look at some of the stock values associated with Truth Social, for example. So what exactly would be the easiest to grab that first?

HUNT: Right. Because, of course, Truth Social set to go public on Monday.

FREY: Right.

HUNT: All right. Kevin Frey for us this morning, thank you very much for getting us started. I appreciate it.

All right. Coming up next here, Gaza ceasefire talks reaching a critical stage as Secretary of State Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu prepare to meet face to face.

Plus, an escaped Idaho inmate captured. Police now investigating whether he might be linked to two new homicides.

And Senator Bob Menendez announcing he won't run in the Democratic primary for Senate. Might he run for an independent -- as an independent?



HUNT: Welcome back.

Right now, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is back in Israel where there's an intense diplomatic push to reach a ceasefire agreement in Gaza. The secretary expected to meet with senior Israeli government officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

CIA Director Bill Burns also in the region. Sources tell CNN that Burns will join the hostage talks in Qatar.

Listen to Blinken's assessment.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: The negotiators continue to work. The gaps are narrowing and we're continuing to push for an agreement in Doha. There's still difficult work to get there, but I continue to believe it's possible.


HUNT: All right. CNN international correspondent and anchor, Max Foster, joins me live now from London.

Max, good morning. Always wonderful to see you.


HUNT: So, this has been a very difficult road and the last time we saw any hostages released, it was back in early December. And of course, that also marked the end of the temporary ceasefire in Gaza. And we've seen the humanitarian crisis just escalate there.

What is the outlook for these talks at this point?

FOSTER: Well, it does feel quite positive, if you look at the language, particularly from Blinken. So the gaps are narrowing, but there are still gaps there. When we look at this hostage deal, you know, a lot of the talk has been obviously around how long any pause in the fighting would last. So people are talking about six weeks, and then the number of hostages to be released, 40 is the number that Jomana Karadsheh was suggesting to me when I spoke to earlier, our correspondent and then in return, obviously, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners as well.

The 40 hostages, including IDF soldiers, female IDF soldiers. So, when they talk about the gaps are narrowing, we're all assuming it's around those three factors. How many Palestinian prisoners, how many Israeli hostages, and how long this pause will last?

HUNT: Yeah. Max, I'm looking at the new a cover of "The Economist" out this morning and its headline is Israel alone with, of course, the Israeli flag in the desert and they kind of walk through the precarious political position that Israel is in on the world stage, as this has evolved, and, you know, the challenges range from the increasing polarization of Israeli society, the increasing power of right-wing, they're settlers in the West Bank and, of course, Benjamin Netanyahu has made his government with this -- with this right-wing coalition.

And they essentially are framing this as really critical pivot the point for Israel in terms of maintaining support for its right to defend itself over the course of the next century, really they say 75 years. When you think about the decisions that are going to be made here, just in these next couple of months in terms of trying to figure out a way to fix the humanitarian crisis, while also allowing Israel to continue to exist. And what do you think are the political challenges for the state of Israel on the world stage?

FOSTER: Well, I think we saw a little bit that when Blinken met Arab leaders. So, it's really about what happens or mislead the afterwards. Arab leaders are united, very clear, that there needs to be a two- state solution. And most of Israel's allies agree with that as well, the current Israeli government does not agree with that, but absolutely the basis of the Arab talks is that there will be a two- state solution and that the Mahmoud Abbas's authority currently the West Bank would have a role in that. So he had a representative there in those talks.

And Netanyahu saying he doesn't see any role for Abbas's group really running any of Gaza. So there are two major problems here moving forward with Netanyahu, which is why the tensions have really set in, and that is no two-state solution and a disagreement about who would be the authority in Gaza whilst allowing Israel to protect itself, having a system where no longer does Israel feel it's under attack from Gaza.


I mean, a lot of these are intractable for -- they feel like intractable problems and they're happening in parallel to these negotiations around a pause in the fighting. So it's very difficult, even if they do reach some sort of agreement now, immediate agreement, how they're going to move forward on this with Netanyahu in the position that he's in.

HUNT: Max, what sense do you have in terms of the impact of the looming U.S. election? How do you think that's impacting what Bibi Netanyahu is deciding to do in these moments, if at all?

FOSTER: Well, you know, there's a lot of criticism that obviously America has this huge leverage over Israel because it supplies most of its arms, and yet isn't getting enough out of that leverage, at the very least obviously the Americans have very keen on getting more aid into Gaza. And that's just not happening.

So, it's that sense that America isn't having the influence over Israel but it should have, how that plays into the U.S. election, you know, the Jewish lobby on America is very central to that. So that I think you'll be able to tell me more about that than I can tell you. But how much influence Netanyahu would have on that, versus Jewish leaders in America?

HUNT: Yeah, I'm very interested honestly and how Netanyahu is thinking about the timing of the election. The possible winner of the election, and how like his own fortunes may change in his own country depending on whether Trump or Biden is president. That's really my big question here.

Max Foster for us in London, Max, thank you very much.

All right. Coming up next here, buried alive. A backhoe operator trapped beneath a pile of rocks for 12 hours. Yikes!

Plus, Attorney General Merrick Garland, unedited. We'll tell you what he calls absurd.



HUNT: All right. Twenty minutes past the hour.

Here's your morning roundup.

An escaped prisoner and his accomplice recaptured after a two day manhunt in Idaho. Police now investigating whether the men were involved in two separate murders in the state while they were on the loose.

Attorney General Merrick Garland dismissing the notion that he should have edited former special counsel Robert Hur's report on President Biden's mishandling of classified documents.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The idea that an attorney general would edit or redact or censor the special counsel's explanation for why the special counsel reach the decision that special counsel did, that's absurd.


HUNT: Hur's description of Biden as a well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory angered many Democrats.

A Tennessee backhoe operator rescued after being buried alive in a dirt pit for 12 hours.

Firefighters installed a pipe to help them in breathe while they worked to get him out.

All right. Time now for whether. More than 50 million people facing flood threats here in the East and a series of storms will bring more snow to the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes than they have seen all winter.

Our weatherman tracking all of it for us?

Derek, a reminder to our viewers that it is in fact spring, not so much out there.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, we have this snow deficit across much of the Midwest from Minnesota, all the way to the Great Lakes, and we're going to make up a lot of ground here in the next couple of days. So if you thought winter was over, it is far from over, from Minneapolis, all the way to my hometown of Grand Rapids.

Right now, getting our first of a series of storms that will impact the region. You can see the radar very busy. So it could see some snowflakes flying, Milwaukee, Madison, all the way to Detroit and the Chicago suburbs. This is going to gather some strength this weekend. So, we're talking about ski country, northern New England, big time snow totals expected there. It will stay rain and the potential for flooding exists across the major east coast city, so that I-95 corridor, it is going to be wet.

Look at the timeframe here, Friday evening through Saturday evening. So, you expect 36 hour timeframe here basically to be sock in with heavy rainfall.

Now across extreme southern Florida, two to four inches just for Miami-Dade. Yeah, that is going to be a wet start to the weekend as well, both of these systems working together to create a very unsettled weather pattern across the entire eastern seaboard.

Here's our radar, low pressure located across the central golf, pick it up. A lot of moisture and both of these are going to work together to create that flash flood risk that I mentioned across the East Coast cities.

So look out, New York, Boston, there's the snowfall for northern New England. We're talking Vermont into Maine as well as New Hampshire. We could measure that in excess of a foot.

But in terms of rain, this is where we are anticipating the concerns. Look at D.C. in that shading of yellow, too, according to the legend. That's two, maybe upwards three inches locally, of course, urbanized flooding possible and some ponding on the roadways.

Here's our secondary storm system. This ones for the end of the weekend of that is going to bring more snow to Minneapolis, the potential for blizzard conditions, as well as this starts to draw and cold air from the north.

So, very active. There's the snowfall totals, check that out. That's over a foot for Minneapolis? Uh.

HUNT: Yikes! In March.

VAN DAM: Yeah, that's right.

HUNT: I will say, Saturday, I got to make plans, get the kids, you know, we're not going outside on Saturday. It doesn't sound like.

VAN DAM: Not this weekend.


HUNT: So thank you for that update.

Our weatherman Van Dam, Derek, I'll see you later on in the show. Thank you.

All right. Coming up next here, the shutdown deadline for the government just hours away. Can they get enough Democrats on board to keep the government open?

Plus, failure to launch. The blast off aborted with just 20 seconds to go.


HUNT: All right. A live look down the National Mall. There's the Washington monument on this Friday.