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CNN This Morning

Trump Faces $464M Bond Deadline; Trump to Attend Hearing in Hush Money Case; Major Winter Storms Across Central Plains, Midwest. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired March 25, 2024 - 06:00   ET




Donald Trump heading to court for a hush-money hearing, while New York's top prosecutor gets ready to seize some of his prized assets.

Israel onboard with the U.S. plan to free dozens of hostages in Gaza. The ball now in the hands of Hamas.

And former RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel finds a new job and suddenly a new point of view on January 6.

All right, 6 a.m. here in Washington alive looked at Capitol Hill. Those guys have gone on Easter vacation for a couple of weeks.

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

Today, Donald Trump facing an existential threat to his personal and political fortunes, the former president preparing to spend the day in a New York City courtroom, where a judge could set a start date for his hush-money trial.

That trial's already been delayed until at least mid-April. The former president is trying to get the case delayed even longer or thrown out entirely.

And while we've got that going on, the New York Attorney General Letitia James could be beginning the process of seizing Trump's properties and other assets if the former president fails to come up with a $464 million bond.

Our panel is here with us this morning: CNN politics reporter Stephen Collinson; Republican strategist Shermichael Singleton; and Meghan Hays, former special assistant to President Biden. Welcome, all of you. It's wonderful to have you on this Monday. It is a monumental one.

Stephen, kick us off. For folks who aren't familiar, you are kind of our big-picture painter here at CNN in that you spend all of your time pulling together all of the threads that are sort of tying up our public life at the moment and -- and painting for us a picture of what's going on.

I mean, help us explain and understand why this week is so significant for the former president, when in many cases, you know, we've just gotten used to hearing all of the latest dramas, et cetera.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We're becoming almost numb to these occasions when the former president's fate is playing out in courtrooms as separate courtrooms at the same time. For anyone else, this would be extraordinary.

HUNT: Former and possibly future president.


HUNT: And this is the -- the new normal, normality which we have with President Trump. This case, in terms of the bond that he has to come up with today, worth nearly half a billion dollars, to stop New York state going after his assets, to make themselves good on the ill- gotten gains that were exposed in this fraud trial, is especially interesting, I think.

Because if you go to one of Trump's rallies, if you hear him speak, it's never long before he talks about his beautiful buildings, how rich he is. This is something that's absolutely core, not just for his self-identity, but also to his appeal to his supporters.

Even now, if you talk to Trump supporters, one of the first things they bring up is this guy's a great businessman. There's a lot of evidence that might question that assumption, but it's very the germane to what a lot of people feel about Trump and what Trump feels about himself.

HUNT: Yes. Shermichael, I mean, weigh in here. I mean, this -- this also is going to combine, of course, with the hush-money case.


HUNT: Were going to see that play out, as well, on the stage as he -- that's the -- the courtroom he's going to be in today. And that, potentially, is the only trial that we may see him actually endure before election day.

SINGLETON: Which is one that I think most attorneys and most politicos will probably argue is not as substantial as January 6 or Georgia or the documents case out of Florida. It's complicated. I think a lot of people have sort of moved on.

I think the implications for that, the average voter would probably say doesn't necessarily concern them in terms of what does it mean for the future of democracy, such as the other cases.

But with that said, I want to touch on this issue of the former president and his inability to accumulate the necessary funds for the bond. I spent a lot of time this week in talking to some conservative voters and activists in some of the Southern states that are very, very close to the president's [SIC] reelect campaign. And one of the things that I consistently heard over and over again from each of those individuals -- some of those folks are actually tasked with running states for the former president -- was that why can't they beat him at the ballot box? Why are the allies of President Biden doing everything they possibly can through the legal system to persecute the former president instead of debating him on the issues. That's the way the messaging is within the MAGA world.


And I think it's very important for those of us in the political landscape to understand how our average conservative voters viewing these things, regardless of what evidence may potentially be there.

HUNT: Well, I mean, I look, I will say the primary process, I think, exposed that for us, right. I mean, if you listen to Ron DeSantis talk about what it was like to run against Donald Trump, he'll say, well, if he hadn't been indicted, I might have had a better right.

COLLINSON: That's right.

HUNT: But that doesn't, Meghan, mean that this is something that's great if you're trying to win over independents in places like Arizona and Georgia, and Michigan and Wisconsin.

MEGHAN HAYS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Just to go back to what you said, President Biden did beat him at the battle -- ballot box in 2020, so it's -- you know, the future of democracy may not be at stake, but his optics are at stake here.

And I think that people are looking at him like you said, as a business person, and they're like, why don't you have the money if you're this great businessman? And I think it does play into what his policies are and what he stands for.

HUNT: Yes. I mean, I will say, you know, I should have had them stacked, the sound of Trump back in 2015, Stephen, saying, you know, "I have, you know, all of this money," right? And his defenders mean his lawyer, Alina Habba, in this case has been saying, well, he's a billionaire, right? He has the money.

But not being able to put up 461 million like, OK, like that seems to be very exposing.

COLLINSON: That's true. The Trump team would argue that the reason for this is that all of his wealth is tied up in real estate and golf courses and skyscrapers. And it doesn't necessarily have this huge fund of cash on hand.

The problem with that is even if, say, New York state managed to get 200 million out of Trump for this issue, what happens to the rest of his business? How can he run his business?

There's a court-appointed monitor that's in charge now of the Trump organization, which means he can't just move money around from business to business. So he's in a real bind. If he would try and sell off some of his properties, his lawyers say that this is unfair, because it would be a fire sale --

HUNT: Right.

COLLINSON: -- on the prices. So I think it's going to be very interesting to see what the -- the New York authorities do. Do they immediately go after him, if he can't come up with this bond? Do they start seizing properties?

And how would that play? Would it play into your contention that a lot of people see this as unfair and politically motivated?

Or does this become a moment when it causes so much chaos that those independent voters, suburban voters, suddenly decide, look, we can't do with us anymore. We can't have this back in the White House?

Does it make people -- as the Biden campaign thinks, does it make them -- does it remind them of what it was like when Trump was president?

SINGLETON: Kasie, I just wondered, to the point you just made in terms of independent swing voters, when you add all of Trump's legal issues to whatever their everyday struggles may be, where does that register on the list of importance of one through five? Is it No. 1? Is it No. 2? Is it No. 3?

Look at all the data, not just polls, but focus group data. That doesn't appear to be the case. And so --

HUNT: It seems like a conviction is --

SINGLETON: Absolutely. Which is why you see the president and his attorneys continuing to fight for trying to prolong this as long as they can.

And I think, if they are able to do that successfully, you may see some independent voters say, Well, there's not a conviction. All -- all of these other things are impacting my life. These are the things that I believe Donald Trump is better at handling. The economy, immigration, Middle East policy, where you currently see him leading President Biden on all of those things.

I don't think it's going to change unless there's a conviction.

HUNT: Quick last word.

HAYS: Yes, I just don't think that people are paying attention. I think people are paying attention to the chaos. And that's -- that's concerning, with the independents, like those Nikki Haley voters that the president needs to -- President Biden needs to be courting.

But I agree with you that they're not paying attention right now, who they're voting for in November. I think a conviction is what the -- the thing (ph) is.


HUNT: Yes. And well, oftentimes, when I speak to your former colleagues in and around the White House, they'll say like people still don't seem to believe that Donald Trump is going to be the nominee.

HAYS: And here we are.

HUNT: Yes. All right. Our panel sticks around.

Coming up here, a Carnival Cruise ship catching on fire off the coast of the Bahamas.

Plus a firing warning for Donald Trump from the embattled Fulton County D.A.

And why Liz Cheney is ripping former RNC Congresswoman [SIC] Ronna McDaniel.



HUNT: Welcome back. "Trump Tower is mine." That's the message Donald Trump had in this fundraising email he sent out yesterday.

The day before, New York Attorney General Letitia James could begin the process of seizing Trump's assets if he doesn't come up with nearly half-a-billion-dollar bond in his civil fraud case.

CNN's Jake Tapper spoke with Republican Congressman Chip Roy on Sunday and asked about it. Watch.


REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): This targeting of the former president, whether you're talking about impeachment, which -- which was done, whether you're talking about all of these cases, there's multiple cases, all of that is having an inverse effect, right?

The average hardworking Americans out there saying, what are you doing? All of this politics that's going on. President Trump is actually gaining popularity, because they're just focusing on trying to go after him.


HUNT: All right. CNN political reporter Alayna Treene joins our panel. She covers Trump for us.

Alayna, good morning.


HUNT: So we touched a little bit on this earlier, but I really wanted to kind of zero in on Trump Tower, in particular, because there are questions.

I mean, look for the attorney general to start seizing property, it's a lot more complicated than just seizing cash, for example. It's probably going to make sense for her to go after bank accounts and other things first.

But the former president is using his tower. It's the thing that everybody knows about him, that it's almost synonymous. What is your reporting telling you about how the president actually is feeling about this threat?


TREENE: He's very worried about this. And it's funny, because he does have the two different dueling legal battles today, both in New York. And he is very worried about the criminal case.

But this is the one, that the idea that he could have some of these properties seized, unless there's some eleventh-hour, you know, improbable deal that his lawyers are able to figure out. And that's very concerning to him.

And it's very personal to him. And we've said this throughout his civil trial, right, that it strikes the core of who he is. He's a businessman first, and then became a politician.

And part of it is, one, he's been able to avoid a lot of these issues. For several years. He's been caught up and tangled with legal issues for his entire life, but he's always been able to avoid them until now.

And again, a lot of this is personal, but it's also the public perception of it. Donald Trump does not want to be seen -- I mean, he likes to tout that he's a wealthy businessman. He likes to -- people to think that he has all this money, as we've seen him be, you know, sharing on Truth Social, on social media lately. And this is striking exactly to who he is. And that's really the concern behind the scenes.

And even though he's showing up in that hearing in New York in the hush-money case, which he's also concerned about, because it's a criminal. He is very worried about any sort of criminal conviction. This is the thing that is really on his mind today, I know, as he is in New York.

HUNT: Yes. What do we know about what Letitia James is actually going to do?

COLLINSON: I think it's interesting that the president [SIC] -- the former president is stressing this, as you say, the Trump Tower angle. From what we know, it appears that that's not going to be her first target. She's filed court papers to perhaps target first Trump's estate in Westchester County.

So that -- I think she's probably smart enough not to go for the citadel at the start, because that would create, you know, a massive political backlash. Perhaps the biggest possible -- political backlash apart from maybe

going after Trump's resort down in Florida, Mar-a-Lago.

So I think what they're trying to do is create this impression that, as Chip Roy was saying, look, Americans aren't interested in this. They're going after Trump.

The one thing you have to say, though, is that all of these cases that Trump is facing, they've gone through the legal system. The criminal ones, through grand juries.

HUNT: Yes.

Collinson: It's not just some prosecutor that's just going after him. They have to go through the system. And that is what Trump is facing. And that's the accountability that he sometimes doesn't get in politics.

HUNT: Alayna, what is his team expecting James to do? I mean, do they have any idea, like, where she might go first? I mean, what what do they know or what do they think about that part of it?

TREENE: Well, Steve is totally right that the Trump Tower thing is definitely more for fundraising. I don't think they are expecting that Trump Tower will actually be the property, at least the first. I mean, I don't think they're expecting Trump Tower at all will be seized. It's definitely the Westchester County Seven Springs development that they're looking at.

They're not totally sure how it's going to work out, but they are -- again, the reason they've been scrambling over the past week is because they recognize this is a very serious and real threat and likely to happen if he doesn't cobble the money together. And as of now, he doesn't have it.

And so they are expecting her to be -- I mean, they know that Letitia James is very firm with him. She's very aggressive. They recognize that her threats are not hollow. And that's a lot of the reason why you've seen them really scrambling behind the scenes over the past week, trying to sort this out.

There's definitely concern, not just with Donald Trump himself, but with his team behind the scenes.

HUNT: All right. Alayna Treene for us this morning. Alaynna, thank you. I really appreciate it.


HUNT: All right. Still ahead here, new details about California's first first mountain lion attack -- fatal mountain lion attack in two decades.

And spring snow. Some places will see as much in a day as they've had all winter.



HUNT: All right, 23 minutes past the hour. Here's five things you have to see this morning.

A fire on board a Carnival Cruise ship off the Bahamas coast. It started in the ship's exhaust funnel. Witnesses say a lightning strike might have caused it.

The next two trips for the Carnival Freedom cruise ship now cancelled. I'd hope so.

All right. This -- this snapshot of the sun, courtesy of NASA. Forecasters are warning of a geomagnetic storm from a solar flare that could cause problems with your GPS or radio today.

Here's the good part. You may be able to see the aurora borealis, if you're in the Northern U.S. or Canada.

I love this one, actually. Hundreds of waiters hit the streets of Paris this weekend for 110-year-old race that has been resurrected. They balanced a tray with a cup of coffee, glass of water, and a croissant, and then they ran to see who could go the fastest.

It's amazing.

All right. Plus --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're looking the bounce. Garcia. Oh, good!


HUNT: What a shot. Texas A&M hitting a three-pointer at the buzzer to force their game against No. 1 seed Houston into overtime, almost giving our Andy Scholes a heart attack. But in the end, Texas A&M fell. The final score, 100-95.


Heavy snow in the Northeast this weekend. Of course, not really a problem for the little ones. However, their parents still digging out while thousands are waiting for their power to come back on after the first -- this, the first full week of spring.

Our weatherman, Derek van Dam, joins to help us understand all this and give us the forecast across the country.

Derek, good morning.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yikes. Wow, that video of those kids almost took out the innocent bystander on the bottom of the hill. Terrifying.

HUNT: Hopefully, everyone's OK.

VAN DAM: I know, right? That's the dangers of sledding, I guess.

Look out below. And along the coast of Maine, it's not the snow that you're contending with. It's the ice.

This morning, waking up to quite a scene. This is just incredible. This is Kennebunk, Maine, along Route 1, near Portland. And that is a thick coating of ice. We looked into some of the totals. We were approaching three quarters of an inch of ice.

Can you imagine that accumulating on the roadways, on your vehicles, the power lines? Yes. It brought down 145,000 customers, currently without power right now. It was more over the course of the weekend, when the height of the storm was moving through.

The thing is, that storm is long gone, and we're focusing our attention on the next major weather maker. We've got balloon (ph) conditions across the Plains, and then severe weather threat across the Deep South.

All of which we'll cover right now. Very active storm. Large, very expensive.

Winter storm warnings for

Very expensive winter storm warnings for Northern Minnesota. Blizzard warnings. Remember, we don't have to have heavy snow to have blizzard. It's more than wind picking up the snow, reducing visibilities for a period of time.

Lots of warm air associated with this system. And that is going to allow for the potential, at least, for severe weather. Greatest threats today are Shreveport to Jackson, that area in orange. Strong tornadoes cannot be ruled out. Damaging winds, as well -- Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Be careful out there. Our Weatherman van Dam. Derek, thank you.

VAN DAM: All right.

HUNT: I really appreciate it. I'll see you tomorrow.

All right. Coming up next, a new job, new view on the Capitol attack. Former RNC chair Ronna McDaniel changing her tune.

Plus, the GOP versus EV's.