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CNN This Morning

Today: Lawyers Try To Get Fulton County Case Thrown Out; Bodies Of 2 Workers Recovered, 4 Still Missing; Netanyahu: Victory Over Hamas A "Few Weeks Away". Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired March 28, 2024 - 05:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: It's Thursday, March 28th.

Right now on CNN THIS MORNING:

Donald Trump's election interference case ready to resume in Georgia with embattled D.A. Fani Willis back at the helm.

Maryland's governor calling the Baltimore bridge collapse of global crisis as search teams recover the bodies of two missing workers.

And remembering the life and legacy of former Senator Joe Lieberman, who was behind the No Labels movement.


HUNT: All right, 5:00 a.m. here in Washington. Here's a live look at Atlanta, Georgia, where, of course, Fulton County case is going to be unfolding.

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

Donald Trump's Georgia election subversion case set to resume in Atlanta later on this morning with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, remaining on the case. The judge is going to hear two motions from the defense, one filed by Trump, objecting to the criminal solicitation counts against him. He is claiming that violates his First Amendment rights.

The other is emotion by one of Trump's fake electors in Georgia, David Shafer, to dismiss all charges against him.

Another co-defendant in that case, the former Trump attorney John Eastman, he is poised to lose his law license. A judge in California recommending that Eastman be disbarred for his role as one of the architects of the fake elector scheme.

Joining me now to discuss all of this, Eugene Scott, senior politics reporter at "Axios".

Eugene, good morning to you.


HUNT: It was wonderful to have you.

SCOTT: Thanks for having me.

HUNT: So, of course, we had been talking so much about Fani Willis's -- the -- her affair -- admitted affair, but now we are going to be back on track with this case.

What do you expect today?

SCOTT: Well, it's certainly, she expect some zeal perhaps from her trying to make the case by her actions that she really is the best person to remain in this position, which of course the judge allowed, but, you know, she's been attacked significantly over the past few weeks and months, not just because of her actions, but making the argument by critics that perhaps she isn't even qualified and that this case is meritless and I think what we should expect moving forward is to see something from her from her team that suggests that what she initially set out to do needs to be done.

HUNT: Yeah.

Eugene, let's also talk a little bit about John Eastman, who, of course, is on track to basically be disbarred, that the judge said should lose his law license. I just want to remind everyone about why that is. It's related to his claims that the election was stolen and some of the work he did for Donald Trump.

Here's John Eastman.


JOHN EASTMAN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: My name is John Eastman. I'm here today to surrender to an indictment. As troubling, it targets attorneys for their zealous advocacy on behalf of their clients, something attorneys are ethically bound to provide.

REPORTER: Do you still think the election was stolen?

EASTMAN: Absolutely.

REPORTER: Absolutely? Still?

EASTMAN: No question.

REPORTER: Do you regret attaching your name to the former president?

EASTMAN: None whatsoever.


HUNT: Perhaps there should be a little bit of regret considering he's about to be disbarred.

What's on there? SCOTT: I mean, you think. Yeah. I mean, he spent so much time in law school and everything. But I think what were going to see from Democrats is them lean into this showing what happened? Because I think what we've seen from Republicans quite a few is I'm trying to downplay, of course, what happened on January 6 and the efforts to overturn 2020.

But having your lawyer disbar communicates that this was not a light matter, that's something actually occurred that suggests that this should not happen again. And I think the fear that many people on the left have is that if Trump is to return, that something like this could happen again when you have people who don't regret doing it in the first place.

HUNT: The other case, of course, that's unfolding and the one that could make Donald Trump the first former president the United States, to go on trial is of course, in New York, this hush money case that there is a judge who has said, nope, were moving forward with this.

There was a gag order issued to protect basically employees of the court and their family members, right? However, it doesn't extend to the judge himself and Donald Trump in the last 24 hours putting out this attack against the judge's daughter actually, Judge Juan Marshawn, who is suffering from what he calls an acute case of Trump derangement syndrome.


And he alleges, whose daughter represents crooked Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Shifty, et cetera, et cetera, just posted a picture of me behind bars that makes it completely impossible for me to get a fair trial.

Now, we should note that this account in question, they are saying that his daughter had deleted that account. It was probably taken over by someone else, had this picture up put up. But this really is part of a pattern from the former president.

SCOTT: Yeah, and a pattern that we're seeing extend beyond the former president. I was reading a report that says since 2020, attacks on federal judges have increased more than double and Donald Trump is setting the trend. And when I say they, I mean, even the former chief of the Ohio Supreme Court, and they think that if this continues to be allowed to go unchecked, there are no consequences for that, we can see more.

There haven't been significant arrest, but to have a daughter of a judge threatened on social media by someone whose followers have communicated that they don't mind going to bat for him to an extent that most people would think it's unreasonable, it's of a significant concern to people who work in the system.

HUNT: Yeah. So, Eugene, what is your sense kind of broadly? I mean this, this hush money case was one that there had been this political sense from some Republicans I had talked to you that this was the one that was of the least threat to the former president. However, it's now possibly the only one were actually going to see unfold before election day. What does that mean?

SCOTT: So that means were going to see from the D.A. is them really try to move forward with trying to make the case that this really is as big of an issue as so many of the people on the left who believe its a problem, think it is. You know, we have seen history being rewritten saying, oh, it wasn't a big deal.

This was, you know, a personal matter, but there are real reasons why this ruling has come out the way that it has. And I think we shouldn't be surprised to see it when Democrats really lean on that.

HUNT: All right. Eugene Scott up for us this morning -- Eugene, thank you very much for being here.

SCOTT: Thanks.

HUNT: I really appreciate it

All right. Divers have recovered the bodies of two construction workers who died in the collapse of Baltimore's Key Bridge. Search efforts paused for other missing workers who are presumed dead. Police say the men were in vehicles on the bridge that are now encased in concrete under 25 feet of water.


COLONEL ROLAND BUTLER, MARYLAND STATE POLICE: We're now moving from a recovery mode to a salvage operation because of the superstructure surrounding that we believe were the vehicles and the amount of concrete and debris. Divers are no longer able to safely navigate and operate around that.


HUNT: The NTSB has recovered six hours of voyage data from the container ship, the Dali.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says that bridge rebuilt could take up to two years.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: We still don't fully know the condition of the portions of the bridge that are still standing or of infrastructure that is below the surface of the water. So rebuilding will not be quick or easy, or cheap.

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): The most urgent priority is to open up the port of Baltimore. It is essential to the livelihoods of people here.


HUNT: All right. We're going to have a live report from Baltimore next hour. Up next here, why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says, Israel has no choice when it comes to a ground offensive in Rafah. Plus, a huge cash infusion for the Biden, campaigns thanks to two former presidents. One of those folks picture there is a former presidential candidate.

And how the Baltimore Orioles plan to honor the victims of the Key Bridge collapse.



HUNT: The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu predicts victory in Gaza is coming soon.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We've killed many senior leaders, including number four in Hamas, and number three in Hamas. We'll get number two and number one. That's victory. Victory is within reach. It's a few weeks away.


HUNT: So that is what he told a bipartisan delegation of U.S. lawmakers in Jerusalem on Wednesday. Netanyahu says that since the October 7th Hamas attack, Israel has enjoyed a remarkable alignment with the Biden administration but he insists Israel has no choice when it comes to an offensive in Rafah.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is live in Rome for us with more on this.

Ben, what does this mean for the U.S.-Israel talks that have been trying to find an alternative to an offensive in Rafah?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're not really trying to find an alternative, Kasie, more like the Americans are trying to convince the Israelis to be a little more precise in their targeting of Hamas leadership.

Now, the Americans are most worried about the fact that there are about 1.5 million Palestinians who have taken refuge in Rafah. And I've been to Rafah many times. We're not talking about a large area.

Now, of course, it is crammed with these people who are very much in the line of fire.

Now, the Americans have been telling the Israelis for weeks, what is your plan? Asking them, what is your plan? How are you going to avoid a massive civilian casualties?

And we've seen Prime Minister Netanyahu essentially brushing off those concerns. In fact, when he met with that bipartisan U.S. congressional delegation, that is sponsored by AIPAC, the America Israel Public Action Committee, he said that as far as the Palestinians go -- this is his words -- they can just move out of Rafah, move with their tents. There's all of the Gaza Strip North of Gaza, the people move down, they can move up.


Now, keep in mind, of course, that many of these people have no homes to go back to large areas of Northern Gaza, have been pulverized ground into powder. There is no home for many of these people to go back to. Many of them have moved two, three, four, five times already. And we know from accounts on the ground in Gaza that actually moving back to your home in the north is not impossible because oftentimes people who tried to do that come under fire from Israeli forces.

So I think the Americans are wondering what is Israel going to do if it goes ahead with this offensive in the Rafah area, there will indeed of be many more civilian casualties. And -- but the Israelis don't seem to be taking those American surgeons very seriously -- Kasie.

HUNT: Ben, there was recently action at the United Nations where the U.S. did not stand in the way of a U.N. call for a ceasefire and that seemed to anger the Israelis. What impact is that having on this ongoing situation?

WEDEMAN: Well, what we saw is that the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, canceled an Israeli defense delegation that was going to Washington to discuss the details of a Rafah operation. Now, apparently, they've changed their minds. They're sending a delegation back in the coming days.

Now, we're in this bizarre situation where while this was going on, Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defense minister, was already in Washington talking with American officials. You have an Israeli war cabinet that is essentially split between Netanyahu and people like Yoav Gallant, who independently go to Washington, not necessarily with the approval of the prime minister. So, you have an Israeli government, that's sort of talking out of both sides of its mouth.

So, it's -- there's confusion in Washington as to who is actually calling the shots. The prime minister clearly is concerned about his political survival perhaps the defense minister is more focused on the actual military offensive going on in Gaza. It's confusing -- Kasie.

HUNT: Yeah.

All right. Ben Wedeman, for us this morning -- Ben, thanks very much for that.

Up next here, after Cuba Gooding Jr. added as a defendant in a case against Sean Diddy Combs.

Plus, remembering the late Senator Joe Lieberman.


FORMER SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT): I have never shied from a good fight and I never will. (END VIDEO CLIP)



HUNT: Twenty-one minutes past the hour.

Here's your morning roundup.

Four people are dead and seven others injured after a 22-year-old suspect went on a stabbing spree in a Rockland, Illinois neighborhood. He is now in custody. The motive is not known.

The man accusing Sean Diddy Combs of sexual assault is adding Cuba Gooding Jr. to his civil lawsuit. The former producer says the actor groped him on a yacht. Two of Diddy's homes were raided in any federal human trafficking investigation on Monday.

New York City greenlighting a congestion pricing in plan. It paves the way for a new minimum $15 daytime toll for any vehicles entering Manhattan below 60th street drivers will only be charged once a day, and it will be very few exemptions.

All right. Time now for whether. Colder air and more rain along the East Coast this morning, flood threats in Florida and North Carolina, temperatures in Baltimore can be very cold tonight as officials continue their salvage operations.

Our weatherman Derek Van Dam is tracking all of it for us.

Derek, good morning. What are you looking at?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yeah. Good morning, Kasie.

Currently right now in Baltimore as the salvage operation continues is rain. Okay. So it is -- it's not the brightest outlooks for your Thursday, but things are going to change, going into the weekend. I will show you that in just a minute.

So rain right now, temperatures in the upper 40s, it is going to get cool to cold overnight. We're going to drop to 37 that has are projected forecasts low for Baltimore but then look at the warming trend as we head into the weekend. And I think will clear out the skies at least for Friday, Saturday, a little bit of rain coming back into the equation.

But in terms of the winds, for the boats on the surface of the water within this Key Bridge collapse area, that is going to be a key factor as well considering that they need the calm conditions. Well, that's just not going to be the case because wins will pick up 20 to 35 miles per hour through the day tomorrow and into Saturday as well.

So we have flood threats though this is part of a larger storm system, the rain in Baltimore. You'll see it in just one second. But flood alerts included for northern New England, as well as the coastal areas of North Carolina. Here's a look at the radar, very wet along the I-95 corridor stretching northward from New York to Baltimore. So maybe just add a little bit of extra time heading to work or school this morning.

The backside of the system bringing some more snow to the higher elevations of northern New England.

Now, check this out. This is along the West Coast of our country. Significant storm will impact the state of California starting tomorrow, lasting right through Saturday, more rain for the coastal areas.


I'm looking at you Santa Barbara, all the way to Los Angeles and several inches of snow, if not feet, across the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Good news for the ski resorts and building up that snowpack as we head into the melt season.

But look at this, we do have a slight risk of flash flooding for the greater Santa Barbara area for the day tomorrow. That extends into Los Angeles and San Diego County for Saturday. So this storm system will impact southern California as we head into the weekend with the potential of some flooding as well.

So, Kasie, lots going on. Back to you.

HUNT: Lots going on indeed.

All right. Our weatherman, Derek Van Dam -- Derek, thanks very much.

VAN DAM: All right. Have a good day.

HUNT: All right. Coming up here, new questions about the structural integrity of Baltimore's Key Bridge.