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CNN This Morning

Star-Studded Biden Fundraiser Banks $25+ Million; World Court Orders Israel To Allow More Aid Into Gaza; House Urges Senate To Hold Mayorkas Impeachment Trial. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired March 29, 2024 - 05:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: It's Friday, March 29.

Right now on CNN THIS MORNING:

Fundraising frenzy. President Biden pulling way ahead of Donald Trump in the cash column. He got an assist from to former presidents.

Special equipment headed to Baltimore to begin the task of removing tons of twisted steel from the frigid Patapsco River.

And House Republicans moving forward with the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.


HUNT: All right. Five a.m. here in Washington. Good -- I'm going to you live look at New York City where there were three presidents fundraising last night.

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

We begin with the fundraising battle in the race for the White House. The Biden campaign holding a star studded gala at New York's Radio City Music Hall last night. It featured a panel discussion with former Presidents Obama and Clinton. It was moderated by "Late Show" host Stephen Colbert.

Some of the biggest stars and entertainment like Lizzo, you see her there, came to perform for that packed house.

But this large crowds showed up outside Radio City to protest Biden's support for Israel during its war in Gaza. President interrupted repeatedly inside the hall as well. The event boosted Biden's war chest by at least $25 million and added to his growing fundraising advantage over former President Donald Trump.

The former president's campaign hopes to top Biden's haul when it holds an April 6th fundraiser in Florida? Their goal for that Mar-a- Lago event, $33 million.

Joining me now to discuss is national political reporter for "The Hill", Julia Manchester.

Julia, good morning to you.

JULIA MANCHESTER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE HILL: Yeah, good morning, Kasie. Thanks for having me.

HUNT: This fundraising advantage between the former president and the current president is widening quickly. What implications does that have big picture?

MANCHESTER: Picture I think its obviously benefits Biden and allows him to really focus on getting that message out in those swing states to really, you know, spend that money. And it's in huge contrast with former President Trump, because as Biden's campaigning, he's visiting swing states. He's holding these big dollar fundraisers, Trump is dealing with these legal issues.

What were we talking about yesterday with Trump? We were talking about that effort to get his case thrown out in Georgia. Now, Trump was also in New York yesterday, obviously at the wake of that fallen off New York City police officer. But still, that fundraising advantage really big for Biden, problem for Trump.

HUNT: Yeah. I mean, I think you alluded to this but the costs that the both of these men have are quite different because of Trump's legal issues.


HUNT: He has all these legal fees. Obviously, he's been using super PACs to raise money for -- to pay those legal fees. There's obviously the issue of the bond in New York and his civil fraud trial that he had said he was unable to pay. It's now lower than it was before.

But Joe Biden only has to spend money on campaigning.

MANCHESTER: Right, right. And that's a huge -- huge advantage. And he can also just focus on campaign and he can literally go -- yeah, exactly. And I don't necessarily know if I buy this argument in a general election that Trump can show up to a courthouse, then talk to national media and reporters, you know, when he's, you know, outside of the courthouse or on a break and count that as campaigning.

It absolutely, you know, worked in this primary because he's able to galvanize the base. But does the average swing voter, independent voter looking in on that say that Donald Trump's legal issues impacts them day-to-day versus Joe Biden or another candidate, talking about the economy or health care? I don't know.

HUNT: So, Julia, the Trump campaign is really focusing in on what really was a New York split-screen yesterday, right? This fundraiser on the one hand at Radio City, star-studded, the photographer Annie Leibovitz, was there to take pictures with the most generous donors you can pay half-a-million dollars, get your picture taken potentially with three former -- three presidents plus yourself.


HUNT: And then you had Donald Trump on the other hand, attending this week on Long Island outside of -- you know, not far from New York City, but really a mile away.

Let me show you a little bit of how Fox was characterizing this last night. Take a look.


GREG GUTFELD, FOX NEWS HOST: I don't think you've ever seen a more perfect example of the sparkling, obscenely aloof elites in your life.



HUNT: So this is really making a cultural argument here.


HUNT: What do you make of -- of that? Is Gutfeld right? And should there be any concern on the part of the Biden administration?

MANCHESTER: Look, I think it certainly is an effort, you know, if they're going to do that split screen that does appeal, but some right-leaning voters and Trump's base to galvanizing -- galvanized them.

And it also could appeal to independent voters saying, look, Donald Trump, even though we know Donald Trump is a millionaire and he is, you know, not like the average voter. He is acting like the average voter and going to the wake of a fallen New York police officer versus Biden, who is in Radio City, who is doing an event that most average Americans won't be able to attend.

But at the same time though, it also allows Trump and his support -- and his supporters to amplify this issue of crime, which is something we've seen Republicans really tried to message on that this cycle, and also last cycle.

HUNT: Yeah. And we should note, you know, our hearts go out to the family of the fallen officer there.

What is it, Julia? I mean, we've talked about this ad nauseam since Trump was on the stage. Why is it -- you know, I remember walking into his office in Trump Tower. Everything is gilded.


HUNT: Right? I mean, it's very kind of wealth forward, glitz forward. And while they're able to say right now that yes, Biden went and did this fancy fundraiser with very wealthy people, they're also trying to say, well, don't worry, we have our own, we have our own version of that coming up in a couple of weeks. It's going to be at Mar-a-Lago, which we should note is a private club. There's going to be a lot of people, a lot of money.

But at the same time, there are a lot of voters that seemed to give Donald Trump more credit for being an every man --


HUNT: -- than his actual style of living suggests.

I mean, Donald Trump lives better than the vast majority of Americans. Why is it that voters are willing to give him that?

MANCHESTER: You know, I think we can go back to 2016 and see how he paid attention to voters who said they felt like they'd been forgotten over the course of the Obama administration, the Bush administration, going back, you know, particularly in the Rust Belt, for example, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, all of the states that really flipped from blue to red in 2016.

These voters like the way that Donald Trump was talking about blue collar issues and/or issues impacting blue collar voters, and also on issues like trade, for example. He's really flipped the script for Republicans on that, talking about America first.

And I think those issues, the way he speaks out them really resonate with them, as voters. I think these voters feel particularly Donald Trump's base, field that he -- even though he lives a completely different life then they do, he understands them, unlike most establishment politicians.

HUNT: He understands, I guess, being outside of -- a lot of his life was trying to break into this elite.


HUNT: Manhattan, and being outcasts from it.

All right. Julia Manchester, thank you very much for getting started on this Friday. I appreciate it.

Coming up next, Sean Diddy Combs now the target of a federal sex trafficking probe. We'll dig into the latest and what we know.

Plus, Israel called out by the International Court of Justice.

And, Don -- Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia joins us to discuss how his state in the country, this region, being impacted by the Baltimore bridge collapse.



HUNT: A new order for Israel from the International Court of Justice, quote, take all necessary and effective measures, end quote, to provide basic services, and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians. The court adding, famine is now setting in after warning, Israel last month to do more.

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

Ben, good morning to you.

How Israel reacting to what the ICJ has said and what actual impact? Do they have any capability to enforce what they're saying?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kasie, the Israeli foreign ministry is put out a statement saying that they are doing what they can to facilitate initiatives to bring food to Gaza. Now, the ICJ really isn't having much impact in terms of its rulings. Israel hasn't really changed its behavior in Gaza following the initial 26 January ruling from the court.

Nonetheless, there are efforts ongoing to bring more food into Gaza. The United States, Jordan, Egypt, Britain, the UK, France, and others have been air-dropping food into Gaza, sometimes with deadly effect, Earlier this week, 12, people drowned off the coast of Gaza, trying to retrieve some of that airdropped of food.

But what were seeing is that this situation in Gaza is simply going from bad to worse. So far according to doctors in Gaza, 30 people have died there as a result of dehydration and malnutrition, 24 of them children, one a six-year-old boy died yesterday as a result of dehydration and malnutrition.

Now, the United States, for instance, is going pointing to sort of, we can almost described in his ludicrous lengths to try to relieve the situation in Gaza. They are in the process of sending 1,000 military personnel across the Atlantic to the Eastern Mediterranean to set up some sort of offshore port to provide food to Gaza, because the consensus is, despite Israeli denials, is that the Israelis are simply not doing enough to indeed facilitate the shipment of food across the variety of land openings between Gaza and Israel -- Kasie.


HUNT: All right. Ben Wedeman for us, Ben, thank you very much for that.

Coming up here, Donald Trump's latest attempt to have his election subversion case in Georgia thrown out.

Plus, Sean Diddy Combs responding to reports that he is the subject of a federal sex trafficking investigation.


HUNT: All right. Nineteen minutes past the hour. Here's your morning round up.

No ruling yet from the judge after Donald Trump's legal team cited First Amendment privilege in its attempts to get the Georgia election interference case dismissed.

A tragic bus case of crash killing at least 45 people in South Africa.


They were on their way to an Easter service. The vehicle plunged off of 164-foot cliff and burst into flames there was one sole survivor, an eight-year-old girl.

The Biden administration restoring rules protecting endangered species that were dropped during the Trump era. Republican critics say the Endangered Species Act hurts economic growth.

All right. Time now for weather. We got critical fire danger in parts of New Mexico and Texas today, while the D.C. area is warmer but pretty windy as salvage operations ramped up in Baltimore. And the West Coast bracing for another major storm with rain and snow.

Our weatherman Van Dan joins us now,

Derek, good morning. Happy Friday to you. What do we got?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Happy Fri-yay to you as well.

We've got fire danger here. This is where we have a critical risk keeping a very close eye on conditions there across eastern New Mexico and the Texas panhandle.

Elsewhere, though, generally quiet conditions, it's the breezy whether that were concerned with near Baltimore four. Again, the salvage operation that is this underway with a collapsed Key Bridge. You can see the wins that will pick up through the course of the day today, gusty and over 30 miles per hour at times.

The other big story that you teed up just a moment ago is still just off the West Coast. There it is that kind of a comma shape in the cloud cover? That is a low pressure system that's drawing in Pacific moisture.

And we call this an atmospheric river event because it has that tap of moisture feed from the ocean and it will produce significant rainfall for southern California. So we do have flash flood watches in and around Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, into Ventura counties. Look how it just kind of meanders along the central and southern coastline through the course of the weekend.

Another piece of the energy splits off and moves across the Intermountain West. But the big story here will be the rain. You can see the rainfall totals anywhere south of the Bay Area into Los Angeles, particularly across the mountain ranges near the southern coastline, just north and west Los Angeles, they could pick up locally three to six inches, but were talking about downtown Los Angeles one to three.

There's also a lot of wind associated with the system. So wind advisories and wind warnings in place across the central coast. And that extends into the San Francisco Bay Area. By the way, Kasie, we are adding to the snowpack across the Sierra Nevada mountain range. We call it the snow water equivalent, and we have had a great year for that region and that is such good news to pilot the snow this time of year because we require an actually look forward to that snow melt. So we can fill our reservoirs and have good fresh drinking water into the summer months.

HUNT: All right. I'll take back good news heading into this weekend.

VAN DAM: Right.

HUNT: Our weatherman Van Dam -- Derek, thanks. Have a wonderful weekend.

VAN DAM: Well, you, too.

HUNT: All right. Speaker Johnson announcing the House's latest move to impeach the homeland security chief.

And --


HUNT: Beyonce's country album dropped overnight. We'll bring you some --


HUNT: All right, a live look at Capitol Hill on this Friday morning.

Good morning to you. Thanks for being up with us. I'm Kasie Hunt, just shortly before 5:30 here on the East Coast.

The House Speaker Mike Johnson informing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to expect articles of impeachment for Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas next month.

Johnson writes, quote: The evidence on both charges is clear, comprehensive, and compelling, and the House's solemn act to impeach the first sitting cabinet secretary official American history demands timely action by the Senate.

Here's what Mayorkas told my colleague Christiane Amanpour last month


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Do you have a personal reaction to what happened in Congress last week being impeached.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRTARY: I will -- I will say this Christiane. I don't let it distract me from the work. Would I have preferred that correctness had prevailed? Of course so. The fact that it did not does not slow me down in doing the work that I'm tasked to do by the president of the United States.


HUNT: The House will deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate on April 10th. That's when Congress returns from recess.

Joining me now, "Associated Press" congressional reporter Farnoush Amiri, and "Axios" national politics reporters, Sophia Cai.

Good morning to both of you. Thank you so much for being here.

Farnoush, let me start with you. And there was some question about how they were going to handle this. Why did they decide to send it over now and what's next?

FARNOUS AMIRI, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Yeah. So I mean, Johnson had to deal with funding the government, which is, you know, they say --

HUNT: Small detail.

AMIRI: Yeah, you can't really go through with an impeachment trial without the government being funded. I mean, you can, but it's not a good look.

HUNT: Yeah.

AMIRI: So he had to fund the government first, as we saw that he did last week before they left. And now, you know, he's facing pressure obviously, he has a motion to vacate hanging over his head. As you notice, Marjorie Taylor Greene is one of the impeachment managers that signed on that letter to Chuck Schumer saying that you should take this up as soon as sending it gets back on April 10.

So the timing is -- it makes sense the two big things are going to be dealing with right now is Ukraine aid and --

HUNT: And you think the Senate does what with it?

AMIRI: I mean, Schumer has already said that he plans to assign the jurors, which are the members of the Senate on both sides. But I think we're going to see a fast way for them to kind of do away with this. They're not going to hold.