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Trump Blasts Crooked and Corrupt Opponents in Easter Day Message; First Pieces of the Key Bridge Removed from the Patapsco River; House Speaker Mike Johnson Gets Advice from an Unlikely Source. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired April 01, 2024 - 05:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, ANCHOR, CNN THIS MORNING: It's Monday, April 1st, April Fools. Right now on CNN THIS MORNING, Donald Trump preparing to return to the campaign trail, he had a pretty dark Easter message for America, I will tell you what he said.

The first pieces of the key bridge removed from the Patapsco River, crews are racing to reopen the critical port of Baltimore. And House Speaker Mike Johnson getting advice from an unlikely source, as he maneuvers to try and keep his job.

All right, it is 5:00 a.m. here in Washington, a live look at Capitol Hill on this Easter Monday, good morning, everyone, I'm Kasie Hunt, it's wonderful to have you with us. We'll begin with the striking contrast and messaging over the Easter weekend, President Biden went with uplifting traditional -- this was his Easter Sunday post.

Donald Trump veered in a different direction. He had this all caps tirade on Truth Social, "happy Easter to all including cricket and corrupt prosecutors and judges that are doing everything possible to interfere with the presidential election of 2024 and put me in prison, including those who completely and totally despise me because they want to destroy America. Now, a flailing nation."

Now, that's hopeful and uplifting. Biden also celebrated Sunday as transgender day of visibility that falls every year on March 31st, that did not include some on the right, including the House Speaker, Mike Johnson from saying that the president was sharing the Christian holy day, Johnson posted on the platform, formerly known as Twitter.

The American people are taking note. Here was Democratic Senator and Pastor Raphael Warnock talking about the stark contrast and tones we saw this weekend.


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): This is just one more instance of folks who have -- who do not know how to lead us, trying to divide us. And this is the opposite of the Christian faith. Jesus centered the marginalize, he centered the poor, and in a moment like this, we need voices, particularly voices of faith, who would use our faith not as a weapon to beat other people down, but as a bridge to bring all of us together.


HUNT: All right, joining me now to discuss this, Mariana Alfaro, she's politics breaking news reporter for "The Washington Post". Marianna, good morning, thanks for being here on this Easter Monday. So, this has become a little bit part for the course, but it is still, I think important to remark on President Biden, obviously, a man of faith himself, his Catholic faith has always been part of both his private, but also his public persona, and he went with a very kind of traditional approach here at the former President Donald Trump, going with the politics of grievance.

On again, we should note, you know, the religious holiday is about uplift and you know, redemption and you know, rising from the dead and all of that. What does this say about the presidential race up broadly and what we're heading for here in November of 2024?

MARIANA ALFARO, POLITICS BREAKING NEWS REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean, what we saw was a lot of attacks from Trump's side. I don't know if you saw the Truth Social post, it was just like a barrage of him criticizing the investigators who are -- you know, looking into his several cases and then coming after Biden and call him all these names too.

And I think that that's just kind of become part of, I think what we all see in this election. And it's kind of a little concerning that people are so willing to be like, well, that's just Trump being Trump. But when you compare it with Biden's very -- you know, calm, very simple Easter Sunday speech or remarks like that --

HUNT: Yes --

ALFARO: It's very much quite the opposing view right there.

HUNT: Yes, certainly, I mean, the Biden campaign wants to make sure that it doesn't get lost as just noise, right? That there is kind of focus on this. That said, it does also play into kind of their overall -- when they feel like they are on the best territory for them in terms of running against Trump. It's Trump as chaos, right? Which was some of what we saw over the weekend. Yes.

ALFARO: And again, I don't know if you saw it, but before that, he tried to sell these $60 Bibles and they were, you know, this kind of -- coming from Democrats saying, you know why you're trying to, you know, make money out of religion, tried to make money out of Trump- endorsed Bibles.

And, you know, it's just kind of appealing to that base of his and saying Christian Evangelical, but at the same time, running with all of these comment and all of this hate kind of, -- you know, Democrats are trying to point out that, that is just not how -- you know, Christians behave.

[05:05:00] HUNT: Well, speaking of Christians, there was -- there was a

Christian behavior, I should say, and there was a video that Trump posted, leap Friday, Friday afternoon, that quite frankly got a little bit lost in the holiday weekend. I'd like to show a little bit of that video if we can. It's from -- Trump posted it on his Truth Social platform. And it shows a Pickup truck driving on Long Island with, you know, flags on the back of it.

And again, they said that they filmed this on Long Island when -- and around the president attending the funeral for the slain NYPD officer, and it shows President Biden -- there's a picture of President Biden on the back, and he is hog-tied.

And both the Trump campaign and the Biden campaign responded to this. The Trump campaign saying, "so, this is the beginning of the video and watch it as it kind of comes into frame." And there you can see it on the back. Again, this is a Trump campaign repost, so, let's get that up on the screen as well, because I don't want us to just be, you know, acting like this is something we are showing.

This is something that the Trump campaign posted -- all right, that's enough. Let's take it down. The Trump campaign's spokesman said that picture was on the back of a Pickup truck that was traveling down the highway, Democrats and they say, crazed lunatics, they're making a claim that they've called for violence against President Trump.

I'm going to sit here and dispute that. They also make the -- they claim again, they're weaponizing the justice system. The Biden campaign said, "this image from Trump is the type of crap you post when you're calling for a bloodbath or when you tell the Proud Boys to stand back and stand by."

I mean, it is very clear. I'm not sure I've ever seen an image like that of a sitting president in this context. And again, they can't control what supporters do, but they sure as hell can control what Donald Trump puts on his social feed. And this is something that he re-circulated.

ALFARO: Yes, that was a very violent images, you mentioned. And it goes back to all of these comments. And look, President Biden, the Democratic campaigns, saying that he is trying to -- and democracy, you know. Trump is calling for all those violence, he's trying -- you know, we don't know what would happen if he loses again and then come January.

Would it be another January 6th? And they're trying to warn that. And again, I think that there's this issue when you see polling -- Democrats put the threat to democracy at the top of their concerns. Meanwhile, Republicans are not, you know, pulling that high on that issue.

They're talking about immigration, they're talking about an economy, and I think that there's quite a discrepancy about who sees these messages as an actual attack on American democracy, and who just like waives them off as being, you know, again trumping Trump. HUNT: Well, and this is also something that is very personal for

President Biden. I mean, obviously, in this case, it's violence against President Biden, but I mean, you know, they referenced Charlottesville in their statement, right? And what happened there.

And that has always been a moment that for President Biden was galvanizing. I mean, he has said out loud, it was a big part. The reason why he wanted to run in 2020, and he also will say that he has acknowledged much to the chagrin, frankly, this aid sometimes that he's only running now because he's running against Trump and he sees that it is that important for these reasons, no?

ALFARO: Yes, and again, he's always been trying to emphasize that America needs to be united, that we have all these differences, and he is a candidate that can, you know, meet those centrist and those moderate like never-Trump Republicans somewhere.

Because again, that's -- there's a big population of voters who are tired of seeing all of this stuff. We were not used to seeing this level of, like political rhetoric before. It was so violent and so hateful. And I think that there's still that effort by the Biden campaign to really nail that.

But they're still struggling to get a message across to them, to all of these like pro-Trump voters who just haven't been able to let go of all of that denial and -- and some men -- and you know, hatred towards others.

HUNT: Well, the mega, the MAGA base is obviously extraordinarily strong for Donald Trump. But there is a ceiling there, because there are very many Americans who do reject this. Let's make sure we emphasize that on again this Easter Monday. Mariana Alfaro, thank you very much for being here, I really appreciate it.

Coming up next here, protesters in Israel ramp up the pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu as he faces calls to resign as he wages war with Hamas. Plus, tornadoes, hail, snow and floods all in the forecast over the next few days, that's a little biblical.

And King Charles making his most significant public appearance since he started cancer treatments.



HUNT: Welcome back. Thousands of protesters flooding the streets of Israel on Sunday for a second night in a row, demanding immediate elections and the release of more than 100 hostages still being held by Hamas. CNN's Max Foster joins us live now with more. Max, good morning. What is the root of this pressure on Netanyahu?

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: I think brought support obviously for the war against Hamas within Israel. Is just about how best to handle it, and how to get those hostages home. So, a lot of the -- as I understand it, a lot of the chants in that -- in that crowd were familiar ones that we had before the war.

You know, a lot of anti-government slogans, but also slogans around releasing the hostages. They're desperate to get them back obviously, and they don't think Netanyahu has the right strategy. He's obviously under pressure from extreme right parties who very much see the only solution to getting the hostages back is by coming down harder on Hamas.

And there are people with different views. So, you're seeing more political protests obviously, in the country now, the -- we are, you know, several months into this war, a lot of frustration frankly, about how it's being handled by Netanyahu.


HUNT: Yes, and Max, you know, there's this really interesting twist here because really, this is all about if in fact, there are going to be new elections, it's about whether or not this very tenuous coalition that Benjamin Netanyahu has hangs together.

And it involves both the right and then also some more centrist elements. And there's a big question about conscription. Every single military age Israeli has to serve in the army except ultra-orthodox who have had a religious exemption all the way along. That exemption apparently is now in question.

And the significance of that is that no matter which way Netanyahu goes on it, it may fracture the coalition in either direction and spark new elections. I mean, what do you make of that development, and do you think that may be the straw that breaks the camel's back, so- to-speak?

FOSTER: Well, you know, a lot of his supporters say he would win an election -- a little polling suggests he wouldn't win an election. Currently, he's got a war cabinet, which is this unified group of parties, as you say, and that's keeping him in power.

So, he has an interest in keeping that together, and the test will be whether or not, you know, for some of the more left-leaning parties eventually pull out of that, and that's when he's really in trouble, but he's currently just very focused on the right and just taking this view which the Americans are really uncomfortable with going in harder and harder on Hamas in new areas, and he's still going ahead with his plans to go into Rafah, which obviously, a lot of his coalition partners have a real problem with.

HUNT: Yes, now for sure. Max, let me also ask you on a different topic, but one I know that you follow so closely. King Charles attended Easter services over the weekend. His first real public appearance since his cancer diagnosis. What do we see from Charles? Obviously, we wish him well.

FOSTER: Well, I turned out there, yesterday. We were just expecting to see Charles of a slimmed-down service, because the doctors have advised him because of his immunity under the current treatments that he should be in -- he shouldn't be meeting the public, and that was the last bit of advice that we heard about.

We can see here, he goes into the church -- I was with a group -- a whole load of fans outside, and some of them were allowed in. You see them here. So, they were, you know, thrilled to bits. And then, Charles actually went over to them and was shaking hands without gloves. And I think this is a big -- you know, a symbol of re- assurance really with him and the princess both suffering from cancer right now.

He is now confident enough to go speak to the public. So, his first public engagement as doctors are currently happy with that. I spoke to a source saying future engagements are still the subject of medical advice, but this was an encouraging sign of how treatment is progressing and we look -- as we look towards the Summer, and how the road ahead is looking positive. So, this was a big moment actually for the monarchy, which has been under so much pressure here.

HUNT: Yes, really significant and encouraging, it makes sense, everything you say about the importance of the optics of him doing that, trying to send that message of strength. Max Foster for us in London, Max, thank you. I always appreciate it --

FOSTER: Thanks, Kasie --

HUNT: See you tomorrow. All right, coming up next, a challenging clean-up operation now underway at the site of the collapsed Key Bridge in Baltimore. Plus, the Republican Congressman who seemed to suggest that nuclear weapons should be dropped on Gaza, we'll bring you that.



HUNT: All right, 22 minutes past the hour, here's your morning roundup. Any minute now, crews will open an alternate channel near the Key Bridge in Baltimore for essential vessels. Crews began removing the first pieces in Patapsco River from the collapsed Key Bridge yesterday, four victims remain missing.

Seven minors, aged 12 through 17 in stable condition at an Indianapolis hospital after being shot outside a shopping mall Saturday. It's the third consecutive weekend with a mass shooting in that city. And G-mail turns 20 today. How is that for making you feel old?

The free e-mail service boasting one gigabyte of storage was thought to be a prank when Google's co-founders unveiled it back on April Fool's Day in 2020 -- 2004, excuse me -- oh, I thought you'd run out of that. A storage space? I sure did. All right, time now for weather.

Tornado threats in the plains and the Midwest as well as rain flooding and snow in parts of the central and eastern United States. Our meteorologist Elisa Raffa has been tracking a storm with very wide reach. Elisa, good morning to you. What do we got? ELISA RAFFA, METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. Really everything. It's one

of those storms that's going to pack multiple hazards as we go through the next couple of days. It's still developing. You've got the thunderstorms up there in Omaha this morning, that band of snow starting to develop.

And it's really going to start to come in together and flourish as we go into the afternoon and evening. And we do have a pretty extensive, severe threat. It's a level three out of five from St. Louis to Springfield, back down to Oklahoma City and Dallas, in these orange areas where we have a threat for some damaging winds.

We're looking at large hail up to 2 inches in diameter, that's about the size of tennis balls and tornadoes, and some of those tornadoes could be on the strong side. You see this area right here from Springfield back down into northeast Oklahoma there, that's where we could see not only a couple of tornadoes, but the possibility for strong tornadoes.

We're talking up to EF2 in strength or greater. So, a day that we really need to stay weather-aware, and it doesn't wrap-up today. We'll find that through our continuing to shift these into the Ohio Valley by tomorrow, from Lexington down into Nashville. We'll continue to find that level three out of five threat for some strong and severe storms.


So, you can see the storms really blowing up as we go into the afternoon and evening today across parts of Missouri, and then we'll have those storms firing up again or on the same time tomorrow afternoon evening threat. Could also dump some heavy rain with that as well.

We're looking at a flood watch of 2 to 4 inches of rain for parts of southern Ohio and into West Virginia. On the southern side of this blob, wind-gusts up to 35 to 40 miles per hour with some very dry air, that's going to bring us some critical fire conditions in some parts of Texas that already have burn-scars from earlier in the season. Kasie?

HUNT: All right, meteorologist Elisa Raffa for us, thank you very much for that. All right, ahead here, House Speaker Mike Johnson seeking advice from an unlikely source to try to hang on to his job. Plus, a newspaper editor's clear-eyed, heartfelt message to Trump supporters. Chris Quinn of the Cleveland "Plain Dealer" joins us coming up.