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Judge Expands Gag Order In NYC Hush Money Case; World Central Kitchen: 7 Aid Workers Killed In Israeli Strike; Florida To Vote On Abortion Protections. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired April 02, 2024 - 05:30   ET




KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. We have a live look at New York City this morning. Good morning to you. Thank you for being up with us. I'm Kasie Hunt.

Donald Trump is supposed to watch what he says when he leaves for a campaign stop in the Midwest today. We'll see how that goes. But it's because the judge in his civil fraud case has expanded a gag order to include family members of court personnel and the D.A. The ruling comes after Trump posted social media attacks against Judge Juan Merchan's daughter last week.

Merchan not holding back in his ruling, writing, "This pattern of attacking family members of presiding jurists and attorneys assigned to his cases serves no legitimate purpose. It merely injects fear in those assigned or called to participate in the proceedings, that not only they, but their family members as well, are 'fair game' for defendant's vitriol. It is no longer just a mere possibility or a reasonable likelihood that there exists a threat to the integrity of the judicial proceedings. The threat is very real."

Joining me now to discuss, Farnoush Amiri. She's congressional reporter for the Associated Press. And, Andrew Desiderio, senior congressional reporter for Punchbowl News. Good morning to both of you. Thank you so much for being here.

We really are, Farnoush, in unprecedented territory here with the former president attacking, honestly, the daughter of the judge in this case -- someone who is not actually even related to the proceeding directly but is really kind of an innocent victim in many ways.

Trump hits the campaign trail today out in, sort of, the Wisconsin and Michigan blue wall so to speak where President Biden really won the election in 2020.

How do you view how these two things are interacting with each other? And do you think that the former president is actually going to abide by this order?

FARNOUSH AMIRI, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Yeah. I mean, I would say unprecedented as far as, yes, there -- I don't think there has been, in history, a president who is facing going to trial at the same time that he's campaigning for office. But the tactics are the same, right?

We saw in the 2016 election the way that Donald Trump would go after Ted Cruz's wife.

HUNT: Right. The same as the precedent that Donald Trump set for himself.

AMIRI: Yes, yes, exactly. Oh, yes. It is his own precedent that he's just continuing to follow and model.

HUNT: Right.

AMIRI: But I think interestingly enough -- I mean, when you are facing the number of charges and the kind of legal battles that he is facing and you do not have the defense that you do, what do you do, right? You go after -- you make it personal. You go after family members. He obviously found that with the daughter of this judge who is a Democratic consultant that he's accused falsely of posting pictures of him in jail. I think it's a tactic that he sees when he's facing a wall. When he has no other way out.

But as far as, like, when it goes against the campaign trail, I mean, we see what happens when he talks about Biden, right? He talks about Biden's age and his ability to do the job. And I think if -- you'll see a through-line in the way that the personal attacks continue to go.

HUNT: Yeah.

Andrew, the -- Congress is out for Easter recess.


AMIRI: Lucky that you see us --

HUNT: Likely.


HUNT: I know. You guys are much better rested than you often are when you're here at this hour.

But it also spares them the questions in the hallways of like, hey, did you see that social media post where Donald Trump attacked the --


HUNT: -- judge's daughter?

And Republicans are -- you know, Mike Lawler was on with my colleague Dana Bash over the weekend having to -- because he was on a Sunday show remote from home. But he was asked about the violent imagery that Trump reposted of President Biden hog-tied on the back of a pickup truck and clearly didn't want to answer the question.

How are Republicans going to grapple with the fact that -- I mean, this -- we're now a few weeks into him being the presumptive nominee of their party? They're not going to want to answer for him but to a certain extent they have to.

DESIDERIO: Right. We're back to these consecutive news cycles of Republicans having to respond to things that Donald Trump says and does because now he is the presumptive nominee of their party. And most, if not all of them have now endorsed Donald Trump either officially or given the wink-wink, nod-nod to this candidacy.

With this attack against the daughter of the judge in this case, I think you would even hear a lot of Trump's traditional allies on the Hill say things like I wouldn't use that language if I were him.

HUNT: Yeah.


DESIDERIO: I mean, I -- like, basically, trying to distance themselves from the type of rhetoric and type of language he's using without outwardly condemning him because really, it is difficult to defend the types of remarks he's making in this case.

And look, his campaign is right that this is unprecedented for a presidential candidate to be not silenced but told what he or she can and cannot say on the campaign trail. But it is also unprecedented for a major presidential candidate to be facing this many criminal indictments and to be on trial for these range of charges.

HUNT: Right. Well, and the thing that also strikes me in this particular case that -- you know, my question for a lot of these folks would be -- you know, they all have families, right, and they all have an understanding of how their living in the political world -- their work --


HUNT: -- affects the people that they -- and they often will say, like, my kids are not fair game, right?

DESIDERIO: Yeah, off limits.

HUNT: They'll say, like, back off --


AMIRI: Yeah.

HUNT: Especially minor children but they'll extend it to adult children, too.


HUNT: And so, I think that there is -- I'm interested to see how much of a double standard there will be for this once they start getting asked more aggressively about this.

DESIDERIO: Absolutely.

HUNT: But Farnoush, let's talk a little bit about some other development news overnight that's going to have kind of a ripple effect on the campaign but also across the Hill, and that's the Supreme Court rulings around abortion.

I want to show you what the campaign director of a group called Floridians Protecting Freedom -- this is one of those names where you would be forgiven for not knowing exactly which side of the debate this person comes from. But this is the language that Democrats have used pretty effectively in talking about this topic. Watch what she had to say about the Supreme Court ruling.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are thrilled that Floridians will have the opportunity to reclaim their bodily autonomy and to gain freedom from this government interference by voting yes on amendment four this November. We're not saying that anybody has to ideologically align with abortion. We're saying that politicians shouldn't be the determiners of that decision. They shouldn't interfere with patients and medical providers.


HUNT: So the Florida court did two things here, Farnoush. They paved the way for the six-week ban, on the one hand. But on the other hand, they said this is going to be on the ballot.

And so, what she was talking about there -- and she is on the side of preserving abortion rights -- was that they are thrilled that people are going to be able to vote on this because the reality is every single time voters have had to vote directly on this issue they have voted either to explicitly protect the rights or at least they have rejected restrictions on abortion rights.

How do you see this playing out? Florida is the last place, really, in the southeast where abortion is accessible currently.

AMIRI: Yeah. I mean, we saw in Ohio -- I think -- I covered Ohio for several years and it was a stunning decision to see them add to their constitution the right to protect abortion rights.

And I think Florida has a lot -- you know, I think they're similar in certain ways but I think it'll be really interesting, especially as Democrats continue to come out to say while Republicans are making immigration the topic of their campaign for presidency -- to take back the Senate and to grow the majority in the House -- Democrats are really staying on abortion, reproductive right, IVF is going to be how they slide into victory in the House and potentially maintain it in the Senate.

HUNT: Yeah.

Andrew, last word.

DESIDERIO: Yeah. I mean, look, this issue has benefitted Democrats electorally. The question is in a state like Florida, can it have the down-ballot impact for Democrats in the Senate race there? Rick Scott is obviously up for reelection. President Biden obviously is on the ballot in Florida. Florida has trended more Republican in recent years but it is still a state that is viewed as an important swing state in the grand scheme of things.

So the goal for Democrats is to ensure that they can harness this energy on the abortion issue and have it benefit them up and down the ballot in November.

HUNT: All right, Farnoush Amiri, Andrew Desiderio. Thank you, guys. I really appreciate you taking some of your vacation week to hang out with us here.

DESIDERIO: Thank you.

HUNT: All right, more now on our developing story. Seven aid workers from Jose Andres' World Central Kitchen were killed in an IDF strike in central Gaza. The organization says they had coordinated their movements with the IDF and were in marked vehicles with their logo.

World Central Kitchen is one of the few aid organizations providing desperately needed food to Gazans. The organization is now pausing operations there.

Andres posted on the platform formerly known as Twitter that he is heartbroken and implored the Israeli government to stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers, and stop using food as a weapon.

Joining me now from Jerusalem is CNN international correspondent Melissa Bell. Melissa, good morning. What more do we know about these seven aid workers? Many of them were foreign nationals?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kasie. We understand that they came from such varied countries as the United States, Canada, Poland, Australia. There was a Palestinian amongst them as well. The United Kingdom, too.


And outrage has been expressed by the home countries of so many of them but, of course, also by many aid organizations and outside observers who say look, it is a crucial organization that was there bringing much-needed aid. It is because the land crossings are so tightly controlled that the World Central Kitchen had found this way of getting aid in.

Last month, from Cypress, they brought a shipment of aid to this makeshift jetty that's been set off -- set up off the coast of northern Gaza. And again, another one we'd heard was on its way on Saturday with 400 tons of desperately needed aid. It's still, we understand, off the large of -- off the edge of Gaza. But right now, as you say, they've paused their operations and it's unclear how that aid is now going to get in.

Most damning, perhaps, that claim by World Central Kitchen that this movement of aid -- and what we understand is that the workers had been just dropping aid off at a warehouse and were then driving two armored cars. Most damning is their claim that this had been coordinated with the IDF. Now, we've been hearing from the IDF as well announcing, Kasie, that a probe has been launched at the highest level to try and figure out what happened.

But this has also, of course, renewed calls by the international community that the U.N. resolution that was approved last week to call for a cessation in the hostilities so that aid can get in to try and alleviate this worsening famine inside the Gaza Strip be actually respected, Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Melissa Bell for us in Jerusalem with this important story. Melissa, thanks very much.

All right. Ahead here, new underwater images of the Baltimore bridge collapse. Plus, the incredible Caitlin Clark lifting the Iowa Hawkeyes into the Women's Final Four.



HUNT: Welcome back.

A six-week abortion ban set to become law next month in Florida after the State Supreme Court ruled Florida's privacy protections do not include abortion. The ruling paves the way for one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country to take effect, but Florida voters will get the final say in November. Monday's ruling setting up an intense political showdown in the state.

Here's what Donald Trump said last year about Florida's six-week ban.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People are starting to think of 15 weeks. That seems to be a number that people are talking about right now.


TRUMP: I would -- I would sit down with both sides and I'd negotiate something, and we'll end up with peace on that issue for the first time in 52 years. I'm not going to say I would or I wouldn't. I mean, DeSanctus is willing to sign a five-week and six-week ban.

WELKER: Would you support that? Do you think that goes too far?

TRUMP: I think what he did is a terrible thing and a terrible mistake.


HUNT: He, of course, talking about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Joining me now, New York Times national political correspondent Lisa Lerer. She is also the co-author of a new book, "The Rise" -- excuse me, "The Fall of Roe: The Rise of a New America." Lisa, good morning. It's wonderful to have you.


HUNT: So you heard Trump there say that this six-week ban is a big mistake. This is set to go into effect now in May. And the court also said that voters will get to decide. So the reality is people in Florida are actually going to have a chance to experience life under this ban. They are going to be forced to experience life under this ban depending on how you want to frame that.

Before they actually vote on it, how do you see this playing out?

LERER: Well, in some ways, this is the perfect test -- electoral test case for Democrats. Democrats have seen, since Roe fell about, what, a year and a half ago or so, that abortion has remained a really energizing issue for their base. It's something that really gets their voters out to vote. It's a coalition of Independents, Democrats, and even some moderate Republicans who feel strongly about this issue.

And now, this -- these dual rulings have basically guaranteed that the issue will remain in the news in Florida up until Election Day as the state adjusts to this new reality where abortion is effectively banned. And then, the question will be put directly to voters in November.

So it really is something that Democrats are very enthusiastic about electorally but, of course, from a policy perspective, quite disappointed.

HUNT: Yeah.

So, Lisa, this is also -- it also means that the southeastern United States is basically -- has entirely outlawed abortion procedures. This is kind of the last place where people could go to potentially have the procedure.

What does that mean for women -- American women in this region of the country?

LERER: Well, it means that if they need to end a pregnancy or want to end a pregnancy they will have to travel thousands of miles to do so. Effectively, there is nowhere in the southeast part of the country where abortion will be accessible.

And it also raises questions about whether the other states -- places like Virginia or maybe Ohio which are, of course, quite far from Florida and the closest places where woman, particularly later in pregnancy, can now get an abortion -- can deal with the overflow from Florida. And whether they can deal with the number of patients coming into those places remains to be seen as well.

HUNT: Yeah.

Lisa, can you sort of dig into what you found as you reported and wrote your book that's set to come out here very shortly? You call it "The Rise of a New America." What do you mean by that?

LERER: Well, what we found was even though the ruling in Dobbs, which eliminated the half-century-long right -- constitutional right to an abortion -- even though that came as a shock to most Americans, this was a long-term plan designed by the anti-abortion movement that stretched back decades and particularly gained speed over the past decade.


This was a case that was organized by activists -- anti-abortion activists with help -- you know, as a broad plan that included the judiciary branch, the White House, and, of course, the state houses. And this movement all worked together to get this case up to the court. And while they did so, the left and the pro-abortion rights movement in this country were aware but largely unable to stop it, both for political reasons and because of strategic missteps.

So our book really details this decade-long push by the -- by these activists to get this case and how, ultimately, they were highly successful. And now we're all -- the country is living in their world, effectively.

HUNT: Yeah, they really are.

What is your sense of what -- how the fall of Roe changed the political landscape -- the political terrain in that there are suddenly a lot of people who have been woken up to the reality that their rights have been changed -- dramatically curtailed if you are someone who is in need or wants to have this procedure. We have sort of seen it -- the energy around this swing back.

What is your sense of how these groups are preparing for the fights ahead to try to fundamentally change this if they have a plan along those lines at all?

LERER: Well, what we found -- and we saw this in focus groups and polling, and really, exclusive never-before-reported political data like that that had really never been seen but we were able to unearth for -- as part of our investigation for our book is that there was this really strong sense of denial that there had been a federal right to abortion in this country for so long that people really didn't believe it could be any other way. It had been in place for two generations and it felt unimaginable to many voters that such a thing could fall. Even though, of course, politicians warned about Roe for decades, people just didn't believe it.

And so, when the decision -- when the leak of the decision came down and then, of course, the decision a month and a half -- or a month or so later, it really woke up the country and people were -- all of a sudden say what was happening and were -- they didn't like it. Abortion rights were always popular in some form basically since -- pretty much since Roe was decided by the court back in '73. And when that changed you saw this new coalition of abortion rights voters who really became a political force.

Now, that being said, there's effectively no way to restore federal abortion rights in the way that they were here before unless Democrats can upend the filibuster and get 60 votes in the Senate -- which you know, of course, Kasie, is a very, very high margin to reach and an unlikely one.

So, really, what Democrats are trying to do now is enshrine abortion rights in a state-by-state effort. And that's what we see here in Florida where there will be a ballot measure on -- that people can vote on in November that would enshrine abortion rights in Florida.

HUNT: Yeah.

All right, Lisa Lerer for us. The new book is "The Fall of Roe: The Rise of a New America." Lisa, thanks very much.

LERER: Thank you.

HUNT: All right, time now for sports.

Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes looking to avenge their loss to LSU in last year's national championship game.

Carolyn Manno has this morning's Bleacher Report. Carolyn, good morning.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. I'm going to need all the coffee today because I stayed up way too late watching the women's basketball like everybody else. But I couldn't help it because this was arguably the most highly anticipated game in all of March Madness and it lived up to its billing -- this on-court rivalry centered around Iowa's Caitlin Clark and LSU's Angel Reese.

The two squads meeting in front of an electric sold-out crowd in Albany. Clark ready from the jump. She hit a three to open scoring right out of the gate. And you just knew that she was completely locked into this game.

Iowa and LSU tied at the half. The pace of the game was so fast but Clark showed no signs of slowing down. She just hit three after three -- nine from behind the arc in all time -- the NCAA women's record for most in a single tournament game, while also breaking the record for most career threes among men's and women's NCAA division one players.

And you obviously had Angel Reese, too. That trademark physicality on full display. I mean, she ended the night with 17 points and 20 rebounds. She did all she could but in the end, this Iowa squad able to figure out the team that they lost to in last year's national championship game as the Hawkeyes are in the second-straight Final Four appearance with a 94-87 win.

Clark elated afterwards. But after this game was well over, both women reflected on very different experiences.


CAITLIN CLARK, GUARD, IOWA HAWKEYES: I know our group has given everything we've got. And at the end of the day, you win, you lose. I feel like our group has given so much this -- to this game and to this program that you can always hold your head high. But I think, at the same time, that's the reason we have been able to play such good basketball is we don't want this to end and we want to keep coming back and working hard with each other and fighting for one more week and extend it as long as you possibly can, I guess.


ANGEL REESE, FORWARD, LSU TIGERS: I'm still a human. Like, all this has happened since I won the national championship. And I said the other day I haven't been happy since then. And it sucks, but I still wouldn't change. I wouldn't change anything and I would still sit here and say, like, I'm unapologetically me. I'm going to always leave that mark and be who I am.


MANNO: The final Elite Eight match-up on the women's side will follow in Portland.

And injury-laden UConn team needed one of the best players in the game in JuJu Watkins and USC. She put on a show, scoring 29, to become the all-time leading freshman scorer in division one history. This one also tied at the half. But after watching last year's tournament from the sidelines, Paige Bueckers was fired up and showed up. Her 28 points helped UConn pull away in the fourth quarter. She makes everybody around her better, clinching this record-extending 23rd Final Four appearance. Eighty to seventy-three the final.

And Bueckers reflecting on her journey after the game.


PAIGE BUECKERS, GUARD, UCONN HUSKIES: It could be easy for me to sulk and be upset and just be said about what life has thrown me these past couple of years, or I could attack it with the mentality of being a leader. Today was one of the most rewarding feelings I've ever felt in my life.


MANNO: It's interesting, Caitlin. Excuse me -- it's interesting, Kasie, to hear all of these women detail their experiences because they've all had such different journeys. I mean, you heard Angel Reese there talking about this villain role that she has assumed and how difficult that's been for her. Paige and her injury journeys. It's just been fascinating to watch these women and they really shined last night.

HUNT: Yeah. No, I mean, it's -- they have to deal with things I would say many male athletes don't have to deal with as aggressively. It's tough to hear her talk about that.

Carolyn, thanks very much. I appreciate it.

Coming up next, Donald Trump back on the trail after posting a $175 million bond and getting that gag order expanded. Plus, new information on the suspect who rammed their SUV into the gate of an FBI office.