Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Trump Returning To Campaign Trail After Gag Order Expanded; RFK Jr.: Biden Threatens Democracy More Than Trump; Trump Media Stock Plunges After $58M Loss In 2023. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired April 02, 2024 - 06:30   ET




KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Today, Donald Trump hitting the campaign trail. He's holding events in Michigan and Wisconsin after the New York judge in his hush money trial expanded the gag order against him. That order now includes the judges, family members, after for Trump attacked his daughter on Truth Social.

Judge Marshawn write -- this in his order, quote, the average observer must now, after hearing defendants recent attacks draw the conclusion that if they become involved in these proceedings, even tangentially, they should not only worry for themselves, but for their loved ones as well.

Our panel is back and we're also joined by CNN national security reporter Zach Cohen.

Zach, good morning to you.

Let's dig into why this is so problematic for any -- anyone to be able to have faith in the judicial system when these threats like this are present?

ZACHARY COHEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: I mean, look, what we've heard from a sitting judge, just a couple of days ago who said that, look, judges can't do their job, and it threatens the entire future of democracy if judges are looking over their shoulder, they can't make rulings based on their view of the law, and they are influenced essentially by these threads, by lottery security concerns and retired judges have also jumped in and said that's exactly right.

And prosecutors are now making that exact same argument. They're saying that this gag order needs to be expanded because the judge in this case can't do his job unless he feels secure and safe and doing so.

HUNT: Yeah. I think we need to be clear, again because people here at gag order and the former president is making this argument, You know, I'm the presumptive Republican nominee. They are gagging me there. This is not preventing political speech at all by the president.

COHEN: No, this is preventing threading comments potentially or intimidation things taken as intimidation against tangential people and not even related to the case like family members, people, not associated with the case itself. The judge as basically welcomed any sort of criticism that Trump can throw them. It's anybody else that's the problem.

HUNT: Fair. Okay.

So, Molly Ball, we have a little bit of new information on the expected witnesses in this hush money trial. The one that really stood out to me was Hope Hicks is now expected to testify along with Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels, David Pecker, and other interesting sort of player, Karen McDougal, I hadn't heard that name in a minute, and Kellyanne Conway.

What do you think -- I mean, Hicks in particular is just this very interesting figure. I mean, I got to know her when she was with him, issues with them from the beginning, she's just kind of very poised presence in many ways, a contrast to the president himself in how she kind of conduct yourself and comes across.

How are you expecting this to play out? Because it looks like we are actually going to get this to trial starting on the 15th.

MOLLY BALL, SENIOR POLIITCAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: We'll see, right? I mean, it keeps getting pushed back and all of these trials do, but, you know, I think, yeah, I hope picks in particular, she was with Trump from the beginning of that 2016 campaign, and then she disappeared after serving in the administration.

She was always this sort of figure of fascination, right? She was -- she always was sort of private and didn't talk a lot about herself and think people saw her as this sort of woman of mystery. And so the fact that she is going to be a part of these proceedings, as you said, it just it's like a nostalgia act of the early Trump years, right?

It's just like a parade of figures that we all remember from our sort of PTSD, from covering the Trump administration and 2017, 2018 and so it'll be interesting to see how the public responds to that, right? Does it take them back to that time which felt like another era? At least to me.

We've seen a lot of Trump nostalgia in the way that people are looking back on the Trump administration.


And so maybe this will remind them also of those sort of soap opera years and how crazy it all was.

HUNT: Yeah, if anything, Hope really stood out to me because she was one of the least operatic figures in a soap opera, right? She always operated in a very professional way. And I think there were a lot of people who looked at of how she conducted herself in that maelstrom. And were kind of like really, something doesn't match here.

So, you're right, like she did ultimately leave.

Jonah Goldberg, what do you make of the fact that this is the trial that we are going to see start to unfold here as opposed to the other things that are facing Donald Trump?

JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I think it's unfortunate. I think that this is the least -- I think he's guilty, don't get me wrong. But I don't think the case should have been brought. I certainly don't think it should go in first. I think that this is one of these cases that fuels the Trump narrative that he is -- that they're prosecuting him for things that they wouldn't prosecute other people for, and I don't think that's necessarily a good thing.

I also would say its very strange how all Trump surrogates barely -- no one denies the fundamental allegations under this, right? It's all this meta level stuff about this case shouldn't be brought.

And I think that at the end of the day the ugliness and the mess of it is going to matter more than whatever the ultimate legal finding is.

HUNT: Yeah.

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. I agree. This probably isn't the strongest out of the gate. I think those of us who are concerned about the threat that Donald Trump poses would have liked to see the Jack Smith case be the tip of the spear here terms of what matters to people in the threat that, that he really poses to our democracy.

But I will say, I do think there is an opportunity cost from a communications perspective anytime he's out talking about his legal troubles, he's not talking about what he's going to do for American families. He's not talking about his visions for --


HUNT: Which is why he wants to be political speech. He wants to complain about the trial, be seen as political speech, to your point earlier.

BEDINGFIELD: Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely. But at the end of the day, I am, it is hard for me to see a world where this is a good thing for Donald Trump. Again, as we were talking about earlier, is a good with his most hardcore base. Do they feel aggrieved? Yes, absolutely.

But those people are going to vote for Donald Trump, come hell or high water. They've made that a very clear. So I think anytime he's being forced to defend behavior like this, and I would argue even the throwback to 2016 is probably a good thing for the Biden campaign writ large as people kind of think back and go, God, it was a mess when he was president that was do I really want to live through that again every day?

HUNT: I think Molly called it PTSD, I mean. All right. Zach Cohen -- Zach, thank you.

I really appreciate you being here.

There's also this today, a Florida Supreme Court ruling will allow the states six-week abortion ban to become law next month, but a second ruling by that same court puts the final say in the peoples hands? The state Supreme Court on Monday also approving language for a ballot measure that would prevent any restrictions on abortion before viability. The voters will have a chance to vote on that measure this fall.

Abortion access has been largely losing issue for Republicans since the fall of Roe versus Wade. Here's what former President Trump said last year, about a six-week ban.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People are starting to think of 15 weeks that seems to be a number that people are talking about right now.

INTERVIEWER: Would you sign that?

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

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

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


HUNT: Jonah Goldberg, there's a lot there.

GOLDBERG: Yeah. Look, as someone who thought Roe should have been overturned, I think it's also good that the voters of Florida get to decide how they're going to do this. I'm against the national ban for the same reasons I was against Roe or similar reasons. I think that one of the underappreciated things about this is -- I -- I don't know I mean, like the idea that this puts Florida in play for Biden seems maybe a bridge too far to me.

HUNT: I don't disagree with that.


HUNT: I wanted to go to Kate. She's like anxious to jump in.

GOLDBERG: I'm sure, but it could cost the Trump campaign money --




ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR. (I), U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you have a government that can silence its opponent, it has license for any atrocity.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST, OUTFRONT: So, just to be clear, you're saying you could make an argument that President Biden is a worse threat to democracy than Donald Trump?

KENNEDY: Absolutely.


HUNT: Independent presidential Robert F. Kennedy Jr. telling CNN's Erin Burnett last night, he (VIDEO GAP) President Biden or former President Trump would destroy American democracy. But if he had to choose who poses the biggest threat, this is his answer.


KENNEDY: I can make the argument that President Biden is a much worse threat to democracy.

And the reason for that is President Biden is the first candidate in history, the first president in history that has used the federal agencies to censor political speech.

No president in the country has ever done that. The greatest threat to democracy is not somebody who questions election returns, but a president of the United States who uses the power of his office to force the social media companies, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter to open a portal and give access to that portal to the FBI, to the CIA, to the IRS, to CISA, to NIH to censor his political critics.


HUNT: So lucky for us, we employ Daniel Dale. He is our fact-checker and he was asked immediately after this interview, what was true about what you just heard from RFK, and what was not. Here's what Dale said.


DANIEL DALE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: He also claimed that President Biden has been personally censoring him. We know there is a controversy about a White House communications with social media companies about what post should -- what post and account should (VIDEO GAP) involved whatsoever, and it's important to remember that he was posting a frequent serial vaccine and other COVID-19 misinformation. That's what we're talking about here, not political criticism.


HUNT: All right. Panel's back over. We're joined by Sara Fischer of "Axios", CNN, senior media analyst.

So, Kate, let me start with you on this because there's a lot here with this, he's basically making these claims of we've heard this sort of censorship free speech stuff coming from people like Elon Musk and others on the right. But he's essentially arguing that is a bigger threat than what Trump poses. And, you know, we can go through the litany of January 6, then a tendencies and dictator for -- I mean, the list is very long but I think fundamentally why are we listening to them at all right?

It's because he's going to have an impact likely on the election when you hear him say stuff like that, what do you what is your take on how that's going to impact the race as it is what the Biden team should be doing about it?

BEDINGFIELD: Yeah. Well, first of all, look, its a ludicrous statement and its important to recognize that the speech that he's complaining about having been stifled was debunked, misinformation about the COVID vaccine in 2021. Long before he was a presidential candidate, he obviously is making every effort here to try to conflate what he was doing and spreading frankly, very dangerous information, misinformation about the vaccine and about public health with his own political interests now.

HUNT: A vaccine that, by the way, the Trump administration developed.

BEDINGFIELD: Absolutely, absolutely.

GOLDBERG: That's one of the best things he did, yeah.

BEDINGFIELD: Absolutely, absolutely.

So the Biden campaign has an interesting challenge here, because on the one hand, they don't want to elevate him to a place where they, you know, he's given more platform and more focus and more attention because really his currency right now is just attention that's it. But, given that we know this race is going to be very close, he is potentially going to have an impact on the outcome.


And, you know, I think that they need to be very clear in educating people about what a vote for Robert Kennedy means, because it is not actually a vote to put Robert Kennedy in the White House, right? I mean, it is most likely a vote to put Donald Trump in the White House.

And so I think they need to activate their allies, their surrogates, to go out there and clarify when he says things like this, make clear that he's talking about COVID-19. He's not talking about political speech. I don't think the Biden campaign should spend a lot of time sweeping into to correct him.

But I do think that they you need to be doing a lot to educate people on the fact that Robert Kennedy is not going to win enough electoral votes to be present in the United States. He is potentially going to steal enough vote to give Donald Trump electoral votes to be president of the United States.

HUNT: Do you agree with that?

GOLDBERG: I largely do. Look, Kennedy has decided that he is going to go after Biden not Trump. He's -- the biggest donor to his super PAC, is also the biggest donor to the Trumps super PAC. That should tell you a lot.

Also, just want see it as a matter of political history, the stuff he was saying about first president ever, even if what he's alleging were true is garbage. Woodrow Wilson censored hundreds of newspapers, he put up local opponent in jail, Abraham Lincoln closed down newspapers.

I mean, like he's a thumbless grasp on history, but he -- but he says it was such confidence people think he's an intellectual when he's a buffoon.

SARA FISCHER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA ANALYST: Well, to that point, too, the case that he's talking about, our Supreme Court, which is a majority conservative judges, has already taken a look at this case, opening arguments. He's referencing two Republican attorneys general suing the Biden administration alleging censorship. And they have largely sided with the Biden administration, saying that this likely wasn't censorship. Yeah.

HUNT: Yeah. Well, Sara, you've got to piece out looking at conservative media and how they're approaching RFK. What is your -- we're talking about, how it's a threat to Biden. What are you seeing in your reporting?

FISCHER: Well, it's interesting. When he came out for his presidential bid as a Democrat, you saw a ton of attention from Fox News, from "The New York Post", from conservative figures trying to boost him, right, because they thought that it could pull the wind out of Biden sails.

As soon as he turned independent, last year, that flipped. You saw much less coverage from conservative media around RFK because why? Suddenly, now he's a threat to Donald Trump and he's a threat to his votes.

BALL: Well, as a political strategy that is clearly what he is doing if he gets on the ballot in these states and is trying to mount a viable independent campaign, he can see all the polls that we can see and he sees that Biden's support is a lot softer than Trump's support. So that's how he's going to go after.

There are a lot of Democratic leaning voters, Democratic-leaning independents, who are probably curious about him. He was getting a lot of traction on the right largely because of this vaccine stuff, right? A lot of the vaccines skepticism is on the right and that's where a lot of people were interested in him initially. And so as a political strategy, he's trying to take those votes from the left now.

But I think to Kate's point, that it'll be interesting to see if -- if voters will process the information about RFK's actual positions and some of the crazy stuff that he believes in because part of the reason we saw him drop out of that Democratic primary was initially he was pulling double-digits.

A lot of Democrats saying, I'm not thrilled with the current incumbent. And look, a Kennedy --

HUNT: That guy's named Kennedy. Yeah.

BALL: And then he did start to plummet in a lot of those early polls in places like New Hampshire, as people learned more and more about his positions. So, it is that -- it is a delicate balance. I think Kate's totally right between elevating him and educating voters about who he really is.

HUNT: Right. When I talked to Democratic sources in people focused on trying to prevent RFK from rising in terms of his potential threat to Biden, your point about the softness of support for Biden does seem like the most salient one, right? Like people that are with Trump are really, they're not going anywhere, right?

BALL: Well, do they try to boost him on the right? That'll be interesting, too.

HUNT: Right, its interesting as well.

All right, it is 53 minutes past the hour. Here's your morning roundup.

A federal judge rejecting Hunter Biden's bid to get his tax charges dismissed. He is accused scheming to evade more than $1 million in taxes and will likely face trial in June.

An Enid, Oklahoma City Council member, Judd Blevins facing a recall election tonight after residents discovered his affiliation with a white nationalist hate group.

Oregon's governor re-criminalizing possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use. It's a reversal of a ballot measure that voters approved in 2020.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That will do it. This time, it's Iowa.

The Hawkeyes are getting back to the Final Four.


HUNT: Caitlin Clark leading her Iowa Hawkeyes to the Final Four, scoring 41 points and 94-87 victory over LSU. Iowa avenging its lost to LSU in last year's NCAA championship game.

I have to say it. I freaking love Caitlin Clark. It's just like its awesome to watch, right? Like tickets to that more expensive in the men's game?

BEDINGFIELD: Yes. I will take it. Yes. It's awesome.

HUNT: All right. Now, let's go now to this.



JIMMY FALLON, TV HOST: Speaking of Truth Social, the company's stock is plunging after it was reported that last year it lost $58 million. Yeah, Truth Social stock tanks so fast, they're changing the name to Twitter. As a result of this stock tanking, Trumps net worth dropped $2 billion. Yeah. Trump's so panicked, he's now selling copies of the Torah.


HUNT: Shares of Trump Media and Technology Group, the parent company of Truth Social plunged yesterday after a new SEC filing revealed the company lost more than $58 million in 2023. That compared to a $50.5 million dollars profit in 2022.

Donald Trump, who owns a majority of the newly public company saw his own net worth tumble by more than $1 billion on paper. I don't think -- how many torahs would you have to sell?


GOLDBERG: Quite a few.

HUNT: To $2 billion.

GOLDBERG: Larger than the Jewish market alone, let's just put it that way.

HUNT: Sara Fischer, can you almost understand? I mean, what the valuation is here and like, look, the stock market -- I'm not a business reporter. You know a lot more about this than I do.

I think for average voters, it's clear that sometimes the market will reward companies that are losing money because there's a promise of return in the future. They're making a bet that this is going to be successful.

Is that what's going on with (VIDEO GAP), or is something else going on with truth social because I guess I struggled to see how like this changes?

FISCHER: You're exactly right. This is what we would call a meme stock, which is where its financials are completely divorced from its market valuation.

The way you know, it's a meme stock, when you look at other social media companies that have gone public, and we have a great proxy in Reddit, which went public just two weeks ago. You have a lot of a user base and that's what the promises. So even if they're not making money you think that eventually they will because so many people use the product.

And look, it's not unusual for social media companies to go public and not make money. Snapchat has still never posted a full profitable year in terms of EBITDA. Twitter in its nine years as being public, had only two profitable year.

So this is not unusual, but what's unusual is that they're not revealing user metrics, right? Normally tech companies are screaming to the mountain tops, to investors. Look how many people love our product. Nothing was revealed there.

And they're also not dealing much about their business strategy. And so I think right now you have a lot of momentum from what we call retail investors, right? Fans who want to buy into the stock, but are institutional investors, big banks going to continue to back the stock? Absolutely not. And that's why when they did finally reveal these losses for 2023, a lot of wind was pulled out of the sails.

HUNT: Can I ask you why they made money in 2022?

FISCHER: They sold ads.

HUNT: Okay.

FISCHER: They sold ads.

HUNT: So, why -- what's the difference? Because I think we can shows they're made $50.5 million in '22 and they lost $58.2 million in 2023.

FISCHER: Because they borrow money and the interest on that debt added up.

HUNT: Got it. And so some of that loss is attributed to debt which by the way, is not a great position to be in your first few weeks very on the stock market.

The other thing I want to note here, Donald Trump can't sell his stock right now. He's in what we call a lock-up, which means that for the next six months he's got to sit on those shares.

There's a very real possibility that this stock tanks in that time, and that when he does go to buy, sell the shares, they're not worth anything. And so when all these people are saying all with Donald Trumps net worth is now billions of dollars -- well, let's see what happens in six months from now, what this company it looks like.

GOLDBERG: Yeah, I actually think the loss is to your point are kind of meaningless because all these places lose money. The question -- the damning number is the revenue. There are literally --

HUNT: One million.

GOLDBERG: Yeah, they're literally supermarkets and I don't mean chains. I mean, individual, the average individual supermarket has greater revenue than Truth Social does. You wouldn't value that in the billions of dollars, your corner of supermarket. HUNT: I should be in the supermarket



BEDINGFIELD: I mean, look, I this again. Yes. All these incredibly salient and smart points about the financials and how tech companies lose money -- social media companies lose money, absolutely. But there is something poetic and poignant about the fact that like once again, the emperor has no clothes.

Like this is such a Donald Trump thing where, you know, for a couple of weeks now it's been like, oh, you know, billions of dollars. And then when you actually like were going to put your cards on the table, its like, well, actually the infrastructure isn't there and that applies to so many things in Donald Trump's universe.

BALL: Well, I think it tells you what this company really is. It isn't a social media company. It's Donald Trump as a company, literally the ticker sign is DJT. People are buying it because it represents Trump.

HUNT: Donald Trump, the personal brand.

BALL: And they want to invest in that brand, whether it's because they want to give him money or if they just want to be associated with it. And so it's going to rise and fall with how people feel about Trump.

And it has nothing to do with any business. I mean, I'm on Truth Social justice, see what Trump says and I think most people probably are, they're not on there for the reason that people join social media companies to make friends and have conversations is just to see what Trump says. And so it's all about Trump and that's going to determine, I think the fate of this company.

HUNT: Isn't it always all about?

All right. I'll leave you with this, the passing of a beloved Pearl Harbor hero. Luke Conter was the last known survivor of the Battleship Arizona. His daughter says he was surrounded by family at his California home as he passed peacefully.

Conter was just 20 years old, he was a quartermaster, when he helped rescue his fellow crewman during the Japanese attack on the morning of December 7, 1941. He was one of the 335 USS Arizona crew members who survived the attack, and he outlived them all, while always striving to keep the legacy of Pearl Harbor alive.


LOU CONTER, LAST SURVIVOR OF USS ARIZONA: I think it's very important that we all say, remember Pearl Harbor, God bless America.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HUNT: Lou Conter was 102 years old. Let us not forget this era now that we have lost all of the heroes from that event.

Thanks to our panel for joining us. Thanks to all of you for being with us. I'm Kasie Hunt.

"CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts right now.