Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Supreme Court: Trump Entitled To Partial Immunity; Blinken Downplays Impact Of Biden Debate Performance; Beryl Makes History As Earliest Category 5 Storm. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 02, 2024 - 05:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: It's Tuesday, July 2nd.

Right now on CNN THIS MORNING:

A landmark decision granting Donald Trump significant immunity. How the high court's ruling could impact his criminal cases going forward.

Plus, reshaping Joe Biden's image. How his team is trying to reassure Democrats voters, donors and world leaders.

And this catastrophic destruction in the Caribbean in the wake of Hurricane Beryl, the storm intensifying and heading toward Jamaica.


HUNT: All right, 5:00 a.m. here in Washington. A live look at the Washington monument on this Tuesday morning.

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

Supreme Court has spoken. In the highly anticipated ruling, the justices may have reshaped the criminal cases against Donald Trump and redefined the role of the presidency. The court granting Donald Trump significant, but technically partial immunity from special counsel Jack Smith's election subversion case. And dramatically expanding what the president can do without fear of legal consequences.

But Chief Justice John Roberts writing in the majority opinion, quote, the president is not above the law but Congress may not criminalize the presidents conduct and carrying out the responsibilities of the executive branch under the Constitution.

Trump praised the decision on social media. He called it a big win and said that it clears the stench from the Biden trials and hoaxes.

President Biden, who now assumes an unprecedented shield of immunity for himself after this ruling, had this to say:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This nation was founded on the principle that there are no kings in America. Each -- each of us is equal before the law. No one -- no one is above the law, not even the president of United States.

But today's Supreme Court decision on presidential immunity, that fundamentally changed, for all, for all practical purposes, today's decision almost certainly means that there are virtually no limits or the president can do.


HUNT: All right. Joining me now to discuss his Marcus Childress. He is former counsel for the January 6 Select Committee.

Marcus, good morning to you.

A very significant day yesterday, the court going farther than many expected that they would go in offering immunity here. You worked inside the January 6 committee. How do you see this impacting the January 6 case?

MARCUS CHILDRESS, FORMER JANUARY 6TH INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL: So moving forward, I actually do think there is some hope, although it has uphill path forward for Jack Smith's team on January 6, and the reason is because, look, the court really said that there's official and unofficial acts and the only official acts that have said are off the table for immunity are the core executive powers that the president only as by himself, right?

So if he had shared responsibility with the vice president or Congress, there's a presumptive immunity, but that means that the Jack Smith's team can rebut that immunity in the lower courts. And so I think were going to see now is a fact intensive evidentiary hearing where Jack Smith's team can put forward evidence to show that maybe it was candidate Trump, not President Trump that was acting out leading up to January 6. And Judge Chutkan can make a factual determination based upon a Supreme Courts ruling of whether certain facts should come in to evidence.

I think the big elephant in the room during court yesterday was that Supreme Court was making a ruling without necessarily considering the facts and circumstances of what actually happened leading up to January 6. They are making a ruling about presidential power without looking exactly what candidate Trump was doing between November of 2020 and January 6 of 2021. And I think that's how the lower court is going to distinguish the ruling from yesterday with what actually happened in 2020.

HUNT: Do you think it is plausible that the court was actually doing this just based on law textbooks and not based on the context in which we live, because I think a lot of voters find that implausible at this point.

[05:05:00] You know, it -- I think a lot of times our courts and lawyers, I'll just take the hit, can be a little aloof from what's going on in the real-world, right? And I think that's where the lower court is different.

I think lower court, district court, which is where I've practiced most of my career, it is very fact intensive where you're applying facts to the law. I think when you get to the appellate court and when you get to the Supreme Court, it becomes more of a legal exercising, a little bit more academic and less fact intensive of what's actually happening on the ground.

I think that's where some of that frustration can come through. I mean, even myself felt some frustration sitting in the room yesterday hearing the opinion being red, knowing the facts and circumstances that led to January 6, but yet hearing the Supreme Court say that you want a president that can have energy and exercising their role, right?

It's like do you want energy and overturning an election? I don't think we do. And so, that's where I think that the district court can take those words of energy and presidential power and apply and say, this was not presidential power to take care and measure the laws are faithfully executed. This was energy as a candidate to make sure that he remained in power.

I think there's a -- there's a key line from a blessing opinion, which is another January 6 court opinion then the dc circuit where Judge Sreenivasan said, and I'm going to read it, right, when a first-term president gets to seek a second term, the campaign to win reelection is not an official presidential act, and I think that is a key theme that Jack Smith's team will probably lean into when it gets down to the lower court and were seeing these evidentiary hearings.

HUNT: How quickly do you expect the judge in this case, Tanya Chutkan, to be able to hold such an evidentiary hearing because it does seem like the only additional information voters may have when they go to the polls in November is any fact-finding that goes on in that court ahead of November?

CHILDRESS: Evidentiary hearings are held pretty frequently in criminal trials. So I expect that the hearing could probably get started within the next few months. Now, whether there's an order that comes down from the court that makes terminations of what facts are actually official or unofficial, I think that's where got that takes time, but the evidentiary hearing itself, I don't think should take very long to start. And if anything, you might find Trump's team trying to delay because they're not ready, or maybe they need more time to prepare.

But I don't really see those arguments carrying the day because this case has been put on pause since March or even earlier than March since December of last year. And so, I would expect that before, you know, September, October, we're having a full evidentiary hearing that could last a weeks honestly because the special counsels office has a very high hurdle to clear to show that there isn't presumptive immunity for certain actions and that there is no immunity for certain actions.

And to do so, they have to put for fall all the evidence that they leaves no doubt and the lower courts mine when it goes up on appeal that this is an official act and not an official presidential act that deserves immunity.

HUNT: Can I ask you also about the January or the -- excuse me, the note the New York hush money case because the Trump teams already asked to delay sentencing. The question at hand seems to be whether they can use things that were official acts as evidenced in the case?

CHILDRESS: Yeah, that's going to be the question. All the cases for president -- former President Trump moving forward, is there going to apply? Either the standard from yesterday and try to argue that facts that were entered into evidence, whether it'd be in the documents case or New York or any election interference case, they're going to argue that it was official.

Now, until they make their filing and we can see exactly what facts they're alleging are official. It's kind of tough to read their arguments, but I imagined that in every case involving former President Trump or even folks who are acting at the direction of foreign President Trump. We're going to see new motions arguing that it was either an official act or that I was carrying out an official act. And therefore, these facts, so this evidence shouldn't be used against me in a criminal proceeding moving forward.

HUNT: All right. Marcus Childress for us this morning, Marcus, very grateful for your expertise today. Thank you.

All right. Coming up next here, the Biden campaign trying to calm the panic over the president's fitness.

Plus, a congresswoman facing charges for carrying a gun in an airport.

And into the eye of the storm, Hurricane Beryl now a potent category five.




BIDEN: What I've been able to do with the -- with COVID, excuse me, with dealing with everything we have to do with -- look -- if -- we finally beat Medicare.


HUNT: Moments like that one have Secretary of State Antony Blinken scrambling to try to ease global concerns about President Biden's fitness for office. At the Brookings Institution here in Washington, Blinken told the audience that 90 minutes on TV doesn't define a presidency, and that the U.S. standing in the world has soared with Biden at the helm. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Confidence in American leadership has gone up dramatically over the last three-and-a-half years. That doesn't just happen. It's the product of choices. Its the product of policies that we pursue as the product of our engagement and they see President Biden having led the way in all of those different areas.


HUNT: All right. Let's bring in CNN's Max Foster. He has lived for us in London.

Max, good morning to you. Always wonderful to see you.

Bring us up to speed on how -- what's the fallout from this debate among Western allies in your neck of the woods?

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT & ANCHOR: Well, we obviously don't get to vote in these elections, but so were much more focused on, you know, the policy. And I think what was lost here a bit was the policy because it got so overwhelmed by all of the personality here and it was -- the surprise was obviously that it was Biden. People were focusing on rather than Trump.

We used to seeing Trump hold the stage as he does. This was Biden really confusing people about exactly where he was going.


And I think there -- you know, if you look at what the love of foreign policy elements of what Trump was saying, people saw a lot of inaccuracy there, and they work quite surprised that Biden didn't call him out on those elements. So I think it does, of course, depend on what political leaning you're on. If you're in the center ground, you've got more sympathetic to President Biden. I've probably argue if you're moving to the right, which is increasingly happening here in Europe, then you're looking to Trump and you probably supported his role in that debate.

So, I think it was difficult for foreign leaders because they basically have to accept with whoever comes out of this now, trying to look for the policy options worth work best for their countries, but it just wasn't clear from the debate because it became so much about personality.

HUNT: So, Max, "The Wall Street Journal", put it this way under the headline, the world saw Biden deteriorating and Democrats ignored the warnings that, quote, European officials had already been expressing worries and private about Biden's focus and stamina before Thursday's debate, with some senior diplomat saying they attract a noticeable deterioration in the president's faculties in meetings since last summer.

There were real doubts about how Biden could successfully manage a second term. Then there was this European diplomat who talked to CNN and they said, quote, it was obvious that he was old. We aren't worried about his policies. If you have a president who works three hours a day with a good team and makes good decisions, that's okay.

So that's kind of what you are -- what you were talking about there. I think my question is a little bit about the optics and I know this is something that you think a lot about because one of the big arguments Donald Trump's making against President Biden is the President Biden is week on the world stage.

And there is the reality that the presentation of strength from the United States is something that has an impact on how both American and European adversaries act on the world stage.

What impact do you think that has?

FOSTER: Well, it depends whether you want America to be the global statesman. You know, there are countries like France, the UK, Germany, lots of European allies that see the big advantage of having the U.S. president really leading on democracy around the world. If you don't want that, then you look to present Biden. You probably think you're in a better position now.

You want -- if you want the American presence, be your world leader, of course, you want their faculties to be about them. They have immense military power and immense economic power, but, you know, I think that that comment that you saw there in the CNN piece about in terms of policy, there's lots of very strong people around the president who foreign leaders deal with. And they were, was pretty strong.

It's just a question of now, you know, seeing a situation where Donald Trump looks stronger against Biden making him more of a likely candidate to be the world leader, and can you work with him? I think there are countries I was in France yesterday, and if the far right does well next, weekend, as we expect, they would probably prefer to see Donald Trump type figure running the world where you can focus more on your national economy. You're not so focused on the global economy.

So just depends where you're coming from and it is moving further right here.

So in the past, they would have said, you know, Europe would want Biden and the centrist as they would see it, it's just not the case so much now, so they're really what sort of world leader they want.

HUNT: Yeah, I think were going to end up thinking back to that, the -- I guess was the G7 where we were watching all those leaders. And you and I were talking about it. I'm thinking, well, this is a group that seems to be exiting the stage. And what it may look like when were talking this time next year might be quite different.

Max Foster for us -- Max, very grateful to have you. Thank you so much.

All right. Just ahead right here -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is -- this is madness. I have never seen this in my 46 years of life.


HUNT: Hurricane Beryl growing more powerful this morning when give you a first look at the damage that's already been done.

And why a judge is calling for a mistrial in a high high-profile murder case?



HUNT: All right. Twenty-three minutes past the hour. Here's the morning roundup.

Indiana Congresswoman Victoria Spartz charged with a misdemeanor weapons violation for carrying a gun into Dulles International Airport. Her office says that she accidentally left the unloaded weapon in her suitcase.

A judge declaring a mistrial in Karen Read's murder trial because of a deadlocked jury. The Massachusetts woman is accused of running over her police officer boyfriend while drunk and leaving him to die in 2022.

And California on fire. More than 131,000 acres have burned so far this year from nearly 3,000 wildfires. That is a 1,600 percent increase over last year at this time. Yikes!

All right. Hurricane Beryl is making history for all the wrong reasons in the southern Caribbean. Overnight, Beryl reached category five status, becoming the earliest cat five storm on record in the Atlantic. The major hurricane swept across Grenada on Monday, knocking out power for 95 percent of the country.

The prime minister there says one island was flattened by the storm in half an hour. The storm also forced hundreds of evacuations as its swamped nearby Barbados, knocking down trees and piling up fishing boats on the shoreline.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm watching fisherman friends, their boats destroyed and still being destroyed. Boats are sinking, as we're talking, their boat sinking and it's total devastation.


HUNT: Beryl remains an extremely dangerous storm with Jamaica now facing a hurricane warning.

Let's get to our meteorologist Elisa Raffa with more on this.

Elisa, good morning.


I mean, just seeing some of these images from the Windward Islands yesterday, boats rocked in Barbados, wind damage just all over the place, even storm surge, flooding, rushing into these islands as that ocean just came in with those incredibly intense winds the satellite image this morning, it almost gives you chills. I mean, look at that. I just how perfectly circular and huge it is still an incredibly strong category five hurricane, at least thankfully right now, exiting some of these Windward Islands and then getting into the open Caribbean Sea there.

It's got 165 mile per hour winds. So, it is a strong category five, storm sitting about 700 miles away from Jamaica and headed that way as we go through the next day or so, it rapidly intensified again yesterday. They did over the weekend and went from tropical storm two major hurricane in just a couple of out 24, 48 hours. And then yesterday, it rapidly intensified again from 120 miles per hour, category three storm to this immense 165 mile per hour category five storm.

And it keeps rapidly intensifying because these ocean waters are incredibly warm. We're talking middle and upper 80s. This is more typical for late August and early September. This is why it's kind of acting like the peak of the hurricane season.

As it continues its track, it was able to dodge some dust before the Windward Islands, there's some dust in its way as it heads to Jamaica. So we'll have to see how that can play with the intensity it might come down a little bit, but you're still looking at a major hurricane headed towards Jamaica by Wednesday. Your hurricane warnings and affect their watches for the Cayman Islands and then eventually it makes it towards Mexico by the end of the week -- Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Elisa Raffa for us this morning, Elisa, thank you very much.

All right. Coming up next, how the Supreme Court decision on presidential immunity impacts Donald Trump's other legal cases.

Plus, the Biden campaigns message for what it calls the bedwetting brigade of the Democratic Party.