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Trump Team To Challenge Hush Money Verdict; Biden Campaign Tries To Reassure Dems After Debate; Boston Celtics Owner Puts Team Up For Sale. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 02, 2024 - 05:30   ET




KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: All right, just after 5:30 here on the East Coast. A live look at New York City on this Tuesday morning. Good morning, everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt. It's wonderful to have you with us.

The Supreme Court's landmark decision on presidential immunity is sending shockwaves through the country and potentially upending Trump's guilty verdicts in the New York hush money trial just days before he is set to be sentenced.

The high court ruling that a president's official acts cannot be used as evidence in a trial. Trump's lawyers say that this means his New York conviction should be dismissed. Trump echoing that argument with this post. "Today's historic decision by the Supreme Court should end all of Crooked Joe Biden's witch hunts against me, including the New York hoaxes."

In their dissents, the liberal justices warned the ruling has implications far beyond Trump's ongoing trials.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor writing about future president, "When he uses his official powers in any way, under the majority's reasoning, he now will be insulated from criminal prosecution. Orders the Navy's Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? Immune. Organizes a military coup to hold onto power? Immune. Takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon? Immune. Immune, immune, immune."

Let's bring in CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson to help us understand this decision. Joey, good morning to you. Wonderful to see you as always.

I actually want to start in New York because this sentencing is set for July 11. They have asked that to be moved.

How much -- I mean, how much do you think that this immunity ruling really affects the nitty gritty facts, details, et cetera of the New York trial?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY, FORMER PROSECUTOR (via Webex by Cisco): Yeah, Kasie, good morning to you. So there's various schools of thought, right? The one school is that certainly this was private conduct as it relates to his conduct with a porn star. No official act to be seen there. And as a result, what are we doing? Keep moving forward.

The other school of thought though is if there's any official act, such as the introduction of his Twitter account -- he was president -- he tweeted. Should that have been introduced into evidence? Should an ethics form that was signed off in 2018 while he was president be admitted into evidence? Should any other acts that he engaged in as a) including Hope Hicks' conversations be admitted into evidence?

So the critical question will be what, if any, influence they had on the jury. There's a doctrine of law case here. It's called harmless error. And what that means is that if there's other evidence that's so overwhelming, even if there was the introduction of evidence to a trial that shouldn't have been there, the conviction would still stand.

What we might see, at a minimum, is a delay in the sentence for the judge to ferret out these legal issues before the sentencing. And so, a delay in that is certainly possible.

HUNT: Yeah. I mean, do you think that if you're Judge Merchan -- like, how does he look at this? Does he have to, to be fair, delay the sentencing?


JACKSON: I think you should. I think a delay would be appropriate. I mean, judges, Kasie, do what they do, but I think a delay to determine whether you got it right -- remember, what Judge Merchan did though -- he said that the presidential immunity arguments were rejected as untimely, meaning he gave the lawyers a time in which to move forward with all of their motions and all of their issues. They did not do it by that timeframe.

However, since the Supreme Court has made a pronouncement here, it might be appropriate just to examine it and look at the motion of the attorneys, answer it. Have a hearing if necessary. Delay the sentencing. Consider it. Issue a written decision and then move forward. That, of course, will be litigated no matter what Judge Merchan does.

We have, of course, a vibrant court system -- a Court of Appeals that could certainly look at this issue. But I think it leads to a delay at a very minimum with respect to the finality of the New York case.

HUNT: So, Joey, on the January 6 case it seems clear we're not going to get a trial -- a full trial before the election. We could see some of this additional evidence come to light if the judge in the case, Tanya Chutkan, moves ahead with an evidentiary hearing.

How quickly do you think something like that might be able to happen?

JACKSON: Yeah, Kasie. I don't think quickly at all. I mean, certainly, you can get started on it immediately. I just don't see it moving forward. And even if it does, remember what happens because now she has to ferret out on remand all these questions as an official act. Is it not his conversations with the vice president, excluding the Department of Justice conversations, looking at tweets and other things.

And so, I think it's a process, at least, that's entitled to a hearing. Lawyers need time to prepare for the hearing and to convene in the court. To submit documents and motions after the hearing to buttress their arguments. And then, of course, that's subject to appeal as well. And so it goes through another set of -- you go from the district court -- that's Judge Chutkan's court -- to the circuit court -- that's the appellate court -- and maybe back to the Supreme Court.

So I think it leads to inordinate delay no matter what happens in terms of whether the case gets to move forward in a modified or gutted way or not. We're not going to see it happen anytime soon.

HUNT: All right, Joey Jackson for us. Joey, always appreciate your expertise. Thank you so much for being with us.

JACKSON: Thanks, Kasie.

HUNT: All right. This, of course, the other major story of the 2020 presidential -- 2024, excuse me, presidential campaign right now. The Biden campaign doing everything they can to try to calm the nerves of fellow Democrats after last week's dismal debate performance.

Within the last hour, the campaign putting out new fundraising totals for the month of June. They say that they raised $127 million. A quarter of that, they claim, was raised since Thursday.

The campaign co-chair, Jen O'Malley Dillon, held multiple calls yesterday trying to reassure party leaders and staff.

The campaign did ruffle some feathers, however, labeling those suggesting that the president bow out as the "bedwetting brigade" in an email blast. A senior Democratic official tells CNN that was "disrespectful." Another called it disgusting.

Even as some Democrats begin to consider who else could top the ticket, others, of course, publicly voicing their support.

Here was Kennedy's -- excuse me, Kentucky's Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.


GOV. ANDY BESHEAR, (D) KENTUCKY: Only the president can determine his future as a candidate. He is the candidate and as long as he is, I'm supporting him.


HUNT: Joining me now to discuss, Tia Mitchell, Washington correspondent for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And Catherine Lucey, White House reporter for The Wall Street Journal. Welcome to you both.

So I have to say, Catherine, that quote there from Andy Beshear was a short version. He, I have to say, was one of the people that was -- seemed most entertaining of this idea that Biden might step down, right? I mean, he gave credence to that idea in that quote that we did here from him. He is, of course, one of the people that is named as a possible person who might top the ticket instead.

However, we mostly have seen -- I mean, Gretchen Whitmer has been very aggressive in trying to tamp down, at least publicly, talk about her being that person.

How would you characterize -- I know you kind of talk to sources all the time and this is one of those things that has an ebb and a flow. The panic was very high right after Biden took the stage. How would you say Democrats are feeling right now, and where do you see this going next?

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: The panic was very, very high. I don't think we overstated how high it was after the debate.

The campaign has worked very hard in the last couple of days to calm those folks down. And what we haven't seen is some huge public declaration from donors or Democrats saying that he needs to go. That he needs to move along. And so, in that sense, they have kind of kept things contained.

But certainly, privately, a lot of Democrats are still very, very worried. I talked to folks who were on one of these calls with donors with Jen O'Malley Dillon yesterday. The campaign tries to argue that the contours of the race haven't changed. The issues remain the same. Trump remains unpopular. They're going to keep moving forward.


But the donors I talked to said they weren't terribly reassured. They felt like they didn't hear clear answers on how that the president will handle another debate.

How they're going to move forward if some polling comes in where he sees a real dip. And so, I think that is one thing to watch for. Another sort of point moving forward is what happens when we see more polling, particularly in battleground states, and if that shows a real fall-off for him.

HUNT: Yeah.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION: Yeah. I think that the truth of the matter is if Democrats thought they had a consensus right now for a path forward they would take it. But there isn't that consensus because there's so much division on whether to let Biden make the decision a), and then there's not consensus on how to move forward even if Biden were to decide he was ready to step aside.

And with all these factors and unknowns they're safer -- a lot of Democrats think the status quo is safer even as kind of the Biden team hasn't done a whole lot, really, to convince people that there -- that he's going to be able to address the concerns that were raised in the debate. That, again, there's just -- there's so much unknown. The only thing that Democrats are unified is that they don't want Trump to be elected in November, but they're not unified on how to get there.

HUNT: Yeah.

So, Donald Trump, of course, was out there talking about all this and he -- to your point about if they knew exactly where they were going to go -- Democrats -- they might take that path. Trump was out there criticizing Kamala Harris -- who, of course, privately, Democrats will say is a big part of this challenge that we're talking about. Let's listen to what Trump had to say.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, they say the only one they could choose is Kamala because of the -- you know, what -- that would represent to the Black population that they would be extremely upset if that didn't happen. I don't know, but, you know, I don't -- I don't think she improves their numbers very much.


HUNT: So, of course, this is Trump the political pundit, but he does seem to be saying well, running against her would be fine with me.

LUCEY: He seems to be saying that. He's long been very critical of Kamala Harris.

Certainly -- I mean, I think to Tia's point, part of what's going on right now is there's a lot of private dream casting about what about this combination of people? What about that person?

There is a reality that there is a sitting vice president who -- should the president step aside for some reason, would be in a very strong position. You know, obviously, she is on the ticket. She has support from key Democrats. She would likely take over any fundraising.

So she is a likely path forward if something were to happen, which at this point, we have no evidence that the president is going to step aside.

MITCHELL: And, I mean, I think what -- one of the things President Trump was kind of nodding to is that in current polling, a head-to- head matchup with Biden -- with Harris versus Trump, she does worse than Biden. But I do think part of that is because voters consider that a hypothetical. They consider that a plan B. There really hasn't been energy around a true Trump-Harris matchup.

But again, there still is risk there, too, because there are some Democrats that would get behind her. But now, especially after all the primaries, there is risk about disenfranchising voters even if Harris is the candidate. There is risk that racism, sexism, xenophobia -- anything you could think about could be used against her or could be a detriment to her candidacy because she is a woman of color.

So again, there are all these unknown factors that, really, Democrats won't know unless they really move forward and test her in a real way.

HUNT: Right.

MITCHELL: But then that would symbolize Biden being cast to the side.

HUNT: Well, and, of course, this is what primary campaigns are for and this is why a lot of Democrats last fall tried to tell the president they didn't think that he should run. Here we are and there's not really a good way out.

All right. Catherine Lucey, Tia Mitchell, thank you both very much for that.

All right. Coming up next, inside the high court. How the justices reached their decision in the presidential immunity case.

Plus, an early exit for the U.S. Men's Soccer Team.



HUNT: President Biden wasting no time going after the Supreme Court after the landmark 6-3 ruling on presidential immunity. Biden warning that the high court set a dangerous precedent by placing the limits of the president's power solely with the holder of the office. The president says that Trump would be a danger in that role and that he, Biden, is aligned with Justice Sonia Sotomayor.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She said, "In every use of official power, the president is now a king above the law. With fear for our democracy, I dissent." End of quote. So should the American people dissent. I dissent.


HUNT: All right, let's bring in Jess Bravin. He covers the Supreme Court for The Wall Street Journal. Jess, good morning. Wonderful to see you.

So this is how you framed it in your piece for the Journal this morning. "The majority and dissenting opinions saw the issue in starkly different terms, each highlighting what they said were the dire consequences of the other's position. But where Roberts feared the specter of future bad-faith prosecutors would hobble the presidency, Sotomayor wrote that the majority had created precisely the unaccountable power that sparked the American Revolution." And she said, "The president is now a king above the law."


Very starkly different views here from this divided court. How did they come -- how did this split evolve behind the scenes?

JESS BRAVIN, SUPREME COURT CORRESPONDENT, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, the split was quite evident in front of the scenes because at the oral arguments we saw in April the questions indicated very clearly where the justices ended up in Monday's decision.

So from the beginning the majority of the court really spent almost no time talking about the allegations against Donald Trump. Didn't really see what he allegedly did as a major threat to the country. They were thinking far ahead into the future to some sort of hypothetical future president who was bedeviled by potential bad-faith prosecutions going forward. They saw a kind of structural threat to the country that was totally unrelated to the particular allegations against Donald Trump.

And they also made a point of the fact that no president has been prosecuted before after leaving office. That was, for them, the important point.

So this prosecution was anomalous and dangerous, and a threat.

For the dissenters, what they said was no president has been prosecuted before because no president allegedly did these things before. They are so outside the norm of the peaceful transfer of power that it's never occurred to anyone to prosecute a former president.

And so, they really saw what the threat to democracy in this case as a total mirror image. Jack Smith was the threat, according to the majority, not Donald Trump.

HUNT: So the thing that I keep tripping over is the -- I mean, they want the lower courts to distinguish between official and unofficial acts. But in some cases, they were pretty explicit about what does fall into the category of official acts.

For example, the conversations that Donald Trump had with his then- vice president Mike Pence, who he was basically urging to not certify the election. That seems like a tricky spot to me because yes, he's president, but on the other hand, he's been told he has lost the election and needs to leave, and he's trying to screw around with the system that is written to protect the peaceful transfer of power.

Why did they see this distinction this way?

BRAVIN: Well, because of the very strange role the vice presidency has in our constitutional structure. The vice president is elected, although also is stuck to the president on the same ticket. The vice president is in the Executive Branch and so, in a sense, he is subordinate to the president. But he's also in the Congress because he's president of the United States Senate.

So the role of the vice president is somewhat unclear, and because Congress has assigned the vice president the job of overseeing the counting of electoral votes, he's not fully functioning as an Executive Branch member.

So this very opaque, sort of confusing structure is what the Supreme Court said the lower court has to resolve. And they say Trump would be presumptively immune, but the government can overcome it if they can make certain showings -- evidentiary showings. How it's going to do that, the Supreme Court didn't say.

HUNT: All right, Jess Bravin of The Wall Street Journal. Thank you very much for being here. I'm sure we're going to have lots more to talk about in the weeks to come.

BRAVIN: You bet.

HUNT: Thank you.

All right, time now for sports. It was supposed to be a coming-out party for the U.S. Men's Soccer Team but, instead, they were sent packing as the home team in the opening stage of Copa America.

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


The sporting director of U.S. Soccer said after the match that they intend to do a comprehensive review of the team's performance. More loosely translated, that means that the question is will manager Gregg Berhalter remain at the helm of the squad. A lot of people view this U.S. Men's Team as a generation that's coming into its prime, and so this is a really a golden opportunity hosting a major international tournament with a chance to play some of the best soccer-playing countries in the world.

But last night in Kansas, 15-time Copa America champions Uruguay put the final nail in the Americans' coffin. The U.S. essentially needed a win if they wanted to advance to the knockout stage, but their offense just could not make it happen. And the decisive low, Kasie, coming in the 66th minute and also really epitomizing some of the questionable officiating that went against the U.S. in this tournament.

Uruguay's Mathias Olivera putting home the rebound off the save, but he looked to be in off-side position at the time of the first shot. And after review, this goal would stand. It was the only one of the game as the U.S. falls 1-nil.

And then after the final whistle, something else that was curious -- one of the officials refusing to shake hands with the team's biggest star, Christian Pulisic. A very bizarre moment at the end of a disappointing showing as the United States becomes the first host nation in the event's history to fail to make it out of the group stage.

Here's Coach Gregg Berhalter.


GREGG BERHALTER, COACH, U.S. MEN'S SOCCER TEAM: We're bitterly disappointed with the results. We know that we're capable of more and this tournament we didn't show it. It is really as simple as that.



MANNO: Berhalter's future in question. But there's no doubt where Jayson Tatum is going to be. Fresh off leading the Celtics to their 18th title, he is set to become the richest man in NBA history. The 26-year-old reportedly signing a five-year $314 million supermax contract extension to stay in Boston. That is almost as much as the $360 million that the team was bought for back in 2002. The price is going to be a little bit steeper this time around.

And while the Tatum news was breaking, so did the news that majority owner of the Celtics, Wyc Grousbeck, is putting the team up for sale. According to Forbes, the Celtics are now valued at $4.7 billion with a "b", Kasie. That is quite a jump from the initial purchase price, but they deserve it and that's the market now if you are lucky enough to be an owner in professional sports.

HUNT: It's a small market but, yes, an important one.

OK, Carolyn Manno, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

All right. Coming up next here, how President Biden's campaign staff is scrambling to keep big donors from bailing. Plus, a hurricane in the Atlantic now the earliest category 5 storm on record.