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CNN Tonight

Trump Expects To Be Indicted; Is Every Bank Now Too Big To Fail?; Chinese President Xi Jinping Meets With Russian President Vladimir Putin; CA Governor Rolls Out Billion Dollar Plan To Reduce Homelessness; Stephen Smith's Family Wants Body Exhumed For Private Autopsy After Murdaugh Case Prompted Renewed Scrutiny. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired March 20, 2023 - 23:00   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: This is near the courthouse where the grand jury investigation is taking place.

I want to bring in my panel. We have New Jersey's finest -- someone whore this, Elie. I didn't approve of this -- Elie Honig. We also have Rabbi Jay Michaelson. The always opinionated Patrick McEnroe and econ expert Linette Lopez. Also joining us is former Secret Service agent Jonathan Wackrow. Great to have you.

Jonathan, let's start with you because of your Secret Service agent hat. President Trump has called on his supporters to -- quote -- "take our nation back." And so, given your law enforcement skills, do you think, what do you think that we will see on the day that he is indicted if he is indicted?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Alisyn, good evening. The first thing is unlike January 6th, law enforcement is prepared for any eventuality that may come out or in response to any type of court action against the former president.

While we are not seeing any signs that large groups are actually animating around Trump's call for protest, law enforcement is not taking any chances.

And what we have been seeing all day in the last few days is careful coordination between state, federal, local police and law enforcement agencies, you know, really coming up with consequence management, how do they manage every type of eventuality that could come out, whether it is peaceful protest all the way up to, you know, acts of violence.

So, I think what we are seeing right now is a lot of planning. Hopefully, a lot of that planning is not necessary, it doesn't materialize, but law enforcement to New York City is definitely ready for it.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, I guess that is the silver lining of January 6, that they learn something after that and to be prepared for what could be big events.

Back to my panel here for a second. Do we think that former President Trump still has the power to summon a thousand bloodthirsty protesters to -- on his behalf to express outrage if something happens to him?

LINETTE LOPEZ, COLUMNIST, INSIDER: I think that one thing we saw in the court appearance after court appearance of the January 6th (INAUDIBLE) is that they didn't seem to think there would be consequences for what they did.

And now, it seems online that people realized, like, if you listen to Donald Trump, there will be consequences. You might go to jail, you might not get to live in your mom's basement like Jason, you know, the QAnon Shaman (ph) or whatever anymore.

So, I think people now see that this is a boondoggle. It is not worth it to go out there and put yourself on the line for Donald Trump because he is not going to save you.

CAMEROTA: That is interesting. Elie?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Linette makes a great point about the deterrent effect. I would add, having worked in this exact area for eight and a half years where these courthouses are, all you will see there is cops, meaning FBI, NYPD, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals, prosecutors, not that prosecutors like me are really going to do anything except hide in our offices and write arrest warrants, and courthouses and jails. That is all there is down there. It is one of the most densely secured pieces of land in the country.

CAMEROTA: And in fact, Jay, law enforcement -- and Jonathan can back us up on this -- are not seeing the kind of online chatter and not seeing the kind of preparations. In fact, I think that the Capitol police said that they have not received any requests for permits for demonstrations or marches.

JAY MICHAELSON, COLUMNIST, ROLLING STONE: Well, this isn't really the get a permit crowd of protesters, right?



MICHAELSON: But I do think it is true. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. These guys have been burned before. I think politically, if you think about the optics, sort of another violent protest would not favor Trump politically, right? This would kind of characterize this whole wing of the Republican Party fairly or unfairly as this kind of violent gang.

And I don't know that this is either -- it is not really the group of people who do a lot of political calculations either, but kind of sitting on the sidelines. The idea that this might be actually a peaceful protest of people airing their grievances, well, that will be good for the Trump wing of the party.

PATRICK MCENROE, FORMER PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: I think that is exactly what Trump is hoping for. I mean, say what do you want about Trump. I mean, the guy -- to me, the guys a genius. I am reading Woodward's book, reading Wolf's book earlier on in his presidency. Everyone was saying this guy is crazy. Everything is chaotic in the White House.

CAMEROTA: What part is the genius part?

MCENROE: The genius part is that he knows what he's doing, he knows who is playing to, he knows that by putting this out there, he is going to gain even more credibility, if that is the word, with his team.

Now, with the rest of the public, it is going to be shaky. If he gets indicted, these things keep coming down the pipe. It is going to be more and more difficult, I think, for him to raise money, but it sorts of feels like he is running out of time.

CAMEROTA: But is it because he can raise money off this? It sounds like --

MCENROE: He's going to try to. Whether or not he can, I think, is up for debate at this point. I'm not sure he can. He can definitely rally the base, but can he get the huge financial backing that he was able to get in this previous couple of runs for the presidency? That, I think, is very much up for debate right now. Really shaky.

CAMEROTA: Jonathan, it also strikes me that in terms of people's grievances, as we were just talking about, thinking that an election has been stolen or being told that an election has been stolen plays on people's anger more than Donald Trump paid off a porn star to hide an alleged affair.


I don't know if that makes you travel across the country and take up arms?

WACKROW: Yeah. I mean, listen, we know that the former president can draw a crowd, a very large crowd, very quickly. But what is really, really interesting is since he put out that message, you know, a few days ago, you know, calling for, you know, protests in New York, we are just not seeing that rallying cry as we have before.

We are not seeing the crowds marshaling on line, giving that support in that call to action. I don't want to say call to arms but call to even action in New York City, you know, in preparation really for any type of court action.

I just want to go back to the security aspect of this for just one quick second. You know, what is really interesting in talking about sort of the what we refer to as the genus of Donald Trump, right, you know, there is a lot of focus on the courthouse, the courthouse, the courthouse. But NYPD and other law enforcement entities have to be -- you know, their remit is the entire city of New York. So, there could be a wildcard where Donald Trump may not even, you know, deal with the courthouse. He may be up at Trump Tower and decide to have a rally up in the streets around there with his supporters.

So, the remit of the entire city is a real focus of the NYPD. That is why they have to just really be, you know, on their toes, ensuring rapid response capabilities to any type of eventuality. So, it is really interesting playing for -- we are trying to predict the unknown here with Donald Trump. You know, we have seen how that has worked in the past.

CAMEROTA: Patrick, what about that? Do you think that people will not be as motivated because of this alleged crime as they were when they thought that something has been stolen from them?

MCENROE: I think the individuals that will protest will be still motivated. But I think when you are talking about running for president, which he obviously is going to do again, the backing of the big money players will not necessarily be there if this indictment comes out.

I think for his base, the people that will come out for him, they will be there to some extent, but as we already heard, I mean, New York City knows how to deal with issues like this better than any city in the county. So, they are prepared and they are not going to let it get out of hand like they did on January 6.

LOPEZ: I think it is important to remember that Trump is taking the show on the road. Okay? He is not just coming to New York City, he is not going to stop talking, he is going to do rallies all over the country. He might be in places that are move favorable to him, to his message, to a call to action than New York City. This isn't necessarily his town. I would just like to say, as a New Yorker, I think we suffered enough.


But, you know, this isn't the end, this isn't the last indictment, this isn't the last story he is going to tell, and this isn't the last way he's going to spin it. So --

CAMEROTA: We don't know if there will be any indictments. You know, I mean, I understand that that is what people are predicting. But we don't know. We don't know if there will be an indictment here. We don't know if there will be future indictments.

It just feels as though things are gathering steam. Elie, correct me if I'm wrong. From the legal standpoint, it feels that things are getting closer.

HONIG: Yeah. This investigation is clearly an endgame. They put in their final witnesses. They have given Donald Trump his chance to go in. He sent in that lawyer, Robert Costello, today. It tells me that they are now at the decision point. Do we present this as prosecutors to a grand jury and ask them to indict or do we pass on doing that?

CAMEROTA: And do you think that -- I mean, with all of this in the ether, do you think that Alvin Bragg would pass on this?

HONIG: I think he has gone too far. I think he has led everyone to far down that path to double back now. But I do have real doubts about this case. I mean, when I stepped back and looked at this case, I think that the conduct is borderline, really talking about just putting this expense of paying the money in the wrong column on the internal spreadsheets, basically.

I think the evidence, as far as we know and there's a lot we don't know but as far as what we do know, is shaky. And here's another thing, the consequences here, if people have this fantasy of Donald Trump ending up in prison, it is very likely not going to happen off of this case. This is either going to be a misdemeanor.

Nobody is going to jail on a misdemeanor. You look at the books and it says up to one year. Sorry, nobody is going to jail on a first time, nonviolent misdemeanor.

Now, there is a variation where they could get it up to a Class E felony. It is the lowest level of felony. Again, if you practice in New York, it is quite rare for somebody, first-time convicted nonviolent Class E felony, likely not sure, but likely not going to go to prison.

So, what is even the endgame of all of this? And I think Linette makes a really good point. By leading with the weakest case, it does land fuel to this claim of victimhood. They are trying to take out the leader, the frontrunner in the Republican Party, over the mischaracterization of hush money payoff to a porn star. It sounds ridiculous.

MCENROE: And this is why I think, all of what Elie just said, this is why Trump is loving this. Because he is not going to go to jail. It is a crime, so to speak, that isn't that serious when you look at the grand scheme of things.


When you look at Georgia, when you look at January 6th, that is the stuff that has got some meat on it. This one is just --

LOPEZ: Locker room talk, if you will.


MCENROE: Heard that before.

MICHAELSON: The winner on this one has to be Ron DeSantis, right? He somehow managed to --

MCENROE: He had the perfect --

MICHAELSON: -- both on Trump side and then like with that line of -- I don't know it is like to be a prostitute, you know, for an affair.

CAMEROTA: Politically, that was quite astute. Thank you all very much. All right, in the wake of the bank runs that we have seen over the past week, is every bank now too big to fail? Is that how we should consider them? What about everyday Americans who are bearing the brunt of rising interest rates? We have a lot to discuss. We will be right back.


CAMEROTA: This is happening right now. We are on right now. What is going on with banks? Are all banks too big to fail at this point? Is that how we are treating them?

Joe Pinion joins the panel.


We are also back with Jay, Patrick, and Linette. Linette, can you explain after the SVB situation, was this a teachable moment for all of us? What are we supposed to be thinking about whether our money is safe in banks?

LOPEZ: I think in America, we have a very sophisticated banking system. I don't think depositors should lose their money in American banks. That is something that is currently being debated in Washington, etcetera.

But remember, in SVB and Signature Bank, the shareholders will not be compensated. The bond holders will not be compensated. The executives are in trouble. I don't think that is too big to fail. That is failure. These companies no longer exist.

CAMEROTA: So, the way that happened is how theoretically it is supposed to happen when the worst comes to pass. If the worst comes to past, that is an example of the way it should go down?

LOPEZ: Exactly. Now, the three banks that have failed were all very heavily focused on Silicon Valley which is currently, you know, having its bubble popped in the market. Tech stocks are not doing great. Startups, crypto, all of that is not doing well now that interest rates have gone up.

And so, these banks didn't hedge, they didn't have other sources of income to manage that risk as their assets went down, and so they exploited. The question is, is this contagious? People are worried about the other regional banks, people are worried about banks that have a lot of deposits that are above $250,000, which is the FDIC security limit.

But I don't think that the other regional banks in the United States were run like these banks that took on a lot of risk from Silicon Valley. We will learn, hopefully, how we want to deal with banks that are smaller in size. Maybe we need to put in place regulations that we had once rolled back during the Trump administration.

But I don't think Silicon Valley is going to learn much. We will have another explosion. We will have another deterioration like this again coming from that sector.

In the meantime, the Fed is going to continue raising rates because that is how it is managing inflation and the risk is not over for actors in our economy who went a little over their skis during the last run in stocks and other assets.

MCENROE: I think to your question -- excuse me, Alisyn. I think this is an example of where actually the federal government, not just here in the United States but also in Europe with what happened with Credit Suisse in Switzerland, what the government got involved. Actually, the system is working. They did the right things. The regulators did the right thing.

To your point, Linette, there is clearly mismanagement at the top of Silicon Valley Bank. So, should we as individuals be worried? No. But if you are going to take a big chance as they did at that bank, you are going to lose, you're going to lose big.

So, for the midsized -- we need small and midsized banks all over the country for the good of the economy and the good of small towns. But it is certainly nice to have those big banks behind you supporting them. So, I think the danger is for those small and midlevel banks over the course of the next few months where everyone is a little bit shaky about their deposits in those particular banks.

LOPEZ: It is an open kimono moment, is what I would say. All of these regional banks are going to have say, this is what we are holding, this is what we are marking to market, this is the value of the assets that we have, and you can judge for yourselves in the market whether or not this is good enough and whether or not we are solid.

You know, Wall Street has had questions about regional banks for a while because they are the main holders of commercial real estate in this company -- in this country. And you know that Americans aren't going to work the way that they used to. We are not going to the office the way we used to.

So, it makes sense that we are wondering, hey, what are these assets worth? We need to understand this and become more educated as investors and market participants. But do I think that there is enough money in the regional banks to handle this? Yes. This is a psychological panic. I don't --

JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don't know if it is just psychological, right? I think we can have two different conversations. The conversation about, did they handle this crisis appropriately, not bailing out the shareholders, making sure the depositors were actually taken care of? Sure. That is one conversation.

The other conversation is the fact about, what about all the other uninsured deposits, right? Part of the reason why you have Silicon Valley Bank blowup and Signature Bank blowup is because they had respectively over 90% and over 80% of uninsured deposits. That type of concentration tends to lead to people having a lot of issues, dealing with, am I actually going to be able to get my money out of the bank?

The other issue, to your point, talking about the commercial real estate problem that we have all across this country and all across the globe, you just had Blackstone quietly just actually default on $560 million bond payment over in Europe. No one is really talking about that.

So, is there going to be some contagion? No one can say. But I think the real question is, when you have Janet Yellen getting on television saying, no, we are not going to bail out all the uninsured depositors moving forward, this was a special case and a special case only, I think then the question becomes, in the case of all of these other ranks, maybe they don't have 90 or 80, but if they do blow up, what happens to those banks as well?


MICHAELSON: There is also communication gap here. I mean, I think there is a real perception that this is Wall Street versus Main Street. And I think maybe around this table, we understand that preventing contagion is an important thing. Again, as Linette said, this is bailing out the depositors but not the shareholders, so it is not really a bailout.

And yet at the same time, there is a profound anger on Main Street that whenever the rich people get in trouble or they get over their skis, they get a bailout or they get their funds covered. These are, to average Americans, hearing that this accounts over $250,000.

LOPEZ: Yeah.

MICHAELSON: I mean, that is an unimaginable amount for the large majority of Americans. And I think we should kind of take this a little more seriously. Some of the rage that fills the sort of the populist right is rooted in this economic reality in which some people do very well and some people have nothing.

PINION: Well, I think even to that point, though, yes, $2,000 to $3,000 for the average American right now who doesn't have, you know, $500 for an emergency seems like an exuberant amount of money, but most poor people aren't actually hiring people to do other work.

And so, if we recognize that we have small businesses that are the backbone of our economy, most of them have payroll accounts. They also have receivable accounts and all of these different accounts.

So, if you are talking about a situation where people who run our government, who are making these decisions, are going out on TV and saying, AKA, injecting uncertainty in the marketplace and saying moving forward, we might not be bailing out individuals at those smaller banks.

I think that to me is something that is undiscussed, and I think that something that we have to get to the bottom of because if that is what she is telling the marketplace and that's what this administration and people moving forward are thinking, I think that we have got bigger problems that don't actually need to exist.

MICHAELSON: I am not arguing the sort of economic plan on both sides of the aisle. There is an understanding that, again, these small businesses are the (INAUDIBLE) of the economy. We can't have small businesses that took 10 years to build disappear overnight because they lose their deposits.

But I think, again, on both sides of the aisle, there has been a real failure to communicate what is at stake and to make it understandable to people, again, who see things in a much more stark way than we have just discussed.

LOPEZ: There was a failure to communicate what was at stake when the Trump ministration rolled back Dodd-Frank regulations that require these banks to keep a certain amount of capital to avoid situations like this. So, you know, we don't really talk about and it is really boring -- I mean, I do it for a living, but I don't expect other people to want to do it.

UNKNOWN: We can see that. We can see that.

LOPEZ: Okay. But I can understand why it is very boring to think about bank regulation. But in this case, we are seeing the real-world consequences of 2018, of a push to deregulate and also these banks that were then deregulated taking a lot of risk on stupid stuff like crypto.

MCENROE: I think Jay's point is great about -- the fact that a lot of people are pissed off about this. And they have every right to be passed off. But let's also remember that overall, the U.S. economy, despite all the interest rates rising, is doing pretty well.


MCENROE: I mean, you got an aging population. If you look at the job numbers, they are as high as they've ever been. You got an aging population, you go the fact that this fiscal policy is ending, you got the fact that because of COVID, how much things have changed in the last couple of years with productivity, with how people are working from home, with digitalization. So, a lot of things changed.

But overall, again, I am looking at the positive here. The government did the right thing. Overall, we are doing pretty well.

CAMEROTA: Somehow, you all have made this super compelling. So, I totally reject your --


CAMEROTA: -- assessment.


CAMEROTA: Hold on, hold on. What? PINION: I just happened to notice that Barney Frank is actually one of those former members of the board at Signature Bank who said it wasn't the roll back of Dodd-Frank but the fact that crypto itself was under attack, and I think maybe trying to spread out that political race (ph), the partisan race (ph), in case Silicon Valley Bank felt it was going to be singled out and the people on the right say --

LOPEZ: Why did crypto attack the bank? That is the question.

PINION: Both can be true.

CAMEROTA: Guys, this is fantastic. I didn't know I was going to have to wrap you so hard on the banks subject. Thank you all very much. Stick around because president -- China's President Xi meets with Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin, calling the Russian leader his dear friend. Do Americans need to be paying more attention to what is happening there in that picture? We will talk about that, next.




CAMEROTA: Yes, exactly. Chinese Leader Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin smiling and shaking hands in Moscow today. This is a critical time in Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Xi is framing himself as a possible peacemaker. Is this moment a wakeup call for the U.S. and for all of us?

We are back now with my panel. What are we to make, Jay, of that photo of President Xi and President Putin there smiling and talking about what great friends they are?

MICHAELSON: I think the two of us might disagree about this, but for me, this is reaping the fruits of four years of isolationism and the sort of rhetoric against China that hasn't been backed up by the kind of meaningful action that would actually prevent this from happening.

But, you know, maybe there is, like, a kind of silver lining to this cloud, which for me feels really ominous, for people who care about fighting authoritarianism, to see two authoritarian leaders that are kind of reconcile in this way.

The silver lining is that ironically, you know, only Nixon can go to China, right? It took somebody who is a hawk against communism to actually reach out to China in the first place. Maybe Xi has the level of credibility that could actually float some kind of proposal down to end the war in Ukraine. But to me, this is profoundly disturbing.

LOPEZ: I sincerely doubt Xi has any real intentions of peace in Ukraine.


I think he's -- what he's trying to do is bolster Putin, bolster that kind of ideology, but at the same time he has to walk a fine line because China's economy is still recovering from COVID. It is still highly dependent on trade to -- on exports to the E.U. and the U.S.

So, while she is going to verbally back up Putin, what we need to watch is what he does, does he send weapons? Does -- do -- does -- the trade when Russia and China does that increase? Does China to pick up the slack in terms of purchasing energy from Russia? And how would they get it to china because that is a land route and we run the seas?

PINION: Well, I mean, few things --

LOPEZ: There's a lot of things to work out.

PINION: Yeah, I mean --

LOPEZ: There's a lot to work out.

PINION: I think, number one, I would disagree with you, again. I just have to be that person. Look, this began in the big stage in 2012 when President Barack Obama said that we had last horses in and bayonets that we needed to start thinking about different things. Now, that might have seemed crazy until two years later we had Russia going and invaded Crimea, and this president did nothing.

And now, he's co-pilot is back, and the tanks have rolled across the border. We should have said something when the Russian hackers hacked our fuel supply with the colonial pipeline. We should've done something when the Russian hackers hiked our beef supply with the JBS hackers. Nothing was done, nothing was said. And now, we have again a reluctant allies joined at the hip.

To your point, about the energy supply, yes, congratulations, the number one exporter of actual oil to the Chinese communist party right now is Russia. They have surpassed Saudi Arabia, right. They have exports going to China. They have one of 55%. We are looking at what is happening on the other way. Their exports to Russia have gone up 22%.

So, yes, happy days are here again for the Russians and for the Chinese people before the rest of the world who are terrified because Ray Charles (ph) should have seen this coming and we have done nothing to prevent it from happening.

MCENROE: Well, I am not sure what we could do --

CAMEROTA: Yeah. I'm not sure what we could have done.

MCENROE: You make a valid point, but the hawk's response is then what? Because if you want to call it the Biden doctrine -- I'm not sure he has one -- but if you look at --

PINION: I think that's a good point.

MCENROE: Okay. But if you look at what he has done, he has tried to get us back in good graces with our NATO partners, particularly with what has happened between Russia and Ukraine. So, he has tried to rebuild what essentially he argued Trump dissipated, right, got rid of it. So, if you want to go down that road of playing hard ball, which my instincts sometimes is to do that too, like, screw China, we should take it a harder line. But what does that actually look like?

LOPEZ: Yeah.

MCENROE: If you actually do that, that's the problem.

LOPEZ: And also what Biden to demonstrate to Beijing was that if you attack Taiwan, which is what we're worried about, there will be consequences. We can coordinate the world against you. Obviously, China's economy is a lot harder to attack than Russia's.

But we are actually also doing that in the Biden era as well in terms of our technological export restrictions and our attempts to create more infrastructure in the United States for semiconductors and all the things that we get from East Asia.

CAMEROTA: So, when -- I mean, when you look at that photo doesn't seem ominous to?

LOPEZ: Oh, it is terribly ominous, but I -- what I'm saying is that Xi has to walk a fine line.

PINION: Right.

LOPEZ: He is still dependent on the rest of the world. And Russia is not going to buy all of the things that we buy from China. And China's economy has not advanced to the point where it doesn't need exports. They are desperately trying to create a domestic economy that can run on its own, like the United States, which is run by its own consumers and doesn't necessarily rely on exports. But China is not there yet. And Xi has to think about that for his people.

PINION: Absolutely.

LOPEZ: It is also net food and energy importer.

PINION: I would agree, but that is also why it is terrifying at the meeting, because the type ones that are going from Russia to China are accelerating. If we also see right now -- again, if we just looking at the economy any sanctions, that were put in place were supposed to effectively destroy the Russian economy. They are supposedly down 10 points on GDP, 15 percent down on GDP. Turns out, they're only down 2 to 4 points on GDP, depending on how you measure it.

So, again, yes I agree that Xi has to walk that fine line. But at the end of the day, I think when you talk about the Biden doctrine, it is to show up a day late and many dollars short and not actually in with the fact that he could have had the preemptive sanctions against Russia. You chose not to do that until the tanks that roll across the border. You could have gone in there, and said, oh, we're going to stick to the point and we are not going to have the tanks and you add the tanks. And we're not going to give them the fighter jets. Now, we are considering it bring in the fighter jets.

So I, think again, the lack of a doctrine, the lack of saying that we are going to draw this line and as you come here --

LOPEZ: I think that is just making sure that Europe is in lockstep with United States. You know, we have been dragging the Germans and the French across the (inaudible).

MCENROE: And he's got a plate of politics domestically because the foreign policy is now very dependent on what's happening domestically.


So, if you look at what is happening in Russia and Ukraine, he's has made -- Biden, I mean, the policies that he is put in place there with our European allies has made it a lot more difficult for them to (inaudible).

MICHAELSON: I felt we're in a time machine though. I feel like hearing really good, smart, you know, Republican hot -- foreign policy hot talking points, which were used to be the consensus reality of centrists and -- maybe centrists -- the center right in Washington, D.C. 20 years ago. But the last Republican administration, which arguably was coddling Putin, which caused -- you know, still cause Ukraine to kind of client state and defame our allies. To me, this stark, this dark summit feels like the combination of these very irresponsible policies. So, I would be very on board with this sort of vehicular hot machine.

PINION: I mean, I just don't know how we can call it irresponsible policy when he was the only president that didn't have Ukraine go and have an invasion from the Russian party. So --

LOPEZ: Because they didn't to. Putin felt very comfortable with Trump in office. He didn't need to post on --


MICHAELSON: I mean, even if (inaudible) --

PINION: It was -- it's not a stunt. We've got -- we've got a lot of dead Ukrainians. So, I don't think it is a stunt. I think the hard truth is that no matter how you want to frame this --


PINION: -- we need to have a Biden doctrine. It is not exist. He has yet to be able to articulate what his victory in Ukraine would look like and part of that is why we have all of uncertainty leading to this dark summit.

CAMEROTA: All right. Thank you.

MCENROE: Lastly, Alisyn --

CAMEROTA: Yes, quickly.

MCENROE: -- I don't find this ominous at all. I find it realistic. CAMEROTA: Okay. Thank you all very much for that. Now, closer to home, California's governor is rolling out an ambitious plan to reduce homelessness in that state. It involves tiny houses. We will explain what that means next.




CAMEROTA: California Governor Gavin Newsom hoping to cut homelessness in his state by 15 percent by the year 2025. One of his first steps is this, what you are seeing on your screen right now, 1,200 tiny homes. The price tag for these tiny homes, 1,200 of them, is $30 million. Newsom says the project can be finished by this fall.

I am back with my panel right now. So, Patrick, California has a problem.


CAMEROTA: I, mean all of my friends who live in California say it is noticeable, it is dramatic, the amount of homeless people, tent cities that have propped up their. So, anything they are trying -- this is a creative idea. I am not sure how long -- how well it would work. I'll tell you a little bit more about these tiny homes. They take 90 minutes to assemble. That sounds great, that's quick.

MCENROE: How big are they?

CAMEROTA: 120 square feet.

MCENROE: That's small but --


MCENROE: But it is better than living on the street. And to your point, I was in California last summer with a couple of my daughters and we walked around to go visit one of my ex-professors, by the way, where I went to college. And it was scary. I mean, I was like, maybe I shouldn't have brought my daughters. I mean, it was -- it was hard to see. It was really hard. I love that part of the country. I went to college out there.

But -- so I say to Governor Newsom, you know, well done to try to do something to help what is obviously a crisis that is pretty much out of control, you know, in a lot of places in the country, but particularly out there.

CAMEROTA: So, just a few more stats for you, Linette. They -- in California, there is 115,000 homeless people, they estimate, 44 out of every 10,000 people are experiencing homelessness, 67 percent of them are unsheltered. And it's up 6.2 percent from two years ago.

LOPEZ: Yeah. And we're about to face economic hardship in this country. I think people are losing their jobs. So, I mean, particularly California people, tech sector, media. So, I imagine that this will trickle down and people will be going through a tough time. It's going to be harder to pay rent.

You know, there -- some people in the economic nerds in my world to talk about kind of two Americas, one America where people have that savings accounts and weather the pandemic pretty well. And there is an America where people are falling behind on their rent and credit card payments are getting too high. And we're seeing this problem in the economy. This is the kind of situation that increases risk of homelessness. And so, it is good to see Governor Newsom doing something.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. Quckly.

MICHAELSON: So, this understandably this is a really a drop in the bucket. It's really -- it's like a symbolic amount. And you said how many homes people there are, this is like 1%. But what I found interesting, I took a little dive on this issue and -- when I heard we were gonna be talking about it. And I look at the Republican proposals and the Democrat proposals in California and there's -- they're actually really similar.

So a lot of times, you know, there might be a stereotype on the right it is gonna be a law and order and on the left might be sort of deep causes of social order. But I looked at -- I went through the Republican proposals and they are all about deep causes. This is not an issue which we could just kind of, you know, walk them up and throw away the key kind of solution.

And it was occurring to me that in a very partisan -- hyper-partisan environment there's actually a lot of agreement, right? There is more funding for mental health, right, better solutions than shelters, which often had a lot of violence in them, which is really hard to read as kids where there's a lack of stability and whether it is not possible really to end it.

You know, the tiny house idea is just one drop in the bucket, but that is a model, you know, because democrats have to do something about this issue. What was interesting is the solution seemed kind similar, but its Democrat mayors who were taking abet on this and on crime and we've talked about this before that this is not -- there has to be a true compassionate way to address the root causes of this challenge and it's going to hurt a lot of folks because it is going to get worse.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. That's great context. And I owe you one, Joe. They're wrapping me.

PINION: Oh, no.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. So, thank you. I owe you one. Thank you for all of that. OK. Up next, the family of the South Carolina teenager who died mysteriously in 2015 wants his body exhumed and a new investigation opened.


Does this have something to do with the Murdaugh murder?


CAMEROTA: The family of South Carolina teenager, Stephen Smith, wants a new investigation into the mysterious death -- his mysterious death in 2015. The call for this into investigation comes as a result of the investigation into the murders of Maggie Murdaugh and Paul Murdaugh.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher has more.


911 OPERATOR: What are emergency?

UNKNOWN: Hello, I was just going down along Crocketville Road and I see somebody laying out.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been nearly eight years since body of 19-year-old Stephen Smith was found in the middle of this country road in Hampton County, South Carolina.


The teen's death gained national attention in June 2021, nearly six years after he was killed when the state law enforcement division announced it was opening an investigation into his death based upon information gathered during the course of the double murder investigation of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh.

UNKNOWN: Verdict, guilty.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of his wife and son earlier this month.

UNKNOWN: For the next of your natural life --

GALLAGHER (voice-over): And investigators never revealed what information they gleaned from the Murdaugh murders investigation that resulted in his case being opened. Today, new private efforts and launched to uncover the circumstances, spearheaded by Smith's mother, Sandy, and two attorneys, the first goal, exhuming Smith's body.

RONNIE RITCHER, SMITH FAMILY ATTORNEY: We think we have good cause to show why a fresh set of eyes on this will be beneficial. It kind of has to start with a fresh new look at the body.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Initial report said that the nursing student died on July 8th, 2015 from blunt force head trauma, originally said to be the result of a hit and run. But the accident investigation team reports cited, quote, "no vehicle debris, skid marks or injuries consistent with someone being struck by a vehicle."

SANDY SMITH, STEPHEN SMITH'S MOTHER: I just love my son. And since I couldn't protect him, I'm going to fight for him. GALLAGHER (voice-over): Smith's mother said she's worried that her son was targeted because he was gay. According to police files with during interviews with friends and families after his death, the Murdaugh name kept coming up, but no suspect has ever been named and authorities never connected any one of the Murdaugh family to Smith's death.

Still, rumors and innuendo persisted as the Murdaugh case spawned podcast, documentaries, and a rapid social media following, often with Buster Murdaugh, a classmate of Smith at the center of the speculation. He broke his silence in a statement provided to CNN this morning saying apart, quote, "I have tried my best to ignore the vicious rumors that suggest my involvement in Stephen Smith's tragic death that continue to be published in the media as I grieve over the brutal murders of my mother and brother. These baseless rumors of my involvement with Stephen and his death are false. I unequivocally deny any involvement in his death and my heart goes out to the Smith family."

Smith's attorney caution the public, this is not about the Murdaughs.

RITCHER: This is not an Alex Murdaugh 2.0 or any Murdaugh 2.0. This is Stephen Smith 2.0. It's all about Stephen.

GALLAGHER (on-camera): And that's what's at the heart of this theory. It's a mother who for nearly eight years has simply wanted to find out what happened to her son and who did it to him.

Sandy Smith started a GoFundMe. She's raised $75,000 already which she says she plans to use to pay for the independent autopsy and to exhume her sons body if a judge signs off on a petition allowing it. We did ask SLED about the death investigation of Stephen Smith. They told us that they had made progress, but said it was still active and ongoing. Alisyn?


CAMEROTA: Dianne, thank you. Joining me now, attorney and legal affairs commentator, Areva Martin. Ariva, is tragic that this mother has not had any information that they've never resolved this crime after all of these years. So, of course, she wants, you know, the investigation reopened. And this is a strange case to know that there weren't the telltale signs of a normal hit and run around Stephen Smith's body.

AREVA MARTIN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: You're right, Alisyn. This is a very strange case and we know that (inaudible) law enforcement as they it relates, deeming this a hit and run accident because the evidence at the scene doesn't support that conclusion.

But I also feel bad, Alisyn, for Buster Murdaugh. He's grieving the loss of his mother and younger brother. His father was incarcerated for life. And yet, there are all these innuendoes about him and somehow linking him to the murder when there is no evidence to do so. So, I hope that the law enforcement agencies in that town, in that county, you know, complete their investigation. And if buster is not involved in this, I hope's that his name is cleared.

Second, I can't imagine, you know, the trauma and the pain that he continues to experience as a result of his own losses.

CAMEROTA: You're right. I mean, there's certainly no evidence that we know of that the public is privy to. That's true. But there is this feeling that an unusual amount of people end up dead and up around the Murdaughs. And so, there's a housekeeper who died under somewhat suspicions circumstances in the home. There was the teenager who was on the boat with Paul Murdaugh, the young woman who was on the -- who was killed on the boat with Paul Murdaugh. There is this strange case. I don't know why the Murdaugh name keeps coming up in this investigation. And then of course there is Maggie and Paul who were killed.

So it's -- I mean, I know, as you, that is innuendo, that's just innuendo, but it does -- it is starting to feel spooky around them.

MARTIN: And I can see why, Alisyn. There are conspiracy theories that have arisen as a result of all the deaths you just identified. But I think we have to stick to the evidence.


And those evidences, as you just identified, there are facts in those cases that have come to life. And in some cases, we know with respect to Paul and the young girl that died on the boat, there's evidence linking him to that murder. There's just no evidence at this point that ties anyone from the Murdaugh family to the death of this young man.

Tragic hasn't may be, we just have to wait until the law enforcement investigation is completed before we will know any additional information. My heart goes out to this family, but I don't want to traumatize, re-traumatized Buster because this treasure from has this family has experienced.

CAMEROTA: You're right. And we really appreciate the cautionary note. Ariva Martin, great to see you. Thank you for all that.

MARTIN: Thanks, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: And before we go, I want to clarify something our guests said about Stormy Daniels in an earlier conversation. She's an adult film star and Governor DeSantis' remarks was that he did not know what it was like to pay, quote, "hush money to a porn star," unquote.

Thanks so much for watching tonight. See you tomorrow night. Our coverage continues now.