Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Report: Trump Says No To Twitter After Musk Reinstates Account; Iran Steps Up Violent Crackdown On Anti-Government Movement; Reality T.V. Stars Todd & Julie Chrisley To Be Sentenced. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 21, 2022 - 05:30   ET



CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I just love that, you know. I'll save you at 5:29 in the morning my Iron Mike impression -- my Ditka impression -- but very committed to the costumes. I appreciate it.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN ANCHOR: That's an old reference.

MANNO: I know. I was thinking about that, too. I'm like man, I have not thought about Mike Ditka in so long.

WILD: Yes.

MANNO: It was fun to see that.

WILD: Those guys have seen the reruns -- the "SNL" reruns of the Ditka --

MANNO: Exactly.

WILD: -- sketch.

OK. Carolyn Manno, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

MANNO: Sure.

WILD: All right. Turning back to other news, Elon Musk lets Donald Trump back on Twitter, but is the former president going to tweet again? That is the big question.

And also, the world kicks off -- excuse me, the World Cup kicks off in Qatar. We're live in Doha. That's coming up next.



WILD: Welcome back, everyone -- 5:35 past the hour now. Thank you so much for joining us.

New this morning, Donald Trump taking a hard pass at a return to Twitter. Donald Trump reportedly has no interest in going back to the platform even though Elon Musk said he would reinstate the former president's account. Musk made the decision after a, if we're being honest, pretty questionable Twitter poll that showed a slim majority wanted Trump back.

So let's bring in Rachael Bade. She's CNN's political analyst, and she's the co-author of Politico Playbook, the definitive newsletter of the D.C. morning. Rachael, thank you so much for joining us.

So my first question for you is Elon Musk allowed Twitter -- or allowed Trump to go back on Twitter, but he's already on Truth Social. Do you think he's going to come back to Twitter?

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, CO-AUTHOR, POLITICO PLAYBOOK (via Webex by Cisco): A lot of people say, and I wouldn't be surprised, that he's not going to be able to resist coming back to Twitter. I mean, he's got something like 80-some million followers. Truth Social really hasn't taken off and has really struggled to have the sort of participation that Twitter obviously has, and so a lot of people do think that at some point he will be back.

Now, right now, he's saying he's not coming back and part of that is obviously a financial stake. He has a financial stake in Truth Social. That's where his money is invested. But again, there is a huge audience on Twitter that he cannot speak to on Truth Social, and so a lot of people think he's going to come back.

Now, one thing I would just add -- if he does, this is going to be a huge gift to Democrats. Republicans I have talked to are just dreading the day that he's back on Twitter because then they're going to have to answer for every little tweet. And let's remember and be frank here, he's said some pretty controversial things on Twitter.

WILD: Let's switch now to the leadership -- sort of leadership fight on Capitol Hill. So, Kevin McCarthy needs all 218 Republican votes to become the House speaker next year.

Retirement -- retiring Congressman Adam Kinzinger doesn't think that if McCarthy is the House speaker that it's going to last very long. So here's what he said, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the other side.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): I think he has cut so many deals with bad people to get to this position that I think he's not going to be a leader at all. I think he'll be completely hostage to kind of the extreme wings of the Republican Party. And I frankly don't think he's going to last very long.


WILD: What do you think? Staying power for McCarthy?

BADE: It -- it's going to be the newest D.C. parlor game, I guess you'd say, or coffee pot chatter. Even if McCarthy becomes speaker the only way he's going to do so is by giving these concessions to the far right.

And one thing that they're asking of him is that he reinstate the sort of obscure rule in the House that lets conservatives try to oust him as speaker at any moment's notice -- any one of them. And if he gives them that, they're going to use this as sort of leverage over him and to try to use it as a threat when he's negotiating with Democrats to do things like keep the government running or raise the debt ceiling. And let's be honest -- he's going to have to do that.

So if he becomes speaker, it's a real question about how long is he going to be able to retain this position with that sort of threat hanging over his head.

WILD: OK, let's switch now to the 2024 race. So the Republican Party already has some potential candidates coming out against former President Donald Trump, and that includes the former governor of South Carolina and U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley. She said -- look, she's thinking about a run. Just thinking about it in a serious way. She's going to have more on this very soon.

So, is this field growing -- you know, growing by the month? Are we going to see a huge Republican field leading up to 2024, or do you think this is going to slim down?

BADE: Yes, it's interesting. It's kind of deja vu of 2016 right now. I mean, the reality is that after the midterm elections, Trump is looking so weak politically that you have a whole bunch of high- profile Republicans saying ooh, I think I could beat him. I'm going to jump into this race.

People like Nikki Haley, who you'll remember had originally said she would not run against Trump if he runs, and now she's rethinking it.

People like Kristi Noem. The governor of South Dakota, who at one point was considered a potential running mate for Donald Trump, is now saying she doesn't think that he is the best hope for Republicans taking back the White House in 2024.

So a lot of Republicans seeing an opportunity -- obviously looking at jumping in. And what that's going to do is really divide the GOP primary field so that Trump keeps his core base. There's a loyal of about 30 percent of Republicans who always going to be for him. The rest of the base is going to go for all these different candidates, and that's what we saw in 2016. That means Trump could very well win the nomination again.


WILD: Rachael Bade, thank you so much.

BADE: Thank you.

WILD: We are learning now when the January 6 committee will release all of the evidence they've been collecting over the course of the probe.


REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, we're not sharing information with the Justice Department. We're doing our own investigation. However, we anticipate when our report is released to release all of the evidence that we have assembled so the public can see it, including the Department of Justice. Within a month, they -- the public will have everything that we've found -- all the evidence.


WILD: The panel is still working on how to deal with some witnesses who refused to comply with subpoenas, and that includes former President Trump and several Republican members of Congress.

The U.S. men's soccer team takes on Wales this afternoon to kick off the World Cup in Qatar -- it's World Cup run, rather. If we're being honest, the home team -- our home team is a bit of a longshot but they do have a believer in President Biden.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You guys -- I know you're the underdogs but I'll tell you what, men. You've got some of the best players in the world on your team and you're representing this country, and I know you're going to play your hearts out. So let's go shock them all.


WILD: All right, that's a direct order from former -- from current President Biden.

The World Cup is already underway. There was a glittering opening ceremony. It included narration from actor Morgan Freeman -- just stunning.

The home field, though, not much of an advantage for Qatar, which lost 2-0 to Ecuador.

Let's go live to CNN sports anchor Amanda Davies. Amanda, what are we going to see this afternoon?

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Oh, Whitney. Well, President Biden there -- actually, he said he's ready for his call-up. And given the U.S. is the youngest squad at this tournament you wonder whether they should take him up on his offer. The 80-year-old perhaps adding a little bit of experience in the mix.

But they got that great message off the back of some messages of love and support -- videos from their families at home. Of course, also those huge billboards with messages to the players from Ted Lasso.

And as I mentioned, this is a young, inexperienced side but with a whole load of talent, the likes of Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie playing their football here in Europe. Tyler Adams, the young captain and named as captain -- just 23 years of age. And coach Gregg Berhalter saying on their day, they can beat anybody.

This is really project USA with one eye on 2026 when the U.S. is co- hosting the tournament alongside Mexico and Canada.

But they have an opposition in Wales who are so excited to be here. Their first World Cup since 1958, led by veteran captain Gareth Bale, who a lot of NRS fans will know from his days with LAFC.

WILD: Amanda Davies, thank you.

Iran's deadly crackdown on protesters claiming dozens of people's lives in the country's Kurdish region, and that includes two 16-year- old boys on Sunday.




WILD: Video posted to social media allegedly shows Iranian forces firing indiscriminately on a street in the Kurdish city of Javanrud. Human rights -- a human rights group says Iran's brutality has significantly increased in recent days.

Jomana Karadsheh is tracking the latest developments from Istanbul. Jomana, despite the violent crackdown, it appears that the Iranian government is just not able to stop these protests.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's really remarkable, Whitney, what has been going on in Iran as these protests enter their third month. The Iranian regime has not been able to suppress this popular uprising so far, and they have unleashed everything. You've got this violent crackdown with a rising death toll. According to one group, Iran Human Rights -- they say at least 370 people have been killed in the country since September.

And you've also got thousands of people who have been arrested so far. In the past week, the regime is also issuing death sentences for protesters. At least six, so far, have been sentenced to death in what human rights groups are describing as these sham trials.

But what the crackdown seems to be doing, Whitney -- it's making people angrier, more defiant, and more determined to continue protesting and demand regime change in the country.

And a lot of concern right now for what is going on in the western part of the country as you mentioned -- in the Kurdish region there -- as we've seen a new wave of protests sweeping across Iran over the past week. A lot of these protests have been focused in the Kurdish areas.


And one human rights monitor, IHRNGO, warning that they are very concerned about a very bloody crackdown. So far, they say, at least 36 people, including two 16-year-old boys, have been killed since last Tuesday. But they are saying that they are now witnessing a significant increase in the -- in the brutality.

They are saying that they are very concerned about the situation in at least three cities and towns in the Kurdish region where the Iranian regime has sent reinforcements, including members of the elite force -- the Revolutionary Guard Corps. The regime is trying to push this narrative that what's going on in the Kurdish region is a terrorist separatist movement, they say, and that they are sending their troops to deal with it.

So a lot of concern about a bloody crackdown unfolding there right now, Whitney.

WILD: Jomana Karadsheh, thank you.

All right. Coming up next, reality T.V. stars set to be sentenced for tax evasion and fraud. And a very big shakeup at Disney. Bob Iger retaking the reins as CEO.



WILD: This morning, reality T.V. stars Todd and Julie Chrisley, from the show "CHRISLEY KNOWS BEST," are facing decades behind bars. The couple and their accountant are set to be sentenced in Georgia after they were convicted on bank fraud and tax evasion earlier this year.

CNN's Jean Casarez has more.


TODD CHRISLEY, REALITY T.V. STAR, "CHRISLEY KNOWS BEST": Our main home is 30,000 square feet.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Chrisleys --

CHRISLEY: I make millions of dollars a year.

CASAREZ: -- the picture of wealth, excess, and extravagance.

CHRISLEY: And we probably spend $300,000 and sometimes more just on clothing.

CASAREZ (voice-over): But prosecutors say their lifestyle was funded by fraudulent loans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just because you're rich and you're on a T.V. show doesn't mean that the law is not going to come and get you when you commit a federal crime.

CASAREZ (voice-over): In the summer of 2019, the Chrisleys were indicted for tax evasion and fraud, including a conspiracy to defraud community banks in Atlanta out of more than $30 million. Investigators said the scheme worked like this. Starting in 2007, the Chrisleys would submit false bank statements and

audit reports to financial institutions in order to get fraudulent loans worth millions. They used that money to fund a lavish lifestyle, buying luxury cars, designer clothes, and travel.

CHRISLEY: I mean, now that I'm getting the hang of it --

CASAREZ (voice-over): Then prosecutors say they'd obtain new fraudulent loans to pay back old ones.

Quote, "After spending all the money, Todd Chrisley filed for bankruptcy and walked away from more than $20 million of the fraudulently obtained loans," says the Department of Justice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Meet Todd Chrisley.

CASAREZ (voice-over): In 2013, the Chrisleys inked a deal to star in "CHRISLEY KNOWS BEST" on USA Network.

CHRISLEY: I have a certain level of expectation for my children.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Prosecutors say the Chrisleys created a production company in order to hide money from the IRS.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, that was not declared as income in federal tax returns.

CASAREZ (voice-over): But in 2017, on The Domenick Nati Show on IHeart radio, Chrisley claimed he paid his fair share.

CHRISLEY: Obviously, the federal government likes my tax returns because I paid $750,000 to a million dollars just about every year. So the federal government doesn't have a problem with my taxes.

CASAREZ (voice-over): This interview would be used against him in court. Prosecutors said he lied. Investigators adding that the Chrisleys hadn't filed or paid their taxes for several years, all to avoid paying half a million in delinquent taxes.

This summer, a jury found the couple guilty of conspiracy and tax fraud -- guilty of filing false tax returns on their behalf.


WILD: Jean Casarez, thank you.

All right. Looking now at the markets around the world this morning, markets are mostly down. Hong Kong down sharply. On Wall Street, U.S. futures are also down.

Stocks finished up slightly Friday -- finished up a little bit Friday. The Dow gaining about 200 points, with the S&P 500 up about half a percentage point. The Nasdaq was flat. Stocks fell modestly for the week.

Shares of Ticketmaster owner Live Nation fell nearly eight percent with the company facing continued scrutiny following the Taylor Swift concert ticket debacle.

And a big twist at the top ranks of Disney -- ex-CEO Bob Iger back at the company. In a statement, he said he's "...extremely optimistic for the future of this great company and thrilled to be asked by the board to return as CEO."

The company is coming off lackluster earnings with stock -- with their stock taking a pretty recent hit. Currently, it's down about 40 percent this year.

Bob Chapek, who had replaced Iger in 2020, is stepping down immediately.

A big night for Taylor Swift.




WILD: The superstar singer continuing her reign at the AMAs.



WILD: Welcome back.

The stars lined the red carpet for the 50th American Music Awards last night -- an emotional night for many.


PINK, SINGER-SONGWRITER: Singing "Hopelessly Devoted To You."


WILD: Oh, it gives you goosebumps, right?

Pink honored the late Olivia Newton-John Sunday with a tribute of the Grease classic Hopelessly Devoted To You.

And the biggest winner of the night, Taylor Swift. She went home with six awards, including Artist of the Year and Favorite Pop Album for her rerecorded album Red (Taylor's Version).


TAYLOR SWIFT, SINGER-SONGWRITER: I can't thank you enough for caring about this album that I'm so proud of.


WILD: Taylor Swift is the reigning queen of the AMAs. She is the most decorated artist in AMA's history. She has a career total of 40 trophies.

Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Whitney Wild. "CNN THIS MORNING" starts right now.