Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Trump Vows to Appeal $5M Jury Award to E. Jean Carroll; Rep. George Santos Charged by Justice Department in Federal Probe; Biden Predicts "Chaos" For Some Days After Title 42 Expires. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 10, 2023 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Right now on EARLY START, unprecedented. A jury finds former president and current candidate, Donald Trump, liable for sexual abuse.

Plus, the secret indictment against embattled Congressman George Santos. Which of his many lies came back to bite him?

And the southern border bracing for a surge in migrants as Title 42 rules run out tomorrow. Even the president now predicts chaos.


ROMANS: Good morning. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Christine Romans.

We begin with Donald Trump vowing to appeal after a New York City jury found him liable for sexual abuse and defamation and awarded E. Jean Carroll $5 million in her lawsuit against the former president.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: What else can you expect from a Trump aide, in Clinton appointed judge who went out of his way to make sure that the result of the trial was as negative as it could possibly be.

I don't even know who this woman is. I have no idea who she is, where she came from. This is another scam. It's a political witch hunt.


ROMANS: Trump posted that and several other videos on his Truth Social platform after the verdict. Carroll meantime called the jury's decisions, quote, a victory for everyone who's suffered because she was not believe.

More now from CNN's Jean Casarez in New York.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A Manhattan federal jury found former President Donald Trump sexually abused E. Jean Carroll in a department store dressing room in the 1990s and subsequently defamed her. Carroll alleged Trump sexually assaulted her in the Bergdorf Goodman in the spring of 1996 and later defamed her when he denied her claims.

The jury found his conduct was sexual abuse, sufficient to hold him liable for her civil battery claim, even though the jury found she did not prove his assault met the rape threshold.

E. JEAN CARROLL, SUED DONALD TRUMP: The minute he went like this, I proceeded into the dressing room. The minute he closed that door, I was banged up against the wall. I hit my head really hard, boom.

CASAREZ: After deliberating for some 2-1/2 hours, the jury recommending Trump pay Carroll a total of $5 million, more than $2 million in damages on the battery claim and nearly $3 million on the defamation claim.

Carroll, in her suit, sought damages for this October 2022 social media post claiming Carroll's account was, quote, a complete con job. Her story was completely made up. And that this can only happen to Trump. That's only one of dozens of denials Trump made about Carroll's rape allegations publicly.

TRUMP: I have no idea who this woman is.

CASAREZ: And privately like these he made during his pre-trial deposition.

TRUMP: She's a whack job. She's not my type. I think she's sick, mentally sick.

CASAREZ: That's the only time the jury heard from Trump during the trial, other than clips from the Access Hollywood tape that surfaced right before the 2016 presidential election.

Carroll's team used that now infamous video to establish Trump's character playing portions again during closing arguments.

TRUMP: I'm automatically attracted to beautiful women. I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what you said, correct.

TRUMP: Well, historically, that's true with stars. Not always, but largely true, unfortunately or fortunately.

CASAREZ: Trump's lawyer in the case, Joe Tacopina, pressed Carroll during cross-examination, asking why she wasn't yelling out during the encounter. Crying on the stand, Carroll told Tacopina, I'm telling you he raped me, whether I screamed or not, I don't need an excuse for not screaming.

Shortly after the verdict, Trump again denied knowing Carroll, calling the verdict a disgrace, and through his attorney, called his loss a result of politics. JOE TACOPINA, TRUMP LAWYER: He is firm in his belief, as many people are, that he cannot get a fair trial in New York City.

That's probably an accurate assessment based on what happened today.

CASAREZ: Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.


ROMANS: So, E. Jean Carroll will appear live on "CNN THIS MORNING" at 8:00 a.m. Eastern. And exclusively on CNN tonight, former President Trump takes questions from Kaitlan Collins, a CNN Republican presidential town hall. That's live at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

All right. Now to this CNN exclusive, Congressman George Santos is expected to appear in federal court in New York this morning to face criminal charges. Santos has racked up a lengthy list of public lies about his program. But specifics of the charges against him are still a mystery at this.


CNN's Evan Perez has more.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The Justice Department has filed criminal charges against Congressman George Santos, a Republican who's been under scrutiny for a stunning number of lies and fabrications during his run for office. Santos is expected to appear in federal court in New York where the charges have been filed under seal.

Now, we don't know yet the exact nature of the charges, with the FBI and the Justice Department's Public Integrity Prosecutors in New York and in Washington have been examining allegations of false statements in Santos's campaign finance filings. Among other claims, the congressman took office only in January and his face calls from fellow Republicans to resigned over allegations ranging from the criminal behavior in the campaign trail, to petty personal dishonesty stretching back more than a decade.

A large chunks of his official biography are believed to be false, including his claims to have worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, claims that he has Jewish heritage that have turned out to be not true. He allegedly stole money from a charity set up to help a military veteran's dog. He even falsely claimed that he was a producer on a spider-man Broadway flop.

It is not a crime to lie to voters about your resume, instead prosecutors have honed in on allegations that Santos lied on federal election filings that were intended to document campaign expenditures and fund-raising.

Now, we are expecting to see Sanders appear before a judge in the coming hours. Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.


ROMANS: All right. To the southern border now, it is now just one day until Title 42 expires. And President Biden is predicting chaos. The COVID era border restrictions lapses tomorrow just before midnight. That is expected to be followed by a surge of migrants at the southern U.S. border.

After a lengthy call with Mexico's President Tuesday, Mr. Biden was asked if the administration is prepared.


BIDEN: I spent about close to an hour with the Mexican president today. We are doing all we can. The answer is that it remains to be seen. We've got an overwhelming cooperation from Mexico. It remains to be seen. It's going to be chaotic for a while.


ROMANS: Chaotic for a while.

Officials at the U.S. are doing what they can to limit that chaos.

CNN's Rosa Flores has more on that from El Paso, Texas.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The scene here in El Paso, Texas, has changed. If they look around that you'll see that the streets are empty, they used to be packed but now they are empty.

Here is what's happened. Take a look at this video. There was a federal enforcement action a very early this morning. Our cameras were rolling when all of this was unfolding.

Federal agents in the dark were handing migrants who were sleeping on the streets flyers. Those fliers were encouraging them to turn themselves in to immigration authorities. Not first there was confusion because migrants didn't know what was going on, and then the fear sank in at once they realize that they had to make a critical decision. A few hours later, we started seeing migrants lineup at a processing center that a few minutes walk away. We saw that line grow by the hundreds.

A few hours later, a second enforcement action. This time, officers, agents, federal agents with a flak jacket telling people verbally that they should turn themselves in to immigration authorities.

Now, if you take a look around me, there's a mix of people. Some of them have completely left. And if you look at these a blanket, these were the blankets that a lot of the migrants were using to protect themselves from the sun. Well, the blankets are here but if you look under there, the migrants are gone. A lot of them have turned themselves into immigration authorities.

But out here there is a mix, I've talked to multiple migrants. Some of them say that they've turned themselves into immigration authorities, and they were released and so they are back in the count and waiting for a bus, or waiting for a plane ticket so they could go meet their families somewhere in the United States.

Now all of this is happening as the end of Title 42 looms on May 11th at 11:59 pm. Now, about what's going on in the northern border and the flow that we are expecting as Title 42 or the end of Title 42 approaches, according to a source, the federal government estimates that there are more than 150,000 migrants in northern Mexican cities waiting to turn themselves in to immigration authorities, or waiting to cross into the United States.

Now, that's important because the detention facilities, the holding facilities are already maxed out at capacity. And so, that's what the administration is grappling with and no one really knows what's will happen once Title 42 ends.

Rosa Flores, CNN, El Paso.


ROMANS: All right. Turning now to the battle for Ukraine.


Officials with a Ukrainian assault brigades say they have conducted successful counterattacks against Russian units near Bakhmut.

I want to bring in CNN's Nic Robertson. He has been in Eastern Ukraine for us.

Nic, what more do we know about these claims Ukrainian victories?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, these are hard won victories in Bakhmut, perhaps just to the south of Bakhmut. We know that town has been so heavily contested for so long. And the Wagner mercenary boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin has been having arguments with Kremlin. It's not getting enough ammunition.

Well, the Ukrainians were very concerned that this coming week, this past weekend rather, that Russia would make a big push to try to grab it. And they seem to throwing along the fight.

We were with a unit at the frontline assault who were training last week. They did not know at that point, we didn't know at that moment. But they were actually some of the troops in this offensive. And what they have done it seems is surprised the Russian forces on the ground there.

They say they have taken perhaps several kilometers of territory. They say that they have intersected Russian communications between indicating the Russians were surprised, which, of course, has said that -- the Ukrainians saying making them very happy. They say that they are consolidating the ground that they've taken.

I've asked, you know, if this is part of the big counteroffensive, does this mean you are going to keep going from here? It was, look we really do not know. We will hold the ground, and we'll wait for commands from higher ups when they can take if you on what has happened here, on our, he said, expected successes.

So, even this, we don't know if this is part of the counteroffensive. It doesn't, the big counteroffensive, it doesn't appear to be, but it could be part of the maneuvers operations that shape what comes next. But again, I think you have to reinforce troops on the ground don't even know themselves. What does it mean in the bigger picture?

Well, the commanding officer that we were speaking to who has a lot of details on the fight has told us that they have good expectations of what will happen in the counteroffensive, but he said we don't expect it to be easy. It's not going to be like Hollywood. It's not going to be a video game.

There are going to be losses. But they do feel that they have inflected some significant losses on Russian units and taken this ground. And this is usually significant in Bakhmut, because Ukrainians have not been able to put out a statement and say we have taken back several kilometers of territory.

How far does it go from here? They don't know, we don't know.

ROMANS: All right. Nic, thank you so much for all the excellent reporting from eastern Ukraine. Thanks.

All right. Just ahead, the morning after the White House sit down on the debt limit. Who will eventually blink first.

Plus, she wrote a kids book about grief after her husband died. Now, she is charged with her murder. The eight-year-old kid who just spent two days alone lost in the woods. How rescuers say he survived.



ROMANS: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy emerged from the White House Tuesday afternoon said no real movement had been made with President Biden on raising the debt limit. Biden and Democrats don't want to tie spending cuts to the debt ceiling as Speaker McCarthy's plan would do.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I didn't find progress in this meeting. Staff will continue to meet and we will get back together on Friday, and hopefully, the president then can change the path of the last 97 days.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Made it clear during our meeting that default is not an option. I repeated that time and again. America is not a dead beat nation. We pay our bills. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The administration and Congress have, you know, as few as 22 days until a nation default on its debt.

Let's bring in "Wall Street Journal" White House reporter Catherine Lucey.

Nice to see you, Catherine, this morning. So, you know, the two sides went into this quite far apart. So, can that change by Friday?

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Good to see you, too, Christine. I don't know if you can change by Friday. I mean, obviously, the expectations are pretty low for the first meeting. It was seen by a lot of people as a way for both sides to lay out their positions which as you said are really far apart. That clearly happened, the head of the meeting of the White House is called this a conversation and not a negotiation.

So as expected, they came out and reiterated a lot of the points they were making for weeks and months. But one thing, you know, they are meeting again. There are some staff level conversations happening. Whether that comes to resolution, it doesn't mean it is happening. I think people will point to. And also once the president is really repeating this message, that default is not an option.

ROMANS: Yes, the calendar is really tight here though. I mean, really tight. And, you know you are running out of time when you've got people talking about and invoking the 14th Amendment. The president brought that up after the meeting, the idea of invoking the 14th Amendment.

But, you can see, he really can't do that without least a short term increase kicking the can down the road about the legal process plays out. I mean, I guess even discussing the 14th Amendment shows that just the desperation here, right?

LUCEY: Yeah. And we know the White House has been looking at privately, as they publicly say, we can't default. You know, the Republicans need to pass a extension without any conditions. They have been looking at other paths and things they can do.

But the president, he said pretty clearly yesterday that they are looking at the 14th Amendment. But that will get tied up in the court. So it is not clear that is a get out of jail free card for them at the moment.

ROMANS: You know, this is quite a consequential month for the president, right? You got the looming threat of default, these negotiations with Republicans and McCarthy, are conversation now, negotiations eventually. Lifting of Title 42 tomorrow.

Also, he plans to travel to Tokyo for the G7 summit later this month.


All while the president is facing low poll numbers after launching reelection campaign.

What are you hearing from the White House on the strategy here?

LUCEY: Certainly, he's facing a huge number of things at the moment. You know, all of which have the potential to weaken his standing, or certainly at least to distract from the White House would like to be doing, which is selling a lot of the agenda from the first two years. The goal for the presidential campaign is be out there talking to people about infrastructure and spending and legislation that he passed. And instead, today, he's traveling to talk about the dangers of defaulting on the nation's debt and warn about, you know, concerns about what happened and how that would impact the American public.

And you're right. I mean, you know, sort of overhanging all of this is just the fact that he is facing low poll numbers. And that is a concern. You know, the campaign and the White House, they continue to think he has a good story to tell, that they will be able to connect with voters on the accomplishments of the first two years. But this is a very tough stretch for the president.

ROMANS: Yeah, absolutely. All right. Catherine Lucey of "The Wall Street Journal", thank so very much.

LUCEY: Thank you.

ROMANS: Okay. A big change in women's health may be coming. A leading task force of medical experts could soon recommend women start mammograms at aged 40 instead of waiting until 50.

Here's CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard.


JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Christine, for women at average risk, the task force sees more benefits that risk for them to start mammograms at age 40. This draft update is available for public comment from now until June 5th. And we know that it is estimated that 12.9 percent of women born in the United States today will develop breast cancer at sometime during their lives.

And it's important to catch these cancers early, which gives a better chance of survival. Meanwhile, this updates does not change recommendations for women at high risk of getting breast cancer. Those women should still keep in contact with their doctors for what's best for them.

But for all women, there are some important topics to discuss with you doctor. That includes your family history of cancer, whether you have dense breasts. And try to ask for a breast exam at your next doctor's appointment. And also, ask when you should start screening and how often based on your own individual risk factors.

Christine, back to you.


ROMANS: All right. Important news there. Thank you.

All right. Quick hits across America now.

The Philadelphia jail where two inmates escaped on lockdown now until Friday. The pair fled for Sunday night but weren't discovered missing until 3:00 p.m. Monday. A 20,000 dollar reward is being offered.

A Utah woman who wrote a children's book of grief after the death of her husband is now charged with his murder. Thirty-three-year-old Kouri Richins' husband died of a fentanyl overdose.

An eight-year-old Wisconsin boy survive two days in a Michigan state park by eating snow and sheltering under a log. He went missing Saturday while gathering firewood. A search party found him Monday.

Up next, the dramatic moment, troops broke windows to seize Pakistan's former prime minister. And what the drought in Spain could do to olive oil prices.



ROMANS: All right. Just in the CNN, more Israeli issues in the Gaza Strip. This just a day after Israeli planes killed three Islamic jihad commanders, along ten other people, including women and children.

Elliott Gotkine is live in Jerusalem with more for us.

Elliott, how are Israeli forces preparing for retaliation?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Christine, they already seem to be acting out this action in retaliation, in anticipation. So, the last few minutes, for example, we have received word from the IDF that it was carrying out airstrikes it says to target Islamic jihad operatives who were traveling to a rocket launch site. We've also had reports from our producer in the Gaza Strip, saying there were explosions in southern part of the Gaza Strip, and reports from medical authorities there, saying that one dead and one injured so far.

And, of course, Israeli strikes yesterday came in response to more than a hundred 100 rockets, it says that were launched by Islamic jihad towards Israel about a week ago. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressing the nation last night, saying that those who seek to harm Israel will be harmed. Those who kill our citizens will pay a heavy price. You can run, you can hide, but in the end, Israel will get you.

Now, Islamic jihad also put out a statement saying that the occupation, it is a term for Israel, will be surprised by the response which will be unified, and from all factions now. So far, the response has not happened. There is an uneasy calm in Israel.

Israel has also opened up public bomb shelters, schools and communities around the Gaza Strip, and also train stations there have been closed in anticipation.

So, I think everyone in Israel realizes and full expects that retaliation from Islamic Jihad is a question of when rather than if -- Christine.

ROMANS: All Right. Elliott Gotkine, thank you so much for that.

All right. Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan set to appear in a special court today at Islamabad's police headquarters to answer to corruption allegations. Khan's dramatic arrest Tuesday lead to violent clashes between his supporters and security forces. At least one person was reported killed in those clashes and officials say regulators, they blocked social media and internet services in some cities.

CNN's Sophia Saifi live in Islamabad, Pakistan, with more.

What is expected from today's hearing, Sophia?