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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Trump Still Refuses to Admit He Lost 2020 Election; Suspect in Natalee Holloway Case to be Extradited to U.S.; Officials and Asylum Seekers Prepare for End of Title 42. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 11, 2023 - 05:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Most people understand what happened.


That was a rigged election.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: New race, same Trump. With a chance to set the record straight, the former president picks up right where he left off -- with lies and insults.

Plus, a stunning new development in Natalee Holloway's mysterious disappearance. The prime suspect about to be extradited to the U.S.

And the final hours for Title 42. Migrants and border officials are now bracing for what comes after midnight tonight when those rules expire.


ROMANS: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and round the world this Thursday morning. I'm Christine Romans.

Donald Trump giving us a review of what his 2024 campaign will look like and sound like. The 45th president and Republican frontrunner for the White House taking questions last night from New Hampshire GOP primary voters at a CNN town hall.

Trump wasted little time making his same old false claims and airing his same old grievances. Just two minutes into the event, he repeated a core lie to CNN's Kaitlan Collins that he won the 2020 election.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN MODERATOR: Polls show that you were dominating the Republican race but you were also under active federal investigation for trying to overturn the 2020 election results. Your first term ended with a deadly riot at the Capitol and you still have not publicly acknowledged the 2020 election results.

Why should Americans put you back in the White House? TRUMP: Because we did fantastically. We got 12 million more votes

than we had as you know in 2016. I actually say that we did far better in that election. Got the most that anybody has ever gotten as a sitting president of the United States.

I think that when you look at that result and when you look at what happened during that election, unless you are a very stupid person, you see what happened. A lot of the people in this audience and maybe a couple that don't, but most people understand what happened. That was a rigged election, and it's a shame that we had to go through it.


ROMANS: Now, you could hear some laughter there from the Trump friendly audience. They also laughed and cheered at his jokes and dismissive comments about E. Jean Carroll. Earlier this week in Manhattan, a jury found him liable of sexually abusing and defaming Carroll in the 1990s. She was awarded $5 million.

Last night, he called Carroll's story fake and claimed he didn't even know her.


TRUMP: Sure.

COLLINS: A jury found that you sexually abused the writer E. Jean Carroll and defamed her. You've denied this. But what do you say to voters who say it disqualifies you from being president?

TRUMP: Well, there aren't too many of them because my poll numbers just came out, they went up. They said he didn't rape her.

COLLINS: They did not say --

TRUMP: I didn't do anything else, either, you know what, because I have no idea who the hell she is.

COLLINS: But, Mr. President, can I --

TRUMP: I don't know who this woman is.

COLLINS: Can I ask you, given your recounting and your version --

TRUMP: I don't know who -- and I tell you this.

COLLINS: But, Mr. President, can I -- can I --

TRUMP: Are you ready?

COLLINS: Can I ask you because --

TRUMP: And I swear on my children, which I never do, I have no idea who this woman -- this is a fake story, made up story. I have no idea who the hell -- she's a whack job.

COLLINS: Mr. President --


ROMANS: The former president also refused to say if he wants Ukraine to defeat Russia, and insists that Vladimir Putin would never have launched that invasion if Trump had been in the White House.


TRUMP: If I'm president, I will have that war settled in one day, 24 hours.

COLLINS: How would you settle that war in one day?

TRUMP: Because I'll meet with Putin, I'll meet with Zelenskyy, they both have weaknesses and they both have strengths and within 24 hours, that war will be settled. It would be over. It will be absolutely over.

COLLINS: Do you want Ukraine to win this war?

TRUMP: I don't think in terms of winning and losing. I think in terms of getting it settled so we stop killing all these people and breaking down --


COLLINS: What do you -- can I just follow up on that? You said you don't think in terms of winning and losing --

TRUMP: But one of the things that you have to do is you have to get -- you have to get Europe --

COLLINS: Mr. President, can I just follow up on that because that's really important statement that you just made there?

TRUMP: Excuse me, let me follow up.

COLLINS: Can you say if you want Ukraine or Russia to win this war?

TRUMP: I want everybody to stop dying. They are dying, Russians and Ukrainians. I want them to stop dying. And I'll have that done -- I'll have that done in 24 hours. I'll have it done.


ROMANS: Some of the other outrageous claims there that he finished the border wall. For the record, he did not, that he never asked Georgia officials to, quote, find votes despite the infamous phone call where he says, quote, I just want to find 11,780 votes. And he refused to commit to accepting the 2024 election results unless he thinks it's an honest election.

We'll break down more of the town hall in a moment. But other stories making news overnight -- Eighteen years after American student Natalee Holloway disappeared in

Aruba, the prime suspect in that case will head to the U.S. to face charges. Peru has agreed to temporarily extradite Joran van der Sloot to Alabama. Prosecutors there want to try him for extortion and wire fraud.

Van der Sloot has been serving 28 years in a Peruvian prison for murdering a young student in 2010. He was one of the last people to see Holloway alive. Her body was never found.


Less 19 hours away from the end of Title 42, the pandemic era policy allowed border agents to swiftly expel migrants. Now, authorities are preparing for an influx of people and many are anxious about their future.

CNN's Rosa Flores reporting for us from El Paso.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was dark when plain clothed federal agents who didn't identify themselves woke up migrants sleeping outside sacred Hard Church in El Paso to give them flyers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was (ph). Amen.

FLORES: The migrant who said blessings in Spanish to an agent was Beckenbauer Franco from Venezuela.

Did it surprise you?

The abrupt wake up turned to fear when he read the document asking migrants who skirted border authorities when they entered the U.S. to surrender for immigration processing.

What happens if he returned you back?

FRANCO (translated): We don't know. If we can return to Venezuela. We don't know.

FLORES: Fear that the next time agents won't be leaving empty handed.

He says that there's a lot of fear.

FRANCO: The feeling that you can't eat. The feeling that they don't have a way to survive. Sorry.

FLORES: Too emotional to speak, Franco flashes on the day he said goodbye to his 12-year-old daughter and his aging parents in Venezuela. What hurts the most, he says, is that his parents don't have money for food.

As daylight came, fear spread. Franco, an attorney who says he earned $5 a day in Venezuela, and his friends anxiously debated about what to do.

You're afraid of being deported? Have you been expelled before?

Expelled under Title 42, the pandemic rule that didn't punish migrants for repeated attempts to cross illegally, but that rule expires Thursday. The minutes rolled by, and so did immigration vans and trucks, a taunting image for an already scared group of migrants.


FLORES: Fernando Garcia, the executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights, rushed to the scene.

GARCIA: This threat of enforcement. So where this is coming from? Is this Biden? Is this the promise of a better policy? Is this a humane policy that he promised?

FLORES: In small groups and one by one, migrants started turning themselves in, especially after agents returned, this time verbally asking migrants to comply.

Take a look at the line of migrants waiting to turn themselves into immigration authorities. If you take a look, it even turns the corner, many of them scared and nervous.

And walking up to the end of the line.

You decided to turn yourself in?

Franco, with his Bible in hand, reading Psalm 121, praying he will be allowed to stay in the U.S.

Rosa Flores, CNN, El Paso.


ROMANS: All right. Great reporting from Rosa there.

All right. Israeli forces renewing airstrikes on Gaza, killing three people, including another Islamic Jihad commander. That's according to Palestinian officials. Israel says the commander was responsible for the rocket barrages, launched with them.

Gaza's health ministry says 25 people have been killed since Israel first launched airstrikes Tuesday. Israel claims four of those deaths are from militant rockets falling short of their targets.

Elliott Gotkine joining us from Jerusalem.

Elliott, how is Gaza responding?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Christine, there was 8 1/2 hours of calm overnight actually, with no rockets being fired from Islamic jihad militants in Gaza towards Israel, but the calm was broken after that brief hiatus and came after hopes surfaced last night and rumors swirled that Egypt was brokering a ceasefire that was going to come into effect imminently. Now, that didn't happen and so for now, the fighting continues.

So far as of about an hour ago, Israel says that militants have launched more than 500 rockets towards Israel, about a quarter of those have fallen short. And it says, in two of those incidents, when Islamic jihad rockets fell short, four uninvolved civilians were killed including three children, among them a 10-year-old girl.

Islamic Jihad responded to today's claims, calling them a lie designed by Israel to cover up its own crimes in the words of Islamic Jihad. Now, no doubt behind the scenes, Egypt is continuing to make efforts to try to broker some kind of ceasefire.

And Israel is in touch with the U.S. administration as well. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaking with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin last night to brief him. And although Mr. Gallant's mother actually passed away overnight, as well, he remains very much in control and in charge of this operation which I say continues despite efforts to try to broker a ceasefire -- Christine.

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

Just ahead, Republicans claim to have proof that the Biden family made millions of dollars off their name.


Hard evidence or hot air?

Plus, a hiker found alive chest deep in snow, the technology used to find him.

And what Trump said or didn't say about abortion at last night's town hall.



QUESTION: Will you pardon the January 6 rioters who are convicted of federal offenses?

TRUMP: I am inclined to pardon many of them. I can't say for every single one because a couple of them, probably, they got out of control.


ROMANS: That was former president and current presidential candidate Donald Trump at a CNN town hall last night in New Hampshire. He lied and evaded several questions asked by GOP voters and by moderator Kaitlan Collins, including whether he would sign a federal bill -- a federal ban on abortion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COLLINS: Would you sign a federal abortion ban into law?

TRUMP: What I'll do is negotiate so that people are happy.

COLLINS: Just to be clear, Mr. President, you -- you would sign a federal abortion ban into law?


TRUMP: I said this -- I said this, I want to do what is right and we're looking.

COLLINS: If they send it to your desk, would you sign it?

TRUMP: Some people are at six weeks, some are at three weeks, two weeks.

COLLINS: Where is President Trump?

TRUMP: President Trump is going to make a determination what he thinks is great for the country and what's fair for the country.

COLLINS: I just want to give you one more chance, though, because you did not answer whether or not you'd sign a federal abortion ban or how many weeks in to pregnancy you believe abortion should be banned. Can you either of those tonight?

TRUMP: Yeah, but I've given you the answer probably four times already.

COLLINS: Which one is it then? You haven't answered.

TRUMP: I'm looking -- I'm looking at a solution that's going to work.


ROMANS: All right. Let's bring in CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief for "The Boston Globe", Jackie Kucinich.

I think that's five times Kaitlan tried to ask him that question. Is he trying just not to get pinned down on whether he would sign a federal abortion ban?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, the thing that I really took away from this, is that we're seeing the same person that walked out of the White House in 2021 right there on the stage. It really hasn't, you know, learned anything, had any sort of reflection in his post-presidency years.

Maybe he wasn't trying to get down what I heard there, talking about making people happy. He did seem to hint that he was going to do what he did during his term, which is I think a theme throughout. That he would again lean toward the far right on this issue.

And I think that that would be expected particularly when he was talking about how he reshaped the Supreme Court. ROMANS: One of the other big moments last night were his comments in

to the Georgia investigation into his actions after he lost the 2020 election. I want to listen to that.


TRUMP: Having the call -- while having a normal call, nobody said, oh, gee, he shouldn't have said that. Why -- if this call was bad, I question the election, if this call was bad --

COLLINS: You asked him to find votes.

TRUMP: I didn't ask him anything.

COLLINS: We've heard the audiotape, Mr. President.

TRUMP: If this call was --

TRUMP: So, look, all I want to do is this, I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state.


ROMANS: So I'm wondering if his intransigence on the Georgia vote situation, does that hurt him?

KUCINICH: With who? I think a lot of this is baked in. It doesn't seem -- seems like the people that really like him and could potentially get him through a Republican primary which we're seeing in the polling at this moment in May 2023, they don't seem to care about this.

Now, what happens in Georgia, there is still obviously some outstanding legal cases that are working their way. And we can -- I think that the officials there have said that they are expecting results between -- or whatever happens there between July and September of this year. And we'll have to wait and see.

But I don't think anything he said last night really moved any of the people that are steadfastly with him away from him.

ROMANS: Yeah, he also would not commit, Jackie, to accepting the results of the 2024 election unless he decides that the election was fair, I guess.

How does that change -- I mean, I guess we're just -- just replay the tape here, right? I mean, what does it mean for the 2024 field?

KUCINICH: I think that we saw a preview of not only what the 2024 election is going to be like, but also potentially what a second term of former President Trump could be like. The question really is, is this what Republican voters want, and whether someone in the Republican primary can break through?

You saw some of the super PACs, or super PAC aligned with Ron DeSantis tried to make a contrast last night. Will it work? That remains to be seen.

What we're seeing in polling right now, and again, it is early, is that lot of Republican voters are choosing the former president, which is why you don't see a lot of pushback on Capitol Hill because these are folks that are represented by the very people that are steadfastly with the former president.

ROMANS: Yeah. I mean, his base is so loyal. I mean, and has been.


ROMANS: But can he grow that base. And is that base enough to elect him president again I guess is the big question. He also talked about the documents, the Mar-a-Lago documents, you know, these classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago. Let's listen to that clip quickly.


COLLINS: Do you still have any classified documents in your possession?

TRUMP: Are you ready?

COLLINS: Do you?

TRUMP: No, no, I don't have anything. I have no classified documents. And by the way, they become automatically declassified when I took them.


KUCINICH: That isn't true.

ROMANS: Right. We all know that is not true. But when Trump decides something is a fact, a Trump fact, he just doubles down, triples down. I mean, that doesn't hurt him with his base at all either, does it.

KUCINICH: No. And I really -- again, I can't say this enough, I think that we're seeing someone who hasn't been moved by all of the scandals and potential and legal ramifications that continue to swirl around him and have been litigated at this point.


He is just going to plow through with his version of reality, which, of course, is incorrect whether or not he is fact checked in real-time or not.

ROMANS: All right. Jackie Kucinich, CNN political analyst, it was fascinating to watch and I guess a preview of things to come. Jackie, thank you so much.


ROMANS: All right. Republicans meantime are ramping up their scrutiny of the man Trump hopes to beat in 2024. House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer just released new records that he says prove that President Biden's family, including his son Hunter made millions of dollars off the Biden name, including when Joe Biden was vice president.

CNN's Sara Murray has more.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): House Oversight Chair Comer offering new details to bolster his claims that members of Joe Biden's family, including his son Hunter, received millions of dollars in payments from foreign entities in China and Romania.

REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): I want to be clear. This committee is investigating President Biden and his family's shady business deals that capitalize on Joe Biden's public office and risked our country's national security.

MURRAY: Committee Republicans cited new bank records obtained via subpoena that include payments made to companies tied to Hunter Biden.

COMER: Many of the wire payments occurred while Joe Biden was vice president and leading the United States' efforts in these countries.

MURRAY: Republicans also allege Hunter Biden and his associate used family ties to facilitate a 2016 meeting between a top Biden advisor and a Serbian national running for United Nations role.

REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): These people didn't come to Hunter Biden because he understood world politics or was experienced in it or that he understood Chinese businesses. They wanted him for the access his last name gave them.

MURRAY: But, so far, Republicans have failed to unearth any payments to Joe Biden while he was vice president or after leaving office, and the report today does not suggest illegality in the payments from foreign sources.

The president has repeatedly denied any involvement in his son's overseas deals.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have never once discussed this issue with Hunter while I was vice president. And the reason is to keep this wall between me and anyone involved with me at all, whether it's family or otherwise.

MURRAY: But that hasn't stopped the GOP's investigations.

COMER: We're pretty confident that the president was very knowledgeable of what his family was doing.

MURRAY: Republicans took aim at Joe Biden for railing against corruption as vice president.

BIDEN: Corruption saps the collective strength and resolve of a nation.

MURRAY: In the same nations where members of his family were allegedly profiting.

COMER: While Vice President Biden was lecturing Romania on anti- corruption policies, in reality, he was a walking billboard for his son and family.

MURRAY: Hunter Biden's attorney Abbe Lowell says there is no evidence of wrongdoing by his client. Today's so-called revelations are retread, repackaged misstatements of perfectly proper meetings and business by private citizens.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, the White House slammed James Comer even before the words came out of his mouth at that press conference. The White House spokesperson Ian Sams took aim at Comer for playing it fast and loose with the facts and according to Sams, spreading baseless innuendo.

Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.

ROMANS: All right, Sara. Thanks for that.

Quick hits across America now.

Army Sergeant Daniel Perry sentenced to 25 years for murdering a Black Lives Matter protester at Texas rally in 2020. Governor Greg Abbott though is still pushing to pardon him.

Florida's education department says it has rejected more than a third of social studies textbooks from publishers, including some mentioning social justice, Black Lives Matter and taking a knee, and others about the Holocaust.

A 19-year-old hiker missing in Montana's glacier national park has been rescued thanks to a helicopter with a heat seeking device. Matthew Reed was found alive in chest deep snow. He is in stable condition.

All right. Up next, the Biden administration is about to roll out new rules for power plants and China arrest a man for a fake ChatGPT news story.



ROMANS: All right. A dramatic turn in Ukraine's embattled eastern city of Bakhmut after months of Russian attacks.

So, Ukraine's military says its troops are on the offensive now, inflicting huge losses on Russian troops and pushing them back more than a mile in some areas.

CNN's Nic Robertson live for us again this morning in eastern Ukraine.

And, Nic, Wagner mercenaries chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, he conceded that Ukraine made advances in that area. What do we know is happening there?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, an interestingly, yet again, Prigozhin blames parts of the Russian military for withdrawing from the battlefront in the fight, causing him to have heavy casualties. It does show the chaos that's happening on the Russian side.

There is an element of surprise, if you will, on the Ukrainian side that they were able to make these gains. They did put a big effort into holding the last bits of territory in Bakhmut over the weekend, but it turned out they did better than expected. Their plan is to hold the ground that they have taken and even know potentially exploiting and trying to push further forward.

There is a level of understanding among Ukrainian military officials here that there's an expectation among allies that they've got all these NATO equipment about the much talked about counteroffensive that's coming. People say is the Bakhmut success part of that.

At the moment, they are saying, now, look, we're going to evaluate each step as we go.