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A Judge Orders Trump's Lawyers not to Disclose Evidence in Court Case; Niger's Coup Leaders Close Country's Airspace and Ignores Demands to Reinstate Country's President; Oregon Becomes 49th State to Let Drivers Pump Own Gas. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired August 07, 2023 - 05:00   ET



RAHEL SOLOMON, ANCHOR: Right now on EARLY START, deadline for Donald Trump's lawyers, how will they respond to a protective order after the former president lashes out online. Plus, defiance in Niger, coup leaders close the country's airspace and ignores demands to put the president back in power.

And against the odds, how a foreign fisherman survived more than 30 hours in shark-infested waters, that's after a wave wiped out his boat. Good morning and welcome to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world, great to be with you today, I'm Rahel Solomon. Let's start here, Donald Trump's legal team has until this afternoon to meet a judge's deadline.

This is in a case over his alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Although, prosecutors want to limit what Trump can say about evidence he receives during discovery. And a judge has ordered Trump's side to respond to that request. This is all part of an escalating back-and-forth that included Trump making threats and insults at the Justice Department Saturday night.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will direct a completely very powerful overhaul of the DOJ. We're not going to have cowards, we're not going to have cowards like Bill Barr. Virtually, every poll, we're kicking Biden's ass. If I wasn't, we wouldn't be under investigation by deranged Jack Smith. He's a deranged human being.


SOLOMON: CNN's Alayna Treene has more now on Trump's speech at a Republican Party dinner in South Carolina.


ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER (on camera): The former president spent much of his Saturday night speech railing against the recent charges that he faces as well as attacking special counsel Jack Smith directly. Donald Trump called him, quote, "mentally ill", as well as "deranged". Now, the former president also made an appeal to Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

He argued that they needed to step up and do something in order to help defend him against his recent legal matters. But one big thing that I find to be different from his speech on Saturday is it came less than 24 hours after Jack Smith wrote in a court filing asking a judge to set limits on what Trump's team can do with the evidence shared in the election subversion case.

Now, a judge ultimately ruled on Saturday that Donald Trump's team must respond to that proposal by Monday afternoon. But there are a lot of questions going into Saturday night. Whether Donald Trump's team would encourage him to change his rhetoric in light of that court filing. But clearly, he did not. Alayna Treene, CNN, Columbia, South Carolina.


SOLOMON: And sticking with the case over efforts to overturn the 2020 election, former Vice President Mike Pence tells CNN if ordered by the judge, he would take the stand.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have no plans to testify, but look, we'll always -- we'll always comply with the law. But, look, I want to tell you, I don't know what the path of this indictment will be. The president is entitled to a presumption of innocence. He's entitled to make his defense in court.

There actually are profound issues around this, pertaining to the First Amendment, freedom of speech and the rest. I'm confident he and his lawyers will litigate all of those things.


SOLOMON: Mike Pence says one reason he's running for president is that he thinks, quote, "anyone who puts themselves over the constitution should never be president of the United States." Trump meantime responding on Truth Social wrote, "I never told Pence to put me above the constitution", adding he's delusional.

All right, this just in. Ukraine security service has detained a woman in connection with what it says was a plot to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Let's get straight to CNN's Clare Sebastian, she is in London with the details. Clare, as I said, this is just coming into us here at CNN. What more do we know?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Rahel, good morning. We are getting a statement from the Ukrainian security services that they say they have detained an alleged informant for Russia, a female, a resident of the Mykolaiv region, and they say that she was -- she was sort of preparing intelligence for Russia to launch an airstrike during a recent visit by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to that southern region, fairly close to the frontlines there.

They say that she was trying to establish the time and list of locations and approximate route of the head of state.


That they -- that she was also actually tasked with identifying locations of electronic warfare, infrastructure, ammunition, things like that for Ukraine. But they apparently tracked her activities after they noticed what she was doing, continued to track her to try to gain more intelligence about what she was up to and eventually managed to detain her.

They put in extra security measures for that visit as well which of course, went off at the end of July without a hitch. They have not named this woman, but believe -- but we understand it's a Ukrainian citizen who was informing for Russia. So, like this is something that we know that has been happening. Russia has been relying on internal informants within Ukraine throughout this conflict.

We know that Ukrainian security services have been obviously taking a pretty dim view of this and trying to sort of hunt these people down, crack down on them, so it seems those efforts are still ongoing. This is still an ongoing trend within this conflict, but very significant that this is being seen as an attempted assassination attempt on President Zelenskyy himself.

There was some reporting at the very beginning of the conflict that this might have been part of Russia's strategy. But this is the first we've heard about something like this in a very long time, Rahel.

SOLOMON: Clare, as you say, this woman has not been named as of yet. What can we expect to happen next, when might we see this woman? When might we learn more about this person?

SEBASTIAN: You know, we may get more updates from the Ukrainian security service, it's really a sort of their discretion, I think how much information they're released on this, but I think there may be an element of them wanting to deter people from doing this in the future. Obviously, a major security threat. Since now, President Zelenskyy does travel around the country with some regularity, even going fairly close to the frontlines.

So a major incident from the point of view of the security services, that this person was not only allegedly gathering information on the whereabouts of the president himself, but also on military installations, infrastructure, things like that. This obviously happening at a critical point in the conflict itself. So, I think we may see legal proceedings against this woman, we may learn more about her, but as of yet as you say, they're not naming her.

SOLOMON: Clare Sebastian, a lot more to follow, thanks for bringing that to us. And turning now to West Africa where Niger has closed its airspace as tensions escalate with its neighbors over the military coup. So the airspace closure came on Sunday, and that was the same day as the deadline imposed by a group of West African nations for coup leader to return power to the democratically-elected president in Niger. I want to bring in our CNN reporter who have been following this story, Larry Madowo there live for us in Nairobi. So, Larry, what more can you tell us?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It looks at this point, Rahel, that the Economic Community of West African States or ECOWAS has to decide, will they make good on their threats to militarily intervene in Niger and reinstate the government and the presidency of Mohamed Bazoum or will they extend this deadline, will they allow for other diplomatic or political solutions to this crisis?

President Mohamed Bazoum was overtaken, overthrown on July 26th, overthrown by his own presidential guard. The man who was the head of the presidential guard now has declared himself president of Niger. The West African state said you've got to return him in one week or we will use all measures including force. So far, that deadline expired Sunday night. They haven't seen anything. But the military junta in Niger appears to be beating the drums of war, essentially saying that this military intervention is imminent. Listen to one spokesperson on state television.


AMADOU ABDRAMANE, SPOKESMAN, NIGER MILITARY (through translator): Niger's armed forces and all our defense and security forces backed by the unfailing support of our people are ready to defend the integrity of our territory and the honor of our homeland. To this end, the National Council for Safeguarding the Homeland launches a vibrant appeal to the youth, to the worthy daughters and sons of our country to stand ready to defend the homeland.


MADOWO: The major of Junta filled the main stadium in the capital in Niamey yesterday with supporters, they're keen to show ECOWAS, this group of West African countries, they're keen to show France, they're keen to show the world that they have public support. Now, some of these pro-military protests have been organized by a major coalition of civic activist groups that oppose French influence in the country, France being the former colonial power there.

But this is now the decision point. Do they truly have public support or can these group of West African countries come in and reinstate that government, and what kind of long-term consequences? What kind of ripple effect might this have in the region, when Mali and Burkina Faso, that neighbor Niger have said, if there's military intervention in Niger, they'll consider that an act of war. Rahel.

SOLOMON: A lot more to watch here. And you have to wonder as you allude to there, Larry, I mean, how this impacts the people there in Niger. Larry Madowo, thank you. Well, a routine fishing trip turned into an incredible tale of survival for a Florida man, that's after a huge wave lopped him into the water. So, his family says that he survived 35 hours in the Atlantic Ocean clinging to the remnants of his small boat while dodging sharks and jellyfish and trying not to go under. CNN's Camila Bernal has more now.



CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This is a fascinating story of survival. And I spoke to Raymond Gregory who is the father of the 25-year-old who was lost at sea. His son, Charles Gregory went out at 4:00 in the morning on Friday according to his father, he went out fishing, and he says he always did this and has done it for years.

But this time around, according to his father, he didn't realize that the tide was going as fast as it was. And that's when a wave comes and hits the boat, it capsizes, and that's when he loses his throw cushion, his cell phone, his life jacket and the father saying that Charles had to remove the motor of the boat, and then just trying to hang on to this boat for as long as he could.

He says, of course, he's getting sun-burnt, severely getting sun- burnt, and of course, also sees sharks and big fish and gets stung by jellyfish. He says he actually did see other boats and saw airplanes and the helicopters. He took off his shorts and tried to wave them in the air to get people's attention, that did not work.

And out of everything that happened to him, Charles told his father that the worst was the night time. Because he says he was so sun- burnt, that the wind at night was just making it freezing cold. So he would try to get in the water to warm up, but it was extremely difficult. Thankfully, the coast guard rescued him on Saturday morning, his father saying that Charles is, of course, dehydrated, that he is weak.

That his muscles or the muscle tissue was breaking down, so he does need some days to recover because of the sunburn and the bites. He says it's very difficult to move. So, he is in bed at the moment, trying to drink Gatorade, trying to eat, the father saying he's really not eating a lot, not speaking a lot and just trying to rest.

The father saying Charles is going to be OK, but the one thing he did tell me was that, at the end of the day, the moral of the story in his opinion is never give up. Camila Bernal, CNN, Los Angeles.


SOLOMON: Well, just ahead, tragedy overnight involving two firefighting helicopters in California. Plus, Oregon drivers doing something most of them have probably never done before. We'll explain what that is. And a looming fourth indictment for Donald Trump could come out of Georgia this week. We'll have the details coming up next.



SOLOMON: Welcome back. The three indictments against former President Trump are unprecedented. But he may make history again by the end of the month with a possible fourth indictment. This one in the state of Georgia. CNN's Brian Todd has a look at what the charges might be and what's at stake. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: This was never supposed to happen in America.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The already enormous legal pressure on the former president is likely about to intensify. A grand jury in Georgia expected to consider criminal charges against Donald Trump and his Republican allies.

KATIE CHERKASKY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: In terms of the Georgia case, it's going to add a significant burden on him to defend yet another case. These cases will all have significant trial deadlines and pretrial deadlines for hearings that he's going to have to be involved with, and that will detract from his campaign.

TODD: A decision on whether to seek charges against the former president in Georgia will be made within the next few weeks by a team led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

FANI WILLIS, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, FULTON COUNTY: The work is accomplished and we've been working for two and a half years, we're ready to go.

TODD: The case focuses on the multi-pronged effort Trump launched in the wake of the 2020 election to overturn the results in Georgia. It included pressure on Georgia's governor and Secretary of State, both Republicans to find enough votes to flip Joe Biden's win in the state.

TRUMP: So what are we going to do because I only need 11,000 votes -- fellas, I need 11,000 votes, give me a break.

TODD: When the governor and Secretary of State refused to go along, Trump urged state lawmakers to convene a special section to reverse Biden's victory.

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY: This election was a sham.

TODD: Trump ally Rudy Giuliani went to the Georgia House and Senate with bogus voter fraud claims.

TIA MITCHELL, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: Rudy Giuliani is considered to have a lot of exposure in Georgia because he spoke at those legislative hearings, and we know a lot of the information he shared was not true at the time.

TODD: Other Trump allies who could face criminal charges are Republican activists that Trump campaign recruited to serve as fake electors. They allegedly played key roles in a failed plot to block the election from being certified.

MITCHELL: About half of them have received immunity deals which indicates they're working with the prosecution to tell them what they know.

TODD: CNN has reported that Fani Willis is considering bringing charges of conspiracy and racketeering in this case. CHERKASKY: Racketeering charges are typically broader criminal

schemes involving multiple individuals, and essentially the maximum punishment for those types of charges are typically much higher than other charges that are mentioned here.

TODD: Testimony has also been sought in the Georgia case from former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadow and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. Fani Willis has told local officials of threats she's received, many of them of a racist nature during the period she's been investigating this case.

WILLIS: I've probably been called the "N" word more times in the last two and a half years than most -- a hundred people combined.

TODD (on camera): Throughout the Georgia investigation, Donald Trump has vehemently denied wrongdoing as have his allies. Trump has lashed out at Fani Willis calling her racist and quote, "a lunatic Marxist". Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.



SOLOMON: Our thanks to Brian for that. Now, let's bring in Jennifer Rodgers; she's a CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Jennifer, always good to see you, thanks for waking up early to be with us today. So, Jennifer, of course, as you know, today is the deadline for Trump's lawyers to respond to that protective order proposal that would essentially put some restrictions on what Trump and his team can do with the evidence that are shared with them in that process called discovery. How do you see this playing out? How do you expect this to play out?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we know Trump and his team are going to respond today. And we know what they're going to say, because his lawyer was on all of the shows yesterday telling us essentially they are going to object to the protective order, saying that the public and the press should be free to understand the evidence and to know what happened here.

They want to be able to share that widely. Now, that may just mostly be an acknowledgement that their client Donald Trump can't stop himself or help himself or at least, he won't stop himself from talking about the evidence publicly. But in any case, the judge is going to have to weigh a couple of different things. She has to ensure that the defense and the defendant has his rights protected to review the discovery and work with his lawyers to defend himself.

But also that other people are protected. And we know that this defendant has a long history of threatening and intimidating witnesses which obviously tampers with the justice system as well as putting people at actual risk of physical harm. So, the judge will rail at these issues, and she may tinger a bit with what the government proposed, but I think in the end, she will enter some sort of protective order here. SOLOMON: And Jennifer, just as a matter of full transparency, we're

talking about the January 6, the election interference trial, just to be clear for everyone watching at home. Jennifer, as you pointed out, Trump's lawyer was on all of the major networks yesterday, given us a sense of sort of what's ahead. I want to play for you a small clip of what he said to us here on CNN and then we can discuss.


JOHN LAURO, TRUMP ATTORNEY: You're saying that asking is action. No, asking is aspirational. Asking is not action, it's called free speech. What President Trump did not do is direct Vice President Pence to do anything. He asked him in an aspirational way. Asking is covered by the First Amendment.


SOLOMON: So, Jennifer, I mean, what are your thoughts about that asking is aspirational is what he says.

RODGERS: Yes, listen, that's what the conspiracy and the attempt laws are for. You can't just, you know, say that because it didn't actually work, that he's off scot-free. I mean, listen, they can raise this defense, I suppose, if they think it will work, but I don't think the jury will buy it. You know, the First Amendment doesn't cover absolutely every single sound that comes out of a person's mouth.

And if you listen to the president's lawyer yesterday, that seemed to be what he was saying. If there is speech, then it is protected, but criminal speech is not protected and our fraud laws and our conspiracy laws are constantly using speech as part of the evidence to prove crimes. If it is speech, that is criminal speech, in other words, that asked for something unlawful to happen and meets the other requirements of the law.

So, you know, I don't know why they're focusing so much on this. It seems to be a loser argument. It seems to me as more for public consumption than it will be for the jury once they get inside the four walls of the court room.

SOLOMON: And Jennifer, you told us that -- you know, you told our producer the legal defenses that he's talking about, the lawyer there, are not at all persuasive. He's going to have to do a lot better in the courtroom if they have any hope of succeeding on these counts.

RODGERS: I think that's right. I mean, you know, there's such a big difference between what happens out in the public sphere and what happens inside of a courtroom, where you have a captive audience of 12 people who sit there for weeks and weeks likely, in this case, listening to only evidence that's admitted by the judge. So only things that are actually supported under the law. It's just a lot different.

There's not all of this noise and things that are put forward without any support whatsoever. So, that's why you see results being very different once you actually get into the justice system. So, I look forward to that process playing out and seeing what the jury does when they hear the actual case and not the case as it's being spun.

SOLOMON: Well, speaking of the jury, Jennifer, I mean, we know that Trump's team is also trying to get the judge recused, is also trying to get the case moved out of D.C. because Trump's team say they don't believe they can get a fair trial in the District of Columbia. Do you see either of those requests being successful?

RODGERS: I don't. I mean, the recusal motion is a nonstarter. We haven't even had an appearance in this case yet. The judge hasn't done anything that even brings anything into question about her fairness or partiality. Plus, it's very hard to get a judge recused, because in the first instance, that motion goes to the judge herself and the venue motion is the same.

I mean, the point of a venue motion is that they can be tried fairly, but in order to determine that, you have to say that there's nobody in Washington D.C. who can put aside any pre-existing biases and listen to the evidence fairly and in D.C. actually, you have to empanel a jury effectively before you can even make that argument.


So, there's no way that either of these motions is going to succeed. He'll have to move forward with discovery, with motions and ultimately with the trial.

SOLOMON: Jennifer Rodgers, great to see you, thank you.

RODGERS: Thanks.

SOLOMON: Right, quick hits across America now. Three people were killed after two helicopters collided while fighting a fire in southern California. The victims are a pilot, a Cal Fire Division chief, and a Cal Fire captain, all aboard one chopper. A second was able to land safely nearby.

A massive fire in Albuquerque prompting a health alert as crews battle the inferno at a recycling plant. Take a look at this video. Thick black smoke could be seen from miles, officials say it is now under control. And Oregon just became the 49th state to let drivers pump their own gas. A new law signed Friday reversed the self-service ban. That ban has been in effect since 1951. New Jersey now the last remaining state that is full service only.

I've got to say, I'm in New Jersey and I kind of like it. But that's just me. All right, coming up, the investigation into a deadly train wreck in Pakistan heating up. And the Federal Reserve set to release its latest credit report, we have new insights into Americans' habits, just ahead.