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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Trump Plans to Turn Himself in Thursday at Fulton County Jail; Biden Vows Federal Support for Maui "As Long As It Takes"; Video Shows Palestinian Man Shot From Behind; Thai Ex-PM In Prison After Return from Exile; Moscow Says It Repelled New Ukrainian Drone Attacks. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired August 22, 2023 - 05:00   ET



DANNY FREEMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Danny Freeman.

We begin this morning with former President Donald Trump set to surrender this Thursday for his fourth arrest of the year. Trump and some of his 18 co-defendants agree Monday to the terms of their bond agreements in the sweeping Georgia racketeering case related to efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

But unlike the other defendants, the terms of Trump's release comes with a lot more strings attached.

CNN's Paula Reid has more.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: In Fulton County, the way this works is that, first, you negotiate your bond agreement and then you surrender and then a judge schedules an initial appearance for you, an arraignment. That's your first time going before the judge.

Now, in this case, even though this is his fourth indictment, this is the first time that he has had to post cash bond. He is also subject to a lot of other restrictions that are unique clearly tailored to him, including being barred from threatening anyone else involved in the case especially on social media. Because we've seen him attack judges, prosecutors, witnesses in this case.

And this appears tailored to him because we've seen four other defendants today negotiate their bond agreements anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000. And while they are also barred from talking to co- defendants, none have the social media provision.

So that's five defendants of the 19 in this case, 14 more to go with these bond agreements.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FREEMAN: And one of former President Trump's 18 co-defendants in the Fulton County case is conservative attorney John Eastman. Now, he is planning to surrender to the authorities on Wednesday. Eastman reached an agreement Monday with the District Attorney Fani Willis for a bond order of $100,000.

Turning to the devastation in Hawaii now, President Biden has promised federal support for Hawaii, quote, for as long as it takes. This comes after his visit to Maui where he witnessed firsthand the devastation left behind.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know the feeling that as many of the people in this town, this community, that hollow feeling that you have in your chest like you are being sucked in to a black hole wondering where I ever get by this.

But I also want all of you to know that the country degrees with you, stands with you, and will do everything possible to help you recover, rebuild and respect culture and traditions when the rebuilding takes place.


FREEMAN: President Biden and the first lady met with survivors and officials in Lahaina Wednesday listening to stories of grief and fears for the future. Maui's mayor says at least 115 people have been killed and more than 800 are still unaccounted for.

CNN's Bill Weir has more.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: The president and Dr. Biden spent several hours both over Lahaina, on the ground here, and meeting with first responders and victims of this tragedy at the big shelter, the war memorial shelter in Central Maui. And he said the right things in many cases. When he came to the microphone and gave his statements, he said a thing that lot of folks I've been hearing from for two weeks have been saying, that he wants Maui, the people of Maui, to help determine how this place is rebuilt.

There was a question asked who will have the most influence in that conversation going forward. Locals here, working class Native Hawaiians and multigenerational locals are worried of disaster capitalism, people moving in to exploit this and buy up as much land as they can in this paradise and rebuild it for their interests as well.

The president says -- promises that that won't happen. It remains to be seen. There is a lot of forces at play here right now. He did serve as empathizer and chief after five days of being mostly silent on the issue publicly, but the governor said that he was working behind the scenes to assure first responders that the feds had their back on this. He shared the stories we're familiar with of losing his daughter and

wife and wondering if his sons had survived a car accident early in his political career. And that's what so many people here are going through now. List of the missing according to the mayor of Maui was whittled from over 2,000 by the FBI and authorities down to around 850 now. That still seems impossibly high this many days almost two weeks now after the fire broke out.

Forensic anthropologists, though, say, historically, things like this can take months or even years to sort out the missing.


You can hope that there's still some confusion as to who's on that list.

But the real heartbreak is to think about the children who were left home that day. There are parents in this town who lost their kids, kids who lost their parents. We're unclear if President Biden was able to meet with any of those. We know he did meet with Archie Kalepa, historic figure here, Uncle Archie as he's known, hall of fame waterman who led a lot of the relief efforts from a sort of cul-de-sac command post that we went into. Some of those very active on social media were at the table at least with President Biden for the few hours that he was here.

But, now, all eyes are on this place to see how soon they can find that huge number of missing and make peace with those families, and how exactly they will rebuild.

Bill Weir, CNN, Maui.


FREEMAN: And we're following a developing story right now out of the Middle East. A Palestinian man shot and critically injured on Monday afternoon in the occupied West Bank. A witness says he was unarmed and shot from behind by Israeli forces.

CNN's Hadas Gold is live for us right now in Jerusalem.

Hadas, what do we know about the circumstances of this shooting?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this happened in the Palestinian town of Beita, which is very close to the flash point town of Huwara. In Huwara, on Saturday a father and son were killed in a shooting attack at a car wash. And Israeli forces have been on a massive manhunt since then looking for the shooters. They were in Beita, looking for suspects, and that's when clashes broke out.

But what we have now from eyewitness testimony, as well as actually video from the moment this man was shot appears to show that the man was unarmed and shot from behind. I do want to show this video where you see a man in white jogging towards another group of men who appear to be trying to help a man on a stretcher. He is shot from behind and he falls forward. An eyewitness that CNN spoke to said that the man was not involved in

the clashes. They say that he was unarmed. And in that video, we don't see him carrying any sort of gun or anything like that. And the eyewitnesses say that it was Israeli forces on the scene who shot that person from behind.

Now, we've asked the Israeli defense forces and border police for a comment on this. Border police say the details of the incident are under review. They say the security forces were in the town to apprehend what they called a wanted suspect, during which a violent riot was instigated, that endangers the lives of the secret forces present.

They say that rioters hurled blocks and rocks at the forces who responded with riot dispersal means including live fire. This is all coming during an increased wave of violence across the occupied West Bank. On Saturday, as I mentioned, that father and son were killed in Huwara. We also have CCTV video of that incident where it shows they were at a car wash and the one they were seemingly ambushed by a shooter.

Israeli forces are still looking for that suspected shooter, and that's why you see so many Israeli forces in and around this flash point town of Huwara. But on top of all this, yesterday morning, another Israeli woman was shot and killed while she was driving south of Hebron, another Israeli man was with her also injured. Israeli forces saying overnight that they have arrested two suspects in that case.

Danny, this is turning out to be one of the most violent and deadly years for both Israelis and Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and Israel in decades -- Danny.

FREEMAN: Hadas, thank you for that update on this story. Appreciate it.

And we're following another developing story right now, urgent rescue effort under way, eight children and two adults you see there are trapped in a chair lift in northwest Pakistan. Rescuers say the children were traveling to school in the chair lift when one of the cables snapped. Helicopters have been brought into assist with the rescue. Pretty scare there.

All right. Just ahead, Donald Trump getting booked this week at a notorious Atlanta area jail. We'll take you inside.

Plus, new subpoenas from House Republicans in the Hunter Biden saga.

And the major U.S. city pumping the brakes on driverless taxi. All that and more.



FREEMAN: In just two days, former President Donald Trump is expected to turn himself into Fulton County jail. It will be a busy week as Trump's 18 co-defendants have until Friday at noon to do the same.

CNN's Brian Todd has more.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and 17 other defendants this week are expected to be formally booked at the Fulton County Jail, also known as Rice Street, a hulking, crumbling structure that's garnered a notorious reputation.

The sheriff of Fulton County insisting that despite their high- profiles, Trump and the others will be treated like every other defendant booked at this jail.

SHERIFF PATRICK LABAT, FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA: If you're indicted, then we're going to treat you as though you're indicted here locally. And so we will consider to do fingerprints, mug shots, et cetera.

TODD: What might it look like inside when Trump and the others formally surrender? Retired Fulton County Sheriff's Lieutenant Charles Rambo says, normally, people who are surrendering come through the facility's front door first. But regardless of which entrances Trump and the others arrive at --

CHARLES RAMBO, RETIRED LIEUTENANT, FULTON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: They would be pat down, led to the booking office in the rear. From there, they probably will have to have ties and shoe strings and all those type of things taken. Then from there, the persons would be fingerprinted, given a booking photo.

TODD: Donald Trump and the other defendants are expected to be photographed for mug shots, but it's unclear when those pictures will be made public. People familiar with the process tell CNN, normally, those booked at this jail are searched thoroughly by a jail deputy and at some point given a medical exam and a pre-trial screening to determine if they can sign out on their own recognizance.

But it's not clear if Trump or the other defendants in this case will go through those steps. For a normal defendant, it would take hours to go through those procedures. But with these defendants --


CHRIS TIMMONS, FORMER GEORGIA PROSECUTOR: I don't expect Trump to spend hours in this jail. Because the longer he is, I mean, it's a pain.

But it's going to be a hassle for the entire sheriff's department or at least those that are at the jail when the president is there. It's going to be a circus.

TODD: If they didn't have bond agreements, Donald Trump and the other defendants might have been held in custody at this jail, which observers say could be a nightmarish experience.

TIMMONS: The Rice Street Jail is not a pleasant place. It's dirty. It's scary.

TODD: Last month, the Justice Department launched a civil rights investigation into the Fulton County Jail following multiple deaths inside the facility.

Last year, inmate LaShawn Thompson was found dead in his cell. His family says unsanitary conditions including insect and lies infestation contributed to his death.

BEN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR LAWSHAWN THOMPSON'S FAMILY: Even the sheriff agree that it was deplorable conditions like a third world country.


TODD (on camera): Three officials with the Fulton County jail stepped down earlier this year after a preliminary investigation into LaShawn Thompson's death. Sheriff Patrick Labat acknowledges the poor conditions and says he welcomes the Justice Department's investigation and he sought more than $2 billion in county funding to build a new jail.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

FREEMAN: All right. For more on this, let's bring in Katie Cherkasky, a criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor.

Katie, a lot of public interest obviously surrounding the exact details of this booking process. But as you just heard, the goal clearly to keep it as short as possible, but does that mean that former President Trump is going to get special treatment especially compared to his other co-defendants?

KATIE CHERKASKY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, in many ways Donald Trump is being treated as a normal defendant in Fulton County. He's had to post cash bond here. He is going to go through some sort of booking process.

But I think that there are practical considerations that obviously had to be taken into account. Mr. Trump is followed by the Secret Service everywhere he goes. It is a huge fiasco whenever he is anywhere publicly let alone being booked for a criminal case of any sort.

So there has to be a accommodations made just practically and logistically speaking. But he is going through much of the same process certainly.

FREEMAN: Again, just this conversation seems unthinkable to talk about a former president going through this process.

Katie, the terms of Trump's bond though includes no communication about the case with co-defendants or witnesses and no threats towards those people, including on social media.

My question for you, though, is -- is this enforceable?

CHERKASKY: Well, that is the terms of his bond at this point. And if he were to violate that, then he could theoretically see himself behind bars. The terms are quite broad and while we're talking about somebody that is campaigning, you have to wonder exactly how far the judge will interpret that because many of the things that might be considered threats even indirect threats could be considered political speech of some sort.

So the subjective nature of the order is a bit questionable. But he will be watched very closely and if there are violations of this order at this level, he is going to have to adjudicate that. So that is how I see it at this point. He may not be able to -- it may not be upheld ultimately, but that is the current terms as they stand right now.

FREEMAN: Katie, if you were the former president's attorney, how would you advise him basically when it comes to his social media behavior considering this order?

CHERKASKY: Well, I think that Donald Trump historically has not followed legal advice to a "T," but he risks his own freedom at this point maybe literally. And so to the extent that he can avoid any sort of potential violations of the terminology of that order, I think that that will be very important, whether he follows that advice is another question. Perhaps this will motivate Mr. Trump to agree to an earlier trial date to free himself of these very restrictive conditions.

FREEMAN: Katie, while Trump, of course, is skipping the first debate, if he does appear in future ones, could what Trump says on the debate stage potentially be used against him in some of these cases?

CHERKASKY: Well, anything that any defendant says pretrial can be used against them in court, which is why defense attorneys constantly tell their clients that they really cannot include the case whatsoever. Mr. Trump is in a very difficult position because a big part of his campaign is focused on the prosecutions that are being brought against him and on the idea that the DOJ, that the justice system at large, even the state justice systems are compromised.

So, certainly, he has to walk a fine line here. But to the extent that he is bound by these orders, he is bound by these orders in all respects even while campaigning at least at this point.

FREEMAN: And last one, Katie, we need your perspective on, is we still have cases that don't have trial dates yet. So what can we expect to happen next in some of these continuing legal challenges?

CHERKASKY: Well, all of these cases that are actually indicted at this point are on the court's calendar to a certain degree.


And dates can shift and likely will shift as the attorneys go through the discovery process and begin preparing and allowing the judge to know exactly where they stand in their preparations and whether they're going to need more time on some end.

And that doesn't even include the idea that Donald Trump could release counsel, fire his entire team and get new attorneys at any point which would reset the clock to a large degree, maybe even all together in some of these cases.

FREEMAN: Wow. Okay. So a lot of moving parts still, a lot of variables. But, Katie, appreciate you breaking it down for us. Thank you.

CHERKASKY: Thank you.

FREEMAN: All right. Now to quick hits across America. House Republicans have now issued four subpoenas to two DOJ officials and two senior IRS personnel, the actions taken Monday centered on the criminal investigation into Hunter Biden's taxes and gun charges.

And the county sheriff in Georgia has pleaded guilty to sexual battery and resigned from office after groping TV Judge Glenda Hatchett at a 2022 reception. Kris Coody also received a $500 fine and 12 months probation.

General Motors Cruise, the self-driving subsidiary, will cut its robo- taxis by half in San Francisco after two collisions last week. The accidents show the potential risks of driverless technology.

All right. Coming up, a day of drama in Thailand as ex-prime minister returns and possible new coalition government takes the reins.

Plus, Ecuadorians make an historic decision on the Amazon. We'll tell you about it.



FREEMAN: The controversial ex-prime minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, returned to his country after 15 years of self-imposed exile, and was promptly taken to prison just after his arrival for corruption which he denies. Meantime, his old Pheu Thai Party is seeking to form a new government despite not winning the Thai elections in May.

CNN's Paula Hancocks joins us now from Seoul.

Paula, lots of parts through here. But if his old party does actually form a new government, what does that mean for Thaksin?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Danny, it can only be positive. We know the vote is ongoing at this very moment to decide whether or not the only candidate that is really up for vote at this point, Srettha Thavisin, who is part of Thaksin's party will become the next prime minister of Thailand. And if he does, he is a favorable -- he's already tweeted welcome back and congratulating Thaksin on returning to Thailand. So clear where his allegiances lie.

But what we know at this point is that this is a controversial move, the fact that Pheu Thai who did not win, they got the second most amount of votes, could potentially be running this coalition. Move Forward, which is the progressive party, they won the election, but they were blocked from forming a government by the conservative, anti- progressive, and military-backed parties. What Pheu Thai has done is affiliate themselves with two of those military-backed parties despite campaigning on a pledge of keeping the military out of politics.

Now, Pheu Thai has said that it is necessary to that, to try to break the stalemate that has been going on for about three months now since the election. But certainly, there are many who are not happy with this. The votes of millions have effectively they say not counted because the person that they voted for and the party they voted for is not going to be a part of this coalition and will not form part of the government.

So, going forward, it will be interesting to see what happens with the former Prime Minister Thaksin who has been sentenced to eight years in prison, but already the correctional facility he is, the doctor says he has underlying health issues and he will be kept in a separate room from the other inmates and under 24 hour supervision.

The speculation now is that he may apply for a royal pardon. So he may be released sooner. He is 74 and there is very few that expect that he will serve the whole eight of his eight-year prison term -- Danny.

FREEMAN: Paula, thank you very much for that report. I appreciate it.

All right. Now, now we turn to Russia where Ukraine appears to be stepping up drone attacks, latest attack on a military air base southeast of Moscow. Ukraine claims a drone damaged at least one aircraft on that base. Meanwhile, Russia's military says that it destroyed four Ukrainian drones, two of them flying over the capital region.

CNN's Clare Sebastian joins us now from London.

Clare, Russia's TASS news I understand is reporting three biggest airports in Moscow have suspended flights. Tell us what have we learned?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Danny, I think, look, if the purpose of these drone strikes which, by the way, what Moscow says it prevented are to sow disruption and chaos, to some extent, then I think to some extent it's working. We've seen airport restrictions several times the past few days. This morning, the state media are reporting that nine flights had to be diverted, that is on top of 45 passenger flights and two cargo flights that had to be diverted on Monday morning in the early hours due to other attempted drone attacks.

And you can see here damage to a building in a town of Krasnogorsk, which is just to the west of Moscow. That is also the town where the government of the Moscow region is headquartered as well.

Not a lot of damage. No casualties. But again, this looks like an attempt, and Ukraine hasn't claimed responsibility, but looks like an attempt to sort of crack that propaganda facade, to bring it home to the Russian people that this isn't -- this is not, in fact, a small.