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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Trump Pleads Not Guilty in Georgia Election Interference Case; Busy Labor Day Travel Weekend Kicks Off; China's Disinformation Fuels Anger Over Fukushima Wastewater. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 01, 2023 - 05:00   ET



OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Omar Jimenez. Happy Friday, everyone.

But Friday or not, we've got a lot of news to hit, so let's get into it.

We're going to start with former President Trump entering his fourth not guilty plea since leaving the White House. This time in the Georgia election subversion and racketeering case. Trump also asked the judge to sever his case from some of his 18 co-defendants who are seeking a speedy trial.

More now from CNN's Sara Murray in Washington.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump officially entering his plea of not guilty in the sprawling racketeering case he faces in Fulton County, Georgia, where he and 18 other co-defendants were charged for their efforts to allegedly try to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia. Donald Trump is now one of five again of the 19 co-defendants in that case who have entered not guilty pleas and waived their right to an arraignment.

That means that we're not going to see Donald Trump showing up next week in the Fulton County courthouse. We won't see him on camera there as many had expected. And now, it's a question of what happens next for candidate's case. His attorney has moved to sever his case from other co-defendants saying while there are some who want to move ahead speedily with this trial and move ahead to trial in October of 2023, Donald Trump is not one of them.

His attorney says there is no way that he will be ready for trial by then. It is also possible that we could see Donald Trump's team try to move this into federal court. They have not made that attempt yet. But others involved in this case have. Trump's team may be waiting to see how his other co-defendants fair in their arguments before they make their play to move Trump's case to federal court.

Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) JIMENEZ: A lot to talk about here, so let's bring in legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson.

Good to see you.

Let's start with -- what do you make first reaction of Trump asking for his case to be separated from his co-defendants who want a speedy trial? I mean, how likely is this to happen?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, Omar, good morning to you. You know, I make of it that it was something that I think that is widely anticipated. You, of course, have some of the defendants who want and demand and deserve and law would otherwise indicate that they should have a speedy trial.

The president says that might be nice for them, but not so much for me. I need an opportunity to prepare forcing me to move into this too quickly as we look at all who have been indicted really impairs the right to a fair trial which I have, my attorney has the right to evaluate evidence and information, and my attorney by the way is preoccupied on another matter and couldn't get to this.

And by the way, with this indictment being so massive, he needs an opportunity to digest, review, assess and analyze. So I think that it was something widely anticipated and I think quite frankly, Omar, it's something that the judge I believe is likely to grant.

JIMENEZ: And former president aside, is this common in a case that has this many defendants?

JACKSON: So it is. And the common issue is if a person wants to assert their right to a speedy trial, you have a constitutional right to that, right? In the event you want to get into court quickly, you want to assert your innocence, and certainly, any defendant president or not can say, I want a speedy trial. To the contrary of that, any defendant can argue that they need more time.

My attorney's busy, it took a long time to bring this indictment, a couple years, I can't be prepared, I have a right to a fair trial to get into the mix and really assert my innocence and prove my innocence, not that you have any burden as a defendant. The state always has the burden. So it is quite common in that regard. And I think certainly a judge assessing it and granting it favorably because there are going to be appeals, there's going to be a lot of legal process that goes along with this.

I think a judge in erring on the side of giving the defendant a right to defend themselves, president or no president, is certainly a thing that judges will customarily do.

JIMENEZ: And another thing, you know, I think was to be expected by the judge here, the judge overseeing the case gave the green light for all proceedings here to be televised or live streamed.

Does that make it any tough other the lawyers involved and actually if you were representing Trump, would you see this as a positive or a negative for you and your client?

JACKSON: So I think that at the end of the day, the first answer to that is I think that televised trials are important. They are important, Omar, because they bring everyone into the courtroom. You can assess for yourself, is the evidence compelling? Was the prosecution warranted? Should the president be on trial or not?


Is this political, as the president would assert, or is this substantive in that you really did something wrong as we look at the president there?

And I think based upon the narrative of the president, nothing see here, witch hunt, political prosecution, I'm not sure if I was the president if I would want all the cameras and all eyes on me as they layout, prosecutors do, the essence of my conduct, the essence of my guiding and directing the conspiracy, the essence of me upending the election. If you if you are the prosecution, you want people to say hey, this is nothing to with politics and everything do with the violation of the law, alleged violation, and I want the world to see that it is not a witch hunt, it's based on substantive evidence and facts. And I think that is the reality of the thinking of the parties.

JIMENEZ: Well, I think despite reality, people are going to read into it whatever they want based on what they are seeing once the trial gets started. Outside of the former president, both Mark Meadows' legal team and Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis filed additional briefings on Thursday for Meadows' bid to move the Georgia case from state to federal court.

I mean, do you think he will actually be successful there? How common is that?

JACKSON: So, you know, Omar, I do believe that there is a substantive legal basis for the case to be removed, right, whether -- no matter, right, as you mentioned, whoever is going to buy into what they buy into regardless of the evidence shows, that will happen.

But I think based upon the argument raised as we look at Mark Meadows there, the former president's chief of staff, he is saying that I acted in my federal capacity. I had a right to defend and protect the president in terms of giving him advice, in terms of setting up meetings, in terms of overseeing what was happening with him and the country and furthering the president's interests. It is on that basis that any action I took in terms of setting up meetings, talking to the secretary of state, showing up for an audit or anything that I did was in my official federal capacity.

The state however saying nonsense, that was an individual private action disconnected from your federal activities and as a result of it, you are staying in the state court.

And so I say all that to say I think that he had certainly a legitimate legal basis. We'll see what the federal judge does. But if the federal judge does say that, hey, I'm going to remove it, it won't be surprising.

And last point, the judge in essence in asking them to brief this said, hey, what about if only one of Mark Meadows' actions was related to his federal duties, is that enough, or do all activities have to be enough to remove it? And that's the issue they briefed. Mark Meadows' team saying only one can suffice, meaning only one activity connected to may office, all of them didn't have to be, and the state saying, you know what? You still acted in your individual capacity and this belongs in state court.

JIMENEZ: And, look, we were wondering how all the defendants were going to be handled in this case, and we're starting to see little bits and pieces as the slow gears of justice turn here.

Joey Jackson, thank you so much.

Coming up, an escaped killer on the loose in Pennsylvania. We'll have the details.

Plus, questions over Mitch McConnell's ability to serve in Congress after he froze in front of reporters for a second time.

And what's in store for travelers this Labor Day weekend? That's next.



JIMENEZ: You are looking at a live picture of Los Angeles International Airport, looks about as quite as I've ever seen it just after 2:00 in the morning Pacific Time. But in a few short hours, things there will be jumping, traffic, long lines. And it won't just be LAX, anywhere you might be traveling this weekend, you may be shocked to find out you are not along.

According to AAA, domestic bookings for flights, hotels, rental cars and cruises are up 4 percent compared to last year, but international bookings are up 44 percent.

While it's cheaper to drive than fly, you might still feel it in your wallet. Gas is about $3.82, although similar to last year, it's historically high for this time of year and just a few cents high of the record high for gas prices during the week leading up to Labor Day, according to a CNN review of federal data going back to 1990.

Lots to talk about here. So let's bring in Lindsey Roeschke, the travel and hospitality analyst for the Morning Consult.

Great to see you.

Gas prices aren't likely going to change people's plans. Same seems true for air travel. TSA expects to stream almost 3 million passengers today.

What should the mentality be for folks traveling this weekend? LINDSEY ROESCHKE, TRAVEL & HOSPITAL ANALYST, MORNING CONSULT: Yeah,

good morning, Omar. It will be a busy one and that has been true for all the typical busy travel weekends this year so far. 2023 has been a record-setting year for the industry. So for folks who are hitting the road or going to the airports this weekend, it's really important to make sure that you are allowing yourself enough time, get to the airport early, leave yourself a little bit of extra time to take that road trip, and potentially take advantage of the slower times over the weekend, busiest travel times are probably going to be today and Monday.

So if you have a chance and you have flexibility, maybe traveling getting on the road Saturday or Sunday might lead to a bit of an easier experience.

JIMENEZ: I fear coming back on the afternoon of the last day of a holiday. And look, it seems every holiday weekend has been busy this year. TSA noting that travel volumes during the summer period this year are higher than 2019 marking the busiest summer travel period on record.

What do you think is factoring into this jump that we've seen?

ROESCHKE: Well, there are a few different things. Certainly there is still some of that demand left over from COVID, people who hadn't been traveling the last couple of years. So that is driving some bookings. They're called revenge travel.

But then you also mentioned the jump in international travel. Compared to last summer, there are fewer restrictions going to international locations, people feel even more comfortable getting on a long haul flight. And so, the international demand is driving volume as well. And so much so that people are willing to shell out for some of the higher costs that you were talking about earlier as well.


JIMENEZ: Yeah. And as you mentioned that, AAA reporting domestic bookings up 4 percent, international bookings up 44 percent. International hotel bookings specifically up 82 percent compared to 2022.

Are there any -- are there any other 2024 travel trends that you will be keeping an eye on, any reason to expect travel to slow down?

ROESCHKE: I don't expect any slowdown. I mean, save for anything that happens in terms of new variants of COVID or anything. But that doesn't really seem to be materially affecting people's travel plans anymore. They are still traveling but taking precautions.

So I would expect to see similar volumes in 2024 and this kind of desire and intention to remain. Hopefully, we might be able to expect at least some deals coming, hopefully prices will come down a little bit as supply and demand start to even out more. Certainly demand has been higher than supply for this summer which has led to higher prices. So keeping fingers crossed for more affordability next year. JIMENEZ: Yeah. And, look, I think the most important thing you said

this whole time, try not to travel in those peak times and it will make your holiday weekend so much better but it is hard when that is the time you have off.

Lindsey Roeschke at the Morning Consult, thank you.

ROESCHKE: Thank you.

JIMENEZ: Quick hits across America now.

A manhunt is under way for a convicted murderer who escaped a Pennsylvania prison. Police say Danelo Cavalcante is extremely dangerous and was last seen Thursday morning about 10 miles west of Philadelphia.

Police say a detainee is dead and two others injured after a mass stabbing at Georgia's Fulton County jail. That's where Donald Trump was recently booked and the fifth death of a jailed inmate there since the end of July.

The Biden administration proposes a new rule aimed at curbing the gun show loophole requiring firearms dealers at gun shows or online to conduct back ground checks on buyers.

Coming up, President Biden heads to Florida tomorrow, we'll tell you what he is doing there. And China's harassment of Japan after it released treated wastewater from a nuclear plant.



JIMENEZ: Tensions are running high between Japan and China following release of treated nuclear wastewater from Fukushima plant into the Pacific. Chinese social media has exploded of the wave of anger and online harassment of the Japanese after Beijing banned all seafood imports from its neighbor last week.

Meanwhile, U.S. ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, enjoyed a sushi lunch to show that the fish is safe to eat.

CNN's Ivan Watson breaks down the turmoil.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Backlash in China over Japan's decision to release treated nuclear waste water from the Fukushima power plant into the Pacific Ocean. The Chinese government banning all Japanese seafood imports to prevent the risk of radioactive contamination and to protect the health of Chinese consumers.

Fears over Fukushima prompting panic buying of salt in several cities until authorities reassured the public China consumes mined salt more than sea salt. Ripple effects also effect here at a Japanese food court in Beijing.

MS. HUANG, BEIJING CUSTOMER (through translator): I told my daughter that we should eat seafood now while it is still safe. And let's not eat it anymore afterwards. Nothing from the ocean is edible from now on.

WATSON: Fears echoed by her daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Of course, seafood will be affected later on, it's only a matter of time.

WATSON: The nuclear controversy potentially crippling business for this sushi chef.

Some customers are disgusted by this news. They no longer want to eat Japanese food, he says. His once busy restaurant now largely empty.

After the pandemic, our business this year has not recovered yet. And now with this news from Japan, our business is worse, he says.

Some scientists argue that these fears are unfounded. The International Atomic Energy Agency says Japan's plan to release waste water is in line with IAEA standards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our cooperation and our presence will help build confidence in Japan and beyond, that the water disposal is carried out without an averse impact on human health and the environment.

WATSON: And yet, the heavily censored Chinese Internet still bubbles with anger at Japan, including prank calls harassing Japanese businesses.

This group of young people are purportedly calling random numbers in Japan. "Why do you release nuclear waste water into the ocean?" this young man shouts.

Elsewhere, a Chinese restaurant owner makes a show of tearing down Japanese decorations at his Japanese restaurant.

The Chinese government is tolerating these displays of anger at Japan tacitly encouraging nationalist fervor, even if it results in empty restaurants at a time when China is increasingly suffering from economic uncertainty.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.



Quick hits around the globe right now.


Super Typhoon Saola threatening Hong Kong and Southeast China today with winds of at least 125 miles per hour. Hundreds of flights have been canceled and businesses and schools are closed.

Mexico's next president could be a woman, after the opposition coalition named centrist senator Xochitl Galvez to be their candidate in the 2024 presidential elections.

And a highway in Canada was abuzz as authorities raced to capture 5 million bees that spilled out of crates near Toronto. Officials say the straps came loose on a truck carrying the hives. One beekeeper got stung but no other injuries were reported.

Unless you count the bees. You can't forget about the bees. Come on.

Now, coming up for us, we have all to get to dangerous rip current this is holiday weekend in the wake of Idalia. We'll tell you what to watch out for.

And more scrutiny for Spain's soccer officials today after that unwanted World Cup kiss.