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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

McCarthy Juggles Government Shutdown And Biden Impeachment Inquiry As House Returns; Trump Asks Judge To Dismiss Georgia Charges; Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) On Possible United Auto Workers Strike. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 12, 2023 - 05:30   ET




KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thank you for getting up early with us. I'm Kasie Hunt.

The big story at the bottom of the hour -- Kim Jung Un's armored train now over the border and inside Russia, according to Russian state media. The North Korean leader is set to meet with Vladimir Putin. The U.S. is warning that the two nations could make an arms deal.

And the Biden administration says it has advanced a deal to free five Americans who are being held in Iran. The latest move involves freeing up restricted Iranian funds. The State Department insists the money can only be used for Iran to buy humanitarian goods.

And the House is back in session today. Speaker Kevin McCarthy must confront twin challenges -- avoiding a government shutdown and addressing calls on the right to impeach President Biden despite resistance from party moderates.

Let's get right to it. Joining us now is Margaret Talev. She is a senior contributor at Axios, and the director of Syracuse University's Democracy, Journalism, and Citizenship Institute. And, of course, a longtime reporter in this town.

Margaret, you've seen so much here. You've seen so many speakers of the House. I can't even tell you how many government shutdowns we've now covered. That used to be so incredibly rare.

But let's start there. Speaker McCarthy -- everybody's back in town today. The House comes in late. They vote later tonight. And Speaker McCarthy has to figure out how to thread this needle and potentially avoid a shutdown. He's squashed -- squished between, on the one hand, the conservatives in his conference and potentially, the threats the moderates are facing to their own reelection chances.

How do you see the landscape here and what happens next?


I mean, could Speaker McCarthy cut a deal with Democrats to avert a government shutdown? Sure, but he's got four votes inside his own conference holding him back from the brink of losing his speakership. And under the deal that he negotiated to become speaker, just one member of his conference -- of his conference can force that vote, right?

So it's a really difficult path to tow. And because we're heading into an election year, aside from all, like sort of practicalities of a government shutdown, there is the question of who would get blamed heading into an election year if there was a government shutdown. McCarthy and most Republicans who have been in power for a long time or are in the Senate say they would get blamed for it. So he's hoping to avert that and that creates a pretty tricky landscape.

Impeachment is the one sort of political lever that he has, potentially, to appease that right flank of the caucus. And we're talking here about the potential impeachment or at least an impeachment inquiry being opened into President Joe Biden. What has Joe Biden done to deserve impeachment? That's another question.

HUNT: What is his high crime or misdemeanor?


HUNT: Right, yeah.

TALEV: Exactly. So that's the landscape. And again -- yeah, and McCarthy's real challenges that his own caucus is very split inside the House conference. And then you get across the aisle to the Republicans in the Senate. None of them think any of this is a good idea.

HUNT: Yeah. You know, I'm glad you raised that because Congresswoman Nancy Mace -- she represents -- she's from South Carolina. It's a conversative state but the district she represents is an interesting one in the Charleston area. And she sort of struck out as somebody who occasionally is on the moderate -- the moderate side of things.

She was on CNN last night talking about the challenges for moderates in her conference. Take a look at what she had to say and we'll talk about it.


REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): An inquiry is an investigative tool. It's different from an impeachment. On the impeachment side, the House would investigate and the Senate would essentially hold a trial. But no -- I mean, the Senate is not going to hold a trial. There's not going to be 60 votes. It's not happening.


HUNT: So that's a pretty blunt assessment, right? She's saying OK, fine -- you want to do an impeachment inquiry, whatever -- but we're not going to have a trial. It's not actually going to happen. I mean, that takes a lot of wind out of the sails. I mean, certainly, at the very least these Republicans on Kevin McCarthy's right want to act as though this is a real possibility.


TALEV: Right, and so I think you have to think about what is the goal of an impeachment inquiry. Is the goal of an impeachment inquiry to unearth evidence that would lead to someone's impeachment or is the goal of the impeachment inquiry to blunt the actual four criminal cases and 91 counts against the former president from the other party who was, by the way, impeached a couple of times and not convicted?

So there is a political goal here. And that is also part of what's driving the right flank is pressure from Trump, who is calling for this and saying that any good Republican would proceed on that front.

Just a couple of other numbers to throw out there. Forty billion dollars -- that's the extra amount that the White House is asking for. And this is a combination of Ukraine assistance, military and humanitarian. And another $12 billion or so for federal disaster relief, for money at the border to deal with fentanyl. That disaster relief goes into Republican districts. So there's actually -- there are a lot of complicated levers here.

The other final number I'd raise for you Kasie is the polling because right now, there is some polling that's Democratic-commissioned and Democrats are floating around. But there's also polling from Fox and from Ipsos.

And all of these polls in recent weeks show that something like a third of non-affiliated or Independent voters think that Biden's done anything that would warrant an impeachment inquiry at this point. Like, a third is probably not the number you want to take in there with you if you are a Republican --

HUNT: Yeah.

TALEV: -- in a swing district who is going to be facing reelection next year.

HUNT: No, it's a good point.

All right, Margaret Talev, from Axios. Thank you so much for getting up early for us. I hope you'll do it -- hopefully, we'll see you here on set in the studio, too, going forward.

TALEV: Thanks, Kasie.

HUNT: All right, let's take a quick look at where some of the legal cases against Donald Trump stand right now because we've got some development.

We're going to start with the election subversion charges in Georgia. The former president asking a court to dismiss several of the charges -- unsurprising. He's also indicated that he might ask for the case to be moved to federal court -- another maneuver.

Trump also asking the judge in the federal election subversion case against him to recuse herself. The former president claiming that Judge Tanya Chutkan's previous comments about January 6 rioters suggests that she has quote "prejudged" Trump's culpability.

And Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows urging a federal appeals court to hurry up and step in after his attempt to get his Georgia case moved to federal court was rejected. Meadows' attorneys said that the court could order the Fulton County D.A. to stop prosecuting him while the appeal plays out.

All right. With me now, CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson. Sir, it's great to have you on the program this morning. Thank you for getting up early with us.

Let's start in Georgia. Trump is asking the judge to dismiss several charges there. I mean, this feels to me like he's just going through the motions. That they're going to put anything up there to try and kind of throw sand in the gears.

What's your view as the lawyer here on this early morning panel?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY (via Webex by Cisco): Good morning to you, Kasie.

My view is not dissimilar to yours. Now, what happens is that it's widely obviously expected and anticipated that this would be done. What is this? Lawyers -- defense attorneys, like myself, file motions aplenty as they relate to pretrial proceedings. You file motions to attack the legal sufficiency of the indictment. You file motions to preserve and protect your client's rights.

And so, let's, of course, Kasie, remind viewers that this was a one- page motion, which essentially adopted the arguments of his co- defendants. That's also not new, right? You have 19 people on trial. The attorneys generally speak with each other and they'll determine, right, what they're going to do and they will piggyback off each other in that regard.

And so, certainly, in this motion, I do not anticipate or expect that the judge will dismiss the case at all, but you need to do that to preserve your right to appeal. If you don't attack the indictment at all based on First Amendment grounds and people have a right to speak, and this wasn't really a conspiracy and people didn't know each other, then you certainly put yourself or your client in peril because you're not preserving their rights.

So, no, I don't see anything fresh or new in the one-page motion that adopts the motion of his co-defendants. And this is largely a procedural measure used by attorneys to preserve their client's rights in moving forward to go to trial in the event of a conviction.

HUNT: It all -- that all makes sense.

Let's turn now to the federal indictment, though. Trump wants the judge in that case -- the Jack Smith case to recuse herself. He's pointing to some of her past statements she said previously. For example, quote, "The people that mobbed that Capitol were there in fealty, in loyalty to one man -- not to the Constitution. It's a blind loyalty to one person who, by the way, remains free to this day."

So here's what Trump's filing says. Quote "Although Judge Chutkan may genuinely intend to give President Trump a fair trial, and may believe that she can do so, her public statements unavoidably taint these proceedings, regardless of outcome."


I mean, I think the piece of the Chutkan statement that they cite that stands out to me is when she says that he remains free to this day.

Do you think they have any -- is there any there there in this request?

JACKSON: Well, I certainly think they need to make the motion, right? I mean, these were -- this motion was an effort based upon -- to seize upon comments that were made by Judge Chutkan, who has been very involved with respect to other defendants on January 6 and what their activities were. So as a result of that, Kasie, from the bench she expressed some points of view as it related to sentencing them.

And so, they seized upon, right -- Trump's attorneys did to say hey, you're unfair. Your impartiality is brought into question and as a result of that, you can't be here. You should recuse yourself.

The problem is that although the law itself says the judge -- they should avoid the appearance of impropriety and a result of that you should recuse, the standard is very high. If you have some deep-seated antagonism, says the Supreme Court in a 1994 case -- such that you should disqualify -- you should be disqualified. And I don't --

HUNT: Yeah.

JACKSON: -- based upon the judicial statements see that as taking shape here.

What, if anything, will she do during the trial? Those things certainly will be recorded by counsel. And if anything -- any of her rulings are adverse in a way that is contrary to the law, those certainly will be challenged. But based upon the statements that were --

HUNT: Yeah.

JACKSON: -- made, no -- I don't see much there there and I don't anticipate that it will be successful.

HUNT: All right, Joey Jackson. Thanks so much for getting up early with us this morning. I hope you'll come back.

JACKSON: Thank you, Kasie.

HUNT: All right, see you soon.

Coming up, time is running out for the United Auto Workers union to reach a deal with the big three. An update on where things stand.

And next, right here, Aaron Rodgers injured in his first regular season game with the New York Jets -- yikes. What it could mean for the rest of his season and his career.



HUNT: Welcome back. It's 5:45 in the east and 2:45 out west -- time for today's fast-forward lookahead.

Google goes to court today in what's being considered the biggest antitrust trial of the modern digital era. The Justice Department says Google has monopolized the online search space.

And Apple set to debut its iPhone 15 today. The company is expected to introduce USB-C charging for the first time -- outstanding. It would be the biggest change to the phone's design in 11 years.

And talks continue this morning between the United Auto Workers union and Detroit's big three -- Ford, GM, and Chrysler's parent company. Almost 150,000 workers could strike Friday if there is no deal.

And there is no one better to ask about the impact of this possible strike than someone who represents so many of these auto workers in her Detroit area district and has deep ties with the automakers as well. With me now is Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): Good morning, Kasie and it's great to see you back on my favorite hour to watch CNN.

HUNT: Thank you very much.

Let's start with the strike. Do you think they're going to get a deal in time?

DINGELL: Look, I'm going to be very honest. I think it's 50-50. I think there's a very good chance you could be seeing strikes in Michigan at the end of the week.

The other thing I want to remind people is that this is not one company the way it was with the teamsters, but negotiations are going on with three different companies. And each of them, quite frankly, are at very different places in the way that these negotiations are going. There -- I've talked to many people involved, as you would expect, in the last 24 hours and these are tough, difficult negotiations.

HUNT: What do you think it's going to mean for the Biden administration if Michigan goes on strike this week? DINGELL: Well, I think it is very important that the Biden administration pay attention to the issues that the workers are expressing and have been expressing for some time. I do not believe that the Biden administration should intervene in these strikes or these discussions in any way.

But I think one of the messages I want to send to people is that some people are trying to make this an either-or issue of protecting the environment or protecting the workers, and it's not either. But there's some theory this is where the rubber is hitting the road as we look to the technology of the future -- the vehicles of the future.

And there's some other real issues. I mean, let's take our COLA, which has been present in the --

HUNT: Sure.

DINGELL: -- companies for years. And when we had the bankruptcy -- or saving the industry, they lost that.

You have tiers where people working the same jobs on the line and being paid at three different levels. Temps are temps for eight to 10 years.

HUNT: Sure.

DINGELL: They want job security.

But perhaps the biggest issue is the differentiation between the internal combustion engine and the battery and what they're going to get paid for it. And the fact of the matter is most of those batteries aren't even part of this master contract.

HUNT: Right, right.

But can we talk about the politics of this for a second? I mean, this is a tricky place to be for a Democratic administration. You talk to these autoworkers all the time. You know many of them. They're at your town hall meetings and events. A lot of them are Trump voters and it's not clear that the UAW -- I mean, historically, a staunch Democratic institution, is going to line up with. I mean, this puts the president in a very difficult political position.

DINGELL: Look, I'm going to say this very straightforwardly. Nobody listened to me. You did, but most people didn't --

HUNT: Thank you.

DINGELL: -- when I said that Donald Trump could win Michigan in 2015 because of trade issues and that there were autoworkers who did not believe that -- Democrats did a terrible job of talking about trade and understanding. Donald Trump is again playing to their insecurities and their anxieties.

And we're going to have to be very clear that when we make this transition to new technology that there was a role for the workers. They're going to be paid a decent wage that lets them support their families and that the money that Washington is spending on this transition is getting to the workers.


That's what's at stake and that's -- we've got to make sure they understand it's not either-or. And we have to make sure that money is getting to the workers. That they are making a decent wage. They can't make $16.50 an hour in Lordstown, Ohio making a battery when they can work at McDonald's for $23.00 an hour --

HUNT: Do you think the Biden administration --

DINGELL: -- which is what's happening right now.

HUNT: Yeah. Do you think the Biden administration actually gets that or are they too focused on the sort of -- I mean, I think if you're looking at it from a critic's point of view, many critics would say they're too worried about their environmental goals than they are -- they're more -- they're putting those goals ahead of real people.

Do you think that's how it's been perceived in Michigan?

DINGELL: So, I think that there may be a perception of that by some people. But I will tell you -- there is one thing I can tell you. When I understand an issue and I know there's a problem I have very direct conversations. And I have been having very direct conversations with many people who matter to this. They understand it.

You saw an announcement two weeks ago -- a bill that I actually did in committee to how do you get money into these manufacturing facilities to help transition them so the jobs are there. The deal -- we announced that the Thursday before Labor Day.

I had a meeting yesterday, quite frankly, with the heads of a number of the environmental groups because we know that this is an issue.

So we're all going to work together and making sure that worker knows they're part of the transition in the future is one of the most critical things we all have to do.

HUNT: Yeah.

You mentioned 2015. Of course, that's leading into the 2016 presidential race where Donald Trump ultimately won Michigan. We're heading into another presidential race. If the election were held today in Michigan do you think Donald Trump, as the Republican nominee, could beat President Biden as the Democratic nominee?

DINGELL: I'm going to look at you all right now. Everybody says Michigan is a blue state. Michigan is not. It is purple. It is a very competitive state and Donald Trump would do well in Michigan right now. I'm not -- the election is a year away. We're at a very volatile time but I'm not taking Michigan for granted. And I'm going to say I've said that very strongly to many people. HUNT: Do you feel like the Biden team is taking Michigan for granted

right now? Should they be doing more already to try to shore things up?

DINGELL: Let's just say I think we've gotten their attention. You know, Gene Sperling was assigned to help work on this and I think people sort of rolled their eyes five years ago, four years ago when I kept saying Donald Trump can win Michigan.

At this point, when you're seasoned like me and you've been right about a lot of things, people listen. And the governor is right there with me. So people are listening.

HUNT: So you and the governor --

DINGELL: But I don't -- and also, Donald Trump knows that he could win Michigan so he's not ignoring it either.

But yes, the governor and I are working very closely together and talking to people.

HUNT: And you've told the Biden administration or the Biden campaign -- hey, pay attention?

DINGELL: Correct.

HUNT: All right.

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, we'll be thinking about -- there's a lot going on in Michigan in the -- in the course of this week that going to affect, potentially, a lot of people's lives.

DINGELL: It's about our economy.

HUNT: Thank you very much for getting up early with me this morning.

DINGELL: Kasie, this is --

HUNT: I really hope you'll come back.

DINGELL: I will. I want to remind people of one thing. The American auto industry is still the backbone of the American economy. If they go on strike people are going to be reminded how important these autoworkers are.

HUNT: For sure.

All right. Thanks, Congresswoman Dingell.

All right, changing gears now. We're going to go to sports where the Jets pull off a thrilling overtime win against the Bills. But the victory comes with a very heavy price.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Andy, I'm thrilled to be here with you.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, thrilled to see you again, Kasie. Welcome to the early mornings.

HUNT: Thank you. I love it.


All right. Now, the biggest story of the NFL offseason -- you know, we talked about it all offseason -- quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He was leaving the Packers after 18 seasons to join the Jets. But the hopes and dreams of the New York fans just dashed.

n a matter of minutes last night, just four plays into that season opener against the Bills, Rodgers is going to get sacked here by Leonard Floyd and he hurts his foot, and you can tell immediately. He tried to get up but he would go back down. Rodgers was then helped off the field by the Jets staff and he would go to that blue medical tent on the sidelines. The 39-year-old ended up being taken to the locker room on a cart.

The team fears it's an Achilles injury that would end Rodgers' season.

Here was Jets coach Robert Saleh after the game.


ROBERT SALEH, NEW YORK JETS COACH: I'm concerned with his Achilles. The MRI is probably going to confirm what we think is already going to happen, so prayers tonight. But it's not good. Personally, I don't hurt for me. I don't hurt for our locker room. I hurt for Aaron and how much he's invested in all of this.

So I'm still going to say a prayer. I'm just having a whole lot of hope. But my heart is with Aaron right now and nothing -- and nowhere else.



SCHOLES: Yeah. So the air was just let out of MetLife Stadium right away after that.

But the Jets defense did step up. They forced Bills quarterback Josh Allen into throwing three interceptions and they forced a fumble. Allen saying afterwards he was the reason the Bills lost. Now, Buffalo did send this game into overtime in the final seconds. Tyler Bass doinks this one off that left upright in, so we would go to overtime.

But in the extra period, the Bills forced a punt and Xavier Gipson -- he was featured on "HARD KNOCKS" making the team as an undrafted rookie free agent -- takes this one 65 yards to the house for the touchdown. Just the third punt return to win a game in overtime in NFL history.

The Jets victorious 22-16.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) XAVIER GIPSON, NEW YORK JETS PUNT RETURNER: I seen (INAUDIBLE) and I seen I had a shot. I had (INAUDIBLE) and Bryce Hall on the ends. And I trusted in God to my core and I just seen the opportunity and I just took it.


SCHOLES: Yeah, you've got to be happy for him.

Now, the "MANNINGCAST" was back last night as well and once the word got out that Rodgers' injury was quite serious, Peyton and Eli -- well, they wondered are there any recently retired quarterbacks the Jets may consider?


ELI MANNING, FORMER NFL QUARTERBACK, HOST, "MANNINGCAST": Is Woody Johnson calling Tom Brady tonight? Is he on speed dial saying can you come back? We've already got one guy -- like, yeah, is that a chance? What do you think?

PEYTON MANNING, FORMER NFL QUARTERBACK, HOST, "MANNINGCAST": I think Tom Brady, no. Ryan Fitzpatrick, maybe, right?

E. MANNING: He wants the magic.

P. MANNING: The Jets history. Yes, he wants the magic. I think Brady going to the Jets would be -- would be illegal.


SCHOLES: And Kasie, I'm going to go ahead and say after watching Brady's retirement ceremony with the Patriots on Sunday, he's not coming back. Brady to the Jets, probably not.

HUNT: And can you remind me how many Brady retirements we've already watched --


HUNT: -- because I think it's been more than one.

SCHOLES: Yeah, it's been two for now -- yeah.

HUNT: Yeah, for now.

All right, Andy Scholes, thank you very much as always.

SCHOLES: All right.

HUNT: Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.

And I want to thank all of you for getting up early with me. I'm looking forward to being here with you every day. That's it for us this morning. I'm Kasie Hunt. Coming up next on "CNN THIS MORNING," police in Pennsylvania warning that the escaped killer who has alluded them for nearly two weeks might be armed. The latest on the manhunt coming up next.