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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

New WaPo Op-Ed: Biden Shouldn't Run in 2024; McCarthy Orders Impeachment Probe Without Floor Vote; Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin Wrap Up Talks in Russia; Hurricane Lee Prompts Warnings in Bermuda. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 13, 2023 - 05:00   ET




While you were asleep, a top plugged in columnist saying the quiet part out loud. The major news op-ed just calling for Joe Biden to drop out of the 2024 race.

Plus --


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: House Republicans have uncovered serious incredible allegations into President Biden's conduct.


HUNT: The House Speaker, under pressure from conservatives, now ordering an impeachment inquiry into the president.

And, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un finally come face to face, giving new hints about what Russia could swamp for weapons from North Korea.


HUNT: Good day to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Kasie Hunt. Thanks for being with us.

Early this morning on the East Coast where it is not a column anyone in the Biden administration is going to enjoy waking up to this morning. "The Washington Post's" David Ignatius putting it in bold, writing, quote: President Biden should not run again in 2024.

His new op-ed says, quote, it is painful to say that given my admiration of what they have accomplished. But, if he and Harris campaign together in 2024, I think Biden risks undoing his greatest achievement, which was stopping Trump.

Ignatius says that Biden's age and his vice president would be the two biggest liabilities and his opinion does line up with recent CNN polling that shows that more than two-thirds of Democrats think that the party should nominate somebody else to run next year. Let's break this all down with CNN's Marshall Cohen, who covers

politics for us.

Marshall, good morning.

I think it is important to give our viewers some context here on why this matters and why this is going to be something that campaign aides and operatives are going to be talking about, that the White House is going to be talking about, and that is because of who wrote it. This is David Ignatius. He is a columnist for "The Washington Post", but he's also somebody who is extraordinarily plugged in inside the Biden administration. He has covered numerous White Houses over the years.

He understands and thinks about politics in a global way that is usually of the more sober-minded variety. And it is really, I think, something that is going to sting inside the halls of the west wing as they read through this, this morning.

And I know that you and I have both covered these politics day today. He is laying out a conversation that I certainly have heard from my sources overtime that Democrats are simply nervous, that they might face a situation where Donald Trump ends of the back in the White House again because something happens to President Biden and Kamala Harris, potentially, ends up as the nominee. There's not a lot of confidence that she'd be able to carry -- carry this.

I am wondering, can you walk us through what our polling numbers show here at CNN kind of underscores this and the reporting that you have had in recent weeks and months about how this topic is being discussed?

MARSHALL COHEN, CNN REPORTER: David Ignatius is a very serious guy. He would not put this in front, I am sure, unless he believed that this was absolutely something that needed to be said, frankly for the good of the country. So it is a sobering to see this, this morning.

But he is giving voice, Kasie, to something that is out there and not just in Republican quarters. I'm sure that you hear this when you go back home and talk to family and get out of Washington, D.C. These are real concerns that, at the ripe age of 80, President Biden might not be the right guy to run a rigorous campaign against probably Donald Trump.

As you mentioned, our polling backs that up. Seventy-three percent, three quarters of Americans are concerned about President Biden's age. If you look at just Democrats in the poll, two out of three Democrats, about 67 percent, wish they had been alternative to Joe Biden. That's not terribly inspiring, but, look, it's still early. There is plenty of time for those numbers to snap back into place and the White House, every time these questions come up, Joe Biden always says, you have got to grade me against my alternative, which is Donald Trump.

And they think when that head to head matchup emerges, assuming it is Trump who has a commanding lead in the Republican primary, that head to head matchup, if it's Biden versus Trump again, they are confident that the American people don't want to go back to the Trump era. HUNT: Well, speaking of alternatives, the reality there is not been a

Democratic alternative that has emerged to President Biden. So it's not as though the challenger, Ignatius is saying, hey, Biden don't run.


It's unclear what the answer is then if the president were to not run in 2024.

Marshall, let's talk briefly about what Kevin McCarthy did yesterday, the speaker of the House. He essentially, he didn't say it out loud necessarily, but he made this move to open impeachment inquiry and made it clear that he doesn't have 218 votes in his conference to do it. This is something that he's getting a lot of outside pressure around, both from the right and his conference, also from some outside folks and perhaps the Trump campaign.

Walk us through what we saw on the Hill yesterday.

COHEN: A pretty remarkable moment. Kevin McCarthy endorsing an impeachment inquiry. What this means is that we now have two presidents in a row that were subjected to an impeachment inquiry. Whether this blossoms into a full blown impeachment of Joe Biden, we will see.

It's clear that Kevin McCarthy does not have the votes to impeach Joe Biden right now because, as you mentioned, he doesn't even have the votes to launch this impeachment inquiry right now and that's why he's doing it on his own. He directed the chairs of a few of the key committees in the house to begin this process. Basically, they are going to be ramping up there already existing investigations into Hunter Biden, his business deals overseas, the millions of dollars that he made often trading all the family name.

But, they are trying to focus on President Biden and here, trying very hard, to connect President Biden to his son's business deals. As of now, Kasie, I have got to say, a lot of the claims that McCarthy put a front and center yesterday, they are unproven, they are uncorroborated, they are a bunch of half truths that he uttered yesterday.

They argued that they will get to the goods in this inquiry, they will find more incriminating info, but so much of this is based off of uncorroborated speculation at this point -- Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Marshall Cohen, I know you spent a lot of time fact checking that yesterday. So, thank you for being up early to bring your reporting to us, we love having you here.

COHEN: You bet.

HUNT: All right. Police in Pennsylvania has set up a new perimeter in their hunt for an escaped killer, and there's new sense of urgency to flush him out and get back in custody because they believe he is carrying a rifle. A homeowner reported firing shots at the someone matching Danelo Cavalcante's description who stole a rifle from his garage.

Now, police are warning residents that the fugitive is desperate enough to use it.


LT. COL. GEORGE BIVENS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: We consider him desperate, we consider him dangerous. All this does is confirm for us that he has a weapon. He has killed two people previously. I would suspect that he's desperate enough to use that weapon.


HUNT: About 500 officers are now searching the area around the shooting, with a permit or stretching several miles in each direction.

Okay, up next, after days of mystery and secrecy, Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin meet for the first time in years. We've got new clues this morning about what an arms deal between North Korea and Russia could look like and an all star team to talk about it.

Plus, five ex-Memphis police officers indicted on even more charges.

And, what Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk are doing here in lowly Washington D.C. today.



HUNT: Welcome back.

This morning in Russia's far east, a highly anticipated meeting between Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, their first face to face talks and four years. They toured a Russian space port and launch center ahead of their talks.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout has been tracking developments from Hong Kong.

Kristie, North Korea fired off two missiles while their leader --


HUNT: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

STOUT: Sorry, I'm getting a bit of a delay here. I'll just give you the update of what's happening. They're having a state dinner right now, but earlier, these two leaders, Kim and Putin, they met at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, a space port in Eastern Russia. The talks covered a range of issues, economic issues, regional issues, and ended after more than an hour.

And ahead of the meeting, Putin said that Kim showed great interest in space and rocket engineering. And Putin was asked the question, it was interesting when he said, will Russia help North Korea build satellites? And his response was, that is why we are here, at the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

Now, as for Kim, he pledged to support for the Russian president. Listen to this.


KIM JONG UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): There are many issues that our two countries need to cooperate, and for us to receive help on, in our war of independence, as the people of our countries anticipate. In this situation, I believe that this moment will serve to raise our bilateral relation to the next step, to a new height.


STOUT: Now, the summit took place just hours after North Korea fired two short range ballistic missiles into the waters off the east coast of the Korean peninsula. I want to, say this is the first time we've seen a lot with the North Korean leader out of the country. But, keep in mind, this is a leader who rarely travels overseas.

Now, the summit comes after the U.S. said that these two nations are actively advancing their talks over another potential arms deal. The U.S. remains concerned that North Korea will provide arms to Russia to use in the war in Ukraine. And in exchange, North Korea is seeking advanced technology, like technology for satellites.

Now, the state dinner is currently happening right now. And, Kasie, on the menu, we know they are dining on beef, crab dumplings, and sturgeon.

Back to you -- Kasie.

HUNT: Kristie Lu Stout, thanks very much for being up for us in Hong Kong this morning.

Let's bring in now, CNN's Max Foster, live in London, a CNN anchor.

Max, thank you so much for joining us here very early on the East Coast.

I know a little bit later in the day for you. I'm hoping that you can help us understand why you think people in the U.S. should be concerned, potentially, about this meeting? What are the ramifications of this?

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is nothing good in this meeting for America and the West. If you imagine, Russia and North Korea are both at war with key American allies, South Korea and Ukraine.


So, America has alliances to protect its national interest, and so, it's national interests are being undermined, if indeed the two sides are talking about arming each other and becoming stronger in those wars. So, that's immediate impact. And then there's just the optics of it, Kasie, of all of this. The idea that these two leaders are there on the international stage, Putin's endorsing him and this is off the back of, you know, Russia and China really getting on this mission to undermine the West dominance of international politics.

And actually, Kim, spoke to this and endorsed Putin's strategy there.

HUNT: So, Max, to that very point, I mean -- sorry, I think there was some sound there for, but my apologies.

Can we talk a little bit about what you mentioned in terms of looking at the optics of this, these two dictators? It's a little bit in your face, right, especially if you're President Biden who, you know, we are facing a tough political campaign at home. His approval numbers are not where the White House wants them to be?

What does this mean as we head into this very intense campaign here with Donald Trump who, as we know, when he was president, many of his critics certainly would argue that he often cozied up to more dictatorial figures like Putin, like Kim Jong Un?

FOSTER: Yeah, and Putin threw himself into an American presidential race yesterday and he said that he branded to the criminal cases against Trump as political persecution. So he is involving himself in the campaign. There is also the question of how Biden is going to deal with Russia, how he is going to deal with North Korea and China in this alternative access. So it definitely is going to be part of the American presidential campaign and we will see how it plays out.

But, for Donald Trump, you know it might be an argument to say that I can resolve this. Biden can't. We'll wait to see how they both play here, but it certainly is something that Putin is playing into.

HUNT: All right. CNN's Max Foster in London, thank you very much. I hope you come back. We would love to see more review here at 5:00 a.m.

FOSTER: Absolutely.

HUNT: All right, great. Thanks, Max.

Coming up next, travel headaches could be here to stay for quite awhile, as in years. What airline executives are now saying and, a combative George Santos basically melts down during an exclusive interview on CNN.



HUNT: Welcome back. It is 5:21 here on the East Coast.

We've got quick hits across America now.

A federal grand jury has indicted five former Memphis police officers in the beating death of Tyre Nichols. Civil rights conspiracy and obstruction offenses are among the charges. The defendants are also facing state charges. Authorities in Oklahoma are looking for so-called trophies from Dennis

Rader, also known as the BTK serial killer. Officials say that Rader told them that he hid personal items from his victims in several places. This week, a task force was set up to link Rader to several cold cases.

And, travel headaches aren't going away anytime soon. Airline executives say the air traffic controller shortage could disrupt flights for the next seven years. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the industry is about 3,000 positions short. Yikes.

All right, new concern about Hurricane Lee this morning. It's a massive storm and continues to get bigger.

Meteorologist weatherman Derek Van Dam is a tracking it.

Derek, it's great to see you again this morning.

We were talking about this yesterday, what is the latest now? It's quite a storm over your shoulder.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, good morning, Kasie.

That's the thing about the storm it is ballooning in size. This morning, in fact, since Saturday, the radius of the hurricane force winds, that's 74 mile per hour sustained plus, has actually tripled, since the weekend, right? But get this, the actual size, the entire area covered by hurricane-force winds has increased nine times since this past Saturday.

So, this storm will get a bigger, it has gotten larger within the past 24 hours and it continues to do so. We believe by the time it reaches, let's say, the East Coast this weekend, off the East Coast I should say, this thing is going to be a tropical forms winds extending about 500 miles from end to end. That's like traveling Boston to basically Philadelphia, or let's say Detroit to Philadelphia.

So, it is an incredibly large wind field. That's the concern here. You don't have to have a center of a storm, with the strongest winds are to feel its impact. So, the impacts are actually starting to become more clear as we get more guidance and we see how the upper level winds and all the various weather patterns driving Hurricane Lee are going to unfold in the days ahead.

We see an increase in wind, coastal storm surge threat to Northern New England, and it's something we're monitoring closely. 115 mile per hour winds with the latest 5:00 a.m. update and the National Hurricane Center on day three and four has nudged this forecast track ever so slightly to the West. They're starting to notice a potential in a westerly band in day four and a five.

Now, the system will be in a weakened state as it reaches the gulf of Maine, this is of course Friday into Saturday, so they're getting into the weekend. But, nonetheless, the wind field will be so large that the potential to feel tropical storm impacts is increasing for places like Boston, perhaps into Portland, Bar Harbor, certainly into Nova Scotia, and the Bay of Fundy.


By the way, Kasie, these are some of the largest tidal swings across the planet found right within the Bay of Fundy. So this is going to be interesting to see how much water is pushed up into this area.

One thing is for sure, massive waves and coastal erosion is a possibility with a storm approaching.

HUNT: All right. Derek Van Dam, I'm sure, in this case, we'll be talking about this with you for the rest of the week. So, we'll see you tomorrow.

VAN DAM: That's right.

HUNT: Thanks very much for being here.

VAN DAM: OK. You got it.

HUNT: What's next for Speaker McCarthy's impeachment inquiry into President Biden?

And, dozens of crocodiles on the loose. We'll tell you where they are.


HUNT: Good morning and thank you so much for getting up early with us. I'm Kasie Hunt.

The big story at the bottom of the hour, two international pariahs put their heads together. Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un meeting for about an hour this morning at a space port in far eastern Russia. Putin said they, quote, have a lot to discuss.

The U.S. has warned that weapons deal might be part of it with Putin needing ammunition for his war.