Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Union Workers Strike Against All Three Big Automakers; Special Counsel Indicts Hunter Biden On Gun Charges; Soon: Ex-Spanish Soccer Chief To Testify In Court. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 15, 2023 - 05:30   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thank you for getting up early with us. It's 5:30 on the East Coast; 2:30 out west. I'm Kasie Hunt.

The big story at the bottom of the hour, off the job on the picket lines. Thousands of UAW members are on strike after the deadline for a new contract came and went without a deal. The union had made ambitious demands for wages and benefits with the Big Three reporting big profits. It's the first time the union has struck all three major U.S. automakers at the same time.

A historic first in politics as well. Hunter Biden becoming the first child of a sitting president to be charged by the Justice Department. The special counsel indicting him on gun charges.

And there's this. The judge in Fulton County, Georgia shutting down the district attorney's push to try to -- to try Donald Trump and his 18 co-defendants together in the election subversion case. Two of them will go on trial starting next month. The former president's trial date has yet to be announced.

But now let's go to what feels like our long national nightmare. Some 13 months before we will actually go to the polls and elect the next president -- I mean, it sure feels like a disaster.

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has four indictments. The incumbent president's son now facing one indictment. Impeachment seems to be becoming routine. Most of our political leaders are pushing 80 or already over it. Our government could shut down at the end of the month.

Oh, and the Speaker of the House seemed to curse his own conference yesterday -- did curse at his own conference yesterday daring his detractors to, quote, "Move the f***ing motion" to oust him. That's according to four sources who were in the room. He did clean up the language a little bit later for the cameras.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Threats don't matter and sometimes people do those things because of personal things, and that's all fine. And you know what? If it takes a fight, I'll have a fight. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: A lot calmer there at the microphones than it seems like he was in the room.

Let's bring in Shelby Talcott, politics reporter at Semafor. Shelby, thank you so much for getting up early and coming in to be with us this morning because saying that tensions are high here in Washington would really be a massive understatement.

I want to show you what Republican Matt Gaetz had to say after all of this. He appears to be referring to the statement that McCarthy made during that closed-door meeting. And obviously, this fight is really, in large part, between the two of them. Watch and then we'll talk about it.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I'm concerned for the speaker that he seems to be a little rattled and unhinged in a time when we need focus and strong effort. Whether or not McCarthy faces a motion to vacate is within his own hands. All he has to do is come into compliance with the deal we made in January.


HUNT: So what he is referring to for people who aren't read in on congressional speak, that motion to vacate is a -- is a move to take the gavel away from Speaker McCarthy. And McCarthy's swearing at the conference was basically a dare to them to OK, go ahead. Go ahead, try. Go ahead -- try to take my gavel away.

What does this say about where things stand? Because really, the bottom line is that all of this infighting has brought governance to a -- basically, a halt.

SHELBY TALCOTT, POLITICS REPORTER, SEMAFOR: Yeah, and McCarthy is facing immense pressure from this hard-right faction of the Republican Party. And it's not a surprise because back in January when he was trying to become speaker, it took 15 tries because of this faction of the party. And so they know that they hold power and sway here and they're certainly using it.

And so, what McCarthy is facing is pressure -- and not just pressure from members of Congress. He's also facing pressure from the former president himself who as we now know has pushed for an impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden, both privately and publicly. And so this is going to be a very tough few months for the speaker.

HUNT: For sure.

So let's move the lens out a little bit and talk about the presidential race. Because Donald Trump sat down with Kristen Welker, the new moderator of "MEET THE PRESS" on NBC, and he was asked if Biden was too old to be president -- or, excuse me, this was actually with Megyn Kelly -- the interview that he did on Thursday. Watch and take a look at the interview that he did with Megyn Kelly where he talks about whether or not Biden is too old -- watch.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, not old -- he's incompetent. He's not too old, he's incompetent. And age is interesting because some people are very sharp and some people do lose it, but you lose it at 40 and 50 also. But no, he's not too old at all. He's grossly incompetent.


HUNT: I mean, I guess Trump can't call Biden old because they're not actually that far apart in age.

TALCOTT: Yeah, and that's exactly right. And it's really interesting because you've also seen Biden -- when some of these lawmakers who are also on the older side are having some potential medical issues he's been reluctant to kind of mention the age issue as well.


But I'll tell you, out on the campaign trail it is a factor for voters. A lot of voters want somebody younger and that's regarding both Biden and Trump.

And you'll see Trump's 2024 opponents are trying to capitalize it. They're mentioning more and more often how we need a new generation. We need younger leadership. Trump's time has passed. And however indirectly, it's a topic on the campaign trail and I expect that it's going to continue to be one and that there's going to be a significant sect of voters who are considering age when they go to the polls.

HUNT: Yeah.

And the other piece of this obviously, this morning, is the Hunter Biden indictment, which the president has steered clear of, although he has appeared frequently in public with his son. This is something that the Trump campaign has used to basically muddy the waters and try to say it's basically equivalent, right?

Now, I think we should underscore to our viewers there's no evidence at this point that Hunter -- that tie -- that implicate the president. That implicate President Biden. This is, of course, his son, not -- President Trump -- former President Trump is facing four indictments himself. But this is, of course, going to be the tenor and tone of the campaign of the next year.

What impact do you think this has if any, especially on Independent voters who are going to decide the election in the end?

TALCOTT: I actually think it's going to have a huge impact. So we've already seen Trump with his various indictments, essentially capitalize on it. And as you said, Trump's legal issues and his campaign issues -- situation are one and the same. His campaign is effectively running as also a legal operation. Every time he speaks in public you hear him make arguments about why his legal issues are politically motivated.

Now, with the Biden situation, even though it's not Biden himself, Republicans are going to capitalize on the fact that it's Hunter Biden and there's an indictment. And so, that's going to play a key role because voters are going to hear a lot about it over the next year and a half.

HUNT: Certainly, Republicans are going to try and make sure that they do.

Shelby Talcott, thank you very much for getting up early with us. We hope to see you back soon.

And breaking overnight, another headache for the Biden administration. United Auto Workers now on strike after talks with the Big Three failed to produce a deal.

CNN's Gloria Pazmino is in Detroit for us this morning. Gloria, tell us more about where the strikes are happening.

GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kasie, we are standing in front of a Ford manufacturing plant here in Wayne and this was one of the plants that got called up to strike last night shortly after midnight. That is when the contract expired after the union and the automakers were unable to come to an agreement.

Now, that 'stand up and strike' strategy is very much on purpose by the union. They say they want to keep the automakers guessing about when and where the workers are going to be walking off the job.

Just take a look here behind me. You can see that there is a couple of workers that are currently on the picket line. They have been out here all night into the early morning since the beginning of this strike yesterday at midnight. There are about 3,000 workers that work at this plant.

And I actually just spoke to one of the women who was currently on the picket. She told me that she has been here since 11:00 last night. She is tired. She is hungry. She is cold. But she is prepared to do this for the long run because they want to make sure that they get higher wages, a better deal, and they want to make sure that this contract is resolved.

So we are expecting this scene to get much, much larger in the coming hours here. And there appears to be a lot of support. Cars go by. They honk their horns in support of the workers.

And the other important thing to highlight tonight Kasie is that there may not be any significant developments today because the union has said they will not be negotiating today. They will be joining the workers on the picket line in a show of solidarity. And there's a big rally planned for this afternoon in Detroit. So not much hope that this strike is going to get resolved anytime soon -- Kasie.

HUNT: Tough days ahead.

Gloria Pazmino, in Detroit, thanks very much for joining us now.

And Spain's former soccer chief set to testify soon about that infamous kiss at the Women's World Cup Final. We're going to take you to Madrid, ahead.

Plus, investigations coming to a head for both the president and his son. What to expect as one faces an impeachment inquiry and the other federal gun charges, coming up.



HUNT: Welcome back to EARLY START. The clock is ticking toward 5:44 in the East -- time for today's fast-forward lookahead.

People in coastal New England and Nova Scotia could see heavy rain and strong winds starting tonight, all coming from Hurricane Lee. Maine's governor has declared a state of emergency.

Closing arguments are set to begin today in the impeachment trial of Texas attorney general. Republican Ken Paxton is accusing -- accused of abusing his position to help a donor. He has been suspended since the GOP-led State House took action in May.

And union workers at a GM plant in Missouri, a Ford plant in Michigan, and a Stellantis plant in Toledo walking out at midnight after the deadline for a contract came and went. GM official says they're disappointed but that the bargaining will continue.

The strike is just the latest headache for President Biden after a whirlwind week in Washington from the announcement of an impeachment inquiry to a looming government shutdown.


And now, President Biden's son Hunter has been indicted on federal gun charges. He is the first child of a sitting president to be charged by the Justice Department.

Let's bring in Michael LaRosa. He is a partner at Ballard Partners, but he is someone who has had several different roles in the Biden White House and campaign, including for the first lady Jill Biden -- and therefore, Michael, you know the first family pretty well. Thank you for getting up early with us.

I have to say I know you're likely here because you want to say that this is something that shouldn't be a big deal but I think for the campaign this is something that's going to drag out for the duration of the year. This is something that is going to -- it is sticky with voters -- Independent voters. Sixty-four percent of them say that they believe that President Biden had something to do with this. Now, obviously, there -- we know that there's no evidence that that's the case. But how does the campaign deal with this going forward?

MICHAEL LAROSA, PARTNER, BALLARD PARTNERS: Well, you're absolutely right, Kasie.

It is -- look, as Congressman Dan Kildee said and Claire McCaskill has also said -- that when you leave a void, a vacuum is going to be filled. And right now, the Republicans are filling that vacuum with smears and lies and conspiracy theories, and really impugning the integrity of a man, the President of the United States, who was once considered one of the most principled men in politics. A man known for his integrity.

So it's a rather large communications failure that now public opinion is settling in -- in not just your poll but in every poll. So I'm with Congressman Kildee and Democrats like Claire McCaskill who think they need to start answering these attacks because otherwise, allowing the disinformation to go unchecked, it's going to seep into public opinion. But you're already seeing that happen in not just your poll but every poll.

HUNT: How does the president and his family -- how do the president and his family think about this? And obviously, we've talked about Joe Biden as a person. He is somebody who is very -- any father who is dealing with a child with a drug addiction -- that's something that's relatable to many families in the country. But at the end of the day, we are talking about him being charged with a crime here.

And the family has clearly embraced him. They've had Hunter -- I think we can show him attending a state dinner. That was right around the time when this initial plea deal was announced.

How does the family balance -- and you've been in these rooms behind the scenes. How do they balance the support for Hunter with all of these political considerations that we were just talking about?

LAROSA: Well look, they love their son and they're not going to hide their son, and they never have. And their kids and their grandkids are always invited to events and White House gatherings. They go on trips together. That is not unusual. And there's no exceptions for anyone and they treat all their kids and their grandkids the same.

But look, this is -- this is -- this is tough for the family. They are -- they have feelings like everybody else.

You know, in 1990, the first son, at the time, was being sued by the federal government and was being targeted by Democrats then -- Neil Bush, the son of President Bush 41. And President Bush said look, as a president, it's easy, right? The system will work. The system will do its job. But as a father, it's incredibly hard to see your son become the target of a political investigation or of a political attack when you know he wouldn't be otherwise if his name wasn't connected to the President of the United States.

HUNT: Well, I mean, in fairness -- I mean, first of all, they don't necessarily treat all their grandkids the same. We do -- there was one that they did not acknowledge for a long time. We don't have to get into it here this morning but I just want to put that -- put that out there.

And second of all, Hunter probably got himself into this mess partly because he used his father's name to get people to take phone calls. But --

LAROSA: Well, that's not exactly true. That's not exactly true. I mean, there's been no evidence of that. Even his partner has testified that President Biden did nothing wrong when he was vice president.

HUNT: I'm not saying he did anything wrong.

LAROSA: He's not --

HUNT: I'm just saying Hunter used the Biden name to get access to people.

LAROSA: As Neil Bush did when he was on the board of Silverado and the country had to bail the first son out with a $1.3 billion bailout. Can you imagine if Hunter Biden had cost the taxpayers a billion- dollar bailout? Our heads would be exploding, right?

This is a -- this is a -- this is a charge that most of your -- the people on your network -- the legal experts have said would never have been opened -- an investigation that never would have been opened in the first place were his last name not Biden.


I think in Delaware, in 2019, prosecutors referred three cases, zero of which were ever charged. So --

HUNT: You are -- you are correct that many of our legal experts are making that argument. I am not a lawyer so I will leave it to them to do so.

LAROSA: Neither am I. I'm just listening to the lawyers -- that's all.

HUNT: Michael LaRosa, thank you very much for being up early with us. I really appreciate your time.

LAROSA: Sure. Congrats on your first week, Kasie.

HUNT: Thank you so much, Michael.

And moments from now, Spain's former soccer chief Luis Rubiales will testify in court about kissing Women's World Cup player Jenni Hermoso. Rubiales resigned five days ago after weeks of heavy criticism, but he still claims the kiss was consensual. And he is now facing sexual assault charges.

Al Goodman is live in Madrid outside the courthouse. Al, what are you seeing right now? AL GOODMAN, JOURNALIST: Hi, Kasie. The hearing is expected to get underway at that courthouse behind me at noon local time, in just a few minutes. Rubiales and his lawyer walked into the courthouse about 40 minutes ago. They made no comment to this throng of reporters.

Now inside the court -- inside the courtroom, which is closed -- this hearing closed -- there will be the judge, the prosecutor, Rubiales, and his lawyer. The lawyer for the player, Jennifer Hermoso, could be in there but we have no indication that she is.

The charge is sexual assault. The prosecution service tells CNN that the current language in Spain's penal code has only been there for about a year thanks to a new law last year passed by the leftist government to clamp down on sexual assault and sexual abuse -- part of the changes, Kasie, going on in this country, which is why this case has gotten so much attention between the old Spain and the new Spain -- this idea of gender equality.

So, the new law says that there can only be affirmative consent to allow for this kind of kiss. Rubiales says it was a consensual kiss. The player says it was not. And that's where the second charge comes in -- coercion. She says, according to prosecutors, that she was forced to try to get on his side and say it was that way. She has not done that.

So we have much to hear later from this day in the courthouse. Back to you, Kasie.

HUNT: Big day ahead for you, Al Goodman. Thank you very much for being with us this morning. We really appreciate it.

The big story this morning, for the first time ever, thousands of auto workers have walked off the job at all three major U.S. automakers at the same time. Where the contract negotiations stand right now, coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING."



HUNT: Welcome back.

I am thrilled to be able to report this story to you this morning because, after a slow start, my Eagles poured it on the Vikings for their second win of the season.

Andy Scholes --


HUNT: -- fly Eagles, fly. You have this morning's Bleacher Report.

SCHOLES: Oh, yeah. Good morning for you, Kasie -- that's for sure. You know, the Eagles -- your Eagles have high expectations this season after --

HUNT: They do.

SCHOLES: -- coming up just short in the Super Bowl. You know, last week they beat the Patriots but it was a little bit of a shaky win. So the question last night: would the Eagles look more impressive kicking off week two against the Vikings?

Well, Jalen Hurts and company -- they got off to a little bit of a slow start and they fell behind 7-3 in the second quarter. But then they woke up in a big way. Hurts and DeVonta Smith here -- he goes for 63 yards. So that capped off a 24-0 run by the Eagles.

The Vikings did make it interesting in the fourth quarter but D'Andre Swift here gets in from two yards out. He had 175 yards on the ground.

The Eagles would win 34-28 to get to 2-0 on the season.

And Swift, a Philly native, pumped up to be helping his hometown team win.


D'ANDRE SWIFT, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES RUNNING BACK: Everything tonight was amazing. It's a blessing to be back and have the support and the love from these people that I grew up around and went to high school with. A full-circle moment.


SCHOLES: All right. Chiefs fans, meanwhile, have questions about a different Swift -- Taylor Swift. So rumors have been swirling about whether the singer is dating tight end Travis Kelce. So, Kelce had said he failed at giving Swift his phone number at her concert back in July but maybe he found success shortly after that.

And after last night's game, Tony Gonzalez -- well, he tried to get the scoop from Travis' brother, Eagles center Jason Kelce.


TONY GONZALEZ, FORMER NFL TIGHT END: Now, you've seen these rumors.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, this damn gossip --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we go. TMZ, what are we doing?

KELCE: It's for my daughter, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are we doing?

KELCE: Every since "CATCHING KELCE," everybody's been infatuated with Travis' love life. So I don't really know what's going on there. So, yeah, I know Trav is having fun and we'll see what happens with whoever he ends up with.


SCHOLES: All right, so still no answers there.

And by the way, tomorrow's Rocky Mountain Showdown between Colorado and Colorado State -- it just got personal. Rams coach Jay Norvell taking a shot at Buffalo's coach Deion Sanders, criticizing people who wear sunglasses and hats during news conferences.


JAY NORVELL, COLORADO STATE HEAD COACH: I don't care if they hear it in Boulder. I told them. I took my hat off and I took my glasses off and I said when I talk to grown-ups, I take my hat and my glasses off. That's what my mother taught me.

DEION SANDERS, COLORADO HEAD COACH: Why would you want to talk about a -- well, we don't talk about nobody. All we do is go out here and work our butts off. We do our job on Saturday. But when they give us ammunition, they (INAUDIBLE). It was just going to be a good game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they (bleep).

SANDERS: They done messed around and made it --

TEAM: Personal.

SANDERS: It was going to be a great test. It's a battle of Colorado but they done messed around and made it --

TEAM: Personal.


SCHOLES: Well, here you go, Kasie. You know, Colorado, 23-point favorites in that game. But why would you make Deion Sanders mad? I don't know.

HUNT: It's -- yeah, we've covered a lot of ground in this sports segment, Andy Scholes -- Taylor Swift, Deion Sanders getting angry.


I want to go back to the first story because -- I mean, what do you think? I was here -- I got -- I got the Orioles. I got the Eagles. These two teams are normally like -- they let me down so hard -- both of them this year. It's awesome.

SCHOLES: Hey, it's Eagles and Niners in the NFC unless the Cowboys -- you know, you can't count them out after that week one performance.



HUNT: All right, Andy. Thanks very much.

SCHOLES: All right.

HUNT: And thanks to all of you for joining us this morning and all week long. Have a wonderful weekend. I'm Kasie Hunt. "CNN THIS MORNING" starts right now.