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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

What Will Dems Do Amid Right-Wing Revolt Against McCarthy?; Today: Donald Trump To Appear At Civil Fraud Trial In New York; Haley Posts Pictures Of Birdcage Left Outside Hotel Room. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired October 02, 2023 - 05:30   ET





REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): If somebody wants to make a motion against me, bring it. There has to be an adult in the room. I am going to govern with what is best for this country.


KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Wow, Kevin McCarthy right there. Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, of course, might bring it in his way just hours from now.

Good morning. Thank you for being up early with us. I am Kasie Hunt. It's 5:31 here in Washington where the big question this morning is if and when Florida Republican Matt Gaetz is going to bring that motion to try to ultimately oust Speaker McCarthy. The question is what will Democrats do then? Watch.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Next week, if Kevin McCarthy is still the Speaker of the House, he will be serving at the pleasure of the Democrats. He will be working for the Democrats. The only way Kevin McCarthy is Speaker of the House at the end of this coming week is if Democrats bail him out. Now, they probably will.


HUNT: And a senior Democratic source tells CNN that most members of the Democratic Caucus are skeptical about saving McCarthy given that they believe he has shown little interest in working with them and he greenlighted an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": But would you vote to vacate? Would you vote to get rid of McCarthy as speaker?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Would I cast that vote? Absolutely, absolutely. I think Kevin McCarthy is a very weak speaker. He clearly has lost control of his caucus.


HUNT: All right, let's bring in John Bresnahan, co-founder of Punchbowl News. John, good morning. It's wonderful to have you.

I was expecting -- fully expecting you to be here to talk about the government shutdown this morning. Obviously, that's not what happened.

And, I mean, honestly, I haven't seen that version of Kevin McCarthy that we played at the top in quite a little while. He clearly decided to say to Gaetz, like, OK, fine -- OK, fine. I dare you.

What happens next?

JOHN BRESNAHAN, CO-FOUNDER, PUNCHBOWL NEWS (via Skype): Yeah. Well, going into Friday night -- up until Friday night we thought there would be a shutdown and it started to change.

So, look, he -- you know, McCarthy had been for the last four months -- in particular, he'd been really kowtowing to the hard right of his conference -- the House Freedom Caucus. He pushed all these spending cuts. He opened up an impeachment inquiry, as you said, against Joe Biden. So it looked like he was going in a certain direction and now he changed his direction all of a sudden, kept the government open.

And now Gaetz is going to offer this procedural motion to try to get rid of McCarthy. So what happens next is when Gaetz offers it -- once Gaetz offers what's called a motion to vacate, there's two days. There's two legislative days until that vote can happen.

Now, there's a couple of ways this can go. There are some procedural motions that could happen that could occur before this particular vote. There's ways to kill this if members want it. If a majority of members want it there's a way to kill this without actually voting on whether to get rid of McCarthy. There's some procedural steps that can be taken. And as you noted, it may be up to Democrats whether or not they're going to do that, though.

HUNT: Right -- no. And -- I mean, I think you're right to kind of cast it in these -- in these terms as we're trying to help people understand this -- the procedural things.


HUNT: Basically, what it would do is prevent there from being this kind of make-or-break moment where Democrats would potentially have to go on the record voting for a Republican speaker, which for many of them would be politically untenable.

But let's talk about kind of the dynamics inside the Democratic Caucus --


BRESNAHAN: Right. HUNT: -- because there are some decisions --


HUNT: -- to be made here. And Matt Gaetz --


HUNT: -- has been openly courting progressive Democrats, in particular, I think because he realizes that saving McCarthy is very politically untenable for the progressives. The establishment -- Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark, the leadership -- even Nancy Pelosi has weighed in a little bit around this -- are kind of saying hey, let's hold your fire. Maybe there's something else that we should do here.

What's going on with that? What is the Democratic leadership doing? And how do you think this ultimately plays out with them?

BRESNAHAN: Yeah. As you noted, Katherine Clark sent a letter yesterday to her fellow Democrats saying hold on, everybody. Don't make any decisions yet. We have to come to a -- you know, a decision as a caucus.

Jeffries actually has a pretty decent relationship with McCarthy. They've actually gotten along a lot better than McCarthy did with Pelosi. Pelosi treated McCarthy like a dog, to be quite honest. She didn't really -- she didn't really --

HUNT: She did.

BRESNAHAN: She didn't really talk to him too much. She kind of did. It was bad.

Jeffries and McCarthy actually get along pretty well. They're similar age. They came up through their respective party. They served in the state first before they got here. So they have some good relationship. They have kids. So they actually get along.

Now, the question is Jeffries is upset about the inquiry -- the impeachment inquiry. All Democrats are. They think it's unfair. They think there's nothing there on Biden.

The second part is Democrats were really upset this weekend about how McCarthy actually handled this vote to keep the government open. Once he changed his direction, he just slapped this bill down and said we've got to vote because he was scared what would happen with his own guys.

And Democrats were like hold on a second. We need to look at this. And there was no Ukraine money on it, which is a big deal, so they are pretty pissed about that. We have some coverage on that in Punchbowl News this morning.

So, listen, they'll look at this. There is probably some Democratic support for McCarthy in here -- some centrists and some moderate guys. The question is here as much as it is about Democrats, is how many

votes does Gaetz actually have? Does he have six people? Does he have eight people? Does he have 10 on the Republican side to get rid of McCarthy? Once you know how many votes Gaetz has on the Republican side you can decide how you respond on the Democratic side.

Is it 20 votes? That would be a big deal. If it's six, eight, 10, which is kind of where I really feel like where it is -- six, eight, 10 Republicans who really want to dump McCarthy -- then that's a big step but it's not 20. It's not this huge crossover that they have to have from Democrats to prop up McCarthy.

HUNT: Basically, if that number is low -- if the number of votes that Gaetz has is low, that means that the number of Democrats that would have to step in to help McCarthy would also be low, and that's easier than if it's big.

All right. John Bresnahan --

BRESNAHAN: It's -- there's another thing.

HUNT: Yeah.

BRESNAHAN: They don't actually have to vote for McCarthy, they just don't have to vote against him.

HUNT: Right. They show up. They say -- but then they say that actually I'm not here.


HUNT: Yes. It's -- they vote present.

All right. John Bresnahan, thank you very much. I hope you'll come back. You're the perfect person to help us understand all this stuff in the early morning. I really appreciate it.

And Donald Trump set to appear at his civil fraud trial in New York at 10:00 a.m. this morning. He arrived at Trump Tower in Manhattan on Sunday night after stumping in Iowa ahead, of course, of the January caucuses there.

New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing for $250 million in damages. She's seeking to hold Trump and his two eldest sons accountable for allegedly conspiring and falsifying financial statements and engaging in insurance fraud for years.

Let's bring in CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson. Joey, good morning.

We're obviously using the careful language of saying he allegedly did this. I think it's important to note the judge has actually already unilaterally declared that fraud was, in fact, committed and has stripped these businesses of their licenses.

But it's pretty -- I mean, look, this is a blatantly political move for Trump to go to this case in person on this particular day. Can you explain to us was he required to be there, how much of it was a choice, and what does it say that he's doing it?


So this, of course, is a civil trial, and a distinction between a civil trial and a criminal trial is this trial relates strictly to money, right? It relates to money and properties. It does not implicate criminality.

And so, to your question, to the extent that it is civil and not criminal -- no, he is not required to be here. But I think the political calculus is that listen, everyone's out to get me. I've been indicted twice, right, by state officials -- one in Georgia and one in New York. I've been indicted twice federally. Now they're taking my business. And so, no.

And then, to be clear, right -- very briefly, what happens in a civil trial is that you have two portions. One is liability; one is damages. As you correctly stated Kasie, the judge essentially found in a pretrial ruling that there is nothing to argue about as it relates to fraud. That has occurred.


Now we move to the issue of damages. That is, what are the consequences with respect to the fraud that the judge has declared that he's engaged in? That, I think, is what we'll be learning a lot about in terms of the penalties moving forward.

HUNT: Yeah. So can you explain to us what we're going to see in court today?

JACKSON: So what will happen is it won't only be today, it should be over the course of a period of time. We don't know what that period of time is. But there's three things that we're going to be looking for.

One is, really, solidifying what does the judge's ruling actually mean, OK? The judge said that there was a commission of fraud. The judge using very harsh language, talking about the absurdity of this and really going after the Trump attorneys, indicating and sanctioning them $7,500 apiece, indicating that just the arguments they made were without merit.

So in terms of what we look for. Number one, a receiver. Will there be a receiver? That is an independent party that is appointed to oversee the dissolution of these businesses. Why would there be a dissolution of the businesses?

Why would there need to be a receiver? Because it goes to the issue of number two, penalty. Will there be what's called legally, Kasie, a disgorgement (audio gap) you have to pay that back? And, if so, what should be the amount? The New York State attorney general seeking $250 million.

And then finally, to the other point you made in terms of the licenses, will those licenses actually be canceled?

So over the course of today and (audio gap) those are three real major things that we'll be looking to see if they occur.

HUNT: All right. Joey Jackson, thank you as always for being here. I really appreciate your perspective.

JACKSON: All right.

HUNT: All right. Former President Trump standing in an Iowa field. What he is telling farmers.

Plus, the Supreme Court justices beginning their new term today. Details on the cases that they're facing ahead.



HUNT: Now to quick hits across the campaign trail.

Former President Trump stumping in Iowa, signing a combine harvester on a farm. Take a look.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you think Biden can do that? I don't know.


TRUMP: I don't know. I don't know.



Trump steered clear of weighing in on Matt Gaetz's threat to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you support Matt Gaetz's efforts to remove McCarthy as speaker?

TRUMP: I don't know anything about those efforts, but I like both of them very much -- yeah.


HUNT: But Trump did say Republicans could have negotiated a, quote, "much better deal" on that short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown.

Also on the presidential trail, Republican hopeful and Trump rival Nikki Haley posted pictures. This is a birdcage and canary food, and this was left for her outside her hotel room in Iowa. The label that was attached was a little card that said it was from the Trump campaign. Trump, of course -- this was very recent but in recent days, he has started calling Haley birdbrain.

Haley posted on X about this. She called it, quote, "Pretty pathetic to try again and you just made my case for me."

When asked if the Trump campaign was responsible, a campaign spokesperson neither confirmed nor denied it, responding only with emojis of a bird and a brain.

Well, that pretty much sums up the state of our politics here in 2023. And, of course, no real reason to expect this rhetoric to change as Trump was in Iowa on Sunday going after some of his favorite targets.


TRUMP: We're here today to talk about how we're going to rescue the great state of Iowa from the misery inflicted by "Crooked" Joe Biden and his ultra-left-wing globalists in the Washington swamp.


HUNT: OK, we had a lot there. Let's bring in somebody who is out on the campaign trail. She's seeing it all up close and personal -- CNN's Alayna Treene. She joins us from Oskaloosa, Iowa. Alayna, your backdrop looks very familiar to me having previously spent many a night and getting up very early in the morning to report on stuff across Iowa.

Let's start with what you saw there this weekend. Obviously, those were classic Trump scenes -- signing a combine -- although I actually don't remember ever having covered him on a farm. He didn't really do that as often and certainly, in the 2016 campaign.

What are you seeing from them? Why is he spending so much time in Iowa?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER (via Webex by Cisco): Right. Well, I also just -- you noted that sound of Donald Trump attacking Joe Biden. He spent a lot of that speech yesterday in Iowa going after Ron DeSantis, as well, and calling a sworn enemy of the American farmer. So it's very clear that he's still a little bit concerned about DeSantis, particularly here in Iowa.

But listen, Donald Trump has pretty -- so far, not spent a lot of time here in this state. He hasn't been coming to Iowa as much as many of his Republican challengers but that is starting to change. He had that event yesterday in Ottumwa. He's going to be back in Iowa next Saturday in Cedar Rapids. And I'm also told he's going to be in Iowa again, at least at one point later this October.

And so, I think it's really clear what the campaign is trying to do. They tell me that look, even though he's polling very well and he's leading all of his challengers in the GOP polls --

HUNT: Yeah.

TREENE: -- they still recognize that they can't take their foot off the gas. They tell me that look, he's doing very well but we can't get complacent. We want to really win big in these early states -- in Iowa, but also New Hampshire and South Carolina. And they think that winning big in the primaries can help carry that momentum into the general.

HUNT: Right.

TREENE: And so, you're going to be seeing a lot of Donald Trump here and really pushing these voters to stay energized and come out and vote for him on January 15.

HUNT: Well, and the reality, too, Alayna, is that -- and it's clear from your reporting and from conversations I'm having too. Like, if there's going to be a narrative change it's going to happen in one of these early states, right? Like, if Ron DeSantis has a bigger --


HUNT: -- showing or Nikki Haley, or somebody like that, that could potentially actually change the game for him.


But, Alayna, I was -- I was also struck by the fact that you were sending emails last night with your reporting on what he is doing today and it is not heading out on the campaign trail. He's going to a courtroom. I almost wanted to say, like, he's going to go campaign in a courtroom in New York because that's really how they're treating this, right? This is like --

TREENE: It is.

HUNT: -- a moment to try to point to and say, like, look what they're doing to me to try to energize his base, right? I mean, that's what this is about at the end of the day, no?

TREENE: Oh, very much. I mean, they want this to be -- have cameras in the hallways getting the shots of Donald Trump. And, of course, you've seen with his past four indictments, and any time he's appeared in court he's seen a boost in fundraising. He's seen a boost in the polls. And that's really what they're doing.

Donald Trump is expected to show up in that lower court -- or in the lower court in Manhattan but he's not going to have a speaking role. He's not expected to stand up and talk. He's really just going there for appearances today.

And it is interesting I think. You know, we started to learn a little bit about this over the weekend that he would be showing up. I know Secret Service and law enforcement were making plans. He's going to be staying in Trump Tower.

But again, this is, of course, a media play for his campaign. As much as Donald Trump is angered and frustrated by the series of charges and legal battles that he's facing, his team also recognizes the political benefits of it. And I think that's why you're seeing so -- the campaign really play this up a lot and focus on it even though, of course -- again, typically, when you have a president who has to appear in court for a series of trials and indictments they would shy away from that. His team is not. They're running toward it.

HUNT: Yeah. Well, and this is -- I mean, it's a classic situation with Donald Trump. And we've -- the laws of gravity don't seem to apply, at least not inside the Republican Party. Whether this strategy turns out to be the right one if, in fact, he turns his frontrunner status into nominee status and suddenly it's Independent voters that he needs, I feel like they're going to have to be looking at it a little bit differently.

But Alayna Treene, thank you very much for being up. I know it's very extra early in Iowa there and I really appreciate it. See you soon, I hope.

TREENE: It's my pleasure. Thank you, Kasie.

HUNT: All right.

Ahead here, the family of a missing 9-year-old girl is pleading for help. Details on the search for Charlotte Sena coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING."



HUNT: Welcome back. We've got sports now. So, naturally, we're talking about Taylor Swift. She made an appearance at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey last night. It turns out there also was a football game.

Coy Wire has this morning's Bleacher Report. All right, Coy, I'm sitting here counting the Taylor Swift song title references.


HUNT: I think you're about to read 17 of them, so go, my friend.

WIRE: I think that sounds about right.

Is this a love story? Nothing's confirmed, Kasie. Travis Kelce might be the man but maybe he's just dating Taylor in his wildest dreams.

Taylor arriving with gorgeous people with style, like Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively. Some fans and Swifties enchanted as Kansas City took on New York.

It was a cruel summer for the Jets having to fill a blank space after star quarterback Aaron Rodgers got injured in week one and couldn't shake it off. Jets fans knew all too well this big moment would probably get a bit ugly. Were the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs ready for it? They looked fearless, thumping the Jets 17-0 after the first quarter as if there was bad blood between these teams. But then the Jets' defense played anti-hero. Chiefs star quarterback Mahomes thinking I knew you were trouble. They scored two points on a safety and intercepted Mahomes twice in the second quarter.

And then Jets second-year quarterback Zach Wilson said this moment is mine, showing his doubters you need to calm down, leading two touchdown drives tying the game at 20.

But after a Harrison Butker field goal put Kansas City up three, Mahomes magic. You best believe he's still bejeweled -- scrambling, shining, looking for daylight into the endzone. No -- he slides this one and says don't blame me, Fantasy Football owners. I'm running out the clock and putting a bow on this 23-20 win.

HUNT: (Clapping).

WIRE: All right, speaking of Fantasy Football -- thank you, thank you. A ceiling (PH) clap for (INAUDIBLE).

Speaking of Fantasy Football, Kasie, Christian McCaffrey may have nearly single-handedly beaten your entire team, scoring a career-high four touchdowns for the 49ers. He ran for three against the Cardinals and caught one. And this one sent social media blazing, hurdling the defender before taking it in for the score.

Niners win 35-16 and they're a perfect 4-0 to start the season for just the fifth time in franchise history.

Chargers pass rusher Khalil Mack ran through the Raiders like a Mack truck, racking up six sacks in a revenge game against his former team. He had zero coming into this one. He's now tied for the most in the league. He also just missed the NFL record of seven set by Chiefs legend Derrick Thomas in 1990.

L.A. beat the Raiders 24-17.

The WNBA Finals are set after the New York Liberty pulled out an 87-84 game-four win over Connecticut. They advance to the finals for the first time in 21 years. Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones, and Betnijah Laney each dropping 20-plus points.

They will face the fearsome force that are the biggest Aces who swept the wings to advance for a chance to repeat as champs. Game one, Sunday.

Finally, Simone Biles making more history at the World Gymnastics Championships in Belgium. She did this, becoming the first woman to land the Yurchenko double pike vault during an international competition. So by rule, the move will be named after her in women's competitions. There will be five moves now named after Biles in vault, floor, and balance beam.

[06:00:00] Get -- I get dizzy just looking at that, Kasie. Incredible, superhuman.

HUNT: That is just astonishing. I mean, I -- you know, she is amazing. She's just absolutely amazing. And always, life and sport. I want to watch that over and over again.

WIRE: Yeah, absolutely.

HUNT: Coy Wire, thank you very much. You've been a good sport this morning.

WIRE: Thank you.

HUNT: I really appreciate it.

All right, thank you all for being up here with us. I am Kasie Hunt. Don't go anywhere. "CNN THIS MORNING" starts right now.