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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Sources: McCarthy Will Move To Try To Kill Resolution To Oust Him; Trump To Appear For Second Day Of $250 Million Civil Fraud Trial In New York; Trump Looks To Capitalize On New York Fraud Trial. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired October 03, 2023 - 05:30   ET




REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): The Speaker of the House working at the pleasure of the Democrats.


KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: We could find out in a matter of hours. Several sources tell CNN that McCarthy is expected to make a procedural move as early as today to try to kill the Gaetz measure. That vote will be the first sign of where his support lies or doesn't.

McCarthy making a notable shift in tone yesterday. So, earlier this month, he was placating hardliners by greenlighting an impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden. But yesterday, suddenly in need of Democratic help, he said this.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I think this is about the institution. I think it's too important.


HUNT: So it all is up now to Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries who has not played his hand yet. But Jeffries' team, yesterday, did point to remarks that Jeffries made on a podcast back in January. Listen to this.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Once the House elects a speaker, the House should elect a speaker for that term. That's kind of my view of it.


HUNT: Hmm, very interesting.

And while some progressives are already saying that they will vote to oust the speaker, many rank-and-file members are holding their fire.


HUNT: Would you be willing to help Kevin McCarthy keep the speaker's gavel?

REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA): This is totally up to our leadership. I suspect right now that Hakeem Jeffries and the other leaders are negotiating with him. If the Democrats save McCarthy then we will have to have a rearrangement of the power structure within the Congress.


HUNT: All right. Let's bring in Jackie Kucinich, CNN political analyst and the Washington bureau chief of The Boston Globe. Jackie, good morning. Never a dull moment on our --


HUNT: -- both of our former everyday beat. This is -- we've not seen anything like this play out in modern times.

But let's talk about where the Democrats are right now. I thought it was so interesting that they pointed to that Hakeem Jeffries comment that said oh, a speaker gets elected for a term. It's a very suggestion that Jeffries is potentially looking to find a way to keep Kevin McCarthy hanging on to that gavel.

What are the calculations behind the scenes?

KUCINICH: Well, I think it's a good -- it's one thing to find a way. It's what you get for it, I think, that is really the open question because it doesn't seem like Democrats are just going to capitulate without getting something in return.

You heard Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez say that on Sunday. You also heard Nancy Pelosi say they're going to follow the leader and really walk in lockstep with whatever Hakeem Jeffries decides that they should do. There is a meeting today. I bet we'll know more after that later this morning.

But you're right, Kasie. I don't think anyone wants to see this chaos. On the other hand, the other argument among Democrats is why would they reward some of the other things that McCarthy has done like, I don't know, impeach the president?

HUNT: Right. Well, I mean, and that -- I keep coming back to that decision because for people who have been paying close attention, obviously, we're doing this day to day. But I think in the big picture, a couple of weeks ago Kevin McCarthy was trying to placate these hardliners. He was trying to avoid this situation.

And one of the things --

KUCINICH: Yeah. HUNT: -- in the context of being that version of Kevin McCarthy was greenlight this impeachment inquiry over the objections of moderates inside his party to try to get these hardliners in line. Obviously, it did not work. We are here and that impeachment inquiry is open, but the effect was that he made Democrats angry.

And now, there are certainly progressives -- I mean, Gaetz has been approaching -- he's been open and progressives have been open --


HUNT: -- about the fact that Gaetz has approached them and said hey, like, help me -- help me dethrone Kevin McCarthy, essentially.

Where are progressives going to come down on this do you think? I mean, are they going to follow the leader or are they -- I mean, there's like 100 or so members in the progressive caucus.

KUCINICH: I think it's an open question.

And it's not only launching the impeachment inquiry, Kasie, a few weeks ago. Just on Sunday, you heard Democrats not be too happy with Kevin McCarthy going on a Sunday show and blaming the Democrats for almost shutting down the government when it's obvious that it's the unrest in his party that got the Congress to the brink.

So even -- he hasn't really been cultivating that side of the aisle at all and he's saying that he hasn't even reached out -- or Matt Gaetz, as you rightly point out, has been reaching out quite a bit to progressive Democrats.

But again, I can -- I can point again to what Congresswoman Ocasio- Cortez said -- that her vote isn't for free. That --

HUNT: Yeah.

KUCINICH: -- they're not going to just say that OK, whatever you say. Sure, we'll keep you in power for the good of the institution as McCarthy decided to pull out yesterday.

HUNT: Right. I mean, look, what's -- it's such a cliche. Politics ain't beanbag, right, and they're not going to --

KUCINICH: Right, right.

HUNT: -- give them something for free.


Down on -- down to, like, brass tacks of this, right, what are the options? Like, what are the things that Democrats could demand in return for having a handful of them assist Kevin McCarthy in surviving this vote? I mean, I've heard things along the lines of -- we use the phrase "rules committee." You and I understand that. But for people who don't --


HUNT: -- cover Congress every day, that means who controls the House floor and how. It sounds like there's some changes potentially in the works there. I mean, what is on the table?

KUCINICH: You mentioned the Rules Committee. That is where kind of it sets -- it sets the rules that the House is governed by, which I know sounds very jargony but it does matter because it's how things get done --

HUNT: It's power.

KUCINICH: -- when the C-SPAN -- yes, it's power. And it's when the C- SPAN cameras light up. That's how you -- that's what sort of starts it out. Let's go.

The other thing is reordering how many people are on other committees. How much power Democrats would have on committees are two of the things that I've heard about. But again, if Kevin McCarthy did that he would have this kind of ruling caucus, and we haven't seen that for quite some time.

And it probably would set him up for another one of these. Just because Gaetz is filing it now doesn't mean even someone like Chip Roy who is not on board with this particular gamut. But he said that if Ukraine funding is back on the table, on Sean Hannity's podcast, then the gloves are off.

So, McCarthy -- even if he survives this one he isn't out of the woods because only one member -- oh, that's the other thing. They could change the motion to vacate.

HUNT: Right.

KUCINICH: They could make it harder for the motion to vacate to be enacted. That said, this -- but, you know, this also would open up McCarthy, if he doesn't do that, to other members doing this. So he's not out of the woods even if he survives this.

HUNT: Right, no. It's really -- all the -- everything has come home to roost for the -- for Republicans and McCarthy.


HUNT: Boehner said I'm out. Paul Ryan said I'm out. Kevin McCarthy has to deal with what's left.

Jackie Kucinich, thank you very much for being here this morning. I really appreciate it.

KUCINICH: Thanks, Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Up next, Donald Trump expected back inside a New York courtroom at 10:00 a.m. this morning. This is going to be the second day of his civil fraud trial. He's accused of inflating the value of his assets by billions of dollars to banks and insurers. On Monday, his former longtime accountant Donald Bender testified that financial statements would not have been submitted if the numbers weren't verified by the Trump Organization.

Let's bring in former Manhattan prosecutor, Jeremy Saland. Jeremy, thank you so much for being here.

Trump's appearance -- it was absolutely voluntary, right? He did not need to be there. This was an otherwise serious day but it became a Trump-focused spectacle. And in a press conference with reporters, Trump berated the judge and the attorney general, and that was before he even sat down.

We do have these images now, though. He complained about being there even though he didn't have to be there. This was clearly meant to be part of his political campaign.

I think my question for you is what bearing it has on the legal proceedings at hand?

JEREMY SALAND, FORMER MANHATTAN PROSECUTOR (via Webex by Cisco): Well, running your mouth, if that's what you want to call it -- and I say that not in the courtroom by an attorney who is maybe taking some liberties and telling a story and telling a narrative -- is quite different. And Donald Trump is, as people have routinely said, his worst enemy.

But also, at the same time, we hope and believe that a jurist -- the court is not going to say you know what? I heard what happened outside the court -- therefore, I'm going to hold it against Donald Trump.

But it's a bad move, bad form, and it's just basically another effort on his part to campaign.

HUNT: Yeah. I mean, it's -- I mean, as a political reporter, I found it rather stunning. He gets off the plane from Iowa, lands in New York, goes and does this. He is, in theory, heading towards a general election where he'd have to appeal to Independent voters. I'm not sure these courtroom pictures really help that.

But you're obviously the lawyer. The one thing here that is on the line for Trump is his businesses. Whether or not he can continue to do -- have these iconic businesses continue to operate in New York. And some of my sources have said that's part of why we saw him do what he did yesterday.

I mean, what is the fundamental risk to the Trump brand -- to the Trump business empire here?

SALAND: Well, it's significant. And I said to one of your colleagues the other day -- or yesterday -- or in the past, he's a desperate man and it's a desperate circumstance. And I think to a certain extent, he's reacting to that, though Trump doesn't necessarily play any rules. That said, the law is going to apply to him no matter who he is. So there is a chance that, as we've learned and heard, setting aside

$250 million in fines, his ability to practice in the state of New York and have his business go and thrive and access banks in the state of New York and just conduct business in the state of New York is going to be potentially just cut off. And it's not just for him. It's for Don Jr. It's for Eric. So there's real significant exposure for the former president.


HUNT: Yeah.

So while I have you, I also have to ask you about our other legal matter unfolding today, which is that Hunter Biden -- obviously, the son of the sitting president, Joe Biden -- is set to be arraigned on federal gun charges. It's the first time that the child of a sitting U.S. president has been charged like this.

What's the significance of what we're going to see today? Obviously, the previous plea deal collapsed.

SALAND: Well, I think it's going to be -- I use the term boring. It's not going to be the Trump spectacle. I don't expect Hunter Biden is going to rant and rave outside the courtroom.

It's going to be an arraignment. It's going to be pleading not guilty and then the case is going to be adjourned. I don't think it's going to be that exciting.

We've already learned from his attorney some of the issues that he's going to raise, and I think some of them are very fair. There's questions about whether some of the prior agreement is still in place. There's questions about who gets charged with this crime from five years ago. And the statute is actually challenged constitutionally.

So this is not all going to play out now. It's going to be fairly mundane and I'll use the term again, boring. Just pleading not guilty -- let's move this process along. But I expect over time, as it heads towards a potential trial, there's going to be a lot more interesting fireworks.

HUNT: Yeah. Well, I mean -- and we should note that Hunter Biden's lawyers tried to ask the judge if he could do this remotely and not have to show up in the courtroom, and the judge said no -- no special treatment. You've got to be here.

Jeremy Saland, thank you very much for being here this morning. I really appreciate your time.

SALAND: My pleasure.

HUNT: Up next, Gavin Newsom's choice for the late Dianne Feinstein's Senate seat. What it could mean for next year's election.



HUNT: Welcome back.

Later on this morning, Donald Trump expected back in the courtroom in New York City. Officially, it's day two of his civil fraud trial. He is being sued by New York Attorney General Letitia James for inflating the value of his properties.

But really, this just seems like him taking his presidential campaign to the courtroom. And he was pretty explicit when he spoke to reporters yesterday.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This has to do with election interference, plain and simple. They're trying to damage me so that I don't do as well as I'm doing in the election.


HUNT: The Trump campaign apparently making the calculation that being on trial represents an opportunity to motivate voters and that it's not something to be ashamed of.

Don't forget this is a civil trial. He faces four criminal indictments and that's a reality that seem to have absolutely no bearing on his standing in primary polls. His campaign even sending out this fundraising email, selling mugs with his mugshot on them.

All right. Joining us now to talk about all of this is Arit John, CNN national political reporter. Arit, good morning. It's always wonderful to see you.

Obviously, Trump's casting this -- he called it election interference. He's casting it in kind of the broader themes where he talks about the stolen election. And obviously, he puts all of the other cases against him into this same bucket.

It is a sort of grievance politics that does seem to resonate with his base in the Republican Party. But if, in fact, he actually does win the nomination he's going to have to face a general election, and that means Independent voters.

What was the risk in letting these pictures of him sitting in court be taken?

ARIT JOHN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: It's interesting. There's sort of this GOP primary general election divide. As he's going through this primary he's told voters from the beginning that these legal -- that his legal troubles are a result of the political establishment trying to silence him. And by silencing him they're also silencing the Trump -- the rest of the Trump supporters.

And we've seen Republican -- or anti-Trump groups that do all these focus groups. They say that they're hearing that -- that Republican voters feel like they are under attack. And they also feel like if they're doing all of this to Trump then it's because he's the strongest person to challenge Joe Biden in the general election.

But then you get to the general election and like you said, this isn't going to play the same way. This is a former president who is facing multiple civil and criminal cases and it's -- this is going to be something that voters are really going to have to think about if he becomes the nominee as all the polls seem to suggest.

HUNT: How much of this, Arit, do you think was personal for the former president? I know we've been reporting here that did have a lot to do with it. This is, of course, about his personal brand. I mean, Trump Tower is on the line.

JOHN: Yeah. I mean, even before he ran for president, Trump was known as a businessman in pop culture. He would have these movie appearances, TV appearances, and he was known as this very successful businessman.

And then he runs for president and now you have someone who we would say is one of his Democratic foes saying that no, actually, Trump is not the successful businessman. That he's a fraud. That he's a liar. That he's inflated his wealth. And everything that he sort of portrayed himself as going back decades has all been based on, like, misinformation and lies.

So I think that's very personal when it goes to -- because it -- because it speaks to everything that he's told voters and told Americans that he's been for decades.

HUNT: Yeah.

So let's check in on Trump's rivals for the Republican nomination for a second. He has been very dismissive of them. And the reality is polls show they've all kind of struggled to break out. But here in kind of the late hour, as we're now within the window to start, voters are going to be voting here in just a couple of months now in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor, has long been considered the chief likely rival to Donald Trump. He did not perform as well as expected. And in this hour of the campaign he has now started attacking Donald Trump. He has made these attacks a little bit sharper in recent days. Take a look at what he had to say.



GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I understand that one of my residents was here earlier saying that he turned Florida red. All I will say is Ronald Reagan made the point there's no limit to what you can do when you don't care who gets the credit. I just wish if he was the one that turned Florida red that he wouldn't have turned Georgia and Arizona blue because that's not been good for us.

We need somebody that can serve two terms. We need somebody that can win states like Georgia and Arizona, which President Trump cannot do or did not do. With all due respect to Donald Trump, we're not going to beat the Democrats by adopting Joe Biden's basement strategy.


HUNT: I mean, Arit, I just keep going back and wondering what if he had done this right after he announced his presidential campaign. Come out of the gate and making that electability argument, saying to people he's not going to win -- he's not going to become president. I might be able to win.

I feel like we might be in a totally different place. It's still interesting that DeSantis is doing this now though.

JOHN: Yeah. I mean, at this point, it's down to the wire -- if not now, when? And I think you're exactly right that electability is -- that's the argument because you look at the policies and all of these other Republican candidates are running more or less on similar platforms. And a lot of them were either endorsed by Trump in the past or supported him, or a part of his cabinet, a part of his administration.

So how do you sort of tell voters hey, we all supported Trump in 2016 and 2020, and now he's still running? You can still vote for him. And a lot of these voters think that Trump can beat Biden in a general election. So how do you tell them hey, maybe you should think about someone else? Maybe you should look at me.

And I think that this idea of trying to attack Trump on electability is also a lot safer than attacking him on the legal cases, on his --

HUNT: Right.

JOHN: -- personality and his persona. But it's not clear at this point if this is -- if it's too little too late.

HUNT: Yeah, I think -- well, we'll see. That question's about to answer itself. But certainly, there are a lot of armchair donors, for example, who think that may be the case.

Arit John, thanks very much for being here this morning. I really appreciate your time.

JOHN: Thanks for having me.

HUNT: Up next, a congressman attacked in an armed carjacking in Washington, D.C.



HUNT: Welcome back.

The New York Giants laid another egg in primetime. Sorry, Bruce -- producer in there. I apologize. This time, it was against the Seahawks.

Coy Wire has this morning's Bleacher Report. Coy, good morning.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Good morning. I didn't know Seahawks eat eggs. I mean, they just gobbled the Giants and everything they put out there on that field.

The Giants -- they are without injured star Saquon Barkley. They just their quarterback Daniel Jones a $160 million contract but they can't protect him. He's one in 12 all-time in the primetime.

Seattle's defense sacked Jones 11 times -- and this after he was sacked seven times in the opener against the Cowboys.

Seattle's rookie quarterback Devon Witherspoon -- Devon Witherspoon -- he had two of those sacks and snagged his first career interception, Kasie -- 97 yards to the house.

Coach Brian Daboll went over the Jones afterwards and was like what happened, dude? Then he throws the tablet down.

Seattle wins 24-3 in a blowout.

Thankfully, on the "MANNINGCAST," Will Ferrell livened things up by teaching Eli how to perform one of his famous lines from "Wedding Crashers."


WILL FERRELL, COMEDY ACTOR: There's some rage behind it, yeah.

REFEREE: Holding.

FERRELL: This guy had some rage that was more like Mom! Meatloaf. Mom! Meatloaf. But a little more -- a little more brow. Mom! Meatloaf.


FERRELL: Why did you drag it out -- mom? Why did you drag it out like that? Just bark it.

MANNING: It's like a southern drawl thing. It's a southern drawl, you know.

FERRELL: Mom! Meatloaf.


WIRE: And there we go. Mom! Meatloaf. How'd I do, Kasie?

HUNT: You did pretty good. I don't know. We've got to get Will Ferrell on here, right?

WIRE: Yes.

Let's go to baseball now. After a six-month, 162-game marathon, baseball's postseason is here. Wildcard round starts today with eight teams playing in four best-of-three series. The Atlanta Braves, led by likely league MVP Ronald Acuna, are favorites to win it all with perhaps the best offense in baseball history.

Meanwhile, Kacie's Baltimore Orioles have the second-best odds in the American League, finishing with 100-plus wins for the first time since 1980.

Moving to the NBA season, which tips off in three weeks' time, in a media day yesterday, Lakers star LeBron James gave an encouraging update on his son, Bronny, who had surgery after cardiac arrest during practice this summer ahead of his freshman year at USC.


LEBRON JAMES, LOS ANGELES LAKERS FORWARD: Bronny is doing extremely well. He has began his rehab process to get back on the floor this season with his teammates and USC and the successful surgery that he had. But he's on the up-and-up.

And obviously, I'm going to dedicate this -- you know, this (INAUDIBLE) because I tell Bronny because of the incident that happened this summer and understanding that, it just puts everything in perspective. And no matter what's going on in your life at that point in time that the only thing that matters is your family.



WIRE: Now, Jimmy Butler was in touch with his emotions, too, showing up to the Heat's media day in what he called his emo look, wearing all black. And check this out, Kasie. Hair pressed, eye black, lip and eyebrow piercing. And his teammate Bam Adebayo could not keep it together during the photo shoot.

And this is great because this is last year. He showed up this way last year. So you've got to love having a teammate like that in Jimmy Butler.

HUNT: That is something else.

All right, Coy, thank you very much.

WIRE: Thanks.

HUNT: Let's go, O's.

And thank you all for joining us. I'm Kasie Hunt. Don't go anywhere. "CNN THIS MORNING" starts right now.