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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Trump Furious That Nikki Haley Has Not Dropped Out After New Hampshire; Biden Tunes Up Economic Pitch Against Trump; Officials: U.S., Iraq To Discuss Future American Military Presence; Jon Stewart To Return To "The Daily Show". Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired January 25, 2024 - 05:00   ET




The wrath of dawn. The former president now threatening to blacklist donors who give to his primary opponent.

Plus --


NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bring it, Donald. Show me what you got.


HUNT: Nikki Haley not backing down. She's taunting Trump and calls -- amid calls for her to quit the race.

And this --


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wall Street didn't build America. The middle class built America and unions built the middle class.


HUNT: President Biden, in a critical swing state, trying to convince voters that the economy is better than it feels.


HUNT: Good morning to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Kasie Hunt. It's Thursday, January 25th. It is 05:00 a.m. here in Washington.

Also, 05:00 a.m. in South Carolina, where Nikki Haley is refusing to drop out, instead taunting the former president during a speech in her home state.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've continued to push her mental competency tests for anyone over the age of 75. And so, he got upset. He said that he would take one and he challenged me to one and that he would beat me. Maybe he would, maybe he wouldn't but what I said is, okay, well, if that's the case, then get on a debate stage and let's go.


HUNT: Advisers to Donald Trump tells CNN that Haley's decision not to quit the race after coming in second in the New Hampshire primary has infuriated Trumps, so much so that he is threatening anyone who helps her. He posted on Truth Social yesterday, quote: Nikki "birdbrain" Haley is very bad for the Republican Party and indeed our country. Anybody that makes a contribution to birdbrain, again, Trump's word, from this moment forth will be permanently barred from the MAGA camp.

Trump's advisors say that he wants Haley to drop out so he can turn his attention to the general election.

President Biden already running against Trump as the Republican nominee. He's going to be in Superior, Wisconsin, to tout $5 billion in infrastructure projects, including a billion to repair a key transit bridge there.

Let's bring in CNN national political reporter Daniel Strauss to talk about all of this.

Daniel, good morning to you.

Let's start with Nikki Haley. She has declined to drop out of this race and you saw -- I mean, the energy she's bringing is still very high. I mean, she doesn't feel onstage like a candidate who is down and out. But Trump is obviously very upset about this.

I also -- we noticed Senator Fetterman was up on the Hill with some an interesting quote about what was going on on the Republican side. Take a listen to what he had to say.


SEN. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): She's roadkill for -- I mean, like why are we still -- where are we covering him? You know, I don't understand that. I don't understand that any of them, you know, Ramaswamy or Phillips on our side, like it's -- it's been about Biden and Trump and it always has been. And I'm not sure why anyone they're part of that conversation.


HUNT: You know, it's straightforward way to put it, but Haley is still trying to make a go here. And I know I'm hearing regularly from sources and her camp and who are supporting her, who say she is really in here.

Do you think Donald Trumps threat is going to have an impact, a real impact in terms of her ability to stay in?

DANIEL STRAUSS, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: I mean, what's been clear since the New Hampshire primary is that Trump and his team are angry that she's decided to stay in the race and their M.O. over the next month or so until South Carolinas is essentially to crush her. They -- they -- they really, really see that Haley has no real path beyond this sort of last-ditch stand in her home state. And they're annoyed that unlike all of Trump's other rivals in this primary, she hasn't bent the knee and decided to endorse him yet.

So, for the moment, Trump and his team are clearly -- clearly think that there is no path and they are going to say and do whatever they can to intimidate and push Haley out of the race.


HUNT: I mean, Daniel, what do you think she has the stomach for in terms of the Trump attacks and threats? And what is like the long game for her? I know there are certainly people who argue -- Republicans that I talked to who don't want to see Trump be the nominee, wanted to stay in to try to rack up delegates in the event that there's some unforeseen event on the horizon, whether it's a Trump legal issue or a health issue, or whatever.

But that's going to require Nikki Haley to have the fortitude to deal with what Trump is going to throw at her. What -- how do you think that plays?

STRAUSS: I mean, it's clear that she has the stomach for a lot. She's made it this far and outlasted all of her other rivals, many of which started out in what seemed like a better position in this primary. The -- Haley is susceptible to the same thing basically, every other candidate, every other major presidential candidate is susceptible to in a primary, which is that when the money starts to dry up, that's when she's going to have to seriously consider dropping out.

But right now, she and her team said that they raised about 1 million in very short amount of time in the last few days. Right now, that doesn't seem like the case. But these things can change very quickly. And once that -- once her donors have decided to close their wallets, it'll be very hard to see a path at all, even in the most optimistic supporters' mind for Haley.

So that's when she's going to either have to decide to stay in and make her campaign very lean or pack it up and just announced that she's suspending her campaign.

HUNT: And think --

STRAUSS: I don't know if she's got endorsed Trump.

HUNT: I mean, it is interesting. She's going to have to make a calculation on that -- on that front about what her future is going to look like. I think the threats from Trump on the donor front certainly play to their fear that he's ultimately going to get elected and they're not going to have any influence with him. Daniel, let me ask you about something that's going on, let's stick

with the Republicans for a second. Out in Arizona, Donald Trump was supposed to go and attend this dinner with the Republican chairman out there, but he has been forced to step down amid the release of an audio recording that has him trying to, it seems, bribe Kari Lake who is running for Senate, not to run for Senate.

Let's listen to that recording and we'll talk about it.


JEFF DEWIT, ARIZONA GOP CHAIRMAN: Is there a number at which --


DEWIT: Not be bought.

LAKE: That's what's it about.

DEWIT: You can take a pause for a couple of years.


DEWIT: Then go right back to what you're doing.

LAKE: Mmm-mm. No.

$10 million, $20 million, $30? No, no, no. A billion No. This is not about money. This is about our country.


HUNT: Yikes. She did bring the receipts there. What is this about?

STRAUSS: Clearly, it's not about money. It's about this country, I guess.

Look, I mean, this is -- to a lot of Republicans and a lot of Republican Party leaders, it is -- Lake has been seen as a liability. And the view has been that she is as a nominee, someone who can blow a large or a welcome opening to keep a Senate or gubernatorial seat in a swing state. And I think that's what were hearing here from DeWit who seems to have real doubts about Lake's viability in a general election and wanted to push her out or keep her from running.

And if this, you know -- I mean, DeWit in his announcement basically he said that he's not -- he's stepping down for fear of another tape coming out and what it might have on it. He's not sure. So, clearly, DeWit was worried and took additional steps, really wanted Lake to not run for statewide office and was willing to imply all kinds of things to keep her from doing that.

HUNT: Yeah. I mean, just another sign of the kind of stranglehold that Donald Trump has over the Republican Party. The candidates in it, et cetera.

Daniel Strauss, thank you very much for being with us this morning. I really appreciate it.


HUNT: All right. Still ahead here, Donald Trump is guess -- you guessed it -- back in the New York courtroom today. Are we going to see him testify this time?

Plus, stunning video of a highway crash was very close call for that state trooper.


And what's the future for Iraq and U.S. troops still stationed there with tensions mounting in the region.


HUNT: Welcome back.

Defense officials from the U.S. and Iraq are set to discuss the future of the American-led military coalition in Iraq in the coming weeks. This as U.S. airstrikes targeting Iran-backed militant groups have increased and both Iraq and in Yemen recently as a wider regional instability grows in the wake of the war in Gaza. Roughly 2,500 American troops are still in Iraq and an advisory capacity following the end of combat back in 2021.

CNN's Max Foster joins us now live from London on this.

Max, good morning. It's always wonderful to see you.

So, according to the Pentagon, both countries agreed to form a military commission last summer to try and, you know, to house these talks basically.


And there's now a greater urgency to them, but -- I mean, this U.S.- led, anti-ISIS coalition, the conversation it had started a year ago before this war, I feel like would have been completely different than it is now. Right now, those troops are kind of in the middle of this tinderbox. And how does the war in Gaza affect all of this?

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, a U.S. official telling us we've been discussing this for month. The timing -- for months. The timing is not related to recent attacks. The U.S. will maintain full right of self-defense during the talk.

So they're not pulling out for now, but as you rightly point out, tensions throughout the Middle East, so certainly increase the pressure within Iraq for the U.S. forces to leave.

You know, the -- if you look at -- if you compare what America did in Afghanistan and Iraq, certainly have more success in Iraq. And there is relative stability there compared with other areas, and ISIS have been quiet, at least certainly to a greater -- a great extent. The concern I think amongst experts would be if America did pull out -- you know, the government, there is a general theme of instability that has been for a very long time in Iraqi government. If that starts going the wrong way again, the whole situation could flare up and the U.S. wouldn't have troops there.

But, you know, it's a sovereign nation. Iraq has to decide whether or not it wants U.S. troops there. And the sign of -- you know, the way these recently tax have gone down, there's clearly a surge and anti- American sentiment there.

HUNT: Max, how does Iran view the situation and the presence of troops in Iraq? And what would their reaction be were they to leave?

FOSTER: I think they'd be celebrating and that's part of the -- I'm sure going into the thinking of U.S. officials here. It'll be seen as a triumph for Iran to force U.S. forces out of Iraq, and that was strengthened them with a wider tensions between the two countries. So, in the Red Sea, for example, Houthis being supported by Iran, that will give impetus to that the Houthis was argued that whole situation is happening in reaction to what's happened in Gaza would empower Hamas.

I mean, it's so complex. All of the dynamics there, but if you do something which Iran can celebrate, it does arguably certainly strengthen their narrative in the region.

HUNT: All very interesting.

Max Foster, thank you, as always, my friend. It's great to have you. See you tomorrow.

FOSTER: Thanks, Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Still ahead, more rain and dangerous flooding, hammering the Deep South. We'll have your weather forecast.

And iconic host Jon Stewart returns to the program that made him a household name.



HUNT: Welcome back.

We've got quick hits across America now. Opening statements begin today in the trial of Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of Michigan high school shooter, Ethan Crumbley, is facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter connected to her son's murder of four students in 2021.

This one maybe hard to watch even though an Oklahoma -- Oklahoma trooper is okay after he was hit by a passing car. Trooper Jesse Gregory was talking to a driver through the passenger window in another car, slammed into the vehicle. You saw it there, sending him flying backwards. And Jon Stewart is returning to "The Daily Show". The comedian will host once a week on Mondays starting February 12th. He'll also serve as executive producer.

All right. Let's go now to weather because millions in the South remain under widespread flood threats after more than a months worth of rain drenched parts of Louisiana and Texas in just the last two days. Some areas are seeing up to ten inches of rain. Slow-moving rain storms pummeled the region on Wednesday and there could be more as the system moves east today.

Our weatherman Van Dam is tracking it all.

Derek, good morning.


You know, this is what happens when you get too much rain in such a short period of time. This is the scene out of New Orleans yesterday. I cringe every time I see these videos of people driving through flooded streets. You never know how deep it's going to get.

A National Weather Service slogan "turn around, don't drown" isn't there for no reason. It's there for a reason because that is just simply dangerous, right? You don't want to do that if you come across a flooded roadway, you want to go and find an alternative route.

Brenham, Texas, 12 inches of rain, that is significantly more rainfall than they receive in the entire month of January. And this is just in a couple of days time. So impressive rainfall totals, several locations across Eastern Texas, northwestern, and central Louisiana that received over ten inches of rain.

And guess what? There's more rain to come. In fact, we've got a band of heavier precipitation that's moving in across the border of Texas and Louisiana. Right now, we've got Beaumont, Netherland, and Port Arthur. Those are the city locations across Texas that are under a flash flood warnings.

So, this is rain on top of saturated soils, could dump another one to two inches, quickly as it moves through precipitation extended across the entire Eastern Seaboard, all the way to the mid-Atlantic, even into portions of New England.

But the flood watches generally contained to the Gulf Coast states, but they do stretch over 1,000 miles from southeast Texas, all the way to southern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia, I should say.

We have just wait after wave of moisture, that's bringing this unsettled weather conditions across the Southeast.


How much more rain? Well, we anticipate anywhere from one to three inches, especially in those mountainous terrains across the southern Appalachian. Weather Prediction Center has this slight risk of flash flooding occurring across the Deep South through the next couple of days.

But a big warming trend in store for much of the country coming forward will be 20 to 25 degrees above average across eastern seaboard by the end of the week.

There you go, some good news.

HUNT: I have whiplash. I have to say because two weeks ago, I was in Iowa and the temperatures were -- I mean, I don't know, 90 degrees colder than -- I am -- I shouldn't do math on the air her to be perfectly honest, 69 here in Washington, it was for --

VAN DAM: I can confirm 90 is correct, yes.

HUNT: Okay. Wonderful. Thank you.

Our weatherman, Derek Van Dam -- Derek. Thank you very much. I'll see you tomorrow.

VAN DAM: All right, Kasie. You too.

HUNT: All right. Coming up next here, the Republican race for the White House has turned quite nasty. Nikki Haley's not quitting, and Donald Trump is not taking seeing it well.

Plus, a Russian military plane crashed and burned. The Kremlin, pointing the finger.