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Inside Politics

Now: Jury Deliberating In E. Jean Carroll Trial Against Trump; Enforcement Operation Targeting Migrants In El Paso Underway; New Liz Cheney Ad: Trump "A Risk America Can Never Take Again"; Putin Gives Defiant Speech During Scaled-Back Victory Day; CNN: Notes Provide Insight From Defense Table During Proud Boys Seditious Conspiracy Trial; Biden Calls For "Fair Deal" For Striking WGA Writers. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 09, 2023 - 12:30   ET



JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So the defense certainly saying that, listen, there's nothing to see here. This is all made up. There's no evidence to be shown. But the other narrative as it relates to Ms. Carroll is pretty compelling as well.

JOHN KING, HOST: And to Ms. Carroll's legal strategy -- Roberta Kaplan is her attorney -- number one, she said you'd have to disbelieve 11 different people to side with Donald Trump in this case, trying to make the case that the preponderance of the evidence is that he is someone, as you said, whose M.O. is this type of behavior.

Then Roberta Kaplan went on to say, "For E. Jean Carroll, this lawsuit is not about the money. It's about getting her good name back. I'm not going to stand here and tell you how much you should award E. Jean Carroll in damages."

A plaintiff can ask for a specific amount there. But Mr. Tacopina has said that this is her attempt for fame, for greed, for money. How smart is it, do you think, for Carroll's team to say, that's not what this is about? If you find Trump liable, you decide that we're not going to try to guide you?

JACKSON: Yes, I think it's very effective in as much as if you make a monetary claim and a dollar value that you put to it, then it feeds into the defense's narrative that this is about to sell books. This is about the hatred of Donald Trump. This is about distractions and other than the facts.

And so when you just let the jury know, listen, there were 11 witnesses here, including two experts. One of those experts speaking to how a person would behave, a psychologist if they were indeed the subject of this type of behavior. And another one, of course, speaking about the marketing issues with respect to numerical figures and how many people saw this up million, et cetera, these lies.

And so I think it's an effective strategy. The one person, or I should say the nine people who are going to get to decide that obviously right now, are doing just that as they deliberate in that Manhattan courtroom.

KING: And we'll wait, obviously, for the jury to come back.

Joey Jackson, in the meantime, really appreciate those important courtroom insights. Appreciate it very much. We'll continue to track the jury. Joey, thank you.

Next for us, the Biden administration announcing new enforcement measures as a key immigration policy is set to expire. We will take you live to the border next.



KING: The Biden administration today said it is beginning a new immigration enforcement operation in El Paso, Texas. The Department of Homeland Security statement said migrants with no legal right to be in the United States will be removed. It's an effort to discourage a migrant surge when the pandemic era Title 42 policy expires on Thursday.

El Paso's mayor says he's grateful for the federal help and the constant communication, but he also anticipates a big surge, despite this DHS enforcement action.


MAYOR OSCAR LEESER (D), EL PASO: The borders are closed today, and the borders will be closed after Title 42 expires. But there's thousands of them. And I was told there's a caravan that will arrive prior to Title 42 expiring, it's about 3,500. So we expect to see, at the end of Title 42 expiring, we expect to see somewhere in the neighborhood about 10,000 to 15,000.


KING: That's the mayor of El Paso.

Let's move to CNN's Nick Valencia. He is live for us now in another border town, Brownsville, Texas. Nick, tell us what you're seeing.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're seeing right now these migrants getting food from a volunteer, a resident who's come here to hand out food to those that have decided to cross into this country, either seeking asylum or trying to meet up with family members.

We understand just like El Paso, you're seeing a large number of people here sleeping on the streets. And according to DHS, they're seeing about 8,000 encounters per day as Title 42 is set to expire on Thursday. You heard right there from the mayor of El Paso, they're expecting upwards of 10,000, perhaps even 15,000 migrants.

And we're already seeing those security preparations taking place. It was overnight that Texas Governor Greg Abbott wired shut a very popular illegal border crossing where migrants were accessing. He says he expects to do that on border communities up and down the Texas- Mexico border.

Here in El Paso -- or here in Brownsville, rather, they are already taking those preparations to expect a record number of migrants. I spoke to the nonprofit team Brownsville here, they said it was yesterday that they processed 750 people. They're expecting after Thursday for that number to swell well above 1,000.

The big question, though, here today, John, is that the government does have plans in place, though. Will those plans work? John?

KING: It's a giant question, indeed. Nick Valencia live for us in Brownsville. Nick, appreciate that firsthand reporting.

Let's bring the conversation back in the room with our great reporters. And last week it was about 7,000, the daily encounters at the border. Just looking here to note, our Priscilla Alvarez, our CNN colleague. U.S. border authorities encountered nearly 10,000 migrants on Monday.

And so the predictions that the numbers would go up are proving true. We'll see how high they go. The question is, is the Biden administration prepared? Do they have enough shelter? Do they have enough enforcement? Do they have enough judges?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Likely no. I mean, and this is something that they've been bracing for and preparing for for quite some time. But it's virtually impossible to be -- have the capacity for what is to come and never mind.

We're going to see this week and in the coming weeks this play out in dramatic fashion with each individual, personal stories of people crossing the border. But the larger picture here in Washington still even this, even this does not prompt a broader conversation about comprehensive or even less than comprehensive immigration reform.

KING: And as the president and his team try to deal with this, Francesca, they announced a new enforcement action today. And in that statement, they essentially say to migrants, don't believe the lies from the smugglers who say essentially the border is open. It's going to be easy to cross. They say they're going to turn people who have the right to cross away.

But as the President says that and tries to discourage those numbers from going too high, liberals. This is from the National Immigration Justice Center in The New York Times, "People seeking safety now need access to asylum, and the United States laws afford them that right. The administration is eviscerating that access in the same vein as the Trump administration."


KING: So the President trying to deal with a border crisis, but taking flak from the left who say he's being too much like Trump.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, USA TODAY: And at the same exact time, the White House saying yesterday that they don't like Republicans immigration solution. You also heard the DHS secretary say over the weekend that he thinks that the bipartisan solution that senators have put forward, mainly Sinema and Tillis, that they see that as a Band Aid. That solution would just be a temporary two-year, basically Title 42 all over again. So they don't like that. So that comes again to your question of what would they like to do.

Essentially, the Biden administration is saying, the plan that we have in place right now, it will eventually work. We just need a little bit more time.

KING: But another thing the administration says, and let's look at the details the House is going to vote Thursday, I believe, on their immigration plan. It took a long time for House Republicans, even though this is their number -- one of their number one issues to get together on this because of their own family differences.

But it would codify the remain in Mexico policy. Essentially, you stay in Mexico until your asylum case is adjudicated. It would resume border wall construction. It would have money for border security and the Border Patrol to expand the E-Verify system.

So, Marianna, here's the thing. The President of the United States says, I need more money for the Border Patrol. I like the E-Verify system. There are -- President Biden, the Democrats want no part of rebuilding or fixing or repairing or continuing or, you know, finishing the Trump wall. But there's some stuff there they could agree on, so why won't they?

MARIANNA SOTOMAYOR, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean, ask anyone, this is one of the most politically divisive issues, probably number one when you ask any Republican, Democrat across the ideological spectrum. It does not mean that there aren't people who are going to try. This bill that's going to pass on Thursday is not going to become law. It's just -- the Senate's never going to let it see the light of day.

However, many Republicans and also Democrats in the House do see this as a green light by leadership because they -- Republicans have been saying we need to pass border security first before we can even talk about broader immigration reform. You might see those people start to come together, have those genuine conversations, but we've seen this story for years, for decades, where things just haven't gotten done, even when they get closer to that finish line.

And even so, look at the rest of the congressional year. They're going to have to fund the government, the debt. There's just so many things that this is just likely not going to get a congressional solution at least this year.

KING: One of the recurring intractables here in D.C.

Coming up for us, Liz Cheney taking aim at Donald Trump just as the former president gets ready for a big town hall in New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LIZ CHENEY, FORMER REPRESENTATIVE FROM WYOMING: He refused for three hours to tell the mob to leave. There has never been a greater dereliction of duty by any president.




KING: Tomorrow night, Donald Trump gets a CNN spotlight. And now Liz Cheney trying to make sure part of that includes the glare of his January 6 disgrace. As Trump prepares for a town hall with New Hampshire Republican voters, Cheney's political action committee buying airtime on this network to broadcast this ad, narrated by Cheney to bring it into your home.

The message, she says the former president, quote, is a risk America can never take again.


CHENEY: Donald Trump is the only president in American history who has refused to guarantee the peaceful transfer of power. Rather than accept his defeat, he mobilized a mob to come to Washington and march on the Capitol. Then he watched on television while the mob attacked law enforcement, invaded the Capitol and hunted the vice president.

He refused for three hours to tell the mob to leave. There has never been a greater dereliction of duty by any president.


KING: Our great reporters back at the table. Fact check true, when it comes to the ad, but if you look at Donald Trump six months ago and Donald Trump now, his position among Republicans in the polls, endorsements from Republican office holders is going up. Not flat, not down. Going up.

SOTOMAYOR: Yes. I mean, Liz Cheney has promised to just essentially serve as a reminder, hey, remember that Trump did this. Remember that Trump did this, especially on January 6. But that's already been discussed and debated.

To your point, a lot of Republicans obviously know January 6 happened. Some of them have doubts about whether it was an insurrection or whatnot. But people are still lining up behind Trump. It seems like, even though that this is a literal reminder in an ad, it might not do much to sway voters.

It maybe remind those independents in the midterms who said, why are we still talking about the 2020 election? I know that that was a legitimate election.

KING: Right. She promises to try to shake this tree to the very end. She says it's that important. The question is, you know, with ads and does she travel? Does she join the Republican race?

CHAMBERS: Well, Trump allies are already hitting back at this, saying that she's just got a personal vendetta against the former President of the United States. But recall, she was on the committee, and they've been pursuing this for a while now. But when it comes to the presidential race, look, he is way ahead.

You have all these other Republicans who are about to get in, thinking about getting in, but they're polling in the single digits. And I'm hearing from Republicans that unless something dramatic happens at this point, that he is likely to be the Republican nominee.

KING: The question is, where does the anti-Trump forces? Do they get traction anywhere, when many of the candidates were waiting for Ron DeSantis, who wants to make the point, don't go back. But he is, at least so far, even though Trump has Trump Super PAC has savaged DeSantis, DeSantis has not returned the favor.


The question, if Cheney does not get in, will anybody in the Republican field do that, or will it just be, we need Trump's voters so much. We have to be genteel about this?

ZELENY: Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, is still lingering out there as a possible one to-do it and look for him to potentially run a similar ad told before New Hampshire tomorrow evening. But, look, he'll decide in a couple of weeks.

But there is no doubt, as we sit here in the middle of May, the former president is in a far stronger position than he thought he would be, and most Republicans hoped he would be at this point in the Republican primary. It is still important, I think, to point out this still has to play out. There are debates coming on the Republican side. We'll see if he actually attends them or not.

But what this shows, the fact that he's doing a town hall with New Hampshire voters tomorrow evening, he is trying to go back to that well of 2016. He's trying to recreate sort of some goodwill among those voters in the middle and to kind of forget that January 6 happened. Of course, he cannot forget that it happened. We cannot and should not forget that it happened.

So this is all part of the conversation. But now he's comparing himself to Biden. So that's why some Republicans are like, the economy was pretty good under Trump. So it is a precarious position for Republicans that they did not think they would be in.

KING: You make an important point that it is May. Nobody votes until early next year, but his position at the moment is quite formidable. We will see if somebody can take him down a notch.

Another -- from the international stage, a big announcement from the United States government today will provide another, another $1.2 billion aid package to Ukraine. That package includes support for air defenses and artillery. Meanwhile, the Russian President Vladimir Putin delivering a quite defiant speech today. It is Victory Day as his country's war in Ukraine continues.




KING: You see there the annual military parade celebrating the Soviet Union's triumph with the allies over Nazi Germany. That parade significantly scaled back this year. In his speech, though, Putin telling the crowd this brazen lie, that Russia is the victim in this war with Ukraine, and he blames the west for stoking the fight.


PUTIN (through translator): A true war has been unleashed against our motherland. We have repelled international terrorism, and we will defend the residents of Donbas and secure our own safety.


KING: Again, that's a lie. Russian forces invaded Ukraine.

Ahead this CNN exclusive, we're getting some rare insights from the defense table in that Proud Boy seditious conspiracy trial, ranging from notes, questioning the judge, and ranking jurors to comic doodles.



KING: Topping our political radar today, a fascinating behind the scenes look inside one of the highest profile cases brought by the Justice Department since January 6. CNN has reviewed handwritten notes by the Proud Boys and their legal teams during the course of their seditious conspiracy trial.

Four members of that militant pro-Trump group were convicted of seditious conspiracy last week. A fifth was found guilty of other charges.

CNN's Katelyn Polantz is here to bring us this new reporting. Katelyn, what are you learning?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, John, this story comes to us from Hannah Rabinowitz, she's a reporter producer here at CNN, and she was in the courtroom for the months long Proud Boys trial and was able to review notes that the Proud Boys and their lawyers were using to communicate with one another as this trial was going on.

This is really an uncommon look at just the chatter that was happening in the courtroom as witnesses were taking the stand, as evidence was being presented. And what she was able to see is these examples of boredom, of commentary that either the defense team themselves or the dozen people around them, the Proud Boys, the defendants, how they were reflecting upon what was happening.

They had commentary on some of the proceedings, writing things like, question for judge, can you be fair and impartial? That's one note. Some other things that they were doing, they clearly were commenting to one another about what witnesses were saying or what the prosecutors were saying.

One note we're not roaming the streets because of election. There was another note where they were writing, ask him if I'm friendly and not confrontational. So that appears to be Enrique Tarrio commenting on a witness who was testifying about him.

And then, of course, John, some jokes. The jury is looking at you. Make sure you always behave. Someone drew little eyes on top of that note. And another one. I was 25 when this trial started. It was a long one. John?

KING: It was a long one. Fascinating reporting. Thanks to you, Katelyn, and to Hannah as well. Fascinating story there.

Moving on, Senate Democrats now ramping up pressure on a big Republican mega donor. But that donor, Harlan Crow, the GOP billionaire who showered Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with luxury travel, is refusing to answer the Democrats questions. Both the Democratic-led Senate Judiciary Committee and separately, the Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Ron Wyden, are requesting information on Crow's gifts to Thomas.

President Biden is calling for what he calls, quote, a fair deal for those striking Hollywood writers. At a film screening at the White House on Monday, the President talking about that strike for the first time.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nights like these are a reminder of the power of stories and the importance of treating storytellers with dignity, respect, and the value they deserve. I sincerely hope the writers' strike in Hollywood gets resolved and the writers are given a fair deal they deserve as soon as possible.



KING: Tennessee's governor now calling for a special legislative session this summer in hopes of passing a public safety bill. You might recall efforts to pass a red flag style law failed after that national school shooting back in March. The Republican Governor Bill Lee announcing he wants the legislature to meet August 21.

Thanks for your time today. We'll see you tomorrow. CNN NEWS CENTRAL starts right now.