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Today: First-Ever Television Glimpse Of Trump Inside Court; Today: Opening Statements In Trump Civil Trial; Now: Gaetz Speaks On House Floor; Gaetz Threatens McCarthy On House Floor. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired October 02, 2023 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Today on Inside Politics, a moment memorialized for all of history. For the very first time, television cameras capture the former president of the United States sitting stoic inside a courtroom.

And let's be clear, his entrance was a made for TV set up all about his campaign. But beyond Trump's stagecraft, the trial itself poses a very real threat to his business empire. Plus, will he get by with a little help from some new friends? The House speaker readies for a revolt that will try to take his gavel staying and his job may depend on Democrats.

And Governor Gavin Newsom honors a promise to pick a black woman to fill a Senate seat left vacant by the passing of Dianne Feinstein. A candidate already running for this seat who was critical of Newsom's approach. Congresswoman Barbara Lee will join me in minutes.

I'm Dana Bash, let's go behind the headlines at Inside Politics.

Up first, the cameras, the court and the campaign. The former president flanked by his lawyers captured sitting behind the defense table in a New York City courtroom. That glimpse will be the only one we get of Donald Trump at least from inside this courtroom. The judge overseeing his civil fraud trial decided to keep the media from broadcasting opening arguments live. The trial is about money, power, and yes, of course politics.

Before the trial began, the choreography made that very last part really clear. The former president's entourage his son Eric and senior advisors striding into court as if this was a campaign event. They were followed by the former president himself who stopped -- and stopped and talked, and talked, and talked, delaying the start of his trial by nine minutes. His rant was both typical and remarkable for its venom, aimed at the New York attorney general.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: This is a continuation of the single greatest witch hunt of all time. We have a rogue judge who ruled that properties are worth a tiny fraction of one one-hundredth, a tiny fraction of what they actually are. We have a racist attorney general who's a horror show who ran on the basis that she was going to get Trump before she even knew anything about me. She used this to run for governor. She failed in her attempt to run for governor. She had virtually no bawling. She came back and she said, well, now I'll go back to get Trump again. And this is what we have. It's a scam. It's a sham.


BASH: CNN's Brynn Gingras is live outside the court. Brynn, what's happening at this hour.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Dana. So, they're just wrapping up a 10-minute break at the moment. We understand that the former president has now just walked right back into the courtroom. So, we expect those proceedings to continue again, as he did when he first went into the courtroom.

It did not acknowledge Letitia James, as you just showed your viewers the sound of what he was saying outside the courtroom about her. But didn't acknowledge her when he walked past her and is then seated next to his attorneys.

Now before this, we heard opening statements from his attorneys, the defense and then also from the state's attorney. Let me get into a little bit of what has been discussed. As far as the state's attorneys, essentially, they have said that Trump and his family and the Trump organization falsified business records for several, several years trying to gain interest, better interest rates trying to get loans. And they did this knowingly.

They showed a number of deposition videos from the Trump's -- the former president, from his sons, from former members of the Trump organization, sort of giving the deflection of who was in-charge of signing off for all these business records.

And essentially wrapped up his moment, which lasted about a half -- I'm sorry, a little less than an hour saying, asking the judge rather to bar Trump and his sons from ever doing business in the state of New York. Now, as far as the defense is concerned, we know that Trump has been talking with his attorneys as he seated, they're weighing in.

But on the defensive side, essentially, he has been saying that Trump, you know, did everything by the book that he complied with all regulatory requirements, and that even is bringing someone in from the -- New York business school to explain how he came up to evaluations of properties to explain that again, it was all by the book.


We know that Trump is eager, according to his people to testify in this trial and he is listed as a witness on both the state side and as the defense. We don't expect that him to take the stand today, but it's very possible we could see that happen next week. So, this is right now laying out exactly how this trial is going to look, which could last again for about three months. We're hearing from the judges unclear how long exactly last, but that's how long is on the books. And it all comes after a big ruling last week, Dana, from that judge who decided that elements of parts of this trial, he did -- the Trump's and his family were liable and that they are going to owe money and that business certifications were stripped from them.

Now, before this all started out, you laid it out what Trump said. I want you to hear what the attorney general said before she walked into the courtroom.


LETITIA JAMES, (D) NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: Good morning, everyone. Donald Trump and the other defendants have been committed persistent and repeated fraud. Last week, we proved that in our motion for summary judgment. Today, we will prove our other claims.

My message is simple. No matter how powerful you are, no matter how much money you think you may have. No one is above the law. And it is my responsibility and my duty and my job to enforce it. The law is both powerful and fragile. And today in court, we will prove our case. I thank you all for being here. And again, justice will prevail. Thank you.


GINGRAS: You know, she's making those statements. Things we've heard her say before, Dana, and she's coming off again that big win with which the judge decided last week in her favor. The judge will be deciding everything in this case. This is not a jury trial. This is a bench trial. Keep that in mind, Dana?

BASH: Absolutely. And of course, as you said, this is a civil, not a criminal trial. Thank you so much for that reporting, Brynn. Here with me to talk more about it, are some legal and political reporting and insights, CNN's Carrie Cordero, Defense Attorney Joey Jackson, and CNN's Kristen Holmes.

I want to start here with you, Carrie. Talking about what's at stake. We're talking about properties, Trump properties like the Trump Tower, Trump International Hotel, Central Park, the Westchester golf club, 40 Wall Street.

And then, I just want to look at some of the claims that we are discussing that are part of this persistent and repeated fraud, falsifying business records, conspiracy to falsified business records, issuing false financial statements conspiracy to falsify financial statements, insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. I mean, I think what this case is really about in this stage of the case is really about is the Trump organization's ability to continue to do business in the state of New York. The judge already issued a decision last week that pertained to some of the charges that found that they did can engage in fraud already. And so, now there are some of the remaining allegations that the state attorney general is making. And there is the issue of liabilities and damages, and how much they will need to pay and whether they'll be able to continue to retain their entities and do business in New York.

BASH: And Joey Jackson, you are very familiar with the courts, and the court system in New York, particularly in New York City. What do you make of this coming up now? And also, the fact that just somebody who observed Donald Trump in New York even before he was on the political stage, that the notion of him inflating his worth, was not like a big secret? This is now making it a giving him a penalty for the financial penalty.

JOEY JACKSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Sure. It does exactly that, Dana. So, there's a place for the New York state attorney general here to be clear, right? The New York State attorney general, not only prosecutes criminal cases, which this is not to be clear, as you noted. But also has a duty to the consumers with regard to unfair, deceptive and fraudulent business practices.

And so, what we've seen is a three-year investigation here by the state attorney general. And with respect that investigation, the unearthing of significant fraud, fraud to the tune of valuations over 2 billion, whether be dollars annually. And to the extent that that assisted him and getting loans for better rates and conducting other business activities.

And so, based upon the New York State law, the attorney general decided to move forward here, and of course, got what's called a summary judgment motion last week, right? And what that means is that the judge concluded, Dana, that there is not a dispute in terms of material facts relating to many of the counts of fraud.

And with respect to those counts, you move on to the issue of damages, meaning what now are the consequences to doing that? And so just to be clear, as a civil case, Mr. Trump is not required to be in court. He of course has the right to, it affects his monetary interest, and he is.


But the reality is, is that there is a place for this, the judge, and again he's made certain claims Mr. Trump has with respect to this being unfair et cetera, the judge and a 30 some odd page ruling was very specific and clear as to the nature of fraud, and even took the attorneys to task in terms of the issues about, you know, look, you guys are making arguments. I'm sanctioning you for that.

And so, now here we are to decide the other cases relating to fraud as well as the damages that flow from, will there be an independent receiver? What's the role of that terms of dissolution? What is the penalty going to be looked like with regard to disgorgement of fees? And whether or not all this business certificates will be canceled? So, the consequences here, Dana, are very significant.

BASH: Very significant, indeed, you mentioned Joey. And Kristen, I'm going to take this to you that the former president didn't have to be there. Now, this is his life's work, his business. So, it's understandable that someone would want to be in a courtroom. It is also not a surprise that the former president is using this image.

We've never seen an image like this before. It was brief because they didn't want cameras to stay in the courtroom. But that image to be a spectacle, a very Trump ask spectacle that he is trying to use to his advantage. Already fundraising off of the fact that he is in this courtroom, Kristen?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Dana. It appears that they are treating this trial as though it is a campaign event. And remember, Trump and his team are very good at manipulating the optics and they want good visuals. They want the media coverage on them, no matter what the media coverage is.

And I for months, I've been asking them, how are you going to navigate a presidential campaign alongside these multiple looming trials? And the answer continued to be, we don't know yet. We're working it out. Does it look like shorter days and rallies at night? But it appears that they have at least figured out one part of that, which is turning these trials least in this case into a campaign event.

And a senior adviser to Trump essentially told me as much, conceded that that is what they had done in this case. They knew exactly where the cameras were in that room. He knew exactly where to go. He knew to pause before he spoke, so that the cameras were rolling that they were -- that he gave them time to take him, and they were going to take him on newscasts.

He is very aware of how to do this and how to take control of a narrative. And this is how they're going to do it. And I do want to note one thing here. Yes, that can be true. And it is true based on the advisors and the allies that I've talked to that that's what they're doing here.

But the other part of this is that this piece is central to Donald Trump's brand and identity, not just as a human being but as a politician. If you go back to 2016, one of the arguments that got him into the White House was this idea that I am a rich businessman, because I am a rich businessman, I can actually make these deals on your behalf.

The deals that have been making me rich, will now make you rich. Look at how I've run this business so successfully. Now I can run the country as successfully. And I hear voters talking about that. So, this does go to the very identity of the man who was elected back in 2016.

BASH: You know, Kristen, I'm glad you mentioned that. Let's play some of the arguments that Donald Trump has made on the campaign trail about why voters should support him because, you know, he's had to make a lot of money.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Here's the goodness. I'm very rich. I built an unbelievable company. The money you're talking about is a lot, but it's peanuts for me. I'm much richer, right? You see, much richer. All my life, I made money. I made money. I've always been good in making money.

Number one best sellers. One of the best-selling books of all time, tremendous television success. I've been success. Well, wait a minute, Jake. I've been successful in every business I've been in. If you think real estate. I have made billions of dollars in business making deals. I'm my own donor, essentially. I have a lot of money on this deal.


BASH: He's definitely not his own donor right now. He's raising money even as we speak, as I mentioned. Carrie, look, he did make money. I mean, he has a giant plane, and he has made money. The question has been about whether he has inflated that, and it's again when this -- with this trial is about is it isn't just a political question about whether he is speaking in hyperbole, which everybody will look at this and say, duh, he's Donald Trump.

That is certainly baked in politically. This is whether or not it cost taxpayers money and cost insurance companies and vet, well, maybe not investors, but insurance companies money.

CORDERO: Right. And what's different about this particular trial as compared to his ability to make public statements or be on the campaign trail, or either, some of the other cases that he may face that potentially could have juries that this is a judge trial. And this judge is presiding over it who has already considered the prior cases.


And in the judges' opinion last week, the judge indicated that he is not amenable to rhetoric and inflating ideas and things that are not true. He said in fact in his last opinion, he said that the defense's arguments, the Trump team's arguments "showed a continued reliance on bogus arguments in papers and oral arguments." And then he went on to accuse the Trump defense team of living in, "a fantasy world, not the real world."

And so that is, I think the fact that this is in front of this judge only, and that is the trier of fact is going to be very different for the former president.

BASH: Very, very different. Thank you so much for explaining that. Joey and Kristen, thank you. Coming up. Congressional Democrats weigh in McCarthy's fate as Republican hardliners revolt against him, and this very blunt statement from the former speaker of the House. She was appearing with Jake Tapper on state of the union. Listen to this?


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): You're wasting your time on that guy because he has no sway in this in the House of Representatives, except to get on TV and to raise money on the internet.



BASH: Welcome back. Let's get right to Matt Gaetz on House floor, challenging Kevin McCarthy a speaker.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): House Democrats and President Biden have said that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was asking Republicans to vote for a continuing resolution, so as to avoid having to take the senates. Plus, up in Ukraine money that the speaker of the House was actually cutting a side deal to bring Ukraine legislation to this floor with President Biden and House Democrats.

So, let me get this straight. To extend Joe Biden's spending and Joe Biden's policy priorities, the speaker of the House gave away to Joe Biden, the money for Ukraine that Joe Biden wanted. It is going to be difficult for my Republican friends to keep calling President Biden feeble. While he continues to take Speaker McCarthy's lunch money and every negotiation.

The speaker of the House has responded to these reports of a secret side deal on money for Ukraine, opaquely stating that he still wants to find Ukraine and our border. I have a few replies to this statement.


First, the speaker statement confirms the existence of a secret deal. And I've talked to members of our own leadership who have said, they didn't even know that Speaker McCarthy was negotiating a secret side deal outside of our conference, outside of his own leadership team for the sake of Ukraine.

Second, Ukraine has lost the support of a majority of the majority. The last time there's a freestanding Ukraine vote on this floor. It was last week, 101 Republicans voted for it, 117 Republicans voted against it. According to the Hastert Rule, which Speaker McCarthy agreed to in January, you cannot use Democrats to roll a majority of the majority, certainly on something as consequential as Ukraine.

So, for all the crocodile tears about what may happen later this week about a motion to vacate. Working with the Democrats is a yellow brick road that has been paved by Speaker McCarthy, whether it was the debt limit deal, the CR or now the secret deal on Ukraine for a third.

This is swampy log rolling. The American people deserve single subject bills. I get that a lot of folks might disagree with my perspectives on the border or on Ukraine. But can we at least agree that no matter how you feel about Ukraine or the southern border, they each deserve the dignity of their own consideration, and should not be rolled together where they might pass where each individually wouldn't. This is what we're trying to get away from. This is the spirit of the January agreement we made with the speaker, no more lashing these disparate issues together so that the American people's interests are subjugated here on the floor of the House.

You know how we should stand up for our border? Demand that the United States state senate take up our single subject appropriation bill that funded the border. It created Republican unity. We voted for it. It has the policy demands that the continuing resolution that Speaker McCarthy advocated for on this floor did not, our DHS funding bill requires the verify. And then, hours later after we passed that the speaker wants us to vote for a continuing resolution that didn't include the verify. Retreat is never a strategy to win anything.

So, Mr. Speaker, just tell us, just tell us what was in the secret Ukraine side deal? What commitments were made to President Biden to continue the spending of President Biden in exchange for doing things for President Biden? It is becoming increasingly clear who the speaker of the House already works for, and it's not the Republican conference.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that these questions be answered soon. Because there may be other votes coming today or later this week that could be implicated by the answers to these questions. Members of the Republican Party might vote differently on a motion to vacate, if they heard what the speaker had to share with us about his secret side deal with Joe Biden on Ukraine.

I'll be listening. Stay tuned. And I yield back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman yields back. And members are reminded to refrain from engaging in personality -- -

BASH: We're just listening to Matt Gaetz, the Republican Congressman of Florida. A lot of threats there against the House speaker and accusations. But that, Manu Raju as I bring you in. He didn't do the deed. He did not make the motion to vacate. Talk about that. And I know that you also spoke with Kevin McCarthy this morning and got a response to the accusations about the side deal with Democrats about Ukraine.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That is what we'll be expecting Matt Gaetz to issue this, actually filed this motion to vacate, which would have been a historic move, if he were successful, never before in the history of this country has something that had been successfully executed.

But not doing that at the moment because he contends, there are questions that the speaker has to answer, namely about something that Joe Biden said yesterday that there may have been a deal that was reached with the speaker to put Ukraine funding package on the floor of the House that was left out of the recent funding bill to keep the government open until mid-November.

But when I asked about this earlier today, McCarthy did not say that there was a deal. In fact, he said, he said that the president in his view didn't actually assert that they had some sort of deal. Then he went on to say that Ukraine aid is important. He talked about border security, not quite answering directly the level of discussions that they had on this.

We'll see if we get any more clarity from the speakership. But Gaetz is maintaining is that he's still planning to move ahead, although he suggested there, Dana, that perhaps some of these answers to the questions could change his approach in some way.


Now, if Gaetz does move ahead, all he would need are five Republicans to side with them. If all Democrats agree to boot him out and that is still the key question. What will Democrats do? And what will the Speaker McCarthy do? Will he rely on Democrats to save them?

And Dana, we're expecting Matt Gaetz right now coming down the steps, and we'll talk to him in a minute about what he plans to do here. But the speaker earlier today would not say whether or not he would rely on Democratic votes to get -- to save his job. Simply saying, that this is about the institution, we need to worry about the institution.

So, we'll wait for Gaetz here. Dana, I'll step aside here and see what he has to say about his plans now.

Mr. Gaetz, Mr. Gaetz, why didn't you go forward right now? And are you backing off your plans to push them out of the speakership?

GAETZ: No one's in town. It's Monday on a fly-in day at noon. I think we'll have more folks later this afternoon.

RAJU: Plan to do it today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Speaker McCarthy said, he will survive this. Should he be that confident?

GAETZ: He's probably right. As I said on CNN, and on ABC this past weekend, you know, Kevin McCarthy's true coalition partner on all things of substance has been the Democrats, this Congress. He worked with Democrats on the debt limit bill, and only Democrats are really campaigning on that bill. Republicans aren't campaigning on the debt limit bill. That was a Democrat bill passed with mostly Democrat votes.

Then we get to the appropriations process and Speaker McCarthy purposefully delayed us. He tried to back us up against shutdown politics. He tried to not pass single subject spending bills. And at the end of the day, he had to utilize Democrats to pass a continuing resolution. So, if Kevin McCarthy works for Democrats and utilizes Democrats in order to keep power that would be consistent with everything we've seen from him.


GAETZ: You know, for some people, policy failures are recast as personal because their own failures are personally embarrassing to them. This is impersonal. I can cite to you the specific elements of House rules that have been violated. Kevin McCarthy agreed to a rule that we would have 72 hours to read legislation. He blew past that.

Kevin McCarthy agreed to a rule that we would not put anything over $100 million on the suspension agenda, so that it couldn't be amended. He blew past that. Kevin McCarthy agreed to the Hastert Rule, which is that you would never use a majority -- the Democrats to roll a majority of the majority.

On the last Ukraine supplemental, 101 Republicans voted for it, 117 Republicans voted against it. So, this doesn't -- does this sound personal to you? I'm pointing to specific things that Kevin agreed to that he hasn't complied with. He's just trying to subjugate his real and significant breaches of our agreement as some sort of personal dispute. But that says more about him than it says about what we're trying to do to change Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you lose this vote. Mr. Gaetz, if you lose this vote, how many people do you believe share your sentiment among House Republicans are in the house overall?

GAETZ: I think tens of millions of Americans share my sentiment. And if you go look at Newt Gingrich and Mark Levin trying to attack me online. It is an avalanche of criticism from their own supporters and their own followers and listeners. Where are those folks are standing with me? Not some of these folks who are with McCarthy now -- -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you get more than five or six Republicans to sign on to this?

GAETZ: Well, we'll see. And we'll see where the votes are. That's a great thing about House.

RAJU: Mr. Gaetz, if you lose this vote, if you lose this vote, will you continue to do this? And are you worried about throwing this institution into chaos, paralyzing an institution that your party runs?

GAETZ: You know, what I think paralyzes us, continuing to govern by continuing resolution in omnibus. You know, what I think throws this institution into chaos, marching us toward the dollar not being the global reserve currency anymore. You talk about chaos, as if it's me forcing a few votes, and filing a few motions.

Real chaos is when the American people have to go through the austerity that is coming. If we continue to have $2 trillion annual deficits. You don't know chaos, until you've seen where this Congress and this uni-party is bringing us. Chaos is not -- -


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who would you want to see a speaker instead?

GAETZ: Yes. Look, we have a lot of talented people in our conference. It's probably a hundred Republicans in Congress that I would vote for speaker, and maybe a hundred Republicans throughout the country that I would vote for. Remember, the speaker doesn't have to be -- -


GAETZ: Excuse me, I'm finishing to answering your question. But if you interrupt it, then the other people can't use my answer. And it just gets you asking questions. And they don't want to put you on because you're not an anchor for a reporter for their network.

So, the answer to your question is that we have a lot of folks in Congress who I think would be very capable to serve as speaker. We need to rebuild trust. And so, I think we need someone who can connect the most conservative features of our conference, to the most moderate features of our conference.

And I understand that, I'm not running for speaker. I understand that it might not be someone who agrees with me on every position. But it is awkward to talk about names until we understand how Mr. Scalise comes out of his treatment for blood cancer. I am not the type of person that just says, you blow by somebody because they're getting a medical treatment.