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Why Is GOP Paying Bills Of Billionaire Trump, Who Was War Chest?; LeBron James Gets Fans Kicked Out Of Game Over Behavior; Food Banks Step Up To Help Millions Struggling This Holiday. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired November 25, 2021 - 08:30   ET



MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And the longer this drags on, the more questions it's going to raise about whether they are able to prove criminality to a significant degree at a trial with the former president. And at the end of the day, I think that if Donald Trump does not get charged personally, even though his company is charged, he is going to see this as some kind of victory.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: And Maggie, I also want to ask you about this reporting about who is paying some of the former president's legal bills, which is the Republican National Committee typically seems to be a neutral organization and not favor one candidate, potential candidate over another. Clearly, they're paying some of his legal bills, even though it doesn't pertain to when he was in office. And so what are you hearing from people? Because we know there are some GOP officials telling CNN that nothing about this is normal.

HABERMAN: No, that's right, Kaitlan. Look, there is, number one, it's not shocking that Donald Trump will never spend $1 of his own money that he doesn't have to. But what is shocking is the degree to which groups who are not within his immediate orbit are going along with it. And it speaks to the whole that he still has on aspects of the party.

Now, my understanding is that this was a committee vote within the RNC, and that there was more pushback than you might have expected. There were some people who did not want to go along with this, we'll see if that number increases over time. But this is really unheard of. It's not unusual for a political committee to pay for legal fees related to a sitting executive. So we've saw that with governors, you know, over the course of the last many, many years. We saw this with President Trump when he was president, he no longer is, and this has nothing to do with his presidency. So this is pretty extraordinary.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Even if you're Ron DeSantis or Chris Christie, or any of these --

HABERMAN: Yes, that's right.

BERMAN: -- potential 2024 candidates, what do you think you're like, hey, RNC, what are you doing here? You are helping politically, someone who we may be running against for the nomination. HABERMAN: Look, this has been the concern the whole time about the fact that a lot of the party apparatus has ties to the former president, again, not totally unusual when you have an outgoing president and the former president, former nominee of any party is the leader until there's another nominee, but you don't normally see something like this. And you don't normally have so many fears within a party, John, and you know this, that the former president, I have always been very skeptical of the idea that he was ever serious about forming his own party, no matter what he said at the time. You know, he let it go a few days later, as he was leaving office, that he might go form a third party. He doesn't really have the organization or the ability to do that.

But what he does have the ability to do is depress turnout. And we see -- among Republicans and we saw that in the two Georgia Senate run offs in January. And that's what party officials are afraid of. So essentially, he's got his boot on their neck still, and they're not. And there are members of the party who like him. But at the end of the day, this is just a highly unusual situation.

COLLINS: Yes, it'll be interesting to see how they navigate this going forward amid these questions about whether or not he does or does not run. But Maggie, I do also want to ask you about these comments from Mike Flynn, of course, the former president's former national security adviser, very well known, the comments that he's making about the pandemic and saying that it was kind of something that was engineered by these global elites not really language, I guess, you would say, is entirely surprising, coming from Mike Flynn. But what did you make of that when you read those comments?

HABERMAN: Bluntly, Kaitlan, I couldn't understand what he was talking about. It sounded as if he was saying that the virus was engineered by shadowy forces, and those shadowy forces may do another virus, but he's not really sure. You know, I understand there are a lot of people who want to write off what Mike Flynn says, but he's the former national security adviser. And some people hope that he will run for office. So I do think it is important, not just to look at what he's saying, but for the few outlets that he actually agrees to give interviews to, hopefully they will, at some point decide to press him on exactly what he's talking about.

BERMAN: I think we had, can we listen to that, so we can see exactly what it feels like to hear insanity.

HABERMAN: I couldn't make heads -- I couldn't make -- I could not make heads -- yes, I could not make heads or tails about what he is talking about.

BERMAN: Let's listen to it.


MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: Their little plan with COVID didn't work because too many people, you know, the world of what I call the digital warriors or the citizen journalists that are out there, they are fighting for the truth. And so the truth has been exposed about all the COVID tyranny that we are facing. So I think what we're going to see is potentially another type of virus that's imposed on the public. And I hope that that's not the case. But I've seen some indications of that and some of the statements by some of these global elite-type of people.


BERMAN: Though somehow he's blaming COVID on the global elite and saying the global elite is going to bring forth some new virus there. Again, I think the important thing to focus on there, though, Maggie is, you know, Michael Flynn got into the White House not -- I'm not talking about it even his time as National Security Adviser, but he was there after the election. I mean, this is a guy who would get a meeting with the then president and I'm sure one way or another can still get a meeting with the guy who might Be the next nominee and that's something that really just can't be left off.


HABERMAN: No. Not only was, you know, was he able to get into the White House although he was got in with other people, I'm not sure he would have gotten in on his own. But there was some discussion in that infamous December 18th meeting that the former President had with Mike Flynn and Sidney Powell and Patrick Byrne, the CEO of Overstock, who, for some reason was there helping talk about what the election opportunities were, and whether anything could be done about the fact that Biden had won.

There was some discussion about making Flynn, the chief of staff. So to your point, you know, he -- this is not a sideshow. This is a separate show. But it's very real. And there are people who follow Flynn, and who believe in what he's saying, but I just want to reiterate, I have no idea what you're talking about.

COLLINS: Maggie, I want to ask what your sources are saying about this idea that former President Trump and some other Republicans are kind of dangling the position of House Speaker over Kevin McCarthy. Clearly that is a position he wants to seek if Republicans do retake control of the House, but there's been this idea floated by Steve Bannon by Mark Meadows that maybe former President Trump could be Speaker of the House, which of course, technically is possible, but seems not likely. But is this something that you think that the former president is kind of holding over Kevin McCarthy?

HABERMAN: I think at minimum, the former president is enjoying this, and I do know that the former president was very frustrated. And he's made that very clear in his own statements, that the 13 House Republicans voted in support of Biden's legislative priority, the former president saw this is giving Biden some form of legitimacy. You know, he did not used to be that you would see this level of railing against bipartisanship, but that's what McCarthy has been responding to.

Meadows and McCarthy obviously do not have a good relationship, never have. And Bannon, you know, likes to burn it all down. So I don't think it's a surprise that you're seeing this. I wouldn't take it as necessarily reflective of a deep desire on Trump's part, but I think if he believes it will keep McCarthy in line for what he wants or could. And so what's the harm? I do not believe Donald Trump wants to be the house speaker just in case that was not clear.

BERMAN: Maggie Haberman, happy Thanksgiving.

HABERMAN: Happy Thanksgiving, guys.

BERMAN: It's so nice to see you. Appreciate it.

HABERMAN: And you.

BERMAN: She just turns it around every time she always turns it around on me. A late night update from President Biden's Doctor following last week's trip to Walter Reed. What we just learned about the President's health.

COLLINS: And LeBron James fresh off his own ejection from a game is now giving to fans the boot. What was it that they said to him that led to that moment there?



COLLINS: LeBron James had a pair of unruly fans ejected in his first game back after being suspended.


BERMAN: More on the bad behavior in the Bleacher Report. Coy, what the heck went on?

WIRE: Well, I think fans are starting to learn don't mess with LeBron James if they want their team to win because it irritates him. He plays really well. Well, this time the Lakers superstar he's back in the lineup against the Indiana Pacers right last night after serving the first suspension of his career, scored a season, 39 points in this one, a 124-116 overtime win. But here's the moment about halfway through the extra period.

You can see LeBron walking over fan says something that didn't sit well with the king so he brought the referee over to the sideline and after a brief discussion with arena officials the man and woman seated next to her, next to the woman were escorted from their seats. LeBron didn't say what the fans said to him. You could see her there just further provoke him on their way out. He told reporters afterwards that behavior like that is not acceptable. Here he is.


LEBRON JAMES, LOS ANGELES LAKERS FORWARD: It's a difference between channel your home faithful. But, you know, both when the opponents or things of that nature not wanting your opponents to be successful, then there's, you know, moments where he goes outside a line without seeing gestures and words that shouldn't be tolerated or gain from nobody. I would never say it to a fan or a fan should never say to a player.


WIRE: This isn't the first time that LeBron has had somebody ejected from a game. Last season you might remember courtside Karen at a game here in Atlanta where King James had her ejected from the game for crossing the line as well.

COLLINS: Yes, and they didn't seem to regret whatever they had said to LeBron James too much as you saw them walking out of their arena after they're being booted out. Coy Wire, thank you so much for joining us this morning and Happy Thanksgiving to you.

WIRE: Happy Thanksgiving.

BERMAN: Happy Thanksgiving Coy.

So here's what else to watch today.



COLLINS: Coming up a really beautiful message from the actor Andrew Garfield on his perspective of grief. We'll share that with you next.


BERMAN: It's time for the good stuff, as fortunate Americans prepare to feast on turkey and stuffing and pie later today, millions are still facing the struggle of food insecurity as they continue to feel the economic impact of the pandemic. That's where our next guests step in.

Joining us now are the Executive Director of Urban Partners Los Angeles, Trinity Tran and North Texas Food Bank President Trisha Cunningham. Thank you both A, for what you do, B for being with us this morning. Trinity, we've had a chance to speak to both of you before. I'm wondering if you can tell us how the need this year compares to last year when we were really in the middle of the pandemic.


TRINITY TRAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & BOARD MEMBER, URBAN PARTNERS LOS ANGELES: Thank you John. The demand is still high. And our numbers are lower than the record breaking lines we saw during the pandemic but they're still higher than our pre pandemic levels. We have hundreds of families and seniors who still queue in line for hours each week for food. Food insecurity really is an ongoing crisis, low income people have been struggling pre pandemic and whether its supply chain disruptions or not whether we're in and out of inflation, one out of five people in the Koreatown area where we operate live below the poverty line in Los Angeles County, that's still roughly 2 million people fighting food insecurity.

BERMAN: And Trisha, what are you seeing?

TRISHA CUNNINGHAM, NORTH TEXAS FOOD BANK PRESIDENT: You know, exactly the same kind of thing there. We weren't sure what we were going to see this Thanksgiving holiday. But what I can tell you is last year, we distributed more food than we ever thought that we would. And right here in North Texas, we have the fourth highest number of children who are food insecure in the whole country, which to me, that is unacceptable. And we wanted to make sure that we could do things. And exactly what Trinity said, we're seeing a little bit lower than where we were at the peak. But, you know, I can tell you our Thanksgiving distribution that we just did on Saturday was higher than we did last year.

BERMAN: Wow, look, I mean, I guess we should be grateful for improvement. But still so much need, Trinity. What challenges are you facing with inflation?

TRAN: Well, you know, whether it -- as I walk up food bank, we serve the most disadvantaged populations. So $1 is able to purchase less for communities who had been struggling for a long time, you know, people who are travel on foot stand in line with carts to receive groceries, it's a real tragedy that something as fundamental as food is out of reach for so many people.

Most of the people in our line are not homeless, they're low income individuals. They're fearful about basic essentials not being about pay rent, not being able to afford basic necessities like health care, you know, among many other things, food is a human right. And it's really a humanitarian responsibility that we ensure that everyone has access, whether we're in or out of inflation.

COLLINS: And Trisha, what is the best way for people who are watching this and they're at home, they're getting their Thanksgiving meals prepared, they want to help these people, what is the best way for them to do that?

CUNNINGHAM: You know, really the best way is to be able to reach out to your local food bank. I mean, here, in the North Texas Food Bank, And there's ways for you to provide funds because we can multiply every dollar that's given to us and make multiple meals out of it. Volunteer, volunteers are low right now, because people are so concerned about coming back that we've been open for volunteers, and we rely heavily on volunteers to be able to get that and also just continue to advocate.

We could not have done what we did this year if we had not had the support of some of these government programs that were going directly to families, because inflation is real. The increased gas prices and increased food prices is making it much more difficult for families to get back on their feet even as they're recovering. We're expecting about an 18 month to two year tale on the economic recovery even after people get back to work.

BERMAN: Well, Trisha Cunningham, Trinity Tran, again, thank you both for what you do. And people everywhere need to know food insecurity is still very real, help your local food bank if you can. CUNNINGHAM: Thank you so much.

TRAN: Thank you John.

BERMAN: So in this beautiful moment, actor Andrew Garfield spoke to Stephen Colbert about his latest movie "Tick, Tick... Boom!," in which he portrays the late Jonathan Larson, the author of "Rent," and had that role helped him face grief, really what he talked about a great length is losing his mother and how he deals with it on a day to day basis.


ANDREW GARFIELD, ACTOR: This is all the unexpressed love, right, the grief that will remain with us, you know, until we pass because we didn't -- we never get enough time with each other, right? No matter if someone lives till 60, 15 or, you know, 99. So I hope this grief stays with me. Because it's all the unexpressed love that I didn't get to tell her and I told her every day we all we all told her every day, she was the best of us.

So for me, you know, I was able to step into this in a way where I could honor this incredible life of Jonathan Larson and he was taken far too soon. He died at the age of 35 on the night of the first preview of "Rent" of Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop, in some strange twist of fate, that he was taken that soon.

And this film is kind of to do with that, has to do with this ticking clock that we all have that we all know in somewhere deep down that life is sacred, life is short, and we better just be here as much as possible with each other, holding on to each other. And for me I got to sing Jonathan Larson's unfinished song while simultaneously singing for my mother and her unfinished song.


And I'm indebted to John and I -- and I'm indebted to Lin-Manuel Miranda. I'm indebted to everyone who has brought me to this place so that I can honor the most beautiful person that I've ever experienced in my life through my art and use it as a way to heal, use it as a way to sew up the wounds because that's what we do, right? That's what we do, us, what you do every night, you sew up our wounds, you sew up our wounds.


BERMAN: You know, it was so touching in he was there with Stephen Colbert and Colbert just let him talk, right? And he acknowledged, you know, I'm going to break down Andrew Garfield said, and what he said is I'm so glad I have this grief. I'm glad I have this pain because it makes me appreciate all the more how much I adored my mother. It's so deeply moving to hear that.

COLLINS: And I think the timing of it is so moving too, because the holidays are awesome. Thanksgiving is great. It's time to get back with your family, your loved ones to gather around the table. But, you know, there can be a missing chair there. Maybe there wasn't one the last time people did at Thanksgiving. And that I think is something that was a really beautiful way of expressing something that often new people deal with grief and they say that they can't wait to move pass it, the time, you know, helps heal all wounds.

But he was saying there that he doesn't want to lose that because it's his way to honor his mother or to honor whoever it is that you love. And I just -- that was a beautiful perspective on grief from Andrew Garfield.

BERMAN: Look we all have so much to be grateful for. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Kaitlan, it was so nice for you to come in and work this morning, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there. CNN's coverage continues right now.