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Trump Gets Court Win in Mar-a-Lago Search With Special Master; Liz Truss Visiting Queen as Britain's New Prime Minister; Biden Tests His Political Strength in Return to Campaign Trail. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired September 06, 2022 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MELISSA KNOWLES, HLN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: And Tom Cruise is still proving to somebody out there that he does his own stunts. He's really here -- he was filming this while he was doing "Mission: Impossible," but now talking about - or, excuse me, filming this while he was doing "Top Gun: Maverick," and talking about "Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning 2," which is the next film that's coming out later this year.
The fact that he is standing there seemingly unharnessed, holding on to a biplane while another biplane comes by and then they do that left turn nosedive, I don't understand. The people online are calling it absolutely insane for this, but also, wow, Tom Cruise, thank you, I guess, for continuing to surprise us with these crazy stunts.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. What is he holding on? He's got to be holding on to something, Melissa. This is -- please get to the bottom of this. What is he holding on to? We need to know.
KNOWLES: A little bit of sanity, I guess.
KEILAR: Melissa Knowles, thank you.
KNOWLES: You're welcome.
KEILAR: And New Day continues right now.
Blackouts in the west, flooding in the east, good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world, it is Tuesday, September 6th and I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman.
In California, this morning, the state is bracing for rolling power outages as the brutal heat wave is expected to shatter the record for power demand. Temperatures in parts of the state hitting 115 degrees with no end in sight. Not ideal conditions, obviously, for fighting wildfires. Evacuations are now under way in Riverside County where the Fairview fire has killed two people and scorched 2,000 acres.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. In the northeast, though, a much different threat, flood watches are now in effect for more than 50 million people across 11 states, Virginia to Maine. Some areas could see seven inches of rain by this afternoon, which is not good news for people in providence, Rhode Island, where heavy rains and flash floods closed I-95 in both directions yesterday afternoon. We're going to have much more on this ahead.
KEILAR: This morning, officials in Memphis are working to identify a body that was found amid the search for missing Memphis jogger Eliza Fletcher. The suspect for her abduction, Cleotha Abston is set to appear in court.
CNN's Gary Tuchman is live for us in Memphis, Tennessee, with more. Gary?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, good morning to you. Abston will be arraigned in this court courthouse, the Shelby County courthouse in downtown Memphis, about three hours from now. He's been held on half million dollars bond.
The main charge against is called especially aggravated kidnapping, but, of course, those charges can be increased depending on what happens in the case.
This arraignment will follow a very dramatic and large police operation here in Memphis last night, in South Memphis, about ten minutes away from where we're standing. The neighborhood was closed down with police tape. There were scores of police officers, police cars, police helicopter hovering above. They had received a tip that there was a body that was going to be found in a specific area. And indeed, the announcement was made, a body had been recovered. However, the police have identified that body, they are not saying.
We do know that the disappearance of Eliza Fletcher was the reason for the search in the first place, and there's some significance to the neighborhood where this body was found, and that is this. After the kidnapping occurred, police they say they talked to a witness who saw Abston, the kidnapping suspect, forensically cleaning his car a couple of hours after the kidnapping a half mile away from where this body was found.
So, there's a possibility we'll find out later today the identity of this body. Obviously, it's if Eliza, it would be absolutely devastating for her family. They have maintained hope throughout this, that perhaps she's missing, that some miracle might occur. So, if this is her, it would be so desperately sad.
We do know where exactly she was kidnapped in Friday morning, and that's because of the surveillance camera near the University of Memphis. She was jogging a little around this time, but in the dark on Friday morning. And we see on the surveillance tape a man come out of his black SUV, grabbed her, struggled with her, forced her into the vehicle and ultimately take her away. Police say it was this man, Abston. And Abston, as I said, will be arraigned in this courthouse today. It begins at 9:00 local time and we could learn more about the case. John, Brianna, back to you.
KEILAR: All right. Gary, we know that you'll be following this there in Memphis, thank you. BERMAN: All right, new developments into the investigations into the former president of the United States. A federal judge has granted Donald Trump's request for an independent special master to review the material taken from Mar-a-Lago and for the Justice Department to pause its investigation of the documents that they have. This could take some time and add time to the investigation.
The ruling raises questions about whether Trump is getting special consideration as a former president. We'll have much more on that in a moment.
As of today, there are 63 days until the midterms, which is close to the Justice Department's traditional 60-day rule, the window where prosecutors usually avoid major actions in the run-up to elections, major public actions in the run-up to elections.
And in the congressional investigation into the Capitol attack, January 6th Committee Member Jamie Raskin says to expect a report before the end of the year, but almost definitely after the midterms. A bigger question is if the committee will hold another round of hearings, and what those hearings will be about.
So, for that, let's go to CNN's Sunlen Serfaty live on Capitol Hill. Where is the January 6th committee now, Sunlen, and what can we expect from that?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON, CORRESPONDENT: Well, Good morning, John. Certainly important is that Congress is now back after August recess. So, this essentially kicks off a crucial new stage for the January 6th committee. As you heard, Jamie Raskin there saying that he is going to work towards putting out this report by the end of the year.
Now, the committee has largely, for the last few weeks, been putting their heads down, in investigative mode, behind the scenes, really looking at new threads, pursuing new leads. And they have been very clear on who they want to speak with next, that they want to hear the testimony from former Vice President Mike Pence.
They also want to hear from Newt Gingrich, of course, former Republican speaker of the House, a Trump loyalist, they want to talk to Gingrich about his communications with the Trump White House around T.V. ads that had false claims about the election results.
They also want to speak with Ginni Thomas. She is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. They want to speak with her about her efforts and her pressure on state lawmakers to overturn the election results in at least two states.
Now, the committee has been clear that they anticipate and that they would like to hold at least one public hearing later this month at some point. But, John, as of yet, that hearing has not been scheduled.
BERMAN: All right. We are waiting to see if and when it will be. Sunlen Serfaty, thank you so much for your reporting.
KEILAR: As John mentioned there moments ago, a federal judge has granted Donald Trump's request to appoint a special master review materials the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago last month. Trump's legal team and the Department of Justice have until Friday to negotiate the special master's duties and limitations and to submit a list of potential candidates to serve in the role.
Joining us now is former Deputy Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush Donald Ayer. Don, thank you so much for being with us.
I should mention you filed a brief in support of the government's position here that there should not be a special master. So, I know you don't agree with this decision. What did you think of the ruling?
DONALD AYER, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Well, I think the easiest way to kind of describe it in general terms is that it's a ruling that resolves every doubt in favor of Donald Trump and completely ignores critical facts that support the government's position. I would say it's really an unprecedented ruling in the context of a search warrant and review of a search warrant return. And, of course, you know, some would justify it simply because it's a former president. But we have a tradition in this country that no person is above the law. And when you apply the law even handedly, you don't get to the result that this judge reached.
KEILAR: Is this a judgment saying in fact that Donald Trump is above the law?
AYER: Well, I don't think she would say that. I think she's trying to reach a judgment. And I think if there's any defense to it, it's the defense that there's a lot of public distrust. So, she wants to put in place a process that would sort of give the public a view that we're double-checking everything.
But when you go -- when you kind of go through what the law is, there's a bunch of things that have been missed. I mean, one is judges don't inject themselves into this kind of a situation. She talked about, for use of her equitable powers, which she admits were for only exceptional circumstances. And, usually, those exceptional circumstances involve under the leading case in the Fifth Circuit the issue of callous disregard by the government for the rights of the person involved. But she said there was no callous disregard. But, nonetheless, she's going to jump in.
And then the other big, big thing here is she completely ignored the functioning of the Presidential Records Act, which is a statute that was enacted to make entirely clear that a president's records belong to the United States. Donald Trump never turned them over as required by the Presidential Records Act. And that's the overriding fact here. She didn't even talk about it.
KEILAR: I want to ask you, just to play devil's advocate here, the Department of Justice took many steps that presumably it would not take, unless the person they were dealing with was someone of high stature, a former president. Asking to get the records back, lots of liaising to get the records back, subpoenaing to get the records back, and then, finally, there being a search warrant.
So isn't there an argument to be made that they went through jumping through a lot of sort of irregular hoops but are now criticizing a judge for doing the same? Why is it -- and you may say it is different. Why is it not different? Why is the judiciary not entitled to that?
AYER: Well, I think the government was deliberate and cautious and moved gradually to get these records back. I think nobody would say that that was something that ought to cause them to be distrusted in any sense. And yet, there's a bit of a tone in this opinion that kind of is skeptical of things the government does. And so I think, ultimately, the fact that they moved slowly is not a reason that would justify the court in failing to apply the law that exists in terms of putting a process like this in place.
KEILAR: Donald Trump has done a lot. He just, this weekend, politicized the FBI and the DOJ with what he said about them. Is this, in your view, the judiciary at all, getting close to endorsing that politicization of DOJ?
AYER: Well, I don't want to say that, and I'm not going to say that. And I'm very hopeful. We have a process, a legal process in this country, and I think it needs to run its course. I don't think it's even run its course before the judge in this case. I think, you know, there are going to be submissions on Friday. There's going to be a joint submission. And any disagreement between the parties is something they are supposed to tell the judge about.
So, I think we need to look and see. I also think we need to wait and see if the government appeals this. And if so, what occurs. And I think that's going to be a difficult judgment for the government to make, because on the one hand, there's just an awful lot long with this opinion and it's really disruptive in one really important way, and that is their ability to review these documents in the process of their criminal investigation has been enjoined. They can't do that.
So, they may well need to appeal. And if they appeal, we have to look and see where that goes and what's happening. The one thing that's really troubling about it, is that even assuming an appeal will correct this, which I don't think you can assume, you're talking delay. And how much delay are you talking? Weeks, months, hard to say.
KEILAR: Donald Ayer, great to have you. Thank you so much.
AYER: Thank you.
BERMAN: This morning, students in Uvalde, Texas, are heading back to the class for the new school year. This is the first day back to school since the massacre on May 24th when 19 students and two teachers were murdered at Robb Elementary School.
No students or staff will be returning to Robb this morning. They're going to be absorbed into other schools.
Joining me now is Anson Bills. His three sons attend Uvalde School. Anson, thanks so much for being with us this morning.
Your two youngest sons, you've decided to keep them home for virtual learning. Why didn't you feel comfortable sending them back to the physical classroom?
ANSON BILLS, FATHER OF THREE STUDENTS AT UVALDE SCHOOLS: Well, I went to see the -- meet teacher at Morales, and I was not impressed with the security measures that were going on there. And I discussed that with my wife. And we both agreed we were going to make Trey virtual.
Then we came to Vincent, which is behind me here, and everything looked like it was going in order. Everything seemed fine. I figured I will see how the first day of school goes and we'll go from there. Instead last week, we got a phone call saying that the special needs kids will not be going to this school. Instead, they will be going to Flores. Flores does not have a fence up whereas Benson does.
BERMAN: So, it's the fencing that makes the difference there. I mean, what measures would you want in place? What would make you comfortable in sending your kids back?
BILLS: Well, number one, they would have to get the fence up on both of those schools and get all security devices in place.
BERMAN: How do you feel the communication has been with you as a parent? Has the school district been responsive to these requests and concerns that you've been giving them?
BILLS: I think that they've been as responsive to it as they can be. They've been a little slow to act, which, in some cases, is not bad. But in this case, it is. And this case, we needed to act fast. We needed to get this under control. And instead, they delayed it.
BERMAN: What have you heard from your kids over the summer? What has it been like for them in terms of their concerns heading into the school year?
BILLS: My biggest concern would have to do with my oldest son who fully understands the entirety of the situation. He's 14. He's getting ready to go into the early college program. And he starts that today.
BERMAN: I understand that you actually watched the surveillance footage from Robb Elementary with him, that he wanted to see it. Why?
BILLS: He wanted to understand why everyone was upset. So, I sat down with him and I explained to him. I said, look, if they had entered the room right then and there and done their job the way they should have done it, none of this would be going on, nobody would be mad. Everyone would be understandably upset, but no one would be trying to play the blame game. And that's exactly what happened this summer. BERMAN: And you feel okay with him going back to school in-person?
BILLS: Yes. Yes, I do, because the main reason he needs it because he's not just going to the high school. He's also going to the college.
BERMAN: I do have to ask you, I'm a parent, sending kids back to school every year, there's anxiety in that anyway, right? How are you doing after the summer? How are you feeling this morning?
BILLS: Shaken. If my son, Adam, had been at the school that day, that would have been the third time I would have almost lost him.
BERMAN: This is your youngest son who didn't go to school that day. You had kept him out. He had some kind of appointment, right?
BILLS: We had -- that is correct.
BERMAN: And when you look at him now, knowing that he very well could have been there, how does that make you feel?
BILLS: Like everybody else in this community, shaken and hurt.
BERMAN: So, it's the first day. What do you want to see going forward? And are you leaving open the possibility that your two younger children that ultimately you will send them to the physical school?
BILLS: Oh, yes, I'm leaving that possibility wide open. I want them to continue doing what they're doing. And if you look down here, they've got wooden fencing up because they've ran out of materials, and everything is on back order.
BERMAN: Well, listen, thank you for being with us. We can understand the feelings that you have this morning. This can't be easy. I know it's been a long summer. We're wishing our best to you and your sons as they head back to school.
Anson Bills, we appreciate it.
BILLS: Thank you. You all have a good day.
KEILAR: Public schools in Jackson, Mississippi, are reopening to in- person learning this morning. The district has checked the water pressure at each school and nearly all have been deemed suitable for children and staff to return. Although one high school is still experiencing low pressure and students there are being relocated. Because many air conditioning units in the schools depend on water to operate, temperatures are expected to be warmer than usual.
BERMAN: All right. Happening now, the United Kingdom's new or next- -- I don't know if the exact time has happened yesterday -- Prime Minister Liz Truss is meeting with the queen of England, which makes it official ahead of an announcement later this morning. She replaces Boris Johnson who formally resigned and left office just a few hours ago. CNN's Max Foster joins us live from outside the parliament in London. Where are we in these sort of musical chairs movements, Max?
MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually a nerve- racking moment in British history. I have to say, John, we currently don't have a prime minister. A 96-year-old queen is currently running the country because this is an unusual. The queen wasn't able to travel to London, as you normally would, because of her mobility issues. So, Boris Johnson had to travel all the way up to Scotland in her summer castle to resign.
That has happened. The queen has accepted that resignation. But Liz Truss has not yet arrived to be appointed the new prime minister. Let's hope she hasn't broken down but that will, I'm sure, happen very soon.
After Liz Truss has been appointed the prime minister, she'll head back to London. I'm actually looking at some images here. It looks like a convoy is going into Balmoral Castle. That has to be Liz Truss. So, thankfully, we will not have this power vacuum for much longer. But after she's arrived, the ceremony called the kissing of hands, which isn't technically a kissing of hands.
It's a shaking of hands.
Liz Truss will be appointed the queen's 15th prime minister, would you believe? Her first one was Winston Churchill. And then Liz Truss will come back to London and give a speech outside Downing Street before taking her position inside 10 Downing Street. And we're really desperate to hear what she has to say, I have to say, John, because throughout this campaign, she's given very generic promises about what she wants to deliver and there's a big economic crisis unfolding in this country. And we need some specifics about how she's going to handle that. No one would really want to take on this position right now but she's chosen it because the opportunity has come now, I'm sure.
Meanwhile, the end of the Boris Johnson era, we've spoken before about how he went down in flames, really, all those scandals around the parties in 10 Downing Street during the pandemic. But, ultimately, I think he will go down in history of someone who oversaw the withdrawal of U.K. out of Europe, the European Union, the pandemic response, also that huge support he offered Ukraine against Russia. And he spoke today about what he might be doing next. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, OUTGOING BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: On the subject of bouncing around in future careers, let me say that I'm now like one of those booster rockets that has fulfilled its function. And I will now be gently re-entering the atmosphere and splashing down invisibly in some remote and obscure corner of the Pacific. And like Cincinnatus, I am returning to my plough. And I'll be offering this government nothing but the most fervent support. (END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: And this is the woman he's going to be giving that support to. This is Liz Truss, who is currently foreign secretary arriving at Balmoral Castle, the queen's summer residence, being greeted by the private secretary. She'll go inside and be appointed the queen's 15th prime minister. And that is Ms. Truss' husband. She's a very private person, two daughters, John, but she never exposes them to the media.
And we won't get this moment either. This will all be private, behind the scene, we never see any of this. We will only be getting a still photograph after the event of the queen with her 15th prime minister. And then after that, as I say, she'll be heading back down to London by car, by plane, by helicopter or forms of transports to get her back here and in office.
BERMAN: Yes. We did just see her walk into the castle. She walked in as foreign secretary. She will walk out as prime minister. We saw it live happening right here.
As for Boris Johnson, he says he's like a booster rocket, some of them are disposed of never seen again. Some of them are reusable. I wonder if he's leaving open a possibility he might be one of those reusable boosters.
FOSTER: What I will say, there's lots of talk about his follow-up career. He could potentially be the richest ex-prime minister because he's being courted by agents, I have to say, in America for shows and columns. So, there's lots of speculation that he's going to be coming your way and not being the thorn in Liz Truss' side that she may be fearing.
BERMAN: All right. Well, thanks for the gift. Max Foster, appreciate it, thank you very much.
President Biden campaigning in Pennsylvania again and calling out what he calls MAGA Republicans. What's behind this strategy?
The mastermind of a Navy bribery scheme, known as Fat Leonard, is on the run this morning after cutting off his ankle monitor before his sentencing.
KEILAR: And the flooding disaster in Pakistan, where one-third of the country is under water. CNN is live on the ground.
BERMAN: Welcome to the general election. Post-Labor Day generally means the midterms are on full swing. President Biden just visited the key battleground states of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and continued to call out what he calls MAGA Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: This new group headed by the former president, former defeated president, we found ourselves in a situation where we either look forward or look backwards. And it's clear which way he wants to look. It's clear which way the new MAGA Republicans are. They're extreme.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: And Donald Trump, of course, was just in Pennsylvania as well.
So, let's bring in Mark McKinnon, former senior adviser to George W. Bush and John McCain in their campaigns and creator and co-host of the Circus on Showtime. Sir, it's always great to have you.
I thought about how I wanted to ask this, and this what I came up with. So, which party is more psyched to have its guy in Pennsylvania over the last week? Are Democrats more psyched to have Biden there or Republicans more psyched to have Trump doing what he's doing?
MARK MCKINNON, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, GEORGE W. BUSH AND MCCAIN CAMPAIGNS: Great question, John, and the answer is exactly opposite about what it would have been three months ago. So, the circus is back in town and playing in every town in Pennsylvania because that's such a key state. It was in 2020, it will be for 2024, and it is for the midterms. And Democrats' fortunes have really reversed there. They've got a really good U.S. Senate candidate in John Fetterman and they've got a really good gubernatorial candidate in Josh Shapiro.
And the Republican candidates have really been disappointing. And the thing that's different now is there's Roe-mentum, as a result of the Supreme Court decision, and there's some Joe-mentum because Joe Biden's increased favorable ratings and fortunes as a result of some legislative victories and a reduction in inflation. So, the deck is really flipped completely from three months ago, which means that Democrats' fortunes are going to be better and it means they have a chance to hold the Senate but they will probably still lose the House but much better than it looked just a few months ago, John.
KEILAR: Mark, what do you think about the message that President Biden is delivering in Pennsylvania?
MCKINNON: Well, one of the things that really surprised me is that, for the first time ever in polling, threats for democracy has emerged as the number one issue.
And so Biden is really focusing on that in Pennsylvania in his recent messaging, and I think rightly so.