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Biden, Trump Could Officially Clinch Nominations Tomorrow; Sweden Officially Joins NATO Amid Russian Military Threat; Sen. Katie Britt (R-AL) Acknowledges Sex Trafficking Story Used to Criticize Biden Happened Before he Became President. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired March 11, 2024 - 07:00   ET




JIMMY KIMMEL: You're supposed to run across the stage.

JOHN CENA: I changed my mind. I don't want to do the stripper bit anymore.

JIMMY KIMMEL: What do you mean you don't want to do the stripper bit anymore? We're doing it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Costumes, they are so important.

Maybe the most important thing there is.


KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: God say no, wearing himself and a strategically placed envelope and apparently pair of Birkenstocks. I'm going to leave you with that.

Thank you for joining us. I'm Kasie Hunt. Don't go anywhere. CNN New Central starts right now.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: The 2024 campaign in full swing this morning. New details of Biden's re-election message to voters as the 2024 presidential rematch expected to be set in stone after tomorrow's primary.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: A CNN exclusive Russia's war machine is cranking out three times more artillery munitions than the U.S. and Europe combined are producing and sending to Ukraine.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And bursting with Kenergy (ph). What a night at the Oscars. We have all the behind the scenes dirt you did not even know you missed on Hollywood's biggest night.

I'm Ken Berman with Kate Baldwin and Sarah Sidner. This is CNN New Central.

SIDNER: A key swing state primary, a new court hearing and a battleground blitz all on deck this week as the Trump-Biden matchup nears its nominee-clinching moment tomorrow.

Voters across four states cast ballots with enough delegates at stake to make the likely presidential rematch officially official. Georgia is one of those states and the site where both candidates sharpen their attacks over the weekend in dueling rallies in that state.

Biden today beginning a busy travel week in New Hampshire as Trump now stares down a Thursday hearing that could once and for all tell us if he will go on trial before November.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is leading us off from the White House. What more are you learning about what we're going to be hearing and what voters will be hearing from President Biden as he gets going on the road?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, this past weekend really provided a window into what we can expect in this election as these campaigns ramp up. And the president in Georgia this past weekend, a crucial state that he only narrowly won in 2020, trying to court the diverse coalition in the state and get them energized to go to the polls in November.

And to do that, he leaned on one of his key and defining themes for his election, and that was protecting democracy, using that to draw a stark contrast from his Republican rival, Donald Trump.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: My lifetime has taught me to embrace the future of freedom and democracy. Trump and I have a very different value set of it, and obvious already. Biden is based on core values that defined America and the rest of the world looks at us that way, decency, honesty, fairness, equality. And we all know that Donald Trump sees a different America, an American story of resentment, revenge and retribution. That's not me. That's not you.


ALVAREZ: Now, Sara, I spoke to voters before and after the president's remarks in Georgia. And this was a message that did resonate with them, but it's one of many. They also are moved by lowering health care costs. And on that front, President Biden is heading to New Hampshire today where he's going to ramp up his attacks against Republicans and Donald Trump on health care in a state that has one of the country's oldest populations.

All of this building off the momentum of the State of the Union address, which, by the way, according to the campaign, they earned -- raised $10 million in the 24 hours after the State of the Union. So, all of this coming together as the president hits these battleground states this week.

SIDNER: Priscilla Alvarez, thank you so much for that. Trying to keep that momentum going seems to be working so far for him.

BERMAN: Look, that's one half of the battle that is shaping up this morning.

And this morning, we're getting a new window on how Donald Trump will attack Joe Biden on the trail, relentless and personal, going after everything, from policy to the president's stutter.

CNN's Alayna Treene has the latest. What are you learning, Alayna?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, good morning, John. Yes, the former president and his team really already feel like Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee. But tomorrow, as they head into those four states, those elections, they really are hoping that will be the place where they can clinch the necessary delegates to make Donald Trump the official Republican nominee.


And like Biden, Donald Trump was also in Georgia over the weekend, and he really became more personal in his attacks on Biden. And it's a state that Donald Trump and his team recognize is very crucial to their general election strategy. It's a state that Donald Trump lost by less than 12,000 votes just four years ago. And they really see it as being key to their strategy of trying to beat Biden in November, one of the states where they're going to be building out a massive operation, a ground game strategy, really trying to make sure that it can be Donald Trump's once again in November.

Now, take a listen to some of the rhetoric that Donald Trump used on Saturday, again, becoming very personal against Joe Biden, attacking his stutter, going after him as being a threat to the country. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Two nights ago, we all heard Crooked Joe's angry, dark, hate-filled rant of a State of the Union Address. Wasn't it -- didn't it bring us together? Remember, I'm going bring the country to-to-to-to-together. I'm going to bring it together.

It's not an age thing. It's a competence thing.


TREENE: Now, John, there had been questions initially of whether Donald Trump would try to rein in some of that very inflammatory rhetoric, particularly the personal attacks on Joe Biden. As you can see from that clip we just played, Donald Trump is continuing to be Donald Trump. And I think you can expect him to continue to lean hard into attacking Biden's appearance, his stutter, and really going after his age and competency, as you just heard there.

And one other thing I just want to quickly point your attention to is another big thing that his campaign is dealing with right now, which is his mounting legal troubles. We know that he has a trial set to start later this month in New York. This Thursday is a crucial hearing in his federal documents case. And so that's another thing behind the scenes that is really playing out with the Trump campaign as they are gearing up in earnest now for a general election fight against Joe Biden. John?

BERMAN: All right. Alayna Treene for us in Washington, Alayna, thank you very much. Kate?

BOLDUAN: We have some breaking news this morning coming from the royal family responding for the first time just now about the controversy over this family photograph and accusations about being manipulated.

Also this, one passenger says people went flying and broke the ceiling of the plane after a major incident mid-flight injured at least 50 people.

And Ryan Gosling trying and pretty much successfully stealing the show at the Oscars.



BERMAN: All right. We have an historic moment in Brussels this morning. I believe we have live pictures of the ceremony outside the NATO headquarters. This is the flag of Sweden being raised for the first time. Sweden is now officially a member of The NATO Alliance, a ceremony taking place at this moment, the 32nd country to join NATO.

We are watching very closely, and CNN's Clare Sebastian has the latest from London. And, Clare, tell us what's going on.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, the 32nd member of NATO, the second new member since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Obviously, Finland joined just about a year ago, doubling NATO's land border with Russia.

Now, Sweden obviously doesn't do that, but it does add a lot of strategic capability and presence for NATO in two key regions. One is the Baltic region. I don't know if we can show you the map, but you can clearly see now that the Baltic region is now almost completely encircled by NATO countries, just Russia and its Kaliningrad enclave in the Baltic remaining. It's now being dubbed NATO Lake. This is something that Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, highlighted today.

And the second region is the Arctic, where Russia is now the only one out of eight Arctic countries that is not in NATO alliance.

So, it is significant. Sweden has a very high tech, very advanced military. And, of course, this is the exact opposite of what President Putin wanted, what one of his stated goals was in invading Ukraine was to prevent further NATO enlargement.

Take a listen to the NATO secretary general.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: When President Putin launched his full scaling nation two years ago he wanted less NATO and more control over his neighbors. He wanted to destroy Ukraine as a sovereign state but he failed. NATO is bigger and stronger, Ukraine is closer to NATO membership than ever before. And as the brave Ukrainian continues to fight for the freedom, we stand by their side.


SEBASTIAN: This is obviously bad news for Russia, and we have heard some pretty intense rhetoric from President Putin in recent days and weeks. He was promising to beef up the military in that western area bordering NATO, which is obviously going to strain their already very stretched military.

But for Ukraine, closer to NATO than ever before, I think especially now that the front lines are looking very fragile, especially in the east. It's very clear to Ukraine that even though this is good news, it still not enough, it is still functioning as a deterrent to Russian aggression on Ukrainian soil.

BERMAN: Clare, we're looking at the live pictures right now if we can push in. You can see that flag of Sweden being raised outside the NATO headquarters in Brussels, the blue and yellow there.


The wind just making it unfurl just a little bit there, now officially the 32nd nation, the 32nd flag to fly outside this headquarters, in Brussels.

Clare Sebastian -- okay, I assume that's the Swedish national anthem playing in the background there. Clare Sebastian, thank you very much for being with us. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Also this morning, we've seen an exclusive which could raise alarms about the future on the front lines of Ukraine. CNN has learned that Russia is making nearly three times as many artillery rounds than what the U.S. and Europe combined are producing for Ukraine. A senior European intelligence official says Russia's war machine is in full gear, and its artillery factories are going nonstop ahead of a potential offensive later this year.

CNN's Katie Bo Lillis joins us now to share her exclusive reporting. Katie Bo, tell us more about what you've learned.

KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Kate. What I've learned is some pretty staggering numbers that really illustrate how quickly Russia has been able to ramp up its defense production for use in Ukraine in ways that have really left the U.S. and the West behind in some ways.

What I have learned from a senior NATO official is that the most important number here, of course, is artillery. And according to this official, Russia is producing about 250,000 artillery munitions per month, or about 3 million a year. And that's compared to just 1.2 million artillery rounds that the U.S. and Europe are producing for use in Ukraine in the same timeframe, in about a year.

And this is important because officials tell us that artillery is really the number one metric that they are watching in Ukrainian here, right? This is a war that is expected to be won or lost on the number of artillery round that are able to traded back and forth across this 600-mile front. It's really the math here really matters.

And as a result, Ukraine has really had to ration the number of artillery rounds that it's able to fire in a day. We know from these same officials that Ukraine is firing about 2,000 artillery rounds per day compared to about 10, 000 that Russia is hiring. And in some places, we're told the ratio is even worse.

Russia officials tell us has been able ramp up its defense production much more quickly than the west in large part because it's effectively a managed economy in which Putin can really just order these factories to fire up and start producing, right?

And so we know from officials now that Russia's factories, Russia's artillery factories are running 24/7 in rotating 12-hour shifts. And in fact, the defense sector, according to the senior NATO official that I spoke to, is now the largest part of their economy.

And, of course, this matters because Ukraine has now become so dependent on western support, western aid, to be able to continue this fight, and we're watching now, with U.S. funding for support in Ukraine really drying up and Europe sort of rushing to try to make up the shortfall, but not clear that they're going to able to sort of produce as much as the U.S. has been providing.

Really, now, this all comes down to whether Congressional support for aid for Ukraine in the United States restarts. It's been stalled by Republican opposition. Now Ukraine closely watching what will happen with that support going forward and what happens in presidential election in November.

BOLDUAN: Katie Bo Lillis, thank you for bringing us that exclusive reporting. Sara?

SIDNER: All right. Ahead, was this image of the Princess of Wales and her children manipulated, changed, photoshopped? She has just responded to the controversy over this family photo. We will have a response.

Also, CNN speaks with a trafficking victim whose story was used in the Republican State of the Union response. The victim says the story told by Katie Britt was filled with factual errors and she feels used. That's ahead.



SIDNER: Senator Katie Britt of Alabama is responding to criticism over a harrowing sex trafficking story she suggested was the result of President Biden's failed border policies. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To be clear, the story that you relate is not something that's happened under the Biden administration, that particular person?

SEN. KATIE BRITT (R-AL): Well, I very clearly said, I spoke to a woman who told me about when she was trafficked when she was 12. So, I didn't say a teenager, I didn't say a young woman, a grown woman, a woman when she was trafficked when she was 12.


SIDNER: In her Republican response to the president's State of the Union address, Thursday, Senator Britt mentioned a woman who was trafficked by drug cartels when she was very young. The senator implied that it happened during the Biden administration in the U.S. She also suggested President Biden's border policies were to blame for what happened to that 12-year-old girl.

Here's what she did not say. This all happened before Biden took office and occurred in Mexico, not the United States.

CNN's Rafael Romo is joining me now. You spoke exclusively to this victim of sex trafficking, whose story was sort of taken and discussed and used as political fodder. What is she saying this morning about all of this?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sara, good morning to you. Well, she's upset, she's concerned, and she's also worried about her story being used once again, Sara, without her permission for political purposes.

This is someone that I have known since 2014. Her name is Karla Jacinto. CNN profiled the story, her story, as part of CNN's Freedom Project, which seeks to raise about modern day slavery. Jacinto says she's very careful about who she gives her testimony to and how and when she does it.

So, she was very surprised. She told me when she found out Saturday that she was involuntarily put in the middle of a social media storm, this storm was prompted by what you just mentioned, Sara, what appears to be the use of her story during the Republican response to the State of the Union Address by Alabama Senator Katie Britt.

Years ago, Karla Jacinto told me that when she first went public with her story, Mexican politicians took advantage of her for political purposes.


I asked her, Sara, if she feels it has happened again, but now here in the United States, and this is what she told me when I reached her in Mexico City.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KARLA JACINTO, SEX TRAFFICKING SURVIVOR: Yes. In fact, I hardly ever cooperate with politicians because it seems to me that they only want an image. They only want a photo. And that, to me, is not fair.

I work as a spokesperson for many victims who have no voice, and I really would like them to be empathetic. And I think she should first take into account what really happens before telling a story of that magnitude.


ROMO: And, Sara, Karla Jacinto also told me that Senator Britt got many of the facts of her story wrong. First of all, Jacinto says that she was not trafficked by Mexican drug cartels, but by a pimp that operated as part of a family that entrapped vulnerable girls in order to force them into prostitution.

Number two, she also said that she was never trafficked in the United States, as Senator Britt appeared to suggest. She was kept in captivity from 2004 to 2008 when President George W. Bush, a Republican, was in office as opposed to the current administration, as the senator implied.

But then, again, in Mexico, and four, she met the senator at an event at the border with government officials and anti-human trafficking activists instead of a one-and-one. And, Sara, CNN has confirmed much of what Jacinto has said in prior reporting, and her story hasn't changed since we first spoke.

Jacinto told me no one, no one reached out to her to ask for her permission to use her story as part of a political speech, and as someone using my story and distorting it for political purposes, she told me, it's not fair at all.

Sara, back to you.

SIDNER: Senator Britt has a lot of explaining to do with all of these factual errors in the story that she told the American public. Thank you so much, Rafael Romo. I appreciate it. John?

BERMAN: All right. We have some good stuff this morning or a good ruff, as the case may be. A dog got a seat at the Oscars. Messi was one of the stars of Anatomy of a Fall, which won best original screenplay last night. Messi even got a shout out from Jimmy Kimmel in the opening monologue.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is he, Messi, who, even though he's a dog, may have given the performance of the year in Anatomy of a Fall.


BERMAN: Now, during the break, my producer was trying to tell me that Messi actually speaks French. Being a good journalist, I asked to follow. I'm like, does Messi speak French or understand French? I can now report to you, Messi does not speak French, as far as we know, but does answer to French commands. So, we have that cleared up. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Did you just spend time on TV clearing that up?

I'm also just going to say this. You're welcome. Why is John Cena not wearing clothes?

BERMAN: Better him than me.

BOLDUAN: I mean, Halloween costume, John, the strange anniversary that he was helping to mark at the Oscars.

Also, the race to save a beached whale stuck on a Florida sandbar for two days now. We'll be right back.