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Trump and Biden Clinch Nominations, Setting Up Election Rematch; Soon, House Votes on Bill That Could Ban TikTok in U.S.; Putin Ready to Use Nukes, But Says There's Never Been Such a Need. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired March 13, 2024 - 07:00   ET




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Okay. With that, thanks to all of you for joining us. I'm Kasie Hunt. Don't go anywhere. CNN News Central starts right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is historic. It's unprecedented. And it is on. This morning, there are two presumptive presidential nominees for the longest stretch we have ever seen. We've got new reporting on how both campaigns are attacking this period.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: An extinction-level threat to humans, the new warning now from the State Department about the possible impacts of artificial intelligence.

And banning one of the world's most popular social media apps, the major vote against TikTok before the House today, as the nation's top intel chief warns China could try to use that app to meddle in the 2024 elections.

I'm Kate Bolduan with John Berman. Sara is out today. This is CNN News Central.

BERMAN: This morning, aren't you presumptuous? Aren't we all? Actually, the right word is presumptive and it is not really us, it is them, President Biden and Donald Trump. Overnight, they became the presumptive nominees for president. They may be presumptuous too but that's not an issue here.

This morning they have both secured enough delegates to get their party's nominations. They are presumptive because it does not become official until the conventions this summer. So, now, we kick off what might be the most historic and important presumptive election stretch in history.

Now, we assume you know they ran against each other before, though they say we should never assume because it makes an ass out of you and me.

This morning, President Biden heads to Wisconsin, a key swing state he won once and needs to win again. He will discuss his new tax, health care and climate plans. After Donald Trump, he will take the presumptive road less traveled. Literally, he has not left Florida in days. He is preparing for a key court date and made moves overnight to be prepared to challenge an election that is just barely beginning.

CNN's Alayna Treene is with us now covering the Trump campaign with the latest, the beginning of this really incredible presumptive stretch we're on, Alayna.

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, you're exactly right John. I mean, there's no question going into last night that both Joe Biden and Donald Trump would be party's respective nominees. But it was important because it really cemented that status run. And they now have the necessary delegates to formally clinch the nomination come the conventions this summer.

But, look, Donald Trump had already been acting like a general election candidate even before Nikki Haley dropped out. But now comes the hard work, and his team recognizes where his weaknesses are. I'm told that they are focused heavily and specifically in seven key battleground states. That includes Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, among others.

And their focus is really going to be trying to peel off specific voting blocks from Joe Biden, ones they know that he had a lot of support with in 2020, but they think he can gain ground with ahead of 2024 in November. Part of that is black male voters in Georgia, Hispanic voters in Arizona, working class and union voters in Michigan.

They recognize that they're not going to be able to totally change these demographics but they want to siphon off enough support to offset some of the other areas of concerns, like with independent voters and suburban voters, that the know Donald Trump needs to work on.

Now, Donald Trump, in response to him clinching the nomination, or I should say receiving enough delegates to clinch the nominations last night, he did issue a video response, and he addressed that the next eight months are going be tough. Take a listen to how he put it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're not going to take time to celebrate. We'll celebrate in eight months when the election is over. November 5th, I believe, will go down as the most important day in the history of our country.


TREENE: Now, John, I also just want to point you to another strategy and area that they're focusing on now in earnest that he is the presumptive nominee, and that is with the RNC. We know that Donald Trump had overhauled the RNC. We saw him install his hand-pick leaders, Michael Whatley as chairman, his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, to serve as co-chair.


But we've learned overnight that they're also shifting to a new focus, and that's election integrity. Chris LaCivita, one of Donald Trump's top advisers on the campaign, who also now has a top role at the RNC, picked two people, one, a Republican lawyer, Charlie Spies, and also Christina Bobb, a former One America News Network correspondent, to focus on election integrity specifically.

And so we're really seeing them already kind of preview one of their key focuses as they gear up for this general election. And it's going to continue to be what we saw in 2020, which is their focus on potential fraud in November.

And I also just want to point out that this focus on election integrity is something that Donald Trump cares very much about. It's one of the reasons he was so angry with the former chairwoman of the RNC, Ronna McDaniel. He really was frustrated with her for what he argued was them not doing enough in 2020 to battle his claims of election fraud.

And so we're seeing that really play out now with how he's trying to put his imprint on the RNC and the Republican Party overall. John?

BERMAN: Well, it also has obvious P.R. implications, given that he is charged with trying to overturn the results of an election, speaking of election integrity.

Alayna Treene, great to see you this morning, thank you very much. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Well, aren't you presumptuous?

BERMAN: I am always, a little.

BOLDUAN: Okay. So, as President Biden officially locks in the presumptive Democratic nominee status of his own, he is hitting the road, continuing his focus on battleground states. Today, it's Wisconsin, which Biden won by only 20,000 votes last time around.

Priscilla Alvarez is following this for us from the White House this morning. What is the pitch to Wisconsin voters today? PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Look, this is a battleground state that the president and his campaign have their eyes on. And when he goes to Wisconsin today, he'll be opening up a campaign headquarters to mobilize voters and helping that outreach to voters in the state, but also touting infrastructure projects, yet another theme of his campaign.

And after this visit to Wisconsin, he'll go straight to Michigan, another battleground state. This is a pitch that already started yesterday. The president met with the Teamsters, a critical union with 1.3 million members, that the president is trying to secure an endorsement from to bolster his coalition, especially that among unions. It just goes to show that the president and the campaign are really trying to target these battleground states to make sure that he can secure them again in 2024, knowing it's going to be very close margins.

And it's all as the campaign pivots toward the general election in earnest. The president saying in a statement yesterday that he was honored to clinch the Democratic nomination and putting out this video in response.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Are you ready? Are you ready to defend democracy? Are you ready to protect our freedom? Are you ready to win this election?


ALVAREZ: Now, Georgia played a key role in putting President Biden over the top. Campaign officials called that, quote, the cherry on top. Georgia was a state that the president also won narrowly in 2020, also one that he visited over the weekend trying to get voters to the polls.

It's a key state also because there aren't any of those statewide races that would bolster voter turnout in the way that was the case in previous years. So, it's going to have to stem directly from enthusiasm for President Biden. So, all of that coming together as the president continues to hit the trail and make his case for a second term in office. Kate?

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, Priscilla. Thank you. John?

BERMAN: All right. A vote just hours away on Capitol Hill. Time could be running out for TikTok.

A new warning from Vladimir Putin about nuclear weapons as Ukraine carries out its largest drone attack overnight.

And the judge in Georgia's election subversion case says he could rule at any moment on whether to remove Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis from the case.


BERMAN: So, new this morning, China is warning that a TikTok ban in the U.S. will backfire just hours before a crucial vote in the House of Representatives. Lawmakers are expected to vote on a bill that could ban Tiktok nationwide, claiming the app poses a threat to national security because it is owned by ByteDance, which is a Beijing-based company.

Now, if Congress passes this bill, TikTok would be required to sever itself from the parent company, ByteDance, or become illegal to download in the United States.

With me now is Tiktok content creator and small business owner Summer Lucille. Summer, thanks so much for being with us.

You were in Washington lobbying lawmakers, trying to convince members of Congress to vote no on this bill, why?

SUMMER LUCILLE, FOUNDER AND OWNER, JUICY BODY GODDESS BOUTIQUE: Because I want to be the voice for 170 million TikTokers and people, American people in this country that it has that TikTok has impacted and connected with and represent my business.

BERMAN: How important is it to your business?

LUCILLE: Tiktok has changed my life. When I got on Tik tok in 2022, it changed my life forever. I was able to gain followers. I was able to connect with my community. I was able to grow business and upscale to a warehouse of 1,500 square feet, get a brick and mortar into a mall location.


It changed my life forever. I have people flying in from California, the U.K., Seattle, New York, just to visit my store just because they heard about me from TikTok.

BERMAN: So, how would it change your business if TikTok were owned by an American company instead of a Chinese company?

LUCILLE: I believe it would change the dynamics of TikTok. It would change the culture of TikTok. We will be limited to what we can say and limited to what we can do, which is against the American way. So, that's -- I feel that it would change the culture of TikTok being owned by any other entity.

BERMAN: Well, I guess what I'm saying here, I mean, there are members of Congress, national security experts, U.S. intelligence that have concerns about Chinese influence over this parent company. Do you have any concerns about the national security implications of this?

LUCILLE: No, I do not. TikTok has spent the most money and resources that have thousands and thousands of employees that work on just that end of protecting us and the American people. No other platform has made any type of attempt to protect us like TikTok. BERMAN: Is there anything that anyone could say or show you that would convince you that it might not be a great idea to have this level of Chinese influence over a company that's this powerful?

LUCILLE: They do not have influence. I think if we sit down and we understand and reread the bill, and you understand, and you listen to the CEO, we all will come to the conclusion and understand they do not have any kind of influence over the app.

That's where the misunderstanding, I think, lies with the American people. They do not have influence over us or over TikTok. And we have to give American people credit. We are smart. We're not going to let somebody just influence us, right? The average American person is smart, right?

So, with that being said, if you read it and you look at the truth and you read the paperwork and you look at the bill and you listen to the CEO, you will see that there is no connection with China and TikTok.

BERMAN: How would you feel about a politician who voted to ban TikTok? Could you ever vote for one of these members of Congress if they do vote for this ban?

LUCILLE: If you vote for this band, you are voting against my first amendment and my way of freedom of speech. You are voting against my small business. You are voting against me getting a slice of my American pie. So, I will have to -- this will highly influence who I vote for, especially in November, the Senate. Yes, TikTok is that important to me.

BERMAN: Summer Lucille, I do appreciate your time today. I do know how important this is to you, and I've seen the work that you do, and I just want to say it's delightful. Thank you for being with us this morning.

LUCILLE: All right, thank you so much.


BOLDUAN: So, Vladimir Putin spoke to Russian state media and he definitely had things to say overnight, like there's never been such a need and he's talking about how ready Russia is to use nuclear weapons.

The plane that had the door panel blow off mid-flight, it was scheduled to head in for maintenance that same day that this terrifying incident happened. What that now adds to the investigation and the safety concerns with the Boeing plane. We'll be back.



BOLDUAN: Vladimir Putin warning on state T.V. overnight that Russia is ready to use nuclear weapons if the country's security is at risk and at stake, claiming that Russia's nuclear arsenal is much more advanced than the United States right now.

Also, while you were sleeping, Ukraine carried out its largest drone attack since Russia first invaded the county two years ago, striking three of Russia's largest oil refineries, according to a source.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen has more on this, he's joining us now. Fred, what is the message that Vladimir Putin is trying to send here?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, Kate, I always think that there's two messages when Vladimir Putin gives interviews like this. It was an interview on state media with one of the most important hosts on State Media, so definitely one that the Russian president would have taken very seriously as well.

First and foremost, everything Vladimir Putin says is always about domestic consumption. So, what he is try to say ahead of that election that, of course, is planned for, or that's going to happen on March 17 is that Russia is strong, and he is a strong leader for Russia.

I think some of the messages in there were really very interesting to hear. Once again, Vladimir Putin prodding the nuclear forces that Russian has, saying they were more modern than the U.S.'s forces that they were ready to go at any time, but then sort of walking back a little bit and saying that Russia would never be the first ones to strike, and that it would only happen if Russia's territorial existence were at risk.

Then, of course, there is the message to the United States saying watch out because Russia is in a very strong position despite the fact that, so far, they have not achieved their aims as far as the Ukraine war is concerned.


I want you to take a listen and to some of the things that Russia said about there, or what Vladimir Putin said, about Russia's nuclear capabilities. Let's listen in.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: Our triad and the whole nuclear element is more modern. In general, if we talk about the carriers and numbers of warheads, we are more or less equal, but ours are more modern. Everybody knows this. All experts know this.


PLEITGEN: Vladimir Putin talking about the nuclear triad, that obviously means delivering nuclear weapons by land, sea and by air. He also said that only the United States even has a nuclear triad comparable to Russia.

So, what he's telling the Russian audience is that Russia is a mighty country on parody as he tries to portray with the United States at the same time, of course, also a threat to the rest of the world, basically, and especially to NATO members not to mess with Russia.

There were a couple of other things, Kate, that I think we should also take note of. He warned the U.S. from sending ground troops into Ukraine. Of course, no one said that they want to send ground troops, but nevertheless, he mentioned that in the interview.

He also threatened Poland as well, saying that if they were to send ground troops into Ukraine, that those troops would probably want to stay there, again, the Poles also not talking about sending troops to Ukraine.

So, in general, a very bullish interview that we heard there from Vladimir Putin out of that key election forum on March 17th, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. More a coronation than an election, of course, as we continue to point out. It's great to see you, Fred, thank you so much. John?

BERMAN: The human race could be extinct in 30 years, the new warning from the godfather of artificial intelligence.

And Aaron Rodgers for vice president, apparently on the shortlist for one presidential candidate.