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NTSB To Hold Public Hearing on Door Plug Blowout in August; GOP's Ken Buck Announces Early Resignation from Congress; House of Representatives to Vote on Bill Requiring TikTok to Separate from Owner ByteDance for Face Ban in U.S.; Possible TikTok Ban with Bipartisan Support in House Potentially Faces More Challenges in Senate. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired March 13, 2024 - 08:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: That 70 percent of the voting population didn't want to see, and now one of the longest general elections anyone is going to see. How do you make that not feel that way.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, there are stages --

BOLDUAN: They really --

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Are you asking us for political purposes or for TV purposes?


BOLDUAN: I really do mean this, I really do mean this for political strategy, you have to start thinking about this.

CUPP: There are stages of grief. And America will go through some anger, will go through some denial, will go through some bargaining, like, you know, third-party candidate, could it happen? And then they will accept, because there is a long time, we'll have some time to get used to this. And eventually it will sink in that these are the people we have to choose from, and we have ourselves to blame for this total lack of imagination.

BOLDUAN: I'm trying to think of everyone at home thinking, what stage of grief is it when Kate and John are on television. Thank you, guys. And thank you for coming in. Appreciate it.

The next hour of CNN NEWS CENTRAL starts now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The kremlin says it is ready for nuclear war. Russian President Vladimir Putin issues a stark warning to the U.S. saying any U.S. troops on the ground in Ukraine will come with dire consequences.

The Uvalde police chief suddenly submitted his resignation just days after the city's independent report cleared local officials, local officers of wrongdoing in the horrific elementary school massacre. And a possible end to hours of scrolling, and TikTok content creators

say maybe millions of small businesses. House lawmakers set to vote on a bill this morning that could ban the popular app in the United States.

I'm John Berman with Kate Bolduan. Sara is off today. This is CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

This will backfire -- that is the new warning from China just hours before the House is expected to vote on a bill that could ban TikTok in the United States. The legislation on the floor would force the Chinese parent company to sell TikTok in five-and-a-half months. If that is not done, it would be banned from U.S. app stores. TikTok says the bill is an infringement on free speech and could have a devastating impact on small businesses. I did speak with one small business owner and TikTok creator just a few minutes ago.


SUMMER LUCILLE, TIKTOK CONTENT CREATOR AND SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: If you vote for this ban, 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 say this will highly influenced who I vote for, especially in November.


BERMAN: So the bill does need a two-thirds majority to pass the House, which would require support from both sides of the aisle, then it would advance to the Senate where it is on shaky grounds.

CNN's Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill. We just heard some of the fierce lobbying effort against it. Eric Swalwell from California told me he's a no vote a little while ago. Where do things stand in the House where it would take a two-thirds vote?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously, House leadership is confident that they are going to have the votes to move this bill forward or they wouldn't be bringing it under a suspension of the rules, like, as you noted, will require them to get two-thirds of a majority of the House of Representatives to advance this legislation.

Look, this is one of those rare bipartisan moments in the House of Representatives, especially as lawmakers in the Republican and Democratic parties are poised to support this bill today.

Now, the future in the Senate is much less certain. Yesterday, Chuck Schumer, who is the Democratic majority leader, he made clear he is still looking at the bill. And there are some Democrats who are warning that moving forward with this legislation could hurt Biden's chances with young voters. Here's what they said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. MAXWELL FROST (D-FL): I don't think it'll be helpful with young voters, but my argument here, yes, it has to do with young people, but taking a step back, I just think its bad policy.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Successful politics is addition and multiplication, and cutting out a large group of young voters is not the best known strategy for reelection.


FOX: One factor to watch today, John, is the impact that Donald Trump has had over this legislation. While many House Republican leaders have made clear they're backing this, included Elise Stefanik, Trump has been less enthusiastic. Does that have an effect on the vote total today? Does not have an effect on some of those hardline conservatives? We are going to be watching, and we'll let you know, John.

BERMAN: Look, you say House leadership is confident, it's bringing it to the floor for the vote. But counting hasn't always been their strong point, I'll say euphemistically.


Lauren Fox, keep us posted what you hear. Thank you very much. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Again, you are so presumptuous.

Joining us right now to talk more about this is Chris Krebs, former director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency during the Trump administration. It's good to see you again, Chris. Talk to me about what do you think of this bill? What do you think of this move by Congress?

CHRIS KREBS, FORMER TOP CYBERSECURITY OFFICIAL WITH DHS: Well, I think Lauren nailed it, right. I mean, there are very few items right now on either chambers of Congress that have bipartisan support. And this cleared the Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously, 50 to zero. That that never happens these days.

And so it shows me that there is very strong support in the House. I believe the vote happens about 10:15 a.m. eastern today. I assume it's going to pass. And then as Lauren pointed out, it'll go to the Senate where it is on shaky ground for a number of different reasons, including the fact that the Senate doesn't always like working off House paper. But it does give the Senate an opportunity to take a look at some of I think what are likely legal challenges down the road, and perhaps take a stronger bill to the floor should leader Schumer take that route.

BOLDUAN: I guess one of the overarching questions I would have beyond the specific bill, Chris, is when you're looking at the landscape of the potential national security threats of specifically TikTok, do you think something should be done when it comes to the national security risks posed by this app and the parent company? KREBS: Look, I think we lose sight of the bigger objectives of the

national security community, whether it's in the administration or in the Congress, just due to daily news cycles. But if you step back and look at the last two, three, four, five years, there is a consistent, ongoing pushback against aggression from the Communist Party of China. And it's particularly acute, this pushback, in the digital domain, whether it's cyber or pushback against technology companies like Huawei. And now you have TikTok.

And as I look at the risks that the administration and, again, Congress are focused on, it's of a dual nature. One is the data collection and access, and the other is the algorithms in of themselves and how they can influence the users. My suggestions, as I've talked to whether it's the committee that developed this, is focus on the clearer threat of the data collection in the privacy issues, rather than the algorithm. I think that's where they're going to get in longer-term First Amendment challenges.

They are trying to pretty narrowly focus on the economic transactions that happen at the app level with Google and Apple, but if you really do look it, I think, the data collection and the data access by Chinese personnel in China, which TikTok and ByteDance had admitted to several times, that's probably their strongest chance of success because of the national security interests.

BOLDUAN: I want to play for everyone -- I know you've probably seen it, but I want to play for everyone. This was part of the annual threat assessment that's provided by the U.S. intelligence agencies, presented to Congress and the public every year. I want to play some of what we heard from the director of national intelligence and the FBI director on this.


REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI, (D-IL): Director Haines, you cannot rule out that the CCP could again, just like they did here, use TikTok as a platform to influence 2024 elections, right?

AVRIL HAINES, DIRECTOR FOR NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: We cannot rule out that the CCP could use it, correct.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R-FL): And if they said we want you to put out videos that make Americans fight with each other or spread conspiracy theories and get them at each other's throat, ByteDance can't go to a Chinese court and fight the Communist Party. They would have to do it?

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: That's my understanding, and I would just add that that kind of influence operation or the different kinds of influence operations you're describing, are extraordinarily difficult to detect, which is part of what makes the national security concerns represented by TikTok so significant.


BOLDUAN: Chris, how do you think the threats to election security specifically look now compared to eight years ago? KREBS: Look, so first off, those videos were -- those clips were

Tuesday and Monday respectively. And on Monday, the director of national intelligence released the intelligence community's worldwide threat assessment that specifically called out propaganda arms of the CCP that attempted to influence the 2022 midterms. So this is not theoretical. This is here, this is now, this is happening. And it will only accelerate, in my view, going into 2024.

And it's not just China, right? It's Russia, it's Iran. And that is one of the challenges is that while the CCP potentially has the ability to tweak the algorithms and put their thumb on the scale, it's another vehicle, or another mechanism for those in Russia and elsewhere.


The biggest problem, though, it is not just a TikTok problem. This is a much larger issue with platforms that are under the subversive control of our adversaries. And this may include platforms like Telegram, but also WeChat, I think that was discussed previously, that we need to keep an eye on. We have to look at what are the data security implications and then the broader threats to here, democracy in the U.S.

BOLDUAN: Chris, it's great to have you on for some perspective on this. Thank you for coming in.

KREBS: Thanks so much.


BERMAN: So new information this morning about the blown door panel on the terrifying Alaska Airlines flight. The maintenance scheduled now for that very same day.

And it is the worst year of the nine years and three months than I have been in Congress. The surprise announcement from one Republican congressman and what his resignation means for the even slimmer Republican House majority now.

And half-a-million dollars lost at sea. Coastal homeowners are out the money after waves washed away their pricey dunes (ph) in just days.



BERMAN: This morning, new details on the Alaska Airlines flight, the one where the door plug ripped off minutes after takeoff in January leaving a gaping hole.

Alaska Airlines says the plane was scheduled to undergo maintenance that same night after it completed several flights. The airline told "The New York Times" that the Boeing 737 Max was going to be taken out of service to look into warning lights. Those lights lit up twice over the ten days before the door plug tore off. The NTSB said that had to do with pressurization and is unrelated to

the blowout. The NTSB will hold a rare public hearing in August where Boeing officials could be subpoenaed to testify.

With us now, CNN safety analyst and former FAA safety inspector, David Soucie.

So David, the plane was scheduled for this maintenance because they were concerned about something, yet, it still took off and had some other flights it was going to do. How unusual is that? You have this scheduled delayed maintenance.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, it depends on the severity of the threat, John, and obviously the impact of this threat wasn't assessed, right? It is easy to look back though and say, I have 20/20 vision, we have to understand that.

However, in this case, the decision to return to service, I think was a poor decision. I think they should have done something more, but I wasn't there, so it is hard to judge that decision at that moment.

BERMAN: You weren't there, but you are experienced in inspecting and talking about this kind of thing. So Boeing is going to be part of this rare public hearing in August.

What would you ask?

SOUCIE: Yes, and --

BERMAN: Well, first of all, how rare is that?

SOUCIE: The fact that Boeing would be part of that, is -- it just shows how extensive this goes. It was a mistake that started way back when these bolts weren't put in and it continued to propagate itself in the decisions that Air Alaska made later returning the aircraft to service after they had these indicator lights, they checked into it, they didn't find anything, but it kept going and going.

It just -- this threat just went right through all the safety mechanisms that are in place, and the fact that it is being investigated from the beginning to the end is admirable. I think it has to be done to prevent this from happening again.

BERMAN: So what would you ask? What are the crucial things that need to be learned at this hearing and elsewhere?

SOUCIE: Well, here is the first thing I would ask. Vice President Tidwell in charge of safety keeps standing behind the fact that didn't meet our criteria for grounding the aircraft, it had happened two times and they said it takes three to happen.

Well, all well and good if that's your decision, however, you need to look at that process. You need to introspectively look at yourself as an airline and say, is that the right thing to do? He is standing behind, we did the right thing because it was accordance with our processes. But if your processes are wrong, that's not going to help anybody. It

has to be fixed and that's where it concerns me is this introspective look, it does not appear to be happening, and I hope Congress enforces that it does.

BERMAN: I took two flights this past weekend, both were on Boeing 737 Max jets and I did it because that's just what I do. But should I have been concerned? Should passengers be concerned about being on these planes?

SOUCIE: You know, John, that's a really good question. A lot of people are asking it. I've even asked it myself, but the fact is there is nothing wrong engineering-wise with what is going on here. We have to understand these are human failures, human things that have happened in millions and millions of flights every single day and to start being ultra-focused on this, we have to be cautious about having conclusion bias.

In other words, if you're looking for something to be unsafe, it will be unsafe in your mind. So we have to make sure that you're looking at this in a broad scope and understand that it still is the safest system in the world. You're safer on an airplane than you are pretty much anywhere else or anything else you do, so keep that in mind.

I don't think there is any urgency to start making reactions and avoiding these jets at this point.

BERMAN: David Soucie, great to see you this morning. Thank you so much -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: So his police force was just cleared in a controversial report on their response arms to the Uvalde school massacre, and now, the police chief is resigning.

Also, Ukraine launching its largest strike to date against Russia.



BERMAN: So this morning, Republicans in the House of Representatives are about to be one vote closer to losing their majority. Republican Ken Buck from Colorado, he announced, he is done.

Buck tells AXIOS this morning that his colleagues are not sweating it just yet. He says, "I think it is the next three people that leave that they are going to be worried about."

With us now, CNN senior data reporter, Harry Enten, and to an extent, Buck is right. This isn't about the numbers as much, but it is just about the issue of disgust and how many of the members who are there just are hating being there right now.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: That's exactly right, and we're not done, we've only just begun.


All right, here we go. US House retirements, resignations, and other people leaving for personal reasons. In fact, it is 24 Republicans, but its slightly more Democrats, it's 25 here.

It is a pox on both of their Houses, John. This is what you're getting at. Folks, simply put, do not want to be there and we often talk about folks not wanting to be there.

But the fact is, in this particular year, it is a bipartisan effort. Yes, there have been a ton of Republicans, but there have also been a ton of Democrats who are saying, you know what? Screw this. We're done.

BERMAN: How unprecedented is this?

ENTEN: Yes, so oftentimes you hear about, oh, folks are not happy with being in the House. They're not happy with being in Congress. Everybody hates us, et cetera, et cetera.

So this is a Congress with at least 20 House member leaving this early, announcing that they're leaving this early from both parties. So 20-plus from the Democrats, 20-plus from the Republicans. Since all the way back in 2006, there has only been one time where that has occurred and that is less particular Congress, 2024 -- 2023-2024 and there have been no other since 2006.

So we are often hearing about how bad Congresses are, but this is historically bad in terms of the folks who are leaving.


ENTEN: They are just absolutely fed up, John.

BERMAN: So this has never happened before. You've never seen this many from both parties leaving, which tells you something. Usually, the party that thinks it is going to lose control, they flee because no one likes to be in the minority.


BERMAN: In this case, it is both parties. The question is, why? What is it about what is happening or not happening that seems to be you know, dissing them also.

ENTEN: Yes, what is so perturbing to them? How about this? We often say Congress and Washington simply put, doesn't work. Well, if it doesn't work, it is not working to a historic degree right now, right?

Bills and resolutions that become law at this point in Congress since 1973, the prior low was 85. That was a decade ago. All right, look at where we are through this Congress, just 42, about half the level of the prior law of bills Congress has actually going into effect.

And so you're going to yourself, wait a minute, why am I putting up with all this garbage from if I am a Congress person, because the fact is, we are not doing anything.

You know, we've often talked about all of these House parliamentary procedures that we haven't been hearing about since forever. But just coming down to the basics, the basics of actually doing their jobs. They're not able to do their jobs, so they're going and asking themselves, why are we sticking around for this?

BERMAN: And how do people view the jobs that they are doing?

ENTEN: Yes. Exactly right. So it is not just that they're not able to do their jobs. These are thankless jobs. This is what's really cooking as well.

Americans views of Congress, just 12 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing according to a recent Gallup poll, 83 percent. My goodness gracious, you can barely get 83 percent of Americans to agree on anything, disapprove of the job that Congress is doing.

This 12 percent, John is the lowest since 2015. So what you're getting is folks who can't do their jobs and then they are thankless jobs as well. And that my friend is a bipartisan effort, but I am glad that we are able to do for jobs together.

BERMAN: Yes, now, this is a bad combination. This is a rough combination for them. Listen to what Ken Buck is saying from Colorado there because it is instructive as to the feelings in the House right now.

ENTEN: You've got it right, buddy.


BOLDUAN: May I pipe in on one thing? What often comes with that last -- the slide that you guys have is often that people despise Congress as a whole, but if you ask them specifically about their member of Congress, they seem to approve of them more and I wonder what that looks like?

Now, I'm not entirely sure we have all that data, but I do wonder if even that is shifting given how bad it is right now.

ENTEN: You know, it is so funny. I do spend a lot of time in the spreadsheets and I can still tell you that most of the polling, it is a little above 50 percent, but it is not that far above 50 percent.

Most members of Congress are going to get re-elected come this November if they decide to run, but it is just that general feeling, I think, Kate...


ENTEN: ... of folks just being, you go out there and like, oh I'm a Congressman -- I almost would be afraid to announce that I was a congressman given the feelings that folks have towards them.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Harry.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Go and get it for us.

Washed away, a half million dollar investment designed to protect beach front homes from climate change -- the effects of climate change -- proves defenseless against climate change.

And rats destroying evidence at one police department and it is becoming an unexpected drug problem.


ANNE KIRKPATRICK, SUPERINTENDENT, NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Major rodents now on the floor, the cockroaches, the rats eating our marijuana. They're all high.