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Ex-Trump Official Steve Mnuchin Assembling Group Of TikTok Buyers; China Now Bans Google, YouTube, X & More Amid Talk Of TikTok Sale; White House Weighs Using Guantanamo Bay To Process Haitian Migrants; Haiti Prepares For New Leadership As Crisis Unfolds; SpaceX's Rocket Now Lost After Successful Launch Into Space. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 14, 2024 - 13:30   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Plus, new surveillance video of Riley Strain, the college student who seemingly vanished without a trace in bustling downtown Nashville. This video is raising concerns.

All this and more coming up on CNN NEWS CENTRAL


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The bill to force the sale of TikTok from its China -- Chinese owner has not yet become law. It still would need to go through the Senate. It's still would need to be signed by President Biden.

But already, there is a potential buyer and he used to work in the Trump administration. Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, telling CNBC today he is assembling a group of investors.



STEVEN MNUCHIN, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY: I've spoken to a bunch of people. But -

UNIDENTIFIED CNBC ANCHOR: Who -- who will be part of your group?

MNUCHIN: I can't tell that to you now, but it would be --


MNUCHIN: -- it would be -- it would be a combination of investors. So there would be no one investor that controlled this.

And the issue is all about the technology. This needs to be controlled by the U.S.

UNIDENTIFIED CNBC ANCHOR: Let me ask you a very --

(END VIDEO CLIP) KEILAR: Now, yesterday, the House passed the bill to ban TikTok, unless it is sold, by a big bipartisan majority, 352 to 65. Again, we're watching the Senate and President Biden.

And CNN's Matt Egan is tracking this story for us.

All right, Matt, tell us about this deal that Steve Mnuchin is trying to do. And you know, he may want to buy. But ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, would have to want to sell. Is that a reality?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Brianna, this was a bit of a shocker, right? Mnuchin coming out saying he's trying to assemble a team of investors to buy TikTok.

But as you note, no one said TikTok is actually for sale and we don't know if this bill is going to make it through the Senate.

And perhaps the bigger issue here is that China considers TikTok to be sensitive technology. Officials there say that they would oppose any forced sale of TikTok to a foreign power.

And that's why a veteran tech analyst, Dan Ives, he told me that China will never sell TikTok with the source code. That is the special sauce that makes TikTok, TikTok.

And without the source code, Ives told me that buying TikTok would be like buying an F-1 sports car without the engine, right? It just would not make any sense.

And that's why some people think that the more likely buyer would be a tech company. Of course, there could be antitrust hurdles there.

Listen to what Mnuchin said about that on CNBC.


MNUCHIN: Let me first say, I don't think there should be controlled by any of the big U.S. tech companies. I think there could be antitrust issues on that.

And it should be something that's independent. So we have a real competitor.

And users love it. So it shouldn't be shut down.

The technology -- I won't go into all the details. But the app needs to be rebuilt in the U.S. It needs to be U.S. technology. I think there's a lot that could be done in six months, but I would work closely with the U.S. and with China.


EGAN: Now, even if TikTok is for sale, it won't be cheap. Analysts estimate it could be worth $100 billion. And there's no guarantee that Mnuchin can come up with that much dough -- Brianna? KEILAR: So today, a spokesman for the Chinese government, Matt, says

that the House bill is an act of bullying that will backfire on America.

Mnuchin, as many people do, Matt, refer to the fact that China currently bans many U.S. apps. Of course, a lot of people will point out that, yes, but China his Communist and the U.S. is Democratic.

So what do you make of all this?

EGAN: Brianna, Mnuchin is definitely right that China does ban a lot of the most popular U.S. apps. Some of the ones that our viewers use every day, might be scrolling through right now, concluding Facebook Instagram, YouTube, X, which is the app formerly known as Twitter.

So in some ways, yes, China might be getting a taste of its own medicine if TikTok was banned.

But as you know, Brianna, there's also some political issues here at stake. I mean, TikTok is wildly popular. It lists more than 170 million U.S. users. And 63 percent of teens in the United States use TikTok.

So, Brianna, the stakes here are massive. And there could be political ramifications as well.

KEILAR: Yes. Their version of TikTok as well is a little more, what would you say, enriching, I think, than the American version we should mention.


KEILAR: Matt Egan, thank you so much for that report.

Next, the potential plan to use one of Americas most infamous prisons to house Haitian refugees.


And the launch went great, but now SpaceX has lost its latest rocket. So what happened here? We'll have that.


SANCHEZ: Royal Caribbean is suspending cruises to the northern coast of Haiti as violence escalates there. Gangs have run rampant in recent weeks. They've sent the country spiraling into chaos and prompted the prime minister to resign.

We're also learning that the Biden administration might use the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to deal with a possible influx of migrants fleeing the crisis.

CNN's Carlos Suarez is covering the source from Miami.

Carlos, what are you hearing about how this plan could work? CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris, the American naval base

in Cuba is about 200 miles from Haiti, so it makes sense that the U.S. government might want to keep any Haitian migrants that they capture at sea at this naval base. And it has been used before to hold and process Haitian migrants.

Now, the discussions to expand the capacity there I think hits at security concern. In recent years, federal officials in south Florida have had trouble processing these large number of migrants that all arrive at one time.

We're talking about these boats with hundreds of people arriving at a single incident there. That kind of incident puts a strain on local law enforcement, which often has to hold migrants until federal officials take custody of them.

So far, the Coast Guard, though, tells me that they haven't seen an increase in the number of Haitian migrants that are trying to make it to the U.S.


On Wednesday, the Florida governor's office announced that over 250 additional officers and members of the national and state guard have been called up. And that more than a dozen airplane and boats have been made available since October of 2023.

The Coast Guard said that 131 Haitian migrants have been stopped and sent back to Haiti. And just earlier this month, Boris, a group of 65 migrants were stopped near the Bahamas.

SANCHEZ: Carlos, the crisis there has now exploded into full-blown violence. The U.N. is estimating that gangs control roughly 80 percent of the country. More than 300,000 people have been displaced.

What's the latest about what conditions are like on the ground?

SUAREZ: Well, Boris, the violence really hasn't let up. But there is word that Haiti's airport could soon reopen.

We're told that repairs in areas that gang members broke through late last month are almost complete. And that about 150 Haitian police and military officers are at this moment guarding the airport.

Now, yesterday, Ariel Henry met with his cabinet for the first time since he offered to resign.

And all of this is taking place as political parties on the island debate who will make up that transitional council that will pick Haiti's next leader and then lay the foundations for elections.

Now, Henry isn't helping on that front. His office told CNN that Haiti's constitution states that only he and his cabinet can appoint a council for the transition of power.

Now the United Nation's secretary-general's spokesperson quickly pushed back on that, saying that the agreement that was reached by CARICOM, the regional trade bloc, that is the only path forward right now.

As for the violence, a fire broke out this morning at one of the prisons that was attacked by armed groups last week. Though it doesn't appear that there were any prisoners inside.

Boris, local media reports that the remaining inmates were moved to other detention centers after that attack.

SANCHEZ: Carlos Suarez, live from Miami for us. Thanks so much for the update, Carlos.

So there's good news and bad news. The world's most powerful rocket launches for the third time and goes further than ever. The bad news, good luck trying to find it. That story is next.




CROWD: Five, four, three, two, one.



SANCHEZ: The third time is the charm, kind of. The world's most powerful rocket lifting off this morning. The SpaceX Starship making it further into its test flight than ever before.

KEILAR: Pretty eye-popping launch there.

Shortly into the flight, SpaceX announced, though, that the Starship is now lost.

We have seen in space correspondent, Kristin Fisher, here with us taking issue with everything --


KEILAR: -- everything we just said.

You said, what, we had -- what went wrong, went up, and you said, guys, what went right?


KEILAR: Explain this. I mean, they did lose it, so why is that a good thing, Kristin?

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE & DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Because the plan was always to lose this Starship.


FISHER: Starship was always going to be lost because, if this performed absolutely perfectly, it was only going to be a roughly 45- minute flight and then it was going to splashdown in the Indian Ocean.

Instead, it likely broke up just above the Indian Ocean, but it got very close to that ultimate pie-in-the-sky destination, right?

And I say that because, in order to get a launch license from the FAA, you have to pick your ultimate target, even if that's not the primary objective of the mission.

And for this test flight -- and it is a test flight -- the goal was to see if they could get it to orbital velocity or orbital speeds. And Starship did that.

It also was able to feed back this incredible --


FISHER: -- live H.D. footage along the way for about 45 minutes, though there were a few coms blackouts.

And what you're seeing right here are the grid fins on the super heavy booster as it came back to earth. It didn't stick the landing. We don't think it fully performed absolutely perfectly, guys --


FISHER: -- but far more went right than wrong.

And just to kind of -- I mean, I've got Boris over here giving me --


SANCHEZ: You started saying it was always the plan and they are saying, well, it didn't go perfectly fine. It was always the plan to blow up in space.

FISHER: It succeeded its primary objectives.




FISHER: And what I would say, as we debate whether this is a success or a failure --


SANCHEZ: It's cool to look at.

FISHER: SpaceX --


FISHER: SpaceX's primary competitor, Blue Origin, headed by Jeff Bezos, has congratulated Elon Musk and SpaceX and called this a successful test flight.

And so has Bill Nelson, the NASA administrator and NASA.


So it's not really up to the media, I think, to determine things as success or failure.

But when you have SpaceX's competitor --


FISHER: -- saying that this is a success, I think that's a good measure.

KEILAR: Actually, we'd like to anoint ourselves the judges here.


KEILAR: No. Is it -- is it partially that we just have an unrealistic expectation based on the experience of watching a lot of launches through NASA, where obviously the -- you know, the shuttle program had been in place for so long?


KEILAR: And almost -- so often. And obviously they had struggles, and to deadly effect, right? But they were so often successful. It's just -- it was rare in that day of space exploration that we saw failures.

FISHER: But think of how slow NASA is, right?

KEILAR: That's true. OK.

FISHER: Bureaucratic government --


KEILAR: She's --


SANCHEZ: She's trying.

FISHER: -- moves so slow.

SANCHEZ: I'm not fine.


FISHER: The reason that SpaceX is able to do things like this is because they're not afraid to fail. And they say they're doing rapid iterative development.

Which is the point, is to push the vehicle to failure so that they learned from it. It's the kind of thing that governments can't do.

KEILAR: You won me over, Kristin.



KEILAR: At least one of us, right?

SANCHEZ: It's the thing of, like, if you shoot for the moon, but you don't make it, you're still among the stars.



FISHER: Really?


SANCHEZ: Kristin Fisher --

FISHER: You were so upset that Odysseus, the lunar lander didn't send


SANCHEZ: -- a false bill of goods. I was told it landed perfectly. It's great. It's taking a selfie of itself. And I was like, no, it actually landed on its side and no pictures. It's like --

FISHER: Now you're getting H.D. video.

SANCHEZ: It underscores the fact that this is something very difficult to do


SANCHEZ: We appreciate it. We appreciate watching it.

Kristin Fisher, we appreciate you.


FISHER: Thanks, guys.

SANCHEZ: So right now, history is being made because Vice President Kamala Harris is visiting a place that no sitting president or vice president has been to before.

A clear strategy as the White House looks to keep a very hot-button issue, reproductive rights, front and center in this election. We'll explain in just moments.