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Trump Warns of Bloodbath for Auto Industry, Country If He Loses in November; One Dead, Two Injured After Florida Shooting; In Break With Tradition, Putin Calls Navalny by Name. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired March 18, 2024 - 07:00   ET


DAVID FRUM, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: -- who says, got any complaints against that guy.


You know, there are a lot of people -- Biden is going to be put over the top by a lot of people who don't like Biden all that much, you now, the people who wouldn't normally be Republicans, people like me who voted for Mitt Romney. You know Biden is not our first choice but we have to save the country.

KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: That is -- you know, to the extent that there is a campaign slogan that is not officially written by the Biden campaign, it's probably that one.

FRUM: That's his bumper sticker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll go with that.

HUNT: All right. Thank you so much to our panel for joining us. I really appreciate it. I'm Kasie Hunt.

Don't go anywhere. CNN New Central starts right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, what kind of a bloodbath was it anyway? Donald Trump said it. This morning, the effort to explain it, defend it, justify it, was the context automotive or apocalyptic?

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: A deadly St. Patrick's Day weekend with shootings across the country, several people killed others injured.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: A sea of lava, lava. The fourth eruption in fourth -- I can't do it. Here we go, the fourth eruption of three months in Iceland forcing major evacuations. It's clearly Monday.

I'm Kate Bolduan with Sara Sidner and John Berman. This is CNN News Central.

BERMAN: This morning, how warm do you like your blood bath? A fierce debate this morning after Donald Trump said there would be a blood bath if he is not elected.

The debate is not over whether he said it. He did. He said there would be a bloodbath if he is not elected. The debate is over if it meant it only in the auto industry, because it came during part of his speech where he was talking about cars, or if meant more broadly. Here it is.


DONALD TRUMP (R) FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to put a 100 percent tariff on every single car that comes across the line, and you're not going be able to sell those cars, if I get elected. Now, if I don't get elect, it's going to be a bloodbath for the whole -- that's going to be the least of it. It's going to be a bloodbath for the country.


BERMAN: So, the Biden campaign lashed onto the word blood bath saying Trump wants another January 6th. But Republicans say no.


SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): They say, first, he was speaking about the possibility of criminals being among the immigrants and that -- those are the people he were saying may not be people, if you will.

SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R-SD): With regard to the auto workers that he was talking to, he is showing them or he's telling them what has been an economic downturn for them.


BERMAN: So, it is worth noting it was not the only apocalyptic thing he said. He did call undocumented immigrants animals, not people. He said folks convicted for actions on January 6th are hostages. And he said that if he does not win, democracy will end.


TRUMP: If this election -- if this is election isn't won, I'm not sure that you'll ever have another election in this country.


BERMAN: And, of course, the more important discussion is not about what he said. He said it. It's about what it means if he is elected.

CNN's Alayna Treene is with us this morning. Republicans around the country playing some cleanup this morning.

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: That's exactly right, John. And, look, I was at that rally this weekend and we really did hear the former president use dark rhetoric to paint this doomsday picture of America if he were not to win the election come November.

And listening to those remarks when I was there on Saturday, it was hard to understand exactly what he was referring to when he made the bloodbath remark. He was talking about the auto industry. He was talking wanting to put tariffs on cars made outside of the U.S., and then he made that comment, warning of a blood bath if he were to not be re-elected.

But, again, I think it left it up to interpretation, and that's why you're seeing all of these different opinions following that rhetoric.

And, look, the Trump campaign very quickly issued a statement trying to clarify those comments. They argued that he was warning of an economic bloodbath, of the auto industry being economically impacted if he were not re-elected.

But we also heard from the Biden campaign, which immediately jumped on these comments, arguing, quote, this is from one of his spokespeople, they said, quote, his affection for violence and his thirst for revenge was embodied by those remarks. And so, again, very different opinions of what he said.

But, look, I think taking a step back, John, and just looking at this with a broader lens, this is the same type of fear-mongering and dark rhetoric that Donald Trump used in the lead-up to his 2016 campaign and to his first win for the White House, and something he used very effectively.

And we're seeing him try to implement that fear in Republican voters, and really general election voters at this point as he seeks his third White House bid.


BERMAN: And, Alayna, I think it's important because January 6th, of course, happened after 2016. January 6, 2021 is what we're talking about. The way he talks about January 6th is notable.

TREENE: It is. It is very notable. And, you know, referring to some of those convicted for their role on January 6th as hostages, something we've heard, not only Democrats in the Biden campaign criticized heavily, but we also heard his former vice president, Mike Pence, criticized that language as well.

Pence speaking over the weekend argued that he should not be using that term, particularly given what is happening in the Middle East with many hostages being held in Gaza.

Take a listen to how Pence put it.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it's very unfortunate at a time that there are American hostages being hailed in Gaza, that the president or any other leaders would refer to people that are moving through our justice system as hostages and it's just unacceptable.


TREENE: Now John I mean these remarks from Mike Pence are very notable and he came shortly after he made clear that he has no plans to endorse his former boss in this race. And it also comes -- you know, look at Pence. He was a loyal soldier to Donald Trump for several years but the two fractured over what happened on January 6th. So, you're really seeing a wide array of opinions and a lot of Republicans who were once loyal to him not necessarily being so anymore. John?

BERMAN: Alayna Treene, thank you very much. You know, add Pence to the list, Kate, of former defense secretaries who don't support Donald Trump's re-election, so many people within his administration who would not like to see him elected once again.

BOLDUAN: It's so interesting though that Pence was really trying to focus in on policy still when it comes to his separation with Donald.

BERMAN: It doesn't seem like it's easy being Mike Pence. I mean, Mike Pence seems to want to try to say something, but the way he gets there is always a winding road.

BOLDUAN: It is a path of some kind.

Let's talk more about immigration, which John was talking about, of course. Earlier, the Supreme Court could hand down an important ruling today on the controversial Texas immigration law. The question is, where does the power be begin and federal power, federal authority end when it comes to immigration?

The Texas law currently on hold would allow state law enforcement to arrest and detain people suspected of entering the country illegally. The justices essentially hit the pause button on this law going into effect until today. That pause expires tonight.

CNN's Kevin Liptak is at the White House for us. He's got more on it.

So, everyone is going to be watching to see what the Supreme Court does on this. What's at stake for the Biden administration here, Kevin?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, certainly if this takes effect, it could have wide reaching consequences, not just in Texas, but for other states as well who are trying to challenge the Biden administration's handling of the southern border.

And the White House and the Biden Administration have made no bones about it. They believe that this law is extreme, they've called it unconstitutional. And when you read this Justice Department filing asking for this law not to be enforced, they say it could profoundly alter the status quo between the federal government and the states that has existed for 150 years when it comes to immigration law, because it has always been the case that the federal government takes precedent.

And what Texas officials are arguing is essentially that they had no choice, that they had to enact this law, which would make it illegal to cross the southern border and have their own police enforce it because what they see as inaction on the part of the federal government when it comes to this issue. Now, what the Biden administration has also argued is it could have a diplomatic fallout as well, particularly with the government of Mexico, which staunchly opposes it.

Of course, this is all coming against the backdrop of the presidential election. Immigration obviously at the top of voters minds. So, however the court rules today certainly will be thrust into quite a fraught political environment as well, Kate.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. It's great to see you, Kevin. Thank you so much. Sara?

SIDNER: All right. Knock it off and cool it. No, those are not my words to you, Kate. This is Speaker Mike Johnson. Why he's making those demands to members of his own party.

And a rare remark, Vladimir Putin mentioning his most famous and now deceased opponent, Alexei Navalny, by name during his election victory speech.

And for the very first time in the United States, you do not need a prescription to get birth control. The first over-the-counter oral contraceptive goes on sale today. We'll discuss.



SIDNER: It was a deadly Saint Patrick's Day weekend as gun violence ripped across the country. Several people killed and dozens were injured after shootings in Florida, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Washington, D.C.

The latest happened last night as an influx of spring breakers descended on Florida. One bar district in Jacksonville Beach now under lockdown after a shooting killed one person and injured three there.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is joining me now. Polo, what are you hearing from the Jacksonville Beach Police about suspects in this case at this time?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sara, this morning I've been going through some of those police statements from Jacksonville Beach authorities, and at this point, it is still too early to say exactly what may have led to shooting there in their busy bar district just last night.

They did, however, say the preliminary information suggests that they will have multiple suspects to track down and they also said that this shooting prompted a lockdown of the area there, including not just the busy bar district, but also some of the beach front.


We do expect to hear from authorities in the next 45 minutes or so there in Jacksonville Beach, potentially with more information. But over the weekend also, there were multiple communities, not just in New Jersey, but also neighboring Pennsylvania that were on edge after a man, police say, carjacked an individual in Trenton, New Jersey, drove over to the New Jersey-Pennsylvania state line, allegedly to shoot and kill three of his relatives before committing yet another carjacking, and then driving back to Trenton, Pennsylvania. That is where witnesses say that he had barricaded himself on Saturday afternoon inside of the home.

Working off of those reports, police surrounded that home. I was out there with my colleagues covering the situation here as it was unfolding hour by hour. And it wasn't until about four and a half hours later that police discovered that the house was, in fact, empty that police had encountered 26-year-old Andre Gordon on the street nearby, took him into custody without further incidents.

The New Jersey attorney general over the weekend laying out the long list of charges that this young man faces in addition to homicide, the A.G. saying that it is the latest in a horrific litany of illustrations of how illegal guns and assault rifles can empower one aggrieved and disturbed actor to do immense damage and leave a trail of tragedies in their wake.

Sara, Gordon accused of killing three of his relatives, including his little sister. According to the Gun Violence Archive that tracks these situation or these incidents, 80 mass shootings in the first months of this year alone, Sara.

SIDNER: Wow. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much for that reporting. Watching these pictures of them going into that that house, pretty scary. Thank you, I appreciate it. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Yes. And not unrelated, Sara, gun violence in real life is now sparking real change in how Hollywood depicts gun safety on the big and small screen. The new partnership that Hollywood and safety advocates hope will save lives.

And a fourth volcanic eruption at Iceland's Blue Lagoon, not so blue right now, the sea of lava that's now forcing more people to evacuate.

We'll be back.



BOLDUAN: This morning, one major question is what will Russian President Vladimir Putin do next now that he has secured at least six more years in power? Putin, in a victory speech overnight, leveled a new threat that World War III would break out if Western troops head in to support Ukraine.

Putin also directly addressed Alexei Navalny's death, even speaking the opposition leader's name, which, for Putin, doesn't happen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: Mr. Navalny. Yes, he passed away. It is always a sad event.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Matthew Chance is in Moscow for us. Matthew, what more are you picking up from what we heard from Vladimir Putin overnight?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate. So, it was extraordinary to hear Vladimir Putin mention Alexei Navalny's name, as you referred to then. He's never uttered it in public before and so everyone sort of took a step back when they heard him say it.

He also went on to confirm sort of reports that have been circulating for some time now that actually Putin, he had agreed to swap Alexei Navalny, or at least agreed to discuss swapping Alexei Navalny in a prisoner exchange in the days before the late opposition leader died in his Arctic penal colony. But, of course, he then died and that didn't happen.

But, yes, an extraordinary sort of post-election set of remarks from the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. He got an enormous proportion of the vote, something in the region of 86.5 percent, according to the figures from the Russian Election Commission, a big turnout as well.

He said that that kind of figure indicated that that gave him overwhelming support in the country and he said that the grandiose plans that he'd set for the future of the country, they'd work as hard as they could to try and realize those plans.

And he talked specifically about the aims of the Ukraine war, what Russia calls or what Putin calls the special military operation. So, he's going to try and push forward that and also to strengthen the Russian military.

And so Putin viewing this election really very much a mandate for him to continue to press into Ukraine, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And he also weighed in on U.S. politics as well, yes?

CHANCE: Yes, he did. It was astonishing, really, because he was using it to sort of sidestep criticism about the democratic process in Russia. Of course, this election, opposition figures haven't even been allowed to stand in the vote. And so there have been critics and others saying that, look, it's not democratic at all. Putin was certain to win.

And Putin sort of lashed out and said, well, look, what about in the United States? Is it democratic for the presumptive Republican candidate, Donald Trump, to be targeted by the judiciary? He said that was shameful and laughable, Kate.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, Matthew. Thank you so much for reporting always. Sara? SIDNER: All right. Let's discuss this now more with CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Alex Marquardt. Alex, what did you make of Putin's Navalny remarks? He tries very hard not to say his name, especially since you recently had new reporting that talked about this proposed prisoner exchange nobody knew was happening until Navalny died.


What's your reaction to Putin now confirming those talks?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: And here, Sara, we appear to have confirmation from the Russian president that not only that these talks were happening, but he's also saying that the deal was very close at hand when Navalny died. That is something that Navalny's team had also said.

And I agree with Matthew. I think it's really remarkable to hear Putin even utter the word, Navalny. Navalny was for years the most popular opposition figure, the most formidable opponent to Vladimir Putin. And Putin would sort of just dismiss him, calling him that character or that gentleman, among other names.

But here, perhaps in a sign of the power that he now feels he has that's been renewed because of this re-election, he is saying Navalny's name. And he's talking about the fact that he was approached by someone outside of the Russian government about the potential for a deal to swap Navalny, and Putin says that he agreed to it immediately before the sentence was even out of this person's mouth, but then Navalny died.

Here's a little bit more of what Putin had to say.


PUTIN: The person who spoke to me had not finished his sentence yet when I said I agree. But, unfortunately, what happened happened. There was only one condition for him not to come back. Let him sit there.


MARQUARDT: Now, Sara, my colleague, Sebastian Shukla, Tim Lister, and myself have recently reported that actually a message was delivered to the Kremlin on February 15th. It was then on February 16th that word came that Navalny had died.

And one of the main figures in this exchange, we understand, is Roman Abramovich. He is a Russian oligarch. He's the former owner of the Chelsea Soccer Club. And he was, we're told, involved in the process. The deal was centered on an exchange for an FSB assassin named Vadim Krasikov, who's being held in Germany.

But I think the big question right now, Sara, is how far along was this deal. I've been told by a Western diplomat it was at about a seven or eight out of ten, but then another U.S. official told me that no deal was imminent. Here you have Putin saying the opposite, that it very close at hand when Navalny died, Sara.

SIDNER: Wow. Let's talk about -- he also mentioned Russia's war on Ukraine and made a really bold statement talking about the potential of World War III. How are the U.S. and NATO allies responding to what sounds like a threat?

MARQUARDT: It certainly is a treat and it's more saber-rattling from Vladimir Putin. This is the kind of thing we have been hearing for quite some time since this war in Ukraine started. Just last week, Vladimir Putin was talking about the possibility of using nuclear weapons, certainly something he said that is on the table.

This is not something that's dismissed by the U.S. and other NATO countries. It certainly raises the fear of escalation. This why the U.S. has been proceeding so carefully throughout this conflict in terms of what weaponry is given to Ukraine, how -- what level of support is given to Ukraine. And the U.S., for example, tells Ukraine you can't use the weapons that we give you inside of Russia because of the fear of that escalation.

Now, what Putin was responding to here was recent comments by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, who said he didn't rule out the possibility of western troops going into Ukraine. Now, that is something that other leaders in NATO and in the west have said is certainly not going to happen, but Macron continues to push this. And here you have Putin saying that if that were to happen, it would certainly raise the possibilities of a World War III.

Now, that Putin has secured this fifth term, Sara, I think what this is going to do is really emphasize the fact that NATO and the U.S. supporters of Ukraine need to step up that military aid for Ukraine so they can continue that fight against Russia, so that western forces don't need go into Ukraine and continue fighting. Certainly a reminder to Republicans here in the United States for that support that is needed for the Ukraine, Sara.

SIDNER: Alex Marquardt, thank you for all your reporting on this today and long before. John?

BERMAN: Starting this morning, birth control pills can be ordered online without a prescription. A look at who can get them and where.

And it was posted just moments ago, Don Lemon's interview with Elon Musk is out. Musk likes to claim he supports free speech, but not apparently when it comes to what he gets asked. Don's questions that had Musk cancel their contract.