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Former President Trump Draws Criticism for His Comments about Illegal Immigrants and Bloodbath for U.S. Auto Industry If He is Not Reelected; President Biden Trailing Donald Trump in Polls in Arizona and Nevada; United Airlines CEO Announces New Safety Protocols after Numerous In-Flight Incidents in Previous Weeks. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired March 18, 2024 - 08:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Trump was talking about the future of the auto industry in America, but many heard warnings far beyond that.

And then there was, well, this. The predictions last morning if he doesn't get elected seeming to speak to the future of democratic elections in the U.S.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: If this election, if this election isn't won, I'm not sure that you'll ever have another election in this country.


BOLDUAN: And then there was also this, his latest attack on migrants.


TRUMP: If I had prisons that were teeming with MS-13 and all sorts of people that they've got to take care of for the next 50 years, right? Young people, they're in jail for years. If you call him people, I don't know if you call them people. In some cases, they're not people in my opinion.

These are bad -- these are animals.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Alayna Treene, is tracking all of this for us. And Alayna, you were at, you were recovering this rally when this all happened this weekend. How did those remarks come off at the rally? How are they looking today as Republicans are having to answer for them?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Kate, Donald Trump very much use dark rhetoric to paint this doomsday picture of America if he were not to be reelected in November. And it's the same type of fearmongering we heard him use in the lead up to his first White House bid, and something that he used successfully and effectively to claim the White House back in 2016.

But look, at that rally, it was unclear what exactly Donald Trump was referring to when he argued that there would be a bloodbath if he were not to win the election. And his team argued that he was referring to an economic bloodbath, that this was about the auto industry. Take a listen to how Donald Trump put it.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We're going to put a 100 percent tariff on every single car that comes across the line.


TRUMP: And you're not going to be able to sell those guys. If I get elected. Now, if I don't get elected, 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. That'll be the least of it.


TREENE: So Kate, Donald Trump also in those remarks on Saturday, spoke about January 6th. He referred to those convicted on January 6th or for their role January 6th, as hostages, something we have heard him do before. But given both of those comments, he did receive a lot of criticism, not just from Democrats and the Biden campaign who did jump on those remarks and that rhetoric, but also from past allies, people like his former vice president, Mike Pence, who very much took issue with how Donald Trump was characterizing his use of the term "hostages," referring to what he argued was not appropriate language given there are American hostages still in Gaza. And other Republicans as well saying that this type of rhetoric is concerning.

BOLDUAN: There's also then the major policy issue when it comes to the election that Donald Trump is also weighing, considering, in the process of deciding if he's going to back a national abortion ban. What are you hearing about this?

TREENE: Yes, it's really interesting because I've spoken with Donald Trump senior advisers at length about this issue, and it's one that they've long tried to avoid. They've been very vague about what he would do regarding an abortion ban or if he would institute one at all because they recognize it's not -- it doesn't play it politically well, particularly with Republicans.

And throughout the primary and over last year, Donald Trump, unlike his other Republican primary challengers, really refused to weigh in. He's been towing this line of saying, yes, I was the one who installed the three very conservative Supreme Court justices who ultimately helped overturn Roe versus Wade. And that's kind of throwing red meat to the pro-life wing of the party.

But he's also been very careful in saying that he wants exceptions, that he thinks the issue is a political loser. And so it's interesting to see whether or not he will actually come out with a potential ban or a more clear policy on abortion given he is now in general election campaign mode. And he, as well as his team, recognizes that this is an issue that could really alienate a lot of the key voting blocs that he's going for, particularly suburban women and women across the country who see this issue as not something that they want to support. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Alayna Treene, thank you so much for your reporting, as always. John?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: As for President Biden, he heads west this week to campaign in key swing states out there. Why? Because he needs to.

With me now, CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten. When I say he needs to, Harry, what's changed?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICS WRITER AND ANALYST: Yes. And I need to share this information with you.

All right, let's take a look here. This is the Biden versus Trump match up. Remember, Biden barely won Arizona back in 2021 by well less than a percentage. He won Nevada by a little bit more than two percentage points. Look now where we are in the 2024 polling. Joe Biden's numbers, to quote Tony Blair, are weak, weak, weak. Donald Trump up in the polling average in Arizona by five, up in Nevada by five percentage points.


If these polls hold, Donald Trump would be the first Republican presidential candidate to carry this over state since 2004 when George W. Bush carried it.

BERMAN: What appears to have changed inside some of these numbers that you're looking at?

ENTEN: Yes. What is a key group that seems to have changed? How about Hispanic voters, right, a core part of the Democratic constituency normally. Back in 2020, Joe Biden carried Hispanic voters in Arizona by 24 points. He carried them in Nevada by 26 points. Look now, Joe Biden is still leads, but these margins have shrunk significantly, been cut by more than half in Arizona, 11 points, being cut by a third of where the lead was back in 2020, it's just an eight-point advantage for Joe Biden.

And this is what we have seen as well nationally. Joe Biden's polling numbers among blacks and Hispanics have dropped significantly, and that is a big reason why in these two states Arizona and Nevada, his poll numbers have become significantly worse.

BERMAN: How big of a reason? Because you talk about these two states and you're talking about a pretty significant share of the electorate.

ENTEN: Yes, if you want to find swing states where Hispanics are going to make a major difference in this election, you can't find better swing states than Arizona and Nevada. In Nevada among likely voters they make up 23 percent of the electorate, in Arizona, 20 percent.

None of the other swing states, those six closest states that Biden won in 2020 by less than three percentage points do they come anywhere close. Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, make up less than 10 percent of the vote. So that dropped that you've seen with Biden among Hispanic voters, if they're going to be felt anywhere, it's going to be a Nevada and Arizona. And as those earlier slides show, he's certainly feeling it right now.

BERMAN: So as you noted, Nevada has become part of the Democratic map in general to the White House, Arizona a relative newcomer. If President Biden war to lose both Nevada and Arizona this time around, what do you need to do?

ENTEN: Yes. He would basically need to run the table, John. So if Biden and loses Arizona and Nevada, he likely must win at least three of these four, again, those six closest swing states -- Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Now, Biden could do it if he won Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, he barely get to 270.

Here's the issue right now. Biden seems to trailing not just in Georgia, but in Michigan as well. And if he loses these two John, I can't find a map that would work for him. So it's simple math at this point. Biden is behind an Arizona. He's behind in Nevada. He's behind and Georgia. He's behind in Michigan. And if that map holds, ballgame over. Most likely Donald Trump wins.

BERMAN: All right, so you can see what he's doing with some of these travels this week heading out west, trying to do what he can and at least in Arizona and Nevada. Harry Enten, thank you, thank you very much for that. Sara?

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, just moments ago, CNN learning the United Airlines CEO is going to unveil new protocols after a string of recent maintenance issues that have freaked patients -- passengers out.

The U.S. is getting new help in cracking down on spyware. This as U.S. officials are telling CNN new government phones have been targeted.

Plus, a brand new documentary taking a deep look into Stormy Daniels chaotic battle against Donald Trump. We'll have all that ahead.



SIDNER: New this morning, United Airlines CEO is stressing safety after five in-flight incidents just this month, including a wheel falling off. We all remember an aircraft that was in flight, a panel missing from the fuselage, and flames shooting out from an engine of one of the planes. In letters to customers, Scott Kirby says the incidents are a reminder of the importance of safety, and they have sharpened their focus.

CNN's Pete Muntean has more on this. What else is the CEO telling customers who are really concerned after seeing all of these things happen in succession?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No doubt that United Airlines has had a bad couple of weeks of headlines, but now it's CEO is sending this message to all of the airline's customers, insisting that the airline is safe, and also laying out new changes that the airline is making. There had been at least five in-flight incidents involving United Airlines this past month. And in this new message, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby says, while all these incidents are unrelated, that these incidents have the airline's attention and have sharpened our focus.

The latest incident was on Friday. United Boeing 737 800 landed in Medford, Oregon, with a belly panel missing. This was first discovered by somebody on the ground when the plane pulled up to the gate. United said this did not affect the flying characteristics of the plane, so this was not known by the pilots, and they did not declare an emergency.

United says all of the incidents this month are under review now. A hydraulic fluid incident trailing one of its 777s leaving Sydney, a United 777 losing that wheel takeoff from San Francisco, a 737 Max-8 skidding off the runway in Houston.

Here's what the airline is doing. It's adding an extra day of pilot training starting in May. It's also redesigning training for new hire mechanics. United says it will so put more resources into managing its parts supplier network because the question investigators will want to know is whether or not some of these incidents are maintenance induced. Kirby says the incidents are reminders of the importance of safety, but no doubt that customers have taken note. The good news here, Sara, nobody was hurt in any of these incidents.

SIDNER: I think we're all curious. Is this a consequence of us just paying more attention to the incidents, or are there actually more incidents happening here on planes?

MUNTEAN: I think it's a little bit of both. So remember, the 737 Max 9 door plug blowout on Alaska Airlines back in January 5th, that really highlighted serious quality control issues at Boeing, and that is now under investigation.


The other incidents like the United incident, also the LATAM incident, as that flight was landing in Auckland, New Zealand where passengers got hurt, those are most likely you can categorize as one-off.

So the good news here is that aviation is incredibly safe in the United States. The last time there was somebody hurt or killed, excuse me, on a commercial airliner in the US was back in 2018. That was a freak incident on a Southwest Airlines flight when a fan blade came off one of the engines and killed the passenger sitting next to it.

The last time there was a fatal crash involving a US airliner was back in 2009, the Colgan Air incident, which led to really significant reforms in pilot training and experience requirement. So these incidents are not really rising to that level. Most of these

things happen day-to-day, but they typically don't get put up in lights. There is just a bit of a moment here where people are paying more and more attention to onboard incidents onboard commercial flights in the US and abroad.

SIDNER: Pete Muntean, that explains it. Thank you so much for your reporting. Over to you, John.

BERMAN: So worried your phone is listening to your conversations? US officials warn that it could be. Stinks for you and it has a major national security implications, phone-hacking is on the rise. What the Biden administration is doing about it.

And today is the last day to fill out your March Madness bracket, that's depending on if you count the play and games, we will tell you what you need to know to impress your friends, embarrass your enemies, and win riches beyond your wildest imagination.



BOLDUAN: America's fight to protect federal employees and US national security against spyware hacks is getting a boost.

The White House says six more countries will soon be joining their pact to crack down on phone-hacking.

US officials tell CNN the new cases that they are seeing have raised serious national security concerns.

CNN's Sean Lyngaas has this reporting. He is joining us now.

Sean, tell us more about what you've learned.

SEAN LYNGAAS, CNN CYBERSECURITY REPORTER: Kate, this is growing momentum -- international momentum to try to tackle this very insidious issue where in the last decade, you've had an explosion of companies that are quite obscure, lurk in the shadows, operate in the shadows, use shell companies to market spyware, which is basically malicious software that government clients often buy to surveil dissidents, journalists, human rights activists and has gotten a lot more attention in the last few years and this is a sort of a turning point, if you will, because the Biden administration is welcoming two countries that had a bit of a checkered past on this -- Poland, which was roiled by a scandal involving spyware wherein the new government is accusing the last government of using spyware against its political opponents.

And Ireland, which has host to accompany that the US Treasury has sanctioned for allegedly being in the spyware business.

So this is what activists are calling growing momentum to try to make this less of a rampant issue where you don't have this wild west of companies that are operating in the shadows and selling their software to the highest bidder -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Sean, what made the Biden administration so alarmed by all of this?

LYNGAAS: Yes, that's the key and they are opening up in a new interview with CNN with the NSC official telling CNN that basically, alarm bells were ringing two years ago when the US government started to discover spyware on the phones of senior US diplomats.

Now, it is traced to diplomats working on three different continents, 10 countries and it became a counterintelligence national security risk because US officials suspected and their suspicions were confirmed that intelligence was being collected on some of these diplomats and that they were worried that US officials, US agencies were potentially buying the spyware from the very companies that were being used -- whose tools ready being used against US diplomats.

So it was sort of a perverse cycle there that they wanted to break and they're talking about it in more detail to CNN than they had before -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: That's fascinating and I think ringing alarm bells is an understatement when you talk about that cycle that you were just describing and you're learning about, extremely important. Thank you so much, Sean, for bringing us the reporting -- John.

BERMAN: All right, doctors say it is a matter of life and death. Republicans say it is censorship. The Supreme Court will decide on how far the White House can go to fight misinformation online.

A fountain of lava spewing from a huge volcano. Tourists forced to evacuate the country's biggest tourist site and there is no end in sight.



SIDNER: Stormy Daniels, the adult-film actress who started a firestorm in 2018 after revealing hush money payments made to her by Donald Trump is making headlines again. She is out with a new documentary today titled "Stormy." She speaks out about her legal battle against Donald Trump and the impact it has had on her life.


STORMY DANIELS, ADULT-FILM ACTRESS: Every time I stood up, I got kicked down even harder and I hit rock bottom.

Just wanted to stand up for myself.

You never saw my name that didn't say porn star in front of it because were not considered human.

I won't give up because I am telling the truth.


SIDNER: CNN's Kara Scannell joins me now.

This new documentary, "Stormy" is being released in just days after Donald Trump's upcoming trial in the New York hush money case involving Stormy was just pushed back.

The timing of this interesting.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Sara, and so this documentary is planned to be released today, and it is now released and as you showed there, you know, it does give this behind-the-scenes look into how Stormy Daniels was navigating this story.

You'll remember the hush money payment was made in 2017.