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Trump talks about Bloodbath in Speech; Lemon Releases Musk Interview; Netanyahu Condemns Schumer's Comments. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired March 18, 2024 - 09:00   ET



DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The challenges logistically are immense. They're dealing with this at a level that they have not faced prior. I mean its unprecedented. And the pain and the sense in the kids' eyes and their parents who feel helpless at this point. But, for them, it's about pushing forward.

I asked one woman how you get up every day and move ahead. She said with the grace of God, but then admitted in the same breath that sometimes they feel they'd be better off dead than living.

David Culver, CNN, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Man walks up to the edge of acceptable political speech. Man jumps over the edge, over and over again. What Donald Trump's words and rhetoric and Biden's rapid response means for voters now in 2024.

So, the full interview that led to Elon Musk blowing up his partnership with Don Lemon. That interview just dropped.

And hip hop superstar Fat Joe goes to the White House and then joins us to talk about that and more.

I'm Kate Bolduan, with John Berman and Sara Sidner. This is CNN NEW CENTRAL.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: This just in coming to us now, Donald Trump clarifying what he meant when he gave this disturbing warning of a bloodbath over the weekend.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 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 to be sell those guys (ph). 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SIDNER: In a post on Truth Social, he claimed he was only referring to what he thinks will happen to the auto industry, not the country as a whole. But his opponents say this harkens back to the dark rhetoric he's used in the past.

The Biden campaign latched onto the word "bloodbath," saying Trump wants another January 6th.

CNN's Alayna Treene is joining us now from Washington, D.C.

Alayna, what more is Trump saying on his - on his social media site?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, Sara, actually, right after Donald Trump had made those remarks on Saturday, we did hear from the Trump campaign, which had rushed to clarify Donald Trump's comments, arguing that he was warning of an economic bloodbath and the impact on the auto industry.

And today we heard from Donald Trump himself for the first time since giving those remarks, and he basically said the same thing. I'm just going to read a part of what he posted on his website, Truth Social. He said, quote, "the fake news media, and they're Democrat partners in the destruction of our nation, pretended to be shocked at my use of the word bloodbath, even though they fully understand that I was simply referring to imports allowed by crooked Joe Biden, which are killing the automobile industry."

Now, Sara, I was at that rally on Saturday. I can tell you, one, it was very windy. And Donald Trump was really using - or being -- gave a free-wheeling kind of rambling speech because the teleprompter was blowing in the wind. And it was hard to understand what he was referring to.

But here he is trying to claim that he was definitely only talking about the auto industry. Of course, his critics have argued otherwise.

Now, I also just want to point out that in other parts of that speech he did use dark rhetoric. He did really paint this dooms day picture of America if he were to lose the election. At one point he used dehumanizing language to talk about migrants and immigrants who have been imprisoned for violent crimes that they committed.

He also repeatedly vowed to free those who were convicted for their role on January 6th. He referred to them as hostages. A term we have heard Donald Trump use repeatedly in the past. But he's received a lot of criticism for that to, including from his former vice president, Mike Pence, who argue that that term is just not acceptable, especially when you consider there are many American hostages still being held in Gaza currently.

SIDNER: Yes. And we all watched those court cases as they went through the normal course of things.

TREENE: Right.

SIDNER: I do want to ask you about something that Donald Trump has said about debates. What is he saying about a potential debate with President Biden?

TREENE: He says he welcomes them, Sara. He says that he is eager to debate Joe Biden.

And look, this is interesting. This is something I've spoken with Donald Trump's advisers about a lot over the past several months. Obviously, Donald Trump refused to participate in the Republican primary debates. It was something that he argued or tried to portray really was beneath him, that he, you know, didn't want to give his opponents and opportunity to attack him when he was doing so well in the polls.


The calculation here is different. In the general election, both Trump and his team recognize it's going to be very close. And also, he thinks Biden would be an easier opponent to debate with on the campaign stage. So, we'll see how that shakes out. But Donald Trump is arguing that this is something he wants to do.


SIDNER: Alayna Treene, thank you so much for all that reporting.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, with us now, Democratic strategist and former chief of staff to Senator Joe Manchin, Chris Kofinis. Also, Republican strategists Rina Shah.

And, Chris, I want to start with you, and remind people, you are the Democrat on this panel right now. And you think that thinking that this bloodbath comment will somehow stain Donald Trump is a mistake for Democrats. Why?

CHRIS KOFINIS, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF FOR SEN. JOE MANCHIN: I mean, I'm not trying to make an excuse for his rhetoric, but we've been dealing with how many years of his outrageous, offensive rhetoric. I mean how many hours and days we've spent talking about how ridiculous Trump is, how offensive he is. All may be justified.

Something is not happening with voters though, because what we've seen, especially over the last six months, national polls, in almost all the key battleground polls, is that Trump is in a better position now than he was in '20, or even '16. So, the question is, why, right? And we have to kind of - Democrats have to tackle the why. And the why, in my opinion, is, Democrats have not made a strong enough case about what President Biden has done and accomplished, all the positives, and what he's going to do over the next four years.

If -- I think the concern I have is, if we simply believe that, you know, that Trump is going to either destroy himself, are we going to destroy him, and that will be enough to win the election. I just don't believe it. And the polls, at least as of right now, don't show that's a winning strategy.

BERMAN: Rina, what do you think

RINA SHAH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think this is a scenario in which we have to take the former president for exactly what he does. And we know this because of his track record. He always says what he means and means what he says. And so his use of violent language is purposeful. Whenever he injects a word that is charged, that is meant to scare people into submission.

So, this is a situation in which two things can be true at the same time. Yes, the word bloodbath was taken out of context. I'm somebody who listens to a lot of financial and market talk and that is a word, when used with the auto industry, that has been done before. But again, the former president knows what he's doing with language and therefore we have to take him very literally when he uses certain words because he wants people on his side to have a sense of being riled up, being angry about a media narrative that's out there, for example, that doesn't square with what they thank works. And so you'll see a lot of his side really draw - really direct their ire at media sources. And I think that's essentially what we're looking at here is the start of what will be continually really, really dangerous language. And Trump likes it. We know this.

BERMAN: So, Rina, will you take this one step further and combine it with what Chris was saying right there. You say you take Trump literally.

SHAH: Yes.

BERMAN: So, if Democrats then were to focus on what Trump would do if elected president again, what would that mean? What would you focus on if you were trying to beat him that you could say, this is what Donald Trump actually do in office?

SHAH: I say paint the picture. Really make it illustrative. Show the imagery of January 6th, but go beyond that because we've all seen those visuals and we know who refutes that, his base. But there's a large swath of Americans out there who are disengaged, who aren't always paying attention and need reminders. So, every time you are able to paint the picture of what a second term for Trump would look like and for who, then that's when you win.

But again, you can only do it with words for so long. And I've seen Biden do it. And I think it's falling on silent years, frankly. Sorry, ears that aren't listening. So, the silence essentially from Democrats on exactly how lives will change, I think is - is actually a negative in their -- their columns. So they need to start to really up the ante and again be very depictive, use pitchers, use imagery, visuals, anything to get people to understand what is at stake, what rights of yours will be on the line if Trump gets a second term in the White House.

BERMAN: So, Chris, another thing that Donald Trump discussed extensively over the weekend in interviews was he keeps saying that he's going to come out with a position on abortion in terms of what he wants to see in the country. And there's been some reporting in "The New York Times" and others that he is considering supporting a 16 week ban on abortion. Although he says he's going to come up with an idea that makes everybody happy.

What do you think the risks are for Donald Trump on this issue, political issue, Chris?

KOFINIS: Well, I mean, the risks are pretty - you know, pretty profound. I mean, what we've seen, I think both in the midterms and the special elections that have happened, you know, since the Supreme Court decision is that, you know, you've seen it really mobilize a lot of women, not surprisingly progressives, but also moderates, moderate Republicans.


And that's why a lot of these races that supposedly were trending Republicans' way turned in a dramatic way the opposite direction. I think the risks for Trump is obvious because he's the one that more or less helped engineer, you know, the Supreme Court decision by putting those justices on the court. There's no way to run away from that. And he's clearly trying to, like, minimize the political damage. I don't think it's going to be that - you know, it's going to be possible.

Now the question becomes, and this is where it gets, you know, a little bit more complicated, you know, is it going to be a big enough issue in all the key battleground states to make a difference? In some it might, right? And when you're talking essentially five to seven battleground states that are going to decide this election, and it's a really close election, an issue like abortion, especially the way that I think you're going to hear Democrats really focus on this and really target, you know, key demographics, you know, it could be the deciding factor in some these races.

Trump knows that. His campaign knows that. They're going to try to like mitigate that. I don't think it's going to be that successful.

BERMAN: Chris Kofinis, Rina Shah, thanks to both of you. Great to talk to you this morning.


BOLDUAN: So the interview that was just too much for Elon Musk is now out. Don Lemon debuting the first episode of his new show just now featuring the tense interview that he conducted with Elon Musk. The interview that led to Musk canceling his partnership with Don.

CNN's Oliver Darcy has more on this and also new portions of the interview that have released now.

Oliver, what are you hearing?


I think this interview, I mean at times I'm watching -- still going through it. It's a very long interview. But at times its obviously very confrontational, but I think it really shows you how much Elon Musk is swimming in the far-right fever swamps these days. I mean throughout the interview it just comes across that he - he

seems to be more of a Fox News commentator than billionaire businessman. He attacks the news media. He attacks diversity programs. He talks about the woke mind (ph) virus. And most disturbingly, he continues to give credence to the great replacement theory, that racist theory that's been cited in shooting manifestos by white supremacists. He says he does not adhere to it, but he does then basically reiterate it to Don Lemon in this interview.

Why don't we take a look?


ELON MUSK, CEO, TESLA: I'm simply saying that there an incentive here. If illegal immigrants were -- I think have a very strong bias at -- least everything I've read, a very strong bias toward Democrat. The more - more that come into the country, the more they're likely to vote in that direction. But it is, in my view, a simple incentive to increase photos to Democratic voters.


DARCY: And this theory that is favored by a racist has been something that Elon Musk has been very openly flirting with, promoting on the X platform. But he again continues when confronted by Don Lemon in this interview to promote the basic idea. He says he doesn't agree with it, but then he repeats a large part of it back to Don Lemon there.

Of course, experts have said that it's worrisome that someone like Musk, in this powerful position, would reiterate this theory because it can lead, and it has led in the past, to violence.

BOLDUAN: Let's see what more fallout their could be from this interview that's debuting today.

It's good to see you, Oliver. Thank you so much.


BERMAN: Hostage negotiations set to resume today as Israeli forces have the largest hospital in Gaza completely surrounded.

I'm not that special. I feel like a hypocrite. Revealing comments from Stormy Daniels in a new documentary about her life caught in the crosshairs of Donald Trump.

And this morning, for the first time in the United States, you can order birth control pills online without a prescription or a doctor's visit. Who can get them and how much will they cost?



BOLDUAN: So, talks are starting back up in Qatar today as negotiators try and reach a deal for a ceasefire in Gaza to secure the release of the Israeli hostages still held in Gaza. The Israeli delegation headed to Doha is bringing with it red lines is how it's being described to set the boundaries of these talks going forward. That's according to an Israeli diplomatic source.

Now, this comes just after the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking to CNN, said - described it as Hamas' outlandish demands that are making a deal much more difficult. Speaking to Dana Bash, Netanyahu also responded to the extraordinary rebuke from Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, when Schumer called for new elections in Israel and described Netanyahu as one major obstacle to peace.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: It's inappropriate for - to go to a sister democracy and try to replace the elected leadership there. That's something that Israel, the Israeli public does on its own. We're not a banana republic. I think the only government that we should be working on to bring down now is the terrorist tyranny in Gaza, the Hamas tyranny.


BOLDUAN: And CNN's Dana Bash is here with us now.

Dana, Netanyahu's response to Senator Schumer, there was a lot there and it - I'm wondering, this leaves - this - that leaves this extraordinary moment that we're in where?


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Still in sort of suspended animation. He was very clear that he's not going to respond in kind. He won't commit to having new elections. Of course it goes without saying it's a parliamentary government, which is why we're having that discussion. And the question was also, not just now, but as the war winds down, which is really what Senator Schumer said if you read his speech.

Why are we even talking about this? Why has the sort of sentiment in the Democratic Party, but now even in the Biden administration, changed so much since those deadly, horrible attacks on October 7th, especially given the fact that there are still hostages there. Well, the answer is because of the humanitarian situation going on in Gaza, particularly in northern Gaza. And that was another part of the interview where I pressed him.

Let's take a listen.


BASH: To prevent an outright famine they need significant increase in humanitarian aid now. Millions of lives are at stake. Will you do that? Will you commit to that?

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Of course. And we're doing it. Again, I've authorized alternative routes of supply. And again the problem is not the number of trucks going in, although we're increasing it on a daily basis. I think the problem is preventing the looting by Hamas and by others. And that's what we're working on now.

BASH: It's not happening.

NETANYAHU: And the main obstacle to that is actually Hamas.

BASH: It's - it's not - it's not happening.

NETANYAHU: Well, it is, actually.

BASH: Well, in the north, you said that you've destroyed Hamas. If Hamas isn't in -in the north, then how is Hamas taking away food. And if you open up more border crossings and give more food into the -

NETANYAHU: Well, it's -

BASH: Into the - into the area, allows starving people to eat, the looting maybe would subside. That's human nature, no?

NETANYAHU: That's' - that's exactly what's happening because we have increased the number of trucks entering the north. I don't think -- I think I'm up to date. And I know these numbers. And we know that there is a - there is an increase.


BASH: So that is, Kate, a big part of the question now. There are, since we talked, apparently a bit more of the - of the aid is going in. But as you know, we've been reporting on the show, as have we, a lot of the aid is now coming from the sea and from peers that are being built by the U.S. and even by Jose Andres' is organization.

So, that is kind of the big question at this point is whether or not the Israeli government can continue to go after Hamas, a terrorist organization that is brutal, that is barbaric, while also trying to do a better job, frankly, of helping the civilians, particularly the children who are suffering, as part of this war and this retaliation for what Hamas did inside Israel.

BOLDUAN: And no matter the answer, the question still remains, especially hearing the interview with - that you had with the prime minister is, is what then, because Nancy Pelosi, also on with you, a long time strong supporter of Israel, offered Chuck Schumer some backup when she spoke with you. I mean she was speaking with you and she said in the interview she said that Schumer's speech was an act of courage, an act of love for Israel.

Hearing her made me start wondering if this could really be, to use the often overused term, if this really could be a watershed moment when it comes to U.S.-Israeli relations.

BASH: It could be because you hit on such an important point. The whole focus of the Biden administration is - well, first of all, to pressure Israel to prosecute the war in a way that prevents as many civilian deaths as possible. But also what's next. The day after plan, as they call it in Israel. And still Benjamin Netanyahu and his government, they reject the notion of the Palestinian Authority being at all involved in a two-state solution. They're not talking about a two-state solution right now. And that's unacceptable for the Biden administration. And so those are so many of the really complex, really hard questions to answer when you look at what happens if and when the Israelis are able to, if not totally topple Hamas, but at least cut them off when it comes to their ability to do what they did on October 7th again inside Israel or anywhere else.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Dana, thanks for coming on. It's great to see you.

BASH: You, too. Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.


SIDNER: All right, this morning, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that could have major implications on the government's ability to flag misinformation on social media.


Plus, Stormy Daniels, her fight, not over. We'll take a look at what she says in a brand-new documentary as she took on one of the most powerful men on earth at the time, Donald Trump.


BERMAN: This morning, a new tell-all from Stormy Daniels. In a new documentary she speaks out about Donald Trump, what her legal battle against him has done to her life.



STORMY DANIELS: Every time I stood up, I got kicked down even harder and I hit rock