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Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) is Interviewed about the Presidential Election and Social Media; Nick Akerman is Interviewed about Hunter Biden's Charges; Alisyn Camerota is Interviewed about her New Memoir; Trump's Stock Enters Day Two of Trading. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired March 27, 2024 - 09:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, former President Barack Obama is jumping in to help President Biden win re-election. Tomorrow he will join former President Bill Clinton, Mindy Kaling, Queen Latifah, Lizzo, and Stephen Colbert at a star-studded fundraiser in New York.

With us now is Democratic congressman from California, Ro Khanna.

Congressman, thank you so much for being with us.

You are on the record saying that President Biden has work to do to win back the support among young voters. Now, I do want to stipulate here, I'm not hip, all right. That time has come and gone. But that lineup, Obama, Clinton, Colbert, Kaling, Queen Latifah, is that what's hip now? Is that going to win back young voters?

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Well, that's a lot of star power. I wish I had a ticket. I'm sure anyone in America would want to be at that event.

But let me tell you, the president as some momentum. The latest polls, John, in "Bloomberg"/Morning Consult shows that he has closed the gap in a lot of the battleground states. He's up in Wisconsin, tied in Pennsylvania, tied in Michigan. I actually think it's after his strong State of the Union speech where he laid out the clear economic differences between him and Donald Trump. The country's responding.

BERMAN: Why do you think or why did you think he had work to do among younger voters?

KHANNA: Well, I think he -- we needed to make the clear contrast with Donald Trump. And the president has started to do that. That he has made a contrast when it comes to being for unions, when it comes to being for housing, affordable housing, of being for increasing the minimum wage. He said, look, Donald Trump is just going to give more tax cuts to the very, very wealthy. That's what he did. And he's also taken a position on getting humanitarian aid into Gaza. He didn't veto -- the administration didn't veto a critical resolution, that he called for a ceasefire.

So, you see in the State of the Union, I think, him laying out an agenda for the next term. That it seems to be resonating.

BERMAN: So, the RNC, we're reporting this morning, is asking potential new hires if they believe the 2020 election was stolen. It's kind of a litmus test for people to come in and work there, some of the reporting is right now. What does that tell you about the state of politics in this country?

KHANNA: That's really sad. I mean, look, we need two strong parties in -- in this country. And it used to be we used to argue over taxes and spending. And that's a rational, thoughtful debate. We shouldn't be arguing in this country about whether you concede an election if you get less votes. And I guess what this is a stark reminder of is that Donald Trump today is stronger in his hold on the Republican Party than he has ever been at any point. And I came into Congress when he was first elected in 2016. Back then you still had members of Congress and others who would descent, who would criticize him. This is now Donald Trump's Republican Party.

BERMAN: So, Congressman, the FTC is investigating TikTok over an alleged violation of the children's online privacy protection rule, which requires companies to notify parents and obtain consent before collecting data from children under 13. They could sue TikTok in the coming weeks.

You voted no on the so-called TikTok ban citing First Amendment concerns, but did say there are legitimate national security issues. So, how do you think they should be addressed?

KHANNA: Well, two things. One, the FTC issues are very serious. And that investigation needs to be carried out. I mean the -- the -- the critique there, the lawsuit is that TikTok may be collecting data on minors. And that's just against the law.

The separate issue is, is there a transference of data to China? Is the Chinese Communist Party in any way interfering in TikTok or other social media algorithms? And instead of banning TikTok, my view is that you should pass laws that, one, protect Americans' data privacy and make it illegal to ban any of our data, to transfer any of our data to a place like China, and to make it illegal for any foreign government to interfere with the algorithms of social media apps.

BERMAN: So, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis just signed a bill that would ban social media accounts for children under 14 and require permission for 14 and 15-year-olds, parental permission. I'm curious what you think about that bill.

KHANNA: I think that goes too far. I mean there are a number of people on social media who maybe LGBTQ plus, who may need that outlet in terms of building a community. But what I would say is that you should not have any collection of data on minors and that you need to make sure that the social media isn't feeding algorithms to young people that is encouraging a depression, that is encouraging eating disorders.


So, there are bills that we need to be passing to protect minors. I think an outright ban for 14 and 15-year-olds goes to far.

BERMAN: Congressman Ro Khanna, great to see you this morning. Thank you very much.

KHANNA: Thank you.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, a major showdown in a Los Angeles court. Will a judge dismissed Hunter Biden's felony tax charges?


WHITFIELD: All right, just hours from now, Hunter Biden's lawyers will be in a Los Angeles courtroom to make the case that felony tax charges against him should be thrown out.


Special Counsel David Weiss charged the president's son with nine tax offenses in December. He has pleaded not guilty.

Joining me right now as former assistant special Watergate prosecutor, Nick Akerman.

Great to see you, Nick.

So, Hunter Biden and his attorneys are trying to get all nine of these charges thrown out.


WHITFIELD: What's the argument or what are the goods that they have to bring to justify all of these be dismissed?

AKERMAN: Not easy. But they do have, out of all of these various arguments, they have mostly kind of the general defense arguments that one would raise, a selective prosecution, the idea that Mr. Weiss was not appointed properly as special counsel. But the one that really is substantive is his claim that the diversion agreement that he had entered into with Mr. Weiss last year, or over a year ago --


AKERMAN: To plead guilty to tax fraud and the gun violation --


AKERMAN: That all charges would be dropped and that he would not serve any jail time. So, the issue he has raised is, that there was an agreement. He is claiming that there had been an agreement with the government and, as a result, he relied on that agreement. He provided them information. And as a result, the court should enforce that agreement and dismiss the indictment. That's -- WHITFIELD: Isn't that true? I mean, everyone knew that there was agreement. They showed up at court understanding that this agreement was going to work. But now that agreement is being used against him. So, it seems like that would be a pretty good defense.

AKERMAN: It's a good defense. But again, we don't know the details. There was something that happened in the Delaware court last year, if you recall --


AKERMAN: Where the judge started asking questions about what people's understood that agreement was. It was obvious that there was a disagreement in some way. So, the question is, was there really a meeting of the minds such that there was an agreement? But keep in mind, both parties signed it. If you look at the latest reply brief that was filed in that case, it appears that the issue is coming down to whether or not the probation department signed off on that agreement.


AKERMAN: So, it gets into some pretty knotty issues here.


AKERMAN: All of which, if you started talking about them in detail, would put everybody to sleep. But it is a real argument and it does have a real potential for basically carrying the day.

WHITFIELD: So, if case not dismissed, this were to go to trial, how lengthy as this?

AKERMAN: It's not a very lengthy trial because it's fairly straightforward. I mean they -- he did not report a lot of income on his tax returns for those years.


AKERMAN: He clearly signed off on the deal with the gun, which is a whole other prosecution that is in Delaware, not in California, where the tax case is.

WHITFIELD: Yes. All right. Well, since we only have a few more seconds left and I really want to get in this gag order, you know, with a New York supreme court judge --


WHITFIELD: Who opposes this limited gag order on Donald Trump because of the history of Donald Trump --

AKERMAN: Correct.

WHITFIELD: You know, disrespecting the court. You find this to be quite striking that -- AKERMAN: Well, it's --

WHITFIELD: Number one, the gravitas of any defendant to go in there and disparage a, you know, a courtroom.


WHITFIELD: But this is now necessary, isn't it?

AKERMAN: It is. And I think what the viewers have to understand is, this is so unusual. This never happens. In over 50 years of law practice, both as a prosecutor, a defense lawyer --

WHITFIELD: We're in unprecedented times.

AKERMAN: Its doesn't -- it's not done.

WHITFIELD: True (ph).

AKERMAN: And the reason it's not done is because once you start disparaging the judge, disparaging people in the courtroom, you're putting yourself in harm's way because that's the judge who's going to sentence you. It's the judge who could send you to jail or give you probation. So, you don't do those sorts of things.

WHITFIELD: Most don't.

AKERMAN: Donald Trump is the only one I have ever seen do this and do it in such an outrageous way that has really forced the courts to deal with, where does the First Amendment stop and where do we need a gag order in order to protect the judicial system?

WHITFIELD: It's been unique and continues to be on so many levels.

Nick Akerman, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

AKERMAN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, John.

BERMAN: All right, this morning, do I have a story for you? It's about a CNN anchor, maybe the greatest CNN anchor. But before Alisyn Camerota was the greatest anchor, she was a girl growing up in New Jersey, essentially a punk rock groupie, who ended up leaving home at 16.

And her brand-new memoir, "Combat Love," is out this week.

And Alisyn Camerota is here with us now.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Why am I sitting so far away from you? I don't like this.

BERMAN: Well, that's a great point. But you -- the fact that we're sitting is revolutionary to begin with.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

BERMAN: You know that it's serious if we're sitting down.

So, I've been lucky enough to read this book and it is -- it's mind- blowing. You can't believe that everything in it actually happened to anyone, let alone someone that I sat next to for four years.


Let me just start with the punk rock groupie thing.


BERMAN: Explain that to me.

CAMEROTA: So, at 13 years old, I fell in love with a local punk rock band from Shrewsbury, New Jersey, called Shrapnel. And they were so electric and so charismatic and so talented that I ended up sort of following them around for a few years, much to their dismay, because they didn't what a teeny bopper following them to CBGBs and Max's Kansas City and all these different clubs. But I was so spellbound by them that I followed them into some dangerous situations and they ended up having to routinely save my life.

BERMAN: Dangerous situations like being in the back of a van or being in a car with -- just bad stuff on the streets of New York at 1:00 a.m.

CAMEROTA: Yes, like if anybody remembers the 80s, the early 80s in New York City, in the bowery in particular, which is where CBGBs, the iconic punk rock club was, was very burned out and dangerous. And so sometimes, because I was so young, I'd be sleepy. Oh, and I also had to go to high school the next day. So, I would be sleepy. So, I would go to sleep in a car and sometimes -- well, one time, as you'll read in "Combat Love," I found myself surrounded by punk rock skin heads with baseball bats who were breaking the windows to steal stereos and stuff like that. So like, yes, I -- things like that happened that shouldn't have been happening to me, I think.

BERMAN: No. No, and clearly they didn't know what I know now, which is that they should have been scared of you, not the other way around.

And like I said, the events in this book are almost beyond belief. This sequence of things that you did in your life. And one of them was you left home at 16. And I'm not talking about going to boarding school, I'm talking about basically like interstate couch surfing.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I lived in six different houses in the space of two years. Really what I was searching for was a foundation. I mean this whole book, the overarching theme is about my decades long search for home. However you want to define that. Figuratively and literally. So, when I was 15, my mother moved me -- I was an only child -- away from what I consider to be the episode center of the universe, Shrewsbury, New Jersey.

BERMAN: New Jersey. CAMEROTA: Three thousand miles away to the West Coast. I was alone. I was disoriented. And after about a year, I decided that I should fend for myself and it would be better if I just was on my own and crawled my way back to New Jersey. And so you'll read about how I was able to do that.

BERMAN: When I read this, one of the things I basically said to you is, are you sure you want to tell everyone everything that's in here --

CAMEROTA: You did.

BERMAN: Because it's all really deeply personal and difficult. And so it wasn't so much the punk rock groupie thing, which is awesome, or the couch surfing, which is awesome. Well, it's all awesome. But you're also very honest about periods of your life where you dealt with depression.

CAMEROTA: Yes. You did try to warn me. I will say that. You did. Everybody should know that. John tried to warn me about this.

Look, there was deep despair during some of these times in my life. And there were definitely bouts of depression. And basically the reason I decided to tell this very deeply personal and raw story is because I think a lot of people can relate to that. And we don't talk about it. And we all do wear this facade, not always as much of a makeup mask and well-coiffed anchor hair, as I am, but we all do wear a public facade, but everybody has a story of survival of some kind. And a lot of people have a story of grappling with despair and depression.

And so, in that way, I just hope that it will be inspirational because I did find my way out of it and I did find my way to achieving my dream of becoming a TV reporter and having a happy and stable family.

BERMAN: I have to say, I was all -- I always have been inspired by how you talk about mental health. In a way you taught me how to talk about mental health in a responsible way. And now I understand, I think, where it all comes from. I understand so much more about where every all comes from.

CAMEROTA: Really more than you ever wanted to know about me, I think.

BERMAN: I say that, but you know deep down inside I'm like, oh.

Listen, this book is wonderful. Everyone needs to order it right now. "Combat Love" by Alisyn Camerota. It is fantastic. It's so -- any -- you know what, you have to write more books so I can sit next to you more often.

CAMEROTA: That's right. I'm willing to do it. It's worth it, John, for me.

BERMAN: All right. Thank you so much.

CAMEROTA: Thank you so much, John. I really appreciate you. BERMAN: Congratulations.


WHITFIELD: All right, sign me up. I'm going -- heading to a bookstore today. I will be picking it up.

All right, Donald Trump's stocks starting the day in the green, up more than 23 percent at one point. What does this mean for the former president's wallet?



WHITFIELD: All right, right now the markets are officially open for day two of trading after Trump Media's blockbuster debut. Shares for Donald Trump's social media company were selling so fast that they had to briefly halt trading on day one. And the company's value skyrocketed to nearly $11 billion. But will the hype hold?

CNN business and economy reporter Matt Egan is here with the answer on that.

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS AND ECONOMY REPORTER: Well, Fredricka, fasten your seat belts because this stock is not obeying the laws of gravity. It's all trading on momentum.

But listen, that is a very powerful force because let's look at how it's doing this morning. This is up another 10 percent as we speak. This is after yesterday's spike, after days of spikes.

Let's also zoom out a little bit. Over the past six months, this is a stock that has basically quadrupled in value.


This spike here back in January, this was around the time that Donald Trump had a landslide victory in the Iowa caucus. That sent this skyrocketing as people started to bet more and more on Truth Social.

Now, one thing to keep in mind is, the higher the stock goes, the higher that Donald Trump's net worth is. At yesterdays close, Trump's net worth, according to Bloomberg, a little over $7 billion. It went up by $4 billion on Monday alone.

Now, we should note that he can't quickly monetize this stake. There are restrictions around that insiders have where they can't sell or even borrow against their value in this company, at least over the first few months.

But what's also important to remember is there's a lot of questions about the valuation of this company. And let me look -- show you why.

So, Truth Social is actually still very, very tiny, right? Half a million monthly active users. Even Threads is ten times bigger than that. Obviously, Twitter is massively bigger than that. And also it's worth looking at how Truth Social stacks up against Reddit, a social media company that just its went public last year. You can see that even though Truth Social has just a fraction of the revenue, its actually been valued at a much higher level.

So, listen, Fredreka, this stock is going to keep going up and down because right now it's trading purely on momentum.

WHITFIELD: That brand association.

All right, Matt Egan, thank you so much.

EGAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: Thank you so much for being here today.

WHITFIELD: It was fun.

BERMAN: It's been great to have you here.

Thank you all for joining us. This has been CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Alisyn Camerota today --

WHITFIELD: Author again.

BERMAN: Is up next.