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Biden, Obama, Clinton Appear Tonight In Fundraiser To Beat Trump; Trump Attends Service Of Fallen NYPD Officer; White House Announces New AI Policies; Sweet Sixteen Tips Off Tonight. Aired 2:30- 3p ET

Aired March 28, 2024 - 14:30   ET



JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: They're going to be joined by former President Bill Clinton. Tickets to the event cost between $225, all the way up to half a million. The campaign says it is sold out at 5,000 people attending.

But behind all the star power is a serious concern about President Biden's prospects. And just how tight the 2024 race will be.

CNN chief national affairs correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is here with us, along with presidential historian and author, Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University.

Great to have both of you.

Jeff, let's start first with you.

You and our colleague, M.J. Lee, write in this new piece that it is an all-hands-on-deck moment. What more did you learn about what's going on behind the scenes with these former presidents talking with the current president.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I mean, there be no two bigger political animals than Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, probably. So they read the same polls that the Biden campaign reads.

And they know that this is a tough spot for President Biden. I'm told by advisers to former President Barack Obama that he has grave concerns about the election.

He does believe it's an all-hands-on-deck moment. What that means is the Democrats should come together, in their words. That's probably the biggest benefit of all this.

Yes, the $25 million is important. It needs to be -- run on TV ads and other things and to build the structure. But I think the biggest thing here they're hoping as to really unify the Democratic Party and get Democrats on board with President Biden.

So that's the point here. And there probably also are too few people who both won reelection. Biden, of course, is trying. So there's a bit of a competitive spirit here that both Bill Clinton

and Barack Obama can explain the Biden challenge and his record perhaps better than Joe Biden, himself. So that could be another big benefit from this event tonight.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Hard to brag on oneself for some people.


KEILAR: But anyways, Trump doesn't -- Trump doesn't have that problem at all. But maybe Biden does.

And, Doug, seeing three presidents together like this. President Clinton hasn't been an office in nearly a quarter century. What's the historical significance and what's the message you see them sending?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, usually, you would wait until the Democratic convention in Chicago and have this moment and then do the fundraisers later.

But I think the Democratic Party recognizes and the Biden campaign, well, let's go now. We rate the State of the Union addresses in U.S. history and Biden had a great one, because it reassured Democrats.

Bill Clinton has just finished writing a second volume of his memoir called "My Life" coming out next year. Barack Obama is building a huge presidential center with his wife in Chicago. They've been busy.

But this is important. This is the beginning of Biden getting the big- time help. There are no two surrogates that are going to unify the Democrats and help Joe Biden more than Clinton and Obama.

And then Michelle Obama is coming in later, working with Jill Biden. So this is a real morale boost for the Democrats. And that's a lot of money for a fundraiser.

KEILAR: Yes. That is a lot of money.

And, Jeff, President Clinton, if he we're asked, would love to give advice in any situation like this. Has he been talking to Biden?

ZELENY: We're told actually that former President Clinton and President Biden actually speak more than Barack Obama and President Biden do. Perhaps some of that is because President Clinton might have a little more time on his hands. He's not engaged in as many different ventures and projects.

But he's also a true political animal. He understands the country. And the loss that Hillary Clinton had in 2016 is still hangs over all of this as well.

So the notion of defeating Donald Trump is the all-hands-on-deck moment for all of these.

But I was talking to a former adviser to President Obama who said he believes that the president views this as the final act of there for partnership, to really try and help bring him over the finish line.

So Bill Clinton also is so astute about what's going on in the country with voters. He still has a good sense of things. So you know that he's still those conversations President Biden.

DEAN: Yes. And, Jeff, we have President Trump at this funeral for the fallen police officer, the NYPD police officer.

A Trump spokesperson slamming this event tonight as elitist and then really trying to create this contrast of Democrats being this elitist party, a glitzy fundraiser with celebrities in New York City, versus it is Donald Trump at this funeral today.

How -- how have we seen this evolve where Republicans and specifically Donald Trump has really tried to embrace blue-collar workers and law enforcement in a way that democracy crowds had -- you know, they would also like to be known for.


DEAN: But he's really tried to cement that.

ZELENY: Without a doubt. And when you see the former President right there, I mean, the working class, there has been a shift from Democrats to Republicans, to some degree.

But I think it's pretty rich to call it something glitzy when someone spends most of their time at Mar-a-Lago and has their fundraisers there.


So the reality is both sides use celebrity power to raise money. But I think what the former president is doing there, appearing with the law enforcement at this funeral, is something that certainly strikes a chord. There is a deep concern about crime in America.

So he clearly is trying to tap into that. Aside from the fact that these are both happening in New York, I think we should draw very little comparison. Clearly, Trump, it seems to me, is trying to get in the spotlight today in New York City

KEILAR: That's right.

And, Doug, in terms of the moment for this nation, I know we're seeing a lot of history being written here with never-before-experienced scenarios, including the presumptive Republican nominee under indictment in a number of cases here, including trying to subvert democracy.

But do you think the nation is ready for what could really be an extraordinary moment?

BRINKLEY: I don't think anybody's ready or how brutal this campaign is going to get. It's awful early now. There's no such thing as even mud- slinging. It's just devastation politics. You get in there and just say anything, do anything.

Biden is, by-and-large, trying to take a high road. But he's going to need help to hang in there with his polling.

And I talked to Bill Clinton not too long ago and he reminded me why he does talk to Biden a lot. Because when Clinton was president, he said, you know, I used to talk to Richard Nixon a lot. Nixon knew a lot about the world and had a lot of ideas that Bill Clinton would lean on.

So even though they were opposed, that's kind of a tradition. And Bill Clinton getting advice from him about politics is one of the best things you can do.

And Barack Obama maybe one of the two or three largest superstars in the world. And particularly if Biden seems to look lethargic with black voters. Barack Obama, double time, tripled time, giving speeches and working with that particular demographic and hitting young people. It's going to make a real difference.

So I think, from now on, you're going to be looking at Biden is representing American tradition. While you're looking at Trump as being somebody that's facing indictments, criminal charges, and as the aberration in our nation's history.

DEAN: Yes, we are writing history as we go on this one.

All right. Jeff Zeleny and Douglas Brinkley, thanks so much for being with us today.

Still ahead this afternoon, the White House has new rules when it comes to artificial intelligence meant to protect you from some of the risks.



DEAN: The White House is releasing its first blueprint for how the federal government can use artificial intelligence as safely as possible. The policies apply to federal agencies and expand on an executive order signed by President Biden back in October.

Agencies must name a chief AI officer, publish online when they use AI, assess and address risks to Americans rights and safety.

One way the White House is hoping to protect peoples' rights is by letting flyers say no to facial recognition scans when you go through airport security.

Here now to help break this down for us is Thomas Germain, senior reporter for "Gizmodo."

Thomas, great to have you on. Thanks so much.

Part of the White House's plan is assessing potential risks of AI. Ai is obviously new and evolving pretty much daily. But generally, what kind of risks does this technology pose in this situation?

THOMAS GERMAIN, SENIOR REPORTER, "GIZMODO": Yes, that's a great question. People generally have the impression that computers are unbiased and they don't share some of the problems that a human being making decisions might.

But in reality, they reflect a lot of the same issues that we have across our society. Facial recognition is a perfect example. There have been numerous studies over the years that show that facial recognition is less accurate when it's identifying people of color or women or children.

And the reality is, is that algorithms carry the same problems that are baked into the data that's used to build them. So as a result, we often ends up with real issues of bias and other kinds of problems that can crop up when these algorithms and tools are used unsupervised.

DEAN: These policies that we're talking about apply to federal agencies. Do we know which agencies are currently using ai at this point?

GERMAIN: That's a really good question. And in fact, we don't really.

A couple of years ago, using facial recognition as an example again, there was a congressional hearing in which a number of intelligence agencies and the Department of Justice we're brought before Congress and they weren't able to answer questions about whether or not they we're using facial recognition or how often these tools were being used.

Because they're not required to document the use of that information. And it's not just facial recognition. There are all kinds of different applications of artificial intelligence across a swath of different parts of public life.

But for now, we really don't have any system setup to keep track of the way AI is being used and to hold our government officials accountable.

DEAN: We also mentioned how this could change options when you're going through airport security. I've noticed that they do this at some airports already. Just walk up and it's just your face, they take a picture and you don't need a boarding pass or anything else. They do at all through facial recognition.

How quickly could we see this kind of broaden out across the country?

GERMAIN: Yes, it's funny because you actually have the right to opt out of face scans at the airport already.


But the change here is the Biden administration promises that, by the end of the year, they're going to set up procedures so you can opt out of facial records ignition scans, and it won't slow down your travel or inconvenience you.

I've heard from dozens of people that tried to opt out and find that TSA agents aren't trained on how to respond to these opt-out requests. And it can often really slow down your travels.

So really, they're just promising that they're going to make this process a little bit smoother. But it should happen very soon.

DEAN: And as we said, this is just a field where it is changing so much.

And in terms of regulation, governmental regulation, what does that look like right now? How complicated has it been, or will it be for Congress to regulate any of these private sector companies?

GERMAIN: It's really complicated, right? In part, because we don't even know what artificial intelligence is going to be used for six months from now, let alone over the next decade.

But we have seen regulators in other parts of the world setup really sensible, simple safeguards.

For example, in Europe, there are rules where you can't use artificial intelligence for sensitive decision-making processes or -- or law enforcement, things like that, where regulators feel that it's important to have a human making those decisions instead of a robot.

So far, we really haven't seen any truly meaningful artificial intelligence regulation in the United States. But other countries are setting up a model that hopefully the government will be able to follow if it can actually pass any meaningful regulation to catch up with it.

DEAN: We shall see.

Thomas Germain, thanks so much for being here with us.

GERMAIN: Thanks for having me on.

DEAN: Brianna?

KEILAR: Now to some of the other headlines that we're watching this hour.

The more than 3,000 people still staying in hotel rooms after that huge fire on Maui seven months ago are now on notice. Governor Josh Green says he's aiming for everyone to be out of the hotels by July 1st.

The governor says the state has enough long-term rental units available. He said many folks have said no because they want to stay near their jobs or children's schools. But they must vacate.

And he's told the state's attorney general to crack down on illegal short-term rentals. Also tired Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer telling CNN that the high court will be forced to consider abortion, quote, "more and more and more." His comments coming a day after the justices heard arguments in the first abortion-related case since Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Breyer chided the conservative majority for believing that the 2022 Dobbs decision overturning Roe would put an end to Supreme Court cases challenging abortion access.

And a study finds that landfills have a bigger methane problem than even previously thought. New research from universities and agencies, including NASA, measured methane pollution at hundreds of large landfills across 18 states in the U.S. between 2016 and 2022.

And they found far more pollution than current reporting systems and said it's persistent with 60 percent of landfill emissions lasting multiple months or even years.

And still ahead, another night of March Madness upon us, including a rare rematch of last year's championship game. Coy Wire will join us with a look at the Sweet 16.



KEILAR: From 68 teams down to the Sweet 16. Week two of March Madness, tipping off tonight. Unfortunately, there won't be any small schools making a Cinderella run this time around. Bummer, there.

This year, the tournament is about the big-name teams duking it out for the national title.

We have Coy Wire with us now on this.

All right, Coy, so despite that, how the bracket turned out this year, it's actually pretty rare for a couple of reasons. Tell us.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, Brianna, this marks just the fifth time in nearly half a century that every one and two have reached the Sweet 16.

Clemson and Arizona getting the party started. Then the defending champs, UConn, taking on San Diego State in a type of matchup we have rarely seen. This will be just the fourth time in NCAA tournament history that we get a rematch of the previous year's title game.

Then it's Bama and UNC with Illinois. And Iowa State in the nightcap. Tonight's programs, Brianna, have combined to rack up 12 national titles. Every one of these players and coaches know just how special and difficult it is to get to this point.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely a blessing to be here at the Sweet 16 again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's unreal man and it's a dream come true, honestly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This wasn't some light gift. We've earned our position. We've manifested Brooklyn to Boston.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is something that our guys not only are used to are accustomed to, but it's a position that they want to be in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We only have one game, win or go home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You really got to go out there, just -- just work for it. And who wants it more at the end of the day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every moment matters, every possession matters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do whatever it takes, you know, make your sacrifice. It's bigger than me when it comes to March.


WIRE: All right, Brianna, when you get this far in the competition, this close to a championship, you've got to do what you've got to do to keep the mojo flowing, right?

Well, maybe that means your superstitions and team routines can get a little weird. Illinois has a superstition. And we're here for it. After each of their press conferences, their coach, Brad Underwood, their players, they do a very peculiar version of musical chairs.

Each one is different. A choreographed routine. Whatever this is, it's been working. Got them all the way to the Sweet 16. Now with a chance to make the Elite Eight for the first time in 19 years.


KEILAR: All right. And they're stuck with it, right? That's just how it goes.


WIRE: That's how it goes.

Brianna, I'm going to throw it back to you, real quick. Every Sweet 16, I like to ask: What's your favorite Sweet? Mine's just a good old- fashioned Snickers bar.

KEILAR: A Snickers bar? I'm going to go with some Twizzlers.

WIRE: There we go. Do you drink the soda out of it? You bit the end off of the straw?

KEILAR: Yes, but if I do that and then my team wins, then I'm probably going to be stuck doing that for every game or something. So anyways I may just not be that. (LAUGHTER)

KEILAR: Coy Wire, thank you so much.

We have lots more ahead on CNN NEWS CENTRAL. And we'll be right back.