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Trump Ramps Up Inflammatory Rhetoric as Critical Month Begins; AXIOS: U.S. and Israel to Hold Virtual Meeting on Rafah Today; AT&T Says Data from 73M Customer Accounts Leaked to Dark Web. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired April 01, 2024 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Crooked, corrupt, deranged, evil sick. Happy Easter everyone! The dark holiday messages from Donald Trump that might push judges to crack down just as he begins his most important legal month yet.

SARA SIDNER, CNN REPORTER: Sensitive data for more than 73 million people stolen from AT&T and posted on the dark web what you can do to protect yourself.

BERMAN: Convicted of killing his wife and son Alex Murdaugh to be sentenced for possibly the last time today. Kate is out. I'm John Berman with Sara Sidner. This is "CNN News Central".

SIDNER: Its April Fool's Day today and it is a critical month for Donald Trump and his numerous legal challenges. Two weeks from today his first criminal trial scheduled to start here in New York and an angry Trump lashing out using his Easter message to attack prosecutors and judges in his multiple criminal cases.

Trump going after Special Counsel Jack Smith in all caps post on Truth Social calling him evil and sick. He also attacked Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg claiming he was lazy on violent crime and accusing Bragg of illegally indicting him.

Trump is also stepping up his attacks on the judge who will oversee his New York hush money case which begins April 15th. CNN's Alayna Treene is joining us now. What's he trying to do here exactly, because already there is a gag order in place?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: That's right, and it's something Donald Trump is trying to sidestep very carefully. And look Sara, this is something we have seen Donald Trump do repeatedly, not just in the campaign trail this year, but also in the lead up to 2016 when he was in the White House, and also far beyond.

When I'm saying he's pulling from his playbook I mean that quite literally, this is the type of rhetoric we've seen Donald Trump and the language that he has used in the books that he's written in the past, like in his 2004 book, "How to Get Rich" where he says you want to go after your enemies as harshly as you can and do it in a public way.

This is exactly how Donald Trump thinks that he can succeed in convincing the American people of his claims that everyone is out to get him that the election, that those who are prosecuting him or trying to interfere in the election. And I do want to just read for you some of what you mentioned about his Truth Social posts yesterday.

And it's something we actually saw him do on Thanksgiving I remember when he similarly went out after prosecutors who are going after him legally, this is what he wrote. He said, quote, Happy Easter to all including crooked and corrupt prosecutors, and judges that are doing everything possible to interfere with the presidential election of 2024.

And put me in prison, including those many people that I completely and totally despise, because they want to destroy America and now failing nation. He went on to attack Special Counsel Jack Smith, as well as Fani Willis, the DA in Georgia, and others in that post. A very Happy Easter indeed, but look, I think again this is how Donald Trump tries to sway his voters. He uses violent and incendiary rhetoric to do that.

And it's exactly what we have seen him do in the past. Remember, in 2016, rather than try and paint an optimistic future for America do something like Reagan that him, and other Republicans praise often, he instead uses fear and fear mongering to play on those fears of voters.

Now, I do also just want to give you a sense of what we're going to see from Donald Trump this week tomorrow. We're actually going to see him hit the campaign trail for one of the first times actually since Super Tuesday. He's essentially been off the trail since officially clinching the Republican nomination.

He's going to be visiting battleground states like Michigan and Wisconsin as he also simultaneously preps for that 8th April 15th trial. And I think we're going to continue to see this rhetoric play out as we get closer to his trial later this month, Sara.

SIDNER: Alayna Treene, one of the things people say as well it's just Trump being Trump because he's done this before. But then you look back to January 6, and what some of the defendants have said that they were influenced by him. It is a big problem that the judges will be looking at. Alayna Treene, thank you so much for all that, John.


BERMAN: All right. President Biden will host the Easter Egg Roll at the White House today. CNN's Arlette Saenz is there, Arlette.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey John. In just a few hours gates will open up here at the White House. More than 40,000 people are expected to be here for this annual Easter Egg Roll. It's a tradition that goes back until the 1870s. And as you see in my hand right now, everybody walking in will get one of these commemorative eggs. But in just a few hours people will be participating in this Easter Egg Roll, rolling eggs, these wooden eggs with wooden spoons. But this family friendly event is also taking place against the backdrop of a bit of political controversy stemming from over the weekend on several fronts.

Republicans have slammed the White House for a proclamation that declared March 31st Transgender Day of Visibility. This is a proclamation President Biden first issued back in 2021 that just so happened this year. It's always on March 31st. But this year, it fell on Easter.

That set off some frustration from Republicans including House Speaker Mike Johnson, who tweeted quote, the Biden White House has betrayed the central tenet of Easter and he said the American people are taking notes. Now the White House has pushed back on this a bit.

We saw two posts on social media yesterday from President Biden one about Easter, saying that he and his wife send the warmest wishes to Christians around the world celebrating the power of hope and the promise of Christ's resurrection this Easter Sunday. He also tweeted about Transgender Day of Visibility saying quote, I have a simple message to all Trans Americans. I see you, you're made in the image of God, and you're worthy of respect and dignity.

So this is just some of the controversy that's been brewing from over the weekend, the White House in several statements as well push back a bit also, Andrew Bates, a spokesperson saying President Biden stands for bringing people together and upholding the dignity and freedoms of every American. Sadly, its unsurprising politicians are seeking to divide and weaken our country with cruel, hateful and dishonest rhetoric.

But hopefully the families who are attending here today will be able to put some of that aside participating in this annual event, which is always typically a family friendly event and a time for kids to participate in these Easter themed activities, and visit with the bunnies and other mascots who will be here for the family day.

BERMAN: Yeah look, the calendar is the calendar. President Biden can't control when the full moon is. Arlette, that egg is something but if you go home with a balloon, one of those balloons behind you I will be very impressed. We're counting on you. Arlette Saenz at the White House, thank you.

Huge protests in Israel against the government of Benjamin Netanyahu as a key meeting between the U.S. and Israel is back on for today. Your personal data could be on the dark web. Sensitive information for more than 73 million AT&T customers has been stolen. So what can you do about it and this morning crews working to open a new channel for ships near the destroyed bridge in Baltimore.


[07:10:00] SIDNER: High level talks between the U.S. and Israel on Gaza are expected to resume today. "AXIOS" is reporting officials will hold a virtual meeting to discuss the Biden Administration's alternative options to an Israeli military ground offensive in Rafah where more than a million Palestinians have taken shelter.

In one of the largest protests in Israel since the war began, Israelis took to the streets over the weekend and again this morning demanding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resign. Netanyahu rejected the calls for early elections, insisting that would only benefit Hamas and paralyze Israel for months.

CNN's Nada Bashir is following all of this for us. What can we expect of today's meeting? There was certainly some contention between the Biden Administration and the Israeli Prime Minister's Office.

NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And that seems to have been growing over the last few weeks. We know of course, the Biden Administration has continued to push for more to be done to guarantee the protection of civilians in Rafah in that southern city.

But what we are hearing now from Prime Minister Netanyahu is that the Israeli government intends to push ahead with its plans for a full scale ground operation in Rafah. We heard from Netanyahu speaking on Sunday saying that there can be no victory in the eyes of the Israeli government against Hamas without a ground operation in Rafah.

They do plan to go ahead. The delays that we have seen around this ground offensive, this ground operation have not been caused by any pressure from the United States or any other considerations, but rather, that it is just taking time to plan but the actual military moves have been approved by the Israeli government.

And of course, while there has been mounting pressure from the Biden Administration, saying that they cannot support any sorts of ground operation without a credible plan for the protection of civilians. Netanyahu has been clear they will not be influenced by that pressure from the Biden Administration and do intend to push forward into Rafah.

Of course, the Israeli government has said it will evacuate civilians and will provide humanitarian aid. But again, no credible plans had been provided or released for the protection of civilians. We're talking about some 1.5 million people who have been displaced in the south and of course when it comes to humanitarian aid, U.N. officials have already accused the Israeli government of intentionally starving the Palestinian people in Gaza.

SIDNER: And some of the U.N. agencies have said famine is certain if something isn't done. I do want to ask you about what we're hearing now from the Israeli military, the IDF saying that it's confirmed it's withdrawn from Gaza's Al-Shifa Hospital. What are you learning there?


BASHIR: Well, the Israeli military siege lasted 14 days around the Al- Shifa medical complex. Of course, this was one of this was Gaza's largest hospital before the war. And what we have seen over the last 14 days is an ongoing siege with civilians and medical officials and staff trapped in and around the medical complex.

And we are beginning to see video emerging as civilians and relief and emergency teams flocked to the hospital in the early hours of this morning following the end of that siege. And some of the video is simply too graphic to show. Bodies, corpses strewn around the medical complex buildings have been almost entirely destroyed or burnt down.

Now the Israeli military says they were targeting Hamas militants. They say they killed a number of Hamas militants and found weapons and intelligence documents on the complex but they also say that no harm was caused to civilians.

So that really stands in contrast to the testimonies we've been hearing from those civilians who managed to flee the Al-Shifa complex over the course of the last two weeks and also medical staff who were trapped within the hospital, many of them telling us that they were running out of food, water and other essential supplies that they were too afraid to move within the buildings of the hospital complex of fear of being targeted by Israeli snipers.

And now authorities in Gaza saying they believe there are some 300 people who have been killed over the course of this siege that figure potentially expected to raise, Sara.

SIDNER: Wow. All right, Nada Bashir, thank you so much for all the reporting on that. All right coming up, your full name, social security number, birthday maybe being sold on the dark web after a major breach at AT&T which affected 73 million people what you need to know to protect yourself.

Also new reporting this morning, how the Biden campaign is trying to fix a decade long decline in black voter turnout and how Wisconsin could be a test ground this week on whether their plans are working?



BERMAN: All right, developing this morning a huge data breach that impacts 73 million AT&T customer's social security numbers, passwords and more all stolen and leaked on the dark web this morning. The company is investigating how it happened. CNN's Matt Egan is here. What's going on here, Matt?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Hey, John. This is a massive data breach. And it's one that is exposed to sensitive information of many Americans. And what's interesting is that it's mostly former AT&T customers that have been impacted. The company says that 7.6 million current customers have had their data exposed here. But look at this, 10 times as many 65.4 million former customers have been exposed. And there may be a reason for that divide; I'll get back to that.

Now, I know everyone's wondering how do I know if my information was exposed. Well, AT&T says that they've already reached out to current customers and alerted them and reset their passcodes if they were caught up in this. So that means if you don't have an email or a letter from AT&T in the coming days, you're likely in the clear if you're a current customer, AT&T says they're going to reach out to former customers.

Now as far as what information was taken here, social security numbers may have been exposed according AT&T as well as full names, dates of birth, phone numbers, email addresses, home addresses, account numbers and yes passcodes.

Now, what's intriguing here is the timing because it was really three years ago that a well-known hacker claimed to be selling off personal information on more than 70 million AT&T customers. And at the time, AT&T denied that IT systems were breached.

Now AT&T says that two weeks ago, they did find out that sensitive information was leaked on the dark web. But AT&T says they don't know yet whether it was their systems, or that of a vendor that was breached. But either way John, there's a lot of people impacted here.

BERMAN: Yes, 7 million current, 65 million former customers. So Matt -- you know asking for a friend not really, asking for those of us who use AT&T, what should we be doing?

EGAN: Well first off, John AT&T says reset your passcode that was something that may have been taken here. And if you use the same passcode with other companies -- you know that could leave you in trouble. Another thing they're saying is be vigilant, right. Monitor your account activity, monitor your credit accounts.

Also, you can set up fraud alerts at the big three credit bureaus for free. And consumer watchdog says another thing that you can do, if you've been caught up in this is you can actually freeze your credit with the big three credit bureaus. You can do that for free. And that makes it a little bit harder for someone to try to steal your information, if your data was caught up in this.

But John listen, I think all of this is another reminder that these companies they are under constant attack from hackers. And when those hackers succeed, all of us are really exposed and can be harmed here.

BERMAN: Matt Egan vigilance is needed I think for a lot of AT&T customers this morning. Thank you so much for this report. Keep us posted Sara.

EGAN: Thanks.

SIDNER: We'll look at those credit reports all right. A close look at the enormous task of clearing the wreckage from the Baltimore bridge collapse what crews are doing right now to get other ships on their way, we're there live. And calling all North Carolina Basketball fans pull out your read the unexpected final for that upset everybody's just about brackets.


BERMAN: All right, happening now an important milestone in Baltimore right there you can see live pictures of the Patapsco River the collapse Key Bridge there through the fog. What is happening there now is very important. Crews are getting ready to open a temporary alternate channel around that collapsed Key Bridge for essential traffic in and out of the port. The port obviously one of the busiest in the country.