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Trump's Net Worth Plunges; Innocent People Struck in Gaza Strip; Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) is Interviewed about the Israeli Strike; Survivors of 1921 Massacre Pursue Reparations; Countdown to Solar Eclipse. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired April 02, 2024 - 09:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, happening now, seconds ago the stock markets open. And what you're looking at right there, a live look at Donald Trump's social media company, Trump Media, down nearly 3 percent so far in trading today. The markets opened literally 40 seconds ago. This after he lost almost 20 percent yesterday. $1 billion on paper yesterday, plus a little so far today.

Matt Egan is here with me to watch this and explain what happened yesterday. Why did it drop so much?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, John, today looks more like a dip than a dive, but anything can happen with this stock. It is subject to wild moves, right? Don't blink because you can miss a 10 percent move in either direction. Yesterday, as you mentioned, this stock lost almost a quarter of its value in one day. That means Donald Trump's net worth went down by about $1 billion because he is the dominant shareholder in Trump Media, the owner of Truth Social. You can see the stock just --

BERMAN: Zeroing out.

EGAN: It just went flat on that.


EGAN: The reason why it fell so sharply yesterday though, they posted 2023 results. They were not pretty. The company lost $58 million last year on very little revenue, $4.1 million in revenue. That is so tiny because this is a company that started the week valued at $11 billion. The results were actually very much in line with another digital media company that flamed out earlier this year, The Messenger. I'm not saying that Truth Social is going to go the way of The Messenger, but it does show why some experts are warning this is a meme stock and it's ridiculously overvalued.

BERMAN: And quickly, you were explaining to me, so I could understand it.

EGAN: Yes. BERMAN: And if I can understand it, anyone can. There was an accounting warning having to do with Truth Social.

EGAN: There was. So in the SEC filings yesterday, there was a warning from accountants that I do think spooked some investors, fueled some of the losses. The accountant said that the losses for Trump Media were so severe that they, quote, raised substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.

Let me translate that. That is Wall Street speak for, we may go out of business.

But, John, there is an asterisk there, as you see the stock just turned slightly positive.

BERMAN: Turned to positive.

EGAN: The asterisk is that warning likely predated the merger. And the merger didn't just bring Truth Social public, it also led to a cash infusion of $300 million. And that should be enough to let this company -- to buy some time.

But in the meantime, John, listen, there's going to be wild swings up and down. Fasten your seat belts.

BERMAN: And one of the most shorted stocks, I understand, on Wall Street right now.

Matt Egan, great to see you.

EGAN: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: I know someone who we never short, Sara Sidner.


New developments this morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israeli forces, quote, "unintentionally struck innocent people" in the Gaza Strip. It comes after the humanitarian aid organization World Central Kitchen says seven of its workers were killed in Gaza right after they had delivered food to a warehouse, they say in an Israeli airstrike, even though their convoy was clearly marked with the group's logos and they had coordinated their movements with the IDF.

In his statement this morning, Netanyahu did not specifically mentioned the World Central Kitchen staffers had been killed.

CNN's Melissa Bell is in Jerusalem for us with this story.

A harrowing story. We've already heard from Andre -- Jose Andres, who founded this organization. He couldn't be more upset. What do you know there from Jerusalem?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Sara, there's been outraged, but also great sadness expressed about the deaths of these aid workers coming from a wide variety of backgrounds, as they did.

What we understand now, Sara, is that the IDF is going to be conducting a high level investigation into this. In fact, we're hearing that it is the IDF's top general who is personally going to be reviewing the information as it comes in. And I think that's an indication of how seriously Israeli authorities are taking this tragedy.

This is what Benjamin Netanyahu had to say about it a short while ago.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Unfortunately, in the last day, there was a tragic incident where our forces unintentionally struck innocent people in the Gaza Strip.


It happens in war, and we are thoroughly investigating it. We are in contact with the governments, and we will do everything to prevent such occurrences in the future.


BELL: It is going to be, of course, Sara, all the more important that Israeli authorities bring urgent answers to this quickly because of their claim over the course of the last few weeks and months that they are working closely with aid organizations to try and alleviate the suffering of the 2.2 million Gazans who are currently in need of food.

And remember what the U.N. says is that half the population is actually now facing famine, Sara.

SIDNER: Melissa, these pictures are stark, seeing the vehicle that they were in than the condition of it after the strike. Thank you so much for your reporting there.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And joining us now is the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee Congressman Adam Smith from Washington.

Congressman, thank you for coming in.

You heard there what Netanyahu said his response to that tragic strike. With his moves and decisions already under such scrutiny, meaning Netanyahu, what's your reaction to this?

REP. ADAM SMITH (D-WA): Well, two big things. One, it really underscores how important it is to get a ceasefire at this point in the conflict. Something that the Biden administration has been negotiate -- trying to negotiate for several months now. And in the last, I don't know, three, four weeks, there has been a clear offer on the table to exchange Palestinian prisoners for the Israeli hostages and get an extended ceasefire lasting over a month that Hamas has rejected. And it's really -- it's hard for Israel to agree to a ceasefire without the release of the hostages. So, we need to get that agreement. And Hamas needs to agree to what was put on the table.

And then the second point is the need to increase humanitarian assistance in Gaza. I was there just a couple of weeks ago at the Rafah crossing and met with Israeli leadership, including the prime minister. And the lack of humanitarian assistance getting into Gaza is a major problem and something that Israel needs to step up and increase without question.

But this incident, this tragic, terrible incident, illustrates how hard that is to do while the fighting is going on. Now, even if the fighting continues, humanitarian assistance needs to increase. But we need to get a ceasefire to make sure that the humanitarian assistance can get in without these types of tragedies happening.

BOLDUAN: Do you think that this tragedy, this tragedy specifically, do you think this shakes the goodwill of the Biden administration in their continued support of Netanyahu? I mean we know publicly and privately there have been tough conversations to be had, but they're really this -- World Central Kitchen is -- resonates so much with people around the United States and around the world. We see World Central Kitchen and Jose Andres at every natural disaster there first to help. They can't do more. They do such good things. And they were there trying to get the humanitarian assistance to people. Does this shake that goodwill?

SMITH: Well, I think -- look, the humanitarian crisis that existed in Gaza exists in Gaza right now. It's what the Biden administration is really concerned about and has been pushing. I think certainly this amplifies that problem. But it's a horrific situation all the way around that the Biden administration is trying to find a way to get Israel and Hamas to get to a ceasefire.

Now, I do think part of the problem here is Hamas has been unaccountable in all of this. They have no incentive at this point. Well, they have a clear incentive, and that is the protection of the Palestinian people that does not seem to be a priority. But they seem to think that they're winning the PR campaign. I mean the U.N. refuses to even condemn Hamas while calling for a ceasefire.

So, what's going to force Hamas to accept that ceasefire at this point? Yes, it continues to push the Biden administration to find some solution to this, but it takes both Israel and Hamas to agree to that ceasefire right now. And I hope some pressure will be exerted on Hamas to accept what has been on the table for weeks now.

BOLDUAN: I what to also ask you about -- Iran says that Israel took out seven of its officers, including a senior commanders of the IRGC, in strikes in Syria, hitting an Iranian embassy complex in Damascus. The White House says that the United States conveyed to Iran that the U.S. was not involved and didn't know about it ahead of time. Yet Iran has come out saying that the U.S. -- they hold the United States responsible for the attack, saying the United States should be answerable is how they put it.

How concerned -- how serious was this strike? How concerned are you about it and retaliation?

SMITH: Well, I'm very -- I'm very concerned about it. But the Iranian claim is ridiculous. They want to blame America for absolutely everything. They've been in a conflict with Israel.


They've been funding Hezbollah. They've been funding Hamas. They've been funding a variety of different threats and attacks on Israel for quite some time now. They know they're in that conflict. It's not driven by the United States, its driven by the fact that Iran has made it very clear that they want to wipe Israel off the map. And Israel is defending itself against that attack.

Now, you know, the specific strike, I don't know the ins and outs of why Israel felt like this was an appropriate strike to take in that conflict. But if Iran wants to stop this sort of thing, they need to stop advocating for the elimination of Israel.

But the U.S. has no responsibility for this. This is Israel and Iran in a conflict that I think we're all very painfully aware of. But the big concern here is the spread of the conflict. It's something that we've been trying to contain since October 7th. With the rockets and the weapons that Hezbollah has just up to the north in Lebanon and what Iran has been shipping across Syria for some time, there's a real risk of this spreading into a larger conflict that engulfs the entire Middle East. So, we have to keep working to try and contain that in any way we can.

BOLDUAN: Yes, Congressmen, it's always great to have you on. Thank you so much for coming in.

SMITH: Thanks for the chance, Kate.


BERMAN: All right, today, the last two survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre will fight for justice in court at 109 years old. Will they see the reparations they are hoping for?

And we are standing by to see if Donald Trump will break his new gag order. He will be speaking in public shortly for the first time since the judge in the federal hush money -- no, for the first time since the judge in his New York criminal case expanded the gag order.



SIDNER: The last two survivors of one of the deadliest attacks on black Americans in U.S. history are battling for justice in court. They're the only two surviving residents of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, and they're not backing down from their demand of reparations. They lost one battle in a lower court. Now the state high court has decided to hear there plea.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is joining me now.

You had a conversation with these survivors. Tell me about this legal battle.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so, look, as you mentioned, these are the final survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. They've been locked in this year's long court battle at this point. Lower court -- this is a court battle essentially for reparations. Lower court dismissed the case. State high -- the state supreme court agreed to hear this case. And now today they have a chance to actually make their case, which, of course, is a huge step.

And if you haven't been doing the math, these survivors are all 109 years old. So time, of course, is of the essence here.

Essentially what they argue is that what happened over 100 years ago still having ripple effects on their lives and had ripple effects on their lives over the course of it and that the city of Tulsa, among others, were complicit in those ripple effects. And as you mentioned, I spoke with one of those survivors, 109-year-old Viola Ford Fletcher. And she told me that what happened in 1921 isn't ancient history to her.

Take a listen.


JIMENEZ: What do you remember about that time?

VIOLA FORD FLETCHER, 109-YEAR-OLD TULSA RACE MASSACRE SURVIVOR: People getting killed and houses, property, schools, churches, and stores getting destroyed with fire. And then someone in the neighborhood saying to leave the neighborhood, if not we're going to kill all of the black people. It just stays with me, you know. It's just the fear that I have lived in Tulsa since, but it's -- I don't sleep all night living there.


JIMENEZ: Especially for her age, still so with it.

SIDNER: Incredible.

JIMENEZ: And we're going to have more of my interview with her later on "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER."

But the case was initially dismissed after the city argued in part that simply being connected in some way to an historical event doesn't give someone unlimited rights to seek compensation related to that event. And, obviously, that was an argument that in part the court sided with.

But the family of the other survivor, Lessie Benningfield Randle, told me that they are pleading for this case to advance and, quote, "let us honor them while they are still with us." I also want to note, there was a third survivor who, in the midst of this court battle, Hughes Van Ellis, he died in October 2023 waiting for this opportunity.

And I just want to put everything in perspective here, just for how long this process could actually be. Let's just say the state supreme court agrees with them and allows their case to proceed.

SIDNER: Go forward.

JIMENEZ: This is just for the chance to go to trial.

SIDNER: Right.

JIMENEZ: Because then it's referred back down to the lower court. Then you actually begin the process for trial, which could also take a number of years when, of course, time is of the essence.

SIDNER: One hundred and nine. Incredible how lucid and great of a speaker she is still.


SIDNER: Thank you so much, Omar. Appreciate it.


BOLDUAN: So, six days from the -- we are six days from the rare solar eclipse and why states best positioned along its path are already getting so excited.

We'll be back.



BERMAN: Once upon a time I was falling in love, now I'm only falling apart.

This morning, millions across the country finalizing plans to get in position for a total eclipse.

CNN's senior data reporter Harry Enten is here.

It is coming. It is Monday. How rare is this?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes, how rare is this, John?

All right, the last time we had a total solar eclipse in the United States was back in 2017. Before that you have to go all the way back to 1979. Before that, 1970.

But what makes this eclipse so special, in my opinion, is, let's take a look at the number of Americans in the path of totality, where there will be a total eclipse of the heart. All right, in 2024, 31 million. If you go back seven years ago, it was

just 12 million. Less than or equal to 3 million back in '79. Less than or equal to 4 million back in 1970. If you add all of these last three eclipses up, the number of people in the path of totality is less than the 31 million this time around. So, the fact is, this is a special eclipse because there are going to be so many people in that path of totality.

BERMAN: Yes, I'm old enough to remember 2017. And I have to say --

ENTEN: And this one.

BERMAN: 2017. And I have to say like the hype for this one is more than three times greater than 2017.


You know, talk to me about how you're seeing that.

ENTEN: Yes, you know, if you were to look at Google searches, right? Remember Beyonce came out with her album last week. This is regular -- relative Google searches since Friday. Searches for the solar eclipse are the highest on record. Beyonce, who came out with that new album last week, behind solar eclipse, and behind Taylor Swift. So, the stars of our actual planet do not make -- meet the star of our entire universe, which, of course, is the sun.

And we also see it in total -- you know, if we look where there will be a total eclipse. Look at this, 4 million tourists, upwards of 1,000 more Airbnb searches than normal and airfare up 500 percent. Something I know well because I'm going to Buffalo next week and the plane prices have been outrageous, guys.

BERMAN: Well, tickets to the solar eclipse, actually easier to get than tickets to the Era tour, I will tell you that.

BOLDUAN: And cheaper.

BERMAN: And try to get this sun to sing. Try to get the sun to sing.

ENTEN: I'm working on it.

BERMAN: Harry Enten, thank you. Thank you so much.

(INAUDIBLE) the Era's tour. We're going to run a correction all day (INAUDIBLE).

BOLDUAN: I was not going to correct you on Era, but you are so you for saying it that way.

BERMAN: CNN is going to cover this eclipse.


BERMAN: Special live coverage begins all day. We have correspondence stationed all over the solar system. Who gets to go to the sun? Monday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. And you can watch it streaming on Max as well.

BOLDUAN: Just so much to come.

Thank you so much for joining us today.


"CNN NEWSROOM" with Jim Acosta is up next.