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Grand Jury Heard Recording Of Trump Pressuring Georgia Lawmaker; NY Grand Jury Hearing Testimony In "Hush Money" Case; Trump- Appointed Judge Appears Open To Blocking Abortion Pill; CDC: More U.S. Women Dying From Pregnancy-Related Issues; U.S. Threatens To Ban TikTok If Chinese Owners Don't Sell; NBA Suspends Ja Morant For 8 Games Without Pay Over Gun Video; Big Dance Begins: NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Underway. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 16, 2023 - 13:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: His former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, testified before that grand jury twice this week and here's what he told CNN this morning about it.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER PERSONAL ATTORNEY TO DONALD TRUMP: They have a tremendous amount of information. A lot of people have attacked my credibility.

Truth be told, at the end of the day, they can attack me all they want. This case is not going to be predicated on any one individual but rather it's going to be predicated on the documents, on the evidence, the text messages, the emails.


KEILAR: But Donald Trump's current personal attorney told CNN last night that being indicted will basically get Trump elected next year. Here's that.


JOE TACOPINA, PERSONAL ATTORNEY TO DONALD TRUMP: I think a prosecutor would say, hmm. You know, he's a very democratic prosecutor, that's been supported by the far left, going after perhaps the most far-right guy you have out there.

And I think he's thinking, if I prosecute him, I take him out of candidacy. If they indict him, it will embolden him. I think it will -- because he will win this case. It will catapult him to the White House.


KEILAR: Gloria, what do you think?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I'm not sure who's going to win this case. I know a lot of lawyers are debating whether to even bring this case because there are so many other cases, the Georgia case, we were just talking about, the classified documents case, how they wound up at Mar-a-Lago.

And I think that what Donald Trump will do is, if he is indicted on this, he will play victim. And he will say just what his attorney was saying, that this is the was a this was a biased prosecutor, Democratic and out to get him.

And you know, Brianna, he has played the victim card very, very successfully in the past. Even as the documents case opened up and they found those classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, he raised an awful lot of money after that, if you'll recall.

So I think that is exactly what he would do again if this is the first case brought against him.

But once the special counsel decides what to do, once the Georgia case, is there an indictment or isn't there an indictment, I think that will be a pile-on that will be very different because those cases are much more serious.

KEILAR: Very good point.

Gloria, Renato, thank you to you both.

And coming up, we have some new numbers that show a spike in pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. What is behind this? We'll be discussing that.



KEILAR: A federal judge in Texas says he will decide as soon as possible whether to overturn FDA approval of the abortion pill Mifepristone.

Trump-appointed Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk heard about four hours of arguments on Wednesday and suggested he is seriously considering undoing federal approval of what is a widely used abortion drug.

This has been available for more than 20 years. And medication is the most common method of abortion in the U.S.

If the judge rules in favor of the anti-abortion plaintiffs, it could have profound consequences nationwide.

I want to bring in CNN justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider, on this.

Any way that he indicated he may be leaning here, Jess?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he asked a lot of questions, that's for sure, Brianna. And he did seem open to really undoing the FBI's -- sorry, the FDA's approval of this abortion pill, which is exactly what these anti-abortion groups want him to do.

But at the same time, he also expressed this be possibility that maybe he could take a more incremental step here and keep the approval in place but actually block some of the recent changes that the FDA has made making this pill easier to get by mail.

Either way, though, there's a lot at stake in this case for millions of women.

And it's all in the hands of this one federal judge in Amarillo, Texas. He has the power here because he's the only judge in this district that decides and hears these cases to determine whether, in fact, the FDA approval for this drug will be blocked.

He got onto the bench in 2019. He was nominated by the former president, Donald Trump.

And he does have this history of anti-abortion activism. He served as a lead lawyer advocating for the right and religious freedom groups. And he's been really outspoken, at least in the past, on issues like same-sex marriage.

I talked to someone who was a good friend of his yesterday, Brianna. He says that Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, he is all about intellect and not necessarily his beliefs. And he believes that he will really rule by law.

And that's something, of course, that the judge had pledged to do at his confirmation hearing.

A lot in question now, what could really be a very consequential ruling here that could come down to any minute. The judge said he'll be ruling as quickly as possible. So we wait and see - Brianna?

KEILAR: Watching Amarillo.

Jessica Schneider, thank you for that report.


KEILAR: So while that case is playing out, the CDC has a troubling new report and it is showing that an increasing number of women across the U.S. are not surviving pregnancy or childbirth.

It found that, in 2021, more than 1,200 American women died from pregnancy-related issues, which is nearly double the number from three years before.

CNN health reporter, Jacqueline Howard, is joining us on this story.

This is so alarming. What is happening here?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: It's very alarming, Brianna. And we've known that the U.S. has had the highest maternal death rate among all other high-income countries in the world. But this new report tells us that the situation is only getting worse. [13:40:06]

As you mentioned, in 2021, that's the most recent year for which data were available, we saw more than 1,000 women die due to maternal causes. That was up from previous years.

And we're seeing that black women are still at least three times, nearly three times as likely to die due to maternal causes than white women. And the maternal death rate among black women is well over the national average.

Why are we seeing these rises in maternal deaths? Brianna, experts say it comes down to, as a nation, we could do better with providing postpartum care for women after childbirth. We he could do better listening to women when they say something feels wrong during pregnancy or childbirth.

And in the past few years, we've had the covid pandemic and that has exacerbated the issue.

So the nation has a lot of work to do to make sure women and their babies survive childbirth - Brianna?

KEILAR: Yes. It's essential.

Jacqueline, thank you for that.

Coming up, the clock could be ticking for TikTok. What the Biden administration is threatening to do if the platform's Chinese owners don't spin off their shares, next.



KEILAR: The Biden administration is turning up the pressure on TikTok, threatening a possible ban in the U.S. if the app's Chinese owners don't divest their shares of the company.

CNN tech reporter, Brian Fung, is joining us now.

Brian, is this really going to happen? Is this potentially a thing? It's hard to imagine America without TikTok.

BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECH REPORTER: Yes, Brianna, it does appear to be a thing. TikTok confirmed yesterday that the Biden administration wants TikTok to be spun off from its Chinese owners or else it could face a ban in the United States.

Now, this represents a potential turning point in the long-running discussions that TikTok has been having with the United States government about whether or not it can continue operating in the United States.

Despite security concerns about U.S. user data and whether or not it could be handed over to the Chinese government for intelligence purposes or military purposes.

It also represents a hardening stance by the Biden administration after it's received criticism for not acting swiftly enough on the TikTok issue.

In recent weeks and months, we've seen a number of states implement a ban on TikTok on government devices, a number of lawmakers have proposed bills that would ban TikTok nationwide.

All of this is putting more pressure on the Biden administration to wrap up this two-year negotiation with TikTok and to reach some sort of conclusion.

TikTok is saying that divestment is not the answer. It has put forward a number of voluntary measures intended to safeguard U.S. user data.

It says it's put in place technical and bureaucratic measures designed to ensure that no one who is unauthorized can get access to that personal information.

Of course, many of TikTok's critics say that's not nearly enough - Brianna?

KEILAR: Really interesting. I don't have TikTok. I have had concerns about the security.

I also am a very bad dancer, which made it a much easier choice, Brian, as you can imagine, because that's a big part of it.

Brian Fung, thank you so much.

NBA star, Ja Morant, has learned his punishment for flashing a gun in a club for millions to see on his Instagram Live. We'll tell you what he's saying about it, next.



KEILAR: NBA star, Ja Morant, has learned his punishment for holding a gun in an Instagram Live video. A screen grab of the video shows the Memphis Grizzlies player holding a gun while at a nightclub outside of Denver.

The NBA has suspended Morant for eight games without pay.

CNN's Coy Wire is with us now.

Coy, what's Ja Morant saying about all of this?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Hi, Brianna. He's saying he has to be better going forward. The NBA suspended the Grizzlies' 23-yeawr-old all-star for what they called conduct detrimental to the league.

The NBA's investigation concluded that the gun didn't belong to Morant. He missed his team's last six games while taking personal time away from his games.

On Wednesday, he met with the league's commissioner, Adam Silver, before talking about this inside with ESPN. Listen.


AMIR ABDUR-RAHIM, KENNESAW STATE MEN'S BASKETBALL COACH: I can see the image that I painted over myself with my recent mistakes. But in the future, I'm going to show everybody who Ja really is.


WIRE: The suspension, Brianna, is retroactive. So Morant's actually only missing two more games and he will be eligible to play on Monday.

KEILAR: On Monday.

All right, so do you feel any different now that March Madness is kind of officially started, just over an hour ago? It feels a little different.

What's the biggest matchup today for the men.

WIRE: It is. I'm ready to get out of here and go hang with some friends and throw a few back and watch some games.

The top overall seed Alabama is playing today. Vegas favorite Houston is as well, Brianna, but for the first time in four decades.

Duke is playing in the tournament without legendary Coach K., Mike Krzyzewski. They're a four seed playing a five seed, Oral Roberts, today, with Coach John Shyer leading the way.

I mentioned to you yesterday a potential Cinderella pick, Brianna. Kennesaw State, just one win three years ago during Coach Abdur- Rahim's first year. But he's built something special. Now playing in their first ever NCAA tournament.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to play something for you and then hear your reaction to it.


ABDUR-RAHIM: I can remember, four years ago, when we would run out and it literally was 150 people. And man, most of it was family and friends. It was incredible.

It was a big time. My brother, Shareef, he was here. He was like, how long have you all had that? It just wasn't enough people in here to make it sound off.


[13:55:00] WIRE: I'll have the Owls, a 14 seed, upsetting Xavier. A three-seed in the first round of my bracket, Brianna. They seem to have the type of magic that could make a little bit of a run this March Madness.

KEILAR: You like them. And they have the magic. What is the magic? Are they good enough? What makes you think they might be?

WIRE: It has that elusive "it" that some teams have in sports. Sometimes it comes from their fearless leaders, like Coach Abdur- Rahim. Sometimes it comes from great leadership within the locker room. A good group of young men or women.

By the way, Stanford's running away. They have that magic "it," my alma mater. We'll see how they do and we'll see what I know.

KEILAR: I'm a Cal grad, so there we go. There we go, Coy.

WIRE: Yes.

KEILAR: I mean, yes, we'll see. It is something to see a cohesive team. You know, there is something magical about that.

Coy, thank you so much.

And that's it for me. But don't go anywhere. We have much more news ahead.