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CNN International: Protestors Demand Israeli PM Netanyahu Resign; U.S And Israel Holding Virtual Meeting On Rafah Today; IDF Withdraw From Al-Shifa Hospital After 14 Day Siege. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired April 01, 2024 - 11:00   ET




ERICA HILL, ANCHOR: Thanks for joining CNN on this Monday. I'm Erica Hill in New York.

Israel rocked by its largest protest since the start of the war with Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing growing pressure to resign and to hold new elections. We are live in Jerusalem. Plus, a tale of two Easters on the tails of two very different holiday messages. President Biden taking part in the annual Egg Roll at the White House today. Well, Donald Trump takes to the campaign trail and goes on the attack. And fast food workers in the state of California will now see the highest state minimum wage in the United States starting today.

Elections now, that's just one of the demands on the streets of Jerusalem in the biggest protest since the Israel-Hamas war began. Protesters calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step down, angry over what they consider to be his failures to both protect the country on October 7 and to secure the release of all hostages still being held in Gaza. Some demonstrators have set up tents outside the Knesset, vowing to stay there for at least several days. The challenge to Mr. Netanyahu's leadership comes as he underwent surgery to treat a hernia, which doctors say was successful.

Let's bring in now Melissa Bell, who joins us live from Jerusalem with more. Pretty substantial protests, Melissa.

MELISSA BELL, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erica. In fact, what we saw yesterday was thousands of people out in the streets of Jerusalem. It's the first time really that we've seen that protest movement returned to the streets. The cities you can see behind me, they've now set up tents. Their plan, Erica, is to stay here until Wednesday. And I think what's interesting about this crowd and the one that we saw around us in Jerusalem last night is that you have those people that are on the street to say, look, there is still more than 130 hostages in the hands of Hamas. The way this war has been prosecuted has been a failure. The government spent too much time going after prosecuting its war, not enough time trying to get the hostages back or finding other ways to negotiate.

There are those who are out in the street before this all began, before that incredible unity was achieved here in Israel after the October 7 attacks, who were opposed to Benjamin Netanyahu before, and those who are unhappy about what has happened to the many tens of thousands of Israelis still not able to return home because of the tension along the border with Lebanon. So, a lot of different people that have come out to make their displeasure known. But, what unites them is their anti-Netanyahu focus, with that sharp call for elections to be held now, and again, the determination that they will stay out here to continue putting pressure on the government until the Knesset goes off for its spring recess.

I think what's interesting about the pressure that's mounting on Benjamin Netanyahu is that it comes from the left, those who are concerned about the fate of the hostages and the way this war has been prosecuted. It comes from the right because of changes that are being made right now to the law and that could force for the ultra-Orthodox, the Haredi, to enlist in the army. It comes from the outside, as we've seen those devastating pictures emerging from the Al-Shifa Hospital complex again today. A lot of pressure building up very suddenly on Benjamin Netanyahu, and again, protesters who say that they won't stop until they've been heard, Erica.

HILL: And as we continue to follow that, and as you point out, it is so interesting that we see the growing pressure, really from all sides at this point. There are also talks, virtual talks, set to happen today between U.S. and Israeli officials. What more do we know about that?

BELL: That's right. So, that pressure I mentioned a moment to go from outside, those virtual talks happening between American officials and Israeli officials virtually, but we expect that they could turn to talks in-person later this week. That's what we've been hearing.

But, we heard Benjamin Netanyahu speak to that yesterday in his press conference, Erica, just as these protests were getting underway, defending his policy so far, saying it was thanks to those that more than half the hostages had been liberated already, but also speaking very specifically to his plans for Rafah that are at the heart of those talks with the American administration. U.S. officials trying to convince Israel to find another way than going into Rafah, a full- scale ground invasion, to try and find ways and sparing that many million -- more than a million civilians current huddled in tent city around the city and the wider area.


What Benjamin Netanyahu told his press conference yesterday, he said at his press conference yesterday, and he has repeated it four times this month, is that he has given the order to the IDF that this is going to happen, that Rafah is going to take place, suggesting that he doesn't seem prepared to put himself on listening mode when it comes to avoiding that. It could also, Erica, be pressure that is being brought to bear, because remember that the other set of talks that began again yesterday are those hostage talks taking place in Cairo and Qatar, and it could be or it certainly is that this signal that he is sending, that he is determined to go into Rafah is also about putting pressure on Hamas, as everyone gets back to the table for those indirect talks, Erica.

HILL: Yeah. Absolutely. And Melissa Bell, appreciate the reporting, as always. Thank you.

We just heard it, Melissa, of course, mentioned what had been happening at the Al-Shifa Hospital Complex. Israeli forces have now withdrawn from that hospital in Gaza following a two-week siege, leaving behind charred buildings and bodies in the streets. Of course, this used to be Gaza's largest and most advanced hospital. Civil Defense officials say at least 300 bodies have been found at the complex so far. Israel says Hamas and Islamic Jihad had been using Al- Shifa as a base and conducted a precise operation to eliminate them.

Nada Bashir is following all of these developments for us from London this hour. Nada, what more do we know about what has been found in the wake of that siege?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, earlier this morning, there were scenes of utter destruction around the Al-Shifa Medical Complex. It has been difficult over the last two weeks to get an accurate picture of the situation on the ground, given the communications difficulties. But, we have been hearing from the Civil Defense in Gaza and we have been seeing videos from our teams on the ground emerging, as civilians are finally able to return to the area surrounding the complex. And we have heard those reports, buildings around the complex, completely destroyed, some of them burnt, others still flame earlier this morning, a blaze earlier this morning.

And of course, the civilian death toll here is staggering and shocking to say the least. Gaza's Civil Defense says they have so far recovered 300 bodies. They expect that figure to go up throughout the day. Of course, CNN isn't able to independently verify these figures. We don't have independent access to Gaza, of course. But, this is a troubling development and what has been two weeks of horror for civilians who have been trapped in and around the Al-Shifa Hospital over the course of this siege.

Now, we know, of course, that the Israeli military has described this as a precise and targeted operation, they say focused on Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants who they believe were operating in and around the hospital complex. They have said that they found weapons and intelligence documents, and they believe that Hamas had been using this medical complex as a base. But, of course, as we know, there were also hundreds of civilians who had been trapped inside the hospital, some of them patients, and also, of course, medical staff as well.

And over the course of the last few weeks, we have been hearing from medical staff who have reported really troubling accounts of what they have been forced to endure. They have, of course, faced drastic shortages in food, in water, in medical supplies. They have been unable to treat patients in the hospital. They've been unable to provide care for those injured outside of the hospital. Many told us they were unable to move between the complex's buildings of fear of being targeted by snipers. And of course, many in the surrounding area, living in residential buildings in this neighborhood, have also been impacted by this siege. It has been near constant shelling, gunfire and air strikes and drone strikes around this neighborhood.

So, this has been two weeks of absolute horror for the Palestinian civilians living in and around the complex, those sheltering in the complex. And of course, important to remember that there have been many who were able to flee the hospital and we have heard testimonies from them as well, some teenagers as well, saying that they had been stripped and interrogated by Israeli soldiers before being able to flee and move southwards. But, of course, there is fear around what could take place in the south. As Melissa just mentioned, real concern, of course, around the situation looming in Rafah.

HILL: Yeah, absolutely. Nada, appreciate the reporting. Thank you.

Within hours of the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in February, CNN has learned that a group of anti-Kremlin hackers gained access to the Russian prison system. They plastered a picture of Navalny and his wife Yulia with the message "Long live Alexei Navalny" on the prison contractor's website. And then in its stunning security breach, they appeared to have stolen a database containing information on hundreds of thousands of Russian prisoners as well as their relatives and other contacts. They were also able to change the price for some food purchases in the prison system's online commissary.

CNN Cybersecurity Reporter Sean Lyngaas joins me now from Washington with more on these findings. This is a very significant breach, Sean.

SEAN LYNGAAS, CNN CYBERSECURITY REPORTER: Yeah, Erica. I mean, since the war in Ukraine broke out in full two years ago since Russia's invasion, there has been all sorts of politically motivated hacking, pro-Russia, pro-Ukraine, but this particular incident is one of the more eye-grabbing ones because of the access that their hackers had.


We were able to verify that the data in the database, some of that corresponds to actual Russian prisoners. The access was immense. And the statement they were able to make was pretty direct in terms of that day after Navalny's death, you go to the website of this prison contractor, and you see anti-Putin slogans, pro-Navalny's slogans. The impact that they wanted to have was immediate, but also longer term, because they were able to, as you said, steal data on hundreds of thousands of prisoners and their contacts.

And so, what they tell me, the goal is to perhaps find out more about how Navalny died and who was talking to him at the time. That remains a somewhat distant prospect. There is a lot of data to sift through. What we do know is that this hack was successful. The prison contractor confirmed it on social media. And we talked to the hackers themselves who said, hey, we have the skills to do this. So, we might as well do something with our skills to raise awareness about what they see as the brutality of the Russian regime, Erica.

HILL: Yeah. It is really remarkable. Sean Lyngaas, appreciate it. Thank you. Conflicting Easter messages, Donald Trump going on a bit of a roll of

his greatest hits over the weekend, attacking prosecutors and Joe Biden in his Easter message. We're going to crack into the state of the race, just ahead. Plus, California's fast food workers now have the highest minimum wage in the U.S. Is it enough?


HILL: The 144th annual White House Easter Egg Roll is off and running in Washington, D.C. An estimated 64,000 eggs out on the South Lawn today for the somewhat soggy event, based on the weather earlier this morning. Meantime, there is that, of course, that other race that involves someone from the White House. We're keeping a close eye on it. Of course, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, now one month closer to the November election. And this April is going to be a critical month for Donald Trump. You may have seen their Easter messages from the two, a rather dark message from Donald Trump, attacking prosecutors leaving criminal cases against him, also attacking the daughter of the judge overseeing his hush money trial.

Joining us now, White House Correspondent Arlette Saenz. Arlette, good to have you with us. Yes. Two very different messages from the presidential candidates.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There certainly are very different political messages from over the weekend, especially around the Easter holiday. But today at the White House, the 144 Easter Egg Roll is underway. There is expected to be about 40,000 people on hand here for the event. They've dyed 64,000 eggs from farms in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. This is a tradition that goes back to the 1800s. Rutherford B. Hayes was the first President to allow children to roll Easter eggs here, and they've kept the tradition going ever since.


In fact, the people who are attending here today will get one of these commemorative wooden eggs to mark the moments. But, this family- friendly event today is really happening against the backdrop of some political controversy over the weekend. Republicans seized on President Biden's proclamation, declaring March 31 the Transgender Day of Visibility. That is a proclamation he first signed back in 2021, and one that he assigned each year around that March 34th first dates. This year, it just so happened to coincide with Easter Sunday, a day that changes each year, and Republicans have seized on that moment. House Speaker Mike Johnson on social media said that the White House has betrayed the central tenant of Easter and the American people are taking note.

Now, I would note that President Biden yesterday tweeted about -- or posted on social media about the Easter holiday, sending warmest wishes to Christians around the world, celebrating the power of hope and promise of Christ's resurrection this Easter Sunday. So, he did make a mention of that in social media yesterday. And there was also a tweet relating to Transgender Day of Visibility where he said, "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."

Now, President Biden this morning did the interview. He was not asked specifically about that. But, he did lament the fact that there was so much negativity in politics. Take a listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The official White House Easter bunnies.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I just think people are so tired of the negativity that is propagated that they just want to get engaged. They want to change things. And I'm optimistic. I really am.


SAENZ: And as you might be able to see behind me, President Biden is expected to speak any moment now, as this Easter Egg Roll is going on rain or shine.

JILL BIDEN, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: -- look White House Easter Egg roll.

HILL: And we see the First Lady there.

JILL BIDEN: Happy Easter, everybody.

HILL: I'm not sure for -- are we listening to the First Lady and the President?

JILL BIDEN: So, I love anytime when we can turn the White House into a classroom, and that's what we're doing today. The South Lawn is transforming into our learning playground and school community. And there is so much to discover. Listen to a story in the reading note. Explore space. Make circuit breakers. Write notes to our troops. Take a field trip to a farm. Hunt for dinosaur fossils and so much more. Education expands our horizons and transports us to new world. Just like these balloons, it allows all students to soar and reach unimaginable heights. I hope that you all learned something new today. But, most importantly, I hope you all have fun.

And now, it is my honor to please welcome my husband, the President of the United States, Joe Biden.

JOE BIDEN: Happy Easter. Well, we did everything but we couldn't control the weather, although Al Roker told me this morning, it was going to get sunny. Folks, welcome to what's expected to be the biggest White House Easter Egg roll ever.

HILL: And there you hear President Joe Biden, of course, coming off the -- on the heels, rather, the First Lady and her remarks, the "EGGucation" theme of the White House egg roll this year. Arlette, I know it's a little challenging when you have the President speaking in the background, but I'm going to go back to you real quickly. As we look at this event, oddly enough, it is not without controversy in this day and age. There was some pushback over the eggs that are decorated every year. Can you walk us through that?

SAENZ: Yeah. So, the American Egg Board provides eggs for this annual event. Those eggs are dyed by the volunteers, thousands of volunteers who attend this event. But, Republicans had tried to seize on some of the language for the eggs that were used in the decorating contests that are displayed within the White House -- sorry, eggs decorated by children whose parents serve in the military. And the standard language for that has been that it cannot include religious symbols or religious contexts with those eggs. Republicans have criticized that, House Speaker Mike Johnson, former President Donald Trump. But, the American Egg Board was actually very quick to point out that those regulations have actually been in place for 45 years and have been used by previous administrations.

The White House has said that this is just simply people playing politics.


The main focus that they want to keep on is the children and the families today having an excellent time as they can.

HILL: Arlette Saenz, I appreciate the excellent reporting, as always. Thank you, my friend.

Well, of course, in 2024, there is no such thing as a quiet holiday weekend. We just heard a little bit of what was going on over the last couple of days from Arlette.

Joining me to discuss, CNN Political Contributor and Republican Strategist, Alice Stewart, and Democratic Strategist, Maria Cardona, who is also a CNN Political Contributor. Nice to see both of you this morning. So, let's pick up if we could where Arlette left off. There was all this concern about how the eggs should be decorated.

Alice, it was very clear that this is the exact same guidance that's been in place for 45 years. It was also in place under Donald Trump. Is this just grasping its straws now in this whole world of outrage politics?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, & REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, it's funny you say about outrage politics. If there was ever a time to put your outrage at the door and put that to the side, Easter weekend is probably a good time for that, I think, Erica. And look, if you're going to criticize the administration for something such as religious symbols on eggs, make sure that you get your facts straight. And it's important to note that many people of faith have concerns about this. But, it wasn't the Biden administration's decision. This was the Egg Board. So, I think that's important to keep in mind.

And overall, I just think it would be nice for Christians, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, Catholics, Republicans or Democrats, to focus on Easter weekend for what it is, the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and making sure that that's the focus, and political outrage can wait until the days and weeks after Easter. HILL: Alice, I think that this is one point that you and Maria would

likely agree on. And we did see that, I mean, we didn't see that from the White House, right, in the Easter message.


HILL: Maria, as we do, I mean, this is, though, full on campaign season, as we know. And so, as we're going to see more and more of this, how are Democrats hitting back on that? Are they doing in a way that you think is effective?

CARDONA: Yeah, I do. And I think one of the ways is exactly what President Biden did over the weekend and did today, which is, frankly, point out that we should actually focus on unity. And to Alice's point, if there is any point when Americans should be focused on unity, it's Easter weekend.

But, I think what this also shows, Erica, is that there are some in the Republican base, especially the MAGA extremists, who are so desperate to look for division and chaos, that this is what they do, because they believe that's the only way that their leader Donald Trump is going to be able to win, and to inject this kind of division on a holiday like Easter, and I was so honored to be able to take my children to this Easter Egg roll during all eight years of the Obama presidency, and they decorated these same such as eggs, that it should be something that is good for everyone. Religious, non-religious, this is a day for Americans to come together in unity and in faith and in the focus of trying to figure out what works for all of us to find unified solutions.

So, Democrats will continue to point out that if the only thing that Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans have to offer is this kind of hatred, this kind of division, this kind of violent rhetoric, and we have seen that Donald Trump is full of that, especially this weekend. That's not the kind of leadership that this country deserves.

HILL: As we transition into full campaign mode here, I do want to get your take on some new reporting from CNN, looking specifically at some challenges for the Biden campaign, really boosting efforts to reach black voters.

For decades, Democrats, as we've talked about for so long, felt that they could really count on strong support from communities of color. But, that support, as we have seen, has waned in recent years. And some of the latest polling suggests that Donald Trump is seeing pretty significant increase in his support among black and Latino communities. A number of voters who turned out for Barack Obama and then for Joe Biden telling CNN, they don't feel they've seen much change in their personal lives. That's something that Donald Trump has been able to speak to directly, really honing in on that disappointment, the apathy, the frustration. We know he has been able to use it to his advantage.

Maria, I'm going to kick this one off with you, because I think that these are significant challenges for the Biden campaign. And we have been hearing over and over again that there is a struggle to get up the message about things that the Biden campaign would like to tout in terms of achievements because --


HILL: -- people don't feel it themselves, and we're seeing this --


HILL: -- specifically among voters of color. Why are they having such a difficult time figuring out that messaging?

CARDONA: Well, I think they have figured out the messaging, and what they're doing now is they are investing millions of dollars earlier on than they ever have in a presidential campaign to ensure that these communities, Latino communities, black communities all across the country understand all of the accomplishments that they have been able -- the administration has been able to offer these communities and how they have helped.


I think that when you look at, and we've seen this in focus groups, is that when voters hear about the very specific policies that the Biden administration has put in place, the student debt forgiveness, the $35 insulin, all of the aid that's coming through, through the end of infrastructure bill and the American Recovery Act, then communities say, Oh, we didn't realize that this is what the Biden administration was doing, and they flipped their support. And so, that's the kind of messaging that the Biden administration is going to continue to focus on.

And frankly, the contrast is going to be very important too. As we get closer to the election, I don't believe that Latino communities are going to vote for somebody who says that their blood poisons the blood of the country, and I don't think black communities are going to vote for a President who wants to turn the Civil Rights Act on its head and deny that there is racism against black people and focus on racism against white people. So, those types of messaging and contrast is going to be what the Biden administration is focused on.

HILL: Alice, as we look at specific states, right, let's look at some of the polling from Michigan. We know there is such a focus on Michigan, of course, in 2024. If we can call up these numbers, if we're looking at some of the exit polling, right, so, this is just last month, if you look at Joe Biden, went from 80 percent support in 2020 to 55 percent now. Donald Trump really ticking up from 18 percent to 34 percent. Now, this is clearly not all right, just based on my quick math. Those are not all of the supporters moving from Biden, right, who left Joe Biden some 25 percent based on that exit polling over to Donald Trump. Yet, it's a significant move.

However, and I know you and I have discussed this, Alice, there is some concern about the former President being able to broaden his message beyond these attacks and negativity, and really catering to his base. Are there enough people around him to make that happen? STEWART: I think he has got a very disciplined campaign operation this time as compared to years past, and it's why he won virtually every state so far in the primary, except for Vermont and the District of Columbia. And look, to my dear friend Maria's point, I think Democrats have more than a messaging problem when it comes to blacks and Hispanic voters. They have a perception problem. They don't feel as though the economy is good. They don't feel as though the border is secure. They don't feel as though we're on the right footing with regard to national security.

And Erica, those numbers you showed in Michigan that President Biden dropping 25 points with African American voters, we're seeing similar numbers in all of the battleground states. And that is a -- should be a tremendous concern. When you see Biden dropping from 80 percent to 55 percent, and Trump increasing from 18 percent to 34 percent with voters of color, that simply goes to show one thing, and that is that African American voters, voters of color, do not feel the Biden administration is delivering for them. And there is a very well-known voice for the African American community, Charlamagne tha God. He speaks about this issue quite often. And he says, as an African American, he knows people -- voters of color don't feel as though the Democrats are delivering.

They have been traditionally Democratic voters. They don't feel this administration has helped lift them out of their economic situation as much as they have promised. So, they are looking elsewhere. They're looking, who can improve my economic situation, and it does not appear to be Joe Biden. And quite frankly, Erica, a lot of them expressed concern, as they were angry that the administration comes after them when it's time to get them out to vote. But, once they're elected, they're nowhere to be seen in terms of improving their situation. And that's why we're seeing a lot of voter dissatisfaction with voters of color, with Joe Biden.

HILL: And it's fair to say there is voter dissatisfaction across the board. It's is something else. The three of us have been discussing for some time, as voters look at the choices that they have. There is a teacher out of Texas who has been getting a lot of attention over the last couple of weeks. He changed his name legally to "Literally Anybody Else", and is launching a third-party bid. He joined CNN earlier this morning, talking about why he felt the need to put himself out there as a candidate. Take a listen to his response.


LITERALLY ANYBODY ELSE, THIRD-PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, & DISSATISFIED WITH BIDEN AND BIDEN AS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIADTE: The way I view it is kind of like a bad relationship. If you're with someone, it's not necessarily that they are bad for you, or it's just they bring out the bad in you. And when these two are in the Oval Office, when these two are in power, America is not the best that it could be. And it's one of those things is like you just -- you have to -- we have to have a breakup. In order for us to be better, we need to end this relationship.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HILL: "Literally Anybody Else" speaks for a lot of people. I mean, I had a neighbor come up to me walking the dog last night and say, how do you talk about politics all the time? It's also negative. All the candidates are terrible. That's one person's take. Maria, that though is what both candidates are fighting.


So, with both of you with your strategist hats on, I'll go to Maria first on this one. How do you combat that feeling? I know you were talking about really meeting people where they are, but it has to go beyond that in some way, because it doesn't seem to be resonating.

CARDONA: Well, again, let's look at where we are in the campaign. It is early. It's April. And it's already exhausting, Erica, because of what you've said. But, I really just have to urge everyone who is involved in the political sphere, to not both sides this. Right? There is one candidate in this race who is focused on hateful rhetoric, who is focused on division, who is focused on tweeting out images of a President of the United States hogtied. That is not both candidates. That is Donald Trump.

Joe Biden is the one who is trying to talk about unity in this country, who is the one who is trying to talk about putting forward policies that help all Americans, who, frankly, is the one who does have accomplishments on the books that have proven that he is helping all Americans, and that's why his messaging is focused on making sure that Americans know what he has been doing, the $35 Insulin cap, record job creation among black communities, among Latino communities, making sure that everyone can go to college and not have debt. These are things that matter generationally to so many communities of color in this country, but maybe they don't know about it. Right?

And so, moving forward, this is exactly what the Biden administration is focused on, their record investments. And by the way, their record fundraising, Erica, shows you that not everyone feels that both candidates are the same. Right? Americans are putting their money into the candidate that they believe will give them a better life. And when Joe Biden is outracing Donald Trump two to one to three to one, that tells me volumes about where people really are than just this candidate coming out of Texas, calling himself literally anyone but the ones that are there now. That's what really matters.

HILL: Alice, based on what Maria is saying here and also what we're seeing on the campaign trail, you mentioned who Donald Trump has around him this time around in terms of his campaign staff, and they are professionals. They know what they're doing. How much do you think they will be able to steer his message so that it may be does attract more of these literally anyone else people because that's what they're going to need to do too especially to raise money --


HILL: -- as Maria pointed out?

STEWART: Right. That's a great question. And look, so far, they have been able to keep him relatively in his lane again because he has done so well with his base. But, as you've mentioned, he needs to broaden the base. He needs to expand his message to the independent voters that will decide and determine the outcome of the race in November. And the most important thing they can do is focus on results and not rhetoric, results that Donald Trump has done to help improve the economy, secure the border, and help with regard to foreign policy, and stay away from the divisive rhetoric.

Look, President Biden is raising tremendous amounts of money, millions of dollars in fundraiser alone just last week. They're going to need every bit of that because they're trying to convince the American people that the economy is good. The border is secure. And national security is great. And that's not the case. That's not the way people feel. So, the more that President -- former President Trump can focus on the issues that unite voters instead of the talk that divides us, the more he will be able to wheel in independent voters that are going to make a huge difference for him.

And look, I know Maria, and my friends on the left are going to continue to focus on the language. But, voters out there are looking at who is going to help me feel as though I am better off than I was four years ago, and that's where the focus needs to be for the Trump campaign.

CARDONA: Four years ago, Erica, four years ago, we were losing our economy. Our economy was in a tailspin. Millions of Americans were dying because Donald Trump was denying the science of the COVID vaccine. He was telling people to inject themselves with Clorox. So, yes, I am happy to remind everyone where we were four years ago versus now.

HILL: Maria, Alice, good to have both of you with us. We're all going to get in trouble if this conversation goes on any longer --

CARDONA: Thanks, Erica.

HILL: -- because we get to pay some bills. So, we are going to take a quick break. Thank you, both.

STEWART: Thanks, Erica.

CARDONA: Thank you.

HILL: Coming up here, the painstaking work of clearing bridge debris out of a crucial waterway in the United States is now underway. So, how long could it take and what does it mean for the broader economy globally? We have a live update for you from Baltimore. Plus, personal data for tens of millions of people released on the dark web following a breach at AT&T. Just what information specifically is now out there, and what kind of that mean for the criminals who have access to it.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HILL: Welcome back. Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Erica Hill in New York this hour.

Let's get you caught up on some of the international headlines we're watching this Monday. Local elections in Turkey bringing a major defeat for President Erdogan and his ruling party. The main opposition party is now celebrating victory in a number of key cities, including Istanbul and Ankara. Mr. Erdogan was not on the ballot. The elections, though, are seen as a referendum on his leadership.

In Tennessee, an Easter Sunday brunch turned deadly when police say convicted felon Anton Rucker opened fire at a Nashville restaurant, killing one person and injuring several others. Police believe it happened after an argument broke out between two men.

Crews have started removing debris from the water from that catastrophic deadly bridge collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, and are now preparing to open a temporary alternate channel nearby for commercial ships. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it could take weeks for that crucial port, though, to fully reopen.

CNN's Gabe Cohen is joining us now live from Baltimore with more. So, Gabe, this temporary channel could help, but there is still much work to be done there.

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. And Erica, there is a really fluid timeline here as to when that alternate channel could actually open. It could be days at this point. It's really not clear, and it's not clear what type of ships, what vessels are actually going to be able to use it. They've described it as these commercially essential vessels really taking that first step toward reopening the Port of Baltimore, but we don't know how large of a ship that alternate channel can actually handle.

And I spoke with the Joint Information Center, the command center here, just a little while ago, and they told me, in the short term, the only vessels that are going to be using that new channel are the ones that are actively participating in this salvage operation, trying to actually remove the bridge and all of that wreckage and debris from the river. So, it's not clear when the Port of Baltimore is going to be able to really reopen. And as you mentioned before, there are major economic implications, thousands of jobs here in Baltimore that are at stake, potentially millions of dollars in lost wages and business operations, and then the broader implications for the U.S. economy as a whole.

So, Erica, we are waiting to find out more about that timeline. The governor expected to speak around 3 p.m. But again, as we have seen over and over, really these timelines are fluid and unclear because the work that they're doing is so delicate and sensitive. This wreckage of the scene has been described to me as essentially a rubber band that's been pulled really tight, a lot of that wreckage. And so, they're worried that if you cut it in the wrong place, the whole thing might snap and it could really hurt some of the crews that are working. [11:40:00]

It's a delicate dance. And so, they're mapping all of -- every inch of it right now, surveying, trying to make sure they're cutting it into pieces in the right spot so they can do this safely and effectively.

HILL: Yeah. So important. Dave, appreciate it. Thank you.

Media giant AT&T now investigating a massive data breach that impacts tens of millions of people. The company says the personal information of 73 million past and present customers was leaked onto the dark web. The data that was released could help criminals wreak havoc online.

Matt Egan is on this story for us. So, Matt, this is the kind of data that actually makes it very easy for someone to steal your identity.

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yeah. That's right, Erica. This is a massive data breach, and it really is impacting millions of Americans, and mostly former customers of AT&T have been caught up in this. AT&T says that 7.6 million current customers had been affected by the leak, 65.4 million previous customers. Now, I know everyone is wondering whether or not they have been impacted here. And AT&T says they've already reached out and changed the passcodes of customers who are currently with the company and they've been caught up in this leak, and they say they're going to reach out to previous customers as well.

And beyond the scope here, what is concerning is the types of data that was stolen. Now, this includes full names, dates of birth, mailing address, email address, passcodes, account numbers, and most alarmingly, Social Security numbers. Now, one source -- one cybersecurity researcher told me that this is really more than enough information for criminals to do real damage, everything from sending spam emails to very targeted phishing campaigns, potentially even impersonating customers, or Erica, stealing their identities.

HILL: So, this is very concerning. What can people do? What should people do if they were impacted?

EGAN: Well, AT&T is telling people to change their passcodes. Obviously, if you use the same passcode in multiple companies, multiple accounts, which is not something you're supposed to do, but a lot of us do anyway, that could really cause some problem because that could -- that information was taken. The company also says that you need to be vigilant, right, monitor your account activity, monitor credit reports. You can also set up fraud alerts for free. Some experts say that customers should consider freezing their credit with the credit bureaus because that can make it harder for someone to try to steal someone else's information.

But, Erica, this is just another reminder of how hackers are constantly trying to break into major companies, and they only really have to get it right once, and when they do, the pain and the damages can really be very significant, both for the company and for customers.

HILL: Yeah. Absolutely, Matt, appreciate it. Thank you. EGAN: Thanks, Erica.

HILL: Just ahead here, California's new minimum wage law is kicking in today. That's going to boost pay for most fast food workers to at least $20 an hour. They're feeling pretty good about it. What about business owners and consumers? That's ahead.




HILL: A new law takes effect in California today which boosts the minimum wage for most fast food workers to $20 an hour. It also means this is the state which now has the highest minimum wage for fast food workers in the U.S. In anticipation of that change, many business owners have increased some of their prices, they say, to cover those extra costs. Others say they're going to use technology to reduce human labor hours, including things like self-serve kiosks and AI drive-thrus.

For a closer look at what this does mean for those employees, business owners and consumers, CNN's Natasha Chen is live in Los Angeles this morning. So, it sounds great for the folks who are taking home the paycheck. But, we're already seeing some of the ripple effect.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erica. We know from certain franchise owners who have told me they already increased some of their menu prices across the board in the past few months, about four percent to seven percent, in anticipation of today, knowing they would have to pay their workers more. Now, this has been a long, hard-fought win for the workers, several years in the making. I've covered this for a couple of years now through several iterations. They were trying to create a fast food industry-specific council, which is in place now. But, this $20 minimum wage came along with that bill. And higher wages is something incredibly important to them.

We're hearing from a worker who works at a McDonald's along with her mother. Her father is a construction worker. They've been living together in the same apartment since the 90s. And for her, she feels like this higher wage might be the chance they have to move to a place a little bit more comfortable, maybe sometimes afford a cup of coffee out, have a little bit of an easier time paying bills, because the cost of living is so intense here in California.

Now, the minimum wage in California for the entire state as of January, $16 an hour, fast food workers now at $20 an hour, and this is just for business owners with a restaurant chain with more than 60 nationwide locations. So, if you're a mom and pop with one location, you don't have to do this. But, you do have to compete for those workers. Right?

And we are also hearing from the franchise owners that this is going to be really intense for them. They've had a while to think about this. Some of them told me as, you were saying, that they might implement new technology and cut back labor hours. They might consider self-service kiosks or AI in the drive-thru. Another franchise owner who has 18 McDonald's locations in San Francisco, he told me this is -- he is not going to cut hours. He really believes in keeping the people that he has employed at the hours they are currently working. But, here is what he said about this change.


SCOTT RODRICK, OWNS 18 MCDONALD'S LOCATIONS: This is such extraordinary unprecedented territory that 15,000 businesses in California are about to embark on. I think that to understand where this -- what the repercussions are going to be, would really be a guess.


CHEN: And this bill that created this $20 wage for fast food workers, as I mentioned, also comes along with a council, an industry-specific council, first of its kind in the U.S. It's got representatives from the business owner side, the workers side, and they can recommend worker safety standards, training standards, limitations and regulation with worker hours, to recommend to state agencies to implement. So, this goes far beyond just wages. That council will also be able to increase this wage annually based on inflation going through 2029. Erica.

HILL: It's fascinating too that there is this counsel, as we know so often in this country. So goes California, so goes much of the rest of the United States. California can often be the first state where we see something like this. Is there much talk even among the franchise owners that you've spoken with? Are they talking with folks perhaps in other states who are looking to them for guidance?

CHEN: That's interesting. I've not heard about conversations they've had with people in other states. I just know that the Franchise Association, a lot of the business owners in California have really talked to each other about how they are going to handle this. And the beauty of franchises is that they can handle it differently if they so choose. They are mostly in control of setting their own menu prices. So, when you go to different McDonald's or you go to different El Pollo Locos or different Taco Bells, you might see different things. You might see one place where they really wanted to keep all the workers paid there. They're just going to cut back in other ways, like not make improvements to the store.


You might see other places with AI and the drive-thru.

HILL: Yeah. It is going to be fascinating to watch all this play out. As you point out too, you have been covering this extensively for so long. So, so happy you were able to be with us this morning. Natasha, thank you.

CHEN: Thank you. HILL: So, how are some of these fast food stocks doing today,

following this day one of the raise in the minimum wage in California? Let's take a look. We've got -- you see McDonald's, Wendy's, and Restaurant Brands International. Its Burger King and Popeyes' parent company. They're all down a slight bit, right, beyond fast food. Let's take a look at some of the other action on Wall Street for this Monday. Of course, there was a Good Friday holiday on the Friday. So, you see, basically flat down, just a bit here, a couple -- two and a half hours or so into trading.

How about those major markets globally in Europe and in Asia and the Asia Pacific markets. Nice to see some green arrows. Take every little bit we can get.

Well, still to come here, a big wheel event with a big turnout. San Francisco's quirky street race takes over one of the most famous roads in the country. That story just ahead.


HILL: On this first day of April, millions of people in the U.S. are in the path of a massive spring storm that could bring tornadoes, floods, hail, and even snow.

For more, let's get straight to meteorologist Elisa Raffa.


HILL: We're still in April.

RAFFA: Yeah. Multiple hazards with this one snow being one of the things that we're going to watch today. We're watching that severe weather, the flooding, the damaging winds and the tornadoes. Right now, we're watching this storm system, still trying to develop. We've got some lightning strikes over parts of Kansas there.

We've been watching some of them at the core of that system over in Omaha, some snow trying to build on the backside of it. But, when we really notice this storm flourishes is as we go into the afternoon evening, because what's going to happen is we have a lot of really warm moist air out ahead of this front, looking at temperatures getting into the middle and upper 70s, even some 80s, 83 degrees from New Orleans, 82 in Houston, 75 degrees in Louisville. These temperatures are about five to 10 degrees above average.

With that, we're also looking at dew points getting into the middle 60s. So, that's pretty humid, especially for this time of year. It's telling us that the air has moisture. It's buoyant and it will rise. And once that air rises, that can create the 12 thunderstorms and then some of them will rotate. That's why we've got this risk, four severe storms there in the orange, from Lexington through St. Louis, Springfield, Oklahoma City down into Dallas. That's where we've got the greatest threat for damaging winds, up to 70 miles per hour. Some large hail up to tennis ball size and a couple of tornadoes.

Now, we're watching this closely because there is a concern that not only could we see a couple of tornadoes, but some of them could be pretty strong on the order of EF two or greater. And you could see that orange kind of hatched area there from St. Louis through Springfield back towards the northeast Oklahoma. That's where we're concerned about the risk of some greater tornadoes. Now, this risk continues to slide east going into tomorrow. You can see that orange enhance risk there in the Ohio Valley, from Lexington down towards Nashville for Tuesday. So, the threat continues for the damaging winds, tornadoes and large hail, very large hail.

So, we'll find these storms really blowing up later on this afternoon, evening. You could see all red showing where we've got the heavy rain and the downpours and flash flooding, is also a concern. The stores continue to blow up over parts of Tennessee and then going into Ohio by Tuesday.


And you see some of the blues starting to mix into the top. That's where we can see some snow in the Great Lakes, and then headed into New England. All of this, again, coming with some pretty heavy rain through today and tomorrow. We have multiple days of an excessive rainfall flood outlook for a lot of the U.S. there.

HILL: Yeah. It's going to be a little soggy around these parts. So, Raffa, appreciate it. Thank you.

Our one more thing before we leave you this hour, this time from San Francisco, where an annual street race welcomes anyone who never really wants to grow up. On Sunday, adults and kids alike, hits it hard, put on their costumes, jumped on their tricycles for the "Bring Your Own Big Wheel" event, making their way down a famously windy road in front of hundreds of screaming fans. Take a listen as one racer explains what this is like.


ANDREW BUCHANAN, SAN FRANCISCO RESIDENT: So, you go down on big wheels. You slide. You bash into things. You crash into walls. You get a new costume challenge of, can you find a costume that works amazingly for careening down a hill out of control? And basically, it's the best thing ever.


HILL: There you go. It's the best thing ever. Can't beat it.

Thanks for joining us this hour on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Erica Hill in New York. Be sure to stay with CNN. One World is up next.