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Johnson To Tackle Ukraine Aid With Speakership On The Line; Hackers Claim They Stole Data On 800K+ Russian Prisoners; Trump Media Plunges After Reporting $58M Loss In 2023. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired April 01, 2024 - 11:30   ET




JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: To Capitol Hill now where House Speaker Mike Johnson says he will be with far-right Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene sometime this week after her motion to potentially remove him. Johnson has only been on the job for a few months. But he's already struggling hanging on to his gavel. That comes as a vote on Ukraine funding could land on the House floor as soon as next week, but the House GOP remains deeply divided on any new money for Ukraine at this point.

CNN Chief Political Correspondent and Anchor of "INSIDE POLITICS," Dana Bash joins us now. And, Dana, I'm sometimes having trouble separating the performative from what's real in all --

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Really? Why is it, Jim?

ACOSTA: Yes. Why is it? Why am I saying that? But I mean, the speaker says he's going to bring this aid package -- it sounds like he's going to bring this aid package to the floor. But that could trigger a whole --

BASH: Right.

ACOSTA: Cavalcade of things. What do we know?

BASH: Well, it's -- the fact that the speaker said last night on Fox that he is going to bring it is a big deal.


BASH: For lots of reasons. The -- first, and foremost, it's a big deal for Ukraine because they have been begging for this and we all know what's going on over there and that they feel that they are -- they are completely hamstrung without the help from the U.S. When it comes to Johnson's domestic politics, one of the reasons he has not been able to do it -- really, the key reason is because of the right flank of his party. Some of whom just philosophically are more with Donald Trump right now and they oppose the notion of giving more U.S. taxpayer dollars.

There are others say it's OK to do but we need some offsets. So, the fact that he says that he is going to do it is noteworthy. And it could trigger the move by Marjorie Taylor Greene who threatened or made sort of an initial move before they went on Easter recess to vacate the chair or to oust him --


BASH: To vote to oust him. And she said that whether she would do, that could depend on this very question of Johnson moving to the Ukraine funding bill.

ACOSTA: Right. And he's only hanging on by a couple of votes, theoretically speaking, if this comes up to vote.

BASH: Yes.

ACOSTA: And how were other Republicans responding to what Marjorie Taylor Greene is saying? Because this is interesting.

BASH: Yes.


BASH: So, I interviewed Mike Lawler, who's one of the most vulnerable House Republicans, a majority maker. He is from New York. And he was very blunt about his views on this kind of sowing of chaos, as he put it, that Marjorie Taylor Greene is enacting.


REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): I can't speak for her. Obviously, she has introduced it. She has not yet made it privileged.

But as I said, the day that she introduced it, it's idiotic. And it's not going to actually help advance the cause that she believes in. And, in fact, did undermines our House Republican majority.



BASH: Undermines our House Republican majority because he's in a place where the -- and I actually saw this in a district not that far away when I went up to do a story on Tom Suozzi, who's the now Democrat.

ACOSTA: Right.

BASH: In that special election in the race to replace George Santos. I heard from a lot of people up there who said they just want Congress to do their jobs. To do a job. To get things done.

ACOSTA: Right.

BASH: And that is the opposite of what potential for ousting another speaker would signal to the constituents that Mike Lawler is trying to retain as voters again in order to get back to Washington and others in districts like him. ACOSTA: Yes. And apparently, the speaker has been strategizing with Matt Gaetz.

BASH: You just can't make this out.

ACOSTA: I did -- I did not have that on my bingo card --

BASH: This --

ACOSTA: For 2024.

BASH: This is such great reporting --


BASH: From our colleagues, including Melanie Zanona and Manu Raju. And that is the case that obviously, Matt Gaetz was a member of what Kevin McCarthy called the Crazy Eight, who got rid of him. Marjorie Taylor Greene at the time was pro-McCarthy.

ACOSTA: Right.

BASH: And so, everything is kind of --

ACOSTA: They're just switching jerseys right now. Yes.

BASH: Yes, that's a good way to put it. And so now, what our colleagues are reporting is that the current speaker, who is not exactly like a swishy Rhino. I mean, he's a tried-and-true conservative. I don't think anybody would say anything different. That he is getting the help strategically of Matt Gaetz.

ACOSTA: Yes. All right. Well, and it's not often we hear the term strategy used when it comes to Matt Gaetz. So, very interesting that this works out.

BASH: Well, he did oust the speaker.

ACOSTA: He did oust the speaker. A strategy of sorts, you could say.

BASH: Here you go.

ACOSTA: All right. Dana, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.

BASH: Thank you.

ACOSTA: Be sure to watch Dana at the top of the hour on "INSIDE POLITICS." That starts at noon here on the East Coast. So, stay tuned for that. We'll be right back.

All right. And -- oh, I should not -- we're not going to a break, excuse me. New this morning, a milestone for fast food workers. Beginning today, California is requiring larger fast-food operators to pay their employees $20 an hour.

CNN's Natasha Chen is outside of McDonald's in Los Angeles. Forgive me, Natasha, I threw you off there. Natasha, talk -- let's talk about this because you know, a lot of folks are wondering, is this going to lead to higher prices and so on. In California, they have gone ahead and done this. And now, workers who do a lot of hard work in these types of businesses, they're going to be making more money.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Jim, the bottom line is yes, there is going to be an effect on the menu prices. Some franchise owners have already told me in the past few months, they've already increased prices by about four to seven percent across the board in anticipation of today when they have to pay more for their workers. So, you're going to see that.

But there is a limit. They tell me they can't just charge $20 for a happy meal. There is a limit to what the customer will pay. So, in some cases, I'm being told some people will cut back worker hours. Some people will implement new technology like using self-service kiosks or AI in the drive-thru to accommodate for this change.

Now, this does apply for any owner of a fast-food restaurant chain with more than 60 nationwide locations. So, if you're a mom and pop with just one store, you don't have to do this. But you do have to compete for the same workers so that may increase wages across the board.

Workers we've talked to say this is a huge win. This has been hard fought for several years. I've been following this. And so -- one worker, for example, works at a McDonald's with her mother. Her father is a construction worker. They've been in the same apartment since the 90s. And she's hoping that today, this will help them move to a more comfortable place that perhaps she can afford to buy coffee once in a while.

But for business owners, this is a huge, huge increase all of a sudden because if you take a look at the minimum wage in California, as of January, it's $16. Federal minimum wage, a lot lower, but that hasn't changed since 2009. But changing from 16 to 20, let's hear what he had to say.


SCOTT RODRICK, OWNS 18 MCDONALD'S LOCATIONS: This is such extraordinarily 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 also comes with a fast food council who could increase this wage annually based on inflation, Jim.


ACOSTA: All right. Natasha Chen -- and it's expensive to live out in California so you can understand why those workers would want a raise. All right. Natasha, thank you very much. Still ahead this hour. Anti-Kremlin hackers avenging the death of Alexei Navalny by breaching Russian prison databases. CNN's exclusive reporting on all of that, that's next.


ACOSTA: All right. This morning, there are some very important exclusive new CNN reporting about a cyber security breach in Russia. Hackers claimed they stole the information of more than 800,000 Russian prisoners to avenge the death of Putin critic Alexei Navalny.


CNN's Sean Lyngaas joins us now. And, Sean, what more we learned from this reporting? It almost sounds as though you have hackers here -- Russian hackers here, maybe some other hackers in other places doing a good thing for once.

SEAN LYNGAAS, CNN CYBERSECURITY REPORTER: Yes. Jim, it was really interesting.


LYNGAAS: Because a source close to the hacking group reached out and said you should take a look at this. And CNN was able to comb through some of the data, find matches between the database where prisoner names and then people actually incarcerated in Russia that we confirmed. So, we're able to verify that.

But there were a lot of layers to the reporting because this is a delicate subject. And you know, we don't know exactly who we're dealing with at first. So, this is indeed a stunning breach because we're talking about 100,000 people, some of whom were incarcerated and their relatives.

And the goal that hackers say is to find out more about what happened to Navalny in his final hours on Earth. And that could mean contacting relatives, someone who might know him. They also, Jim, changed the prices in the prison online shop where relatives buy food for inmates to one ruble, which is about one cent. So, they did --

ACOSTA: Interesting.

LYNGAAS: They couldn't provide goods for free, but they saw a mass produce our purchasing once ordinary Russians realized that the hack had taken place. So, a lot going on. One of the most high-profile, politically motivated hacking instances we've seen since the war in Ukraine began.

ACOSTA: And could this potentially offer some clarity as to what exactly happened to Alexei Navalny? I mean, is that part of the hope?

LYNGAAS: Potentially, that's their hope. I --


LYNGAAS: It may be difficult to get there.


LYNGAAS: But there is -- they do have -- are in possession of a lot of data and they -- they're offering it up to journalists like ourselves to investigate. So, that -- number one, they wanted to send a message to the regime. Number two, they wanted to say hey, maybe we can lift a little bit because we had access to this for a long time. Here it is. Here's the data. Take a look.

ACOSTA: Yes. Interesting. All right. Sometimes hackers are doing something that might do the public some good. We'll see. All right. Sean, as always, great reporting. Thanks a lot. I really appreciate it.

Right now, on Wall Street. Take a look at this. Donald Trump's Truth Social stock is falling sharply. Down right now, if you take a look at this, 15 percent and going lower. We'll explain why. Next.



ACOSTA: All right. Take a look at your screens right now. Trump's media stock is down 18 percent. Right there. You can see it. It has been dropping throughout the morning. This comes after the company that owns Truth Social posted financial numbers this morning.

CNN's Matt Egan joins me now. Matt, this is no April Fool's joke, but it might be making some fools out of investors out there.

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes. Jim, it might be. We should note though, that this stock really had been going up like a rocket ship until now. These new numbers are forcing a mini reality check.

I say mini because, despite the loss of 18 percent as we speak, we're still talking about a stock that has skyrocketed about 200 percent so far this year. It spiked in January when Donald Trump ran away with the Iowa caucuses and up again as the company went public. So, here's the latest numbers that are concerning investors.

Truth Social owner Trump Media lost $58 million last year. And it generated very, very little revenue, just $4.1 million in revenue. Put some context around that figure of revenue.

If you look back at what Twitter generated when it went public about a decade ago, in that final year when it went public, $665 million. More than a hundred times what Trump Media has been able to rake in. And some of this is not shocking because we know the Truth Social is struggling. I mean, it is shrinking.

Monthly active U.S. users on iOS and Android down 51 percent year over year. It's not just much smaller than Twitter. It's even smaller than Threads.

And I think all of this just underscores why there's a lot of warnings out there about this stock, right? One professor told me it's a bubble. Another basically called it a meme stock. So, Jim, listen, we're going to see the stock go up and down because its valuation right now is very, very high.

ACOSTA: Yes, what a shocker that this is a meme stock. All right. Matt Egan, you know, caveat emptor, buyer beware. Matt, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

EGAN: Thanks, Jim.

ACOSTA: In the meantime, it's a 2023 championship rematch tonight in women's college basketball, LSU and Angel Reese and Iowa's Caitlin Clark will face off for a place in the Final Four. More on that. Next.



ACOSTA: March Madness is rolling into April. The Final Four is set for the NCAA men, but there are still two Elite Eight games left for the women. One of them tonight will be a rematch of last year's title game, Iowa vs LSU.

CNN Correspondent and former Yale basketball player Brynn Gingras joins us now. First of all, Brynn, I did not know this, but we'll talk about that in a moment. I will just defer to you as you are the authority on all of this. But big game tonight.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, remind me to thank your producers, Jim. It's a big game. And honestly, you'd be hard- pressed to find a basketball fan who isn't excited about this women's game either guys or girls. I mean this is a sellout crowd here at the stadium we are expecting later tonight.

Now, of course, everybody thought that this matchup between LSU and Angel Reese and Iowa and Caitlin Clark was going to happen in the next championship game this year. But here they are trying to get to the Final Four. And, of course, those two players stand out with the passion that they played this game with, and the fact that they trash talk and there's so much competition on the court. But both of them, when they talk about it, they say, they're just proud of what their rivalry has done for women's sports.


CAITLIN CLARK, IOWA HAWKEYES GUARD: It's so good for women's basketball. And to be honest, I've watched a lot of LSU games. And what they're doing for women's basketball on the way their fan support is tremendous.

And it's been fun to watch. And they've had a great season. So, I know it's going to be a great game and both teams are going to be ready to go.

ANGEL REESE, LSU TIGERS FORWARD: I don't think people realize like, it's not personal. Me and Caitlin Clark don't hate each other. Like, I want everybody to understand that it's just a super competitive game. And like, I would just wish people will realize that like once I get between those lines, it's no friends.



ACOSTA: I know the game is so special to you. What does it mean to see what we're going to see tonight?

GINGRAS: Yes. I mean, look. This is just going to be incredible. And I love the fact that that's what they're focused on is the impact that they are making for young girls and boys. I mean, there are little boys that I know. My former teammate, Jim, whose kids wanted Caitlin Clark jerseys.


GINGRAS: You know, that is just something to be said. I mean, that certainly was not the case when I was playing. I think we were lucky to get 17 fans, not 17,000 fans.

ACOSTA: Amazing.

GINGRAS: But certainly, it's going to be an exciting game tonight. I'm very excited for all of it.

ACOSTA: And there you are on screen right there playing for Yale. My goodness.

GINGRAS: Oh, boy.

ACOSTA: You got it all, Brynn. Thanks a lot. Really appreciate it. Great to see you. Enjoy the game tonight.

And thanks for joining me. "INSIDE POLITICS" with Dana Bash starts right now. Have a great day.