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CNN International: Outrage After Seven Aid Workers Killed In Israeli Strike; Iran Vows Decisive Response To Consulate Attack In Syria; Iran: U.S. "Answerable" For Consulate Strike In Damascus. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired April 02, 2024 - 11:00   ET




RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning or good evening, depending on where you're watching, I'm Rahel Solomon live in New York.

International condemnation over an Israeli airstrike killing seven humanitarian workers. Israel admits that its forces unintentionally struck innocent people. A decisive response, that's Iran's promise after accusing Israel of striking its consulate in Damascus. And swapping legal trials for campaign trails, Donald Trump sets off to Michigan and Wisconsin.

We want to begin with outrage and demands for accountability. That's after an Israeli strike killed seven aid workers who were delivering food in Gaza. World Central Kitchen says that two of its armored cars branded with the charity's logo were hit. That's despite coordinating movements with the IDF. It calls it an unforgivable targeted attack. Israel says that it was unintentional and is promising to investigate.


DANIEL HAGARI, IDF SPOKESPERSON: We have been reviewing the incident in the highest levels to understand the circumstances of what happened and how it happened. We will be opening a probe to examine the serious incident further. This will help us reduce the risk of such an event from occurring again.


SOLOMON: Gaza's Civil Defense is urging an independent investigation, instead headed by the UN. One aid worker killed was Palestinian. The others came from around the world, including a U.S.-Canadian national. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke about the attack just moments ago. Listen.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We've spoken directly to the Israeli government about this particular incident. We've urged a swift, a thorough and impartial investigation to understand exactly what happened. And as we have throughout this conflict, we've impressed upon the Israelis the absolute imperative of doing more to protect innocent civilian lives, be they Palestinian children, women and men, or do they aid workers.


SOLOMON: All right. Let's bring in CNN's Scott McLean, who is following the developments and the details from Istanbul. Scott, what more can you share with us about this incident what we're learning?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Rahel. Yeah. So, remember, World Central Kitchen was in the news a while back because they were the very first aid organization to be able to deliver aid to Gaza by sea. They not only delivered it but they had to establish their own port infrastructure essentially in Gaza in order to make it work. They made a sort of makeshift jetty out of some of the Gaza rubble in order to offload the cargo that was towed by a barge. And on Saturday, we know that there was a second shipment that left from Cyprus en route to Gaza. It's not clear if it actually delivered the cargo that it was carrying, though. At this stage, World Central Kitchen is saying that it is pausing all of its operations in the region. It will make a decision at some point as to when to restart them.

As for the Israeli response, of course, if this was unintentional, then this was a serious mistake on two counts, serious failure on two counts. First, as you pointed out, these vehicles, there were two armored vehicles and one regular vehicle branded very clearly with the World Central Kitchen logos, not just on the side, but right on the roof as well. In fact, it looks like the bomb went right through the roof of that vehicle. Of course, the inside is completely incinerated. And you also have World Central Kitchen saying very clearly that they coordinated their movements inside Gaza with the IDF.

And now we are hearing from the Defense Minister trying to be more clear, more specific as to what the Israelis are actually going to do to try, I mean, surely there is no way that they can, but to try to rectify this in any way. They said that they have -- the Defense Minister said that he has instructed, of course, an investigation but then also better coordination with aid groups on the ground. And obviously, we're several months into this war. It's surprising that this wasn't something that was standard to begin with.

This, obviously, has received widespread condemnation from the international community, from aid groups, from activist groups, and for good reason. They have long been calling for the Israelis to be more careful when it comes to civilian targets, and this is not isolated by any stretch of the imagination. UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, one of the biggest, most important aid organizations in the Gaza Strip, says that 165 of its employees have been killed since the war began, and 150 of its sites have been damaged in Israeli strikes, and this despite the fact that, again, UNRWA also shares the coordinates of their locations with Israel on a regular basis.


SOLOMON: So, Scott, with the World Central Kitchen now saying that it's halting operations, as you say, what does that mean for aid moving forward in terms of the other groups? I mean, what does that mean for where aid stands with the other humanitarian groups?

MCLEAN: Yeah. And I think that's a good question. There has already been some indication that there may be a pause with some other aid groups. In terms of World Central Kitchen, as I mentioned, there was a ship that left Cyprus on Saturday. It takes about 60 hours or so to get from Cyprus to Gaza. It is not clear the World Central Kitchen has not given any confirmation that that ship actually touched land and offloaded anything. If it did, that would explain this convoy unloading some of this aid into this warehouse. If it didn't actually make it to land, then that means that it's not going to, because that ship, it appears, is headed back toward the direction of Cyprus, at least from what we can tell on publicly available tracking websites, is one of them.

And so, whether that aid eventually comes back to Gaza is an open question. And of course, Rahel, we know that this is a time when it is desperately, desperately needed.

SOLOMON: Yeah. Yeah. All right. Scott McLean live for us here in Istanbul. Scott, thanks so much.

And the UN humanitarian coordinator for occupied Palestinian territory says that he is appalled by the strike on aid workers. He says it's not an isolated incident, noting that nearly 200 humanitarian workers have been killed since the war began in October.

Joining me now is Jamie McGoldrick. He joins us from Jerusalem. Jaime, we appreciate your time today. Anything additional you can share with us that you have perhaps heard about this strike on these aid workers, these World Central Kitchen aid workers?

JAMIE MCGOLDRICK, U.N. HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR, OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY: Yeah. Thanks very much. I think we should note the fact that this is not an isolated incident, as was said. And also, we've been giving warnings to Israel because of the nature of the systems they have in place of coordination, deconfliction, and notification. They haven't been consistent and they haven't been something that's worked in our favor. There has s been a lot of incidents, not just regarding it was mentioned earlier the number of humanitarians that have been killed, but also attacks on premises and houses that we work in as well. So, the system is not as watertight as it should be, and it's something we have to fix.

SOLOMON: I want to play for you, Jamie, a clip from Benjamin Netanyahu a short time ago. Take a listen.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (Interpreted): 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're thoroughly investigating it. We are in contact with the governments and we'll do everything to prevent such occurrences in the future. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SOLOMON: Jamie, I'm just wondering sort of your response to that. As you say, this was not an isolated incident, as you outlined some of the challenges of doing work there even before this incident.

MCGOLDRICK: Yeah. Well, the thing is Gaza is probably one of the -- Palestine is one of the most dangerous and difficult places to work. And there is no safe place left in Gaza. And so, all the more reason for us to have good communications, good coordination, connection with all the different parts of the Israeli authorities. And we don't get enough opportunities to speak directly with the defense force. And because of the loss and communication and loss in translation, they don't quite understand what it is we're trying to do.

It's good that this investigation is taking place. But, we've had investigations in the past of other incidents of this kind and we haven't had any real result and certainly no change to the way things are. So, as far as I'm concerned, this is going to be a thorough, independent investigation, and it comes up with clear steps forward to take corrective action. That's what we're looking forward to because we need to keep the humanitarian response going because of the serious, imminent famine in the north, especially.

SOLOMON: And do you worry that this incident might have a chilling effect on some of the other groups that are already there? As we said, the World Central Kitchen has already said that it's halting operations. Do you worry that this could have a chilling impact on other groups who operate in Gaza?

MCGOLDRICK: Yeah. Well, I think it comes at a time of severe hardship and suffering in Gaza, where people are desperate, needing food in all parts. And we've seen that there is 2.2 million people of Gaza are dependent on humanitarian assistance because there is nothing else coming in. And we think that the World Central Kitchen have done about 35 million hot meals in 60 community kitchens. We cannot do without them. And no other organization is considering anything at this point in time because the situation is so dire. And we just looking for the Israeli authorities who are the power, who occupy, to tell us and work with us to give us a better chance to deliver that assistance safely, for not just the people there but also for our staff as well.

SOLOMON: What would you like to see happen next?


The group has already said that they had coordinated their efforts with Israeli authorities. They were traveling in armored cars. They were branded with their logo, beyond sort of sharing their coordinates. I mean, what more can be done to prevent something like this from happening again?

MCGOLDRICK: I think the system has to be tightened up. I mean, clearly, when you go through the motions or what they've done, and they've done all the correct procedures to make sure that they were safe and secure, and the work that we're trying to do there, and this happened that tells you the system that's absorbing or accommodating those requests is actually failing. And we have to find a way to tighten that up. And one of the things we have to do is actually to get closer to the IDF themselves, the Defense Force. Right now, we are two steps removed speaking to other parties of the Israeli authorities. And by the time it gets to the most important part, it's maybe too late. So, I think, a more close proximity to the IDF, the Israeli Defense Force, is what we're looking for.

SOLOMON: Do you believe that this incident might be the catalyst to change, to maybe to get you closer to IDF?

MCGOLDRICK: Well, I mean, we've heard from the Minister of Defense Golan and the Prime Minister, you reported just now. I think there is also some reflections going on and say that maybe this is one that could be a bit of a game changer for the way they view the humanitarian response. I don't think they see it as important as they would like they should, in the sense, and I think because of the military ends are paramount, we would like them to understand that we are an important and necessary part to create stability and security and save the Gaza Strip, and anything they are not doing to help stop to allow us to do that better is a failure (ph) on their part.

SOLOMON: OK. On that note, we'll leave it here. Jamie McGoldrick, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Occupied Palestinian Territory, thank you so much for the time.


SOLOMON: All right. And we're going to have more from Jerusalem a little later in the show.

But for now, Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is vowing to punish Israel after a deadly attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus. An Israeli military spokesperson wouldn't comment on the explosion but said that the building was not a consulate or embassy but a military building. Iranian state media say that the attack killed at least 13 people. It says that seven of the dead are Iranians and six are Syrians. Iran says that two senior Iranian commanders were killed. And Iran's Foreign Minister says that U.S. support for Israel makes it quote "answerable" for the attack.

We have more now from CNN's International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Smoke and tensions rising, Iran's consulate in Damascus reduced to smoldering rubble, its ambassador claiming Israeli jets fired six missiles at it, saying, we told you before, the Zionist entity knows very well that such crimes and any kind of crimes will not remain without response. At least seven people killed, two of them senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, IRGC commanders, one of them, according to Iranian state media, a very senior veteran of the elite military, Brigadier Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a former commander of the IRGC land and air forces. Israel rebuffed the allegations. HAGARI: I'm not going to comment to that strike. But, I want to tell you that in the last six months, Iran is making this region escalate. According to our intelligence, this is no consulate and this is no embassy. I repeat, this is no consulate and this is no embassy. This is a military building of Quds forces disguised as a civilian building in Damascus.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Nevertheless, it marks an escalation in already supercharged tensions, the first such alleged Israeli strike on an Iranian diplomatic building in Syria, and the highest ranking Iranian Revolutionary Guard member killed since U.S. forces killed Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani, January 2020. Back then, Iran responded by attacking U.S. forces in Iraq. Their options will be narrower now, prescribed by concern of significant escalation, should they strike Israel where tensions will likely be highest is along Israel's northern border.

Iran's Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, has been trading escalating rocket, drone, missile and artillery strikes since Hamas' brutal October 7 attack. The United States has been pressuring Israel and Lebanon not to trigger a full war, as Israel's government warns time for diplomacy is running out and hawks press for action, a supersize poster of Soleimani, strong above the embassy gates and another in the rubble of the consulate, a reminder of the IRGC's lauded status, this attack, like Soleimani's, won't be forgiven, forgotten.


ROBERTSON: And it is drawing in criticism from around the region as well. Now, the UAE criticizing Israel, Russia also criticizing Israel for this attack, and it puts pressure on Secretary of State Antony Blinken, when he has his meeting in Paris, Tuesday, with the French President Emmanuel Macron. He was looking to Macron to help de- escalate the tensions with Hezbollah. The French do have some influence in Lebanon. But, of course, now, that's going to be much harder.


SOLOMON: All right. And our thanks to Nic Robertson reporting there.

Well, still ahead for us, Donald Trump is campaigning in key swing states today. This as a gag order against him is expanded. How he is lashing out at judges and their families? Plus, a live interview with Biden campaign co-chair Senator Chris Coons. He will discuss his recent trip to Africa, and will also speak about how the war in the Middle East could impact President Biden's reelection bid. We will be right back.


SOLOMON: Welcome back. Donald Trump is campaigning in the swing states of Michigan and Wisconsin today. This as a gag order against him has been expanded. The judge in his hush money case says that the former President cannot speak about family members of the court or the district attorney. The former President also posted on his Truth Social platform about posting a bond in New York for his civil fraud case. Trump says that the bond was due to a quote, "Corrupt Judge and Attorney General." He continued on, saying that there was no crime and that the case is election interference.

And as former President Trump attempts to get back to the business of campaigning, President Biden is also looking to campaign, trying to reverse some of his low poll numbers, and the Israel-Hamas war could be a deciding factor in swing states like Michigan where there is a significant Arab American population.

Joining us now with key insight is Senate Democrat Chris Coons from Delaware. He is also a National Co-Chair of President Biden's 2024 campaign, and he is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, always good to have you. Thanks so much for the time today.

Let me start --

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Good to be on with you.

SOLOMON: Let me start with Gaza. Just your reaction to this news, obviously, heartbreaking this airstrike, the death of these aid workers from the World Central Kitchen. Your reaction to this.

COONS: Jose Andres is a personal friend and I co-hosted a briefing by Jose Andres and the World Central Kitchen staff, of senators just before we passed the appropriations bill and went on recess.


This is a tragic loss of life. Too many aid workers have been killed already in Israel's ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza, and this latest loss of seven innocent dedicated aid workers is just the latest tragedy of this ongoing war. I think there needs to be accountability. There needs to be a prompt follow-up by the Israeli Defense Forces to explain how they struck these two vehicles that were clearly marked by World Central Kitchen logos were in a de-conflicted area, according to press reports.

SOLOMON: I hear you say that there should be accountability. Israel says that it will investigate. Do you believe that the investigation should be conducted by perhaps a more independent authority? Who do you think should be leading this investigation?

COONS: Look, the Israelis and the IDF are most likely to have the relevant timely information about why they carried out the strike that they did. But, I think that in the United States, Senate will also be reviewing that information and looking at other sources of information to reach our conclusions about whether this was just an accident in the fog of war, or whether it's part of the way in which the IDF has been conducting this war, which in some ways at sometimes has been too reckless and has caused too many civilian casualties. The Israelis typically go to great lengths to notify civilians before they carry out strikes, to respect the rule of law and to hold accountable their troops. But, this war in Gaza has been one that has strained that tradition. And so, I will look for a robust investigation and follow- up.

SOLOMON: Senator, how concerned are you about the potential for a further risk of escalation? Iran saying and issuing this warning that it will punish Israel after that deadly attack on its consulate in Syria, but also saying -- despite the U.S. saying it had no knowledge of this attack, saying that it holds the U.S. answerable.

COONS: Well, look, there has been a real risk of regional escalation since the beginning, since October 7, when Hamas carried out a brutal terrorist attack that massacred roughly 1,200 Israeli civilians. The response by Israel, by the IDF and then the counter response by Iranian proxies in the region by Hezbollah in Lebanon, by the Houthis in the Red Sea, by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, all of those have posed a real risk of escalation. I recently went to the region and visited Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Israel and Oman. And I think President Biden has done a good job of containing the risk of regional escalation since the beginning of this war by Israel against Hamas.

But, Iran's response to Israel's attack may well be the next step or stage in escalation regionally. I think the United States' deterrence of Iran's aggression in the region is key to preventing it from escalating further.

SOLOMON: Now, let me turn to more domestic news in the elections here. Trump is out campaigning, as has been Biden. Biden is out with this new campaign attacking Trump and essentially linking him to the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, that Supreme Court decision. Biden campaign now saying that it believes after these two decisions from Florida that Florida is potentially winnable. How so? How do you expect Biden to win Florida? What would that look like?

COONS: Look, former President Trump has long bragged that he made the decisions that put on the Supreme Court a new conservative majority that has taken away reproductive freedoms from Americans, the reversal of Roe v. Wade, a decades-long, deeply embedded in our society, critical precedent by the Supreme Court. The overturning of Roe v. Wade is something that President Trump has described as one of his greatest accomplishments.

So, now we'll put to the test whether or not millions of Floridians go to the polls and vote to restore reproductive freedom or vote to embrace a six-week abortion ban. It is unusual for women who are pregnant to even know that they are pregnant that early in their pregnancy. And so, this is just the latest of many examples across the country of Republican state legislatures or other Republican leaders pushing the boundaries now that Roe v. Wade is no longer there to protect reproductive freedom nationally. So, I would agree that Florida is now in play because this will mobilize millions of voters to come up to vote, to take their stance on reproductive freedom. It will put it in play as a critical issue in the statewide election in Florida.

SOLOMON: And does that mean that you believe that there is also a Senate seat perhaps to pick up for the Democrats in Florida?

COONS: The two go hand in hand. [11:25:00]

If it is a competitive state in the presidential election, it will be a competitive state for a Senate seat as well.

SOLOMON: OK. Let me turn to -- you're just back from your visit to certain African countries, like Zambia, Angola, Botswana. You're obviously a leading voice on U.S.-Africa policy. Talk to us a little bit about that trip and what you saw and what was accomplished there.

COONS: Yes. I'm a little bit jet-lagged. So, forgive me if I'm misstating a few things here. A significant group of senators, five senators, visited Cabo Verde, Angola, Zambia, Malawi and Botswana. Botswana and Cabo Verde are great examples of multiparty democracies that are stable, that are -- that have low corruption and high government service, and where our partnership has made a lasting difference. The picture that you're showing right now is from a community school in Malawi that was constructed with U.S. assistance.

Malawi and Zambia and Angola are different countries. There are countries where there are critical public health challenges, where there is significant poverty, where there is hunger because of drought and climate change, and where American investment through PEPFAR, the program to combat HIV/AIDS that was started by President Bush and has been sustained by every President since then. PEPFAR has made a huge difference. The life expectancy of the average person in Zambia, in Malawi, in Angola has increased by 50 percent because of our investments in combating transmissible diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV.

So, we had a chance to visit hospitals and teaching schools for nurses, a chance to visit Millennium Challenge compact projects that are contributing to economic development, and a chance to visit schools and get a sense of what difference America makes in this region. This is also a region that is critical to the great power competition between the United States, Russia and China, because of the vast storehouse of critical minerals and strategic minerals that are in the north of Zambia as well as in parts of Angola and Malawi.

Our principal interest is in promoting democracy and stability, in seeing the people of this region develop on their own terms and pursue their own futures, but frankly also to push back on Russian and Chinese influence in these countries, particularly Angola and Zambia, that for many years were close allies and partners of China and Russia, and are today much more open to partnering with the United States on their path forward.

SOLOMON: Well, it's interesting, you sort of took the words out of my mouth. I wanted to ask if you think the geopolitical events as of late have made Africa more -- have made the relationship between U.S. and the continent of Africa more urgent, more attractive because of certain geopolitical things that have happened the last few years or so?

COONS: Well, the United States has a long and deep relationship with the continent of Africa. It is the youngest continent. There is significant growth in their economies and their population. There is huge natural resources and human resources. And the United States is uniquely blessed with a very large African diaspora and the possibility of positive relations with countries across the continent. We also have difficult fraught chapters of our history with Africa. And I think it's important for American leaders, for senators, governors, members of the House of Representatives, members of the President's Cabinet and our President to visit Africa and to see firsthand how it's possible for us to strengthen and improve our relations.

China seized the promise of Africa. China has been opening embassies, has been investing in infrastructure and has become the largest trading partner with the growing economies of Africa. The United States needs to be engaged as well, not just because of competition with China, but because there is enormous potential for our future, for exports of American companies, for partnership with countries that want to become democracies, and for the competition for the creative and the growing young minds and young populations of the African continent.

SOLOMON: Yeah. I mean, I think a lot of people certainly are hoping for a mutually beneficial relationship, certainly as someone of the African diaspora and someone who was born. My first few years in Africa can certainly sort of get behind that. Senator Chris Coons from Delaware, Senator, thanks so much for the time today.

COONS: Thank you, Rahel.

SOLOMON: All right. Well, still ahead, tragic and unintentional, Israel's Prime Minister reacts after airstrikes kill aid workers in Gaza. Coming up next, we're live in Jerusalem. Plus, women in Florida will soon have to deal with even stricter abortion access after a new state ruling. Coming up, details ahead on what this means for Americans post Roe v. Wade.




SOLOMON: Welcome back. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rahel Solomon live in New York. And here are some of the international headlines we're watching for you today.

A 12-year-old child has died and two others have been seriously injured following a rare school shooting in Finland. It happens at a primary school near the capital Helsinki. Finnish police say that they have a 12-year-old suspect in custody. This person is a fellow student of the victims.

Sources tell CNN that the Biden administration is close to approving a major fighter jet sale to Israel. The deal reportedly includes up to 50 F-15 jets. It's expected to be worth more than $18 billion. It would be the largest military sale to Israel since the country went to war with Hamas after the October 7 attacks. The sale is likely to be hotly debated in Congress, particularly by members of the President's own party, as they've called for restricting military aid to Israel.

And World Central Kitchen says it is pausing operations in Gaza. That's after an Israeli strike killed seven of its aid workers who are delivering food. Israel calls it a targeted attack. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that it was unintentional and promises an investigation.

And for more on this story, let's bring in Melissa Bell. She is in Jerusalem for us. Melissa, what more can you share with us about this incident?

MELISSA BELL, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rahel, what we're talking about is a missile strike that hit this convoy as it was leaving a warehouse, Rahel, where these workers from World Central Kitchen had delivered 100 tons of aid in central Gaza. Now, what World Central Kitchen have told us is that this was a de- conflicted part of Gaza. They had been coordinating with the IDF their movements. And of course, what we see on the footage from the aftermath of the blast on their wrecked armored vehicle is the World Central Kitchen logo clearly marked.

Now, Israel has responded very seriously and very quickly to this news. We've heard from Benjamin Netanyahu announcing that he'd heard that innocent lives had been lost and vowing that this sort of thing would be avoided in future. We know that the IDF are not only conducting a high-level probe, Rahel, but that according to some reporting we've had from Jeremy Diamond here in Jerusalem earlier, it is the IDF's top general who is going to have eyes on all that evidence as it comes up from the ground.

So, Israeli authorities are taking this extremely seriously, equally, given the diverse nationality of the workers involved and the outrage that's been expressed by many United Nations relief agencies trying to work in the Gaza Strip. This is really likely to ramp up pressure on them to do a lot more, not only to allow more aid in through those land crossings, but to stick to what it's been at saying it does, which is to work closely with aid agencies to ensure that they stay safe, Rahel.


SOLOMON: OK. Melissa Bell live for us there in Jerusalem. Melissa Bell, thanks so much.

And as we discussed earlier, abortion access will soon become even more difficult for women living in the state of Florida. The state Supreme Court has paved the way for stricter access, upholding a 15- week abortion ban. That ruling allows for a six-week abortion ban to take effect in 30 days. But, many women don't even realize they're pregnant at six weeks, which means that people in Florida will likely have to travel out of state for abortion access. Now, voters will get a chance to weigh in on this as well. There are lots of moving parts to this.

Let's bring in CNN's Carlos Suarez, who joins us from South Florida to explain because, Carlos, as we said, there were sort of two rulings here, two decisions here from the court. Explain it for us.

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Rahel. So, the Florida Supreme Court issued two rulings, both of them dealing with the issue of abortion. In the first case, the court ruled that Florida's privacy clause in the state constitution does not protect the right to an abortion. And so, that cleared the way for this six- week ban to take effect in 30 days. As you noted, Florida now joins a number of states in the south, across the U.S. that have some type of restriction on abortions, if not an outright ban.

Now, Planned Parenthood of Florida said that this decision is not only going to impact women that live in Florida, but women that live in some of these other states that had been coming to Florida in recent years to try to get access to an abortion, because now they have to figure out how they're going to get to a state without some of these type of restrictions. Now, some abortion providers anticipated the court's decision yesterday, saying that they were focusing some of their efforts now on trying to move some of their services to some of these other states across the U.S. that, again, do not have any restrictions on abortions.

Now, the Supreme Court, the state Supreme Court also ruled that yesterday that voters, they will be the ones to decide whether or not to expand access to abortion. The justices here in Florida approved the wording of a constitutional amendment that would protect the right to an abortion in Florida. Now, the ballot amendment would prohibit the restriction of any abortion around the week before viability, rather, which is around a 24-week mark of a pregnancy, Rahel. It is important to note here that 60 percent of voters in Florida would have to approve this constitutional amendment in November in order for it to take effect.

You can expect that these two rulings will no doubt figure into the presidential race here in Florida, considering that historically, Florida has come out on the Republican side of things. However, Democrats believe that these two rulings will energize their base, will get voters out, and they believe could ultimately put Florida in play. Rahel.

SOLOMON: Yeah. Senator Coons just told me about 10 minutes ago, he believes that Florida is now competitive for Democrats, both in terms of the Senate race and the presidential race. We shall see. Carlos Suarez in South Florida, Carlos, thanks so much.

All right. Let's bring in our political panel to discuss this further. Joining me now is CNN Political Commentator S.E. Cupp, and Democratic Strategist Mark Longabaugh. Good to see you both.

So, S.E., should Republicans be concerned about a potential political backlash here after these decisions in Florida? What do you think?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yeah. We have a number of metrics to prove why they should be worried, one were the 2022 midterms in which reproductive rights figured very heavily into the decision making of a lot of voters. Two, we have a number of states, red states, states that went for Donald Trump, like Ohio and Kansas, where these effective bans were tried and they were voted down by those voters in those states.

So, the math isn't great. We also have polling that just shows most people are not for a six-week ban. Most people think this is too extreme. And we have all of these test cases. In the news, people who have come up against these regressive, puritanical laws that really are impractical and make having a family or deciding not to have a family, are really impossible, sometimes criminal decision to make and process to have. So, there is a lot of evidence for why this is not a good idea strategically and politically for Republicans. You don't have to look too far to find out how this goes.

SOLOMON: Yeah. There is also that Michigan, I believe, it was where, certainly correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Biden won by the slimmest of margins in 2020.

Mark, let me ask, Biden campaign out with a new ad focusing on abortion. Let me play it for you.



DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For 54 years, they were trying to get Roe v. Wade terminated, and I did it, and I'm proud to have done it.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: In 2016, Donald Trump ran to overturn Roe v. Wade. Now, in 2024, he is running to pass a national ban on a woman's right to choose. I'm running to make Roe v. Wade the law of the land again.


SOLOMON: So, Mark, do ads like that, do decisions like that out of Florida make Florida potentially winnable for the Biden campaign? I talked to Senator Coons a short time ago, and he said, yeah, he thinks it's competitive both for Biden and perhaps the Senate seat.

MARK LONGABAUGH, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, & FORMER SENIOR STRATEGIST, BERNIE SANDERS 2016 CAMPAIGN: Yeah. I mean, I think this is an explosive decision in two ways. One, the Florida Supreme Court heightened the saliency of this issue by approving this draconian ban, and at the same time permitting the ballot initiative to go forward. I think it could cost Republicans both the state at the presidential level and certainly at the Senate level. And that ad that you just played, I think you could see that a lot in Florida in days ahead.

SOLOMON: Yeah. And with a ballot measure, S.E., it sort of guarantees additional turnout because now you have literally abortion on the ballot at the ballot box in November.

CUPP: Yeah. And unlike those cases I mentioned earlier in Kansas and Ohio, these are on a ballot in a presidential year. So, this is not only affecting local turnout, but presidential national politics. And you better believe, Biden is going to run on it and Democrats are going to run on it. I think the interesting thing will be to see what Trump says about this. Will he take credit for this, for sort of pushing this? He has said in the past that a six-week ban was unpopular. That will be interesting to see how Republicans decide to confront this issue.

SOLOMON: Yeah. I was trying to pull up Trump's statement, his campaign statement. Let me read it for you. So, he says "President Trump supports preserving life but has also made clear that he supports state's rights because he supports the voters' right to make decisions for themselves. Where President Trump thinks voters should have the last word, Biden and many Democrats want to allow abortion up until the moment of birth and force taxpayers to pay for it." Mark, your response.

LONGABAUGH: Well, I mean, I think for the Republicans and for Trump, their decision to stack the Supreme Court with these anti-choice Supreme Court Justice is coming back to haunt them and in a big way. And to pick up on this -- the point about Ohio, just to look at the numbers there, that ballot initiative in Ohio passed with 56 percent of the vote. Joe Biden only got 45 percent of the vote there. I mean, that's like a 10, 12 point swing. Florida is much, much closer than that. Arizona is much, much closer than that. This issue really could cost the Republicans dozens of states. And by the way, we should also look at the Senate in terms of this is on the ballot in Montana where it may help test or hold on to a very competitive seat. So, this is going to have big repercussions politically this year.

SOLOMON: Let me switch gears here. So, the campaign for independent RFK Jr. says that he is now on the ballot in five states, the latest being North Carolina, obviously a swing state. Here is what he said last night to CNN's Erin Burnett. Take a listen.

OK. We don't have it, but I will read it for you. "In North Carolina, we had to get 13,000 signatures. We got 23,000. In New Hampshire, they said it would take us months to get signatures. We got them in one day in Utah. We got them in one week during a blizzard. So, we're not going to have a very, very -- we have a very good volunteer army out there." He thinks he can get within two months another 19 states. S.E., is his momentum growing, and who should be more concerned?

CUPP: Yeah. That's the question, that last part, who should be more concerned? His momentum is growing because there is extreme displeasure with both of the major party candidates. And there is curiosity in a third-party campaign. The problem for RFK is, I think the more he speaks and let you know what he thinks, the more turned off, I think, a majority of people will be. But, I don't know. Conventional wisdom, and I see a lot of pundits and even the Biden team is saying that this is going to cut into Biden voters, I do not buy it.

If you watched that interview with our Erin Burnett last night, this was not a guy looking for Democratic votes. This was a guy who called Biden a bigger threat than Trump to democracy, who praised Trump voters, who said Democrats have forgotten them. He spreads conspiracy theories. He is anti-vaxxed. He hired -- appointed a woman who believes in the same as his VP (ph). This is not a guy who is trying to get Democrats to vote for him. I think he is playing for Republican voters who might be a little turned off by Trump's crazy, but unfortunately, they'll just find more crazy over in the RFK camp.

SOLOMON: Well, Mark, last word here and I'll give it to you, but, as he does --


SOLOMON: -- make the point, it was a long interview. It was a good interview, but it was at times pretty flattering of Trump.


LONGABAUGH: Yeah. I guess I disagree maybe a little bit. I think that RFK's support is sort of an extension of the discontent with American politics today and the disillusionment with both of the two nominees. So, I think that makes him more dangerous to Biden at the end of the day as the incumbent. I also think, just to pick up on this point, he is going to get on the ballot in a lot of states. I mean, the Green Party was on the ballot in 30 states. Libertarians were on ballot everywhere. There were four or five others, and this is in 2020, they were on the ballot in more than 15 states and they didn't have a billionaire running mate. So, he is going to be on the ballot and he is going to be a big factor in this election.

SOLOMON: Yeah. To that point, he said last night he didn't choose her because of her money. He chose her for other things. That's what he said. We'll leave it here. CNN Political Commentator -- thanks, guys. Good to have you both, Democratic Strategist Mark Longabaugh.

All right. Well, still ahead and coming up, for the first time in years, Tesla sales plunge. So, what's driving the drop, and what's the electric car company doing to try to speed up profits? Plus, revenue tumbles for Donald Trump and his Truth Social platform. What this means for the former President's bottom line, when we come back.


SOLOMON: All right. Things are off and running on Wall Street today. Let's take a quick look at Tuesday trading, and they're off to a slow start. The Dow is off almost 1.2 percent or almost 500 points. Wow. It's a rocky start to the second quarter, really continues. Hopes of the Dow Jones heading to the 40,000 mark are fading. The Dow is closer to 39,000 than it is 40,000. The NASDAQ is off to about 1.3 percent, the S&P off as well, almost a full percentage point.

CNN's Matt Egan keeping a close eye on the index in New York. So, Matt, I would ask you, when are we going to see 40k? But, I think that's an impossible question. Talk to us about what's happening in the markets today in the -- Tesla as well.

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Rahel, to your point, it does look like we're going to see 39,000 for the Dow before 40,000, which is amazing, because just last week, we were so close to hitting that 40,000 milestone for the first time ever. But, markets are off to a rough start to the new month, to the new quarter. A lot of it goes back to concerns about the Fed. Right? There are sort of growing doubts seeping into the market about whether or not the Fed is really going to be able to start cutting interest rates in June, whether or not they really will still be able to do three interest rate cuts this year. So, you see the Dow down 1.2 percent, about 470 points.

But, we should note that this market has been historically strong. Right? I mean, not just near record highs, but sell-offs had been pretty rare. In fact, the S&P 500's maximum loss so far this year, on a year-to-date basis, has been less than two percent. JPMorgan says that if that stood for the whole year, that would be a record going back to 1980.


So, it's not the worst thing in the world to see the market cool off just a bit after a lot of really strong gains.

Now, Tesla is down a lot more than the rest of the market, seeing sharp losses for Tesla, down five percent on the day the company posted its worst annual sales performance since 2020. This reflects some infrastructure issues, some problems in some of their factories, but it also reflects the fact they've got a lot of competition, right, both at home and abroad, namely in China. Dan Ives, the veteran tech analyst, he called this Tesla quarter a quote "unmitigated disaster." He warned that this could be a seminal moment for the company. They've either got to reverse this black guy, he says, or they're going to allow a darker narrative to take hold.

So, Rahel, we will keep a close eye on Tesla, because we know over the last few years, that had been just such a big winner, but it's been an awful 2024 for Tesla.

SOLOMON: Yeah. So, that's pretty stark warning from Dan Ives there. Matt, what's going on with Truth Social today?

EGAN: Well, Rahel, it's funny. With this stock, I mean, you really can't look away, because if you do, you're going to miss a major move either to the upside or downside. Right? Yesterday, this stock was down almost by 25 percent, right, lost just a ton of value, bouncing back today, though, up eight percent on the day. There is no real news out there that I've seen that can explain this move today. Yesterday, though, we do know that the company lost a lot of value because they explained their 2023 results. Right? They lost $58 million. They have very little revenue, just over $4 million in revenue. And so, this does underscore why some experts are warning that this company is overvalued, right, that it is -- looks more and more like a meme stock.

So, Rahel, I think that we should expect more turbulence from Truth Social and Trump Media ahead because the stock just keeps going up and down dramatically each day.

SOLOMON: Yeah. The roller coaster continues. But, as you say, you can't turn away. You might miss it. Matt Egan live for us in New York. Matt, thanks so much.

EGAN: Thanks, Rahel.

SOLOMON: All right. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.


SOLOMON: Welcome back. Officials in Canada's Niagara region are declaring a state of emergency ahead of Monday's total solar eclipse. Thousands of visitors are expected to pour into the Niagara Falls area to try to catch the rare event. It's in the path of totality where for a few minutes the moon will block out the sun entirely.

CNN's Paula Newton has the story.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Niagara Falls is known for its stunning views. The number of people expected to visit the famous waterfalls may soon become a spectacle in itself. It's a prime viewing site for the solar eclipse on April 8, as it crosses North America, passing over Mexico, the United States and Canada.

JIM DIODATI, NIAGARA FALLS, CANADA MAYOR: Even though we get 14 million people every year, it's over the year. It's not all at one time. To get one million at one time would be by far the biggest crowd that we've ever had.

NEWTON (voice-over): Canada's Niagara region has declared a state of emergency so that emergency services can prepare for the influx of people. Hotels, stores and restaurants are gearing up for the visitors, which are estimated to outnumber the locals. Ontario's Niagara region has a population of nearly half of a million people, but some business owners say they're looking forward to some extra company.


GABRIEL GABRIE, PIZZERIA OWNER: We're expecting to have a full house for the first time in a long time. We're coming up for the winter season. So, it's an exciting time.

NEWTON (voice-over): By the time the eclipse is fully visible over Niagara Falls at approximately 3:18 p.m. Eastern Time, it will be nearing the end of its trek across the continent, which happens when it passes over the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. It will be the first total eclipse in Canada since 1979, and the last time that contiguous U.S. will see one until 2044. So, it's a sight many people say they don't want to miss.

JASON HARLOW, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO: Having that collective feeling of, oh, the sun has gone and seeing something that's so rare and so beautiful and to see the stars come out in the day, yeah, it's something that my kids will remember their whole lives.

NEWTON (voice-over): Paula Newton, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SOLOMON: And join us next Monday for the solar eclipse as it travels from Mexico across the U.S. and into Canada. Our special coverage featuring myself, yours truly, and Richard Quest, starts at 1 p.m. Eastern. We hope you can make it.

And for now, we know your time is money. So, thank you for spending some time with me today. I'm Rahel Solomon live in New York. Stick with CNN. "ONE WORLD" is coming up next.