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Interview With Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD); As Biden Arranges His Friday Visit, Workers Clear a Different Waterway; Iowa Advances to Final Four After Defeating 2023 Champion LSU; Iowa Hawkeyes Led by Caitlin Clark to Final Four; After Citing LSU Coach Kim Mulkey's Critique, L.A. Times Amends Column and Issues an Apology; 2024 U.S. Election; Amidst Growing Legal Expenses, Trump is Pushing $60 Bibles; Trump Weds Himself to Evangelicals as He Seeks Return to White House; Decline of Truth Social's Shares, Trump's Net Worth Falls by $1B; Trump's Truth Social stock up slightly after plummeting Monday. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired April 02, 2024 - 10:30   ET



SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD): I want to thank the Biden administration. I want to thank the Coast Guard, the Army Corps, and all of our federal partners working with Governor Moore and the state of Maryland. Our federal delegation, Senator Van Hollen, Congressman Mfume, and I have all been engaged on a daily basis with the mayor of Baltimore, the county executive, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel County.

We're all working together. Our top priority is first to deal with the recovery of the remains of the four casualties that have not yet been recovered. There's been six total deaths related to the incident. But our first priority after that is to get this channel open. This channel is critically important, not just to our region, but to the entire country on supply chain issues.

So, it's part of the commerce of the United States. We're going -- the -- President Biden made a commitment that he will cover the cost of not only the removal of the bridge and the opening of the channel, but the replacement of the bridge.

I am confident that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will work with us as we have in the past to make sure that commitment is honored. We need to make sure that the channels opened as quickly as possible and that the bridge is replaced and the federal government needs to be a strong partner in making that a reality. So, I will work with our federal delegation to make that a reality.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Yes, you have to do everything you can to get the great city of Baltimore up and running again at full strength. Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, thank you very much for your time this morning. We appreciate it.

We'll be right back.



ACOSTA: For the second consecutive season, the Iowa Hawkeyes advanced to the Final Four. Star Caitlin Clark led her team to a 94 to 87 victory against the LSU Tigers in a much-anticipated repeat matchup of the title game last year. But this time Iowa came out on top again. Take a look at the pandemonium there in that arena.

CNN Sports Analyst and USA Today Columnist Christine Brennan joins me now to discuss. Christine, I was watching this game last night and Caitlin Clark is just unbelievable to watch. I mean, she is almost automatic every time she fires off a three.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST AND SPORTS COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: Jim, you know sports as well as anyone. And when you see an athlete rise to the occasion like that, we know she's good. We know she's had this incredible record setting year, a career, I mean, everyone knows her name. She is bringing people to women's basketball and eyeballs to women's basketball, a way no one has. And then she raises her game to that level at the most important moment of her career. Incredible. Absolutely incredible.

There were nine, three pointers. Nine, that she made.

ACOSTA: Look at that.

BRENNAN: 41 points over -- yes, I mean, she was -- it was, like, unconscious. You know, it was extraordinary. And it was one of the greatest performances I've seen in sports. And as you know, I've seen a lot of sports over the years.

ACOSTA: Yes, we have it on screen right there. Most career three pointers in men's and women's NCAA Division One history tied for most three pointers in a women's tournament game. Nine three pointers and most three pointers and assists in NCAA women's tournament history.

I mean, it really has elevated the game in terms of its visibility. That arena last night was packed and the fans were screaming. It was really -- it was a lot -- it was so much fun to watch. And there's also this rivalry that's been going on between Clark and Angel Reese over at LSU.

BRENNAN: Oh, there is. And it started last year, as we know, of course, it was the championship game last year. LSU won defending national champs that came into that game last night. And Angel Reese gave Caitlyn Clark a little smack, a little trash talk back at Caitlyn. Caitlyn, of course, is known for having fun on the court, and doing some things. Well, Angel did it back.

And it started a national conversation, Jim, that frankly I thought was great because we were talking about women's sports and women's basketball. My goodness, I was at the masters and I was still talking about Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese.

And so, that that was good. And last night what we saw was a measure of sportsmanship that I think both of women obviously were able to rise to the occasion and also give the nation. And that is class dignity. A big hug. And conversation afterwards and even before the game about how important each one is to the other and the respect and just everything about the game that they both love about each other. So, I think that was a good ending, even though certainly it was not the ending that LSU wanted.

ACOSTA: Yes, totally. And what about -- what is going on with "The L.A. Times"? I -- you know, great newspaper. I mean, what a dumb mistake. They published this commentary piece on LSU's coach, Kim Mulkey. After the backlash, the newspaper had to add this editorial note to it, saying the commentary did not meet the editorial standards of the newspaper. The piece referred to LSU as, "Dirty debutantes". I mean, what? I -- this -- I don't understand how this even got published.

BRENNAN: You know, Jim, I was moderating a panel a week ago at the University of Maryland, and I asked all the panelists, if Caitlyn Clark were black, would she be -- would we be looking at this in a different way? And let's be honest, the answer from everyone on the panel was yes, in some way or another. And, you know, race, of course, is part of, my goodness, our lives. And, I think that the idea that what has happened with Angel Reese and some of the criticism she's taken -- and by the way, Caitlin Clark gets a lot of criticism, too.

So, you know, there's certainly a lot of people that just want to criticize anyone on social media, shock of all shocks. But I think what we saw there with that "L.A. Times" piece, which, by the way, the report columnist has apologized. And the paper, of course, as you said, has retracted some of it is just the worst of journalism.


And thankfully, they realized that and apologize. But here we are. This is our world, unfortunately, in this, you know, in the 21st century.

ACOSTA: Yes. And the chauvinism -- I mean, and -- I mean, just -- it's just really unfair because I mean, look at what these athletes have accomplished on the court. It's really remarkable. Christine Brennan. Great to talk to you as always. Thanks so much.

BRENNAN: Jim, thank you very much.

ACOSTA: All right. Thank you.

All right. Coming up, the importance of the evangelical vote this November, as many in the church are turning to Donald Trump as he's been selling those Bibles and so on. We'll talk about that next.



ACOSTA: As Donald Trump's legal bills continue to pile up, he's looking to scripture to profit both financially and politically. The former president has announced his latest Trump product, $60 God Bless the USA Bibles. It comes as Trump continues to ingratiate himself with conservative evangelicals, casting himself as a persecuted martyr who's being targeted because of his supporters' beliefs.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And in the end, they're not after me, they're after you. I just happen to be standing in the way, and I always will.


ACOSTA: Joining us now to discuss is NPR National Political Correspondent Sarah McCammon. She's the author of the new book, "The EXvangelicals: Loving, Living, and Leaving the White Evangelical Church." And Sarah, congratulations to my old campaign trail buddy on your book making "The New York Times'" bestseller list. That's a great accomplishment. I did want to ask you --


ACOSTA: -- lots of different questions to cover here. One of them is why is the evangelical community so strongly behind Donald Trump this time around? I mean, here we are just a couple of weeks from this hush money case in New York, when it -- if we were talking about any other political candidate, you would think the evangelical community would back away from that particular candidate, but not Donald Trump.

MCCAMMON: I think there are a few reasons for it, Jim. I mean, you know, years ago, a lot of evangelicals would talk about facing a binary choice in the general election in 2016 between Trump and Clinton. But I think it's clear now, if you look at exit polls from the last two general elections, as well as exit polls from the primary this year, evangelicals have consistently and overwhelmingly back Donald Trump. I should say white evangelicals, specifically.

And one reason is pragmatic. Trump is seen as someone who will deliver on their policy goals, and he did that in his first term. The overturning of Roe v. Wade is the prime example. And also, as you noted, he taps into this idea of persecution, and this idea of a declining influence of Christianity in America. This has been a long- standing theme in American evangelicalism, and white evangelicalism in particular. And it's something that we hear from Trump, including when he was selling those Bibles the other day.

ACOSTA: Yes, what did you think about that? Somebody who was raised in the evangelical church, seeing Donald Trump out there selling bibles.

MCCAMMON: You know, it was interesting. I mean, I remember well, I was a teenager in the 1990s, and I remember that the way the evangelical community responded to Bill Clinton's moral failings, and it's been noted the striking difference, the response to Trump, of course. But I think if you look at data, white evangelicals understand that Trump is not a particularly devout person. There's polling that backs that up.

But again, they see him as understanding their concerns and tapping into, again, this long-standing theme that I've been hearing my whole life, that Christianity is on the decline. That it's central to American identity. When he talked -- when he holds up that Bible and he talks about bringing the Bible back, bringing Christianity back, that resonates for many evangelicals, regardless of his personal behavior. And they see the legal -- many of them see the legal troubles he's facing as a sign of persecution, and in many ways a sign that he's on the right track.

ACOSTA: You know, one of the things -- as I was, kind of, making my way through your book, Sarah, that I found to be very interesting is you talk about alternative facts. There's a chapter on alternative facts, and you talk about that moment where Kellyanne Conway, the former Trump advisor during the White House, talked about alternative facts.

And that resonated with you as somebody who grew up in the evangelical community, in your hometown of Kansas City and sort of had a falling out with that community. What do you think? Why did you make reference to that particular moment and what did that say to you?

MCCAMMON: Yes, one of the things I talk about is I moved away from an evangelical identity long before the Trump campaign. And -- but I think the last few years have been something that have catalyzed a lot of conversations for many people with ties to that community about what it means to be evangelical. And the thing that I remember so well is the emphasis on, sort of, building a narrative and in many ways sticking to it.

You know, I write about it. an entire curriculum in my Christian school that many evangelical kids grew up with in Christian schools or homeschools or even in their youth groups and churches centered around the idea that, you know, the earth was 6,000 to 10,000 years old. And not all evangelicals believe that, I should say, but there's kind of an entire intellectual infrastructure that backs up a narrative. And that's what I meant when I referred to alternative facts.

ACOSTA: Yes. And, and even now, I mean, there is sort of a strain in that community that's willing to believe anything that Trump says. I mean, if it's a conspiracy theory or just a bald-faced lie.

MCCAMMON: Yes, there's been some really fascinating research which I cite in the book over the last few years that suggests that people who identify as white evangelicals have, in some cases, a higher uptake for conspiracy theories, a higher susceptibility to misinformation.


And, you know, there's a real skepticism. You hear it in much of the rhetoric of, sort of, of institutions, of secular institutions, of secular authority. And, that many have argued, can predispose people to accepting misinformation and being skeptical of scientific authorities. We saw that in -- some of the white evangelicals had some of the lowest acceptance of vaccines during the COVID pandemic.


MCCAMMON: And, you know, there's fascinating research on this.

ACOSTA: All right. Well, Sarah McCammon, love to have you back and continue to talk about this. I think, as you and I both know, being out on the campaign trail, these are fervent Donald Trump supporters. So, they're certainly going to be playing a role in this upcoming campaign. Sarah, great to talk to you and best of luck with the book. Thanks so much.

MCCAMMON: Thank you.

ACOSTA: All right. We'll be right back.



ACOSTA: Former President Donald Trump's net worth plunged 1 billion on paper, prompted by tumbling shares of his media company.

CNN's Matt Egan joins us now. Matt, we should note, maybe it's not quite a billion, maybe it's fluctuating right around that point because right now the stock is up. I was just checking this a few moments ago, it looks like around five percent. What's going on?

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS AND ECONOMY REPORTER: Jim, look, this stock is extremely volatile. It's been compared to a meme stock like GameStop and AMC during 2020 and 2021. And it is so volatile that when you went to break, the stock was up about two to three percent, and as you mentioned, now up four, five, six, percent.

So, the gains doubled just during the commercial break. You can see on that line chart, it spiked when it went public, then lost almost a quarter of its value yesterday alone, wiping out about a billion dollars of Donald Trump's net worth. But Jim, listen, fasten your seat belts because this wild ride is likely just getting started.

ACOSTA: Yes, no question about it. All right, Matt Egan. Thank you very much.

And I just want to take a note to our viewers. A quick programming note, it's a phenomenon you won't see for another 20 years. A total solar eclipse is going to be passing in front of America and much of the world. Live coverage starts Monday at 1:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN. Make sure you're prepared. The best way to view that solar eclipse safely is through ISO compliant glasses. I hope I'm saying that right. Expert tested eclipse glasses go to CNN underscored for a list of products that are still in stock and handpicked by editors.

Thanks very much for joining us this morning. I'm Jim Acosta. Our next hour of "CNN Newsroom with Wolf Blitzer" starts after a quick break. Have a great day.