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Walgreens Won't Distribute Abortion Pill; DeSantis Pushes for Djokovic to Play in Miami; TikTok CEO Meets with Lawmakers; Starbucks Workers on Union Fight. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired March 10, 2023 - 06:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Medication. There are a lot of challenges to it. And we encourage you not to be sending this medication through the mail or dispensing it in your pharmacy. So, it's just a big mess.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: So, where does this - do we even know where this leaves everyone?

ROMANS: So, where it leaves these drug companies, or these pharmacies, is going through the certification process with the FDA, slowly at this point, right, and trying to figure out with their legal teams what they can do, where. It's a state-by-state basis here now. It's a patchwork because of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR AND SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Definitionally, once you revert it to the states. And I will remind people that the pills that they're being discussed are -- typically would be considered outside the traditional abortion debate about the first trimester, second trimester, et cetera. So, this is - this is a more ideological approach by those states.

But I will also say that folks who criticized Ron DeSantis, for example, for punishing private companies for political stands he didn't like ought to apply the same lens when it comes to, you know, liberal states and liberal governors doing the same thing, in this case against Walgreens.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: But is this different because this is a health care thing?

AVLON: That would be the argument. But I still think the broader principle stands.


LEMON: That's the first thing I thought about. I was like, well this is -- didn't people get upset because Ron DeSantis did something similar, if not the same thing, to the state's (INAUDIBLE).

AVLON: Yes, just apply the same standards no matter what political party's involved and we'll be a lot clearer as a country. ROMANS: I know.

LEMON: How does the electorate feel about that, though?

AVLON: Well, the electorate has been very clear. I mean, you know, beginning with the 2022 midterms you saw a major backlash against Republicans because of the overturning of Roe. That was clear in the exit polls. You saw ballot referendums that were put up in states. Red states like Kentucky and Montana rejected restrictions on abortion. And then a most recent Gallup poll this year shows 69 percent of Americans, 69 percent, say they're dissatisfied with U.S. abortion policy. That's a - that's a super majority. So, this issue isn't going away. And, politically, it's already - it's already cost Republicans.

COLLINS: Yes, it's only at the forefront.

I do think we should note that CVS and Walgreens have said they do intend to become certified and dispense this pill where they can.

ROMANS: Right.

COLLINS: So, this may not even be an issue for them in New York (ph).

ROMANS: And one of the issues -- exactly. Or in California, where it is legal as well.

COLLINS: Legal. Yes, it's not like it's like Alabama where that's a (INAUDIBLE).

ROMANS: But the issue here is, you look at - right, or you look at states like Iowa and Kansas, for example, two states where abortion is legal, right, where this medication is legal. But those attorney generals have asked these companies not to dispense the medication.

So, I think there are a lot of legal challenges that are coming. There's also a case in Texas that is challenging whether the FDA can even authorize these two drugs. That's a separate case that these legal teams are -- also will be watching. It's a fraught legal background.

LEMON: I'm confused a lot.

AVLON: And one of the reasons it's not fraught just legally but politically is that, you know, at the end of the day, Americans politics are usually based upon ideas of freedom. This has been something Republicans have claimed very effectively. But when it comes to questions of reproductive freedom and being able to reach out beyond the base, there's poor contradiction here that people are confronting now that the -- Roe has been removed by the courts.

ROMANS: Overturning Roe was the beginning of something.

AVLON: That's right.

ROMANS: Not the end of something here. And I think you're going to see a lot of trouble, especially for companies like this who have to figure out how to thread that needle.

AVLON: It's a very personal (INAUDIBLE) issue.

LEMON: We have to talk about -- about religion in politics - in politics and in freedom.


LEMON: We've got to discuss that. That's really the elephant in the room. Yes.

AVLON: That's it.

COLLINS: Yes, a complicated issue.

AVLON: It is. Very personal.

COLLINS: John, Christine, thanks for trying to make it less complicated.

All right, we're also going to discuss more of this with New York's governor, Kathy Hochul. She's going to join us live in the 8:00 hour here.

LEMON: And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis heading to Iowa today. Hmmmm. Hmmmm. Things that make you go Hmmmm.

COLLINS: It's nice this time of year in Iowa.


ROMANS: It's terrible this time of year in Iowa.

LEMON: CNN is on the ground talking to conservative voters. Some are still standing behind a different Florida resident.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a Trump supporter. And if he's not on the ballot, I'm going to write him in.




COLLINS: All right, this morning, you see Florida Governor Ron DeSantis there. He is maybe moving one step closer to making a potential bid for the White House a reality today. He is going to be making his first appearance in Iowa, which is, of course, Republicans' first nominating state. He's going to be meeting with a state legislator and attending events in Davenport and Des Moines before he heads to Nevada tomorrow. DeSantis, we should note, has not made a formal announcement. He's not actually expected to do so until May or June. That is after Florida's legislature finishes its 60-day session and comes to an end.

LEMON: Meanwhile, Governor DeSantis is also inserting himself in the push to bring Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic to the upcoming Miami Open, even though he is not vaccinated, a requirement for foreigners entering the U.S.

CNN's Leyla Santiago has more from Miami.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I would run a boat from the Bahamas here for him. I would do that, 100 percent.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Florida Governor Ron DeSantis referring to Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic, pushing for the athlete to be allowed to travel to the U.S. for the Miami Open later this month, even though the player is not vaccinated against Covid-19, a requirement. Now calling on President Joe Biden --

DESANTIS: I ask him to rescind his policy and get with the times here. But we think there may be, even in his policy, an ability to bring Djokovic in by boat.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: On a question of regarding the vaccination requirement, I refer you to the CDC. They're the ones who deal with that.

SANTIAGO: According to the CDC, proof of Covid-19 vaccination is required for non-U.S. citizens, non-immigrant passengers arriving from another country by air. Though that applies to other forms of travel. Djokovic has already missed the chance to play at Indian Wells. Organizers announcing on Sunday that he had withdrawn from that tournament. On Titter, the Miami Open hoping for a different fate, saying, Novak Djokovic is one of the greatest tennis players of all time and a six time champion of the Miami Open.


We hope he is allowed entry into the country so Floridians have the opportunity to see him compete once again.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC, WORLD NUMBER ONE TENNIS PLAYER: Look, last year I did miss both Indian Wells, Miami and all the U.S. Open swing. So, it wouldn't be the first time if it happened.

SANTIAGO: And it's certainly not the first time DeSantis has fought mandates on Covid vaccines.

DESANTIS: We're not doing vaccine passports in Florida. That - it's not - it's not necessary.

Look, Florida has to lead on all this stuff. I think we've figured that out.

SANTIAGO: Touting his response to the pandemic in speeches --

DESANTIS: When common sense suddenly became an uncommon virtue, Florida was a refuge of sanity.

SANTIAGO: And now book tour a appearances --

DESANTIS: I think the fact that Florida came in and put the kibosh on those passports very early really, really killed those ideas and the -

SANTIAGO: That could all be part of a pitch to Republican primary voters for a possible presidential campaign.

Leyla Santiago, CNN, Miami.


LEMON: Well, TikTok's CEO on the offense ahead of a highly anticipated hearing on Capitol Hill. We have new details about his behind-the- scenes conversations with lawmakers.

COLLINS: Can't wait to hear that.

March Madness also is right around the corner. We are talking brackets and selection Sunday ahead.

LEMON: Well, I said, gives me angina every year.


LEMON: Because I don't know how to do it and I always lose.

COLLINS: You just pick everybody. Just Google -



COLLINS: All right, we are just one week away from the first round of the men's NCAA tournament. The March Madness is already underway in several of the conference tournaments. After reaching last year's national championship game, North Carolina was ranked number one going into this season, but now the Tar Heels may not even make it into the big dance. Virginia beat UNC 68-59 in the ACC tournament quarter finals last night. The Tar Heels now look like they will become the first preseason number one ever, ever to miss the tournament.

LEMON: Ever?

COLLINS: We're going to find out for sure on selection Sunday. The entire 68-team field is going to be announced. Alabama is going to be in it.

LEMON: I just want to make sure, ever?


It's kind of crazy. You're number one going in, now you're not even going to make the tournament. LEMON: Let's talk about TikTok and its CEO going on the offensive as

threats of a potential ban grow more real. According to "Forbes," Shouzi Chew has been busy on Capitol Hill meeting with lawmakers ahead of highly anticipated testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in two weeks. One of those lawmakers was Congresswoman Lori Trahan of Massachusetts. She told "Forbes," quote, there were frank conversations around the harms that he knows exists, and described their meeting as, quote, a more honest exchange than any I've had with other American CEOs.

Here now to discuss, CNN media analyst and "Axios" media reporter Sara Fischer.

Good morning to you. How are you?


LEMON: So, what are they hoping - did I say it, Shouzi Chew.

FISCHER: You mean Shouzi Chew.

LEMON: Shouzi Chew. What are they hoping to accomplish with these -- ahead of these hearings?

FISCHER: So, you have part of the government, the Committee for Foreign Investment in the U.S., talking to TikTok about a deal, a national security deal, to let them remain here in the U.S., either through an IPO one day or from selling. But lawmakers feel like that's not happening soon enough. And so what they're trying to do is possibly introduce legislation that would empower either the Commerce Department or President Biden to take action on TikTok sooner if that investigation or if that agreement with CFIUS doesn't happen in time. They want to understand how TikTok is using user data, where it's being stored and if there's anything that they're doing to advance the CCP's goals. For example, are they limiting hash tags or videos from being distributed that might be, you know, negative about China, or are they meddling in our U.S. politics by elevating certain content? That is type of things that lawmakers want to know.

COLLINS: But what are the chances of this actually becoming law, getting traction, because there is so much skepticism on Capitol Hill. This kind of feels like a charm offensive essentially before he is going to go before them. I think it's on March 23rd. And, obviously, they're going to grill him. This is a politically sensitive issue. It's becoming more at the forefront of all of these issues.

FISCHER: It's a great question. I do think that his Washington campaign has been pretty effective. If you listen to him, he's very charming. He's not a Chinese CEO with a thick, heavy accent. He went to Harvard. He understands U.S. politics. He understands Capitol Hill. So, it's working when he's going and talking to lawmakers.

But I, to your point, do think that lawmakers are going to go pretty hard on him because politics loves to rail on big tech. Whatever party that you are, if it's an opportunity to show that you are going to be tough on China, these lawmakers are going to take it. COLLINS: Yes, but do they actually do something?

FISCHER: Pass any laws?

COLLINS: They love to rail on it.


COLLINS: They don't necessarily love to actually do something about it.

FISCHER: To that point, we've never passed a national privacy law in the U.S. Like, we have zero. And that's because lawmakers, this should be so easy to do, cannot get on the same page, to your point, Kaitlan.

LEMON: I want to talk to you about what's happening with Fox because we have the CEO, the Fox Corporation CEO, Lachlan Murdoch, dismissing these revelations from Dominion's defamation case. He's calling them, and I quote, noise, yesterday. This was during the Morgan Stanley's Technology Media and Telecom Conference. He said, quote -- he said this after we learned that his dad, Rupert Murdoch, acknowledged during his deposition that some Fox News anchors endorsed false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.


So, he's saying, this is noise. What do you think? What do you make of this? Is it noise to him?

FISCHER: Lachlan Murdoch has a lot on his plate. You know, he's a chairman at News Corp. He is the CEO of Fox Corp. Think about all of the assets and all the things he's controlling underneath it. That's everything from World Cup rights at Fox Sports and Big 10 and signing Tom Brady, to a publishing arm and hundreds of newspapers around the world in a real estate division.

So, yes, to him, what's happening with Fox News is like a teeny little part of this empire.

But this is kind of his playbook, Don. You know, I had an interview with him last year, and that's exactly what he said when I asked him about pushback about polarization on Fox. He said it was just noise, politics, et cetera.

LEMON: Even $1.6 billion, that's noise?

FISCHER: Well, that's -

LEMON: And the reputation of the network?

FISCHER: That is problematic. And the other thing that's problematic is, again, Lachlan Murdoch, think about him, he's a shareholder of two public companies and he controls a lot of them. He definitely wants investors to be happy with his company. If they're shelling out $1.6 billion or more on a defamation suit, when they could use that money towards hiring ten more Tom Bradys, of course that's going to be wearing on the company. But, of course, from a reputation perspective, I can't say this isn't damaging.

COLLINS: Yes. And we don't know that the $1.6 billion will actually happen.

LEMON: If it will get there, yes.

COLLINS: We'll be watching it though.

Sara Fischer, thank you.

FISCHER: Thank you.

LEMON: Thanks, Sara.

COLLINS: OK, also this morning we were talking about Starbucks. If you're drinking some right now, they have just won a major legal victory against their employer. CNN actually spoke to several of them as they returned to work. We'll tell you what they said.

LEMON: And the Manhattan district attorney's office signaling that the former president could soon face criminal charges over hush money payments.



LEMON: Starbucks must reinstate employees at Buffalo area stores after a judge ruled the company displayed, quote, egregious and widespread misconduct for firing employees who were simply trying to unionize.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich spoke with some of the workers who were impacted.




ANGEL KREMPA, FIRED FROM STARBUCKS: Every time I come to this store, and it's only been about four times since I've been fired, it's been very emotional.

YURKEVICH (voice over): On April 1st last year, Angel Krempa was fired from her barista job at this Starbucks in Buffalo, New York. Starbucks says she was fired for violating the company's policies. Krempa says it was retaliation.

YURKEVICH (on camera): Why do you think you were fired?

KREMPA: I think that they illegally fired me because I was leading the union effort at this store.

YURKEVICH (voice over): Last week a judge agreed, in a 218-page ruling, a national labor relations board judge said Starbucks displayed, quote, egregious and widespread misconduct to employees unionizing at 21 locations in the Buffalo area. Several workers, including Krempa, must be reinstated according to the judge's order.

YURKEVICH (on camera): Do you want to go back and work here again?

KREMPA: I would love to come back and work here again. It's the best job that I ever had.

YURKEVICH (voice over): Starbucks said the order is inappropriate and are considering all options to obtain further legal review. Since the success of the first union in Buffalo in 2021, there are now 280 unionized stores across the U.S. To date, Starbucks Workers United says it's filed 600 charges against the coffee giant for alleged federal labor violations and illegal firings. And Starbucks has filed nearly 100 unfair labor practice charges against the union for failing to bargain in good faith.

Howard Schultz, who is leading the company until he steps down in April, spoke to Poppy Harlow last month.

HOWARD SCHULTZ, INTERIM CEO, STARBUCKS: If a deminimis group of people, which now is about 300 stores, file for a petition to be unionized, they have a right to do so. But we, as a company, have a right also to say, we have a different vision that is better, more dynamic, and we have a history to prove it.

YURKEVICH: But Starbucks barista Michelle Eisen and shift supervisor Gianna Reeve disagreed. They were some of the first employees to organize, calling for a seat at the table, to have a say in health and safety policies, seniority pay, and staffing levels.

GIANNA REEVE, SHIFT SUPERVISOR, STARBUCKS: I do think it was the only way to make our voice heard.

YURKEVICH: Both women say they were retaliated against for union organizing.

REEVE: I remember days of just nonstop surveillance on the floor. Retaliation where I would no longer be given shift supervisor positions in my location.

YURKEVICH (on camera): Why stay?

MICHELLE EISEN, STARBUCKS BARISTA: And I was presented with this option of working from the inside with my coworkers to make this company a better place, to be a part of building the policies and the safety procedures that would protect me.

YURKEVICH (voice over): And now Starbucks must compensate Reeve and Eisen for lost wages according to the judge's order.

KREMPA: It's a very turbulent thing in your mind.

YURKEVICH: For Krempa, she was out of a job for six months after she was fired by the company. She says she almost lost her home and went into debt. A return to Starbucks, the highest paying job she's had, would help her get back on her feet.

YURKEVICH (on camera): How will you feel if you get that opportunity to step back in there, put on your apron and start being a Starbucks employee again?

KREMPA: My aprons are still hanging in the same spot that they were left in on April 1st of last year, waiting for me to put them back on. And I'm ready to take it off that hook and put it back on and walk in and just smile at my co-workers and be like, I'm back. I'm here. Like, we did it.


YURKEVICH: And another win for the union. Howard Schultz has agreed to testify in front of the Senate about these very issues. He's expected to be grilled about everything you just heard right there. And what the workers want to hear from him is some accountability. They want him to admit that they were union busting and they want them ultimately to bargain and negotiate with these unions.

Another bit thing that they talked about was Howard Schultz's legacy. It's obviously Starbucks and the success of the company. But they believe that by coming to the table, working with the unions, that would only make his legacy greater. Of course, Howard Schultz, not a fan of unions.

This is all going to play out in the next couple months. There's a new CEO stepping in, so that could change the game. But Howard Schultz, one of his last acts will be testifying before the Senate before he leaves his job as CEO about the very issue that's been really important to these workers for a year and a half now.


LEMON: And we'll be watching, you'll be covering it. You know, Poppy's very interesting in this.


LEMON: She's interviewed him particularly on this (INAUDIBLE).

YURKEVICH: Yes. Exactly.

COLLINS: And if.