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Trump Rails Against Investigations At Waco Campaign Rally; At Least 26 Killed After Tornadoes Hit Mississippi And Alabama; Air Travel Demand Skyrockets Amid Industry Struggles. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired March 27, 2023 - 07:30   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: If they indict and fail to convict Trump here in New York, you think historians will look back and say it helped Trump get reelected?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS, AUTHOR, "THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED": Right. Obviously, right now, everybody's focusing on the potential for the indictment, and I fully understand why that is. But I think the more important question is what would be the outcome of a trial if and when we ever get to a trial?

If Trump is acquitted all of those who have said this prosecution in New York over Stormy Daniels is political, it's selection prosecution -- it's really highly partisan in nature would be vindicated. And I think that would have enormous political consequences -- sadly, all of them favorable for Trump.

That's why I think there are conspiracy theories on the right. People believe -- or they worry that the Trumps want Trump -- the Democrats want Trump to be the Republican nominee next year because they think he can -- they can beat him. So having his base stirred up by an unfair prosecution from that perspective is not bad for the Democrats.

But I think if Trump were actually convicted in this case, then I think it would be something significantly different. That whether it was selective prosecution or not, a jury had found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

So there's a lot to go here. I don't -- I don't know of anybody who looks at the plethora of criminal investigations of Trump, who doesn't think this one in New York should come last in a long list before it. But it's not under central control. You've got three different prosecutors in three different jurisdictions looking at four different cases, obviously uncoordinated.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, even Adam Schiff was critical, saying he thought the Justice Department moved too slow on the January 6 investigation with the timing here.

But on the attacks that we've seen against the district attorney here in Manhattan, Alvin Bragg, a lot of them led from the comments Trump has made on Truth Social. Do you think he should denounce the rhetoric around Alvin Bragg and what's happened to him and instead, say he should be able to do his job?

BOLTON: Well, I think Republicans ought to stand up, number one, for the principle of federalism even though Alvin Bragg is not the person I would select as the poster child for that. I just think it's a mistake for federal legislators, federal authorities to be questioning what's going on in a municipality, in effect, prosecution. The defense itself will be able to challenge the indictment if it comes down on many different reasons. This is -- this is a state prosecutor investing -- investigating conduct that essentially took place in New York before Trump became president. And it may be unfair and it may be a lot of things but I think it's -- if we begin to band almost to the breaking point, principles of federalism that Republican conservatives believe in when they go after Alvin Bragg.

COLLINS: Yes. Those Republican chairmen not only not backing off of it, they're doubling down on saying that he needs to come and testify.

John Bolton, thank you for joining us this morning.

BOLTON: Glad to be with you.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: The quote is "My city is gone." That's from the mayor of Rolling Fork, Mississippi after a deadly EF4 tornado completely flattened entire streets and homes. We're going to talk to the vice mayor who lost her own home. That's next.



LEMON: Man, it's devastating down south. More storms hitting Mississippi overnight as the state faces the devastating aftermath of a deadly tornado that hit on Friday killing at least 25 people.

The EF4 flattened much of the small town of Rolling Fork with homes forced -- just reduced to piles of wood, and vehicles tossed and destroyed there. The mayor said this city is -- his city is gone.

So joining us now, Rolling Fork Vice Mayor LaDonna Sias, and her own home was destroyed in the tornado. Mayor, I'm so sorry.


LEMON: How are you holding up?

SIAS: We're holding up as best we can based on the circumstances that we're in.

LEMON: Yes. How do you even begin to recover right now from devastation like this? I'm looking behind you and this is just a small portion of what happened. SIAS: Right. It's really hard. It's really hard. You're trying to keep it together for yourself and for others but when you think about what has happened -- when you have an opportunity to drive through, walk through. You're looking at neighborhoods where homes have been totally demolished. It's heart-wrenching. It's overwhelming at times.

You have your moments where you break down, but then you have to get yourself together and get your bootstraps back up, and get your feet planted solid, and you've got to keep moving on.

But the hardest part is having to witness someone that has lost a loved one and then having to talk to people that were residents here but have been displaced due to this disaster. It's hard. It's overwhelming and it's heart-wrenching.

LEMON: Did you know any of the people who died?

SIAS: Yes, I did. I'm actually waiting on a list. I have asked my counterparts -- other alderman -- and he is actually willing to meet. We are meeting this morning -- sometime this morning, he and I, to -- I've asked for a confirmed list. That's what we need -- a confirmed list of people that were killed during this tornado. So I will be meeting with Alderman Stewart (PH) this morning and so we'll be trying to get a confirmed list of those people that were killed in the tornado.

And yes, I did know quite a few of them. We all did.

LEMON: Yes. It's a close-knit community, I'm sure.


Where were you when this happened?

SIAS: Yes. Actually, I was at home. My husband -- he was home and he was constantly telling me you need to get up. Let's get dressed. And by the time I got up and was trying to get dressed he pushed me in the closet -- in his closet and he was able to close the door. And the minute he closed the door the force jammed the door and he was just constantly trying to hold the door so it wouldn't come open. And you could literally hear the house ripping apart.

So we were -- we just hid in the closet until the sound stopped. And like I said earlier, it appeared to be forever to me. I'm sure it was a small timeframe but it sounded like it was forever. And you could -- it sounded like a tornado -- a -- no, a train. It sounded like a train was coming through. And at that point he said it's hitting.

And we could the pavilion coming apart. We could hear the house coming apart. And when we were able to get out of the closet after the -- you know, from unjamming the door, and we walked down the hall. And when I was able to see how Highway 61 and all of the lights, I knew then at that point that the house was gone. So the only thing -- the closet that we were in.

And then we were trapped in the garage because the garage door was jammed and we couldn't get out. And it was -- it was terrifying. It was terrifying.

LEMON: When you look around right now at your community -- I know you're standing there --

SIAS: And --

LEMON: -- but when you look around what do you see?

SIAS: Homes that were homes, structures that are totally demolished -- totally demolished. Everyone on this street -- on this end of the street that we're on has been displaced. I mean, there's nothing here. There's nothing here but a lot of wood, bricks, and rubbish. There's nothing here.

Homes have been totally flattened. A lot of limbs down, large debris. Trees pulled up from the ground on top of rooftops, and windows broken out. Vehicles totally shattered, turned upside down. It's horrible.


SIAS: And where I'm actually standing, this couple that lived here, I knew them very well. The next family -- you know, people lost lives on this street. And how can you -- how can you rebuild or come back from that -- you know, from a family? All of the materialistic things can be replaced but to lose a life, that's unreplaceable. You can't replace that. And it's total -- it's devastating. It's devastating.

LEMON: Vice Mayor, we're thinking about you and we hope you get the resources that you need. And you guys please take care of yourselves, OK? Be well. And we appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much.

SIAS: Thanks. OK, thank you -- you're welcome. Thank you.

LEMON: Well, no more to say. We'll be right back. We'll be right back.



COLLINS: You see images there of airports across the U.S. as millions of Americans are taking their spring breaks. This year's travel rush is expected to go over pre-pandemic levels and top it. The surge in demand has raised concerns though because as this is going on the industry has continued to struggle with staffing shortages and a number of aviation incidents that we've been tracking recently.

CNN's Pete Muntean is live at Reagan Airport outside of Washington, D.C. Pete, I think the big question that a lot of people who are preparing to go on these trips are wanting to know how the industry itself has been preparing for this.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kaitlin, the TSA says we're in the middle of the spring break travel peak right now. The FAA anticipates handling 46,000 flights today and even more tomorrow. But travel groups say the numbers could be bigger and there is already concern beyond just this rush.


MUNTEAN (voice-over): Spring break travel is soaring back to normal and renewing worry that your flight could be canceled. Meltdowns plagued the FAA in January, Southwest Airlines over the holidays, and industry-wide last summer.

GEOFF FREEMAN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, U.S. TRAVEL ASSOCIATION: The air travel system is under great stress.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): The Federal Aviation Administration is already warning of a shortage of air traffic controllers that could cause increased delays at New York's three major airports this summer. There, a key air traffic control facility is at only 54 percent staffing.

FREEMAN: We're seeing the delays. We're seeing the cancellations. And that is leading some travelers to say you know what, I would travel more if we could fix that air travel experience.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): The latest figures from travel site Hopper show many travelers are concerned about flight disruptions. Twenty percent of Hopper's spring break travelers are buying extra trip protection. That's on top of rising airfare, up four percent, Hopper says, compared to 2019.

KEN DANIELS, TRAVELER: They were quite pricey this time of year I guess due to spring break and due to what's going on in the economy.

BYRON WITHERSPOON, RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA RESIDENT: They go up one day, they go down the next day. Just be diligent and be on point, and when you see that good price you want hit the button.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Even still, industry figures say 158 million Americans will fly for spring break. That's an average of 2.6 million travelers each day.

HAYLEY BERG, LEAD ECONOMIST, HOPPER: We're expecting this spring break to likely break records for a number of travelers who are getting out there and how much they're spending given the huge demand coming out of the pandemic.


MUNTEAN (voice-over): The top destinations -- Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Miami -- where the airport says demand is 20 percent higher than 2019. It's so high that officials are asking you to show up three hours before a domestic flight instead of the typical two hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are very few off-peak times right now for us. We have been the best alternative to leaving the country since COVID.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MUNTEAN: The top trips from travel experts, book your tickets now if you have not already. If you pick a day like Tuesday or Wednesday you could save as much as $150 on airfare, according to Hopper. And also, book the first flight out. That is how you minimize the chances of delays and cancellations, Kaitlin.

COLLINS: Yes, that is always my policy. You've got to book the first flight because then at least if it gets delayed you can get on the second one. If you're taking that later one you're always going to get delayed it feels like.

All right, Pete Muntean. Thank you so much.

OK. Silicon Valley Bank is the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history. It has just been bought. This is a really big development that we're tracking. We'll give you the details of what that means for those customers.

LEMON: All right, take a look at this photo, right? This is a photo of Pope Francis in a puffer jacket and it's going viral. Too bad that it is 100 percent fake. What does that mean that it fools so many people? We're going to discuss.



COLLINS: All right, did you see this photo over the weekend of Pope Francis rocking a white puffer coat? It went viral but unfortunately, it's not real. It was actually created using Midjourney, which is an artificial intelligence tool that can generate shockingly realistic images like this one.

Joining us now is Sinead Bovell. She is a futurist tech entrepreneur and founder of a startup called WAYE or Weekly Advice for Young Entrepreneurs. She's here to weigh in on just how viral this photo went. And Sinead, thank you for being here.

I saw this picture on Twitter over the weekend and I saw people were responding to it. It's not real but it looked pretty realistic. And I think the thing it raises concern about is how soon before we're just drowning in these deep-fake images that aren't real.

SINEAD BOVELL, FUTURIST TECH ENTREPRENEUR, FOUNDER, WAYE (via Webex by Cisco): Right, yes. I think that it went so viral not just because it was -- it was funny to some people but because most people couldn't tell that it was fake. Though we've known for years that AI-generated imagery -- it presents quite a looming threat on democracy and on societies in a world where we can't distinguish what's real and what's fake.

And what this weekend's viral images show of the Pope is that world is here. That world in which images -- video may no longer be synonymous with the truth. And there's many social implications for this but mostly how accessible this technology has become to anybody with a smartphone. It's -- we're moment away from just being swimming in a sea of information that we can't really distinguish what's real and what's not.


LEMON: Yes, that is frightening.

COLLINS: Well -- and remember those images of Trump that went viral of him getting arrested.


COLLINS: They weren't, obviously, real but some people thought they were real.


So how -- well then, how -- even -- what is it, Chrissy Teigen who thought it was real? A lot of people were fooled by it.

So is there a -- what do we do then? How do we safeguard against this? And how do we know what's real and what's not, Sinead?

BOVELL: Right. So I will say that there isn't, unfortunately, a single solution. There isn't a switch that's going to make all of this go away. And it is going to be a cat-mouse scheme with trying to keep up with the technology to be able to flag things as fake.

But there is a multi-stakeholder approach we can take to try to minimize these harms, and this requires tech companies, policymakers, social education. Journalists have a role to play in this. So I think on the technical front tech companies that are building these systems also need to equip journalists and newsrooms with the tools to be able to detect AI-generated imagery and content. And maybe we see a new role evolve -- AI fact-checkers in newsrooms.

On the policy side of things, maybe we require AI-generating image systems to have a watermark on them. Nothing that ruins the quality of the image but something that could be detected by systems so to speak.

And maybe on social media posts we always flag when something is AI- generated. But we also need a societal conversation as to what do we want the boundaries of this technology to be going forward.


BOVELL: And, of course, educating society more broadly on this. Education in classrooms on this.

COLLINS: Yes. That last part of so crucial for people themselves to be a little -- to spot it -- not just the companies.

I mean, I don't think anyone on planet Earth would confuse Don or I with astronauts but our producers did have some fun with this and put into this -- to this generator Don Lemon as an astronaut and Kaitlin Collins as an astronaut. You can see our pictures here. We don't think they look very realistic but that's the danger of when you can obviously tell it's fake and when you can't really tell. BOVELL: And you know what? I think the biggest risk with deep-fakes and AI-generated content -- it's not even that we'll start believing what's not true -- what's fake -- but that we stop believing what is true. And we become so disorientated with all of this information that we lack a shared set of facts, a shared set of truths, and that's the fabric of how a democracy functions. It is just built on a shared story.


LEMON: Hmm, "I Am a Model" -- that's a piece titled -- that you wrote in Vogue -- "I Am a Model and I know that Artificial Intelligence Will Eventually Take My Job." Yikes.

COLLINS: That's really something.

Sinead, that -- your insight is really interesting on this, so thank you. Thanks for joining us this morning on such an important topic.

BOVELL: Thanks for having me.

COLLINS: All right. I mean, the astronaut photos were pretty good.

LEMON: I mean, can we put the astronaut photos up just for a second? I think it looks nothing like either of us but, I mean, come on. Shawn (PH), we can't do it? Yes, they maybe after I've been like sunning for a couple of days and hanging out. Who knows?

Kaitlin without hair and makeup. No?

COLLINS: I don't -- I mean, I think it kind of looks like me. Not exactly but I can see the resemblance. The scary part is that --

LEMON: Who is that person?