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CNN This Morning

CNN First Major Network In Port-Au-Prince Since Gang Uprising; Former VP Pence Says He "Cannot In Good Conscience" Endorse Trump; Gov. DeSantis Deploys Additional State Assets To Southern Florida; Possibility Of TikTok Ban Worries Content Creators Who Make Living From The App. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired March 16, 2024 - 08:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Looking at it in a way like, wow, this is amazing. This is fun to watch these women have a lot of talent. And to me that's one of the coolest things.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Being one of the faces of women's basketball is something that is really important to me and just being able to help grow the game as much as I can. I mean, there has been many great women before me, and understanding that and they've broken the glass and just trying to be able to put my head through the class and being able to step forward and stand on what they've done and help grow the game as much as I can and give them their flowers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just having you know, those girls step up. Playing their game, you know, hitting big shots, doing things that normal players don't do is super important.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now getting to a point where we're playing in you know, huge marquee matchups that are televised and have a lot of media attention. It's really cool not only for us, but just for women's basketball as a whole.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here's the key. We now have to build upon that. We have to make sure we have the right games being televised. Of course, almost every game is televised now but we have to make sure that we don't become complacent. You know the works not done. You have to keep doing it.


ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes. And I tell you what, guys, I'm so excited not only for you know the men spotter for filling out the bracket everything, but the women's tournament is going to be incredible too with Caitlin Clark, LSU. Can they make another run? Love this time of year.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Love your excitement? That's awesome.

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Madness. March Madness. Cannot wait here.

SCHOLES: We are here.

FREEMAN: Thank you so much, Andy. Appreciate it.

All right. The next hour of CNN this morning starts right now.

WALKER: Hello, hello. Welcome, everyone. Good morning. Welcome to CNN this morning. And our new set of course here in Studio H, this Saturday, March 16. I'm Amara Walker.

FREEMAN: And I'm Danny Freeman in for Victor Blackwell, who's taking some time off. So first of all, we will be back next week. Here's what we're watching for you.

CNN is the first major news network to make it inside the Haitian capital after gang violence has basically shut down the city, the situation on the streets of Haiti, and the efforts to get people out.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It should come as no surprise that I will not be endorsing Donald Trump this year.


WALKER: You heard it right. Former Vice President Mike Pence says he is off the train, The Trump Train. The reason Penn says he can't in good conscience support Trump this year.

FREEMAN: And people in parts of Ohio and Indiana are spending this weekend sorting through what's left of their belongings after tornadoes swept through the region. We're live in the storm zone as the cleanup gets underway.

WALKER: And a special prosecutor in the Georgia election subversion case has resigned after a judge ruled that either he or DA Fani Willis must go. The lasting impact of the ruling and where the case goes from here.

FREEMAN: President Biden says he will sign a bill to ban TikTok if it comes to his desk, and that is some content creators on edge. We're joined by one Creator who says his livelihood could be at stake if a band goes through.

The situation in Haiti continues to deteriorate as gang violence takes over the island nation and residents are left with nowhere to go. The United Nations says 80 percent of Port-Au-Prince the nation's capital is currently controlled by gangs and millions of people are now suffering from acute hunger.

WALKER: Yes. Haiti was thrown into chaos at the start of this month when gangs took over are calling for the resignation of the country's Prime Minister and his government. Since then, Prime Minister Ariel Henry stated he will resign but it is not clear who would replace him or when an interim government will take over. Now CNN is the first major news network in Port-Au-Prince since the

recent gang uprising began. CNN reporter David Culver details his difficult journey into the Capitol.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're going to fly into Haiti. It's going to take us one hour to get there. The logistics of this trip alone have been incredibly challenging to say

the least. They're confirming with us something that we've been working on the entire day and that is the landing zone and trying to figure out where we'll touch down. It's a very dire situation in Puerto Prince.

Gunshots. Do you hear that? It is already hearing gunshots just a few seconds into stepping out of the car. After arriving here in Port au Prince.

Our pilots tell us that they had been shot at previous trips. And yet they still intend to continue to make these missions as often as they can. Not just to bring people in who like us want to cover this and bring this story to the world. But more importantly, to bring those who are desperate to get out.

It's been a lot of diplomats in particular that have left but others are on the list. In fact, some of the pilots that we've spoken with say they have lists that are hundreds of people desperate to get out. Of course, that is really a luxury. Many of the Haitians don't have that opportunity nor can they even consider it. So for them, it's about having to deal with what is a worsening situation with each passing day and hoping that the UN or other foreign forces that might be able to bring aid can do that as strategically and quickly as possible. David Culver, CNN, Port au Prince, Haiti.



WALKER: All right. David Culver, Thank you. Former Vice President Mike Pence says he quote, "Cannot in good conscience endorse his former boss Donald Trump and the 2024 general election". In an interview on Friday, Pence did not hold back saying it should come as no surprise that he won't be endorsing Trump as their views on various issues have quote, "profound differences".

FREEMAN: Now the former vice president entered his own presidential bid back in October and withheld endorsing any candidates in the Republican primary, but he previously agreed to back the eventual GOP nominee. CNNs Kristen Holmes is in Washington with more.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Amara and Danny, Former Vice President Mike Pence, unequivocally not endorsing his former boss, Former President Donald Trump. Now there have been some questions as to what exactly the former Vice President was going to do. Remember, for four years he was his loyal soldier, a loyal soldier to Donald Trump. But the two fractured over January 6, Donald Trump and his allies had launched a pressure campaign against the former vice president in order to get him to overturn the 2020 election revolt results, which he refused to do.

Now he did at bait earlier this year, raise his hand and say that he would support the former president even if he was convicted of a crime. But clearly, that has changed. Take a listen to what he said.


PENCE: It should come as no surprise that I will not be endorsing Donald Trump this year. Donald Trump is pursuing and articulating an agenda. That is at odds with the conservative agenda that we governed on during our four years. And that's why I cannot in good conscience endorse Donald Trump in this campaign.


HOLMES: And I will note that when former Vice President Mike Pence dropped out of the 2024 presidential race, Donald Trump called on him to endorse him. But that race between the two men did get increasingly more and more ugly. Pence's saying that Donald Trump was wrong about January 6, was wrong about the 2020 election, was wrong about what Pence's capabilities were in overturning that election. The former president responding that pencil was weak and he didn't have the courage to do what he needed to do on January 6.

So while it is unsurprising that former Vice President Mike Pence did -- did not back the former president, it also goes to show you kind of a stark difference here as we know that the get the former vice president was the right-hand man to Donald Trump for four years, really one of his most loyal soldiers. Amara and Danny.

WALKER: All right. Kristen Holmes, thank you very much. Joining us now is CNN Political Analyst Seung Min Kim. Good morning to you, Seung Min. Always good to see you.

Just curious what the reaction has been just, you know, amongst lawmakers and people in the Republican Party. I mean, you heard there Kristen Holmes saying, Look, you know, it's unsurprising because as we know, when Mike Pence was running for the Republican nomination, he was critical of Donald Trump. But also in some ways, it is a bit surprising, knowing just how unwavering his support for Trump was up until January 6, and of course, this trend as well, where we've seen the rivals of Trump all lining up against -- behind him.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I mean, I like to think of it as surprise, not surprising, but actually stunning if you kind of step back and think about the fact that this is a former vice president refusing to endorse his former boss. This is a longtime figure in the Republican Party that is refusing to endorse the Republican standard there for the nomination, especially at a time when it seems like almost everyone else in the Republican Party was coalescing behind Donald Trump, including someone like Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader who hasn't even talked entitled Trump since January 6, 2021. But I do think that, you know, like, Mike Pence isn't necessarily someone in the Republican party who's going to pull a lot of votes right now. I mean, he did you could said, as you as you would, Kristen pointed out, he did drop out long before the votes started. People voters started to actually vote in the Republican primary contest, but he does give a voice to the stubborn percentage of Republican voters. That is a huge problem for Donald Trump right now.

These are the Republican voters who do not who will not who do not want to support Trump under any circumstances. We've seen from post elections, data in the early nominating contests that there is this, you know, persistent percentage of voters who do not want to support Trump at all Republican voters. And I think Mike Pence going out there really gives voice to that part of the party that Donald Trump really hasn't figured out how to coalesce a unify come November.

WALKER: Yes. He really does underscore that problem right for Trump of unifying the republican party and you mentioned the notable number of voters, especially in these conservative states that we saw on the primaries and caucuses in Iowa and in South Carolina where there was a handful of votes that went to Nikki Haley. Where do those votes go then?


KIM: It's a really good question. I mean, you have in our Associated Press data. I believe you had one out of five voters in Iowa who voted in the Republican contest, saying they would not support Donald Trump. You had what are the three New Hampshire voters now remember, that was an open contest so there are a little different dynamics there. But one out of four South Carolina voters, as well, and Donald Trump really hasn't made overtures yet, to those types of voters saying you are welcome in my coalition, you are welcome in the Republican Party.

Just a few weeks ago, he said we don't want sort of the quote unquote, "Romneys of the world" when it comes to the Republican Party. And that's going to be a big question where are those voters actually go? You know, are they really -- would they vote for a third-party candidate? Would they leave the presidential ballot blank? Would they vote for Joe Biden? Joe Biden's campaign is really trying to court those moderate Republicans, sort of the anti-Trump Republican voters. Where do they go? That's a really great question.

And I think we'll -- and it's a question obviously will not be answered until Election Day. But certainly, the Democrats are really trying to make a play for them with Joe Biden's campaign.

WALKER: Seung Min Kim, we'll have to leave it there. Thank you so much.

FREEMAN: Communities across Ohio are recovering from this week's devastating storms and tornadoes that resulted in at least three fatalities. Survey teams from the National Weather Service continued to sift through debris yesterday with the possibility of uncovering evidence of additional tornadoes or even stronger ones.

CNN's Ivan Rodriguez is in Logan County, Ohio with the latest. Ivan just please tell our viewers what are you seeing there now as the finally the sun comes up behind you.

IVAN RODRIGUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Danny we really seeing the destruction from that powerful EF three tornado. Behind me you can see just piled up debris. This used to be a city administrative building. And now that that sun is up, we do want to show you a little bit more around here. These boats were in this general area here next to this warehouse. But you can see that they've been completely toppled over this big boat here is now upside down as we carefully make our way here you see pieces of roofing. Here to my right, more piles of wood. And then in this area it really opens up and I want to show you a bird's eye view to know exactly where we're standing.

You can see this is that general area that city administrative building is in that bottom left corner of your screen and then it opens up to that open land where you see a neighborhood that's been leveled, a laundromat here is also have been -- three people here in the -- of the village of Lakeview. A lot of people have been shocked by how deadly and destructive this storm has been.

We actually spoke with one woman who's been living in the area since the 60s. She says she's never seen --


NANCY BRENTILINGER, LAKEVIEW RESIDENT: It just sounded like a freight train was coming through outside and it -- there was so much noise and it just sound like everything was just coming apart.


FREEMAN: Again, just incredible devastation. Ivan Rodriguez, thank you for that report from on the ground.

And of course, right now 14 million people are facing severe weather threat for also powerful storms.

WALKER: Our weather out there, right? Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is here with more on what to expect.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST; Right. So it is the same system that brought us a lot of that severe weather on Thursday and Friday. It is the threat is diminished compared to what we were but it's also not zero. And so there is still the potential to have some damaging winds and yes even a possible tornado or to across just a different area than what we saw.

But when you look at some of the damage that some of the other storms caused, here's from Winchester, Indiana from the storms that hit there on Thursday. Again, you could see the debris, cars being lofted, roofs being ripped off of homes, structures, buildings, things like that. This is video of a different one. This is from Ohio. Again you can see that debris being lofted into the air off to the side there from this particular tornado in total over 20 Tornado reports from the last 48 hours nearly 200 damaging wind reports and over 250 Hail reports.

Some of them as big as grapefruit. So again, you were talking significantly large hail. The main threat today is going to be riding along in this cold front here. So you can see the main potential today is Texas and into Louisiana. But even tomorrow morning we will gradually start to see that shift off towards the east and New Orleans by midday tomorrow, Atlanta, areas like Birmingham, Montgomery, Alabama looking at later into the afternoon.

The focus again for today however is really going to be Texas and Louisiana for the strong to severe thunderstorms. The main threats will be large hail. Possibly larger than golf ball size. Also damaging winds but yes, we cannot rule out the potential that there could be some more tornadoes today. The biggest concern is going to be places like Houston, Austin, San Antonio down through Corpus Christi.


There's also the potential for that very large hail as we talked about, again, you're talking about golf balls, maybe even slightly larger than that up to baseball size, especially in that hatched area. These are going to be rather slow-moving storms. That means there's a lot of time for that rain to drop, which means there's also the potential for some flooding here for some of these areas. Most areas widespread two to three inches, but there could be some spots that could pick up in excess of four.

FREEMAN: Oh man. Allison, thank you so much for that. Hoping that the tornado stay away -- stays away from those areas. Appreciate it.

WALKER: Thanks, Allison.

FREEMAN: A departure and a delay into a former President Trump's criminal trials straight ahead in-depth analysis of Fulton County, Georgia lead prosecutor Nathan Wade's resignation after a judge's scathing ruling. Plus the new trial date in the New York hush money trial.

WALKER: Also the clock ticks closer to a possible TikTok ban in the U.S. a little later. We're going to talk with one influencer with more than 4 million followers who says, this could put his financial livelihood on the line.



WALKER: Donald Trump's attorney says he already plans to appeal a judge's decision that allows Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to continue overseeing Trump's election interference case in Georgia. Now Judge Scott McAfee issued his ruling Friday saying either Willis or her former romantic partner and special prosecutor that she hired Nathan Wade could stay on the case. Wade resigned within hours.

FREEMAN: Yes. And Judge McAfee did not mince words in his 23-page opinion calling Willis' actions, a tremendous lapse in judgment and left open the possibility of a future gag order. But he said, "Ultimately, there were still unanswered questions about the timing of Willis and Wade's relationship and no conclusive proof of the allegations against them."

All right. Joining us now is CNN legal analyst Michael Moore. You have been watching all of this for so long. I just want to get your top- line take on the judge's opinion here. Was this the right decision you think?

MICHAEL MOORE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Well, I'm glad I'm glad to be with you here in a place. I think his opinion is well-reasoned. I think he went through a good analysis. I think it was right. He called it right down the middle of the road. It was sort of Solomonic in the sense that he split the baby, if you will. But clearly, he said there's a problem. And that's what people have been saying for a long time.

The real issue for me is that this problem could have been cleaned up months ago, had the DA just taken action, then. I mean, there was no reason at that point, once this surfaced, to keep Mr. Wade in the case that could have cleaned it up. And we wouldn't have kind of had to watch this sideshow as opposed to concentrate on the underlying prosecution of the case.

WALKER: I know, You've been saying that this -- you expect this case to be tried after the election. But my question is about, you know, moving forward, and Fani Willis, her ability to effectively prosecute such a case, especially when, in the eyes of the public, you know, some may have lost faith in the process altogether. And, you know, the reputation of our office potentially tarnished. I mean, doesn't that impact the jury pool and also the way the case will be tried.

MOORE: I think those people who are going to be her supporters will support her and see this as like a win for her. Those people who are detractors will look at it and say, you know, what, we've been telling you all along that she's got a problem, the real issue is her credibility with the court. And the court was pretty clear, the judge is pretty clear. Like, I feel like this kind of has the stench of untruthfulness going on. And that's not how you want to begin your case, if you're a prosecutor, or a lawyer, for that matter in front of any judge.

I mean, I tell young lawyers, when I speak to them, you know, if you don't tell the truth to the courtroom, go spend the rest of your career trying to make up your reputation. And so that's always an issue, you know, But here, when it comes to the jury pool as long as she will quit making sort of extra-judicial statements like we saw with the church, I think that will help and maybe we won't get into this gag order issue. But if that kind of thing continues that it keeps this fire burning. And so I think what she ought to do is probably put her head down, pay attention to the case, think only about the case, stop making extrajudicial comments, and get ready to try the case. No matter what she does, I don't think we get to the case until after the election.

FREEMAN: Well, and to that point, Trump's attorneys and zealous attorneys, they've said that they're going to try to appeal this. Is there any chance that this gets derailed again, on this issue? MOORE: I think there's a chance that could have an appeal. We have an interlocutory or intermediate appeal, and they would have to get permission from the judge that gift certificate, then they would take it to the appellate court. If that happens, it delays.

So I think they will likely do that. If for no other reason, the strategy has been to delay a lot of these cases as we go forward. At the same time, the state may be thinking about appealing to. You remember, just earlier this week, it seems like a month ago, but just earlier this week, the judge dismissed six counts of the indictment. And he said in a footnote, if you -- if the state wants to appeal my decision, I would likely entertain that and so I'd like to do that I'm taking up. All those things add into a delay so the states can decide, are we satisfied with the case going forward and we want to not have an appeal and just get the case moving in the defense is probably looking at like we're going to take every opportunity, file every motion to try to drag this out past November or at least so close to the election that the judge would say he's just not practical to try it right now.

WALKER: On the state level as well though, there is an effort by Republicans in Georgia to continually try to disqualify Fani Willis. Can you tell me more about those efforts? Because they're trying to empower a prosecutorial oversight commission. What would that mean?


MOORE: Well I mean what they call it is basically they're looking to try to get rogue prosecutors or they're trying to get rogue prosecutors or they're trying to get prosecutors that aren't moving forward with cases that the legislature in their wisdom thinks the prosecutor should be moving forward with. They tried this last year, the Supreme Court basically said, there's no enforcement way to do this. So they've come in this year and re-energize the bill, the governor just signed it a week or so ago. And so I think this is one way that they're trying to keep their hand on the scale, if you will, going forward.

For Fani Willis, in this case, and when you think about the judge's order, he even says in the order that I'm confined by the law. I'm constrained by the law. But there may be other bodies that look at this, like the state bar, the state Ethics Commission, the Georgia legislature is in there. And so it's sort of a toss of the coin to them, like, Look, if you want to take a look at it, do it. And that's I think, where you'll see now we're going to have continued hearings, we're likely to have the, you know, special committee set up and investigative panels, like we saw a week or so ago. Not good for her, and may be an overstep by the legislature.

FREEMAN: Michael, we just have a little bit of time left. And I'm curious your perspective on this. When it comes to funny witness's reputation now, will anything short of a guilty verdict repair it?

MOORE: You know, I think you always give a prosecutor credit for willing to take tough cases. And so that doesn't always depend on a conviction. So to that extent, I mean, I think she deserves some credit for being willing to move forward and ask for these speed bumps we've seen over the last few months, I think she can repair that.

But I think you do that by again, by sort of putting your head down. You know, we're this is a different -- this is where this is a major league case. And so we want to play it like we're (inaudible).

WALKER: A (inaudible) case of her career. Just quickly, you mentioned the State Bar, what action could they take?

MOORE: Well, if there's some referral, they can -- they have an investigative panel that would look and decide whether or not false statements had been made. Because it's been perjured testimony offered. Has there been some ethical breach of the bar rules. And remember, our bar rules have a very specific prohibition against prosecutors making extrajudicial statements. So that may be exactly where they're headed.

FREEMAN: Michael Moore, thank you so much. As always, appreciate it.

MOORE: Great to be with you.

WALKER: Good to see you. Thanks for coming in.

FREEMAN: All right, coming up. The online lifeline Florida is extending to any Americans who may be trapped in the escalating gang violence in Haiti.



WALKER: All right. A look at our headlines this morning, one person is dead, five others injured after a shooting in Indianapolis. It happened inside a nightclub in a neighborhood known for its nightlife that police say they heard shots being fired inside a club in Broad Ripple just after 1:00 a.m. Police have not identified the victims but they do not -- and they say they do not have a suspect.

FREEMAN: And a fire destroyed the home of actress and model, Cara Delevingne, early Friday morning, injuring two people in the process. The actress who's currently starring in a production of "Cabaret" in London's West End is actually not home when the blaze broke out. She acknowledged the fire on her Instagram on Friday saying quote, life can change in the blink of an eye so cherish what you have. And the Los Angeles Fire Department said the cause of the fire at this time is still under investigation.

Changing gears now, Haitian police forces say there is a special operation underway in pursuit of a gang leader known as Jimmy Barbecue. Now he's the most prominent figure behind the violence that has devolved into a political and humanitarian crisis.

WALKER: As the unrest continues to grow in Haiti, concerns are growing in Florida on possible impacts of an influx of Haitian refugees. Governor Ron DeSantis ordered additional assets to the southern coast of the state in preparation. CNN's Rafael Romo is joining us now. Wow. Tell us more about what you're learning about the preps in Florida and the situation in Haiti.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Amara. Good morning, Danny. The situation in Haiti is having an impact on decisions being made in this country in a one of those states that may be potentially affected by this is of course, Florida. And Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday announced that he is reinforcing law enforcement and increasing the number of agents that are prepared to deal with a potential crisis like that to help federal officials deal with a potential wave of immigrants from Haiti.

And some of the things that he has done is he has increased the number of agents, law enforcement officers and others that can help in a situation like that. Let me tell you, for example, Amara and Danny, that according to the government -- Governor, since signing state of emergency in order, last year in January, he has increased the number of guards meant for the Florida National Guard by 48, 133 soldiers for the state guard and also 30 additional officers in addition to equipment, four helicopters. He was saying that he is also making available for those officers.

And he said that the Florida is ready, will be ready in case this happened. This is something that he had to say when he made the announcement on Friday. Let's take a listen.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): What's different today than maybe in the past, well, part of it is we have more resources that the state has been willing to put up. And this is not really our responsibility. This is the federal government's responsibility. Coast Guard does by and large a good job but they're undermanned. They're under resourced. So we're filling those gaps.


ROMO: In terms of immigration, Amara and Danny, the governor also said that he signed the three bills into law and they all have to do with the same topic. Let me mention to you HB 1589, which increases the maximum sentence for people driving illegally without a license. SB 1036 enhances penalties for a crime committed by an individual who returns to the country after deportation. And finally, HB 1451, Florida will not recognize identifications issued to undocumented immigrants.


And also, this is very important since last year when he signed that order, he said that there's been 670 vessels coming from Haiti into Florida, and officers have detained as many as 13,500 would be migrants in this country. So that tells you a lot about what they're facing.

WALKER: Staggering numbers. All right, Rafael Romo, good to have you. Thank you for your reporting.

Still ahead, sell or be banned? That's Capitol Hill's ultimatum for TikTok. We'll have more on the huge impact it could have on the apps content.



FREEMAN: The family of the late liberal justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is issuing their own descent after an award in her name was given to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and conservative media mogul, Rupert Murdoch. Now in a statement, Ginsburg's family said they are not affiliated with the award, but they said the Opperman Foundation, which gives out the award had, quote, strayed far from the original mission of the award and from what Justice Ginsburg stood for. And they went on to call the choices of honorees and a front to the justice's memory and say they are asking for her name to be pulled off the award. Now the Opperman Foundation has not responded to CNN's request for comment.

The Supreme Court is weighing in on how officials interact with the public online. On Friday, the justices ruled that public officials can block people on social media in certain circumstances. The court set a clear standard for when public officials are state actors online and when they can have more control over their social media presence. The Supreme Court ruled speech by government officials can be attributed to the state making them subject to First Amendment scrutiny only if the person involved has the authority to speak on the state's behalf. The standard set by the court applies to all government officials. Amara?

WALKER: All right, the Senate will take up a bill that could ban the popular social media app TikTok. The bill passed the House overwhelmingly this week with bipartisan support. National security officials say they are concerned about the threat the Chinese owned company could pose. The bill would ban the app unless TikTok is sold to a U.S. approved company. Now dozens of users and content creators turned out in Washington, Wednesday, you see them there, to protest this possible ban.

TikTok is not only popular among users, but it is also lucrative for individuals and small businesses that make millions of dollars making content for the app. And we should add, there are 170 million users in the U.S. That is, yes, half the population here in our country. Joining me now to talk about the personal impact of a potential ban is Leon Ondieki. He is a TikTok content creator with nearly, what, 5 million followers on TikTok. Thank you so much, Leon, for coming in the studio. What was your reaction when you heard that there are steps being taken by U.S. lawmakers bipartisan steps to ban TikTok?

LEON ONDIEKI, TIKTOK CONTENT CREATOR: I'm not going to lie. Whenever I first heard about this, I was a bit nervous. But this is like the third time we've talked about a TikTok ban. So I'm not as scared now as I was initially.

WALKER: OK, but what would it mean? So let's say this ban is signed, is passed through the Senate and then President Biden signs it as he has indicated he would. What would that mean for the money that you've been making because you've been making a lot of money through TikTok? ONDIEKI: That would be a huge loss because TikTok is my primary platform at 4.5 million followers on the platform. So that's going to make it a lot harder for creators like myself to make money. That's where most of the sponsors go. And that's where most of us are earning our income.

WALKER: Tell me about the content that you're posting on TikTok and how you're making money off of it and how much because you're making a lot of money?

ONDIEKI: Yes. So I create man on the street interviews. So I go to college campuses, and I talk to students. I do like trivia content like that, just interacting with people in my community. And I primarily make my money from sponsors, but platforms like TikTok and Snapchat and YouTube also pay.

WALKER: Oh, they do? OK.


WALKER: So tell me, can you tell me how much money you make a month?


ONDIEKI: These are my parents, by the way.


ONDIEKI: It's in the tens of thousands a month.

WALKER: Tens of thousands a month that you're making?


WALKER: OK. So you were going to the University of Georgia?

ONDIEKI: Yes. I'm a student there.

WALKER: You are. You're continually a student there?

ONDIEKI: No, I was a student there.

WALKER: You were. OK. Got it. And you were studying computer science?


WALKER: So how did you segue into this content creation world with TikTok?

ONDIEKI: So I started creating content my senior year in high school. Initially, I started as a joke, and then I had one video just go very viral. And I was like, OK, now I have this platform, I might as well take advantage of it. So I started creating interviews though, because I wanted to get better at talking to people and the videos kept gaining traction, and now I'm here.

WALKER: Can you just pivot from TikTok to let's say Instagram if TikTok is no longer able to be used in the U.S.

ONDIEKI: Yes. So when the first draft of a ban came to the United States --



ONDIEKI: I only had TikTok and I was super scared because if TikTok was gone, I'd lose everything.

WALKER: Right.

ONDIEKI: So immediately after that I started posting content on other platforms such as Instagram and YouTube. And now I do have 1.3 million followers on Instagram and 1.6 million subs on YouTube.

WALKER: OK. So you wouldn't -- it wouldn't be devastating for you if TikTok were to go away?

ONDIEKI: It would still be a big loss. But now TikTok isn't everything online, I do have other platforms, which I could fall back on.

WALKER: So you know why that there are these moves to ban TikTok, right? I mean, there are obviously major security concerns when it comes to China, China's engineers behind TikTok, the code that they're using to design the app, the algorithms to help, you know, the Chinese government understand potentially Americans habits, you know, your mindset, things of that nature. Does that concern you, the security, the potential security exposure that you may have to Chinese officials?

ONDIEKI: I guess I could understand where people are coming from being concerned since the app doesn't operate in the United States. But I feel like if we're going to talk about security threats in data, we have to hold all platforms accountable, because all platforms need to like, face the same regulation. Like if we're saying TikTok can do one thing. We should also hold Meta accountable, YouTube accountable.

WALKER: And if they are all held accountable, I mean, that can mean that a lot of other social media platforms can be banned, right?

ONDIEKI: Well, I'm not saying terms of a ban/


ONDIEKI: But I am saying that no one's talking about their platforms.

WALKER: Got you, got you, got you. Well, we wish you the best. And thank you so much for the conversation.

ONDIEKI: Thank you for having me. All right, Leon Ondieki, thank you.

Up next, let the madness begin. We'll look at who has the magic on the basketball court as we head toward Selection Sunday. Also two men mysteriously go missing in Florida with no ties except for one, the deputy who saw them last. Will these cases finally be solved? Laura Coates investigates on the whole story with Anderson Cooper tomorrow night at 8:00 on CNN.



WALKER: All right, before you make big weekend plans, keep in mind that there is a threat for severe weather across parts of the south.

FREEMAN: If you're not, we have meteorologist Allison Chinchar here. Allison, what are we watching?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, so let's take a look at the areas. The main concern for today is really going to be Texas and Louisiana. That's where we have the big threats. We're talking large hail, the potential for damaging winds and, yes, even a few isolated tornadoes, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, those are going to be the target points.

The timeline, a lot of that really begins to develop late this afternoon and into the evening but it will continue into tomorrow, say for New Orleans, it's really going to be midday tomorrow when you really see that active timeline. And then it continues to progress eastward places like Atlanta, Birmingham and eventually into Charlotte once we get to that back half of the day on Sunday.

FREEMAN: I got it. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much. appreciate it.

Switching gears, the Saint Peter's Peacocks once again, one of the greatest Cinderella's in the history of March Madness and now they're on the verge of making another run at the NCAA Tournament.

WALKER: You know for a moment there I thought I was going to toss to you about the weather. And then I was like wait, that's Andy. Allison is over there. All right, so you're here to talk about March Madness. Let's go.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes. And guys, you know, I love this time of year because that's when we get to talk about fun mascots like Peacocks, right? We don't get to do that usually throughout the year. But right now we do because Saint Peter's, you know, there was a talk at the tournament couple years ago when they made it to the Elite Eight. Could they be doing it once again this time around? They kept that hope alive with a huge win last night in the MAAC semifinals against Quinnipiac game, was tied, time winding down.

They missed. But Mouhamed Sow comes up with the rebound and up put back at the buzzer to win it. Players all go nuts, go chase him down. Saint Peter's will now play the Fairfield Stags tonight at 7:30 Eastern for a spot in the big dance. Now NC State meanwhile, they need to win the ACC Tournament in order to make the tournament. And, well, it was not looking good last night. Virginia was at the line with a chance to go four to wit -- and basically win the game with six seconds left but they missed.

Michael O'Connell brings the ball up and he's going to throw up a prayer at the buzzer and his prayer was answered, somehow banks in. We go to overtime. The Wolfpack taking advantage of that second chance. They outscored Virginia 15 to seven in the extra period to get the win 73 to 65. The NC Wolfpack now going to face North Carolina tonight in the ACC championship game. And their win away from just an epic five days where they could win five times to make the NCAA Tournament.

And the buzzer beaters day. They weren't limited to college basketball on Friday night. Check out Pelican star Zion Williamson at the end of the third quarter against the Clippers. He takes the inbounds pass and he just going to sprint right down the court in three and a half seconds, finish it off with a layup at the buzzer. Zion finished with 34 points in the 112-104 win. New Orleans now just two games behind the Clippers for that for seed in the Western Conference.

Hey, Spurs and Nuggets, they were playing in Austin, Texas last night. They played in front of a sellout crowd of more than 16,000 at the Movie Center where the Texas Longhorns normally play. Despite that sell out, Denver Head Coach Mike Malone said it actually felt like a preseason game because, you know, they were in a city and arena that they don't normally play NBA games yet.

Victor Wembanyama he gave the fans there in Austin, though, something to cheer about near the end. Watch him with this huge pegs plan. It looks so easy for him. He's so big. Nikola Jokic, though, he's 31 in that one. Nuggets, they adjusted just fine to that arena when they won 117-106.


All right, finally, not even a neck injury can keep golf world number one Scottie Scheffler from staying in contention at the Players Championship. So the defending champ received a mid-round neck massage from a physical therapist, hoping to get that thing stretched out. Scheffler, he managed to fight through the pain, shot three under 69. He's going to start Saturday's third round at eight under six strokes behind leader Wyndham Clark.

You know as my neck -- I mean I'm a little tied.

WALKER: You stole my line.

SCHOLES: We've got time during these commercials. I don't know if this is something we need to look into having someone on standby.

WALKER: I've got foot pain, back pain, neck pain.

SCHOLES: Worked well for Scottie Scheffler.

FREEMAN: It was clear, it was neck and neck there on the end, you know, really.

SCHOLES: Oh, no, Danny.

FREEMAN: Got it.

WALKER: Falling slap. Andy, thank you.

FREEMAN: And thank you for joining us this morning. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

WALKER: There already turning the lights off on us. I mean, we should really say goodbye. Smerconish is up next. Have a great day.

SCHOLES: It looks like we're at the bar.