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U.S. House to Vote on Bill to Ban TikTok Nationwide; Judge Dismisses Some Counts against Trump in Georgia Case. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired March 13, 2024 - 10:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with Becky Anderson.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): And this is our second hour. Welcome back wherever you are watching in the world. You are more than


I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi, where the time is six in the evening, 10:00 am on the East Coast of America and these are live pictures from

Capitol Hill, where we are expecting soon a vote in the House of Representatives about TikTok's future.

There is bipartisan legislation which could force the Chinese-based parent to spin off or face a nationwide ban.

Well, in Moscow, a defiant Vladimir Putin warned on state TV that Russia is ready to use nuclear weapons if the country's safety is at stake. He also

warned America against sending troops into Ukraine.

And the court is back in session in the trial against James Crumbley, the father of high school mass shooter, Ethan Crumbley.


ANDERSON: Well, let's start this hour with that vote on Capitol Hill, set to happen any moment now. This could impact tens of millions in the U.S.

who use the social media platform TikTok.

Now many of them are younger Americans who have made the app a daily part of their lives. The bill would give the Chinese owners, ByteDance, less

than six months to divest TikTok or face a ban in the United States.

Well, House lawmakers bringing it to vote are concerned over China's ability to access TikTok users' personal data and possibly use it, for

example, to influence the November elections. The subject of Chinese ownership discussed by one of the bill's cosponsors in the debate today

ahead of the vote. Have a listen


REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): This bill is not a ban and it's not about TikTok. It's about ByteDance. Let me tell you about ByteDance.

ByteDance is a 100 percent owner of TikTok. ByteDance is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. In fact, the editor in chief of ByteDance is the

secretary of the Chinese Communist Party cell, embedded at the very highest ranks of the company.

And he has been charged with making sure that TikTok and all products of ByteDance adhere to quote, "correct political direction."


ANDERSON: Well, TikTok is pushing back with a message encouraging users to contact their representatives and urge them to oppose the bill. China's

foreign ministry also criticizing "a possible ban," in inverted commas, in the response to a question from CNN's Marc Stewart. Have a listen.


WANG WENBIN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): Even though the U.S. has not found evidence on how TikTok endangers its

national security, it has never stopped going after TikTok.

Such practice of resorting to acts of bullying when one could not succeed in fair competition disrupts the normal operation of the market. It

undermines the confidence of international investors and sabotages the global economic and trade order.

This will eventually backfire on the U.S. itself.


ANDERSON: Right. Let's discuss this. I want to bring in Bob O'Donnell, the president and founder of TECHnalysis Research.

And to underscore Bob, what a huge issue this is in the States, 170 million Americans use this app. America is the country with the most users by far,

according to a data source.

So what will this legislation mean for users?

BOB O'DONNELL, PRESIDENT, TECHNALYSIS RESEARCH: Well, that's the big question, Becky, because, as you said, so many young people are using this.

And what's happened is TikTok has become their source of news as well.

So the level of influence that TikTok and, frankly, social media has in general, has so dramatically changed the world. So this whole bill on this

whole story is multi-layer because the impacts are enormous.

There's discussions, of course, around the First Amendment here in the U.S. and the ability for free speech. At the same time, there is legitimate

concerns, I believe, around what level of control the Communist Party in China has over the way the content is being distributed and being pushed in

different ways.


Now there are algorithms that control what sort of things people see.

And the big question mark is around how is that going to do that?

Now look, let's be honest. Just because they say there's a ban that comes into place, that's not going to remove the application from people's

phones. So it's going to be a long, messy process if indeed this bill goes through. And let's not forget, it has to pass the House and then the Senate

as well.

ANDERSON: Jake Sullivan, national security adviser, of course, to the White House, has said this is not -- this is not about banning the app;

this is not about bullying, as the Chinese government has suggested or complete -- again, this is about the American government having issues with

the ownership of the data.

And we all know we're commoditized by these apps. These apps have our data.

So what the American, what this legislation is saying is, this is about ultimately American companies owning the data, not Chinese companies,


What do you make of China's response to this?

O'DONNELL: Well, I find it rather ironic that China talks about U.S. trying to bully certain situations when, of course, we know that that's in

fact exactly what they do in terms of the control they place over their own media and what have you.

But I mean, look, yes, ultimately is about that data. And there are some -- there's already been some disconcerting things that have happened with

regards to TikTok.

There have been published reports in "Forbes" and other places that have shown that TikTok in fact spied on some of the U.S. journalists who

reporting on some of the issues around TikTok.

So now TikTok said, we've gotten rid of these people, those few bad actors. Fair enough, these things do happen. But there is a concern. Other people

who've studied the trends in terms of the topics that trend on TikTok versus other social media platforms.

And there is concern about what can be done. Unfortunately, we are living in a world where social media can be manipulated. It has been manipulated.

And so there are huge geopolitical as well as local political concerns baked in around all of this.

Yes, at the end of the day, it's about control that data as well as, to be honest with you (ph), to control the algorithm that helps feed that data to

us in different ways.

ANDERSON: The vote's underway, it's up on the screen, it'll take about 15 minutes, so we'll watch those numbers tick over. This is on the House

floor, of course.

The issue for U.S. lawmakers will be this: TikTok has reached out to its users, saying, talk to your representative, your local representative; tell

him not to vote in favor of this. And, of course, the cohort that uses TikTok is primarily a young cohort.

That's a really important demographic going into an election, of course, in November, isn't it?

How do you expect the user, that younger generation, to respond to this?

And what impact might it have on their voting pattern?

O'DONNELL: Well, you're absolutely right. I mean, it is a huge part of the voting public here in the U.S. And they're not going to like it.

I mean, look, in some ways, this is almost like parents telling their kids, OK. This is bad for you. We don't want you to use this.

And those (ph) parents know that that method doesn't always work very well, right?

There could be retaliation of people. But in general, people are not going to like having the government tell them what they can and can't use. That's

very anti-American. The whole American ideal is around this idea of freedom of speech and what have you.

But there is that question of the level of influence that we haven't experienced before because social media brings news to people in a way that

we haven't seen before. And so there is a question about that.

I mean, TikTok is one example. I think there are larger social media questions that, down the road, have to be answered. But right now, this is

that direct influence. So I think you will see a lot of young Americans who are very upset by this.

Now the question is, who are they going to blame for this?

And that becomes the real question mark, who gets blamed if indeed something along these lines happens and the access to TikTok gets

restricted. That's going to upset a lot of people.

At the same time, let's be honest, in the big picture of things, we've seen a lot of social media platforms come and go and, at some point, if

something happens with TikTok, there will be others.

And in fact, of course, there were questions about whether or not TikTok, if there was indeed a for sale, would simply be sold to another U.S.

company. And it would continue in a different form without the data going to China.


So there's all kinds of possibilities that could happen.

The question is, in the near term, how does this impact the next election?

And that's why it's such a hot issue.

ANDERSON: Yes, let's have a listen to the voice of at least one young voter Not happy about this.


NADYA OKAMOTO, SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER: President Biden said he would pass and sign the bill that would ban TikTok. And I think that's one of the

biggest mistakes he could make, especially during an election year.

Biden campaign's biggest challenge right now is that he seems too old. People are worried that he physically is not up for the job. He's not

relatable. He's so representative of the system that has let us down.

So I'm like, look, dude, it's an election year. You want to appear like you are for the people. You need young voters. There are eight years of

Generation Z that are now eligible voters in this election year.


ANDERSON: Yes, you just posing the question, who is this going to hurt?

You know, if you listen to that young lady's voice, it is the Democratic Party who are going to lose out on this.


O'DONNELL: Well, I mean, in theory -- and yet the bill is cosponsored; in the current political climate, the fact that you have a bill co-sponsored

by both a Democrat and a Republican and the vote in the House is expected to go across -- excuse me -- party lines, you know, it'll be interesting.

Now, the former president used to be against this and he wanted to ban TikTok then all of a sudden, you find out that one of his big donors was

concerned with it. So now he's changed his mind.

I mean, you know. So -- but that's typical with him and what we've seen from previous things that he's done. So -- but yes, the question around the

blame is a serious one and Democrats have to think about that. Republicans have to think about it, too.

And so there is some concern of how this blame gets placed if indeed it happens. And to be clear, it's not certain that's going to get through the

Senate, in which case this may just die on the vine as previous efforts already have.

ANDERSON: Whether or not it dies on the vine, what a great line that is, it does set a precedent, doesn't it, about legislating against foreign

government ownership of media?

And we are beginning to see this as a creep in other places. Certainly the U.K. at present, considering legislation on foreign government ownership of

media assets. I just wonder where you think this goes, going forward.

O'DONNELL: No, that's a great question, Becky. And you know, the thing to bear in mind now, not a lot of U.S. citizens may think about this, but this

issue goes beyond the borders of the U.S., as you said, in the U.K., in Canada, in other parts of Europe.

There's other calls to ban TikTok or to do something with TikTok because of the concern, of the influence and, again, how social media has so

dramatically changed how people view and consume. Their news. So I think we're going to see a lot of efforts around the world.

They're taking a serious look at this to say, hey, what is the right way to go?

How do we think about media ownership?

I don't think there's a clear answer, to be clear on to your question. I think that's a very sticky wicket. That's going to be difficult for people

to unfold. But I think at the end of the day, you're going to see a lot more probing into ownership and influence and the kinds of things that can


And it needs to be more clarity honestly, in terms of how this technology is working.

How does that algorithm promote certain things versus others?

Those are big questions that could actually help answer some of these issues and address some of the concerns. It gets very complicated very

quickly why it -- which makes it hard to really deal with it.

But these are the questions I think of the modern era when it comes to media and technology and how the two are intertwined and what could happen

down the road. Because, as you said, like right now it's TikTok; down the road it could be Twitter or X, it could be other platforms. And in other

countries, platforms as well.

So all of these things could potentially be influenced by this and this really is a trendsetting set of legislation, if indeed it passes, which is

why I think there's so much attention and focus upon it.

ANDERSON: Let's just step back for one moment.

For any viewers who may just be joining us, we are just looking at the floor of the House and considering what is going on with regard legislation

that would force ByteDance, the ultimate owner of the very, very popular TikTok app, 150 million or more.


Some 170 million users in the U.S. alone. That is the single biggest country for TikTok users. But of course, it's fantastically successful

around the world, owned by ByteDance.

And this legislation is about forcing that company to divest this, this company of TikTok, ByteDance, get rid of TikTok, sell it on to an American

organization so that the government in the States doesn't have as many issues about the opportunity for the Chinese government, big owner.

Or certainly has a lot of influence in ByteDance -- so that the Chinese government doesn't get access to the data of these U.S. users.

Can I ask you this?


Who would buy a divested TikTok to your mind?

O'DONNELL: That is a great question. And one of the concerns that people have said is that unfortunately given the anti merger environment that

we're seeing in the U.S., where a lot of Big Tech companies are being restricted from making big purchases.

The normal suspects that, in fact, that we saw, who previously tried to buy TikTok, we saw Oracle, we saw Microsoft. A couple of other big name tech

companies that would seem like a logical places to go may be restricted from doing so.

And so there is a concern that, even if this passes, then who's going to have the money to be able to afford it?

Clearly, it's going to be very expensive.

And if in fact the large tech companies that are the obvious choices are prevented from doing so because of anti-trust related issues, then it's not

necessarily as clear where it may end up. I mean, who knows, maybe a whole bunch of private equity people get to together and do something.

Really, really hard to say. But in a different time, I would say it would go to one of the Big Tech guys, the Googles, the -- I doubt Meta would get

it because it only has enough platforms -- but Microsoft and some of these other kinds of large tech platforms.

But right now, that doesn't seem like it's a realistic possibility, so it is a big question mark. And that's one of several concerns that people have

raised about this bill in general.

ANDERSON: This is a bipartisan bill -- Bob, stand by; Clare Duffy is with us out of New York -- a bipartisan bill. We are watching the voting on the

floor, 4.5 minutes remaining, Clare. At the moment, the yeas, 73 on the Republican side and 48 on the Democratic side. That's 122 versus 18 nays on


So if things remain as they stand at present, at least on the floor of the House, the vote will be for this company to be forced to divest its

interest in TikTok or face a ban of the app in the United States of America.

Which, Clare, means what ultimately?

For those who are watching, who are regular users of the social media app, there are some 170 million U.S. users. That's an awful lot of people.

CLARE DUFFY, CNN BUSINESS WRITER: Yes, this is a huge deal, Becky, for those TikTok users. I mean, look, this is not going to mean that TikTok is

going to disappear off of anyone's phones tomorrow.

I was scrolling through TikTok a little bit before this vote started, seeing some videos of people worrying that all of a sudden TikTok was going

to get -- disappear tomorrow. That's not what's happening here. This bill, I think, still has a long way to go.

It will head next if it passes in the House today to the Senate floor, where I think it faces a much more uncertain fate. I think a lot of these

lawmakers are aware of just how politically fraught this vote is.

You have so many young people, especially young voters, who are using TikTok, who love this platform, who will not be happy to see their

representatives voting to ban it in the United States. I think it's interesting, you hear some of the representatives in the debate, ahead of

this vote, really picking up on this and saying, you know?

We're worried that we're going to lose young voters in November if we go ahead and pass this bill and move it along. And so I think that's something

that certainly senators will be considering. I think it's something that President Biden will have to consider if this bill ends up landing on his



ANDERSON: Yes, there were those who say, who are hearing, they certainly out of Beijing, but there will be others who say that this is

anticompetitive. Certainly Beijing says this is bullying.

This is America frankly deciding that it would rather own a very successful technology app used by so many youngsters than Beijing. And this obviously

sits squarely in the U.S.-China crosshairs at present.

The ownership of these huge tech platforms, of course, is massively important to the success of these huge tech companies at this point.


DUFFY: Yes, I mean, this is one of the most popular apps with young people right now. This is a huge opportunity for advertising revenue, like TikTok

is such a successful business. We don't know exactly how successful it is because it's owned by this Chinese private company.

But I mean it is a huge opportunity for a potential buyer if it goes in that direction, Becky. I want to pick up on one other thing that I think

U.S. users are really talking about here.

I'm seeing some frustration from U.S. TikTok users that this is what their lawmakers are focusing on. This is the thing that they're able to generate

bipartisan support for.

Users are saying this is a platform that's universally more or less loved among Americans and yet our lawmakers are focused on banning it instead of

focusing on things like helping with health care costs or parental leave.

I think that's an interesting trend that I've been picking up on among TikTok users is why is this the thing that our lawmakers are focused on

today when there there's so many other things they could be thinking about and having bipartisan conversations and agreement on, Becky?

ANDERSON: Why is it that it is most likely to pass on the House floor but possibly not on the Senate floor or all -- certainly you're suggesting it

will face more opposition?

DUFFY: Yes, it's a good question.

I mean, I think there is in the last couple of days just sort of more of an understanding of the sort of political consequences of this vote, that

maybe senators have had a bit more time to consider, than the House representatives here voting today.

I mean, look, you had TikTok users over the weekend and the past couple of days calling up their representatives and saying, if you vote to pass this

bill, I won't vote for you in the next election.

And so I think that is something that all the lawmakers here are considering. But in particular, the Senate will have to consider if this

bill lands on the Senate floor. You also hear senators in the past couple of days talking about, specifically Democratic senators talking about the

potential consequences again, of a vote for this bill for President Biden in November.

It's interesting, Trump, president, former president Trump has changed his tune on TikTok and is now opposing this bill, opposing the ban of TikTok.

When he was president, he tried to ban TikTok but now he's saying that he doesn't want this bill to pass.

And so I think, again, we're seeing political stakes be set up here for President Biden. If he votes, if he signs this bill, if it makes it to his

desk while his opponent is saying he wants to keep TikTok around.

ANDERSON: Well, given what I'm looking at on the screen now, those Republican lawmakers in the House haven't got the memo from president, from

former president Donald Trump, got 119 yeas on the Republican side, 85 on the -- 86 now on the Democratic side.

So it looks as if this is going to pass on the House floor. And Clare, while I've got you , China's described this potential ban as an act of

bullying and has gone on to say, even though the U.S. has not found evidence on how TikTok endangers its national security, it is never stopped

going after TikTok.

This is a spokesperson for the ministry of foreign affairs telling CNN, at a news conference in Beijing, this will eventually backfire on the U.S.


Is he right to say that, the U.S. is not found evidence on how TikTok endangers its national security?

That's the accusation from Beijing today.

DUFFY: Well, what security experts have told us is that this is sort of a hypothetical concern. There hasn't -- we haven't seen evidence of TikTok

handing over user data to the Chinese government. But it is a concern that is possible. It is something that could happen.

Security experts have told us and so I think that's the real concern from lawmakers here is not whether this is currently happening but whether this

is something that could happen in the future. That's what they want to avoid by trying to force TikTok to only keep user -- U.S. user data in the

United States.

This, of course, is something that TikTok says it's already doing. It has a partnership with Oracle. It says that all U.S. user data is stored in the


But there's still is a concern among lawmakers and indeed among security experts that, because TikTok is owned by ByteDance, located in China, that

there could be a situation where the Chinese government forces TikTok to hand over U.S. user data.

And that could be used for things like for propaganda, for intelligence operations. And that I think is what lawmakers are worried about here.

But what's interesting, do -- I do want to pick up on --

ANDERSON: Thank you.


DUFFY: -- sorry. No, I was just going to say what's interesting to me is that TikTok users themselves, U.S. TikTok users don't seem to be so

concerned about that risk.


Lawmakers are clearly really worried about this. But U.S. TikTok users have said, we realize that our data is getting sold, is getting accessed by many

big companies, many major governments. They're not actually necessarily so concerned about this risk.

Whether that's something that they should be worried about or not, lawmakers are clearly worried about this. But U.S. TikTok users are saying,

this is not a good enough reason to take away this really popular app.

ANDERSON: It's good to have you, Clare. Your analysis and insight is so important. I'm going to bring in Max Klymenko at this point, he joins us

now by Skype. He's from Ukraine, currently lives in the United Kingdom. And has roughly 3.6 million followers on TikTok, is obviously in favor of the

app and social media in general.

Good to have you.

What do you make of the arguments in favor of ByteDance, TikTok's owner, being made to divest it or the app being banned?

This is just in the States, of course, at this point but things that happen in the States don't necessarily stay in the States.

What do you make of what we're hearing and seeing today?

MAX KLYMENKO, ENTREPRENEUR AND DIGITAL CONTENT CREATOR: Yes. Yes. Good to be here, guys. And I just learned about the progress of the vote and which

is not ideal. In my case, I've been making content for five years on TikTok. I started as a way to provide more educational content for my

sister, who was a teenager at the time, to watch.

So hearing that TikTok might be banned or be in a position where, for example, it's not as much of a leading platform in the U.S. For me, it

means that my livelihood, the livelihood of my team -- that is other four people that work full time to make videos for the audience -- is in danger


And also, if TikTok goes, then how am I going to reach those people who --


ANDERSON: -- care about who owns your data?

You don't care about who owns your data?

You've got no issues with that, correct?

KLYMENKO: I do. I do have issues with that. I think, number one, if I were extremely cautious around my privacy, I'd probably choose a different

career, not to make content for a living and sharing my life across all platforms.

And number two, I think one thing that has come out of this process is that we want to hold social media companies accountable. All of them. We want to

hold Meta, we want to hold Google, want to hold ByteDance, TikTok, all of them accountable.

So if they were to compete with each other on who's going to protect the data best and who's going to protect the users best, I think we're in a

really great situation.

But I think banning that platform, from my perspective, looking at similar -- it seems that TikTok is not doing anything drastically different from

any other social media companies when it comes to collecting data. It seems to me that this is a big overkill --

ANDERSON: But no -- yes, this is interesting because no private organization in the end is in the business of protecting the user. Let's

just be quite clear about that.

And that surely, is it not, is the responsibility of your lawmakers, of a government ensuring that you and its -- that being the country in this

case, the United States -- its national security is not at stake.

But just on a personal level, you're saying you don't care. And any way these organizations will be competing for your data. But they're definitely

not in the business of protecting you.

KLYMENKO: No, I didn't say that. I don't care about how they are protecting the data.

I said that what I do care about is making them compete with each other on who's going to protect users best. I think that there is a case of maybe

laying out a pathway for TikTok.

What do they have to do in order to not be attacked or not be under threat from the U.S. government?

Again, I'm not American, as you said in the beginning, I can't comment from the perspective of an American citizen. But you know, for me being in

Europe, this is kind of my point of view.

I want my data to be protected. I think banning a platform that seems to not be doing anything all that different from other social media platforms

seems like a disproportionate punishment, preemptive punishment.

ANDERSON: Why do you use TikTok?

Just explain what it is about this platform which makes it so useful for you?

And you're saying, you're effectively running business, you're using this professionally, correct?

What makes it such a great platform to your mind?

KLYMENKO: Yes. OK. So I use all social media platforms that are available to me to reach the audience with my educational video. All right? So

initially I started using TikTok as a way to be with my content, to be in front of my sister and to be in front of her friends, for example.

She was 14 at the time and I just thought, OK. So all of these young people are on TikTok, watching something that I don't think is very high-quality.

I'm going to combine with my business videos, educational videos.


And hopefully she will think I'm cool or maybe cooler than I am in kind of in real life, if I were to have an audience online. So I think TikTok right

now has a, A, incredible cultural significance for Gen Z and younger.

Like this audience, for them, TikTok is a very, very important platform. This is where entertainment happens. This is where the commentary and

analysis of entertainment world happens. This is where education happens.

Also, like my sister she asks (ph) TikTok for all kinds of purposes, searching on help with her exams. So, for example, a lot of people discover

things and from my videos. And for me, not having this platform in my arsenal, the platform that is essential to reach the audience that I want

to reach the most, which is the young people.

For me, yes, on a personal level, not even talking about the money that I'm going to lose and our team's going to lose if this happens. On a personal

level, it's really, it's really disappointing and I'm not sure where these audiences will go, because they love TikTok.

ANDERSON: Well, these platforms do come and go but this one does seem to have some longevity. It does seem to be more sustainable than others. And

you just explained what is that your that your sister enjoys it so much. So you don't see this as a fad, correct?

KLYMENKO: As a fad?

In what way?

ANDERSON: Yes, by which I mean there's so much interest in what is going on. We are seeing bipartisan legislation on the House floor in the United

States today that will go on to the Senate.

Much criticism of U.S. lawmakers that they are spending too much time on TikTok and not enough on other issues, that young voters at least wish they

cared about more.

I'm just wondering whether to your mind, this is a platform that has such sustainability going forward, that is going to be around for so long, that

actually it is worth caring about at this point.

KLYMENKO: For sure. And I think it's important to care about it. And, for example, I'm not, I'm not American. But 30 percent to 40 percent of my

audience is.

And what you shared around what to focus on for the lawmakers, again, it's not for me to say. But in my audience, there seems to be a consensus that

maybe there are other more pressing issues. Again, this is for the Americans to decide.

And I think again, I love the fact that there is scrutiny in the way these big platforms are processing our data, collected now data, who owns them

and so on. I think it's great.

But for me as a creator on the platform, as a user for the platform, I haven't really seen what it is exactly that TikTok is doing wrong compared

to other social media platforms that would warrant this ban.

Like, I haven't -- I haven't seen it. I'm not an expert in data protection. Of course, I have a vested interest because I make content, I would love

for there to be many platforms that compete with each other. But yes, as a user, I haven't really seen why.

ANDERSON: It's good to have you. It's good to have you.

And Bob, thank you very much indeed.

Well, some breaking news now. The judge in Georgia criminal case against former U.S. president Donald Trump and his allies has thrown out some of

the charges. These charges relate to allegedly soliciting the violation of oath by a public officer.

The judge found there wasn't enough detail on what underlying crime was being solicited. This doesn't mean the entire indictment has been

dismissed. And this ruling doesn't address the ethics allegations against Fulton County prosecutor, Fani Willis. More on this after the short break.

Stay with us





ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson, 36 minutes past six in the UAE, 36 minutes past 10 on the East

Coast of the United States of America.

Some breaking news: the judge in the Georgia criminal case, in the States against former U.S. president Donald Trump and his allies has thrown out

some of the charges. Now let me be clear. This doesn't mean the entire indictment has been dismissed.

What does it mean?

Well, joining us to discuss is Michael Zeldin. He's a former federal prosecutor, former assistant to Robert Mueller at the Justice Department

and host of the podcast, "That Said with Michael Zeldin."

So explain, what have we got here, sir?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So in this indictment, there are 41 counts. Each count alleges a certain type of criminal behavior. Some of

those counts alleged that the individuals solicited people to violate their oath of office, making it a crime to do that.

What the judge has said is that these cases were not set forth with enough particularity that the defense could understand what it was exactly that

they had to defend against. So essentially it was, you didn't argue in this indictment clearly enough for the defense now what they're being charged

with specifically.

And so I'm going to dismiss these charges. What's not clear from the reporting so far -- and it's early -- is, is the judge going to say to the

prosecutors, essentially, look, fix this and then you can bring it back and we'll add them at a later date?

Or is it fatal, now and forever, and these six counts go away?

But this lack of specificity is a critical part of prosecutions generally.

ANDERSON: What does this mean for Donald Trump and his allies at this point?

ZELDIN: Well, good news for the people whose charges were dismissed. I don't know if that dismisses the charges against each and every defendant.

I think it's going to be just partial victories for some defendants.

But in respect of Donald Trump himself, it really has no bearing on his ultimate liability. He's charged with RICO, racketeering influence corrupt

organization, which essentially a broad conspiracy to violate the law. The judge has left that wholly intact.

And so you get political arguments here, like these prosecutors are again proving their political interests in persecuting me. But at the bottom

line, he still has a trial to go to. This does not impact that outcome at all.

ANDERSON: Any bearing on the allegations against prosecutor Fani Willis here?

ZELDIN: No. No, it does not. The whole issue of Fani Willis and Nathan Wade and whether they going to have to be recused from the case, be forced

to step aside because of the allegations of financial misconduct, remain untouched by this.


And hopefully we'll get an answer to that question in the coming days. And in respect to that, the only thing that matters is not whether Fani Willis

is dismissed or Nathan Wade is but whether or not the office of the district attorney is allowed to continue to prosecute this case, if they

can continue to prosecute this case.

Then the absence of those two means nothing. If the whole office gets recused, that's a big deal.

ANDERSON: Just set the Georgia case within the context of what the former president faces across the board in what are a whole raft of cases against


How important is this one?

ZELDIN: Well, if the January 6 federal case is allowed to proceed -- and that's pending a final decision about whether the president has immunity --

if that case is allowed to proceed then, in some sense, the state of Georgia case is sort of the mini-me of that case. It's a nice state charge

to bring against Trump.

But the federal cases are the ones that matter most and the most important of them, from an accountability standpoint, is this January 6th case. We

know that April 25th will be the day the Supreme Court hears arguments on whether the former president has immunity.

If he's found not to have immunity, that case should go to trial sometime in the early fall.

ANDERSON: It's good to have you, sir. Thank you very much indeed. Right out of what is breaking news, your insight is so important.

And more on our top story now. The U.S. House of Representatives has just approved a bill to force TikTok to divest itself of its Chinese ownership

or be banned in the United States. It will next go to the U.S. Senate.

This vote coming as U.S. intelligence officials sound the alarm on possible election interference, saying they cannot rule out the possibility that the

Chinese government will use TikTok to influence voters.

The conceit of their argument being that ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, has significant Communist Party influence. Well, former House Speaker Nancy

Pelosi speaking in the debate ahead of this, made the following statement.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): First of all, this is not a ban on TikTok. I'm a grandmother of teenagers. I understand the entertainment value, the

educational value, communication value, the business value for some business on this. This is not an attempt to ban TikTok.

It's attempt to make TikTok better. Tic-tac-toe, a winner.


ANDERSON: Ooh, tic-tac-toe. Bob O'Donnell, the president and founder of TECHnalysis, joining us again now.

Nancy Pelosi, not sure how often she uses tic-tac-toe as she has just described it. I don't think there is any surprise that this got through.

Interesting though, that those Republicans on the House floor at least do not seem to have got the memo that the former president Donald Trump seems

to have changed his mind about how he feels about TikTok.

And he's not as in favor than -- or whether he's actually against this legislation now -- but certainly less in favor of this legislation than

they are because they have voted for this legislation. It now of course, goes to the Senate floor.

What do you make of what we have just seen?

O'DONNELL: Well, as you said, Becky, I mean, this was pretty much expected. It had been pretty much predicted in forecast that this was going

to happen in the House. The big question remains in the Senate.

One of the things I thought about, though, while you were talking about with some of other folks, clearly, I think, you know, good point for being

raised, like really, is this the most important issue that Congress can be dealing with?

Probably not. But one other comment I'll also make on the flip side, you know, if there was a popular U.S. social media platform that was being used

in China, is there any question whatsoever that the Chinese government would do something very similar?

Frankly, probably much quicker, much faster and much more severe if the roles were reversed. So I think it's important to bear that in mind (ph) as

well, because the reality is, when we talk about these social media influence platforms and the influence they can have, a lot of these more

subtle things.

It's not a blatant vote for this person or vote for that person. It's, oh, look at all the unrest in the U.S. I mean, imagine, again, if we saw oh,

look at all the unrest in China that was going on, on a social media platform owned by an American company in China.


I mean, those -- that kind of thing would raise a ridiculous number of flags. So it's understandable to see why some of these discussions are

happening. They are messy. Again, in the long run, in the big picture of life, probably not as important as a lot of other things.

But they are a factor and they are particularly a factor in the type of political environment that we're in, both within the (INAUDIBLE) and


ANDERSON: What makes TikTok so much more successful than other social media video apps, Bob?

Analysis (ph), as somebody who is the co-founder of TECHnalysis, I mean, I wonder how much you know. It seems that American intelligence knows very

little about how the algorithm for TikTok works.

And it is the algorithm for that social media app that sits behind its super success. Those who tried to hack the code can't. I wonder whether to

some degree this is what that is about as well.

I mean, this is this is an organization that has set itself up sort of with guardrails around its most important pillar, which is that algorithm.

That is what makes this so successful, correct?

O'DONNELL: That is absolutely correct, Becky. And that's -- the secret sauce to TikTok, in fact, has been that algorithm and there have been all

kinds of stories written and things said about how well it can direct you in certain directions from the moment that you start using it.

It picks it up on the most subtle of clues, how long you pause on a certain piece of content, all these kinds of very subtle things that it's picked up

on and has been refined over time, such that it's making changes to you without you even realizing what's going on. And I think that's ultimately

where this concerns comes from.

People don't even realize that they're being manipulated. And that's a scary thought. And unfortunately, a lot of the tech world, we're seeing

some of these kind of -- this sort of idea happen. And ironically, it is that algorithm or the IP, the intellectual property of this algorithm,

that's really the big question mark.

That's why, of course, China has said we don't want to give this up because they recognize how powerful it is. At the same time, I think that's why

people who are really deep into this issue are interested in this, because that's sort of a secret sauce that people would like to get access to.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Bob, it's been great having you. This has been quite some marathon run for you here on CNN. But you've done us huge

favors. And the viewer will be better off for your insight and analysis. Thank you, sir.

More news after this short break. Stand by.





ANDERSON: You're watching CNN, I'm Becky Anderson for you. Let's return to breaking news today. And the judge in the Georgia election subversion case

against former U.S. president Donald Trump and his allies has just thrown out some of the charges.

The ruling does not mean the entire indictment, though, has been dismissed. For more, let's bring in Marshall Cohen, joining us from Washington, D.C.

So what do we understand to have been delivered today?

MARSHALL COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Becky, this is some pretty significant news out of Georgia. So let me be very clear at the top. This

does not throw out the entire case. Most of the charges against Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans who tried to overturn the results in

Georgia, most of the case is intact.

But the judge down there, Scott McAfee, has thrown out six of the charges in this sweeping indictment, including three charges against former

president Donald Trump. What this means is that he was facing 13 charges. Now he's only facing 10.

But that's still not a position that you want to be in if you're anybody, especially a presidential candidate running in this year's elections. What

is still intact is most importantly the first count in this indictment, the racketeering charge against Trump and the other defendants.

That still stands and that is incredibly important. Some of the other defendants that are the beneficiaries of today's decision that saw some but

not all of their charges dropped include Rudy Giuliani, the president's former attorney; Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff to

Donald Trump and the right-wing lawyer, John Eastman, who was involved in the attempts to --


ANDERSON: All right.

COHEN: -- overturn the results on January 6th. So a win for these defendants today, Becky, but not total victory because most of the case

will move forward.

ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating.

Let me bring in Amy Lee Copeland, a criminal defense attorney, joining me from Georgia.

Why did the judge do this today?

How do you read this?


Georgia has some pretty specific requirements that a defendant has to be put on notice of the charges he faces. The six charges that are at issue

concern violation of oath of office.

Specifically, these defendants' attempts to get state officials to violate their oaths. The oath of office that state officials take say that they're

going to uphold the Georgia and federal constitutions.

The judge said this was just too broad. The indictment never specified what provisions of the Constitution that the officials were seeking to have the

Georgia officials violate. As a result, he just said that these defendants didn't have sufficient notice.

But I join Marshall comments. He did make sure that everyone understood that this didn't affect the main charge, the RICO charge, and that the case

would go forward.

ANDERSON: So the consequences at this point are not as not as significant as the headline might suggest.

Marshall, you've said this provides some wins for those involved.

Amy, do you agree?

Ultimately, I guess what our viewer might be looking for is, will Donald Trump see this as a big win today?

COHEN: If you are a criminal defendant, Becky, and some of your charges get tossed, that's a good thing but he still has to grapple with the fact

that he is facing 10 criminal counts in Georgia and also he's been indicted by the Justice Department on federal election subversion charges.

And he's also been indicted in two completely separate criminal cases that have nothing to do with the 2020 election. So yes, Becky, this is the news

that you want if you're president Trump. But he still has a lot of legal problems to deal with.


COPELAND: Yes. Becky, the order also makes sure that everybody knows that the state can actually seek to reindict these defendants on the six

charges. And it says that, if the state wants to take up this particular issue on an immediate appeal, the judge would likely give them that

permission to do it.

So it could be a very short-lived victory, depending on what the state decides to do.


ANDERSON: A judge has dismissed some counts against Donald Trump in the Georgia case. That is the

breaking news this hour.

To both of you, thank you very much indeed.

And that is it for us. I'm Becky Anderson here in Abu Dhabi. Stay with CNN. "NEWSROOM" is up next.