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TikTok Under Fire from Biden, Both Parties, Intel Chiefs; Biden Budget Seeks to Undercut GOP Arguments Over Debt & Deficit. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired March 08, 2023 - 12:30   ET


JOHN KING, CNN HOST: In my 22 years affiliated with Fox, this is the closest thing I've seen to an existential crisis -- at least journalistically. Bill always was a good writer. That is well said.


Up next for us, a White House strategy shift on this question, should TikTok be banned in the United States?



KING: Today, dramatic new warnings from America's top intelligence officials that Beijing could use TikTok to spy on millions of Americans.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) VICE CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Could they use TikTok to control data on millions of users?


RUBIO: Could they use it to control the software on millions of devices given the opportunity to do so?


RUBIO: Could they use it to drive narratives, like to divide Americans against each other? For example, let's say China wants to invade Taiwan, to make sure that Americans are seeing videos arguing why Taiwan belongs to China and why the U.S. should not intervene?



KING: That testimony pairing with a very big strategy shift from the Biden administration. The White House now supports a new bipartisan bill that would empower the President to restrict and to potentially ban TikTok. Our great reporters are back with us. And you do see when you -- I just said bipartisan, I think twice. You don't hear that word a lot in Washington right now. When it comes to China and specifically this, there does seem to be a growing consensus something needs to be done. A lot of state governments have said no TikTok on government devices. What's going to happen on the Hill?

HEATHER CAYGLE, MANAGING EDITOR, PUNCHBOWL NEWS: Well, that's a great question. There's a couple of bills working their way through the House and the Senate right now. And the bipartisan bill that you mentioned that was introduced yesterday by Senator Mark Warner, who Chairs the Intel Committee, and Senator John Thune, who's the number two Republican, doesn't explicitly mention TikTok by name.

But it gives the President the power to ban apps like it, right? And giving him the power is key here. It's not saying that he has to, because at the end of the day, they don't want that political football in their lap.

But the interesting thing here is that Senator Marco Rubio, who we just saw, does not support that bill. He doesn't think it goes far enough. He thinks you need to be more explicit about TikTok specifically. And so there is this disagreement while everyone wants to address this, there is a significant disagreement on the Hill about how you do that.

KING: Mark Warner, the Chairman says 100 million Americans use TikTok daily, on average, 90 minutes a day. So if it is this potential goldmine of intelligence gathering for the Chinese, that's wow.

CLEVE WOOTSON, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yeah, exactly. I was thinking about how much I use TikTok in a particular day. There's a couple of things. I think like you were saying, just because you give Biden the power and the authority to ban TikTok or any other thing doesn't mean that he has to necessarily use it. Like we saw with Eli Lilly in the price of insulin or the D.C. council and this crime reform bill. Sometimes just knowing that he has the power and the authority can have a chilling effect or an impact in other ways.

KING: And so part of this conversation you mentioned there are several different proposals up on Capitol Hill. You see this in just about every time tech legislation comes up. There's bipartisan outrage at big tech and social media and all this, but then it gets harder to put pieces together, some of its ideological differences. But some of it, frankly, is generational. Listen to Senator Joe Manchin here. Here's a big issue up on Capitol Hill. Like any senator, he wants to know more about it. So he went to the best source.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D) WEST VIRGINIA: My granddaughters, and I said, tell me about this TikTok. Oh, they said, we use it all the time. The younger age groups, you all want to seem to tell everything. So everybody in the world knows what you're doing, when you're doing it and how you're doing it. And I said with that, that's fine. That's the way you communicate. And I said, but how about if people use that and later on it comes back to bite you pretty bad?


KING: It's an interesting question. You know, I'm not criticizing it for reaching out to his granddaughters if that's the best source of information. I have a 6th grader trust me, he's not on TikTok, but all of his friends are. But the challenge here is, A, how do you learn more about it? But then, if 100 million Americans are doing this on average 90 minutes a day, does Congress have the courage to take something away from them that they like?

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE BOSTON GLOBE: You're already seeing it on the state level at universities, for example, there are several state universities that have decided to take TikTok either on their devices or off their network. So you are seeing it in certain pockets. But yeah, that is the question. However, because of the hawkishness toward China, this might be the issue that. You know, Congress is willing to go that far on.

KING: You see more of that not just TikTok that the China -- there does seem to be more than any other issue in front of us right now, bipartisanship on China?

CAYGLE: Yeah, 100%. I think that, you know, there's a Select Committee on China in the House. It's Bipartisan. Hakeem Jeffries, the Minority Leader was meeting with Speaker McCarthy about this yesterday. I mean, they're really trying to keep that bipartisan in an era where most things aren't.

And then also the White House. They saw the writing on the wall. That's why they endorsed that bill yesterday. They don't want to look like they're being forced to do anything. They want to get ahead of it, so.

KING: Smart politics, I guess. Up next for us, the President's budget blueprint. President says he can fortify Medicare and take a big slice out of the deficit. The details, now set up a giant clash with House Republicans over spending priorities.



KING: It's a brand-new details on the budget President Biden will outline tomorrow. Let's get straight to the White House. CNN's Jeremy Diamond live with us. Jeremy, what are we learning?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we're learning that President Biden will propose cutting the federal deficits over the next ten years by Nearly $3 trillion.

Now, over the last month or so, President Biden has said he would propose $2 trillion in cuts. So this is significantly higher. Administration officials haven't explained exactly how they arrived at that number or what will go into it.

We know the President has talked about a mix of cost saving programs and revenue raised programs such as tax increases on the wealthy and corporations, for example. But keep in mind that the President has repeatedly attacked Republicans, claiming that a combination of their proposals supported by some Republican lawmakers would Raise the deficits over the next decade by nearly $3 trillion. So there does appear to be some coordination there.


And again, it's important to look at this primarily through the lens of messaging. The President's budget proposal, which he will officially announce tomorrow, is effectively dead-on arrival in a Republican led House. And so ultimately, this is about trying to position themselves, particularly with this debt showdown incoming over the debt ceiling, the President trying to undercut Republicans claim to dismantle of fiscal responsibility. John?

KING: Jeremy Diamond, appreciate the new details from the White House. Thanks, Jeremy.

Let's bring the conversation back to the room. He makes a key point. This is the President's first budget of divided government. House Republicans are not about to embrace the tax increases, even though there are wealthy Americans that the President will propose, the House Republicans? No. But you have a Democratic President saying I'm going to have one of the biggest Pentagon budgets ever. I'm going to slash $3 trillion from the deficit and I'm going to try to shore up Medicare and entitlement programs. But it's essentially a political document saying now show me yours?

WOOTSON: Yeah, exactly. I think of it as the opening move in a chess match or him laying out minefields for Republicans.

In fact, you've seen a lot of his speeches where he'll say, I asked for this in my budget. They didn't give it to me. I wanted to do this program and Republicans didn't do it. And so it is very much a political document that is seeking to pin Republicans down as Biden gears up to announce reelection and to say, look, this is what I stand for and what I'm going to do, and they're not going to do it.

KING: And so this is a budget debate. It's also linked to the debt ceiling debate where Republicans say we run the House. We demand spending cuts. But Jodey Arrington, who's the Chair of the Budget Committee, telling the Washington Post we're going to see a budget that continues to increase taxes, continues to spend taxpayer moneys, continues to have this 15th consecutive month of inflation.

So the Republicans have their criticism planned. The question is, you have power, you have this new authority put yours in writing, when?

CAYGLE: Exactly. So I was talking to Brendan Boyle, who's the top Democrat on this Budget Committee, and he was saying they don't think they're going to be able to get it out until May. And then there's a question really of whether Republicans can pass it on the floor. I mean, they can only lose five votes in this majority right now. And so this gets to the larger argument. Republicans in the House want to cut $130 billion in spending, right? But they don't want to touch defense. They don't want to touch entitlement programs. So what's left? If you can't even pass a symbolic document of your budget on the floor, can you actually pass spending cuts? And the answer looks like no. So what happens in, you know, August when they're negotiating over this and the debt ceiling?

KING: And so if you went to independent voters, even soft for moderate Republican voters in a focus group, and you said the President wants to cut nearly $3 trillion from the federal deficit. He's going to fund the Pentagon, $835 billion. Tax increases for high earners and corporations, Medicare solvency extended into the 2050s. All of that would pull pretty well or just about all of that would pull pretty well with the voters Joe Biden needs to win reelection.

So this is -- this your -- to Heather's point, the House Republicans, they have some dysfunction because it's a complicated family. The President is poking them, essentially saying, if you think your priorities are better, put them on paper like I just did?

KUCINICH: Well, right. And I actually wrote down attacking Republicans. And Jeremy was speaking because that's what this is going to be used to do as kind of a cudgel. And you're right, the White House is hoping that all of those things you just listed are going to bring those voters back to the President, assuming he runs for reelection when he announces.

KING: You're not assuming otherwise, are you?

KUCINICH: I can. Oh my God.

KING: Ahead for us, a special request from the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy to the House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy.



KING: Topping our political radar today, new details about the Americans kidnapped in Matamoros, Mexico, and just how that attack went down. The mother of one of the survivors describing a terrifying scene. A car crash. Shots fired an attempt to run before she says her daughter watched her two friends die.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were driving through and a van came up and hit him. And that's when they start shooting at the car, shooting inside the van, whatever. And I guess the other rest tried to run and they got shot at the same time. Shaeed and Zindell they all got shot at the same time, and she watched them die.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: CNN has learned Mexican officials just finished the autopsies on the two Americans killed. Officials say, they will release more details later today.

Latavia Washington McGee, Eric Williams were the two Americans who survived. Zindell Brown and Shaeed Woodard were killed. A local official says they were found in a wooden house moved around to create confusion.

The Senate votes today to rescind the D.C. contentious D.C. Crime Bill around 20 Democrats now expected to side with Republicans to disapprove that bill. The National Republican Congressional Committee already going after vulnerable House Democrats with digital ads over their previous vote.

The Embattled Railroad Company, Norfolk Southern will be the focus of at least two government investigations that in the aftermath of two trained derailments in Ohio. The Federal Railroad Administration is conducting a 60 day safety review and the National Transportation Safety Board also opening investigation into the company's safety culture.

In an exclusive CNN Interview, the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, inviting Speaker Kevin McCarthy to see the battlefield for himself.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Speaker McCarthy he never visited Kyiv or Ukraine. He has to come here to see how we work, what's happening here, what war caused us, which people are fighting now, who fighting now. And then after that, make new assumptions.



KING: Speaker McCarthy says he currently has no plans to visit the war-torn country. Zelenskyy's invitation comes as a loud group of House Republicans want to halt or at least limit USA to your Ukraine. You can watch that full interview tonight, 09:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

And boy meets Congress, Ben Savage, running for a House seat in California. The boy meets world actor says it's time to restore faith in government. That district does include Hollywood. Savage is a Democrat looking to replace Adam Schiff, who's leaving the House to run for the Senate.

Thanks for your time today in Inside Politics. We'll see you tomorrow. Abby Phillip picks up our coverage after the break.