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Biden Threatens To Ban TikTok As Tensions With China Boil; Pew Survey: 67 Percent Of U.S. Teens Use TikTok; Soon: Senate To Vote To Repeal Iraq War Authorizations; Ex-Trump Atty. Cohen: 'Tremendous' Evidence In Hush Money Probe; Ed Secy.: Politicians Want To Limit Our Children's Freedom To Read". Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired March 16, 2023 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Even further, that this is a bipartisan issue, though, even though there are some disagreements about how tough to be.

OLIVIER KNOX, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, one of the defining aspects of this is is that in domestic politics, Republicans and Democrats are largely united behind criticizing China going after TikTok, and the rest of it. What Rubio is saying there -- and he's been going after TikTok for quite some time, he and Mark Warner, who's the Senate Intelligence chairman, they both have been going after TikTok for a while -- well, I think what he's saying there is what that said, which is, if there is a way to make this work, which is a true actual separation, and not a separation, in name, in name only.

You're right, the measures has been kind of slow to get around to this point, that you hear that from national security Democrats on the Hill, and you heard, of course from Republicans. But it is an area of broad agreement.

KING: 32 states, we can show you the map, have already said you cannot have TikTok on a government issued device. The U.K. essentially taking the same steps. So this is happening at the state level here. There's going to be a big debate here in Washington. And we're also starting to see it around the world. Again, you could think of it as just as TikTok social media, but this is about China and national security.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think that's right. That is there is this sort of fear of a rising China and obviously discourse about that, in Washington bipartisan agreement that there should be some sort of separation here, but it is part of a larger, ongoing discussion that I think parents and states and school systems are having about social media more broadly.

You saw what's happening in California with them trying to sue some of these social media companies. Same thing happening in New Jersey, just this fear that maybe social media has sort of gotten a bit out of control, the fact that it's so addictive, the fact that it's contributing to mental health issues among students and children. So this is a sort of, I think, tipping point, I think for a lot of the conversation around social media and its place in our society.

KING: Yes. These are some Pew statistics, and this study is about a year old. So you can assume that, you know, the numbers of users are probably only gone up. But you see YouTube's the number one in terms of teens on social media, TikTok is second, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook right there.

In terms of the politics of this, the President wants to make it about China, national security. They want access to data. We need to keep that data from them. But it says -- you're also telling parents and their teenagers, we're going to take away something you like.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And so it could be while there is a bipartisan agreement in Washington, there could certainly be generational divides nationwide. And I think one sort of challenge that perhaps when the presidential campaigns really get going in the next several months., you know, how do you reach out to younger voters if you can't use the one sort of social media app that I believe what two-thirds of American teens are on?

How do you reach out to them and not go into their space where they're at? I think that will be a challenge for, you know, for -- in the national campaign season going forward. But certainly, it is one of the rare things that has -- or that has united Washington at some time.

KING: Is it a fear that China has access to this data or, from your days in the intelligence community, is it a fact, that China minds this data for purposes that it believes help it from whether it's an economic competition standpoint, or a military strategic standpoint?

BETH SANNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Look, I think that the discovery that Chinese employees in China had access to this data means that the Chinese government can have access to this data. They are required by law, and its presence in servers in China means that they can have it.

And there -- it's just ByteDance is required to do that. So it's a real thing. I mean, I don't think there's any doubt it's a real thing. But look, we also still have Huawei telephone, communications equipment all over our country and rural areas. They passed a bill, they didn't fully fund it. And we're busy banning it. But why not fund the Rip and Replace program and get the towers that are the same place that the balloon flew over taking care of?

KING: That gets to the big questions. You've seen this outrage Democratic and Republican at Facebook, at Twitter, at different social media platforms at different time. Is this different? Is it because it's China? Will they actually do something, or will they just talk that it's a problem or maybe do something to Beth's point that seems to address the problem, but then they don't fund it or they don't implement it?

KNOX: Well, I think one of the factors here is that it's a simple story to understand. It's a little bit like, it's like the balloon, right? Chinese spy balloon flies over America doesn't require you to have a PhD to understand it. Rip and Replace requires you to understand some of the more technical aspects of the competition vigorously (ph).

But when the director of the FBI comes forward and says we got two main concerns, one is they can grab your data, the others, they can use this massive messaging platform to sell their propaganda to American citizens, that's really easy to understand. And that translates therefore into simpler politics.

KING: Simpler politics and parents having some conversations with their kids, I suspect.

Up next for us, a historic vote very soon up on Capitol Hill nearly 20 years later. Lawmakers today will begin the process to try to rescind the still on the books, congressional authorization that greenlit the Iraq War.



KING: Congress today takes a key step to finally take off the books, the congressional authorization that paved the way for war in Iraq. Senators voting later today on a key first step toward repealing the 1991 and the 2002 laws that authorized military action against the long gone Saddam Hussein regime.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who pushed -- who are pushing this proposal agree the authority is now unnecessary. And those again pushing the repeal argue the 2002 authorization especially has been abused. This action, look at those old pictures, comes 20 years after President George W. Bush dropped the first bomb over Baghdad.


Congress passed the authorization in October 2002, five months before the war began.


GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD U.S. PRESIDENT: The days of Iraq acting as an outlaw state are coming to an end. The United States is committed to helping make the world more peaceful and more just.


KING: We'll leave the politics of what happened after the Iraq War aside. But Olivier, you and I were both covering the White House back in those days. And what is striking to me is number one, is 20 years later, and the 2002 authorization is still on the books.

We could just show you right now. There are 25 senators and 39 members of the House who were around for that vote 20 years ago. 64 members total out of 535 who are still here.

KNOX: Yes, it's really astonishing. So Sunday is 20 years since the beginning of the shock and awe airstrike campaign that George W. Bush ordered as the prelude to the ground invasion. It was really remarkable. 1991 is even more astonishing, but to stop on 2002 because I think that's actually the more important one of these two, that has been invoked more than a decade after Saddam Hussein was executed.

Barack Obama invoked that to send troops into Iraq and Syria. Just to be absolutely clear, the 2002 authorization of the U.S. military force had nothing to do with ISIS, and it had nothing to do with anything but the Saddam Hussein regime. Then Donald Trump used it to justify his airstrike that killed the Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.

In that justification, he actually quoted the Obama or referred back to the Obama years. What you hear from a lot of folks on the Hill, as you pointed out, is that this has been abused, it's been stretched beyond any sort of reason. What you hear from some of the supporters of it is actually a remarkable statement, which is well, because Obama and Trump invoked that we want to protect the ability of future presidents to invoke it, which to me sounds a little bit like, well, two presidents have used it. So future presidents should have use it.

KING: This is part of a decades long since the founding of the Republic tension, tension over can, you know, does the Congress have to authorize military action? Where does the president's authority start and stop? So there's a bigger issue there. But on this particular one, if you go back to the politics of that day, it was a big deal, right, there was 9/11.

And then the Bush administration at the time started to identify Iraq as a threat, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. But this was a big vote for Democrats, including the senator from Delaware, who's now the president of the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not a blank check for the use of force against Iraq for any reason. It is an authorization for the use of force, if necessary, to compel Iraq to disarm, as it promised, after the Gulf War.


KING: He would become Barack Obama's Vice President. Barack Obama, in part, making the case that those who voted for that resolution, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, made a fundamental mistake.

MIN KIM: Right, right. And it's actually been really interesting. I mean, I know Olivier has covered this a lot longer than I have, but just to see the evolution, even from recent administrations on how they feel about attempts from Congress to restrict or even eliminate these AUMF. The White House is endorsing this effort this time around.

We know the previous White Houses were very resistant to any sort of constraints on their power, particularly on issues of national security. So I think that's been a fascinating shift, not just in Congress as well, but within whoever is in the White House. And I do think that the senators here doing this, tackle this very intelligently.

I feel they're targeting, as Olivier said, the 1991 and the 2002 AUMF. Now, once the debate begins, and different members can have different amendments, that's where it could get really interesting and perhaps very difficult for some members.

For example, Rand Paul said he might actually put forward an amendment repeal in 2001 AUMF, which that was in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks. That is -- would be a much dicey proposition for a lot in the Senate.

KING: And so that raises the question, I think, the sentiment is more broadly, especially the 2002 AUMF. It's long time that it comes off the books. The question is, in today's polarized politics, if people start proposing differences, do we actually get to the finish line this time, or do we just have a more spirited debate?

HENDERSON: Yes, I mean, listen, Tim Kaine has obviously been at this for a while. You know, what is interesting is to see the shift, even within the Republican Party, it looks like if this is going to pass, it will be a bipartisan effort. Not overwhelming support from Republicans, but certainly some support from Republicans both in the House and both in the Senate.

And it's because of, I think, fatigue from wars, but also a sort of libertarian shift among some folks on the Republican Party, particularly sort of a MAGA wing of the party, authorized sort of and brought to the fore by Donald Trump. So we'll see, but the politics of this has shifted so much over the last five or 10 years and certainly over the last 20 years.

KING: It's a very serious issue but on the way out of the conversation, a little bit of fun. Just want to show you some video of some things can change in 20 years and some things do not. Judy Woodruff still looks exactly the same. She has aged gracefully and beautifully. The guy on the right that's my little brother, he covered the White House 20 years ago.


Now, that's -- what we have present day as my mother's DNA. Thank you, mom.

Up next, some new developments in two investigations of Donald Trump including the former Trump fixer Michael Cohen's take on his new grand jury testimony.



KING: New developments today in the investigation into Donald Trump's role in hush money paid to the adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Trump's Former Attorney Michael Cohen, a key player in that scheme, finished testifying on Wednesday, yesterday before a New York grand jury. Just as Daniels met with prosecutors in the Manhattan D.A.'s office.

Today, Cohen sat down with CNN for his first in person interview since he testified and he says he believes an indictment of the former president is imminent.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: They have a tremendous amount of information. A lot of people have attacked my credibility. Truth be told. At the end of the day, they can attack me all they want. This case is not going to be predicated on any one individual, but rather it's going to be predicated on the documents or evidence, the text messages, the emails.


KING: Our CNN Legal Analyst Carrie Cordero here to discuss. So Michael Cohen went back for two days of testimony, he wrapped up yesterday. He believes, based on what he was asked, and I guess what he heard or what he was told, an indictment is imminent. Does he have any reason to know that or is he just guessing?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, I mean, I think that's his view. Obviously, the grand jury has been hearing testimony from him and other people so it has ramped up. At some point, the New York DA is going to have to make a decision about this case. The facts really haven't changed in this case, since the almost seven years since the actual events took place. The payment of this money.

And the D.A.'s investigation seems to have ebbed and flowed. Some of the prosecutors who have been involved with it seem more likely to want to bring the case, others did not. And now here we are this much time later where the facts haven't changed, but they ramped up their investigation.

And the D.A. is going to have to decide one way or another. I don't think it's necessarily predetermined that there will be an indictment in this case. And Michael Cohen doesn't know that for sure.

KING: And just knowing that decision point is at hand, Trump's attorneys are suddenly very visible, Carrie. Here's one of them. Joe Tacopina on television, essentially saying Michael Cohen can say whatever he wants, but Michael Cohen is a known liar.


JOE TACOPINA, DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Look, Alvin Bragg once said -- and I hope he remembers these words -- he can't see a world in which he would base a prosecution of Donald Trump on the word of a convicted perjurer and felon like Michael Cohen. He's still a convicted perjurer. He's someone who's convicted of lying. And it's not about vengeance. It's about all about vengeance for him.


KING: He's right, in the sense that if Michael Cohen is on the witness stand, a good defense attorney could pick apart his credibility. The question is, and I guess this is, to Michael Cohen's point, does the prosecutor have enough documentary evidence to get around a witness who has a credibility problem?

CORDERO: Well, so this would not be the first trial ever to take place, if it actually were to go to trial, where an individual has been convicted. And so that would be something that the prosecutors have to overturn. I do think there are -- it sounds like there are documents in this case, but I do think that the case does hinge heavily on the testimony of Michael Cohen.

And we have to remember, we're just at the stage where the D.A. is deciding whether to indict. The next step would be the actual trial, and then it would be up to a jury to decide whether or not they find Michael Cohen and the evidence presented credible.

KING: Before I let you go. This is one, the New York is one of several investigations of Donald Trump, new developments and another one which is the Fulton County special grand jury. We now know from Atlanta Journal Constitution reporting that there was a third Trump call. We knew of two previous Trump calls. The most infamous one is to Brad Raffensperger, the Secretary of State.

There was another one to one of the investigators. And now we know there was a phone call to the late speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives trying to get the speaker to bring the legislature back in to help Donald Trump. What does that mean if you're building a case? You know, I guess if you're Trump, you could make the case.

If he had one phone call, he was upset he lost the election. He was venting. He didn't mean anything to fairest. If you have three phone calls, where he's asking for help overturning the results, how powerful is that evidence?

CORDERO: Well, so what the prosecutors -- if, again, this is in the pre-indictment stage in this investigation in Georgia as well, if they decided to bring the case, then that would be another piece of evidence that they could use to indicate that he had the intent to try to violate Georgia's election laws, which is what this Georgia case is all about.

KING: And so again, another near decision point we believe when we get to decisions. We'll have more interesting -- even more interesting conversations. Carrie Cordero, thank you.

Up next for us, the Biden Education Secretary challenging the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and his take on public education.



KING: Topping our political radar today, in a scathing op ed essay, the Education Secretary Miguel Cardona was after the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for the governor's efforts to legislate what can be taught and cannot be taught in state school. Cardona writes in the Tampa Bay Times, quote, politicians want to limit our children's freedom to read.

He goes on to warn against, quote, disturbing censorship in the classroom. The Education Secretary notably did not explicitly name Governor DeSantis.

A sweeping cybersecurity breach involving members of Congress and staff is more extensive than first thought. More than 1,500 congressional aides, members of the House and Senate, along with their family members had personal information exposed on the dark web. The FBI now investigating the data breach, targeting the D.C. health care insurance marketplace.

And his picks are in. The former President Barack Obama, yes, playing along with the rest of us and revealing his NCAA brackets. Obama predicts Duke without Coach K will win it all in the men's tournament beating Houston for the national championship. On the women's side, Obama, you might say, goes chalk, guessing South Carolina will stay undefeated and defend its title.

Thanks for your time today on INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you tomorrow. Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage right now.