Return to Transcripts main page

Isa Soares Tonight

Israel Accused Of Opening Fire On Gaza Civilians Waiting For Food; Trump And Biden Set To Visit U.S.-Mexico Border Today; Putin Bashes The West In State Of The Nation Address; Interview With Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis; Russia's War On Ukraine; Putin's State Of The Nation Address Criticizes The West; 100+ People Killed In Gaza While Waiting For Food, According To Gaza Health Ministry; Dueling Visits At The U.S. Southern Border; After GOP Destroys Bipartisan Border Agreement, Biden Goes On The Offensive; Today, Both Biden And Trump Visited U.S.-Mexico Border; In April, U.S. Supreme Court Will Consider Claim Of Trump Immunity; Israel-Hamas War; Two Distinct Events Occurred In Gaza City, According To IDF; Continued Negotiations To Reach Ceasefire In Exchange For Hostages; Anti-LGBTQ+ Bill In Ghana. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired February 29, 2024 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: Good evening, everyone, I'm Isa Soares in London. And tonight, we begin on a massive disaster in Gaza

occurring today where scores as you can see of civilians were killed, shot at, trampled and ran over to their deaths after the IDF opened fire on

desperate starving people waiting in a line for food.

We are covering all angles on this story. We'll have more details on that in just a moment. We are also following live events on the U.S. border this

hour, both U.S. President Joe Biden and former President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump are making separate but simultaneous

visits this hour, just a few 100 miles away, about 300 miles away or so from each other.

We'll keep a close eye on that as soon as we have more updates, of course, we will bring that to you. But I want to begin this hour, the devastating

scenes that we were just showing you just a short time ago in Gaza. The United Nations Humanitarian Office says it's an atrocious new low, their

words, even what it calls this inhumane war.

The Palestinian Health Ministry says at least 104 people were killed after Israeli forces opened fire on crowds that had rushed aid trucks, desperate

really, for food. A local journalist says chaos broke out and led to many more casualties as trucks tried to flee the scene and then rubbed into


But Israel says there were two separate incidents. First, a stampede and trucks running into the crowds, and then, nearby troops fired at

Palestinians they considered a threat. Israel says the IDF did not fire at the aid convoy. U.S. President Joe Biden calls the events tragic as well as

alarming. This is what he said.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know what happened in Gaza city? More than a hundred civilians were killed.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're checking that out right now. There's two competing versions of what happened. I don't have an

answer yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you worried that, that will complicate negotiations?

BIDEN: I know it will.


SOARES: Let's get more on all of this. Our chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward joins me now with more. And Clarissa, as we

just laid out, we are hearing two different events, different narratives.

What is clear, and this is something we have showed viewers for weeks, even this week, in fact, on the show, that this wouldn't have happened if people

weren't desperate and hungry -- and this has been a huge concern from NGOs we've had on the show day-in-day-out.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They have been warning that something like this would happen for months, because the

situation is so desperate, because the aid isn't getting in, in the quantities that it is, that it is needed to.

And because we have seen the looting, the criminality building up over time, this is a natural byproduct of a humanitarian catastrophe. Before

this war, Isa --

SOARES: Yes --

WARD: You would have had 500 trucks going in a day of aid, when there was no humanitarian catastrophe. Since the war on a good day, you might have

200 or 250. Last month, less than a 100 a day, four days last week, less than 10 trucks --

SOARES: Of course --

WARD: A day. All of this happening as the U.N. is saying, we are one step away from famine. And the situation is worse in northern Gaza, it is very

difficult to get to. So even those trucks that can get into Rafah through that border crossing are really struggling to make it all the way up to the

north. And that's why you're seeing such a horrendous tragedy like this taking place.

SOARES: And only yesterday, in fact, on the show, we had the CEO of Medical Aid for Palestinians, and she was telling me exactly about

situation in the north, she's got teams on the ground in the north. She said people are eating animal feed now -- their animal feeds ran out,

they're eating bird seeds. So it's incredibly dire. And just explain to our viewers, Clarissa, why, why aid isn't being allowed in?

WARD: So, essentially, there's a very onerous process, a deconfliction process to get that aid in. So, an aid organization will make a request to

COGAT, which is the Israeli body that deals with this and say, we would like to do an aid mission to northern Gaza or to Al-Shifa Hospital or

whatever it may be.

What OSHA said was that last month, particularly with northern Gaza, 15 percent of their requests were granted. And if you talk to these aid

officials, when they're dealing with COGAT, they don't get a detailed, comprehensive answer as to why --

SOARES: Yes --


WARD: A claim has been denied or rejected. They're just told it can happen presumably for security reasons. On top of that, you have this huge backup

of trucks at Rafah and Kerem Shalom. You have protesters at Kerem Shalom who are trying to -- Israeli protesters --

SOARES: Yes --

WARD: Who are trying to prove that --

SOARES: Yes, and we've seen that --

WARD: That aid --

SOARES: Yes --

WARD: From getting in. And then on the inside, you have this absolute desperation. You have goods being looted, you have goods being siphoned off

by criminal gangs and being sold in local markets, all of that, again, a product of the fact that the situation is so desperate.

And when we heard from an IDF spokesperson early on, he said one thing that was so telling, colonel -- Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, he says, you

know, this was a tragic incident, but quote, "very little to do with Israel".

SOARES: Yes --

WARD: Under international humanitarian law, that is patently false. It is the responsibility of the occupying power to ensure --

SOARES: Yes --

WARD: That the civilians of Gaza do not starve to death.

SOARES: And they are, like you said, they as occupying power, they have a responsibility. Clarissa, appreciate it, thank you very much. And on that

actually, although the IDF acknowledges its troops opened fire on people, it said it considered a threat.

As Clarissa was saying, the IDF told CNN that the mass casualties had nothing -- he said very little or nothing to do with Israel. Have a listen.


PETER LERNER, SPOKESMAN, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: We distributed aerial footage that shows exactly how the people were stoning the trucks that had

nothing to do with the IDF fire, and as the trucks continued to move on, continued to press forward, despite the fact that there were hundreds and

perhaps thousands of people around those trucks.

So, I would say -- our message is very clear, this is the investigation, these are the facts that we know up until now. We're continuing to review

it because of the -- because of these claims, but we are very -- understanding of the situation as I've described.

The trucks went through, they were surrounded by hundreds of people, thousands of people, perhaps. And as they were trying to loot the goods on

the trucks, it appears that the trucks continued to move forward, and this is the unfortunate reality, a mass casualty event that actually has very

little or nothing to do with Israel.


SOARES: Right, so, you heard the IDF there. Let's get more on all of this. Jeremy Diamond joins me now from Tel Aviv. And we also heard Jeremy from

the IDF the reason we saw so many people dying is because many of those were trampled on. Now, the IDF talking about this video they put out, I

know you've gone through this video.

Does that -- anything that you've seen there, suggest that was the case that didn't happen -- that in fact, happened.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's talk about what that video does and doesn't show. What the video does show is clearly

hundreds of Palestinians desperate for humanitarian aid surrounding these aid trucks once they crossed into western Gaza city, some of them climbing

on top of it, grabbing what they can.

It also shows the trucks moving along at certain points, people running alongside of them. What it doesn't show is dozens of people being trampled

or run over by these trucks, which the Israeli military keeps suggesting that these videos show, it's simply not there in about two minutes of

footage that they have provided.

Now, the main dispute here between the Israeli military's account and the account that we have heard from eyewitnesses on the ground, including local

journalist Hadar al-Zaanoun(ph) with whom I spoke earlier today, is what actually caused the stampede and caused drivers of these trucks to drive

away and run people over.

Eyewitnesses on the ground say that Israeli gunfire erupted minutes after these trucks arrived at the location as they were already being swarmed by

crowds of hundreds of people. And there was that gunfire that turned a chaotic situation into a really awful situation with these truck drivers

driving away and running people over.

The Israeli military has suggested that the gunfire came after the situation had already turned into what they described as a stampede. And

they're also trying to describe these as two separate incidents, suggesting that there was the stampede on the one hand and people getting run over by

trucks on the one hand.

And then separately, another group of people approached an Israeli military checkpoints in a threatening manner they say, and were fired upon. The

reality though is that they acknowledged that these two incidents happened in virtually the same location.

So, it's not really clear what they're trying to -- you know, why they're trying to separate these out. But the bottom line, as you and Clarissa were

talking about is that, ultimately, this situation would not have unfolded this way --

SOARES: Yes --

DIAMOND: If more humanitarian aid was making its way into northern Gaza. We know that about more than half a million people are now on the brink of

famine and people are desperate.


And so, when they see one of the very few aid trucks to make it in, they're going to do whatever they can to grab a bag of flour to make bread for

their family, to be able to stay alive. And that is ultimately what --

SOARES: Yes --

DIAMOND: Led to this situation, combines with the lack of security for these trucks and ultimately Israeli gunfire.

SOARES: Yes, indeed, and we have also heard that President Biden saying today that this may have an impact, Jeremy, on the ceasefire negotiations.

Where are we on those negotiations? And how much pressure do you think this will put Benjamin Netanyahu under?

DIAMOND: I don't know that it will put Netanyahu under any particular pressure. But what it could do is affect the course of the negotiations. It

could --

SOARES: Yes --

DIAMOND: You know, we know that impact events on the ground can sometimes change the course of those negotiations, could cause Hamas to change its

positions. I mean, we don't know exactly what the impact of this will be.

President Biden for his part after suggesting that these talks could be -- result in a deal as early as Monday, kind of backed away from that today,

saying that he hopes it would be that soon, but he's not sure. What is clear though, is that today's events really drove home the need for a

ceasefire, the need for additional humanitarian aid to make its way into Gaza, in particular, in northern Gaza.

And without that ceasefire, it's clear that the conditions on the ground just don't allow for the amount of humanitarian aid to get in. And so that

would be the only way it seems to actually get the much-needed aid to those people in northern Gaza.

SOARES: Indeed, Jeremy Diamond for us there in Tel Aviv. Thanks very much, Jeremy. Well, the race for the White House and immigration will collide

today in the U.S. state of Texas. President Joe Biden and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump are both due to visit different border towns,

almost about 500 or so kilometers apart, that is near Mexico -- as you can see there on your map.

Trump has just touched down, in fact, in Del Rio, and he's heading to Eagle Pass later today, and we expect Mr. Biden to arrive in Brownsville later

this hour where he'll meet with border patrol agents as well as law enforcement. The Biden presidency has seen record numbers of undocumented

migrants crossing into the United States, and Republicans -- well, are seizing on that issue.

They've impeached the Homeland Security Secretary that's in migrant- Democratic-controlled cities, and they've blocked a major foreign aid bill in the name of border security, even though that bill includes a bipartisan

deal on the border.

CNN's Kristen Holmes is live in Eagle Pass, Texas, and joins us now. And Kristen, what is -- talk us through what we're expected to hear from both

men here. What are they likely to encounter?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that Biden is going to go after Republicans, particularly for tanking that border

bill. They want to flip the script here. We know that also President Joe Biden is having an issue when it comes to immigration.

Voters do not see him as solid on the topic of immigration. And as we have seen in recent polls, that is a top topic for so many voters in 2024. Now,

obviously, Donald Trump has been beating the immigration drums since 2015, often using divisive and racist rhetoric to stoke fear in people relating

it to immigration.

But it has worked to some extent with the American people that helped carry him to the White House in 2016, and they are hoping it helps him in 2024. I

mean, some of his policies that he's already rolled out include large mass deportations, rounding up illegal migrants and holding them in different

facilities, detention camps essentially, until he deports them out.

And also tapping into law enforcement to help with these mass arrests. He wants to be running on the topic of immigration when it comes to a 2024

general election rematch with Joe Biden. So, we expect to hear from him today, he's going toward the facility, he's going to be with Governor Greg

Abbott, who is really in a standoff right now with the Biden administration over who controls border security.

And he's going to talk about how he blames Biden for the migrant crisis on the border. We are at a point in America where a majority of people,

according to polls, believe there is in fact a crisis at the border. You can expect the former president to seize on that and ramp up his rhetoric

on immigration.

SOARES: Thank you very much, appreciate it. Let's get more now on all of this. I'm joined by Denise Gilman from Austin, Texas, she's an immigration

professor at the University of Texas Law School. Denise, welcome to the show, really appreciate you being with us. I mean, we're seeing --


SOARES: Pleasure. We are going to be seeing -- we have seen already the former President Trump arriving there, but both men in Texas about 300, 500

miles apart, which really just emphasizes, doesn't it, how much the crisis at America's southern border could be really one of the --

GILMAN: Yes --

SOARES: Defining issues of this 2024 campaign. Just explain to our international viewers, first of all, why the border issue is such a big

issue in this election?

GILMAN: Well, I really think it goes to the political rhetoric that has been used to describe the border as a crisis situation.


When really, what we're seeing is a certain type of humanitarian challenge at the border for certain. But really not numbers that are unmanageable if

proper resources are taken to the border. But instead, because it has become such a political issue, it has raised issues where both candidates

are really just at a race to have the most cruel border measures that they can.

So, it kind of feeds on itself because it has become such a big issue in the rhetoric than both parties are striving to fight immigration and at

the border.

SOARES: Yes, and on that, Denise, according to a recent CNN polls, some 70 percent of Americans disapprove of Biden's handling of the border. Now,

defenders of Biden's records may say the causes are perhaps complicated and predate his presidency. Do you agree with that?

How has the president handled the border issue, and how has it changed in fact, since he became president?

GILMAN: Right, so, the president definitely inherited a situation where you had many migrants, mostly asylum seekers, trapped in northern Mexico

because of harsh policies that existed under the Trump administration. And so, those migrants didn't go away.

They just presented a problem as the policies changed in terms of processing them through. Now, we are also certainly seeing new arrivals of

asylum seekers, mostly families at the border. And that is because there are very egregious human rights violations taking place in countries around

the world.

Forced migration is at levels according to the United Nations that haven't been seen since World War II. So not surprisingly, we are seeing large

numbers of arrivals at our southern border.

In terms of the Biden administration's handling of the situation, unfortunately, for the most part, the Biden administration has used

measures very similar to those adopted during the Trump administration that really are more about trying to deter migration and trying to demonstrate

toughness at the border, when we know that, that just doesn't work.

That isn't the decision-making factor that most migrants are considering. They're not looking at border policies, and so, we don't see any mechanisms

to address the root causes of why we're seeing such large numbers of arrivals, nor do we see the resources being put in to process those

arrivals in a meaningful way.

SOARES: And of course, Trump, who is in Eagle Pass, Texas, making his way, I understand to Eagle Pass, Texas, is vowing mass deportations I

understand if elected. I mean, the border issue has been one of his central issue since they won. I want to play a little clip for our viewers, of

course, often a lot of his rhetoric, I think it's fair to say, Denise, is pretty racist -- deeply racist as you said and pretty ugly. Just have a

listen to what he said prior.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're poisoning the blood of our country, that's what they've done.

The crime is going to be tremendous.

They're coming from prisons. They're coming from mental institutions and insane asylums. They're terrorists. Credible elector is coming in, lots of


We're taking in murderers and drug lords. We're taking in people that are very sick with diseases that will be spread all over our nation.


SOARES: Well, incredibly ugly. We will remember that. We also remember, Denise, him saying that the U.S. was going to build a wall that Mexico was

going to pay for the wall at the time. Eyes were rolling at those comments, but something that struck me today, it said here, this is CNN's own

reporting here.

"One key reason for Donald Trump's dominance in the GOP presidential race may be hiding in plain sight. Even compared to 2016, the Republican

electorate has moved sharply to the right on immigration." And it goes on to say, "exit polls found that the share of Republican voters who described

immigration as the most important issue facing the country doubled from 2016 to 2024 in New Hampshire, and more than doubled in the Iowa caucuses."

So, just explain here, this is very important for our viewers right around the world. What do Republican voters want to see and want to hear? What

change are they looking for here?

GILMAN: I'm not sure that they know, although, it does look like both candidates, both Trump and Biden, are mainly focusing on new measures that

they say would shut down the border and make it much more difficult for people to seek asylum in the United States.

Now, these measures, as I say, are very similar, are those that are being proposed by both candidates. And both really run into very serious legal

problems. They are similar to measures that the Trump administration adopted the last time around, which were declared for the most part to be

unlawful by the courts.


And yet, we're back in the same place rather than seeing leadership, ideally from the Biden administration explaining that what we're seeing at

the border is a humanitarian challenge that can be addressed. But I think that's the explanation for the shift to the right. Is that the border has

consistently been described as a situation of threat and crisis. And there hasn't really been any counter narrative despite --

SOARES: Yes --

GILMAN: What the facts show.

SOARES: Yes, unlike you said, the rhetoric is that everyone is hanging on to this from the Trump side, but it's clear that not really addressing the

root causes of this migration and dealing with the dire need for resources. Denise, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us, thank you

very much.

GILMAN: Thank you.

SOARES: And still to come tonight, strong words from Vladimir Putin with warnings of nuclear war if the West sends troops to Ukraine, something the

Lithuania Foreign Minister says we can't rule out. Gabrielius Landsbergis joins me now on the show, in fact, he's -- I think he's ready next.


SOARES: Well, Russian President Vladimir Putin says it's time for Russia to strengthen its western border. That's in reaction to neighboring Finland

and Sweden joining NATO. His comments came during his annual state of the nation address on Thursday, which lasted over two hours.

It tend to last -- it tends to be quite long, in fact. Well, Mr. Putin says the West wants to quote, "bring trouble to our homes and make us weaker."

He added that the West risks nuclear war if they send troops to Ukraine, and that other countries look at Russia's self-protection as aggression.

Have a listen.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA (through translator): They started talking about the possibilities and a NATO military contingents to Ukraine.

But we remember the fate of those who once sent their contingents to the territory of our country. But now the consequences for possible

intervention will be much more tragic.


SOARES: Well, Mr. Putin's comments have some European officials worried about a potential assault on NATO countries. And many think their countries

should be prepared to defend themselves like Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, just yesterday, he said this, "if we think defeat

can be limited to Ukraine and Putin will have no further ambitions, we have a very harsh lesson coming."

And now, Foreign Minister Landsbergis joins me now from Vilnius. Foreign Minister, welcome back to the show. Your comments on X that we just showed

there really does suggest that you believe that President Putin sees victory beyond Ukraine, that he has bigger ambitions.

Given that, what do you make of the comments that he made today in his address where he said that Russia must strengthen its western border. How

do you interpret that?

GABRIELIUS LANDSBERGIS, FOREIGN MINISTER, LITHUANIA: Well, I interpret it quite directly. This is what we are seeing already. They have new strategy

for their military, for the future. That means that they will be strengthening the military district that is closest to NATO border, their

northern-western district.


We hear that it is likely that they will be mobilizing additional 400,000 troops, and it's 400,000 troops. And it's not permitted that they will be

placed on NATO's border. So, definitely, there are a number of sites, number of site rhetoric, practical, military signs that Russia is not about

to stop in Ukraine.

Therefore, it has to be said, it has to be very clear that Ukraine has to win if we don't want this -- the conflict to spread and spread also into

NATO countries.

SOARES: And with that in mind, given everything you just said, now on your tweet as well, what then do you make, Foreign Minister, of President

Macron's comments early in the week, where he kind of floated the possibility of sending western troops to help Ukraine.

Where does Lithuania stand on that, because there were plenty, I think it's fair to say, there were plenty of EU leaders who kind of distances

themselves from that idea and that comment, I should say.

LANDSBERGIS: Oh, first of all, we have to see where President Macron is coming from. He's saying that situation in Ukraine is not good. Ukrainians

are fighting heroically for, you know, almost a third year, that is about to start. But it's not going well.

We cannot find strength within us to support them militarily. We cannot find the equipment to send them that they need. We cannot find the

ammunition to send to them. So, we need new decisions. We need new ways how to support Ukraine.

And at this, I can only say that nothing can be left off the table. We have to think about all the possible solutions, how Ukraine can win this. And

therefore, I fully support President Macron's approach, and here in Lithuania, I think that we -- quite soon, we will be able to share with our

allies the options that we would be ready to offer for assisting Ukraine further.

SOARES: Are you willing to share some of that with us? What -- how would you be able because -- to hell, because you've said as well, "it is

imperative to change our approach, embrace strategic, ambiguity, break to boost(ph), and include all available options in our toolkit. Such

suggestion should be welcomed, not dismissed." So, talk us through what kind of ideas are we thinking? How can Lithuania help here?

LANDSBERGIS: Well, first of all, troops in Ukraine, I don't think that this option should be off the table. Most likely we're not talking about

combat troops, but it could be training, it could be other forms of assistance to Ukraine. That means that we -- there are ways how our people

from the countries, you know, they are called like-minded countries.

And I have to, you know, stress here that we're not talking about NATO action, not EU action, but it could be a group of countries, group of

allies who would think the same way, who would be ready to assist Ukraine in that matter, in that way. Who would lend a hand in Ukraine's -- in

Ukraine's fight.

SOARES: And we know, of course, I'm sure Ukraine will help and will welcome all the help it can get following on, of course, from what we have

seen just in the last few weeks following the capture of Avdiivka, of course --


SOARES: And of course, Russia continues on the offensive as we've seen in Donetsk. We have seen Ukrainian soldiers, Foreign Minister, stockpiling

ammunition -- the Defense Minister of Ukraine had spoken of a shell hunger, yet Europe has admitted it's going to miss its target on ammunition, right?

So, is Europe considering buying shells from outside of EU? Do you support that, and do you support this comment that we've heard from Ursula von der

Leyen about using frozen Russian assets to buy some of this ammunition?

LANDSBERGIS: Yes, well, first of all, you know, what's sad here is that North Korea is not missing its delivery quotas to Russia, right? It's a

country that has out-produced at this point, United States and European Union hit a combined where this assistance to Russia.

So, that's really -- you know, tells you something, where we are currently. So, anything and everything that could be done should be done. If we are

able to agree that we should use Russian frozen assets, and we fully agree with that here in Lithuania, that has to be done. That has to be done.

If our Czech colleagues are suggesting that they found ammunition outside EU, outside NATO, which can be procured, we have to do that. We have to

find resources within ourselves and within our countries, within our budgets to buy, to assist Czech here to buy the ammunition to send it to


And it's not either/or, I mean, it's not either, you know, sending ammunition and equipment and, you know, either discussing President

Macron's suggestion. I think that we can do both.

SOARES: Yes --

LANDSBERGIS: And we should be doing both because we need Ukraine to win.

SOARES: Let me turn, if I may, because we're running out of time, and this is important to our top story. And really, the horrific mass casualty that

we have seen out of Gaza with the health ministry, as you probably have seen, Foreign Minister, saying that more than 100 people have been killed

as they were waiting for food. People are desperate. People clearly very hungry. Your reactions to the scenes that we have seen today.

LANDSBERGIS: Well, I think that there has to be a call to temporarily seize the activities in Gaza. To call for ceasefire and -- so that the

people would get help that they require.

SOARES: But Foreign Minister, there have been three votes. Three votes. The U.S. has vetoed it three times. So, what else can be done?

LANDSBERGIS: Well, we have to agree that this is what is needed right now. Because honestly, this is what the civilized world is asking for. This is

what the free world is asking for.

SOARES: What about pressing the United States here? Is the -- is Europe having conversations with the U.S.?

LANDSBERGIS: Well, we've asked in our European formats, such as the Foreign Affairs Council, so that we would have a joint conference with our

colleagues from United Kingdom and United States on this matter, specifically. And Lithuania was one of the countries asking for this. So,

we need more coordination so that our allies, you know, on the other bank of Atlantic could hear the arguments that we have here in Europe, and maybe

that would help formulate a common position.

SOARES: Foreign Minister, always great to have you on the show. Thank you very much, sir, for your time.

LANDSBERGIS: Thank you so much.

SOARES: And still to come tonight, the U.S. presidential campaign again moves to the southern border as the presumptive nominees appear in the same

state at the same time in two different towns. As you can see, they're approximately 300 miles apart. The made for TV moment when we come back,




SOARES: Back to one of our top stories, the U.S. border battle and a made for TV split screen, really, moment. They've been there in the past,

really, both of them. The two all, but inevitable, presidential nominees visit two border towns in the U.S. state of Texas at the same time. That

has never happened.

President Joe Biden expected to hammer House Republicans over the failed U.S. Senate border bill. And Former President Trump, if elected, vowing to

undertake what he called the largest deportation operation in American history.

Our senior White House Correspondent MJ Lee joins me now. And MJ, let's talk -- let's focus on President Biden. Just talk us through, who is he

expected to meet and what is he hoping to achieve out of this visit? In fact, what message does he want to send here?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, it was really fascinating to see that literal split screen moment there at the border

between President Biden visiting today, as well as Former President Donald Trump. Not a scene that you see on any given day.

And you're also just seeing through those images how central the issue of border politics is going to be to the 2024 election. It already has been

already. But as for President Biden, we know that he is in Brownsville, Texas. That is where he is going to be spending some time this afternoon.

We -- meeting with border patrol agents and other law enforcement officials and local leaders and just trying to get a better sense of what the

situation is down there.

And he is going to be delivering remarks. And in those remarks, we fully expect that there is going to be a good amount of finger pointing at

Republicans. Basically, trying to remind the public that there was a deal reached on Capitol Hill among lawmakers on addressing the situation at the

border with a package of proposals that would have given more resources to some of these border agents that he is meeting with.

And he is going to be able to say, as we've heard him say before, that it was because of Donald Trump urging some of these Republicans on Capitol

Hill to not go along with this plan. That that plan, basically didn't come to fruition. So, casting the blame on Republicans is a theme that we've

heard from President Biden in recent days. And we certainly expect to hear from him when he speaks later this afternoon.

I think it's worth pointing out, too, just what a markedly different position the president and other Democrats find themselves in right now

when it comes to border politics. You know, this is an issue that Democrats generally have tended to, almost try to avoid talking about and drawing too

much attention to. It's an issue where they have tended to be on defense as Republicans have very much criticized them for a situation at the border

that they have said is simply out of control.

But now, because of what happened on Capitol Hill, again, with that package not moving forward in the House, Democrats see themselves as having a rare

opportunity. An opening to really cast the blame on Republicans in a way that they haven't been able to do before. This is according to just White

House and campaign sources that we have been in touch with who say, yes, this is a political opportunity and an opening for us to try to seize right


We've seen the president, you know, much of his presidency be on the defense as we have seen the influx of migrants. And, you know, even when he

has tried to embrace some of these more stricter policies, then he has gotten blowback from the left.

So, he's gotten this from, really, all sides. And now, this is a moment where he gets to go down to the border and say, look, I've tried to do

something on this issue, and it's because of the Republicans that we haven't been able to.

SOARES: MJ Lee, thank you for breaking it all down for us. Appreciate it.

Well, a Supreme Court move means the federal trial of Donald Trump will be further delayed. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether

Trump can claim immunity in the election subversion case. Arguments are set to start in late April.

CNN Senior Supreme Court Analyst Joan Biskupic joins me now from Washington, D.C. And Joan, just explain, first of all, to our viewers why

the Supreme Court decided to take up the case? And does it -- and what this means? I mean, does it mean it disagrees with the lower court decision?


JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: These are great questions and there's also a matter of why now? OK. So, what the U.S. Supreme Court

is going to decide is whether a former president should be absolutely immune, as Donald Trump is arguing, from any kind of criminal prosecution

for actions that he took while he was president?

And that's a question that has never been decided by our high court. Now, it has been -- it has precedent that's related in the civil trial context,

but never in the criminal context. So, this Supreme Court, obviously now, wants to be the last word on that fundamental question.

Now, Donald Trump posed a unique challenge to the American criminal justice system throughout his presidency and afterward. But the court has to think

about not just Donald Trump, but presidents in the future. So, it's sort of a fundamental basic question. But one thing that your question suggests

today is, why now when Special Counsel Jack Smith, who represents the United States, the Department of Justice, in this case against Donald Trump

had asked the High Court to intervene last December?

Supreme Court said, no, just rejected that request. And essentially, you know, gave Donald Trump more time. Now, in the interim, it said that an

intermediate appellate court had to resolve it, and the intermediate appellate court unanimously said that whatever immunity from prosecution

Donald Trump might have enjoyed while he was a sitting president, that dissolved once he became a former president.

I think in the end the Supreme Court might agree with that ruling, but by delaying its intervention and saying it won't even hold oral arguments

until April and likely not decide the case until late June, it pushes everything back. And it probably means, bottom line, that Donald Trump will

not be subjected to any kind of criminal trial for his actions after the 2020 election before he -- faces voters for the 2024 election here.

SOARES: Joan, appreciate it.


SOARES: Thank you very much indeed.

And still to come tonight, we have more on our top story. Mass casualties in Gaza as eyewitnesses say, the IDF opened fire on a crowd waiting for

food. That story after this.



SOARES: ? Welcome back. We'll turn now to our top story this hour. Gaza's health military says that more than a hundred civilians were killed when

Israeli troops opened fire on crowds waiting for food in Gaza City.

Now, video released by Israel shows people rushing towards those aid trucks, as you can see there. A local journalist says, many people were

killed under the wheels of the aid trucks as they tried to escape. Israel admits its troops opened fire but says there were two separate incidents.

First, a stampede and trucks ramming into crowds. And then nearby IDF troops fired at a group of Palestinians.

With clashing versions of events, one thing really remains clear this hour. This is a disaster born, really, of utter desperation. People pushed to the

very brink of survival. While speaking to CNN just days ago, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland highlighted the

situation unfolding within Gaza. Have a listen to this.


JAN EGELAND, NORWEGIAN REFUGEE COUNCIL SECRETARY GENERAL: There is very little aid. There is very little supplies there to start with. So, famine

is breaking out there. There is no other way to just describe it which, again, shows that the Karni crossing, which is also from Israel. Israel

could fix this. They are the occupying power. They have the overwhelming military superiority. They could have convoys going over Karni crossing,

which is in the middle area from where you can easily reach the north. It's very hard from here south in Rafah and Kerem Shalom.


SOARES: Let's get over to our CNN's Chief National Security Correspondent Alex Marquardt who is in Washington for us. So, Alex, give us a sense of

what we're hearing from the U.S. How the U.S. is reacting to these horrible, awful scenes played out in Gaza earlier today.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, in speaking with sources and officials over here, Isa, it -- they really say

that this highlights the urgency and the need for the ceasefire that they have been trying to put into place for some time now.

Those conversations over a humanitarian pause and a hostage deal, they appeared to be making some progress. Remember just a few days ago,

President Biden said that a ceasefire could be in place as of Monday. I think that caught a lot of people by surprise. You know, sources telling me

that the talks are not that far along.

Today, President Biden, essentially, walking that back. Saying, perhaps not Monday, but hope springs eternal, he said. He also said that this does

complicate the talks. But what U.S. Officials are saying is that this adds urgency. The need to get it done. I think they are still waiting to see to

what extent today's horrific incident will derail the talks.

We heard from a senior Hamas leader earlier today saying that that's a possibility or whether these talks will actually speed up in order to get

to that ceasefire. That's a possibility. That one senior U.S. official, said is possible.

But certainly, regardless of whether there's a ceasefire in place, what we saw today, what you're seeing right there on the screen, is a result of

what the U.S. has been warning for quite some time now. There is not enough aid going into Gaza, and the aid that is going in is not being distributed

in the way that it needs to be.

You just heard, Egeland saying -- talking about the Karni crossing there. That's something that the U.S. has been bringing up for quite some time

now, that more of these border crossings between Israel and Gaza need to be opened up.

So, the Biden administration sees a ceasefire deal as not just a way to get hostages out, not just a way to stop the fighting, if only temporarily, but

a real key to getting that aid in and getting it to the right places and alleviating some of that desperation. Isa.

SOARES: Alex Marquardt there for us. Thanks very much, Alex.

And just moments ago, I want to bring you this that's coming in. I want to take you to Brownsville, Texas, where U.S. President Joe Biden, as you can

see, has just landed. This was just moments, in fact. He is visiting the border as we told you in the last -- well, the top of the hour, in fact.

He's visiting the border, in fact, the same time as Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, as the immigration issue really takes center stage, really


They're both going to be in the same place -- well, 300 miles apart from each other. And really a defining moment here for both men. One of the

defining issues of the 2024 campaign, and that is, The crisis at American southern border.

As we heard in the last 10 minutes from MJ Lee, we heard that President Biden will most likely be finger pointing. Blaming the Republicans. Of

course, there's a deal on the border that the Republics are not putting through, and that's what he will focus on. Of course, we know that Mr.

Trump is already there. We've shown you those images at the top of the show. As soon as we see any more developments or both men speak, we will of

course bring that to you.


SOARES: Still to come tonight, Ghana's president is only one who can stop an anti-homosexuality bill from going into law. Details ahead on the

controversial measure. That is straight ahead.


SOARES: While the U.N. Human Rights Chief is calling Ghana's anti homosexuality bill, "Profoundly disturbing," the measure has made it

through parliament. And now, as international condemnation grows, it awaits presidential approval to be made law. The controversial bill criminalizes

LGBTQ relationships, all those with a nontraditional gender identity.

Our David McKenzie has the story for you.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ghanaian artist, Angel Maxine, fought a homophobic bill with what she knew

best. Now, as Ghana's most famous trans-singer, she says she lives in fear. Gets death threats from the public.

MAXINE ANGEL OPOKU, MUSICIAN: I -- I am -- I'm scared. I'm really scared.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Ghana's parliament has unanimously passed a draconian anti-LGBT bill. It calls for jail time for Ghanaians identifying

as gay or trans, criminalizes those who support them, requires citizens to turn them in.

OPOKU: I am heartbroken. I feel so bad. And I feel bad because we have worked so hard to speak up against this.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Since 2021, the so-called Family Values Bill has been pushed by a coalition of politicians and faith leaders in Ghana with

support from U.S. conservative groups. It's just one of several homophobic bills emerging in Africa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in a foreign language).

MCKENZIE (voice-over): CNN has tracked a severe spike in the abuse of LGBTQ Africans, often put on social media, an epidemic of hate inspired by

the laws.

SAM GEORGE, GHANAIAN OPPOSITION MP: There is nothing that deals with LGBTQ better than this bill that has just been passed by parliament. We expect

the president to walk his talk and be a man of his words.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): After the unanimous vote, President Nana Akufo- Addo, a former human rights lawyer, will be under enormous political pressure to sign the bill. But his government is a significant recipient of

U.S. and European foreign aid.

And Ghana has been on a push to draw foreign tourists to its shores with flashy advertising like this.



MCKENZIE (voice-over): It's been a hugely successful campaign, especially with Americans. But it could all be under threat. And Maxine says, she's

almost out of hope for their future.

OPOKU: I won't allow my identity to be criminalized and I'll still speak against it.

MCKENZIE: But you could be sent to prison.

OPOKU: Yes, I could be sent to prison. There's little time that we have right now. We have to speak against it.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Otherwise, Maxine and many others will be silenced.

David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.


SOARES: And our thanks to David for that report.

Well, here at CNN, we bring you the news 24/7 every day of the year, as you know. But one French paper likes to operate, well, a little differently.

Its newest edition hit the kiosks today. For the first time in four years, the tongue in cheek tabloid, La Bougie du Sapeur, was first published on

February 29th, 1980. That is, of course, a leap day. And since then, it's only been published on that date, every leap year.

And that does it for us for this hour. Thank you very much for your company. Do stay right here. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" with Richard Quest is

up next. I shall see you tomorrow. Bye-bye.