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Isa Soares Tonight

Millions Of Americans Vote On Super Tuesday; President Biden Says A Potential Gaza Ceasefire Deal Is In The Hands Of Hamas; EU Looks To Boost Up Arms; Kyrsten Sinema Announced Her Retirement; 2024 U.S. Election; Super Tuesday: Nikki Haley's Final Stance; As Super Tuesday Approaches, Biden Wants To Strengthen Democratic Base; Sen. Kyrsten Sinema Announced She Will Not Seek Reelection; Millions Of People Will Cast Ballots On Super Tuesday Today; Trump Intends To Strike A Decisive Blow On Super Tuesday; U.N. Report On Sexual Violence In Israel-Hamas War; Israel-Hamas War; Growing Concerns On China And Russia To Incorporate A.I. Into Their Military Capability. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired March 05, 2024 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, it's Super Tuesday, the most important

day in the 2024 U.S. presidential race so far. And it's all eyes on Donald Trump as his big delegate lead, and it is expected to grow. We'll tell you

the key races, of course, to watch.

Also ahead, President Biden says that potential Gaza ceasefire deal is in the hands of Hamas, as well as pressing that more aid needs to be getting

into Gaza. And the EU says it needs to ramp up its defense capabilities in light of Russia's war in Ukraine.

This as the bloc looks to decrease its dependence on American weapons, that latest on that a bit later this hour. But first, tonight, millions of

voters in the United States are going to the polls on Super Tuesday. One of the most critical days on the primary calendar.

Races are being held today across the U.S. in 16, as you can see there, states and American Samoa. With a strong showing, Republican Donald Trump

could come close to clinching his party's nomination and putting an end to Nikki Haley's campaign.

On the Democratic side, U.S. President Biden is looking to shore up his base after more, if you remember, than the 100,000 Democrats voted

uncommitted in Michigan, many of them protesting his handling of the war in Gaza. Our Brian Todd joins us now from Sandy in Utah.

And Brian, it's worth pointing out to our viewers that Trump won Utah in 2020 with a pretty strong showing. It is something around 58 percent, but

the challenge here, and you correct me if I'm wrong, is whether Nikki Haley can chip away at that support, give us a sense of what to expect today.

BRIAN TODD, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Isa, this could be Nikki Haley's best chance to chip away at Donald Trump's support on the

Republican side. As you mentioned, Donald Trump won the state of Utah pretty handily over Joe Biden in the general election in 2020.

But in the 2016 Republican caucuses here in Utah, he lost handily. So, Utah has a history of kind of a lukewarm support for Donald Trump. First, let's

set the scene for you. This is where the caucus is going to take place, where we are. This is Alto High School in Sandy, Utah, a very big high

school, 32 precincts are going to be voting here.

We are not allowed to go inside right now because school is in session, but later tonight, 32 precincts are going to be -- people are going to be

gathering inside those doors, they're going to be gathering and hearing speeches. And then at about 7 O'clock local time here, they're going to be

voting, putting ballots like this into a container, a simple ballot.

You've got Ryan Binkley, kind of a random third candidate running for president, then Nikki Haley, then Donald Trump here, very simple ballot.

They filled this out after hearing speeches and talking to each other, that's how a caucus works. Then they put it into a container, then at about

8 O'clock local time here, they're going to start the vote-count.

We're going to be able to kind of see all that in motion. That's what makes a caucus so interesting to cover. Now, as we kind of pivot over here and

give you a panoramic view of the beautiful mountain ranges around here, let's talk about Nikki Haley.

Nikki Haley does have a chance to chip away at Donald Trump's support because as I mentioned, Donald Trump has had kind of lukewarm support in

previous caucuses here in Utah. Also, the Utah Governor Spencer Cox has said openly that he is not like Donald Trump as a candidate, he does not

like Joe Biden as a candidate.

This is a Republican governor of Utah. Now, the governor has not formally endorsed Nikki Haley, even though he says he likes her, but the governor's

wife, Abby Cox, has endorsed Nikki Haley as has the Lieutenant Governor, Deidre Henderson, she has endorsed Nikki Haley.

Also here in Utah, you have the Mitt Romney factor, the senator who is retiring, a former presidential candidate, Republican senator is clearly an

opponent of Donald Trump, he's been very critical of Donald Trump for years, and Mitt Romney is still a popular figure here in Utah.

Can Mitt Romney, can that factor kind of pull some votes away from Donald Trump and toward Nikki Haley? Donald Trump needs to win 50 percent of the

vote or more tonight to take all of the 40 delegates here up for grabs in the state of Utah. Can he do that?

And can he add to his sweep of all of these states? Well, Utah, maybe the last best chance for Nikki Haley to really chip into that, and maybe, just

maybe she pulls an upset win here in --

SOARES: Yes --

TODD: Utah, given the history of kind of a lack of support for Donald Trump here. Isa --


SOARES: Yes, and she was in Utah recently, right? So -- and what we have been hearing from her and she's been making the pitch, Brian, that she is

an alternative to Trump, that the U.S. can do better than these two 80- year-old candidates running for president. Does that from what you've heard so far, does that resonate with voters?

TODD: You know, it really does. You're right. She campaigned here last week, she has spoken openly about how the other two candidates, Joe Biden

and Donald Trump, not just because of their age, but because of some of the things that they've come out and stood for.

She has come out very openly and said these are not the two candidates you want, but what's also interesting here is that the governor I was

mentioning a moment ago, Spencer Cox, he has spoken openly about the age factor with both Donald Trump and Joe Biden, and said these are not the

candidates you want.

You know, this is again a popular governor here in Utah, can he sway the votes over to Nikki Haley? Who a lot of people believe could be a good

candidate against President Biden if she were to win the nomination. She's not going to do that, of course, but could she may be put up a good last

stand here in Utah, given all those things we've been talking about.

SOARES: Yes, there's certainly momentum there, we shall see how tonight goes. Brian, appreciate it, thank you very much. Well, let's turn now to

CNN's Alayna Treene in Richmond, Virginia. And Alayna, what have you been hearing from voters in this increasingly purple state? What have they been

telling you?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, it's been really interesting because we've heard from a variety of different voters who have been exiting this

polling location just behind me, and they've been voting for different people. We've heard that some vote for Biden, some vote for Trump, and some

vote for Nikki Haley.

But what I found really interesting about the conversations I've had today is, those who did vote for Nikki Haley said they weren't sure who they

would vote for in November if it ended up being a rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

They argued that they really see Nikki Haley as the only candidate that they can support at this time. And it's really in line with some of the

conversations I've had over the past different primaries in different states this year, a lot of people who are very, you know, excited about

Nikki Haley are not feeling so excited about the other two candidates, and that also aligns with the polling that we've seen, which is that a lot of

Americans are dissatisfied with who they think are going to be the two options to go on into the general election.

Now, I also just wanted to share some other interesting things about this state. One is that it is an open primary, it's one of few states

participating in Super Tuesday that have this type of dynamic, which is that Republicans, Democrats, independents alike, can all vote and they can

all choose whichever candidate they want to vote for despite party registration.

And that's really important because in some of the other states where you have to be a registered Republican in order -- Republicans in order to

participate in the primary, Nikki Haley and her campaign have seen that as a disadvantage.

We know that they've really been making a play for Democrats, moderates, independents to all come out and try to boost her campaign. And so, she has

an opportunity to do that here in Virginia. And just one other thing that I want to share with you, which is from some of my conversations with the

Trump campaign and some of Donald Trump's senior advisors.

In Virginia, they really do see this as a potential battleground. Donald Trump lost this state both in 2016 and in 2020. But in my conversations

with them, they argue that they think it's in play in a general election. And part of that is because they think the economy really resonates with

voters here, and mainly, the idea that the economy is not doing well, that inflation is hurting them.

Of course, all of those comments being made by the former president and his team despite the economy in the United States actually doing much better.

SOARES: Exactly, the numbers as we've seen, actually faring very well, very much against what we heard from the Trump campaign. Alayna, appreciate it,

thank you very much. And later in the show, will voting today clinch a Biden-Trump rematch? We'll have much more, of course, on Super Tuesday just

ahead in about 20 minutes or so.

Well, U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken says it's on Hamas to accept an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Blinken met with Qatar's Prime Minister at

the State Department today. Qatar is playing a critical role in efforts to indirectly broker a truce and hostage agreement between Israel and Hamas.

Blinken also met behind closed doors with Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz, the State Department says they discussed the urgent need to

get more humanitarian aid into Gaza. President Joe Biden talked about the ceasefire efforts just a short time ago. Have a listen to what he said.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The hostage deal is in the hands of Hamas right now.


BIDEN: Because there have been an offer, rational offer where Israelis have agreed to it, and we wait and see what the Hamas does.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you still feel by Ramadan?

BIDEN: Oh, I -- it's got to be a ceasefire, because Ramadan -- if we get into circumstance for this continues through Ramadan, Israel and Jerusalem

are going to get -- it could be very dangerous.



SOARES: Let's get more on all of this. Our Jennifer Hansler joins us now live from the State Department. Jennifer, good to see you. I mean, we heard

today from Egyptian officials that there are difficulties -- their words in the meeting in Cairo, but it does seem from what we're looking at, the

talks at some -- what stalled.

Meantime, Secretary Blinken clearly trying to move the needle, the diplomatic needle, I should say, with Qatar. What came out of that meeting


JENNIFER HANSLER, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT REPORTER: Well, Isa, we know that the U.S. and Qataris are still trying to be on the same page to push Hamas

to accept a deal to reach a ceasefire and get the hostages out of Gaza. As we heard from the president and the secretary today, they see the ball as

being entirely in Hamas' court as gaps remain between what Israel is willing to accept in a deal and what Hamas has said, they will accept.

We know that Israel wants the names of the prisoners that are the hostages rather that got -- Hamas is willing to release from Gaza before any

ceasefire is reached. And we saw a Hamas official today saying that there would not be any prisoner-release until there is that ceasefire.

However, the State Department said today that they continue to believe that a deal can be possible, that they can reach this deal, it's crucial deal to

get more aid into Gaza and to get those hostages out. So, we will look to see what leverage Qatar can have with Hamas.

We know that they and Egypt have been the key negotiators here with the group to see if they can get them to accept this ceasefire deal. Isa.

SOARES: And of course, as we just outlined there, Jennifer, the situation is incredibly dire and it's getting beyond desperate, and time clearly

running out as we head into Ramadan this weekend. What has been Secretary Blinken's message to Benny Gantz when they met today?

HANSLER: Well, Isa, this was at the top of the agenda for the meeting between Blinken and Gantz at the State Department today. He told him that

the situation in Gaza is quote, "unacceptable and unsustainable" according to the State Department, and he pressed Israel to take the decisions

necessary to allow more aid into the besieged Strip.

U.S. officials have for weeks, if not months, been pressing Israel to increase the number of crossings into Gaza, particularly in the north. They

are calling for additional security for the convoys of aid as they are going into Gaza to reach those in need. So, we'll see if Gantz is able to

bring these messages back to the war cabinet when he returns to Israel, Isa.

SOARES: I appreciate it, Jennifer, good to see you, thank you very much. Well, Alon Pinkas joins us now to talk more about U.S.-Israeli relations in

the context, of course, of this war. He's a former Consul General of Israel in New York and as well as a fierce critic of Prime Minister Benjamin


Alan, good to see you again, welcome back to the show. I mean, I don't know if you heard what Jennifer was saying there in terms of the pressures being

put, but we heard today, Secretary Blinken, we heard President Joe Biden in the last few hours calling on Israel to kind of get more aid into Gaza.

But look, it looks like it's falling on deaf ears that, you know, Netanyahu is running this war on his terms. Just explain why?

ALON PINKAS, FORMER ISRAELI CONSUL GENERAL OF ISRAEL IN NEW YORK: Well, he's defiant, and so, the U.S. -- because he deliberately and consciously

seeks a confrontation with the U.S., and I know that sounds somewhat unpalatable or doesn't make sense to our viewers.

But this is exactly what he's been up to in the last two or three months. Now, if you take and we don't have time for that, but if you connect the

dots of things that the U.S. said, things that the U.S. asked for, issues that the U.S. insisted on, whether indiscriminate/discriminate/restrained

use of --

SOARES: Yes --

PINKAS: Ammunitions in Gaza. An invasion --

SOARES: Alon, on that, apology to interrupt, we've actually got a little graphic that shows exactly those points from your "Haaretz" article. And I

think this is important. You write, "the U.S. asked for proportionality and restraint in northern Gaza, Israel did the opposite. U.S. implored Israel

to rethink a full invasion into northern Gaza and to use a threat of doing so to extract a hostage-release statement, Israel ignore that.

The U.S. asked repeatedly for humanitarian pauses, Israel stalled. The U.S. presented ideas and a framework for post-war Gaza, Israel never bothered to

engage in talks and exchange ideas." And then you go on. So, just explain, I mean, not only why he's ignoring it, but also what this does to

potentially to this Israel-U.S. alliance.

PINKAS: Well, what it does to the U.S.-Israel alliance is that it broadens or widens cracks that already existed under the -- you know, under Mr.

Netanyahu's watch. Remember, I saw that for nine months from January to September, just on the eve of the war, Mr. Netanyahu was not invited to the

White House --

SOARES: Yes --


PINKAS: By Mr. Biden because of his constitutional coup. Now, this goes back with Mr. Netanyahu to his bickering and open confrontations with

Obama, President Obama. It goes further back to frequent confrontations with President Bill Clinton. What is happening now is that he understands

that he is motivated by political survival.

He knows that the pressure on him to resign is tremendous and is going to increase. He also knows that in order to distance himself away from that,

he needs to change the narrative. Changing the narrative is transitioning from the events of that horrible day, October 7th, into something much

bigger, such as the U.S. is trying to superimpose a Palestinian state.

Which is why he's seeking this confrontation with President Biden. Parenthetically, what -- right --

SOARES: Go ahead, finish your thought. Finish your thought.

PINKAS: It's just important to stress that there is no pressure on a Palestinian state. It's an idea. It's a desirable outcome according to the

U.S. administration -- by the way, this has been American policy, stated American policy since the early 90s. So, there's nothing new here, but he's

trying to gaslight everyone on this and change and change the narrative, which is why we go back to point one I said at the beginning of our --

SOARES: Yes --

PINKAS: Conversation. He is trying to confront the Biden administration, which is why the Biden administration seems to have, you know, figured it

out and invited Mr. Gantz to Washington.

SOARES: Yes, and we'll get to Gantz in just a moment, I'm interested in what you're saying, this is political for survival. At one point, I

thought, OK, maybe it's hubris, but you're saying it's political survival. He's clearly making a political calculation here. But also what about U.S.

elections? Potentially, a new U.S. president. I mean, does that -- does that factor into any of this you think?

PINKAS: Yes, I mean, for Mr. Netanyahu's side obviously and for Mr. Biden's --

SOARES: Yes --

PINKAS: Obviously. For Mr. Biden's side, and you've been -- you've been covering this repeatedly and constantly and consistently. He has a problem

with young voters, ages 18 to 40. He has a more concentrated problem with the African-American community, and he has a very concentrated problem with

Arab-Americans, particularly those residing or where they are concentrated in the state of Michigan, which is a state that Democrats need to win.

On Netanyahu's side, there's no question that he's trying to stall time, that he's trying to weaken Biden, that he looks forward to another Trump

presidency, even though -- and I don't want to repeat the expletive that Mr. Trump used against Netanyahu at the -- at the very end of his

presidency after the events of January 6th. But it doesn't seem like Mr. Trump likes Mr. Netanyahu very much. But I'll put --

SOARES: Yes --

PINKAS: It in a different time -- I'll put it in one -- let me just add one more sentence. I don't think Mr. Netanyahu will be prime minister when the

next U.S. President enters the White House after inauguration on January 20th, 2025. So, we may be talking --

SOARES: Yes, you don't think he's going to last clearly. I mean, but look, it clearly enter -- like you said, enter Benny Gantz, right? And that more

than anything, and for our viewers, Benny Gantz is a Netanyahu political rival who has been meeting with Secretary Blinken and with other democratic

-- Democrat officials.

I wonder -- and we've heard from the Israeli side, the Israeli government saying that he does not represent the Israeli government. I mean, this --

is this a signal from the United States to Bibi? We do not like what you're doing, this is -- this is -- this is our play. How do you interpret it?

PINKAS: A, you're right, it's a signal. B, I'll go one farther than you might say. This is the U.S. basically giving up on Netanyahu and declaring

him as a non ally. The way he has behaved, you know, since -- throughout 2023, but particularly since October 7th, and until now, five full months

after the war began is not the demeanor and not the conduct and not the cooperation that you expect from an ally.

Now, the U.S. is, you know -- there's so much the U.S. can do in terms of meddling in Israeli politics, but they can rattle Mr. Netanyahu and they

can weaken his coalition by providing Mr. Gantz with a visit. Remember Mr. Gantz has 12 seats in parliament out of 120. So, he's not -- he's not even

formally the head of the opposition.

But they are showering him with meetings with Kamala Harris, Vice President Kamala Harris, as you mentioned, Secretary Blinken, National Security

adviser Jake Sullivan.


They are treating him as if he is a prime minister in the making, with the hope not that he's going to be, but that they can't control that. But in

the hope that this will seriously upset and rile Mr. Netanyahu.

SOARES: So, very briefly, because we're running out of time. I could speak to you five hours Alon. The Israelis are looking at this and thinking what?

I mean, given everything you just outlined about the potential -- we're seeing the alliance here deteriorating, Israeli U.S. alliance. What are

they thinking? They must be concerned about this?

PINKAS: Yes, I mean, look, on the one hand, no one in Israel wakes up in the morning and thinks about, you know, the well-being of the Israel-U.S. -


SOARES: Yes --

PINKAS: Alliance. That being said, Isa, people take that alliance, that so- called unbreakable relationship and that strategic asset and all those catchphrases, they take them for granted, which they should not because

it's more fragile than meets the eye.

What they do see is that Mister -- is that Mr. Netanyahu has been damaging the relationship, and that is already indicated in polls where he is

extraordinarily unpopular. In recent polls, he polls at 19 percent. That's less than the number of Americans would think that the moon-landing was

staged in Arizona. So, you know, do your math.

SOARES: Alon Pinkas, always great to get your insight, really appreciate it, thanks, Alon, good to see --

PINKAS: Thanks --

SOARES: You. And still to come tonight, Ukraine claims a victory at sea. Details in a new Black Sea drone attack. That is coming up, you are

watching CNN.


SOARES: Ukraine is claiming a new victory in the Black Sea, saying it sunk another Russian warship. This video shows what Kyiv says are marine drones

hitting a 1,300 ton Russian patrol vessel. Ukraine says the ship went down after the drones triggered a fire on board.

The attack reportedly took place near the Kerch Strait where a bridge links occupied Crimea, as you can see there on your map, to the Russian

mainland. If true, this is a much-needed win for Ukraine. Its forces you all know, have struggled to hold to Russian ground campaign as western aid

dries up.

But a military spokesperson said Monday, the troops are holding the line near Avdiivka there in the east. Well, there's war in Ukraine and an

uncertain future for NATO have the EU taking action. The political and economic bloc is rolling out a new defense industrial complex worth $1.6


It's part of a strategy where countries will increase cooperation to boost weapons production and procurement with the goal of resisting Russian

aggression. Our Fred Pleitgen joins me now with more on this. And Fred, you and I have spoken at great length about this when you were in Ukraine, as

we saw so many Ukrainians, obviously, having -- facing a shell hunger.


What will this -- what will this do in terms of production of those shells, you think?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I think there's two reasons why the European Union is doing it. And I think

that they're quite open about it. On the one hand, it is the fact that they don't believe that they can fully rely on the United States anymore as far

as defense production is concerned, certainly, with the uncertainty that you were talking about as far as NATO is concerned.

But the second thing is definitely the war in Ukraine, and the European Union certainly saying that they feel that they need to get very real about

their defense production. Now, they say the funding for this is going to come in the years between 2025 and 2027, and it's going to mean joint

defense procurement on a much larger scale than the European Union has seen so far to make it more independent of the United States.

And I think shells are definitely going to be one of the very important things that the Europeans are going to produce, because the stocks in

Europe themselves have been quite depleted as well. You know, one of the things, Isa, that we've seen here in Europe -- and I was recently -- added

artillery ammo factory in central Germany is that certainly, the Germans are ramping up production, other countries are as well.

And now the European Union is trying to get that under a common umbrella to make it more effective, but to also make sure that European countries have

enough ammo, but the Ukrainians also have enough ammo as well, Isa.

SOARES: Yes, let's focus on Germany now that I've got you here, because I wonder if you can get -- shed more light on this leaked 38-minute call

between a German Air Force chief talking with three high ranking officials about the Taurus, potential Taurus deliveries for Ukraine.

Give us the context and how Germany is reacting to this because of course, we have heard Chancellor Olaf Scholz very publicly rejecting this idea


PLEITGEN: Well, the German Defense Minister came out earlier today, Isa, and he said he's taking all this extremely seriously. They are

acknowledging that the call was real, that it was apparently intercepted. They obviously called this a Russian information operation.

Now, it appears as though all this took place a couple of weeks ago in mid February, and it was between four people, one of them being the German Air

Force chief, but apparently, one of the participants of this call, which was conducted on Webex, was at an air-show -- a German senior official at

an air-show in Singapore.

And apparently, he dialed into that call on Webex, which the Germans say that itself is fine, but he did not adhere to the security protocols that

he should have adhered to. And that's why that call was compromised. The German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius came out and he says, he does not

believe that communications within the German military are generally compromised.

He says that this was an individual error. Nevertheless, of course, the political fallout has been massive. On that call, the senior generals, they

talked about the Taurus missile, what it would mean if the Ukrainians got it, they also talked about how many missiles would be needed to destroy the

Kerch Bridge, which is of course, the bridge linking Russia to occupied Crimea.

And the Russians very angry about this are accusing -- or some Russian officials have accused the Germans of planning an attack on the Kerch

Bridge. The Germans obviously very much denying this, saying they were just talking about the specs of the missile.

But it is an interesting time for this call to be leaked for exactly the reason that you were saying that Olaf Scholz has very recently publicly

rejected at least for now, giving the Ukrainians the Taurus missile. He's gotten a lot of criticism for that, not just here in Germany, but from NATO

allies as well, particularly, the French and the Brits who of course, have given the Ukrainians cruise missiles in the past. They're saying that the

Germans really do need to step up. Isa.

SOARES: Yes, and the Germans saying that it is hybrid, this information attack to try and sort -- sow discord, not just internally as you are

saying, but also with its allies. Fred, I know you'll stay across this story. Appreciate, good to see you, Fred.

And still to come tonight, millions voting today across the U.S. on Super Tuesday. Could this be Nikki Haley's last stand as she tries to make up

ground against Donald Trump? We have the details ahead on what to watch for in the next few hours. You are watching CNN.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN. More people get their news from CNN than any other news source.

SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. We have news coming in to our Senator, Kyrsten Sinema, has announced that she is retiring. Sinema was elected in

2018 as a Democrat from Arizona. In 2022, she left the Democratic Party and became an Independent. She's often been a swing vote in the Senate.

In a statement, she said, because I choose civility, understanding, listening, working together to get stuff done. I will leave the Senate at

the end of this year. So, this just coming in from CNN. And she says, I believe in my approach, but it's not what America wants right now. She

concluded this in the video where she announced her decision.

And as this, as we stay in the world of politics, we are, as you all know, that we told we told you at the top of the hour, keeping a close eye on

Super Tuesday, on the showdown that's expected to start in the -- which has started in some states.

Millions of U.S. voters are casting their ballots for who they want to see in the White House come November. A little more than a third of Republican

delegates are up for grabs. Nikki Haley needs to have a competitive day to stay in the race, but her chance at a nomination could come to an end in

just a few hours if, of course, Donald Trump has another strong showing.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Biden's biggest opponent today is not the candidates, but rather protest votes. Still, Biden is urging Americans in

states with super choosy contests to get out and make their voices heard.

Joining us now from Washington, D.C. is co-author of the "Washington Post's", "Early 202", Leigh Ann Caldwell. Leigh Ann, thank you very much

for joining us. Let me ask you first, if I may, on the news just coming in, to CNN, to us from -- on Senator Kyrsten Sinema announcing she's retiring.

She said, because I choose civility, understanding, listening, working together to get stuff done. I will leave the Senate at the end of this

year. How do you interpret those words? Why now?

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, EARLY 202 CO-AUTHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: So, Senator Sinema has been central to most bipartisan legislation that's been passed

or that even failed over the -- in Congress over the past several years. But the reason she's leaving Congress now is because she doesn't have a

path to reelection. She became an independent, which means that she does not have the support of the Democratic Party or the Republican Party.


She has a challenger in Democratic -- a Democratic congressman is challenging her. And he did that after Democrats became furious with

Kyrsten Sinema for failing to get behind Democrats to change Senate rules. It sounds very wonky, but this is something that Democrats really wanted,

and it led to a challenge from her left.

And so, now that there's a challenge from her left, there's a challenge from the Republican Party on her right. And really, there's no path for

Kyrsten Sinema to create a coalition of voters in Arizona to win reelection in 2024.

SOARES: I appreciate you breaking it all down for us, of course, as we just had this breaking news come in in the last few moments.

I wonder if I can turn, though, to Super Tuesday that we've been covering at the top of the show, because of course we have, and our viewers --

international viewers will know this, a large sample, of course, of U.S. voting today. And I think we could get some answers, hopefully, today. I

wonder what states, you will be looking at closely and why? What should we be looking out for here?

CALDWELL: So, there's 15 states and one territory, America's Samoa, who are, have voters heading to the polls today. And like you said in your

lead, this -- today's voters will deliver one third of the necessary delegates for the nominee to clinch the nomination. Donald Trump has

already secured most of the delegates and his path looks very strong today.

If Nikki Haley -- she always says that she wants to improve on previous performances, but it's becoming much more difficult for her. The states are

more numerous. They're closer together, and it's hard to campaign. And I'm going to be looking at states of Virginia and Vermont, two states that she

could perhaps do well there.

But the reality is, is that Nikki Haley has had a phenomenal last two months of fundraising. $28 million dollars or more she has raised yet she's

hardly spending any money right now in this Super Tuesday primary states which is a big sign that perhaps her campaign will end relatively soon,

especially if she doesn't win anything today or exceed expectations.

SOARES: Right. And to exceed expectations, what is the mark then?

CALDWELL: She's -- I know. So, she always says she has to get -- continuously do better. Well, her high mark was 43 percent of the vote in

New Hampshire, which is quite strong for someone running against, essentially an incumbent. Donald Trump is president. He has -- was

president. He has a long record. So, her getting more than 43 percent or even winning a state today is -- would exceed expectations. And it's going

to be very difficult for her to do that.

SOARES: And Leigh Anne, let me turn very quickly to the Democratic Party, because obviously last week in Michigan, we saw a very -- we heard a very

clear message, of course, for President Biden over his uncommitted voters. How concerned do you think, the Democratic Party should be? What are you

keeping a close eye on this? Is this something that you think worries them at this stage?

CALDWELL: It does worry them. The Biden campaign doesn't admit that they're worried, but it does worry Democrats. I'm going to be watching the state of

Minnesota, which also could have another high uncommitted vote today.

But beyond that, it is just general apathy. A feeling of apathy from Democratic voters that should be most concerning to President Biden and his

reelection. You not only have discontent among Democrats about his handling of the war in Gaza, but you have frustration that he has not been doing

enough for the Democratic base voters. And then you have independent voters who are concerned about his age. And so, whether that is a valid concern or

not, it is leading to challenges in Biden's coalition.

SOARES: Yes, at the end of the day, we'll have not only -- we'll see their strengths potentially, but also their vulnerabilities. We'll have a better

sense of that. Leigh Ann, appreciate it. Thank you very much for taking the time to speak to me. Thank you.

And do stay right here with CNN. We're all with all, of course, the Super Tuesday results as they come in. Our special coverage begins today in less

than two hours, in fact, from now, as you can see there. 4:00 p.m. eastern time, that's 9:00 p.m. in London, or 10:00 p.m. if you are, of course, in


And still to come tonight, a closer look at a U.N. report on sexual violence in the Israel-Hamas war. We'll talk to the woman who led the U.N.

team. That is straight ahead.



SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. And now to a follow up to a story that broke during our show yesterday. A disturbing U.N. report on sexual

violence in the Israel-Hamas war. A U.N. team that visited the region says it found clear, as well as convincing information, that hostages taken to

Gaza were sexually abused.

It also says there are reasonable grounds to believe, their words, that sexual violence, including rape, occurred during the Hamas attacks of

October the 7th. The mission was not an investigation. Instead, the U.N. says it aimed to gather their words, analyze and verify information.

We're joined now by the head of that mission, Pramila Patten. She is the U.N. Secretary General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in

Conflict. Pramila, thank you very much. Welcome to the show. Look, I think it's fair to say that your report makes for very uncomfortable reading. For

those who may not have seen and may not have seen what you said yesterday, can you just give us, just talk us through the scope, briefly, of your


PRAMILA PATTEN, U.N. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN CONFLICT: Thank you for having me. As you mentioned, the mission was not intended to

be an investigation. I went there to gather, analyze and verify information for its potential inclusion in the annual report of the Secretary General.

And I went with a technical team comprising of a forensic analyst, of digital and open-source information analyst, as well as a staff with very

specialized expertise in the interviewing of victims of sexual violence in addition to a number of judicial and political offices.

We, in spite of not being an investigation, we carried out a mission according to U.N. methodology of verification. And our findings were based

on direct evidence, as well as circumstantial evidence in addition to over 5,000 photographic images that we reviewed and 50 hours of footage.

I did not meet with survivors of sexual violence. And I got information whilst there that there is a handful of survivors of sexual violence who

are currently undergoing very specialized trauma treatment who are not yet prepared to come forward. So, we had to rely a lot on eyewitnesses.


And we did our analysis of credible sources and came to this finding of reasonable grounds to believe that in at least three different locations,

Nova festival, music festival site, the road 232, and Kibbutz Re'im that there were instances of sexual violence in the form of rape and gang rape,

in addition to other forms of sexual violence. And we found in two cases, rape of corpses.

And, indeed it's very disturbing, but when it comes to hostages whom we met, we met some recently released hostages and got direct information from

them. And we got -- we had a finding of clear and convincing information that sexual violence did occur against -- whilst in captivity. And we also

have reasonable ground to believe that they are risk of ongoing sexual acts.

SOARES: Yes, that was going to be my -- I mean, that was going to be my question, Pramila. I mean, given what you've just outlined, and the fact

there is still a significant number of women being held hostage. How worried is the U.N. with this report and with the women still being held

hostage by Hamas?

PATTEN: Well, I have made one of my recommendations is to Hamas for the unconditional and the immediate release of these hostages and their

protection from sexual violence. I have always been concerned about the safety and security of the hostages. And that was one reason why I did not,

for example, issue a public statement immediately after the 7th of October attacks in order not to expose them to further harm.

But when the first batch of survivors of hostages were released, I did issue a first statement on the 8th of December about the plight of the

hostages. And I issued a second one on the 75th day of the hostages being in captivity. I have met with families of hostages since December.

And whilst in Israel, I also met with other families and relatives of hostages who are still in captivity. And that's my main concern. I mean,

like we have to do everything for these remaining hostages. And as you rightly pointed out, there are a number of very young women who may be at

great risk.

SOARES: Indeed. And your team, I believe, also received information against sexual violence -- about sexual violence, I should say, against Palestinian

men and women in detention settings. I think during house raids and their checkpoints after October the 7th. How prevalent or how widespread was


PATTEN: Well, I must say that before going on the mission, actually, I received information from the U.N. U.N. verified sources about cases of

sexual violence against Palestinian men and women in detention. And that is why I made a request to the Israeli authorities, that was one of the

parameters of the mission on which I insisted a visit to occupied West Bank. To engage with the Palestinian authorities and relevant stakeholders,

including released -- recently released detainees with human rights organizations and other civil society organizations.

I went there. I went to Ramallah. And I met with recently released detainees who shared very disturbing information with me and with my

technical team because my technical team went back. About strip searches, about threats of rape, about prolonged forced nudity. And also, they

expressed concerns about sexual harassment and threats of rape during house raids and at checkpoints.

And I must say that I have solid information and more in-depth information in this regard from U.N. entities operating in the occupied Palestinian

authority which will be in the annual report of the Secretary General which will be debated before the Security Council on the 25th of April.

SOARES: That's very good to know. So, I wonder, with all this mounting evidence, you know, the violence, sexual violence against Palestinian men

and women, the sexual violence being committed as well against those who were held, the Israeli hostages, what happens to this mounting of evidence?

What -- what's next?

PATTEN: Well, I have made one recommendation to the government of Israel to consider a framework of cooperation with my office, whereby I could support

them on different areas of concerns.


Including justice and accountability, but also security sector, engagement oversight to address and prevent conflict related sexual violence. I will

ensure that we strengthen our own monitoring and reporting mechanisms, both in Israel but also in the Occupied Palestinian Authority for the next

reports at the Secretary General.

We want to better monitor the situation of sexual violence also in Gaza because I have requested information on Gaza and information is now coming

through about also Palestinian men in detention about the inhuman and degrading treatment of Palestinian which I need to analyze to see whether

it reaches the threshold of conflict related sexual violence.

SOARES: Pramila, really appreciate you taking the time and speaking to us as soon as you have. Of course, any more information we will love to speak

to you again. Pramila Patten, thank you very much.

PATTEN: Thank you.

SOARES: We're going to take a short break. We'll be back after this.


SOARES: There is growing concern about how China and Russia could incorporate A.I. into their military capability. Russian officials say

representatives from the two countries recently met to compare notes on the technology.

Here's CNN's Will Ripley with more on the implications of this very meeting.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two nuclear superpowers forging what some call a dangerous alliance that could

reshape modern warfare. China and Russia, long time U.S. rivals, meeting in Beijing. Strategizing a new battleground. The military use of artificial

intelligence. Detailed discussions, the Russian foreign ministry says, potentially delving into A.I.-powered weapons systems. A top military

priority of Russia, China and the U.S.

Autonomous submarines and warships, fighter jets and ground combat vehicles. Even testing swarms of A.I. powered drones as shown in this

Chinese state media video. Weapons that could deliver increased firepower. Experts say, A.I. could even influence military decision making. Analyzing

vast amounts of satellite radar and online data, giving commanders better and faster understanding of the battlefield.

President Joe Biden and Chinese Leader Xi Jinping agreeing to hold talks on A.I. in the spring at their San Francisco summit last year.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: We're going to get our experts together to discuss risk and safety issues associated with artificial intelligence.

RIPLEY (voice-over): The world's major military powers, all investing heavily in A.I. The U.S. State Department warns there are risks and

military A.I. use has to be done responsibly, a warning in the West and the far East.

SENIOR COL. WU QIAN, CHINESE DEFENSE MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): China is opposed to using A.I. advantages to undermine the

sovereignty of other countries.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Chinese state media picking up reports on OpenAI's policy change, potentially allowing cooperation with the U.S. military. The

report says, beware of the U.S. military's collusion with tech giants.


Moscow and Beijing, conspicuously absent from a U.S.-led coalition, promoting responsible military use of A.I. and autonomy. Raising questions

about their intentions at a critical time. Military experts warned the risk of a major global conflict no longer a distant threat, but a looming

crisis. Ongoing wars in the Middle East and Ukraine threatening to spill over highly sensitive technology moving at lightning speed.

QIAN (through translator): China pays close attention to security risks posed by military applications of A.I. technologies.

RIPLEY (voice-over): China's military capabilities expanding at an unprecedented pace. Simmering tensions over Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Setting the stage for a catastrophic showdown as the world teeters on the brink of a new era of warfare. Machines making life and death decisions on

the battlefield.

Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.


SOARES: And that does it for us for this evening. Thanks very much for your company. Do stay right here. "Quest Means Business" is up next with Richard

Quest. I shall see you tomorrow. Have a wonderful day. Bye-bye.