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Quest Means Business

Special Counsel Testifies On Biden Classified Documents Investigation; Biden And Trump Expected To Clinch Nominations Tonight; Dozens Injured In Sudden Drop On LATAM Flight; United States Inflation Tics Up To 3.2 Percent In February; Ship Carrying 200 Tons Of Food Now Sailing Toward Gaza. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired March 12, 2024 - 16:00   ET



JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Good evening. I'm Julia Chatterley and we begin with breaking news.

Tonight, the special counsel who faulted Joe Biden's memory under fire on Capitol Hill.

Robert Hur faced hours of questioning over his decision not to recommend charges against the US president for his handling of classified documents.

Republicans said it was a double standard, citing the indictment against Donald Trump over documents found at Mar-a-Lago. Republican, Darrell Issa

said the report showed President Biden may not be completely innocent.


REP. DARRELL ISSA (R-CA): In this case, did you reach a conclusion that this man was outright innocent?

ROBERT HUR, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL: That conclusion is not reflected in my report, sir.

ISSA: You did not reach an idea that he had committed no wrong. You reached a conclusion that you would not prevail at trial and therefore did not take

it forward. Is that correct?

HUR: Correct, Congressman.


CHATTERLEY: And Democrats said the Special Counsel's comments on the president's memory were unnecessary.

Georgia Democrat Hank Johnson accused Robert Hur of having political aspirations.


REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA): Are you a member of the Federalist Society?

HUR: I am not a member of the Federal Society.

JOHNSON: But you are Republican now, aren't you?

HUR: I am a registered Republican.

JOHNSON: Yes, sir, and you're doing everything you can do to get President Trump re-elected so that you can get appointed as a federal judge or

perhaps to another position in the Department of Justice, isn't that correct?

HUR: Congressman, I have no such aspirations. I can assure you and I can tell you that partisan politics had no place whatsoever in my work.


CHATTERLEY: And Marshall Cohen is in Washington, DC for us now.

Marshall, good to have you with us. As we saw there, I think the Democrats were determined to prove that comments made about President Biden's mental

acuity were politically driven, and I think draw a distinction actually between the handling of those classified documents, between President Biden

and the former President Donald Trump.

And we also saw the Republicans, they are drilling down on why the special counsel chose not to file charges against President Biden for what happened


Did we learn anything new today in the process?

MARSHALL COHEN, CNN REPORTER: Five hours long. There was a lot of political hackery, a lot of partisanship, hard to tell you with a straight face,

Julia that we learned a lot of new material. But for most Americans, this would be their first opportunity to find out what was in the report and to

hear directly from the special counsel himself.

This was the first and probably only time that he will ever speak publicly on Capitol Hill about the conclusions from this investigation, which found

some evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden, but not enough to charge him with any crimes. That was the bottom line conclusion.

What we saw throughout the day, Julia was both sides, Democrats and Republicans trying to stretch those conclusions and twist them and distort

them to fit their political narrative. Republicans tried to elicit responses from Special Counsel Hur that would confirm their allegation that

he is senile. This is a huge campaign issue for the 2020 election, Joe Biden's age, his memory and questions about his ability and fitness for the

job, but he wouldn't do it.

The special counsel would not cave to their demands. He did not give them a soundbite that they could use on the campaign trail about Biden's age.

On the other side, you had Democrats that were trying to distort in some ways the conclusion of this report. They said that this was a complete and

total exoneration for Joe Biden. When the special counsel heard that characterization he said no. He said, I did not exonerate Biden. I didn't

find enough evidence to charge Biden, but I did not exonerate him.

So there was a lot of political theater throughout the day and you had Special Counsel Robert Hur trying to straddle the line and play it straight

as he delivered this performance on a critically important issue for the country -- Julia.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, I like the word that you use "stretching" because both sides were trying to stretch this to your point to fit their own narrative

of what came out of this report. And I think on the Democrat side, it was California Democrat Ted Lieu that also asked specifically, did you find

that President Biden directed his lawyer to lie to the FBI, obviously, trying to draw comparisons between President Biden's handling of these

documents and President Trump's own handling of documents in the case where of course, he now does face charges in the future.

COHEN: That's right.

CHATTERLEY: The takeaway here to your point, I think to sum it up in one line and you said it with a straight face, nothing new learned.


COHEN: Yes, that's right. I mean, also on that point, Julia, if I may, the special counsel did say in the report that there is difference between what

Biden did and what Trump did.

You know, Donald trump is facing criminal charges for similar actions, mishandling of classified material and the special counsel did say in the

report that the facts of the Biden case led him to no charges and that the facts in the Trump case led a different special counsel to pursue an


First and foremost, President Biden cooperated almost right away when they found classified materials at his home. They called the government, they

called FBI. They handed it all over; contrast that with Donald Trump being accused of months and months of obstruction and lies, and he may be going

on trial in that case later this year.

So we will find out if he is guilty or not guilty, but a clear distinction there -- Julia.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, and just because Hur had nothing to do with that investigation, despite the questions that were posed to him.

COHEN: That's right.

CHATTERLEY: Marshall, great to have you with us. Thank you for that.

Now, we are going to head to the White House where President Joe Biden has been meeting with the Polish president. The two men spoke a few moments

ago. Here is a look at that conversation.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: . 25 years ago today, it was very day Poland joined NATO and some of you may remember, I was very

involved in that happening and during that ceremony, the former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright made this following statement. She said: "When

we stand together, no force on earth is more powerful."

When we stand together, no force on earth is more powerful. I believed that then and I believe it now. And we see it in Polish-American troops serving

side-by-side NATO on the eastern flank including in Poland.

And we see it in our commitment to strengthen NATO's collective defenses, and I want to pause here and note that Poland is spending nearly four

percent of its gross domestic product on defense, much of it purchasing American weapons systems and aircraft.

And that's double the NATO commitment, four percent.

We also see it in our support for Ukraine and the force of Putin's vicious onslaught against Ukraine in a way that is just border -- I won't even

describe it.

I want to thank you both for Poland's unwavering security and humanitarian assistance, including welcoming about one million Ukrainian refugees.

As my mother would say, God love you. You're doing God's work. You really are. It is incredible what you're doing, what the Polish people are doing.

Today, the United States is announcing an emergency package for Ukraine using cost savings from previously approved Pentagon contracts. The package

includes munitions and rounds to help Ukraine hold the line against Russia's brutal attacks for the next couple of weeks, which I have the

authority to do without asking Congress for some more money right now.

Well, I've asked them for a lot more money and so -- but it is not nearly enough what I am announcing today.

Congress must pass the bipartisan national security bill now, which includes urgent funding for Ukraine. We must act before it literally is too

late, before it is too late, because as Poland remembers, Russia won't stop at Ukraine. Putin will keep going, putting Europe, and the United States,

and the entire free world at risk in my view.

So thank you both again for being here at this critical time and with that, Mr. President, I hand it over to you. The floor is yours.

ANDRZEJ DUDA, POLISH PRESIDENT: Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, exactly 25 years ago on the 12th of March, 1999, Poland, the Czech

Republic, and Hungary joined the strongest alliance in the world, the dream of many generations of Poles came true.

There is no better place to celebrate this special anniversary than the White House. Courageous decisions were made right here, the capital of the

United States by both Democrats and Republicans.

NATO expansion to the east. Poland joined the free world, the West where it has always belonged and for those courageous decisions and for their

unwavering support, I would like to thank all the Americans who contributed to them.

I express these thanks to you, Mr. President, bearing in mind that at the time, you were one of the leaders of the support in the US Senate for

Poland's accession to NATO. I thank you on behalf of millions of Poles.

During these 25 years, we have shown that we are a reliable and proven ally.


Even when our soldiers fought side-by-side with American soldiers in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Poland knows like a few other countries in the world

that security comes at a price, that is why we spend more than four percent of our GDP on maintaining and modernizing our Armed Forces. This is the

highest percentage in the alliance.

Russia's aggression against Ukraine clearly demonstrated that United States is and should remain the security leader, but other allies must take more

responsibility for the security of the alliance as a whole, that is why I believe, it is necessary for all NATO countries to increase their defense

spending from two to three percent of GDP.

Two percent was good 10 years ago --

CHATTERLEY: This meeting, of course, coming in the wake of the United States announcement that it will send a new military aid package to Ukraine

worth -- to the tune of at least $300 million. That according to the Biden administration today, of course too, it is a drop in the ocean in terms of

what they need, but it is something.

All right, let's get back to that special counsel hearing today, too. The white house saying criticism of the president's memory was way out of line.

Robert Hur sharply rejecting those claims. Listen to this.


HUR: I could have written my report theoretically in a way that omitted references to the president's memory, but that would have been an

incomplete and improper report and then it does not reflect my analysis and the explanation of my decision.

JOHNSON: That wasn't my question. You could have written -- you could have written your report --


CHATTERLEY: Senior legal analyst, Elie Honig is with us now.

Elie, and I know you were listening to the hours of testimony that we got today, and I think Robert Hur did his best to stick to the script here and

stick to the line as far as this report was concerned, despite both Republican and Democrats' best efforts.

What was your strongest takeaway today?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Julia, there were something that each side loved and something that each side hated in Robert Hur's

report and his testimony today.


HONIG: And by the way, I heard you earlier speaking with Marshall Cohen and you both agreed and I agreed there was very little that was new and that is

a testament to Robert Hur, that's what you want as a prosecutor.

Nobody poked a substantial hole in anything he said in his report and he didn't come out with any new remarkable revelations which you don't want.

Here is where I think both sides sort of had it right and had it wrong. Democrats were right to point out that the bottom line here is no criminal

charge against Joe Biden. However, Democrats and the White House throughout the day have overreached. They've argued that this was a complete

exoneration when it was not. At times, they tried to suggest there was no evidence of wrongdoing when in fact there was some substantial evidence

that Joe Biden knew he had sensitive classified documents for several years.

I think where Republicans made a good point was really what I just said, Joe Biden did do wrong here. He did wrongly possess at least some of the

classified documents, but I think where Republicans overstepped is when they tried to suggest that what Joe Biden did, and what Donald Trump did

are really one and the same. And why was one indicted and not the other? I think the answer there is self-evident. Donald Trump obstructed and Joe

Biden more or less cooperated.

So I think both sides had some important points to make, but both sides also as I guess, are members of Congress want to do did overreach at times.

CHATTERLEY: Okay, so let's break those two things down. Because what Robert Hur was forced to say was, look, I did not exonerate him. I think there was

irresponsible handling and that's my words, not his. The reason why he said that, at least in part there were no criminal charges placed here because

it missed the intent element.

His behavior missed the intent element with regards to their handling of these documents and what happened afterwards. Does this draw a line under

it now, Elie, at least as far as that handling is concerned.

HONIG: Yes, I think what we are seeing here is what prosecutors do every day in offices across this country. I was in a couple of those prosecutors'


Not every call that you make as a prosecutor is black-white, yes-no. Prosecutors are not automatons. It is not as if you take the inputs, you

run some calculations and then it tells you charge or no charge.

There is a substantial middle-ground, a gray area here, and that is clearly where Hur's investigation fell.

Now, he could have said this is an indictment. He could have indicted, but you can't indict a sitting president under long-standing DOJ policy, but he

could have come out and said, I find that this is indictable conduct by Joe Biden or on the other extreme, he could have said, I find that Joe

Biden did nothing wrong, that would have been an exoneration.

Instead, he said, well, there is some evidence that Joe Biden knew he had these documents, but ultimately where Robert Hur exercised his discretion

and I don't think inappropriately, he said, I don't know that I could bring this case in front of a jury and convince 12 of them unanimously and

beyond a reasonable doubt to find him guilty, given some of the lapses in memory and given some of the other what we would call soft factors.

CHATTERLEY: Now, Hur said his assessment on Biden's memory, because clearly this was arguably the larger risk, I think for the Democrats that we've got

more revelations and more understanding about his assessment of the president's mental acuity.


He said it was necessary and accurate and fair. Would you agree, Elie in terms of their handling, the decision over the decision not to press

charges here and his handling of the president's concerns about the memory lapses, perhaps in the investigative process here.

HONIG: So, I --

CHATTERLEY: Yes. What did you make of that?

HONIG: I agree that Robert Hur was within the bounds of appropriateness to assess and comment on Joe Biden's memory and joe Biden's age and recall.

That's a relevant factor in assessing the person's knowledge and intent. Prosecutors do this all the time, but by the way, there was some criticism

of Robert Hur of when did this guy become a neurologist? That's not what this is about.

Prosecutors assess people's intent all the time. I do think however, Robert Hur's language in the report was a bit over the top, a bit unnecessarily

colorful when he said something, I am paraphrasing here -- but an elderly, well-meaning man with a poor memory. I mean, that felt like he leaned into

it a little bit.

In terms of the ultimate conclusion, I agree with Robert Hur. I think Robert Hur was correct that there is substantial evidence of wrongdoing. I

think that Robert Hur's report establishes that the White House and Joe Biden have not been fully honest with the public.

They've maintained for a year or so now that it was all unintentional. But I also do fully understand Robert Hur's decision not to bring charges. This

does not strike me as a case where you had to charge it. As a prosecutor, it strikes me as a case where reasonable prosecutors can differ and I think

the more cautious approach is the one that Robert Hur ended up taking of no charges.

CHATTERLEY: And we certainly heard that today.

Elie Honig, great to have you with as always.

HONIG: Thanks, Julia.

CHATTERLEY: Thank you.

HONIG: Appreciate it.

CHATTERLEY: Now, both Joe Biden and Donald Trump would likely secure their presidential nominations tonight.

Four states -- Georgia, Hawaii, Washington, and Mississippi, holding contests on what is being called Super Tuesday 2. Both men are expected to

win enough delegates to officially put the primary race to bed.

Their campaigns will also closely watch Georgia, the swing state. It was key, of course, to President Biden's victory back in 2020.

Alayna Treene is with us now and has been following this closely.

I think, it is a fact that we are all expecting, but it is expected to be inked tonight, at least that this is what will happen now in the November

election. It will be Trump versus Biden.

Just talk us through the coming hours.

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well you're exactly right, Julia. There is no question that both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump

will be their respective party's nominees. They are facing no credible challenges at this state, but tonight could really cement that with them

receiving enough delegates to formally declare them the nominee.

And I think there is a couple of things that are really interesting here. When I talked to the Trump campaign about the different races today. Like I

said, they already view him as the presumptive nominee. They want to cement that status with him as being officially having enough delegates for him to

go on to the convention and be declared the nominee.

But they really want to see how much support he could get in each state, and I think, you mentioned Georgia and that is a crucial state that they

will be watching tonight as well, Joe Biden's team and his campaign. That is a state that Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden less than four or roughly

four years ago by less than 12,000 votes.

And so that is a state that both Joe Biden and Donald Trump are going to be running hard at. We saw them over the weekend, both of them in the state on

Saturday hosting dueling rallies. It is going to be a state where really, it could come down to just a couple thousand votes or excuse me, a couple

hundred thousand votes, and Georgia will be one of those states that that will be very crucial to their campaigns.

And the other thing I just want to mention, Julia, is that after tonight, we could see again formally this rematch between Joe Biden and the former

President Donald Trump and that would be the first time we saw an incumbent president and a former president in a rematch since 1892.

And when I talked to voters across the country, I have to say, a lot of them are dissatisfied that both of these candidates are going to again, be

going head-to-head. A lot of people were hoping there might be some fresh faces that were going toward a general election, but it is very much going

to be Donald Trump and Joe Biden as we look ahead to November.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, the rematch that was, and early, of course, too, to have the nominees in both parties cases done and dusted.

We will see. Alayna Treene, thank you for that report.

TREENE: Thank you.

CHATTERLEY: Now, CNN will of course, have live coverage as results come in from around the nation. It is Super Tuesday 2, special coverage starts at

seven o'clock here in New York. That's 11:00 PM in London.

And an investigation is underway to figure out what made a flight suddenly drop midair on Monday. We will have more on what LATAM Airlines is calling

a technical event that left dozens of passengers injured. That's next.




Authorities are investigating the midair drop of a LATAM Airlines flight on Monday. It left dozens of people injured.

According to one passenger, the pilot told those on board, he temporarily lost control of his Boeing 787 after an instrument failure during the

flight from Australia to New Zealand.

Pete Muntean has more.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice over): New images show the aftermath of Monday's mysterious in-flight jolt on a Chilean Boeing 787.

LATAM Airlines says a technical event caused a strong movement on board, injuring 50 passengers who peppered the pilots with questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I immediately engaged with him and said you know, what was that? And he openly admitted he said, I lost control of the plane. My

gauges just kind of went blank on me and that's when the plane just took a dive.

MUNTEAN (voice over): Boeing says it is standing by to help investigate the incident, the latest involving a Boeing plane following the Alaska Airlines

door plug blowout in January, a wheel falling off a United flight last week, and hydraulic fluid trailing from another United flight during

takeoff from Sydney this week.

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: People are pretty wary of Boeing right now, and when anything happens on a Boeing, people want to know.

MUNTEAN (voice over): Though there is no clear link between each incident, Boeing remains under the microscope of federal investigators.

The Federal Aviation Administration now says it has completed its review of the 737 production line with "The New York Times" reporting Boeing failed

33 of 89 quality control audits.

MICHAEL WHITAKER, FAA ADMINISTRATOR: It wasn't just paperwork issues, sometimes it is the order that work is done, sometimes it is tool

management. It sounds kind of pedestrian, but it is really important in a factory that you have a way of tracking your tools effectively so that you

have the right tool and you know you didn't leave it behind.

MUNTEAN (voice over): FAA's scrutiny follows anger from the National Transportation Safety Board, which blasted Boeing on Capitol Hill last week

for failing to provide records that detailed the omission of key bolts from the Alaska Airlines plane.

Boeing says those records do not exist.

JENNIFER HOMENDY, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD CHAIR: We don't and have the records. We don't have the names of the 25 people that is in

charge of doing that work in that facility. It is absurd that two months later, we don't have that.



CHATTERLEY: Peter Goetz is in Virginia and he joins us now for more on this.

Peter, I'm just going through this FAA report or at least how it has been reported. Boeing as we've mentioned in that report, failing 33 out of 89

so-called product audits, failing seven out of 13 of the product audits focused on Boeing's fuselage supplier, Spirit AeroSystems.

It is sort of painful reading.

PETER GOETZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: It is indeed. It is an unmitigated disaster for Boeing, which is a cornerstone of the American economy, that

they have fallen to this level, is really quite distressing and it has been not something that's happened suddenly, it has occurred over a period of


Many people point out the movement of the corporate headquarters from Seattle to Chicago, which started a disconnect between top management and

the folks who are producing the planes on the floor in Renton, Washington.

CHATTERLEY: I read a report by Vertical Research Partners this week as well, and they pointed out something that I hadn't seen from the FAA, which

was a notification this week that required 737 operators to the check specific wire bundles on their plane. And my eyes sort of widened as I read

it, as someone who is a frequent traveler.

And when you see something like we saw this week with a pilot apparently having told passengers on a plane that he simply lost control of the plane

because the dials disappeared and then they came back and the plane carried on.

I think for ordinary people that are traveling around, when you see a safety report like this and you keep hearing headlines attached to Boeing,

there is a reason to be concerned.

GOETZ: There is, and it is frightening.

On the LATAM flight, luckily, there is a flight data recorder that records hundreds of parameters of exactly what the plane is doing leading up to the

upset and what -- and how the pilots recovered, and there is also a voice recorder of 25 hours that will tell us what was going on in the cockpit.

My guess is, is that we are going to be looking at a clear air turbulence issue, which took the pilots by surprise. But in any case, the New Zealand

investigative body, they will find that out and we will know about exactly what happened on that in the very near future.

In terms of the audit, this is just the start of a series of examinations that Boeing is going to be facing, the NTSB is digging into this Alaska Air

issue and they have not been happy with the way Boeing has responded.

So I think Boeing is in for a long hard year.

CHATTERLEY: Just to your point on the LATAM flight because I do think that's interesting and obviously we are speculating at this stage and we

have to wait for an investigation, but certainly one of the passengers told my colleague last night that the pilot said to him, my gauges just kind of

went blank on me.

If you're talking about the kind of turbulence, midair turbulence that you mentioned, would that caused the gauges to go blank?

GOETZ: Probably not, but you know, I've investigated enough accidents where there are reports immediately following you find out perhaps are not


If the gauges went blank, that will show up on the flight data recorder and it will show where it started.

But the most important thing, Julia on that LATAM flight is, 50 people were not wearing their seatbelts. It is absolutely essential when you're on an

aircraft to wear your seatbelt at all times, and it is just -- you can't repeat it often enough.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, and that's great advice, Peter, but I think your broader point on this where Boeing is concerned is whether it is the regulators,

the reputational damage or even the market share that we've seen with the latest deliveries. This is going to continue to be a challenging year.

Peter, great to have you with us. Thank you.

Peter Goetz there.

All right, coming up, the special counsel's testimony discussed themes central to November's presidential election. We will hear the reaction from

the Biden campaign and the White House, next.



CHATTERLEY: Hello, I'm Julia Chatterley. There is more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment. When we'll tell you why inflation is rising in the United

States once again, and we'll discuss what's next for Haiti after the country's prime minister resigned. But before that, the headlines this


At least three people have been killed and 38 injured after a missile strike on Kryvyi Rih in south central Ukraine. This, according to a

Ukrainian official. The strike reportedly hit multi story buildings.

Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy says people are being searched for under the rubble. The police chief in Uvalde, Texas has resigned. Daniel

Rodriguez, who has been police chief since 2018 was on vacation when the massacre at Rob Elementary School occurred last year.

This comes just days after an independent investigator cleared all local officers of wrongdoing, sparking the fury of many victims' families.

Prosecutors in the U.S. State of Michigan have shown a jury the arrest video of parents of a high school mass shooter. Police say the couple have

fled before an arraignment involving the 2021 shooting attack that led to the deaths of four students.

The father who is currently on trial for involuntary manslaughter. His wife has already been convicted of the same charges. Their son was sentenced in

December two life in prison.

A Romanian Court of Appeals has approved a request from Britain to extradite Internet personality Andrew Tate. But postpone doing so until

Romania in trial proceedings finish. However, Tate and his brother have been released from custody after being detained for 24 hours.

The Tate's have "categorically" rejected the allegations of sexual aggression.

OK, and returning to our top story once again. Special Counsel Robert Hur, faced hours of criticism from both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill

earlier. The hearing gave lawmakers opportunity to score political points ahead of the 2024 election.

Paula Reid has more.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you swear or affirm under --

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Former Special Counsel Robert Hur, grilled by lawmakers from both sides of the

aisle today about his investigation into President Biden's mishandling of classified documents.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Mr. Hur, why do you do it? Why did Joe Biden, in your words, willfully retain and disclose classified materials? I mean, he

knew the law. In an office like 50 years.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): You exonerated him.

ROBERT HUR, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL: -- would be a conviction.

JAYAPAL: I know that the term willful retention has a --


HUR: I did not exonerate him. That word does not appear in the report.


JAYAPAL: Mr. Hur, it's my time.

REID (voice over): Biden's memory took center stage as Hur said in his report that he did not charge Biden because he believed a jury would see

him as a "sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory."

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): You find in your report that the elements of a federal criminal violation are met, but then you apply this senile

cooperator theory, that because Joe Biden cooperated and the elevator didn't go to the top floor, you don't get a conviction.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): You understood when you made that decision, didn't you, Mr. Hur, that you would ignite a political firestorm with that

language, didn't you?

HUR: Congressman, politics played no part whatsoever in my investigative steps.

SCHIFF: You cannot tell me you're so naive as to think your words who would not have created a political firestorm? You understood that.

REID (voice over): Hur told the committee he stood by the words in his report.

HUR: My assessment and the report about the relevance of the president's memory was necessary and accurate and fair.

REID: He was also pressed on the differences between Biden's case and that of former President Trump. Those being that Biden returned the documents,

he allowed for searches, various properties, and even sat for a voluntary interview with the special counsel.

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): Did you find that President Biden engaged in a conspiracy to obstruct justice?

HUR: No.

LIEU: Did you find that President Biden engaged in a scheme to conceal?

HUR: No.

REID (voice over): Hur repeatedly made it clear he did not exonerate the president.

REP. KEVIN KILEY (R-CA): Mr. Hur, did you completely exonerate President Biden?

HUR: That is not what my report does.

REID: Hur also emphasized that he was making a legal conclusion about Biden's mental state, not a medical one.

REP. SCOTT FITZGERALD (R-WI): Mr. Hur, based on your report, did you find that the president was senile?

HUR: I did not. That conclusion does not appear in my report.


CHATTERLEY: Paula Reid, reporting there. But Joe Biden's age is a major concern to voters ahead of the election in November. A recent poll showed

that more than three quarters of Americans believe Joe Biden is too old to be president, a smaller amount believe the same, in fact, to Donald Trump.

White House spokesperson Ian Sams spoke to CNN earlier. He pointed out the special counsel's praise for the president's memory in transcripts of the



IAN SAMS, SPOKESPERSON, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: These are things that he says in the report. And in the transcript, he says -- at one point, he praises

the president's "photographic memory".

And so, there is a little bit of a distinction here and a little bit of picking and choosing which issues to criticize the president's memory on.


CHATTERLEY: Kevin Liptak is in Washington for us tonight. Kevin, good to have you with us.

I think there must be relief from the White House today that nothing further was said beyond this report in the hearing today.

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, I think the sense that you get from White House officials and Biden campaign officials is that

this could have gone a lot worse.

And when you look at the line of questioning, sure there were questions about the president's age that was sort of one of the central factors of

Hur's report. But really, the center of this hearing was this comparison between President Biden and former President Trump. You heard it from the

Democrats who wanted to contrast how both men had handled declassified documents when they left office. But you also heard it from Republicans who

kept bringing up this idea of two systems of justice, asking why President Biden, in their view got off, when President Trump has been indicted for

his handling of the documents.

And so, if you were a White House official, or a Biden campaign official, that contrast does very much benefit President Biden, because it lacks this

accusation of obstruction. You know, President Biden isn't an accused of trying to destroy the documents or trying to bar the FBI from seeing what

he had.

And so, in their view, this hearing really couldn't have gone any better in some ways. And we did actually just hear official White House, a reaction

to the hearing. We saw Ian Sams, the person that you just heard from earlier today, we saw him come out after the hearing and talk to reporters

here at the White House. He said that this amounted to case closed.

He did say that President Biden had been able to view some of the hearing today in between his meetings and that he came away with it saying that it

was time to move on.

Of course, that is an aspirational view, Republicans will continue to reuse the findings in this report in the lead up to the election in November. So,

I don't think this is going away anytime soon.

But at the end of the day, the age question, the question about President Biden's memory and fitness for office did not start with this report and it

will not end with the report either.


But certainly, when you hear from Democrats today, they think that all of the questions have been answered that President Biden, you know, was not

charged, and that the comparison stands for itself with President Trump.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. One fears that might be wishful thinking. But they're within a few years of each other, certainly.


CHATTERLEY: Kevin Liptak, thank you for now.

Now, another issue for the Biden campaign. Stubbornly high inflation. U.S. consumer prices rose 3.2 percent, annualized in the 12 months ending

February. That's a tenth of a percent higher than the January reading and just more than economists expected just a little bit.

Gasoline prices and shelter, a big reason why the gasoline prices rose nearly percent over the past month alone. Investors though, unfazed. All

three U.S. averages finishing higher. And the S&P 500 hit a new record close.

Catherine Rampell is with us now. Catherine, great to have you with us. Never mind the markets, we care about consumers. It is just one data point

and nothing moves in a straight line. But how fixated should we be on this particular number, and the impact on the Fed who is looking to cut rates?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR That's an excellent question. So again, the reports are noisy, just as you explained.

You should never put too much emphasis on any one data point. That said, we've had a couple of months now of relatively hot inflation above -- well

above at this point, what the Federal Reserve wants to see.

The debate right now, I think is not so much whether the Fed will cut the expectation -- cut rates, rather, the expectation is still very much that

the Fed will reduce interest rates.

But the question is when? And if you look at where markets were forecasting that initial rate cut to come about a month ago, they had, you know, market

participants had placed the odds at around 50 percent chance by May.

Now, the same market measure suggests about a 10 percent chance by May. So, the idea being that the Federal Reserve will cut but they may hold these

rates higher for longer as they wait to see a lot more data come in to be sure that the economy, in fact, could withstand less restrictive financial


CHATTERLEY: Yes, it remains uncomfortable for many consumers, though, even as prices are coming down. There's still uncomfortable squeezed to

particularly for lower income families and household income. And, of course, they have to wait for the cost of things like credit mortgages --

credit cards to come down as numbers do.


RAMPELL: Exactly.

CHATTERLEY: As the rates do.

You ran -- you wrote a fun op-ed in The Washington Post. And you said, good news for Biden is that Americans are finally appreciating the strength of

the U.S. economy. The bad news for Biden is it seems to be helping Donald Trump. Why?

RAMPELL: It is very bizarre. For a long time, we've had this sort of puzzle about why consumers were so grumpy about the U.S. economy, when on paper,

at least, the economy looked pretty good.

At least, if you're looking at traditional measures like GDP, unemployment, even inflation. Again, still higher than we want it to be, but has been


In the last few months, consumers have been getting quite a bit more optimistic. So, it's trending in the right direction even if consumers

aren't exactly ecstatic. If you ask Americans in various surveys, whether they think Biden versus Trump is better on the --

CHATTERLEY: Oh, what a shame. We will get her back no doubt at some point soon in the future and continue that conversation. But for now, thanks to

Catherine Rampell there.

OK. We're going to take a quick break. But coming up, more aid on the way to Gaza. We'll have the latest on the ship making its way from Cyprus with

200 tons worth of food.



CHATTERLEY: Welcome back. Desperately needed aid finally making its way into Gaza. The first food convoys since February 20th has reached the

northern port of Gaza City. The World Food Programme says it's delivered enough food for 25,000 people. And then, add to that, the ship carrying

hundreds of tons of food will also soon be arriving in Gaza, according to World Central Kitchen.

Nada Bashir has more.


NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER (voice over): On its way at last. The Open Arms, normally a search and rescue vessel, setting sail from

Larnaca in Cyprus, with nearly 200 tons of aid in tow, rice, flour, and canned goods, enough for 500,000 meals, according to World Central Kitchen.

JUAN CAMILO JIMENEZ, WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN: It's the first time happening in many years and that means that we are working with different actors,

different governments, different entities to make this possible.

BASHIR (voice-over): And this is where it's going, a makeshift pier in Gaza still under construction. This, in addition to a temporary pier to be

established by the U.S. military on Gaza's coast.

World Central Kitchen says it plans to distribute the food in Gaza where a quarter of Palestinians are on the brink of famine, according to the UN.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: My strongest appeal today is to honor the spirit of Ramadan by silencing the guns. and removing all

obstacles to ensure the delivery of life-saving aid at the speed and massive scale required.

BASHIR (voice-over): Any form of celebration during this holy month is, at best, muted, with little food for Palestinians to break their fast at


We decided to come and break our fast here in our home, which was struck. Despite the destruction and the rubble, we brought our food and cooked on


Open Arms will be one of the first ships to enter the Strip in years, ever since Israel implemented a naval blockade on the territory in 2007.

Aid trucks which, on average, crossed at around 500 a day before the war began, now pile up at the Rafah Border Crossing in Egypt. Only a fraction

actually make it across the border every day.

Governments and other aid agencies have also taken to airdrops, though this option has proven both controversial and even risky.

Leaving the sea as one of the last remaining avenues to bring food to those so desperately in need.

Nada Bashir, CNN, London.


CHATTERLEY: And the Biden administration has announced a new package of military aid to Ukraine worth up to $300 million.

This, after a foreign aid package stalled in Congress and the White House warned there was no money left.

Officials say the new funding became available as a result of savings in weapons contracts. The new package includes much needed artillery

ammunition, anti-aircraft, missiles, anti-armor systems and more.

But one official said this is not a long-term sustainable solution as House Republicans continue to block an aid bill in Congress. Speaking alongside

Polish leaders earlier this hour, President Biden urged Congress to act.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Congress must pass the bipartisan national security bill now, which includes urgent funding for

Ukraine. We must act before it literally is too late.


Before it's too late, because as Poland remembers Russia won't stop at Ukraine. Putin will keep going, putting Europe, the United States, and the

entire free world at risk in my view.


CHATTERLEY: OK, coming up for us. Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, is resigning after weeks of escalating gang violence. It's unclear though who

will take power next. More, after the break.



And to Haiti now, where Prime Minister Ariel Henry has announced his resignation after weeks of escalating gang violence and chaos. The social

order in Haiti is teetering on the brink of collapse. It remains to be seen if this resignation will end the violence. And it's also unclear who will

take power next.

Patrick Oppmann has the story.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For more than a week, Haiti's marauding gangs prevented Prime Minister Ariel Henry from returning

to the country he was supposed to lead.

Until finally, Henry reached a breaking point and agreed on Monday night to resign.

ARIEL HENRY, OUTGOING PRIME MINISTER OF HAITI (through translator): My government will leave immediately after the inauguration of the council.

There will be a caretaker government until they name a prime minister and a new Cabinet. Haiti needs peace, Haiti needs stability.

OPPMANN (voice over): Henry had traveled from Haiti to Kenya to sign an agreement with the government there, to provide troops to fight the out-of-

control gangs, terrorizing his beleaguered nation. Once he left, the gangs, united to further batter the Haitian government in a series of coordinated


The latest explosion of violence leading to a massive jailbreak that freed thousands of prisoners, close the country's main airport indefinitely

enforced the United States and other embassies to evacuate diplomats by helicopter.


The news of Henry's impending resignation is not placating the leaders of gangs though, who have threatened an all-out civil war.

JIMMY "BARBECUE" CHIERIZER, HAITIAN GANG LEADER (through translator): We, (INAUDIBLE), are demanding that the Haitian people must choose the person

who will lead the country.

OPPMANN (voice over): But it is the Haitian people who are suffering the most. More than 300,000 have been displaced by the violence the U.N. says.

Gangs blocked access to food, water, and hospitals, using hunger and sexual violence as weapons of war. Bodies of their victims lie uncollected on the

streets. On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with regional leaders in Jamaica and announced an increase in U.S. funding to

the security mission to be led by Kenyan troops.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm announcing today that the United States Department of Defense is doubling its approved support for the

mission from $100 to $200 million, and that brings the total us support to $300 million for this effort.

OPPMANN (voice over): Following the announcement that Henry will resign, Kenyan officials now saying a government needs to be in place in Haiti

before their troops can deploy, creating more doubt of what exactly they will have boots on the ground to begin fighting their heavily armed local


For too many Haitians, living in a country where there is no longer a functioning government, no escape from the violence, it is already too


Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.


CHATTERLEY: OK. And on Wall Street today, hotter than expected inflation data hasn't deterred investors markets closing at fresh record highs. We've

got the closing numbers next.


CHATTERLEY: A quick note for the Wall Street watchers among you. U.S. stocks marching higher despite the consumer price index ticking higher. In

February, the S&P 500 closing at yet another record high. The Dow and the Nasdaq also closing in the green. Let me give you a look and you could see

it there.

The Dow components three M on top. Tech stocks like Microsoft that pull the S&P 500 to that fresh record. The company posted gains after launching its

copilot chatbot builder. This is a tool that allows subscribers to create their own custom chatbots.

In the meantime, Boeing at the bottom, as you can see for a second day in a row after failing a number of FAA safety audits surrounding the 737 Max.

And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'm Julia Chatterley.

"THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper, up next.