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Quest Means Business

TikTok CEO Vows To Fight US Bill That Could Ban App; Mnuchin: TikTok App Needs To Be Rebuilt In The US; SpaceX Loses Starship After Promising Launch; Trump Hush Money Trial May Be Delayed; Vladimir Putin Expected To Win Fifth Term In Power; An Urban Farm At An Iconic Sporting Venue; Irish Economy Projected To Expand Again This Year. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired March 14, 2024 - 16:00   ET



JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Smiling faces and cheering there from the New York Stock Exchange, not enough to lift us though, stocks on

Wall Street closing out the session in the red, another hot US inflation readings, hence, stocks lower in the early hours of the day.

Those are the markets and these are the main events.

Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he is interested in buying TikTok as US lawmakers consider banning the platform.

Third time's a charm for the world's most powerful rocket, SpaceX celebrates the successful test launch of its Starship.

And Russians are heading to the polls in an election Vladimir Putin is all but certain to win.

Live from New York, it is Thursday, March 14th. I'm Julia Chatterley, in Richard Quest, and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

CHATTERLEY: And a good evening once again. The battle for the future of TikTok is heating up. The company's CEO has now left Capitol Hill. He is

fighting back against a bill that could force the sale of the platform or remove it from US app stores.

Shou Zi Chew was meeting with Democratic Senator John Fetterman. He told reporters the bill is not practical as it stands.


SHOU ZE CHEW, CEO, TIKTOK: We have looked at it, it is not feasible to do whatever the bill thinks it does within the perimeters set out in the bill.

REPORTER: To divest the company?

CHEW: So, this bill, in all the details -- if you go through the details, this is -- this would lead to the banning of the app in the country.


CHATTERLEY: The meeting comes as Chew tries to rally TikTok users as well.


CHEW: This bill gives more power to a handful of other social media companies. It will also take billions of dollars out of the pockets of

creators and small businesses.

It will put more than 300,000 American jobs at risk and it will take away your TikTok.


CHATTERLEY: Clare Duffy joins us now. Clare, he has some sympathy in certain quarters, I think on Capitol Hill, but some deaf ears as well to

his concerns.

But I think one of the messages he brought and it is very important, 170 million Americans won't like this. Seven million small businesses too, now,

that's a strong message to send.

CLARE DUFFY, CNN BUSINESS WRITER: Yes, I do think that senators will be listening closely to many of those TikTok users who also happen to be often

young voters who are going to be very important in the upcoming election as they consider this bill and whether to bring it to the Senate floor.

And look, if this bill does make it past the Senate and get signed into law, which does feel still very much like an if, it is becoming

increasingly clear that TikTok and ByteDance are not necessarily just going to be right on board with finding a new American owner for this platform.

You hear TikTok CEO, Shou Chew in Washington clearly trying to send that message, and I want to draw your attention to some more of those comments

that he posted last night where again signaling that TikTok is not just going to be giving up the fight here. Let's take a listen.


CHEW: We will continue to do all we can, including exercising our legal rights to protect this amazing platform that we have built with you.

We believe we can overcome this together. I encourage you to keep showing your stories, share them with your friends, share them with your family,

share them with your senators.

Protect your constitutional rights. Make your voices heard.


DUFFY: "Make your voices heard," he says, and look, if this bill were to be passed and TikTok were to sue to block it, likely on First Amendment

grounds, it would further drag out the process of implementing this legislation. And I say that Julia, because I've seen a number of TikTok

users posting videos, bidding farewell to the app, just in case and this ban isn't going to be implemented anytime soon. I think it is important to

note that.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, it is not like there is a lack of alternative choices though, just to be clear. I think something that he was saying there about

the impracticality of separating these things has come up a number of times and that is separating the technology itself from the platform and China is

deeming that to be sensitive technology and being unwilling to give it up, Clare and China overnight once again saying, this isn't happening, and we

are not selling.

DUFFY: Yes, I think China is part of the reason why it is going to be very difficult if, you know, potentially impossible to split TikTok off from


China is not going to want to let go of this very popular social media platform. A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry saying this

morning that this bill puts the US on the opposite side get of the principle of fair competition, which of course is sort of an interesting

comment because China already blocks a number of US-owned social media platforms -- Facebook, X, YouTube, and a number of others from operating

within that country.


And so I do think that this is a situation that could go very quickly from being a politically fraught situation in the United States to something

that continues to add to the geopolitical tensions that we are seeing between the US and China.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, China doesn't have to interfere in this election in any other way other than to say we are not selling, get TikTok banned and watch

the political fallout. Classic.

Clare Duffy, thank you for that.

Now, lucrative this platform too, and former US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he is interested in buying TikTok.

Mnuchin said on CNBC earlier that he is putting together a team of investors, not naming any names though.


STEVE MNUCHIN, FORMER US TREASURY SECRETARY: . should be sold. I understand the technology. It is a great business and I'm going to put together a

group to buy TikTok.

CNBC HOST: You're trying to buy TikTok.



CHATTERLEY: And Matt Egan is with us now. He certainly has previewed, doesn't he, of pulling together big investors and coming together to buy

things. We've seen that in the US banking sector. He is also talking to current investors, I believe in TikTok. He has potential.

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Julia, he does. You know, he has been a busy guy. Last week, he put together this billion-dollar rescue of a bank in

financial trouble. And now, he says he wants to buy a tech company in political trouble.

TikTok put, as you in Clare were just talking about, that won't be easy, nor will it be cheap. Some analysts think that TikTok could be worth $100

billion. There is no guarantee that Steve Mnuchin can come up with that kind of dough this quickly.

But the bigger issue here is no one actually says that TikTok is for sale. I mean, Julia, you and I can say that we are putting together a group of

investors, divide the Statue of Liberty, it doesn't mean that the Statue of Liberty is for sale.

And I think that's the biggest issue here is that, as you were just discussing, China has made clear that they have no desire to have this

company be sold.

Tech analyst, Dan Ives, he told me that China is never going to allow TikTok to be sold with the source code, and without the source code they

said this would be like buying an F1 car without the engine, right? It is kind of pointless because that is the secret sauce that makes TikTok so

successful. That is the crown jewel, but it also of course goes to a lot of the national security issues here.

And so that is why some people think that if this bill goes through the Senate, which is no guarantee, and if it gets signed into law, that the

more likely buyer would be a tech company.

But you and I, Julia know that some of the progressive lawmakers here in the United States, like Elizabeth Warren, they would not be pleased with

the idea of a giant tech company acquiring a company like TikTok.

So clearly, there is no easy answers here whether we are talking about the finances here, the political angles, or the national security ones.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, I mean, they've done so well, haven't they at regulating some of the other big tech giants, not.

One point that Steve Mnuchin did make because I watched the interview and I thought it was an important one was that there is no way a US company would

ever own something like this in China, and of course that's the difference between having a command economy like China's system and the United States,

of course. And the crucial difference there is that ByteDance could sue under the US system as well.

I think we can forget the fact that even just the legal challenges that will be presented in the face of this push this way beyond the November

elections. And then we could be seeing Steve Mnuchin trying to buy TikTok with a President Trump back in office.

EGAN: Yes. You're right.

The legal aspects of this could certainly delay this, and you could have a situation where this is still out there and President Trump, former

President Trump could be back in office.

And so that does add to the complexity here, and your point about what goes on in China is a good one because Mnuchin did point out that a lot of the

US apps, they are banned in China, right? That includes Facebook and Instagram, and YouTube, and the company formerly known as Twitter. All of

them are unavailable in China.

Of course, they have different political system some there and just because it is going on in China doesn't mean it should happen here. I mean, it is

like I tell my four-year-old, right. I mean, just because your friends are doing it doesn't mean that you should, too.

So there is a lots unravel here and it is going to be fascinating, Julia, how it plays out.

CHATTERLEY: I love your four-year-old logic to address this situation. It works for many reasons, my friend. Thank you so much, Matt Egan.

EGAN: For sure.

CHATTERLEY: Now, speaking of legal trouble, TikTok is also facing legal action in Italy where regulators fined the platform $11 million for failing

to protect minors.

The watchdog said TikTok's algorithms spread harmful content systematically. TikTok said it disagreed with the decision.

Anna Stewart has more.


ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Well, it is another move from European regulators to make social media companies more responsible for the harmful

content on their platforms.

Last month, the Italian Communications Agency ordered TikTok to remove videos of the viral French scar trend, which the regulator claimed promoted

self-harm because it showed people pinching their cheeks to create bruises.


Now, Italian authorities have issued an $11 million fine for what they call unfair commercial practice. They say TikTok simply didn't do enough to stop

damaging content spreading too young and vulnerable people.

TikTok have disagreed. They say the French scar content was hardly seen, averaging just 100 daily searches before the company was ordered to remove

the clips. It even suggested that the Italian investigation been created more interest in French scar videos being shared.

Now, the fine may not be the worst of TikTok's concerns right now. On the other side of the Atlantic, the US House has passed a bill that could lead

to a ban.

Anna Stewart CNN, London.



ANNOUNCER: Booster will start to do its flip and then move in to the boost back burn setting it out to an eventual splash down in the Gulf of Mexico.


CHATTERLEY: And that's the world's most powerful rocket taking off from Texas earlier. Well, SpaceX's third Starship launch was lost on re-entry,

the company says it is still seen as a major success.

The unmanned rocket made it further than any of the previous test flights lasting for nearly an hour before losing key communications.

NASA is counting on Starship to service the lunar lander when it sends astronauts back to the moon, hopefully, as soon as 2026.

Kristin Fisher is in Washington and covering the story for us.

Kristin, I'd call this a successful failure this time around. No explosions on the way up. Some problematic re-entry measures.

Do you think NASA is going to be happy with this to the point about 2026?

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, because NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has already congratulated SpaceX and is calling

it a success and so is one of SpaceX is primary competitors, Blue Origin, which is headed by Jeff Bezos, a well-known Elon Musk rival.

So both NASA, Blue Origin, and of course SpaceX, calling this third test flight a success. And what we saw was a successful launch and separation of

the super heavy booster and the Starship spacecraft on top.

You can see the liftoff there, very early this morning from Boca Chica, Texas, right on the border with Mexico. Then there was that hot stage

separation, which was a success. And that's when things really got interesting because this is when Starship went further and faster than any

of the previous two flight tests, and its sent back this incredible HD live footage for almost the entire duration of its 49-minute test flight.

And we saw it re-entering or entering the Earth's atmosphere. This plasma - - red hot plasma burning up around Starship. It is the kind of footage that I've never seen before, Julia, before it broke up, likely just over, there

it is, that's that red hot plasma that I was talking about, before breaking up just over the Indian Ocean and you know, yes, the ultimate goal, pie in

the sky goal was for a splashdown.

Starship literally landing in the Indian Ocean. It didn't quite make it there, but you know, Julia, I should point out that in order to get a

launch license, SpaceX has to put an ultimate destination even if that's not the primary objective.

The primary objective here was for Starship to reach orbital velocity or orbital speed, and it did do that. So that's why it is being called a


CHATTERLEY: Yes, certainly. What next, Kristin? Very quickly. Where does this lead us because 2026 is so close if we are trying to .

FISHER: So close.

CHATTERLEY: . get the first woman on the moon at that point as well. What next from SpaceX, what do we need to see?

FISHER: More test flights and quickly and SpaceX already has several starships waiting in the wings, ready to fly.

There is going to be a bit of a period where SpaceX needs to get that hardware ready to fly, but it is also incumbent on the US government, the

FAA in particular, to grant SpaceX its next launch license quickly -- Julia.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, Kristin Fisher, great to have you with us. So exciting.

FISHER: Thanks.

CHATTERLEY: Thank you.

Okay, it is the eighth annual My Freedom Day. CNN is partnering with students around the world to raise awareness of modern-day slavery. We will

be speaking with the man leading the UN's efforts against human trafficking. That's ahead. Stay with us.



CHATTERLEY: It's our eighth annual My Freedom Day, a student-led day of action against modern-day slavery. We've watched young people around the

globe working to make the world a better place. Here is what a day of intentional action can accomplish.


UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: So My Freedom Day is about child labor and how a lot of like giant companies are using children to work for them, and I don't think

that's very good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom is not being cast aside and forced into labor.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Every child should be free from child labor. They have rights to be free.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Let's end child labor today.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: End child labor today.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: To me, freedom is not judging people and having equity and equality.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: So the poster shows the comparison between the companies that use child labor and the ones that don't.

(UNIDENTIFIED BOY speaking in foreign language.)

TRANSLATION: I study and I play at school. I also attend a tuition class. I feel very happy.

Happy Freedom Day.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: They're also going to participate in a sweatshop simulation challenge so they can feel

what it is like to be trapped in a forced labor situation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope that through the simulation workshop today, I will gain a very valuable learning experience and learn about what is it

like to work in a sweatshop workshop every day of my life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Slavery in the chocolate industry is still a massive problem. But it is really important for us to check the sources of the

chocolate we buy so that we know there is no child labor involved.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At this table, you have students from a middle school who are busy making posters on a very relevant topic that has to do with

modern-day slavery, which is child labor.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: The burdens that child labor brings suppresses their dreams and these enchanting aspirations that young children have. So that's

the message were trying to get across.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the right to play, who likes to play?

(CHILDREN answer "me.")

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the best thing about playing as a child?

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I can get prey with my sister.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. What do you like about playing?

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I like to play tag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we did this timeline to show the landmark laws regarding child labor throughout the years and how it has been limited and

eradicated for the whole world.

And we come here to 1901, which said that children under 12 years old cannot work at factories anymore.

(PEOPLE shouting "#MyFreedomDay.")

(CHILDREN shouting "My Freedom Day.")

(CHILDREN shouting "My Freedom Day.")



CHATTERLEY: You can post your message to join the fight against forced labor using the #MyFreedomDay on social media.

You can also go to for more information.

Now, many of those subjected to force labor are also the victims of human trafficking. The UN found that among 50,000 trafficking victims, one in

every three was a child.

Action is underway at the UN, more than 30 international groups have agreed on a call to action to stop child trafficking.

Ilias Chatzis is the chief of the Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section of the UN, and he joins us now from Washington, DC. Ilias, great to

have you on the show.

I know 30th of July is your UN World Day Against Trafficking in Persons and the theme this year is children. What do we need to understand both in

terms of what they suffer, but also who is doing this and how it happens.


part of society and every, you know, it doesn't look at color, at race, at countries. It does look at ages and especially children are particularly


As you rightly said, one in three victims globally is a child. Collectively, we are failing children in this area and we need to do more.

It is a crazy number, one in three trafficking, but we know there are millions out there which are victimized in human trafficking.

And at the United Nations, we actually, as you said, going to be devoting the Global Day this year to child trafficking.

CHATTERLEY: I was just going to ask you, who is doing the trafficking? Who is predominantly trafficking? Because in your latest report from 2023, I

read that women trafficking other women and children is also a theme. So I just think as people watching this try and understand what is taking place,

what should they also be looking forward to perhaps be able to identify something that they may not realize they are seeing.

CHATZIS: Yes, first of all, we need to understand that human trafficking is a very serious crime and is heavily organized. So there is a heavy

organized crime involvement in human trafficking. In our data, statistical data, we are collecting data for more than 20 years, nine out of ten cases

are organized crime cases.

So this heavy organized crime involvement, it is a serious crime. So, if people do come across situations that they seem to them are out of normal

they should be reporting it to the authorities.

At the same time, we definitely need to do more about understanding how this crime is perpetuated and one of our major concerns is the fact that

vulnerable people are actually -- trafficking victims are actually used to commit other criminal acts by the traffickers. This is part of the

trafficking chain. It is one of the trafficking forms.

So the high percentage of women that are convicted as traffickers is for a major concern because it shows, we think to a large degree that what the

authorities are looking at is usually what the police are looking at is the low level criminals, those that are actually are the first ones that they

would come across, and usually this may be trafficking victims as well. And this particularly prevalent in sexual exploitation where the majority of

victims are women and the traffickers use other women to control them.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, so what you're saying is, we need to work up in the food chain of who is actually organizing this rather than going for the low-

hanging fruit for want of a better word.

What about new types of trafficking? I spent a lot of time talking about digitization and the impact of online activity. What about online

trafficking and the use of cyber scams as well?

CHATZIS: I mean, this beautiful tool, internet, has opened up horizons and opportunities for people; have created, unfortunately opportunities for

traffickers as well. So the online aspects of trafficking is a new form that has been emerging. It has been growing quite fast, especially during

the pandemic when there were a lot of people online. So that's when we saw an actual significant increase of online trafficking, especially sexual

exploitation, the posting of videos, sexual abuse, including of children and we have also new form of trafficking which is emerging and is

particularly prevalent in Asia, which is called the cyber scams.

Basically people being forced into compounds to commit online scams across the world. So the victims can be anywhere in the world, can be a telephone

call. The strange telephone calls some of us receive, you know, from a strange part of the world pretending to represent these online companies

trying to convince them that there is something wrong with our computer.

This often comes from this type of cyber scam operations.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, I think when people are listening to this too, I like to get some sense of progress over years and we have now been doing My Freedom

Day for eight years, but I went back to a report that the UN did in 2009. So we are talking 15 years ago, just to get a sense of it.

And one of the standout points for me was that the UN was saying many governments are still in denial, and that two out of five countries that

you cover have not recorded a single conviction.


You were also at that point talking about a huge chunk of the traffickers being women. Fast-forward to today, those stats that I mentioned, the lack

of convictions and the governments being in denial, have things fundamentally changed?

CHATZIS: The answer is yes and no. They have changed because we have made progress and there are new forms of trafficking that we identify, there are

victims that we identified the were not identified, as you said, 15 years ago. But at the same time, the criminals are always a step ahead and this

happens when every form of organized crime, in particular, and we have the same human trafficking.

And unfortunately during the pandemic, we saw a sharp decrease in the capacity of countries to investigate and prosecute, especially the low

resource countries and despite the fact that for many of us, you know, the COVID pandemic is behind us, it is something of the past, we still see that

a number of regions still have difficulties in reaching up to the levels that were before the COVID pandemic.

It has hit them very hard because the capacity is very hard and at the same time, we have this increase in these new forms of trafficking that is

making the situation more complicated.

So it is a struggle that we have to live up to catch up with the development. And we actually, hopefully at some stage ahead of the game in

our efforts.

CHATTERLEY: Yes and live up to the promises that we are making to these children and to the people that are being trafficked for a better life.

Ilias, thank you for all the work you and your team are doing and it is why we will keep talking about it. Thank you.

CHATZIS: Thanks for having me.

CHATTERLEY: Thank you.

Okay, coming up, Donald Trump's lawyers are trying to get his classified documents case thrown out. The judge said she will rule on some of their

arguments promptly. That and more, next.



CHATTERLEY: Hello, I'm Julia Chatterley, and there's more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment.

When Russians are heading to the polls, Vladimir Putin widely expected to come out on top. And Ireland is projected to return to growth after a

technical recession. We'll speak to the CEO of one of the country's biggest banks. But before all that, the headlines this hour.

U.S. Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer called for elections in Israel on the Senate floor today. Schumer is the highest ranking Jewish elected

official in the United States. He said many Israelis have lost confidence in Benjamin Netanyahu's government.

And the White House is searching for answers to the ongoing crisis in Haiti, and they could use Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as a temporary solution. The

center has been used for years to process migrants. This comes as concerns grow over a potential exodus from Haiti due to rampant gang violence.

And the White House says it's, quote, "very concerned" by a suspected Russian attacks on the Alexei Navalny's former chief of staff. Leonid

Volkov was assaulted outside his home in Lithuania on Tuesday. Lithuania calls it the first case of, quote, "political terrorism" in that country.

It's still investigating, but says the attack appeared well fund.

SpaceX has lost its latest Starship rocket on re-entry. The Texas launch started promisingly, but then the rocket lost communication and broke

apart. Despite this, SpaceX says the launch is still a major success as the rocket reached orbital speed. The Starship made it farther into the test

flight than ever before.

So far, one of Donald Trump's most effective legal strategies is trying to delay the cases against him and it appears to be working. In Florida, a

judge says she'll rule promptly on some of the arguments from Trump's attorneys to throw out the classified documents case against him. The

former president attended today's hearing, which wrapped up a short time ago. His attorneys claimed that as president, Trump was legally entitled to

take the materials to his estate.

Now one of the criminal trials of Donald Trump may be delayed, too, by up to 30 days. New York prosecutors said they will not oppose a motion by

Trump's team to delay the proceedings to review new materials. The case relates to alleged hush money payments the former president made to porn

star Stormy Daniels.

And CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen joins us now.

Norm, for our poor viewers who are trying to keep up with all these different cases, be they civil, legal, federal, or state, I think the point

that I made at the top is very important. What is consistent among all of these cases is different efforts by the legal teams to delay the process

upon which he's actually either appearing in court or facing a jury, in whichever case we're talking about.

Talk to me first about the 30-day delay in the hush money payment case because his lawyers were pushing for 90 days, I believe.

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is certainly true that the former president and his lawyers across the board are trying to slow things down.

They appear to have to be likely to have some modest success in the 2016 case involving election interference allegedly through the payment of hush

money, and that is not the fault of the district attorney in that case, the prosecutor, Alvin Bragg.

Documents that he asked for a year ago are suddenly being produced at the last minute by another government office, a federal office, in response to

Trump's subpoena. But sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. He said he won't object to a short 30-day continuance. Meanwhile, over in the

Florida classified documents case, Trump had a setback on delay today.

CHATTERLEY: Talk about that then. Obviously, different case. This is classified documents. He's accused of willful retention of those classified

documents and obstructing the investigation to try and both get them back and to understand what he had.


Talk about what was taking place today because again his lawyers, they're trying to get this thrown out or dismissed.

EISEN: In Florida where Donald Trump is accused of holding on to these hundreds of classified documents, his lawyers said he has the right to

these documents because under one American law, one statute, the Presidential Records Act, they are personal documents. But the problem with

that argument is that these are official government documents. They can't be personal. It's a silly argument. And other arguments were also made.

The judge who has been very favorable to Trump seemed skeptical. She said she's going to rule fast so a little bit of pushback on the delay strategy

in Florida.

CHATTERLEY: So let's talk about this a little bit more. The Presidential Records Act is what they're suggesting should be used and the lack of

clarity on this allows perhaps a president to walk away with these documents and say, look, they're no longer classified. I've taken them away

to my house and now they're personal.

The judge did say that the argument that they seem to be making was, quote, "forceful," but she said, look, that would be for a jury to decide. So

she's not going to throw it out. In the end, you have to go face a jury and have this out with them. So to your point, she seems to be at least

listening thing to the arguments that they're making. My question would be, if she decided in his favor and said, fine, we throw this out, what's left

of the Presidents Records Act? Could that mean any future president can just grab a bunch of documents, walk away and say, now they're mine?

EISEN: It can't be correct. I mean, these are official government records. When I worked in the White House for President Obama as one of his lawyers,

I was in charge of this statute and also helped write the rules on handling classified documents. This is for personal records like Trump's sons'

school records that might be there or medical records. Not for official government documents about defense and nuclear secrets.

So the jury is never going to rule for Donald Trump on this count. I don't even think it should go to the jury. That's another issue for far down the

line. So Trump will say anything to delay these cases. And indeed, he got some delay in New York. It looks like he's going to get some delay in New

York. He's probably not going to get the delay he wants on this argument at least in Florida, but then he'll come up with another one.

CHATTERLEY: I was about to say don't count him out yet nor his team of lawyers and we didn't even get time to talk about Georgia. I shouldn't

laugh because it's really not funny, but good grief.

Norm, we'll reconvene. Norm Eisen, thank you for your wisdom on this.

EISEN: Thank you.


All right. Russians are heading to the polls over the next three days to vote in the presidential election. It's all but certain to hand Vladimir

Putin a fifth term in power and extend his rule throughout the decade.

Matthew Chance has more.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In some areas like annexed parts like annexed parts of Ukraine, voting in this

Russian election has already begun. And the outcome, say observers, is inevitable.

I'm just happy Russia has accepted us, says this woman in Donetsk. I love everyone who votes for Putin, she says.

The Kremlin leader has barely campaigned for his fifth term in what observers say is the most vacuous, empty Russian election in memory.

Putin's campaign ads simply asked voters who they trust. 86 percent according to latest opinion polls says it's him.. The Kremlin's crackdown

on dissent makes a mockery of public surveys. The sudden death in jail last month of Alexei Navalny, the Kremlin's most prominent critic, has left the

Russian opposition even deeper in despair and with no one they feel they can support.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe Alexei will open the election. I will vote for him, but not for anybody now.

CHANCE: So if Alexei Navalny was on the ballot you would have voted for him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, of course.

CHANCE: But now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But now -- maybe I write this name.

CHANCE (voice-over): Of course, officially there's a choice like voting for the Communist Party candidate Nikolay Kharitonov and his vision, which few

Russians share, a return to a glorious socialist past.


So we've all played the game of capitalism, he says, and now that's enough.

Leonid Slutsky was once at the center of sexual harassment allegations. He denied any wrongdoing, later apologizing for the stress he may have caused.

But he's now a presidential candidate and extremely reluctant to criticize the man currently in power.

Do you think you would be a better president than Putin? A better president than Vladimir Putin?


CHANCE: What do you think? You're standing against him. If you don't think you're going to be better, why would you stand against him?

SLUTSKY: For me now, if you are leader of a political party, it's necessary to check, to participate in election.

CHANCE (voice-over): And participation without criticism of Putin is what this entire Russian election is all about. Independent election observers

described Vladislav Davankov, the low key final candidate, as trying not to attract undue attention, focusing on internal problems and development


And against the backdrop of a costly war in Ukraine, which Russia calls its special military operation, neither the Kremlin nor the candidates like to

stand in this presidential election seem interested in genuine debate.

Criticism in Russian politics it seems has become a thing of the past.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


CHATTERLEY: And coming up on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, we'll explore an urban farm in a place you would least expect on a roof of one of the oldest

sporting venues in the U.S.

Stay with us.


CHATTERLEY: The Major League Baseball season is about to begin in the United States and ballparks around the country are preparing to welcome

fans for opening day.

Today's "Call to Earth" explores how Boston's Fenway Park is changing the game in a different and greener way. Coy Wire has more.



COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hours before the gates open on a Red Sox game day in late August at Fenway Park in Boston, a

different team is hard at work.

CHRIS GRALLERT, PRESIDENT, GREEN CITY GROWERS: As these crops continue to come out, we're planting fall greens, we're planting lettuces.

WIRE: This is Fenway Farms, a 5,000-square foot garden area on a section of rooftop at the oldest active Major League Baseball Park in America.

GRALLERT: You know, agriculture happens everywhere. We're just bringing it up off the ground and putting it up on the roof.

WIRE: Chris Grallert is a farmer and the president of Green City Growers, which operates this farm and some 200 other locations, including at 40

Boston public schools. But none are as visible and perhaps surprising as Fenway Farms.

GRALLERT: There's a desire for people to have more locally-grown fresh produce and interact with the people who are growing and distributing that

fresh produce. And I think when you have such high visibility like you do at a garden like this, people start to see that it's possible and it can

really be the seed to start the new revolution towards food system transformation.

WIRE: The garden first opened in 2015. Recycled milk crates formed the raised planters.

GRALLERT: These are fingerling type potatoes.

WIRE: Irrigated by a special system that delivers the precise amount needed to each plant. The produce doesn't have to travel far, just a short walk to

Chef Ron Abel and his team, operating the restaurants and concessions at Fenway.

GRALLERT: Produce delivery. How you doing, bud? Good to be seeing you. Beautiful onions, right, look at the size of those.

RON ABELL, SENIOR EXECUTIVE CHEF, FENWAY PARK: I have the best chef job in the city. Well, actually, maybe the country where I've got a rooftop garden

that the food travels 100 feet, gets washed, and gets served to everybody.

And then this dish that Sean's putting together is simple. Potatoes we harvested this morning, we've got purple potatoes, we've got fingerling

potatoes, heirloom carrots of different colors, and he just steamed them lightly, and they get seasoned lightly.

WIRE: Green City Growers estimates Fenway Farms reduces the need for produce to purchase at the venue by 20 percent.

ABELL: Mostly we look at quantities and what we can go through and we also look at perishability. So there are challenges here. We can't predict what

Mother Nature is going to give us.

WIRE: Anything left over, along with what's harvested from a smaller designated area next to the main farm, is donated to a local food rescue

and distribution organization called Lovin' Spoonfuls.

GRALLERT: We can produce anywhere from four to six thousand pounds of fresh produce a year depending on what we're growing. And so the range of

vegetables, asparagus to zucchini.

WIRE: Produce from A to Z, making the iconic green of Fenway Park even greener.


CHATTERLEY: And Coy Wire reporting there. Let us know what you're doing to answer the call with the hashtag "Call to Earth."

We'll be back after this.




Ireland says its economy was still in recession during the last quarter of 2023. But relief appears to be on the way. The European Commission

projecting that Ireland will return to a modest growth this year. Ireland's economy was expanding dramatically before the recent slowdown. That growth

driven at least in part by the country's low corporate tax rates. It had to raise those rates because of new OECD rules.

The taoiseach will have a huge platform to pitch Ireland as a business destination tomorrow, too. Leo Varadkar will meet with President Joe Biden

at the White House, a St. Patrick' s Day tradition.

Amals O'Grady is the CEO of the Bank of Ireland. His company just extended the lease for its New York office two miles.

Fantastic to have you on the show. Happy almost St. Patrick's Day celebration. Let's talk about extending your presence with that NYC hub. I

believe it's for another 10 years. It's sort of the commercial gateway for Irish businesses looking to invest in the United States and vice versa.

What are you seeing and what does it say about both sides I think of the water?

MYLES O'GRADY, CEO, BANK OF IRELAND: Well, good afternoon, Julia.


O'GRADY: And an early St. Patrick's -- Happy St. Patrick's Day to you as well. Yes, for sure. I mean, Bank of Ireland has been doing business in the

United States now for nearly 50 years and in that context, it's all about supporting American businesses active Ireland. You know, and Irish has

about a thousand U.S. businesses employing 200,000 people in Ireland. And of course vice versa. A lot of Irish businesses wanted to be active in the

U.S. as well.

So our New York City hub is really important to us. It provides a platform, particularly for entrepreneurs and for startups to use the facility to run

their business, to meet clients, meet investors. We're very happy to support that part of our business.

CHATTERLEY: And to keep it going. We were just showing where it is as well. To Grand Central Tower in Manhattan. Not cheap. Did you get the deal on the

lease --


O'GRADY: We got a very good deal.

CHATTERLEY: Did you negotiate lower?

O'GRADY: We're happy with the deal. You know, there's lots of pressure on commercial real estate.

CHATTERLEY: That's right.

O'GRADY: So we feel we've done well for the next 10 years for sure.

CHATTERLEY: Well, what can you tell me about that, by the way, on commercial real estate? What's your view at the moment? Because clearly

it's highly topical certainly in the United States, but obviously I think (INAUDIBLE), too. Yes.

O'GRADY: Yes, I think you're right, and not just in the United States, really globally across Europe and in Ireland. There's a degree of pressure

there. And my take on it is that the combination of increased interest rates but also changing habits and how people come to work. That is a

factor. But actually high-quality office space and good location that's new or being refurbished I feel that's going to perform strongly.

It's the areas that possibly are not in such good locations or not such good condition, maybe under some pressure. But actually when you look

through over to the medium term, you know, I think we can expect to see a pickup in demand for office space.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. So it's quality over quantity to your point I think at this point in time, at least. Now I look to your latest results. Now, they

don't suggest any form of technical or even mild recession in Ireland, record-breaking pre-tax profits. I know you're amid a strategic

transformation as well. What are you seeing from customers at this moment? What trends should we be watching?

O'GRADY: Well, we're in -- we've completed year one of our three-year strategy. We have had a strong financial performance. Our whole market,

particularly in Ireland, our loan growth, 23 percent, increasing customer numbers, 8 percent, and indeed wealth assets up as well. We know some of

the biggest factors driving Bank of Ireland's performance, particularly in our role to support the Irish economy, is very much around the housing

market. So our mortgage book grew 8 percent last year.

And of course that's all about making sure we can provide the right funding to put people into homes. And on the wealth side as well, there's a real

opportunity, there's a lot of cash in the Irish system. And therefore the opportunity to offer both deposits and a more sophisticated wealth products

is a factor for sure in customer preferences. And of course within all of that is this very much a desire on customers to increase their digital

usage, use online more. That's not unusual for any bank and indeed not unusual for Bank of Ireland.


CHATTERLEY: Yes, normally what would happen is mortgage customers and taxpayers would look at those kind of earnings and profits and be

disgruntled. Investors would really like them.

I have to ask you why you think investors sold the share price, sold the stock when you presented these results. I mean, it's down 10 percent on the

day, sort of bit of a head-scratcher to me.

O'GRADY: Yes, it is certainly interesting. And I've been having some very good conversations with our investors over the last two weeks. We are

profits of 1.9 billion for last year. That's the strongest level ever. And of course, facilitated the return of capital. So distributions of 1.15


When I listened to investors, it seems to me that there is a broader question here, not just about Bank of Ireland, but about European banks, is

that as interest rates come down, can a European bank maintain a doubled percentage return on equity? And for sure in Bank of Ireland we can. In

Ireland the equity story is really about a concentrated market that's going to grow. And that certainly supports the targets that we have out there. We

expect to have returns of 15 percent out over the next number of years.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, and we have to see how much they've gotten to your point, how much you can pass on to customers as well when next rates come down.

O'GRADY: Indeed. Yes.

CHATTERLEY: Myles, great to have you on the show. Thank you so much for joining us. Great to chat to you.

O'GRADY: Thank you very much indeed.

CHATTERLEY: Myles O'Grady there. Thank you.

O'GRADY: Thank you. Good bye.

CHATTERLEY: All right. Coming up, we'll have the final numbers from Wall Street right after this.


CHATTERLEY: And here's Thursday's market close. The Dow down four-tenths of 1 percent. And that is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'm Julia Chatterley. "THE


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: For the entire great state of North Carolina, CNN's KFile unearthed a streak of social media posts linked to QAnon

calling for the murder of Democrats and even suggesting thousands of Chinese troops were preparing to invade America to rig the election. Why

wouldn't you want her in charge of educating the state's youth?

Plus, speaking of dangerous conspiracy theories, New York Jet Aaron Rodgers is responding, kind of, to reporting that we broke here yesterday on "THE

LEAD" that the NFL quarterback in the past has claimed in private conversations that the Sandy Hook massacre, in which 20 kids and six adults

were viciously murdered, was actually a government inside job.