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Quest Means Business

Special Prosecutor Resigns For Georgia Subversion Case; Boeing: Airlines Flying 787s Should Inspect Pilot Seats; Miami Breaks Up With Spring Breakers. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired March 15, 2024 - 16:00   ET



PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: And there is the bell getting us into the weekend. As you can see, markets pulled back this week as wholesale

inflation came in hot, and of course, investors looking ahead to next week's Fed meeting.

Those are the markets and these are the main events.

The election subversion case against Donald Trump will continue in Georgia with a new special prosecutor.

Boeing is warning airlines to inspect their cockpit seats after reports suggests the issue who may have caused a mid-flight plunge on a recent

LATAM flight.

And Miami Beach is trying to break up with spring breakers with a new curfew.

Live from CNN headquarters, it is Friday, March 15th. I'm Paula Newton, in for Richard Quest, and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

And we do begin with developments out of Georgia. Prosecutor Nathan Wade has resigned from the election interference case against Donald Trump. The

judge had ruled that District Attorney Fani Willis could only stay on in the case if he in fact was removed. Willis had a romantic relationship with

Wade. The defense argues that she had benefited financially from hiring him.

Now the judge said there wasn't sufficient evidence in fact, to actually prove that. He did say, however, that Willis showed a "tremendous lapse in


Ryan Young has been following all of this and joins us now. You know, this almost works like a split decision, right, not a clear win for either side.

The judge, we just heard said some very harsh words for Willis, but she can stay on the case.

What have you been doing though in terms of trying to gauge the reaction to this because people are playing it for their own political spin.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, absolutely, you know, Donald Trump is the master spinmeister, so he will be able to spin this to his advantage.

But I think the split decision is quite the way to do it, especially for us boxing fans out there. Both teams pretty much left bruised with this.

You know, Judge Scott McAfee wasn't pulling any punches when he put this decision. Now, he basically called some of her judgment into question. But

for all our viewers out there, who might need a reminder about what's at play here. Basically, Fani Willis admitted to having a relationship with

Nathan Wade.

Nathan Wade was a special prosecutor on this case. They say it started after he was hired, but he has been paid more than $600,000 over the last

two years, and according to everyone who is a part of this, they started traveling together.

They went to Aruba, they went to Miami, they went to California. Well, what was that question? It was whether or not that extra money he was being paid

because of all the hours he was working was directly benefiting Fani Willis.

She said she actually paid Nathan Wade back in cash, but this was pretty clear, Scott McAfee said, if she wanted to continue on this case, he would

have to step down. And in fact, that's happened in the last 15 minutes or so.

We have parts of the statements that were included from both of Fani Willis and Nathan Wade's, so I'll read some of this from Fani Willis. She says:

"Look, I compliment you for the professionalism and dignity you showed over the last 865 days as you've endured threats against you and your family, as

well as unjustified attacks in the media and in court on your reputation as a lawyer."

It goes on to say, "Others who were considered were understandably concerned for the safety of themselves and their families that would arise

from the acceptance of your role. You are the one who had the courage to accept the role, even though you did not seek it." So that was from Fani

Willis talking about Nathan Wade stepping down and Nathan Wade now has put out a statement as well. He said, "Although the court found that the

defendants failed to meet their burden of proving that the district attorney acquired an actual conflict of interest, I am offering my

resignation in the interests of democracy, the dedication of American public, and to move this case forward as quickly as possible."

Let's look at that last line "as quickly as possible," many people believe this was the case that could get on track before the November election.

That seems to be sort of off the schedule at this point because now, they have to find a new special prosecutor.

This was a team of 12 though, and we should remind the public of that. There were 12 lawyers who were basically assigned to this case. So one of

those lawyers may step into the spotlight, but when you talk about all the extra security that's involved in this, the fact that whoever steps forward

has to have a public facing appearance at some point, you could understand why so many people, including a former governor of the state of Georgia,

turned this down.

Moving forward though, there are so many questions about whether or not a gag order will be placed on the District Attorney's Office, so they cannot

speak in public anymore.

The judge actually calling out some of the behavior of Fani Willis whilst he was on the stand. She was very defiant, talking about the fact that she

felt race played a part, and the fact that everyone was coming after her and how this was going and, you know, Donald Trump probably is not too far

behind from making some statements about this case.


And the other defendants involved in this may also try to figure out whether or not there were any lies told him this in terms of when this

relationship started.

So this is just the first part of this that may be over, but man, so many people across the world are paying attention in this case. And we are not

even playing the audio of Donald Trump calling election officials and having that statement that so many people felt like this case would be the

one that would get so many people in trouble.

Now, we are talking about the salacious details of a relationship between a DA and the guy who worked under her.

NEWTON: Yes, Ryan, you are so right to bring it back to the crux of the matter, right? He was on the phone saying, look, can you get me those votes

and that is something --

YOUNG: Eleven thousand.

NEWTON: Yes, and something we will continue to parse here. Ryan Young for us, thanks for wrapping all of that up.

YOUNG: Absolutely.

NEWTON: We are going to continue to analyze this, but first there were plenty of other developments this week in the Trump legal saga.

We want to go case-by-case here. Stay with me.

In the classified documents trial, a Florida judge heard the defense argue why those charges should be dropped. The judge denied one of those

arguments and said she will rule on the others soon.

To New York now where prosecutors said they won't fight Trump's request to delay his hush money trial file up to 30 days, and that was after thousands

of pages of new evidence were received. That case could be delayed, in fact, more than 30 days.

And of course, there was today's decision that we were just discussing on Fani Willis. What does all of this mean? We know Trump wants to push the

trials until after the election and here is why.

Even among Republican primary voters, a small but significant portion say that would mean he would be unfit to serve if in fact he was convicted.

CNN's senior legal analyst, and a busy guy, Elie Honig is with me as is Republican strategists since CNN commentator Shermichael Singleton. Thank

you to you both.

Elie, first to you, break down the impact of what we just heard about the Fani Willis situation in Georgia. Does it weaken it because it surely will

delay it by a little bit.


So I don't think its accurate to say Fani Willis won as much as Fani Willis survived, with bruises to show for it. She remains on the case. I suppose

that's a victory. She will survive as the DA here, but she lost Nathan Wade, who was the lead prosecutor on the case.

The language from the judge in this ruling is really unlike anything I've ever seen. He essentially says that there is the aura of dishonesty, I'm

paraphrasing here.

In the testimony that he received, he calls into question the ethics of the DA. He says that the public statements she made about this case have been

unlawful. He suggests potentially having to put a gag order on her to prevent her from making further public statements.

And this all boils down to the defendants, Donald Trump and his co- defendants were not able to make these specific level of showing they would have needed to justify her removal. But boy, it was darn close.

So the DA lives on to fight another day. The case carries on. Let me just be clear about this. This case will not be tried before the 2024 election

regardless of all this. The DA is asking for an August trial date. That's not a serious proposal. There is no way this case starts in August. And

even if it did, it would not get done anywhere near before the election.

NEWTON: Yes, and you would have to say that that puts it definitely in the win column for the Trump campaign, at least.

And that's why I want to bring you in, Shermichael. I mean, this is happening, we can't forget in a swing state, one of the toughest

battlegrounds of the selection.

What do you think the political fallout will be from this?

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I mean, Paula, it is a state that the former president lost by around 12,000 votes. So a considerably

closed state, an important one. The former president was just in Georgia about a week ago, doing a rally there. It is a part of his re-election

strategy as he focuses on some of those battleground states that he lost in 2020, but that he won in 2016 against Hillary Clinton.

Now I think the Trump campaign is going to focus on this from a couple of different ways. You heard Elie sort of lay out the case in terms of what

the judge said about Fani Willis, he questions whether or not she was honest on the stand.

He scolds her for using racial language. He scolds her for her judgment. He said there was a lapse of judgment, so what Trump is going to do? He is

going to go on and say this is a political witch hunt against me. How can this trial move forward when even the judge questions the integrity of the

individual bringing this case, or even the judge said, well, is this person's judgment actually where it should be in terms of the significance,

the magnitude of this case? And obviously it is not, if it were the case, then Mr. Wade would not have had to resign.

And so what that attempts to do is to put doubt in the minds of many of those moderate Republicans, many of those independent leaning conservatives

who may say, you know, maybe I am looking at Joe Biden over Donald Trump because I don't like some of his rhetoric in Georgia. Well, Trump is going

to say, wait a minute here. Maybe you don't like my rhetoric, but do you think this case is fair against me?


And I think that there is a possibility that he could move some numbers.

NEWTON: Interesting. Elie, we want to talk about the other developments in the legal cases, we outlined some of them.

This is absolutely a flood of developments in Trump's legal cases. If taken together, what is your measure of it. Has it been a good week for Donald

Trump? Especially the fact that just all of these delays mean the obstacles are out of his way, right, for the election?

HONIG: Yes, it is interesting. I'm having a hard time remembering what was this week and what was last week or what was six months ago.

NEWTON: Just take it back a few. I'll make it easy on you.

HONIG: No, I got you. There's a lot happening.

Overall, if I'm Donald Trump's team, I think I am pleased with this week. I think Donald Trump's team would have liked to have seen Fani Willis

removed. But if we think back just yesterday, they got news that this trial in Manhattan for the hush money payments, which looked all but certain to

kick off ten days from now with jury selection. Now that one is likely going to be pushed back at least 30 days and maybe more.

It is important to understand the reason why, because Donald Trump's legal team has finally obtained from the federal government, from the Justice

Department a bunch of documents that appear to help Donald Trump's defense, that appear to undermine Michael Cohen, the star witness who the DA is

building the case on. So I think there are two pieces of good news there for Donald Trump's team.

If we go down to Florida to the classified documents case, Donald Trump's team did lose one of their motions to dismiss, which was expected. They

have other motions pending, but it also looks like that one is going to have the trial date pushed back potentially until after the election.

And then if we turn to the other federal case, Jack Smith's January 6th case, they got that one taken up by the Supreme Court. So that one is

delayed until at least April when the Supreme Court will hear arguments and likely into June and July.

So I think Donald Trump's chances of getting most or maybe all of these trials pushed till after the election have gone up this week.

NEWTON: And Elie, before we move to more of the political implications, Elie, which one do you think still poses the greatest threat to Trump's


HONIG: Well, I think the one that's most likely to actually happen before the election is the Manhattan hush money case. Now, whether that is going

to actually move public opinion, you showed those numbers which are really interesting right up front where there is polling about how many people

would be influenced by a conviction.

But let me put a word out there, a plea to all the pollsters: From now on, you have to specify which case you're talking about. Because I think a lot

of people who are responding to that or thinking of the big ones, the January 6 case, the Mar-a-Lago case. I don't know that respondents are

thinking about a hush money payment case from eight years ago to Stormy Daniels on a story that's already well-known and how many people, a

conviction there is actually going to move.

NEWTON: And Shermichael, where do you come in on this? Because when we weigh these legal dramas politically, Trump was prophetic, right, when he

said they're going to indict me right into the White House.

His legal prosecutions have only helped him, and does that change now?

SINGLETON: I mean, I don't think it changes at all. This ultimately is going to come down to turnout, turnout, turnout.

And on the republican side, you see a heightened level of enthusiasm. Now what you have to do if you're the Trump campaign is raise the level of

doubt, if you will, in the minds of voters.

To Elie's point, when you think about the hush money case out of New York and you talk to the average voter, they are not particularly concerned

about that, Paula, in fact, they ask, but what about the January 6 case or what about the documents case? So maybe they'll even mentioned what's going

on in Georgia because it has been all over the news.

But the New York case is something that you rarely hear the average voter bring up unless it is someone who is really in tune to the politics.

And so the ability to delay this as far and long as possible is a net gain to the former president because it gives him the ability to articulate his

message, his visual, and some of those more kitchen table issues, the economy, immigration, foreign policy, which is something he wants to talk

about versus some of these criminal trials.

NEWTON: Does it take away though, Shermichael, a competitive win there for him because it showed in the polls that the fact that he was being

prosecuted actually upped his fundraising and upped his numbers. Has that been taken away from him now?

SINGLETON: I don't think so at all because I think in the minds of many Republicans, they see this as political persecution. I have said on many

focus groups and what you will find when you talk to the average Republican voters, even some independent leaning Republican. So those individuals who

are sort of in the middle, but they typically lean to the right, occasionally will vote for a Democrat, many of them have even articulated,

we think that some of these trials should wait.

Does it make sense to have a candidate of a major party going to court every single day when voters should have the option to vote for that

person? When voters should have the option to look at both candidates and judge and engage whether or not the person is making statements put forth

the best policies to move the country forward. The Trump campaign, Paula, is very well aware of this data, which is why they want to continue to

articulate this as political persecution. It is a witch or as Trump famously says, it is election interference, even though we know it all

quite really isn't.

NEWTON: Yes, and it is interesting that even the Biden campaign says, look, we want to beat this guy at the polls and at the voting booths where it

matters, and not in court.

Thank you to you both. Have a great weekend, really appreciate it.

HONIG: Thanks, Paula. All right.


NEWTON: Now, Boeing is telling airlines to check those 787 cockpit seats. We will talk about the investigation into a plane that plunged midair just

this week.


NEWTON: Boeing says, airlines flying their 787 models should in fact check their pilot seats. The FAA says it will review this alert as well as

previous guidance from the company. It comes after investigators reportedly linked a cockpit switch to a mid-flight plunge on a LATAM flight earlier

this week, an investigation into that flight is in fact underway.

The plane's black boxes have been removed. They will be sent to either Brazil or here in the United States for inspection.

Pete Muntean is in Washington.

Pete, you are a pilot. What do you make of this? Does it put your mind at ease that perhaps this was an isolated incident or does it really raise

wider safety concerns?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: This is more of just an accident than anything else, and when you think about what has happened over the

last few months regarding Boeing airplanes, you can classify them into two buckets.

There was a 737 Max 9 issue on the Alaska Airlines flight on January 5th where the door-plug came off violently and dangerously, a miracle that

nobody was seriously hurt, that points to serious quality control issues and manufacturing issues at Boeing, systemic problems.

Now, the other bucket is everything else. It is this LATAM 787 issue. It's the 777 with the wheel fell off in San Francisco. It's a 737 Max off the

end of the runway a couple of weeks ago, and then a 777 leaving Sydney this week that had its tires smoking.

This is really isolated incident like you mentioned, and it is so key to frame it that way. What Boeing is telling operators and airlines to do with

787s is to make sure that this key switch, which is on the back of the pilot seats, is inspected at the next possible opportunity, and that is

significant because that combined with reporting at "The Wall Street Journal" really points to the fact that there was a new target for

investigators. I tis all about this switch.

Think about it like the powered seat switch in your car. It may move the seat fore and aft enough, pretty much does essentially the same thing in a

787, in this case, it is on the back of the seat. There's an L-shaped track that the seat follows when it is in a completely aft position, it makes it

so the pilots don't have to step over the center console to get into the seat and fly the airplane.

What likely happened here, according and go "The Journal" is that this seat erroneously got pushed all the way forward as a flight attendant was

serving meals to the pilots and then that essentially ran the pilots into the control column, the wheel in front of the seat there that usually sits

between their legs. And that means that the plane would have taken a bit of a nose dive there briefly.

So what is really key now are the black boxes, the flight data recorder will show the position of the control column and if it matches the linear

movement of that seat, and then also the cockpit voice recorder will really be able to capture with its incredibly sensitive microphones if there was

any sort of struggle go with the seat. If anybody said, hey, wait, stop, stop, stop the seat keeps moving forward. That will be so key and that will

enable investigators to really put together the whole picture here.

It is really important to note, this investigation just at its very, very early stages and it is just beginning.

NEWTON: Sure and it does two things. Everything you've outlined so well, it seems like a clock clumsy thing that happened, but as a passenger, you also

wonder, wow, how could that actually happen? It was such a clumsy mistake.

I do want to get to some of the systemic issues that you were talking about. I mean, look, we all have a stake, right, in how Boeing does in the

years to come. We basically have a duopoly. Its Airbus or Boeing.

What happens with Boeing will affect all of us. It will affect safety, it will affect prices.

MUNTEAN: No doubt, and more competition is better for aviation. And so, aviation is kind of in this bind with two major companies, Boeing and

Airbus. There are more Airbuses flying right now in the world, by the way.

The good news here for passengers is that aviation is incredibly safe, worldwide, especially commercial aviation and especially in the United


To put this into context, the last time there was a fatality on board a commercial airliner in the US was back in 2018, that was sort of a freak

incident where a fan blade came off of the engine on a Southwest Airlines 737 and killed a woman passenger seated nearby that fan blade. The last

fatal commercial airplane crash in the US was back in 2009, the Colgan Air crash, and that led to some really significant reforms when it came to

pilot training and the experience level required.

So aviation since has a pretty sterling record, a gold standard really, and the good news here is that there has not really been many incidents spurred

on by manufacturing issues. The one thing here though to note is that there have been issues time and time again at Boeing, most of them have not ended

in a literal explosive way, like we saw with the Max 9. And now, Boeing describes it to me, like an iceberg. You see what's happening above the

surface. They're doing these safety stand downs, they are really issuing these big edicts to workers to make sure they put every part in the proper

place right now.

But then there's the below the surface portion of the iceberg and they're really trying to rally every employee from the bottom all the way to the

top around quality control.

NEWTON: And as I said, we all have a stake on how that turns out for Boeing.

MUNTEAN: No doubt.

NEWTON: Pete Muntean, another busy week for you. I really appreciate it.

MUNTEAN: Thanks.

NEWTON: All right. Now, this just in the CNN, former US Vice President Mike Pence tells Fox News he will not endorse Donald Trump for president.

Pence says, "He cannot, in good conscience endorse Trump and says Trump is pursuing paths that are "at odds" with conservative agenda. Listen.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Donald Trump is pursuing and articulating an agenda that is at odds with the conservative

agenda that we governed on during our four years. And that's why I cannot in good conscience endorse Donald Trump in this campaign.


NEWTON: There will certainly be political fallout from that, so stay with CNN as we bring you more on that breaking news.

Now the two have been on bad terms since the January 6 Capitol riot when Pence certified the 2020 election results for Joe Biden, an important thing

to keep in mind.

Now, an IT outage hit McDonald's stores right around the world, Friday. It disrupted orders in-store and online in places like the US, Australia, and

Hong Kong, even prompting some stores to actually close.

Now McDonald's says it was not caused by a cyber security problem. It comes as the fast-food chain faces what its CFO calls a challenging customer


McDonald's has seen more customers choosing to actually just eat at home as price hikes makes its meals an actual luxury item.

Nathaniel Meyersohn is in New York with all of this, so first get to that outage. What more you learning about it?

NATHANIEL MEYERSOHN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: So I think the key thing about the outage, Paula, is that it is not a systemic issue. It is not a

cyberattack or something structurally wrong with McDonald's IT systems. It is more of an issue with a third party vendor. These stores that

temporarily closed, they are back open.

So a frustration for customers, they may not be able to get their Big Mac for a few hours. But it seems like McDonald's does have this under control.

If this continues to happen, it could be a big problem for the company. But right now, I think it seems to be okay. Maybe it is a bit of a

nothingburger right now.

NEWTON: Burger and so many more people are saying hold the Big Mac as well. We are just going to continue with these puns.

I want to talk about McPrices, right? We've covered the backlash, the $3.00 hash browns. And now we just heard from the McDonald's CFO saying, look

consumers are eating home, more brown bagging given those higher costs. So how can companies like McDonald's bring them back again? Because when I was

growing up, that was a long time ago, I want to remind you, listen, this was not a luxury thing.

MEYERSOHN: It wasn't, Paula. And I think that the fact that we are talking about an IT outage and higher burger prices that we are seeing on social

media encapsulates the challenge that McDonald's is facing right now. You asked why or how is McDonald's going to get customers back in its stores? I

think that it is going to need to come up with some ways to try to lower prices and maybe turn to some of these kind of discount meals we see or add

more items to its dollar menu.

You know, these viral videos that we are seeing right now on social media of the $18.00 Big Macs, the $3.00 hashbrowns, it is certainly making -- it

is taking an impact on McDonald's image. We start to see customers that are going to grocery stores more frequently than they are going to fast food

restaurants because grocery prices, right now are a little bit lower.

So McDonald's is going to have to go into its playbook, its famed marketing, advertising playbook to try to find ways to get customers back

in stores.

There you see a graphic food at home prices, grocery prices up, just one percent this year, dining out 4.5 percent more expensive. So groceries

right now are a bargain when they're compared to Big Mac meals and that is a huge problem for McDonald's.

NEWTON: Yes, and like you said, we will see what they come up with next to try and entice people back.

Nathaniel Meyersohn, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Still ahead for us, Gaza gets its first delivery of aid by sea. Charities say, it is the first of many more while warning that of course, it still is

not enough.



NEWTON: Hello, I'm Paula Newton and there is more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment when the Irish Prime Minister is in Washington to celebrate St.

Patrick's Day, the visit was not as lighthearted as in other years. And a popular spring break destinations is trying to break up with its visitors.

Before that, though, these are the headlines this hour.

Ukraine's president calls Friday's attack on Odesa a despicable act of cowardice. Ukrainian officials say Russian missile strikes killed at least

20 people and injured dozens of others.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the victims include rescuers and paramedics who were actually responding to the first strike when a second missile hit.

Deadly and disastrous tornadoes tore through towns and across many midwestern states in the US, at least three people are confirmed dead

following the storm in Western Ohio, and dozens of other people are hurt.

The National Weather Service confirms major damage in both Ohio and Indiana.

So, the Irish Prime Minister says he reiterated his call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza as he met with President Joe Biden at the White House.

Leo Varadkar said that while the meeting was "very substantive," he also made it clear that nobody likes to see American weapons used in the way

that they are now. He said that Israel was no longer using them for self- defense.

So Gaza has received its first shipment of humanitarian aid by sea since the start of the war. It has taken three days for the charity ship to

arrive from Cyprus. It has now unloaded the equivalent of about one meal per person for a quarter of Gaza's population.

Gaza doesn't have a port, so aid groups had to rush to build a jetty to allow the shipment to arrive. The hope is that it will be the first of many

more but aid groups, of course, are stressing that they are not an alternative to deliveries by land.

Jeremy Diamond is in Jerusalem and has been following all of this. I mean, look, Jeremy, this is a good milestone for Gaza, but it certainly doesn't

feel that way. It can't feel that way given the aid that has reached Northern Gaza though in the last few weeks, we put that together with

perhaps more humanitarian corridors being opened up.

I mean, is there optimism that at least more aid will get in in the next few two weeks?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think if anything, this ship that came in today to Gaza, as well as those airdrops, they really all just

signal the desperation of the situation and the fact that the Israeli military, the Israeli governments simply have not allowed enough aid to

enter Gaza, in particular, Northern Gaza over the course of the last several months resulting in this disastrous humanitarian situation that is

currently unfolding with half a million people on the brink of famine, malnutrition cases absolutely skyrocketing.

As you said, the aid coming in by ship certainly is not enough to meet the enormous need, even though it represents 500,000 meals that will be made

off of just this one single ship.

But as you talk about the potential for hope here, there is this idea that this was kind of a test of a maritime corridor that may bring more and more

and more ships from Cyprus, where the Israeli government is conducting security checks on this humanitarian aid and then bringing those via this

maritime corridor to Gaza's coast. There is the hope that more of these can be opened.

Similarly, on the land front, we saw this past week as the Israeli military for the first time allowed humanitarian aid to go directly into Northern

Gaza from Israel using an opening in the security fence between Israel and Gaza, that was also a pilot program of sorts and we could see additional

aid coming in.


But what is ultimately clear is that it is a humanitarian ceasefire that will be required in order to get the amount of aid into Gaza that is needed

and also to ensure that it can be safely distributed in a way that right now we simply are not seeing.

NEWTON: Meantime, people on the brink of starvation wait and wait.

Now Netanyahu says he and his military are ready for the Rafah operation to the south. That apparently is news to the US Secretary of State. Listen.


ANTONY BLINKEN, US SECRETARY OF STATE: President Biden has been very clear that given the large number of civilians in Rafah, about 1.4 million, many

of whom as the foreign minister said had been displaced from other parts of Gaza, we have to see a clear and implementable plan, not only to get

civilians out of harms' way, but also to make sure that once out of harms' way, they are appropriately cared for with shelter, with food, with

medicine, with clothing and we have not yet seen such a plan.


NEWTON: Jeremy, you have been pointing out for weeks how difficult this plan would be to put into place. Is your opinion that this could actually

be this declaration by Netanyahu be a negotiating tactic for the hostage deal?

DIAMOND: Well, it was certainly interesting that this, you know, after weeks of discussions about the fact that the Israeli military was preparing

a place and for Rafah, that the Israeli Prime Minister and his War Cabinet approved the plans for this operation on the same day that they received

Hamas' latest counterproposal to these negotiations.

Now, we don't know whether those two are actually linked or if it is simply coincidence, but it is certainly interesting timing. And there has been a

school of thought that a lot of the threats of going into Rafah have been an effort by the Israeli government to pressure Hamas into agreeing to a

deal that would be more favorable to Israel's conditions.

Now, we do know that Hamas has now submitted its latest counterproposal. It does bring it slightly closer to the Israeli position, but enormous gaps

still do indeed remain. The number of Palestinian prisoners that Hamas is demanding here is still significantly higher than what the Israeli

government has been comfortable with up until now.

So while there is some cautious optimism in the wake of this latest counterproposal, the very fact that there is at least movement here between

the two sides and that Israel is going to send a delegation to Doha, Qatar next week to pursue these negotiations, it is a sign of cautious optimism,

but at the same time also clear that those negotiations are going to be very tough as one Israeli official told us tonight.

NEWTON: Yes, but as you point out, at least they are negotiating.

Jeremy Diamond for us from Jerusalem, appreciate it.

Now with a rapidly growing population, Africa needs to increase its food production. Many countries are turning to fish as an affordable food


Now as of 2022, the continent caught seven million metric tons of fish a year. To maintain today's levels, it would need to catch 13 million tons

per year by 2030. Now, among the nations turning to fish production is Zambia. The country is vying to become one of the largest producers of

tilapia in Sub-Saharan Africa.

CNN's Eleni Giokos has our story.


ELENI GIOKOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Zambia's Lake Kariba, it is among one of Africa's best known lakes and the world's largest man-made lake by


It is also home to a flourishing enterprise.

FISHO PATRICK MWALE, YALELO ZAMBIA: Yalelo is a fish farm company. We farm fish, which we process and we put on the market within 24 hours. This is

why we call it Yalelo.

Yalelo means today's catch.

GIOKOS: Seeing a growing demand for fish, Yalelo setup business 12 years ago.

MWALE: We started off with two cages. From those two cages, we grew to just under 100 cages. Within this period, we will become the largest tilapia

fish farm in Sub-Saharan Africa.

GIOKOS: At any one time, up to 250,000 freshwater tilapias can be growing in each of these cages.

KELVIN MBANGWETA, PRODUCTION OPERATIONS MANAGER, YALELO ZAMBIA: Initially, we used to grow fish in six months, but because of the efficiencies that

we've developed over the years and the skills that we've gained, improved our operation from six months to four months.

GIOKOS: Producing fish to maybe meet the demands of the domestic market, Yalelo is increasingly exporting to countries across the continents.

MWALE: Currently, we are exporting fish to DRC, to South Africa. This fish, which is good going to Tanzania to Malawi.

GIOKOS: But getting its fresh produce beyond Zambia's borders can create its own set of challenges.


MWALE: One of the hindrances to trade or restrictions to trade is the high tariffs and unnecessary taxes and bureaucracies in terms of exports. When

we are dealing with a highly perishable product like fish, we want efficient transportation and processing through no barriers and no borders.

GIOKOS: Overcoming these trade restrictions will be key to Yalelo's future growth prospects, and its goal or feeding Africa's growing population.

MWALE: Fish provides the cheapest protein. It is easier to manage. As we increase our production, we will not only be contributing to our own GDP,

but will be contributing to the reduction of poverty and the malnutrition in Zambia and in Africa.




NEWTON: And we want to return to some breaking news. Former Vice President Mike Pence says he will not endorse Donald Trump's presidential campaign, a

stunning comment from a former running mate and key member of Donald Trump's administration.

Kristen Holmes joins us now. I mean, try and put this in context for us. I am already looking at some reaction on social media. The phone is blowing

up, and yet, this was kind of expected.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Paula, two things can be true at once. It was both surprising and unsurprising at the same time.

Surprising because as you mentioned, he was essentially the wing man to Donald Trump for four years. He served as his right hand, his loyal soldier

as the former vice president and really stuck up for Donald Trump at every turn.

Obviously, that had since changed. The former vice president and Donald Trump entering into a fraught relationship while they were still in office

after a pressure campaign from Donald Trump and his allies on Pence to overturn the 2020 election.

As we know, Pence did not adhere to that pressure campaign. In addition to that, Pence has said that on January 6th, when he was at the Capitol, that

his life was threatened on that day.

He also ran against him for president in this cycle. Now, the one thing to point out is that he did say during the cycle that he would support the

eventual nominee. Obviously, he meant he would support the eventual nominee if it wasn't former President Donald Trump.


Now that race between the two men got increasingly uglier before Mike Pence dropped out as they talked about January 6, Donald Trump calling Pence weak

at times saying he didn't have the courage to do what needed to be done.

Pence breaking from Trump over January 6th, saying that with all due respect, it was not the right decision. He was not right about what

happened with the 2020 election. So, that's where you see the two. Surprise and really not that surprising there.

But when he did say he wasn't going to endorse Donald Trump in this interview, he didn't go into all of that. Instead, he just said that it was

clear that Donald Trump was not going to be running on or promoting a conservative agenda.

And for that reason, Pence couldn't get behind the former president. Interesting that that is the direction he chose to go here. And I will note

one other thing, Pence's new venture after dropping out of the race, is launching a $20 million fund to support conservative principles. They are

really trying to create a lane and this is from a Pence adviser, in which a Reagan Democrat can still exist.

That was really the kind of lane that he was trying to exist in in the 2024 election, but became very clear that this is still the Republican Party,

the party of Donald Trump. And there was no room for the former vice president at that time in 2024.

So again, not that surprising given all of the backstory between the two men, but still when you think about the fact that this man served as Donald

Trump's vice president, that Donald Trump just clinched the nomination to be the GOP nominee, the fact that he stood by him, Pence by Trump all four

years, it is surprising in the sense that now he is saying, absolutely not.

NEWTON: Yes, we will continue to wait for reaction on this and especially with voters, right, what they will take away from this lack of endorsement.

Kristen Holmes, really appreciate you jumping on for this.

Now, a bill that could ban TikTok in the US breezed right through the House earlier this week bipartisan, that's not easy to do, but it could have a

harder time getting through the Senate.

The Senate's Commerce chair says she wants something more robust when it comes to privacy policy. The current bill would ban the app or force

TikTok's owner ByteDance to actually sell its stake. Now potential buyers, as you can imagine, already lining up. The CEO of Activision Blizzard is

reportedly interested on top of former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and for good reason.

"Financial Times" reports TikTok raked in $16 billion of revenue in the United States alone last year.

Sara Fischer is in Washington for us and you've been following this story so closely all week. Where are we especially I am a bit confused about

what's going on in the Senate now. Is there a compromise here or do they just not want to pass this kind of a bill that the House just passed?

SARA FISCHER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA ANALYST: Well, there are two options for them. One is that they can take up the exact same bill that the House did,

or two, they could modify it, I think right now, they're in the process of understanding how many votes they could get with the current House bill in

place or if not, would they need to modify it to sort of sway people who are on the fence?

There are a lot of concerns amongst people in the Senate right now about this bill. Primarily, they understand that constituents are going to be

very frustrated. You have folks on the left in particular saying, what impact would this have for voters in the 2024 election? So it is not a

clear thing that this is absolutely going to pass the Senate. But if it does, were expecting that vote to come within the next few weeks.

If it does, President Biden has said that he would sign this bill into law. After that, it would be only a matter of time when I assume that TikTok

would sue to appeal it and block it from going in place, maybe asking for a temporary injunction to stop it while it is dealt with in the courts.

NEWTON: And in terms of, if it does go through and there is some kind forced sale or perhaps some negotiated sale, there will quite a bidding war

for this, wouldn't there be?

FISCHER: Yes, but it is even hard to say that it is going to go that way because China has said that they won't allow ByteDance, which is TikTok's

parent to divest it. And so even if the US government allows a sale, it is unclear whether or not ByteDance would let that happen and then let's say

that there is a bidding war, think about who could actually bid on something like this?

In the US regulatory environment, there is so much distrust on antitrust and competition. I don't think they would let Microsoft or Oracle or any of

the big tech players really buy TikTok.

So who is left? A smaller company couldn't afford it. You're talking about somewhere between eighty to a hundred billion dollars this asset costs. You

could have a company we know, or group of investors come together. That's sort of what former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is trying to do, get

a bunch of investors in on a bid.

But again, that also seems doomed, because again, even if they are able to get the money, would ByteDance let them buy it. it is unclear.

NEWTON: And when you say would ByteDance let them buy it, what does that look like? I mean, what happens to TikTok then?


FISCHER: So if, ByteDance does not let TikTok's US arm get divested, then we are looking at potentially a serious ban because the way that this law

is written, TikTok has to get banned if it is not divested.

I will tell you though. I just don't think any of this is going to come to that. Why? Number one, we have yet to find a smoking gun or really a

significant proof of a national security threat that would make me feel as though this law has weighted in a lot of merit. It wouldn't come up against

challenges in courts.

So if it goes to court, you see how long his court cases take. It could take months, if not years, for this to get litigated out, and in the

meantime more and more Americans are going to download the phone, they are going to set up businesses on TikTok, that it is going to become harder and

harder to pull it away.

Remember, the Trump administration tried to ban TikTok and at the time TikTok's business was so much smaller. We were talking about a sale of the

US asset being like $50 billion, not eighty to a hundred.

The longer this takes, the harder it becomes to really ban it and divorce it from the parent app.

NEWTON: Yes, such an insightful perspective there you have for us, Sara, as we continue to see the machinations there on Capitol Hill.

Sara, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

And we go two more breaking news. The judge overseeing Donald J. Trump's criminal trial in Manhattan has in fact agreed to delay the start of that

trial by 30 days.

Now, it further upends the legal calendar for the former president and current Republican nominee.

You'll remember the trial had been scheduled to begin in less than two weeks, in fact, on March 25th. The judge says that a pretrial hearing is

now scheduled for that date. We will, of course, have more on this breaking news story in the next hour.

Still to come for us, the party city that wants the partygoers to just stay home, Miami Beach, spring break curfew comes in force.


NEWTON: Partying, drinking, and carefree student days. It's a pretty typical Hollywood ideal really of what US spring break can look like.

But in fact, the reality has been very different. In recent years, spring break in Miami Beach has looked more like this. In fact, for the past two

years, the violence has actually ended in deadly shootings.

Now, the city says, it has absolutely had enough. In just a few hours' time, a midnight curfew comes into force, all part of Miami Beach's

campaign urging partying students to just stay away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, we need to talk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn't working anymore.



Its, you. We just want different things.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our idea of a good time is relaxing on the beach.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hitting up a spa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or checking out a new restaurant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You guys want to get drunk in public and ignore laws.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you even remember what happened last March?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was are breaking point. So we are breaking up with you.


NEWTON: They are breaking up with students. Carlos Suarez is in Miami for us. I mean, Miami Beach clearly is absolutely fed up.

When you look at that public relations campaign and what's going on this hour is this going to work?

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Paula. So that campaign ad that was released by the city of Miami Beach when viral and the city really made no

secret of the fact that they were going to implement a curfew at some point during the month of March.

The city going into spring break season implemented a number of security measures from the closing of public parking garages to security and DUI

checkpoints. They are even limiting the entrances to several beaches out here all in an effort to really discourage folks from coming out to Miami

Beach during the month of March.

What is interesting is that the city decided to enact a curfew before anything really happened. Last year, a state of emergency was declared out

here and a curfew was implemented after back-to-back shootings ended with folks dying out here. But this time around the city said, in anticipation

of these large crowds, they were going to go ahead and do this.

As for how it is going to work, that curfew goes into effect tonight at midnight and it will be in effect until Monday from midnight until six in

the morning. There's also going to be a number of other restrictions including the limiting of alcohol sales after a six o'clock.

No doubt, Paula, city officials out here are just trying to really do everything possible to avoid a large crowds of folks gathering in a

relatively small space when you consider that Miami Beach is an island and it is quite small.

And so the city really hopes that this just ends up deterring folks from coming out.

NEWTON: Yes, and quickly, I only have 10 seconds left. Are bookings down? I mean, are there fewer students in Miami Beach right now?

SUAREZ: It seems like bookings right now are a little bit down, but it seems that folks are just splitting their time in South Florida between

Miami Beach, South Beach and Fort Lauderdale. We've seen larger crowds up in Broward County, which is about a half-hour to a 45-minute drive.

NEWTON: Interesting there, finding a way to party, no doubt.

Carlos Suarez for us, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

coming up, we will have those final numbers from Wall Street right after a quick break.


NEWTON: All right, a quick look at how the markets faired going into the weekend. US stocks fell for a second day, the Dow Jones and the NASDAQ both

closed lower. And of course it was also a tough day for tech stocks, which pulled the S&P 500 back into the red.

We will have a look at some of those components now. 3M on top there, Boeing edged into the green, believe it or not, despite the mounting drama.

The black boxes from the plane that experienced a sudden drop on Monday have now been seized for further examination and we await the issue. It

might just be an isolated incident though.

I want to thank everyone for joining us. That is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'm Paula Newton.

The closing bell has rung on Wall Street. That is the end of your business week. "The Lead" with Jake Tapper starts right now.