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Trump Lawyer, New York Attorney General Spar Over Bond Claims As Deadline Nears; Awaiting Ruling From Court That Blocked Texas Immigration Law Again; House Oversight Chair Says He Plans To Invite Biden To Testify In GOP's Impeachment Inquiry; Senators Sound Alarm After Classified Briefing On TikTok; Why Dems Hopeful In Rare Competitive House Race In Deep-Red State. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 20, 2024 - 18:00   ET




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WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, Donald Trump's lawyer hits back after the New York attorney general casts doubt on Trump's claim that he can't secure a nearly half billion dollar bond. CNN has learned that Trump is in panic mode as the bond posting deadline nears and the potential seizure of his assets could be just days away.

Also tonight, an appeals court could rule at any time on the fate of a controversial Texas immigration law after putting it back on hold only hours after the U.S. Supreme Court gave it a green light. I'll ask the mayor of El Paso about the on again, off again law and the confusion right now over at the southern border.

And CNN is on the trail in deep red Alabama where the fight over reproductive rights is figuring into an unusually competitive special house selection and giving national Democrats hope for the party's chances in November.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in The Situation Room.

Our top story tonight, the countdown to Donald Trump's Monday deadline to post a bond of at least $464 million dollars in the New York civil fraud case. The state attorney general and Trump's lawyers, they are clashing as time is running out for Trump to prevent his prized properties and other assets from being seized.

CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is following all of this for us. Evan, what is the New York Attorney General's Office saying about Trump's claim he can't come up with the money for the bond?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The attorney general, Letitia James, Wolf, is telling the court not to buy the excuses from Donald Trump's attorney. They say that his claim that 30 underwriting companies, insurance companies have turned down the former president for his efforts to try to post this $464 million bond, they say that that's not believable.

They also said that the Trump team has not actually presented any documentary proof that this is the case. They also called into question the expert, the underwriting, the insurance expert that provided some testimony, saying that the Trump team's efforts to do this was practically impossible. They say that, at a minimum, if the Trump team cannot come up with a bond, that they could also turn over the Trump properties to the custody of the court to satisfy this bond.

Now, we did get a response from the Trump legal team, and here's part of what they said. They said the attorney general's latest filing demonstrates her continued willingness to misrepresent the facts and misconstrue applicable law in her political crusade against President Trump. Today's missive does not even bother to cite New York case law.

Wolf, as you pointed out, this deadline is fast approaching. It's next week. And so now we will see whether the judge was buying the Trump claims that they cannot come up with any way to satisfy this bond. Wolf?

BLITZER: Lots going on. Evan Perez, thank you very, very much.

Also tonight, Donald Trump is confronting the very real possibility that some of the assets he has boasted about for years could be taken from him. And we're told that panic is actually setting in.

Our Brian Todd is joining us. He's got more on this. Brian, this cuts to the heart of Trump's wealth and his reputation as a real estate mogul.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And he's said to be increasingly concerned with how that image is going to suffer, Wolf. We have new information tonight on how the former president is struggling to pay off that massive judgment against him with a deadline to do that just a little over four days away.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: They're trying to take us out.

TODD (voice over): Tonight, the former president's campaign is making a new appeal for donations. In an online posting, he tells supporters, New York's Democratic Attorney General Letitia James wants to, quote, seize my properties in New York and saying, quote, keep your filthy hands off of Trump Tower.

Donald Trump owes about half a billion for a judgment against him in a civil fraud case brought by James.


He's got until next Monday to either pay the judgment or secure a bond for that amount while he appeals the fraud case. And James recently told ABC News --

LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: If he does not have funds to pay off the judgment, then we will seek judgment enforcement mechanisms in court and we will ask the judge to seize his assets.

TODD: CNN's Kaitlan Collins, citing multiple sources familiar with Trump's thinking, reports the former president is in panic mode as that Monday deadline approaches, and that he's privately lashed out at Letitia James.

A Trump campaign spokesman issued a statement saying those were, quote, baseless innuendos and pure B.S. Still, Trump's lawyers say he's approached 30 bonding companies to bond. None of them have agreed to do it.

WILLIAM COHAN, FORMER WALL STREET MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS BANKER: He's a lousy credit risk, he's proven that over many decades now. He's proven that he doesn't pay off creditors. He's proven that he doesn't pay off contractors. He's proven that he doesn't pay off subcontractors. He's proven that he doesn't pay his own lawyers.

TODD: Kaitlan Collins reports Trump's team has sought out wealthy supporters for money and has weighed which of his assets could be sold fast enough to meet that deadline, but that he's also increasingly concerned about the optics of that Monday deadline and the perceptions of him facing a financial crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald has always been desperate for cash because he's not a wealth builder. He is a wealth extractor.

TODD: There's speculation that instead of securing a bond, Trump could hurriedly sell one or more of his famous properties to cover the judgment, properties like his building at 40 Wall Street, or the one on New York's Avenue of the Americas, or the Doral Golf Resort in Florida, or even Mar-a-Lago.

SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That's hard to sell real estate very quickly unless you're doing a fire sale on the assets which you wouldn't want to be doing.

TODD: Some analysts see another option as Trump's best route. COHAN: He's going to probably have to file for personal bankruptcy because that's the only way that I can see that he can sort of stay this judgment, buy himself more time.


TODD (on camera): But one person familiar with Trump's negotiations tells CNN he has privately expressed opposition to any scenario where he would file for bankruptcy and that for now it remains among his least likely courses of action. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us, Brian, thank you very much.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is joining us now with more on her really excellent reporting on the panic setting in a Trump world. Also with us, CNN Legal Analyst Jennifer Rodgers.

Kaitlan, you described Trump as being in, quote, panic mode right now, just ahead of the Monday deadline. Tell us about that.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's a predicament that Trump has not faced, where he is facing such a massive bond that he owes, one that he and his team believe is unfairly too high in order to move ahead with this appeal that he very much wants to do. But they are in a position right now where they have not found anyone to underwrite that bond and to back it up.

They contacted all of those insurance giants that Brian was noting there. Trump had been counting on one in particular to come through, that is Chubb, that is the one that underwrote the bond that he had to post to about $90 million in the E. Jean Carroll case not too long ago. That was something that came through at the 11th hour, I should note.

And Trump had kind of been under this belief that that was going to come through for this one as well. But the problem here is that, really, the collateral that they had to offer was real estate, and that is not something they say in this, in this, what they filed to the attorney general, what to the court here, that they believe that many of these companies wanted to take them up on.

And so, really, the question is right now, what are they going to do? And that is what we're hearing about this sense of panic in Trump's world is because it is a real predicament where he is only days away from a potential financial crisis here and having to confront that, and yet they still do not have a solution here.

Now, I will note this is Donald Trump. The E. Jean Carroll thing, he came out at the 11th hour with a solution there. People in his orbit still believe that that could be an option here.

But in the sense of what they're doing, Wolf, they're reaching out to wealthy supporters to see if that's an option here. They are looking at properties that they could sell and which ones they could sell quickly. That is something that is proving to be more complicated than they initially believed. And so it's still really an open question of what is going to happen over the next several days before that Monday deadline.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. Jennifer, the New York Attorney General's Office, as you know, pushed back on Trump's claim that it's impossible for him to secure a bond, saying, and I'm quoting now, there is nothing unusual about even billion-dollar judgments being fully bonded on appeal. How do you see it?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's interesting, Wolf, because they said that and then they actually cited a bunch of instances in which there were billion dollar bonds that were posted.

She also says a couple of other things in her response, which I thought were interesting. One is that we really don't know whether the Trump folks were negotiating in good faith because there's no transparency about what they offered these companies. Were they low- balling? Were they saying, oh, we'll only give up this property? What were they actually offering to support this bond that they were this bond that they were seeking?


And the other thing is that, they didn't even try to kind of patchwork them together. They said it should be either a $100 million bond, and that's it. But Tish James and her team points out they could add them to together, right? They could seek a series of $100 million bonds, for example, to satisfy the judgment.

So, there's still probably things they can do. I don't know if they're considering that. I do think the court is going to have to delve into this a little bit to see what might be able to happen, what sort of compromise can be reached because he really should be able to appeal and, you know, the seizure of his properties and the sale of properties, while that's pending, would be unusual and really would a hardship for him. So, I think the court will likely try to step in and do something.

BLITZER: We shall see. Kaitlan, why is Trump so concerned about the optics of failing to secure a bond?

COLLINS: Well, Trump is long someone who has tied his identity to his wealth and to his assets, Wolf. I mean, that is kind of also what's at the heart of this case, what Tish James and her team had accused Trump of, which was overinflating his asset to get better terms when it came to those loan agreements.

And now that's essentially what we're seeing happen here, where in her response today she's saying they don't actually know the true value of these real estate assets that Trump could put up as collateral if that was an option, because as they argued, he overinflated them.

And that's something that we saw as multiple witnesses came to the stand to testify about what the actual number is, the square footage of certain Trump properties were. And I think it speaks to the heart of who he is.

And so the idea that come Monday, it's an open question of how the attorney general would handle this. She said back in February that she would be prepared to seize those assets. And I should note, we're in a 30-day grace period right now, actually, because she could have started to move as soon as the judge made his ruling here, but instead there was that 30 day grace period.

I will say one option here, Wolf, that is still on the table, and we don't know what's going to happen here, is that Trump is trying to get this appealed and say that, essentially, he'd either like to not have to pay this until his appeal makes its way to the courts or he wants it to be $100 million. We don't have an answer on whether or not that is going to an option for him here.

BLITZER: So, bottom line, Jennifer, what happens Monday if no bond is posted?

RODGERS: Well, if you believe what Tish James has been saying, she'll start the mechanisms to go and try to satisfy the judgment by seizing properties, but we should all know that that takes time. It's not like she literally walks up to a Trump building with the sheriff and they lock the doors and take it over. You have to file papers in court. There are all sorts of things that have happen before you can technically seize a property. So, nothing really that we can see will be happening on Monday. Even that process takes really a good amount of time.

So, we'll have wait and see whether she actually moves on Monday and how long it takes afterwards if she does.

BLITZER: We will wait to see. Jennifer, thank you. Kaitlan, thanks to you as well.

And, of course, Kaitlan will be back later tonight, 9:00 P.M. Eastern to anchor the source.

And just ahead, we're awaiting a ruling from a federal appeals court right now after putting a controversial Texas immigration law back on hold. The mayor of a major border city, El Paso, is standing by to join us live.

Plus, a new twist in the drama swirling around the British royal family. We have details on an alleged breach of Princess Katherine's medical records.



BLITZER: We're following the legal whiplash in Texas right now where a controversial new immigration law is back on hold again just hours after the United States Supreme Court let it take effect. Republican Governor Greg Abbott responding today and vowing the state will continue arresting migrants who illegally trespass.

CNN's Ed Lavandera has the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): While newly arrived migrants sit outside a shelter in El Paso, Texas, the illegal fight over a controversial immigration law continues. During oral arguments in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals today, Texas officials argued the law should go into effect while the legal challenge plays out in federal court.

AARON NIELSON, TEXAS SOLICITOR GENERAL: Texas has decided that we are at the epicenter of this crisis. We are on the front line and we're going to do something about it.

LAVANDERA: This law would give local law enforcement officers the ability to arrest migrants suspected of entering Texas illegally and allow state judges to deport migrants to Mexico.

But one of the judges voiced confusion over how the law would work, confusion partially echoed by the attorney representing Texas.

PRISCILLA RICHMAN, CIRCUIT JUDGE: I was just trying to envision how this all plays out. What a couple of things just because I'm not sure I understand the law totally. So, what if someone enters in, let's say from Mexico into Arizona and lives there for five years, then moves to Texas? Are they covered?

NIELSON: I don't know the answer.

LAVANDERA: That confusion and skepticism is a common theme expressed by law enforcement agencies across the state. The Laredo Police chief says his officers will not focus on arresting undocumented migrants.

CHIEF MIMGUEL RODRIGUEZ JR., LAREDO POLICE: It can be just by seeing somebody and thinking, the officer thinking that he's not from here and then asking for documents. It doesn't work like that.

LAVANDERA: The sheriff in San Antonio says he would require deputies to file a report explaining the circumstances of an undocumented migrants arrest.

SHERIFF JAVIER SALAZAR, BEXAR COUNTY, TEXAS: We don't want a deputy that thinks that they have authorities that actually don' t exist crossing the line over into racial profiling and getting themselves and the agency in a whole lot of trouble for, again, a misdemeanor.

LAVANDERA: In El Paso, sheriff's officials say they don't have the manpower and don't want their deputies thrust into a fight between Texas Republican leaders and the Biden administration.

COMMANDER RYAN UMUTIA, EL PASO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: This issue could quickly exhaust those resources for our community and cause extended response times, absences in patrol areas.

LAVANDERA: On El Paso's downtown Main Street. Newly arrived migrants blend into the daily scene. Some, like Elizabeth Ponce Deleon, shrug off the concern about being asked to prove she's a U.S. citizen.

[18:20:05] ELIZABETH PONCE DELEON, EL PASO RESIDENT: If they tell me, if they ask me, where are you from, I don't care, it doesn't bother me because I know I'm legal and I'm not doing anything wrong.

DIEGO CARLOS, EL PASO RESIDENT: I'm just on edge more.

LAVANDERA: 28-year-old El Paso Resident Diego Carlos fears the new law and his family will be open to constant questions and harassment.

CARLOS: I'm like -- all the time, I'm like looking over my shoulder. But the DPS officers, those are the ones like -- you know, my hair stands up on the back of my neck whenever I see those black and white trucks.


LAVANDERA (on camera): So, Wolf, right now, we're waiting to find out what that federal appellate court is going to do. Will it keep the law held and off the books, or will it be allowed to go into place? That's what we're waiting for.

There were some indications that some judges might be open to the possibility that part of the law could be -- could go into effect, and while other parts remain under scrutiny. But the other overarching question in all of this is, you know, Mexico is saying that it will not accept any migrants deported across the border back into Mexico. So, that's another wrinkle that, you know, kind of looms over this chaotic and confusing situation right now. Wolf?

BLITZER: Ed Lavandera reporting for us, Ed, thank you very much.

Joining us now, the mayor of El Paso, Oscar Leeser. Mayor, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks for all your important work.

After the U.S. Supreme Court decision, you said El Paso's priority will be public safety, not necessarily immigration law. So what does that mean in practice?

MAYOR OSCAR LEESER (D-EL PASO, TX): Well, what it means is that we'll continue to do what we do every day and we will not racially profile anybody. And our police department, our main priority will continue to be public safety and help for our community.

So, you know, just because SB4 would go into law, which I don't think, I really believe it's unconstitutional, but we would not change anything we're doing today and we've been doing for many years, and that's continue to protect our community, but also we don't racial profile people. We won't pull somebody over for no reason. So, it's something that when it happened yesterday, we didn't change what we were doing because, again, we wouldn't do that.

BLITZER: Encouraging to hear that. You've issued various disaster declarations over the migrant influx in El Paso. So, if this Texas law isn't the answer, what would you like to see, Mayor, from President Biden on this issue specifically? LEESER: Well, I think it's something really important that we need to put our country first and our party. And I think that's what we continue to see we need a bipartisan agreement to continue to fix a broken immigration program.

The program has been broken and we do get incredible funding by the federal government and we had great support from Secretary Mayorkas. We work very closely with them. And less than 1 percent of the people -- and this is something that's really important, less than 1 percent of the people that come into El Paso are coming to El Paso, they're coming to the United States. And we help them connect with their families and with our friends. So, that's one thing that we will continue to do and continue to work with people and treat them with respect and humanity.

But that SB4 would not change the way we do every day. We will continue to treat people with respect and we're not going to racially profile and we will continue to make sure our number one priority is the safety of our community and our asylum seekers and our visitors.

And, again, the city of El Paso, I'm very proud of what our community has done. You don't see people sleeping on the streets. We have worked really hard to make sure that we can provide shelter and help them get to their next destination.

BLITZER: But are you worried that Texas Governor Abbott would pull resources if you don't fully enforce the law if it's allowed to go into effect?

LEESER: Well, again, we don't violate state laws, but, again, we're not going to racially profile and we will continue not to do that. You can't tell me that you're going to order me to racially profile because we wouldn't do that.

We'll continue to have our police officers do what they were trained, and that's to protect our community and make sure that the health of our community is number one priority.

BLITZER: It's encouraging to hear all of that. Mayor Oscar Leeser, good luck to you and good luck to all of the folks in El Paso. Thanks very, very much for joining us.

LEESER: Thank you. Have a wonderful night.

BLITZER: You too.

And coming up, Republicans scrambling to find compelling evidence in their impeachment inquiry into President Biden. I'll ask a key Democrat who attended today's hearing, why he showed up wearing a Vladimir Putin mask.

Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.


[18:29:03] BLITZER: On Capitol Hill, Republicans are pushing ahead with their Biden impeachment inquiry, but the investigation is still struggling to come up with compelling evidence of wrongdoing.

Watch this exchange between Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a former business partner of Hunter Biden. Listen.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): What is the crime, sir, specifically? No.

TONY BOBULINSKI, FORMER BIDEN FAMILY BUSINESS ASSOCIATE: RICO, you're obviously not familiar with. Corruption --

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Excuse me, sir. Excuse me, sir. Excuse me, sir, RICO is not a crime. It is a category. What is the crime? Please name --

BOBULINSKI: Only the name of the exact statute of the RICO of --

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, I reclaim my time.

BOBULINSKI: I'll leave it up to you guys then to find the statute for the RICO.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Thank you. Sir, I reclaim my time.


BLITZER: CNN's Melanie Zanona has details right now. Melanie, did this hearing, it clearly was very lively, moved the needle at all on the GOP impeachment efforts?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, this hearing certainly did not produce a smoking gun, which has been lacking throughout this entire impeachment inquiry.


During this hearing, there were some contentious moments, as you mentioned, and some of the witnesses did fill in some details about Joe Biden's interaction with some of Hunter Biden's business associates. But, again, none of those interactions showed that Joe Biden directly profited or made any policy decisions because of those business deals.

And, in fact, Republicans are continuing to press ahead with their probe at the end of the hearing today. James Comer, the chairman of the Oversight Committee, said he is going to invite President Biden himself to come testify, which is only going to further drag out this impeachment inquiry and delay Republicans having to make a decision on impeachment, at which so far they have failed to garner the votes for within their party.

Democrat Jared Moskowitz pressed Republican Jim Jordan about that timeline during the hearing today. Take a listen to that exchange. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JARED MOSKOWITZ (D-FL): Why aren't you guys calling for the vote in your committee? When is it going to happen?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Does the Constitution put a time limit on oversight? I didn't read that in the Constitution.

MOSKOWITZ: What you're admitting is you haven't yet proven that he's committed a high crime and misdemeanor. You haven t proven it yet. Otherwise you would call for it, I assume.


ZANONA: And aside from testy moments like that, there were also no shortage of theatrics today. Jared Moskowitz, for example, showed up in a Vladimir Putin mask, a reference to the fact that Democrats think Republicans are doing Russia's bidding by pursuing this impeachment inquiry. Republicans saved an empty seat for Hunter Biden, who was a no-show. And Democrat Eric Swalwell at one point put up a poster board and said, time of death for the impeachment inquiry. So, a lot of drama, a lot of fireworks, but not a whole lot of revelations. Wolf?

BLITZER: Melanie Zanona up on Capitol Hill, thank you very much.

Joining us now, that key House Democrat who attended today's hearing, Congressman Jared Moskowitz. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

You were goading the chairman, Jordan, on the lack of evidence, but now Republicans are planning to invite President Biden to actually testify. Are they simply going to push ahead on their impeachment effort right now? What do you think?

MOSKOWITZ: Well, I mean, first, thanks for having me. I was trying to show that there's not going to be an impeachment, right? We've been at this for 15 months, right? If they believe that the president has committed a high crime and misdemeanor and they've proven that, then they would call for the vote. If they haven't called to the vote, then that would mean obviously that they haven't proven that, which is why it would continue.

But it's never going to happen, Wolf. They know they don't have the votes. They're unfortunately just, you know, giving, red meat to their base on this, and they are not being truthful. They don' t even have to votes. Republicans here, a number of them, don t want to vote for impeachment. And they only have a two-vote majority.

And so now they're inviting Joe Biden, more political theater, which is why I wore the mask, because if I'm going to be in theater, I might as well dress up. And, so, you know, it's just a shame that this is what we're wasting taxpayer money on, rather than solving the problems with Ukraine and Israel, rather than trying to help the American people bring down the cost of living. This is the 118th Congress has decided to spend their time on after, of course, they've removed their speaker and impeached the cabinet secretary. BLITZER: There was a rare moment of some bipartisanship, as you know, Congressman, the oversight chairman, James Comer, said he would work with Democrats on influence peddling legislation that would also address Jared Kushner's business dealings. What did you make of that?

MOSKOWITZ: Yes, they've been saying that now for months, Wolf. I think that's great, by the way. We should do that. And I think there would be bipartisan support to do that. But they've been saying this for months.

And they said it, by the way, even during the deposition, there were some members nodding their head when that issue came up. Okay, so when? When are we going to have that hearing? When, are they going draft the bill? And, I know the answer. The answer is they're going to run the clock out and it's not going happen.

But, yes, look, Congress should look at that on a bipartisan basis, the revolving door, all of that stuff. The American people want to see us do that on passing an ethics package. But that's not the purpose of what Comer is doing. That's not the purpose at all. I don't want anyone to pretend like, oh, now there's going to be some legitimate policy that comes out of this. They're not. They are going do this all the way up into the election.

It's trying to affect Joe Biden's poll numbers by prosecuting Hunter Biden in the court of public opinion, but they're never going to impeach Joe. Biden. Don't have the evidence on Joe because Joe did nothing wrong and even Republicans here -- I mean, look, Ken Buck, in his resignation, said the speaker can't convince him to stay and vote for an unconstitutional impeachment. They're resigning to avoid voting on impeachment. I mean, you can't make this stuff up.

BLITZER: Very interesting. Very quickly, on a different issue, while I still have you, Congressman, we're just learning that the White House national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, made an unannounced trip to Ukraine, telling officials there he's confident that a new aid bill for Ukraine will eventually pass. Can he really make that promise?


What do you think?

MOSKOWITZ: Well, look, there is a lot of talk around the town now about changing some of this to loans for Ukraine. Remember, a lot of the money in the Senate bill is going back to replenish our own stockpiles. So, that doesn't have to be a loan, because that's going back to the United States.

And so -- but there's some talk about the aid going to Ukraine being a loan rather than just money going in Ukraine. And, look, if that gets us over the hump, and we can do Israel, we could do humanitarian aid for the innocent Palestinians in Gaza, so be it. Let's do that. Let us get it done as soon as possible.

BLITZER: All right. Congressman Jared Moskowitz of Florida, thank you very, very much for joining us. MOSKOWITZ: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: And coming up, a more royal drama surrounding Princess Kate and her health. Did someone illegally try to get their hands on her medical records?


BLITZER: In London tonight, there's a new twist in the ongoing clamor for information about Princess Kate's health.


An investigation is now underway into a reported security breach involving her medical records while she was hospitalized for abdominal surgery.

CNN Royal Correspondent Max Foster has details.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Another day, another princess headline, this one alleging medical staff tried to illegally access her records while she there to undergo surgery at this private London clinic.

The country's data watchdog now says it's assessing a breach of confidentiality reported in the Daily Mirror.

The British tabloid reported that at least one hospital staffer allegedly tried to illegally access Kate's private medical records while she spent 13 nights at the London Clinic Hospital in January after planned abdominal surgery.

The Mirror says the hospital informed the palace and launched a probe into the allegations, and in a statement to CNN, the U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office said, we can confirm that we've received a breach report and are assessing the information provided.

On Wednesday, the U.K.'s health minister, Maria Caulfield, warned that hospital staff could face prosecution.

MARIA CAULFIELD, U.K. MINISTER FOR MENTAL HEALTH AND WOMEN'S HEALTH STRATEGY: You're only allowed to access the patient notes you're caring for and with their permission. And there's really strict rules. The information commissioner would take enforcement action against trusts or primary care practices, but also as individual practitioners, your regulatory body. So, for me, it would be the NMC would take action as well. So, it's pretty severe.

FOSTER: It's another blow for the princess and the palace that's been protecting her privacy fiercely during her recovery. They've released minimal information, which has sparked wild speculation about her true condition and whereabouts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wherever she is, I hope she's fine and well. I think that there are a lot more pressing things that people should be putting their attention towards.

FOSTER: On Tuesday, another U.K. newspaper, The Sun, published a video taken by a member of the public showing a smiling Kate walking from a farm shop alongside her husband, Prince William. Kensington Palace has referred all questions over the hospital breach to the London Clinic.

In a statement, the CEO of the hospital, Al Russell, said, in the case of any breach, all appropriate investigatory, regulatory and disciplinary steps will be taken. There's no place at our hospital for those who intentionally breach the trust of any of our patients or colleagues.


FOSTER (on camera): The government wants answers, and so does the palace, particularly the princess, who just didn't want to share the underlying reason for that surgery that she had in January. We will know when it gets serious when the police get called in, but they haven't launched a formal investigation yet. Wolf?

BLITZER: Max Foster, thank you very much for that update.

Coming up, senators sound the alarm about TikTok after a classified briefing on security risks posed by the social media app. I'll get analysis from Tech Journalist Kara Swisher. She's joining us live right after this.



BLITZER: After today's classified briefing on TikTok, senators from both parties are now warning that the wildly popular social media app poses a real national security risks. Listen.


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): TikTok is a gun aimed at Americans' heads.

REP. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): That algorithm in a moment of conflict, or on an ongoing basis can be altered in order to drive certain messages to divide Americans to destabilize our politics, to influence policymakers, to denigrate policymakers, to tear our country apart.


BLITZER: All right. Let's dig deeper right now with CNN contributor Kara Swisher. She's the author of the new book, "Burn Book". There's the cover, a tech love story. It's now a "New York Times" bestseller.

Kara, congratulations. Thanks so much for joining us.


BLITZER: As lawmakers are now sounding the alarm big-time over national security and working to force the sale of TikTok. Senator Thom Tillis got this voicemail, just got it. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you ban TikTok, I will find you and shoot you.


That's people's job and that's my only entertainment.

And, people make money off there, too, you know. I'm trying to get rich like that.

Anyways, I'll shoot you and find you in, and cut you into pieces.




BURNETT: So, what's -- Kara, what's your reaction to that? What this say about just how intense of an issue TikTok is and presumably it's going to be considered again by the U.S. Congress.

SWISHER: Yeah. Well, teenagers are stupid actually in that case. That was a stupid call and it shouldn't have been done.

But, you know, they've been putting up the number for them to call their representatives. TikTok has on the app. I don't think that's a particularly effective thing because it's not actually -- TikTok's not going anywhere. Let's keep -- let's start at the beginning here. It's not going to the ban. It's not going -- when it gets banned, it's not going to disappear, I guess.

I think the question is how dangerous is it for Chinese-owned company to have this much purview in the United States, when our companies, our similar companies aren't allowed to be there at all. And how much potential is there for surveillance and propaganda. It's a pretty simple national security issue. If Tik -- if a Chinese company can't buy CNN, it probably shouldn't be able to, you know, be unregulated in the United States.

BLITZER: If TikTok, Kara, were to be sold and possible buyers out there range as we don't know, wildly reported, from former Trump Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to a big tech company like Microsoft, or Oracle. You're famous for your predictions.


BLITZER: Who do you think could potentially, ultimately take over TikTok?

SWISHER: I would prefer Microsoft because I think they could do the job and I think they're good at this.

[18:50:02] They have -- don't have a social media site. So it would be a better fit in terms of government looking at it.

I think Satya Nadella is a great leader of that company and I think they do a good job. They have Minecraft. They have LinkedIn. They have some experience there.

Steven Mnuchin, okay, sure. Why not?

I mean, there'll be a lot of consortiums like him. He certainly led the efforts to try to ban TikTok in the early Trump administration. So, he's -- you know, he's making hay, he's trying to make hay here.

I think anyone who takes over has to have a tech background because the algorithm is not coming with this company, because the Chinese government won't allow it. The algorithm is the magic sauce here and it also might have some revelations about what's happening on the platform.

So it has to -- it has to be some someone or a company that has broad tech ability and computing power and Microsoft would be my choice for this. Oracle is working on Project Texas right now, which is trying to deal with the Committee on Foreign Relations. So, they're a possibility.

But I -- they have no background in this area. So probably Microsoft.

BLITZER: Interesting. When it comes to American owned big tech platforms, Kara, you point out in your excellent new book, and I'm quoting you now. A quarter century into the internet age, we've managed to pass exactly zero legislation to protect anyone. There are laws for everything but tech companies.

Just how hard, Kara, is big tech fighting to keep it that way, and how does Congress potentially overcome that?

SWISHER: Well, you know, the first line of the book is also -- so it was capitalism after all. They're there to protect shareholders and that's their job. The job of Congress is to do something about it and put guidelines in place for companies. Every other type but industry has this, whether it's cars or Wall Street or whatever, and tech hasn't. And it's managed to come into this space when Congress is so dysfunctional and it has -- and tech has the money and the means to keep off privacy legislation, antitrust legislation, et cetera.

So it's doing what they do. They're doing what they do. So I don't know what to say. I'm blaming Congress right now.

BLITZER: Interesting. Kara Swisher, thanks for all your important work.

Once again to our viewers, be sure to check out Kara's new book "Burn Book". There's the cover, again. And we'll be right back.

Much more coming up.



BLITZER: Tonight, a uniquely competitive special House election in deep red Alabama.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher has our report.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi there. How are you?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the final days of a special election for an Alabama House seat, a local race generating national attention.

TEDDY POWELL (R), ALABAMA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I'm running for the state house of Alabama.


GALLAGHER: In what could be poised as the latest test of the political potency of reproductive rights.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you aware of the special election on March 26?

GALLAGHER: For Democrat Marilyn Lands and Republican Teddy Powell, the suburbs of Huntsville are up for grabs. It's a rare competitive district and a deep red state. The large share of college graduates and a major military presence.

Donald Trump won here by just a single point in 2020.

LANDS: What a wonderful, wonderful group.

GALLAGHER: Lands has made reproductive rights central to her candidacy, sharing her own abortion story.

LANDS: I know because two decades ago, I faced the hardest decision of my life.

GALLAGHER: The 65-year-old mental health professional points to the state's near total abortion ban, which does not include exceptions for rape or incest. And the recent Alabama state Supreme Court ruling that declared frozen embryos are children, pausing IVF treatments for weeks in February.

Now, the governor did sign a new law that prevents families from suing IVF clinics. But critics say it's not a permanent fix.

LANDS: I'm afraid we're on a slippery slope here, and who knows what will be next? And I know that other states are going to follow suit. We have set a dangerous precedent here.

GALLAGHER: There are signs that Land's approach is resonating. TERESA TERRELL, VOTER: Didn't couch it in, you know, euphemistic kind

of terms but say that we care about women's reproductive rights. And that's important to me.

GALLAGHER: Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus Wade in 2022, Democrats have won a string of victories when abortion rights have been on the ballot. While Democratic candidates have successfully put the issue at the center of their campaigns.

TONJALYN BUCHANAN-OWENS, LANDS CAMPAIGN VOLUNTEER: Tell the rest of the world something about this -- this red state that has a purple community and that some of those red people are willing to crossover and be blue.

POWELL: Hi. I'm Teddy Powell.

GALLAGHER: But Teddy Powell, a Madison City councilman and self- described pro-life Republican, doesn't see abortion as being a top issue for voters in the district.

POWELL: I think maybe once an entire of 7,000 doors I think we've knocked on that I heard that. The place I hear it most is in her platform and the media.

GALLAGHER: Instead, he points to other issues that he believes are driving the decisions of voters.

POWELL: Education, economic development, and infrastructure.

GALLAGHER: And says he's encouraged by the support is getting as he knocks on doors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he's a Republican. He makes my values.

GALLAGHER: Now, Powell thinks the results will say more about Madison County than the rest of the country.

POWELL: I understand the national attention but the reality is it is -- it is a local election.

GALLAGHER: But Lands believes that her campaign could offer a roadmap for other Democrats in November.

LANDS: I'm going to win. I'm going to win. It is a winning issue.


GALLAGHER (on camera): Both Lands and Teddy Powell told me that their greatest opponent may not actually be one another, but instead apathy. Turnout is going to be key here. And both campaigns need to get as many voters out to cast ballots as they can.

They tell me that they believe this will be close, Wolf, and it could come down to just a few hundred votes between them to determine the winner -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Dianne Gallagher reporting for us -- Dianne, thank you very much.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. The news continues on CNN.