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28 Injured After Truck Rams Mardi Gras Crowd; New Travel Ban Expected This Week; Perez Vows to Make Trump a One-Term President; Trump: I Won't Attend White House Correspondents' Dinner; Tonight's Oscars Could Take Political Turn. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired February 26, 2017 - 07:00   ET




[07:00:14] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw a dark truck rammed a white car off the road, swerved, lost control, and just rammed it's just like a hundred of people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We suspect that that subject was highly intoxicated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Trump revealing via Twitter that he will not be at this year's annual White House Correspondents Dinner.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump truly feels as though the media has been out to get him.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They are very dishonest people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not the time to toast somebody that calls you the enemy of the American people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where were you in 2017 when we had the worst president in the history of the United States?


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Always so grateful to have you onboard with us. Thank you for being here. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.

Right now, New Orleans police are investigating a horrible incident. Twenty-eight people were injured when a truck crashed into a crowd during a Mardi Gras parade.

PAUL: One man who we know is in custody. And as you heard, investigators suspect he was drunk.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like you would have seen in the movie. It's -- I never encountered anything like this before. I've seen people on the hood of the truck.

PAUL (voice-over): Eyewitnesses describe the chaotic scene in New Orleans after a truck rammed into a crowd of bystanders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hit the ground because everybody said there was a gunshot but I saw the gun, and I was like, what happened here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I heard the impact over here I seen the truck hitting the people on the ground, coming through the crowd. It ricocheted off of one car to another when he hooked a hard left and that's when he hit all the people on the ground over here, and everybody was trying to help one another.

PAUL: Police say a suspected drunk driver went into one of the crowds.

CHIEF MICHAEL HARRISON, NEW ORLEANS POLICE: We have one subject in custody, who was driving a pickup truck behind me, who apparently on the opposite side of the parade that was active, and was traveling in the opposite direction from the parade, and struck two vehicles and then veered off to the other side and struck a dump truck and came to rest in neutral ground, and in the process before that truck came to rest, it struck a number of pedestrians.

PAUL: Seven victims declined medical attention, but 21 others were taken to area hospitals. Five of them in serious condition. The youngest victim, just three years old. Bystanders helped triage many of them.

DR. JEFF FELDER, DIRECTOR, NEW ORLEANS EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES: We had multiple bystanders helping us initially to treat the patients here, and with multiple medical providers here helping to triage and treat the patience.

PAUL: Fortunately, none of the injuries appear life threatening, but investigation is ongoing now.

HARRISON: We suspect that that subject was highly intoxicated. He is in custody. He is being investigated right now, and he is at our DWI office.


PAUL: The FBI released this statement, quote, "We are currently coordinating with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to determine whether a federal violation has occurred."

BLACKWELL: Let's take a look at the week ahead for President Trump. On the agenda this week, a primetime speech to Congress and an immigration do-over. But tomorrow, he will renew his focus on replacing the Affordable Care Act. PAUL: Yes, the president is set to meet with a group of governors at

the White House tomorrow, where worries about the Obamacare replacement are expected to dominate the discussion.

BLACKWELL: Now, on Tuesday, the president makes his address to Congress. Now, the administration says the speech will focus on safety, including increasing border security, as well as health care reform and jobs.

PAUL: And then later this week, the White House will take another crack at imposing a temporary travel ban on citizens of countries they say pose a high risk of terrorism. The first executive order, remember, was blocked by federal courts. The ACLU says more than 700 people were held nationwide during that initial rollout.

Let's talk to CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson as we look ahead to what has to happen here.

So, Joey, in order for the president to avoid any legal reaction, what does he have to modify?


I think there are a number of things. Now, we don't know precisely what the president will do, but I think number one that it needs to be tied to a national security interest. I believe that the court in announcing its opinion, that is the Ninth Circuit, was very concern there are all these claims about keeping America safe. And that's an important goal, and, of course, that's the enforcement prerogative and priority of the president. We want that.

But there needs to be a specific tie to national security, and not just sort of randomly identifying seven countries, and isolating those countries, which are majority Muslim and giving the indication that you come to the countries and you can't be here.

[07:05:01] And so, I think first and foremost, that's something the president has to address. I think that certainly and in looking at any immigration brand, the president wants to and must look at issues of due process. I think the prior rollout of the prior immigration order was problematic. You had people stuck at airports, people being detained, people who were inmates light, and so, I think you will see as a matter of due process, Christi, that notice will be provided.

I also think that you'll see some balancing in terms of, you know, we have, of course, the president is given broad authority. But not withstanding to set immigration policy through executive order, but, of course, you need Congress ultimately.

I think you also have to look at something called the First Amendment, right? First Amendment is very important and that it protects religious freedoms. Fourteenth Amendment, equal protection, right? What equal protection should be afforded, that's what the Constitution talks about.

And then I think it has to be a ban that's predicated upon immigration law and international law. People have the right to apply for asylum. People have the right not to be sent back to countries where they're going to be tortured. And so, I would be hope -- I would certainly hope that the president in instituting a new order would take all these matters into consideration.

PAUL: So, Joey, would it be safe to say that the president could either, A, subtract all of these --

JACKSON: Christi, if you can hear me, I think my audio just went out.

PAUL: Has gone out, you can't hear me?

I don't think Joey can hear me.

Well, please tell Joey thank you for me. I appreciate it. We apologize that happened. But he did a very good job explaining what he believes has to happen and we'll see if that happens. We know the president wants to do, he wants to avoid any sort of hurdles.

BLACKWELL: Yes, and, of course, we're still waiting for that new executive order. We'll see what that is.

Still ahead, breaking with tradition, President Trump says he is not gong to attend this year's White House correspondent's dinner. It appears to be a new chapter in this war with the media.

PAUL: Also, the Democratic Party, there is a new leader who's made a bold vow to make President Trump a one-term president. The uphill battle Tom Perez has to fight in order to make that happen.

BLACKWELL: Also, President Trump slamming Chicago again, but the people who live there say, "Come to Chicago and help us."


[07:10:36] BLACKWELL: Ten minutes after the hour now.

The new Democratic Party chief vows to deny President Trump a second term. Democrats elected former Labor Secretary Tom Perez. And in his first act as chairman, he selected his rival, Congressman Keith Ellison, to be his deputy, hoping to unite the party to take on the White House.


TOM PEREZ, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: We will all be able to say, whether you are sitting here, whether you're sitting outside, or whether you are looking on across America, we will all be able to say the united Democratic Party led the resistance and ensured that this president was a one-term president, and elected Democrats across this country.


BLACKWELL: Well, President Trump reacted to the news on, you guessed it, Twitter. "Congratulations to Thomas Perez who has just been named chairman of the DNC. I could not be happier for him or for the Republican Party."

Well, Perez fired back saying, "Call me Tom, and don't get too happy. Keith Ellison and I and Democrats united across the country will be your worst nightmare."

Senator Bernie Sanders who back Ellison blasted the president, saying progressives are ready to take on his administration.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I think this turnout speaks to the reality, that more and more Americans are becoming increasingly concerned about what is happening in Washington today, and are prepared to stand off and fight back. Instead of draining the swamp, he has brought the entire swamp right in to his administration.


PAUL: So, Chairman Perez' primary task, as you heard there, to help Democrats win across the country. This could prove to be an uphill battle. I want to show you some numbers here. And pay attention to this map. You see all the red there? There are 33 Republican U.S. governors compared to only 16 Democrats.

Now, since President Obama's 2009 elections, Republicans have gained more than 1,000 state legislative seats across the country, effectively controlling the majority of the legislature. And in Congress, the electoral map, take a look at it here, unfavorable for Democrats in 2018. Democrats are defending 25 seats in the Senate, including 10 in states that now President Trump won in 2016.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's talk about it. Let's bring in my panel of political experts. Scott Bolden, former chairman of the Washington D.C. Democratic Party, and Amanda Terkel, "Huffington Post" senior political reporter and politics managing editor.

Good morning to you.



BLACKWELL: Amanda, let me start with you. What is now Chairman Perez saying about how he's going to win back some of those state offices, win back some of those governor offices?

TERKEL: Well, Perez, throughout his candidacy has tried to cast himself as someone who is progressive, that this isn't necessarily a fight between the Clinton wing or the Obama wing and the Bernie Sanders wing. And he is really focused -- I mean, a lot of the things he was saying was the same as Ellison was saying, was that, you know, we need to focus on sort of small dollar donors, we need to rebuild the state party infrastructure, which to be honest was hurt a little bit by President Obama Organizing for American and setting up this alternate structure. And so, a lot of the candidates running for DNC chair were critical of

that. So, you will see a real attempt to sort of bring the party back up from the ground level. And to harness this grassroots, quite has already sort of going into the Democratic Party at the local level and fuelling a lot of this energy that they hope will help in 2018.

BLACKWELL: Scott, Perez has also talked about going back to or a new iteration of the 50-state strategy that Howard Dean implemented in 2005, flipping the House and Senate and White House in two cycles. What does that 50-state strategy look like today against a president who has adopted some -- at least the rhetoric as it relates to trade, as it relates to some of the other economic entitlement programs that Democrats typically use? How does that look different compare to what it looked like a few years ago?

BOLDEN: Well, it looks like they're organized, they're energized and they're putting money in local states, as well as national races to bring their progressive economic message to those voters, especially white working class and black working class and brown working class workers who have listened to Trump, who are frustrated. But I think Donald Trump is going to be the Democrats' greatest asset, because in these communities where we see the community forums with the elected officials, we see their distrust, we see their unreadiness regarding Russia and Trump, in regard to his trade, in regard to Obamacare, and them not having an alternative.

[07:15:10] I think that combination of unrest with Donald Trump, who is holding the Republican Party hostage, as well as a 50-state strategy of being organized and energized on the ground is going to make a big difference.

Secondly, and most importantly, watch how the progressive Democrats, the Sanders Democrats, and Perez, work on this 50-state strategy. If they play nice, if they trust Perez, notwithstanding Ellison being the deputy vice chair, and look how they work together, and if they can work together, because if they can't, you will have a second internal problem that doesn't matter when you have a 50-state strategy or whether Trump is doing good, bad or ugly. So, watch for that relationship. That will drive everything in the Democrat's success.

BLACKWELL: I mean, that was an important moment yesterday as the new chairman accepted the vote there, and before he begun his remarks, his first act there was to name Keith Ellison as his deputy, Amanda. But I wonder, are we getting any suggestion, any hint in just the first few hours -- I will admit it's very early, on what Ellison's effective role will be, or this was just a kumbaya moment to get through the speech there in that room?

TERKEL: Oh, we're still waiting to see that, but it was a smart move by Tom Perez, and people in both camps said that they had been talking for weeks about a contingency plan, you know, depending on who won, what were they going to do to make sure that the party remained unified. And Keith Ellison said after he lost that now is not a time that we can be a divided party. We need to come together.

So, I think you will see him, you will Senator Sanders and you'll see all the other parts of the party trying to bring the base together and saying we need to come together to defeat Donald Trump, and to sort of strengthen the Democratic Party, not just go to marches and do protests, which are important, but actually strengthen Democratic Party structure and get Democrats in office in two years.

BLACKWELL: Scott, let me read this for you. I want to get your reaction from what we are hearing from Chair Jim Dean of Democracy for America after the results of the race. He released this statement. I'm going to read the entire thing.

"This incredibly disappointing result is another missed opportunity for a Democratic Party desperately trying to regain relevance and proves once again how out of touch party insiders are with the grassroots movement currently in the streets, on the phone, and at town halls nationwide. Nonetheless, the resistance will persist in showing progressive leaders how to unrelentingly take on Trump, with or without the leadership of the Democratic National Committee."

Don't have much time left, but I want your reaction?

BOLDEN: Yes, real quick. I can tell you, rhetoric is fine, but if you looked at Keith Ellison's facial expression on the podium yesterday, he was devastated. The Sanders Democrats are devastated. They want power, they want leadership, and they don't want shared leadership or power.

Watch that relationship. The resistance will continue, but watch how these factions have to work together or work apart in defeating Trump, as well as at the state legislature levels.

BLACKWELL: All right, Scott. Thanks for being with us.

Amanda, we will see you at the bottom of the hour. Thanks so much.

BOLDEN: Thanks.

PAUL: News this morning, the nerve agent was so strong, Kim Jong-nam was dead within 20 minutes. What we are learning this morning about the autopsy.

BLACKWELL: Also, President Trump likes to use Chicago as an example of crime. But it's worse than America. But some in Chicago say, listen, don't just talk, help us fix the situation.


[07:21:55] PAUL: Twenty-one minutes past the hour.

And the nerve agent dose was so deadly, the estranged half brother of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un died within 20 minutes of being touched by it.

BLACKWELL: North Korea has denied any involvement in Kim's death. We are now learning more, though, about what happened after the autopsy of Kim Jong-nam's body. It confirmed that Kim was killed by VX nerve agent. One of the deadliest substances in the world. Malaysia's health minister says the substance killed him quickly and it was quite painful.


DR. SUBRAMANIAM SATHASIVAM, MALAYSIAN HEALTH MINISTER: Well, he died in the ambulance. He fainted in the clinic. I would think it was about, from the time of onset of the application, between 15 to 20 minutes of it.


BLACKWELL: One of the two women who put the nerve agent on Kim's face says that she thought she was applying baby oil as part of a prank, but investigators dispute that claim, saying the women were trained operatives.

PAUL: We'll keep you posted on what new information comes out of that today.

Also, President Trump slamming violence in Chicago, but people in that city, they have a message for him.

BLACKWELL: Yes. It's, if you really care about the city, come to Chicago and help fix this problem.

CNN's Rosa Flores has details.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I mean, can you believe what's happening in Chicago as an example?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Donald Trump talking Chicago violence yet again.

TRUMP: Two days ago, seven people were shot and I believe killed. Seven people.

FLORES: Not only during his speech at CPAC, but you guessed it, on Twitter.

Wednesday was, indeed, the deadliest day this year in Chicago. Seven people were shot and killed, including a pregnant woman.

But for community leaders, like Father Michael Pfleger, who had been working to stop the violence four more than decades, the president talking about it is getting old.

FATHER MICHAEL PFLEGER, ST. SABINA CHURCH: My anger with the president, he keeps tweeting and dropping statements about Chicago. In my mind, if you are really serious, come to Chicago.

FLORES: Candidate Donald Trump started slamming Chicago early in his campaign.

TRUMP: In Chicago, 3,664 people have been shot since January 1st of this year, can you believe that. FLORES: Then he tweeted about it as president-elect, saying if the

mayor can't do it, he must ask for federal help. As president, he continued beating the drum.

TRUMP: What is going on in Chicago?

It's worse than some of the places that we read about in the Middle East.

FLORES: Using the word "carnage" to describe the killings, and again saying if the city can't solve the problem, he'll send in the feds.

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL, CHICAGO: I would welcome -- always have -- welcome federal participation in working with local law enforcement to dealing with guns and gangs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The election is over.

FLORES: The Cook County commissioners also frustrated about the president talking and not doing.

LARRY SUFFREDIN, COOK COUNTY BOARD MEMBER: The president of the United States does not change the course of any of the action. We're not a monarchy.

FLORES: But the commissioner say the administration can pump money to combat crime, and inject economic investment. They mapped it out for the president in a resolution passed earlier this month. But Chicago is still waiting.

So, why does the president keep talking about the Windy City?

PFLEGER: I think it's about embarrassing Barack Obama. I think this is, I am going to go to your hometown and I care about it more than you. I think your agenda is sensationalism. And I -- it bothers me this because this is blood out here.

FLORES: The White House, for its part, says law and order is a top priority. CNN reached out to the White House directly, asking why the president keeps singling out Chicago, and we haven't heard back.

Rosa Flores, CNN, Chicago.


PAUL: Also, skipping out. Amid his ongoing feud with the media, President Trump now says he is not going to this year's White House Correspondents Dinner. So, how do they fill that void?

BLACKWELL: Plus, airing tonight during the Oscars broadcast, a commercial for truth from a company that has not advertised on TV in seven years.


BLACKWELL: Twenty-nine minutes past the hour, and always good to see you. It's Sunday. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.

New details on really terrifying crash in New Orleans. Twenty-one people hospitalized, another seven injured, after this truck rammed into them during a Mardi Gras parade.

[07:30:01] Now, fortunately, here's the only good news here, officials say none of the injuries is life-threatening.

PAUL: Yes. But look at what was left there. Witnesses say the pickup came speeding down a street and slammed into the crowd who had been watching the parade. New Orleans police say they do have a man in custody.


CHIEF MICHAEL HARRISON, NEW ORLEANS POLICE: We have one subject in custody who was driving the pickup behind me who apparently on the opposite side of the parade that was active, was traveling in the opposite direction from the parade, struck two vehicles and then reared off to the other side, and struck a dumbstruck and came to rest on neutral ground. In the process, before that truck came to rest, struck a number of pedestrians.


BLACKWELL: 1981. Think back, because that's the last time a president missed the White House Correspondents Dinner. And in case you were wondering and you knew the year, President Ronald Reagan was in office then, but he'd just been shot, he still called in, but that streak will end this year as President Trump, he's not going to the dinner.

PAUL: Yes. This move, of course, comes amid increasingly hostile relationships between the media and the Trump administration. And the president of the White House Correspondents Association saying Trump's early cancelation is not a shock.


JEFF MASON, PRESIDENT, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS' ASSOCIATION: It's not a surprise. The president has said negative things about the media and comparing the media or suggesting that the media is the enemy of the American people. That, of course, is something that the correspondents' association and journalists reject. The media is an incredibly part of a vibrant republic and we celebrate that at that dinner.


PAUL: All right. I want to talk about this with CNN senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter, Nick Adams, founder of the Foundation for Liberty and American Greatness, and Amanda Terkel, senior political reporter and politics managing editor at "The Huffington Post". Thank you all for being here. We appreciate it.


PAUL: Good morning to you.

All right. Brian, I want to start with you. We -- I understand you had a tweet very early on yesterday, and Zach Bratt had a tweet very early on yesterday saying, Baldwin, time to suit up.

And yours what? Go ahead and read it.

STELTER: This is emails from viewers. I actually had a number of e- mails from viewers saying, Alec Baldwin, you need to come and impersonate Trump at the White House correspondents'' dinner. You know, every year, Christi, there's entertainers, whether it's Larry Wilmore last year, Seth Meyers previous year, always a comedian that comes and performs, and nobody had been booked this year yet, and I think there's some liberal-leaning comedians that did not want to show up if Trump was there.

So, the question is who is going to show up now? And I don't think it's going to be Alec Baldwin. I think it might not a good thing if it was Alec Baldwin. I think a room of journalist laughing at a person mocking the president may not be a good look at the end of April. But we'll see which comedian does sign up now.

PAUL: Yes, it's too disrespectful.

So, Amanda, when we look at how to fill that void, where do you move forward? Because it's the White House correspondent's dinner, it's about the correspondents, it's about raising money for other journalists who want to get into the game, but we have always had the president there, his presence has always been a highlight of it?

AMANDA TERKEL, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Right. I think a lot of people forget it's a dinner to raise money for up and coming journalist because of the focus on the president and the celebrities and the comedians. And so, it will be interesting to see, you know, which comedian is picked, is chosen, and if more media outlets want to go to the dinner, you had a lot of media outlets that said we're simply not going to go because we don't like the way that President Trump has treated the media.

And quite honestly, I don't think Trump wanted to go. In 2011, the last time he went, President Obama eviscerated him, brutally making fun of him, for further conspiracies. So --

PAUL: He did. In fact, we have some of that, Amanda. Let's play some of that real quick here.


BARACK OBAMA, FORME PRESIDENT: All kidding aside, obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. For example -- no, seriously, just recently, in an episode of "Celebrity Apprentice," at the steak house, the men's cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha steaks, and there was a lot of blame to go around.

But you, Mr. Trump recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership. And so, ultimately you did not blame Little John or Meat Loaf, you fired Gary Busey. And these are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night.


PAUL: So, Nick, here's the thing, he would have been standing at the podium himself, President Trump, he would have had the attention of everybody. Why do you think he chose not to go?

NICK ADAMS, FOUNDER, FOUNDATION FOR LIBERTY AND AMERICAN GREATNESS: Well, Christi, it's President Trump's party and he can choose to cancel if he wants. I think there's an argument to be made that -- it's a good opportunity for a president to present himself in a light- hearted self deprecating way that might endear him to people that don't necessarily like or aligned with his mission or objectives.

[07:35:08] But I think that there's no reason for the president to go on this particular occasion. I know that it's a long-standing tradition, but in recent years, it's become a blight on the republic. I think it's the oligarchic spectacle of the fourth estate dressing up in a white tie to celebrate themselves, accompanied by various Hollywood celebrities --

PAUL: You think it's inappropriate? You think it's -- I don't understand why you call it a blight?

ADAMS: Well, Christi, I think that it's become a Democratic Party worship center. I mean, when we have a look at what has happened in recent years, Republican presidents are mocked in a brutal way, while Democratic presidents are soothed and patted like family pets.

PAUL: But, Nick, I mean, we've have had all the other -- I mean, both President Bushes have been up there. Clinton has been up there. We -- it's kind of an equal opportunity roasting to some degree, is it not?

ADAMS: Well, look, I think that it's not. I think that it's very clear that Democratic presidents get a much easier, much smoother run, Christi, than Republican presidents, and I -- you know, I don't think that there's any reason for the president to go. I think he's made a good decision, and I think that the recent Gallup information that came up, that trust in the media is at all time, only 30 percent independents trust the media, only 40 percent of Republicans trust the media, there's a real problem here, and I think Trump is listening to it.

PAUL: Yes, there may be a low trust in the media and there's also a low trust with President Obama as well, 38 favorable rate for President Obama.

Let's listen to something that Steve Bannon said at CPAC earlier this week about this.


STEVE BANNON, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: It's not only going to get better but it's going to get worse every day in the media. Here's why it's going to get worse, because he's going to continue to press his agenda, and as economic conditions get better and more jobs get better, they're going to continue to fight. If you think they're going to give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken.


PAUL: Nick, what did he mean by that?

ADAMS: Well, Christi, I think it's very clear that President Trump has an agenda that many journalists in this country don't like. It's no secret that journalists are far more liberal than the rest of the United States. I don't think it would surprise anybody to know that the Media Research Center discovered if only journalist could vote, we would only get Democratic presidents.

So I think that there's a gulf between journalists and Middle America --

PAUL: I don't know you can generalize all journalists as being liberal.

Amanda, do you want to take that one?

TERKEL: I mean, the agenda that Trump -- of the media that Trump doesn't like is presenting the facts, whether or not they make Trump look very good. I mean, yes, trust in the media is low as it is with Donald Trump. But then you have the president out there saying the media is the enemy of the American people, you have him declaring things to be fake news if he doesn't like them, going after them for using anonymous sources, even though Donald Trump himself for many years loved talking to the media off the record and would make up fake names and talk to the media when he was being himself and would pretend to be somebody else.

And so, you have Donald Trump deciding the media is a good scapegoat and going after them whether it's fair or not.

STELTER: Yes, the president needs an opponent, and right now, the opponent is the media, because the media actually is pretty strong. People are tuning in and watching and reading in record numbers right because they want to know if what the president is saying is true or not. so, you know, I understand why he is skipping the dinner after all the republic presidents did show up. I understand why he wants to be anti-establishment and break tradition, because he wants to break with lots of traditions, but this event was about celebrate -- it is and will be about celebrating journalism, and actually it's celebrating the institution of the president. It's bigger than anyone man and it's a missed opportunity, I think, for the president this year.

PAUL: And giving out scholarships, I should point out, as well. Nick, Brian, Amanda, I appreciate all of you being here. Always

appreciate your voices. Thank you.

Again, you can catch Brian Stelter, he's not going away on "RELIABLE SOURCE", 11:00 a.m. Eastern tonight, right here on CNN.

BLACKWELL: Gun sellers and gun club leaders say they're noticing increase interest from African-Americans. Next, why the uptick could be happening?

PAUL: Also airing tonight, during the Oscars broadcast, a commercial for truth. Is it the first sign of a more political broadcast?


[07:43:19] BLACKWELL: In a few hours, organizers in Missouri will stand in solidarity with the Jewish community after graves there at a historic cemetery were desecrated.

PAUL: Yes, more than a hundred headstones, many belonging to Holocaust survivors, look at this, were knocked over and damaged last weekend.

Well volunteers in the St. Louis area now will speak out against hate and create a community art project condemning hate crimes and acts. The event starts at 4:00 in the open lot across from the cemetery.

BLACKWELL: Gun club leaders and gun sellers say they are noticing an uptick in interests from African-Americans.

PAUL: Those who are now picking up weapons say they are choosing to exercise their Second Amendment rights now, at least in part of the result of the 2016 election.

Here is CNN national correspondent Ryan Young.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would be lying if I said Donald Trump hasn't affected our numbers. They are jumping off the roof.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Members are growing. Like 18,000 right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. There's a confluence of things going on.

Of course, there was the election that happened last year, and we have seen incidents of police shootings and incidents where people were attacked by certain supporters of a certain presidential candidate, and you know people are worried out there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The election of Donald Trump came at a time when people have a heightened awareness of personal safety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty-four months or two years, fringe groups were just that, fringe groups. Now, those fringe groups are now like, it's cool to be a racist. Our community sees that and it scares us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I tend to be in favor of the Constitution, so the Constitution says it's a right.

YOUNG: OK. So, but tell me about that -- you own how many firearms?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have not counted. I have not counted. I think individuals, you know, they are guaranteed the right by the Constitution to have a firearm. So, you know, I think they should be able to avail themselves to that right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your normal response of 40-year-old plus white guy, it's not the case at all. Or store, we see huge groups of people that don't fit that mold, that don't fit the normal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I won't necessarily say the election of Donald Trump individually is the impetus for it, but it's almost like the perfect storm, right? It's like you have had a lot of individual the victims of violent acts, and Donald Trump is the cheery on the top of the sundae.


PAUL: We can't get away from politics in almost any conversation we have these days. And it looks like we're going to see more of it possibly tonight at the Oscars.

BLACKWELL: Yes, and one who says stars should take a stand for their beliefs.


[07:50:07] PAUL: So, the pre-Oscar buzz usually revolves around who's' going to win? Who might get snubbed?

BLACKWELL: Yes, it is this time, but also -- it's all about the possibility the award ceremony could take a political turn.

In what could be a preview of what's to come, "The New York Times" will run a rare television commercial during the broadcast tonight. Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The truth is our nation is more divided than ever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The truth is alternative facts are just plain delusional.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The media needs to be --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The truth is we need to put the safety of the American people --




PAUL: After the ceremony itself, the "Hamilton" actor who called out Vice President Mike Pence from the Broadway stage he hopes his fellow artists will take a stand.


BRANDON VICTOR DIXON, ACTOR, "HAMILTON": I think we'll see more of the trend that has been building in Hollywood, and I for one am very happy about it. I mean, I think it's more important, it's imperative that anybody who has a platform, anybody who has a voice right now, that they stand up and they speak their mind, particularly about a lot of issues that are affecting people who do not have a voice, do not have a platform. I hope that they do take the opportunity and I look forward to seeing it and hearing it.


BLACKWELL: All right. Joining us to talk about tonight's ceremony, Ebony Steel, entertainment host of "Coffee with America," in his Oscar Sunday dress --

PAUL: This is impressive. It's Sunday morning, I know.


EBONY STEELE, COFFEE WITH AMERICA: Well, probably, the Spanx under here --

PAUL: Girl, you know, the Spanx. Yes, the Spanx.


BLACKWELL: But we know that the ceremony, if it's anything like the Golden Globes, like what we saw last year's event, will likely have a political turn. We know that Meryl Streep is going to be there.

STEELE: Absolutely. And I believe that -- I welcome that. Me personally in my opinion, I think right now so many people, whether it's political, they just are taking so many stances, using their First Amendment right to express themselves and also encompass a lot of people that may not have that voice, so they use that voice in Hollywood to expression themselves.

Will it clash? Will it be kind of tense? Hopefully not. Jimmy Kimmel is hosting, this is one of those things you never know what to expect.

PAUL: That's the thing with the live show. You never know what's coming --

BLACKWELL: It's also in the room where they know that it's OK to say those things.

PAUL: Mostly.

BLACKWELL: Yes, mostly.

PAUL: I should point out, mostly.

Listen, let's talk about what's coming tonight too. Let's talk about best actor, your pick here?

STEELE: Gosh, I am going to have to say Denzel Washington, with "Fences", first of all, he's such a versatile actor, and I felt at first that there were a lot of long scenes, but as you got into it, and as the story comes together, I think everybody can identify with that movie.

BLACKWELL: Single camera, holding that, moving from room to room in that house. He also had a great partner there. She's up for best supporting actress. Do you think it's hers this year?

STEELE: Well, I think she should win supporting actress. I think that she was almost like a leading actress, we're talking about Viola Davis, of course, since she has been on the big screen, on TV, on silver thing, and doing her thing, and there was one scene where she was just tearing up and talking about her love with her husband and what he did. But that movie, if you didn't get some type of goose bumps or feel some type of feeling, there's something wrong with you.

PAUL: I remember hearing him say, he thought it was one of the most real movies he's ever done, that this was portraying real life.

STEELE: Oh, yes, absolutely.

BLACKWELL: Viola Davis previously nominated for "The Help", nominated as well for "Doubt", when she was on screen for just a few minutes and was nominated for supporting actress that year.

STEELE: And you talked about "The Help", and we have a few women of color that were nominated. Viola Davis, Olivia Spencer --


STEELE: And we can't -- yes, "La La Land" being nominated for 14 awards. I think they're going to do a clean sweep tonight. I think we can expect that.

PAUL: I have to say I was listening to someone talking on the radio. He said, I don't know, what is the big deal with "La La Land". He said I watched it, I couldn't get into it and that was just one person. But this is was a real special movie.

STEELE: It was a movie, it was a remake, so when you have a movie that has so many elements, just shooting a movie, it's one thing, but when you have the music and the cinematography, and angles, and people haven't -- to look they're having a good time and make it believable.

[07:55:10] And doesn't love a great love story, especially when you're looking at the Gos, Ryan Gosling.


PAUL: The Gos.

STEELE: Even if it's not a love story, when I watch it, it's a love story --

PAUL: So do you think this is best picture worthy?

STEELE: Oh, yeah, I definitely think "La La Land" --

PAUL: It's going to be that?

STEELE: I think it's controversial, but if you just look at the law of numbers, and 14 nominations, it's been --

PAUL: How about having a musical that might win? That's something else.

BLACKWELL: Yes, gone a couple of years since that. We also know that Mahershala Ali for best supporting actor.

STEELE: He's been my pick for best supporting actor, his name is really 18 letters --


STEELE: We've seen on lot case. He plays a great good guy. He plays a great bad guy in this movie. He had a different type of lifestyle. It just goes to show highway he influenced someone else in his life. I don't want to spoil it because everything is so a lot, what I found a lot of these movies that were nominated, they're s intense.

BLACKWELL: And you know what, he's not really in that movie for very long.


BLACKWELL: No, I'm not telling you why he got in the movie for very long --

STEELE: I didn't do it. No spoiler alert on my behalf.

BLACKWELL: Thanks so much, enjoy the show tonight.

PAUL: Yeah.


PAUL: Absolutely. And, hey, we hope you go out there and make some great memories today.

Oh, the Oscars!

BLACKWELL: "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right after this quick break.