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Trump Fires "The Sheriff Of Wall Street"; Lawmakers Want Wiretapping Evidence Monday; White House Fence Jumper In Federal Court Monday; Critical Agency To Score GOP Health Plan Tomorrow; Health Care Debate; South Korean President Impeached; Sanctuary Churches In Oregon; Trump's Property Visits Raise Questions; Blizzard Watches In Northeast; March Madness Selection Sunday. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired March 12, 2017 - 06:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now former U.S. attorney, Preet Bharara, released a statement saying in part, today I was fired.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think this is the first step by President Trump. I think he will start rooting out Obama appointees across the administration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His name is Jonathan Tran and he is 26 years old, and from California. He was walking close to the exterior wall of the White House mansion. The suspect was carrying two cans of mace. One of which was inside his jacket pocket.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And for us to seize this opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare once for all, we need every Republican in Congress, and we are counting on Kentucky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This week, Republicans made their best effort to unite the country by presenting a new health care plan that everybody could hate together.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Always good to see you. I am Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I am Victor Blackwell. Good Sunday to you. We are starting a really important week for the Republicans in Washington, and they are planning to replace the Affordable Care Act. Tomorrow, it's all about the numbers. How much will it cost? How many millions of people could gain or potentially lose their health care coverage?

PAUL: Yes. The Congressional Budget Office expected to release the price tag for the GOP bill tomorrow. Republicans brazing for what could be really a devastating report.

BLACKWELL: Also new this morning, a senior White House official, quote, "doesn't know" if the administration will have proof of former President Obama wiretapping Trump Tower by Monday as asserted by the president a week ago. That's the deadline set by the House Intel Committee for any relevant documents of alleged wiretaps.

WHITFIELD: Also the man suspected of jumping the White House fence while carrying maze and a letter for President Trump is facing a federal judge tomorrow. We have new details on how he breached security and how close he really got to the president.

First, we are learning President Trump through an assistant tried to call now former U.S. attorney, Preet Bharara, on Thursday. Bharara was fired by President Trump yesterday after refusing the Justice Department's demand for resignation.

Now a source tells our Jake Tapper, Bharara notified Attorney General Jeff Sessions' chief of staff saying, he was not going to talk to President Trump because of protocol against sitting U.S. attorneys talking to the president.

No word what the call from the White House may have been about, but CNN justice reporter, Laura Jarrett walks us through Bharara presidential standoff.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Victor, Christi, in a pretty stunning turn of events over the last 24 hours, we are learning more about exactly how all of this went down, how the U.S. attorney, Preet Bharara, was fired, and what he was told and by whom.

The acting attorney general, Dana Boente, called him and informed him that if it was true that he was refusing to resign, the president was then firing him. He came out with a statement on Saturday and said that this has been the greatest privilege of a lifetime and that his deputy would now be serving in his place.

But the question is, what has changed in the past intervening months? As Bharara says, in November, he was told by Trump that he could stay on and he was directed to go out in front of the cameras and say as much.

And so the question is, what happened now? Two of the U.S. attorneys of the 46 that were asked to resign were excluded by Trump and told they did not have to resign, they would be members of Trump's cabinet, and so the questions is well, why is Bharara different and what happened -- Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: All right, Laura, thanks so much. Let's continue the conversation now with our CNN political commentator and Spectrum News anchor, political anchor there, Errol Louis, and White House correspondent for "The Washington Examiner," Sarah Westwood, and former U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, Michael Moore. He knew Preet Bharara personally.

Good morning to everybody. Michael, I want to start with you. Why refuse, since you have this personal knowledge of him, why refuse to resign as requested and instead require the president to fire him? MICHAEL MOORE, COLLEAGUE OF FIRED NY U.S. ATTORNEY PREET BHARARA: You know, Preet is a dedicated prosecutor and has great respect for the department, but he also is fiercely independent I think of the U.S. attorney's role as it plays in the administration, the government overall, and with the Department of Justice.

So my guess is he was saying, look, I may be in the middle of some investigations. There are some things going on. I am simply not going to go step down and advocate that responsibility and let those investigations come to a stall.

So my guess is that's probably the reason that he said, look, I am not just going to resign. If they want to get rid of me, they can do it in a different way.

BLACKWELL: But Sarah, this is also a man who is known or described as a showman, right, and a big personality. How much of this is about his image, his personality, and he was not going to go without some noise?

[06:05:02]SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": You know, we don't know what kind of conversations took place behind the scenes. Remember, this is a U.S. attorney who was very publicly asked to stay onboard in the Trump administration. It was a rare moment of bipartisanship during the transition when Preet Bharara was asked to say in the Trump administration.

It was a move that was applauded by Democrats and Republicans alike because he is so popular, no matter what party you belong to, and now his firing is sort of creating bipartisanship again, because both Democrats and Republicans are criticizing this move.

Everyone was under the impression that Preet Bharara will continue to serve and one of the first questions that was asked after news of this 46 attorney firings came to light was, did Preet Bharara get asked to resign as well or did President Trump honor that offer to allow him that to serve in the administration.

And now that it's clear that the White House has sort of flip-flopped on it, but it's not clear why they would allow this to take place.

BLACKWELL: Well, there was, Errol, this segment on Fox News on Friday night -- actually, it was Saturday night -- Thursday night, I'm sorry, let me get the day right in which Sean Hannity suggested there should be a purge of Obama administration holdovers. Should we expect that there will be mass requests for resignations beyond the Justice Department? We know that's unique. We know these positions are unique, but should we expect to see this in other departments?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I certainly hope not. I mean, if the incoming administration, Trump administration, wants to make war with the quote/unquote, "establishment," with its own bureaucracy, civil servants, it could choose to do so, and one would hope that's not what they are prepared to do.

You know, this is a case whereas it has been widely reported, it is absolutely normal for all 93 or so U.S. attorneys to turn in their resignations and for the president, because he's our presidential appointee, to pick his own team.

So it's a little unusual that it was abrupt. It's very unusual in the case of Preet Bharara that after publicly pledging to keep him, they appear to have gone in the other direction.

One would hope that that was not based on one very biased commentator's point of view. I think also they will find in other departments that there will be equal kind of resistance.

You know, there are lots of stars out there. There are lots of Preet Bhararas out there, people who have done omen service in the public good. So hopefully they're not going to all be subjected to a political jest.

BLACKWELL: All right, so Sarah, we know switching gears here the House Intelligence Committee has asked the White House to hand over any evidence to support the president's assertion a little more than a week old now, that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign. Any indication of how the White House will respond?

WESTWOOD: You know, we are hearing that it's not entirely clear that there will be evidence presented to the House Intelligence Committee on Monday. We don't know whether that evidence exist at that point.

But the longer that that sensational allegation hangs out there without any kind of supporting evidence to support any part of it that Obama's involvement, whether a wiretap actually existed.

Even if Obama was not involved, no part of that has been substantiated to date, and the longer that hangs out there without any kind of backstory, the more trouble it's going to give the White House and it's really in their interest to backup any part of it, and provide any evidence that would give people assurance that this was not a flippant comment but rooted in some kind of fact.

BLACKWELL: Michael, give us again the perspective because I don't think anyone should lose sight of the gravity of the accusation the president made last Saturday when he accused former President Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower.

MOORE: You know, I think that's right and what I keep thinking about is it's absolutely incredible that a sitting president goes back and the former president secretly coming in and placing bugs all over his office building or Trump Tower or whatever the case maybe.

I think it's sensations. I think you're not going to see any evidence because there's not any evidence. I think finally the words and the accusations of the White House has been throwing over the last week or so are coming back to get him.

There's just no evidence for them to present to the Congressional hearing and I don't think we will see it as we move forward this week.

BLACKWELL: Well, Errol, assuming there is no evidence and we won't see the evidence presented tomorrow, what exhausts this so that the White House can move on to other topics? We have seen the president dodge questions from reporters. Will the Congressional enquiries exhaust this so they can move on, or will the president have to offer a full mea culpa like he did the last time he accused President Obama of committing a felony?

Let's look back to that news conference in which he admitted that the president was born here in the U.S. Watch.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.


[06:10:00]BLACKWELL: There was some who expected we would never see or hear that, will he have to offer that for this accusation as well?

LOUIS: I got to tell you that what you just played after years and years of basically fabrications around that birther lie. That's far short of a full mea culpa. It remains to be seen -- we never heard from the president, for example, he said that he sent investigators to Hawaii.

Who are those investigators? What did they find? How could they have been so wrong? Why did he make the whole thing up? I don't think we will go through all of that in this particular case because we've got a big busy country with a lot of important issues in front of it.

But I think it will end up being the same thing where he will say, let's move on. The public doesn't care. This is all about the media, when in fact, this is important that from the oval office you are getting complete fabrications that are put out there.

And now as we see, a lot of members of government having to sort of chase around and pretend that they are taking seriously something that was, you know, as far as we can tell, purely out of the imagination and mind of Donald Trump.

BLACKWELL: All right, Errol Louis, Michael Moore, Sarah Westwood, thank you all.

PAUL: Well, listen to this, there is new video surfacing in the 2014 controversial shooting of Michael Brown, and it's raising questions about exactly what happened in the hours prior to his shooting. Remember, the African-American 18-year-old, was shot and killed by a white police officer. That sparked widespread nationwide protest, and this protest went on for months.

Last night at South by Southwest, the documentary "Stranger Fruit" showcased this never seen before surveillance video of Brown. The documentary claims the video shows him giving a small bag of marijuana to store employees and then receiving the cigarettes in some kind of negotiated deal for that marijuana. The store is denying any such deal happened and St. Louis County Police say they didn't release this video at the time because they didn't believe it was relevant to the investigation, and the video that was released indicated Brown attempted to rob the store of those cigarettes, remember that?

This new video could be important to pending legal cases, yes, there are still pending legal cases connected to this. And our panel of experts have a lot to say about that, and that's happening in the next hour here of NEW DAY.

We are also learning more about the man who is going to be appearing in federal court tomorrow after he jumped the White House fence on Friday night. Next, why his brother says this is a guy just going through a tough time.

BLACKWELL: Plus the outlook for the GOP's health care bill, what we expect to learn from the critical agency tasked with determining how many millions of people could gain or lose health care coverage under the Republican's plan.

PAUL: And Alec Baldwin is back on "Saturday Night Live" with his Donald Trump impression and he's just in time to save the world from an alien invasion apparently.


ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: Who loves Trump? I know this guy over here he loves Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what about the aliens? They just vaporize the entire state of California?

BALDWIN: So I won the popular vote?




BLACKWELL: We are learning more this morning about the man who jumped the White House fence and then made it past several layers of security hoping to meet the president.

PAUL: The 26-year-old Jonathan Tran will be arraigned in federal court tomorrow, and he appeared in D.C. Superior Court yesterday afternoon. We are told the Secret Service officer discovered Tran near the south entrance of the White House grounds with two cans of mace, a letter for President Trump and a copy of one of the president's books.

Jonathan Wackrow is a CNN law enforcement analyst and a former Secret Service agent for President Obama is here to talk with us, and CNN Washington correspondent, Ryan Nobles, as well. Ryan, I want to start with you. We are hearing from the suspect's brother now. What is he saying?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is Jonathan Tran's younger brother and he told CNN yesterday that his brother had been dealing with some difficult things in his personal life. He had been laid off from a job that he had at an electrical engineering company, and his brother claims that he'd been living out of his car and only eating junk food and just been in a really low place.

His family found out by a call from a Secret Service agent that their brother and son had been arrested, and Jonathan Tran's brother saying his mother was having a very difficult time with the news.

You know, according to what we are learning from the court hearing yesterday, it seems as though Jonathan Tran is dealing with some sort of a mental health issue, which obviously would not be much of a surprise.

But this charge that he is facing is a serious one and could lead up to ten years in federal prison if convicted, so he has a lengthy court battle in front of him.

PAUL: All righty, Jonathan, I want to come to you now. And welcome, by the way, to both of you. What is interesting here is the wording is interesting, that he was discovered by a Secret Service agent already on the ground near the south entrance to the executive residence.

That he had jumped the fence at the White House Courtyard at the Treasury Building and he was not detected even until he was approached by that Secret Service agent. What does that tell you about the fact that he just happened upon this man?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, what it indicates is that there are multiple points of failure here in the security structure at the White House. By the fact that he came in through the northwest courtyard of the Treasury Building, he had to go over multiple fences to go into the south grounds.

[06:20:03]And then he also circumvented a lot of the intrusion detection alarms that were at the White House, both on the Treasury side and the White House complex side, so this is actually very, very disturbing.

I think it's important to note, and I think it has been reported that the White House elevated to condition orange, which is one of the highest levels of security at the White House.

However, it should be noted, they did not elevate until after the individual was confronted. So they didn't even know he was there until he came across the uniformed division officer on the south ground, so this entire situation is very disturbing.

PAUL: Well, Jonathan, first of all, kudos to the Secret Service agent that saw him, because let's face it, it was midnight and I don't know what the lighting situation is like there, but the north end of the property seems to be particularly vulnerable. We've had incidents in 2014, 2015 and 2016 of people being able to either throw something over or get something over that wall, that area on the north end of the property. What other security precautions could be implemented at this point because they have been updated?

WACKROW: Listen, a 2014 after a very well-publicized intrusion of the White House, there was a Protective Security Council that recommended raising the height of the parameter fencing, and that was back in 2014. We have had multiple breaches of that fence since then, including what happened the other night.

So the fencing around the White House absolutely is paramount that gets completed right away because that's the first line of defense of the White House. Beyond that, there are a lot of technical tools that could be put into place, and then you can come down into adding more manpower to build up the defenses of the White House.

PAUL: All righty, Ryan, real quickly, this gentleman, Tran, is going to be in court tomorrow. Did he drive from California? We were trying to decipher how he got all the way to Washington and will his family come -- is there any indication his family is going to come to be here with him as he faces a judge tomorrow?

NOBLES: We don't know exactly how he got here to Washington, D.C., but we know -- according to what his brother told us yesterday, he was living in his car so it would make sense to come across country venture to get all the way here to Washington, D.C.

But it's important to point out that he thought he was a friend of Donald Trump. He told the Secret Service agent when he was arrested that he had a message for him. He said he had information about the Russian hack.

Christi, this is the second time something like this has happened to Donald Trump. Back during the campaign you may remember a young man attempted to scale Trump Tower, he was actually successful in getting pretty high up Trump Tower, with the same intention.

That he had a message and wanted to have a meeting with the then- Candidate Trump, and it's also important to point out that Tran got within 200 feet of the president's bedroom window, and the president was in the residence at the time. So this was a serious security breach at the White House on Friday.

PAUL: No doubt about it. Jonathan Wackrow and Ryan Nobles, we appreciate both of you being here. Thank you.

NOBLES: Thank you.

WACKROW: Thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: A Florida man tried to set fire to a convenient store because he thought the owners were Muslim. The State Attorney's Office in (inaudible) is now deciding whether or not to charge him with a hate crime. The deputies say the owners of the store were of Indian dissent, but Richard Lloyd told deputies he wanted to, quote, "run the Arabs out of our country." He pushed a dumpster in front of the store and set it on fire. The fire was extinguished without much damage. The store was closed Friday morning.

PAUL: It's being called an underground railroad for fearful illegal immigrants. Why nearly 30 congregations are preparing to give them sanctuary.



PAUL: Republican lawmakers are bracing for some tough news, perhaps, on their replacement plan for Obamacare. Tomorrow, the Congressional Budget Office is expected to score the GOP bill and a recent S&P global report predicts as many as 10 million people will lose coverage under it.

BLACKWELL: So the bill is already making its way through Congress despite not yet receiving their score by the CBO and Vice President Mike Pence working to sell the plan to skeptical Republicans and Republican-led states that were able to insure more people under Obamacare. He went to Kentucky yesterday where he called the current health care system broken.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's amazing to think about. I mean, virtually every promise of Obamacare has been broken. We all remember the promises that they made back in 2010 when this was signed into law. They told us the cost of health insurance would go down. Not true. They told us if you liked your doctors you could keep them. Not true. They told us if you liked your health plan you could keep it. Not true. Obamacare has failed the people of Kentucky. It's failed the people of America and Obamacare must go.


BLACKWELL: Let's bring back in the conversation, Errol Louis, CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News, and Sarah Westwood, White House correspondent with "The Washington Examiner."

Errol, to you first, this was a 20-minute speech there in Louisville, not much new in the speech. Was this likely enough to sell to the audiences intended what he went there to do?

LOUIS: Well, probably not to the 300,000 Kentuckians who were served by the Medicaid expansion that's the key part of Obamacare. He would have gotten a very different reaction. I must tell you, Victor, he had called it connect, which is the local name basically for Obamacare.

What the Republicans are going to encounter with or without a favorable score from the CBO is millions of people in very poor states, including Kentucky, who have been covered, who did not have coverage before, you know, so I mean, OK, the choice of doctor maybe an issue. The cost of the care is an issue for some, but not for the very poor because they are covered under Medicaid anyhow.

You know, if you try to pit different parts of the insurance system against each other, which has essentially been the Republican strategy, yes, it will sound like some part of the insurance system has people who are healthier and who are paying more in order to cover everybody else, that's what the insurance is about. The Republicans took this fight on the -- were (ph) spoiling (ph) for this fight. We'll see how it works out starting tomorrow.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Sarah, how much of this visit was about convincing those skeptical Republicans namely the governor of Kentucky Matt Bevin?

You know, he took the kids, the entire family up on to the plane there and he was making sure that the governor was in all of the photographs, kind of keeping him very close. And we know a day ago we heard from the governor who was on the side of Rand Paul who said that this wasn't doing enough?

SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: It's symbolic that Kentucky was the sight of the first visit out to the states to try to sell this (INAUDIBLE) the vice president particularly because Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky has been leading the charge to steer the Republicans away from the direction they are going right now.

He has been advocating for a return to more conservative ideas that under pinned resistance to Obamacare when it was moving through Congress years ago. He is saying that the ultimate goal was to reduce spending, was to get the cost down and he doesn't want Republicans to keep the framework of Obamacare intact, which is largely what the Republican plan right now does. So he is one of the most visible critics of the Obamacare replacement plan, so I think it's very symbolic that Vice President Pence chose his home state to try to demonstrate that there is broad support for the GOP's plan as it's written right now.

BLACKWELL: Errol, let's look ahead tomorrow reportedly the Congressional Budget Office will release its score of the plan, how much it will cost, how many people will lose or potentially gain health care coverage.

We heard from the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, talking about the CBO report, trying to set the stage and set expectations.

Let's offer a reminder to everybody watching.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Of course, cost matters but look at how off they were last time. If you are looking for the CBO for accuracy, you are looking in the wrong place. I mean, they were way, way off last time in every aspect of how they scored and projected Obamacare.


BLACKWELL: Potentially a suggestion that this will be a number they won't like.

LOUIS: Yes. Well, I mean, they're -- they're going to politically fight for their plan, and try, I guess, in this case to sort of preemptively strike against somebody who might give some bad news to the public that doesn't really support their position.

On the other hand, there are other -- some other acronyms to go with CBO, and they include AARP, which is against the plan. AHA, the American Hospitals Association, against the plan. AMA, the American Medical Association, against the plan. And they didn't wait for the score. They are the people who are the system. They are within the system. They know the impact this is going to have on patients and doctors and hospitals and retirees. And so -- I mean, that's who they really are going to have to fight against.

So the CBO is a relatively simple target, but I expect it to line up with all those other organizations and say, this is going to throw millions of people out of the health care system. There's simply no getting around that. You can't take away the mandates, take away the money and expect to cover as many or more people. It just doesn't work that way.

BLACKWELL: All right. We'll wait for those numbers. Errol Louis, Sarah Westwood, thanks so much.

LOUIS: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: And two powerful leaders in Congress join Jake Tapper on "STATE OF THE UNION" today. John McCain on the show to talk about his next step to take on the president over Russia, and Senator Cory Booker talked about the Democrats' plan to challenge the new health care proposal. That's "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper today on 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Who after a scandal that led to her impeachment and deadly protest, we should point out. The former president of South Korea left the presidential complex for the final time today. A court upheld the impeachment of Park Geun-hye, Friday, over alleged corruption and now she is facing charges.

BLACKWELL: Yes. As Christi mentioned since then thousands of people filled the streets for rallies, sometimes they turned violent. Three people died, and dozens of others were injured. A new presidential election is set for May 9th.

PAUL: Dozens of congregations in Portland, Oregon, are turning their churches into shelters for undocumented immigrants. This is a risky move to try and keep them from being deported.

I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the reverends aiding this effort from Augustana Lutheran Church. And I asked Pastor Mark Knutson why he is taking this critical step and if he is worried about taking any legal consequences that may come from it? Here's what he said.


PASTOR MARK KNUTSON, AUGUSTANA LUTHERAN CHURCH: We're in a critical time in this nation's history when a lot of people -- 12 million people are living in fear, and afraid every night when they go to bed or take their kids to school.


And these are -- these are part of our communities. These are our church members, our sisters, our brothers, our neighbors, our classmates, and from a faith perspective, you always stand alongside the most vulnerable, and that's how we measure the greatness of the nation.

We are not breaking the law, and we are doing something that has ancient precedence, it goes back thousands of years, and so as a congregation of course our in our congregation is down from 200 members to over 900 -- again very diverse. We are African-American, Native-American, European-American, Asian-American, Middle Eastern, and Latino, and LGBT -- we are all of (ph) that (ph) together. And so it's a congregation that knows we're supposed to step out in faith.


PAUL: And thanks again for that conversation with Pastor Mark Knutson from Augustana Lutheran Church.

BLACKWELL: All right. Still to come the president's frequent trips to Trump properties are beginning to blur the line between his presidential duties and his personal business for some. We will have more details on that.

PAUL: And I wish I could give you different news than this. A blizzard watch for parts of the country this morning, some areas -- oh, you could see 18 inches of snow. We will tell you where. Stay close.



PAUL: Forty minutes past the hour right now.

You know, this is the sixth consecutive weekend that President Trump has spent at least sometime at some of the properties that bear his name, and the frequent visits, for some people they bring up this question -- they're serving as a sort of product placement opportunity his businesses that he was supposed to divorce himself from.

BLACKWELL: And each visit comes while he and his administration are avoiding the media. The White House cancelled two open press events this week and again dodged reporter questions, as recently as yesterday. And secretary of state, Rex Tillerson is heading off to Asia this week without the press onboard that plane.

Let's bring in CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" Brian Stelter.

Brian, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: And President Trump's trips to these properties they're not outside the norm for what he did in his private life but does it blur the line of responsibilities in his new life in this new office?

STELTER: It does blur the line, but it's only an ethical matter not a legal matter. There's no law that forbids anyone -- any president from visiting any specific place, any properties this person might own.

You think back to George W. Bush visited his ranch in Crawford, Texas over the years. President Obama said he would go home in Chicago and then ultimately didn't go home very often in Chicago. But past presidents always retreat somewhere, whether it's Camp David or a ranch in Crawford or somewhere else. The difference now, of course, is that president Trump owns or has a stake in these properties that he's heading toward on the weekends.

Our colleague (INAUDIBLE) crunched the numbers and found that for the past six weekends President Trump has visited resorts or hotels or golf courses that bear the Trump name. Normally Mar-a-Lago or other golf courses in Florida. This weekend that golf club in Virginia.

Now, Sean Spicer says they were not golfing. They were actually having meetings, President Trump and his top aides had a meeting at that location in Virginia yesterday. But (ph) it's (ph) another example of -- you know, I think people probably view this, depending on how they view Trump, either positively or negatively.

The positive argument would be, hey, if you had houses all over the country, that's what you would do on the weekends also, go visit those homes. The more negative view is its version of product placement that every time he's at a Trump branded location that it's providing free publicity for the advertising for that location.

BLACKWELL: So aside from visiting these properties in Washington we know that the president has been dodging questions of reporters this week namely those questions that he initiated by asserted that the previous president wiretapped or ordered a wiretap on Trump Tower.

STELTER: Right. That's right. Yes, this is all started by President Trump's tweet eight days ago with these wild wiretapping allegations.

Sometimes President Trump uses Twitter in order to get people talking, in order to get the media to cover something, but in this case, it seemed to be the opposite. He has not wanted to follow-up or address as many detail.

I would say, Victor, the president has turned suddenly press shy, no interviews in almost two weeks, no press conferences at all in a longer time than that, not answering questions when reporters try to get his attention at the photo ops. He's trying to stay on his version of on message. Right now encourage the Congress to focus on Obamacare replacement bill, trying to stay away from questions about the WikiLeaks or about the wiretapping allegations. There are reasons why you are not hearing the president's voice very much all of a sudden is because he has suddenly turned press shy.

BLACKWELL: All right. We'll see if that changes in the new week. Brian Stelter, Thanks so much.

STELTER: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: And don't forget to watch more of Brian Stelter later this morning on "RELIABLE SOURCES," that kicks off at 11:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

PAUL: I don't know. I feel a little warmer than usual this winter. Oh, Mother Nature has another plan in view in the next few days. A major winter storm on the way.

BLACKWELL: Yes. CNN meteorologist, Allison Chinchar. Some folks are in for it.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's right. Nearly 50 million people under some type of winter weather alert stretching from the Midwest all the way to the Northeast including a blizzard watch. We'll detail where that is located after the break.

BLACKWELL: Well, it is officially selection Sunday. Time to get those March Madness brackets ready.



BLACKWELL: Get ready, get ready, get ready. A major blast of winter weather for parts of the Northeastern U.S. They're waking up under this blizzard watch today.

PAUL: Yes. More than 60 million people we're talking about are at risk with some severe winter weather. When we say severe we're talking about serious snow totals, 18 inches of snow in some places.

CNN meteorologist, Allison Chinchar, live in the Severe Weather Center. And I'm not just wondering how much snow, but how long is it going to last? Because I feel like I am looking at two different systems there behind you.

CHINCHAR: You are technically not. You are looking at energy that's going to come from essentially the same system it's just it's going to take several days to do it. So it starts today. Overall we have over 95 million people under some type of winter weather alert, 50 million of those at least are in the Northeast alone.

So here's the deal. It's going to start in the Midwest. And here's the projection again. It starts say around Bismarck, moves into Minneapolis and the eventually into Chicago by the time we get to evening hours tonight. OK?

Then this system here. You can see that low begins to push over towards the mid Atlantic. But we also have another low coming up from Florida. Around D.C. those two basically meet together. And this one along the East Coast this begins to intensify because of that. It will eventually skirt up along the East Coast.

Now, the exact track of where that takes ultimately determines exactly how much snow we end up getting. The one thing we are certain is the winds are going to be very ferocious. We're talking dangerous travel conditions also not to mention just the fact that we could have significant power outages with this.


We're talking winds 40 to 60 miles per hour but also the accumulations. Now again, right now Boston, New York, Philadelphia and D.C. minimum -- we're talking about six inches in some of these places.

But when you look at Boston for example, take a look at the spread, OK? Minimum we know they'll probably get about five to seven inches of snow. But the max they could end up getting guys is 20 to 22. So that's why when we talk about where that low pressure system goes sometimes it makes all the difference in the world of five to even 22 inches of snow.

PAUL: And you know there are kids going, yes! This is a good day!

BLACKWELL: And the parents are going, 22 inches of snow.

PAUL: Inches of snow.

BLACKWELL: All right. Allison, thanks.

PAUL: Stay safe out there everybody because at the end of the day it could get dangerous, no doubt about it. All right.

BLACKWELL: Seriously here...

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: ... coming up at the top of the hour, new video immerging now in the Michael Brown case raising questions about the hours before Brown was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri. Remember this, 2014? We'll talk with legal experts. And take a look at the video.

PAUL: And last night full of some memorable moments as selection Sunday draws near. We turn to the experts for some advice on building that perfect March Madness bracket. We know that you are just trying to figure out. That's coming up on the bleacher report. Stay close.


BLACKWELL: It is officially selection Sunday, so it's time to get those brackets together.

PAUL: Yes. If you need some inside info, I just let my girls pick and, you know, we just (INAUDIBLE).


PAUL: Not our forte, but Andy Scholes is going to help you out. He sat down with some experts, you know, to get their insight into picking the perfect bracket.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, it is such a celebration. It just captures everyone's imagination.

GRANT HILL, RETIRED PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER: The whole country, you know, it's about college basketball, nothing else, no politics, nothing other sport, it's just college sports, March Madness, and there's nothing like it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the buzzer beaters and the Cinderella stories.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What an incredible Cinderella story (INAUDIBLE) unknown. Comes out of nowhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, listen, if you want to win your bracket (INAUDIBLE) going to have a lot of luck.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would just say instead of rating the schools rate (ph) their mascot and just do like a mascot bracket.


KENNY SMITH, RETIRED PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER: Don't try to make a living out of this. Don't think you're going to get a new car out of this one.

ERNIE JOHNSON JR., SPORTSCASTER: You're favorite animal is also a good way to (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your babysitter's uncle is Iona. Pick Iona.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: What is the right number for how many brackets you should go out?


REGGIE MILLER, RETIRED PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER: It depends on how much the pool is. I mean, there's like a dollar pool, $5 pool, $20 pool? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think if you do -- if you do more than three, you might have a problem.

MILLER: Three brackets.


How many brackets should one fill up?

JOHNSON: One. One. At the most.

MILLER: Your honest bracket of going through the numbers, you should have an upset bracket, and you should have your secret bracket where you kind of wish this may happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I used to be good for about five a year. Yes, because I would employ different strategies.

MILLER: No, no, no, no. It's called hedging your bet. All right?

JOHNSON: OK. Can you do five, but if you brag about something because one of your five is winning, stop it, I don't want to hear it.

BARKLEY: But you want to be an honest, legit person you should only fill out one bracket.

SCHOLES: Walk me through this moment here and what you are thinking.

BARKLEY: Well, I would just -- you know, I think most people know my daughter went to Villanova. So I was just happy for her.

HILL: He'd better be careful thought because he is a little old. He might get hurt jumping around like that.

MILLER: It's a bad form by Charles by the way too. Get in the gym, Charles. Get in the gym.


PAUL: Good at talking smack.


BLACKWELL: Over a jump.

Alec Baldwin could not resist a return to "Saturday Night Live" to take on the president again last night.

PAUL: Yes and he went and spoof in any of the presidents we can comment (ph) here but he showed up essentially to save the world from an alien invasion.


ALEC BALDWIN AS DONALD TRUMP: Oh, yes, what a beautiful day. Who here loves Trump? I know this guy over here, he loves Trump. KENAN THOMPSON, COMEDIAN: Mr. President, what about the aliens? They just vaporized the entire state of California?

BALDWIN: So then I won the popular vote?

THOMPSON: Sir, please, everybody in California is dead.

BALDWIN: Even Arnold?

AIDY BRYANT, COMEDIAN (ph): The aliens they're coming!

BALDWIN: Actually, the aliens are already here and they have been hiding in this country for hundreds of years, it's a fact. They are shape shifters. They look like regular people but they're aliens. Look, there is one right there.

LESLIE JONES, COMEDIAN: What? I am not an alien.

BALDWIN: Yes, she is, and so is the woman next to her, right there.



PAUL: Oh, my goodness. Never know what they are going to come up with next.

Thank you so much for starting your morning with us.

BLACKWELL: We've got a lot more ahead the next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, former U.S. attorney, Preet Bharara released a statement saying in part today I was fired.

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think this is the first step by President Trump. I think he's going to start rooting out Obama appointees across the administration.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: His name is Jonathan Tran and he is 26 years old and from California.


He was walking close to the exterior wall of the White House Mansion. The suspect was carrying two cans of mace, one of which was inside his jacket pocket.