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South Korea Is Sending A Delegation To North Korea On Monday For Talks; President Trump Plans To Impose These Tariffs On Steel And Aluminum; Teachers The In West Virginia Are Holding Their Ground; American Civil Liberties Union Is Starting A New Push To Keep The Daca Discussion On The Table. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired March 4, 2018 - 16:00   ET


[16:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD. CNN HOST: All right. We got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM and it all right now.

All right. Hello again. And thank you so much for joining us this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin with new developments in the nuclear showdown between the U.S. and North Korea. North Korea saying the U.S. should quote "not misjudge its intentions for dialogue." A statement through the foreign ministry also accused the U.S. of quote "taking preposterous action by continuing to Trumpet and insistence that it will not have dialogue unless a right condition is met. And that it will keep watching if we have intention to abandon nuclear weapons and missiles and so on," end quote.

The statement follows comments made by President Trump last night, at a dinner with media members where he said quote "they called up a couple of days ago and said we would like to talk, and I said, so would we. But you have to de-nuke. You have to de-nuke. So let's see what happens," end quote.

All right, I want to bring in CNN global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott.

So, Elise, South Korea is sending a delegation to North Korea on Monday for talks. Is this posturing ahead of that meeting?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I don't think so, Fred. Although, you know, look, North Korea has been kind of consistent in recent months leading up to the Olympics. And now, in terms of its engagement with South Korea, no one really knows where that's going to lead. But I think this is more in response to these kind of mixed messages coming from the Trump administration.

You will remember before vice president Pence went to the Olympics. There was supposedly going to be a meeting between Kim Jong-un's sister and Mike Pence and the kind of North Korean delegation in PyeongChang after Mike Pence gave a, you know, very tough rhetoric on that trip, met with some North Korean defectors. Didn't say, you know, hello to the delegation at the Olympics. They canceled the meeting. Now, then, you hear President Trump saying he wants to talk. And I think what you have here is the North Koreans saying, listen, these are the conditions by which we will talk. We are not talking about giving up our nuclear weapons. Some people doubt that they would do it at all, but that's what's for a negotiation, Fred. So they are saying if you want to talk, we will talk. But please don't expect us to give up our nuclear weapons before that, because it's not going to happen.

WHITFIELD: And is there any indicator that this phone call that the President alluded to, you know, not sure whether he was -- people were not sure whether he was joking or whether he really meant it, that there was a phone call from North Korea to the President. Any credence to that?

LABOTT: I got to be honest, none of my sources in the administration really knew what he was talking about. He left a lot of people at the dinner surprised. I don't think the President would lean so heavily forward if there wasn't something going on. I highly doubt that the North Koreans called up President Trump himself. It's possible that they sent a message through the New York channel, as we call it, which is the kind of diplomatic mission in New York at the United Nations or that the South Koreans passed the message.

I mean, look, let's be honest. There are messages being sent back and forth. The South Koreans are trying to mediate between the North and the United States. I think what you have is the North Koreans, you know, saying that, you know, if you want to talk, we will talk. Don't expect us to give up our nuclear weapons in advance. And the administration saying, we are not going to talk unless you give up your nuclear weapons. So there's kind of this standoff. I think most people that follow North Korea say there's going to have to be some initial dialogue before there's any discussion about any kind of de- nuclearization by the North.

WHITFIELD: All right, Elise Labott, thanks so much.

All right, so after this chaotic week in the west wing, the White House looks to push reset with plans to tackle some big controversial issues. This week, the President is set to impose new tariffs on steel and aluminum. The move, which has already drawn swift criticism from lawmakers in his own party, and America's closest allies may further fuel concerns of a trade war and rattle global markets.


PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISOR: This is an action, basically, to protect our national security and our economic security. The President was quite clear, we can't have a country that can defend itself and prosper without an aluminum and steel industry.


WHITFIELD: And then staffing in the west wing will also be a big focus this week with some top aides announcing their departures. And then there's more speculation about other senior aides who might be exiting soon. Trump even joked about that last night, at the white tie annual event, saying, I like chaos.

All right, for more on the week ahead, let's bring in CNN's Boris Sanchez at the White House.

So Boris, it appears the President is determined to push ahead with these tariffs, despite criticism from U.S. allies and even members of his own party.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Fred. Ben Sasse, Lindsey Graham, a number of Republicans telling essentially the White House that this is a bad idea to move forward with these tariffs.

Republicans aren't typically known for any kind of policy that would interfere in free and open trade. In contrast, you have some Democrats like Joe Manchin saying that they were open to the idea of certain tariffs. The President also not shy about straining relationships with some of our closest allies, including Canada, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. We understand that this weekend, the President shared a call with the prime minister of great Britain, Theresa May, in which she told President Trump that she was deeply concerned about the effects that these tariffs would have in the relationship between the United States and Great Britain.

This is really a long-held belief of President Trump. He ideologically has shifted on a number of different issues, in different directions, whether on gun policy or the war in Iraq. But this is something that he has been vocal about for as long as he has been in public life. The idea that the United States is being taken advantage of by foreign countries on the issue of trade.

You had the President's top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, on "STATE OF THE UNION" this morning with Jake Tapper, talking about this, defending the idea, and then saying something that our allies, especially those that import steel into the United States will likely want to hear. Listen, Fred.


[16:06:18] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: So there's going to be no exemptions? That is what is going to look like at the end of the week?

NAVARRO: Well, there's a difference between exemptions and country seclusions, there will be an exemption procedure for particular cases where we need to have exemptions so that business can move forward. But at this point in time, there will be no country exclusions.


SANCHEZ: No exclusions, Fred. Navarro also said that we could potentially see a rollout of these tariffs before the end of the week.

WHITFIELD: OK. Boris Sanchez, thank you so much from the White House.

All right. Joining me right now, Ron Brownstein, a CNN senior political analyst and senior editor of "the Atlantic" and Brian Karem, a CNN political analyst and executive editor for sentinel newspapers. Good to see you both.

All right. To Ron, you first. The President's plans to impose these tariffs on steel and aluminum, despite threats of a possible trade war from U.S. allies and even criticism within his own party. Is he alone or will some of his critics eventually join him?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's kind of a fascinating moment. Because you see the President, as Boris said, advancing what has been one of the most consistent points in his very diverse political career over the last 25 years, in terms of the opinions he has expressed. And moving forward with these tariffs, immediately splitting the Republican Party, because you, you know, you have a business community that likes the way in which President Trump has been kind of coral into conventional Republican thinking on taxes and regulation, but fear what the kind of the insular nationalism component of the agenda. Both the protectionism and the desire to cut immigration, including legal immigration.

Basically, what he is doing is trying to protect one sliver of the economy that has been shrinking. I mean, we are down to 150,000, roughly, steel -- people working in aluminum and steel, at the expense of not only the kind of metro areas that are very integrated into the global economy but also other manufacturing areas. And that's why I think this is so divisive because it helps the steel and aluminum producers, but it imposes a cost on all of the industries that use those inputs to manufacture. And that I think that is why it's so divisive, even within the Republican coalition.

WHITFIELD: So Brian, at the same time, when the President has, you know, gone out on a limb or interjects with something, we have always --

BRIAN KAREM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He is always out on a limb.

WHITFIELD: We have also seen him backtrack, you know, immigration, you know, DACA is an example of that, even gun control, after meeting with, you know, NRA and then going silent on things that he was so, you know, vociferously backing. So is this another occasion in which he throws it out there and he could backtrack. Or is this one that he just feels like, you know, he does want to appeal to that sliver of the community that Ron was talking about?

KAREM: Right. He does want to appeal to that part of his base, of course. But whether or not you want to decide whether he is going to backtrack or not. Look, we are talking about Donald Trump. So your guess is as good as mine or as good as anyone else's. I mean, he could change his mind now, five minutes from now, and then change it back.

WHITFIELD: What would he be weighing, if anything?

KAREM: Well, I think he is going to be weighing the backlash from his base, the backlash from the Republican Party, how much he can anger the Democrats. And also, he has got to look at, I think, there's a lot of times these decisions are made with the big pockets in mind and the big -- being the billionaires and those who have the most or least to gain from it. And I think that's probably where he is going to be looking at.

But you know, Fred, you could guess and I mean, flip a coin. I mean, it happens on every issue. Like when you are talking about the wall, it's a solid wall, it's not a solid wall. It's going to be see- through, it's not going to be see-through. I mean, he changes his mind frequently. And this whole idea of him loving the chaos, that was looked at as a joke. And I don't think that is a joke.

[16:10:05] WHITFIELD: I don't think it's a joke.

KAREM: I don't think at all. I think he does enjoy chaos. I think that that's his -- the way he likes to operate. And as Scaramucci said, Anthony Scaramucci, his former communications director, when you have a start-up, you go through a lot of people. So chaos is inevitable. And the critics say, look, this isn't a start-up. This is the federal government. So maybe you don't want to look towards that type of business model in the White House.


BROWNSTEIN: Fred, I was going to say, the trade is kind of a fascinating moment for the democratic reaction, as well. Because, you know, the clearest losers in a trade war, and the indications right away are that this could quickly escalate, with Europeans talking about, you know, retaliatory tariffs and the President then tweeting that he would impose tariffs on European cars, which may be difficult to do. The clearest losers in the trade war are kind of the information age industries that are totally connected to the global economy, which are centered in the big metros, which are now the geographic foundation of the Democratic Party. It is overwhelming of the party of the big metro areas that are integrated in the global economy. And yet they are finding it almost impossible to find anything to say about this. Because they are still worried about alienating kind of bad luck industrial labor at a time when bad luck labor is voting overwhelmingly Republican, largely around the cultural themes, Donald Trump.

And, you know, Lindsey Graham today made the point on "Face the Nation," very clearly that if you really want to go after China and deal with their economic influence, you would be part of the transpacific trade agreement that President Trump has walked away from, which was expressly designed to be a counterweight to Chinese economic influence. And yet you don't hear that from Democrats. They are paralyzed in thinking about the U.S. role in the global economy. And I think in many ways, they are failing to represent who their coalition is today, they're kind of driving, you know, by looking through the rearview mirror what their coalition used to be 30, 40 years ago.

KAREM: I don't think anybody's looking at the big picture. I think you just nailed it there. Each side is looking at who they are going to protect and the big picture is this could affect the country in a very derogatory manner and we are not looking at that big picture. Those kind of tariffs could kill the auto industry, can kill a lot of other industries down the road. And if you don't look at that, I think that -- and you are busy protecting a base, then you are doing the country a disservice. And that's happening on the Democrats and the Republican side.

WHITFIELD: Right. So real confusion about the motivation behind, you know, the decisions behind, you know, this President. So if it's confusing outside looking in, you have to try to imagine what does it feel like to be working inside the White House, Ron? And how confused people are, even though they are quick to come to his defense to say, you know, well, the President likes chaos and this is how we operate and get things done. But then, really, it means that no one knows really how to predict, you know, their duties. You know, on a day-to- day basis.

BROWNSTEIN: That's a really good point, Fred. One reason the markets were so rattled by this decision was not only the substance of these tariffs, but the process by which they emerged, which was the President essentially short circuiting a lot of the agency process. And this just kind of emerging from him suddenly. And it kind of underscores the extent to which we have been talking about, policy can emerge at any moment. And may or may not last. And may be walked back.

We are looking at a level of chaos inside an administration. I have covered Presidents, every President since Ronald Reagan. I certainly are not seen anything like this.

KAREM: Right there with you, brother.

BROWNSTEIN: And I think if you look - yes, right.

WHITFIELD: And there was chaos, the intention is not allow the whole world to see it.

KAREM: Well, the problem with this, everyone is seeing it. And it's - I mean, after Scaramucci came on CNN the other morning, my phone blew up from people inside the White House going, hey, I got to get out, I mean. They are not even hiding it anymore. And that's the sad part. I mean, we get used to a certain amount of chaos and turbulence in any administration. And like you said, I have been there since Reagan, off and on. And I had seen a certain amount of chaos, but this is so transparently chaotic. And while the President may like it, those inside are getting weary of it because you can't defend them if you don't know what he is going to do. And if he changes his mind so often, it's very hard to have a consistent message coming out of the White House.

WHITFIELD: Right. It is so unclear. The latest example is that, you know, behind Hope Hicks, the communications director leaving someone who has been loyal to the President for a very long time, a confidant, et cetera, and still mysterious, what really was the impetus behind her leaving?

All right. Ron Brownstein and Brian Karem, we are going to have to leave it right there. Darn. We will have you back.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

KAREM: Thank you. WHITFIELD: All right. Teacher in West Virginia are about to enter

their eighth day of strikes after an impasse with state lawmakers for five percent pay raise? This, as 300,000 students remain locked out of their classrooms.


[16:19:06] WHITFIELD: Teachers the in West Virginia are holding their ground. They say they won't go back to work until they get a five percent raise. Lawmakers are debating whether to give them what they are asking for and it means 300,000 students in West Virginia may not be heading back to school tomorrow.

CNN's Kaylee Hartung joining me right now.

So, it looked as though the strike was headed towards some sort of resolution, but then something happened.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It all fell apart yesterday, Fred. The state legislature argued for hours. They stayed in the House until 11:00 at night, but they could not come to an agreement on how much to increase the pay to West Virginia's teachers.

And let's put this into perspective. West Virginia teachers are making about $45,000 a year. They are among the lowest paid educators in the country. And they say they will not go back to work without a five percent pay increase. That amounts to about $2,000 extra per year, per teacher, which means a bill of about $50 million for the state, annually.

So yesterday the state Senate actually approved a four percent pay raise for teachers, but all that did was infuriate the teachers. They want five percent. That bill then went to the statehouse, but statehouse rejected it, because they had already approved the five percent raise.

It ended up being a day of emotional arguments. Teachers and their supporters in the gallery to listen. And by the end of the day, they felt the legislative process was confusing and disheartening.


[16:20:29] CHRISTINE CAMPBELL, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: We are playing with people's emotions, their livelihoods and it directly affects our students. So let's do this right. Let's do it to keep, attract, and retain teachers in West Virginia. Keep our service personnel at a -- get them to a living wage. This is unprecedented. It's confusing and it's just really, again, I think they are disheartened by the process.

HARTUNG: Much of the debate on Saturday was about where to find the money to give the teachers. Republican lawmakers insist that they can't afford the raise that teachers are demanding.

So now what's the next step? That will be a legislative conference meeting, which likely means three-member teams from each chamber. And they have got to come to a middle ground, or one way or another, the House says five percent, the Senate says four, that's a difference of about $13 million. Where to find the money and who gets it?

Fred, this debate will continue, and until they find a meeting point, 300,000 kids are out of school.

WHITFIELD: That's significant.

All right. Kaylee Hartung, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

All right, still ahead, a critical election is taking place in Italy right now. Could former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the man sometimes called the original Donald Trump, ride a wave of anti- immigration sentiment to victory in parliament?


[16:26:20] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.

The American civil liberties union is starting a new push to keep the DACA discussion on the table. Tomorrow is the deadline President Trump initially set for action on Dreamers for the end of the DACA program, but that deadline isn't relevant anymore, because the U.S. Supreme Court rejected getting involved in this appeal and lower courts have held it up, waiting for decisions.

Meantime, that decision gives lawmakers more time to come up with permanent solutions. But with little-to-no movement in Congress, the permanent fate of the dreamers is still very much in limbo. Today, the ACLU launched a six-figure campaign to keep the issue up-front, using digital and TV advertising, as well as planning local protests.

CNN's Ana Cabrera sat down with some residents of El Paso, Texas, a flash point in the immigration debate.


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Does it upset you, Victor, personally, that Congress has not taken action on immigration?

VICTOR ERRVES, DACA RECIPIENT: It does not upset me. I actually do agree that there needs to be some security in some areas because some lives are in danger. But I come from the perspective that, you know, our parents came in here with permission. And we just overstayed. So we didn't cause any harm. We didn't threaten anybody. So we just came here in search of a better future, and that was it.

HANS SASSENFELD, EL PASO, TEXAS RESIDENT: My father-in-law came to the United States as part of the Prospero program. He is a farmer. He helped out in the farms. OK, so he did it the right way. And he tells a story about where he kept his money until he got $300, $400. He paid a lawyer in El Paso. They flew him to Mexico City. He got his green card and came over. And that's how my wife came over. But they did it the right way.

CONNIE VASQUEZ, EL PASO, TEXAS RESIDENT: And I understand that. But for the Dreamers, they didn't have a choice. You know, you have to follow your parents, and you have no say so whatsoever. You just have to follow your parents and that's it. And you are stuck with the situation whether you like it or not. And that's your case, correct?

V. ERRVES: Absolutely.

CABRERA: So should your parents still be here? I know they have recently gotten citizenship because you were able to sponsor them.


CABRERA: For a lot of people who are on the other side of the issue say that may not have been fair.

L. ERRVES: Well, I mean, my parents -- I mean, I'm sure you are aware, they are disabled. They are deaf. So it all goes back. They came to the United States because Mexico wasn't offering deaf people what they offer here in the United States as far as interpreters, free education for them. My parents came to America not knowing how to read or write because Mexico 3didn't offer that to them, you know.

So coming here, you know, they knew that there were all these benefits for people with disabilities. So then luckily, I was born, you know, and they thought, this is our daughter, this is our only hope. As soon as I turned 21, that's when I petitioned for both of them. And I feel like it is fair because I feel like they deserve it. My dad always paid taxes. You know, he always did the right thing. He never was in jail. He was never doing anything crazy, you know. And I'm speaking for my family, you know. I can't speak for the rest of the families, but I feel like as far as my parents, I was happy to petition for them because you deserve it. You were here as a Mexican, but we are acting like an American, with American dreams.

CABRERA: So now in your family, you are the only person who doesn't have citizenship?

V. ERRVES: Right.

CABRERA: Why couldn't you sponsor him?

V. ERRVES: Well, see, so she can. So that I fall in a different priority group. Like we are here, we agree, we are a nation of laws. I'm a law-abiding citizen in my own way. I'm going to school. I have no social assistance. I'm paying out of my own pocket.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Priority group. Like, we all agree, we're a nation of laws. And I am a law-abiding citizen in my own way. I am going to school. I have no social assistance. I am paying out of my own pocket. I have an occupation as a Spanish interpreter. I pay taxes. From the day I started working to as we speak, present day, I have been giving back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many immigrants are paying taxes and then they're not going to see the benefits of it, if you just deport them and that's it. That's not fair, either.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think if they pay taxes, they should be able to reap some of that. But they have to become citizens first.

CABRERA: But there are a lot of people now in this space where they are paying taxes, but they've been here and have been undocumented and so they don't have a pathway into the legal immigration system at this point. What are they to do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They always have a pathway into the legal system by applying. But as long as they don't apply, then they're going to be on the outside.

CABRERA: But the truth is it's not that simple.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's not simple. But I am saying.

CABRERA: We know it's not as simple as starting an application.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If that were true, DACA wouldn't be in this moment a topic. If there was an application for us young, you know, Americans to come in and become a U.S. citizen, we would have done it. We've exhausted all resources. Trust me, we're not just people who are twiddling our thumbs and waiting for Congress to do something.

CABRERA: What is going to happen with DACA? Nobody knows. The President made a self-imposed deadline of March 5th, which...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is here, basically.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A couple of days. Yeah, you know what, so, it comes back to that my future is uncertain, but I -- I -- this is why I am here. I lay my voice to the politicians and I tell them, whether it be immigration or what stance you have, you know, have some sympathy towards children who were brought here. That's all I ask. That's -- this is all we know.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN, HOST: All right. Thanks to Ana Cabrera with that roundtable conversation. We've got so much more straight ahead in the Newsroom.

But first, in two weeks, we begin a new season of CNN Heroes, everyday people changing the world. But where do we find these amazing individuals? Well, with your help. Meet the woman who successfully nominated her personal hero to be a CNN hero. And thanks to her sister, Teresa Fitzgerald, was honored for helping thousands of incarcerated women and their children a chance for a fresh start.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I met Sister Teresa at the correctional facility. It was through her love and her support that really helped me regain my life.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am happily a CNN hero, thanks to Juliana's brave recommendation of my credentials.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was like, oh, my goodness, for everything that she's done for me, I did something for her that no one else did, you know? So it felt really good.



WHITFIELD: All right. In just a few minutes from now, polls will close in Italy. And that's where one of Europe's most critical elections of the year is taking place, and the biggest issues on Italian voters' minds, a stagnant economy, rampant unemployment, and a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment, taking advantage of the political uneasiness, former Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi and his center- right coalition.

Joining me right now, live from Rome, CNN Senior International Correspondent, Ben Wedeman. There he is, Ben, any indication of how long it may take before we learn who wins?

BEN WEDEMAN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we'll start getting an idea in about 20 minutes when polls close and the first exit polls will start to be published. Because in Italy, it is against the law to publish exit polls until after voting has come to an end. What we do know so far is that the voting is higher, about 10 percent higher than during the last general election in 2013.

That would indicate that perhaps Berlusconi's party, Force Italia, might have something of an advantage, as well as the five-star movement, the anti-establishment group that was founded just a few years ago. We are at their party, where they're going to be celebrating, they think, victory, but what's clear is that no single party will be able to get 40 percent of the vote.

And therefore, some sort of coalition is inevitable. We have -- there is a coalition of the right, including Berlusconi's Force Italia, but political coalitions in Italy are even less than marriages of convenience. They're almost one-night stands. So the coalitions during the campaign can easily fall apart afterwards, when there is going to be a lot of horse trading, but what is clear is that there is a very strong populist, anti-establishment sentiment in this country, which really spans the political spectrum.

Italians are angry, for instance, that the Italian economy hasn't really grown much in the last quarter century. Per capita income is the same as it was 25 years ago, unemployment always above 10 percent. So many people feel that the establishment here, excuse me, has simply let them down.

[04:40:01] WHITFIELD: All right, Ben Wedeman, we'll leave it right there. We could hear you clearly, sorry we couldn't always see you clearly, but we got the gist. Appreciate it, from Rome.

Coming up, Florida lawmakers are considering significant changes to the state's gun laws, the controversial proposal now on the table in the wake of the deadly Parkland School shooting. That's next.


WHITFIELD: Florida lawmakers are working overtime this weekend as they feel pressure from both sides on the gun control debate after that school massacre in Parkland, Florida. Outside, the state capitol today, about a hundred people gathered for a pro-gun rally. Meantime, Florida lawmakers are set to vote on some gun restrictions and a voluntary plan to arm teachers.

CNN's Athena Jones joins us now from Florida's capital. So, what are these provisions in the bill that are under consideration?

[04:45:01] ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. Well, the bill the Senate is planning to vote on tomorrow would do several things. It would raise the age to purchase a firearm to 21 from 18 years old. It would require a three-day waiting period for gun purchases, with some exceptions. It would ban the sale or possession of bump fire stocks, that accessory that can make a semiautomatic weapon fire like an automatic weapon.

It would give law enforcement more power to seize weapons and ammunition from people deemed mentally unfit or otherwise a threat. And it would provide additional funding for armed school resource officers and for mental health services. Now, as we saw from the gun rights rally earlier this afternoon, you have a lot of Republicans who feel that the gun control measures that are a part of this bill go too far, but then you have Democrats who feel that they don't go far enough.

They wanted to see an assault weapons ban. That is what we're dealing with and that is part of what's in the bill that they plan to vote on in the Senate.

WHITFIELD: And Athena, tell us about this controversial so-called marshal program.

JONES: Right, that is, by far, the most controversial provision under debate. This is something that students and teachers and parents and Florida Governor Rick Scott have all said they oppose. The idea is for this marshal program, is that it would allow teachers and other school staff to carry weapons, as long as they undergo 144 hours of training.

That training would include 12 hours of diversity training, something that members of the Black Caucus wanted to see included in the bill. The program would be voluntary. The sheriff and the local school district would have to decide to implement it. And no teacher would be required to carry a weapon, but it's got a lot of pushback from people who are just concerned about the unintended consequences.

Concerned about teachers, you know, perhaps not having good aim or not being able to react well under pressure, or perhaps treating certain students, maybe minority students differently and perhaps causing them harm. There was a lot of debate on that measure in the Senate chamber during an eight-hour Saturday session, a rare Saturday session yesterday, and it remains an element that is going to get a lot of attention this week.

And we'll see if it ends up in the final bill. Indications from people I have spoken to on the house side, also controlled by Republicans are that it will remain in the bill. The question is whether Governor Scott will veto legislation that reaches him, if it includes this provision, that, we'll have to wait and see for that.

WHITFIELD: Athena Jones in Tallahassee, Florida, thank you so much. So with the national debate on guns, there have been a lot of discussions, many discussions about the AR15-style rifles. Weapons originally designed for the battlefield, but millions of AR15s are owned by Americans today. Some see the gun as a symbol of their Second Amendment rights.

But opponents say it's a weapon that just is too lethal to be sold. CNN's Gary Tuchman got a close-up look at the power of the AR15 and this is what he discovered.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is what an AR15 sounds like. General Mark Hertling served in the U.S. Army for 37 years, so he knows what the AR15, which used to be a weapon of war, can do. And he has strong feelings about the semi-automatic assault-style rifle, which is the precursor to a weapon currently used by the military, the M4.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The truth of the matter is, they look almost exactly the same.

TUCHMAN: So this is the M4, military rifle.


TUCHMAN: This is the AR15.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. A lot of people will buy this, just because it's cool and they want to appear like soldiers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're a gun collector or a gun aficionado, and you want an AR15, you can certainly buy one. And you should be able to buy one. The problem is when it gets into the hands of the wrong people.

TUCHMAN: Originally built for the battlefield, a defining characteristic of the AR15 is the speed and power of the bullet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, those are single shots. If I wanted to fire this on full semi-automatic, all I do is keep firing. Now, I won't probably hit the target when I do this, when we look at the target later on, but I am going to fire about five shots.

TUCHMAN: OK. It's a weapon designed to inflict maximum damage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have seen soldiers who have been hit by this weapon and enemies who have been hit by this weapon, where it will literally tear out the inside of the body. I saw one soldier who was hit in a fratricide incident in the shoulder and the round came out his ass.

TUCHMAN: The General shares the prevailing opinion of this Tampa gun shop we're visiting, that the Second Amendment is sacred. But there is a lot agreement this weapon is definitely not for every gun owner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In my personal opinion, you have to receive a whole lot of training to use this weapon, and this weapon in the wrong hands can be more dangerous than most weapons, because of its capability to do a lot of damage in a short period of time and be irreversible.

TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, Tampa.


[04:50:01] WHITFIELD: All right. Gary Tuchman and General Hertling, thanks so much for that. We'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: All right. We're just hours away from Hollywood's biggest night, the Oscar awards. And while the film industry's biggest stars will take center stage, the Me Too and Time's Up movement may steal some of that spotlight. CNN's Stephanie Elam joins us now live from the Red Carpet in Los Angeles, ever-so-ravishing. OK, Stephanie, so what are the messages that we're likely to hear?

[04:55:00] STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, think about it. This is the biggest night for the entertainment industry, Fred. So no doubt, what we've seen through the rest of award season is going to carry into this night. We will hear more about people likely we'll hear them while they're up giving speeches, maybe while they're here on the Red Carpet about me too, about times up.

You'll hear that play out in some form or fashion, I would expect, simply because there is been something we've seen in every other Red Carpet so far. And as you can see, the Red Carpet is closed off here right now. But the fans in the stands are very excited. The biggest cheer so far is for the police officers doing the sweep of the Red Carpet right here. So that's what you hear going on behind me.

WHITFIELD: Always fans of them, that's good. So what about Ryan Seacrest? There has been so much reported on these allegations involving him, yet he'll still be on the Red Carpet, working it for E Network. But is there also likelihood that he will be challenged about his positions? ELAM: That is the danger, I would say, of live TV. It could still

come up. Some people may decide skip altogether speaking to Ryan Seacrest, which would in some ways allow him to save face. But he has said that this did not happen. That he denied these allegations. There was an internal investigation at E and they found no wrongdoing, as well, so the network is standing behind him.

But because there is has been such a strong me too conversation leading through this year and up today, but he's not shying away from it and he's still expected to be here.

WHITFIELD: And the host, Jimmy Kimmel, he has been pretty aggressive on taking a stand for a variation of issues. But then for this evening, do we know anything about how he's going to approach being the host tonight?

ELAM: I would be shocked if Jimmy Kimmel stayed away from any kind of political statement. Now, granted, there is some internal business with the Hollywood industry right now with all that we've seen with these allegations of sexual impropriety and harassment. So I imagine there'll be some of that, but I would be surprised if he does not have some sort of political statement in there.

The goal would be to not have it overshadow all of the Oscars and the movies that are nominated. That will be the trick. Last year, he managed to tow that line somewhat. This year, I am not sure.

WHITFIELD: Keep us posted, Stephanie Elam, thank you so much.

Meantime, Saturday Night Live said their good-byes last night in a special SNL sendoff for White House Communications Director, Hope Hicks, who resigned this week and here, are the highlights from the farewell.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to say, I am a little surprised that you're here. I feel like I have never heard you speak.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, you haven't, because I haven't. I never had, never had to. No one's ever pressed me on it, like, the media has been so nice to me, like, insanely nice to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, why -- why do you think they have been so nice to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Um, well, if I had to guess, I would say because my hair and face are good, but you know what, also, honestly, I just like, I try to stay out of that whole arena, because like, ugh! Ugh, communications at the White House is just a mess.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, and your job was?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: White House Communications Director.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Working at the White House was like going to

summer camp, you know, you make all these new friends, you barely get any sleep, and then everybody leaves after eight weeks. Plus, there are tons of cute guys there, OK, and most are like classic bad boys, you know, just crazy haircuts and breaking the law and they've all hit a girl.

I really am going to miss all my friends from my semester abroad at the White House. So if you wouldn't mind, I kind of want to read a statement I prepared. To Kelly Anne, you taught me that a strong woman can run a campaign and win and you showed me what I could turn into if I stick around too long. You're like the human version of those pictures of black lungs on cigarette boxes.

To Donny, I will always be your Hopey, which is what you called me because you needed help because your big red tie touched the toilet water. And Donny, never forget our little inside joke, the meeting was about Russian adoption. He'll get that, you won't get that.


WHITFIELD: Oh, yikes. That SNL always taking risks, thanks for being with me today, I am Fredricka Whitfield. Newsroom with Ana Cabrera starts right now.

[05:00:01] CABRERA: You are in the CNN Newsroom. I am Ana Cabrera in New York. I hope you've had a wonderful weekend. First up this afternoon, the President uncensored, captured on a recording obtained by CNN slamming former President George W. Bush, attacking his own intelligence departments, and even saying this about the Chinese President's recent power grab.


DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Don't forget China's great, and Xi is a great gentlemen.