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Trump Jokes About Himself, Aides at Charity Event; Trump Hails China's Move to Drop Term Limits; Trump Jokes About Kushner's Security Clearance at Gridiron; Tight Race Unfolding in Deep-Red District; Oscars Ceremony Kicks Off Tonight; Baldwin Takes on White House Turmoil in "SNL" Skit. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired March 4, 2018 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:00] REP. TERRI SEWELL (D), ALABAMA: Now it's time to recommit and rededicate ourselves to the ideals of this pilgrimage.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: (AUDIO GAP) across the country are going to be gathering in Selma today to re-enact that famous walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in King's honor.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't forget China's great and Xi is a great gentleman. He's now president for life. Maybe we'll have to give that shot someday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a Chinese communist tyrant who he is admiring.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have now our sitting president openly amusing about wanting to become a dictator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are all beating us. China, Japan, Wakanda, OK? Wakanda. All right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wanted to tell a story one of the biggest stories I know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Get Out" has grossed $250 million worldwide and a best picture contender at the Academy Awards.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are still mostly going to put their money on either "Three Billboards" and "The Shape of Water".

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now the question is how will the academy awards address the surge in activism?


PAUL: Well, good morning to you on this Sunday. 7:01 is the time. Glad you're waking up with us. I'm Christi Paul.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Martin Savidge, in for Victor Blackwell.

PAUL: And we're talking about the president and the press, a little bit of policy and definitely some punch lines this morning. We're so glad to have you here. I am Christi Paul again.

And we want to talk about the president who is back in Washington this morning after he joined the journalist he loves to hate for the Annual Gridiron Club dinner last night. Among the jabs, he made some of his family, some of the administration, the president's remarks, though, touched on some of the major foreign policy obstacles he is facing.

SAVIDGE: CNN's Dan Merica is live in Washington.

Dan, how are you this morning?

DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Good morning. Yes, it was an interesting night.

As you see a side of the president at a dinner like this you don't regularly see. President Trump making self-deprecating comments at the Gridiron Dinner, a white tie event that brings together politicians and journalists for a bit of bipartisan ribbing and what President Trump showed is that he was in on a joke. He made jokes about his administration. He made jokes about himself and he even made jokes about his closest aides, advisers and family.

He said Steve Bannon, his former White House chief strategist, leaked more than the Titanic. He said Jared Kushner, who is his son-in-law and top adviser, couldn't get through security, a reference to the fact that his security clearance was downgraded over the last few weeks and even made jokes about First Lady Melania, who was in the audience, joking that people around him were asking who was going to leave first, Steven Miller, his speechwriter, or Melania, his wife. It's obviously a reference to reports and speculation that their marriage has soured over the last few months.

Now, earlier in the day, he's spoken to Republican event at his club in Florida where he made news of a different kind, public musing that he would like to do what Chinese President Xi Jinping of China did and get rid of term limits in his country. Take a listen to what he said.


TRUMP: Don't forget China's great and Xi is a great gentleman. He's now president for life. President for life. No, he's great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll have to give that a shot some day.


MERICA: Those comments drew criticism, as well as laughs. But it's all part of President Trump's affinity and love really for authoritarians while overlooking some of their human rights and other abuses -- Christi and Martin.

SAVIDGE: Yes, it's not the first time we have seen that. Thank you, Dan, very much.

PAUL: So, CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer is with us now, as well as CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd, and CNN international correspondent Will Ripley.

SAVIDGE: Will, we want to start off with you, because we're just following up on the comments the president made regarding China and its leadership there. You're there and you know very well that this is not a laughing matter.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And this is clearly, even though no official response from the Chinese government, they often don't respond to President Trump's off-the-cuff marks or tweets for that matter, but clearly, this has to be discouraging for the communist party and great discouraging for the many people in China who had hoped Xi Jinping would solidify the process of the peaceful transfer of power at the end of his second term, but instead, he is poised to grab the power to himself, potentially rule as president for life.

And this is a heavy handed authoritarian country where tomorrow, I'm going to be reporting from Tiananmen Square. There will be no protesters opposing China's abolition of term limits there because the government brutally cracks down on them. Even our own CNN feed here in China was blacked out earlier when I was reporting on CNN International by the Chinese censors. In fact, I'm looking and I'm blacked out right now as a result of our reporting about this.

[07:05:02] State media is censored. The social media is censored as well. People who post anything that is critical of Chinese government or critical of the abolition of term limits, they are also being -- they are not able to post words such as disagree or emperor, eluding to the fact that Xi Jinping might be China's next emperor.

So, clearly, to get the full back being of the president of the United States for such a controversial decision that goes against the fundamentals of democracy, very troubling for people on the ground here who had hoped to have the United States by their side and their push for more democracy in this country and not less.

PAUL: All righty. Hey, Will, thank you so much. I know we need to let you go. We appreciate it there.

Julian, I want to come to you with that. Your reaction, not only to what the president said in a joking manner last night, but to specifically these comments regarding Xi Jinping.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, like so many of his jokes, they have an edge. I think the joke has an edge. Obviously, if you're in China, if you would hear this joke, you wouldn't find it funny. It lends support to a regime which is doing the wrong thing.

And here in the United States, it has an edge because it's part of an ongoing story, ongoing series of messages we've heard throughout his administration about authoritarianism, about his disdain in some ways for free institution. So, a joke like that, when it comes from President Trump, is loaded and it comes in the context of all these other remarks we've heard from him.

SAVIDGE: Samantha, I want to bring you in because it wasn't just China that the president was talking about last night at this Gridiron event, which, of course, does have comedy mixed in. The president was talking about North Korea.

Here is the 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 denuke. You have to denuke. So, let's see what happens. Let's see what happens.

He then joked about I won't rule out direct talks with Kim Jong-un.

The question mark here is where did the joking end? Was it a joke at all? And what do we walk away from with that kind of comment? Because this is clearly a nation we're in conflict with.

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Certainly. And I definitely don't think joking about a country with nuclear weapons is particularly funny and the fact is we don't even know if it was public information or previously declassified that the North Koreans called.

Typically, in my experience, if the North Koreans reach out to talk about nuclear talks or coming to the negotiating table that is highly classified and you don't make a joke at about it at a Gridiron dinner but we'll have to -- we'll have to see. I think the real takeaway from this is, I can't keep track of our North Korea policy. It feels like every day, we're going back and forth between we are open to talking, we're not talking, there should be preconditions, there aren't preconditions.

And the most important thing that we can do right now from a national security perspective is have a coherent policy for a change and policy is not made at a Gridiron dinner. Policy is made when experts travel, let's say, to South Korea and have conversations with the head of South Korea, Japan, China, and others. Policy needs to be made in the Situation Room and not from the podium of the gridiron dinner.

PAUL: Julian, the president joked about the cast at the White House that a lot of people are talking about the last couple of weeks, actually, and his administration's turnover as well. He joked about who would be the next to leave, as we heard there from Dan Merica and that was the one point I thought did Melania Trump know that joke was coming, as in who is going to leave first? Steve Bannon or my wife Melania? What was your takeaway from that?

ZELIZER: Well, he just said what many people are thinking in terms of what is the state of this first person marriage after all the stories we have heard and how much of the turmoil in the White House is not simply about the personnel but about the family, itself? I can't imagine she enjoys a joke like that. I can't imagine she enjoys all of the stories she's had to sit through in the last few months coming from the administration about her husband.

But this is the state of the first family and so, we shouldn't be surprised to hear this kind of joke and we shouldn't be surprised to learn more about this kind of turmoil. This is the president we have and this is the state of the White House in 2018.

SAVIDGE: Yes, I think the question seems to be you worry that this is some kind of public humiliation at the same time of trying to be funny.

Sam, let me ask you this. The president also criticized former President George W. Bush yesterday. Listen.


TRUMP: That was Bush. Another real genius.

[07:10:06] That was Bush. Let's go into the Middle East. They have weapons of mass destruction. Well, that turned out to be wonderful intelligence. You know? Great intelligence agency there, too.


SAVIDGE: Actually, that seemed to be a twofer. He criticized President Bush and the national security institutions of this country.

As a former member, Sam, of the National Security Council, what do you think?

VINOGRAD: I think Monday morning quarterbacking isn't a national security strategy. Look, of course, there are things we that -- presidents think their predecessors could have done better. Everybody agrees that the intelligence on Iraq was faulty and I can remember many times when I was in the Situation Room when President Obama said, what could President Bush have done better on Iraq or Afghanistan?

But that didn't mean that President Obama didn't articulate a strategy and we have seen President Trump blame President Bush, blame President Obama for what's happening on Russia as a dodging mechanism for actually doing anything about the attack that we are currently under. And so, President Trump likes to blame everybody else rather than take action on these key ongoing attacks and national security threats.

PAUL: All righty. Julian Zelizer and Samantha Vinograd, we appreciate you being here. Thank you. Always good to talk to you.

SAVIDGE: Well, "The New York Times" is reporting this morning that Robert Mueller's probe is possibly broadening from Russian influence in the election to include the United Arab Emirates. The UAE allegedly funneled money to support Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign in a possible effort to influence the Trump administration.

PAUL: Now, the special counsel's team questioned businessman George Nader. Nader was an adviser to Abu Dhabi's crown prince and also a frequent visitor to the White House last year.

SAVIDGE: Well, there's a special election coming up in Pennsylvania, if you haven't heard in a district that Trump easily won, but so far, it hasn't been easy going for the Republican candidate. We'll take a look at what's ahead. PAUL: Also, President Trump joking, we just talked about some of what

he joked about, but also he joked about his son-in-law's security clearance being downgraded. What he said about Jared Kushner?

SAVIDGE: Also, Alec Baldwin is back again at "SNL", reprising his role as President Trump. He's talking about the latest round of resignations.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both of the people here are great, except Jeff Sessions. He needs to go. I call him Mr. Magoo. Everyone around here loves it. People say stop, I can't take it any more, I resign.



[07:16:45] SAVIDGE: President Trump was laying on self-deprecating humor with journalists last night, kicking off with a jab at his son- in-law saying, quote, before I get started, I want to apologizes for arriving a little bit late. You know, we're late tonight because Jared could not get through security. I thought that was one of his funnier lines.

PAUL: It was good. Kushner, remember, has had some trouble with getting security clearance and now, there are reports of his family business received loans after he met with a private equity billionaire, meaning in his role as a senior adviser to the president.

So we want to bring in Ken Kurson. He's a former editor in chief of "The New York Observer", also a long time friend of Jared Kushner.

SAVIDGE: Ken, thanks for being with us.


SAVIDGE: It's been a rough week for Mr. Kushner and having a security clearance downgraded is one of those issues, his finances are being probed after he met with billionaires from a private equity firm and Citibank. And both of those companies have loaned money to Kushner's company.

I'm wondering all of this talk, what's your allegations? You know the man well.

KURSON: Yes. I mean, everything is being probed. Everything is being looked at. Jared has cooperated willingly, fully, transparently throughout. And I think in a couple of months we are going look back and say he came through it.

Yes, it's taking a long time. There's a big backlog. I would say Jared has got a more complicated financial picture than most people in the White House. He's done a lot for a young guy. But this is much to do about nothing. He has cooperated every time.

The idea that some loans have been made after he met with people, this is ridiculous. The whole point he is recused himself from the family's business. He doesn't know who they are meeting with so, of course, he meets with businessmen in the course of doing his job. This is just a lot of smoke and no fire.

PAUL: There are four countries, Mexico, Israeli, United Arab Emirates, and China who had discussions regarding how Kushner could be used for their political leverage. They believe that they can influence him by taking advantage of vulnerabilities in his business. Is there a vulnerability there for him to be manipulated?

KURSON: No. If you knew him, you would know that it's impossible to manipulate him. And they should have those discussions. We should be having discussions about how we can manipulate other countries to our goals. It's the job of other countries to do the best they can to advocate for their positions. And it's our job to put in place people who are difficult or impossible to manipulate.

This is -- this intense attention that gets paid to Jared is quite ridiculous, frankly. There is a story in "Axios", a five-part play on Jared's destruction. "The New York Times" the next day ran a three- part editorial on the downfall of Jared.

It's ludicrous. This guy has survived and survived and survived where no one else has and the reason he has is he because he stays focused on work. The reason you're talking to me and not Jared is because he is focused on results and getting the best outcomes for America, and he lets others do the jousting in the media.

SAVIDGE: We would much prefer to talk to Jared and we do get. And we do appreciate that you --

PAUL: Not that we don't appreciate you, Ken!

SAVIDGE: We want to, obviously, not everyone agrees with your point of view and that includes, you know, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

[07:20:05] Let me just play you this sound bite from him as he should talk about the issue of nepotism.


JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It just illustrates the problem of nepotism. You can't treat your relatives like they are regular employees. And this crazy round-about way of trying to get rid of them, I mean, it's just -- you know, in keeping with the surreal nature of this whole White House.


SAVIDGE: Is it perhaps that Jared is, you know, too much now damaged goods, I think, and perhaps he should just consider stepping aside and going back to private life and that all would be best for the White House and this administration?

KURSON: No way. Jared is doing a fantastic job for the people of this country and if Jeffrey Toobin was around giving his opinions on CNN in the '60s, he would have been lauding how important that President Kennedy had his brother there to trust.

And, you know, Just this past week, we had a big scandal in New York City where the mayor hired a school's chancellor and the guy quit less than an hour after he accepted the job or something like that. It was revealed that it was really his wife who had done most of the interviewing and hiring. And everyone thinks that is fantastic, he cooperates with his family the people he trusts.

The president needs to have people around him when he trusts. He relies on these people. They are qualified. They have done important, amazing things, and the president benefits from their advice and as long as he does keep them around.

SAVIDGE: Has he expressed to you in any way thoughts of perhaps just going back to private life? I saw an associate of his that did just that and I was wondering if that is a precursor to his announcement?

KURSON: Not once, not one time.

SAVIDGE: OK. I want to play something for you from General Michael Hayden, former NSA director. He said, when you're deciding on security clearances, there are two specific things you consider. One is character and one is circumstance. Let's listen.


GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: It's circumstance, all right? There are some people of good character who, because of their circumstances, would choose not to entrust with classified information. That could be too many family members in the old country, that could be excessive debt, that could be complex international financial arrangement.

I think it's important to point out here. We are not looking for guilt here. All right? We are just looking as to whether or not this person should or should not have access to information.


PAUL: Jared is tasked with some pretty important things in terms of communicating and being liaison with Mexico and with his work with Israeli. So I'm wondering when you talk they are examining, if somebody has excessive debt or somebody has complex international financial arrangements, he falls in those categories certainly. Should he have access to the security clearance and can he do the job without it?

KURSON: Well, I'm not an expert on security clearances and what makes someone eligible for one. But the general talked about circumstance and character, so I can't really speak to the circumstances but I can speak to the character. Jared's character is impeccable. I happen to think it's a point in

his strong favor that he doesn't get on TV all the time and defend himself and do the "60 Minutes", you know, close-up interview. He just focuses on his job. This week he's in Las Vegas giving an important speech about interoperability of the Veterans Administration.

This is like the hard, sometimes boring work of government that he is really dug in, gotten his hands dirty and is getting results.

PAUL: All righty. One quick question. He is frustrated? We keep hearing about the frustration in the White House. He is one that is frustrated?

KURSON: You know what? I think I'm frustrated that people who love this guy are frustrated. It's not pleasant to see someone, you know, getting attacked day after day. But Jared is like a optimistic guy and always thinks the next day is going to be better than today and he is focused on his work.

PAUL: All righty. Ken Kurson, we appreciate you being here. Thanks.

SAVIDGE: Thank you.

KURSON: Thank you.

PAUL: Sure.

And be sure to watch "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper today. Governor John Kasich is on the show. That is "STATE OF THE UNION" this morning, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

SAVIDGE: A Democrat is running a close race in a Pennsylvania special election and it's in a district Donald Trump won by 20 points. What does that mean for the midterms coming up?

PAUL: And Hollywood is rolling out the red carpet for its biggest night tonight at the Oscars. The Time's Up and Me Too Movements could dominate a lot of the broadcast. We're going to talk about that in a moment.


[07:28:55] PAUL: Twenty-eight minutes past the hour. You're up early. We're glad for it. I'm Christi Paul.

SAVIDGE: And I'm Martin Savidge, in for Victor Blackwell.

PAUL: So, if dollars were votes, a deep red Pennsylvania House seat would now be in Democratic hands. In the most recent filings with the special election still ahead, Democrat Conor Lamb outraised Republican Rick Saccone $3.3 million to $700,000 and that's in a district Donald Trump won by 20 points.

CNN's contributor Salena Zito is with us right now. She's a reporter at the "Washington Examiner." Salena, thank you so much for being with us. We certainly appreciate



PAUL: Is the -- are the numbers we just read, are they any indication what have may happen in this election on March 13th?

ZITO: Not really. This race is sort of jump-balled. They're -- it could either way. A lot of Conor Lamb's money has come from the outside. Democrats are very energized across the country and a lot of these sort of outside groups are encouraging people to make small donations.

[07:30:01] So that has helped him a lot. You know, I think the most interesting thing in this race is, the person that's at center of it is Nancy Pelosi, not Donald Trump. Both gentlemen are running against her.

Conor Lamb is a very moderate Democrat. In probably any other district, he would be a moderate Republican. So, it's kind of fascinating to watch. Either man could win.

We have Joe Biden. I have lived here in the district. We have Joe Biden coming here on Monday and I believe tentatively, President Trump is planning to be here at the end of the week.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Let me raise this issue. Rick Saccone's campaign says that he supports, of course, President Trump's new tariffs and I'm wondering is there a kind of sense that the president's announcement of tariffs on steel and aluminum were made in part, say, to directly boost the GOP candidate in the district?

ZITO: Maybe. I'm not positive. It's not a district that the tariffs would necessarily benefit. Most of the industry around here is either health care or the shale industry. The coal industry around and steel industry in this district is pretty much gone.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: A state writer says Democrats can't draw much from a win here because their candidate in this race might come out -- I mean, might have come out of a lab, they say. We know he is a marine veteran and he talks about Jesus. He goes to gun shows.

He's a fan of fracking and not of Nancy Pelosi, as you mentioned. He's personally against abortion but for a woman's right to choose. He's in favor of tougher background checks but isn't ready to ban assault weapons.

All of that obviously would play well to voters in a specific district. But expand a little more on what kind of impact a Lamb win would really have once you get to Washington and to say even a country voting?

ZITO: Well, he would very reminiscent of the candidates that won for the Democrats in 2006. They were pretty moderate. They are pro-gun. Many of them were pro-life. And, you know, they won in a big wave in 2006 in swing districts just like the one that I live in, in the Pennsylvania 18th.

You know, their struggle is how far left their party then goes if they win the majority. So, that's what happened to them. By 2010, they were -- they were pretty much wiped out.

It's interesting to me in this specific race, in this district, Conor Lamb is the perfect fit but he's not the perfect fit for every district. I mean, it's like having two Republicans run in the same -- it's almost like --

PAUL: Yes, that's my question, real quickly. If Conor Lamb wins, is it really a loss for Republicans?

ZITO: No. If he remains independent, no, because that means that he could be a vote that they could possibly count on important issues that he stands for, such as no gun control.

PAUL: All righty. Salena Zito, we appreciate your insight so much.

ZITO: Thank you for having me.

PAUL: Thank you for being here.

SAVIDGE: Still to come this morning, the red carpet, the fashion, the speeches, the Oscars kick off tonight, but there will be drama and it won't all be on the stage. We will discuss how the Time's Up and Me Too Movements are stirring up Hollywood's biggest night.


[07:38:10] PAUL: All right. For those having a party tonight, you know, to watch Hollywood's biggest night, the 90th Annual Academy Awards. This is a show that's going to honor the best in film and TV. This year's nominees are as diverse as ever.

No apparently clear front-runner for best picture necessarily. There are several films that have already won at other recent award ceremonies which kind of clouds what they think might happen tonight.

But I want to bring in CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas.

Chloe, always good to see you.

Tell us about the Time's Up and Me Too Movement. They are going to have a strong platform there tonight and there are questions about whether that may dominate the evening.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: You know, this is the first Academy Awards since this Me Too, Time's Up Movement have sprung up and many are calling a national reckoning. We're not going to see all black dresses. We will see some Time's Up pins.

But, you know, Ava DuVernay, the director has come out and she has said they are, quote, standing down at the awards show this year that they don't want to make every single red carpet in Hollywood about Time's Up, but they want to be strategic going forward. I actually went to Washington, D.C. earlier this week and I spoke to

Tina Tchen, Michelle Obama's former chief of staff who is heading up this legal defense fund and she said that they have had thousands of requests for help, but that they have raised some money but it's still not enough.

SAVIDGE: Let me --


TINA TCHEN, CO-FOUNDER, TIME'S UP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: We recruited lawyers and a lot of these lawyers and public relations professionals are going to do this work pro bono and continue to represent people for free, but we also know the need is great and not every lawyer can afford to give free legal services away. Anybody who has been involved in court cases and litigation knows that $21 million dollars, as much as that is, isn't enough, and especially as we are getting thousands of requests for help.


[07:40:01] MELAS: You know, they have also told me they have already taken on 1,000 cases, which is absolutely incredible.

SAVIDGE: It is. Yes. One more sort of news element before we move into the sort of getting your best thoughts on who is going to win.

Ryan Seacrest, he's embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal of his own. He's going to be on the red carpet. How do you think that's going to play on?

MELAS: You know, I've been talking with his team. They say Ryan is upset this story is making headlines again. His former stylist making accusations of sexual misconduct that took place years ago and he vehemently denies and he wrote an essay about it in the "Hollywood Reporter". But, you know, I'm being told by E! that they are standing by him and that Ryan is just taking like any other award show.

Now, I did talk to a few Hollywood publicists who said that their clients are just going to skip Ryan altogether tonight because there's a lot of other outlets to talk to. And again it's live TV. Anything could happen. Some people could definitely confront him live on television and ask him about these allegations point blank.

PAUL: Yes, that's a -- I think a lot of people are wondering if that's going to happen. I want to get your predictions in here real quickly. Best picture.

MELAS: "Shape of Water." I watched it again last night. It's a beautiful movie about a janitor that falls in love with a super human creature. Octavia Spencer is in it. It's directed by Guillermo del Toro.

Now, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," do not count that movie out. That is a dark horse tonight and it has won many awards so far this awards season, so possibly it will be a race between those two films.

SAVIDGE: Yes, they are -- I mean, I've seen both of those films. "Shape of Water" is beautiful. It's a wonderfully done movie and great characters in it as well.

I'm wondering, you know, one of those I watched, not a best picture or anything like "I, Tonya", do you think that has a chance, not a best picture or anything like that, but, you know, best supporting actress that kind of role?

MELAS: You know, "I, Tonya" is a wonderful film. You know, you had so many great actresses in that movie but, obviously, Allison Janney who actually just won an Independent Spirit Award last night for that film.

Frances McDormand, though many people are talking about her to win lead actress tonight for her role in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri", when you look at that though the lead actor category, let me just point this out real quickly that many people are saying that "Darkest Hour" star Gary Oldman has a chance to win and so many people are saying -- but Timothee Chalamet did win last night at Independent Spirit Awards, which are annually held every single year the night before the Oscars.

So, you know, anything is possible. All of the award shows, forget about all of those previous winners though because there are no indication of who is going to win tonight. The Academy, they're their own thing.

PAUL: They used to be but I feel any more you're not sure.

MELAS: All bets are off.

PAUL: All right. Hey, Chloe Melas, we appreciate your insight. And have fun tonight. I know you will.

MELAS: Thank you.

SAVIDGE: Still ahead, Alec Baldwin reprises his role as President Trump on "SNL" with his take on what will make America great again.


ALEC BALDWIN AS PRESIDENT TRUMP: They are all beating us. China, Japan. Wakanda. OK? Wakanda is laughing at us, right? They have got flying cars. People in Wakanda.




[07:47:50] BALDWIN: I said I was going to run this country like a business. That that business is a waffle house at 2:00 a.m.! Crazies everywhere and staff walking out in the middle of their shift

and managers taking money out of the cash register to pay off the Russian mob!


SAVIDGE: It's funny. I was driving by waffle house around 2:00 a.m. this morning. So it really rings funny.

PAUL: I know. I know. We are surrendered by waffle houses down here and we surrounded by waffle houses down here in Atlanta. Hit a nerve. Good one.

Alec Baldwin reprising his role on "SNL" and taking aim at President Trump after a wild week, let's face it.

SAVIDGE: Yes, the cast poked fun at Trump's policy changes, the Russian investigation and the sudden departure of White House communications director Hope Hicks.

PAUL: Yes. So, let's bring in CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES", Brian Stelter.

I usually try not to laugh and I'm trying to be composed but I couldn't hold it in on that one.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: You're making me hungry with the waffle house talk.

SAVIDGE: Do you have waffle houses up in New York? I wonder how they knew about that.

STELTER: Not many in New York but I've had my share of waffle house trips when I'm on the road.

PAUL: There you go, Brian.

STELTER: I was curious about this episode because of that Alec Baldwin and Donald Trump back and forth the other day. First, the president misspelled Alec Baldwin's name as Alex and then he followed up, complained about Baldwin's mediocre performance on "SNL." So, I was curious if Baldwin would be there last night given that Baldwin is still recovering from hip surgery.

But sure enough, there he was. He didn't really address the tweets but a bunch of jokes about the week's news.

Here is a clip actually of Baldwin playing Trump, talking about the tariff story, also referring to the new movie "Black Panther."


BALDWIN: They are all beating up, Chinese, Japan, Wakanda. OK? Wakanda is laughing at us, right? They've got flying cars people in Wakanda. I announce the steel and aluminum tariffs and people are going nuts

about it. I brought back the steel industry by destroying the auto industry and taking the stock market, impressive.


[07:50:06] STELTER: There you go, Baldwin as Trump there, talking about the tariffs.

And also, in that same quote open, we saw the reappearance of Kate McKinnon playing Jeff Sessions. Remember, a year ago, there was also the controversy about "SNL" having a female play these male Trump characters, the people in Trump's cabinet. Well, here's Kate McKinnon as Sessions on "SNL".


BALDWIN: All the people here are great except Sessions, he needs to go. I call him Mr. Magoo, everyone loves it. People around here in the White House say, stop I'm laughing so hard. I can't take it anymore. I resign.

KATE MCKINNON AS JEFF SESSIONS: That's very funny, Mr. President. But I'm not going anywhere. I'm like skunk stink on the bird dog, sir, I linger. And I just had dinner with all your friends at the department of justice and, wow, your name popped up more than weasel in a pumpkin patch. That's right, Mr. President. You can't bully me, any more. For the first time I'm standing up on my own hind legs, OK?


STELTER: I don't know who that's worst for as an impersonation. I don't know what's worse for, Sessions or Trump? Maybe that's the rare issue the two of them can bond over given all the tension between the president and the AG.

It also came up with a Gridiron Dinner last night, by the way. Trump was poking fun in some way at that relationship with Sessions. He said he offered Sessions a ride to the dinner and Sessions recused himself, of course. Getting at that issue Trump's out for a while.

SAVIDGE: Right. You know, we talked about this before, but the ability of "SNL" to quickly capitalize, work into a comedy skit events that have taken place a day before in this administration. They have to be so incredibly flexible.

STELTER: Right. Normally, these shows get to work on Tuesday or Wednesday, starting to work on skits for the weekend. In past years you could have it planned by Friday. In the Trump administration, in the Trump age, these writers are rewriting jokes and coming up with new approaches all week long and right straight through Saturday evening.

I know you all played a clip of the Hope Hicks impersonation, the Hope Hicks spoof earlier. You know, these cut to the core in some cases of what's going on with the White House. These are obviously insulting in some cases to White House aides. I think some Trump loyalists look at this show and they really cringe the same a the president himself was complaining about Baldwin.

And yet for the other side of the America, half of America that is concerned about all the chaos in the White House, these shows sometimes are able to express it in a very visceral way.

I looked to that Hicks thing and thought she must hate that. She's so press shy. And there is she is being lampooned on "SNL".

PAUL: Yes, that can't be busy. I got to tell you, the Jeff Sessions -- Kate McKinnon is so brilliant gives me the complete heebie-jeebies in that costume. I don't know what it is. If she came up over my shoulder (INAUDIBLE)

All right. Brian Stelter, we appreciate it so much. Thank you, sir.

STELTER: Thanks.

SAVIDGE: Be sure to catch you can Brian Stelter, too, on "RELIABLE SOURCES". That will be at 11:00 a.m. Eastern today, right here, of course, on CNN.

PAUL: Yes. And coming up at the top of hour, John King is here with "INSIDE POLITICS", taking a closer look at politics why the president seems to be more lonely and isolated than ever, staff in chaos and policy misfires are plaguing his administration.

We'll be right back.


[07:57:57] PAUL: This week's "Staying Well" looks at a different way of using massage to remove stress. This is a technique done in a heated pool and takes relaxation to a whole new level.


MARY JANE ORESIK, TECHNICAL CONSULTANT: I'm getting massage much like is on a table. My body relaxes and it's just a blissful feeling. She's working my neck and shoulders.

CRYSTAL SPICER, MASSAGE THERAPIST: You're floating on the surface of the water. It's cradling you. It's like being weightless. It's antigravity.

As I move the person through the water, my goal is to get them relaxed first and foremost. So, in order to that I might balance the entire system with acupressure. I'm providing pressure to relieve pressure. We do have to have a water at a specific temperature, between 92 and 98 degrees.

That facilities the muscles relaxing and everything moves a lot better. We see people who are not the very agile on land and when they get into the water, they're able to move more freely. ORESIK: My level pain is at sometimes at a level five coming into it,

and when I walked out, I'm not aware of it. That feeling could last for a few days. And it's just me into a gentler, quieter place. How can it get any better than this?


PAUL: All righty. So, we want to show you some pictures here of something that's coming into us from London right now. Look at this, march for women. This is at Trafalgar Square. We've seen a lot of times up signs. We see it, together, we're braver. We've seen a lot of times that sign as well.

And interesting, as I said, this is coming before International Women's Day, but also as the Oscars are tonight, the Time's Up Movement, it should be present there.

SAVIDGE: And the demonstration, of course, this is just not something that's an issue in the United States. This is an issue that is resonating with women and people all around the world and London, England, is justify one example this morning.

PAUL: No doubt about it. We are so grateful that you spend some time with us every morning. It makes a little better.

I'm Christi Paul, thanks for being here. Make some good memories today.

SAVIDGE: It's been a pleasure too.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now. Have a good day.