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CNN NEWSROOM

Stormy Daniels Discusses Current Career During Controversy Over Alleged Affair with President Trump; President Trump to Visit Pennsylvania to Campaign for Republican Candidate in Special Election; New Exemptions for Countries from U.S. Steel and Aluminum Tariffs Announced; President Trump Agrees to Meet with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un; Gunman Kills Three in Veterans' Home in California; Department of Justice Sues California over Sanctuary Laws; New CNN Special Profiles Pope Francis. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired March 10, 2018 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again and thanks so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in New York today. We are following new developments in the saga that continues to loom over the White House, the payoff of Stormy Daniels. President Trump's lawyer now facing questions after taking out a home equity loan to help keep the porn star quiet over an alleged affair. CNN has also learned that Michael Cohen, the attorney, used his official Trump Organization e-mail address and signature to handle the matter. The adult film star tells CNN exclusively that the controversy is helping her career.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STORMY DANIELS: I think it's pretty clear that with the new developments comes new interest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: This all comes as President Trump prepares to hit the campaign trail later on today. He will be stumping for a Pennsylvania Republican who is in danger of losing a district the president carried by 20 points. CNN's Boris Sanchez is at the White House. So Boris, this is a controversy that has real staying power.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is right, Fred. For the White House this is a story that is simply not going to go away. The Stormy Daniels' saga continuing amid these revelations about Michael Cohen, the presidents' attorney, and his private use of the Trump Organization e-mail for private matters, I should say. Cohen again maintaining that the president did not know that he was taking these actions, that he was taking part in this nondisclosure agreement with Stormy Daniels, maintaining that he paid for this personally, and saying essentially that his use of Trump Organization e-mail had nothing to do with his activities on behalf of President Trump.

Here is a statement from Cohen, he writes, quote "The use of my company e-mail to communicate with the bank and Mrs. Clifford's former counsel proves absolutely nothing despite the less than convincing comments offered by Mr. Avenatti." That's Stephanie Clifford's attorney. "I use this email address for virtually everything as many people do."

It's still doesn't really answer the question about one exchange that Michael Cohen had an e-mail with Stephanie Clifford's counsel in which he says that he can't expedite a payment because the Trump Organization offices were closed for holiday. From the White House perspective, as I noted before, this is a story that they are not really discussing. Sarah Sanders, the press secretary, has said that she has clarified enough despite these new questions about Michael Cohen. Listen to one exchange that Sarah Sanders had earlier in the week, Fred.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stepping to the podium, you have acknowledged that the president, to follow up on April's question, knows about the arbitration about Stormy Daniels. So does he remember speaking with his lawyer about that? Does he remember meeting Daniels?

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I've addressed this extensively. I don't have anything else to add. Sorry, one last question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Now something that is very telling that we have to point out, Fred, the president has tweeted just about everything in the eyes of many, even within his own administration at times crossing the line. He has not yet tweeted about the Stormy Daniels' controversy, something that has now been in the headlines for several weeks. He is tweeting, however, about his trip to Pennsylvania later today. Here is that tweet now. He writes, quote, "Heading to Moon Township, Pennsylvania, to be a really good person, State Representative Rick Saccone, who is running for Congress. Big and happy crowd. Why not? Some of the best economic news ever. Rick will help me a lot, also tough on crime and border, loves the Second Amendment and veterans."

The president is heading to campaign for Saccone in that 18th district of Pennsylvania. Republican strategists have told CNN privately that they are worried about this seat, that this could be a bellwether for Republicans moving forward. Keep in mind, President Trump won district 18 by 20 points in the 2016 election, but because of swirling controversies whether about Stormy Daniels or turnover here at the White House, the Russia investigation, the wind isn't really behind the Republicans, and it may spell an indication of what they will see later in November, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez, thank you so much at the White House.

Stormy Daniels meantime is a woman in demand right now. CNN's Nick Valencia talked to her exclusively last night in Florida where she was making an appearance, and Nick joins us now from Fort Lauderdale with more on what she had to say. NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We didn't expect to hear from her

last night, Fredricka. In fact we were told that she wouldn't be getting any interviews at all throughout the night, to not even bother asking. But throughout the night we managed to build some trust with her team, with her assistant specifically, and they felt comfortable enough with us after her performance. They agreed to an audio only interview, they did not want to go on camera inside of the strip club, but they also said they did not want to talk about any pending litigation, and she would talk to us so long as we did not talk about President Trump. I did, however, ask her how this whole ordeal surrounding her has affected her career.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VALENCIA: So what has this done for your career?

STORMY DANIELS: It's sort of been a double-edged sword where a lot of people are very interested in booking me for dancing and stuff like that. So I'm getting more dance bookings. I usually only dance once a month and now I'm dancing three or four times a month. So that's been really great. But because of that, it's sort of overshadowing a lot of the adult film that's I'm supposed to be promoting. And a lot of the mainstream projects that I was actively working on have been indefinitely put on hold.

VALENCIA: But this is a little different, though. Has some of it been hurtful at all? What's your reaction then to it?

DANIELS: Stuff that bothers me is the flat out lies, like people randomly making up stuff.

VALENCIA: Like what?

DANIELS: Like that I'm broke. I've one of the most successful adult movie directors in the business. I have a contract that has been in place for several years. And actually I just renegotiated and got a new contract that was already the terms were already set before this stuff happened. And I have a huge -- I got a raise. So I'm doing just fine.

VALENCIA: What do you think about like the circus that's happening? I mean this was out in 2011 but now it's like a renewed attention on you and somebody else that we'll not name.

DANIELS: I think it's pretty clear with the new developments comes new interest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VALENCIA: Some pretty direct comments there from Stephanie Clifford who goes by the porn name Stormy Daniels. I did manage to ask her if she had any comments for President Donald Trump. She just mouthed the word "no." We did just also see her having fun, Fredricka. She was enjoying herself, enjoying the moment. She has two other performances scheduled here tonight at the same strip club behind me. A lot of people were very excited to see her in person. Fredricka? WHITFIELD: And so a lot of people had come a long way, it had been

heavily advertised. Tell me a little bit about the scene that this has become a big attraction.

VALENCIA: It has become a big attraction, that is a perfect way to put it. In fact, we talked to somebody who flew as far away as Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas, a man who told me he was a history teacher and he wanted to be here to witness what he called history. He said he was here to watch her. Other people I talked to said they traveled as far away as northern Florida just to see her dance.

It is about 200 people inside, and, you know, there was a buzz about the crowd inside, the atmosphere was very electric. She had a very revealing performance, I should say, and she left the fans clapping. There was a lot of money thrown around, and she was happy by the end of the night. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: But in the end, a history lesson. Nick Valencia with the history professor.

VALENCIA: Somewhat.

(LAUGHTER)

WHITFIELD: All right, now I have to seriously go on. All right, thanks a lot, Nick Valencia, appreciate that in Fort Lauderdale.

OK, and let's talk about this with my panel now. Joining me now Dave Jacobson, a CNN political commentator and a Democratic strategist, John Thomas is a CNN commentator and a Republican strategist, and Areva Martin is a CNN legal analyst and author of "Make It Rain." Good to see you all. Congratulations on the book, Areva. So what are the possible implications of the president's attorney using a work e-mail address, conducing these negotiations and now even saying he used his own home equity line of credit to make this payment of $130,000 to Stormy Daniels?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the big issue here, Fred, is whether federal election laws were violated with respect to this payment. We know the payment was made 11 days before the election, and the big question is was the payment made to prevent this is salacious story from coming out or was it made to advance the president to help him win this election.

We saw John Edwards was prosecuted for something very similar to this when supporters of his paid off his mistress to keep the story of him and the mistress out of the press as he was running for president. So there are lots of questions about what the president knew, and this new information that the attorney used the work e-mail, and in fact here is an e-mail that says that the Trump Organization is closed which is somehow impairing his ability to negotiate raises serious questions about whether we are getting the truth from this White House when they say the president had no knowledge of this negotiated settlement to keep Stormy Daniels quiet.

WHITFIELD: So how does the FEC go about looking into whether that transaction had something to do with campaign money, whether he was reimbursed and campaign money used. Nobody has said any of that publicly, but if we're talking about trying to distinguish whether campaign money was used, how will that be discovered. And the attorney for Stormy Daniels even challenges the Treasury Department, even the president can get to the bottom of this SAR, suspicious activity report as a result of this large transaction. So help us navigate all that.

MARTIN: Well, we know that there have already been complaints filed with the Federal Elections Commission, and the question now is how far will they go? This is a Republican led House, Senate and White House, so we don't know if they are going if going to the limits in terms of investigating this. But they have tremendous power. They can subpoena the records. We can find out the entire e-mail chain that was happening between Michael Cohen and the former attorney for Stormy Daniels. We can find out whether that money actually from the home equity line as Mr. Trump's personal attorney is now claiming.

He is giving us the bits and pieces of information, and it is like, drip, drip, drip. But we haven't had access to this entire story, and there seems to be so much more to this story than what is being told to us. So the subpoena power is one way that we can find the records and the documents and really put this story together.

WHITFIELD: So, Dave, of all of this, what is likely to be the most interesting to the special counsel, Mueller's team?

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think everything. The question is, was there an illegal in kind contribution by Michael Cohen if perhaps he didn't get reimbursed by Donald Trump, or if Donald Trump did cut a check whether through his campaign or personally, why wasn't it listed on the campaign expenditure reports, because either way it is an egregious violation of the federal election law and should be explored by every which way by Bob Mueller. And so I think this is just more political fodder. The Democrats are going to capitalize on this. This is one of the many reasons why Pennsylvania 18 special elections that is coming up on Tuesday is competitive. This is a district that Donald Trump won by 20 points, and now Democrats are within striking distance.

WHITFIELD: So let's shift gears quite a bit here, John, because today former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is back in the arena now, and he was in the gathering for a rightwing French national party overseas. Take a listen to what was said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: Let them call you racist. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor, because every day we get stronger and they get weaker.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So in between that translation I think the message was very clear John. So that is quite the message. What does this mean for the White House? Is it a reflection of the White House even though he is former strategist, it is difficult to put some distance between the strategist, the message, and the White House, is it not?

JOHN THOMAS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think President Trump pretty openly separated himself when he got to in a spat with Steve Bannon. But look, Steve's points are not incorrect. As a Republican that runs elections we're routinely called racists and every name under the sun. I think Steve's point, I didn't see the whole clip, but Steve's point I would imagine is that while they are distracted calling you a racist and a xenophobe we are talking about the issues that voters care about, like the economy, like taking care of our vets. And you have got to stay focused and not get distracted with the sideshow of calling people names.

WHITFIELD: Dave, is that how you see it?

JACOBSON: No. This is no different from the rhetoric that we saw from Steve Bannon and Donald Trump in the 2016 campaign. He is a carbon copy of the Steve Bannon we saw just a year-and-a-half ago and a carbon copy of the Steve Bannon that we saw in the White House. He is a racist as President Trump. And that is why Donald Trump has been president for a year and a half and has not been able to unify this country and move us forward. He is moving us backwards by exploiting the racism in this country.

THOMAS: And Dave is making my point exactly. If I had a nickel for every time a Democrat called me a racist, I would be a very wealthy man on that alone. But Republicans have to stay focused on message, and every time you get called a racist or a homophobe or some other kind of name, it has the ability to take us off message. And it is very tempting to go and defend ourselves because those accusations are terrible.

JACOBSON: But they're factual.

WHITFIELD: But some of the language was born from very specific events as opposed to a blanket statement about all conservatives and all Republicans. And I know Areva we invited you to be the legal mind on the Stormy Daniels, but would you like to weigh in on this as well?

MARTIN: Yes. I listened to that clip, Fred, and we did not hear the entire clip, but the Bannon says wear those names as a badge of honor. He did not say don't get distracted when the Democrats or people call you a racist or xenophobe. He said wear it as badge of honor, and I think that is the problem we are seeing with this president, they do wear it as a badge of honor, and it is not just the words. It's the actions that support the words that have caused the division in the country which has caused the regression that we've seen with respect to civil rights and social justice issues. So it is not just the words, John, it is the actions of this president, it's the actions of Justice Department under Jeff Sessions that has this country so divided along racial lines.

WHITFIELD: We will leave it there. Areva, Martin, John Martin -- sorry, I have got you guys together, now John Thomas, and Dave Jacobson, but we are family, that is why I say that. Thanks so much. (LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, straight ahead, U.S. trade partners are blasting the president's plan to move ahead with those steep tariffs on steel and aluminum, but tonight Donald Trump heads to steel country and likely a much warmer response. Plus the White House appears to be cooling their heels on a planned meeting with North Korea. Could new conditions put the high stakes meetings in jeopardy? We will discuss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: President Trump adding another nation to the list of countries exempt from U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum. The prime minister of Australia tweeting that he has made an agreement to keep his country's goods flowing into the U.S. President Trump will soon be making his way to the heart of steel country. He will be pushing his plan for a 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent on aluminum during campaign stop in western Pennsylvania for a Republican Congressional candidate in a tough special election race there.

Trump says the tariffs will restore America industry to its former glory. But not everyone agrees, including some of America's closest allies. Here with me now, CNN's senior economics analyst and former Trump economic adviser Stephen Moore and financial analyst from Philadelphia Rob Wilson. Good to see you both. Stephen you first. The president wants to impose these new tariffs quickly, within the next two weeks, perhaps. Does this give the markets enough time to make any kind of adjustments?

STEPHEN MOORE, FORMER TRUMP ECONOMIC ADVISER: Well, the markets did adjust, Fredricka. They went down a lot when Trump announced this a couple of weeks ago. But what is so interesting is the evolution of this debate. The one thing I have learned working with Donald Trump is what is the bestselling book that he wrote, "The Art of Deal," and he is a negotiator. And he started with this very, very hardline position about two weeks ago, saying it is going to be a blanket tariff on everyone, and a lot of the world leaders took note of that, and now he is pushing it back I think in a strategic way.

Where I hope he ends up, and I think at the end of the day I think this is where we will end up, that the tariffs will be targeted towards the bad actors. Those are the countries, specifically China, which we know is stealing our technologies and is not, you know, we have a huge trade deficit with China. They are enabling what is going on in North Korea. So Russia, another country that might -- but our allies, this is a point that a lot of us made to President Trump, don't slap the tariff on our allies. Slap it on the people who are stealing our jobs and our technologies.

WHITFIELD: So does it mean that he did not think it through, because we are talking about exemptions for Mexico, Canada, and now Australia? How effective is this plan if now afterthought, now a week later saying well, you know, I'm going to exempt certain countries? That means the list could grow. MOORE: Well, look, I think that ultimately saving these steel jobs

and these aluminum jobs is going just require more capital investment and productivity of these steel mills and these aluminum plant, but I think there is a bigger agenda here. Donald Trump, I have campaigned with him. He won this election in no small part because he did go to Pennsylvania and Ohio and Michigan and West Virginia and those states, and he said, look, I'm going to try to protect your jobs. And whether you think it is a good policy or not, and I disagreed with him on it, I honestly don't think he would have won the election if he had not spoken right to those workers and said, I am here, I feel your pain and I'm going to protect your jobs.

WHITFIELD: So, Rob, the president is back in Pennsylvania later on today. You are in Pennsylvania, and there had been this conventional wisdom that automation is largely why a lot of steel jobs went away. we are hearing that this is why a lot of the steel jobs went away. So do these tariffs, does this plan help, offer real hope particularly for people in Pennsylvania who were part of this steel industry, that those jobs might be coming back as a result?

ROB WILSON, FINANCIAL ANALYST: No, I don't think it really offers real hope. The issue here is that the reason that Pittsburgh proper has been able to sort of flourish over the last couple of year, and look, I am born and raised in Pittsburgh, I went to school there. I would love to see my friends, my family, my neighbors have great blue collar jobs there.

But Pittsburgh had to decide that it was going to make a shift from the steel industry into eds and meds and technology, and that has completely changed the entire landscape of the city. When I go home and drive through Braddock or I drive through McKeesport or I drive through these other neighborhoods, and I see these huge shuttered mills, you really see in vivid color that those mills are not opening back up again and those jobs are not coming back. So I'd really love to see some policies that would help people get jobs of the future rather than trying to bring back these jobs back from the past.

MOORE: I generally agree with that. I remember as a kid, Fredricka, my parents took me to an auto plant and a steel mill in Michigan, and those were old-fashioned sweat shops with thousands of workers. If you go into a modern day steel mill, the ones that are still open, there are maybe 100 workers where there used to be 2,000.

But I want the defend the president on this. When you say the steel industry is done in America, I remember a year or two ago when people said Donald Trump cannot rebuild the American coal industry, and guess what, the American coal industry is being rebuilt by strategic policy, so I don't want to write off our coal and aluminum industries. I think they are important. But we also have to think about all of other manufacturing jobs. We have this incredible jobs report yesterday where a lot of our factories can't find enough workers because they have so many jobs.

WHITFIELD: So Stephen, have you changed your mind, because a week ago you were adamantly against these tariffs, and now it sounds like you are warming up to it? MOORE: No, let me be clear about it.

WILSON: Flip-flopping.

(LAUGHTER)

MOORE: I'm not a flip-flopper. I will say this, my position all along was aim the tariffs at the countries that are doing the most damage to the United States, and those are countries like China, and use those countries as leverage to behave themselves, pay for our technologies. They are stealing, Fredricka, China, $500 billion a year of American technology that we built, that our workers built, and we can't tolerate that.

WILSON: And the impact would be big if China was actually -- I'm sorry, but the impact would be huge if China was actually the largest importer of steel to the United States, but it is not. It is Canada.

MOORE: That is great point.

WHITFIELD: All right, Stephen Moore and Rob Wilson, thanks to both of you, appreciate it.

WILSON: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. President Donald Trump is feeling confident about the possibility of meeting with North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un, tweeting just moments ago North Korea has not conducted a missile test since November 28th, 2017, and has promised not do so through our meetings. I believe they will honor that commitment.

Joining me right now to discuss all of this is CNN's global affairs correspondent Elise Labott and this is a high stakes meeting and Balbina Hwang, former senior adviser in the U.S. State Department. Good to see you both. Elise, you first. This is the high stakes meeting to say the very least. So what kind of preparation needs to happen before the president actually sits down with Kim Jong-un?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, I think everything needs to be prepared, especially what the strategy is and what the U.S. wants out of this meeting. I think we need to be clear, these are not going to be negotiations. This is going to be a meeting between two leaders, and I think the best that we can hope for is an agreement to keep talking and launching into negotiations. But I think the problem is right now that the U.S. doesn't really have a strategy for what it would want through negotiations, and that is basically the problem when you talk to U.S. officials, they say what is our goal? So I think it starts from there and then all the talking points would flow from there.

WHITFIELD: Nor does the president really have a very deep bench whether it be in the White House or the State Department to assist in the traditions of diplomacy or even the potential landmines of diplomacy.

LABOTT: That is right. Look, the U.S. envoy to North Korea Joe Yun just retired a few weeks ago. They do have an assistant secretary that is going to be leading at the State Department, the Asia policy, but she has been working on this account a little bit, but not super steeped in the kind of nuances on North Korea. It is really unclear who would be leading this. And my understand is that the administration is considering looking outside for someone that could come in and do that technical work. Usually you'd think that the two leaders would meet at the end to ink a deal. This is putting the cart before the horse, but it does reduce tensions and I think that's important at this time.

WHITFIELD: So Balbina, the president has been reaching out the world leaders in the past 24 hours. We understand he has reached out to the China and even tweeted that he reached out to Japan. What might these countries be able to offer this president in terms of laying out the when, the where, what is discussed, all those dynamics?

BALBINA HWANG, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: Well, I think what is so fascinating about what has developed over the last 36, 48 hours is actually that Japan, Russia and China are not part of this at all. And I think that what everybody seems to have forgotten is that of course this message came through South Korea, but it is actually that South Korea is playing a mediating role.

This is incredibly significant. It's not just because the South Koreans were the ones that delivered the message, but it is because the North Koreans are allowing South Korea to be in on this dialogue. And this is incredibly significant because to date for the last 70 years, North Korea's aim has been to delegitimize the Republic of Korea. North Korea has said we will deal only with the United States and that South Korea is irrelevant. And so something is going on between the two Koreas.

And Elise is right in the sense that it is not very clear what this administration wants to accomplish. I disagree a little bit. I think the goal has been stated. They have consistently said denuclearization. But the problem is that the goal should be much more than that, and there is so much more at stake than denuclearization.

WHITFIELD: It also sounds like maybe the Olympics could have been that opening when you are talk about for North Korea to even trust or talk to South Korea in this capacity and allow South Korea to be the go-between, something has to be related to that Olympic, but Balbina, at the same time, is it odd that North Korea has not said anything publicly? Kim Jong-un has tweeted before about the president of the United States that North Korea wouldn't say anything to punctuate that, yes, we are excited about this meeting. Is that worrisome at all to you?

HWANG: Well, no, it isn't. I think it's actually a very clever tactic, because if things go awry or if things occur in a way that everybody's expectations differ, then North Korea can claim, well, it is because South Korea sent the wrong message or the U.S. interpreted it wrong. Once Kim Jong-un or North Korea states it, then it's on the record. Bu again, I think it very significant that North Korea is essentially bringing in South Korea, and notice that China is completely left out, and I think that where the real divergence is.

WHITFIELD: All right, all fascinating. Thank you, ladies, Elise Labott, Balbina Hwang, thank you.

We've got so much more straight ahead in the Newsroom, but first here's this week's "Turning Points."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yoga has helped know feel comfortable and confident in my own skin. It's given me my own unique form of self- expression. I am a sexual assault survivor. I use yoga to help sexual assault survivors heal.

I never imagined the years of disconnect that I would feel from my own physical body. I was overwhelmed. I felt isolated. I experienced things like flashbacks, nightmares. I needed something that would allow me to feel like I could regain power and control of my body.

That is when yoga came into my life. I knew I was not alone, that there were other survivors. I wanted to create a program that spoke to the language of the body, so I developed this eight-week trauma informed yoga healing program. Trauma informed yoga is essentially an empowering yoga practice and the opportunity for survivors to come together in community and we can breathe together, we can move together. Unfortunately the impact of the trauma does not end with the assault itself. Yoga has really helped me navigate what is oftentimes a very lifelong process of healing. It is a survivor sisterhood.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right, his just into CNN. To law enforcement officers say, or sources, rather, say the gunman at a veterans home in California had previously made a threat against one of the women he held hostage in yesterday's tragic shooting, and by the time the standoff was over three women who worked at the Pathway Home program in Yountville, California, were dead. The gunman was also dead. The source says two weeks the suspect was kicked out of the program that helps veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

He returned yesterday morning with at least a rifle and shotgun. It is unclear if he chose his victims at random. President Trump this morning tweeting we are deeply saddened by the tragic situation in Yountville and mourn the loss of three incredible women who cared for our veterans.

The Trump administration and the state of California locking horns on immigration. The Department of Justice suing to block three of California's so-called sanctuary laws. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions claims California's leaders are protecting criminals and jeopardizing law enforcement lives. CNN's Miguel Marquez has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The state of California, they are doing a lousy management job.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The fight between President Trump --

GOV. JERRY BROWN, (D) CALIFORNIA: We know the Trump administration is full of liars.

MARQUEZ: -- and the California republic.

BROWN: This is basically going to war against the state of California, the engine of the American economy. It is not wise. It is not right. And it will not stand.

MARQUEZ: And now a heavyweight bout.

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: How dare you? How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of our law enforcement officers?

MARQUEZ: The federal government now suing the golden state, its governor and attorney general over its so-called sanctuary immigration laws. The president first threatened to pull ICE and border patrol from the state.

TRUMP: If we ever said, hey, let California alone, let them figure it out for themselves, in two months they would be begging for us to come back. And you know what, I'm thinking about doing it.

MARQUEZ: Now the attorney general wants to undo three California laws limiting law enforcement cooperation and information sharing about immigration status on mainly law-abiding immigrants.

SESSIONS: We are going to fight these irrational, unfair, unconstitutional policies that have been imposed on you and your officers, on our federal officers.

MARQUEZ: Several California cities already have sanctuary laws on the books. In January the acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement called for arresting officials who passed and signed the laws.

THOMAS HOMAN, ACTING ICE DIRECTOR: We've got to start charging some of these politicians with crimes. These politicians can't make these decisions and be held unaccountable for people dying.

MARQUEZ: For its part, California has already sued the Trump administration five times on other immigration issue. The federal government is now trying to rein in the golden state and possibly hundreds of other states, counties, and cities nationwide and their immigration policies.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MARQUEZ: The president will visit the golden state next Tuesday. That is notable. He is the first president since the Eisenhower years, the 1950s, not to visit California in his first year in office. It does give one a sense of just where California sits on the president's agenda. Back to you.

WHITFIELD: All right, Miguel Marquez, thank you so much. And we are back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, college basketball selection Sunday is almost here, and teams around the country are still vying for spots in the big dance. Andy Scholes is here with all the thrilling highlights.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Fred, it's going to be another exciting day. And 14 teams will punch their tickets to the NCAA tournament later on today. Memphis meanwhile hanging on to their hopes of making it to the big dance. Yesterday the tigers got to win the American conference to get in. Tied with Tulsa, time winding down, Kareem Brewton Jr. with the running floater from three at the buzzer. It is good. Memphis wins 67-64. They move on the play Cincinnati later today in the AAC semifinals.

We have got round three of the best rivalry in college hoops yesterday as Duke and North Carolina squared off in the ACC tournament. Blue Devils guard Grayson Allen once again in the middle of some controversy. Allen butt tripping Garrison Brooks in first half. He received a flagrant one for that. Allen of course has a history of tripping players. This is the first time he used his rear end to do it. He had a chance late to tie this game but doesn't really get off a good show. It was no good. North Carolina wins this one 74-69.

Providence down by as many as 17 before the came storming back against third-ranked Xavier. Alpha Diallo the bucket gives the friars the lead in overtime. It was their first lead since it was 5-4 in the game. They then played some stellar defense on the final possession of the game, Xavier doesn't even get off a shot in time. Providence the only team in college basketball with three wins over top five teams. Keep that in mind when you're filling out your bracket. They move on to the big east final with the 75-72 win.

Finally, Northern Colorado's Jordan Davis with arguably the dunk of the year in college basketball. Wow. You kind of feel bad for that Montana player. But he is probably OK. Montana did end up winning the game. They play later today in the Big Sky championship with a trip to the NCAA tournament.

And for the first time ever, the selection Sunday show is going to be on our sister network TBS tomorrow night, 6:00 eastern, really cool deal this year, Fred. They're going to give us the 68 teams in the field at the beginning of the show, then they will let us know where they will be playing.

WHITFIELD: Oh, so exciting. I like that. Thanks so much, Andy. Tomorrow night is the premier of CNN's new original series "Pope, The Most Powerful Man in History." The six-part series explores how Popes through the ages have balanced their religious ministry with political challenges and church scandals. Five years into his papacy Pope Francis' progressive take on the role has earned him both adoration and excoriation. CNN's Bill Weir travels to Vatican City for an inside look at how the reformer Pope is leading his billion follower flock.

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BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Since Michelangelo helped build it, the most obvious change inside St. Peters that pilgrims now take selfies. The Vatican library may have gone digital, but only to preserve ancient wisdom.

And in the Pope's art factory, mosaics are still handmade. Yet to millions this ancient church seems radically different thanks to the Pope's in the newest mosaic.

Francis the reformer was an obscure Jesuit from Argentina just five years ago, but he made it very clear very fast that he would be one of the most liberal holy fathers in history.

He was asked about homosexuality and said five words that shook the Catholic Church, who am I to judge? He then embraced Muslim refugees and said God redeems the atheists, allowing priests to marry, divorced Catholic to take communion, all open for discussion under this global pope, who also stands as anti-Trump.

When he says those who build walls instead of bridges are not Christians, does he know what he is doing?

THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, BREITBART ROME BUREAU CHIEF: He knows what he is doing. He is really a great political figure of the time.

WEIR: And while his fans love that, the resistance here includes those who worry Francis is either a heretic or a socialist or both.

WILLIAMS: Right now among conservatives there is kind of an agglomeration of people with different concerns that are joined in the fact that they think that the Pope might be a danger or might be a problem.

WEIR: And what percentage of the church do you think they are?

WILLIAMS: Certainly not half. Well below half.

WEIR: It's a passionate minority?

WILLIAMS: It is a passionate minority, yes.

WEIR: When he defended a Chilean bishop accused of covering up the crimes of a pedophile priest the backlash was fierce. So the Pope sent a Vatican sex crimes expert to investigate. PALOMA GARCIA OVEJERO, VICE DIRECTOR, VATICAN PRESS OFFICE: We need to know the truth to prosecute. He will never stop till he is finished with this shame.

WEIR: But through it all he is obviously most happy like this, blessing the hopeful and the desperate, a pastor who wishes the church was more like a field hospital, above all here to treat the wounded.

Bill Weir, CNN, Vatican City.

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WHITFIELD: And be sure to watch, "Pope, The Most Powerful Man in History" premiering tomorrow night at 10:00 eastern and pacific only on CNN.

And we have so much more straight ahead in the newsroom. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. It all starts right after this.

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