Return to Transcripts main page


Crowds Rally To Stop Gun Violence Around The World; Trump Weighing Recommendation To Expel Russian Diplomats; Cancer Won't Stop Basketball Star From Playing; Students Demand Action Against Gun Violence Aired 6-7a ET

Aired March 25, 2018 - 06:30   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Sunday morning, everyone. I'm Victor Blackwell.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christi Paul. So, grateful to have you here with us today. You know, they marched, rallied, chanted, cheered and told lawmakers it's time to change.

BLACKWELL: Hundreds of thousands of people joined in across the country, around the world. Now the big question is where does this movement go from here?


BLACKWELL: Their message is clear. Vote out any politician who does not support new gun control laws. CNN's Ryan Nobles has more on the momentum of this movement and what comes next.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Christi organizers were expecting a good turnout at these rallies. Not just here in Washington but all across the country, but what ended up happening on Saturday defied their wild expectations.


NOBLES (voice-over): On a day filled with loud cries -- powerful songs, and energizing speeches.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are not here for bread crumbs. We are here for real change.

NOBLES: It may have been the sound of silence that best captured the moment. Emma Gonzalez, a young woman what become one of the most recognized faces out of the movement born out of the massacre that took place in the halls of her school stood stone-faced and silent.

EMMA GONZALEZ, STONEMAN DOUGLAS STUDENT: Six minutes and about 20 seconds, in a little over 6 minutes, 17 of our friends were taken from us.

NOBLES: Gonzalez and a cadre of her fellow Marjory Stoneman Douglas students took their pain and turned it into action that culminated in marches and rallies all over the world. From Boston -- to Chicago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The violence that they experience every day!

NOBLES: Denver -- to Los Angeles -- and back to Parkland, Florida, where the shooting took place. While they may only had each other when those shots rang out, they had the supports of hundreds of thousands including celebrities.

PAUL MCCARTNEY, MUSICIAN/ACTIVIST: One of my best friends was killed in gun violence right around here. So, it's important to me.

NOBLES: Pop stars -- and even the granddaughter of a civil rights icon.

YOLANDA RENEE KING, MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.'S GRANDDAUGHTER: I have the dream that enough is enough! And that this should be a gun-free world, period!

NOBLES: Their hope is to do much more than march. They want action, specifically, stricter gun laws. Something the federal government has been reluctant to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stand for us or be aware. The voters are coming!

NOBLES: And the debate over guns remains divisive. Counter rallies were held in cities like Boston and Salt Lake City, but these students are hoping this movement is different, that common ground will be reached, and they are warning their leaders they won't be giving up until they get the change they are looking for.

The message from many of these students they don't want these rallies to be the end of their work, but the beginning instead and many of them say they are prepared to become politically active and prepared to vote in what will be the first election for many of them this fall.

In fact, many of these students said that before they were a part of this tragedy, politics was something they never thought about. Now it's become one of their biggest priorities -- Christi and Victor.

BLACKWELL: Ryan, thank you so much.

PAUL: Student organizers say they never expected the response that they have gotten. I want you to look at the crowd in this aerial photo from Washington yesterday. That is massive.

BLACKWELL: President Trump was not in D.C. to hear this message firsthand. The White House is praising the marchers and the student leaders. CNN's Kristen Holmes joins us live from Washington. Kristen, good morning.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor. Good morning, Christi. Well, that is exactly right. Hundreds of thousands of people were marching on Washington. President Trump was in Mar-a- Lago visiting one of his golf properties about 35 miles away from where that Parkland massacre occurred several weeks ago. We didn't hear from President Trump at all on this march and not on Twitter and no statement. But the White House did issue a statement in support of the protesters saying, I think we can pull this up for you here.

"We applaud the many courageous young Americans exercising their First Amendment rights today. Keeping our children safe is a top priority of the president, which is why he urged Congress to pass the fix NICS and stop School Violence Acts and signed them into law.

Additionally, on Friday, the Department of Justice issued the rule to ban bump stocks following through on the president's commitment to ban devices that turn legal weapons into illegal machine guns."

[06:05:09] Now this is not what the students were asking for. They had three specific requests that they talked about yesterday. They were banning assault-style weapons which are used in these kinds of mass shooting, banning high capacity magazines, and they called for anyone buying a gun to have to go through a background check.

Things that are usually, as you heard Ryan say in his report, not a proved by the federal government, they haven't been acting on that for years. So, as we move forward, as we get closer to 2018, as this movement grows and continues to swell, again, looking at those pictures yesterday, it seemed as though this was just the beginning.

We will likely hear more from the White House and they will be pressed for more direct answers on those demands.

PAUL: All right. Kristen Holmes, appreciate it. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. Joining us now, commentary writer and editor at the "Washington Examiner," Siraj Hashmi, CNN political analyst, Julian Zelizer, and CNN senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter. Good morning, everyone.

Julian, let me start with. You have a piece out in "The Atlantic" this weekend that compares this march and movement to the march on Washington in the early '60s. You say that there are specific elements that these student activists do not have that they will need if they want the similar legislative changes that the civil rights marchers had. At the top of the list, savvy advocate in Washington and members of Congress who are willing to spend some political capital.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. The Civil Rights Movement in '63, which had a march comparable to this. They had found some voices on Capitol Hill and even with President Kennedy, who were willing to spend their political capital on the issues that the marchers wanted.

The marchers today are going to need to find those voices. They don't yet really have them. They are also going to need to organize beyond the march and that will be essential to turn this energy into legislation and that includes a line with other well-organized groups on other issues that are willing to support this important push for gun control legislation.

PAUL: A lot of politicians were reacting to all of this yesterday on Twitter. In fact, Marco Rubio released a statement saying, "I commend those who today are peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights to march in favor of a gun ban. While I do not agree with all the solutions they propose, I respect their views.

While protest a legitimate way of making a point in our system of government, making a change requires finding common ground with those who hold opposing views." Much to what you were just saying, Julian, about, OK, the march does one thing. There has to be something afterwards that actually enacts change.

But when you listen to this statement, Siraj, Rubio, it sounds as though is trying to find a balancing act, so I don't agree with you, but we have to come to an agreement somehow and I respect your views. Do you expect we will see more statements like this from other Republicans?

SIRAJ HASHMI, COMMENTARY WRITER, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Possibly. I think one of the interesting things that we saw, at least with the omnibus spending bill that nobody read, the $1.3 trillion spending bill that President Trump signed, considering the fact that nobody read it, it's actually amazing that no Democrats actually had the nerve to fit any of those solutions that they proposed with respect to gun control.

And fit it in the bill to try to get something passed, considering that this has been a hot button issue for the last several years. And what I think is interesting is that Republicans think that we -- or pro-Second Amendment advocates believe you are trying to legislate out of a cultural problem.

See the problem with gun culture is that we idolize and fantasize about guns so often that people think it's so cool to actually own a gun and then the people who are mentally disturbed are willing to use it to harm other people.

We then have a problem with, you know, people abusing guns that many I'm sure saw coming. So, Republicans are in a tight spot here and with respect to the 2018 midterms should they be out of control of the House and the Senate? They are probably looking at more gun control reforms on the way.

BLACKWELL: Brian, let's look at a video that was produced by the NRA for their NRA tv across several platforms and this is how they framed the weekend heading into this march.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take the millions of dollars going to this carnival of a march and hire armed guards and schools all over this country, but then these kids would have to shrink from the spotlight and go back to their homework and the forces funding them, would lose the opportunity to further an agenda that is million times bigger than the guns. What are you really marching for? Because from where I'm standing, it looks like a march to burn the Constitution and rewrite the parks that you all like in crayon.


BLACKWELL: So, that is the message from the NRA in which (inaudible) goes on to say that both his Second and First Amendment rights are being challenged, attacked by many of the protesters and those who support gun control.

[06:10:09] BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: He sounds a tad worried. I notice the main NRA social media accounts went quiet yesterday and didn't weigh in on the march. Historically, this has been true for decades, all of the research shows an intensity gap between gun rights proponents unlike the NRA, who usually have all the intensity and gun control advocates on the other side who don't have nearly as much intensity.

This has been a problem the gun rights proponents have taken advantage of for a long time. On the other side, gun control advocates have bemoaned this problem. They feel it's a problem and bemoaned it for a long time.

You know, you look at Saturday and you think something might be changing. That that intensity gap may be shrinking, that the intensity was clearly on the side of the gun control advocates on Saturday all across the country. I think that is why -- remember, Victor, after Parkland, all of us on tv were very skeptical.

We all said is something different this time and I think journalists were even afraid to say it because we have been here before where the country had suffered a catastrophic loss at a mass shooting and then people moved on to the next thing.

This time it really is different. I saw it in New York and you all saw it in Washington. I think the most striking where actually in the smaller towns from Spokane to Springfield and Toledo to Tucson, the smaller communities where there were voter registration drives and these calls for action at the ballot box where we could actually see something happen in November. That might be good, that might be bad, but this time is definitely different.

PAUL: So, Siraj, with that said, with what Brian is saying, is there a sense, a gauge of the lingering effects of what we saw yesterday, a real change?

HASHMI: Well, that's possible. I mean, right now, it's March and we have to wait until November to actually see, you know, the ramifications of this march and as it translates into electoral results. I think it's interesting with respect to some of these states.

I mean, Florida, Marco Rubio is not up for re-election until 2022 and he has been the main proponent at least for the Parkland students, you know, and blocking whatever reforms that they want with respect to gun control.

You know, there are going to be several members of Congress, who are going to be more fixated on this issue and I think Democrats as a whole are going to be, you know, focusing on gun control as a means of getting people out to the polls.

But I also think that with President Trump being in office, considering the fact that now he has signed this omnibus spending bill, that actually was a stab in the back to a lot of his base.

So, Democrats actually have more of an advantage now with just that signing than they do with just gun control. So, yes, I think it's actually going to translate into actual results. They just have to keep the momentum up and actually turn a rally into action.

BLACKWELL: There are some elements in that omnibus bill that those who support gun control would appreciate, making some progress from their standpoint on studying gun violence as a health issue and other elements as well. Brian, Siraj, Julian, stay with us. We have a lot more to talk about.

And of course, stay with us for our "STATE OF THE UNION" today with Jake Tapper. Democratic Senator Tim Kaine joins us to talk about President Trump's national security adviser with a controversial past. That is "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper today at 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

PAUL: And of course, the Stormy Daniels saga continues tonight with potential new details about her alleged affair with the president and the efforts to silence her. What can we expect to learn from this tell-all?

BLACKWELL: Plus, President Trump might ask some Russian diplomats to leave the U.S. over the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. We will talk about that.



PAUL: Well, in a new interview with "The Washington Post," porn star, Stormy Daniels, says her career in the adult industry has prepared her for a life of public scrutiny. This comes as her highly anticipated interview could provide some new details about her alleged affair with the president and the alleged effort to silence her.

So, our panel is back here now. Gentlemen, thank you for sticking around. I want to listen here with you to what Anderson Cooper asked Stormy Daniels as they started this interview.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I guess I'm not 100 percent sure on why you're doing this.


PAUL: So, obviously, it's one of the questions everybody wants to know. She did speak, we should point out, with "The Washington Post" and they printed that out this morning. And in this, you know, we learned some things we didn't know. She is a wife. She's a mother.

Michael Cohen claims that she has breached this contract and may owe $20 million. When you look at that, you know, Brian, she is a wife, she's a mom, $20 million. What is the end game is it for her? And is it important for us to know what her intention is?

STELTER: I think partly the end game is to be freed of this contract. Seems like she has regrets taking this payment in the weeks before the election. You think about the election versus today. What has changed in America?

What's changed? One of the things has changed is the "Me Too Movement." The idea that women should be free to speak and speak their truth, so I think in this "Me Too" environment, she is saying she should be able to speak and maybe regrets the payment and maybe the way it happened was inappropriate and she should be able to talk about her experiences with now President Trump.

So, I think that is one of the contextual parts of this. There are also campaign finance law questions that are real questions beyond the salacious headlines that may come out tonight. This interview was taped a couple of weeks ago. Our colleague, Anderson Cooper, has been working on it and preparing to broadcast it on "60 Minutes."

[06:20:06] They haven't released any of her clips of speaking which to me, Christi, is a sign they've got something very, very interesting to show. You know, they are not trying to tease ahead of time. They are just going to let the interview speak for itself tonight.

And what I wonder, what I'd like to know personally and why I'm going to tune in tonight is whether she has text messages or other evidence of the affair because one of the issues here with President Trump and women who either accused him of consensual affairs or nonconsensual encounters is that there has been denials of those encounters, denials of those alleged affairs. So, if she has evidence to bring forward that could make a difference in this story.

PAUL: Right. Because this is really about alleged intimidation and possible violation of campaign finance laws and not necessarily about an affair. Julian, the White House, they have dismissed these allegations and spoken up about it. Are you surprised, however, that it seems, from the outside looking in, because we have not heard one iota from the president, himself, that Stormy Daniels and these women seem to be the only ones who can silence this president.

ZELIZER: Yes. It's been remarkable not to hear from the president because we hear from him on almost every issue and every time there is an adversary out there, whether it's in politics or the culture of America, he attacks, and he has been pretty silent.

So, we don't know if he is being convinced by his counsel, this is not an issue to speak out about, or he personally understands that the more he enters into this fray, the more damaging it might be. And I think this touches on a number of issues beyond the salacious scandal.

From campaign finance to intimidation to the big problem he has with the gender gap going into the midterm elections that might really hurt Republicans. There is actually a lot at stake with the story that might seem simply like a scandal story. I think it's much bigger.

PAUL: Yes. Siraj, we know her attorney, Michael Avenatti, tweeted out a picture of a DVD, as he said, a warning to the president that they have proof to dispute what the White House has said about this. Again, the president has not said anything. Do you get the sense that Michael Avenatti, at this point, is winning the PR war here?

HASHMI: Absolutely. I mean, Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti, they certainly have a leg up in terms of getting their message out there. I think what is interesting, though, is that President Trump has not tweeted about two people during the entirety of his presidency, Stormy Daniels and Eminem.

And those are big adversaries of his that have, you know, if he tweeted about them, it only gives them more attention. However, what is interesting is with Stormy Daniels there is a lot of pressure on Anderson Cooper, "60 Minutes" and Stormy Daniels to deliver on actually something that they can translate into something that really indicts the president.

Not so much in the legal sense, but so much in the personal sense that I think could probably bring up legal proceedings such as defamation and with respect to campaign finance law and even Stormy Daniels being threatened. I think there are avenues that I think they can go that would make this a real problem for the White House.

STELTER: If I can just add to that, Stormy and her lawyer want to keep this going and seems to be their interest to keep this in the news so that will be interesting to see what they do after this interview airs. What is their next step or goal beyond this lawsuit.

I just want to say, you know, there is big basketball games on today before "60 Minutes." That means this program is going to get a huge audience and a lot of curiosity in it. This is also a very personal story.

It's one thing to hear that a porn star had an affair with someone. When you hear that headline and read the story, it's another thing to hear the woman to speak in her own words. That's the power of television.

We saw that with Karen McDougal the other day when Cooper when interviewed Karen McDougal, you felt sympathy for her. She was actually quite relatable even though she was admitting to being a mistress.

So, I'm interested to see whether that is true again for Stormy Daniels tonight and also for the Trump family, Melania Trump, who will be at Mar-a-Lago watching this. There have been so many times, Christi, in the past year and a half where I thought to myself what is Melania thinking?

Doesn't the country feel a lot of pain for her whether it was the "Access Hollywood" tape coming out or now these women coming forward. You know, I think that's one of the things that might be able to unite a very polarize country, can we have a moment for the first lady?

PAUL: For the first lady, exactly, and that's what I want to get to next. So, Julian, I'll address to you, we all remember that moment with Bill and Hillary Clinton during Monica Lewinsky and she stood by him. I remember walking out to -- on the White House lawn holding the hand of her daughter who was between the two of them.

[06:25:02] What does it say or how effective or how much power does Melania Trump, as first lady, have here in any response she either does or does not put out after this?

ZELIZER: I think she could have a very powerful response. I don't know what she will say, but the story of their relationship is, in some ways, one of the great mysteries of this White House, given all of the news that has come out about him and his alleged relationships before the campaign, during the campaign, and after the campaign, watching her sit through some of this can almost be painful.

Obviously, if she comes out and is very forceful in supporting her husband and denying the story, it could help move the story to something else. But if she indicates any kind of anger or pleasure or simply silent, I think it will continue to fuel the interest and what happened and what President Trump's personal troubles are about and what effect it's having on this White House.

PAUL: At the end of the day, there are a lot of women and men who know the humiliation of infidelity and being the victory of it. Yes, I think Brian was right in the sense that there is a possibility here of some unity in some regard or certainly some empathy and understanding.

STELTER: Empathy, yes.

PAUL: Siraj, Julian, Brian, we appreciate all of you. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. Hundreds of thousands of people marched across the country and around the world to stop gun violence. The students leading this movement say this is only the beginning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The finish line at the end of the march here today in Parkland and all of the marches around the country is our beginning line. We are just getting started.




PAUL: So good to have you here. I'm Christi Paul.

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

A powerful moment at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, a special nine-year-old speaker took the stage.

PAUL: Yes. She echoed the message her grandfather delivered in that same city nearly 55 years ago. Take a look.


YOLANDA RENEE KING, GRANDDAUGHTER OF MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: My name is Yolanda Renee King, granddaughter of Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King.


KING: My grandfather had a dream that his four little children will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. I have a dream that enough is enough. And that this should be gun-free world, period.

Will you please repeat these words after me? Spread the word.

CROWD: Spread the word.

KING: Have you heard?

CROWD: Have you heard?

KING: All across the nation --

CROWD: All across the nation --

KING: -- we --

CROWD: -- we --

KING: -- are going to be --

CROWD: -- are going to be --

KING: -- a great generation.

CROWD: -- a great generation.

KING: I'd like to you say and I'd like you to really, really, mean it.


KING: Spread the word.

CROWD: Spread word.

KING: Have you heard?

CROWD: Have you heard?

KING: All across the nation --

CROWD: All across the nation --

KING: -- we --

CROWD: -- we --

KING: -- are going to be --

CROWD: -- are going to be --

KING: -- a great generation.

CROWD: -- a great generation.

KING: And I'd like you to say it like you really, really mean it and the whole entire world can hear you. Spread the word.

CROWD: Spread the word.

KING: Have you heard?

CROWD: Have you heard?

KING: All across the nation --

CROWD: All across the nation --

KING: -- we --

CROWD: -- we --

KING: -- are going to be --

CROWD: -- are going to be --

KING: -- a great generation.

CROWD: -- a great generation.

KING: Now give yourselves a hand.



PAUL: Yolanda Renee King there, nine years old had everybody just listening to everything as you could tell there, just commanding that audience.

She is just one of the many young voices at yesterday's marches who were doing the same thing.

BLACKWELL: Here is CNN correspondent Kaylee Hartung.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Honestly, it's been incredible. These kids have not stopped.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Around the world demand for change on Saturday led by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

DELANEY TARR, SENIOR, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: We will continue to fight for our dead friends. There will be no faltering, no pauses in our cause. Every moment will be dedicated to those pieces of legislation.

Every march. Every meeting. Every moment.

All for that assault weapons ban to keep these weapons of war out of the hands of civilians who do not need them.

HARTUNG: Here in Parkland, Florida, home to the Stoneman Douglas students this small community turned out in mass to support one another.

SAMANTHA MAYOR, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS STUDENT: I was taking notes in my psychology classroom when the hard sound of gunshots echoed the walls of the 1200 building. My name is Samantha Mayor and on 14th of February I was shot in the knee in my fourth period classroom.

CROWD: Enough is enough. Enough is enough. Enough is enough.

HARTUNG: As we have seen them do in the weeks following February 14th, this community continued to channel their grief into passion.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can stand here today and tell you all that the 17 victims' families will not stop fighting until we make this world a better and safer place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's because of our loss that the group here today has a voice that is resounding throughout the nation.

HARTUNG: As marchers approached the school campus, they were asked to observe a moment of silence and keep on walking.

A sign of their determination to keep moving forward in their fight for change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The finish line at the end of the march here today in Parkland and all of the marches around the country is our beginning line. We are just getting started!

HARTUNG: With the march now behind them, the next date circled on many of these students' calendars, their first opportunity to vote.

Sari Kauffman is only 15. She won't be voting until 2020 but she's spearheading a voter registration drive.

SARI KAUFFMAN, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS STUDENT: These marches are great and it's awesome awareness but need action and we want change. And the best way to do this is to vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no spring break for us. We are working. We are trying to make a change here.

HARTUNG: Kaylee Hartung CNN Parkland, Florida.


BLACKWELL: President Trump could forces some Russian diplomats to go back to Moscow after a former Russian spy was poisoned in Britain. What this means for the U.S./Russia relations.

We will ask an expert next.



BLACKWELL: President Trump might expel some Russian diplomats from the country over the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain.

The National Security Council made the recommendation. The source tells CNN the president's decision could come as early as tomorrow.

Now you remember the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned in the U.K. earlier this month but Russia has denied it had anything to do with the incident.

Let's bring back now Siraj Hashmi, commentary writer and editor for the "Washington Examiner." And Julian Zelizer, CNN political analyst and professor at Princeton University.

Gentlemen, let me start with Siraj. Several countries -- and let's put -- let's put them up here. Ten and possibly more, including Germany, France, will likely we are told by a foreign diplomat, expelled Russian diplomats as soon as tomorrow. What's the likelihood that the U.S. will do the same?

SIRAJ HASHMI, COMMENTARY WRITER AND EDITOR, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: You know, Victor, there is a saying growing up that, you know, don't start none, won't be none and that's essentially the likelihood of Trump expelling these Russians is going to be.

I mean, if Russia has not -- had not engaged in this type of behavior I don't think President Trump will have any justification in expelling these officials. Of course Obama, the former president, Barack Obama expelled Russian officials when there was wrongdoing and they essentially with respect to the sanctions that he imposed on Russia that the Senate had basically voted for, you know, this is just another -- it could either be symbolic or it could be actually genuine in the sense that President Trump is actually trying to get tough on Russia and that is simply, if this actually goes through, then he can actually say go back to his critics and say, hey, I'm actually being tough on Russia.

BLACKWELL: So let's point out. You know, we have these conversations about the National Security Council and let's point out, I think we have got a full screen here we can show the members, some of the members and -- this is the wrong full screen.

The faces -- yes, Trump Security Council team, these are some of the people included there, including the vice president and the secretary of defense, General Kelly there as well and Dunford, head of the Joint Chiefs; Mnuchin, and Don McGahn, the White House counsel.

Julian, let me come to you. If past is prologue, which is the greater influence here of what the president may do, the better setup here? The recent sanctions that were imposed on Russia or the president's congratulatory call and his reluctance to call out about Russia when he was speaking with Putin about the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter?

JULIAN E. ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, let's remember with the sanctions the president was not particularly enthused about that legislation, nor has he moved forward very aggressively in implementing them, so they both might indicate where he is, meaning at some level he is still sympathetic for whatever reason to different or better kinds of relations with Putin and hesitant to take action. Yet he might also feel pressed to do something, at least symbolically to show some support for punitive action and a response to this kind of Russian behavior.

So both might actually indicate exactly why he is going to do this and why this might be a bare minimum that he has to do something to show he is listening to many allies in the world.

BLACKWELL: Let's put that tweet back up we had a moment ago. The president sent this out a few days ago criticizing his predecessors and saying, "Bush tried to get along" -- with Russia -- "but didn't have the smarts. Obama and Clinton tried, but didn't have the energy or the chemistry."

Siraj, expelling Russian diplomats would obviously I guess be counter to the president's hope or plan to have a better relationship where he classified it get along with Russia?

HASHMI: I mean, as we have seen with some of President Trump's actions with respect to signing the omnibus spending deal, the 1.3 trillion dollar budget deal, you know, he is falling in line with a lot of his predecessors especially with respect to his toughening stance on Russia. Whether it would be genuine or symbolic I think what we are seeing right now from President Trump is he is trying to catch up in the respect to show that he is being tough on Russia.

As Julian pointed out, he was reluctant in posing those sanctions when he imposed sanctions on North Korea from the same Senate proposal that was passed 98-2 by that voting margin. So yes.


You know, President Trump actually has a lot more work to do if he is going to achieve that goal of getting a friendlier relationship where Russia and at the same time saying wagging the finger and saying, you know, we can't tolerate this bad behavior.

BLACKWELL: Julian, he's got an incoming national security adviser John Bolton who as of late has advocated for retaliation against Russia and cyber attacks. And he has been more adversarial, Bolton has, recently than he has been in the past.

What influence could he, coming into the job in a couple of weeks, have on the decision that could come as early as tomorrow?

ZELIZER: Yes. Look, Bolton is much more traditional when it comes to Republican policy and attitudes towards Russia. He supports a more aggressive response. He has been very vocal on saying that there needs to be some kind of retaliatory action.

So question is can Bolton be the person who finally changes how President Trump thinks of policy? My guess is, I doubt it. I think Bolton will only be influential if President Trump wants to go in his direction.

We have seen again and again and again every adviser who is brought in, no matter how strong, no matter how smart, can't really tame or control the president. President Trump will do what he wants to do and the advisers who are influential simply match up with where the president is moving.

BLACKWELL: All right. Julian Zelizer, Siraj Hashmi, thank you both.

HASHMI: Thank you.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

PAUL: Well, breast cancer diagnosis is not keeping a basketball player and an official off the court. Coy Wire has more information on one pretty incredible story -- Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Good morning to you, Christi and Victor.

Krystal Lucero's whole life is basketball and after years of treatment, she has been -- never been more ready to play. The Hardwood Hero's inspiring story coming up on NEW DAY.



BLACKWELL: Before the final four tips off in San Antonio, a group of cancer survivors will be playing a basketball game on the same court and will be united by their powerful and inspiring stories.

PAUL: Yes. Coy Wire has this of course.

WIRE: Good morning to you. For our Infinity Hardwood Hero, Krystal Lucero basketball has always been a part of her life. Eventually her love of the game introduced her to the love of her life, her husband Robert. When Krystal was diagnosed with breast cancer she watched as her community and her family rallied around her and helped keep her passion about the sport she loved so much.


KRYSTAL LUCERO, INFINITY HARDWOOD HERO: I attempt to get fouled on so I can make some free throws.

I started playing basketball when I was in first grade and I continued through elementary, junior high, played high school basketball. I got involved in officiating when I was in college. That's where I met my husband so I had to retire from being an official.

My husband's team will be playing in the state championship at the same location that we are actually having the Hardwood Heroes.

ROBERT LUCERO, KRYSTAL LUCERO'S HUSBAND: That was her move back in the day.

KRYSTAL LUCERO: And it's pretty awesome because I'll be there to support.

I was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. It was a typically breast cancer but the big thing is that I was 27 when I was diagnosed. It was really hard to see my family, you know, they have no control of it so I think it was harder to see them because I knew I could only control what I could control.

My mom probably cried more in doctor's appointments than I did. What I want to come from being a part of Hardwood Heroes is just getting the word out and just letting people know that you can still be an athlete and be a cancer survivor and still love a sport and be a part of it.

My name is Krystal Lucero and I'm a Hardwood Hero.


WIRE: Good stuff, Krystal. The Hardwood Heroes game of the Final Four will also help raise money for cancer research as they team up with coaches versus cancer. There will be a lot of stars on the court there at the Final Four in San Antonio. A lot of them will be these people who inspire so many.

Did you guys see yesterday? This man is dancing.

PAUL: Give him some more love. Come on. Come on.


WIRE: Rightfully so because he is leading the CNN bracket challenge, of all people. It's the guy.


PAUL: Of all people.

BLACKWELL: Just focus near the top. There you go. Right there at the top.

WIRE: Yesterday, my man Victor quoted Beyonce to say -- what did he say? Top two?

BLACKWELL: Top two and I ain't number two.


WIRE: You know, I tell Christi. I joke with her sometimes, you know, this is my dream when I come in on NEW DAY on the weekends to find the sports story that gets Victor Blackwell intrigued --


WIRE: -- about sports. This (ph) got (ph) him (ph) dancing (ph).


BLACKWELL: Winning excites me.


BLACKWELL: Now, again, some of these I chose just like, oh, that makes sense. Or five versus one? Let's give five a shot.

WIRE: Yes.

BLACKWELL: But Michigan, I'm expecting will go all the way.

WIRE: Looking good.

Yes, despite (INAUDIBLE) --

BLACKWELL: What place are you in?

PAUL: I have no clue.

BLACKWELL: Let's put the brackets back up.

PAUL: But I will be honest with you --

BLACKWELL: Christi --

PAUL: -- somebody else picked them for me.

BLACKWELL: Oh, OK. All right. Well --

PAUL: I can't even -- I can't even own -- I mean, even if I was winning I would say I can't own it because I didn't have time to do it.

BLACKWELL: Keep scrolling. Keep scrolling. Keep scrolling.

WIRE: Roll to the bottom.

BLACKWELL: There she is.

WIRE: Does it go down that far? But you know what, Christi? I'm down there with you.

PAUL: Thank you, Coy.


WIRE: Misery loves company.

PAUL: Thank you, Coy.

BLACKWELL: I get one shot at this a year. I get one shot.

WIRE: Keep going baby. Soak it up.

BLACKWELL: Soak it up.

PAUL: Absorb it all.

WIRE: There we go.

PAUL: Thank you, Coy, so much.

WIRE: You're welcome.

PAUL: Next hour of your NEW DAY is coming up after a quick break.



PAUL: Well, good morning. As we head into the 7:00 hour here on a Sunday you're up early. We're glad for it. I'm Christi Paul.

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

They marched and rallied, chanted and cheered, and told the lawmakers it is time for a change.

PAUL: Yes. Take a look at some of the pictures here. We're talking about hundreds of thousands of people, not just in this country but around the world.

The big question this morning is where does this movement go from here?

The message is clear from these folks. Vote out any politician who does not support new gun control laws.

CNN's Ryan Nobles has more on the momentum behind the movement and what comes next.

[07:00:06] RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Christi organizers were expecting a good turnout at these rallies not just here in Washington but all across the country.