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NEW DAY SATURDAY

Satellite Images Suggest North Korea Prepping Missile Or Satellite Launch; Chinese President Xi Jinping Will Not Meet With Trump In Mar-a-Lago; Jussie Smollett Indicted On 16 Felony Counts Of Disorderly Conduct; R. Kelly Expected To Be Released From Jail After Posting Bail; Rep. Ilhan Omar Says Israel Comments Take Out Of Context; Lawmakers Spar Over Funding For Gun Violence Research; Authors Explores Why Some Vote Against Their Own Interests; Riley Morrison And Steph Curry Changed The Shoe Game. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired March 9, 2019 - 07:00   ET

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


[07:00:00] KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL HISTORIAN: So, she wants to be close to the people and meet the people, and that could be a bit difficult in terms of security, so she has a really tough time. And she, really -- you know, really have to feel a lot of sympathy for her.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Kate Williams, thank you so much for breaking it down for us.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

PAUL: Absolutely.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our relationship with North Korea, I think it's a very good one. I would be surprised in a negative way if he did anything that was not per our understanding.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Satellite imagery suggests that North Korea is preparing a new launch of some type.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What comes next was the Hanoi summit, end of chapter one or was it the end of diplomacy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Breaking news from the Jussie Smollett case, the "Empire" star faces 16 felony counts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is happening here, is frankly, a media gang bang of his guy of unprecedented proportions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They said it was a very dark place, and that unspeakable sexual acts took place there.

R. KELLY, SINGER: I'm not a controlling person. It's just that I am in control of my house. I consider myself the king at the castle and you're the queen of the castle.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ANNOUNCER: This NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Saturday morning to you. New satellite images show vehicles on the move at a North Korean facility. Analysts say, it could be a sign of missile -- a satellite launch is imminent or a ploy to get attention.

PAUL: Either way, it could signal a damaging blow to U.S./North Korea relations, a little more than a week after the Hanoi summit ended without a deal, of course. The launch itself could happen at a site that had been partly dismantled while talks were under way. But now, it seems to be fully rebuilt. Live from Beijing, CNN Correspondent Will Ripley. Will, what do you know about the potency of this site?

RIPLEY: Well, we know that these are actually two locations that are very important for North Korea's missile and nuclear program, and they're both being watched very closely right now. I've spoken with a couple analysts who are looking at these news images we're seeing for the first time from Sangun-dong, which is known rocket and missile factory near the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. And what these experts are seeing, is evidence that North Korea has assembled something at this factory, either an intercontinental ballistic missile or a space rocket.

It's impossible to tell what, but they believe it has been put on a train, the train has left the station and it's headed somewhere -- we don't know yet where, but there is suspension that the train could be headed to the Sohei satellite launch facility, another North Korean site that we've been watching very closely. As you said, Kim Jong-un signed a pledge to shut the place down; they started to take the place apart. But in recent weeks, and especially in recent days, after the failed Hanoi summit, work there has been happening at a very rapid pace, analyst say, to the point that now U.S. thinktank 38 North thinks that the Sohei satellite launch facility is fully operational, ready for a launch, really, in the very near future.

So, if we see this rocket or missile that was assembled near Pyongyang arrive at Sohei, that would be a clear indication that North Korea is preparing to send a message of defiance to the United States. And we know their leader Kim Jong-un was shocked, humiliated, bewildered -- in the words of one source of mine -- after President Trump walked out of that summit, walked out of those talks and left Kim empty-handed. Could he now be trying to send a very strong signal and what does that mean about his relationship with President Trump?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RIPLEY: Just one day after North Korean state T.V. showed an hour- long documentary touting what it called Kim Jong-un's triumphant and successful summit, one full of red carpets, and motorcades, handshakes and smiles, North Korean state media is changing course, admitting for the first time that no deal was reached. And unloading on the U.S. over the failure, saying in a news story: "The public at home and abroad are feeling regretful blaming the U.S. for the summit that ended without an agreement." MICHAEL FUCHS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: They are

trying to make it seem as though they were ready to cut a deal, that they had a tremendous offer on the table for President Trump, and that it was President Trump who decided to walk away from what they saw as a very good deal.

RIPLEY: Initially, both sides kept up a good face during the summit, with Kim telling reporters he would discuss getting rid of his nuclear weapons.

KIM JONG-UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): If I'm not willing do that, I wouldn't be here right now.

RIPLEY: But things went south, a source tells CNN, when the U.S. refused to lift all sanctions in exchange for Kim's offer to only shut down his main nuclear fuel factory and President Trump walked away.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sometimes you have to walk and this was just one of those times.

RIPLEY: North Korea says, they only requested a partial lifting of sanctions. A plan signing ceremony was canceled along with lunch and Kim was left feeling bewildered, as source tells CNN. Today, President Trump held out hope the relationship he once described as falling in love won't now fall apart.

[07:05:10] TRUMP: I would be surprised in a negative way if he did anything that was not per our understanding, but we'll see what happens.

RIPLEY: Analyst say, what's happening, does not appear to be positive. At this North Korean facility, where rockets are tested, satellite photos show new activity. Kim had been dismantling it last year after tensions with the U.S. began to thaw. But by Saturday, the walls had been rebuilt. And by Wednesday, the roof was restored. A State Department official says, the U.S. has not yet determined whether the site is now operational again, but is watching it closely and will ask North Korea for an explanation. Analysts say, the big question now is whether the two leaders' relationship is broken or if they'll try to patch things up and reach a deal again.

FUCHS: What comes next was the Hanoi summit end of chapter one of diplomacy between the two countries? Or was it the end of diplomacy between these two countries and does something worse, frankly, come next?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RIPLEY: Here in Beijing, more potential fallout from President Trump walking out of that summit in Hanoi. Sources tell CNN, that Chinese President Xi Jinping is no longer planning to travel to Mar-a-Lago at the end of this month to negotiate the trade deal with President Trump, because the Chinese simply would not accept President Trump walking out on President Xi, like he walked out on Kim Jong-un. Victor and Christi?

PAUL: All right. Will Ripley, thank you so much for the update.

BLACKWELL: Well, North Korea is making these moves to get the White House's attention as some analysts say is possible. The question is: is this working? Let's bring in CNN White House Reporter Sarah Westwood. Sarah, anything from the White House?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Victor. And so far, the White House is staying silent on this reported activity in North Korea. President Trump said yesterday that he would be very disappointed to see North Korea resume its nuclear testing, resume its missile launches or slide back into the provocative behavior that forced the president, in his eyes, to sit down with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore last year.

And since then, this administration has touted that pause in a nuclear testing and missile launches as a sign of progress, in itself, it's a point of pride for this White House that at least those tensions that you see on the surface between North Korea and the U.S., those have fallen by the wayside. Now, U.S. officials have not yet characterized these observed movements in North Korea. They're so far not saying that North Korea is going back on the informal understanding that President Trump and Kim Jong-un reached first in Singapore, and according to the president, re-solidified in Vietnam from those fruitless denuclearization talks.

Now, John Bolton, the president's National Security Adviser said on Thursday that President Trump is still open to further talks with North Korea, although the prospect of a third summit was left open ended in Vietnam. But it's unclear, Victor and Christi, if this a sign of North Korea resuming missile activity, how strongly the White House will respond given that they do want to further those denuclearization negotiations?

BLACKWELL: All right, Sarah Westwood for us there traveling with the president. Thank you.

PAUL: All right, what does this mean politically? Errol Louis CNN Political Commentator and Political Anchor for "Spectrum News" is with us now. Errol, so first of all, your reaction to this news because we're thinking, if everything that, you know, Will Ripley say is true, that there's been activity at this intercontinental -- they believe it could be an intercontinental ballistic missile that has been created, that it has been transported to the launch site. If it's launched, Errol, what does the president do?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he recess. Basically, he has to, I think, at that point acknowledge that this administration is not different from the three previous ones. This has been a problem that has bedeviled one president after another. President Obama on his way out the door told President Trump, then president- elect, that this was going to be a major, major problem for him. And you know, Trump with the trademark combination of bravado and bluster, said: no, he can do this very easily. He's a master negotiator.

Well, it turns out his skills are no better than those of his predecessors when it comes to the stopping this really, really important threat. The reality Christi is that the North Korean dictator uses weapons of mass destruction as an insurance policy to make sure that he's not overthrown and executed, frankly. And it's hard to imagine what combination of threats, and diplomacy, and smiles, and personal charm could persuade him to do away with what keeps him in power.

PAUL: A very interesting point you're making here. And let's look at some of the interactions between these two leaders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[07:10:06] TRUMP: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.

And then we fell in love. OK? No, really. He wrote me beautiful letters. And they're great letters.

Sometimes, you have to walk, and this just one of those times.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: He said sometimes, you have to walk. He walked. How detrimental, Errol, is that walkout now with the U.S. and China?

LOUIS: I mean, it looks as if it takes us back to square one. It then, I think, gives China more of a bargaining chip in dealing with the Trump administration that one thing that Donald Trump had said all along was that, in trying to negotiate trade, security, and other kind of questions with China, that North Korea would be part of the discussion. Well, now -- Trump now needs something from China. He needs a way back into some kind of conversation with the North Korean dictator.

Not just for domestic, political reasons but substantively, you cannot have this person creating weapons that can hit the United States, that clearly are a threat on the Korean Peninsula, that are a threat, frankly, to China. It's a destabilizing force that was the starting point of this whole conversation. Trump wanted to believe that he had sort of a permanent leg-up, that things were going in a great direction. It turns out it's not going so great.

PAUL: Errol Louis, always appreciate your perspective. Thank you, sir.

LOUIS: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett indicted on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct. We'll break the legal implications and discusses upcoming arraignment.

PAUL: And R&B star, R. Kelly, is behind bars this morning. Still, expected to post bond and be released at some point today. We're going to have more from his exclusive with CBS, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [07:16:05] PAUL: 15 minutes past the hour right now. And "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett is set to be arraigned Thursday. Court records show he was indicted yesterday on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct. Those charges stem from false -- alleged false reports that Smollett made claiming that he was attacked by two men in Chicago. Here's CNN's Nick Watt.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 16 counts against Jussie Smollett, basically every crime he claimed he was a victim of is now a count against him. And you double it because prosecutors say that Jussie Smollett told the story twice, first to a police officer and then later to a detective, roughly the same story. He also went on "Good Morning America" and told the story as he saw it, he believed it, he wanted it to be heard. And what Jussie Smollett told police is that he was attacked by two men.

One of them white, who threw a noose around his neck, threw a chemical over him, shouted racist and homophobic epithets at him. Now, two people were arrested. And those two people who actually turned out to be African-American men, they told police and they told a grand jury that, in fact, Jussie Smollett had hired him to carry out this attack, and cut them a check for $3500. In fact, they knew Jussie Smollett.

Now, superintendent of Chicago Police, he says that he thinks the reason Jussie Smollett did this, is he wasn't getting paid enough money to appear on the "Empire" T.V. show. He has since been written out of that show for the final two episodes of the current season. Now, even if he is convicted of all 16 counts, the sentencing guidelines are still just for the one crime -- a class four felony. So, that will be 2-1/2 years in jail, or up to three years' probation.

Now, Jussie Smollett maintains his innocence and we've heard from his lawyers who call this prosecutorial overkill. They say it's a redundant and vindictive indictment and they say, Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence. Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's discuss. With us now is Criminal Defense Attorney, Page Pate. Page, welcome back.

PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Let's start here with the 16 counts. One for, as Nick said there, each time he told this lie. Is that typical?

PATE: No, it's not typical. There's really one crime here, if there's a crime at all, and that's the false report of a crime. No matter how many different details you give. It's really one offense. It's a felony under Illinois law. But it's not 16 different crimes. I think they did that, though, to send a message. Because, remember, how much effort, how much money, how much time was spent by law enforcement, to investigate what may very well have not been a crime at all. BLACKWELL: Let's listen to Smollett's Defense Attorney here, Mark

Geragos, also a CNN Contributor. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK GERAGOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR AND ATTORNEY TO JUSSIE SMOLLETT: What is happening is frankly, a media gang bang of this guy of unprecedented proportions. And that's the reason I got into this. I've seen a media pendulum swing more quickly and more viciously, and rob somebody of our presumption of innocence like this case. It's startling the way people assume that he's guilty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Now, you say that the 16 counts, one for each lie is not typical.

PATE: No.

BLACKWELL: Is it, as Geragos says, overkill, overreach?

PATE: I don't think so. Because the way they charged the crime is different than the way the case may play out in court. Because at the end of the day, if the case does go to trial, the prosecutor is going to put on the same evidence. He came to us, he gave us this story, we found out it was not true. So, the fact he's charged with 16 different counts, is not going to affected evidence and it's not going to affect the ultimate sentence.

BLACKWELL: So, let's talk about evidence here. Do you expect that this will go to trial, considering all of the exposure through disclosure that Smollett could face? Or is this looking like a plea deal potentially?

PATE: Well, it sounds like his lawyer, at this point, does not have all of the evidence. I mean, he was on CNN saying: we haven't seen the discovery materials. I don't have, you know, the backup for the checks. We haven't talked to the folks at "Empire." So, I think, once they see the evidence, they'll be in a much better position to decide if it's something they have to resolve or if it's something that goes to trial. But at the end of the day, the point here is to get media attention and media coverage that we may see this play out all the way through to a jury trial.

[07:20:31] BLACKWELL: Now, considering, you know, you're saying that this is potentially trying to make a point here, a statement, an example through Smollett, would you expect then federal charges, considering he's accused of having mailed that letter, that death threat, to himself?

PATE: I don't think so. I do believe the FBI was involved in investigating what may have been the false report of a crime. But at the end of the day, you rarely see two different jurisdictions, federal and state, prosecuting the same offense. So, it's likely the federal government and U.S. Attorney's Office may have looked at the case, but then decided to pass on it, let the state folks handle it. BLACKWELL: What's the impact here of, you know, people wake up and

see these 16 charges. It's been a few days unrelated case, but the conversation before this was about Paul Manafort getting fewer than four years for the crimes for which he was convicted. Does this make him potentially a sympathetic character, considering he absolutely was not up to this point?

PATE: Well, and that's a good point, and there's always that possibility. But think about what he did, if in fact he committed this crime. I mean, he diverted resources, scarce resources that could have been used to investigate serious violent crimes that go on in Chicago all the time. And I think law enforcement and the prosecutor here, they feel they need to send a message.

Look, you're going to come to us, you're going to rely on our investigative work, our time, our money, our effort, you better be reporting something real. And so, I think there is a need here to send that message. Because with today's media and social media, the way things can ramp up so quickly, people can get in trouble for something they never did.

BLACKWELL: All right. We'll see what happens next. Page Pate, thanks so much.

PATE: Thank you, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Christi.

PAUL: All right. So, R&B singer, R. Kelly, expected to post bond and be released from jail at some point this morning. He was arrested Wednesday after failing to pay his ex-wife $161,000 in child support. Kelly was out on bail in another case when he was arrested. Last month, the grand jury indicted him on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse, accusing him of sexual acts with children between the ages of 13 and 17. He maintained his innocence in a CBS news special which aired last night. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you done anything wrong?

KELLY: I've done lots of things wrong when it comes to women that I apologized, but I apologize in those relationships at the time I was in the relationships.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you broken any laws when it comes to women?

KELLY: Absolutely not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you ever had sex with anyone under the age of 17?

KELLY: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never.

KELLY: No. Some of these girls I've had relationships with. Some I don't remember, just going to to be honest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because you have so many, you can't remember?

KELLY: No, because it was so long ago. I had a lot of relationship. It wasn't a whole lot of underage girls, there were girls -- you know, what I'm saying? Not underage girls.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: If convicted, Kelly could face between three to seven years in prison on each of those ten counts.

Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is going from one controversy to the next. It seems now she says, the opinions that she shared about President Obama were taken out of context. We're diving into her latest controversial comments. What does it mean? That's after the break. Stay close.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:57:53] BLACKWELL: Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar has been at the center of controversy since taking office in January. Twice for making comments some perceived as anti-Semitic. And now, for criticizing former President Barack Obama. This week, the house voted to condemn hate after Omar question the pro-Israel lobbying influence in Washington. Now, Omar says, those comments were taken out of context.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ILHAN OMAR (D), MINNESOTA: And what I am fearful of is that because Rashida and I are Muslim, that a lot of our Jewish colleagues, a lot of our constituents, a lot of our allies go to thinking that everything we say about Israel, to being anti-Semitic because we are Muslim. And to me, it's something that becomes designed to enter the debate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: All right, joining me now: Errol Louis, CNN Political Commentator and Political Anchor of "Spectrum News." Errol, welcome back. Let me start here with just the specific and then a broader question about political criticism of Israel. In the specific here, does the representative have an argument that she was taken out of context?

LOUIS: Well, look, buried within all of her misstatements and missteps, yes, there's a valid point here. That people who are determined to attack her, don't want to acknowledge, which is that, it's a fairly obvious point, by the way, Victor, which is that donors and lobbyists and political action committees wield outside influence over the direction of American domestic and foreign policy. That's been true for 50 years, you know? I mean, yes, there's a valid point in there, her opponents in their haste to sort of attack Congresswoman Omar, I think sort of skipped right over that substance.

BLACKWELL: Yes, that was a broader question. Is there a political space for criticizing Israel without it being considered anti-Semitic?

[07:29:52] LOUIS: Well, of course, of course. But I mean, look, there's a reason that kings and diplomats and politicians really take a lot of time and try and speak carefully and build alliances and make sure symbols are not being misinterpreted or thrown around roughly or idly or carelessly. And she sort of skipped over all of that stuff.

You know, maybe it's the brashness of youth, maybe there are some elements of bias that she's not aware of that she really has to do some work on within her own thinking.

But the reality is you don't get to just sort of jump out and jump into the middle of this tinderbox of emotions, and difficult policies in real lives on the line. Frankly, and if you're talking about the Middle East. And just sort of speak carelessly.

So, I think the congresswoman has got to figure out if she wants to be part of this conversation, how she's going to find some allies, find a new tone, find careful wording, so that she's heard and not simply attacked.

BLACKWELL: So, one of her defenders has been Speaker Pelosi. I want you to listen to how she defended the congresswoman -- this was yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: The incident that happened was I don't think our colleague is an anti- Semitic. I think she has a different experience in the use of words. Doesn't understand that some of them are fraught with meaning that she what didn't realize. But nonetheless that we had to address.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: She has a different experience in the use of words and doesn't understand. I mean, what kind defense is that, that "No, she's not anti-Semitic, she just doesn't know what she's -- what the words mean."

LOUIS: Living in a very multicultural city like New York City, I will tell you, Congresswoman Omar being born in Mogadishu and spent -- spending some of her early years in Somalia, frankly, there's just a question on the table.

You know, how good is your English? Do you really get this? Do you understand that when you, you throw out some of these phrases, how they're going to be heard?

Once again, Victor, it's about the sort of being careful and being diplomatic, and understanding that other people are going to take every single word that you say and possibly misinterpret it, either honestly or maliciously.

One way or another, she's got to ask yourself is the possibility or even likelihood of misunderstanding worth me opening my mouth on this subject every time I get asked on it. You know she does have the right to remain silent on this and many other issues. And I think she's going to have to be a little bit more judicious about figuring out what part of this conversation she wants to be involved in.

BLACKWELL: So, the president yesterday said that the Democrats have now become the anti-Israel party and the anti-Jewish party. Is this a narrative that Democrats should worry about sticking, or is this going to be seen especially from this president as just more bombast?

LOUIS: I -- yes. I have a hard time thinking that this kind of clumsy attempt at positioning Jewish voters is more aligned with Republicans, will change the facts that Jewish American voters are overwhelmingly registering and voting as Democrats, that's been true for decades. I don't think this is going to change that.

You know, look, the reality is when the charge of anti-Semitism comes up, and who said what, the Republicans are in no position to start pointing fingers. Because there's been a lot of really questionable comments including out of the Trump campaign, including out of the Trump White House. A lot of people who I think they would be embarrassed to try and defend.

So, you know, hopefully, we can get beyond all of this in this kind of outrage Olympics. You know, people competing to see who's more outraged and really do what has to be done which is to sort of settle down, look at the basics of policy. See if America's partner in the Middle East, Israel, is in a position right now going through its own turmoil to advance some kind of a peace prospect -- a process.

And what are the prospects for that and who wants to do it should be independent of political party?

BLACKWELL: All right. Errol Louis, always good to have you. Thank you, sir.

LOUIS: Thank you.

PAUL: Still to come, the gun control debate is still alarming with statistics that show gun violence deaths are on the rise. Where do you hear these numbers and the issue has been called a public health emergency? What Congress is doing about it?

Also, an all-new episode of "THE BUSH YEARS", as tomorrow night on CNN. Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am here today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States.

NEIL BUSH, SON OF GEORGE H.W. BUSH: In 1979, when we were campaigning dad was not known at all, so there was a kind of the underdog approach. You know, by the time 88 rolled around, everyone knew who Vice President Bush was.

[07:34:55] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His justification for running for president was that he was a continuation of the Ronald Reagan presidency. Then he believed in the Reagan policies he supported, he'd made changes in his own position over the years, so that he was very much somebody who the American people could expect to perform as that his predecessor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The vice president had no greater admirer, no greater supporter than Barbara Bush. He's a better vice president when she's around, he's a better candidate when she's around. And as advisors go, I don't think there's one more important.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: You should have watched an all-new episode of the CNN original series, "THE BUSH YEARS: FAMILY, DUTY POWER". This Sunday night -- tomorrow night at 10:00 Eastern only on CNN

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:40:07] PAUL: So, listen to this really alarming statistic from the CDC. They say, nearly 40,000 people died from gunshot wounds in 2017. And that is the highest number on record in four decades. Just to put some perspective around that.

BLACKWELL: Yes and right now, Congress trying to figure out where to appropriate federal funding for the next fiscal year. The president will now release his budget proposal in the next few days, but Democrats want some of that money to go toward gun violence prevention research.

Jacqueline Howard, writer for CNN "HEALTH AND WELLNESS" joins us live now. So, this is a big deal to start funding research again. Tell us -- you know, where we are in that path, potentially.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN WRITER, HEALTH AND WELLNESS: Right. So, lawmakers actually discussed this last year, shortly after the Parkland shooting. And in those discussions, they talked about something called the Dickey Amendment.

And while talking about that amendment, they kind of clarified that it's OK for agencies to look into gun violence prevention research, so that was made clear. The only thing is since those discussions not much has happened and one argument that lawmakers and medical professionals who are really pushing for this have made is that out of the top 30 leading causes of death, gun violence is the least researched and the second to least funded when it comes to research. So, those are the arguments.

PAUL: So, do we have a good gauge of what the Trump administration has done or will do?

HOWARD: Right. So, that's still kind of up in the air. And one thing that I think also plays a role in this, last year in general, the CDC experienced some funding cuts. So, we know that that's what happened last year.

PAUL: Yes. HOWARD: So we're kind of waiting to see what exactly will happen this year.

BLACKWELL: You mentioned quickly the Dickey Amendment, but that's really at the center in some ways this conversation. Talked more about that.

HOWARD: Right. So, that amendment was passed in 1996. And it states I'll quote, "None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the CDC may be used to advocate or promote gun control."

So, that's what some say is leading to some of the hesitancy around funding gun violence prevention research.

PAUL: So, what is expected? What do we know? What is expected to happen from this point on?

HOWARD: So, that's still up in the air. But I think it's an interesting debate to watch. Especially, because if lawmakers do decide to pointedly direct funding toward gun violence prevention research, that would be making a huge statement, and that would be the first time since the Dickey Amendment was passed in 1996.

BLACKWELL: Now, the House may want to do that but how plausible is it that it's going to get through this Republican Senate and get the signature of the president.

HOWARD: That's what we're all waiting to see.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

HOWARD: Because it's a very split issue. And I know that -- you know, Democrats are really pushing for this and some have even -- you know, put out the idea of repealing the amendment of the kind of -- you know taking away that amendment.

And some have said, "Well, why can't we do research with the amendment in place? So, it's really kind of a back and forth split issue which is why again, it would be interesting to see how this plays on. And if -- again, funding is directed toward research that would be making a huge statement.

PAUL: No doubt. Jacqueline Howard, thank you for being here.

HOWARD: Thank you.

PAUL: Appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: Next, as white working-class lives are getting a little more difficult, some would say, one author, says they are dying of whiteness. What he says, or why he says, policies leading to those problems are backed by the very people they hurt the most.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [07:47:48] PAUL: 47 minutes past the hour right now. And they are the core promises many Republican candidates make to get to Washington. Repeal and replace Obamacare, protect the Second Amendment, create jobs by cutting taxes. Those fights rage on obviously, for years.

But one researcher says the people who send those candidates to Washington are actually hurting themselves. They're more likely to die from an adequate health care, from guns, or opioid addiction. "So, why did they continue to vote in a way that may be killing them?" He says.

Professor Jonathan Metzl says it boils down to the core of so many things in American politics and he says that is a race. Jonathan Metzl, professor at Vanderbilt University and author of Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America's Heartland.

I thank you so much, Jonathan for being with us. I want to read for people what you wrote in a piece of advice about this book. You wrote of the people that you met, in fact. Because I know that you did convene a group of working white class Americans to talk about some of these issues and you wrote, "When they voiced critiques of opinions that differ from GOP dogma, their concerns were quickly dismissed by other members of the group.

These instances seem to highlight how Trump and the GOP cast core issues such as health care, guns, and tax cuts, not just as policies, but as white racial identities. Being pro-gun or anti-healthcare reform at any cost marked people as being one of us, and questioning these positions made you one of them."

So, is it -- is it just the president and GOP? Or is that -- is tribalism a human condition?

JONATHAN METZL, PROFESSOR, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: Well, that's really gets at the core of what I studied in the book. I did multiple focus groups across the south for seven or eight years, looking at core GOP, kind of Tea Party Trump style policies about healthcare and guns and education.

And what I found was a dramatic range in -- honestly, what it meant to be white in America. Some people were angry, some people were supreme, or whatever. Some people were anxious and threatened.

And I found again and again that when people with a voice in these groups concerns about core GOP policies, in other words, saying, why can't we get background checks on guns even if we're pro-gun? Or why can't we expand Medicaid in our area even if we're supposed to be Obamacare?

That again and again, those voices were drowned out by other members of the group who would kind of toe the line a bit more. And so, it led me to think -- you know that this messaging that comes often from the President and the NRA, and people. But basically tells white Americans that you can't compromise. That if you compromise a little bit, you're going to lose everything. And ultimately, what I argue in the book is that, that is to the detriment. I feel like as white Americans, we can do better and we can kind of -- you know, be more -- be stronger and be more broad.

[07:50:36] PAUL: But there are a lot of centrist voices. No doubt about it. So, let me ask you this. When you were in this -- in these groups of people, and you said you -- that the more maybe extreme views started to drown out the more centrist views. Did the centrist -- to the people who had a more centrist view, did they go to all the way to the right side to this -- you know, right side? Or were they just quieter, they just weren't as loud they weren't as vocal?

METZL: What I found across all the research I did in the book is that the risk to people came from the policies, not the people. And so, even though, I found a dramatic range of opinions in the people I talked to, ultimately, the main risk factor was, did you live in a state or a community that had policies that for example blocked Medicaid expansion or lead guns to go anywhere?

And so, in a way even though I found the dramatic range, I'll never forget talking to people in these groups and I mean, probably six out of 10 of the people would say, I support background checks, for example. Or, can't we have gun safes to make our children safer if there's guns and children in the home? But that wasn't the policy that was dictating their actions because the politicians that they had elected were not going to allow for any kind of middle ground.

PAUL: Well, I mean, history tells us eight years ago, white workers helped to keep black workers down. They also hurt their own wages in the process. But scholars back then understood that those white workers got a pay-off, they were higher on the social totem pole, maybe than those that they kept down. What do you identify as the payoff now?

METZL: Well, certainly the argument that you suggest has gone back, you know, many decades. WEB Du Bois talked about a wage of whiteness. In other words, he asked, why don't white workers align with newly freed slaves to create a powerful workforce alliance?

And the benefit was at the time that you could identify as white and it made you feel like you were better than someone below the totem pole. And I think the same issues are at play right now. That in a way I feel like the political arena right now for working-class southerners, and I should say, of course, I'm a -- I'm a white southerner myself.

But the notion is even though things are tough for you, you're still better off than the people below you. And that's an incredibly powerful message particularly at this moment in time.

PAUL: And the -- at the core, it sounds to me like what you're saying is, this is all because of fear, that yes, is that true?

METZL: I feel strongly that particularly working-class white workers can demand more of their -- of their politicians. I don't -- I think that fear is certainly a factor and it's across the -- across the world right now.

Look at the Brexit and other factors. But I still think that, that shouldn't blind people to saying we'd like policies and politicians that are -- that make our lives better. Not just in rhetoric, not just in tweets, but to say that actually, we want policies that help us build -- you know, build better roads and have better schools.

And I really think that that's something that needs to come from the political arena and also from the communities themselves. And so, again, I'm very empathic to the fear, I mean, we can all kind of feel it right now. But I would say that at the end of the day, we really need to step back and say how can we take care of each other a little bit better?

PAUL: All right, Jonathan Metzl, thank you so much for taking the time for us this morning. Good to have you here.

METZL: Thanks so much, miner.

BLACKWELL: So, one girl's letter to an NBA superstar has started a movement. And Coy, the friendship that they've developed is just a bonus on top of that.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: No doubt about it. Steph Curry is a hero to so many girls and boys, right? But for Steph, it's a courageous 9-year-old girl using her voice who inspires him, who is she, what she do? Saturday motivation, coming up on NEW DAY.

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[07:58:28] BLACKWELL: So, it's not often that you get professional athletes looking up to little kids. But then, you know, not every athlete is Steph Curry.

PAUL: Yes. I found he's been inspired by a 9-year-old girl to do something Epping on the day did something really great here.

WIRE: I love this story.

PAUL: Yes.

WIRE: Good morning to you. It all started because young Riley Morrison, she wrote a handwritten letter to Steph Curry three months ago. And she wondered why she couldn't find his signature shoe in the girl's section online?

Steph saw this, he wrote back, he apologized, he corrected the issue, but that wasn't it. Yesterday, on International Women's Day, Steph debuted those purple Curry 6 United We Win shoes. And those shoes were co-designed with Riley.

Proceeds go to a scholarship for college-bound girls. Riley's words appear inside like, "be fearless, girl power". Riley, she was there to see it because Steph invited her and her family to be there for that moment. And at halftime, Riley was honored. And so, was Vivian Wu, there on the right, a recipient of that new scholarship. After the Warriors beat the Nuggets, you could really hear the awe and respect that Steph has for both of those young ladies, and also for all women.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN CURRY, SIX-TIME ALL-STAR, NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION: This is more of an assessment to -- you know, Riley's and her voice. Vivian trying to do better herself through education. Which is more inspiration in terms of what is possible? We're just a little bit of opportunity.

RILEY MORRISON, 9-YEAR-OLD SHOE MOGUL: It's been amazing, it's a really special experience. I never imagined that this would happen. I'm really happy I wrote that letter, and I'm really happy you wrote back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: Young Riley, thanks for being courageous, being a leader. We here at NEW DAY salute you. Awesome stuff.