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President Trump Is Requesting Some $750 Billion From Congress For Defense Spending ISIS Fighters Try To Keep Control Of One Of Their Last Strongholds; Deadly Plane Crash In Ethiopia; Former Owner Of A South Florida Spa Where Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Allegedly Solicited Sex Acts; A Woman Is Recovering After She Was Attacked By A Jaguar At An Arizona Zoo; Eight Democratic Hopefuls Are Back On The Campaign Trail; J-Rod Is Engaged. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired March 10, 2019 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Finally, something the American and Russian military agree on.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Right now we are learning more about a devastating plane crash in Ethiopia with no survivors. All 157 people on board, an Ethiopian airlines flight, were killed when the Boeing 737 went down shortly after takeoff this morning. So how does a brand new airplane flown by a senior pilot with an excellent flying record suddenly crash into the ground? We will talk to an aviation expert.

Plus, it's another busy day for the 2020 Presidential hopefuls. We have brand new poll numbers looking at the key state of Iowa to give us an idea of where everyone stands. And despite not officially being in the race, former vice President Joe Biden is leading the pack.

Right now we are just hours away from three CNN town halls at the south by southwest conference. Tonight we will hear from former congressman John Delaney, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and South bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

First, let's start with CNN's senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny. So he is live for us right now from Austin, Texas at the south by southwest where the town halls also will be taking place tonight.

So what are you hearing about these new polls, first off?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, good afternoon. The Democratic field is descending on Austin, Texas this weekend for the south pass via southwest conference. But all eyes are of course on those early voting states, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina as well. And we do, as you said, have a poll out.

The new CNN/Des Moines register poll taking an early look at where things stand at this point in the race in Iowa. No surprise Joe Biden is on top of the list followed by Bernie Sanders as well.

Let's take a look at those numbers there. Joe Biden has 27 percent support, Bernie Sanders 25 percent support. From there is falls off rather dramatically with Elizabeth Warren at 9 percent, Kamala Harris at seven percent, Beto O'Rourke not in yet, not a declared candidate at five percent, Cory Booker at three, Amy Klobuchar, three as well.

But Fredricka, this is largely a benchmark if you will. A place where this the race is at the beginning of this contest as these Democrats start to introduce themselves. Joe Biden, if course, not in the race yet. We do believe he is going to get in. All signs are that he will likely announce his candidacy in April. But the question is can he hold this lead? Most certainly not.

As other candidates start introducing themselves, they start eating themselves into that share. But one of those candidates, Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, the former HUD secretary in the Obama administration, he was on with Jake Tapper this morning on "STATE OF THE UNION." He has this to say about these polls.


JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can tell that as I spend time in Iowa that I'm going to gain traction. And as you know, if we were to look at any presidential cycle over the last 40 years, oftentimes it's people that have started off at three percent, one percent, two percent, including Donald Trump at one point was at one percent right before he announced, that can win the nomination. And so this is a long road, a long journey, and I'm going to go out there and make my case.


ZELENY: Of course, Secretary Castro is right about that. These polls at this point are not a predictor of anything but they are a sign of the work that needs to be done in introducing themselves, these candidates in particular.

But Fredricka, we are seeing this field divide between ideology and age. Of course, a party has been moving to the left on a variety of positions, Medicare for all, the green new deal. There are some people taking the middle lane as well.

One of those is John Delaney, the former Maryland congressman. He will be speaking at the CNN town hall tonight as well as the Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, and then the mayor of south bend, Indiana Peter Buggidieg. Those three will be making their case here this evening, Fredricka. So a big field, more candidates can still get in. But it certainly the buzz here in Austin, what this Democratic field looks like.

WHITFIELD: Right. A big night and potentially a lot to be learned.

Thank you so much, Jeff Zeleny. Appreciate that. All right. The Trump administration is headed for another budget

clash with Congress. President Trump will roll out his budget road map tomorrow. And it includes a request for at least $8.6 billion for the border wall. Trump's top economic adviser Larry Kudlow talked about the request this morning.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: So there's going to be another budget fight over the wall?

LARRY KUDLOW, TRUMP ECONOMIC ADVISER: I suppose there will be. I would just say that the whole issue of the wall and border security is of paramount importance. We have a crisis down there. I think the President has made that case very effectively. It's a crisis of economics. It is a crisis of crime and drugs. It is a crisis of humanity. We have to be much tougher and have more constructive immigration policy, which we will be developing over a period of time.

So yes, he is going to stay with his wall and he is going to stay with the border security theme. I think it's essential.


[14:05:21] WHITFIELD: All right. CNN's White House correspondent Boris Sanchez is joining us live from West Palm Beach, California where President Trump will be leaving I just a few hours to head back to Washington.

So, what more can you tell us about this upcoming request?


Yes, President Trump is requesting some $750 billion from Congress for defense spending. That is a $35 billion from last year. And the President, specifically, is asking for $8.6 billion, as you said, for his long promised border wall on the southern border with Mexico.

This is actually the first time the Trump organization is asking for border wall funding from more than one source. President trump requesting $5 billion from customs and border protection, another $3.6 billion for military construction funds at the Pentagon. And notably, Fred, in this budget, the President is also asking for an additional $3.6 billion to essentially reimbursed money that he spent through his national emergency declaration on the issue of immigration. So even though President Trump tried to get around Congress to get money for spending on his border wall, now he is requesting that they approve funds that he spent on that declaration.

Democrats are not embracing this budget. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer put out a statement alongside House speaker Nancy Pelosi.

They write in part quote "President Trump hurt millions of Americans and caused widespread chaos when he recklessly shut the government down to try to get his expensive and ineffective wall which he promised would be paid for by Mexico. Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government. The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson."

So Fred, both sides are digging in for what appears to be an oncoming slug fest, the Republicans begging the President to try to again and potentially face another government shutdown, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez in West Palm, thank you so much.

All right. Let's talk more about this. Joining me right now Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun-Times" and Karoun Demirjian, congressional reporter for the "Washington Post" and a CNN political analyst. Good to see you both, ladies.

So Karoun, you first. Why would the President try yet another one more route for $8 billion this time going directly to Congress after all that everyone has been through?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, they think this last push of that money will help them complete the 722 miles of board fencing that the President and the White House and his advisers have already said is a goal over there, is to try to get that much.

And so, basically it's the double barrel approach of say, do what you are going to do with the emergency declaration, and announce early so that everybody including your base hears they are going to ask for a bigger number than you have been talking about before when it comes to actually spending for the next fiscal year, and that you are going to divert that and you have got a plan to actually complete the border wall or at least the part of the border wall that you promised on a timeline.

Now it's not clear that he will actually get that money. These are budget requests. Congress gets to go over them with a fine tooth comb and usually there are many, many changes. But this is a presentation that the President is making. The fact that he is making is a one-two punch in the same week where he is probably going to have to veto Congress' efforts to stop his ability to use that emergency declaration and they cannot overcome that veto is his way of saying, I'm really doing this. For anybody who is listening, again, we don't know if that means it will actually happen on the border.

WHITFIELD: And Lynn, might just this really just be his reelection campaign strategy so that he can, once again, bring up the wall with a twist.

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Yes, though he doesn't need the budget to do it, but a budget submitted by the executive branch is always seen as much as a policy and political statement as well as an actual financial planning document. There is a saying up on Capitol Hill, even in the best of times that the President proposes and Congress opposes. In this time and place, it would have been a setback for Trump if he did not at least make an opening bid in the next fiscal year budget for wall money.

WHITFIELD: So, Karoun, the new poll numbers that we are getting out of Iowa, the first states scheduled to cast, and you know, votes in the 2020 presidential race, and two senior white men are leading among Democrats. 76-year old Joe Biden who again hasn't officially thrown his hat into the ring, but he is on top there with 27 percent, and followed by 77-year-old Bernie Sanders with 25 percent. The rest of the field in the single digits.

So what does this tell you about thus far this Democratic field and what is or isn't being promised?

DEMIRJIAN: Well, it tells you that at this juncture, which is early, very, very early, that people are comfortable saying that they will support what they know. Joe Biden has been around politics forever. He was a high-profile senator. He was vice president. He has been the subject of memes and other article. I mean, like people have an affinity with Joe Biden that is reflected in his name recognition and people being like, yes, OK, I would be comfortable with him being President.

Same with Bernie Sanders. He made a big splash in 2017. It was controversial whether you really likes him or you really didn't like him, but the point is, he is a known quantity on the political presidential campaign circuit. And then others were entering the fray, even though if you heard their names before like Elizabeth Warren, they are not as well known in terms of having gone through that process and being, you know, in the running to be a standard bearer for the party in a major Presidential election year.

So this is what we are seeing now. It reflects the fact that these candidates need to make themselves better known. But again, remember this is Iowa, which is not representative of the entire country and it doesn't look like the whole country even though it is first and makes a big impression on where things will go in the primaries.

And also it is March of 2019, and there is over 18 months to go, and things can change. And numbers that are this large can shift. I mean, Hillary Clinton had huge numbers, too, when we were talking about, you know, the very early stages of the 2016 contest, and then she was eeked out the win very close to the convention. So it is where we are at this point but we don't even know everybody who is going to be running yet. And I think that we may see shift in the numbers in the month. And let's be honest, it's more than a year to come.

[14:11:28] WHITFIELD: Yes. And Lynn, you know, that poll also asks voters, you know, how they would feel about a straight white male nominee. I mean, that was the question being asked. Just 38 percent of voters said they would be satisfied with that result while 21 percent said they would be dissatisfied, 40 percent unsure. So what do you make of those numbers?

SWEET: What I make is -- I have three quick points I would like to make. Maybe not so quick but I'll try. One, that the Democrats in Iowa just want to pick someone to win, and they kind of just don't care who. Two, the Democrats in Iowa on that ages because they are open to having candidates over 70. And three, the thing we have to look at the new context of what the Iowa vote means, and that it will not be as decisive as it has been because of the large number of candidates. Iowa will serve as a vetting process and actually coming in at the top -- you don't have to win Iowa anymore, you just to end up in the top three. And the poll tells us that there is plenty of room, then, for someone else to come in and show a strength if these numbers hold, which I agree with both, you know, with everything we have been talking about. They will not hold. People are going there to make their case.

WHITFIELD: All fascinating.

All right. Lynn Sweet, Karoun Dimerjian, always good to see you, ladies. Thanks so much.

SWEET: Thanks, Fred.

DIMERJIAN: Thank you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And now this breaking news from the borders of Syria.


WHITFIELD: Dramatic pictures and sound as ISIS fighters try to keep control of one of their last strongholds. And CNN is the only U.S. network to witness what could be the final assault here.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is in the thick of it all there in eastern Syria and joining us.

Ben, what's happening?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fredricka, this operation began about two hours and 13 minutes ago with a lot of gunfire, a lot of incoming, or rather, outgoing mortar fire. We have heard AC130 inspection gunships flying overhead and into this last sliver of lands still held by the state that called itself Islamic. It's only about a half square mile.

We don't know how many civilians. We don't know how many fighters are still inside, but clearly these are the last ones, these are the holdouts, the ones who didn't surrender. We have watched over the last few weeks as thousands of fighters and have surrendered and tens of thousands of civilians, many of them families of these ISIS fighters, many of them from Europe and elsewhere, but it does appear that this is perhaps the final operation.

Three times within the last month. This is the third time we have seen operations to try to clear this last pocket out, but officials from the U.S.-backed Syrian democratic forces have halted on several occasions to try to allow all these civilians to go out to avoid civilian casualties. But it does appear that this is perhaps the final operation. We don't know how long it's going to take. It is expected that it's going to be a difficult battle. It could take weeks, as a matter of fact. But it's a very small area. But given the intensity of the resistance, it could last a while. In fact, we were just outside that enclave one hour before the operation began and the gunfire was intense. Gun fire coming from within the camp. There were snipers firing in our direction. It's going to be a tough battle - Fredricka.

[14:15:15] WHITFIELD: So Ben, you talk about this half square mileage, you know, area which is very small, but the density of which these, you know, strongholds are maintaining the battle there. Through the elimination, we see mortars, you know, flying behind you, by this potential elimination or elimination of those last standing, would this means the end of the caliphate?

WEDEMAN: No, as a matter of fact, if will not mean the end of the caliphate. What we have seen, even in this part of Syria over the last month and a half, is a series of attacks: suicide car bombings, ambushes. They have managed -- many of the fighters managed to take refuge in the desert and mountain areas, some of them mixing in with the local population.

And many of the fighters I spoke to who had surrendered made it clear that at the first possible opportunity they will take up arms again. So nobody in this part of the Middle East is under the illusion that this is the end of ISIS. It's merely the end of ISIS as a pseudo state, so to speak, as a state that had a bureaucracy and all that goes with being a country. But as a tariff insurgency, and this is how ISIS began, ISIS will return to being that, unfortunately -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: A battle, not the war. All right, Ben Wedeman, thank you so much.

Still ahead, searching for answers after a deadly plane crash in Ethiopia. More than 150 on board all killed. The latest from the ground, next.

And later, new questions about the woman who formally owned a spa where Robert Kraft allegedly solicited sex. How Cindy Yang is now facing accusations that she is selling Chinese investors access to the President of the United States. We are back in a moment.


[14:21:24] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. We are getting new details on a deadly plane crash in Ethiopia. Eight Americans are among the 157 passengers and crew killed when an Ethiopian airlines plane crashed shortly after taking off from the capital of Addis Ababa.

The airline says the plane's pilot reported technical difficulties and asked for clearance to return but never made it. The plane, a Boeing 737 max eight is the same type involved in a crash in Indonesia last year. Boeing is sending a team to the crash site in Ethiopia and put out a statement which says in part, we extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of passengers and crew onboard and stand ready to support the Ethiopian airlines team.

The United Nations says several other officials were on the plane. And some 37 different nationalities were represented.

CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest is joining us now from London. So Richard, should we be concerned that this is the same model of

plane involved in the Indonesian crash of Lyon air last year?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, the similarities are there. It was the same plane, both of new model. Both (INAUDIBLE) new. It was the same phase of flight. And after initial takeoff in to the early climb, at around 7,000 to 9,000 feet. There is the same sort of profile where you suddenly see a dip, admittedly with Lyon air it was more pronounced. You suddenly see a change in altitude. And that the plane goes back up again and then stops.

Now, these are all similarities and they might mean nothing at all, which is why the investigators really do need to get to the bottom of this quite quickly. And the central allegation is whether or not it is the plane or did something else happen completely unrelated, and we don't know. And that is the long and short of it, Fredricka. But the necessity of determining if there is any correlation is very high.

WHITFIELD: And so, Richard, you know, there will be a confluence of investigators. You got Boeing that will be sending in their team to try and analyze, you know, the plane, what could have happened. You have got Ethiopian, you know, airline security investigative, you know, arms who are going to be looking into this.

What is likely to happen in terms of the investigation? Who takes the lead in something like this in the next few hours?

QUEST: Oh, this is clear cut. The Ethiopians that had the plane and it happened in their airspace. Whoever had the airspace takes the lead in the investigation. And they will be assisted by, well, you have got Boeing, which makes the aircraft. They will be assisted by whichever is the airline manufacturer or the engine manufacturer. The NTSB will most definitely be accredited, is the phrase. You will probably get the British CIA who will be accredited. So anybody who has anything to do with it will be accredited to the investigation.

WHITFIELD: And when you say anything to do with it because of the relation or building of the airline?

QUEST: No, the air frame.

WHITFIELD: The airframe.

QUEST: Yes, the airline will be accredited as well to the official investigation. It will be the Ethiopians who are doing the investigation. And before anybody casts doubt in that direction, Ethiopia has an exceptional, exceptionally good aviation record. The airline is world class. The investigators will know exactly what they are doing and they will have the support of the international aviation community where they may need extra expertise. That's the important thing. (INAUDIBLE). I mean, they will get to the bottom quite quickly of what happened here.

[14:25:15] WHITFIELD: Yes. So it's not just the aircraft, you know, that is going to be examined, but of course, you know, the pilot, the crew, et cetera. What will that entail, that kind of investigation?

QUEST: They will be looking at the background. The captain of the command had more than 8,000 hours. He was extremely experienced. But it was a new plane. And you know, I know -- I can hear certain viewers probably saying don't speculate, Richard. Don't go there. And that is true. But your starting point in discussing this has to be, what are the mere coincidences? Where do you look?

Now, as to the max three -- I'm sorry, the max eight, and everything I have heard, look, I spoke to one airline CEO who said if it was in his fleet he would have no problem continuing to fly it until more information is known. And that's the key here. But they will find the black boxes. They will find them and they will find them quickly because of the nature of the crash. There will be no searching in deep seas or anything like that. And they will get a very quick read on what happened, I promise you.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Oh, these images are incredible, too, because it looks like the debris field is pretty compacted. And at least from the images we are seeing, you know, they are small pieces. These are small pieces in, you know, in comparison to what a 737 is.

QUEST: Right. And that -- unpleasant to talk about these things, but it does give an understanding of what happened. That very much suggests, putting it crudely, the plane fell out of the sky at speed. The complete disintegration of the air frame to the point where there are no large pieces of fuselage remaining. That only happens when effectively the plane goes into a dive and falls out of the sky.

WHITFIELD: All right. Richard Quest, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

QUEST: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Severe turbulence injuries more than 30 people on a New York-bound flight. The Turkish airlines flight traveling from Istanbul Saturday when it experienced severe turbulence about 40 minutes from landing at JFK airport. Authorities say passengers and crew members are among the hurt. Most of the injuries, cuts, bruises, although one person may have broken their leg.

Up next, is a former day spa known for trafficking getting too close to the President? A woman about her access to the United States and somehow they may be capitalizing on it.


[14:32:14] WHITFIELD: We are learning new details today about the former owner of a south Florida spa where Patriots owner Robert Kraft allegedly solicited sex acts. Cindy Yang is seen here in a selfie with President Trump attending a Patriots super bowl party at Mar-a- Lago just days before Kraft's arrest. The "Miami Herald" is now reporting Yang runs a consulting company which promises Chinese clients access to the President of the United States and his family for a price.

Let's bring in CNN's Kaylee Hartung who is in Jupiter, Florida.

So Kaylee, walk us through all this information.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, it turns out that that photo of the former owner of this spa at the President's super bowl party was just our first glimpse into her proximity to the President's orbit. Yang told the "Miami Herald" that she's no longer in the spa business. And the herald reports that she now, as you mentioned, is running this Florida-based consulting firm that promises Chinese investors she can introduce them to the political elite in this country, specifically President Trump and members of his family.

So the spotlight is moved from that selfie at the Super Bowl party to a series of photos that were taken on a night in December of 2017 at a paid fundraiser for President Trump in New York City. That night Yang's consulting firm did what they promised clients they can do. She assembled a group of Chinese businessmen to attend that party. A source at the party told the "Miami Herald" that this woman, she identified herself as an official at the national committee of Asian- American Republicans. That's a political action committee based in D.C. that was started in the summer of 2016, and in reference to this group of Chinese businessmen at the event, she said, they're all my guests.

Now, there are rules in this country about who can attend political fundraisers and by what means. Foreign visitors can attend, but they cannot pay their own way, only citizens of this country and permanent residents of this country can donate to political campaigns.

Well, we have learned with the help of SEC filings that in the days leading up to this event, Yang donated serious sums of money to the President. Yang gave more than $5,000 to President Trump's campaign and more than $23,000 to the Trump victory political action committee.

So, again, these rules that govern our political campaign events are there to protect the integrity of our elections. And so it would be illegal for a foreign national to even reimburse United States citizens for paying their way to this event. We have reached out to the White House, we have reached out to Yang herself, we have reached out to the RNC, the Trump campaign. But none of these entities have returned our request for comment, Fred.

[14:35:00] WHITFIELD: All right. And the "Miami Herald" also reporting that Yang is in the process of moving to Washington, D.C.

Kaylee Hartung, thank you so much in Florida. Appreciate it.

All right. Coming up, a selfie of a very different sort leads to a terrifying animal attack at an Arizona zoo when a jaguar grabs hold of a woman who gets too close. How quick thinking by a good Samaritan helped the woman escaped with her life next.


[14:39:37] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. A woman is recovering after she was attacked by a jaguar at an Arizona zoo. Witnesses say the woman crossed the barrier to take a selfie at the wildlife world zoo outside Phoenix yesterday. That's when the big cat latched on to her arm with its clause and we are just now hearing the tape of the 911 call made moments after the attack.


[14:40:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go ahead and state your emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. So we have this lady she got hurt by a panther, by one of our jaguars, I mean.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Where is she at?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's at the zoo. And we need an ambulance to help her because her arm is in pretty bad shape.


WHITFIELD: So as the woman cried for help, people nearby quickly responded. One shoved her water bottle through the cage to try to distract the animal, and it actually worked. The jaguar let the woman go.

I'm joined now by wildlife expert Jeff Corwin.

Jeff, so good to see you. What's your initial reaction when you hear a story like this?

JEFF CORWIN, HOST, ABC'S OCEAN TREKS WITH JEFF CORWIN: Well, I got to tell you, Fredricka, I have encountered wild jaguars, I have worked with wild jaguars. They are incredibly powerful cats. They are the masters of their domain, and I tell you what, I would never turn my back to a jaguar to get a selfie.

And when you have an animal that's as powerful as this predator and you go behind the barriers where you are not supposed to be in the interest of getting your moment captured in a selfie, and you turn your most vulnerable part of yourself to the animal in the cage, you are opening yourself up, or you are literally turning your back onto a very serious predicament.

WHITFIELD: And so, you know, the zoo director, you know, has weighed in on this saying this particular jaguar has attacked a person once before, in both cases, again, just like you said, the barrier was crossed. So at what point is it an issue, you know, of personal responsibility versus the zoo safety?

CORWIN: Well, that's a great question. I can tell you that most zoos in the United States, especially zoos that are part of the AZA, the official organization that recognizes their memberships that are zoos and aquariums in the United States, that they have very specific protocols in place to protect the animals and to protect the public.

But there is this element of common sense. If you see a place where you know you do not have access to, you don't have a pathway there, there is clearly a barrier to politely remind you that this is where you are not allowed to go and you choose to invade that barrier for something to do that you shouldn't be doing, I think you're incredibly vulnerable.

Now, the question is, is it time, maybe, to put some signage there if there is not signs or specific bullet point notices to say, be careful, this is a no person zone.

WHITFIELD: Yes, but you know, you underscore that it's common sense. If the barrier is there, right, it's there for a purpose. And this kind of exemplifies that sometimes people are willing to risk their lives for what they think is going to be a really cool moment. I mean, a selfie?

CORWIN: It's remarkable. I think we lose the sense that we are responsible for our own actions in environments like this. We assume that this institution is there to ensure our 100 percent safety no matter what we do. That is not the case.

And, again, we are losing sight and perspective of what a jaguar is. Fred, when these creatures pursue their preys, large animals like rainforest deer and tapirs, these rhinoceros members of that family tapirs, they pursue them.

WHITFIELD: They could be very illusive.

CORWIN: And this woman turned her back and literally was more concerned about getting what she thought was a real cool selfie in a place where she was not supposed to be. And it's a reminder that when we're in a zoo, we are still in the presence of wild animals and the zoo has a responsibility to keep ourselves safe, but we have a responsibility, Fred, to use common sense.

WHITFIELD: Right. And you know, this woman, from at least what we can see in the video of her injury, she really might be very lucky because of the other woman who apparently tried to distract, you know, throwing a bottle into the cage. You know, we saw the video of what appears the jaguar is actually chewing on what could have been that bottle. But you know, using a diversionary tactic to help this woman finally find safety.

CORWIN: Smart thinking on that intervening woman's behalf who literally used a shiny, bright object to distract this jaguar, literally putting herself at risk to protect this woman who has likely, or from what we understand, has violated the policy of this zoo by going behind that barrier, and it was a very, very smart move.

Also keep in mind these injuries could have been a lot worse. She sustained some significant scratches and puncture wounds to her hand from the claw marks of this creature's paw. It could have been worse if it had gotten hold of it with its mouth. It also tells you maybe the jaguar was. Maybe it was like, look, I don't want you here. This is my private space. This is my quiet time. What are you doing here taking a selfie?

[14:45:10] WHITFIELD: Right. All right. Jeff Corwin, thank you so much. Always good to see you,

unfortunately, under circumstances like this. We cannot find another way in which to reunite and have a conversation about animals.

CORWIN: There is a lot of conversation out there, Fred.

WHITFIELD: I they are. All right thank you so much.

Still ahead, Democrats are hot on the campaign trail, but one name that is not coming up a whole lot? President Trump. We will explain why next.


[14:50:04] WHITFIELD: Today eight Democratic hopefuls are back on the campaign trail making their case to voters across the country. They are sharing their personal stories, their qualifications and their agenda. But one thing we are not hearing very often? President Trump's name.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny is back with us.

So Jeff, good to see you again. A very different tactic from Democrats on the trail this time around.

ZELENY: Good afternoon, Fredricka.

It's very interesting. President Trump, of course, is keeping his hand, and in some respects, his fingers in this Democratic Presidential campaign. But we have noticed the last several weeks or so that Democrats are doing something very unusual, they are barely mentioning him at all as they are introducing themselves to voters.


ZELENY (voice-over): In the opening round of the Democratic primary, one name is often going unspoken.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We got to beat that person in the White House.

ZELENY: Never mind that the 2020 Presidential race revolves almost entirely around that person, though you seldom hear the words Donald Trump from those eyeing his job.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that in some ways is the biggest punishment to the guy who always wants to be in the spotlight. Let's just turn the spotlight off.

ZELENY: Turning off or dimming Trump's spotlight may be easier said than done considering how he looms over today's politics and how eager he is to shape the democratic primary.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want to be the Republican that runs against them. ZELENY: Most Democratic candidates are still finding their way to

navigate Trump, showing a balance of strength and not taking the bait. Even Bernie Sanders, who calls out his name more than any of his rivals, has this to say on the campaign trail.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This struggle is not just about defeating Donald Trump.

ZELENY: While Democrats have spent more than two years rallying against the President, it's striking how little his name comes up on the campaign trail, where candidates say simply going after Trump would get in the way of introducing themselves into finding their candidacies.

BOOKER: We have to understand it's not about him, it's about us. We should be motivated by not what we are against but what we are for as a country.

ZELENY: Senator Cory Booker is choosing the high road over the hammer.

One name I noticed you didn't mention was President Trump.

BOOKER: Look. It's not about what we are against, it's got about what we are for as a country. Clearly, clearly, this election is in urgency to make sure he is not the President after 2020.

WHITFIELD: You don't even mention his name. You call him "he" or "that President."

BOOKER: Look. It is, again, it's about justice, it is about unity. It is about bringing our country together.

ZELENY: The argument Kamala Harris is making about Trump is a little bit more subtle, using it as an opening line for her term as prosecutor.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I plan on prosecuting the case against people who do not tell the truth or who are purveyors of injustice in this country.

ZELENY: It's Senator Elizabeth Warren who has felt the sting more than all Democratic hopefuls including this attack over the weekend.

TRUMP: I should have save the Pocahontas thing for another year.

ZELENY: She says she is not afraid of standing up to him but she is also trying to delay distraction.

WARREN: Never let bullies went over you. But we got to get out there and talk about what we believe in.


ZELENY: So campaign advisers say that these Democratic candidates want to introduce themselves and show their positive attributes on their own terms before getting into a back and forth with the President. Of course, that is likely coming at some point.

But for now at least, Fredricka, they are doing something that might irk the President even more. That is ignoring him.

WHITFIELD: Right. That really gets under his skin, it seems.

All right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much.

And of course, don't forget to join CNN tonight at the live from south by southwest in Austin, Texas. We have three CNN presidential town halls with former congressman John Delaney 7:00, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard at 8:00 and Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 9:00.

Jake Tapper and Dana Bash moderate and it also starts tonight 7:00 p.m. eastern only on CNN.


[14:58:15] WHITFIELD: Jenny from the block is now Jenny with a serious rock. Singer Jennifer Lopez said yes to a marriage proposal by baseball legend Alex Rodriguez. Look at the pretty stone there. Both stars posting this Instagram photo with a very, very large diamond engagement ring and their lovely hands there. The couple affectionately known as J-Rod have been dating for two years now. This will be the fourth marriage for Lopez and the second for A-Rod. Congratulations to them.

All right. And then last night, "Saturday Night Live" taking aim at R. Kelly's explosive interview with CBS anchor Gayle King.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what, this is all great stuff. But maybe we should save it for some of the interview.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you talking about? This is the interview.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For rea? But then where are the cameras?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is literally one right in front of you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys just keep your camera out in the open like that? Are you all some freaks?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just tell me why all those women would say the same things about you if they weren't true?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can start a rumor about any celebrity just like that. All you got to do is push a button on your phone and say, R. Kelly did this to me and then attach a video of me doing that thing and people will believe you. It's scary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really want to laugh right now, but I can't tell if this interview is a prank on you or a prank on me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This interview was going great. But Frank (ph) thinks I'm innocent. I should be a lawyer or maybe I should run for President.


[15:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, you could hear that?



WHITFIELD: All right. We have got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM. It all starts right now.