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Emergency Breaking Point That Border Official Said Was About To Hit The Southern U.S. Border; President Stumped Republicans With A Push For The Courts To Strike Down Obamacare Without A Replacement; Trump Administration Are Still Unfilled; Georgia Lawmakers Just Passed A Controversial Antiabortion Bill Called The Heartbeat Bill; The City Of Chicago Wants "Empire" Actor Jussie Smollett To Pay Them $130,000; March Was A Rough Month For Facebook; Drug Lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Will Be Featured In A Branded Clothing. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired March 30, 2019 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:03] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being here.
Right now, the emergency breaking point that border official said was about to hit the southern U.S. border is here. It is happening. Thousands of people, including many families, who crossed into the U.S. are packing migrant processing centers in such huge numbers there is just not enough space to handle them.
This is in El Paso, Texas where people are being corralled under a bridge behind a chain link fence. Border stations all across the state are simply overwhelmed. And immigration officials are about to release a lot of people, possibly thousands from detention.
But take a look at this. Customers and border protection today just released a snapshot of how overwhelmed they are. These are some of the migrant processing centers that are well over 100 percent capacity right now.
In El Paso, nearly triple the number of people they are designed to handle there. And look at McAllen, Texas, 358 percent over capacity. And we are getting details now about a plan to release hundreds of those detained people from overcrowded migrant centers into communities in south Texas. There's just no space left for them.
CNN's Natasha Chen is on the U.S.-Mexico border. And CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood is near the President's Mar-a-Lago resort in South Florida where he is spending a weekend.
Natasha, give us some more of the numbers. How many people are about to be released and when is this going to happen?
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, we talked to the Brownsville city manager this morning. He has already observed within the past couple of weeks that migrants have been dropped off by CBP at the bus depot in town.
And he said for the first week-and-a-half they were seeing about 50 people a day. In the last few days that's really ramped up to average about 300 people a day. When we talked to him this morning he said by 5:00 a.m. they were already seeing 150 people just today. And he has been told to expect many more in the days to come. He does not know how long this will last.
Now, when he talked to me, he said CBP told him that they were just over capacity, like those numbers you mentioned, they just can't handle it so they are releasing them into Brownsville fir the moment and potentially throughout the valley.
So the city of Brownsville and non-profit partners are helping these migrants. They are helping get cellphones to contact their family members, to get them bus tickets or plane tickets to get to their next point in their destination. The said -- city manager said he would like to keep Brownsville as a temporary stop on the way in their journey as opposed to a permanent shelter. A very challenging situation there.
Meanwhile, President Trump is looking at this situation, saying he would shut down the border if Mexico does not stop all illegal immigration from their side. Of course we are seeing a lot of people cross into Mexico from Texas right here in McAllen who have just everyday business, going to the dentist, seeing their families.
Here is what a couple of them said to us today when we talked to them about the possibility of the border closing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLOS FLORES, VISITS FAMILY ACROSS THE BORDER: Every time I get a chance, so I can see my dad, he lives over there. He just acquired his visa, right, but he has only been over here for three or four times. My kids have barely met their grand, you know, their granddaddy. I haven't even showed him around. And now, you know, having this border, you know, getting shut down, you know, what am I going to tell my kids? You know what, your granddad can't come over here no more?
CHRIS LEACH, LIVES IN MEXICO AND WORKS IN U.S.: Every day, (INAUDIBLE). Sometimes that line for people coming from Mexico to go to the states can be up to two hours long, just to give you an idea how many people are crossing to go to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: And that man you just heard from there is a Boston Trump supporter. He says he now lives in Mexico with his wife and crosses the border into the U.S. daily for work. He says he still supports the President but if the border closes, that's going to be very frustrating for him and it will affect his daily life, Ana.
CABRERA: OK, Natasha, stand by.
Let me turn to Sarah, because I know you have word from the White House. What is the administration planning to do to deal with this? SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well Ana, border patrol is
saying that the situation is reaching a breaking point, that the number of migrants in detention is reaching crisis levels.
This is President Trump once again threatening to close down the southern border if he doesn't get more cooperation with Mexico, to try to stem the flow of undocumented migrants coming into the U.S.
And this is not the first time that President Trump has said he would close down the border. He did so in December. But it's the first time he is attaching a deadline to that threat. He says he will do so by next week if he doesn't start to see results. And this comes as customs and border patrol says that the increase in the number of families coming into the U.S. is putting enormous strain on their limited resources. They say that their facilities just weren't designed to handle family units.
I want to read you part of customs and border patrol's statement. They say, U.S. border patrol has been transparent for several months by conveying the message both publicly, internationally, and to Congress that the immigration system is broken. And that they are at critical capacity levels across the southwest border. Customs and border patrol facilities and manpower cannot support this drastic increase in apprehensions of family units and unaccompanied children. There is no consequence that the border patrol can apply to this demographic under current law and court rulings.
So that spike in the number of children, parents coming over the southwest border, that is causing border patrol to now have to process them quickly and release them into the U.S. That's something that President Trump has railed against, wanted to avoid in what he has said about his immigration policy.
And here is what else DHS had to say, the department of homeland security is committed to addressing this humanitarian need but the current situation is unsustainable for border patrol operations. The status quo is not an option. The legal framework must be addressed and the only remedy to this crisis is congressional action.
Now, CBP is also saying that the humanitarian crisis created by this many migrants being in detention that is diverting agents away from their law enforcement responsibilities. CBP is also saying they are on track this month, March, to apprehend more people than any month since 2008.
So the underlying numbers, the situation at the border, apparently growing more dire than it was when President Trump first started threatening to declare a national emergency months ago. Now CBP is saying it is really reaching crisis levels. President Trump renewing those threats to close down the border, Ana, but not offering a lot of specifics about what a shutdown might look like.
[16:06:39] CABRERA: And I think it's important to be clear that the majority of the people who are coming across the border being apprehended, according to government officials, are families and unaccompanied minors. Those are the people who are seeking assistance here in the U.S.
Sarah Westwood, Natasha Chen, thank you for joining us and giving us that latest information.
Now the President, he is digging in on his threat to shut down the border. We want to show you what life is like in one of these communities along the U.S./Mexico line.
CNN's Ed Lavandera takes us there.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every day this week buses have dropped-off nearly 100 Central American migrants on the doorstep of the Good Neighbor Settlement House Shelter in Brownsville, Texas. Most are requesting asylum but the scene is sparking frustrating among immigrant rights advocates as legions of volunteers scramble to help mothers and fathers with their children.
CHRISTINA PATINO HOULE, EQUAL VOICE NETWORK: What we see is that our community is being instrumentalized as a tool in larger political game which is completely antithetical to what the neighbors here want.
LAVANDERA: Good Neighbor Settlement is one of several shelters helping migrants suddenly released this week by Customs and Border Protection. The agency says it can't handle the massive number of migrants crossing the border.
KEVIN MCALEENAN, COMMISSIONER, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: The immigration system was at the breaking point. That breaking point has arrived this week at our border.
LAVANDERA: CBP officials say border agents are on pace for apprehensions and encounters with more than 100,000 migrants in March, which would be the highest number of monthly illegal border crossings in a decade.
The department of homeland security secretary today is warning the system is in free fall. And President Trump says that tens of thousands of migrants requesting asylum are carrying out a "big fat con job" and is now threatening to shut down the border to control illegal immigration.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we are on track for a million illegal aliens trying to rush our borders. It is an invasion, you know that.
LAVANDERA: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
VILMA, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
LAVANDERA: We met Vilma and her daughter at the shelter in Brownsville. They asked we not show their faces because they fear being returned to El Salvador.
VILMA: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) LAVANDERA: Vilma says they fled their home country with her daughter because they feared being killed. Gang members murdered her mother last year.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
LAVANDERA: Her daughter says three police officers unleashed a bruising attack on her in January, kicking and punching her for reasons that were never clear. That's when they decided to leave. Advocates say this is not a con job but real people facing life and death consequences.
LAURA PENA, IMMIGRANT ADVOCATE: We are not ignorant here in the Rio Grande Valley. We know what's happening.
LAVANDERA: Immigrant rights advocates say the Trump administration is deliberately creating a sense of chaos with mass releases of migrants or housing migrants under a bridge in El Paso and giving families confusing paperwork.
This is one of the migrants who asked us not to identify her. But these are the forms that they are given once they are released from custody here. And if you look closely here, this is supposed to be a notice to appear, giving them a date and time when they are supposed to appear immigration court, but here they are not given their dates.
The Trump administration says there is no manufactured crisis on the southern border and that there is a real humanitarian and security crisis unfolding.
So critics say the Trump administration is trying to bolster its case for a national emergency to build more border wall. But the President's threat to close down the border, that's really sending shock waves throughout these border communities.
You see that bridge in the distance, that's what millions of people use to get back and forth. That connects Brownsville to (INAUDIBLE). People use that to see family and friends, get to work, get to school. That sort of thing. They are the lifeline of these border communities. And shutting them down, shutting down these ports of entry will have a devastating effect.
Ed Lavendera, CNN, Brownsville, Texas.
[16:10:26] CABRERA: Thanks, Ed.
And just blocks away from the scene in that border battle, in El Paso, Democratic Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke formally kicked off his Presidential campaign this afternoon. The former Texas congressman made the immigration fight a key theme of his rally today. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's make sure that we never take another child for another mother at their most desperate and vulnerable moment. Let us reunite every single one of those families that are still separated today. If we are really serious about security, we have a golden opportunity, Republicans, Independents, Democrats alike, to work on comprehensive immigration reform.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: O'Rourke also accused President Trump of using fear to keep Americans divided. And he called for freedom for so-called Dreamers, the undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.
The border battle, the health care fight, not to mention the debacle over the Special Olympics. Next, why the President's post-Mueller victory lap may be clouded by chaos.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:15:42] CABRERA: The President may be taking a post-Mueller victory lap. But he is not coasting. Let's revisit the chaos of the last few days.
First, the President stumped Republicans with a push for the courts to strike down Obamacare without a replacement.
Then came an ugly controversy over funding of the Special Olympics.
And then we ended the week with the President setting a deadline now to shut down the southern border.
Let's bring in our CNN political Analyst, "New York Times" politics editor Patrick Healy and White House reporter for "the Washington Post" Sueng Min Kim.
So Patrick, the President clearly feels emboldened right now, but is this the wisest use of his political capital?
PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, immigration and the wall are still his major talking points. They were before the Mueller report. They have been now after the Mueller report.
But escalating it, Ana, in this way, it raises really big questions. For instance, the economy right now is going in the direction that a lot of Republicans like. They feel like this is something that they can run on ultimately in 2020. They are trying to get to a better place with trade. Something like sealing the border is the kind of disruption that will rattle all of the -- certainly the millions of trucks in trade that's going on.
CABRERA: Right, it's not just the border he has been, you know, throwing out there, but again, we mentioned, the healthcare debate that is now front and center again, which of course I would imagine, the Democrats are pretty excited to take on.
HEALY: Right. No, the Democrats are so ready for it. And the degree to which President Trump has decided to pivot from Mueller and start going right after Obamacare just raises huge questions about why at this point, if Republicans don't have a clear plan to replace Obamacare, why raise this? Why raise questions that Republicans struggled with so much in the midterms, about what they would do with preexisting conditions, how they would replace it?
CABRERA: So Min, given that president has threaten to close the border now, Patrick talked about some of the economic pieces of all of this. He is giving us a time frame. He has threatened to do it before but now he is saying if, you know, the situation at the border doesn't change, it's going to happen in the next week or so. The border is going to come 00 it is going to be closed. Is the White House really prepared to deal with the fallout from this decision?
SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He has threatened to do this before. Clearly having gone through. So we will wait and see what actions this administration will take to actually go ahead and close the border next week.
But look, the President, I mean, we have talked about it earlier, but we can't kind of understate the consequences of these decisions. And we are looking at some of the numbers, it is $1.7 billion of goods between U.S. and Mexico traded every day. This will be a huge impact on the economy.
And since the news broke yesterday, there was a little bit of a quiet day, we haven't heard too much back from Republicans yet. But I can almost guarantee you that Republicans, particularly along the border, who live in the border states, whose home states are very affected by this U.S./Mexico commerce, will not be happy with this decision.
CABRERA: Not to mention that Congress still hasn't signed off on the USMCA. trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. Is it smart, Sueng Min, for the President to be threatening to close borders without that deal worked out?
KIM: The President has liked these threatening tactics. He has indicated privately and even publicly that he finds, for example, the threat of tariffs really effective in negotiating with countries over trade deals.
But look, the Republicans don't like those tactics, you know. It creates a lot of uncertainty in the economy. There's questions about whether he will follow through. And what will Congress do in response if this does go ahead and happen next week? Those are all questions that we are waiting to find out.
But Democrats here too have kind of dismissed the notion that there is a crisis at the border as the administration has kept saying for the last several weeks, as they push for a border wall and push for more aggressive immigration tactics. But I think at this point for Democrats it's hard to ignore the rising numbers from the administration, you know, more than 70,000 people apprehended at the border in February. And Democrats are going to will have to come up with some sort of solution here as well.
CABRERA: OK. I want to talk a little bit more about health care with you, Patrick. The President saying he has put together a group now of four or five Senate Republicans to come up with a plan to replace Obamacare should the courts strike it down, which of course this administration is urging to have happen, although we are hearing from one Senate Republican aide telling CNN quote "I think the President just listed off the names of people he has spoken to on the phone about health care." So clearly there isn't a plan here.
Why does he want to pick this fight?
[16:20:15] HEALY: I mean, it's so much about coming out of the Mueller, you know, investigation and feeling emboldened, didn't wanting to go after some very big targets that he sees as key to reelection.
We talked about immigration before. Obamacare was something that he railed against. We saw him in the last few weeks starting going after John McCain, you know, who passed away last year, sort of deciding to give him that fight again because John McCain wouldn't vote with him on repealing Obamacare. This is something that sticks deeply in the President's craw, the idea that he hasn't been able to successfully deal with it.
The problem is what the President doesn't seem to have grasped politically is that in 2018, getting rid of Obamacare was such a loser for Republican House incumbents who are in battleground districts who had no strong response to the idea that if they get rid of Obamacare, they wouldn't be able to protect preexisting health care conditions. They were getting pummeled, one after another after another. And you had Americans standing up and saying to their members of Congress, my children are going to suffer. My family is going to suffer, if you do this without a plan.
So you know, the President, it seems like, sure, is talking to people on the phone and saying they will come up with something. But it's not something that makes voters feel secure or feel better about their own families' wellbeing.
CABRERA: And remember, Republicans couldn't come up with a deal when they controlled all the different chambers, the presidency as well as both Congress and the Senate, Seung Min. So what would it take for the Republican Senate and the President to find a health care law they could agree on? Is it even possible?
KIM: Very, very difficult. The big pressure point I think is that court case that we talked about earlier, that occurred earlier this week, right now, the case that essentially where the administration is arguing they want to throw out the affordable care act. Currently in the fifth circuit court of appeals, it could certainly make its way up to the Supreme Court.
So if the Supreme Court does throw out the law, then certainly Congress. Both Democrats and Republicans, will have to come together at that point to come up with some sort of a replacement plan for the affordable care act.
But first of all, that is months if not at least a year away. Those are kind of the only circumstances that Republicans are actually entertaining coming up with the replacement plan right now. Because if you talk to most Senate Republicans or most Republicans, I mean, some of the President's allies do defend him on this, saying we do need to go have another bite at the apple.
But if you talk to Republican lawmakers about what they are working on when it comes to health care, it's very piecemeal, small ball. They want to work on lowering the price of prescription drugs and that's where their focus is right now.
So the President may be saying one thing but the Republican focus really is on another. And it's not even as if there's no problem. There really doesn't seem to be a plan to have a plan, which is the problem right now for Republicans in health care.
CABRERA: All right. Seung Min Kim and Patrick Healy, good to have both of you with us. Thank you.
Meanwhile, dozens positions inside. The Trump administration are still unfilled. Key positions currently at people serving in acting only roles.
CNN's Tom Foreman take a look at the leadership turnover across agencies - Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Ana, Donald Trump has been in office for more than two years right now. He is more than halfway through his elected term. And we all know about the turmoil that has happened in his original leadership team, how many people have turned over there. But he still has dozens of positions that are unfilled right now. And a lot of people in acting positions.
For example, over at the Pentagon, there's acting secretary of defense right now.
At the department of interior, where there were all those questions about ethics violations, the man who is trying to fill that job now is also being hammered with questions from Congress because he is a former oil industry lobbyist. So he is seeking confirmation there.
The person who is the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is in an acting capacity. We just heard how the head of the small business administration is also heading out the door.
But it's not just ceremonial here. We are talking about really serious positions. For example, while we are having all this debate about the U.S./Mexico border and the drug trade that flows across that border, the head of the drug enforcement administration is an acting head of the administration. While we are wrestling these questions about air safety for passengers, pilots and everyone else, the head of the federal aviation administration is an acting head of the administration. Yes, someone has been named to that job but not confirmed yet. And look at this. "The Washington Post" keeps track of all this,
focusing on what they call key positions in the government. Those percentages show how many of those key positions have been filled in each of these agencies. And you can see some have done better and some have done worse. But again, more than two years into Donald Trump's presidency, the "help wanted" sign is still out everywhere -- Ana.
[16:25:00] CABRERA: Still there. Tom Foreman, thank you.
A bill that would create one of the strictest abortion laws in the country is now headed to the desk of Georgia's governor. And Governor Brian Kemp says he will sign it. Now Dems and maybe even Hollywood are prepared to act. Hear from one state legislator who has a sharp message for backers of the so-called heartbeat bill.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:30:03] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Georgia lawmakers just passed a controversial antiabortion bill called the Heartbeat Bill. Now it awaits the governor's signature. The law would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy.
State Representative Erica Thomas, who voted against this bill and who happens to be pregnant right now, spoke with CNN earlier about how she separates the legislation from her personal life choices.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE REP. ERICA THOMAS, (D), GEORGIA: I'm a representative of my people. And what my people say, that's what they want, that's what I should be thinking about, not what I believe but what the people believe. The second thing is the choice I made was made between me and my husband. It wasn't between me and the chamber of the House or the Senate. I chose life. But I don't put that on any other woman in the state of Georgia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Georgia's Governor Brian Kemp is expected to sign the measure.
More now from CNN's Christi Paul.
UNIDENTIFIED GEORGIA LAWMAKER: This House has agreed to the Senate substitute, House bill 481.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY" (voice-over): The vote by the Georgia statehouse sends one of the nation's most restrictive abortion bills to the governor's desk to be signed into law. THOMAS: You do not need to sign this bill because you did this in
your first year because you know you are done. You sign this bill, you are done.
PAUL: Known as the Heartbeat Bill, the measure makes it illegal for doctors in the state to perform an abortion once a heartbeat is detected, which the bill says is around six weeks.
Opponents of the measure say many women don't even know they are pregnant after six weeks, and these restrictions would cause these women undue hardship.
Under the bill, victims of rape or incest would be able to receive an abortion up to 20 weeks if they file an official police report.
STATE SEN. JEN JORDAN, (D), GEORGIA: What gives this body the right to substitute its choices for those of the women who will no doubt bear the scars, the consequences, and who will face death and, now, likely prison? It is not for the government or the men of this chamber to insert itself in the most personal private and wrenching decisions.
PAUL: Governor Brian Kemp has said he will sign the bill into law. And after lawmakers voted, he tweeted this: "Georgia values life. We stand up for the innocent and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. The legislature's bold action reaffirms our priorities and who we are as a state."
Kemp's opponent in the 2018 gubernatorial election, Stacey Abrams, also reacted, tweeting this: "With one horrible exception Georgia didn't jeopardize stability, opportunity, and leadership for dangerous legislation that treats the lives of women as political pawns. The film industry is now integral to our economy."
But if the governor signs the bill into law, as he said he would, the state faces backlash from Hollywood. Actors Alec Baldwin, Rosie O'Donnell, Sean Penn and Mia Farrow, earlier this month, joined over 40 others in opposition to the measure, sending a letter to the governor urging him to veto the bill, and if not, for companies to pull TV and film projects from the state. "We cannot, in good conscience, continue to recommend our industry remain in Georgia if H.B.-481 becomes law."
CABRERA: That was CNN's Christi Paul reporting there. Thank you, Christi.
New questions are emerging after charges against Actor Jussie Smollett were suddenly dropped. The prosecutor in the case is now saying she welcomes an investigation of her decision.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:37:37] CABRERA: The city of Chicago wants "Empire" actor, Jussie Smollett, to pay them $130,000, the amount it says it spent investigating his report of a hate crime attack earlier this year. Smollett is standing by his story, even though he was indicted on felony charges alleging he lied to police and was accused of staging the attack on himself. All those charges have since been dropped. But Chicago still wants its money back.
"New York Times" op-ed columnist and CNN political commentator, Charles Blow, is with us, and CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson.
Charles, Jussie Smollett was up for a supporting actor award last night at the NAACP image awards. He didn't win. But here is what his fellow actor, the host of the show, told "Variety," "I'm happy for him that the system worked for him in his favor because isn't always fair, especially for people of color."
Do you agree?
CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL ANALSYT: I don't know if the system is working for him or not. I have to say, to begin, I think this is a nothing story.
CABRERA: Why is it a nothing story?
BLOW; The underlying alleged crime is a lie. We've been talking for weeks about a man who told a lie, right? There's no one hurt in it. The injury is to his own career, his own reputation.
CABRERA: But what about all the resources police spent investigating his lie --
BLOW: If that is the result of a lie, and if he did it, he should pay that back. Before dropping those charges, if they believe that he did it, they should have worked out a deal where he paid that money back.
CABRERA: What about other people who maybe are victims of hate crimes?
BLOW: No. No.
CABRERA: If he lied about this, what about their --
BLOW: I don't believe that, not one bit. I don't believe that, not one bit. The people who aren't believing those people weren't believing them already. They were hostile to gay people already. They were hostile to minorities already. The only reason we're talking about, for weeks and weeks, a man who told a lie is because it's a black man who allegedly told a lie about white people, who allegedly told a lie about politically active white people, which is Trump supporters. That is the only reason that we are talking about this. It is not a story. There's a surge in actual hate crimes. And --
CABRERA: Right. And I think that's the argument, is that this diverted resources that could have been utilized to investigate real crimes.
[16:40:08] BLOW: Yes. I have already submitted that. However, what I'm saying is, there's a surge of actual hate crimes. We're talking about this as if this one hoax, if it is a hoax, invalidates the fact that there's an actual set of crimes where people are actually being harmed and actually being killed. We are swallowing the bait that conservatives want to push on this, to make it emblematic of something bigger. And it just isn't.
CABRERA: We covered it as a hate crime. (CROSSTALK)
CABRERA: We all gave the benefit of the doubt. The president of the United States spoke out against all of this. That's what makes this a story.
BLOW: No, I think it makes it a story the first week. Five or six weeks out, we're overdoing it. I think we have swallowed the narrative. We cover things because they are news. At a certain point, we make things news by continuing to cover them as if they're bigger than they are.
CABRERA: I want to bring in now because --
CABRERA: Let me bring Joey in.
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The problem is that the media didn't invent this. The media has an obligation, in my view, to follow things that are out there and that affect the public narrative. The fact is, the media didn't make up anything. The media didn't bring in MAGA. The media didn't talk about homophobia or talk about how after African-American was attacked or anything else. I don't blame the media in that regard. I think it's appropriate to talk about it. I think there was complete lack of transparency with the district attorney's office. Let me tell you how I feel about it. I think the end result is
probably right, get the case resolved, don't let him swallow 16 felonies, let him go on with his life. By all means, he's represented the community well. He potentially made a mistake and that mistake was of magnetic proportions. But the manner in which the county attorney handled it was horrific. In the event that you want to resolve a case, and I think the system did work for him in that regard, right, there are so many times we have stories and the system does not work for people of color, but it works in the other way, and in the other way, we see people who are not of color get out of things. In this sense, we had a person of color who did get out, and potentially that, you know, is a thing that worked to his favor and that's good.
But at the end of the day, I think that if the district attorney is going to resolve it in that way, they really owe us the real honesty of just saying, just say to the people, listen, we believe that there's a lot going on in our city of Chicago, we believe there are violent offenders out there. We handle 40,000 felonies a year. We believe in alternative dispositions to crime. We think this should be an alternative disposition and, for that reason, in the interests of justice, we're moving forward. Don't say, well, I don't know, we could prove it, but now, yes, we can prove it, we're protecting him, he's forfeiting his bail, he's dismissing the case. Just come out and say we're resolving the case, we believe we can prove it but, at the end of the day, it's not that big a deal and move on.
CABRERA: That's eventually what we heard from the prosecutor.
JACKSON: Eventually. Eventually.
CABRERA: This was the reason for dropping the charges and leaving it as is.
CABRERA: Smollett doesn't have a criminal history, this is a class IV felony, would not likely have led to prison time if convicted, the outcome of any conviction would likely have been community service and some kind of a fine.
But, Charles, do you think that people would have as much outrage or backlash to that outcome if this had gone to trial and the truth had come out?
BLOW: No, because I just keep -- I'm stuck on the fact that no one was hurt other than his career, and there's no property damage. There's just nothing. I'm so stuck on that.
CABRERA: Don't you think victims of hate crime are hurt --
CABRERA: -- because somebody gives a reason to question? BLOW; Every time someone fakes any sort of crime where there are
actual victims in that arena, that hurts a little bit. But trying to make it feel like, you know, Jussie just gave people permission not to believe, is crazy to me.
BLOW: It just does not work that way.
CABRERA: He didn't take any responsibility.
CABRERA: He's still claiming he's innocent.
BLOW: I completely understand this as a Hollywood scandal. I do not accept the premise that it is actually a big news story for us. I write a column. I haven't written anything about this because it doesn't make any sense to me.
CABRERA: Joey, is there any other legal action that could or should be taken if they think justice wasn't served?
[16:44:52] JACKSON: In my view, the thing that is a problem to me is that resources were diverted. Chicago is a city, you know, I was there recently, love the city, that has a lot of problems. As a result of those lot of problems, and we can talk about black on black crime and things that occur in the community, police need to be and should be focused on that. When you have two dozen detectives focused on a story like that, it diverts resources from people in the community who are victims of crime. That's a problem. There are so many man-hours spent investigating this particular case while other cases were not getting the attention. In that regard, that's why it's a story to me, OK? Now, in terms of what will happen moving forward, the city is not getting their money back. There's no statutory authority for the city to get $130,000. In the actual letter the mayor sent, he cites a statute which I believe is not applicable. What criminal defendants are required to pay the money back, generally I have two defendants now that are on alternative resolution or disposition programs. Both had to admit their guilt. At the end of the day the charges are dismissed or reduced, that's how it works. Final thing. The federal government can't investigate how a local attorney did their job. That's a discretionary matter. But if he sent a letter to himself, Ana, that's federal, they can investigate that. If there's something "there" there, they can otherwise prosecute.
CABRERA: We'll see what happens.
Gentlemen, thank you. Good to have both of you.
CABRERA: Nice to have you.
We're back in one minute.
[16:50:51] CABRERA: Thirty short days, three big problems, and one gigantic tech company. March was a rough month for Facebook. First, the "New York Times" reported federal prosecutors were conducting a criminal investigation into the tech giant's data sharing deals with other companies. Second, the Department of Housing and Urban Development charged Facebook with violating the Fair Housing Act.
And Facebook banned all representation of white nationalism and separatism after a horrific terror attack posted on Facebook Live, the one that happened in New Zealand.
To discuss all of this, CNN business reporter, Donie O'Sullivan, is with us.
Donie, obviously Facebook feeling a lot of heat. I understand they're responding now with how they'll take action just within the last hour.
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Facebook is sort of battling multiple fronts here, as you laid out, Ana. In the past hour, Mark Zuckerberg has published an op-ed in the "Washington Post," which he's posted on his Facebook page, saying, lawmakers, we need help. Companies like Facebook, like Google, like Twitter, are making massive decisions every day on hate speech, on privacy, on data. He said, if we were to start the Internet all over again, these decisions wouldn't be made by the companies themselves, there would be a regulatory framework in which the companies would operate. So in the past hour, he said, "We need regulation in four main areas, harmful content," which is some of the hate speech." Some of the stuff we saw with the New Zealand attack where it was streamed live on Facebook and the company failed to catch it. "And election integrity." We all know about that from 2016 and the Russian disinformation efforts. "And privacy and data." That's a whole range of issues crystallized by the Cambridge Analytica scandal that broke a year ago.
CABRERA: Let's dig into the white nationalism ban. Obviously, they have previously had to react to the ISIS terror threat and removing any kind of propaganda from their social media site. Is that how they're planning to attack white nationalism?
O'SULLIVAN: Something along those lines. For years, campaigners have been trying to tell Facebook, there's no difference between white supremacy and white nationalism. For a very long time, Facebook resisted that. They had always banned white supremacist content but allowed white nationalist content. They said, this week, they believed that white nationalism could be part of American pride and various things like that. This week, they finally gave in and said, you know what, there's no difference anymore and we're banning both supremacy, nationalism and white separatism.
Facebook and Silicon Valley, generally, were seeing, when it came to the Islamic state, when they first came onto the scene, that they had initially reacted slowly, Silicon Valley, to that problem.
CABRERA: Yes. O'SULLIVAN: But over the years, a lot of experts believed they got it together and were able to really tackle ISIS across all their platforms. But in some ways, it was easier, because it was easy to spot the ISIS posts, the overt calls to action, overt praise of ISIS acts. That's not going to be as easy when it comes to white separatism, white nationalism, white supremacy. We see even in the manifesto published by the suspect in New Zealand, they use more coded language. There's a lot more dog whistles involved. Facebook will have to double down on their human moderators. We hear a lot about their artificial intelligence, how they've built systems to catch this stuff. It is more difficult than the ISIS issue, I think.
CABRERA: They'll try and take it on. We'll see where it goes.
Donie O'Sullivan, good to have you with us. Thank you, sir.
He's currently sitting behind bars facing life in prison, but notorious drug lord, "El Chapo," may have something new up his sleeve. His family's curious enterprise, next.
[16:54:38] You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
CABRERA: Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the brutal drug lord who is facing life in prison, a brand of clothing featuring the drug lord's name and signature may soon be available in the U.S. and Mexico. Guzman was convicted on 10 criminal counts. He has signed over rights to his name and signature to an LLC, now headed by his wife. The company plans to launch a clothing line this summer. Lawyers for the drug lord say Guzman wanted to set up a legitimate enterprise for his wife and twin daughters and he will not earn any money from the fashion line.
Imagine this. You buy an old baseball card for two bucks because it seemed unique. Then you find out your $2 card is actually a genuine 1921 Babe Ruth baseball card. And that card featuring the New York Yankees slugger could fetch over $4 million at auction. For Dale Ball, that is his reality. Ball says his family doubted the card's authenticity. He had forensic testing done on it, and when it came back genuine, he was overwhelmed. Ball says he feels like a million bucks. He says instead of selling the card, he believes it belongs in Yankee Stadium hanging on the wall next to Babe Ruth's statue.