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Barr: Congress Will Have Mueller Report Within Weeks; Trump Threatens to Shut Down Southern border; Beto O'Rourke Holding Campaign Rally in El Paso. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired March 30, 2019 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST, NEW DAY WEEKEND: All right, Nick Juan for us there in Chicago. Nick, thank you.


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The collusion delusion is over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we have right now is the four page Barr report, what we actually need is the Mueller report.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question is obstruction of justice is still on the table and that is something these committees will get into.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is ample evidence of collusion in plain sight.

TRUMP: The Democrats have to now decide whether they will continue defrauding the public.

So Mexico is tough, they can stop them and if they don't stop them, we're closing the border.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if they don't, we will be closing the border or large sections of the border next week.


ANNOUNCER: This is a New Day Weekend with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: Good Saturday morning to you. Attorney General Bill Barr says the redacted Mueller report is on the way to Congress, it could be released and also to the public by mid-April, maybe even earlier.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST, NEW DAY WEEKEND: Yes, the Attorney General says the redaction process, that's already in the works with help from Robert Mueller and he says they may finish going over the nearly 400 page report before mid-April and after the release, Barr said he'd be open to testifying to Congress starting May 1.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk now about the southern border. Officials say their resources are strained, the President says that if Mexico does not step up, he'll close the border, next week. We're covering all the angles of the immigration debate. Leyla Santiago is live from El Paso, Natasha Chen is in Hidalgo, Texas.

PAUL: And we want to begin with Natasha. Tell us more about what President Trump said and what may be in the works here, Natasha? Good morning.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Christi. President Trump claims that a closure of the border would be a profit making move for the U.S. but in fact, that would be a huge economic loss for both countries as so much commerce goes between these ports.

We right now are here at the McAllen-Hidalgo International bridge where a lot of border town residents go back and forth on a daily basis for errands and business. Now on Twitter yesterday, President Trump ramped up the rhetoric saying that the U.S. has very weak immigration laws.

He said that if Mexico does not stop all illegal immigration, he will close the border.


TRUMP: We're not going to give them hundreds of billions of dollars and tell them that they're not going to use their strong immigration laws to help the United States. So there's a very good likelihood that I'll be closing the border, next week and that'll be just fine with me.


CHEN: A senior Homeland security official says at that for now they are going to be pulling resources from ports like this to assist with the influx of people coming in between ports illegally so that's going to affect operations at ports like the one we're in front of now.

Now this plan so far does not fully close the ports but that senior official says that is on the table. Christi, Victor, back to you.

BLACKWELL: Natasha, talk about the economic impact. How this would affect imports, exports across the border that happen all day, every day?

CHEN: Absolutely and for you and me, we're going to be seeing some changes at the grocery store perhaps if this closure happens because of all the fruit and vegetables that come to the U.S. from Mexico. Just to give you an idea in 2017 fruit and vegetable imports from Mexico were valued at more than $13 billion, that's just under half of the total fruit and vegetable imports coming in from all countries.

Now more than half of U.S. agricultural imports are from Mexico and 4% of U.S. merchandise imports are from Mexico so this is going to be a huge impact. Our team even talked to some residents here on the American side ,yesterday who called a potential closure ridiculous because they said many of them here have errands that they run, daily business that requires them to go back and forth. Even U.S. born children who attend schools in America but perhaps and go home to Mexico to their families each night so a closure at the border would be a huge impact on many Americans.

BLACKWELL: All right, we'll see if anything changes from the Mexican side of the border. The President said if it doesn't, he'll shut it down, he's got a week to take some action on those words. Natasha Chen, thanks so much.

PAUL: So I want to jump off the point that Natasha just made how every day, there are migrants that are crossing the southern border and every day there are migrants who are seeking asylum. Several immigrants' rights advocates are trying to help them now.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Ed Lavandera has that part of the story for us.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 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 frustration 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 a larger political game that is completely antithetical to what the communities here want.

[08:05:00] 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: Immigration system was at the breaking point. That breaking point has arrived this week at our border.

LAVANDERA: CBP officials say border patrol 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.

TRUMP: And we're on track for a million illegal aliens trying to rush our borders. It is an invasion, you know that.

LAVANDERA: We met Wilma and her daughter at the shelter in Brownsville. They asked me not to show their faces because they fear being returned to El Salvador. Wilma says she fled her home country with her daughter because they feared being killed. Gang members murdered her mother last year.

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 paper work.

This is one of the migrants here who asked us not to identify her but these are the forms that they are given, once they're 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're supposed to appear in Immigration court but here they're not getting those 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 shockwaves throughout these border communities.

See that bridge in the distance, that's what millions of people use to get back and forth, that connects Brownsville to Matamoros. People use that to get back and forth, to see family and friends, to get to work, to 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 Lavandera, CNN, Brownsville Texas.


BLACKWELL: Now immigration as we know will be key in the 2020 election and it will be a key focus today when democratic Presidential candidate, former congressman Beto O'Rourke holds a campaign rally in his home town of El Paso.

PAUL: Yes, the Texas city has been at the center of the immigration debate there with O'Rourke and President Trump holding dueling rallies there in Texas, last month. CNN's Leyla Santiago is with us now from El Paso. So Leyla, what is the plan today, what do we expect to see?

Well, Victor's absolutely correct, you should expect integration to be a key issue, why? Because take a look behind me, you see all those lights off in the distance just past downtown El Paso, that is what is Mexico and just yesterday when I spoke to the Mayor over there, he told me to put some context on the number of immigrants we're talking about, he has about 500 that are waiting to seek asylum in the U.S. right now, that's more than double what they had just a few months ago in January.

And they have hundreds currently under the International bridge there, that's where Beto O'Rourke was yesterday. He actually tweeted saying, he's going to push for more answers, to put an end to this, the majority of them children.

So that was on the same day that President Trump threatened to shut down the border and just a day before his official campaign launch here in El Paso. Here on this sort of home turf, you'll hear him talk about immigration as well as climate change and health care and this comes and after about two weeks ago, when he officially announced that he was going to be running for President via video on social media.

He has since gone to a lot of those early voting states, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. It'll be interesting to see if those conversations that he had with voters there will sort of mold his future campaign, his strategy and more importantly provide clarity on some of his policies.

We'll have to wait and see but him being back in Texas, back where he sort of became this rising star during the midterm elections against Ted Cruz where he did lose by 3 points but he also sort of became a fund raiser there, known to be a big fundraiser, raising $80 million in that race.

[08:10:00] In his first day of his Presidential bid according to his campaign, he raised $6.1 million, that's the most of any of the Democratic candidates currently in the field so today, his official kick off will be joining the rest of the field over the next few days and also be joining other candidates in appearances in other parts of the country and for the rest of today.

So his big day here in Texas will have two more stops so El Paso, Houston and then he heads to the state's capital, Austin.

PAUL: All righty, Leyla Santiago, always good to see you, thank you for the report.

BLACKWELL: All right, the Attorney General says it could take a couple of weeks now to release the redacted Mueller report. Democrats are giving him until Tuesday and they don't want any redactions.

PAUL: Also Georgia Democrats rallying after the GOP led state House passes a controversial anti-abortion bill. We're going to talk to one legislator who has some pretty strong words for Georgia's governor. That Governor of course saying, he will sign the 'Heartbeat Bill.'


[08:15:00] BLACKWELL: The Attorney General says the redacted Mueller report could be released to Congress and the public in a few weeks. The President at first, he said nothing to hide, release it. But then he followed up with what seemed like a warning about the release.

PAUL: Yes, the President is in Mar-a-Largo this morning and CNN's Boris Sanchez is live in West Palm Beach. Good morning to you, Boris. Talk us through what these differing - different languages that we're getting from the President this morning.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there Christi and Victor. Yes, the President basically responding to Democrats and a demand from the House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler that Attorney General Barr hands over the Mueller reports in full to Congress by April 2nd.

That would be Tuesday. It is increasingly unlikely that that is going to happen though what we're hearing from the President is that he wants transparency, there's a bit of a caveat there though. Listen to what the President was asked yesterday here at Mar-a-Largo and how he responded to a question about his trust in the Attorney General.


TRUMP: I have great confidence in the Attorney General. And if that's what he'd like to do, I have nothing to hide. This was a hoax, this was a witch hunt. I have absolutely nothing to hide. And I think a lot of things are coming out with respect to the other side.


SANCHEZ: The President saying he has nothing to hide despite that, look at these tweets he sent out directed at Democrats. He writes, "Robert Mueller was a hero to the Radical Left Democrats until he ruled that there was no collusion with Russia so ridiculous to even say (ph). After more than two years since the insurance policy statement was made by a dirty cop, I got the answers I wanted, the truth.

The problem is no matter what the Radical Left Democrats get, no matter what we give them, it will never be enough. Just watch, they will harass and complain and resist the theme of their movement. So maybe we should just take our victory and say no, we've got a country to run."

Unclear if the President is suggesting that he may exert executive privilege over the Mueller report over certain sections of it. The Attorney General Barr has said that the President has that right though he has clarified and said that he's not planning to give the report to the White House at this point.

As for the information that he's working to redact, it falls into four categories. First, there is information that pertains to ongoing current investigations, there's information that legally is grand jury material that by law should not be released to the public. There's also material that could potentially compromised sensitive sources or methods and lastly, I want to read you an interesting line from that letter from Attorney General Barr to Congress.

He says that he's looking at information, "information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties. We obviously don't know what he means by peripheral third parties, perhaps the President, unclear also what he means by reputational interests.

We may not find out for years if not decades if that information is ultimately redacted. Victor and Christi.

C: All right, Boris Sanchez, good to see this morning. Thank you Sir.

BLACKWELL: And I'm going to pick up exactly at that point where Boris just left off. We got a U.S. attorney who's joining us for this next group discussion. CNN Contributor Walter Shuab, Former Director of the Office of Government Ethics. Kelly Jane Torrance, Spectator USA Contributor and the aforementioned former U.S. attorney for the middle district of Georgia, Michael Moore.

Welcome to all. Michael, I'm starting with you with that line from the criteria of those that will be likely redacted. Information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interest of peripheral third parties. Who are they and does that line concern you?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: It doesn't necessarily concern me. There's a - there's a pretty good reason that we have that in the Department of Justice policy and that is if we don't want people who have at least been investigated but there's been no crime and or no proof against them to have their reputation selling, their character sort of pulled through the mud, if you will.

In this case, we don't know who we're talking about yet, that is because we don't know about what other investigations are going on in other parts of the country. What we do know is that Mueller sent some things out and he formed out investigations, both with the Southern District of New York and to the U.S. attorney's office in DC.

So we don't know what his report if we go to see things about Little Dawn, about you know Jared Kushner, if we're going to see things about other people who may have been close to the campaign so I want to kind of - let's all take a step back, take a breath and say okay, we need to know what's going on but at the same time there are - there can be legitimate reasons for having some of these - some of these redactions in the initial report.

[08:20:00] The Special Counsel regulations are pretty clear if you read the testimony from (inaudible) and others back when they were enacted, you can see exactly what they were - what they were trying to do and at this point, it does call for some brief reports and summaries and interim report if you will from the Attorney General.

BLACKWELL: And that's the point that Sally Yates made in her Op-Ed, this morning in The Washington Post. Walter, let me bring that to you where she said there should be - there are legitimate reasons for redactions for a classified information, also for grand jury testimony and she writes that Justice Department should expeditiously provide to Congress, a redacted version of the report that identifies the basis for each redaction and those redactions should be drawn as nearly as possible.

Does she have - does - not she but does the Attorney General have a responsibility to explain Walter, each of those redactions considering the public interest? WALTER SHUAB, FORMER DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS: Well, I think the first thing to emphasize is that Yates Op-Ed asked that the redactions be as crafted as narrowly as possible and I think that's incredibly important.

I'm worried that we may see entire pages or entire sections redacted and yes, the Attorney General absolutely has a responsibility because this goes to the very legitimacy of the investigation of the President and of the integrity of our Republic.

This is an incredibly important report. There's an incredibly powerful public interest in knowing this, the contents of this report and I think that the Congress needs an unredacted copy.

Perhaps Barr could send a redacted and unredacted copy but Congress is the body charged by the Constitution with primary responsibility for Presidential accountability and there's no reason to hide the truth from them.

BLACKWELL: Kelly Jane, in response to the letter from the Attorney General, the Chair of House Judiciary Jerry Nadler responded and this is part of it. "Congress requires the full and complete Mueller report without redactions as well as access to the underlying evidence by April 2nd, that deadline still stands." That's Tuesday.

Well that's unlikely to happen. What happens Wednesday?

KELLY JANE TORRANCE, SPECTATOR USA CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, that's not going to happen, Victor and you know, Victor, part of it is that legally William Barr cannot send an unredacted report to Congress as he mentioned this, as your report mentioned, anything for example, grand jury - sitting grand jury information, that cannot be made public, that has to be redacted.

Now of course, Jerry Nadler is asking Bill Barr to seek a court order to allow him to do that but as it stands, Jerry Nadler is asking for something that is legally impossible. Now what's going to happen on Wednesday you ask. I don't think there's a whole - there's not a lot that Jerry Nadler can do to force the Justice Department to do something that legally it cannot do.

Now one of the things I found interesting in Bill Barr's letter is he mentioned that there have been discussions between him and Jerry Nadler in between the letters that each have been sending back and forth and they have been on the phone, they have been talking and I'm sure that Chairman Nadler's been trying to persuade to Attorney General Barr to seek that court order to allow him to do that.

Now will Bill Barr do that? I'm getting the impression, no and really he doesn't have a lot of motivation to do so. I also thought the letter was interesting that he says, he's working with Special Counsel Mueller -


TORRANCE: - to work on those redactions and I think that's a great move. I'm - I suspect he's doing it to you know, give himself more credibility. He cannot - Democrats cannot then say, well, you're just trying to cover up for President Trump. He's trying to work with Special Counsel Mueller who of course, Democrats have been saying for over two years now and rightly so that he is a professional, he's thorough, he's going to get the job done in a non-political manner.

So we've got a fight ahead of us and I think it's interesting that Bill Barr gave his own date for when he is going to appear before Congress. There's no negotiation there, he's saying these are the dates I'm available.


TORRANCE: - they're setting up a fight.

BLACKWELL: Chairman Nadler says, he'll take those under advisement, those dates provided by the Attorney General. Michael, let me bring that to the significance of Bob Mueller working on the redactions with the Attorney General. We know that Mueller wasn't involved with that letter that was sent by Sunday with the principal conclusions.

But as I saw you nodding, as we heard from Walter, talk about those maybe full page redactions, that gives the Attorney General a lot of cover.

MOORE: I think it absolutely does. I think it's a smart move by Barr to bring in Mueller, to sort of build up his credibility as he presents the reports. Remember that we have these regulations because what would - what we did not want - Congress didn't want at the time was to have a repeat of the Ken Starr report where we were basically looking at an adult, erotic novel you know, it was so lurid and filled with graphic details.

[08:25:00] So these regulations and these limitations were put in place including things about federal criminal procedure 6E which simply says, Grand jury information is secret and we don't let that stuff out. There could be limited reasons but can you imagine taking this report, given the entire unredacted report to the Congress.

That place leaks like a sieve and you know, we've been amazed through the Mueller investigation, how tight lipped the Mueller team was. Congress is not known for that and to tell some of these folks who are up there running (inaudible) you can't use this information, you can't use this page of the document because you know, in your campaign is almost nonsensical because you're going to have people who violate those rules.

There can't be provisions for confidential briefings, there could be classified briefings that could be held but then you got to think, well, how does that information get shared with the public, if what we're trying to do is get the information back to the public which I think the public awfully deserves.


MOORE: We need to just take a breath, take a step back and let some of this play out. Remember that we know there are other investigations going on. We have not heard from Mike Flynn.

We know that the Southern district of New Yorkers is looking at some finance issues and some campaign finance violations -

BLACKWELL: Yes, plenty of them.

MOORE: We just need to let some things play out and I think at that point then we - you know, then we'll have a better picture where we are.

BLACKWELL: You know, Walter, we're about with six days out now from that - that first letter of principal conclusions from Barr to members of Congress. Looking back now a little away from - removed from the immediacy, was that pruted (ph) in the public interest or was that a shrewd political move?

Because he didn't have to send that letter saying, here's a little taste and then I'll give you more later.

SHUA: Yes, you know, first I want to add that Barr has known for weeks that this completed report was coming. There's no reason he couldn't have asked the court for permission to release this material, there's no reason he couldn't spent this past week working on trying to get court approval to release this material, instead of devoting himself to concealing information from Congress and the American people.

There's a certain element of disingenuousness that he now says in a subsequent letter that his original letter wasn't an exhaustive account and therefore it wasn't a summary. I think, he needs to look up the definition of summary because it's not exhaustive account and he said summarize in his original letter.

I think there's plenty of reason to have concerns about Bill Barr. He was installed in this position after writing a 19 page memo that had a curious interpretation of obstruction of justice, that has now made its way into the decision that he usurped from Congress after Mueller chose not to address it.

And I think that he's done nothing to inspire confidence. I'm very concerned that his role in this process as he sees it and as the President sees it is Presidential protector.

BLACKWELL: Well, the President certainly has expressed confidence in him and lets Kelly, as we wrap up here turn to you and what the President is saying you know, President Trump was uncharacteristically quiet between the handover of the report to a Barr and the release of the principal conclusions.

I guess it's unlikely to expect to see that type of restraint between now and when we get the redacted Mueller report in the middle of April.

TORRANCE: Yes, we were all surprised weren't we Victor, that President Trump was not tweeting much about it and you have to wonder whether they sitting there you know, just on with bated breath, wondering what was happening. You know and President Trump had had been saying, let's get this to

the public, let the American people see it and then all of a sudden as you pointed out he hinted in tweets that he may be changing his mind. I think that would be a very bad idea.

Again, if he as - he says he has nothing to hide and as he says the report seems to have found no collusion between his campaign in Russia, then there's really no reason to stop the report from becoming public and you know and Bill Barr wrote his letter, people still want to know what's in that report and nobody either side, Republican, Democrat, the American people who are not necessarily partisans.

They just want to know what happened, nobody's going to rest until this report, as much of it as possible, it becomes public.

BLACKWELL: All right Kelly Jane Torrance, Walter Shuab, Michael Moore, thank you all.

TORRANCE: Thank you.

MOORE: Good to be with you.

C: Well, the Bill that would create one of the strictest abortion laws in the country is headed to the desk of Georgia's governor and Governor Brian Kemp says, he's going to sign it. Well, Democrats maybe even Hollywood are preparing to act here. We're talking to one state legislator who has a sharp message for backers of the so called, 'Heartbeat Bill.'


[08:30:00] PAUL: So the state of Georgia is one step closer to passing one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. The House of Representatives voted to approve the state's so called 'Heartbeat Bill.' They did so yesterday. Now the Republican Governor expected to sign it. The Bill would ban most abortions from as early as 6 weeks into pregnancy, that's when doctors are able to detect a fetal heartbeat.

Opponents say the bill would make most abortions illegal before women even know that they are pregnant. The American Civil Liberties Union plans to sue if the bill becomes law, they say it's unconstitutional and infringement of a woman's rights.

Democrats say they're mobilising against the state GOP, the ACOU as I said, ready to go to court if the governor signs this bill. Democratic Georgia State Representative Erica Thomas with us here. Thank you for being here and I want to get this out right away because I know this is something people wonder about. You're pregnant with your second child, congratulations to you for that.

How do you reconcile what you have to legislate with the state of where you are personally right now?

ERICA THOMAS, (D) GEORGIA STATE HOUSE: Well, I like to break it up into two parts. [08:35:00] The first part is that I'm a representative of my people and what my people say that, that's what they want, that's what I should be thinking about, not about how I feel or what I believe it should be but what the people believe.

And then the second thing is you know, that was between the choice that I made was between me and my husband, it wasn't between me and the Chamber or the House or the Senate you know, and I chose life but I don't put that on any other woman in the State of Georgia.

PAUL: Did you have conversations with your husband about this?

THOMAS: Yes, we did, we did.

PAUL: And what were those like, so kind to share.

THOMAS: Yes, you know, we sat and we talked about it and you know, it's really a burden to bear to say that I am going to choose for so many thousands of thousands of women and when you think about me, myself, I didn't find out I was pregnant until seven and a half weeks.

And so what if something was wrong, what if I wanted to be able to choose? I wouldn't have that right because I didn't find out till after seven weeks and we talked about that and we also talked about women in rural Georgia.

I have a friend that had four counties and in all four counties, there's not one OBGYN and so women have to travel across the state just to be able to detect their pregnancy and they might not be able to do that in six weeks.

PAUL: So Governor Kemp of course has vowed to sign this bill and you said of him yesterday, you did this in your first year because you know that you're done. Have you heard from him?

THOMAS: No, I haven't. You know and I don't expect to hear from him you know. I think that the biggest thing that need to be heard is the people of Georgia and I think they spoke and 2020, they're probably going to speak a little bit louder. You know, it's a scary thing to be messing with people's lives and messing with people's agendas and you can't do that and think that it's just going to be over and go under the rug, just like what's happening in Kentucky.

PAUL: I was going to say so do you think that we're going to see a repeat of what's happening in Kentucky?

THOMAS: Oh yes, you know, just yesterday the ACOU said that they are going to file a lawsuit and just what happened in Kentucky about March in same - the same month and in the same week of the Governor's signing that bill, they had a lawsuit and guess what, it was struck down and the same thing happened in Iowa and in North Dakota.

And I believe that it will happen here in Georgia.

PAUL: So there's also another element to this and that is Hollywood. The film industry in Georgia, there are big tax perks for the film industry and it is booming-


PAUL: - in Georgia in a big way. Hollywood stars have been threatening a boycott of the state if this passed. Alyssa Milano in fact tweeted this, "There are over 20 productions shooting in Georgia and the state just voted to strip women of their bodily autonomy. Hollywood, we should stop feeding Georgia's economy. #HB481IsBadForBusiness."

Do you believe that the political issue here will override the economics?

THOMAS: You know, our past governor, he always touted governors, our state is number one to do business and if they want to continue that then they have to listen to people like Alyssa Milano. I started the Georgia entertainment caucus and we have people from the industry and people that are in the House of Representatives and I'm pretty sure that they stand with us in saying that this is terrible.

You know just as we were driving into the capital just the other day, they were shooting Bad Boys 3 at City Hall. So if you can't drive into your job and not be able to see the economy and see the impact that that industry has on Georgia and we can't ignore their voices.

PAUL: But do you really believe that at the end of the day, they will pull their business from Georgia with the economic breaks that they get here. I mean there's a reason that Georgia is -

THOMAS: Yes, it is true.

PAUL: - is the place that they come.

THOMAS: You know what, I don't want them to pull from Georgia. I don't, I really don't. You know, when you think about celebrities like Alyssa Milano but then I think about trickle-down effect of these production assistants and the people that bring the food in, we don't want them to lose their jobs.

We have to think about the jobs in our state and we do not want to think about those people that will lose their jobs who won't be able to feed their families so no, we don't want that to happen but we also don't want women to be able to not choose what they can do with their bodies.

PAUL: So how far are you willing to go with this?

THOMAS: You know what, I told them yesterday that I am willing to stand - sit - actually sit because I'm five months pregnant outside of the Governor's office you know, as long as I can until you know, it's time for him to say. I want to be there.

PAUL: Do you think you have a voice with him?

THOMAS: You know what, I should, I am -

PAUL: You know but do you think you do? THOMAS: You know what, I think that I speak for 56,000 people and with that being said, I do believe that I have a voice with him. You know, it shouldn't be about politics, it shouldn't be about Democrat versus Republican. I live in the state of Georgia and he's my Governor as well.

PAUL: State Representative Erica Thomas with us. Thank you so much for taking the time to come in.

THOMAS: Thank you.

PAUL: And congratulations again.

THOMAS: Thank you.

PAUL: Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, still early in the 2020 Democratic primary but there are some trends that are emerging in new polling coming up how age and ideology are driving voters to certain candidates. [08:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: A poll showing the lead contender among Democrats in the 2020 Presidential race hadn't even announced his candidacy. CNN Senior political writer and analyst Harry Enten joins us now. All right, what is the deal with Biden? Once and for all. Do we know?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: I mean look, Joe Biden is either going to get in this race or not. I think most people are anticipating that he's going to get into this race sometime in mid to late April, which of course is after the first quarter FEC reports.

And Biden obviously, if he jumps and wants that strong fundraising and if he jumps in right now, he wouldn't be able to raise a lot of money when those first quarter reports came in. So I think mid to late April is when we think he's going to jump in.

[08:45:00] BLACKWELL: So we teased right before the break, age and ideology are leading divides among voters. How so?

ENTEN: Yes, I mean look, you saw that Quinnipiac Paul up there and you see that Joe Biden is leading the pack at 29% and Bernie Sanders is about 10 points behind him but take a look at the age break down when you look in that specific poll and what you see is something very, very interesting.

You see Joe Biden winning overwhelmingly among those over the age of 50 while Bernie Sanders actually has a slightly with those under the age of 50 and this to me is a very reminiscent of what we saw during the 2016 primary where Bernie Sanders won overwhelmingly with young voters but Hillary Clinton won overwhelmingly with older voters and that's key break down because older voters actually make up a larger slice of the democratic primary electorate than younger voters.

So if Bernie Sanders is going to do better this time than last time, he's going to have to improve his standing among older voters and he's not quite doing that yet.

PAUL: Talk to me, to us about the Buttigieg. Apparently, there's a big bump in his popularity right now. What might be - what might be leaving the bad?

ENTEN: Yes, you know, Mayor Pete, I have a very difficult time pronouncing his name, Buttigieg, I think I got it right there. Look, this is - he's a very interesting guy from - he's Mayor of South Bend Indiana. He has a lot of support, a lot of online support and what you saw in the Quinnipiac poll was up to 4%, you might say, oh 4% is not that high.

But remember he jumped into the race and he was at 0%, that type of movement is actually statistically significant and more than that, it comes on the fact that he has been getting a lot of Google searches. A lot of people have been searching his name on Google. He's gotten more searches in the last two weeks than he had in the 93 weeks prior that combined.

And in fact he had more Google searches this week than any of the other major candidates with perhaps the exception of Beto O'Rourke and that of course is important because we have seen throughout this primary season that Google searches is in fact a leading indicator. When candidates get a lot of searches on Google, they then tend to see their polls rise.

BLACKWELL: Wow, quickly, let's talk about these British politicos and the troubles they're facing in the polls.

ENTEN: I mean look, if you think our politicians are unpopular, you should go over to the other side of the pond because I'll tell you this much. Those politicians are absolutely hated. Theresa May, her net approval rating is at minus 33 points.

Jeremy Corbyn, his net approval rating is at minus 45 points. Donald Trump who is not popular, Nancy Pelosi who is not popular, far more popular than that so to those who are complaining in this country, I say it could be a lot, lot worse.

PAUL: I don't know if I have ever seen a negative for the entire.

BLACKWELL: Harry - Mr. Brightside, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

PAUL: Thanks Harry.

ENTEN: Shalom, be well, good job.

PAUL: You too.

BLACKWELL: March madness, living up to the name. Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: All right, good morning to you. The first number one seed in the tournament went down. Another number one barely survived and I have some comedy for you this morning of all 42,000 people in our CNN bracket challenge, you will not believe, who is in the top 5%. My goodness.


[08:50:00] BLACKWELL: People are saying, people are saying Duke is the team of destiny.

PAUL: He's saying it because it's at the top of his list.


PAUL: Coy.

WIRE: Duke there, arguably the most talented team in college basketball and now they - seems like you know, good fortune's on their side so that's bad news for every other team in the tournament. Last week they squeaked by UCF and it was Virginia Tech this time with a chance to tie it with one second to go with the Hokies.

They dropped this perfect play but Ahmed Hill misses. It's like there's this force field shield not letting Duke's opponents hit last second shots. The Hokies and everyone everywhere just stunned. That miss is going to haunt Ahmed Hill for quite some time, just think about that.

Duke wins 75-73 on another miss by an opponent with a wide open, look at the rim. All right, more drama. Houston with a chance to go up 3 over Kentucky with 30 seconds to go. PJ Washington goes get this stuff out of here. He missed the first two games of the tournament with injury but came back in a big way.

Now Kentucky needs this to work. Kentucky needs a hero. How about 19- year old freshman Tyler hero, the game winning 3, Houston nearly pulling off a 13 point comeback and Kentucky moves on to the elite eight.

Auburn's Chuma Okeke was having an incredible game, powering his team over one seed North Carolina but then this devastating injury. But check out these incredible display of sportsmanship from the Carolina players as Okeke is being taken off the court, that's incredible stuff.

That moment galvanized the Auburn Tigers, they hit 17 three pointers and trampled the mighty Tar Heels by 17 points, the number one seed of the tournament has fallen but so has Auburn's star player. It's a bittersweet win for the Tigers. Coach Bruce Pearl's emotion said it all after the game.

BRUCE PEARL: Chuma was the best player on the floor. He's hurt, he's hurt so -

WIRE: Auburn goes to the Elite Eight for just the second time ever. Last time 33 years ago so look at the scene back on campus, students rolling in the famous Toomer's Corner. Elite Eight action begins tonight. Gonzaga, Texas Tech then Purdue-Virginia games on our sister network TVS. [08:55:00] Folks, we're in the presence of greatness our Victor

Blackwell. Let's say. He's a Brackets of Savant. Victor out of 42,000 people Sir in our CNN bracket challenge, you're in the top 0.5%. How does this moment feel?

BLACKWELL: It feels great. I don't know what I've done to earn this. My process really was pouring myself a glass of gin, Tempers 190A and taking Duke to take it all and then randomly picking other teams.

WIRE: You know friends at home, this is incredible because the person who's currently in first place out of the 42000 people picked North Carolina to win it all. You have Duke. North Carolina is done. You might end up winning this thing if we do I'm going to find the biggest, baddest gumball machine I can get.

BLACKWELL: Oh the gumballs are back.

PAUL: He's going to put alcohol in it though.

BLACKWELL: Yes, I will, good gin.

PAUL: Thanks Coy.

BLACKWELL: All right, we're back here at 10:00 Easter for Newsroom.

PAUL: Smerconish is coming up after a quick break here.