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Trump Administration To Halt Aid To El Salvador, Guatemala And Honduras; Trump Threatens To Close U.S. Border With Mexico; Southeast Texas Facing Mass Release Of Migrants; Beto O'Rourke Brings His Campaign Home To Texas; Man Mistaken For Uber Driver Charged With Killing Student; Judge Blocks Trump Order Allowing Drilling In Arctic Ocean; 2020 Dems React To Biden Allegation; CNN Original Series "The Bush Years"; Chicago Police Defend Investigation Of Smollett Case; Chris Rock Pokes Fun At Jussie Smollett At Image Awards; Virginia Pulls Out An Overtime Stunner; Red Raiders Defeat Gonzaga, 75-69; "Saturday Night Live" Takes On The Mueller Report. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired March 31, 2019 - 06:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Migrant processing centers in Texas are literally overflowing with people.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Closing the borders would be a profit making operation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You shut that border 5 million Americans lose their jobs. We are interconnected.

TRUMP: They put their worst people in the caravan. They're not going to put their best in. They get rid of their problems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He simply thinks about how can I get people to hate someone so that I can rile up my political base.

ROBERT DE NIRO AS ROBERT MUELLER: I am submitting these 380 pages.

AIDY BRYANT AS WILLIAM BARR: I am writing almost four pages.

ALEC BALDWIN AS DONALD TRUMP: I am reading zero pages.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Thank you so much for being with us here.

The State Department is telling CNN this morning the Trump administration will now work with Congress to cut off aid to three Central American countries. VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The announcement came a day after President Trump threatened to close the southern border and said these three countries were setting up migrant caravans to enter the U.S.


TRUMP: We were paying them tremendous amounts of money and we are not paying them anymore because they haven't done a thing for us. They set up these caravans.


BLACKWELL: The government of Honduras responded to the announcement blaming the move on -- quote -- "contradictory policies from the U.S."

PAUL: In the meantime along the southern border customs and border protection says several detention centers are well over capacity. The city of Brownsville, Texas, for instance, is averaging 300 people per day being released by federal authorities.

BLACKWELL: We have a team of CNN reporters covering this story this morning. CNN correspondent Leyla Santiago in Austin, Texas. CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood near Mar-a-Lago there in Florida. And we'll start with CNN national correspondent Natasha Chen live in McAllen, Texas. Natasha, tell us about where you are and your angle of this story. Good morning.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor. Well, we are outside the Hidalgo Port of entry right here where, yesterday, we were seeing a lot of people go back and forth on daily errands. We were also talking to the city of Brownsville, city manager, about 30, 40 miles away from where we are standing now. They have been observing a lot of migrants being dropped off by customs and border protection over the last couple of weeks.

At first, it was about 50 people per day but in the last few days, it's really ramped up. The city has seen, on average, 300 migrants per day being dropped off by CBP. A lot of nonprofits there are assisting and receiving those migrants. They say some of them are showing up with no paper work at all and they have had to call CBP to come back and meet with some of these people to have them processed.

Here is what the Brownsville City manager told us yesterday.


NOEL BERNAL, TEXAS CITY MANAGER: I do firmly believe that the support that the federal government can provide us could exceed what it is today and that is, first of all this is not an emergency in the eyes of the federal government. It leaves us on our own at our ground floor to help these families transition through --


CHEN: And what the city is doing right now to help those migrants transition is provide them cell phones sometimes and help them contact family members in the U.S. and get them bus tickets to their next destination. So far he says Brownsville has been a stopping point for them for just a maximum of one night. He is trying to avoid a situation where the city of Brownsville becomes any sort of permanent shelter for these migrants.

Victor and Christi, back to you.

BLACKWELL: All right. Natasha Chen for us there in McAllen. Thanks so much.

PAUL: So as he makes several campaign stops through his home state of Texas Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke is focusing heavily on border and immigration issues in fact.

Leyla Santiago is life in Austin this morning. Leyla, good to see you. What did he say?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. He talked about immigration. That will be a key issue for him moving forward in the campaign but that's not the only thing he addressed here. He says there needs to be -- he wants to look at the unprecedented concentration he says of power and wealth. He said that right here in the state's capital, of course, hoping to get to the nation's capital again. This time in the Oval Office.


SANTIAGO (voice-over): El Paso.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Must get to universal guaranteed high quality health care.

SANTIAGO: Houston.

O'ROURKE: And those residents of Kashmere Gardens understand climate change better than just anybody else in this country.


SANTIAGO: Austin, Texas.

O'ROURKE: Every woman makes their own decisions.

SANTIAGO: Three stops to officially kick off his bid for the U.S. presidency in his home state. Beto O'Rourke started with his wife Amy and three children by his side in the shadow of the U.S./Mexico border, his hometown where he is described as --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A son of the border.

SANTIAGO: A commercial flight.

O'ROURKE: You have not seen this yet.

SANTIAGO: A road trip. O'ROURKE: No (ph).

SANTIAGO: And more than 12 hours of campaigning later. He ends in the shadow of the state capital.

O'ROURKE: Thank you, Austin! And thank you Texas for what you have done!

SANTIAGO: The former congressman announced his decision to run for the nation's highest office via video two weeks ago and immediately he hit the road to visit early voting states targeting areas won by President Obama in 2012, then President Trump in 2016.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many Democrats have made empty promises for us. How can you assure to us that you're not going to make those empty promises?

SANTIAGO: The very questions driving the conversation with him in early states now driving the issues addressed at his rallies on official launch day.

O'ROURKE: And let's remember that every single one of us, including those who are just three or four blocks from here, detained under the international bridge that connects us with Mexico behind chain link fence and barbed wire that they are our fellow human beings.

SANTIAGO: One day earlier, O'Rourke visited the international bridge between El Paso and Horace, Mexico, where hundreds of migrants children included have been held by U.S. authorities. The same day he tweeted this -- President Trump said.

TRUMP: So there is a very good likelihood that I'll be closing the border next week.

SANTIAGO: And while O'Rourke did not directly address Trump's threat, he told supporters --

O'ROURKE: They have used fear and division in the same way that our current president uses fear and division.

SANTIAGO: O'Rourke is joining a crowded field of Democrats vying for the party's nomination, officially launching in the very state where he proved power in fund-raising, raising $80 million in a Senate race against Ted Cruz in the midterms and election and he ultimately lost by three points.

O'ROURKE: How are we feeling, Houston?

SANTIAGO: Now in a campaign for 2020, O'Rourke said he has raised $6.1 million in the first 24 hours. It's the highest of any of the current Democratic candidates.

O'ROURKE: Are you with me on this? Are you in for the fight?

(END VIDEOTAPE) SANTIAGO: So you see in those three stops, he has listed off a number of issues and a number of changes that he wants to see. Not quite detailing exactly how he'll get there. Something that his critics often point out. Next up, he'll be in Austin this morning and then he heads to New York, D.C., as well as Iowa.

PAUL: All right. Leyla Santiago, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: The president says weak immigration laws could be fixed easily if Democrats cared about crime.

PAUL: From West Palm Beach near the president's resort now we have CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood talking about that as well as the Northern Triangle defunding essentially this morning.

Sarah, good morning to you.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Good morning, Victor and Christi.

Now President Trump clearly fixated on the situation down on the border as he spends his weekend here in West Palm Beach. He is once again threatening to close down the border between the U.S. and Mexico all or part of it if he doesn't get cooperation for Mexico to do more to stop the flow of undocumented immigrants over the southern border. It's not the first time that he has threatened to do so but it is the first time that he is attaching a deadline to it.

He is saying he'll close the border by next week if he doesn't get more results from Mexico. Here is what he wrote yesterday.

"Mexico must use its very strong immigration laws to stop the many thousands of people trying to get into the USA. Our detention areas are maxed out and we will take no more illegals. Next step is to close the border. This will also help us with stopping the drug flow from Mexico."

Of course Customs and Border Protection says what's really causing the strain is the increase in families and unaccompanied children coming over the border at their facility just were not designed to handle this type of immigration flow. They say that the status quo is unacceptable and CBP is also calling for congressional action.

That's a message that Trump echoed yesterday when he wrote, "It would be so easy to fix our weak and very stupid Democrat inspired immigration laws. In less than one hour and then a vote, the problem would be solved. But the Dems don't care about the crime, they don't want any victory for Trump and the Republicans, even if good for the USA."

And this weekend the State Department also announcing that it will be stopping aid to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.


That's something that President Trump has repeatedly threatened to do if those Central American countries didn't do more to stop migrants from travelling up through Mexico to the U.S. but it appears that the State Department finally making good on that directive.

Meanwhile, CBP says it's on track to apprehend more people at the border this month than any month since 2008. So clearly the situation on the border getting worse with Trump making that threat and the State Department severing aid to those Northern Triangle Countries. It's clear the administration is moving closer toward a more dramatic response -- Victor and Christi.

PAUL: All right. Sarah Westwood, thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. Joining me now is CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer, historian and professor at Princeton University, and Siraj Hashmi commentary writer and editor at "The Washington Examiner." Gentlemen, welcome back.

Julian, let's start with you and I want to start with what is new this morning about the ending of funding and aid for Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The president will be able to likely divert money that's in the current fiscal year budget, but is this something like what we saw with the Special Olympics where moving forward he made morally see this as something that he wants to stop, but really it's Congress' purview and it's not going to end?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He is going to get a lot of push back from Congress on this. Yes, they still have firm control over the purse. The president has some wiggle room but the argument will be that by doing this you cut the funds that actually allow for regional cooperation to deal with immigration problems and also will take money away from nonprofits that actually help alleviate the demand to cross the border.

So I think you're going to have a lot of pushback from Congress. But as we have seen, executive power lets President Trump do a lot of things with money that many Americans don't always agree with.

BLACKWELL: Siraj, how -- and I ask this and I'm not being flippant here -- how does he expect these countries to keep their respective people inside their country? What is he expecting these governments to do? Close their borders?

SIRAJ HASHMI, COMMENTARY WRITER AND EDITOR, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Well, that probably was the expectation during the 2018 migrant crisis that happened earlier right before the midterm election. You know, Mexico was trying to basically close off their borders to the migrants but they ended up pushing their way through any ways.

You know, if Trump actually wants to solve the problem cutting off funding to the Northern Triangle might not be the best way of doing it. If he is actually keen on actually solving the immigration crisis, he would probably have to do more to enforce our borders along the Mexico line, as well as stop basically the use of sanctuary cities where a number of undocumented immigrants are already housed particularly a lot of criminals because they at least held, you know, cover under there. But that is only part of the problem. There's still so much more --

BLACKWELL: What statistic do you have to support that there are a lot of criminals in sanctuary cities?

HASHMI: I'm just citing the number of cases that have happened in San Francisco where a number of migrants who have actually committed crimes have been guaranteed protection under sanctuary city laws.

BLACKWELL: It seems like a broad brush. Let me come to you, Julian, about the closing of the border which could happen this week. The president said last week on Friday, he has said that before has threatened to close the border before, has not done it. Other presidents have done similar things. What is the precedent here?

ZELIZER: Sure. LBJ did it after the Kennedy assassination. Reagan did it in 1985 when a DEA official was killed and there was an essential closure of the border. Closest comparison, Richard Nixon in 1969 shut down the borders for an anti-marijuana policy which was largely a political move by Nixon even though it was presented as an anti-drug policy.

Those are the three precedents. The other time when we start to close down the board, not totally, is after 9/11. So, again, those are the bases upon which I assume he would try to make this move.

BLACKWELL: Siraj, we saw the video there of President Trump talking about potentially closing down the border and there just over his shoulder was Senator Marco Rubio. No one expected him to jump in and interrupt the president as he was speaking but where are Congressional Republicans namely the Senate Republicans on this plan to potentially shut down the border this week?

HASHMI: Congressional Republicans aren't really a huge fan of basically shutting down the border. I mean, if they were going to move on any immigration policies in Congress, it would have been under the two years in which they held the House and Senate. And so now the Democrats control the House a lot of Republicans are going to try to make the issue and punt it over to the Democrats like Trump is doing now by blaming Democrats for not wanting to fix the issue and pointing out that there is, you know, skyrocketing undocumented crossings into the United States.


So, yes, it's -- on its face maybe a lot of congressional Republicans will say that there's a crisis at the border politically speaking and try to make the issue about Democrats not wanting to fix it but deep down inside, they don't want to fix it either.

BLACKWELL: Julian -- and I think that's a good point. The president tweets out that these are Democrat-inspired laws. We can put the tweets up here. The Republicans had the White House, the House, the Senate two years and did not change the laws. Is it -- I guess I'm answering the question -- a difficult sell now to say that it would be so easy if Democrats would play along when they had the speakership just a few months ago?

ZELIZER: Well, look. They actually were playing along before the closure of government and the fight over the border wall, there was a bipartisan agreement to provide more money to deal with facilities, to deal with the shift we are seeing from individual men trying to come into the country to families and to actually upgrade our facilities and provide more human power to deal with processing and that all got stifled because of the president's insistence on the wall.

So there is some evidence there is a bipartisan agreement on upgrading and revamping border security so that we can actually deal with this problem that we are facing. So in some ways it's the president who really has to decide if he wants to address the crisis, rather than the Congress.

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

ZELIZER: Thank you.

HASHMI: Thank you.

PAUL: Well, a federal judge is calling President Trump's push to open up the Arctic and Atlantic oceans to offshore drilling illegal. Our legal analyst has a few things to say about that. Joey Jackson with us next.

BLACKWELL: Plus, an arrest has been made in connection with the missing South Carolina student. Hear what police say they believe happened the night she was killed.



BLACKWELL: Police have arrested a 24-year-old man in connection with the death of a missing South Carolina student. Nathaniel Rowland will be charged with murder and kidnapping. Twenty-one year old Samantha Josephson was last seen early Friday morning getting into a car near the University of South Carolina. Now investigators believe she mistakenly got into the suspect's car believing it was her Uber driver's.


CHIEF WILLIAM HOLBROOK, COLUMBIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: What we now know is that she had in fact summoned an Uber ride and was waiting for that ride to -- that Uber ride to come. We believe -- we don't have a statement or any evidence that suggests this other than our observations on the video. We believe that she simply mistakenly got into this particular car thinking it was an Uber ride.


BLACKWELL: A memorial fund has been established in Josephson's memory.

PAUL: A big win for environmentalists this morning. A federal judge has blocked President Trump's executive order to allow offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean. He calls -- she calls it unlawful and invalid. This ruling restores an Obama era ban preventing oil leasing in the Arctic Ocean and drilling in certain parts of the Atlantic Ocean.

CNN's legal analyst Joey Jackson with us now. So, I want to read to you, Joey, what the judge said here. She said that, "The wording of President Obama's 2015 and 2016 withdrawals indicate he intended them to extend indefinitely, and therefore be revocable only by an act of Congress."

So if I'm understanding this right, the judge contends one executive order cannot override another executive order? Is that right?


A little more complicated than that but we will try to make it simple, right? In law 101. So presidents use executive orders and they have historically used them. Executive orders remember have the force and effect of law. But you have to be careful because there are times where that executive order treads on what powers Congress has.

And to that extent, you could certainly challenge it. Right? And so what happened here is you might remember Trump decrying President Obama's use of executive orders and it has to go through Congress, what are you talking about? Particularly as it relates to immigration we shouldn't use executive orders. And lo and behold in President Trump's first 100 days he had signed 30 which is more than any president had in 72 years, since Truman.

But anyway I (INAUDIBLE) and so at any event as it related to this, Obama had signed an executive order basically withdrawing lands that could not be explored and not be drilled. And so in essence the judge is not speaking to the issue of whether one executive order can override another. It can.

The judge is speaking to the issue of what the actual law says and what the law says, Christi, is that a president can withdraw lands from consideration. However, in order for any other president, now that they have been withdrawn to revoke that, that is in Congress's domain. And so it would require an act of Congress in order for President Trump to now say, we are open for business, these lands can now be explored, et cetera, et cetera.

And so, therefore, it cannot be done, that is drilling cannot be done until Congress says so. His executive order declared null and void and as a result of that, it's a big win for the environmentalist.

PAUL: You have to -- you have to think that the Trump administration is going to appeal this and appeal to Congress to override, yes?

JACKSON: Yes. Very good point. And so in terms of your first point, Christi, I believe there will be an appeal. This is the Ninth Circuit and have happens -- right -- we have 13 circuit courts throughout the country. Circuit courts are only appellate courts, right? It's the court you get to before you get to the Supreme Court.

And in this particular jurisdiction covering Alaska that is the Ninth Circuit. And so while this was a district court judge -- right -- a federal judge, very important, very powerful, the Trump administration to your point will almost certainly appeal this to the Ninth Circuit and see what an appellate court has to say.


In addition to that, second point implicit in your question is going to Congress. Now you can go to Congress but remember the Democrats certainly control the House of Representatives. It takes two branches of government to make law and then get to the president. So I think going to Congress would not be a viable option at this point.

PAUL: Very understandable. Joey Jackson, thank you for making it all understandable for us. We appreciate it as always.

JACKSON: Thank you, Christi.

PAUL: Sure.

JACKSON: Have a great day. Happy Sunday.

PAUL: You too. You too. Thanks, Joey.

BLACKWELL: There is new fallout after a woman alleges that former Vice President Joe Biden inappropriately kissed her on the back of the head in 2014. What 2020 candidates are saying now.


BLACKWELL: This morning, 2020 candidates are addressing the unwanted kiss allegation involving former Vice President Joe Biden.



SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I read the op- ed last night, I believe Lucy Flores. And Joe Biden needs to give an answer.

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE I believe Lucy Flores. We need to live in a nation where people can hear her truth.


PAUL: Former Nevada politician Lucy Flores they're talking about there. She is seen in this picture with Vice President Biden and actress Eva Longoria there alleging Biden kissed the back of her head at this event back in 2014. Flores saying, the alleged kiss made her feel uneasy, gross and confused.

BLACKWELL: Biden's spokesperson responded with this statement.

"Vice President Biden was pleased to support Lucy Flores's candidacy for Lieutenant Governor of Nevada in 2014 and to speak on her behalf at a well-attended public event. Neither then, nor in the years since, did he or the staff with him at the time have an inkling that Ms. Flores had been at any time uncomfortable, nor do they recall what she describes. But Vice President Biden believes that Ms. Flores has every right to share her own recollection and reflections, and that it is a change for better in our society that she has the opportunity to do so. He respects Ms. Flores as a strong and independent voice in our politics and wishes her only the best."

PAUL: So back with us CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer and commentary writer and editor for "The Washington Examiner" Siraj Hashmi.

Good morning, gentlemen.

HASHMI: Good morning.

BLACKWELL: So, Julian, let's start here with just the statement from Biden's spokesperson. What stood out to me was that is third person, right? That is not from the former vice president. And in this age of mea culpa to the camera -- right -- where people have said, I am sorry and here is why. Is that going to be sufficient? Is that going to be enough?

ZELIZER: I don't think it will end the story. I mean, the last week has raised a lot of issues for Senator Biden or former Vice President Biden and I think he is going to have to address many of them and this one in particular, if the story continues, if the questions continue I don't think a spokesperson will be enough. This gets to the heart of some of the concerns with the Biden candidacy and I don't think this will quell the concern.

PAUL: So, you know, Biden -- Vice President Biden has been criticized for this before in many different aspects over the years. He's also a man who had said he supports women. He actually crafted the Violence Against Women Act. With that said, Siraj, does this signal to him that, listen, we are living in a different era, he may be doing things differently from this point on, might we see a different Vice President Biden if he hits the campaign trail?

HASHMI: Yes and even one is capable of evolution and change and Biden is certainly is no exception to that. However, he also suffers from an Al Franken problem who in late 2017 a photo surfaced of his groping a woman while she was asleep and then other accusers came out and alleged sexual misconduct forcing Franken to resign from being a senator in Minnesota.

And Biden has the same problem where there are a number of visual instances of him being visually engaging women and making them uncomfortable. Chris Coons daughter during his -- their swearing-in. Orrin Hatch's granddaughter there was a -- also a photo of a woman in a biker bar that he got really close to. So it's very hard to discount Lucy Flores' allegation against Biden. And so while it doesn't meet -- may not meet the standard of, say, a Harvey Weinstein or even the multiple allegations against President Trump and the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct it certainly obviously isn't good for him.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And it's interesting that you point out that Franken comparison because Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is still getting harsh responses from Senate Democrats about her handling of that back in 2017.

So, Julian, to you. Democrats boost of holding themselves to a higher standards on issues like this. We have heard from Senator Warren, we have heard from former Secretary Castro. Do you expect we will have to hear from the rest of the field moving forward?

ZELIZER: I expect you will because it's not simply about Biden and this one incident. It's the first presidential primary in the post MeToo movement and these issues have been elevated from the personal conduct of officials to the broader issues of sexual harassment and such. And so I think candidates want to speak about this.

It's not all political. It's also part of the principle arguments Democrats are trying to make and, again, this field that we already have is one of the most diverse fields in political history, including the number of women who are running. So I think a lot of candidates are going to talk about this and I think people want answers about what this incident was about and is there any more to know about Biden?


PAUL: Candidates are going to want answers. This is a conversation that has been had many times in a campaign. As you said, with President Trump, with President Clinton.

Julian, historically, significantly, how much does this affect a presidential campaign?

ZELIZER: It could have a huge effect, especially for someone who is not officially running yet, let's remember, because any kind of issue, remember, Gary Hart who was a Democratic candidate faced a big scandal like this involving a relationship with a woman. It brought down the entire campaign. So one incident like this can become magnified very quickly especially if it's connected to bigger social issue like MeToo. So I wouldn't discount what a story like this can do to his potential campaign.

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

ZELIZER: Thank you.

HASHMI: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: So the Chicago police, they say they stand behind the professionalism of the detectives who worked on the Jussie Smollett case. We will tell you what else they are saying this morning. PAUL: And as one brother becomes governor, the other brother sets his sights on another office. The legacy continues on the CNN original series "THE BUSH YEARS."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please raise your right hand and repeat after me. I, George Walker Bush do solemnly swear.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES : I, George Walker Bush, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States. So help me, God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the first time since John Quincy Adams in 1825, a president's son reaches the White House.

NEIL BUSH, SON OF FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH: I know mom and dad have expressed that even greater than being president is watching your own son being sworn-in as president. It was a joyful moment for the whole family but especially for mom and dad.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They reached that iconic photo where he goes to the Oval Office for the first time as president and his father joined him and his father said, hello, Mr. President. And he said back to his father, hello, Mr. President. And he said back to his father, hello, Mr. President.

It was an extraordinary day in that family.


PAUL Watch "THE BUSH YEARS" tonight at 10:00 Eastern only on CNN.



PAUL: The Chicago police defending their investigation of the Jussie Smollett case yet again this morning, this after the prosecutor said she welcomes an outside review of her handling of the incident.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Nick Watt is live from Chicago. Nick, what new are you learning this morning?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a statement came out from the Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson which it seems like he just wants to move on. He said, listen. The state prosecutors are our partners in fighting crime and that will not change.

I'm just going to read you a little bit from that statement. He said, "As the state's attorney said clearly Mr. Smollett was not exonerated. I stand behind the professionalism of the detectives who worked on this case as well as the conclusions of the independent grand jury." Now that word "independent" might be slightly barbed if we're going to really parse into this thing. Maybe he is suggesting that the state's attorney wasn't entirely independent but, listen, it seems like they want to move on. Chief Superintendent Eddie Johnson was very, very annoyed by this. He still thinks Jussie Smollett orchestrated this entire hoax.

And listen. He says that it has cost them so many man hours, dozens of detectives, weeks of work and that is why they are asking Jussie Smollett for over $130,000 that they may or may not get. But we will find out tomorrow how the rank and file police here in Chicago feel about this.

The fraternal order of police have organized a protest outside Kim Foxx, the state attorney's office, outside her office tomorrow morning at 11:00. Some lodges are laying on buses to bring members into that process -- protest. So it will be interesting to see how many people show up at that and how the rank and file police feel.

But the message from the superintendent appears to be, listen. We have got a job to do. We've got crime to fight in this city and enough of this. Let's agree to disagree perhaps but stress that Jussie Smollett has not been exonerated and let's just move on -- guys?

PAUL: All right. Nick Watt, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Jussie Smollett was a no show in last night's NAACP awards in Hollywood.

PAUL: Yes. Comedian Chris Rock though he took aim at the actor. Here's CNN's Stephanie Elam.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jussie Smollett did not win at the 50th Annual NAACP Image Awards. He was up for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series for his role on "Empire."

Now, while we didn't see him that doesn't mean Smollett wasn't on people's minds. That became evident during the second half of the show when Chris Rock took the stage to present the award for outstanding comedy series which was won by "Black-ish."


CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: They said no Jussie Smollett jokes. I know! I know! What a waste of light skin, you know?

You know what I could do with that light skin? That curly hair mockery would be out of here!


(EXPLETIVE DELETED) running Hollywood!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) ROCK: That's no -- no -- no just -- what the hell was he thinking? From now on, I ain't never -- you Jessie from now on. You don't get the "U" no more!


ROCK: That "U" was respect. You get no respect from me.


ELAM: So rock made fun of Smollett and Yara Shahidi show stars on "Black-ish" and "Grown-ish" threw her support behind the "Empire" actor but the vast majority of the show focused on the winners and the honorees and not on the Jussie Smollett drama.

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.

PAUL: You know it's going to be funny when Chris Rock is laughing. He is trying to tell the joke but he's laughing at the same time which makes people laugh even harder because he is laughing.

BLACKWELL: You turned at me and was going to say -- you were going to say something. I was like, what is Christi about to say about this story?

PAUL: I said nothing. I'm saying nothing. That's all I'm saying.

BLACKWELL: Yes. All right. We're good.

PAUL: Chris Rock laughs and we laugh with him.

BLACKWELL: We certainly do.

Charles Barkley --

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: -- we laugh with him, too.

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: When he calls it the game of the tournament you know it's good.

PAUL: Purdue and Virginia. Coy Wire has the incredible overtime thriller to talk about.



PAUL: Two teams have punched their tickets to the final four in Minneapolis.

BLACKWELL: One went to the buzzer and Coy redemption for the University of Virginia? COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Last year Virginia became the first number one seed to ever lose to a 16 seed. And their coach told them, so, you know, we are going places only because we had to go through that pain and we are stronger now. They are going to the final four.

They had to get through Purdue first. Carsen Edwards carrying Purdue with 42 points. The rest of the team scored just 33. His 10 three- pointers pushed him past Steph Curry's record for most points scored through the first four games of a tournament.

Now it still wasn't enough. Virginia down two with five seconds to go and their missed free throw turns into a loose ball scramble. Look at Kihei Clark. He chases it down with time ticking down has the awareness and vision to make a half-court to no look pass to Mamadi. Diakite who nails it. His only field goal in the entire second half.

A jaw dropping play and look at Carsen Edwards and Mamadi Diakite smile at each other. Like wow! We are going to overtime!

Well, it was Purdue and Carsen Edwards having to fight to tie it up. And Carsen pushes it up the court but his pass sails out of bounds pass the outstretch going to his teammate with it Purdue's tournament dream sails away as well. They went 80 to 75 and out comes the water bottle shower.

This is a great part of celebration in hoops. (INAUDIBLE) making history returning to the final four for the first time in 35 years. It was heart break out west. Gonzaga down two in the final seconds. Swarming to get the steal when the whistle blows and Gonzaga get technical foul. What happened? Watch Josh Perkins guarding the inbounds pass and reaches over the end line before it's passed and bounce. You can't do that. That's a technical and Texas Tech would hit the free throws, seals the win and after the game Perkins you can imagine the senior is devastated coming to the realization that he may have just played his very last game.


JOSH PERKINS, GONZAGA GUARD: It's a family atmosphere, you know? And we are going into the real world now. So best five years of my life.


WIRE: Feel for that kid now. Texas Tech coach Chris Beard he made history taking the Red Raiders to the final four for the first time in school history. He has racked up seven tournament wins in the last two years and prior to that, the school had only eight all time.

The rest of the final four determined later today. First Auburn and Kentucky and all SEC matchup. Then Zion Williamson and Duke taking on Michigan State which brings us back to this guy right here. This beautiful man. The Cinderella story of our own.

PAUL: Look at his smile.

WIRE: Yes. He should be smiling.

BLACKWELL: I don't know how to explain this, I really don't.

WIRE: This is incredible. Sent an e-mail last late night. Like Victor is doing even better. He shot all the way up to 28th place out of 42,000 some people across the country in our CNN eight bracket challenge. This is unbelievable. You picked Duke and Kentucky to win today and Duke to win it all.

PAUL: How does that feel, Victor? How does it feel?

BLACKWELL: It feels great but every time I wake up and find I'm doing better than the day before I really don't even remember the teams I picked. I don't. I just picked Duke to win it all and just filled in everybody else quickly.

PAUL: And that's how you do it, people.

WIRE: That's how you do it.


WIRE: I went yesterday to get you. He told us yesterday how he used-- you drink gin the Empress.

BLACKWELL: Yes, Empress 1908.

WIRE: And I went to find you a bottle at this nice liquor store they're like, yes, we don't carry that. That's really good stuff.


PAUL: He doesn't drink.

BLACKWELL: I would like to say it's the gin.

PAUL: (INAUDIBLE) not really good (INAUDIBLE).

BLACKWELL: But I wish I had a better story. I really do. Let's see how long this lasts.

WIRE: You are the story, Victor.

PAUL: You know what? You are the -- yes. That's absolutely right.

WIRE: You put the Victor in Blackwell.

BLACKWELL: Well, thanks, guys.


BLACKWELL: Coy Wire, thank you.

WIRE: Thanks, guys.

PAUL: Thank you, Coy. All right. Listen. You knew it was coming. "Saturday Night Live" opening the show with their take on the Mueller report.

BLACKWELL: So this sketch imagines President Trump's reaction to the findings. Watch.


DE NIRO: Dear Attorney General Barr, officials from the Justice Department and esteemed members of Congress.

BRYANT: Hey, guys. William Barr here. You might want to sit down for this one.

BALDWIN: Guess what, guess what, guess what? Daddy is about to freak.


DE NIRO: I am submitting these 380 pages.

BRYANT: I am writing almost four pages.

BALDWIN: I am reading zero pages. But Sean Hannity has read it and he was so excited that texted me an egg plant.

DE NIRO: On the charge of obstruction of justice, we have not drawn a definitive conclusion.

BRYANT: But I have and my conclusion is Trump is clean as a whistle.

BALDWIN: Free at last. Free at last!

DE NIRO: As for conspiracy or collusion, there were several questionable incidences involving the president's team but we cannot prove a criminal connection.

BRYANT: No collusion, no diggity, and no doubt.





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