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Warren's Finance Director Quits After She Swears Off Big Donors; College Student Murdered after Getting into Wrong Car; Tributes Pour in to Murdered Rapper Nipsey Hussle; CNN Reporting on Melania Trump's Activities at Mar-a-Lago; Oversight Chair: White House Overruled Security Clearance Denials for Dozens. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired April 1, 2019 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT- LARGE: OK, so here's why her number needs to be examined closely when we get her number. She had $11 million leftover in her Senate account. She raised money for her Senate race. She had a million left because she was planning on running for president. She can transfer all $11 million of that from her Senate campaign to a presidential campaign. My guess is they will have done that in the first fundraising quarter. Be wary of Warren's number. Don't just look at the raw number because it includes that $11 million certainly. Look at how much she has raised for her presidential bid. Finance director leaving. We know she raised around $350,000 in her first 24 hours as a candidate. Not close to the $6 million Sanders and O'Rourke raised. There are concerning signs here. Again, because money equals investment and support. That's is one of the early ways you show it. A lot of people say, I have this many people on the ground and this many people knocking on doors. Fundraising and a number of donors you have is a good metric to measure that stuff. I think Warren may be the loser when we look at this fundraising quarter and how much she actually raised for her presidential race. Stay tuned. There's probably a reason we haven't seen her number yet.


Chris Cillizza, thank you very much.

CILLIZZA: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: A manhunt is underway after a Grammy-nominated rapper is shot to death just before he was to meet with police on gang violence. It's a tragedy that's shaken the world of entertainment.

Plus, a student is murdered after getting into a car she thought was her Uber. You'll hear from her mother and what we know about her final night.


[14:35:54] BALDWIN: Something so many of us do without giving it a second thought. Need a ride? Open an app. When a car shows up, get in. South Carolina college student, Samantha Josephson, got into a car she thought was her Uber Friday morning and she wound up dead. Chilling surveillance video shows the 21-year-old standing near a crowd outside a bar in Columbia around 2:00 a.m. Friday. Car pulls up, she's seen climbing in. And hunters found her body about 14 hours later in a field some 90 miles away. Police have arrested Nathaniel David Rowland, charging him with murder and kidnapping. Investigators found Josephson's blood inside his car.

And this is what you have to hear. This is her mother during the suspect's court hearing.


MARCI JOSEPHSON, MOTHER OF SAMANTHA JOSEPHSON (voice-over): I cannot fathom how someone could randomly select a person, a beautiful girl, and steal her life away. His actions were senseless, vile and unacceptable. It sickens us to think that his face was the last thing that my baby girl saw on this earth.


BALDWIN: Samantha Josephson isn't alone in becoming a victim after summoning a ride. A CNN investigation last year uncovered more than 100 reported sexual assaults in several cities.

So I've got Dianne Gallagher who is following the developments for us from South Carolina, and our CNN tech reporter, Ahiza Garcia.

Diane, to you, what more are you hearing about how this happened?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So to be honest, Brooke, that's sort of the mood here, a mix of fear and grief. They're not really sure what led up exactly to her getting in into that car and what transpired right after. Perhaps the most chilling detail of this entire sad situation is the fact that police say that the driver employed the child lock feature on his vehicle, meaning that the windows and the doors were likely locked and according to the police that meant even if she had tried to escape, she likely was unable to. When they found her body according to the warrants, she had wounds on her head, her face, her neck, her upper body, hands, feet. They found not just blood in that vehicle, but they also found cleaning products and they found her cell phone. And the key here is the fact that that was not the car that she summoned. She called an Uber and she got into that vehicle, and that was not the vehicle that she called. He was not her Uber driver. She thought it was because it matched the description. You see how casually -- oh, it makes your bones shiver. You see how casually she gets in there not knowing what is about to happen. But she doesn't check the back to check the license tag, and in South Carolina they don't have to have a tag on the front. There's no way she would have matched that there.

That's something her father says is now his life's mission. He needs to make sure that not just the apps are responsible for safety but also people make sure they do what can keep them safe on the ride share apps. Take a listen.


SEYMOUR JOSEPHSON, FATHER OF SAMANTHA JOSEPHSON: You guys have to travel together. At night, let's be honest, you guys are drinking, leaving the bar, or whatever it may be, you get into an Uber, you don't know if it's an Uber. You don't know anything about it. If there's two of you, something less likely will happen. Samantha was by herself. She had absolutely no chance. None.


GALLAGHER: Brooke, you hear a father say she had no chance. She was supposed to graduate in about a month. She was going to law school. A bright future. Everyone has amazing things to say about her. And she's gone.

BALDWIN: To hear the mom speaking in that courtroom saying there's now a hole in the universe, your heart goes out to her.

And you think of how many times you've gotten an Uber. As I said to you, how many times you get in an Uber. I know they have the license plate. I know that it's the car make and model, but how many times do you get in an Uber and they're not marked and you jump in?

[14:40:14] AHIZA GARCIA, CNN TECH REPORTER: Yes. That's one of the things for riders. Safety can start before you ever get into that car. I've reached out to both Uber and Lyft, they referred me to their rider safety tips. One of the first things they say is call the Uber or Lyft from inside a building if you can. That way you're not looking as vulnerable on the street to people who might have bad intentions. And then to make sure to check the license plate before you get into any car. Make sure the license plate on the car matches the one on the app. And to also check the photo of the driver, because every rider is equipped with a photo of the driver before they get into a car. And then while you're on the ride, one of the things -- I mean, and this is something you would have to be in an Uber or Lyft to enact -- to activate this feature, but one of the things you can do is send your GPS location to a loved one or someone who can kind of monitor to make sure that you are getting to your destination --

BALDWIN: That's a great idea.

GARCIA: -- and you're en route.

BALDWIN: That's a great idea. That's a great idea. We have to be alert.

Dianna and Ahiza, thank you so much ladies, very much. Such a tragic story out of South Carolina.

Just ahead here on CNN, former Vice President Joe Biden is not even officially in the race, but he is already on a bit of a campaign damage control. What the new allegations say about the Democratic Party as a whole.

Plus, new CNN reporting about what the first lady has been up to behind the scenes at Mar-a-Lago as the president hits Florida twice the past couple of weeks.


[14:46:11] BALDWIN: Thousands of fans of Grammy-nominated rapper and community activist, Nipsey Hussle, are in a state of shock today. They're mourning the hip-hop star's ultimate and violent death. Nipsey Hussle was murdered in broad daylight outside a clothing store he owned in south Los Angeles. He was killed just before he was about to meet with city leaders and the LAPD about reducing gang violence.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is someone who put our community on the map. People thought that our community was just about violence. And Nipsey put a change to that and let them know that even though we're from underprivileged communities of poverty, that we can still become something.


BALDWIN: Social media has been flooded with tributes. Here's one: "Watching Nipsey inspired me to invest and own in our communities. He was a solid man who loved his woman, his family, and his community. This hurts."

Atlanta-based D.J., Headkrack, co-host of the "Rickey Smiley Morning Show" and Dish Nation, is with me now.

Headkrack, thank you for taking a minute with me and talking about this man that is so beloved. It's a huge loss to the rap and hip-hop community. He left a huge social footprint in his hometown of L.A., investing his time and money in the community. Tell me what you know of him and what impact he had on you.

"HEADKRACK," ATLANTA-BASED D.J.: At the end of the day, there's very new situations where someone's music actually transcends music. You know? Nipsey Hussle's raps and rhymes were a call of action for people who listened. You saw the posts. It made people want to do better in their own communities. I mean, you talk about a brother right here who had the opportunity to leave the area of Crenshaw we grew up at. He kept his businesses right there. He was buying up property on the block and trying to teach and empower to do the same thing in neighborhoods around the world. That's something -- people don't walk away from business school with that, investing into yourself and your own community. He was a big advocate of that.

BALDWIN: This is a guy -- I just spent my morning reading about him. Started a STEM program for inner city kids. Owned multiple businesses. Was involved in rebuilding projects in the south L.A. area. He said he grew up in gang culture but turned his life around and tried to help others do the same. I know your son got to meet him in Atlanta at one of his pop-up shops. Tell me what that was like for him.

HEADKRACK: My son was completely over the moon when he went to Nipsey Hussle's pop-up shop. The type of guy that Nipsey was, he wanted to press the flesh. He wanted to meet the fans and give the love back to the people who gave him love. My man has done things in the culture you've never seen before. He had an album, he made 1,000 copies of it, he was selling for $100 a pop. People bought them. That's amazing. Who else was doing that? My son took a picture with Nipsey. He was frustrated he had a stupid expression when he took the photo, but he was excited to meet his legend. That was a rapper we both liked. That's where we're had within the culture. Parents and kids are sometimes vibing to the same artist.


HEADKRACK: That's rare.

BALDWIN: He was also a family man. He just had this baby boy with actress, Lauren London. They were both profiled in the March issue of "G.Q." Lauren is well known for her role in the classic film, "ATL." For people who don't know who this man is or was, how do you think he should be remembered?

[14:49:48] HEADKRACK: I think he should be remembered as a visionary. I mean, a lot of times people throw the term legend or icon around a little too loosely, but Nipsey Hussle was that. He may not have been as commercially successful as Tupac. But his impact is just as great if not possibly bigger. I mean, he was getting ready to rock the world with this whole documentary he was putting together about a doctor's trial where he proved he had the ability to cure AIDS and the information was kind of suppressed. And a lot of people feel like that project he was working on made him a marked man. But that's a deeper conspiracy that we don't got time for right now. It's great to know other people are looking to pick up Nipsey Hussle's work and continue on with it. You can look new social media through the hash tags and people are --


BALDWIN: I know. I saw a Pharrell tweet where he was talking --


BALDWIN: -- about he was just shooting a video with him the week of or the day before. All the people who showed the love on social media for this man gone too soon and leaving behind a beautiful family as well and so many fans.

Headkrack, thank you so much.

HEADKRACK: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Nice to meet you.

HEADKRACK: Likewise.

BALDWIN: Just ahead, "Info Wars" founder, Alex Jones, says his Sandy Hook lies were a form of "psychosis" -- his word. See his deposition video.

Plus, dueling protests underway in Chicago as protesters come face to face over the Jussie Smollett case. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)




[14:55:54] BALDWIN: For the first time in a couple weeks, first lady, Melania Trump, is back at the White House after spending an extended spring break at Mar-a-Lago. The Trump-owned resort has become a regular weekend stop for the president, but the first lady often spends long stretches there.

Kate Bennett is with us. She covers the first lady for us.

I read this fascinating piece of yours in "CNN Politics." What got me was deep into the piece where you talk about Palm Beach is a place where you winter, right? It's fancy. It's glitzy. And you go to the things and it's see and be seen. But for Melania Trump, to use a phrase, it's "hearth centric." Tell me what you mean.

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We sometimes have to remember that Melania Trump has been going to Mar-a-Lago with Donald Trump since she was Melania, a model, for about 20 years. It's become a place of traditions. It's where they have Thanksgiving and Easter, where they do holidays where she keeps things, tries to keep some normalcy in her life and the life of their son. And you're right. She doesn't go shopping with the fancy ladies or do lunches. She doesn't have a ton of friends. That's by design. What she does do is go down there and hunker down usually with her parents and her son, and also members of her staff who she's taking with her. They meet regularly. So she's not completely out of touch, but she's certainly away from the glare of Washington, and like I said, for weeks at a time.

BALDWIN: Also the bit in there about how, when her husband is down and they have dinner, it's not like they're cordoned off in a private section of the Mar-a-Lago dining room. I mean, they're out there dining among everyone else, and they dine for hours and hours and hours.

BENNETT: Yes. This was really interesting to me, and several sources told me this, that the president and the first lady will have two to three-hour-long dinners where they talk to each other, are engrossed in conversation, one source said. The man I spoke to, who wrote a Mar-a-Lago book, said, how many married couples do you know that can sit for two or three hours after 20 years and talk? It's a good point. It flies in the face of the public perception of their marriage. But certainly, people who have seen them there -- and it's a relatively small space. They're dining among maybe a couple hundred other guests and members of Mar-a-Lago very openly. They often stay talking until other people leave.


BENNETT: It's where they catch up.

BALDWIN: I hope I'm going to want to do that with my husband in 20 years. Give me 19 and I'll let you know.

BENNETT: You might also want to take a vacation for a couple weeks at a time alone, too, you know?

BALDWIN: Exactly. Exactly.


BALDWIN: Thank you, Kate.

Go check out Kate's piece,

Let's continue on to the top of the hour. You are watching CNN on this Monday. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We begin with what Democrats are calling a whistleblower in the White House raising a national security alarm about who was walking its halls. According to this whistle blower, 25 officials have their clearance denied, only then to get the green light from senior officials at the White House that they're cleared. These details are from the House Oversight Committee, which revealed her story in a memo. This is her name, Tricia Newbold. She is the current adjudications manager in the personnel security office. When you look at the issues, she says this is why -- these are the issues the White House apparently disregarded in clearing them, staffers who had foreign influence, conflicts of interest, financial problems and even drug use and criminal conduct. A source tells CNN Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are among the 25 whose clearance denials were overruled by the White House.

CNN's Lauren Fox is with me on Capitol Hill.

Lauren, how are Republicans responding to the whistleblower's claims?

LAUREN FOX, CNN REPORTER: This has been a partisan fight all day, Brooke. Republicans have just released their own memo chronicling what Ms. Newbold told them over a nine-hour interview before the House Oversight Committee. They're casting doubt on how much information she actually would have known in specific security clearance adjudication decisions. Essentially, they're arguing, did she know why someone was denied and that was overruled by senior White House officials. You know, earlier in the day, Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee.