Return to Transcripts main page

NEW DAY SATURDAY

Trump's Lawyers Issue Letter Fighting Tax Return Request; Trump Tells Would-Be Immigrants: "We Can't Take You Anymore"; Biden Jokes About Physical Contact Amid Claims of Inappropriateness. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired April 6, 2019 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:00:00] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST, NEW DAY WEEKEND: Mick Jagger says he's feeling much better now, thanking fans on Twitter for all the well wishes.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST, NEW DAY WEEKEND: Yes, he thanked the hospital staff as well after he underwent what once was close to band tells CNN was a treatment for a heart valve replacement. Now the band postponed their latest at North American tour as he recovers and a lot of you are waiting for that because you got your tickets in hand and now it doesn't matter.

There is no word yet on new dates but they are coming they say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I decide to run for office, I'll produce my tax returns absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did President Trump going from making the release of his taxes a campaign pledge at one point to a vow now fighting it all the way to Supreme court.

TRUMP: I'm under audit. When you're under audit, you don't do it but I'm under audit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a hill people would be willing to die on it is the quote from Team Trump on this issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump has a message for those wanting to immigrate to the United States.

TRUMP: The system is full, can't take you anymore. So turn around, that's the way it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not just a U.S. problem, it's not just in Mexico problem, it's a western hemisphere problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mueller's team is reportedly fuming, they're saying that Barr didn't accurately characterize their case in his four page letter. If he's worried about his legacy then why mischaracterize it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only thing he has to lose at this point in his career is his reputation. I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

PAUL: 8:01 on this Saturday morning. Good morning to you and President Trump's legal team right now, currently ready to take the fight to keep his tax returns secret all the way to the Supreme Court.

BLACKWELL: Sources say his lawyers have been prepping for this battle for months and that this is a hill and people would be willing to die on it. Meantime on the border, the President told those seeking asylum that the U.S. cannot take any more migrants. Simply put, turn around the country is full.

PAUL: And the Justice Department responding to the first lawsuit, seeking the full release of the Special Counsel report on Russia. They say they're already working on it and the courts shouldn't circumvent the process.

BLACKWELL: Let's go back to this fight over the tax returns. Again that source telling CNN that the President's attorneys have been preparing for this for several months. Critics argue, it's not a fight worth having, especially since the President said that he would release his tax returns without question and that was before he started his run for office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If I decide to run for office, I'll produce my tax returns, absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: And President repeatedly claims that he cannot release his returns because he's under audit. The audit is exactly the reason Democrats want his return in the first place so a Trump official, administration officials calling the request, an abusive over reach by Congress.

The House Ways And Means Committee which is leading the effort is calling those claims, nonsense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY GOMEZ, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, (D) HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE: First, it's just nonsense. We're doing our oversight responsibility. We're doing - we're an independent co equal branch of government and that's what we're doing is we're seeing if the laws are working and if the audits are taking place of this President's tax returns.

Nothing more. Whatever comes out of it so be it but this is not Presidential harassment. This is just a check and balance that should have been there for the last two years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: With us now CNN White House reporter, Sarah Westwood. Sarah, good morning to you what is the White House saying about all this?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, good morning Victor and Christi and the White House is making clear that it plans to fight back aggressively against this request from the House Ways and Means Committee for six years' worth of President Trump's tax returns.

And administration officials are saying they don't want to set the precedent of a sitting Commander-in-Chief having to turn over his or her tax filings on orders from Congress and Trump has retained Virginia based law firm Consovoy McCarthy Park to represent him in the tax matter and in a letter to the Treasury Department's General Counsel on Friday, his lawyers argued that there is no legitimate reason for House Democrats to be asking for the President's filings.

William Consovoy, one of the President's attorney said in a statement on Friday that the request from Democrats are not consistent with governing law, do not advance any proper legislative purpose and trying to interfere with the ordinary conduct of audit. Trump of course, has been maintaining that the reason he can't release his tax returns is because they're under audit.

He's been saying this for years now but essentially the President's legal team is trying to reframe the argument here. They're trying to make this primarily a tax - not a tax issue, excuse me but one that's focused more on whether Democrats even have the authority to be making these demands in the first place.

And Trump yesterday said he believes that the law is 100% on his side, that of course remains to be seen. The next step in this process Victor and Christi is that the Treasury Department is likely going to seek opinions on how to proceed, that's a step that's likely to involve the Department of Justice's office of Legal Counsel.

PAUL: All right, Sarah Westwood, appreciate the update, thank you.

BLACKWELL: And once Democrats won the House, it was expected that they would try to get the President's tax returns and they're doing so with a very old provision in the tax code. Let's talk a bit about it.

[08:05:00] We have to go back to 1924 to understand it. It's the so called Teapot Dome Scandal. Lawmakers then were concerned about the alleged bribery of government officials by private interest groups over oil field leases. They also were looking into potential conflicts of interest involving the then Treasury Secretary, Andrew Mellon, who kept private business interests while he was in office.

That's why they came up with a provision in the Internal Revenue Code, giving the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, authorization to request the President's tax returns.

Former federal prosecutors Shan Wu was with us a little earlier and he says that this push back from the President's legal team is a bit shaky.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So far from what is legal team has produced, it seems pretty weak in terms of their arguments, the letter that his lawyer did just looks like a grab bag, mishmash of arguments and it doesn't look like they really have much to do.

Besides perhaps you know, trying to sway the public opinion. Maybe that's as usual the real point of this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: All right, talking about this more with Washington Bureau Chief, Chicago Sun-Times, Lynn Sweet. Lynn, good to see this morning. Thanks for being here. I want to read some of what William Consovoy, President Trump's attorney said. He said his request which we are talking about the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Richard Neal. "His request is a transparent effort by one political party to harass an official from the other party because they dislike his politics and his speech"

Does Representative Neal on the surface, does this request like a legitimate legislative purpose or has that been proven by the 1924 provision?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Well, that statement that we just read from Trump's lawyer, Christi, is a political and PR statement. It isn't a legal statement because if the law is on the side of whoever of the Ways and Means Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Senate Finance Committee then it doesn't matter because the authority is there.

And when members of Congress exercise oversight authority, they ask for information and then they can go from where that information leads them so I don't think that is a persuasive letter, I agree with what Shan said earlier today on that point but may I quickly make another point.

PAUL: Of course.

SWEET: And that is, I hope that when reporters are talking to Trump the question isn't at this point, will you release returns? That's vague and ambiguous and then he says, I have an audit. Well, that dance is done. Ask for the - will you release any tax return where the audit is complete and Sir, what year is that?

At least let's try and hone down the discussion and see and maybe, we'll least find out even if the returns aren't released, maybe it is without a big court fight, possible to at least find out what returns are still under audit. That would kind of tidy up the conversation.

PAUL: Well, you're bringing this up and Shan brought this up last hour as well in terms of an audit. First of all, you can be under an audit and you can still release those papers but it - would it not just take one call for somebody to determine whether they - whether the President is really under audit?

SWEET: Well, we would - I couldn't make that call and neither you, as much as I would love reporters to have that kind of authority to command someone.

PAUL: Well, not you but somebody in Congress or somebody else. I mean now we're talking about this.

SWEET: Yes, that is what my point is. Under this provision, they could take bite size steps on this. One, can you tell us if there's an audit? Now, this may lead to another fact check that says, yes, it's returns either audit for 2012 is done and 11 and we're still working on the subsequent years.

So then when it will be another fact check you know, list of inaccurate statements that Trump makes but I think for the public, you need to - I think we need to be able to have the conversation and Congress can do it to at least help us know what on earth, President Trump is talking about because audits aren't infinite.

PAUL: Right and then let me ask you. Chairman Neal has asked for 6 years of tax - of taxes. President's been in office for two, you could argue, you know, he was running for President for close to two years. You know, started in 2015, early 2015, is six years excessive?

SWEET: Well, given that the last you may - if he's audited on a routine basis, Trump then maybe the return from six years ago is done so I - who knows what's excessive until we know what's under audit now. As we say, we're talking about smoke in some ways - I don't want to over emphasize audit only because it's the President's excuse.

[08:10:00] Anyone has the ability and right to release their tax return under an audit or not and then if the audit changes something, then you release it again. This is taxes and our taxes are due in a few weeks. I hope to work on mine today actually, okay.

PAUL: Good luck with that. I hope that goes well. I know that that is not - that is not one of those things you like to sit down with and go over, anybody - anybody likes that. Now, let me ask you real quickly about something his lawyer said. We just read it but it's one of those statements that you go wow.

They said, this is a hill and people would be willing to die on it. Besides President Trump and maybe his attorneys, what Republicans are willing to die on this hill?

SWEET: I don't know of any in this climate why this argument alone would be you know, this issue alone when there are so many other things that impact other people. It is custom as you've discussed for years here for candidates and officials to release tax returns. Kirsten Gillibrand has already to his - to the dismay of some Bernie Sanders followers, he has been taking his time and has not disclosed - he says he will, he did it last time so it's a touchy topic but it doesn't impact really the lives of people in the way other legislation does or revamping healthcare, if that's your issue. So if that's what a Republican wants to become known for back in the home district or home state in Congress, well I'm the one who led the charge to help President Trump keep his tax returns, secret because it will protect all of us from not having to disclose, it's that - I don't know if that is politically placed and I don't think it will play because that it - is that what you want to be known for and the answer is no.

PAUL: All right, Lynn, good luck with your taxes, today.

SWEET: Thank you.

PAUL: Wish you the best.

SWEET: You too.

PAUL: Absolutely, thank you. Lynn Sweet for us.

BLACKWELL: Well, the pressure is rising on Attorney General Bill Barr to release the full unredacted Mueller report. Next, why investigators on Mueller's team say Barr's recap of their work is off target.

PAUL: And Joe Biden making his first public appearance since facing allegations that his behavior has made women feel uncomfortable in the past. What he said that has people questioning his sincerity this morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:15:00] BLACKWELL: Attorney General Bill Barr is facing growing criticism. Investigators on Robert Mueller's team are upset and frustrated over Barr's four page recap of their two years of work. Sources familiar with the conversation say investigators felt Barr did not fully describe President Trump's actions.

And one source familiar with the full report tells 'The Washington Post,' "it was much more acute than Barr suggested." Joining me now to discuss is John Sale. He is a Former Assistant Special Watergate prosecutor and Former Assistant U.S. Attorney.

John, good morning to you.

JOHN SALE, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Good morning Victor.

BLACKWELL: So let's start here. I want to take this in the degrees of severity in which people are responding to what the Attorney General has and has not said and released. First, this Politico report where some say - some members of Congress are even asking whether Barr himself has broken the law.

Saying his characterization of the Mueller probe allowed Trump and his allies to build a public narrative, clearing the President of any wrong doing, all without actually releasing a full version of the Special Counsel findings.

What do you make of that - this concern by some member of Congress that the AG has broken the law? Do you think he has?

SALE: Absolutely not. Victor, all of this discussion about the Attorney General's letter or two letters is going to become completely academic in one short week when we see what is reduced - is produced.

But what I don't understand is why people aren't looking back at the Attorney General's confirmation hearing where he said exactly what he was going to do. He talked about guaranteeing Mueller independence, allowing him to finish his investigation. Well, he did that.

He said he would not be bullied and I think that was in the context of the President but now I think he's not going to be bullied by a congressional resolution or demands from Congress that call on him to violate the law. I think Mueller - I never called it a witch hunt, I think it was a legitimate investigation and they were - they prided themselves in not leaking.

But I'm very disappointed in the leaks of the last week. I think there when there was something inaccurate, the Mueller team and Mueller was quickly to correct it, that was the BuzzFeed report.

Now these leaks, we don't know who they're from? How many people? And they're not specific so I think that the Mueller legacy could be tarnished by leaks from anonymous sources. But the - what Barr said in his confirmation hearing is, he believes in transparency.

Well, we all do. I mean I would love to see every word in the report but where the law prohibits them from reducing - producing materials, he can't do it, that could be a violation of the law as much as we would love to see what's in it, he cannot produce grand jury material.

He absolutely cannot so information that would jeopardize ongoing investigations such as in the Southern District of New York, he cannot produce that.

BLACKWELL: But you've heard the arguments about shaping the narrative, right? So Barr released this letter saying that he was going to offer these - summarized as he called it. Later said, he didn't want to be considered a summary but the principal conclusions and then the redacted report.

What's your response to those who say that that was a political move to shape the narrative around accusations of collusion and what these people who were involved with the investigation say was a more acute danger for the President as it related to obstruction. They took an extra step to do that.

SALE: Well, I'm not apologist for the Attorney General but I believe that what he's going to do is follow his oath, which says to uphold the constitution.

[08:20:00] You know, I work fully on Jaworski and he came into the position in the most thankless of times, right after the Saturday night massacre and there were some very uncanny coincidences between Leon Jaworski and Mr. Barr. They were both 68 years old. They both had a distinguished careers, had made a nice amount of money so you sort of wondered, why would they take this job knowing the firestorm they would inherit and Leon Jaworski said, he thought that this job might destroy him but he took it because he had told young lawyers, you can't run away from challenges and he accepted it for that reason.

I think the legacy that Mr. Barr is going to be concerned about is not congressional resolutions or polls, I think it's going to be history and he is not going to want to be participant in a cover up. I think he's going to follow the law and we're going to be frustrated because there are going to be redactions.

But I think an interesting thing is that he's consulting with Mueller on the redactions and what I would think, a creative solution would be, whatever he redacts indicate if Mueller agrees with the redaction or disagrees.

If Mueller agrees, end of discussion.

BLACKWELL: We don't know so much how he is - how involved the Special Counsel is. The letter said that he's assisting. We don't know the details of that assistance but you bring up history, you talked about Watergate. Judge Sirica decided it in 60 - I'm sorry 74, to release the grand jury findings - that - that testimony to the Congress, right?

So as the Attorney General says potentially his hands are tied, you say that he cannot release grand jury information, there is precedent for that.

SALE: You can go to court and ask for that but because there are ongoing investigations, I don't see the Attorney General doing that but furthermore what we called a road map, which did release information without any conclusions to the House Judiciary Committee, the White House did not oppose it at that time.

So it was unopposed by the White House. Now I think for the reasons I've stated, the Department of Justice would oppose it because there the grand jury named Richard Nixon as an unindicted co-conspirator so there was criminal - underlying criminal conduct.

There was a burglary. Here the underlying criminal conduct on the part of the President does not exist. The Mueller team found that there was no collusion, that's the underlying crime so it's different.

BLACKWELL: Yes the - according to Barr, they found that they could not establish that collusion. So we are just a few days out from finding out what redactions will come in this report and we'll have a conversation on the other side of that. John Sale, thanks so much for being with us.

SALE: Thank you.

PAUL: One of the preliminary report showing Ethiopian Airlines pilots did everything the Boeing instructed them to do but still of course that plane crashed. There are changes now that Boeing is announcing regarding their production of 737s. We'll update you. BLACKWELL: And President Trump defends his immigration policy saying

the country's full and there's no more room for asylum seekers. The President's message from the southern border coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:25:00] PAUL: So good to have you with us here. 27 minutes past the hour. 8:00 by the way on a Saturday. You're up early, we appreciate it. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell, good to be with you. The President is offering - this is a blunt message to people who are looking to come to this country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The system is full, go home. Our country is full of. Our area is full, the sector is full. Can't take anymore, I'm sorry, can't happen so turn around. That's the way it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: And the President made these comments after a visit to the U.S. border with Mexico to inspect a refurbished section of fencing there. The President claimed, the construction was the first part of what would eventually become a 400 mile wall along the southern border and this trip cast off a week where President Trump seemed to flip flop a lot on how to handle immigration policy at the at the border.

CNN National Security Samantha Vinograd is with us. First of all, I want to get your reaction to what he said that we're full. Who determines that the U.S. is full?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Christi, the President seemingly missed a trip to the Statue of Liberty as a child and his statements are morally disturbing particularly for those of us whose family were not able to come here when the country was full to other kinds of immigrants during times of need.

But the President's words are even perhaps less disturbing than the actions that he's taken to curb both illegal and legal immigration into this country. Ever since he came into office, he has been really targeting specific groups of people when it comes to determining who should or should not come into this country.

We can talk about the legal implications of that but we have to keep in mind that the refugee ceiling this year is 30,000 refugees that may be resettled in this country. That pales in comparison to the 110,000 for example that were allowed into this country legally in 2016 when he assumed office.

He is waging a war against the kinds of legal immigration, refugees, asylum seekers and other classes of people that need to come to this country the most and when he talks about being full or empty, that's not really an option when it comes to upholding international law on refugees or asylum seekers. BLACKWELL: Let's talk about that because specifically, this is the man who said I will be the law and order President. And asylum seekers have a legal right under international, national law 4851 1980 to seek asylum, to apply for asylum and now he is saying essentially that he's going to flout or ignore that law.

[08:30:00] Exactly and I just want to repeat a sentence I just used previously, there's no full or empty option when it comes to the right of asylum seekers who are trying to enter this country. As you mentioned Victor, there are international laws, the UN Convention of refugees, the optional protocol, there is federal U.S. law that defines the right - rights of refugees as well and it is unclear whether the President just thinks that he can abrogate those laws, whether he's going withdraw the United States from them.

But what is clear is that he is signaling to everyone around the world that he's going to do everything possible to limit the ability of asylum seekers to come to this country and refugees of other classes, I want to point out, the President and Secretary Pompeo have said that they are champions of the rights of persecuted religious minorities around the world.

If you look at the statistics from the World Relief Organization, other entities, the number of people, Yazidis, persecuted Muslims in Bangladesh and elsewhere, those numbers are drastically lower and so it is clear that he's trying to do everything possible to undermine international law when it comes to refugees and asylum seekers.

PAUL: You mentioned Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. He is acknowledging and this is in a different sector here. He's acknowledging the threat that was posed by China after that Chinese national was arrested at the President's Mar-a-Lago club down in Florida.

This woman was reportedly carrying a Chinese passport, a flash drive containing malware. Let's listen to what the Secretary had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: But I think this tells the American people the threat that China poses, the efforts that they're making here inside the United States not only against government officials but more broadly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Your take on what he said. What's the take away there?

VINOGRAD: Well, it's good to hear the Secretary of State who used to be the CIA Director, agreeing with the Intelligence Community's analysis that China poses a pervasive counterintelligence threat against United States.

Secretary of State Pompeo has disagreed with the IC's analysis on other threats like North Korea. The Intelligence Community and public documents has talked about how pervasive the threat from China is. I lived and breath this when I was at the White House for four years. I remember going to China and the measures that we took before, during and after those trips as well as when we were at the White House.

So that threat is not new, it is evolving. What is different Christi is that the President is really not taking the basic counter- intelligence steps to protect himself and his properties and his person that other Presidents have taken, whether that's using personal devices to make calls, whether that's frequenting a temporary Presidential site like Mar-a-Lago that allows members, guests without appropriate background checks.

He is not taking the basic steps to guard himself against the Chinese threat which is a big break with his predecessors.

BLACKWELL: All right, Samantha Vinograd, good to have you with us this morning.

VINOGRAD: Thank you.

PAUL: Thank you Sam.

BLACKWELL: Former Vice President Joe Biden, he made his first public appearance since the facing the allegations that his behavior made women feel uncomfortable but it was something he said and how he said it that has people asking if the apology was sincere.

PAUL: And a flight from Knoxville to Houston was forced to land early. You're going to hear what pilots told the passengers about why they had to make that call.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:35:00] BLACKWELL: A flight from Knoxville to Houston had to land in Dallas after a mechanical issue. Listen to what the passengers heard from the cockpit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, we lost two of our screens. Now if we kept flying, we lose them all eventually.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: The ExpressJet Airlines flight landed safely and the airline worked to rebook the customers on the next available flight.

PAUL: Well, Boeing is cutting production now of the 737 by 10 jets per month as they work to get the plane back in the air. 737 Max jets were grounded remember, last month after the deadly crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane.

Well, the preliminary report on the crash shows that the pilots followed protocol, they did everything Boeing instructed them to do. But they still weren't able to stop the plane from crashing. BLACKWELL: Police have released body camera video of a standoff in Georgia that ended with three people dead. Here's the story. A man with a gun suspected of shooting two police officers took a pregnant woman and her 16 year old son hostage. Now the standoff ended only after the gunman killed himself. Here's what happened.

You can see here the police trying to break open a garage door and once inside the home police discovered the woman and her son dead. They were shot to death. The suspect had already taken his own life.

BLACKWELL: In his first public appearance since facing allegations that his behavior made women feel uncomfortable, former Vice President Joe Biden joked twice about having permission to touch people.

PAUL: Now after the speech he told reporters, he wasn't sorry for anything that he'd done but did say he's never been intentionally disrespectful. CNN Political reporter, Arlette Saenz has the very latest on Joe Biden. Arlette, good morning to you.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Good morning Christi and Victor. Well, Joe Biden's speech yesterday to electrical workers sounded a lot like a campaign speech, as he went after President Trump and talked about restoring the middle class but then Biden brought attention right back to the controversy with not one but two jokes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAENZ: A partial apology from Joe Biden.

[08:40:00] JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm sorry, I didn't understand you. I'm not sorry for any of my intentions. I'm not sorry for anything I have ever done. I have never been disrespectful intentionally to a man or a woman.

SAENZ: The former Vice President still grappling with how to respond to claims, he made women feel uncomfortable in their interactions and acknowledging more people could come forward.

BIDEN: I wouldn't be surprised but I've had hundreds and hundreds of people contact me and who I don't know. And you know, say the exact opposite.

SAENZ: As he took the stage at his first public appearance since the allegations Biden gave out a hug and made this joke.

BIDEN: I have permission to hug Lonnie.

SAENZ: And then did it a second time after calling a group of children up to the stage.

BIDEN: By the way he gave me permission to touch him.

SAENZ: But shortly after, Biden scrambled into clean-up mode, telling reporters, he wasn't making light of people's feelings.

BIDEN: I hope it wasn't taken that way. SAENZ: Biden also appearing to inch closer to that 2020 bid hinting, it's not a matter of if but when.

BIDEN: I'm told by the lawyer that I've got to be careful what I say so that I don't start clock ticking and change my status. If everybody else today then I get a shot and then we are off to the races.

SAENZ: With a large and historically diverse field of candidates already taking shape, Biden shared how he would brand himself.

BIDEN: I'm an Obama-Biden Democrat, man. I'm proud of it.

SAENZ: Biden's already drawn the attention of President Trump.

TRUMP: No, I don't see Joe Biden as a threat, no. I don't see him as a threat. I think he's only a threat to himself.

SAENZ: He's hitting back.

BIDEN: He doesn't have time to do his job but look, it's - everybody knows how Trump us.

SAENZ: With his White House run just around the corner, Biden says these allegations make it clear, something has to be different.

BIDEN: I think it's going to have to change somewhat how I campaign. It's not a bad thing, it's a new thing, it's important.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: All right, Arlette, when is this announcement coming, do we know?

SAENZ: Well, Victor, I had the chance to ask the former Vice President directly that question. When are you going to enter the 2020 race and he told me he hopes to be standing before us very soon, announcing that decision and it appears that right now, this controversy has not set him off course but he's still moving forward with these 2020 plans.

In fact earlier this week, he was spotted in his childhood hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, back in his childhood home. Someone posted a photo of him, he was there with a camera crew, taping video. I'm told that there is possibly announcement coming, later this month, maybe even after the Easter holiday. Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: We will wait for the announcement, Arlette Saenz, thank you.

PAUL: Thanks Arlette. So coming up, police have arrested a Washington state man who they say raped a woman while he posed as her Uber driver. We have details on that just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:45:00] PAUL: 47 minutes past the hour and a man has been arrested actually I think, he turned himself in after he's been accused of posing as an Uber driver and raping a woman.

BLACKWELL: Let's go now to CNN's Polo Sandoval. He's following that story for us. Polo, good morning to you.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning to you guys. A 34- year old man from Seattle according to several reports, his family basically pressured him at least forced him to turn himself in to authorities. He was wanted in connection to the rape of a woman in Washington state. According to investigators that woman get into the stranger's car thinking that it was actually her Uber. Police saying that he then pulled over then sexually assaulted this woman, who was eventually able to get away.

Now again, the suspect is in custody and then there is of course that very tragic case that took place in South Carolina here, just over a week ago. Of course, referring to the case of Samantha Josephson, also mistakenly boarded a stranger's car thinking it was for Uber.

Hours later hunters found her body in a field. What Uber and various other rider services are doing really using this as an opportunity to remind the public various steps to make sure that they can remain safe during the rideshare experience.

I want to put up a list that maybe you received in your inbox here during the last week. Uber reminding people to for example, make sure that the drivers, that the license plate on the vehicle matches the one on the app. Also to match the car make and the model and also check the driver's photo.

Make sure that it's that person who is actually picking you up. Another recommendation that I've heard also is as soon as that car picks up, ask that driver who they're supposed to be picking up and of course they should have your name at the time.

Uber also releasing a statement saying that since 2017, Victor and Christi, they have reached out to not just college campuses but also other law enforcement agencies. These ongoing efforts to try to keep you safe.

PAUL: All right, Polo Sandoval, apricate it so much, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Big day for basketball and Senator Chris Murphy thinks it's time to pay college athletes. Hear why he thinks this is a civil rights issue and why Congress should get involved, that's at the top of the hour when he joins Smerconish.

PAUL: And of course, we're talking about March Madness. It's down to 4. If you picked this Final Four, you're either really lucky or really good. Andy Scholes is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:50:00] BLACKWELL: The University of North Carolina's women's basketball coach is denying that she made racist remarks to her players. PAUL: Coach Sylvia Hatchell says she was referencing a TV show. A

spokeswoman tells CNN, Hatchell was giving a pep speech to her players saying, "in the ACC, they're going to string you up and hang you out to dry."

That's a line she claims comes from the old western show, Gun Smoke. Hatchell's attorney says the coach maybe tough on her players but she doesn't have a racist bone in her body, that's a quote. He also denied Hatchell forced players to play through injury.

Now Hatchell and her staff have been put on leave amid investigations.

BLACKWELL: From 68 down to 4. Two teams will punch the tickets to the national championship tonight.

PAUL: Andy Scholes is live in Minneapolis. What are you seeing Andy?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning guys. You know not many people predicted that we would have this Final Four. Only 0.02% of brackets that were filled out had this one right and even though (inaudible) and Duke aren't here in Minneapolis, we still have some great storylines.

[08:55:00] Three of the four teams that are here never a won a men's basketball championship. Texas Tech, Auburn and Virginia, all looking to win their first. Michigan State meanwhile, they have one, back in 2000 and coach Tom Izzo, he has this far, playing in the Final Four for the eighth time in his career and I got a chance to speak with Coach Izzo and the other three coaches yesterday during the practice sessions.

And I asked them, what are they going to say to their players tonight ahead of the biggest game of their lives?

TOM IZZO, MICHIGAN STATE HEAD COACH: You got like 2:00 hours. 2:00 hours to give everything you have for maybe 50-60-70 years of memories.

BRUCE PEARL, AUBURN HEAD COACH: Just focus on the process, you know, not the end result. One of the things that we got to do to be a great Virginia team have poise to be able to have the moment, stay within the perimeter of yourself and don't try to do too much because the stage is elevated and all the cameras are on us.

TONY BENNETT, VIRGINIA HEAD COACH: I say, once the balls tip, it's about the game, it's about positions and you know, they - I'm sure when they walked here to the open practice, they saw that and enjoyed that and this will bound us for a lifetime you know and there'll be so many memories.

CHRIS BEARD, TEXAS TECH HEAD COACH: Let's be the team that was picked from the bottom half of the big 12 and won the conference championship. Let's be the pick team that no one really thought would make a run in this tournament. Here we are on the biggest stage. Let's just be us. SCHOLES: Virginia the lone, one seed to make it to the Final Four this

year and they are looking for some redemption. Last year, they were the first team to lose to a 16 seed and Virginia going to get things started tonight as they take on Auburn.

That one tips just after 6:00 eastern. That game going to be followed by Texas Tech and Michigan State. The women's Final Four meanwhile taking place last night in Tampa. Baylor and Oregon playing just a nail biter under a minute to go.

Chloe Jackson going to get the layup to go, Baylor would win this 172 to 67 to advance to the National Championship game where they will play Notre Dame, the Irish, led again by Arike Ogunbowale coming up big. They beat UCONN for a second straight year.

Notre Dame trying to win back to back titles, their national championship game is going to be tomorrow night. I hear Minneapolis, many excited fan bases are here Texas tech, Auburn Virginia, Michigan state.

And guys, I'll tell you what, spoke to some fans that drove all the way from Lubbock, Texas to come here to watch their Red Raiders play in the Final Four. In case you're wondering that's a 16-hour drive and they're sure hoping that they're not making that drive back tomorrow.

They're hoping that's going to be Tuesday after playing.

PAUL: Andy, listen when I heard Duke lost, thought, oh no, Victor's bracket but guess what, he's still in top 0.5%.

BLACKWELL: I'm 175 out of a little more than 42,000. And I have Texas Tech.

SCHOLES: You're the expert Victor.

BLACKWELL: And you - I know nothing about this, these are random picks on a late Sunday night.

PAUL: But they worked for him, they worked for him well.

BLACKWELL: All right.

PAUL: Have fun Andy.

BLACKWELL: Thanks so much.

BLACKWELL: All right Sunday, watch the CNN original series Tricky Dick, here's a look.

[TRICKY DICK COMMERCIAL]

PAUL: CNN's original series airs tomorrow night 9:00 PM right here on CNN. How many of you have tickets to this concert and now you're really fired up.

[ROLLING STONES SONG PLAYING] BLACKWELL: Start them up, they'll never stop. Rolling Stones, front

man Mick Jagger says, he is feeling much better now, thanking everyone on Twitter for the well wishes.

PAUL: Yes, he also thanked the hospital staff after he underwent what once was close to the band tell CNN was treatment for a heart valve replacement. Now the band postponed their latest North American tour as he's recovering. No word yet on those new dates but they say the new dates are coming.

BLACKWELL: All right looking for that. More news straight ahead.

PAUL: Yes, Smerconish is with you next. We will be right back here in these seats in one hour. We'll see you then as well.