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Coordinated Easter Attacks in Sri Lanka; Nancy Pelosi Planning an Important Meeting; NYPD Have Arrested Jerry Brown; UCLA's Katelyn Ohashi Owning the Floor; CNN Heroes. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired April 21, 2019 - 16:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: We continue to follow this breaking news out of Sri Lanka where Easter massacre has killed and injured hundreds including several Americans. The blast targeting hotels popular with foreigners and Christians attending Easter services. This is dash cam video of the moment one of those bombs exploded at St. Anthony's Catholic Church.

Other visible and disturbing signs of horror left in the wake of those attacks including this one, blood stains on the wall and on a statue of Jesus Christ at the St. Sebastian's Church. President Trump and the Pope both responding to the attacks; offering condolences, prayers, and assistance.

The horrible carnage taking place in Sri Lanka, an island nation of the Southern coast of India. Right now officials say there are at least 207 people dead, another 560 injured after a wave of eight coordinated bombings across the country on Easter Sunday. Three of the explosions targeted Christian churches during Easter services.

There were also bombings at three hotels popular with foreign tourist. U.S. secretary of state, Mike Pompeo says several U.S. citizens believe to be among the 34 foreigners killed in the attacks.

Sri Lankan officials say there have been seven arrests so far but no one has yet claimed responsibility for the bombings. CNN's Sam Kiley is Sri Lanka for us. He's joining us on the phone. So Sam, what more can you tell us about these attacks?

SAM KILEY, CNN REPORTER: Fred, they were very clearly well coordinated. Doesn't take an expert in terrorism studies to work that out. Six of the destinations were in very close timing to one another, minutes apart including one on the far east coast of the country. Of course most of them were concentrated near Colombo, the capital and down the east coast attacking the three churches.

But also three hotels; The Sri Lanka (ph), the Cinnamon (ph) and in the King's Brea (ph) all in the capital of Colombo. All of them of course popular with predominantly western tourists.

Now, the same (ph) explosions that Bill Spokesman (ph) said earlier on today came when the police raided a building that they believed the suspects hold up that possibly connected with the earlier bombings. And what they believe to be an improvised explosive device went off.

So from the police perspective this is very much an ongoing operation, the whole country is in a state of curfew. I've just driven in about 30 minutes from the airport here into the center of Colombo, indeed past the Shangri-la hotel.

The hotel (inaudible) are almost completely empty. The streets that would normally be busting with life now with a curfew completely shutdown.

And the reason for that is the level of carnage that was visited upon this country less than about 12 hours ago when the three churches were devastated with very powerful explosions and very packed environments in terms of the numbers of people. They're tough (ph).

They're equal meal times were hit. The three hotels, clearly the intent was to kill and maim as many as they possibly could. The figures from the police since you were saying that, Fred, were -- they still stand at 207 dead and some over 500 injured.

But at the same time there is believed to be possibly up to 30 foreigners killed. Among them several Americans, several Brits, three Danes.

And basically the country that is extremely popular with foreign tourism, following the end of its own civil war about 10 years ago and, of course, remains vulnerable as many Asian countries do (inaudible) around the world to either (inaudible) terror attacks too.

But intriguingly even though this was a very coordinated series of attacks causing devastation all over the country; no one or no group yet has been able to claim with any kind of authority that they were behind these atrocities. Fred.

WHITFIELD: And then Sam, can you tell us anything about what authorities are learning from the types of explosives used because the carnage, you know, is sizable and the physical destruction of these buildings is quite extensive as well?

KILEY: I'd say Fred, I'm not aware of whether there have been any identification of the sort of explosive used. But given that what's known as homemade explosives involving ammonium nitrate and fertilizer or much more commercially available dynamite or even plastic explosives they often perform in a very, very similar way.

Particularly, and I use the word (inaudible)...


Given the perfection that many of them have been subjected to for many years of operational use particularly in terms of homemade stuff (ph) across the Middle East and in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

So the skill set available to groups around the world to be able to conduct these sorts of attacks are there, not the least in Sri Lanka, which had a long running Civil War in which suicide bombers were used to hide explosive bombing attacks were very much (inaudible) of that very bloody civil war, (inaudible) peaceful now for a number of years. But there are (inaudible) all over Asia (inaudible).

WHITFIELD: Yes. Sam Kylie, thank you so much many from Sri Lanka. Keep us posted, appreciate it. All right, let's talk further now. With me now is CNN, national security analyst Peter Bergen.

Peter, you know no claim of responsibility for these attacks. As we're reporting there have been seven arrests. These are -- this is a clearly coordinated and well planned attack. What are your impressions here?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, you know as Sam was saying there was a very brutal civil war with the Tamil Tigers actually deploying a lot of suicide bombers and -- but these were a secularist group and they didn't attack churches.

They tended to focus on government targets. So the fact that we're seeing attacks on churches and also five-star hotels with foreigners that does fit the modus operandi of Islamist terrorist groups.

Now Sri Lanka has have a very -- very small numbers of Sri Lankans have gone to join ISIS. A Sri Lankan official put the number at 32 in 2016. But that said, I mean when you look at the target set ISIS has carried out attacks on churches on Sunday in places like the Philippines and Egypt, in Baghdad, in Iraq, and so the universe of groups that carry out attacks on churches is not enormous.

So we also see that with (inaudible) in Indonesia but they don't have any interest really in what's going on in Sri Lanka. So you know to me it's surprising there's been no claim of responsibility as yet.

WHITFIELD: Yes. What would be the motivation here when you're talking about fewer than 8 percent of the 20 million Sri Lankans are Christian. What would be the statement here?

BERGEN: Well when you attack on Sunday, which is one of the most sacred days in the Christian calendar and you're guaranteed to have a lot of people you're looking to -- the statement is, you know, we're going to kill as many Christians as possible. And also we're going to try and kill as many foreigners as possible.

I mean these are the statements, but there's no political demand that's really forthcoming here and these groups have a sort rather annalistic approach in the sense and whoever has done this, I mean what does it achieve? It's just a tragedy for Sri Lanka. It doesn't seem to be part of some kind of political plan that makes any sense.

WHITFIELD: There are Americans among the casualties. Other foreigners among the casualties. How do you see assistance coming from say the U.S., United Kingdom, you know the Netherlands, places some of these victims are from?

BERGEN: Well, I think the fact that there were American victims allows the FBI to get involved pretty -- pretty quickly. You know if you recall the Mumbai attacks about a decade ago; six Americans were killed at a Jewish-American center in -- in Mumbai and that allowed the FBI to be, you know intimately involved.

And in fact they -- they charged a number of people including an American with involvement in that attack, so I think the fact that Americans are victims in this attack does allow the FBI to kind of get involved. Obviously it's a sovereign country and Sri Lanka will have to agree to that. But it gives us -- gives the United States more reason to be involved.

WHITFIELD: Peter Bergen, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

BERGEN: Thank you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And we're following another breaking story, this time out of Ukraine, where a television comedian and political novice is set to become the next president of that country. Ukraine's president, Petro Poroshenko, conceded defeat to Volodymyr Zelensky a short time ago. CNN's Phil Black is live for us in Kiev. So Phil, this is a massive defeat. Talk to us about the significance of what unfolded there.

PHIL BLACK, CNN REPORTER: Sure. Well firstly, Fredricka, it's historic because a sitting president is being removed peacefully and democratically in Ukraine. The last one was forced out with a violent, bloody revolution back in 2014 with more than a hundred people being killed.

This one is also extraordinary because of who won, as you touched on there. Volodymry Zelensky, someone who has no political experience; an actor, a comedian, a professional show of. Someone who became famous in this country through pretending to be president on Ukrainian television.


In the show, "The Servant of the People," he plays a regular guy who accidentally becomes president and then goes on to fight against corruption and clean up the political system here. His campaign role was almost identical to that really.

He simply promised to do things better in a fairly abstract kind of way. He avoided public appearances talking about policy. He avoided interviews with journalists; instead he waged his campaign through slick, often cheeky online videos attacking the old guard of Ukrainian politicians here.

And it all worked. The exit polling tonight suggests that he has won by a really big amount. He's -- he has -- he's estimated to have won about 73 percent of the vote, which is an extraordinary result really. The hard work will start for him on day one of his presidency. He inherits a weak economy, a five year war against Russian backed separatist in the east of the country.

He will have to face off against the very experienced leader of Russia, the President Vladimir Putin. How he's going to do all of this is really, really unknown. He is a blank sheet of paper politically speaking. But his smile, his charisma, his sense of honest; it has all been enough to convince the Ukrainian people or enough Ukrainian people to give him a go or at least convince many people not to vote for five more years of the same (ph), Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And -- and what about from Poroshenko? Any comments from him or any forecasts as result of the outcome of this race?

BLACK: So the loser, the incumbent Petro Poroshenko, he conceded defeat pretty quickly, very soon after the exit polling was released. He said he's going to hand over the presidency next month but he is not leaving politics.

He says he's going to stay active, provide a strong opposition support when required. He made an interesting point though, he believes that this result will be welcomed by the Kremlin, because Vladimir Putin will, he is implying, revel in the idea of now dealing with a much less experienced leader of Ukraine.

WHITFIELD: Phil Black in Kiev, thank you so much. All right, still ahead, a new line of defense from the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in the wake of the Bob Mueller report.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: No, no, there's no wrong with taking information from Russians.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: There's nothing wrong with taking ...

GIULIANI: Depends on where it came from. It depends on where it came from. You're assuming that the giving of information is a campaign contribution.


WHITFIELD: Nothing wrong. House democrats say the report is enough for impeachment. Plus, an arrest in a gruesome and deadly axe attack on two women in New York. What police are saying about the victims and the suspect coming up.



President trump's team has a rebuttal to the Mueller report ready to go. But the president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani said today on CNN they won't release it until they have to. Giuliani, on one hand, is calling the report an unfair one sided assessment, while also claiming it as a total vindication and exoneration for the president. And today he had this to say about the links between the Trump campaign and Russia, detailed in the Mueller report.


GIULIANI: There's nothing wrong with taking information from Russians. TAPPER: There's nothing wrong with taking information ...

GIULIANI: Depends on where it came from. It depends on where it came from. You're assuming that the giving of the information is a campaign contribution. You read the report carefully; the report says we can't conclude that because the law is pretty much against that. Do you -- people get information from this person, that person.

TAPPER: But you would have -- you would have accepted information from Russians against the client -- against a candidate if you were running in the presidential election?

GIULIANI: I -- I probably -- I probably wouldn't. I wasn't asked. I would have advised just out of excess of caution, don't do it.


WHITFIELD: All right. Let's check in with CNN's Marshall Cohen. All right, so President Trump, you know, spent the morning, you know, slamming the report on Twitter, then he attended Easter service. What can you tell us about this messaging with Beat from Rudy Giuliani or even the president, the sentiment about, you know, what to do with this report? How to dispel it, how to use it in their favor, et cetera.

MARSHALL COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Fred, they are loving the good parts and they're lying about the bad parts. So let's break it down, the report; volume one, volume two. First part was collusion.

There was no criminal conspiracy with the Russians that much is clear, and the president has been saying over and over and over, you've heard it, no collusion. That's true. But it's not that pretty when you realize that there's 100 pages in that report about the contacts between Trump's people and the Russians, again, not criminal, but when this whole thing started, they said there were no contacts whatsoever.

Then on the obstruction side, they're saying, total exoneration but if you read carefully, most of the legal scholars that we've had on elsewhere have said, that's not true. There was a strong case for obstruction; the legal threshold was met on many of those 10 incidents. But of course Justice Department rules say that you can't indict a sitting president so Mueller's hands were pretty tied.

WHITFIELD: So attorney general William Barr, he -- he's now receiving a lot of criticism for the way he has been for the last month or so, on how he's been handling this, whether it be his four page summary to the way he prefaced this redacted version. What more can you tell us about what the road ahead is for Mr. Barr?

COHEN: Sure. Well, he may have a rocky few weeks ahead because he will have to go on Capitol Hill, and democrats have already blasted him. Pelosi said he -- that he can't be trusted, so he's going to have faced a serious grilling on Capitol Hill. And here's why.

[16:20:00] Now that we've all had a chance to actually read the report, it's become pretty clear that the attorney general did cherry pick some parts of that report in his letter last month. And in the press conference just hours before the public report; for instance, he said that Mueller struggled with difficult issues on obstruction, laying out evidence for and against.

We've read the report, it is almost all against. It's very hard to find exonerating evidence on obstruction in that report. The difficult issue there was more about the fact that there was compelling evidence, but you couldn't charge.

WHITFIELD: Marshall Cohen, thank you so much.

COHEN: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: Let's discuss further now. CNN political analyst and host of the podcast "Just Ask the Question," Brian Karem; former CIA counter terrorism official and former FBI senior intelligence advisor, Phil Mudd; and Robert Mueller's former special assistant at the DOJ and CNN legal analyst, Michael Zeldin. Good to see all of you.

BRIAN KAREM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to see you. Happy Easter.

WHITFIELD: All right -- that's right, Happy Easter and Passover to all of you. So Phil, you first. You know, what do you make of this messaging from Rudy Giuliani, whether it's okay to get information to describing how he sees this report as fairly complimentary of the president.

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I'd have a couple comments on OK getting information from the Russians. I assume that Rudy would then say it was OK for the government to get the steel dossier, which was attacked by Rudy and others for many, many months.

I think he most have forgotten that. The more significant issue, though, is pretty straightforward; so he's telling us that it's OK to encourage foreign governments, let's say the Russian and Chinese, to steal information like they stole emails during the last election, and give it to a campaign because they want to favor one candidate, maybe a pro-Russia or a pro-China over another.

We want to encourage foreign intelligence services to steal and give it to a campaign, because that's what will happen. We saw it during the last campaign, I don't know what he's talking about it, I don't know what he's thinking.

WHITFIELD: So listen to -- well, let's listing to what Rudy Giuliani said to Jake Tapper.


TAPPER: We shouldn't take this as exoneration of the president because the document is not credible.

GIULIANI: We shouldn't take it as exoneration of the president ...

TAPPER: You're saying that this document is not credible ...

GIULIANI: No, no, you -- how about looking at it this way, people who were unfair to him, people who wrote an unfair report, people who came close to torturing people to get information and break them.

TAPPER: Came close to torture?

GIULIANI: Yes. How about -- how about having -- how about having Manafort ...

TAPPER: Came close to torturing people?

GIULIANI: Yes. How about having Manafort in consolatory confinement and questioning him 13 times. Maybe torture is too much.

TAPPER: You were a prosecutor. Did you put people in consolatory confinement?

GIULIANI: To question them, absolutely not.


WHITFIELD: So Brian, you were about to say something. What is going on here?

KAREM: Well, this administration has no credibility, so why believe anything that Rudy Giuliani says. The first thing -- the question I've always wanted to ask is if someone came to you from -- from a foreign government and said I have information on your opponent, why isn't the first stop to the FBI.

That's what I was always taught the first stop should be. We have -- our elections are supposed to be invaluable. And I'm sorry, but they're not. And this points again -- the whole -- if you read this report, and I urge everyone to read it for themselves.

If you read that report, first of all Mueller says it isn't an exoneration, and then he goes on to outline and the Russian interference is so well documented. And there's so much of it, and it's so discouraging and -- and actually terrifying to see what a foreign government has done to interfere in our elections.

And that no wonder why the president doesn't want to come forward with -- with -- with trying to clean that up because it favored him so well, and it'll look bad. But it's a very scary situation many, Fred. Very.

WHITFIELD: And maybe it's as simple as, (inaudible), the White House doesn't want people to read it, so Giuliani is among those who is giving his own interpretation of what people should grasp from that.

KAREM: Dr. Demento, he is a brand new Dr. Demento.

WHITFIELD: Well, Michael, how do you see it? MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's clear to me that most people are not going to read the 440 plus pages of Mueller's report. They're going to get their information from that report from the Giuliani's and the likes of us on TV trying to explain as honestly as we can what's in that report.

Were I Jerry Nadler, in charge of the House Judiciary Committee, what I would do and what I think would be a service to the American people and not a political service but an information service, I would take each of these witnesses; Don McGahn, Priebus, and all the others that Mueller took his testimony from, and have them testify in public.

And repeat the testimony that they said to Mueller, because people will listen, they gain their information orally, much more than in writing. If we can listen and see these witnesses, then we can have a better basis to form our own opinion about whether they were tortured and therefore lying on their oath or ...


WHITFIELD: Do you even add a Bob Mueller to that list?

ZELDIN: Absolutely Bob Mueller to that list. But most important the people who worked for the president who gave the information to Mueller that allowed Mueller to say that this evidence does not exonerate the president, and but for the fact that he is president and there's a policy that prevents him from being indicted, I might well have indicted him.

WHITFIELD: So -- so Phil, those who were part of the investigation, the -- the Mueller team, did -- do you suppose there were some expectations that the rollout would lead to this? You know this kind of public display of you know decipher it as -- as you want. And -- or might it be frustrating for those who are part of the team to see how it's being handled, whether it be from Barr or even Giuliani or the interpretation of, you know, any members of congress?

MUDD: Boy, I think there's -- I think there's got to be some frustration because you put blood, sweat, and tears in for a couple years and if you look at the characterization of the report initially by the Barr letter and then by the Barr statement, I agree with the consensus, which has been -- and I expected a lot of Attorney General Barr, which has been the Barr statement and letter do not match what I read in the actual document.

So if you spent a couple years, forget about the politics of this of your life, I know some of those lawyers, they had to step away from their real-time jobs for a couple years, and then you see the representations in the public, especially for a public, I agree, that won't read the report representing from Barr that aren't, I think, accurate. Boy, that has got to be frustrating.

WHITFIELD: And (inaudible) the White House says there's a rebuttal. Do you believe that or is this the rebuttal?

KAREM: Well again, I don't know what to believe from the White House, it will change at any given minute. And then it depends on what his latest tweet was. I'm sure they're trying to prepare a rebuttal.

But if it's a complete exoneration as we've been told, then why are we waiting for a rebuttal? There's the first question. And secondly, when you take-- when you take a look at it Fred, the problem with William Barr, as Phil just pointed out is his lack of credibility.

I mean that -- that Mueller report makes Jeff Sessions look out to -- like he's Oliver Wendell Homes compared to William Barr. That's -- that's how bad it is. And you want to take away from the Mueller report, who wasn't mentioned very much in that but Kellyanne Conway, the woman who comes out with alternative facts comes across as one of the more credible members of the White House simply because she's not mentioned in this Mueller report. And that's frightening

WHITFIELD: In fact it was she who said today that this entire investigation was ill-conceived, illegitimate.

KAREM: Of -- well then let me ask you a question. If it's ill- conceived and illegitimate, why are there 25 Russians that were indicted for it? Why have there been convictions, and more importantly, the American public has got to face this fact, Russia interfered in our elections.

And even William Barr acknowledged that in his memo, that it was interference by Russia, and going-forward, that's the big issue. They like the fact that we're sitting here fighting over who's at fault and who isn't when the simple fact of the matter is we're not taking precautions now to ensure the security of the 2020 elections.

And I maintain that if you are not doing that, if you are not going- forward trying to ensure there's some kind of security in 2020, that may be prima fascia evidence for -- for I don't know, treason because simple fact of the matter is our enemy is trying to get into our elections and effect them and they have.

WHITFIELD: And -- and Michael, how do you see the AG, the attorney general, Bill Barr continuing with his position? I mean there were so many critics who said on display, particularly last week he came across as a defense attorney for the president. What do you see moving forward for him? ZELDIN: Well, testimony before Capitol Hill. What we had before the

release of the report Thursday was a March 24th letter, which I thought was ill-considered by the attorney general and I wrote op-ed piece on -- on it. And then a press conference, which I thought was ill-considered.

I don't think he should have done either of them, where he characterized the report, according to his read of it. Then the report came out and we've been able to read that report and see that there were differences between Barr's interpretation of what's in, and our interpretation of what's in it.

And so now what's in store for Barr is for him to come back to the Hill and what he's going to be confronted with is the fact that he, to Marshall Cohen's point, cherry picked some of the language of that report, which when viewed in context is not as flattering to the legal position of the president as the attorney general wanted it to be. He will not resign and he will not be impeached. He will be the attorney general but he should be abraded a little bit about the process that he engaged in before the report is released.

KAREM: He lied.

WHITFIELD: (Inaudible).

KAREM: He lied.

WHITFIELD: Well, Phil?


ZELDIN: He lied as much as he ...

KAREM: He lied. He cherry picked things to -- that's a lie.

It wasn't an accurate representation -- is in that report. If you read the report, it's obvious that it's not an accurate representation. And if you're not accurately representing it as the attorney general of the United States, what more can you call it, but a lie.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it there. Brian Karem, Michael Zeldin, Phil Mudd, thanks to all of you. Appreciate it. All right, still ahead, terror in Sri Lanka, more than 200 are killed in bombing attacks on Christian churches and hotels. We just got breaking details on a memo warning of the attack next.


WHITFIELD: Welcome back. We're continuing to follow breaking news out of Sri Lanka, where officials say coordinated Easter attacks have killed at least 207 people, injured 560. Three of the explosions targeted Christian churches during Easter services, and three other bombings targeted hotels popular with foreign tourists. The U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said several Americans are among the dead.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks. CNN, however, has obtained a copy of a police memo written on April 11th that warned of possible attacks. One Sri Lankan official said on Twitter that the warning was ignored by authorities. CNN's Sam Kylie is following this from Sri Lanka. So Sam, what are you learning about all of this?

KILEY: Well, this has been a startling development. CNN has obtained a memo written by (Inaudible) who is the deputy inspector general of (Inaudible), effectively the deputy, second most senior policeman in the country. Now, he wrote to a number of colleagues on April 11th. And in this memo, he said that based on intelligence that they had been received. He would -- and I quote, "We like to draw your special attention to plaintiff number and four (Inaudible) service, saying that information has been received regarding an alleged crime of suicidal attack by the leader of nations, (Inaudible), Mohammad Saharam. Now, that is a startling piece of information. First of all, the Sri

Lankan authority, it would appear, had more than a plan was in the making, as recently as April 11th. It was just caused yesterday, local time when these series of attacks were unleashed. But that did not appear, at least, visibly to be a response from the Sri Lankan authorities.

And further to that, while there's been no claim of responsibility for these six bombings of three churches and three hotels, and then two subsequent bombings across the country. They're concentrated here on the east coast. There is now an indication that perhaps this was motivated by religious extremists or (Inaudible) group associated with the ideology of the so-called Islamic state.

WHITFIELD: Sam Kylie, thank you so much. Keep us updated. Still ahead, the Bob Mueller report has Democrats in the U.S. divided on impeachment. Should Congress uphold this authority now or should lawmakers wait and see what ongoing investigations uncover? The 2020 candidates weigh-in next.


WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is planning a crucial meeting tomorrow to discuss how Democrats will move forward after the redacted version of the Mueller report was released. There are growing calls in her party to impeach the president, including from some candidates on the campaign trail.

Senator Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro say Congress should uphold their constitutional authority. Other contenders like Congressman Tim Ryan and Senator Cory Booker are not ready to go that far.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you do not support impeachment as of right now, but you want the process to begin. Is that -- the investigation process to begin.

REP. TIM RYAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's right. That's right. Yeah, let the process play itself out.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do not think it's time to move forward with impeachment.


BOOKER: -- because Congress doesn't see the redacted -- the report with its redactions.


BOOKER: Well, I'm going to go through the process. I want to see it on a redacted report. I want to have Robert Mueller come and testify to the Judiciary Committee.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: CNN senior political analyst, Mark Preston, joins me live from Manchester, New Hampshire, the site of tomorrow's CNN town halls. So Mark, you know, what do you make of some 2020 candidates willing to go there and then many not.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there's certainly hunger, right, Fred, on the left for impeachment, a really powerful, vocal voice, certainly in the Democratic primary as we stand right now. So when we see Elizabeth Warren go out and do that, we saw Julian Castro go out and make a similar statement. What that does is really attract attention from that liberal base, those that are hungering.

When you look long term, though, when Democrats are looking long term, they don't see impeachment as a politically smart thing to do right now. In many ways, Democrats can go and harm Donald Trump just by investigating him, by using their powers through the House to investigate him. And if they're able to find anything more, if Robert Mueller comes before the House committees and says something that can lead to impeachment, so be it.

But I do think at this point, comments by Elizabeth Warren and others is really troubling to those like Nancy Pelosi.

WHITFIELD: Well, you know, it's interesting just listening to that Cory Booker sound where he was -- you know before that audience when he said, no, I don't think we're ready to go there. He almost ran this audible kind of (Inaudible) not satisfied with that answer, but then when he said I want to know more. I want to hear the testimony from Mueller. Then you heard applause. So are these candidates trying to gauge, you know, the voting public?

PRESTON: But isn't that the safe way to do, though, in many ways? The safe way and perhaps -- not even perhaps, the reality is the safe way is to go out and say let's do our own investigation as Congress with our oversight powers. Let's see where it leads us. What he's trying to do is not look like he's just a rabid liberal, because whoever comes out of this race, whoever comes out of this Democratic primary is still going to have to win the general election.

[16:45:03] And quite frankly, they're still going to have to appeal to other types of Democrats who don't want to go down the impeachment road, so that's what you see from the likes of Cory Booker.

WHITFIELD: Five back to back town halls tomorrow. What do these candidates need to do to break through?

PRESTON: Well, we saw Elizabeth Warren. As she said, she has broken through certainly in the last 24, 48 hours talking about impeachment. But this is going to be an incredible amount of attention that's going to be focused on the stage behind me and the building behind me here on the campus (Inaudible). I think what you're going to see tomorrow night is you're going to see some of these candidates roll out big policy proposals.

You know the idea that some of them haven't been able to talk policy in very intricate terms. This gives them an opportunity to do so. It'd be interesting if they do that. And really, the questions, almost all the questions are coming from young students, from -- not only from students here in New Hampshire, but also from students from around the country who attend Harvard University.

So it's going to be a really interesting night, certainly a different perspective what we're hearing from these young students who are very much involved and interested in this presidential race, Fred.

WHITFIELD: These were hot tickets, you know, to get, to be able to, you know, be in the audience, to get your questions answered. Now, I mean this is a logistical thing. But if you have a ticket, are you sitting through all five of these, or is there some sort of, like, change out? I mean how is this orchestrated?

PRESTON: Once you're in, you can never get out, Fred.


PRESTON: -- not out until 12:05. No, you can go during the commercial breaks. We'll take care of you. But it is amazing. This night does seem monumental and looks like a marathon. It will be very fast to me. It will be very interesting.

WHITFIELD: Wow. It looks like being with me on the air, you know, for those many hours on the weekend. So, you know, endurance, it's important. All right, Mark Preston, thank you so much. Appreciate it. All right, join CNN live from New Hampshire tomorrow night for the first major candidate event of the 2020 presidential campaign.

Senator Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg back to back town halls. And it all begins at 7:00 eastern tomorrow night only on CNN.


WHITFIELD: New York police have arrested and charged a 34-year-old man in connection with a brutal murder at a Brooklyn apartment. The details are gruesome. CNN's Cristina Alesci has the latest.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, police have arrested a 34- year-old man in connection to the brutal killing, which happened inside an apartment at a Brooklyn housing project. Jerry Brown is facing the following charges, murder, attempted murder, and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon. He's being held at an area hospital. This, after NYPD found a 20-year-old woman's body partially decapitated, with severed fingers, and several stab wounds.

A second woman was also injured in the attack. Now during a press conference yesterday, NYPD said it believes the two female victims and their assailant, who is male, all knew each other, but the officials declined to provide other details on the nature of their relationships to one another. Some background here, the police discovered the body after the other victim of the attack left the scene at about 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, stopped the car in the middle of the street. That's when the driver noticed the woman was injured and called 911,

reporting an intense amount of bleeding. And that 21-year-old female suffered lacerations to her head and body, and is in critical but stable condition at an area hospital. Now, at the press conference yesterday, the officials said authorities found an axe in a trash compactor at the housing complex.

While the axe is part of the investigation, officials have not yet determined it's the murder weapon. Good news here, police found a four-year-old child at the scene inside the Brooklyn apartment. The child was unharmed and is in good medical condition. That child is currently with family members according to the police, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Cristina Alesci, thank you so much. All right, much more straight ahead in the Newsroom right after this.


WHITFIELD: Everyday, people are changing the world. And too often, their work doesn't get the attention it deserves. So why not nominate someone you know to be a CNN Hero. Here's an explanation from Anderson Cooper.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since 2007, CNN Heroes has been featuring hundreds of everyday people, whose extraordinary acts are changing lives and making the world a better place. We need you to tell us about that amazing person in your life. You can do it right now at Here's the inside scoop on successfully nominating your Hero. Think about what makes that person truly special.

And write it down in a paragraph or two. We also want to know the impact that they're having. Tell us what sets that person apart. Who knows? You might see your everyday Hero named the CNN Hero of the year.


WHITFIELD: And remember, you don't need to personally know your Hero to nominate them. And you can you do that right now at And how about this, a powerful finale from one of the biggest stars in collegiate gymnastics, UCLA's Katelyn Ohashi owning it on the floor.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) for Katelyn Ohashi. Hundreds of thousands -- millions throughout the world have seen her routine. She said she wanted to take the Michael Jackson piece out so it would not to offend any sexual survivors out there, and she's (Inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) gorgeous split like double lay out.


WHITFIELD: She's a powerhouse. Ohashi has so many viral video performances, designed to empower women and fight body shaming. She says it's not about winning, but going out with no regrets, which is exactly what she did, a real inspiration. Hey, thanks so much for joining me today. I'm -- Happy Easter and Passover to all of you. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The news continues with Alex Marquardt right now.

[16:30:01] ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN Newsroom, Happy Easter. I am Alex Marquardt in New York in this afternoon for Ana Cabrera.