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Eight Bombings In Sri Lanka; President's Lawyer Today Slamming The Special Counsel's Findings In His Report; Democrats Are Split On This Impeachment Question. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired April 21, 2019 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[18:00:00] MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some of the cathedral's priciest art and its relics. Among them, the crown of thorns belief by Christians who have been worn by Jesus as he went to his crucifixion.
In just a week, more than a billion dollars have been raised towards the cathedral's reconstruction.
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): I tell you tonight with strength, we are a nation of builders. We have so much to construct. So, yes, we will rebuild Notre Dame even more beautiful. And I want that to be done in the next five years. Well can do it.
BELL: Since the fire, tributes have poured in. From the Indian Ocean, where 920 marines aboard the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier recreated the facade of Notre Dame, to the church bells that rang out across France 48 hours after the fire began. Investigators are looking into the possibility of a short circuit that may have been at the origin of a fire that has changed Paris' skyline forever.
Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.
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ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: All right. Our thanks to Melissa Bell.
We have a quick programing note. There are two new shows that premiere next Sunday. Van Jones' "the Redemption Project," that's at 9:00 p.m. And then the new season of "Unite Shades of America" with W. Kamal Bell. That's at 10:00 p.m. eastern.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Alex Marquardt in for Ana Cabrera in New York on this Easter Sunday.
We have breaking news overseas right now. More than 200 people dead, hundreds more are wounded. There were eight explosions in churches and hotels, all packed with innocent people.
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MARQUARDT: Those scenes in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. There has been no known claim of responsibility from a terror group for those attacks. Several Americans are reportedly among those more than 200 dead and hundreds wounded.
Authorities say that the first six explosions, remember, there were eight, went off in quick succession, quickly plunging the country into chaos. Police and emergency responders scrambling to help. Hospitals quickly filled with casualties.
The entire country made up of around 21 million people right now under curfew. Residents told to stay in their homes while police and military officials try to figure out who set off those bombs.
For more we go to CNN international correspondent Sam Kiley who is in the capital Colombo right now.
Sam, what are officials saying about what happened?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alex, it's been a devastating blow to Sri Lanka with 560 wounded, 207 confirmed to have been killed. Three of those policemen we learned recently were killed in a follow-up operation. And that was the last two explosions, the seventh and eighth explosions that are believed to have killed those officers.
Special Forces raided a building where they thought there was some suspects, and they believed that they were victims of an improvised explosive device. There have been seven arrests, but two of those arrested have already been released. Quite obviously, there is going to be something of a dragnet of every potential suspect brought in at this stage.
Whilst the country really not even comes to terms, but is still really reeling from this series of bomb attacks, devastating levels of explosive used, taking the roof almost clean off one of the churches, targeting hotels popular with the westerners, Alex, and also of course worshipers celebrating Easter Sunday.
Clearly, a lot of the effort now being focused towards religious motivation perhaps behind these killings following the so-called Islamic states. The demands to its followers to continue to fight their fight following the collapsing of the caliphate and of course the Christchurch killings in New Zealand, which targeted two mosques at the so-called Islamic state pledged revenge for. But there has not yet been any official line coming at all as to who might be responsible for this, Alex.
MARQUARDT: All right, Sam Kiley there in the capital Colombo, thanks very much.
All right. Next let's go to Bob Baer who is CNN's intelligence and security analyst. He is also a former CIA operative.
Bob, thanks so much for joining us this evening. From what you have seen today in Sri Lanka, in terms of the targets, the sophistication, the type of coordination, the type of explosives that were used in this massive death toll, does this look like something domestic to you in a country that has seen its fair share of violence, or could bit part of the bigger plot?
[18:05:03] BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: I think it is part of a bigger plot. Speculation at this point, Alex. But, you know, you look it's got all the hallmarks of the Islamic state.
Eight bombs going off, six of them simultaneously. The trapped safe house. These people knew what they were doing. A targeting on Easter is another clue and the hotels with foreigners in it. So it's probably, and this is speculation, an Islamist group, but it doesn't seem to me it's the Sinhalese or Tamils because this isn't really their MO.
MARQUARDT: So now that we have seen ISIS lose so much of its territory, in fact all of it, and in Iraq and Syria and essentially it turn into at least in those areas more of a guerrilla force. To what extent do you think that we are going to see ISIS attacks around the world, for them to be able to say hey, we haven't again anywhere?
BAER: Oh, I think exactly. We have been predicting this on CNN for a while, that even though the capital has been overrun and they are already have lost all their territory in Syria, they are going to lash out, and they are going to go back underground and conduct terrorist operations wherever they can. And Sri Lanka was a soft target. So it really doesn't come much of a surprise if in fact this was the Islamist state.
MARQUARDT: Yes. And I guess, we do start to look very quickly at the Islamist state not because they are guilty solve many of these attacks but because of the targets they chose, these churches and hotels where there are a lot of foreigners who gathered?
BAER: Well, also, the bombs, it seemed to me they all went off accept for the one at the airport. I'm not sure that it was really one at the airport. But when you have eight bombs go off, you got the detonators right and the explosives, and they were complete explosions, it tells me these people knew what they were doing. That they had previously been on a battlefield somewhere. These people are not amateurs.
MARQUARDT: What about the lack of claim of responsibility? And we have seen ISIS not just claimed very quickly -- attacks. They were very intimately involved in, but also try to claim attacks they barely had anything to do with. And here we are hours later, it's the next day over in Sri Lanka and we haven't heard anything yet.
BAER: Well, exactly. But it's no longer a centralized organization. So they don't really have to follow a game book on this. And they could be them. We are not going to know. The Islamic state may be planning other attacks. At this point, it's such a dispersed movement. It's hard to tell what they are up to.
MARQUARDT: And that's a very, very important point that they are very fractured right now which can be a good thing.
Bob, when you look at this in your eyes as a former CIA case officer, because there are Americans and other foreigners among the dead and the wounded, how do you think the CIA and the FBI will get involved in the investigation?
BAER: Well, they will both be involved. The FBI I'm sure has agents going to Colombo at this point to coordinate with Sri Lankans. They are going to be looking there, you know, looking at the evidence, explosive evidence. They are going to be able to add some expertise. They are definitely on their way right now. I can assure you that.
MARQUARDT: All right. Bob Baer, thanks very much.
BAER: Thank you.
MARQUARDT: And one more thing. In the aftermath of these attacks and so many deaths in Sri Lanka, the city of Paris, which we were just talking about on this Easter Sunday, paying tribute. The Eiffel Tower going dark for a few minutes at the stroke of midnight in honor of the more than 200 people killed in Sri Lanka.
Moving on to our other big story, the President's lawyer today slamming the special counsel's findings in his report and saying there is nothing wrong with getting information from the Russians. But some Democrats say the issues are enough for impeachment.
Plus, he is a comedian who played a President on TV, and now he's Ukraine's President. We will tell you why that is a good thing for Vladimir Putin. That's next.
[18:13:00] MARQUARDT: President Trump's legal team was quick to get in front of the TV cameras after a Mueller report came out on Thursday. But the rebuttal they had been promising for so long seems to be on hold for the time-being.
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told our Jake Tapper it may be after Robert Mueller and former White House counsel Don McGahn testifies in front of Congress. But that's not stopping Giuliani from attacking the report's credibility starting with the evidence from longtime Trump fixer, Michael Cohen.
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RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: Well, a lot of what Cohen, they recite that Cohen says as if it's the truth. Cohen is incapable of telling the truth.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: What specifically?
GIULIANI: I will tell you what specifically in the report. That Cohen - that we dangled a pardon in front of Cohen. We did not dangle a pardon in front of Cohen. It wasn't a fair report. It wasn't like the normal prosecutor. When you find that a person didn't commit the crime, you then go look at the hypothesis of how did it come about, how did it start. No examination of how could the FBI have started the investigation of a Presidential candidate based on those ten words that were said to Papadopoulos.
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MARQUARDT: White House correspondent Boris Sanchez is with us from near the President's Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, where he just spent the weekend and has just left.
Boris, Giuliani in that interview with Jake also offering a curious view about contact with Russian.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alex, that's one way to describe it. Giuliani effectively scoffed at Jake's questions about ethics and morality. He repeated something that we had heard from the White House before, saying no one on the Trump campaign did anything illegal in relation to Russia and Russian hacking of DNC servers and Hillary Clinton's emails. But that certain people did certain things that may be deemed unethical, all without the knowledge of then candidate Trump.
Giuliani though says that he himself would not have counseled anyone to do those things, even though he says that that sort of unethical behavior happens in all political campaigns.
Listen to more from Giuliani on "STATE OF THE UNION."
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[18:15:01] GIULIANI: There is nothing wrong with taking information from Russian.
TAPPER: There is nothing wrong with taking information?
GIULIANI: It depends on where it came from. It depends on where it came from. You are assuming that the giving of information is the campaign contribution. Read the report carefully. The report says we can't conclude that because the law is pretty much against that. People get information from this person, that person, this person.
TAPPER: So you would have accepted information from Russians against a candidate if you were running in the President?
GIULIANI: I probably wouldn't. I wasn't asked. I would have advised just out of excess of caution, don't do it.
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SANCHEZ: Giuliani also suggested that former White House counsel Don McGahn was confused in some of his recollections to the special counsel. Specifically, that famous moment where President Trump asked McGahn to get rid of the special counsel, suggesting that Robert Mueller had conflicts of interest.
Giuliani is suggesting that McGahn had different accounts, a different retelling of what actually happened. The White House is standing by their position that President Trump didn't specifically ask McGahn to fire Mueller, though McGahn is standing by his recollection. Remember, he told the President if you wanted him to fire Robert Mueller, that he would just resign -- Alex. MARQUARDT: Right.
And Boris, so far we have only really seen one prominent Republican. That's senator Mitt Romney of Utah calling out the Trump team after Mueller's report came out. He said, I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonest and misdirection by individuals in the highest office in the land, including the President.
So Boris, what does Giuliani have to say about that?
SANCHEZ: Alex, this is probably the most puzzling portion of the interview. Giuliani sort of makes an accusation about Senator Romney suggesting that on one of his previous campaign, Romney had asked someone perhaps to do something unethical.
Jake asked him to specify. Giuliani wouldn't, sort of not really giving any evidence to support his claim. Kind of a bizarre thing to say, but obviously senator Romney, being a former presidential candidate had a lot to say about President Trump during his campaign back in 2016.
MARQUARDT: And because of his previous campaign, a lot of people are listening to what Romney has to say.
Boris Sanchez down in Florida, thanks very much.
So now that the Mueller report is out, what's next for Democrats? Among the 2020 candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro are the only ones right now calling for the President's impeachment. Others like Congressman Tim Ryan are taking a more cautious approach.
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TAPPER: So you do not support impeachment as of right now, but you want the process to begin, the investigation process to begin, is that correct?
REP. TIM RYAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's correct. That's correct. Yes, let the process play itself out. And let's educate the American people too, Jake. This is a very nuanced document. Let the American people really see what's going on here. It paints a terrible picture of the President's interactions, the blatant lying that happens in directing people to lie to the public, to lie to lawyers, to lie to the Congress. I mean, it's very detailed. The American people through this process will get up to speed with how this administration has been behaving.
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MARQUARDT: So far the only Democratic candidate who has completely ruled out impeachment proceedings is Cory Booker of New Jersey.
Now here to break this down is Harry Henson.
Harry, the candidates as we have just been saying are split or on this question of impeachment. Is it a winning strategy? HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: I don't think
it necessarily is. I mean, if you look at the polling that obviously came out before the Mueller report was released that showed that the overwhelming majority of Americans did not in fact want to impeach the President of the United States, those numbers do flip with Democrats. The majority do want him to be impeached. But the vast majority don't believe it is an important issue. We did a CNN poll last month that has the most important issue to 2020 vote, zero respondents. Zero said that either impeachment or the Mueller report was their most important issue for 2020.
MARQUARDT: So you don't anticipate more of these democratic candidates going to the yes side of the impeachment question?
ENTEN: I mean, they could perhaps. I mean, if you look, there was a Monmouth Poll in Iowa conducted earlier this month that showed I believe 16 percent of Iowa Democratic caucus goers said that it was very important to start impeachment proceedings. But for the most part, the electorate is just not there at this particular point. They are much more interested in issues like health care, immigration reform. Those are the types of issues that are important to voters, not necessarily impeachment hearings and impeaching the President of the United States.
MARQUARDT: Why do you think that is? I mean, we talk about the Mueller report so much. It's obviously hugely controversial. It consumes all of Washington.
ENTEN: Well, I would argue that it consumes all of Washington, but just because something consumes all of Washington does not necessarily mean it consumes the voters' minds. I think that this one of those giant disconnects by what is important for everyone in Washington is not necessarily important for voters. And if you go on the campaign trail and you listen to what the candidates are hearing, one of the questions they are hearing, very few people are asking about Mueller, whether it be Elizabeth, the candidate, the people who are visiting Elizabeth Warren's forums or the people visiting Cory Booker's forums, so on, so forth.
[18:20:03] MARQUARDT: Do you think that when Republicans hear all this talk about impeachment, do you think that those who might not be huge fans of the President say well, they are so turned off by this notion that they will then be more likely to turn out for President Trump?
ENTEN: I mean, this could be a rally around the base issue, right, for Republican Party, which I think is part of the reason why Democrats aren't necessarily pushing it as hard at least those candidates around the campaign trail. Keep in mind the President right now is extremely unpopular. Democrats don't want to get something that riles up the Republican base, allows that Republican base to come home and helps elevate the President of the United States.
MARQUARDT: Right. So an incredibly complex strategic question. ENTEN: It is. And look, this is complex times. Campaigns are very
complex. But I think the fact that you aren't seeing a lot of Democratic candidate coming out so forcibly for impeachment proceedings shows you where the electorate generally is.
MARQUARDT: And all these candidates are going to get this question.
ENTEN: I would think that they most definitely will.
MARQUARDT: From our very talented reporters on the campaign.
ENTEN: Hey, that's what reporters are for.
MARQUARDT: Harry Enten, thank you so much.
ENTEN: Thank you.
MARQUARDT: All right. Well, joining me now to discuss all this are CNN presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley who is the author of "American Moon Shot, JFK and the great space race." Also joining me is "Spectator USA" contributor Kelly Jane Torrance and Jay Newton- Small who is a contributor for "Time" magazine.
Thank you all for joining us on this Easter evening.
Kelly, to you first. The Democrats, as we have just been discussing with Harry, clearly split on this impeachment question. Do you think that they all need to come together behind one messaging strategy lest they be divided?
KELLY JANE TORRANCE, CONTRIBUTOR, SPECTATOR USA: I think Nancy Pelosi would like them to come behind one strategy, Alex. Yes, I think this is a bit of a headache for establishment Democrats. Nancy Pelosi I think recognizes an impeachment is not a good issue for Democrats. It was not something that really did well or played well for them in the midterms. They did very well in the midterms not pushing this as an issue.
And you know, when you look at polling actually right before the midterms and right after, the Russia investigation was pretty much dead last on the series of issues that voters cared about. Number one was health care, which the Democrats did very well with.
And, again, we are looking up into 2020. Americans will have their say on Donald Trump in the 2020 election. I think spending time on impeachment which, you know, Nancy Pelosi herself has said is very divisive for the country, and I do not think it's a winning issue.
MARQUARDT: Yes. And she said that he wasn't worth it. And we know that she is getting her caucus on the phone tomorrow, likely to discuss a more cohesive messaging strategy.
Doug, to you. The House of Representatives did approve articles of impeachment famously against Bill Clinton in 1998. Do you think the Democrats are nervous to support these impeachment proceedings against President Trump, potential proceedings because of how that played out politically for Republicans when they lost congressional seats in the next election?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Absolutely. That's important for Nancy Pelosi, certainly, who well remembers how Bill Clinton got a rebound out of the attempt to rip him down. He became the coyote, you know, figure who nobody could capture. Suddenly he soared up in the polls.
The big -- impeachment is way premature right now. I mean, the next step is going to be for Congress to have Bob Mueller and attorney general Barr come and testify. And more information is needed. It's going to take some time to digest this report.
I don't think the Democratic Party is really divided. They don't want to go through the impeachment spectacle with 2020 looming. Only Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro so far have said let's push impeachment, and look at where they are at in fundraising, where they are at in the democratic polls. They are at the very bottom. So it's not a winning issue for the Democrats.
Instead, they have to talk about Medicaid and Medicare for all, for example, or what they are going to do for the economy. That this would be a mistake right now in my opinion if you look at history to try to impeach Donald Trump, you know, when you just don't have the votes in the Senate to be able to do that. It would take a gang of ten led by Romney, ten Republican senators that suddenly turned on Trump. And I don't see that happening.
Jay, is that what it's all about when you see Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro leading the charge in the democratic field for impeachment? This is more about media coverage to get themselves off the bottom in terms of falling?
JAY NEWTON-SMALL, CONTRIBUTOR, TIME MAGAZINE: Well, Alex, I don't know. I think that there is, you know, we are in the midst of a Democratic primary season right now, and we are not in a general election. And then to win a democratic primary, to appeal to Democratic primary voters, you do have to go farther to the left.
It is a very popular issue with democratic voters. They do want to see really rapid change in government. They want to see Donald Trump out as soon as possible. And so it is a very popular rallying call that both Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro are taking advantage of.
Now whether that becomes a liability then in the general election when you to start reaching out to more moderate and independent and sort of moderate Republican voters, then that will be their challenge if by that point they've won the nomination.
But I think it's certainly going to have to be a question that all the candidates are going to have to face, and whether or not they get on the bandwagon, we will see. But I do agree with Douglas in that it's a very hard issue for Democrats to get through Congress because it's clear the Republicans not -- well, they would not have the votes to do so, but they probably won't bring it up. I mean, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, would never agree to bring this to the Senate floor. So it's really a non-starter. And if they do impeach him, it would really just be the House. I think it is more likely you will see the House sensor him.
[18:25:50] MARQUARDT: Right.
Kelly, when you look at the Mueller report and read, you know, page after page in this 400-page report that describe a culture of dishonesty and improper orders by the President, that said, we have only seen one major Republican, Mitt Romney rebuking Trump since the report came out. Are other Republicans scared?
TORRANCE: It's a good question, Alex. You know, I have noticed that there were a couple of others, but as you say not major Republicans. And I do think, you know, certainly we have seen in the past that any Republican that questions Donald Trump often faces rebuking from the President, and even sometimes a primary challenge.
But I'm not sure it's even in their best interests to do so. You know, I was maybe surprised a little bit by some of what's in that report. But on the whole, it really just fills in details of things that we already knew about. We already knew that, you know, the President had asked Don McGahn to fire Mueller.
TORRANCE: And really, we have kind of known since before Donald Trump was elected the kind of man he is. And people in America, a lot of them voted for him anyway. So we are, you know, a little shocked. We are a little disappointed in some of these revelations. But in the past, such things haven't heard Donald Trump. And I think a lot of Republicans are counting on that, hoping and thinking it will be the same thing going into 2020.
MARQUARDT: Yes, right. And we have seen that story changing, regarding the Trump campaign contacts with Russia.
Doug, at first they said there was no contact with the Russian, then it was about adoptions in the famous Trump tower meeting, then it was that nothing was gained from the contacts, and now we are hearing Rudy Giuliani saying today that there is nothing wrong with seeking information from Russians. Do you think, Doug, that this changing story actually matters to voters?
BRINKLEY: I don't think it matters as much to voters as inside the beltway people think. But Giuliani's been doing this act kind of spinning things in all different directions, apparently quite effectively.
There was a while there people didn't know whether Giuliani was damaging his own career, that this was just a fool's errand to be defending Donald Trump in this fashion, but Giuliani is going on a victory tour right now. All he need for Donald Trump is not to be found guilty of conspiracy with Russia or obstruction of justice. There was a high bar to meet there may have been expectations that the Mueller report would put Donald Trump away, but it did not. And so if anything, you are going to see Donald Trump and the right
mobilize against Hillary Clinton and going after the emails and what's going on in the justice department during the Obama years.
The Republicans may see the Mueller report as actually working in their favor in some ways. It definitely doesn't work in Donald Trump's favor from a historical point of view. It's a damning report on somebody who often seems unfit for command and is walking right at the line of obstruction of justice, if not outright obstructing it. But alas, it's a political game right now. 2020 is looming. And everybody is going - both sides are going to try to spin the Mueller report to make their team look best.
MARQUARDT: And given this disconnect, Jay, that we see between the logistic rat and Washington in the Mueller report and the consequences of it, do you think it's smart for democratic leadership as we are seeing now to vow to continue investigating the President? Is there a risk that will play into the President's claim as he so often does on twitter that it's the Democrats essentially that are being the obstructionists?
NEWTON-SMALL: Alex, I think there is a greater risk if they don't do anything their own base would be incredibly upset and want to house them. And look, there is a huge hunger from Democrats, the Democratic base to see investigations, to see this continue, to see what happens.
And there are more investigations ongoing. I think it's also important to know that Mueller noted 14 spin-off investigations. We only know of two of them. And so there is a lot more to come here. I feel like often really the Mueller report is sort of the tip of an iceberg, and we are kind of on the titanic, and we don't know what's under the water here.
[18:30:00] So I think it would be irresponsible, frankly, if Democrats didn't continue to ask for an unredacted report or to see what's -- you know, see what's happening in other investigations and mostly what those yield.
But clearly, you know, the debate around whether or not to impeach him is a much more fraught one now that we're really trying this in the realm of political opinion, in the realm of politics.
It's -- Rudy Giuliani, as Douglas was saying, has done an amazing job in muddying those waters. And so there is a base of Republicans voters that will never believe anything that any of these investigations yield. And that's, I think, the real challenge for Republicans in going against Donald Trump in this election and in this investigation.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, 400 pages of incredible detail and still so much that we don't know and are waiting to discover. Jay Newton-Small, Douglas Brinkley, and Kelly Jane Torrance, thank you so much. Happy Easter.
KELLY JANE TORRANCE, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Happy Easter. NEWTON-SMALL: Happy Easter.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Happy Easter.
MARQUARDT: All right. Well, don't miss our first major candidate event for the 2020 presidential campaign, Senators Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. They will all be on the same stage for a back-to-back CNN town hall event. That's tomorrow night starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time, live from New Hampshire right here on CNN.
Now, voters in Ukraine have just elected a comedian and an actor who played a president on television as their new president. He won in a landslide. So what about this news could be good for President Vladimir Putin of Russia? We'll take you live to Kiev, next.
[18:35:50] MARQUARDT: This just in to CNN. We're learning that a U.S. soldier has died supporting the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq.
The Pentagon says that 22-year-old Specialist Ryan Riley of Richmond, Kentucky died in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the Army's 101st Airborne Division. No other details have been released, and his death remains under investigation. Our thoughts are with his family.
Now new tonight, a 41-year-old actor and comedian with no political experience whatsoever has won today's presidential election in Ukraine in an apparent landslide.
Volodymyr Zelensky, today, crushing the incumbent president, Petro Poroshenko, at the polls. Today's big winner vowing to restart peace talks with pro-Russian separatists, along with Russia itself and the West.
So let's get right to CNN's Phil Black. He's live in Ukraine's capital, Kiev. Phil, this wasn't even close. Do we know why the margin of victory was so big?
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alex, it seems that people in this country just wanted change, and they were desperate for anything other than the status quo.
And so enter Volodymyr Zelensky, this totally inexperienced comedian and actor, someone who became famous in this country through pretending to be the Ukrainian president on a T.V. show, a show called "The Servant of the People" that shows an honest school teacher who accidentally becomes president and then goes on to fight against corruption and oligarchs and try to clean up the political game in this country. It's hugely popular here.
And so Zelensky's campaign was essentially based around the same ideas. He's saying he's going to do the same things. He hasn't really said how, though. There hasn't been a lot of detail in his campaigning so far. But it was still enough for, according to the exit polls, around 73 percent of voters to back him, which is a pretty extraordinary victory.
He will inherit a long list of problems from a weak economy to their ongoing five-year war in the east of the country against Russian- backed separatists. This professional clown is now the guy that's going to be going up against face-to-face, potentially negotiating with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
All of this matters because, well, Ukraine really does represent the front line in the ongoing confrontation between the West and Russia across a whole range of issues. And because Zelensky is such an unknown factor, we really just don't know how he is going to handle all of this.
But the fact is that Ukrainians have decided to back him in pretty big numbers, based upon his charisma alone really and his performance in this show. Or at least as I say, they decide they'd simply don't want more of the same -- Alex.
MARQUARDT: Phil, why is there a perception that this actor -- that Zelensky's victory is a good thing for Vladimir Putin?
BLACK: So it was a point that his opponent, the outgoing President Petro Poroshenko, made throughout the campaign because this guy is so experienced. Because Zelensky has no political experience, no experience in government, no experience as a commander-in-chief, and this is a country that is at war.
This is a country where, five years ago after a revolution, Russia moved in and annexed a big part of it, the Crimean Peninsula. It then supported these separatists, these breakaway groups, and fermented a conflict that, to this day, continues. There is supposed to be a ceasefire in the east, but there isn't really. There is still regular exchanges of fire. Soldiers and civilians still die on a regular basis.
Vladimir Putin is an experienced operator, as the world knows, and so the opponent -- or Zelensky's opponent has always argued that Zelensky simply wasn't up to the job. But the Ukrainian people, as I say, so desperate for change, were prepared to give him a go. Ukraine, the West, and indeed Putin himself will now see precisely what this man is made of.
MARQUARDT: Desperate for change. That's something we've heard before, particularly in this country. Phil black in Kiev, thank you so much.
Now, after a month-long investigation, a prosecutor now says that a 10-year-old girl who died after a school fight died of natural causes. Why the family is saying they won't accept those findings, that's next.
[18:39:55] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MARQUARDT: It was one of those classroom stories that shocked the country. A fight triggered by possible bullying between fifth-grade girls ended with one of them dead. Now, after a month-long investigation, a South Carolina prosecutor
says that 10-year-old Raniya Wright died of natural causes. But as CNN's Dianne Gallagher reports, the girl's mother is not ready to accept that conclusion.
ASHLEY WRIGHT, MOTHER OF RANIYA WRIGHT: I miss my daughter. I'm not able to hold my daughter again, kiss her. I'm not able for my child to go to prom.
DIANE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the nearly one month since 10-year-old Raniya Wright died after a fight at school, her family has been asking the same questions. What happened inside that fifth-grade classroom on March 25th, and why did their little girl die two days later?
On Friday, South Carolina investigators announced their surprising conclusions.
[18:44:50] DUFFIE STONE, SOLICITOR OF THE FOURTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, SOUTH CAROLINA: Raniya Wright died of natural causes. There was no evidence of trauma on or inside the body of Raniya Wright that would indicate that any fight in any magnitude contributed to her death. As a result of those findings, there will not be criminal charges brought in this matter.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): The pathologist determined Raniya's death was caused by a relatively rare birth defect called an AVM. It's a tangled mass of blood vessels on her brain.
The Solicitor said that during the last two years, Raniya had visited a doctor at least six times complaining of headaches and dizziness. Her final visit? Just 13 days before she fell unconscious at school.
Now, officials say, based on interviews and medical evidence, it does not appear a fight of any kind contributed to Raniya's death.
STONE: There were no bruises, no cuts, no scrapes, no busted lips, no black eyes.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): But Raniya's mother and her legal team say they hired a private investigator who also interviewed children inside the classroom that day and got a very different description of what the district labeled a scuffle and county officials called a, quote, five to 10-second slap fight between Raniya and another student.
MARGIE PIZARRO, ATTORNEY FOR THE WRIGHT FAMILY: Each punch to Raniya's head made a loud sound. With Raniya's head in a chokehold, Student 2 slung Raniya into an orange style cabinet, all the while hitting her in the head.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): They believe there is still much more to this investigation.
PIZARRO: While we certainly respect the efforts and the initial -- and I'm going to stress the word initial -- findings that have been presented to us today, we certainly know that this is not where the story ends.
WRIGHT: I'm angry, and I'm going to get to the bottom of it. I promise you, I am going to get to the bottom of it if I got -- every breath in my body got to come out, I'm going to find out what happened to my baby.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): Diane Gallagher, CNN, Atlanta.
MARQUARDT: Thanks to Dianne Gallagher there. The School Superintendent -- District Superintendent told reporters Friday that officials found that district employees acted appropriately and safety procedures were followed during Raniya's medical emergency.
Coming up, beyond the call of duty. How a drug addict's repeated run- ins with a San Francisco police officer changed and probably saved his life.
But first, a look ahead to the big business news that is expected to affect your bottom-line this week. So here is CNN's chief business correspondent Christine Romans.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Alex. It's a big week for tech earnings. Twitter, Snap, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon all reporting quarterly results. Technology stocks have performed very well this year. Facebook shares at more than 30 percent, Amazon surging 25 percent, and Microsoft is up about 20 percent.
Overall, first-quarter earnings have been decent so far. Roughly 80 percent of the company reports have been better than expectations. And the trade war no longer seems to be corporate America's number one concern.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIZ ANN SONDERS, CHIEF INVESTMENT STRATEGIST, CHARLES SCHWAB CORPORATION: That's kind of faltered now, or moved down the list of, you know, high concerns, probably because we're in this trade truce, and there is some hope for a deal.
But kind of replacing that in the number one spot of specific things that companies have been mentioning, either tied to their existing earnings or maybe concerns looking ahead, would be foreign exchange and then also labor costs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Rising wages are good news for Main Street but not for Wall Street. If companies can't pass along those higher costs to consumers, that could squeeze profit margins. And so far this earnings season, that's the warning to investors.
In New York, I'm Christine Romans.
[18:48:34] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MARQUARDT: A California man says he would definitely be dead right now were it not for the concern of a policeman who went beyond the call and got him off the street and saved his life. Here's CNN's Stephanie Elam.
TOM WOLF, RECOVERING FROM HEROIN ADDICTION: I was really at my worst. I was smoking heroin every day.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Tom Wolf first encountered San Francisco police officer Rob Gilson, his only concern was getting high.
OFFICER ROB GILSON, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE DEPARTMENT: It was obvious that Tom had a drug addiction.
ELAM (voice-over): Wolf was listed as a missing person. But like so many addicts, he refused to help. Officer Gilson called Wolf's wife to let her know he was alive. He promised to keep an eye on him.
GILSON: I just felt bad for -- to have this poor lady on the other end of the phone crying and telling you how much she misses her husband.
ELAM (voice-over): But Wolf admits he was a slave to his addiction, putting it above his family, his home, and his government job.
WOLF: I'm the primary case manager for the Family Violence Initiative. I flipped from being a public servant to a homeless drug addict in the Tenderloin in the span of four years.
ELAM (voice-over): Soon after this video was shot, Wolf had foot surgery.
WOLF: They gave me 10-milligram oxycodone pills. And immediately -- immediately -- after I took them, I felt euphoria.
ELAM (voice-over): When those ran out, he headed to San Francisco's Tenderloin, just around the corner from the police station where Gilson works.
GILSON: You're just laying down, taking a nap?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
GILSON: All right.
ELAM (on camera): How bad is the opioid drug problem, the overall drug problem, in that part of San Francisco?
GILSON: It is out of control.
ELAM (voice-over): Gilson arrested Wolf four times, but he never cuffed him without a conversation.
WOLF: He came up to me and he said, look, look at you. You're skinny, you're dirty, your clothes are dirty. He said, I don't know what you're going through, I don't know if it's a midlife crisis, but whatever it is, go get some help and get back to your family.
[18:55:00] ELAM (voice-over): In June 2018, SFPD posted Wolf's mug shot on Twitter.
WOLF: It said, this last time, he was arrested with a bag of drugs at his feet.
ELAM (voice-over): Four days later, he was arrested again. This time, he went to jail for nearly three months, forcing him to get clean.
WOLF: I knew I needed help and I knew I couldn't go home.
ELAM (voice-over): He enrolled in the six-month rehab program at the Salvation Army. Later, Wolf wrote his own message under his mug shot on Twitter.
WOLF: Saying, you know, I'm now in recovery. I've got almost eight months clean and sober.
ELAM (voice-over): Thanking the Salvation Army and Officer Gilson who finally met Wolf's wife.
GILSON: Oh! We spoke. How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. Nice to meet you.
GILSON: Nice to meet you.
WOLF: If he hadn't have been on me so much to get me out of there, I might not be talking to you today. I might be in the grave instead.
ELAM (on camera): How does that make you feel, knowing that he sees you as his lifesaver?
GILSON: I was able to kind of just give Tom a little bit of a push in the right direction, I think. Tom is the one that's done all the hard work.
ELAM (voice-over): Stephanie Elam, CNN, San Francisco.
MARQUARDT: All right. More on the devastating attacks in Sri Lanka that have left more than 200 dead. CNN is the only U.S. broadcast live at the scene. We will go there, next.