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Multiple Explosions Hit Sri Lanka Churches and Hotels; France to Celebrate Easter after Notre Dame Fire; Trump Blasts Russia Probe with Tweet of Lies; Russian Back Channels to Trump Team; Ukrainian Presidential Candidates Debate; The Effects of the Russia Probe; Teenagers Arrested in Journalist Killing. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired April 21, 2019 - 05:00   ET

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


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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): 5:00 am on the U.S. East Coast where we're following the breaking news out of Sri Lanka where a seventh explosion has been confirmed. I'm George Howell in the CNN Center in Atlanta, welcome to viewers here in the United States and around the world.

State media report that at least four explosions were at hotels and three other explosions were at churches. You're seeing the video here from Colombo, Sri Lanka, the capital. These soft targets, some people were there for Easter Sunday, others foreigner in hotels.

At least 138 people have been killed in these seven explosions, this according to officials there. More than 560 people have been wounded. Again, keep all of this in mind, what seems to have been a coordinated set of attacks on a day that Christians around the world are celebrating, Easter.

CNN's correspondent Nikhil Kumar has been following the story for the last several hours in New Delhi. Joining us live this hour.

What more are you hearing from your sources about the aftermath of these explosions?

NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: Well, George, the full details are still coming through but everything that we know points to a devastating series of attacks. As you say, now we have confirmation that there were seven explosions. We know that three of them at least occurred at churches. This, as you say, is Easter Sunday.

These churches were full. We don't have a full picture of the number of injured and dead. We know the number of injured is in the hundreds and the number of dead is above 130, close to 140 now. We know 20 foreigners are involved. This is a popular tourist destination.

Authorities are scrambling to bring medical attention to those who have been injured, to make sure the rescue operation can unfold smoothly. Security has been stepped up. The government had an emergency meeting earlier on Sunday. All police leave has been canceled across the country, from what we understand, as they try to make sense of what exactly happened and find out who was behind this.

At this early stage we don't yet have any indication about who may be behind this. We don't have a claim of responsibility nor so far have we had the government pointing the finger of blame at anybody.

It all points to a very, very devastating series of attacks in a country that's just getting used to peace. This country was in a bad civil war for several decades until it ended in 2009 after a massive military offensive. People there only have just been getting used to peace and now they've been hit by this absolutely devastating set of attacks.

HOWELL: Nikhil, I want to get a sense of timing from you, if you have some insight on this. I hope I'm not putting you on the spot. We've spoken about the six explosions, those explosions happening several hours ago. Now we have this seventh explosion confirmed.

Do you have a sense as to whether that seventh explosion was a recent explosion?

Or was it part of the others that we're just now confirming?

KUMAR: So, George, we're still getting a full picture about the precise timing of all of them. What we do know is this unfolded in the morning, the explosions we heard about earlier. One of the hotels that was hit, they said that a restaurant was hit just after 9:00 am local time. Of course, Easter services were going on at these churches.

It all seems to have unfolded in the morning. But precise timing and details we're still getting a full picture of. What does seem to be clear this was, it looks very much like this was a coordinated series of attacks. And so there's going to be an investigation which is already underway to look at how that happened, how, across this country, all of these bombs went off.

It looks like a sophisticated attack so the big question is going to be, well, who's behind this because, as I say, this is a country that has seen tragedy, that has seen bombings in the past. But for several years it's been in a period of peace. People have been getting used to a much, much more peaceful Sri Lanka.

When you go down there now, that risk wasn't there which was only present in the '80s, '90s, in the 2000s. That was supposed to have ended in 2009. The big question now is going to be how did this happen, which is why the government is putting in all the effort and everyone is focused on, first, the recovery, and, two, on finding out how this happened and who was behind this.

HOWELL: Again, I want to update to make sure our viewers understand --

[05:05:00] HOWELL: -- the numbers that we have at this point. You explained the timing. We're still getting a sense of that but 137 people killed in the blasts in Sri Lanka; 560, more than 560, again, of people have been wounded. And you get a sense from the video here, you see the soft targets that have been hit.

We understand rescue efforts are underway there. We'll stay in touch with you. Thank you.

Reactions are coming in from leaders around the world, given the tragedy in Sri Lanka. This from India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, who tweeted, quote, "Strongly condemn the horrific blast in Sri Lanka. There is no place for such barbarism in our region. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. My thoughts are with the bereaved families and prayers with the injured."

Also Pakistan's prime minister, Imran Khan, "Strongly condemn the horrific terrorist attack in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, resulting in precious lives lost and hundreds injured. My profound condolences go to our Sri Lankan brethren. Pakistan stands in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka in their hour of grief.

Also, the British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said the following, quote, "Shocked and saddened by the horrific attacks," adding, "To target those gathered for worship on Easter Sunday is particularly wicked. My prayers are with the victims and their families and with those assisting in the response."

The violence in Sri Lanka has cast a shadow over an otherwise peaceful Easter Sunday around the world. Pope Francis is leading an Easter mass at Vatican Square this hour. These images you see. We are awaiting his reaction to the bombings in Sri Lanka. He is expected to offer his thoughts later today. The pontiff visited Sri Lanka in January 2015 and called for a time of reconciliation in that war-torn country at the time.

A lot to talk about on this Easter Sunday for sure. For perspective, let's bring in CNN senior Vatican analyst John Allen. John joining us this hour in Rome.

John, the pope has not yet spoken about what happened in Sri Lanka. But you say that he will likely make remarks in his noon homily.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SR. VATICAN ANALYST: Yes. So right, now the pope is leading the Easter Sunday mass. Easter is, of course, the most sacred day on the Catholic Christian calendar. It's the day that Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

He did not deliver a homily during this mass. He will sometimes skip that during the Easter Sunday liturgy to keep the focus on the ritual itself. But at noon, Rome, in about an hour, he is going to be delivering what's known as the Urbi et Orbi address.

That's a Latin phrase, meaning To the City that is Rome and to the World, which is always a sort of 360-degree review of the global situation, George. We are fully expecting that he will have something to say about Sri Lanka then.

HOWELL: Keeping in mind the pope was in Sri Lanka just a few years ago, speaking on the issue of reconciliation.

ALLEN: Yes, that's right. Sri Lanka is, of course, a country that was torn by a very bloody 30-year civil war that ended only in 2009, fueled largely by Tamil separatists. It's also home to rising movements of Buddhist nationalism and extremism.

About 70 percent of the population is Buddhist. In the eastern part of the country, there's a Hindu nationalist movement; about 15 percent or so of Sri Lankans are Hindus and then there's a small Christian minority that often find themselves caught in the middle, as happened this morning.

We shall say, George, this is tragic but not utterly surprising. There is a pattern of attacks against Christians on their major holy days around the world, especially Easter. In 2015, there was an attack at the University of Kenya targeting Christian students that left about 75 people dead.

In 2016, Christians were bombed in a park in Lahore, Pakistan, after Easter services, again, leaving about 75 to 80 people dead. Last year there were attacks on Christian churches in India. So this is something that Christians, sadly, have become familiar with, George.

HOWELL: John Allen following this in Rome. Again, John, saying that the pope will likely make remarks on Sri Lanka during his noon homily. We will continue to monitor and bring you in for perspective as we bring more from the Vatican. Thank you.

We move on to France where, any moment, Catholics will hold an Easter mass at the Saint-Eustache church. It's standing in for the Notre Dame cathedral after it was damaged in that fire last week.

So far, about $1 billion has been donated --

[05:10:00]

HOWELL: -- pledged to rebuild that cathedral but a benefit concert also held remember that wonderful building to raise more money for it.

Those donations have angered Yellow Vest protesters, though. Those protesters feel their own needs are being ignored. Some demonstrators clashed with police on Saturday and set fire to parts of Paris. CNN's Melissa Bell is live in Paris outside Saint-Eustache.

Melissa, we understand service is just getting started there. Certainly a different venue other than Notre Dame.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, George. This is, of course, traditional Easter Sunday service. Normally housed in Notre Dame, as you say, one of the most important in the Catholic calendar.

Clearly because the cathedral remains closed, the investigation is ongoing and there is so much work to do before it will be able to be open to the faithful again, it is here instead at Saint-Eustache on the Right Bank of Paris, just across the river.

We saw long queues forming out of this door, all of the faithful that could get in are now inside because the mass is getting underway. Disappointed people here, tourists and Parisians alike, who tried to get inside and they couldn't find the space.

What we expect to be happening during an extremely poignant ceremony, given the events of the last few days, given these events happening once again during holy week, very important to the Catholics.

Every time there have been ceremonies these last few days, they have had that extra significance, that extra amount of emotion around them and lamenting all that was lost in the cathedral. A Bible that was saved during the night on the Monday among so many relics and artifacts we've been talking about that were rescued from the flames, that Bible will be given to some of the firemen, the heroes who have been praised every day since that terrible fire that they managed to put out remarkably well.

When you look at that edifice, it's remarkable how much still stands and part of today's services is to give thanks that more was not lost.

HOWELL: Melissa Bell, following the story. Thank you.

Now to the Mueller report. We've heard a lot about that report over the past two years. The question now, do voters really care about what's in that report?

We'll take a look.

Plus, election day in Ukraine and the next real president could be the guy who plays president on TV. We'll explain. Stay with us.

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HOWELL: Welcome back. We're following the breaking news out of Sri Lanka. We are getting reports of at least seven explosions in what look to be coordinated attacks. I want to show you video here. You can see a moment that captures one of the blasts, right there.

Authorities say at least 139 people have been killed. We keep continuing to follow that number. These numbers, according to officials, 139 people have been killed in these several blasts in Sri Lanka. At least four blasts hit hotels, three hit churches.

This as Christians celebrate Easter Sunday and, keep in mind, more than 560 people have been injured. We continue to follow this story for you and we'll bring you more information as we learn more from people on the ground and our sources there. (MUSIC PLAYING)

HOWELL: The Mueller report, even though many Republicans say it's time to move on, President Trump is ignoring that advice. He's blasting the report again on Twitter, saying this, quote, "Despite the fact that the Mueller report should not have been authorized in the first place and was written as nastily as possible by 13 or 18 angry Democrats, who were true Trump haters, including highly conflicted Bob Mueller himself, the end result is no collusion, no obstruction."

It is important to point out the report does not exonerate President Trump on obstruction of justice. Our Boris Sanchez is traveling with President Trump in Florida and has this report.

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BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler filing a subpoena, demanding to see the full, unredacted Mueller report. Democrats are demanding to see all the underlying evidence, including information that was redacted because it includes sensitive grand jury information.

Nadler set a deadline of May 1st but it does not appear the Department of Justice is ready to comply with his request. They put out a statement, in part, calling his requests unnecessary. Here's the full statement.

They write, quote, "In the interest of transparency, the attorney general released the special counsel's confidential report with only minimal redactions. The Department of Justice has also made arrangements for Chairman Nadler and other congressional leaders to review the report with even fewer redactions.

"In light of this, Congressman Nadler's subpoena is premature and unnecessary. The department will continue to work with Congress to accommodate its legitimate requests consistent with the law and long- recognized executive branch interests."

Because of this dispute between House Democrats and the Department of Justice, it appears that this fight will likely wind up in court.

Meantime, President Trump spent Saturday at his national golf club here in Palm Beach, Florida. The president driving by a crowd of supporters, giving an enthusiastic double thumbs up.

We have heard from sources at the White House that the president is fuming over details in the Mueller report. He's apparently angry at mostly former aides, who gave details to Mueller that depict a White House in chaos and a president who is angry and paranoid over the Russia investigation and also aides that either completely ignored or refused to follow the president's orders -- Boris Sanchez, traveling with the president in West Palm Beach, Florida.

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HOWELL: Boris, thank you. The Mueller report also lays out how Russia used back channels to get to the Trump campaign and the administration. It explains how Russian president Vladimir Putin used Russian oligarchs to make contact with the Trump team and to make inroads to promote Russian priorities. This led to a conflation of diplomatic and financial interests and a stark change in how contacts between the two governments usually occur.

Steven Erlanger is following this. Steven is the chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe for "The New York Times," joining us from Brussels.

Good to have you.

STEVEN ERLANGER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Thanks, George.

HOWELL: I want to start, Steven, by delving deeper into an article written by one of your colleagues at "The New York Times," Sharon LaFraniere. This graph really sums up the point here in that article. I'll read it as follows.

The graph says this, "Mr. Trump's on the fly campaign, lack of preparation for victory and disorganized transition created a vacuum that, as Russia sought out avenues of access and influence, was quickly filled by a number of people from outside established foreign policy circles, many of whom appeared eager to portray themselves as access brokers or generate business opportunities."

Steven, as the Mueller report shows the depth of connections, Russia clearly saw an opportunity.

ERLANGER: It certainly did.

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ERLANGER: One needs to remember Vladimir Putin really, really disliked Hillary Clinton, was going to (INAUDIBLE) which the Mueller report makes absolutely clear that Russian (INAUDIBLE) was going to intervene against Hillary Clinton (INAUDIBLE).

And then with Donald Trump, there was someone who clearly had interest in business in Russia and had been talking about trying to build a tower there and so Trump's whole operation, which was a little fly by night -- I mean, he kept changing campaign directors -- clearly created opportunities for Russians to try to have some influence and what did they want mostly what they wanted way to lift American sanctions on Russia stemming from the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

So that was the real goal (INAUDIBLE).

HOWELL: Steven, Mr. Trump has pointed the finger back at his predecessor, Barack Obama, saying that Mr. Obama did nothing to stop the Russian interference in the election, though the former president did speak with Vladimir Putin directly, telling him to cut it out.

Some former Obama staff have indicated personal disappointment that they didn't do more.

What do you make of Mr. Trump's criticism on this issue? ERLANGER: Well, it is true that President Obama could have done more. It is said that he was reluctant to intervene in the national election because, after all, it would look like he was putting his finger on the scale of Hillary Clinton.

But I think it is true that he could have done more. In fact, (INAUDIBLE) security at the time, they thought very hard and finally issued a statement about Russian interference. It was actually the same day that the famous Trump tape came out about Hollywood women and that completely overwhelmed the government's warning about Russian interference.

So it is true Obama could have done more and when his team tried to do more, they were overwhelmed by that kind of a story.

HOWELL: The audio not the best there, Steven, but the context was rich in information. We appreciate your time. Thank you so much, Steven Erlanger.

ERLANGER: Thanks, George.

HOWELL: Voting is underway in Ukraine, where a man playing president on TV may become the real president of that country. You're looking now live at a polling station in that nation's capital, Kiev, going into Sunday's election.

In fact, this is not live. This is video. I want to make that clear.

You see the comedian there turned politician, Volodymyr Zelensky, he was the leading candidate in the presidential race. He's taking on the incumbent president, Petro Poroshenko, who has held office since 2014. This video shows the people going to the polls. Our Phil Black has the details.

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PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Petro Poroshenko mounted a spirited effort to try and turn around the momentum of his campaign with regular TV and public appearances, rallies and press conferences.

He goaded his opponent, Volodymyr Zelensky, into debating him and it finally took place at a soccer stadium in front of more than 20,000 people. He never gave up criticizing Zelensky, saying he is not fit for office, not ready, strong enough to be president or commander in chief of a country still at war.

But Poroshenko struggled to cut through Zelensky's popularity. The actor and comedian said he's not a politician, just a regular guy who wants to wipe out a broken system of corruption and self-interest, which he says is represented by Poroshenko, essentially just like the character he plays on television. And the show surfeit (ph) of the people.

Zelensky plays a schoolteacher, who improbably, accidently becomes Ukrainian president, who goes into battle against oligarchs and corrupt officials and cronies. That performance, his likability, his campaign platitudes of promising to do things better than the other guy, have made him the clear front-runner in this presidential campaign.

So how did Ukraine get to this point?

Well, after the revolution of 2014, Poroshenko rode a wave of hope and optimism to the presidency, promising to turn the country around. But five years on, the war in the east against Russian-backed separatists grinds on. The economy's recovery has been fragile and slow; poverty and quality of life are big issues here and corruption endures across government and key institutions.

The general view among many Ukrainians is that Poroshenko hasn't done enough. They are disappointed. They want change. They want something new.

Enter Volodymyr Zelensky, the total unknown --

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BLACK (voice-over): -- with a warm smile but few detailed policies. But it's been enough to convince many Ukrainians to vote for him or at least vote against the status quo -- Phil Black, CNN, Kiev.

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HOWELL: Polling stations are also open in Egypt, where voters will decide on a controversial change to that nation's constitution. It's the second of three days of voting in the referendum. This change could keep the president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in office until 2030. It will also give him sweeping new powers over the judicial and legislative branches.

Sri Lanka faces the aftermath of what looks to be a horrific set of coordinated attacks. We got back to the region for a live update ahead.

Also the question by Democrats, whether to impeach the president or to focus on other issues. Democratic presidential candidates are weighing in now. We'll have more on that. Stay with us.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

HOWELL: We continue following the breaking news out of Sri Lanka. I'm George Howell.

The death toll has risen. Officials say at least 140 people are dead. More than 560 wounded. This after seven confirmed explosions across that country. Of course, you see the video here. You get a sense of what happened at these soft targets.

These blasts hit four hotels, they hit three churches on Easter Sunday. It's being described as a coordinated set of attacks and the government has declared a curfew just recently to go into effect immediately.

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HOWELL: CNN's Nikhil Kumar is following the news in New Delhi.

What more are you learning?

The death toll has been updated to 140 people killed.

KUMAR: That's right, George, and that number has been rising throughout the morning and into the afternoon on this Sunday, this Easter Sunday. As you say, we know about seven explosions. We know that three of them were churches.

Easter Sunday, these churches were full, we're still trying to get a full picture of the number of people injured in these blasts. We understand already it's into the hundreds. So a very, very serious tragedy, a devastating tragedy for a country that, only over the last decade, has been getting used to peace.

In 2009 is when Sri Lanka emerged from an almost three decade-long civil war. It's only recently that the people are getting used to peace and now they're being hit with a massive series of explosions.

Right now it looks like a coordinated set of explosions. So far there hasn't been anyone taking responsibility. So far the government hasn't yet pointed the finger of blame but it all looks very devastating, indeed, for this island nation off the southern coast of India.

HOWELL: If you could help us get some context about this nation, violence in particular, because Sri Lanka has not seen something like this in some time. Help our viewers to understand the background, the history there.

KUMAR: It hasn't, George, no. I mentioned the civil war, which unfolded through the '80s and '90s. It ended following a massive military offensive in 2009. That pitted the Sinhalese majority against the Tamil ethnic group. It's mostly concentrated in the north of the island.

Now Christians are a minority. Some of them -- they're both Sinhalese and Tamil and they were hit as well during all the years of violence, when we saw regular reports of bombings. And in 2009 is when that war ended.

Since that time, the country has been taking steps towards peace and reconciliation. We have seen smaller instances of inter-religious and ethnic violence but nothing close to what used to happen during those dark days. This is going to come as a jolting, crushing reminder to the people of

that country that, just as they're stepping out of the shadow of that war, that they've been hit by this. The Christian population, as I mentioned, is quite small, 10 percent. But quite significant. They're both Tamils and Sinhalese.

There was a spotlight on them, you remember, back in 2015, when the pope visited and held mass in the country, when he went to Colombo and held mass there. Hundreds of thousands turned out and the message very much then was a message of unity, which is a message that the leaders of the country have been trying to promote, to reconcile the different groups together after the end of that war.

But on this very, very dark day, again, it points to some divisions and with tragic consequences for everyone involved. George?

HOWELL: Nikhil, it begs the question; we see unfortunately Christians are attacked in many places around the world. Unfortunately this is a sad but uncommon thing that seems to happen in so many places.

But the question here, why Sri Lanka?

That seems to be a burning question as we see these explosions at churches and hotels on Easter Sunday.

KUMAR: That's exactly right, George. That's going to be the question to which authorities are going to be scrambling to try and find an answer. There's no straightforward answer here.

As I said, the context here is a country that has been trying to step out of the shadow of ethnic and inter-religious conflict, trying to step out of the shadow of conflict and terrorism. But today it's been plunged back into that darkness. That question, who did this?

Why did they do it?

How did all of this come about?

Was this internal, external?

These are all questions to which authorities will be trying to find the answer. The prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, tweeted earlier today, condemning the attacks and also calling on people to avoid speculation as they try to find answers to the most pressing of questions.

Why Sri Lanka?

Why today?

And why has this country that has been trying to make steps out of the dark past, why has it been pushed back there today on Easter Sunday?

HOWELL: Thank you, Nikhil. Now let's bring in Dr. Mahesh Gunasekara.

Dr. Gunasekara is a spokesperson for the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society and joins us now by phone.

Dr. Gunasekara, first of all, if you could give us a sense of what's happening there on the ground as you understand it.

DR. MAHESH GUNASEKARA, SRI LANKA RED CROSS SOCIETY: Yes. (INAUDIBLE) explosions have happened (INAUDIBLE).

[05:35:00]

GUNASEKARA: (INAUDIBLE).

Hello?

HOWELL: Dr. Gunasekara, we have you on the line. The audio is not the best. Again, just making sure our viewers understand. CNN has confirmed at this point seven, seven explosions in Sri Lanka. We are, of course, staying in touch with authorities as, you know, information develops; 140 people who have been killed, more than 560 people who have been injured, at the latest report.

Dr. Gunasekara, if we still have you on the line, if we're able to improve the audio here and hear from you, talk to us about what the response will be, because it seems that these attacks have happened over several hours and, certainly, from the images we see, there will be a rescue operation to try to find people who survived those explosions.

I don't believe we have Dr. Gunasekara on the phone with us but, again, the latest we have for you in these attacks that took place in Sri Lanka, 140 people who have been killed, more than 560 people who have been injured. Several different sites that were hit, churches and hotels.

The churches were people who were there for Easter Sunday. The hotels packed with foreigners on this very important day.

We'll, of course, continue to follow this story for you.

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HOWELL: Now to the Mueller report; now that it's been released and many details being parsed and considered, Congress is weighing in on what's next. Democrats are looking to replace the president in 2020. Many of those Democrats are weighing in, some pushing for impeachment but others are not. Here's a sample.

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SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Mueller report hands this now to Congress and the fundamental question for us is, is there going to be some accountability here?

We cannot be an America that says it is OK for a President of the United States to try to block investigations into a foreign attack on our country or investigations into that president's own misbehavior. SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is no question that there is good reason to believe that there was an obstruction of justice by this president. There's no question.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why?

BOOKER: I'll tell you why. I'm not moving for impeachment because Congress has not seen the report without redactions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not even once you see it?

BOOKER: I want to go through the processes. I want to see the unredacted report. I want to have Robert Mueller come testify before the justice committee. I know a lot of people would like to impeach but I'm a guy that believes this is not a partisan issue. This is a process that we need to follow to come to that conclusion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: The U.S. president's message to Democrats, game over, he says but how do voters feel about it?

Are they sick and tired of hearing about it or do they care that the President of the United States may have obstructed justice?

CNN's Miguel Marquez traveled to a state that was key in President Trump's victory, Wisconsin.

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STEVE SCAFFIDI, WTMJ RADIO: Good morning, Wisconsin, 48 degrees at Radio City.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Release of the redacted Mueller report in Milwaukee, talk of the town.

SCAFFIDI: Obviously the big story today, the Mueller report. The redacted version is coming out hopefully as we speak.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's out now.

SCAFFIDI: We got it.

MARQUEZ: On conservative talk radio, host Steve Scaffidi says he's talked to Mueller four to five times a week for the past 22 months. Now that it's out there ...

SCAFFIDI: For a lot of people on my side of the aisle, I think we're looking at this as, yes, there could have been some reason to investigate this, but it -- I think it has been hyperpoliticized to the point where it just went on too long.

MARQUEZ: -- and from caller after caller after caller, the president isn't perfect, but the investigation has gone too far for too long.

SCAFFIDI: Eddie from Franklin (ph).

Real quick, I've only got about a minute, Eddie.

What say you?

CALLER: I say it's a total fishing expedition. They had a prejudgment about Trump ahead of time. They just -- you know, they don't like his character, which a lot of people don't. But, I mean, they just don't agree with his policy.

MARQUEZ: In the Milwaukee suburbs, Port Washington, in conservative Ozaukee County, where in 2016 voters supported then candidate Trump by nearly 19 points over Hillary Clinton, some Republican voters here say --

LINDA WELLS, REPUBLICAN VOTER: We're sick of hearing about it. I think Washington, they want to focus on it, those people want to, but for us, my friends --

[05:40:00]

WELLS: -- we're sick of hearing about the Mueller.

MARQUEZ: Democrats want more details, but concede regardless of what's in the report, it's likely to make little difference in how voters view the president.

SUSAN NIEDERFRANK, DEMOCRATIC VOTER: I think I've been reading about it for a long, long time and it seems like I'm not sure anything is going to change.

MARQUEZ: Closer to downtown, in blue Wauwatosa (ph), where voters backed Clinton over Trump by 22 points, some independent voters here say the entire report must now be released.

PAM MASILOTTI, INDEPENDENT VOTER: The full report needs to be fully disclosed to everybody so that we can read it and see what -- what is actually --

MARQUEZ (on camera): No redactions? No redactions in the report? The full report? Everything?

MASILOTTI: The full report, absolutely. We have a right to see the full report.

MARQUEZ (voice over): Some Republicans also welcoming full publication, confident there is nothing there.

JOHN ALBERTI, REPUBLICAN VOTER: If this was going to have any kind of major impact on anything, they would have already brought indictment or charges or recommended further prosecution. So I don't think it's really going to be the big -- big reveal like everyone thinks.

MARQUEZ: So I've talked to Democrats, independents, Republicans, even Republicans who don't like the president, and they all thought the same thing, that if the Mueller report and the findings are still a topic in 2020, it will help the president win reelection -- Miguel Marquez, CNN, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Arrests have been made after the killing of a Northern Ireland journalist. Why police say this is a terrorism case.

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HOWELL: Following the breaking news out of Sri Lanka, authorities there say --

[05:45:00]

HOWELL: -- at least 140 people have been killed in seven different explosions. You see here video as one of those explosions happened. This is near Colombo in Sri Lanka.

The explosions hit four hotels, three churches, all of this as Christians celebrate Easter Sunday. More than 560 people have been wounded and police will enforce an island-wide curfew. We'll continue to follow this story for you.

Now to Northern Ireland. Two suspects have been arrested in connection with the murder of journalist Lyra McKee, who was shot and killed Thursday at a riot in Londonderry. Police say the killing may be terrorism and a group referred to as the New IRA is responsible.

CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is in Londonderry with developments.

Nic, we're hearing reports of security alerts and homes being evacuated.

What more can you tell us?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: That's right, George. What you're seeing behind me is one of those security alerts. The police detonated in a controlled explosion a device left on the steps of a counselor's house. This is happening just a quarter, half-mile away from where Lyra McKee was killed a couple of nights ago.

But the two incidents are unrelated. The police have arrested a 39- year-old man already in connection with the device that was left here. Another device left at another location in the city here.

It's an indication of the sort of tense nature of times here, at the moment, that you had the murder of the journalist and then somebody planting explosives not far away. It's an indication of the tense nature of the situation in Derry and

the difficulty for the police over this particular weekend, traditionally a weekend, Easter weekend, where there's always a possibility of outbreaks of violence in Northern Ireland.

The police have appealed for anyone with a mobile phone, video footage from the night of the killing of Lyra McKee, to come forward.

This particular incident, the forensics teams have gone in. So I think we're going to see these security alerts in this city clearing later today. But to those two men who have been arrested, the police say that they were members of the New IRA.

They're calling them a new breed of terrorists, a younger generation who have come along since the Good Friday peace agreement and have decided to sort of follow the path of previous Republican terrorists in Northern Ireland.

HOWELL: Nic Robertson, following the story in Derry. Thank you. We'll be back right after this.

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HOWELL: We want to update our viewers on the breaking news we're following in Sri Lanka and now new reports of an eighth explosion on the island. Keeping in mind we had been reporting seven --

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HOWELL: -- explosions throughout the newscast. Now we know there have been eight blasts across the country.

Here's video showing one of the blasts. Officials say at least 140 people are dead. At least four hotels and three churches were hit on Easter Sunday. In response, police are set to enforce an island-wide curfew. We'll continue to follow this, of course, here on CNN.

Of course you see the video here, again, this is one of the blasts that took place there. These happening at soft targets. And keeping in mind the timing, on Easter Sunday. People there to celebrate Easter Sunday. And many of the hotels were packed with foreigners.

Take a look here. Other video shows you a blast that happened near the capital, Colombo, Sri Lanka. You get a sense there of where these things are happening, occurring around that city.

Again, at this point, we understand 140 people in Sri Lanka have been killed in these blasts. We will continue to follow this and bring you the very latest on CNN.

And a live look here. This is live, perhaps video, at the Vatican. The Vatican there, where we're expecting the pope to speak on what happened in Sri Lanka at some point here during the day.

Stay with CNN for the very latest on what's happening in Sri Lanka. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. "NEW DAY" is next for our breaking news coverage as it continues.

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