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6 Suspected Terrorists, 10 Civilians Dead After Sri Lanka Shootout; Sri Lankan Police Seize Explosives, Ball Bearings, ISIS Uniforms; Biden's Opponent Use His Announcement to Energize Fundraising; Poll: Most Think Trump Lied About Mueller Probe. Aired 8- 9a ET

Aired April 27, 2019 - 08:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here in Kamani, the scene of gun battle and a series of explosions that has been devastating.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are fears that the terrorist bombers could strike again and there are fears that Muslims in this community could be targeted in revenge attacks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden flexing his fundraising muscle with his campaign announcing he raised $6.3 million during his opening day in the race.


BETO O'ROURKE (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Congratulations to Vice President Biden and feel really good about what we have raised.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Joe Biden is on the side of credit card companies.

DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am a young, vibrant man. I look at Joe, I don't know about him.

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If he looks young and vibrant compared to me, I should probably go home.


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

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST, NEW DAY WEEKEND: Thank you so much for being with us. We always appreciate your company. Want to tell you about some breaking news right now. Overnight in Sri Lanka, 10 civilians including children have been killed after explosions ripped through a home. This was during a raid on suspected terrorists.

Now we know six people killed, at least two -- six were killed I should say and at least two more are on the run after police engaged in some sort of gunfight there and this morning, the U.S. state department is warning citizens, reconsider travelling to Sri Lanka because of the threat of terrorism they're seeing there.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST, NEW DAY WEEKEND: Look at your screen. Look at this. Police were lead to this hideout after uncovering this garage. Its full potential bomb making ingredients. Officials say they recovered explosives, ball bearings, ISIS flags, uniforms.

It's been less than a week since coordinated bombings in two or three churches and high end hotels in Sri Lanka and those attacks killed 253 people on Easter Sunday.

PAUL: And later this hour, we're sitting down with a mother whose son was killed while he was fighting for ISIS. She says, look, this was a kid who was happy growing up in Canada but he became radicalized in his teenage years. So we're going to talk to her about the signs of radicalization, what she saw in him out before he left for Syria.

BLACKWELL: Former Vice President Joe Biden is touting his fund raising blitz after he announced he's running for President. Biden raised $6.3 million in the first 24 hours of his campaign.

PAUL: Yet some of his Democratic Presidential rivals are fundraising off of him. It seems Elizabeth Warren took a shot at his "swanky" first day fund raiser but O'Rourke claimed quote more people contributed to his campaign you know, in smaller doses. Joining me now CNN's Jessica Dean. So the former Vice President has

more fundraisers planned we know.

Are they going to be in that same swanky vein, I guess as she called it?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Right, right. Well good morning to both of you, we do know that the former Vice President has more fund raisers coming up with, these on the West coast, May 8th in Los Angeles. This one on Thursday was in Philadelphia at the home of a Comcast executive.

Listen, these are the more typical ways of fundraising in the past. Remember, Joe Biden's been out this what, some 46 years now and this is how he's used to fund raising but what's interesting about this cycle in 2020, those big swanky fundraisers seem to be out for Democrats and the small grassroots donations seem to be in.

So the question is going to be kind of how does all of that balance out and there's no question that him getting into the race, shifted all of its dynamics, that was what everyone really anticipated and that's certainly what has bared out.

What we've seen over the past couple of days since the former Vice President got into the race is that that you talk about it. Some of the Democratic rivals who really up until this point and there's a lot of them had shied away from taking direct hits at one another and really had kept to kind of talking about what they were focused on.

And you heard Elizabeth Warren talking about it, Bernie Sanders has been fundraising off of him as well, saying something similar about these bigger fundraisers in emails to supporters so we certainly know about that.

We've also heard Elizabeth Warren talking about the differences between him and her, when it comes to the financial services industry so it is certainly shifted the dynamics in that way and then also to the question of fundraising, when Vice President Biden got into this race, the question was can he raise the money? Can he compete with Beto O'Rourke? Can he compete with Bernie Sanders?

And then yesterday getting that $6.3 million number in the first 24 hours, that is the highest number we've seen. Beto O'Rourke coming in with $6.1 million a few weeks back, guys.

[00:08:05] PAUL: All righty, Jessica Dean, thank you so much, appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: All right, joining me now Democratic Presidential candidate, Andrew Yang. Andrew, welcome to the show.

ANDREW YANG (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks for having me. It's great to be here.

BLACKWELL: All right, so I want to talk policy with you but first let me just off the Jessica Dean report there, $6.3 million for Vice President Biden in the first 24 hours. Senator Sanders raised a heck of a lot of money in the first quarter. Is the money and the support, the polls showing that Democrats want experience?

What's that mean to you potentially as an outsider businessman who is running in this race?

YANG: Well, we've received over 100,000 donations from individual Americans around the country and I'm set to make the Democratic primary debates in both June and July on the base of grassroots fundraising. I'm thrilled that Vice President Biden is in the race but Americans are expressing a hunger for new ideas, new energy and people with a range of different experiences.

BLACKWELL: Let me ask you about that tweet you sent out yesterday in which you said GDP is a flawed measurement that doesn't reflect how we're doing. I'd be thrilled to celebrate an uptick in children's health or a decrease in drug overdoses. And this comes after the finding that the economy grew by 3.2% in the first quarter.

If you are the nominee for the Democrats, how do you go - how do you make your case against the President who is in office during this -- this good time economically for the country?

YANG: Well, I'm here campaigning in Iowa and most Americans aren't feeling any increase in GDP in their day to day lives. We're still in an economy where almost half of Americans can't afford an unexpected $400 bill and the headline unemployment rate, it's the labor force participation rate, it's the same as when Donald Trump campaigned in 2016, saying the unemployment rate was fake.

So when you go to Americans around the country, a lot of them are not feeling any of this GDP growth that's being enjoyed by some parts of the country.

BLACKWELL: So let's talk about income. You - let me just say this, you probably have more policy statements and positions on your website than maybe most if not all of your primary opponents, everything from Medicare for all to what to do about the penny.

But your big idea is the universal basic income, UBI, this freedom dividend you talk about, $1000 a month for every adult in the United States. We don't have a heck of a lot of time but make your case. Why?

YANG: Well, right now you have Amazon soaking up $20 billion in business not every year and paying zero in taxes and so for Americans around the country, how are they experiencing any of the gains from technological innovation? If we put a freedom dividend in the hands of every American adult, a lot of that money would get circulated right back into their local communities and local businesses.

It would make our children stronger, make us healthier - mentally healthier and it's the best way to prepare our people for an economy when we're in the process of automating away retail jobs, call center jobs, fast food jobs and eventually truck driving jobs which will be a disaster for many American communities.

BLACKWELL: You suggest paying for this with a value added tax but wouldn't that really hurt the people who live hand to mouth, the people who are the poorest in the country.

YANG: Well, again, we're putting $1000 a month in the hands of every American adult so the vast majority of Americans would experienced a significant increase in buying power and you can also tailor a value added tax to fall more heavily on people who can most afford it.

But we have to join the rest of the industrialized world. Every other advanced country already has a value added tax in part to avoid companies like Amazon paying zero in taxes.

BLACKWELL: Is there a benefits trade off if Americans opt into this $1000 a month? What are they giving up to get to get that money?

YANG: Well, the freedom dividend, it's universal for every adult, it is opt in and if you opt in you'd be forgoing benefits from certain existing programs.

BLACKWELL: Which ones?

YANG: But I talked to Americans - so a lot of the cash equivalent programs would be housing assistance, fuel subsidies, other things that put money into people's hands to buy basic needs.

BLACKWELL: Social security?

YANG: Social security, it's an opt in, in the sense that if you're getting over $1000 in social security and the freedom dividend, would not necessarily be additive but when I talk to retirees, most married couples between the two of them are receiving less than $2000 a month in social security. BLACKWELL: Let me ask you, there is - there are lots of policy prescriptions on your website but there's just one section of foreign policy first principles. There's not a lot of detail about foreign policy. Let me ask about the breaking news today in Sri Lanka, what we've seen over the last week. There were ISIS flags, ISIS uniforms there. What would be your prescription for now that the caliphate has dissolved of fighting the ideology of ISIS?

[00:08:10] YANG: Well, to me right now our foreign policy is gone the wrong direction in part because we're not doing well at home. We're experiencing record levels of despair, economic insecurity, drug overdoses and suicides and so we have to make ourselves stronger at home and then be much better able to counter toxic ideologies in other parts of the world because people will see that we're a fair and just society ourselves.

BLACKWELL: All right, final question, is there an age which is too old to be President of the United States?

YANG: Well, you know I think it's up to the American people to decide. I would suggest that we're in the - in the midst of what's called the fourth industrial revolution, where technology is transforming our way of life and it would be imperative for the American people to have leadership that understands what technology means in today's economy?

BLACKWELL: All right, Andrew Yang, thank you so much.

YANG: Thanks for having me.


PAUL: There's a new Washington Post - ABC news poll. It has some surprises about how Americans think Democrats should take on the President. Most Americans say they believe that the President did lie about the facts in the Mueller probe. Why you wouldn't be surprised about how many Americans want him impeached?

BLACKWELL: Plus Joe Biden has been leading most of the Democratic polls and finally joins the Presidential race but some black women are frustrated with the narrative that only a white male candidates can defeat the sitting President.

The co-founder of Black Voters Matter joins us next. Plus a very special moment during the NFL draft. Details on the honor Coy Wire shared with a very special fan.


[00:08:15] BLACKWELL: 15 minutes after the hour now. In a plea to keep his job, deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Trump that he would make sure that the President was treated fairly in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe.

PAUL: According to The Washington Post, an official told the paper that Rosenstein told the President, "I can land the plane." Now this happened in September after The New York Times reported Rosenstein offered to wear a wire to secretly record conversations with the President.

BLACKWELL: In a statement to CNN responding to the Post report, Rosenstein said this, "The only comment I made to President Trump about the Russia investigation is the same comment I made to the Congress: so long as I was in charge it would be conducted appropriately and as expeditiously as possible."

So speaking to Congress, there are some tough choices ahead for congressional Democrats and a new Washington Post-ABC Newport news poll shows why. According to this poll 47% of Americans say, they believe the President did try to interfere in the Russia investigation and they said he did it in a way that amounts to obstructing justice.

But in that same poll, a majority also said they do not believe Congress should start impeachment proceedings.

PAUL: In a few minutes the President is said to leave the White House to go to the Trump National Golf Club in Washington DC, set to play golf they are today with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. CNN White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez with us now. Boris, what do we expect those conversations on the golf course might be today?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey good morning Christi. Yes, a lot for the President and the Japanese Prime Minister to discuss namely, upcoming bilateral trade talks between the two nations and of course, the ongoing American efforts to stabilize that region and denuclearize North Korea.

Now the President and Shinzo Abe as you said are set to hit the links in just a short while. The President is going to return the favor to Abe, visiting Japan toward the end of May. The President telling reporters yesterday that he was looking forward to potentially attending a sumo match when he was there.

Of course the President locked into a wrestling match of his own with a new 2020 hopeful, Former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden of course launched his campaign this week with a video that included a criticism of President Trump and some of his comments related to racist violence related to Charlottesville, Virginia, a couple of years ago.

The President of course, famously saying that there were very fine people of both sides in a conflict between neo-Nazis and counter protesters. Yesterday the President was asked if he still believe that there were very fine people on both sides. Listen to his response.


TRUMP: I've answered that question and if you look at what I said, you will see that that question was answered perfectly and I was talking about people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general, whether you like it or not. He was one of the great generals. I've spoken to many generals here right at the White House. And many people thought up the generals, they think that he was maybe their favorite General. People were there protesting the taking down of the monuments of Robert E. Lee. Everybody knows that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Now despite the President defending his response there, let's not forget that he had to continue to clarify those comments soon after he made them. There was even a threat of resignations from some White House officials as a result of those comments, the fallout was pretty big for the White House after that blunder.

The President also took shots at Biden over his age. The President despite being only four years younger than Biden saying that the new Presidential hopeful makes him feel like a vibrant young man. We should also mention President Trump is headed to Green Bay, Wisconsin tonight where he's having a rally.

The President yet again trying to counter program, the White House correspondents dinner a big event for the press here in Washington DC set for tonight. Victor and Christi.

PAUL: All righty, Boris Sanchez, appreciate it so much, Boris, thank you.

SANCHEZ: Thanks.

PAUL: And listen, next hour, White House Counsel Kellyanne Conway is going to be with Smerconish, talking about a lot of these latest headlines including Joe Biden's candidacy for President and the former Vice President using President Trump's comments on Charlottesville against him.

That's at the top of the hour at 9 AM ET.

BLACKWELL: Plus after the break, we're talking with a mother whose son was killed while fighting for ISIS. We'll discuss the signs of radicalization and what she saw before her son left for Syria.


BLACKWELL: All right, more on the breaking news now. Overnight in the Sri Lanka, 10 civilians including children have been killed after explosions ripped through a home during a raid on suspected terrorists. Six suspected terrorists were killed also and at least two more on the run after police engaged in this gun fight.

PAUL: Now we want to take a moment to show you some video here. Look at this. Police were led to that hideout after they uncovered this garage full of -- that's potential bomb making material that you're seeing there. They recovered explosives, ball bearings, ISIS flags and uniforms.

And I want it introduce you to Christianne Boudreau now. She is the mother of Damian Clairmont. He's a young man who joined ISIS and was killed while fighting for that terror group. Christianne is on the phone with us. Christianne, thank you so much from being here. I want to ask you, have you been able - I know you said he was a happy boy, he was a young man when he became radicalized as living in Canada.

Have you been able to identify a vulnerability in your son, a characteristic, a life event that would have drawn him to ISIS?

CHRISTIANNE BOUDREAU, MOTHER OF ISIS MEMBER DAMIAN CLAIRMONT: Absolutely, there are few life events that I can identify quite honestly. He lost his brother when he was 10 years old. I had a baby that I lost to crib death.

That was a significant impact to him. He went quiet, was withdrawn and then we went through another relationship - I went through a relationship with the father of that baby that was quite abusive. That left him feeling powerless and at that time, he also had difficulty getting along with his peers, fitting in.

[00:08:25] He was extremely intelligent and had difficult time connecting with them on that age level.

PAUL: I understand that you thought he was in Egypt, learning at the time and he was really in Syria fighting for ISIS. How did you find out that's where he was.

BOUDREAU: I found out because I had some intelligence agents show up at my doorstep so my son had left in November 12, this 2012, quite some time ago. I didn't hear from the intelligence services until the end of January 2013.

PAUL: Did your son communicate with you at all during that time that he was actually in Syria?

BOUDREAU: He communicated with me at first when he first arrived in Turkey and that's when I thought he was in Egypt. Then he went quiet for about two months and apparently, that's when he crossed over the border and they do the training, take away the passport and didn't let him communicate with anybody.

Once we regained communication again, that's when I asked him if that's where he was and we communicated right up until the middle of the summer in 2013. That's when he went from Al Nusra and into ISIS.

PAUL: So help us understand as a mother, what you do when you get that news and when you go for a couple of months without hearing from your son, that had to have been abnormal.

BOUDREAU: It was extremely abnormal and it took a lot of processing time for me. I had to sit down and think what was this all about. I didn't know anything about the civil war in Syria. I didn't know anything about these organizations and groups. You worry every night, you wait for a phone call every night. The research I did was incredible and what I saw for videos were terrific.

It was a lot to process. I felt very much alone, there was nobody I could share any of this with.

PAUL: And that's why I know you've found the group, Mothers For Life, it's a network of mom's of radicalized Jehadis who are supporting each other, who are learning you know to combat radicalization. So with that said, what are we as parents missing? That we are losing children to this fight? BOUDREAU: The hardest part is we don't realize that they're open bottled to many of these extremist groups. The minute that there's that gap or personality change, we can't do it by ourselves. We're too emotionally connected to our children. We need to reach out to other resources that have outside perspective to have that support.

It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a lot of education to understand and we need to reach out and use those resources as soon as possible.

PAUL: Well, again, the network is Mothers For Life, if you want to look it up. Christianne Boudreau, we're so sorry for what you've gone through and for the loss of your son. But thank you for taking the time to talk to us about it. We're wishing you the very best.

BOUDREAU: Thanks so much.

BLACKWELL: Coming up after this week 'She The People' Event in Texas, some black women, black Democrats are frustrated with the growing narrative that only a white man can defeat President Trump. The co- founder of 'Black Votes Matter' joins us next. According the black vote in historically diverse--


[00:08:30] BLACKWELL: 31 minutes after the hour now. This week former Vice President Joe Biden joined the 2020 race for the White House says. He hits the trail, some black women voters already frustrated with his candidacy and the concept surrounding it.

The way he handled the testimony of Anita Hill during the 1991 confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is still a controversial issue for many. Some claim he wasn't sensitive or even basically fair to Hill.

There also questions for Biden's rivals on the nomination. Dozens of black women, more than dozens gathered at the She The People Forum in Texas. They pressed several Democratic candidates on why African- American women should vote for them. The event highlighted the frustration with the idea that only a white man can defeat President Trump and I should say there were more than just African-American women at this forum in Texas.

Here with me to discuss is LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, a group that works to mobilize the black community. LaTosha, welcome back.

LATOSHA BROWN, CO-FOUNDER, BLACK VOTERS MATTER: Good morning, it's good to be back.

BLACKWELL: So let me start here with we understand that the former Vice President called to speak with Professor Hill and this was her response about his expression of regret. She told The New York Times, "I cannot be satisfied by simply saying, I'm sorry for what happened to you. I'll be satisfied when I know there's real change and real accountability and real purpose." What do real change, real accountability and real purpose look like to


BROWN: You know, I think when we're looking at American politics, so much of white patriarchy is like just infused in the foundation of other - the political discourse and what we saw what happened in Kavanaugh and what we saw what happened particularly years ago when Anita Hill and with Biden's participation in it, that we really have to take a long stand at how do we eliminate this patriarchy?

How do we eliminate sexism and women really being victimized by that? And so what she's saying is we want to see policy. We just don't want to see - just - it's not just an apology, we want to see policy.

We want to see policy that actually addresses that. We want to see policy that addresses why there is a gap - wage gap between women and men. We want to see a policy around sexual harassment of women in the workplace and in their - and within the community and so I think what she was speaking to is something greater and it is that women are a solid force.

And they're going to be a solid force in this political - this next political election.

BLACKWELL: You know, talking broader about the campaign and really, some of the other candidates here, you've said, I read to a reporter, that you were initially eager for Biden to get into this race but now you're not so much.

You said, "you're over white man running the country." What changed for you?

BROWN: You know, I think there is this -- one, we have this wonderful options. We've got alternatives out where I think there's a couple things that are happening. One, women are very frustrated that our issues are not getting centered. That this whole idea - and I also feel like this whole idea of that you've got to have a white man to beat Trump you know that is being fed by the media.

[00:08:35] What you see though is what you're seeing and as we're talking to people out in the community, young people and women, they're looking for something different, they're looking for somebody different that can one, not only move super voters but that can also ignite and move young voters and excite the base.

And so out of 45 Presidents, well, we've had 45 that have been white men and only one African-American, we are looking for candidates that are different and represent diverse backgrounds and diverse experience.

BLACKWELL: So let me challenge your premise here. You say that this theory that only a white man can come in and save the Democratic Party and beat President Trump but Joe Biden specifically has political career that's decades long, that he could reach both into the white working class that some say you have to prioritize to win. Others say you have to prioritize the African-American base. He has decades of history with African-American voters in a lot of the early states. Would that not be his strength as those decades of relationships in both communities, the Democrats would need to win?

BROWN: I certainly think he has strengths but he also ran for President twice before and he did not win and he's also in a different - in a different kind of political paradigm. The landscape has shifted. The baby boomers have been the majority of people in America for the last decade. Right now the majority of folk in America are not the baby boomers. You have young people and I think what we're seeing even (inaudible) trust did a study that says 63% of the new voters who participated in the midterm election said that they were really looking for somebody progressive.

And I also think that people are looking for folks who are not part of the establishment so while he does have strength, I think they're all weaknesses with his campaign.

BLACKWELL: Well, obviously there is a black woman who is running for office, Senator Kamala Harris but we know from and I'm just going to read this from Niambi Carter, professor at Howard University suggests that and this is a quote, "Senator Harris' criminal justice record in California might be a sticking point for black women because black men and the black community were disproportionately affected by the decisions that she made there."

I mean, that would seem to be a bigger concern for black female voters. The policy versus just not voting for another white man, would it not?

BROWN: And I don't think -- one, I do think that that's a concern and there's an issue but also I don't want to minimize that this idea of not voting for a white man as in Biden is just based on the fact that he's a white man. I think it's really reflective of that there's a particular kind of leadership construct that says that there's a white patriarchy that you need, that those are the folks that that can lead.

I also think that there are some policy that Biden has been a part of, that he's actually supported that raise questions as well. In addition to that, we are looking for innovative, new leadership that actually is more reflective of the democracy. You know and when you see the people who live in America, when you see what happened in this last midterm elections, it wasn't by accident but you had this wave of women candidates.

People are looking for a different kind of candidate, with a different kind of message and that represents a more reflective democracy.

BLACKWELL: LaTosha Brown, Black Voters Matter. Always good to have you.

BROWN: Thank you, it's great to be here.

BLACKWELL: Christi. PAUL: Well, it's been a Washington tradition since the 1920s that the

White House correspondents dinner may have lost some of its luster. The dinner drama expected at tonight's event.


[00:08:40] PAUL: So the White House correspondents' dinner was one of the hottest tickets in town. Celebrities and journalists in America, elected leaders, they'd rub some elbows, they'd have some laughs.

BLACKWELL: Yes, dress up, look nice but it seems now the night of laughs and glamour has lost its luster. The White House staffers have been told to boycott the event. The keynote speaker is not a comedian now. He's a historian. Joining us now 'The Reliable Source' columnist for 'The Washington Post,' Emily Heil. Not to be confused with my own reliable sources on tomorrow.

But Emily, let me start with you. Thanks for being with us. You know we say that it's lost its luster but the White House Correspondents Association has chosen to shift this event. Why the conscious choice to shift from what we've expected in past years?

EMILY HEIL, THE RELIABLE SOURCE COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, they say they want a reset. They say they are responding to criticisms of the dinner that go back before the Trump administration but this is just a bad look for journalists to show up you know, all dressed up in black tie finery, hanging out with their sources, celebrating themselves, that it just gotten so celebrity packed, just was a night of excess and it wasn't a good look for journalists.

So they want to take it back to its sort of less sexy roots and now it's sort of more of a dinner where journalists gathered and they you know, talk about the first amendment and honor the work of their colleagues and so that's what they - they say that that's what they wanted.

Now I think unintentionally, they've sucked some of the fun out of the dinner so I heard even last night, going to some of the pre-parties, you already heard some grumblings from White House correspondents saying like, well, maybe we want to try to make the dinner fun again.

But can they do that and still not you know, have these criticisms out there. That this is a really unseemly night. I don't know if you can balance the two.

PAUL: We're going to see tonight with the featured speaker, Ron Chernow. He's not a comedian, he's a biographer of American President and of Statesman and here's what he said. He said, "The White House Correspondents Association has asked me to make the case for the first amendment. My major worry these days is that we Americans will forget who we are as a people and historians should serve as our chief custodians in preserving that rich storehouse of memory. While I've never been mistaken for a stand-up comedian, I promise my history lesson will not be dry."

Who do you think - I mean it's not your traditional roasting as it's been but anybody in particular who is going to be vulnerable tonight to a jab or two? Will we see that?

[00:08:45] HEIL: No, I don't think you're going to see any jabs. Look, that is an incredibly important message and something we all need to be thinking about right now but I don't know if people really want to get dressed up, do their full make up, get a blow out as my friend said. Do I want to do all this to show up in a packed ballroom on a Saturday night and get a lecture?

You know, it's more of the format of that. I'm not saying that that message isn't completely relevant and something that journalists should be paying attention to right now and something that we should be broadcasting to the country and to the world. Of course it is but is the format for doing that a glitzy dinner that was always sort of fun?

The dinner always had these three elements that are missing this year and I think that's what kind of taking some of the glitz and glamour and fun out of the night and that was a comedian, celebrities and the President. I think not having the President there is actually the thing that makes this dinner kind of untenable.

It makes it untenable to have comedy because if you're up there--

PAUL: So the President essentially has gotten what he wanted in some capacity. He didn't like this.

HEIL: He didn't like the dinner and now the dinner no longer exists as it did before and so yes, did Trump kill this dinner a bit? I think he might have.

BLACKWELL: Is there any reaction from the White House Correspondents Association but not just having the President be there. He hasn't been there in past years but now the boycott from every one of the White House. We just showed the video of Sarah Sanders and Kellyanne Conway and Gary Cohn in past years.

HEIL: Yes, so no, so he put out this decrease to his members of his administration. They weren't supposed to come to this dinner sort of in solidarity with him. Now some of them had already RSVPed to various media organizations. They were going to attend the dinner, they had to cancel that.

You know, I'm sure there were some - I hope people kept the receipts for their gowns because they had to cancel fairly late in the game so you won't see members of the administration there and that's a deliberate snub.

Now the White House Correspondents Association is saying that was never the point of the dinner but certainly not having the administration there kind of it diminishes the night as a night of a truce.

There was always - we're putting everything aside, we're putting aside partisan politics and we can all just get together, break bread, have a cocktail, have a laugh and that's not what this dinner is anymore. You know, we'll have to see how it - how it plays. You know, whether this night can sort of sustain itself?

Certainly there's going to be new leadership of the White House Correspondents Association who might decide to take it in a different direction in years to come but tonight's event is just going to be a little bit more of a serious affair. Now maybe Ron Chernow will surprise us all and you know, and slay it but I think he'll have a really important message but it's certainly not going to be the fizzy night that it once was and for some people, that's just fine.

PAUL: And he promises, it will not be dry.

HEIL: Exactly, not dry so there we go.

PAUL: Emily Heil, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: So parts of the U.S. bracing this morning for severe weather coming across the country. There are tornado warnings in some areas. Look at this. Winter is trying to make a comeback in others. Allison Chinchar is up next.

PAUL: And listen, our own Coy Wire announces a pick at the NFL draft and honors one very special fan. Look at Coy go.


COY WIRE, FORMER FOOTBALL PLAYER & CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: And so keep fighting, keep inspiring and go Bills.



BLACKWELL: A lot of people may see some rough weather, this weekend like this.




PAUL: You hear the holy and you know what's coming.

BLACKWELL: I heard that.

PAUL: And that is so on the air, that was actually one of those mini trampolines amidst this confirmed tornado in Wyoming, that's where this is. There were a few mobile homes overturned. No reports of injuries, thankfully but CNN's Allison Chinchar is with is now.

More of that and snow and when we say snow, Allison, we're not talking about a dusting.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: No, no, it's bringing us back to like January or February for some folks here. Yes, this is the same system that brought that tornado in Wyoming. It's just now beginning to push further East but as it does, you're going to have some colder air infiltrate down from the North.

So you're going to start as rain and then see that transition into snow. We've even had some reports of thundersnow so far this morning. All of these pink and purple colors that you see here, this is all of the areas. About over 15 million people under some type of winter weather alert for the next 24 to 36 hours.

Here's how that storm system is going to move. A lot of these cities, Chicago, Detroit Madison, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, you're going to start as rain and then once that colder air begins to pool in, you're going to see that transition to snow. In some cases very quickly transition into snow.

While this system is very fast and has the potential to dump a pretty significant amount of snow, it's just going to be in the very narrow line. Widespread amounts most of these areas likely to pick up about 2 to 4 inches but where you see that purple color, especially the dark purple just to the West of Chicago, say up by the O'Hare airport, you could be talking six-seven if not even eight inches of snow before it's all said and done.

The problem is the models vary a little bit. For Chicago for example, it can range anywhere from two to six inches. Madison, Wisconsin are going anywhere between one to five because that's that storm shifts, it may change the numbers. Regardless of how much they end up getting however the one take away from this is that you're going to know that this is way beyond when they would normally be seeing snow this time of year, a lot of these cases the last average snowfall for a lot of these cities is actually at the end of March or early April.

Not right now and keep in mind guys, these numbers are for 0.01 inches of snow, just barely what's considered measurable. But we just said a lot of these areas could pick up six, even eight inches of snow.

[00:08:55] BLACKWELL: Allison Chinchar, thank you.

PAUL: Thank you. Listen, what a moment last night was for our own Coy Wire. Buffalo Bills who drafted him in the third round in 2002 chose him to announce the third round pick at the draft in Nashville.

BLACKWELL: Even better he was able to facetime with Bills super fan Ezra Castro. Ezra was in the hospital, battling stage 4 cancer in his liver and lungs.


WIRE: Ezra, you embody the spirit of the people of Buffalo. We never give up. We never give in. Ezra, keep fighting, keep inspiring and go Bills.

PAUL: The Bills selected Florida Atlantic running back Devin Singletary with a third round pick. Coy shared that moment with his parents afterwards.

WIRE: That was one of the coolest experiences of my life when I was drafted in the third round, my parents were with me on the couch at home and now tonight, they're here with me in Nashville when I selected someone else drafted in the third round.

Their hard work paid off and their life just changed forever.


PAUL: Parents have to be some pretty proud people.

BLACKWELL: That is a great moment.

PAUL: Coy is one of those shiny happy people.

BLACKWELL: Yes, he is.

PAUL: He brings it every time.

BLACKWELL: Hey, thanks for starting your morning with us.

PAUL: We're going to see you again at 10 AM for CNN Newsroom but White House counsel Kellyanne Conway is a guest with Michael Smerconish. Coming up next.