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North Korea Says It Tested Long-Range Multiple Rocket Launchers; Data Recorder Recovered From Jet That Slid Into Florida River; Historic Disqualification at the Kentucky Derby; Two Killed and Three Injured in Massive Chemical Plant Explosion; Israel Defense Forces Strike Dozens of Targets in Gaza. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired May 5, 2019 - 06:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: North Korea test fires multiple projectiles and rocket launchers, almost daring President Trump to react.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump trying to maintain a personal relationship with Kim Jong-un.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The point is they are taking advantage of us and I've never seen this country this weak in decades.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were 135 people on board and seven crew members. The aircraft overran the runway. Everybody survived.

DARWING SILVA, PASSENGER: Saw the moment of impact. I went forward. Had my seat belt on.

I hit my head on the top of the roof. I kind of landed and I just remember feeling water falling from above.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, for the first time in history of the Kentucky Derby the horse that crossed the line first has been disqualified.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Sunday morning to you. This morning we're following the latest out of North Korea. Now the state news agency says North Korean leader Kim Jong-un personally oversaw Saturday's what they call a strike drill. They say long-range rocket launchers and tactical guided weapons were tested.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump has been seemingly unfazed by Kim Jong-un's test saying, in part, I'm with him. Could the North Koreans be trying to gain leverage over the U.S. after the failed summit last year?

BLACKWELL: Let's go to Florida now. The NTSB says they still do not know what caused a plane to skid off a runway at a naval air station in Jacksonville. Investigators have recovered the flight data recorder from that plane.

PAUL: Officials say the cockpit voice recorder is still under water. And this morning officials are going to be at the scene of the crash. We have a live report for you from Florida later this hour.

For the second time, though, in the 145-year history of the Kentucky derby horse race in America, the horse that crossed the finish line first did not win.

BLACKWELL: This is what so many people are talking about. Coy Wire is here to explain what happened.

What happened?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Some people still want to know did that really just happen?


WIRE: This is incredible. One man and his horse just thought that they had reached the mountain top of their sport. This is the crown jewel of racing but then they got kicked in the time gut.

Never had a horse been disqualified after being named the winner because of an on-track violation. So let's just take you straight to the action. I want to show you what happened.

Because watch here. Coming around the final corner, Maximum Security, the favorite, led the entire way and in pink there is his jockey. Pay attention to how close he is to the rail? But then you'll see as they make that final turn it doesn't look like much but you can see the horse drifts wide farther from the rail. Nobody watched and thought anything of it.

Everyone thinking Maximum Security just won. Jockey Luis Saez never placed higher than 7th there. Owners Gary and Mary West 40 years in the sport had never won. Trainer Jason Servis hadn't either but there was an objection to the race.

Other writers claiming their path was impeded. The outcome of the race altered. The stewards watched this replay to determine if they would disqualify Maximum Security.

It was an excruciating 22 minutes for riders and fans.


LUIS SAEZ, MAXIMUM SECURITY JOCKEY: Well, you know, the horse, he got scared. When he started leaving the ground the ground was screaming and he a baby. He came out a little but I grab it and right away. I stayed (INAUDIBLE).

FLAVIEN PRAT, COUNTRY HOUSE JOCKEY: Well, we had a pretty good trip and then when I came around the turn, you know, I was outside and then, all of a sudden, there was a real move from the inside to the outside.


WIRE: So you have a 150,000 people there at Churchill Downs waiting in the rain. Millions more watching on television. Millions of dollars in bets on the line and then the decision came.

And listen to reaction from fans there waiting to cash in on what they thought was a winning ticket.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't like it. Because I had 50 on the horse, seven to win and I didn't really agree with it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Random tip from a lady at Woodford Reserve -- I did a bourbon tour -- and she said, oh, I like Country House, the 20- year-old horse. I said why? She said, oh, a friend of mine's dad trains the horse and think they're going to run great in the derby. Do a $2.00 win place show bet for me. I was like, all right, sure I will.


WIRE: There you saw it. You can see some lost money. Other ended up winning but Country House, 65-1 odds becomes the second biggest long shot to ever win the Kentucky derby. And we're talking about nearly a $2 million purse for the winning rider.

So incredible stuff there. As you mentioned, Victor, still trending this morning. A huge deal in the horse racing's biggest event.


BLACKWELL: Country House?

WIRE: Country House.

BLACKWELL: All right. We will remember this one.

PAUL: It sounds pretty, doesn't it?

BLACKWELL: Yes. All right. Thank you, Coy.

PAUL: But it wasn't so pretty for everybody.


PAUL: Thanks, Coy.

BLACKWELL: All right. New weapons testing in North Korea does not seem to be putting relations with the U.S. in jeopardy, at least the White House. President Trump says he is with Kim Jong-un just hours after North Korea test-fired multiple projectiles Saturday.

PAUL: Now the Korean Central News Agency is calling it a strike drill. They say the drills were personally overseen by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood following the very latest. Sarah, do we anticipate we would hear more from the president on this?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Christi, we haven't heard a whole lot of reaction from the president aside from a tweet that he sent yesterday. President Trump has clearly been working to maintain the perception that his relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is still on solid footing despite what could be perceived as a provocation from North Korea in the form of these launches.

The president was briefed on these throughout Friday night and Saturday as these were unfolding. Here is what the president had to say about it yesterday. "Anything in this very interesting world is possible, but I believe that Kim Jong-un fully realizes the great economic potential of North Korea and will do nothing to interfere or end it. He also knows that I am with him and does not want to break his promise to me. Deal will happen!"

Now, all along President Trump has clung to hope that he could negotiate some kind of denuclearization deal with North Korea and Trump has been banking on his personal relationship with Kim Jong-un being the primary driver of those negotiations. Of course, he left talks with Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February without making any progress toward a denuclearization deal.

North Korea has given no indication that it does intend to abandon its nuclear ambitions but President Trump, the Trump administration, has maintained their position that North Korea could access economic prosperity if they were to give up its nuclear arsenal. That is part of why the U.S. chose Vietnam as the backdrop for that second set of talks. But, of course, this action from North Korea cuts against what the president has held up as the greatest success of his engagement with North Korea so far and that is putting an end to missile launches and tests which apparently we may be seeing the resumption of those -- Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: Sarah Westwood for us there at the White House. Sarah, thank you.

PAUL: Thanks, Sarah.

The Korean Central News Agency called the launches as a set of strike drill and the drill was a test they say to inspect the operating ability and accuracy of their weapons including long-range rocket launchers and tactical-guided weapons.

BLACKWELL: South Korean officials are downplaying North Korea's assessment. They say the projectiles were in fact short range and only flew 43 to 125 miles per hour.

CNN correspondent Paula Hancocks is following the latest from Seoul, South Korea. Paula, tell us more about this I guess back and forth of the significance of what we saw yesterday between the north and the south. PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Christi, we have just had new information from the defense ministry here in South Korea and obviously they have heard what North Korea has (INAUDIBLE) they tested as well. They agree. They say that it was two types of multiple rocket launchers.

Also say there is a new model when it comes to this tactical-guided weapon system. But the one word they did not use was the word missile which is ironic consider at the beginning of yesterday, of Saturday morning when this test took place, that was the initial assessment they gave.

But we are hearing from a number of experts here in the region that are analyzing those photos that KCNA state-run media has actually published and they say call a spade a spade. It does appear one of those projectiles was a short range ballistic missile which of course begs the question will there be more response from the U.S. president Donald Trump.

The fact that President Trump has been touting as a success, the fact that North Korea has stopped testing missiles and nuclear weapons, many experts here are saying, well, this is exactly what North Korea did yesterday. In fact the South Korean response has been stronger than the U.S. response which has not really happened for many months saying that they believe North Korea has gone against the spirit of a military agreement that they signed in September of last year where both sides, North and South Korea agreed that they wouldn't try any provocations or anything that was going to raise tensions on the Korean peninsula, the Blue House, the presidential office here also urging Pyongyang to come back to the negotiating table as soon as possible.

But clearly this appears, according to experts, to be North Korea going back to what it's used to, what it's tried and tested, trying to pressure the U.S. president, push him into some kind of reaction but not too much so that the reaction can backfire on them.


PAUL: All right. Paula Hancocks, great new information for us there. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: So let's discuss. With us now Siraj Hashmi, commentary writer and editor for the "Washington Examiner," and Julian Zelizer, CNN political analyst and historian and professor at Princeton University. Gentlemen, welcome back.



BLACKWELL: Julian, let me start with you. So there is some reluctance on the peninsula to use the word missile. These are not long-range. These are -- there are no nuclear tests to mention this weekend. Do these launches undermine the president's case that the diplomacy toward denuclearization has been affected because the lack of the launches has really been most of his case?

ZELIZER: I think this is not a good development but it's not a devastating development. It seems that they are going right up to the line without crossing it in terms of the kind of weapons they have deployed and, in some ways, the world is waiting to see what is the president's response. Does he respond or does he really just move forward with negotiations?

They are testing the United States and I think there's still room for negotiations to continue despite of this.

BLACKWELL: Siraj, you'll remember that at some of the rallies last year, there were the shouts of noble, noble for President Trump from his base. How important -- we know that the president prioritizes what pleases his base. How important is this effort to denuclearization and this relationship with North Korea?

HASHMI: Well, I would have to say that the effort to denuclearize North Korea isn't as important as immigration reform or building the wall. People in the United States are not voting based on what U.S. policy is towards North Korea, at least the majority of his base is not.

But, Victor, with respect to how North Korea is testing the United States is really about respect because North Korea doesn't seem to respect the United States as much as the United States or at least the Trump administration respects the North Korean regime. You're seeing North Korean diplomats basically saying they want different envoys instead secretary of state Mike Pompeo and even national security adviser John Bolton. And I hate to use an obscure pop culture reference.

BLACKWELL: No, you don't.


HASHMI: But this reminds of me very much of the Chappelle's Show skit where Charlie Murphy is talking about Rick James and it's all about North Korea being a habitual line stepper. They are constantly poking the bear and they want to actually see how far the United States is willing to go before we eventually come to the edge and jump off the cliff.

BLACKWELL: All right. Everybody search on YouTube for that to get the connection because there is -- there is a good example in there.

Julian, let me come back to you because I want to expand it beyond the president's base and for the country at large. I mean, you historically compare Trump and this effort with North Korea to Nixon ahead of the '72 campaign. I mean, if there are domestic issues try to get some wins abroad. What is the connection here?

ZELIZER: Well, look, diplomatically it's obviously this ongoing problem that presidents in both parties have been struggling. So a breakthrough just on the diplomatic front would be significant if it was real, if it was something that could be durable. Politically it's very important beyond the base.

Nixon used foreign policy accomplishments such as opening diplomatic relations with China in 1972 as a way to actually broaden his support beyond what his base is. And I think President Trump sees this issue in the same way but he is dealing with a regime that is totally unstable, unpredictable and unreliable. So he is staking a lot in an adversary that is not really interested in playing along.

But that is the political goal. I do think that is the political goal. Go beyond the base with this kind of foreign policy accomplishment.

BLACKWELL: The president believes that anything in this very interesting world is possible. He told us that yesterday through his tweet. Let's put that up where he says, "I believe that Kim Jong-un fully realizes the great economic potential of North Korea and will do nothing to interfere or end it. He also knows that I am with him and does not want to break his promise to me. Deal will happen!"

Let's try to understand this. And I guess in lieu of a really coherent statement from the administration. Siraj, how do you interpret that the president is with Kim?

HASHMI: North Korea needs President Trump more than President Trump needs North Korea and I think we understand that North Korea being an isolated nation, you know, their last survival strategy is to use nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons development to get the attention of the United States because nuclear weapon proliferation is one of the United States key goal in ending. And Trump understands that war with North Korea is not a good thing, it's not a good thing for his presidency, it's not a good thing for the country.


And even Bernie Sanders on an interview with Jonathan Karl on ABC News doesn't fault President Trump for his handling of North Korea. I think it's a very complex issue. I think he understands that, Senator Sanders.

And with respect to trying to go down the diplomatic route is probably meeting beyond the expectations that many of us -- many Trump detractors including myself who has been critical of the Trump administration, have expected this president will go in terms of going the diplomatic route as opposed to shouting more insults and threatening nuclear war.

BLACKWELL: Yes. There are plenty -- well, I wouldn't say plenty but there are several Democrats who have supported the diplomatic engagement, the conversation, the summits with Kim and expected that in Hanoi that there would be a bad deal versus no deal at all but the president decided to do walk away from the table.

Julian, to you. This issue that Siraj brought up several times now of respect and this personal relationship. The president writes that he "does not want to break his promise to me." Is there any fruit here that we know that this personal relationship the president believes he has with Kim has gotten him any closer to denuclearization?

ZELIZER: No. So far, there's no proof that this is working nor is there proof that the relationship will produce some kind of agreement. You know, relationships are important between presidents and other leaders. It's not clear they have that kind of a relationship nor is it clear that in this case that will overwhelm the very real incentives that push North Korea to provocative behavior which are still in play.

So I think that is more President Trump imagining that the art of the deal will work smoothly than the reality of what we have seen which is -- which is negotiation but without any concrete product at this point.

BLACKWELL: All right. We will see if we hear more from the administration beyond this tweet that came out this weekend. Julian Zelizer, Siraj Hashmi, thank you both.

HASHMI: Thank you.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

PAUL: Well, two people are dead and two are missing after a massive plant explosion outside Chicago. Look at what is left there this morning. Investigators are working to determine what caused this, what you're looking at there and what we are learning about the blast that's ahead.

BLACKWELL: Plus, the flight data recorder has been recovered from the jet that slid into the Florida River but still one crucial piece of equipment on that plane.

PAUL: And escalating tensions between Israel and militants in Gaza. Israel Defense Forces say they carried out retaliatory strikes on more than 200 targets in Gaza. It is getting bad here.

A live report for you from the Israeli-Gaza border in a moment.



BLACKWELL: We now know that two people were killed and three others injured in that massive chemical plant in Illinois. This happened 40 miles north of Chicago at a plant that manufactures silicone chemicals.

Authorities are working to determine the cause. Two people are still unaccounted for. The damage is estimated at more than $1 million.

PAUL: And investigators this morning have recovered the flight data recorder from a plane that skidded off a runway and into a Florida river. BLACKWELL: Yes. The data recorder has been sent to Washington for analysis but the cockpit voice recorder is still under water, in the tail of the plane. And that will likely be another crucial piece of evidence as the full team of NTSB investigators work to find out what caused this hard landing.

PAUL: CNN national correspondent Natasha Chen with the very latest from Florida there. Natasha, what are you learning this morning? And good morning.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Christi and Victor.

We are learning of course that that flight data recorder they do have is going to tell them a lot about the angle of the plane when it came in, the speed, some of those technical details that they need to know exactly how the plane made this harsh landing. As we have been talking about, there were potentially some thunderstorms and lightning strikes at the time but they are still looking into the weather patterns right around the 9:00 to 10:00 hour on Friday night.

The plane skidded on this runway which we now know was not grooved and that means that it could have been more difficult for water to flow off onto the edges if there were -- if there was a heavy rain event. Now we want to listen to one passenger describe that harsh landing and how she got other people out of the plane.


SILVA: Saw the moment of impact. I went forward. Had my seat belt on.

I hit my head on the top of the roof. I kind of landed and I just remember feeling water falling from above and I had water on like my feet, like ankle high or what not. And then somebody yelled out that's fuel or somebody yelled out gas or something.

I looked over to my left and the lady was kind of crouched down and I kind of moved over to the side and I opened the emergency door. I was the first one out. I went on the wing.


CHEN: So excuse me. He did a great deal of work and cooperating with others to get folks out of the plane and from a female passenger we heard from prior to him we know that everyone was really helping each other out. It was a team effort. So very miraculous how they all got out of there relatively safely -- Christi and Victor.

PAUL: Natasha, I want to ask you real quickly about something a lot of people have been concerned about. There were or there were not pets on this plane? And if so, have they been able to get to them?

CHEN: Well, as of yesterday early evening, the authorities were saying that some of the families who were on board talked about having pets who were in the cargo area. Now, they did send first responders and people into that cargo area to look and see if there were any animals there. They didn't hear any animal noises and they also did not see any pet carriers above the water line. A lot of that area was flooded.

So it does not look to be good news. Of course, this is very devastating for anyone who might have had animals on board. But, of course, that is not entirely confirmed.

All we know is that the people who looked in the cargo area did not hear or see any animals. One veterinary clinic locally talked to us yesterday about offering their services to help out in this situation.


They were told that originally on the manifest for this flight there were supposed to be four pets registered to be on board. We are unsure if those -- if all four actually boarded or perhaps more boarded later on. But on record, there were supposed to be four there and authorities, right now, have not been able to identify any animals there.

PAUL: Wow. All right. Natasha Chen, we appreciate it. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thanks, Natasha.

All right. Still to come, smoke is hovering over Gaza city after dozens of retaliatory air strikes carried out by the Israeli Defense Forces. Will they be able to restore a ceasefire? We have got a live report from the Israel-Gaza border.


BLACKWELL: Gaza militants fired approximately 430 rockets towards Israel since the escalation intensified over the last 24 hours. That number from the Israel Defense Forces. Response to IDF is carrying out air strikes on about 200 militant targets in Gaza including an underground rocket manufacturing facility.

PAUL: This marks the first contentious escalation between Israel and Gaza militants since the Israeli election almost a month ago.

BLACKWELL: CNN correspondent Oren Liebermann is on the Israeli-Gaza border joins us live now. Is this ongoing or have we seen any cessation in these launches?


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know there are efforts to try to restore some sort of ceasefire between Israel and Gaza, those efforts on the part of Egypt and United Nations but so far those efforts have not at all been fruitful.

Just in the last few minutes here there has been a major barrage of rockets coming out of Gaza into Israeli and more powerful rockets than the short range rockets that just target the Gaza periphery where we are standing right now. Those rockets targeting Be'er Sheva, one of the largest cities in southern Israeli as well as Ashkelon.

And for the first time since the end of the 2014 war so for the first time in some five years a red alert sounded in the city of Arad in Southern Israeli, that more than 40 miles away from Gaza indicating a much more powerful, much longer range rocket used.

So the escalation we sought that began on Saturday morning is very much continuing. To this point, the Israeli Military say more than 430 rockets have been fired at Israeli, a number of injuries as well as Israeli killed in a city of Ashkelon. That marks the first Israeli killed by Gaza rocket fire again since the end of the 2014 war.

A Palestinian was actually killed by rocket fire last November, so that means two people in Israeli have been killed by rocket fire now since the end of the 2014 war.

Meanwhile, Israeli has carried out a wave of air strikes across Gaza hitting more than 200 targets they say belong to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic jihad. The Palestinian ministry of health saying six Gazans have been killed in those strikes including a one year old baby girl as well as pregnant mother. Now Israel disputes that saying it wasn't an air strike that killed those two. Instead it was a malfunctioning Hamas rocket. Regardless the situation remains tense and it continues to escalate, Victor and Christi, those efforts that a ceasefire ongoing but certainly not successful to this point.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Oren Liebermann, thank you so much.

It has been one year since the first lady Melania Trump launched her "Be Best" initiative. We're going to look at what it has achieved thus far and it's just position with her husband's behavior in the White House.


[06:35:37] BLACKWELL: On Tuesday, the White House will celebrate one year of First Lady Melania Trump's "Be Best" campaign. The initiative has three pillars to help children be the best they can. General well-being and fighting the opioid academic and a focus on social media. Now here's what Mrs. Trump said about the third pillar when she launched "Be Best" almost a year ago.


MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: As we all know social media can be both positively and negatively affect in our children but too often used in negative ways. It is our responsibility as adults to educate and remind them that when they are using their voices, whether verbally or online, they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion.


BLACKWELL: Now the contrast between the first lady's campaign to encourage children to speak with respect and compassion online and the way her husband, the president, conducts himself on social media really is striking.

The First Lady has worked for more than a year now to prevent cyber bullying and harassment online and encourage people to stop using, as they are referred to on white mean-spirited words.

While the same year since the launch of "Be Best", her husband has called his critics and political opponents weirdo, weak, wacky, stupid, sick, insane, crooked, dirty, psycho, crazy, shifty and incompetent, loser, low I.Q. individual, deranged, nut job, bad, fraudster, third-rate, crying and lying, conman, broken down hack, disgusting and Pocahontas as (INAUDIBLE), bozo, lunatics scumbling lunatics, sleepy and sleepy eyes and dumb and dumb as a rock, lazy and sleezy and sleazebag, shady, rat, pathetic, terrible, thugs, nuts, flake and flakey, phony, low life, lackey, little, nervous mess, slappy, no talent, punch drunk and there was that that he just called Omarosa, a dog.

Joining me now is CNN media -- chief media correspondent and anchor of "Reliable Sources", Brian Stelter. Brian, it's difficult for the First Lady to do what is great work, right, trying to encourage best practices online and social media when the president is doing that for a full year.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: It is an incredible contrast. And she must know it is an incredible contrast. And, of course, it leaves us wondering does Melania Trump want some of her message to rub off on her husband? Is that part of the idea behind "Be Best"? Is she in on it in that way?

And that's, you know, one of the mysteries of the President and the First Lady's relationship that will probably never be saw. As you mentioned she's going to have this event this week celebrating the role of kindness, the importance of kindness and it is specifically targeting children but, you know, you wonder, you look back 10, 20 years from now, will we find out her goal was to create a contrast with her husband? Was that the strategy all along? And, Victor, I just think we won't know. We don't know for now. It's a very interesting situation.

BLACKWELL: So when we consider these campaigns, these first lady campaigns --


BLACKWELL: -- of course, you remember "Just Say No" from Nancy Reagan and then "Let's Move!" from Michelle Obama. Of course, the literacy campaign from the Bushes. How are we supposed to measure success of these and do they really matter?

STELTER: Right. The White House says this has affected communities across the country. How that's measured the data for that is a separate question. I think they do matter though because people look up to the White House, they look up to the President and the First Lady. First Lady is one of the weirdest job, one of the strangest jobs because right now it's an unpaid position. There's a lot of controversy around that. Every First Lady has to figure out what role she wants to play in the White House.

And then Trump White House the East Wing actually gets a lot of credit for being one of the most competent, well-managed, well functioning parts of the White House. That's important to know when we talk about the chaos in the West Wing of the White House.

So, I do think it matters because it's a symbol, it's a symbol for what the White House wants to represent. And, look, the President and First Lady wouldn't be the first to have it both ways. Lots of presidents --


STELTER: Lots of politicians try to have it both ways saying one thing on the one side and saying one thing on the other side. It's just all of the more the remarkable in this White House, given all of those names you just read off, I'm not even sure which of them would apply to me for daring to talk about this topic.

[06:40:10] BLACKWELL: Well, I mean, there are plenty to choose from.


BLACKWELL: There are plenty to choose from there.

STELTER: Right. Plenty to choose from.

BLACKWELL: So let's talk about -- let's broaden the conversation about the president's social media. John Delaney, 2020 presidential candidate. He has launched this social media campaign against the president's social media. He tweeted this out.


BLACKWELL: "The president clearly cares more about his Twitter followers than the American people. His continued dishonesty and weaponization of social media has been divisive. I'm calling on all Americans to unfollow Trump, new hashtag, and hit him where it actually hurts him his ego." I mean, how effective is something like that? The last time I looked, the president is up to 60 million now.

STELTER: It's not going to cause a lot of people to unfollow the president. But it is touching on what the President does care about. He is very interested in that follower count. By the way, everyone's follower accounts on Twitter and Facebook are inflated. I mean, you look at Twitter, it's been around more than a decade, some people logged on a decade ago and followed you are not online any more.


STELTER: So everybody has got an inflated account that includes the President and yet he recently complained about his number getting lower or charging. He recently commented that it's hard to stay on the list. He was complaining about how Twitter functions. And then he had the CEO of Twitter at the White House on his invitation to talk about these issues. He clearly cares a lot of about this. He knows the importance of having social media megaphone, the same time he's complaining about the censorship from these platforms.

Right now it's all bluster. We don't see action being taken as a result. But there is a lot of talk from Washington about social media regulation. The President wants a voice at that table for that conversation.

BLACKWELL: I know you've considered this on your show about how candidates will respond to the president via social media, how they will approach that. But from the media perspective, you know, how is it different now that we have a president who tweets and sends out policy statements via Twitter? When we move into a 2020 context, have you considered how the media should respond to the president's tweets considering that he's not only, you know, in the office, but now using social media as part of his campaign?

STELTER: We need to keep making it about the issues instead of the insults. And that's why I love the way you read off the insults at once because that was a specific point to make about the way the president uses social media.

We need to make sure people see how he used social media but we can't get distracted by the daily, daily kind of barrage of insults and end up using the same names he wants to name the Democratic candidates. We have to drag it back to the issues.

I think that's actually what Melania Trump's campaign would support, being best and making it about the issues. One of the issues she focused on is the opioid epidemic, that's the kind of an issue that's going to subject the Democratic candidates should be talking about on the trail and we need to make sure we don't ignore that because we are interested in the personalities and then the controversies of the race.

I think that's just going to be a daily challenge for all of us in the newsrooms going forward because the president knows with a tweet he can change some of the conversation at least on some of the channels some of the time.

BLACKWELL: All right, Brian Stelter, thanks so much.

STELTER: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: Be sure to watch Stelter show "Reliable Sources" today at 11:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

PAUL: After nearly 30 years in prison, a woman who was dubbed "The Fatal Attraction Killer" could be free as early as next month. Very unusual. Rare release of a convicted murderer. We're going to talk about legal expert about that and Michael Cohen supposedly reporting to prison tomorrow.


[06:47:14] PAUL: All right. So really? This is a one of those chilling scenes that you don't forget, right? Look at this.





PAUL: Oh, that was from the film "Fatal Attraction" starring Glenn Close and Michael Douglas. Did you know a real "Fatal Attraction" case though? This is a rare move that's happening now. The murderer in that case just got paroled. Carolyn Warmus was convicted in 1991 for the murder of Betty Jeanne Solomon. The wife for her lover Paul Solomon.

Now, after nearly 30 years in prison, she's expected to be free. Criminal defense attorney Janet Johnson is joining us now. Janet, always good to have you here. Thank you so much. This is pretty rare, as I understand it. What is different about Carolyn Warmus that's making this happen?

JANET JOHNSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Good Morning, Christi. What's different is New York. New York allows for parole on a murder sentence. She was sentenced to second-degree murder that (INAUDIBLE) convicted and she got 25 to life. She's done her 25. She was denied parole in 2017 and this time around they granted it. I'm a little surprised they granted it because she still denies she committed this murder.

PAUL: Was there overwhelming evidence that she did? I mean, yes, she was convicted but as I understand it, there are some people who questioned that conviction.

JOHNSON: Yes, that's interesting because they had a hung jury the first time which is usually a victory to some extent to the defense then she was convicted the second time. But one of the things the Parole Board would look at has she accepted responsibility? She certainly has not. She says she is not responsible and she actually says that if she went to trial today she doesn't think she would be indicted, let alone convicted.

PAUL: Wow. What kind of restrictions is she going to be under though?

JOHNSON: Right. You know, you don't want someone just automatically released and go back to their normal life which is, you know, she doesn't know what a cell phone looks like probably. She's going to have a curfew. She's going to have to maintain employment. She's going to check in with a parole officer.

So in a way the smartest way to do it because she's going to have restrictions, she probably won't be able to go near the family of her alleged victim or her victim at this point. Obviously the victim herself has passed away. So, she is going to be a tight, you know, restricted schedule.

PAUL: All right. While we have you here, I want to you ask about Michael Cohen who is supposed to report to prison tomorrow. I know you've had clients who have served sentences at this prison. How did they describe it?

JOHNSON: You know, most people say, oh, federal prison is no big deal. It's a country club. I had a doctor who was released he said, Janet, I do not recommend federal prison to anybody. It's going to be tough. He's going to a facility that has a religious overlay so he can practice his Judaism.

[06:50:05] He can keep kosher. And a lot of my clients try to get in those facilities because they sort of assume that religious adherence are less violent but it is not going to be country club. It's going to be three tough years for him.

PAUL: So, I know that in December, President Trump tweeted remember that Michael Cohen only became a "Rat" after the FBI did something that was absolutely unthinkable" then he went on. That verbiage the "rat" that he pinned to Cohen, does that put him at risk at all?

JOHNSON: It absolutely does, Christi. I mean, first of all, it was breath-taking to see, you know, the sort of top law enforcement officer really, this is the president who should be on the side of justice who is saying, you know, somebody who cooperates as a rat but that's the kind of language you hear from co-defendants, from, you know, people who snitch and end up in ditches. I mean that is very much going to mark him in prison.

He'll probably start out in confinement until they can release him into a population where maybe there are other people who cooperated but, yes, that makes him a marked man in prison.

PAUL: All right. Janet Johnson, always good to see you. Thank you, ma'am.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

PAUL: We will be right back.


[06:55:03] BLACKWELL: Tonight catch an all-new episode of the CNN original series "The Redemption Project" with Van Jones. Van sits down with the convicted drunk driver that left a teenage girl crippled for life. Here's a look.


VAN JONES, "THE REDEMPTION PROJECT WITH VAN JONES" HOST: You got a dad, you got a mom, you got baby sister. You got a woman in a wheelchair. Why do you want to sit across from all of that pain?

CALLAN GILL, SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS FOR DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENT: There was -- I've always wanted to meet Ashlee and I know -- I'm unworthy of forgiveness. I knew that I was an alcoholic and I really didn't care. I actually thought that I drove better when I was drunk. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have heard her story of why this happened. The

drugs and alcohol taking over. But, I mean, is that an excuse? Is that what you're going to tell me? Is that why this happened? I guess we will see.


BLACKWELL: The Redemption Project with Van Jones airs tonight at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN. And stay with us. The next hour of "New Day" starts after a break.