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On April 10, The House Will Submit The articles of Impeachment Against Mayorkas to the Senate; Biden Invited to Testify Before House Oversight Committee by GOP Comer; 2024 U.S. Election; Star-Studded NYC Gala, Biden Raises $26M; Voters Evenly Split Between Biden and Trump, According to CNN Poll of Polls; Fed's Preferred Inflation Gauge Up by 2.5 percent; Alabama Advanced to Elite Eight After Defeating North Carolina; 2nd-Seeded Arizona Defeated 77-72 by Clemson; Baltimore Bridge Collapsed: Construction Worker Fell More Than 185 Feet Into the Water and Survived; Israel-Hamas War; Israel Will Assist in Defending U.S. Forces Constructing Gaza's Humanitarian Route. Aired 08:30-9a ET

Aired March 29, 2024 - 08:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: Tennessee's Republican Governor Bill Lee has signed a bill blocking a measure that would outlaw traffic stops for minor violations. Memphis prohibited such traffic stops following the death of Tyree Nichols. Nichols, a 29- year-old black man, was severely beaten by Memphis officers during a traffic stop last year. He died days later.

Overjoyed, that was a Texas woman's response after an appeals court overturned her illegal voting conviction. Crystal Mason got five years in prison for casting a provisional ballot in the 2016 election. At the time, she was on supervised release for federal tax evasion. Mason said she did not know that made her ineligible from voting. The court ruled that there's not enough evidence to prove otherwise.

So, Kia recalled more than 427,000 Telluride SUVs because they can roll away when they're in park, which seems to violate the primary reason for having park. The Telluride which remained between 2020 and 2023, includes certain models from this year as well. They say if you have one of these, take them to the dealer so they don't, maybe, roll away. Sara.


We now know when the House will send the impeachment articles against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the Senate. Speaker Mike Johnson told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that will happen on April 10th.


CNN Congressional Correspondent Lauren Fox joins us now from Washington. Lauren, what are you hearing about this? LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's been several months now since the House actually acted to impeach Secretary Mayorkas of the Department of Homeland Security. They are now announcing they're going to send these impeachment articles over to the Senate on April 10th, that means on April 11th, they will begin this impeachment trial. They will swear in the Senate as individual jurors. They will also have Patty Murray presiding over this trial.

But it's not clear how long it's actually going to last, Sara. That is because there's a lot of speculation, given the fact that Democrats view this as really, without any evidence, that they are going to move to swiftly dismiss it. Now, it's not clear what action they're taking and conservative senators are imploring Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to have a fulsome trial. Arguing it's important for the country.

But this is what we heard yesterday from Schumer's office. You got this guidance that certainly Schumer has some major questions, given the fact that in the past he has said that this was a sham, that there's no evidence. So, it's still a huge question how long this trial is actually going to take on the Senate floor. Sara.

SIDNER: And then there's the other impeachment inquiry. House Oversight Chair James Comer has invited President Biden to testify publicly in front of his committee, looking to impeach the president. the impeachment inquiry has really stalled. Is this sort of a last- ditch effort to try and gain traction?

FOX: Yes, you saw yesterday in a statement from the White House that they view this really as sort of a last-ditch effort. There has been no evidence, despite the fact that they have had multiple witnesses, multiple behind closed doors, interviews, public hearings. There still is not any evidence that House Republicans have gathered that tie President Biden directly to any wrongdoing, given business dealings that his son and brother had abroad.

But House Republicans still continue this pursuit of impeachment. And it's very unclear, given the fact that there's now going to be a one vote margin in the House. How they would actually convince all of their Republican members to be united in this effort.

I think that this question of whether or not Biden is going to come before Congress, I mean, just think about what a spectacle that would be, Sara. You already heard the White House arguing that this is really a last-ditch effort. Really a sham as House Republicans continue to struggle to find momentum in their impeachment inquiry. Sara.

SIDNER: Ultimately, it would probably be a real big shocker if the president decided to show up for that. Thank you so much, Lauren Fox, live there from Washington for us.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: All right, let's discuss this now and more with Maura Gillespie, founder and principal of Blue Stack Strategies and former press advisor to then House Speaker John Boehner and CNN political commentator and former Democratic South Carolina State Representative Bakari Sellers.

All right. Good to see both of you. So Bakari, you first. I mean, a Biden testimony is probably not top of mind this morning for the president. Instead, you know, that huge fundraising haul of $26 million last night here in New York. So, what kind of momentum does this give his reelection campaign? Was there something said some, you know, inspiration inside or perhaps even the demonstrators outside, you know, concerned about Palestinians, which will shape Biden's messaging this point forward?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND (D) FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Yes, there's no way to put a damper on what the president was able to accomplish yesterday. What you saw was a party unified. I mean, you had Bill Clinton, you had Joe Biden and you have Barack Obama, all together raising money for a unified effort to defeat Donald Trump.

I don't think you can pay George W. Bush in any amount of money to stand next to Donald Trump. You have a fractured party. You have Nikki Haley who garnered a third to 40 percent of the Republican voters as she was running her failed bid in the primary election.

And so, you have a unified party versus a fractured party. And even more importantly, one of the things that you pointed to was $26 million is, I guess, the older folks say, it's nothing to shake a stick at, right?


SELLERS: So, $26 million is a lot. We are out raising Republicans. And all the money that Donald Trump is raising selling Bibles is probably going to his legal defense fund.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And Maura, you know, Biden's, you know, competitor Trump -- I mean, well, he criticized this event, you know, as elitist in among other things. He instead showed up at fallen NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller's wake. Yet next week, Trump wants to make it his goal to raise something like $33 million at a Florida gala. So, not elitist here. I mean, what, what is his message or the goal?

MAURA GILLESPIE, FOUNDER AND PRINCIPAL, BLUESTACK STRATEGIES AND FORMER PRESS ADVISER TO THEN-HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Well, his message is all over the place. He can't decide which one he wants to be angry at Biden for outracing him or having this event and then also wanting to compete with him. I mean, the biggest win for Trump, which I say this, you know, recognizing that this is unfortunately been viewed just through political lenses was those headlines where it was, you know, Biden, Clinton, Obama have glitzy event and Trump attends the funeral of a fallen hero.


He wanted that headline. And I say that because that's who Donald Trump is. It's not looking out for, we, the people. He's looking out for himself. And that fundraiser next week is about himself because the RNC is bleeding money and his campaign is also now having to be tapped into where he has to sell shoes, he has to sell Bibles because he's not been a person who wants to go out and make donor calls. But he's going to have to now because he needs the money.

WHITFIELD: Bakari, the latest CNN poll of polls, you know, is continuing to show a very tight race. Trump at 47 percent, Biden at 44 percent. So, will it be about money raised, FaceTime, add time across the country? I mean, what's it going to take before you've got, you know, a widening of the gap between them?

SELLERS: Look, I love, love, love CNN with all my heart. I hate, hate, hate polls right now. Polls right now mean absolutely nothing. CNN polls, Hartford polls, Milwaukee polls, you know, any law center polls, barbershop polls. None of them really matter right now. It's just too early to tell.

I mean, polls are a snapshot in time. They may show you some warning lights or flashing lights here and there. But really, the -- both campaigns. I mean, like my analysis of this race is simple, it has always been simple, is Donald Trump, is Joe Biden, and it's the couch. This is not a persuasion race. This is a GOTV Race and Joe Biden has to make sure that people don't want to sit this race out.

And so, if they make sure they focus on the fundamentals, I think of getting voters out, I think -- you know, the person who does that best will win this race.

WHITFIELD: Maura, Trump has yet to pick his running mate. Florida Republican Representative Byron Donalds' name is in the mix. CNN KFiles reveals examples showing Donald's, you know, hasn't always been a fan, saying in a Facebook post in April of 2011, I'm quoting now, "Trump is a huge distraction and cares more about himself than the country, in my opinion. But I could care less about him."

I mean, Donald's made that in relation to Trump's claims that Obama's birth certificate was fake. So, what's changed now between Trump and Donalds'?

GILLESPIE: This idea that it will benefit them to get behind Trump. I mean, that's really what you're seeing for so many of these members who have acknowledged the cancer that he is on the Republican Party but have thrown that aside just for themselves They've put their ambition in front of their governing and we're seeing that play out with so many of the members of the Republican Party who have, you know, just pledged their full loyalty to Donald Trump. And, you know, that part's really hard to, kind of, wrap our head around.

But to Bakari's point, I think, just looking at the polls and looking at this race, it is about fatigue and people are frustrated. And, you know, yes, these fundraising numbers, $26 million, I -- hopeful $33 million next week, put that in the context of somebody sitting at home and saying, I'm exhausted by this because that's what it looks like. I mean, they're just spending this money to fight against each other. What are they doing for us, for we, the people? I think that's the biggest question for people at home and whether that gets about to vote, you know, we'll see. WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it there. Bakari, we're reading your body language. So, I know what you're thinking and feeling. Bakari Sellers, Maura Gillespie, thank you so much.


BERMAN: All right. Hot off the presses, brand new inflation data. CNN's Matt Egan is here with me to explain what it says.

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS AND ECONOMY REPORTER: Well, John, this is one of the most important economic reports we get all month, big implications for everyone at home, and also for officials in Washington. The new numbers out show that PCE, this is the Fed's preferred inflation gauge, up by two and a half percent year over year. That is a touch hotter than it was the month before, but we knew that was going to happen.

This is right in line with expectations, and it reflects higher gas prices. Month over month, 0.3 percent, that's actually slightly cooler than we expected. Why do we care about this number? One, because the Fed watches it very, very carefully, but also because it impacts all of our wallets, right? The higher inflation it is, the more financial pain that we feel.

Let's look at the line chart to see the trend here, because that's really important. As we know, inflation spiked after 2020. This metric got above seven percent at one point, above seven percent. Look at this improvement all the way down to two point a half percent. Now the Fed wants two percent, two and a half is not two percent. But this is among the coolest inflation readings that we've seen in the last three years.

And so, I do think that this shows two things, progress against inflation, but also that that fight against inflation, it's not quite over yet, John.

BERMAN: Yes. And it also, it's not some clarion message one way or the other here. It's not making the Fed's choices easy.

EGAN: It's not. It's not. And so, the Fed also looks at core inflation, right? Which excludes food and energy as they try to make decisions on -- in -- on what they do for rates.


And we saw the core inflation year over year, 2.8 percent, that was cooler. 0.3 percent month over month, that was cooler than the month before. So, moving in the right direction, they're cooler than expected.

The question is, what is the Fed going to do next, right? The Fed massive interest rate hikes, they have been on hold since then and they say they need to see more confidence that inflation really is under control before they start cutting. I don't think today's number is going to change their decision either way. I don't think that this is going to make them cut earlier or stay on hold any longer. I think that this is something that's going to play out in the next few months. No rate cuts likely until June, at the earliest, at least if that's what you -- at least if you believe what the markets are saying.

BERMAN: Although June is getting closer.

EGAN: June is getting closer.

BERMAN: Every day. Matt Egan, thank you --

EGAN: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: -- so much for that.


SIDNER: It's a bracket buster, John.

The first number one seed falls. A story of underdog victories as March Madness finds the sweet 16.

And what we are learning about the very dangerous job of delivering aid to Gaza. American troops now getting added protections as they build a dock in Gaza to try and help. We'll have the stories coming up.



BERMAN: A number one seed falls. It is madness. Andy Scholes is with us now. It was bound to happen sooner or later, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And luckily it wasn't my Houston Cougars that were the first one seed to go down, right, John? And you know, one of the most fun parts of March Madness every year is you just never know which teams are going to make deep runs in the tournament in four seed Alabama.

The first team to knock out a one seed this year and they can thank senior Grant Nelson down one under force 40 seconds to go. Nelson, the bucket there plus the foul. He'd make the free throw to put Bama up by two. Then Nelson big time block on RJ Davis on the other end and with a second left Nelson another block to seal it. Nelson finishing 24 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks.

Bama upsets North Carolina 89-87. They were having a grand old time celebrating in the locker room to tie it into the elite eight for the first time since 2004. And just the second time in program history. They're going to face sixth seed Clemson in the elite eight.

The Tigers taken down two seed Arizona 77-72 last night. Clemson didn't even make the tournament the past two years, but now they're into the elite eight for the first time since 1980.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRAD BROWNELL, CLEMSON HEAD COACH: We got an older team. These guys have seen a lot, done a lot, and experienced success.


SCHOLES: All right. The defending champs, meanwhile, just rolling into the regional final. The Huskies beating San Diego State in a rematch of last year's title game, 82 to 52. UConn has won their three games in the tournament by 39, 17 and 30. They've now won nine straight tournament games by double digits.


DAN HURLEY, UCONN HEAD COACH: We suck at winning close games. So, you know, you got to go with the alternative.


SCHOLES: That's one way to put it. Now, Dan Hurley and the Huskies now have a date with Illinois. The three seeded a line taken down Iowa State last night. Illinois now on the elite eight for the first time since 2005. And head coach Brad Underwood once again with the giant water gun, but this time he came into the locker room shirtless to celebrate. Nothing like a good water gun fight to celebrate moving on in the tournament.

Now, you got four more sweet 16 games on the schedule tonight. You can watch all the March Madness action on our sister channels, TBS, truTV, as well as Max all the way to that final four in Phoenix. And, you know, John, my eyes are on that U of H versus Duke game. Go Cougs.


SCHOLES: Hopefully no more one seeds fall.

BERMAN: First of all, I didn't know it was clothing optional for coaching. That -- that's news to me. Second of all, in regards to Houston, Andy, you had one job last night, which is to have the Astros beat the Yankees. You were up 4-nothing.

SCHOLES: Oh, my God.

BERMAN: You let me down.

SCHOLES: Don't --

BERMAN: You have one job.

SCHOLES: Don't get me started.

BERMAN: One job.

SCHOLES: Dubon was this close to being safe at home in the ninth inning. I don't want to get into that.

BERMAN: All right. Andy Scholes, I'm sorry to bring that up. Not really. Thank you very much.

SCHOLES: All right.

SIDNER: John's upset also because your bracket is busted.


SIDNER: And now you -- the ink -- I mean --

BERMAN: Weight lifted.

SIDNER: -- it's a mess.

BERMAN: Wait and see the finals.

SIDNER: Started very early. All right. Thank you, guys.

The story of survival. He fell more than 185 feet into the water when the Baltimore bridge collapsed and he survived. Now, we're learning new details about the construction worker who made it out alive. CNN's Danny Freeman has his story.


DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a miraculous story of survival. We're learning new details about the construction worker who fell more than 185 feet into the water and lived. Jeffrey Pritzker, the executive vice president of Brawner Builders, says the Mexican national who worked for the company likely survived by swimming before being rescued by first responders.

The man was treated at the University of Maryland Medical Center's shock trauma center, but was released hours after the collapse. Pritzker added, the worker is "Very, very upset. He does have injuries and I understand he's very stressed out and is suffering from stress."

A fellow worker from Brawner Builders told CNN Thursday the team likely would have been on their break at the time of the impact. That worker saying he requested a last-minute shift change ahead of Tuesday, likely saving his life.

However, less is known about the second survivor, who Pritzker said was not part of their construction team. At Wednesday night's press conference, Maryland's Governor Wes Moore said he's spoken with a survivor who narrowly escaped with his life.


GOV. WES MOORE (D-MD): One of the survivors who I had the opportunity to speak with, one of the things he mentioned to me was as he was moving off of the bridge, and literally saw the bridge fall right after he moved off, it was because it was a first responder who was telling him to move off of the bridge.

FREEMAN (voice-over): CNN has requested more information about this survivor from the governor's office and the Maryland Transportation Authority. Reporters asked exactly how those on the bridge were notified to get off as the vessel crashed.

MOORE: Well, I think we'll find out by investigation what exactly happened. I know that the one person I spoke with, he said it was audibly, that the officer was telling him to move off.

FREEMAN (voice-over): We're also hearing a story from a driver who was stopped from entering the bridge just in time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In all honesty, if my passenger wasn't a little bit late coming out to the car and getting into it, we probably very well could have been on the bridge when it collapsed. We were that close.

FREEMAN (voice-over): This comes as we continue to learn more about those workers presumed and confirmed dead. 26-year-old Dorlean Castillo Cabrera's body was found in a submerged pickup truck below the wreckage Wednesday morning. He was an immigrant from Guatemala who loved his construction job. 35-year-old Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, a Mexican national, was also found in the truck next to Castillo. Miguel Luna was a father of three, an immigrant from El Salvador who lived in Maryland for 19 years. And Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval was a Honduran national, a husband and father of two. Luna and Sandoval are presumed dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He was a breadwinner for his children right now. God is going to provide for us too, so we can get together as a family and see how we can help each other because, at this moment, his wife is left with his girl and everything.

FREEMAN (voice-over): Danny Freeman, CNN, just outside Baltimore.


SIDNER: It's a terrifying prospect. Danny Freeman, great story from you.


WHITFIELD: Incredible. Also, new this morning, Israel has committed to helping protect American troops that are helping build a much- needed humanitarian causeway in Gaza, that's according to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. It's a potential target for terror groups, which is why Republican senators have been pressuring the White House and the Pentagon for answers on how they will be protected.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand joins us now with more on that -- all of this. So, how is this project progressing, Natasha?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, Fred, U.S. Army boats as well as U.S. Navy vessels, they are on their way right now to the Eastern Mediterranean to start constructing this dock, this floating dock, as well as the causeway that is going to be necessary to provide some of this humanitarian aid to Gaza via that maritime corridor that has been operating over the last several weeks or so. And once it is fully up and operational, the U.S. military says that it is going to be able to provide roughly 2 million meals per day to got to Palestinians in Gaza. So, it is going to be significant once it is actually up and running.

But there are a lot of questions here about the logistics of just how it is going to operate. And importantly, how the U.S. military is going to be kept safe. These roughly 1,000 troops who are going to be there, setting up this system. How they are going to be protected from potential attacks from Hamas and from other terrorist groups who are operating in Gaza. That is something that U.S. Senators have been pressing the White House and the Pentagon on for weeks now. Trying to get their plan for both the rules of engagement that the U.S. military has once they're operating there. And of course, what kind of security is going to be present there.

And we got some answers yesterday from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who told reporters that Israel has indeed committed to helping to protect the U.S. troops who are going to be there conducting this operation because they're going to be pretty close to the shore there. And of course, there are risks involved in that.

But there are still a lot of questions here. about who is going to be distributing the aid once it actually gets to the shore. The U.S. has said repeatedly that the U.S. military is not going to have any boots on the ground in Gaza, but still, there are questions about how they're going to distribute it, including whether local Palestinians are going to be doing it, for example, with oversight from a U.N. body. And importantly, how close the Israel Defense Forces are going to be to that entire process, making themselves, as well, of course, as the U.S. military, a potential target, hard target there for terror groups who want to attack the U.S. and its allies, Fred.

So, a lot of things still need to be worked out here, but we are expecting this to be up and running, ideally by the end of April, early May.

WHITFIELD: All right. Inching closer. All right. Natasha Bertram, thank you so much.

And a new hour of CNN New Central starts right now.

BERMAN: Just moments ago, video released from inside the mega million-dollar fundraiser from President Biden, and it reveals a new line of attack from the president, going after Donald Trump for his fitness, his literal fitness. Like, how?