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Former President Trump Calls for Supporters to Protest after Stating He Expects to be Arrested Soon in Connection with Case Concerning Hush Money Payment to Adult Film Actress Stormy Daniels; International Criminal Court Issues Arrest Warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for War Crime of Forcibly Transporting Ukrainian Children to Russia; First Republic Bank Receives $30 Billion Lifeline from Other Larger U.S. Banks to Prevent Its Failure. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired March 18, 2023 - 10:00   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to your weekend. Good morning. It's Saturday, March 18th. I'm Boris Sanchez.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Boris. I'm Amara Walker. You are in the CNN Newsroom.

We begin with the investigation into the hush money scheme involving former President Trump and adult film star Stormy Daniels. Trump taking to Truth Social earlier this morning saying he expects to be arrested on Tuesday and he's calling for his supporters to protest. Trump no details on why he expects to be arrested, but his legal team has been expecting an indictment will happen soon and has been preparing behind the scenes for the next steps.

A lot to talk about. CNN's Katelyn Polantz and Polo Sandoval both following this story. And Katelyn, we'll begin with you. What are you learning from Trump's team in regards to this potential indictment?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Donald Trump is out there doing what he does. He is making these public statements saying he expects to be indicted on Tuesday by the New York D.A. But that as far as we can tell, as far as the reporting coming in from our large team of reporters working on this, that's political posturing. It is not based on anything that the Trump team has learned at this point, that there has been an indictment returned or even that there would be an indictment returned on Tuesday.

But Boris and Amara, up until this point we have seen the end stage of this investigation. Just last week there was that invitation to Donald Trump about whether he wanted to come in and testify as New York law would allow him to do to the grand jury. He wasn't going to do that. We saw Michael Cohen going in. There has been a question of Stormy Daniels, what she would be saying to potentially the grand jury. She spoke to investigators as well recently. But what is happening here is as that endgame plays out, the work

continues by prosecutors. There's always the potential they could be calling in more witnesses. The grand jury has to still review and vote on that indictment, if there will be one charging the former president of the United States.

Really though, this, what Trump is saying is the message to Alvin Bragg, the D.A. in New York. The spokesperson from Donald Trump just said that there has been no notification to his team yet. "Trump is rightfully highlighting his innocence and the weaponization of our injustice system." That was the statement this morning from Donald Trump's spokesperson.

So now we wait and we see. And we still don't know exactly what these charges might be. We know that for many months now the D.A. in New York has been investigating a $130,000 payment Donald Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, made to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election, and also the question of falsifying business records at the Trump Organization. But there still could be many twists and turns to this story.

SANCHEZ: Yes, Trump and his spokesperson alluding to illegal leaks from the Department of Justice and D.A.'s office but choosing not to elaborate.

Turning now to Polo Sandoval who is in Manhattan for us. Over the last week or so, Polo, local state and federal officials have been meeting to talk logistics over this possible indictment. And now this added statement from Donald Trump calling for protests, it puts pressure on law enforcement.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What they've been doing is basically looking into the future to see what potential scenarios we are in for in the coming days. And of course, we should mention that things like arranging a surrender, carrying out an arrest, an eventual arraignment and the eventual release of a defendant certainly would be nothing new. In fact it is quite routine for the New York judicial system here. However, this is a case that will be unprecedented to say the least. And that's why according to our colleague --

SANCHEZ: Oh, it looks like we had some technical difficulties there with Polo Sandoval. Katelyn Polantz and Polo, please stand by because we may get more news on this and we would love to bring you back on to discuss and expand on it.

Let's get a conversation started now, get some analysis from CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former Washington, D.C. police chief, Charles Ramsey. And also with us this morning is CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig. Gentlemen, appreciate you coming on with us on short notice. Elie, let's start with your reaction to this post by Trump, specifically that reference he was made away by illegal leaks?

ELIE HONIG, SENIOR CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I don't know what he is talking about with the illegal leaks. I think he may be just making things up. I think it's really important to keep in mind what Katelyn Polantz said. We don't know if or when there will be an indictment and we don't know what the charges are.


We have reliable reporting that it's focused on the hush money scheme. I do think this is really important. Donald Trump has been trying to attack the D.A. Alvin Bragg, personally suggest or say straight out he is racist, that he has bad motives. I have known Alvin Bragg for a long time. I used to work with you. We were federal prosecutors together. That is utter nonsense. That is ridiculous.

Look, what Alvin Bragg is doing here if he brings a charge is well within the range of reasonable prosecutorial judgment. I have been of the view it is a weaker case, which I have said on our air, but I think it is well within the air of cases that prosecutors could reasonably bring. So these personal attacks on Alvin Bragg are completely unfounded and I think potentially dangerous.

SANCHEZ: And Chief Ramsey, talk to us about Trump's call for protests, especially as law enforcement in New York is figuring out how to logistically make this work with so much attention on the former president. Now this call for protests, that complicates things.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, it does complicate things, especially in light of January 6th. You can't take anything for granted. And whether or not an arrest takes place Tuesday or not, it really doesn't matter. You have a former president who is calling for protests. We have learned painfully from experience that when that sort of thing happens it can turn ugly. So I'm sure that especially New York, federal, state, and local officials are taking steps to deal with any potential protests.

And remember, one of the biggest issues you have to contend with whenever you have to deal with a demonstration are counterdemonstrators. And so they have got not only physical buildings they have to deal with, people that they have to protect, but they also have to separate demonstrators should there be demonstrations take place. So there are a lot of moving parts. And I would believe that chiefs around the country are paying close attention to social media to see whether or not any of these groups actually plan to put on any kind of demonstrations.

Being a former president, he still has Secret Service protection. So there will be a great deal of coordination that'll take place between Secret Service, FBI, NYPD, Supreme Court personnel. There's a building there in lower Manhattan. So there are a lot of individuals involved in planning. Hopefully nothing happens, but you can't take anything for granted.

SANCHEZ: Yes, you have to imagine that a perp walk of that stature, of that magnitude would get a lot of eyes and perhaps unnecessary or unwanted attention on it. But before they could have a perp walk, Elie, isn't it still possible Trump could fight extradition from Florida?

HONIG: So he can try to do this. I know this is a theory that's out there, that if the governor of Florida or somebody else resists they can keep him from going to New York. The reality is there could be political posturing around that. There could be efforts to delay. But ultimately, legally, no, there's no way Donald Trump can avoid appearing in New York for court. The Constitution sets that out, and there are federal cases that set that out. People sometimes think of foreign extradition. If you indict someone who is in a foreign country, if we do have a treaty with the country, it is a lengthy process, and if we don't have a treaty with that country, you can actually not get the guy. But it doesn't apply within states here. The states have to give full faith and credit to one another's indictments.

So he may put up a fight here, he may be able to delay, he may have some support in doing that, but ultimately, he will surrender if he is indicted, and he will appear in a New York courthouse.

SANCHEZ: Chief Ramsey, you mentioned some potential aspects of the logistical coordination, the scale of that coordination, immense obviously. But are there any particular aspects of a supposed perp walk, any areas of concern that especially worry you and that have to be secured?

RAMSEY: Well, wherever he turns himself in, if it is the Manhattan D.A.'s office, obviously you have to have a great deal of security around there. Any court proceeding that would take place, again, you would have to have a great deal of security. One of the things the Secret Service would be working on now is how do they bring him in and get him out of New York safely. And so there are a lot of moving parts. There are a lot of places of concern. That's why you have to have such detailed coordination take place between all parties.

But again, remember, I would find it hard to believe that the Manhattan D.A. would not give a heads-up well in advance to law enforcement that something was about to occur like an indictment or an arrest so that they can really be prepared. This isn't something that they would just spring on them with no notice. I'm certain they would be very sensitive to the security concerns and would definitely alert all parties as to what's going to take place, so we would know for sure what day and the locations and so forth.

SANCHEZ: And Elie, I'm curious about something that our colleague, Kaitlan Collins reported, that some advisers were warning Trump against calling for protests because of the optics related to what Chief Ramsey brought up, given what we saw on January 6th.


Trump is currently under investigation for his role in that insurrection. Are you surprised that he put out this statement saying that his supporters have to take the country back?

HONIG: I'm not surprised given Donald Trump's pattern and history. I think he is getting good advice if, as Kaitlan reports, and her reporting is always spot on, his advisers are telling him it is not a good idea. We know the history here. We saw what happened with January 6th. We remember the "Be there, will be wild," tweet. And we know for a fact that some of the people who stormed the Capitol did so because they believed that's what Donald Trump wanted them to do. We know that, Boris, because in their court cases, they're being prosecuted now, people who stormed the Capitol, they've said that. That has been part of the defense. That has been part of mitigation at sentencing. They've said, we understood Donald Trump's words to mean to do what we did.

And so there's a history here that can't be ignored. I'm grateful that we have law enforcement professionals, the NYPD and the Manhattan D.A. who, as Commissioner Ramsey says, are ready to do what they have to do to keep order. And let's hope that things do stay orderly. You do have the right to criticize prosecutors, you do have the right to protest, you do have the right to call for protests. But also we have to be very aware of the history here.

SANCHEZ: Chief Charles Ramsey, Elie Honig, thank you both so much. Appreciate your time.

WALKER: He stands accused of war crimes, and now he is a wanted man. The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin. The country's Children's Rights Commissioner and adviser to President Putin is also charged in an alleged scheme to deport Ukrainian children to Russia. And of course, Moscow completely dismisses those allegations. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tweeting, "Russia, like a number of states, does not recognize the jurisdiction of this court, and accordingly any decisions of this kind are null and void for the Russian Federation from the point of view of law."

But Ukraine's minister of foreign affairs says the wheels of justice are turning and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the ICC for its historic decision.

Let's go live now to Ukraine and CNN's senior international correspondent David McKenzie there on the ground in Kyiv. Hi there, David. Tell us more about the significance of this and what is expected to happen next.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Amara, it is very significant. This is a truly important moment that a sitting head of state, in this case the president of Russia, has been issued an arrest warrant by the Hague for war crimes. In this case the prosecutor seems to be going on a particularly clearcut case, in his mind, of moving children, particularly orphans, out of occupied territory into Russia, and that certainly is amongst those most serious crimes that the Hague court looks at.

There was a great deal of, if not celebration, a feeling of vindication by the special prosecutor here in Kyiv in Ukraine. They are still investigating a great deal of possible war crimes. President Zelenskyy charted out the scale of these movements of children.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This is a historic decision that will lead to historic responsibility. More than 16,000 cases of forced deportation of Ukrainian children by the occupier have already been recorded. But the real, full number of deportees may be much higher. Such a criminal operation would have been impossible without the order of the highest leader of the terrorist state.


MCKENZIE: Now, this is at this stage largely symbolic, though it might end up being that Putin has to face these accusations, Amara. But they cannot try him in absentia. He has to show up. And for now, of course, they're not going to hand him over to the Hague court. Amara?

WALKER: Right, right. But obviously, at least morally for the Ukrainians, this is a huge victory. David McKenzie, really appreciate you. Thank you so much.

And still ahead, a $30 billion lifeline. Some of the countries' largest banks stepping in to rescue First Republic in an effort to shore up the financial sector and prevent a larger crisis.

SANCHEZ: Plus, alarming numbers from the CDC showing a spike in the maternal mortality rate. Who's most at risk and what doctors say can be done to bring those numbers down.



WALKER: This morning there is more uncertainty on Wall Street as America's biggest banks scramble to shore up the markets. The Dow, the S&P, and the Nasdaq all ended the week down as investors worry the worst isn't over yet. This week a second U.S. regional bank, Signature Bank, shut down, and a third, First Republic Bank, was rescued with a $30 billion lifeline from larger banks.

SANCHEZ: And it is not just limited to the United States. Investors are also worried about European bank Credit Suisse despite a $54 billion loan from Switzerland's central bank to try to keep it afloat. Plus, fears of a recession in the United States are growing. Goldman Sachs boosting the odds of a recession from 25 percent to 35 percent. And inflation is still hot, hovering above six percent, well above the Federal Reserve's target of two percent. Next week the Fed is going to meet to decide whether Americans can stand another interest rate hike. Christine Romans has more.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Boris and Amara, a remarkable effort from big American banks to save another bank from ruin.


Eleven banks, $30 billion, that's how much money and how many lenders it took to shore up First Republic, preventing another Silicon Valley Bank, $5 billion each from Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Citi, $2.5 billion from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, $1 billion from U.S. Bank, BNY Mellon, Truist, State Street, and PNC. The mega deals from the mega banks included behind-closed-door talks

between the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the Fed Chair Jerome Powell, JPMorgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon, and the chairman of the FDIC. The goal, that the rescue returns the markets to normal and convinces you at home your money is in safe hands. It capped a fast- moving week of efforts by the Federal Reserve, the Treasury Department and bank executives trying to inject confidence and capital back into the financial system. Amara, Boris?

WALKER: Christine, thank you.

So President Biden says while his administration took measures to stabilize the banking system, Congress needs to step in and strengthen laws before another financial crisis.

SANCHEZ: Now, the president is calling on lawmakers to expand the FDIC's authority to impose tougher penalties on those banking executives who mismanage funds and ultimately cause their banks to fail. Let's dig deeper now with CNN economics and political commentator Catherine Rampell. Catherine, always appreciate you coming on with us. Tougher fines for executives, do you think that kind of legislation goes far enough?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know that it will hurt. Certainly, some greater penalties here might on the margin have encouraged some less dumb behavior on the part of bank managers. But I don't think that will be sufficient.

What happens here is that -- what happened here is that with Silicon Valley Bank, they basically broke the most elementary lesson that you would learn in banking 101. I have talked with people who actually teach banking 101, and they didn't hedge against maturity rate risk, maturity risk. They didn't hedge against interest rate risk. They made some really dumb decisions where basically they didn't take into account the possibility that interest rates would go up and that would affect the holdings on their balance sheet.

But it is not only them that made some dumb decisions here. You also presumably have a failure of the regulatory system. And by that I'm not talking specifically about what are the penalties, which is what you were just referring to, but why didn't the supervisors notice this? This was in the bank's annual filings at the end of 2022. They mentioned specifically that they stopped hedging against this risk. So it was kind of a problem hiding in plain sight.

I think it's not clear yet what the solution would be. Is the problem that some of these stress testing requirements were rolled back in 2018? Should this have been caught even in the absence of those stress tests? Should the Fed or other regulators have noticed? I think we don't know yet, but there were a lot of problems here. A lot of people were asleep at the switch.

WALKER: Yes, and should the SVB CEO, should he have been so transparent about the losses that they incurred. Look, we are looking at the rescues, right. $30 billion to rescue First Republic, a nearly $54 billion lifeline for Europe's Credit Suisse and shares are still falling. What do you expect when the markets open on Monday?

RAMPELL: I'm very hesitant to make predictions about that. I think the hope was that these extraordinary interventions last weekend with Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank, making sure that their depositors were made whole, were not at risk of losing money, the hope was that would in and of itself have allayed some of these jitters, to understate the level of anxiety here in the financial system. And obviously, that was not sufficient. People still got very nervous about First Republic Bank. It looked like the lifeline to First Republic Bank that was orchestrated by larger banks should have been sufficient to allay concerns, and clearly that has not been the case.

What's been going on with Credit Suisse is somewhat unrelated. Credit Suisse has been kind of the problem child of Europe for years, mired in scandals, problems with its financial reporting. Not the same kinds of things that have been plaguing the regional banks here in the U.S., but presumably there's enough concern about stability -- fragility, I should say, in the financial system right now that people started paying more attention to problems with Credit Suisse.

So I don't know. I wish I knew how markets were going to react. I hope that there will be greater calm in the next few days, that people will look at the interventions that have been made and think those will be sufficient. But it has been very hard to predict.

SANCHEZ: Catherine, if you did know what the markets were going to do I would ask that you tell Amara and I so the three of us could become very, very wealthy.

RAMPELL: I know.

SANCHEZ: This holding does put the Fed in a serious bind, though, because obviously rates are starting to strain some of the banks, and that puts strain on the bigger financial system.


But they're also trying to fight inflation, and it is still really high. So what do you think they might do when they meet next week?

RAMPELL: The Fed is in a really difficult position. Almost anything it does to solve one of its problems will make its other problems worse because they kind of have this one blunt instrument, which is raising interest rates. If they raise interest rates, that will help address the fight against inflation, but it might put more stress on the financial sector. And so how do you -- how do you deal with inflation without breaking the financial system? That's a really difficult challenge.

I think next week, if you look at the forecasts that have been made, some people are predicting that the Fed will pause, that it will not raise interest rates again next week. Some are predicting it will continue raising interest rates but maybe at a smaller pace -- a slower pace, rather, than had been the case recently, 25 basis points instead of the 50 basis points that prior to all of this turmoil had been predicted. I think either of those things could be appropriate, but it is

necessary for the Fed to communicate. Even if it pauses now, it's a temporary pause, right, that the fight against inflation is not yet over. They are keeping their eyes on the prize. They maybe want to see how the dust settles within the financial system right now because of this major blow-up recently. But they are not relenting on the fight against inflation, because the problem is that if markets, and regular consumers and business owners perceive that the Fed has essentially given up against inflation, inflation can become more entrenched and harder to fight later on. It becomes sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. So you want the fed to communicate, even if they are pausing right now, that doesn't mean that they think the fight against inflation is over.

WALKER: It is a delicate, delicate balance. Glad that I'm not making those decisions.

RAMPELL: Me, too.

WALKER: Catherine Rampell, thank you so much. I appreciate your expertise, as always.

Coming up, alarming new numbers from the CDC. What is behind the spike in maternal mortality rates, especially among black women. That's next.



SANCHEZ: A shocking new report shows there's been a spike in the maternal death rate in the United States, women dying because of pregnancy or childbirth. The numbers among black women are more than twice as high as those of white women.

WALKER: Yes, this is astonishing, especially living in a wealthy, industrialized nation. The CDC reports America's ongoing maternal mortality crisis was compounded by COVID-19, leading to dramatic increases in deaths. CNN's health reporter Jacqueline Howard has the details.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Amara and Boris, the U.S. has had the highest rate of maternal deaths among all high-income nations in the world for quite some time. And now this new report shows the rate keeps increasing. So more than 1,200 women died due to maternal causes in 2021. That's the most recent year for which data are available, and that's up from 861 deaths in 2020, the previous year.

The numbers also show black women continue to be 2.6 times more likely to die of maternal causes than white women. And experts say in the past few years the COVID-19 pandemic likely contributed to this recent rise in maternal deaths. Some women may have missed doctor appointments or even may have been sick with COVID during pregnancy or childbirth.

But overall, this crisis has been ongoing. And experts say here in the United States we can do a better job listening to women when they say something doesn't feel right or something is wrong during their pregnancy or childbirth. We can do a better job providing postpartum care. Some advocates say that Medicaid coverage should be offered to women for up to a year after giving birth compared with just 60 days currently guaranteed by federal law. But bottom line, Amara and Boris, the nation has a lot of work to do to address this issue.

WALKER: Joining me now to discuss this further is Dr. Terri-Ann Bennett. She is the chief of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Memorial Healthcare System. I really appreciate you joining us this morning, Doctor. The CDC report is disturbing on so many levels. And, of course, I have to say I almost died after my first child was born. I was in the hospital for two weeks.

But firstly, the fact that the overall maternal death rates were up significantly in 2021, the U.S. has the highest -- or at least one of the highest maternal death rates of any wealthy, developed nation. So why do we continue to hold this record year after year?

DR. TERRI-ANN BENNETT, CHIEF, MATERNAL FETAL MEDICINE AT MEMORIAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM: I'm so sorry to hear about your experience. More and more women are truly having complications in pregnancy and really knocking on death's door. And this is not new. This has been happening for decades. It's astonishing, I agree, that even now in 2023 we are continuing to see that the numbers are rising.

WALKER: And how do we explain the maternal death rates among black women being more than twice as high as those of white women?

BENNETT: And that disparity that has been pretty pervasive as well. and I think what we're seeing on the ground is that women, especially black women, are coming into pregnancy sicker, older, and sometimes later. A lot of that stems from mistrust of our health care system, deriving from the historical -- the historical racism that has been in our health care system that has truly made people a little bit resistant sometimes to access care.


WALKER: But what about the way black women may be treated if they are complaining of pain in the abdomen or asking for a specific workup?

BENNETT: You're absolutely right. Black women have been shouting at the top of their throats that they're not being heard, that they're complaints are not being taken seriously. And many times they may have a limited access to really great hospitals, and even access to high- risk maternal fetal medicine specialists.

I, myself, also experienced a pretty complicated pregnancy similar to you. I am someone who probably shouldn't have a poor outcome, one would say, highly educated, good income, access to all of the resources and great health care. But certainly the impacts of racism truly is affecting our bodies and how we are interacting with the health care system, but also the risks that we have -- high blood pressure, diabetes, and other health care issues and challenges when we enter pregnancy. WALKER: Is the medical community actively talking about this and

holding meaningful discussions? Because again, this didn't happen overnight. I remember when I gave birth in 2018 there was an investigation that I read from a publication regarding the U.S. having the highest maternal death rate of any industrialized country. So you would think -- and that was what, four, five years ago. What has changed since then? What kind of steps are being taken to bring this ridiculous maternal death rate down in America?

BENNETT: Absolutely, and that's a really great question, and that's what I think we really need to focus on, is what are we doing as a nation, what are we doing as institutions to really impact the structural, systemic, interpersonal, and the euphemism that is commonly used in this is bias. We need to be actively working. And what we are doing at my hospital system and at many academic centers across the nation is really looking inward, looking at our own statistics, looking for opportunities of how we can be more supportive, and really how we can extend ourselves even to communities that don't have access to high-risk pregnancy doctors, which is quite essential.

WALKER: And just to talk about simple -- I don't know how simple it is, but solutions. Could it be as simple as having specific protocols per hospital? Maybe it is state by state, county by county, because as I understand it, a lot of the deaths are preventable, right? Because a lot of the maternal deaths happen during pregnancy, during labor, or within a few days of giving birth. So could it be as simple as having laws that require nurses or what have you checking in on the mom and making sure a, b, and c symptoms are not happening at the moment?

BENNETT: I really wish there was a simple solution, but obviously it is a multi-factorial process, and it's going to also require a multi- factorial approach. I think one really important thing that we must do is take away the onus from the patient. We know that patients are sicker now. We know that cardiac disease is quite prevalent, especially in women, especially in minoritized populations and black pregnant people. That's one of the leading causes, actually, of why black people are dying in pregnancy.

What we must do is to first address the disparity by looking at how racism interplays within the system, even in the health care settings. I think one really important thing we leave off of the table sometimes is education, and that's around learning our history and how that interplays with how we are caring for patients today so that even individual doctors can look within and actively be working to be anti- racist and looking at how they can address the social determinants of health of each individual.

WALKER: Yes, starting there. Let's talk about implicit biases first. Dr. Terri-Ann Bennett, really appreciate you joining us this morning. Thank you.

BENNETT: Thank you so much for having me.

SANCHEZ: Coming up, Texas state officials are set to take over the state's largest school district, one of the biggest in the country, and oust the superintendent and board members. Up next, we're going to be joined by the state lawmaker who wrote an amendment that sparked the takeover. Why he says he has no regrets.



SANCHEZ: Some in Texas were outraged this week after the state formally announced a takeover of public schools in the nation's fourth largest city. Texas officials have announced that in June they are going to appoint a new superintendent and board of managers for Houston's independent school district following years of poor student performance. Critics argue that one of the largest school takeovers ever in the United States isn't even happening in the worst performing school districts in the state as of last year.


JACKIE ANDERSON, PRESIDENT, HOUSTON FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: As far as I'm concerned this is a hostile takeover. It was done to Houston families, not with them.


SANCHEZ: Members of that community feel that they are being targeted. So let's find out more with Democratic State Representative Harold Dutton Jr. In 2015 he proposed the amendment added to a law that allowed the state to take over schools in Houston. Representative Dutton, we are grateful you are sharing part of your Saturday morning with us. We have a lot to get to. So first, critics are pointing to this as an effort by white Republican officials at the state level to take over the schools in a majority black and brown Democratic-led area. How big of a factor do you think race plays in all of this?

STATE REP. HAROLD DUTTON JR., (D) AUTHORED AMENDMENT ALLOWING HOUSTON SCHOOLS TAKEOVER: Well, obviously, I'm not part of whatever the race thing they're talking about is, and I'm the person that was responsible for the amendment. I had nothing -- I had no thoughts about race at the time. I had thoughts about improving student outcomes because that's what was -- that's what was driving this.

And I will be honest with you, I never thought school districts would let a campus fail for five consecutive school years.


That's what has driven this. I think the better question ought to be, why did the school district let campuses fail for five consecutive school years.

SANCHEZ: So, Representative Dutton, what do you say to those who argue there is nefarious intent here, that this is part of a plot by Governor Greg Abbott to push school vouchers and charter schools?

DUTTON: Well, Greg Abbott didn't have anything to do with the amendment. I didn't talk to Greg Abbott. Greg Abbott didn't talk to me about it. This came up in 2015. The reason we're here is because in 2019 the TEA decided they were going to take over H.I. State. H.I. State filed a lawsuit preventing that. And as a result, the lawsuit drug on through the courts until it got to the Texas Supreme Court here a couple of months ago, and that's why it's turning up now. I realize that the environment now is taken up with vouchers and all kinds of crazy stuff, but back in 2015 when this was started, when this was dictated, and in 2019 when TEA was going to take over, it had nothing to do -- vouchers had nothing to -- wasn't even on the scene then.

SANCHEZ: So what do you say to folks who are concerned that many teachers of color may not be retained after the state takeover? Are you worried about students having teachers that look like them and speak their language?

DUTTON: Well, I realize that the fear of the unknown is always kind of exaggerated, but I don't think any of that is going to bear out. I think, what I hope is going to happen is that we're going to improve student outcomes, particularly in northeast Houston and particularly in my alma mater at Wheatley High School.

SANCHEZ: I wanted to ask you specifically about Wheatley because a lot of folks are angry that schools in Houston dramatically improved their performance in the last 19 months, including at Wheatley. They got a B last year after failing for, as you noted, consecutive years. If they're getting better, why should the state still intervene?

DUTTON: Well, the fact of the matter is, as I mentioned a moment ago, the state was going to take it over in 2019. Wheatley was failing in 2019. But now HIC wants to have the benefit of having filed the lawsuit such that it delayed all this and tried to get it better. It never got to a B, but it got to a C. And there were some people who were thinking that, well, we ought to be applauding.

But being a Wheatley graduate and all of the people that have come through Wheatley, we were never C students. We were never C students, and we are not accepting a C now. While Wheatley did improve to a C, Kashmere, the other high school in my district, went back to being an F.

SANCHEZ: And I wanted to ask you about an incident that you spoke about publicly in the last few months about Kashmere High School. Apparently, 90 percent of the students there were failing the math portion of the standardized test, and you went to try to find out why, and it turns out there wasn't a certified math teacher at that school.


SANCHEZ: How is that possible?

DUTTON: Well, that's what you would have to ask HIC, because what I did was when I looked at why cashmere was failing, they didn't do well on the math portion of the standardized test. And then I went further and looked and found out they didn't have a certified math teacher in the last 10 years at Kashmere. And yet we were trying to improve Kashmere. Well, I don't know how you do that without sending certified math teachers over there, and the responsibility for sending certified math teachers over there rests with the school board.

And so this is what -- this is what triggered all of this. But, again, I never thought it would happen because I thought they would fix the schools. I thought that if a school needed a math, certified math teacher, we would have loads of them over there. But that didn't happen.

SANCHEZ: Representative Dutton, we appreciate your time and we hope you will come back once we see what the outcome of this state takeover is.

DUTTON: Well, thank you. And I hope I can come back on and say, guess what, Wheatley is back on top.

SANCHEZ: Thank you, sir. Appreciate the time.

Stay with Newsroom. We are back in just moments.



SANCHEZ: There have been major protests in France. Thousands of people clashing with police as President Emmanuel Macron forces through a hike in the retirement age, changing it from 62 to 64.

WALKER: Yes, the tensions have been flaring. CNN's Sam Kiley joining us now from Paris with the very latest. Yes, Sam, walk us through what is happening.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, for the last two evenings, in other words yesterday evening local time and Thursday evening, there were these spontaneous clashes in the Place De La Concorde of a degree of violence with mostly young people throwing cobblestones at the police. They were responding with tear gas. It was about, according to the police, 6,000 on Thursday night, about 4,000 last night when we were out on the grounds.

And this is all in response to the government's decision to effectively use executive fiat from the presidency to bypass a vote in the National Assembly to change the pensionable age of the French from 62 to 64.


Now, this is against a background of widespread national strikes, both in the public and indeed the private sectors since January in response to this policy, which is now going to be focused on a no-confidence vote in the government coming on Monday. But even if that went against the government, Macron, the president, would remain in power.

WALKER: All right, Sam Kiley, appreciate your reporting. Thank you.

And thank you all for being with us this morning.

SANCHEZ: There's still much more ahead in the next hour of CNN Newsroom. It starts after a short break.