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Trump Says He Expects To Be Arrested Tuesday, Calls For Protests; How Pilots Navigate Close Calls; FAA Chief Lunches Safety Review After Series Of Close Calls; Family Of Fort Hood Soldier Calls For FBI To Investigate Her Death; Protests Erupt In France Over Push To Raise Retirement Age To 64; Poll: Trump Leads The Pack For GOP 2024 Nominee; Polls: Trump's Support Among Non-White Voters Growing; Coast Guard Fails To Punish Sex Assault On Merchant Ships; 16-Seed Fairleigh Dickinson Takes Down Top Seed Purdue. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 18, 2023 - 17:00   ET




PAULA REID, CNN HOST: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Reid in Washington. Jim Acosta is off tonight.

Now, former President Donald Trump is stirring the political pot with new claims that he expects to be arrested on Tuesday. His campaign is already fundraising off that allegation.

And new tonight, Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina blames the media and the district attorney for Trump's comments. In a statement to CNN, Tacopina says, "No one tells us anything which is very frustrating. President Trump is basing his response on press reports and the fact that this is a political prosecution and the D.A. leaks things to the press instead of communicating to the lawyers as they should."

Now the former president has not stated why he expects to be arrested as the investigation continues into hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels.

But sources tell me and my colleague Kristen Holmes that Trump's legal team has gotten no word from the Manhattan DA's office about the timing of any possible indictment. We also know that at least one witness is still expected to testify before the grand jury on Monday.

But if Trump is indicted, his defense team would be notified and then they would likely negotiate any possible surrender and initial court appearance with the district attorney.

But in his Truth Social post, Trump also calls for protests over his anticipated arrest. And urges supporters to quote, "take back our nation".

Now CNN senior crime and justice reporter Katelyn Polantz has more on the long-simmering investigation out of Manhattan, Katelyn.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Paula, Donald Trump does say that he's expecting to be arrested on Tuesday in Manhattan in this ongoing financial crimes investigation but he actually doesn't know at this point in time.

A spokesperson for Trump said this morning in a statement that there has been no indication formally from the Manhattan district attorney's office that Trump is about to be indicted or arrested.

However, we do know that this ongoing investigation into possible financial crimes may be falsification of business records of the Trump Organization all connecting back to that $130,000 payment that Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen made to Stormy Daniels to cover up things that she wanted to allege in his 2016 campaign.

All of that investigation is nearing the end because Trump was invited to testify which he had the right to do. He declined to do that. That is the sort of thing that happens at the very end of a grand jury investigation like this.

But we do know that there's another witness coming into the grand jury on Monday, at least scheduled to be testifying. And so at this point in time, we don't know exactly when or exactly what charges may be approved or may be asked to be approved by the grand jury sitting in Manhattan in this unprecedented investigation that could lead to a criminal charge against the former president of the United States, Paula.

REID: Katelyn Polantz, thank you.

So what would a Trump arrest even look like? Well, sources tell CNN that meetings have been going on throughout the week among city, state and federal law enforcement agencies in New York about security preparations in the event this actually happens.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is outside the Manhattan criminal courthouse with more.

Polo, even though we don't have any confirmation of an arrest or that an indictment is certain, law enforcement is still preparing because of course, this would be an unprecedented event. What are you learning?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They certainly don't want to take any chances Paula, with so much still up in the air, so much uncertainty about the investigation. One thing is for certain and that is that law enforcement here in New York City certainly want to be prepared for whatever may come their way.

SANDOVAL: Many federal sources that are part of these discussions that have been ongoing telling our colleague John Miller that they are considering all different scenarios.


SANDOVAL: And one of those is certainly the potential charges being filed against the former president and then many of his supporters then turning out in response to what Donald Trump said on social media today, basically turning out to more than just support him.

And that's really the big concern here, Paula, it's not necessarily the idea of protesters coming together here in New York in support of the former president. But it's the potential or at least the possibility that they could see a flare-up of violence, also a potential clashing with anti-protesters as well.

And so that's why you have the local, the state, the federal agencies basically coming together to make sure that they have a plan in place to at least keep some of those state court facilities here in lower Manhattan that are part of this investigation safe as well as the people inside.

And then there's the other sort of threat in all this which is the coordination that would have to happen if charges are filed. Coordinating that would include the Secret Service, for example. They would have to be working with the Manhattan district attorney to make sure that the former president is able to get in and out incident- free.

So again, there's so much in flux -- many, many, many ifs, but one thing for sure here in New York is that law enforcement do want to be ready for whatever may come their way in the coming days, Paula.

REID: It's remarkable because you and I both covered hearings at that courthouse and for anyone in a high profile court hearing, that courthouse is a circus. And the former president is in a rarefied level of celebrity.

So in addition to the usual courthouse security, I mean how are they preparing for any law enforcement clashes between the former president's supporters and detractors because that's an added element here beyond the press, the foreign press, the paparazzi. Are they doing anything to set the stage for that?

SANDOVAL: Absolutely. What we do know based on this information that's been shared with our colleagues is that there is a plan in place to be able to allow Donald Trump to basically get in and out, to go through this process that is usually quite routine but any time you certainly add the Trump element it is anything but routine.

And so there is this coordination, there is a plan that appears to be in place based on information from several sources that would allow the booking process to actually go through here.

And again, we need to be very clear. This is certainly quite normal for New York state's judicial system as they present charges, arrest, book, take mugshots of defendants. But when the defendant could potentially be the former president, it's certainly going to be an extremely unusual situation if that plays out down the road.

REID: A big if. And Polo Sandoval, in talking to sources close to the former president's legal team, his lawyers are certainly aware of the security concerns though they're not exactly sure their client fully understands just what a security risk this whole situation could be.

Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

And CNN's senior political analyst Ron Brownstein joins us now. Ron, thank you for joining us.

We know that the former president is often trying to position himself as sort of a victim of the deep state, of systems, of the court. Multiple people have told CNN that he believes that an indictment could help him politically. In fact, his presidential campaign sent out an e-mail trying to raise money off of a potential indictment. What's your take?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think an indictment unequivocally would hurt him in a general election especially if this possible indictment is followed by further indictments on the more serious allegations that he's facing in Georgia and the special prosecutors at the federal level.

But it is an open question what it would mean in a Republican primary. I think last year, a year ago most Republicans would have said it probably would have helped him and kind of rally around the flag. As you say the deep state is persecuting him and they're going after me because they're really trying to silence you, all of those arguments.

I think in the immediate aftermath of the 2022 election I think the view changed significantly among Republicans and the feeling was more that an indictment would reinforce the doubts among the parts of the party that were in part because of the '22 results, worried that he could not win again in '24.

I guess I think now six month out from the election it probably would do some of both. You know, the CNN poll this week, Paula, asked Republican voters do you put more priority on someone who agrees with you on the issues or more priority on someone who can beat Joe Biden.

The CNN polling, you know, just before I came on ran the numbers for me, among those who said it was most important to agree with you on the issues, Trump leads DeSantis. Among those who say that it is most important to have a nominee who can beat Joe Biden, DeSantis leads Trump.

And I could see both sides of that divide being reinforced by this indictment and certainly further ones that may be coming down the road.

REID: And tonight one of the former president's lawyers Joe Tacopina says Trump is only basing his claims about an arrest Tuesday on press reports.


REID: But we have been very clear, one of our lead reporters here at CNN on this, we've been clear we can't say that any arrest is expected next week.

We know the investigation is nearing its final stage. There's at least one more witness on Monday. We don't know if that's the final witness. Couldn't this all just be a ploy to grab attention and give him new

ammo against the media if nothing happens on Tuesday?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, it certainly is a way as you said to portray himself as a victim. And it's really striking as others have noted, the language that he uses, you know, in this statement. If you bend over backwards and do double, triple back flips you can find yourself, you know, some people could find themselves sympathetic to his argument that he had no idea that what he said on January 6th was going to cause violence.

He is putting out this language after January 6th. He saw what his language on January 6th did. And he is again echoing that kind of language. So any idea that he does not know kind of the match that he is dropping in gasoline here, you know, I think it can't be sustained and you see the dilemma of the Republican Party.

Kevin McCarthy rallies around Trump. Mike Pence who said, you know, history will judge Donald Trump but has done his best to ensure that Trump is not by not judged in the hear and now by not testifying about his behavior, his January 6th behavior or defense (ph). But he says on the radio today that he is being unfairly treated.

So you know, it is a moment where the Republican Party again has the opportunity to say look, we stand for the rule of law, wherever the chips fall, that's where they fall. But so far that is not what you are hearing from leading figures in the party.

REID: I want to be clear that the former vice president and McCarthy they both defended him against a possible prosecution and the strength of the case. They bolster these ideas that this is a political prosecution. I have not seen them defending his call for protests, though of course, protests are protected by the First Amendment.

BROWNSTEIN: No, no. That's right. What McCarthy said was they should investigate the investigations and of course, Pence described it as a political prosecution. And you're right, they're not defending the call for protests but they are echoing his attempt to delegitimize the investigation in the first place, you know.

And there is an alternative path. The alternative path is simply to say look, these investigations have to play out and, you know, the judicial system will render its decisions about whether there's something to indict and if there is something to indict, you know, whether there is something to convict.

But that is not what's happening. I mean it's kind of moving very quickly to joining Trump in basically portraying the entire thing as illegitimate and that is just I think another indication of how difficult it is for the party to move away from him despite, you know, the many party leaders, fundraisers, strategists who believe that especially after 2022 it has to.

REID: Ron Brownstein, thank you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you. REID: And coming up -- 14 seconds. That's all that kept two planes

from colliding on a Sarasota Runway last month. Inside the discussions now happening at the FAA to address these close calls.

And the family of a soldier at Fort Hood says she was sexually harassed before she was found dead Monday.

And later, how a giant blob of seaweed is threatening Florida's vital tourism industry.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



REID: 14 seconds away from a collision -- that's how close the NTSB says two commercial jets were from colliding at the Sarasota, Florida airport last month. An investigation found an Air Canada jet was cleared for takeoff just as an American Airlines plane was about to land. Thankfully, the American pilot was able to pull back from landing after spotting the Air Canada plane taking off.

This incident is just one of seven runway incursions that have taken place this year alone. So how do pilots navigate runway close calls?

Well, our CNN's Pete Muntean has the answer.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: On any given day in the United States airlines operate 45,000 commercial flights -- taking off, landing and taxiing at some of the busiest airports in the world. Delivering millions of passengers precisely and safely can be a delicate dance. One mistake can bring it all to a halt.

BILL ENGLISH, FORMER NTSB INVESTIGATOR: Runway incursions have been around since we have had more than one runway.

MUNTEAN: Former NTSB investigator Bill English recalls the Tenerife disaster of 1977. Two Boeing 747s slammed into each other on the runway. More than 500 people died.

ENGLISH: Runway incursions have been a pretty tough nut for decades in aviation.

MUNTEAN: Bill and I, both pilots and flight instructors, met at flight school Aviation Adventures in Virginia. Here student pilots are taught about runway incursions almost immediately in their training.

In the pilot seat of his Diamond twin star trainer, Bill and I are setting out on a demonstration of what goes into a runway incursion and what keeps pilots from making deadly mistakes.

ENGLISH: There are a lot of layers built in here, a lot of protections to prevent even when something does go wrong from it becoming catastrophic.

MUNTEAN: Five cameras are rolling to show some solutions are as simple as markings on taxiways that lead to runways. The yellow hold short line reminds pilots not to enter a runway -- a holy grail of paint matched by crucial phrases between pilots and air traffic control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can move up to and hold short of runway 35.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold short three sides, Sky Ventures 262.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold short. Good. Very good.

MUNTEAN: And why is that so critical when it comes to runway incursions?

ENGLISH: Well, first off, confirm that it was heard. Confirm that you got the correct runway. Those are the big ones right there.

MUNTEAN: Confirmation and communication are key.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clear for take off, three sides, Sky Ventures 262.

MUNTEAN: This executive airport in Leesburg lacks some of the technology that the FAA is deploying at busier airports nationwide. Warning lights imbedded in the pavement of taxiways and runways, even new radar that can track planes and other vehicles on the ground.

Power back to 50 percent.

ENGLISH: I've got the airport in sight.

MUNTEAN: We are navigating to a landing at Dulles International Airport, one of the D.C. areas busiest with four runways. Three of them are parallel to each other.

Even though we're landing in clear weather, Bill dialed in a radio beacon used for poor visibility landings to point us at the proper runway.

I'm approaching the airport here and in the interest of time we have edited out some of the turns directed by air traffic control to line us up with the runway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sky Ventures 262, Dulles is 10:00 five miles.

ENGLISH: Airport in sight, Sky Ventures 262.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sky Ventures 262 turn left heading 040 cleared visual, approach one center.

MUNTEAN: I've been cleared for the approach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sky Ventures 262 contact Dulles Tower 134.42.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over to Tower, Sky Ventures 262.

MUNTEAN: And now I've been cleared to land.

ENGLISH: Let it come down. Come down. There you go.

MUNTEAN: See, it's lower than you think.

ENGLISH: It really is. Right.

MUNTEAN: There we go.

ENGLISH: So we are rolling. We got Yankee 6 coming up here. That's going to be our first turnoff to the right.

MUNTEAN: Yankee 6 is the taxiway we'll use to exit the runway turning exactly where controllers tell you on the ground is just as important as the commands given in the air.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sky Ventures 262, you can turn right at Yankee 6 or Yankee 7. Contact ground point 62.

MUNTEAN: Over to ground point 62.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sky Ventures 262.

MUNTEAN: Bill points out to me how he's using an iPad app to track where we are on the airport grounds.

How important is being aware of where you are on the airport especially at a busy airport like Dulles here?

ENGLISH: That's absolutely critical. Because look where we are right here. We have got airplanes coming in, coming out of the terminal there, both directions all the time. You know, at an airport like this there are multiple different runways aligned with one another. I feel like it becomes even more precarious at an airport that is crisscrossing runways.

MUNTEAN: Yes, exactly.

ENGLLISH: When things make the news like runway incursions and you have to be almost extra vigilant as you're flying.

MUNTEAN: I mean runway environment especially at an airport like this, you absolutely have to be extra vigilant and, you know, with what we have seen lately I think everybody has got their head on a swivel now.


MUNTEAN: We are now taxiing to take off from a different runway at Dulles, Runway 30 which crosses in front of the northbound runway we just used to land. Air traffic control tells us to take off with a flight approaching those runways from the south.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sky Ventures 262 fly runway heading runway 30 clear for takeoff. Win 360 at 3. MUNTEAN: Clear for takeoff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 30 Sky Ventures 262.

MUNTEAN: Here we go. Runway 30 is on the pavement and 30 is on our heading indicator. That's a double-check. Power come up. Power to 20. And roll it.

We want to go quick for that guy that's going to the center.

ENGLISH: Air speed is alive.

MUNTEAN: My normal flying is typically from a smaller country airport. It's not as busy and there's no air traffic control tower. What's clear from this demonstration is that the nature of these incidents has not changed. But they have put a new spotlight on safety.

ENGLISH: I think dealing with the problems, that's what we do in aviation. We try to build that robust system where safety is paramount.

MUNTEAN: All right. Coming on back. Come down. Hold it right there.

ENGLISH: Just hold it right there. You're perfect.

MUNTEAN: Got the hang of it on the second one.

ENGLISH: You got it.


REID: Pete Muntean, thank you.

And former inspector general of the Department of Transportation, Mary Schiavo joins me now.

Mary, this week the FAA held a safety summit to address this uptick in close calls. You said though there was a pretty key detail that was left out of those discussions, one that actually implicates the FAA. Explain that.

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN TRANSPORTATION ANALYST: That's right. So you know, it was good that the FAA was having this discussion with key stakeholders, industry, air traffic controllers et cetera.

But the bottom line is this, traffic is being concentrated at 30 airports. We have 414 class one airports and what is common in all of these is there is reduced separation and that means distance between aircraft and time between aircraft.

And if the FAA is concerned about that, one of the ways to reduce this alarming trend that's increasing almost every year, these runway incursions, is to increase the separation between aircraft, both in terms of time and in terms of distance.

And they need to do that because the other thing that they did not mention, they said oh, we have had these seven near misses or near collisions, and there wasn't any common factor.

Well, actually there was. The common factor in all of these was human error. The FAA has a statistic that says that 87 percent of these runway incursions are caused by human error -- usually confusion, usually a communication error and it's not caused by equipment failure.


SCHIAVO: So if the FAA has done all they can do, put out warnings, aviation hotspots et cetera and we still cannot get this dangerous number down, we're going to have to increase separation and spread out some of this traffic to the other 414 airports rather than concentrate it in so many airports.

That is going to have to happen if they cannot find another way to get these runway incursions down. It's a disaster in the coming.

REID: Yes. The Washington Post had an article this week in which some industry insiders pointed the finger at newly-hired workers who were trained during the pandemic when the skies were relatively calmer and they're only now learning how to deal with real world flying conditions. Is there something to that?

SCHIAVO: That was, I will say at the summit, that was discussed. They said that a couple of factors is everybody has gotten complacent because the skies for commercial air travel have been relatively safe but during COVID a lot of people were fired and let go and then they had to be rehired.

And so they called it the summit churning. There's been a lot of churning of employees and people in the aviation industry and churning is a really bad thing in the aviation industry because you're made safe by up to date and very consistent training and familiarization.

Those are the two things that spell for safeties in the skies and that's missing when you have been churning your employees.

REID: Well what else would you like to see done to address this issue?

SCHIAVO: Well, there are other things, for example, the National Transportation Safety Board which investigates air crashes has many things on their wish list, some have been on their wish list for 23 years. Two of them stand out.

One, the National Transportation Safety Board wants cockpit voice recorders to record a full 25 hours rather than two hours. And that was important because they said in all these seven recent near collisions they haven't had the cockpit voice recorder to really study what went on so they can make recommendations.

And also there is equipment and the E.U. is -- European Union is working on making this mandatory but there is equipment and it's readily available where it can give some of those alerts in the cockpit that Pete mentioned in his piece where it would actually alert the pilot instantly if they're headed to collision, if they're on the wrong taxiway, if they're lined up for, you know, different possibilities of collision with others.

And that equipment is available. That technology is there. But it's not required in most places, and that would be life saving. Right now the alerts, you depend upon the air traffic controllers.

And finally, if we are having a problem with these runway incursions, the FAA is the only one that can do this, we have to require the air traffic controller eyes be on all aspects of the operation because some of these happen when the controller turns away to do something else.

So if we have to have more controllers at the big airports, they average 3,000 operations a day at core 30 airports. That's a lot of operations. We just need more eyes.

REID: Mary, thank you.

SCHIAVO: Thank you.

REID: And up next, the army is currently investigating the death of a soldier. Why her family says she was sexually harassed before she died.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.




REID: The family of a soldier who was stationed at Ft. Hood is questioning her death and calling on the FBI to investigate.

Army Private Ana Fernanda Basaldua Ruiz was found dead on Monday. On Thursday, military investigators announced no foul play, but added their investigation continues.

Her mother says she was told her daughter died by suicide. She also says her daughter was sexually harassed at the base.

CNN 's Camila Bernal joins us now.

Camila, what are you learning?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a tragic case. But now their family, Paula, through their attorney, is saying they want an open and full investigation. That's what they're going to be looking at.

The Army, for its part, says it's looking at all facts in this case here. And they say that this is a separate division looking into this. It is the Criminal Investigations Division, which is separate and independent from the chain of command at Ft. Hood.

And all of this coming after the mother spoke out in very emotional interviews to our affiliate saying she spoke to her daughter every day and she detailed sexual harassment.

And so, of course, these are very serious allegations that the Army says it's looking into at the moment.

They held a press conference yesterday to go over all of this and try to explain what was going on here.

Here's part of what they said.


LT. GEN. SEAN BERNABE, FORT HOOD COMMANDER: We take any allegations of harassment very seriously. And we do have many avenues through which soldiers can report sexual harassment.

Any leader on this installation has a responsibility to take action if they find out about such harassment through a report, formal or informal, and they will take action.


BERNAL: Now, they said they're taking this seriously. They did not confirm the cause of death was suicide. This is something the mother says the Army told her. A lot of that information coming from the mother.

She was extremely emotional. Our team met with her in Mexico where she said her daughter told her she wished she was hugged the way she was when she was a little girl.

It's just devastating - Paula?

REID: Camila Bernal, thank you.

And coming up, thousands marched in Paris today, some clashing with police over France's plan to raise the retirement age by two years. A report from Paris, next.


You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


REID: Protesters took to the streets in Paris again today, clashing with riot police, some even setting fires.

They're furious that President Emmanuel Macron's push to raise the retirement age to when one can start receiving a pension from 62 to 64.

Macron sidestepped a vote in the lower House of Parliament to push this through. The government says the increase is necessary to ensure the system doesn't go bust.

Protests turned violent as some rioters burned garbage and scuffled with tear gas-throwing police.

More now from CNN's Sam Kiley in Paris.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Paula, here, literally, this is the third day of spontaneous demonstrations against Emmanuel Macron's policy of changing the pension age from 62 to 64.


Now, there have been more organized demonstrations. The unions are asking people to get off the streets because they are worried about an increased level of violence.

And there's a great deal of pressure now on Emmanuel Macron because this conjures up memories of the Yellow Vest movement they had to deal with for many, many months.

As part of the demonstrations against his attempts to reform the economic and even the social structures of this country - Paula?


REID: Sam Kiley, thank you.

Here in the U.S., we are back with our top story. Former President Trump says he expects to be arrested Tuesday. It's unclear why he's saying that. But he wants people to protest.

CNN senior data reporter, Harry Enten, joins us to run the numbers.

Harry, thanks for being with us.

If Trump actually gets indited in the Stormy Daniels hush money case, if that happens, do you think it would have a big impact on the race for the GOP nomination?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes. I mean, look, I'm skeptical.

I should point out, we have no polling on a possible indictment. But we have a number of polling data points that I think are a point to go over on why I'm skeptical it won't move the race too much.

Let's start off with number one.

Number one, what's important to point out here, is that when Republican voters were asked whether or not they thought that the money to Stormy Daniels was an important issue, they said, no, it was not an important issue.

More than that, you know, if this race were, let's say, on electability, the non-Trump Republicans are already viewed as more than non-Republicans. The majority of Republicans believe that. An issue, Trump's electability, as far as Republican voters are concerned, that is their more import - they view the fact that Trump is closer to them on the issues is more important than the fact he might be able to win in the fall.

So on the polling front, I'm skeptical, if there was an arrest and possible indictment, that it would move the race much at all.

REID: Right now, Trump is still the front-runner, yes?

ENTEN: Yes. He is still the front-runner.

Obviously, we can look at the national polls, and what do we see? We see that Donald Trump has a clear lead over Ron DeSantis. He's up 43 percent to Ron DeSantis' 31 percent in my average of polls.

And keep in mind, there are no other candidates polling in double- digits at this point. And Trump's lead has been getting wider over the last few months.

REID: You looked into this and found a surprising group is giving Trump a big boost. Tell us who it is.

ENTEN: Yes. It's actually Republican voters of color, or non-white Republicans, are the reason that Trump is probably ahead by the wide margin in this race.

Take a look here at the top choices for the GOP nomination. Among white voters, Trump and DeSantis, pretty even at 38 percent to 37 percent on average of polls.

But look at non-white Republicans. Look at that lead that Trump has. It's nearly 30 percentage points.

That's the reason why he's up double digits at this point. It's the non-White Republicans who are giving him that large advantage in the race right now.

REID: And why non-white Republicans, why are they giving him a more favorable disposition?

ENTEN: Yes, there could be a number of reasons why. But I think one of the reasons why is that race is breaking along economic lines. So Trump is doing extremely well among Republican voters who make less than $50,000 a year, at least by 22 points.

Keep in mind that just 28 percent of white voters make less than %50,000 a year, Republican white voters, while 45 percent of Republican non-white voters, in fact, make less than $50,000 a year.

So I think this is breaking along class lines. And the fact is non- white Republicans are just brought in by Trump's more populist message.

REID: That's really interesting because this group is becoming more important during the GOP nomination, right? ENTEN: Yes, that's exactly right. When we think of the Republican Party, obviously, it's a party made up of more white voters than the Democratic Party.

But is we look over the past few years, look at that. Now 18 percent of Republican voters are non-white. That's compared to 13 percent back in 2016.

This group is becoming a larger share of the Republican base. And Trump is winning a part of the Republican base that's becoming larger. And it's a big reason why is lead is what it is right now, double digits, double Ron DeSantis.

REID: Harry Enten, thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you.

REID: And be sure to check out Harry's podcast, "Margins of Error." You can find it on your favorite podcast app or at

And coming up, what a CNN investigation found about how the U.S. Coast Guard handles reports of sexual assault by female servicemembers under its jurisdiction.


You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


REID: Now to a new CNN investigation revealing a failure by the U.S. Coast Guard to investigate alleged sexual assaults against women under its jurisdiction.

Two women have come forward alleging they were sexually violated on U.S. commercial ships overseen by the agency. But no cases have been prosecuted.

Some are calling it the maritime Me-Too movement started by a blog post.

CNN chief investigative correspondent, Pamela Brown, has the story.



PAMELA BROWN, CNN CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hope Hicks was initially excited for her so-called sea year, spending months on a commercial ship as part of her program at the United States Merchant Marine Academy.

But her excitement soon turned to terror.

HICKS: It was a very hostile environment. There were comments made towards me every single day. And then, two weeks in, the physical touching started.


BROWN: She says one night after the crew was drinking, she was raped by a superior officer.

HICKS: I woke up completely naked in my bed. My room was destroyed. My sheets were bloodied. I immediately knew what happened.

BROWN: In the middle of the Arabian Sea, the only woman on board, weeks away from land.

HICKS: I was scared out of my mind.

BROWN: Her safety and those of the tens of thousands of people who work on commercial ships is overseen by the U.S. Coast Guard, which approves credentials for each crew member and investigates and punishes offenses.

But a CNN investigation found the Coast Guard has failed to use its power to prevent and punish sexual assault on commercial ships for decades.

HICKS: I had no idea that reporting to the Coast Guard was even an option.

BROWN: This woman, who wants to stay anonymous, said she was repeatedly groped and harassed by a member of her crew onboard the same ship just two years later.

MIDSHIMAN Y, SEXUALLY HARASSED DURING SEA YEAR: Every joke, every innuendo, every touch always felt like a threat.

I always slept with my knife, felt like I was constantly hunted.

BROWN: The Coast Guard has not revoked a single credential for a sexual assault at sea in the last decade. Yet it revokes credentials for other lesser offenses.

Case in point, last year, a merchant mariner tested positive for marijuana during a random drug test. The Coast Guard acknowledged it was likely caused by CBD oil his doctor recommended for pain but permanently revoked his credential anyway.

CNN identified more than 25 mariners who held their credentials even after convicted of sex crimes on land, though many have left the industry.

Like Michael James Verdin, a registered sex offender who only had a seven-month suspension and continued working on a ship for five more years.

And James Ryerse, who pleaded guilty to attempted criminal sexual conduct. He was able to return to ship work after suspension of just six months.

Both men denied the allegations

MIDSHIPMAN Y: Oh, I'm pissed, I'm tired, I'm angry, and I should be. I'm angry that the system didn't protect me at all. If anything, it suppressed me.

CAPTAIN ANN SANBORN, FORMER ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, USMMA: This is something that should have stopped decades ago.

BROWN (voice-over): Captain Ann Sanborn is former associate professor at the Academy and the first female captain of a commercial ship.

SANBORN: I would describe my feelings on the U.S. Coast Guard as they have been absentee, intentionally naive.

BROWN: There are no accurate numbers for how many people have been sexually assaulted on commercial ships. Victims are often bullied and belittled into silence.

HICKS: He was like, we really need to talk. And I told him, you forced yourself on me. And he told me that mariners get lonely at sea. And if I ever wanted to report, nobody would ever believe me.

SANBORN: They're told nobody will believe you. A lot of times, they're right.

BROWN: Hope Hicks wrote an anonymous blog post about her attack in 2021 and that sent shock waves through the industry.

HICKS: This problem is the most under-reported problem. Not enough people have come forward, not enough people have talked about it.

BROWN: As for the man who allegedly attacked Hope, the Coast Guard turned over its investigation to the Department of Justice months ago but no charges have been filed. The Coast Guard renewed his credential last year.

(on camera): Well, after Hope Hicks' blog post, there's new focus on preventing sexual misconduct.

The Coast Guard told my colleagues, Blake Ellis and Melanie Hickin (ph), that among changes, they made it easier for people to report incidents at sea.

And they're taking part in a new monitoring system with the FBI and TSA, which would alert them to mariners who have been convicted of certain crimes.

Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.



Coming up, the first Cinderella to arrive at this year's ball. Number 16, Fairleigh Dickinson, taking down the topped ranked Purdue in March Madness. Are there any perfect brackets left? We'll find out next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: If you're a fan of the Duke Blue Devils, you're likely crying in your beverage right now. Because, moments ago, the Tennessee Volunteers knocked out the five-time national champs and they now get to advance to the sweet 16.

Most brackets were officially busted last night when Fairleigh Dickinson became the second 16th seed in history to upset a number-one seed.

CNN's Andy Scholes has more.


ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Fairleigh Dickinson pulling off the all-time great upset, beating number-one seed Purdue.

FDU is the shortest team in the tournament Purdue was the tallest team in the tournament. This really brought a David-versus-Goliath match- up.

The 16th seeds had just one win and 150 losses against the one seeds coming into this game. But the Knights hanging tough the entire time.

And it was Shawn Moore coming through in the final moments off the steal. He gets it back for the lay-up on the final end to put the Knights up by five.


Then moments later, Moore, with the three, puts them up by five again with a minute to go. And Fairleigh Dickinson, out of New Jersey, gets their first ever first round win knocking out Purdue, 63-58.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's an unbelievable win! That's unbelievable! We just shocked the world! Couldn't happen to a better bunch of guys, a better bunch of fans, the families, the whole thing.

So we are ecstatic.