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ICC Issues Arrest Warrant For Putin; Wyoming Abortion Ban; Investigating Trump; Turkiye, Hungary To Greenlight Finland's NATO Membership; Texas' Takeover of Houston Public School District; Alison Hammond New Host Of "The Great British Bake Off". Aired 5-6a ET

Aired March 18, 2023 - 05:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hello and welcome to all of you watching here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think it's justified. But the question is it's not recognized internationally by us, either.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): World leaders are reacting to the news of the arrest warrant issued for Vladimir Putin by the International Criminal Court. CNN has reporters with all the latest.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): And new details on a major decision from a federal judge that could have a crucial impact on the Mar-a-Lago investigation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's been a long time failure by HISD. And the victims of that failure are the students.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): The largest school district in Texas is on track to be taken over by the state. How race and ethnicity is playing a role.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Kim Brunhuber.

BRUNHUBER: For Russian president Vladimir Putin, the world could be a lot smaller than it was for him 24 hours ago. The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him and the Kremlin so- called children's rights commissioner, alleging they're responsible for the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.

The international court was created to prosecute individuals accused of such actions. Right now, 123 countries recognize its jurisdiction. And if Putin travels to any one of them, he could be potentially arrested there.

Russia, however, is dismissing the warrant since it's not an ICC member state. Western officials are praising the move, saying Russia has clearly committed atrocities. CNN reporters are covering this story. We'll have reaction from Russia, Ukraine and the U.S., with Nada Bashir in Istanbul, David McKenzie in Kyiv and Jeremy Diamond at the White House.

CNN's Clarissa Ward is at The Hague with an exclusive interview with the ICC chief prosecutor.

And Will Ripley is in Taipei with a preview of the meeting with Presidents Xi and Putin next week in Russia.

The ICC's chief prosecutor believes Putin could stand trial for the crimes, even though Russia doesn't recognize the court's jurisdiction. Previous trials of war criminals have set a precedent. Here's what he told Clarissa Ward in an exclusive interview.



KARIM ASAD AHMAD KHAN, INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT CHIEF PROSECUTOR: Well, I think it is a very important moment, as the president said that, you know, these warrants have been issued.

And it shows that individuals whatever their position, however high, don't have a free pass and that the law binds us to some basic principles. So I think it is very important for that reason and many others.

WARD: What is the next step now?

What happens next?

KHAN: Well, the next step is that these warrants will be -- they have to be circulated and states will have to consider whether they can enforce those warrants but also we're continuing our investigations.

There are many other crimes in Ukraine that we're looking at and we also have some other options. If the warrants are not complied with, regarding applications for confirmation hearing in absence in the future.

WARD: Do you believe it's possible that one day we will see President Vladimir Putin in the dock?

KHAN: I think those that think it's impossible, fail to understand history, because the major Nazi war criminals, Milosevic, Karadzic, Mladic, former president Charles Taylor, John Kambanda from Rwanda, Hissene Habre, all of them were mighty, powerful individuals.

And yet they found themselves in courtrooms, whose conduct was being adjudicated over by independent judges.

And that also gives cause for hope, that the law can, however difficult it may be, the law can be supreme.

WARD: So is the message today that nobody is above the law?

KHAN: I think the message must be that basic principles of humanity bind everybody.

And nobody should feel they have a free pass, nobody should feel they can act with abandon and that definitely, nobody should feel that they can act and commit genocide or crimes against humanity, war crimes with impunity, because we have an International Criminal Court. We also have basic norms of customary international law.


KHAN: And there are many different fora around the world, which is reducing the scope and the room for impunity and fewer and fewer safe havens. So I think that's an important lesson that we need to, you know, render effective.

WARD: It feels significant that we're talking about out this in terms of months and not years. Often, the feeling is that international law particularly is a sort of slow-moving beast.

Was that very intentional for you to try to start these things, these investigations moving as quickly as possible with Ukraine?

KHAN: Absolutely not, not because it's Ukraine. I've been on the defense. I've been representing victims. For 30 years, I've been a barrister and international law has been effective in some cases, in many cases but I think the ICC has been a pedestrian in some respects and we need to accelerate.

And I think that's very important for us, if we feel that the law is for us, as prosecutors, as judges, as defense counsel or victims' lawyers and we don't feel the weight of responsibility that there are people in refugee camps or crossing borders with plastic bags with children in arms and grandparents and they're fleeing with fear.

We are not fulfilling our responsibilities under the law but also as members of humanity as well as we should and we will --

WARD: So about justice for victims, not about geopolitics?

KHAN: Absolutely. It must be. The law must be about and particularly criminal law must be about victims and survivors of humanity.


BRUNHUBER: President Biden says the International Criminal Court makes a very strong point in its case against Vladimir Putin. Biden voiced his support for the investigation into the Russian president's alleged war crimes, calling it, quote, "justified."

And he raised another point: neither the U.S. nor Russia are members of the ICC. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more now from the White House.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hours after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian president Vladimir Putin, the White House expressing support for accountability for perpetrators of war crimes.

But the White House and President Biden on Friday stopping short of welcoming the International Criminal Court's arrest warrant outright.

In a statement from the White House's National Security Council spokeswoman, they say, quote, "There is no doubt that Russia is committing war crimes and atrocities in Ukraine and we've been clear that those responsible must be held accountable.

The ICC prosecutor is an independent actor and makes his own prosecutorial decisions based on the evidence before him. We support accountability for perpetrators of war crimes."

And on Friday I also had an opportunity to ask President Biden for his reaction to this arrest warrant. Here's what he said.


BIDEN: Well, I think it's justified. But the question is it's not recognized internationally by us, either. But I think it makes a very strong point.


DIAMOND: And what you hear from the president there is exactly why we're not hearing a full-throated endorsement from this administration of this latest move by the ICC.

And that's because the United States is not a signatory to the Rome statute which established the court. And historically the U.S. has questioned and fought the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, particularly as it relates to U.S. military personnel, pointing out that it is not a signatory to that statute.

Russia, though, is not either. And inside the administration, there really has been a rolling debate over how much support the U.S. should extend to the criminal court as it investigates war crimes by the Russians in Ukraine.

In December, though, Congress did modify legislation that previously restricted an administration's ability to help the International Criminal Court, now providing a lot of authorities for the administration to do exactly that.

But President Biden has yet to make a decision on what he will provide to the court. In the meantime, the administration has been helping others who have been investigating Russian war crimes in Ukraine, including the Ukrainian general prosecutor's office -- Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.


BRUNHUBER: We're covering the story from all angles. Senior international correspondent David McKenzie is live for us in Kyiv. Nada Bashir is in Istanbul.

So David, I want to start with you.

How is Ukraine responding to the Putin arrest warrant?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Ukrainians have ongoing investigations on all manner of alleged war crimes here.

And the prosecutor here in Kyiv said this was a momentous moment, an important moment for international justice. The president, Zelenskyy, talked about the scale of these alleged crimes and the importance of this arrest warrant.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This is a historic decision that will lead to historic responsibility.


ZELENSKYY (through translator): 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: I think what is important to note, and something that Clarissa touched on, is the speed at which these investigations from the head court have happened.

They have zeroed in on this issue of child abductions, alleged abductions, as well as children being moved across the border into Russian territory, where they are often inculcated into Russian society.

This is something that's deeply personal to Ukrainians and has been one of the worst atrocities that Ukraine authorities say have happened in this war. But there are many others that are being investigated on a daily basis.

BRUNHUBER: Back to that issue at stake here, the allegations of illegal deportation of Ukrainian children. You have been looking specifically into that issue and the effect it's had.

What more can you tell us about that? MCKENZIE: This war has torn apart families in more ways than one. Certainly as Russians took territory from Ukraine in the early beginnings of this war, there were mothers that faced a very difficult choice when they were coerced or persuaded to send their children into relative safety, into occupied territory or Russia itself.

We followed or told the story of one mother several weeks ago, who made the dangerous journey to get her child back.


MCKENZIE (voice-over): Weeks ago, we first Tetyana Blanco (ph) in Kyiv. In a shelter for displaced families. All of the mothers here separated from their children by the trauma of war.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Emotions overwhelmed me when Lilya (ph) left. When I realized what was happening it terrified me. All I wanted was the best for my child at the time.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Her 11-year-old daughter, Lilya (ph) stuck a Russian camp in occupied Crimea. All the lessons are in Russian. At first glance, the retreats seem like any other summer camp.

But the loyalty expected from Ukrainian children is crystal clear, part of what a new Yale University study calls systematic reeducation efforts.

But Tetyana and Lilya's (ph) story begin as years ago, the hometown of Kherson fell quickly to advancing Russian troops. Within days, the occupiers began a campaign to Russify the population, often coercing thousands of parents to send their kids to the camps.

But when Ukrainian forces took back Kherson in November, her daughter was on the wrong side of the front line.

MYKOLA KULEBA, SAVE UKRAINE: We provide rescue mission for children who were abducted and now in Russia for duration and in Crimea.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Mykola Kuleba, the founder of Save Ukraine, declined to say exactly how they negotiated their entry into enemy territory, just that the mothers can't do it on their own.

KULEBA: It's impossible to communicate with any Russians because you can ask these mothers, they don't want to give children back.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): But Tetyana (ph) was ready to take the risk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm worried, of course. You cannot even imagine my emotions inside. It's fear and terror, it's emotional I could see her soon and this is a big deal for me.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Eleven mothers and one father putting on a brave face. But theirs is a perilous route, from Ukraine by road to Poland into Russian allied Belarus, through the Russian Federation to occupied Crimea. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Every kilometer on

approach, I could feel it with every cell in my body. I was very emotional when they were closer and closer.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Save Ukraine spent many months planning this moment, reuniting families, shattered by war, returning children who just wanted to home to Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Once I entered, to me it was an outburst of emotions. Once we embraced, it was like a great weight lifted.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): In the end, they gave up the children willingly. But Save Ukraine said that hundreds, perhaps thousands remain.

"Our two countries are at war," says Tetyana (ph), "but there are good people everywhere."


MCKENZIE: The ICC prosecutor is talking about the most severe cases, which were often in state-run institutions in occupied parts of Ukraine, that were then whisked away from those areas and in some cases given Russian citizenship and given to Russian parents.


MCKENZIE: That appears to be the crux of the ICC's prosecution strategy but, of course, the likelihood of Putin showing up in The Hague is basically zero.

BRUNHUBER: Really touching report there, David McKenzie in Kyiv. Thank you for that.

I want to turn to Istanbul for more on Russia's reaction.

As I mentioned earlier, Moscow has been dismissive.

What more can you tell us?

NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dismissive is certainly the word to describe it. We have heard already from various parts of the Russian Federation.

Just yesterday we heard from Moscow's U.N. ambassador, who said this was simply the decision of a biased and prejudiced body and accused the ICC of being a puppet for larger Western nations.

We also heard from the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov. He took to Twitter to describe this decision as outrageous and unacceptable. But he also underscored exactly what David was talking about.

For Russia, the ICC doesn't have any jurisdiction over the Russian Federation. That message was very clearly reiterated by the foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, who said that from Russia's perspective, this decision has no meaning. Take a listen.


MARIA ZAKHAROVA, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY (through translator): The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country. Russia is not a member of the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it.

Russia does not cooperate with this body and possible pretenses for arrest coming from the international court of justice will be legally null and void for us.


BASHIR: Null and void is how Russia sees it. It is unlikely this will have any direct impact on the reality on the ground, on Russia's continued aggression in Ukraine. That was acknowledged by the ICC president who spoke to CNN. This isn't a magic wand but the hope and belief of the ICC is this could act as some sort of deterrence.

We heard from the Europe union's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, who said this was an important and historical step taken by the ICC.

But also he signaled this was simply a first step. This was the beginning of a much longer, much larger process to seek accountability, legal accountability against the Russian Federation over its actions and war crimes in Ukraine.

So this would be a long process. As we have seen in past conflicts, it's the work of the investigation teams on the ground that has proven so crucial in the past.

As we heard from our own teams on the ground across Ukraine, those investigation teams are still on the ground, working every day, gathering crucial evidence of Russia's aggression in Ukraine.

BRUNHUBER: Nada Bashir, thank you so much.

Still ahead, a tumultuous week for stock markets comes to a close but the banking crisis still rattling investors. We'll have the latest coming up.

We'll have the latest on hush money paid to Stormy Daniels and the possibility that Donald Trump could soon be indicted. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: The Wyoming governor signed a bill imposing a blanket ban on abortion pills taking effect July 1st, for not just those who prescribe or sell such medications but also anyone using it. Anyone found guilty could face up to six months behind bars and a fine

of up to $9,000. The governor also approved a bill to ban abortion in most circumstances. It does have some exceptions, including in cases of sexual assault, when a mother's life is in danger and in the case of a lethal fetal anomaly.

A major ruling in the special counsel's investigation of Donald Trump's mishandling of classified documents: a federal judge has ordered one of the former president's lawyers to answer more questions before the grand jury, agreeing with prosecutors that there should be an exception to the attorney-client privilege.

The second round of testimony that could make the lawyer, Evan Corcoran, one of the most crucial witnesses in the investigation. Katelyn Polantz reports.


KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The Justice Department and special counsel Jack Smith have won a monumental court decision on Friday in their investigation into Donald Trump and his handling of classified records.

In this decision that they got under seal from Federal Judge Beryl Howell in the D.C. District Court on Friday, that decision says that conversations between Trump's attorney, Evan Corcoran, and Donald Trump himself may have been part of the commissioning of a crime.

So that's what a federal judge is now agreeing with the Justice Department on that. That is a really, really significant thing, the sort of legal opinion that's going to be remembered and give momentum to not just the special counsel's investigation but also be remembered for presidencies to come.

What the practical impact of this is that Evan Corcoran, the defense attorney for Donald Trump, he already testified in federal court before the grand jury investigating the handling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

Judge Howell at D.C. District Court is saying he's going to have to come back now and finish his testimony. All of the things he declined to answer because he said they were confidential, because they were attorney-client communications.

Those sorts of conversations he cannot protect any longer because of what the Justice Department has done in this case.

Donald Trump's team, they do have the opportunity to appeal and they are vowing to fight this. But they still haven't even seen the extent of the legal reasoning from Judge Howell. The opinion is not fully available to them yet. They are probably going to get a redacted version of it in the coming days.


POLANTZ: So they won't know exactly what the Justice Department has at this time in this criminal investigation. And all of this is still sealed to the public, as special counsel Jack Smith wraps up his grand jury investigation into classified records -- Katelyn Polantz, CNN, Washington.


BRUNHUBER: Meanwhile in the New York investigation into the hush money scheme involving adult film star Stormy Daniels, multiple sources say a possible indictment against Trump could come next week.

They say city, state and federal law enforcement agencies met all week to discuss the logistics of indicting a former U.S. president, including navigating a potential surrender, processing his arrest and handling his appearance at arraignment.

Security was another major focus. Authorities are concerned about protests outside the courthouse and about threats against officials from Trump supporters.

Hunter Biden has filed a lawsuit against the computer repairman he accuses of wrongfully sharing his personal data. The lawsuit alleges he was opposed to Joe Biden's presidential bid and shared the information for that reason.

It says, "Mac Isaac intended and knew, or clearly should have known, that people to whom he provided the data that he believed to belong to Mr. Biden would use it against then-candidate Joe Biden and to assist then president Trump."

Military investigators say there was no foul play in the death of a female soldier in Fort Hood, Texas. Private Ana Basaldua Ruiz was found dead on Monday. Her mom says she was told her 20-year-old daughter took her own life. But her mom is questioning that claim and says she was being sexually harassed at the base.

The Army hasn't confirmed publicly how she died and says they will investigate the circumstances leading up to her death.


LT. GEN. SEAN BERNABE, FT. HOOD COMMANDER: Harassment of any type is contrary to the army values. Harassment destroys the cohesion of our teams and it erodes our readiness. Harassment is unacceptable. We do not tolerate harassment.


BRUNHUBER: Still ahead, the no-limits partnership Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are set to meet in Moscow for the first time since Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine. We'll take a look at what's on their agenda.

And plus angry demonstrators spar with police on the streets of Paris after president Macron pushes to raise the pension age by two years. We'll have a look at the protests that could escalate in the coming days. Stay with us. (MUSIC PLAYING)




BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM. Let's get back to our top story.

The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Russia's president and its so-called commissioner for children's rights. The court is accusing Vladimir Putin of war crimes in Ukraine, saying both are responsible for illegally deporting thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia.

It's the first time an ICC warrant has been issued against a leader of a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.

China's foreign ministry says president Xi Jinping will meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow early next week. Beijing says the talks will take place from Monday to Wednesday at the invitation of the Kremlin. Russia's war on Ukraine is expected to dominate the agenda.

Beijing says its position is, quote, "to urge peace" and promote talks. CNN's Will Ripley takes a look at the upcoming meeting.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly sends a very strong message to the West, despite now this news of an arrest warrant against Russian president Vladimir Putin, that President Xi Jinping is going to visit him in person, his first overseas trip since getting this massive endorsement in Beijing for an unprecedented third presidential term.

President Xi is really making his priorities crystal clear here. And those priorities are not working with the United States and the West on trying to punish Russia for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. No, China has not condemned it. They say that Russia's security concerns are justified.

They've never criticized Russia or even called it an invasion, even in this peace plan that they've drafted up, claiming to be neutral, while having regular communication between Xi and Putin.

And on top of it, even though China and Russia are saying that they're going to be talking about strategic cooperation, signing important bilateral documents. A partnership that will benefit their peoples and benefit the world.

There is real concern in the United States and NATO that they're also going to be talking about something that could change the whole equation on the battlefield in Ukraine and that is, sending Chinese weapons in.

Chinese weapons that would potentially give Russian soldiers a far greater fighting edge than they have right now. And that could be very problematic, analysts say, for the Ukrainians, even with the western weapons primarily from the United States flowing in.

So the outcome of this meeting between two strong men in Moscow, with all the storm in the West about this arrest warrant, they're going to be talking about something they could have real life and real death implications on the battlefield in Ukraine -- Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.


BRUNHUBER: Here's something Putin doesn't want, an expansion of NATO. Finland is getting the green light to join NATO from two holdout countries. The Nordic nation along with its neighbor, Sweden, applied for membership last year after Russia invaded Ukraine.

New members must be approved by all NATO countries. But Turkiye and Hungary held back decisions until Friday. Ankara said it would it start the ratification process for Finland. Hungary has promised to vote unanimously for Finland on March 27th. NATO's chief says that's about the last thing Moscow wanted to hear.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: When President Putin said that he doesn't want new countries to join the alliance, that was exactly when Finland decided to apply for membership, to demonstrate this was not for Moscow to decide but for Finland and, of course, the allies to decide.

And Finland, when Finland joins the alliance, NATO's border with Russia will more than double. So President Putin is getting exactly the opposite of what he wants. He wanted less NATO.


STOLTENBERG: He's getting more NATO and more NATO members as a result of the aggression against Ukraine.


BRUNHUBER: Finland's president welcomed the news but said his country's membership isn't complete without Sweden.

We're looking at live pictures right now of Avila, France, where protests are already underway. The latest displays of public anger after the government raised the pension age from 62 to 64.

These images are coming to us and follow much more violent protests in the streets of Paris Friday night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Riot police threw tear gas into crowds of protesters as some chanted for president Emmanuel Macron to resign. Senior international correspondent Sam Kiley is in Paris with more.



SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in the Place de la Concorde, at the head of the Champs-Elysees, currently blocked by riot police, we're just outside the important building around which all of this has been focused, the National Assembly.

And it was there on Thursday that Emmanuel Macron's prime minister decided to use his presidential fiat to drive through reforms to the economy here, which would mean the pensionable age would go from 62 to 64.

Now that has ignited two days of demonstrations focused here on the Place de la Concorde but that have spread elsewhere in Paris. Earlier on in the evening, these monuments under reconstruction were very much the focus of the demonstrations; indeed, of the rioters.

There were pitched battles backward and forward, as the police tried to not only contain the violence and prevent these monuments and other sites that are being restored from being damaged.

Elsewhere, of course, there was a burning of cars and the previous day of rioting as the police managed to drive people away from this area. But they took the fight deeper into the city.

Now the local police have said that so far about a dozen -- and that number is likely to be rising -- people have been arrested and about 4,000 people attended this rally. Rallies have also been conducted elsewhere in the country.

There is a vote of no confidence scheduled for Monday against the government of Mr. Macron in the National Assembly. But even if that goes against him, it doesn't mean that he has to step down as president. He is elected independently of the National Assembly.

And then on Thursday, the unions, both private and public sector unions, are expected to bring many, many millions, they hope, out on strike and possibly onto the streets of the entire country in protest against these economic reforms -- Sam Kiley, CNN, in Paris.


BRUNHUBER: It's been a volatile week for markets. The Dow is down 47 points from last week's close. The S&P gained 1.4 percent. The European markets did worse. The FTSE dropped over 5 percent. Germany's DAX fell 3.5 percent and the CAC 40 finished 3 percent lower.

A $30 billion rescue of First Republic by its larger peers hasn't soothed investors. Its share price plunged about 33 percent on Friday. Meanwhile, Credit Suisse closed 8 percent lower on Friday. Earlier I spoke with Michael Imerman, an assistant professor at UC Irvine he said social media played a unique role.


MICHAEL IMERMAN, UC IRVINE: With the use of social media and digital banking combined, I mean, these are great technologies that enable us to be more connected than ever before and have access to more information in real time than ever.

But as information spreads so quickly people can act without having time to digest. And I think that's a large part of what happened with Silicon Valley Bank, when messages sent, people would pull up their phone, go to the banking app and transfer money out without thinking.

And this caused a digital bank run led like nothing we've ever seen before.


BRUNHUBER: Texas is moving to take control of its largest school system. But many who live in those districts don't like it. We'll dig into that with an education expert, coming up. Please stay with us.






GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): There's been a long time failure by HISD. And the victims of that failure are the students.

RON REYNOLDS, CHAIR, TEXAS LEGISLATIVE BLACK CAUCUS: We must continue to protect vulnerable Black and Brown communities that are going to be disproportionately impacted by this negative, hostile takeover that didn't have to happen.


BRUNHUBER: The Houston Independent School District, the largest in the state, is in the throes of one of the biggest takeovers in the country's history.

The district superintendent and elected board of trustees are expected to be replaced by a new board appointed by the state commissioner of education. There's concern the new leaders may not reflect the city's ethnic and racial diversity. Some of those students are speaking out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This takeover could be the worst thing that could happen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's hundreds, maybe even thousands of students who are at risk of their schools being shut down because of their low scores. I am a human. I'm a student. I'm not a test score.


BRUNHUBER: The move comes weeks after the state supreme court ruled that the state can removed district officials if schools fail to meet certain standards. Domingo Morel is an associate professor of political science and public service at New York University and is also the author of "Takeover: Race, Education and American Democracy," and joins us live from New Jersey.

Thank you so much for being here with us. We heard the governor of Texas there saying they are doing this because students in the Houston Independent School District are performing below par. That does seem to be true. I want to pull up a graphic here.

In it you can see the students in the HISD are way below in all these subjects by double digits. Clearly there is a problem.

Don't they have a case?


DOMINGO MOREL, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Yes, there are significant challenges that students in the Houston ISD are experiencing.

But what we do know from research, what we know from examples of school districts that are high performing, that do the kind of things we want for all students, is the communities are always an important part of improving the schools.

That the local elected officials, the school board, the parents, teachers, community groups are all part of that. Takeovers don't make that -- don't improve those conditions. State takeovers push communities out of the decision making process.

As you just had young people speaking, community leaders speaking, that these individuals will not have a say in what happens in the school district in Houston.

So we have over 30 years of evidence to show that, while all state takeovers are promised, the kinds of things being promised in Texas, they don't turn out that way. It's difficult to improve a school district when communities are pushed to the side.

BRUNHUBER: Some evidence shows test scores go up but they can lose other things, community involvement and so on. And part of the accusation from the opponents is that they fear the new board won't represent the needs of minority students.

I want to bring up numbers here. The students here are 62 percent Hispanic, 22 percent Black.

MOREL: Yes, so this is what's consistent with state takeovers across the country. They are primarily experienced by communities of color, particularly Black communities but increasingly Latino communities.

And that when the state comes in, they renew the locally elected school board and the people put in place, although they might be from Houston, as has been said by the commissioner there, they are not accountable to the citizens of Houston.

This is what the problem makes it very problematic for the residents in Houston. The people who would be there would be accountable to the state and not to the city and the residents.

BRUNHUBER: This isn't just happening in Texas. I read that some 33 states have passed takeover laws.

Is this practice growing across the U.S.?

MOREL: It's not necessarily growing. We have been having these types of interventions since the 1980s. What is growing is these types of interventions going beyond education, which is also very problematic.

So the city of Jackson, Mississippi, is dealing with state legislatures, trying to take over policing in the city. The same thing is happening in St. Louis. So these types of interventions, these state takeovers on education matters, have been happening for some time, primarily experienced by communities of color.

BRUNHUBER: You have identified it's part of a larger pattern across the country of -- largely it's the Republican-led governments trying to take control of education and policing in largely Democratic cities.

So why is that?

What do you think is going on here?

MOREL: So these types of interventions in communities of color have always happened. We can go back during the Reconstruction time, where states began to pass laws to disenfranchise Black voters.

As we go from those laws to when Black communities gain political power, we see the emergence of these types of interventions, these types of takeovers. We see it happening with education.

But we're seeing it now with different policy levels like policing, controlling of water, controlling of elections. So I think what we're starting to see is the expansion of takeover as a policy for these Republican state legislatures and governors, who see cities as something that -- and the people in these cities that need to be controlled.

Because the policies that they are trying to enact contradict what the objectives of these Republican state leaders. So we're probably likely to see this continue to grow. BRUNHUBER: There have been a few success stories of takeovers,

particularly in Latino communities, when we're talking about education.


BRUNHUBER: We'll have to see how this unfolds in Texas. We have to leave it there. Thank you so much for being here with us. Appreciate it.

MOREL: Nice to be here. Thank you.

BRUNHUBER: We'll be right back.





BRUNHUBER: Actor Sam Neill, best known for his work in the "Jurassic Park" films, says he's been battling a form of blood cancer. He also had a type of lymphoma but he's in remission. He talks about it in his memoir, "Did I Ever Tell You This?" The book is due out later this month.

Fans around the world of the popular TV series, "The Great British Bake Off," have something to look forward to, a new host. She's Alison Hammond, a well-known presenter, who also co-hosted this year's BAFTA Film Awards. The announcement was made on Friday on social media.

Hammond staged mock interviews of herself and her co-stars with dolls that were, of course, baked into a cake.


BRUNHUBER: Hammond became famous as a contestant on the "Big Brother" show in the U.K. more than 20 years ago. She's also hosted ITV's "This Morning."

One more thing to tell you about before we go. Have a look.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): The front man for the rock band The Cure may have a partial remedy for high ticket prices. Robert Smith took on the retailer Ticketmaster after some fans paid more in fees than the face value of their tickets.

Well, now the singer says Ticketmaster would refund $10 per ticket for some fans and $5 for others. Ticketmaster has come under fire for so- called surge pricing, that includes high fees to see superstars such as Taylor Swift and Bruce Springsteen.


That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. You can follow me on Twitter. "CNN THIS MORNING" is next.