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Netanyahu Delays Judicial Overhaul After Mass Protests; Ex- Student Shoots Dead 3 Children, 3 Adults At Tennessee Christian School; Russian Forces Carry Out Deadly Attack On Eastern Ukrainian City; U.N. Security Council Rejects Russian Demand For Nord Stream Probe. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 28, 2023 - 01:00   ET




LAILA HARRAK, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to all of our viewers watching from around the world. I'm Laila Harrak. Ahead on CNN Newsroom, new footage of the moment a shooter entered a private Christian school in Nashville where three children and three adults were killed. We'll have the latest on the investigation.

Israel's Prime Minister agrees to delay the controversial judicial reform in the face of mass opposition, but protesters are warning him not to bring that legislation back to the table at all. We're live in Tel Aviv with the latest.

And as France braces for another day of protests over pension reform, strikes in Germany have brought the public transport in the country to a standstill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN Newsroom with Laila Harrak.

HARRAK: We begin this hour in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is hitting pause on controversial plans to overhaul the country's judiciary, while those plans have been dividing the country and sparking massive protests and widespread strikes.

On Monday, Netanyahu said he would delay votes on legislation in order to allow time for discussion and debate, while still protesters against the reforms and some in favor were back on the streets. Israel's largest labor union announced its general strike would end immediately following Mr. Netanyahu's announcement.

The Prime Minister did make clear the pause is only temporary, insisting an overhaul is needed. Mr. Netanyahu said he's aware of the tensions and was making the move out of a responsibility to the nation, a move welcomed by the U.S. and the UK.

Let's take you now to Tel Aviv where CNN's Elizabeth Cohen is standing by. Elizabeth, things really escalate and became very dramatic in the past couple of days. What has been the reaction to this delay so far? ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Laila, things have moved here

very quickly and the reaction has been really very much an empowerment, empowered feeling by the protesters that essentially what they did worked, or at least in the short term, the feeling that they may have made some real differences here. Now, let's to get to the context for the reason behind this pause. Let's take a listen to what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I'm not ready to tear the country apart. I called time after time to speak and to debate in order to reach a solution. I remember that we are not facing enemies.


COHENL Now, many would take issue with Mr. Netanyahu saying that he encouraged debate. They would say that he steamrolled these changes that would allow his party to essentially overturn a Supreme Court decision just with such a slim majority of the Knesset, and also would allow for other legal changes that could create the possibility that he could get out of his legal woes. Laila.

HARRAK: Now, the government's court reform plan now paused. What is going to happen next, Elizabeth? Is there a timeline?

COHEN: So what happens next is there is a Passover break that begins next week. Passover begins Wednesday night, and that goes until the end of April. So what the finance minister has said is that he thinks he wants this to be voted on during the summer session, which is April 30 to July 30. There is some chance that there could be some progress made also during the upcoming Passover break. Laila.

HARRAK: Elizabeth Cohen reporting from Tel Aviv. Thank you so much, Elizabeth.

Now, also joining us this hour from Tel Aviv Carrie Keller-Lynn, political correspondent with the Times of Israel. So good to have you with us. Thank you for taking out the time to speak to us. Now, is this a climb down for the prime minister that protesters win this fight?

CARRIE KELLER-LYNN, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE TIMES OF ISRAEL: I would say this is more of a crescendo moment. This has been perhaps the most dramatic 24 hours in Israeli politics following a very dramatic three months.

The prime minister at various points has said to want to walk back this legislation. When you look at the full picture of this legislation, the various proposals that would give Israel's political branches really unprecedented and almost unchecked power over the judiciary and it's been said that Lakuda has put forward a more extreme proposal than it ultimately wanted because the opposition never came to debate it.


A very extreme proposal ultimately came to being on the brink of being passed yesterday. So in some ways Netanyahu was almost given a tree to climb down from. That being said, the decision to wait three months to do it in the able the country to be ripped apart in the midst.

HARRAK: What is the coalition's next move now? Do we know?

KELLER-LYNN: Yes, it's even starting this morning. The coalition has agreed now publicly to dialogue without advancing the legislation until obviously it's back from its April break and teams are starting to be formed between the coalition and opposition to meet at the President's house. Our president, who holds more of a symbolic position in this country has said for about three months now that he would host negotiation to come to a broad agreement.

Here we actually might see cracks not in the coalition but the opposition start forming because while opposition politicians were quite united in saying that they were against this sweep of reforms, they are not quite unified in knowing exactly what they would agree to.

We have some opposition politicians who are more bullish on compromise. We have some who want absolutely no reform to happen until there's a constitution at all and so we'll have to wait to be seen what could be agreed even within the opposition as we come to the president's table.

HARRAK: Do you foresee there being an opening forming to find middle ground?

KELLER-LYNN: There's absolutely ways to find middle ground here. It's interesting these been pitched as reforms, these overhauls. The word reform is itself very vague. Everyone agrees in principle that there should be reform to Israel's judicial system reminding viewers that Israel has no constitution, although we nominally have three branches of government. We functionally only have two because the government emanates from the Knesset and holds the Knesset in its control.

And so there's much to change from the bottom of the fact that Israel understaffed its justices in lower courts to the Supreme Court itself, which is quite activist. There's much to do. The question is where to start focusing and what specifically to do.

The opposition's line, very clear here they are united is that they don't want politicization of the judiciary, meaning that they would not want court appointments to be wholly within government control. This might not sound like a weird thing to Americans where court appointments are political, but again, reminding we don't have a constitution.

We don't have the same separation of powers between the executive and the legislative here, and the Supreme Court is the main check on political power and thus the need to keep it somewhat independent from political control.

HARRAK: Remind us just finally in terms of how unprecedented is this, you know, what we've been seeing unfold for the past three months?

KELLER-LYNN: Really quite sweeping. And here, I have to mention, this is the strength of Israeli democracy. It's civil society. While politicians have been squabbling over whether to speak to each other or not and whether to unilaterally really change the shape of Israeli governments or not, civil society united itself and has been leading sweeping protests that have brought over 500,000 Israelis on the streets to say that we either do not want these changes or we don't want these changes in this way because it is tearing the country apart.

Yesterday, we saw a complete stoppage of the country. The airport was shut down by civil society, malls, local government shut itself down. Really, the entire country came to a standstill just hours before the first batch of this legislation that would have put the court appointments in political control, came to a vote.

And so, really incredible, this has been considered to be a moment almost on par with the Yom Kippur war of 1973, where Israel's existence was actually militarily threatened. And there was a moment where people thought this would be the end of the state of Israel. People say that this moment, they thought it would be the end of Israel's democratic character, really unprecedented in Israel's 75 year history.

HARRAK: That is indeed very dramatic. Carrie Keller-Lynn, thank you so much. Thank you for joining us.

Now to the U.S., where police have released video of the attack on a Nashville, Tennessee elementary school that left three children and three adults dead. You can see the shooter, identified by police as 28-year-old Audrey Hale, opening fire on a set of glass doors to gain access to the school.

A few minutes later, you see Hale walking through the building, pointing what police described as an AR style rifle. They say Hale also had an AR style pistol and a handgun. Two metro Nashville officers fatally shot Hale.

Police say they found writings and additional material in Hale's car, as well as maps of the school and plans for a possible second attack.


A woman who works across the street recorded video of police escorting the children out of the school. The attack is the deadliest school shooting since 21 children and adults were killed in Uvaldi, Texas last May. Here's a reaction from First Lady Jill Biden.


JILL BIDEN, U.S. FIRST LADY: We just learned about another shooting in Tennessee, a school shooting. And I am truly without words, and our children deserve better. We stand, all of us, we stand with Nashville in prayer.


HARRAK: More now from CNN's Carlos Suarez.


CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): We're getting our first look at the guns that police say were used in the shooting. We're getting another look at the scene outside of the school.

Late Monday, the Metro Nashville Police Department released several photos, including pictures of the two AR style weapons and a handgun. Authorities said two of the weapons were legally obtained. Another photo shows the car that police say was driven by the shooter and left at the school.

Police say officers searched the car and found what they're calling, quote, material that was written by the shooter. They also released photos of a door at the school that authorities said the shooter used to get into the building. You can see exactly where the glass was shot out.

Police said that the 28-year-old was ready for a confrontation with police. Authorities said the shooter had several rounds of ammunition and detailed the attack in statements the shooter left behind. Police say the shooter had a map of the school, complete with entry points.

In an interview on NBC News, the police chief said that the shooter attended the private Christian school at one time and that there was some belief that there had been some resentment at having gone to that school. The police chief said the 28-year-old identified as transgender.

The chief added that the shooter targeted random people at the school, killing three nine-year-old children and three school employees. The shooter was later killed by officers. Police said they are working on a theory for the shooting, but they are not ready to release it just yet. Back to you.


HARRAK: The Nashville elementary school attack is the 130th mass shooting in the U.S. so far this year. That's according to the Gun Violence Archive. The group defines the mass shooting as one in which at least four people are shot. You can see here the Gun Violence Archive lists 2021 as the most violent year in the past decade.

Firearms were the leading cause of death among children in 2020, and CNN analysis shows the numbers rather continue to rise in 2021, nearly 5,000 children and adolescents ages one to 19 died from firearms.

I want to bring in CNN security analyst Juliette Kayyem. And Juliette, thank you so much for coming on. Another terrible tragedy. How are you thinking about what happened?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: So, I mean, it's just familiar here in the United States. And for global audiences watching, this will be a one, two day story. We will try to unearth the motive of the killer. Heavily armed, entered a school that she had attended. So there's going to be a lot of focus on those aspects and probably less focus on.

Here again, is another killer who has a weapon designed for warfare, the AR series, and is able to kill six people, three children, excuse me, and three adults before even the best law enforcement effort can get there and essentially eliminate the threat. I mean, they did a good job in Nashville, and still you have six dead.

HARRAK: Still you have six dead. In terms of policy, every time these shootings happen, the same discussions take place what can be done to keep schools, children, teachers safe. What do you make of the reaction from political leaders here in this country this time around, in the wake of this violence?

KAYYEM: There's going to be the similar, is it the guns or is it the gunmen or woman? In other words, the sort of focus on mental health, focus on protecting our children in the schools by fortifying them, active shooter drills, training teachers, and then the guns and the kind of weapons that can kill quickly. That's the focus now is the extent to which these guns can kill regardless of what the law enforcement action is, you can have a good one, and still they're going to be able to kill.

Those who do not want gun regulations would have us focus on the first two. What's the mental state of the person, or can we better fortify children? Right? In other words, can we lock them down more, train them more so that they protect themselves, and a lot less on guns.


HARRAK: There's not enough appetite among lawmakers to move on banning assault weapons. In terms of gun ownership, Juliette, is this still a policy issue or has it now become an identity issue and what are the consequences of that?

KAYYEM: Yes. Well, you're exactly right that this has now become more about a cultural war than anything else, that the people who identify with gun ownership often identify as essentially wanting government not to regulate them. And then this becomes a cultural war here in the United States that cuts against across party lines.

But to be clear, the polling from Republicans to independents to Democrats is consistently for sensible gun legislation, including outlying some of these guns and this includes Republican gun owners. So there's just a disjoint between the Republican agenda and even what Republicans want.

But in terms of voting, most Americans are not voting on this issue. So these things come and go. I know it sounds horrible and we can rationalize them. We can try to figure out what this killer was like or what that killer was like, to try to get an understanding instead of looking at the totality of circumstances.

I will say much like other cultural wars or social agendas, you are seeing a generational shift in the United States. We call it generation lockdown. We have had 20 years of students being trained in schools to lock down to protect themselves. They're now older. They are now voting.

As a voting bloc, this group does not have confidence institutions and has strong support for gun reform legislation. You may see, like with many cultural wars, a generational shift that just, you know, takes time to catch up with the overall sentiment of the American public.

HARRAK: For now, it does feel like the national conversation is stuck and politically charged.


HARRAK: So how to move forward? Are there other areas that can be addressed besides --

KAYYEM: Yes, I think so. I am a proponent of trying to defend these schools, having more police if necessary, having more what we would call defensive or reactive procedures and policies in place.

But we have come to a realization that it really is going to take the community surrounding these killers essentially to come up, speak for, speak out, seek resources if they have access to them. In every single one of these cases, including this one, I suspect, we are going to learn in the days ahead, weeks ahead, the extent to which an action like this was pre planned, which we know is the case and was probably communicated in some way.

There are intervention mechanisms that do help stop these mass killings, including red flag laws and community efforts. So you're seeing a lot of more receptivity to addressing this issue on the local and community level than you are on the federal level. It's not going to solve this problem, but it is at least a reaction to the lack of movement in many regards on the federal level.

HARRAK: Juliette Kayyem, thank you so much.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

HARRAK: Just ahead, Ukrainian forces say they're holding down the center of Bakhmut as Russian fighters attack the city from three sides. We'll have the latest from the front lines as the casualties mount on both sides.

And later this hour, prosecutors investigating Donald Trump call a surprise witness what the former publisher of the National Enquirer may have told a New York grand jury.



HARRAK: Another round of Russian strikes has targeted more civilian areas far from the front lines in Ukraine. In Kyiv, the city's mayor says two residential districts were hit Monday night. One building caught fire, but early reports showed there were no casualties.

In a separate attack, Ukrainian authorities say two people were killed and 32 were injured in Russian missile strikes in the eastern city of Sloviansk. Meanwhile, Western made tanks promised to Ukraine have started to arrive in the country, coming from the U.S., U.K., Germany and Portugal.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyy has met with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi. They surveyed the damage at a hydroelectric power plant in Zaporizhzhia on Monday. President Zelenskyy has accused Russia, which controls the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, of using it for, quote, nuclear blackmail. Grossi said he would be traveling to the plant to assess its safety and security.

Both the Russians and Ukrainians claim to be making progress in the battle for Bakhmut. It comes as commanding officers for both sides made visits to the front line. CNN's Ivan Watson has the story.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Not a moment of peace in Bakhmut. Ukrainian forces say they remain entrenched in the center of the city with Wagner mercenaries attacking from three directions. Highrise buildings defended by Ukrainian units pummeled by Russian artillery and rockets.

From the air, new Ukrainian drone footage shows breathtaking destruction. Smoke rises from the rubble, the ground littered with debris and the bodies of fallen soldiers. The Wagner group is thought to have lost thousands of fighters in the battle for Bakhmut, a city that's become a test of strength for both sides.

The Ukrainians claim to have stabilized the situation and say there's even been a slight fall in the number of Russian attacks. The commander of Ukrainian ground forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, back in the city himself, saying the most intense phase of the battle for Bakhmut is underway. The enemy is suffering significant losses, but continues to conduct offensive actions.

That's not how Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin sees it he was in Bakhmut on a dawn patrol with his fighters. CNN Geolocated this video showing Wagner control in southern neighborhoods. One fighter says the Ukrainians are less than 200 meters away and that every building is a fortress.

As they walk through the wreckage, Prigozhin says he wants to learn how Wagner can do things better and faster.

Hundreds of miles away in southern Russia, row upon row of what appear to be freshly dug graves. This is a Wagner cemetery in Krasnodar. A sobbing woman says the graves are all from late last year and early this year of Wagner fighters of all ages.

There's a constant stream of funerals here. But despite heavy losses on the battlefield, the Russians still have immense firepower used daily against Ukrainian towns and cities. Ukrainian officials say a pair of missiles struck Slaviansk early Monday, killing at least two people and injuring dozens more.

But Ukraine also strikes deep behind the front lines. A mysterious explosion in the Russian occupied city of Melitopol and in the Russian occupied city of Mariupol. What Russian state media describes as an assassination attempt Monday, blowing up the call of the Russian appointed police chief.


From Ukrainian controlled territory, the city's mayor in exile called it a Ukrainian resistance attack carried out barely a week after Russian President Vladimir Putin made a show of visiting Mariupol, a city Moscow captured and now claims for itself. Ivan Watson, CNN, Kyiv.


HARRAK: The U.N. won't be investigating the blast that damaged the Nord Stream gas pipeline anytime soon, much to the sagrin of Russia. A resolution proposed by Russia went before the U.N. Security Council on Monday, but fell far short of the votes needed to approve an investigation. Only three countries voted in favor, while 12 abstained.

The pipeline beneath the Baltic Sea was severely damaged last September in a suspected act of sabotage. Sweden, Denmark and Germany are investigating and deny Russia's assertion that they're not keeping Moscow informed. Russia blames the west for the damage, which the U.S. denies.

Finland's bid to join NATO has taken another big step forward. On Monday, the Hungarian parliament voted in favor of Finland joining the alliance. More than 180 MPs approved, and only six voted against it. That means 29 of the 30 NATO countries have now approved Finland's bid.

Hungarian lawmakers are also considering Sweden's NATO application, but some say they need certain assurances first. And Turkey remains opposed to both countries joining.

Still to come, a new move by Israel's prime minister aims to calm the tension inside the country over controversial judicial overhaul. Details next. Plus, two of Europe's biggest economies paralyzed by nationwide protests. What workers in France and Germany are demanding. That's next.


HARRAK: Welcome back to our viewers all around the world. I'm Laila Harrak, and this is CNN Newsroom. More now on our top story. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is responding to a deepening crisis and continuing unrest by deciding to delay controversial plans to overhaul the country's judiciary. But not everyone is welcoming that move. CNN's Nic Robertson has more now from Jerusalem. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voiceover): Teetering towards a constitutional crisis.


The day began with the biggest anti government protest so far, the sharp escalation in tensions, including the nation's largest ever general strike, grounding flights, shuttering malls. Even McDonald's closed as well as some government ministries. And protests by some military reservists.

All triggered the previous day when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defense minister who had called for a delay to judicial reforms. And for the first time, creating a potentially combustible mix, pro government protesters summoned by government ministers taking to the streets too.

Concerns both sides could clash not realized, despite occasional minor scuffles. Later in the day, Netanyahu dialing down tensions calling for a pause in the reforms.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I Say here and now There must not be a fratricidal war. We're on the path of a dangerous collision in Israeli society. We are in the midst of a crisis and endangers the basic unity among us. Such a crisis requires us all to act responsibly.

ROBERTSON: Within an hour or so of the prime minister speaking many people at this pro government rally leaving but not all of them happy about what he said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to be worse and worse if Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, going to pause the reform.

ROBERTSON: You want him to push ahead right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want that he pushed ahead because this is the reason that we go. We went to the election.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I voted right coming for a right state. It's important for me that my voice is heard and I want the -- I want the reform to go through. And today Bibi decided that it's going to be postponed and I came to say no.

ROBERTSON: But this is not a climb down by Netanyahu. The stakes are perhaps higher, extreme right wing national security minister Itamar Ben-Givr who was out in the protest Monday and already has convictions for inciting racism and supporting terrorism is to head up a new national guard.

No word who will replace the fired defense minister but going forward Netanyahu demanding loyalty.

NETANYAHU: I demand that the heads of the security branches and the heads of the army firmly oppose the phenomenon of refusal, not containing it, not understanding it, not accepting it -- stopping it.

ROBERTSON: For now, general strikes called for Tuesday have been canceled. Netanyahu has bought time and he says commitment from the opposition to discuss the contentious reforms.

What there is not is any backing down from hardline views.

Nic Robertson, CNN -- Jerusalem.


HARRAK: France is bracing for yet another round of nationwide protests in the coming hours over the government's move to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

Authorities say they are anticipating high risks to the public order and around 13,000 police officers will be deployed across the country. They also expect public transportation, including air travel, to be disrupted.

Meanwhile in neighboring Germany, more than 400,000 workers participated in a countrywide strike on Monday, bringing public transport to a standstill. They're demanding a pay increase, citing rising energy and food costs. The German Airports Association estimates that hundreds of thousands of passengers were impacted at major airports around the country. And some German employers criticized the strike, calling it an unprovoked escalation.

Well earlier, I had the chance to speak with CNN European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas. He's also a professor at UCLA and I asked him if there is a similarity between the two strikes in Germany and France. Take a listen.


DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Yes, well, there's some parallels there between broader situations in either the European Union or Europe certainly cost of living. That's the big issue in France. It's certainly the issue across the channel in the U.K. and we see the same kinds of circumstances playing out in Germany with a fragile coalition and government trying to manage this economy.

Inflation is running around 9 percent. It's already one of the most expensive places in Europe to pay for energy, electricity, gas prices and so on, and people are upset.

Workers are asking for somewhere around 10 percent and above raises, and thus far, employers have only been offering somewhere around 5 percent. There are major talks pending and this was a mega strike as it was described to send a very strong message to employers and that the workers are going to stand strong here and that they expect adjustments to their salaries, Laila.

HARRAK: How does the situation in Germany compared to what is going on in France?


THOMAS: Well, I think it's very interesting first of all to see how the streets have been handled right in this particular case we're talking about labor action in Germany. Whereas in France, you're seeing labor action and also massive protests.

The protests at this stage in France are very much focused around the pension reform. This triggered this -- this particular action and has now turned into a broader kind of anti governmental movement. Whereas the German situation is really focused at the moment, at least on a cost of living situation. And if the government or if the employers are able to address that it's likely that that situation will improve and dissipate.

Whereas I think we're in here for the long term in the French context, Laila.


HARRAK: And that was Dominic Thomas, CNN European affairs commentator.

The high cost of living is also causing people to take to the streets in Kenya. Police in Nairobi used tear gas to try to break up crowds protesting high prices. Authorities also fired water cannons at demonstrators who were throwing stones.

Several journalists were reportedly attacked while covering the protests. But it's unclear by whom. Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga led a march against President William Ruto, accusing him of failing to address the country's problems.

Odinga lost the 2022 election to Ruto, claiming it was rigged. He is calling for more rallies on Thursday.

Well, the economic crisis is not limited to Kenya. In Ghana, inflation is up by more than 50 percent. That's the worst in decades. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is getting a firsthand look at life there. She has been in Accra meeting with the president.

Well, reporters asked if the vice president's trip was all about Ghana and not competing with China on the African continent.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This trip and this relationship. Yes, we are concerned with security. We are concerned with what is happening on the globe as a whole. We are clear eyed about that.

But this trip is motivated by the importance of the direct relationship between the United States and Ghana. And as I travel the continent, those countries as well.

NANA AKUFO ADDO, GHANA PRESIDENT: There may be an obsession in America about these current activities on the continent, but there's no such obsession here. China is one of the many countries with whom Ghana has engaged as well



HARRAK: Harris is on a week long trip to Africa that will also take her to Zambia and Tanzania.

A New York grand jury has wrapped up another meeting without an indictment of former U.S. president Donald Trump. Prosecutors brought in a surprise witness to testify on Monday, the former publisher of the "National Enquirer".

CNN's Paula Reid has the details.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: David Pecker's appearance at court Monday, shrouded in secrecy. He arrived here and departed in a car with tinted windows, holding his head down, clearly trying not to be spotted by the world's media that had been assembled at court.

But Pecker could potentially be a very valuable witness for prosecutors. Exactly one week ago, attorneys for the former president had requested that Robert Costello appear before the grand jury and Costello's role was to attack the credibility of Michael Cohen and his version of how these hush money payments were arranged.

Now over the past week or so prosecutors have been contemplating whether they needed to call another witness to rebut Costello's testimony and button up their case before moving on to vote on a possible indictment.

Pecker would be able to rebut that testimony because he was involved in putting together these hush money schemes for Stormy Daniels and at least one other woman to get them to keep quiet about their alleged affairs with the former president.

Now at this point, the next time we know the grand jury will meet will be on Wednesday. We'll see what happens then. It's unclear if they will move to vote on a possible indictment of the former president, something that would be the first in U.S. history.

Paula Reid, CNN, New York.


HARRAK: After a grueling campaign full of personal attacks among the candidates, Scotland's ruling party has picked a new leader Humza Yousaf will be Scotland's new first minister after winning the Scottish National Party's runoff vote. He'll replace Nicola Sturgeon who resigned.

Yousaf says his priorities are to deal with the rising cost of living, to reform the national health service and to push for Scottish independence.

Recovery efforts are ongoing in the southeastern U.S. after a spate of deadly storms and tornadoes. At least 22 people were killed, mostly in Mississippi, with the town of Rolling Fork especially hard hit.


HARRAK: Among the dead is a two year old girl whose mother was in labor at the hospital when her daughter was killed. The storms have obliterated hundreds of homes and businesses 7across the region in recent days.

Well meanwhile, meteorologist Britley Ritz is tracking another strong storm that's moving into California. What are you seeing?

BRITLEY RITZ, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. This next area of low pressure Laila, really potent, not as strong as the last but still causing some issues because mind you these are areas that have already been worked over so quite a bit of moisture across the Pacific Northwest and northern California at the moment, all of that's going to make its way in as this low tracks further south.

You'll see that with the wind right now onshore wind, Monday late and into early Tuesday some of the strongest winds 40 to 50 mph. Once we roll into Tuesday, these winds really start to die down. Late Tuesday and into Wednesday, so a lot of that stronger wind will push offshore still strong, but just not as strong late Tuesday.

Regardless we have high wind warnings in effect for the coastline. Wind advisories further inland and down towards San Francisco, where winds are gusting over 40 to 50 mph even stronger than that at times as that low comes close to the shore line.

High winds and heavy rain. All that rain pushing further south towards Los Angeles rolling into Wednesday morning, and heavy snowfall expected for parts with the higher elevations. Mammoth Mountain 667 inches -- just one inch from record that was set back in 2010 to 2011 for the season snowfall. So expect quite a bit.

Winter storm warnings in effect for areas highlighted in pink, winter weather advisories in purple. And notice there's that snowfall coming into play once again, another 1 to 3 feet on top of what we've already picked up and the flood threat concentrated across the coastline north of San Francisco, picking up anywhere between 1 to 2 inches of rain, isolated higher amounts up to six, a possibility.

Hence why we have that slight risk for flooding all along the California coastline rolling into Tuesday. We stay above average for precip over the next weeks time through April 6th for the western part of the country.

All of that moisture has to push eastward so we again stay above average for precip all across the Great Lakes and down into the southeast and as that next area of low pressure comes onto the West Coast. You can expect that, too, unfortunately, bringing the threat for severe weather across the plains yet again, Laila. HARRAK: Britley Ritz, thank you.

The U.S. bank that set off widespread fears of a crisis when it collapsed, has a new owner. We'll have details on the agreement and show you the impact it had today on Wall Street.

Plus billionaire Jack Ma visits mainland China for the first time in over a year. We're live in Beijing with why his appearance could be a morale boost for businesses.



HARRAK: Twitter is trying to find the person or group that it says leaked parts of the source code that powers the site. Well, the company says the code was posted on the open source platform GitHub by a user named Free Speech Enthusiasts.

Well GitHub removed the content on Friday after Twitter submitted a copyright claim. Twitter also filed a subpoena to compel GitHub to hand over information about the user.

It's the latest headache for the social media site since being purchased by Elon Musk.

Layoffs are underway at the so called House of Mouse. Disney will shed 7,000 jobs, which amounts to about 3 percent of its global workforce. Three waves of cuts will take place from this week until the beginning of summer.

In a memo to staff obtained by CNN, Disney's CEO Bob Iger called this a tough moment for the media giant. But it's also a part of a multi billion dollar cost cutting initiatives aimed at streamlining the company's operations.

Wall Street has let out a sigh of relief on Monday as a buyer emerged for the collapsed Silicon Valley Bank. Bank shares rallied on the news that First Citizens Bank is buying up most of SVB assets. (INAUDIBLE) fell after rising in recent weeks as investors looked for safety.

Well, the result Wall Street markets ended the day mixed with the Dow and S&P posting small gains and the Nasdaq finishing a half a point lower.

CNN's Rahel Solomon has more from New York.


RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bank stocks stabilized on Monday after news that First Citizens Bank would be acquiring parts of Silicon Valley Bank. The FDIC announcing the deal late Sunday evening.

And as part of the deal, First Citizens, which is based in North Carolina, will acquire $72 billion of SVB loans but at a significant discount. First Citizens will also assume SVB assets of $110 billion and SVB deposits of $56 billion.

And critically for First Citizens will not be taking on most of the $90 billion of U.S. treasuries from SVB. SVB long data bond portfolio was part of the reason the bank failed. Rising interest rates made longer term bonds less valuable on the open market.

And when depositors of SVB heard that the bank had to take a loss on selling those bonds well, it sparked the beginning of a bank run.

The FDIC also announcing that it will share potential losses with First Citizens. The news, sending bank stocks higher on Monday, with the First Citizens stock hitting levels not seen since November of 2022.

That's because Wall Street's view is that First Citizens got a pretty sweet deal, a deal that makes it a much larger bank. At the end of 2022, It was considered the 30th largest U.S. bank. After this deal, it would likely put it in the top 25 as it gains both assets and also expands its geographic footprint.

News of the deal, helping calm investor concerns about the larger banking sector. Although stability today doesn't always mean stability tomorrow.

This week, U.S. lawmakers will begin the first of several hearings on the fall of Silicon Valley Bank.

Rahel Solomon, CNN -- New York.


HARRAK: The U.S. government is going after the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange. A federal regulator called the Commodity Futures Trading Commission is suing by Binance. It accuses the firm of secretly coaching U.S. customers on how to evade U.S. compliance controls.

The action could end up costing Binance billion in U.S. business. The company called the lawsuit unexpected and disappointing.

Billionaire Jack Ma returned to Mainland China for the first time in more than a year. The Alibaba founder visited a school funded by the company speaking about how changes in technology can affect education.

His visit rather comes as officials tried to revive business confidence after the pandemic and a regulatory crackdown.

CNN Beijing bureau chief Steven Jiang joins us right now. Steven, a very rare appearance by Jack Ma. Were you surprised.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: You know, Laila, it's all well and good, that we finally caught a glimpse of Jack Ma in his native country who appeared to be very relaxed, you know, in a white sweater. As a former teacher, talking about one of his favorite subjects.

His reappearance was catching so much attention because his disappearance from China, of course, was often considered a turning point in this leadership's policy and attitude towards the private sector.

Remember it all began when he delivered a speech in November 2020, very critical of the country's financial regulators. Shortly after that, we saw the much anticipated IPO of one of his companies getting pulled. Then his company being investigated eventually being fined for a record breaking $2.8 billion.

And all of that coinciding with a wide ranging crackdown by the government on the entire private sector, not just on tech but also -- but also on private education and the real estate, and really sometimes wiping out billions of dollars in market value of some of these companies overnight.


JIANG: All the while when there was this state media fanned campaign of hostility towards so-called evil capitals and capitalists.

So and this, of course, exacerbated by the government's unrelenting zero COVID policy over the past few past few years really devastating this economy so it is in this context we are now seeing the reemergence of Jack Ma, along with very high profile visits by some senior executives of some of the world's leading multinational companies, including Apple CEO Tim Cook being met and greeted here in Beijing by senior officials. I think this is the new narrative pushed out very hard by the government trying to showcase China's open and welcoming to foreign investors and businesses.

It's also very much committed to protecting and encouraging the private sector. But I think the problem the uncertainty here is the underlying core policy of this government of this top leader, Xi Jinping. That is its determination to reassert the Communist Party's dominance in the economy, which we have seen in the form of the party taking stakes in private companies to get more involved in day to day operations of these companies and installing more party committees in growing numbers -- private or even foreign companies.

I think these concerns and uncertainty very much remains despite the reemergence of Jack Ma in China, and despite all these smiling photo ops between Tim Cook and senior Chinese officials, Laila.

HARRAK: Steven Jiang reporting from Beijing. Thank you, as always.

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow is back in court for a second week fighting an injury lawsuit. Ahead, hear testimony from the man blaming her for a ski crash.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Power to the Swifty.

CROWD: Power to the Swifty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And tickets to the man. HARRAK: Taylor Swift fans went to court in Los Angeles to face off

against Ticketmaster on Monday. They're alleging unlawful conduct during the chaotic rollout of online sales to Swift's (INAUDIBLE) tour. Well fans say Ticketmaster violated antitrust laws and are asking for at least $2,500 each in damages.

Ticketmaster want a motion to compel arbitration, meaning it will force the prosecution to settle the matter out of court.

And a ski accident trial involving actress Gwyneth Paltrow is now on its second week. A man in his seventies testified Monday that Paltrow crashed into him while skiing in 2016 resulting in multiple injuries. But the actress claims the opposite. That the man hits her on the slopes.

CNN's Veronica Miracle has the details.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning, Gwyneth.

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Actress and businesswoman Gwyneth Paltrow back in court for a civil trial as the man suing her over a 2016 skiing accident took the stand.

TERRY SANDERSON, SUING GWYNETH PALTROW FOR SKIING ACCIDENT: Something I've never heard at the ski resort and that was a blood curdling scream. It was like somebody was out of control and going to hit a tree and was going to die.

MIRACLE: Terry Sanderson insists Paltrow skied into him on a beginner ski slope at a Utah ski resort, causing him severe brain damage and other injuries.

But Paltrow vehemently denies this. She's countersuing Sanderson and claims he crashed into her.


GWYNETH PALTROW, ACTRESS: I said, you skied directly into my effing back. I apologize for my bad language.

SANDERSON: I'm like living another life now. I can't ski anymore. I was told that if I did and had another crash that I could wind up full time, full time in a nursing home. Animations produced by Paltrow's legal team were shown to the court to illustrate where Paltrow family ski instructor Eric Christiansen alleged the parties were on the slope that day.

Christiansen who was with Paltrow's children at the time of the accident, testified about what he heard and saw first.

ERIC CHRISTIANSEN, SKI INSTRUCTOR: First, he was apologizing then he also just made a statement about she just appeared in front of me.

Christiansen also denied Sanderson's accusation that he and Paltrow skied away without offering any assistance to Sanderson.

CHRISTIANSEN: The whole time I'm removing skis and getting ready to help them up. I'm asking, are you ok? He was affirmative. He said yes.

MIRACLE: Last week, Paltrow described the crash in an entirely different way, even recalling she at first thought she was being sexually assaulted.

PALTROW: I was skiing and two skis came between my skis, forcing my legs apart. And then there was a body pressing against me. And there was a very strange grunting noise. I thought, am I -- is this a practical joke? Is someone like doing something perverted.

MIRACLE: Paltrow's husband and two kids were supposed to take the stand Monday, but this trial is running behind. In fact, the defense says they may not have enough time to get Paltrow's family on the stand.

Veronica Miracle, CNN -- Park City, Utah.


HARRAK: Prince Harry is expected back in a London courtroom in a couple of hours. The Duke of Sussex made a surprise visit on Monday for day one of a legal proceeding. It will determine if an invasion of privacy lawsuit will go forward against a newspaper group. Well, Prince Harry and other celebrities including Elton John, alleged that British tabloids planted listening devices, tapped phones, paid off police and obtained confidential records of high profile figures.

Well, the newspaper group argues the case should be dismissed because too much time has passed since the alleged actions.

The images that tricked the Internet over the weekend, photos of Pope Francis wearing a stylish white puffer coat went viral. There's just one problem. They're completely fake.

The images were created using Mint Journey, an artificial intelligence tool that can generate scarily realistic images.

Thanks so much for spending part of your day with me. I'm Laila Harrak.

Do stay with us. My colleague Rosemary Church will be back with more news in just a moment.

I'll see you next time.