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U.S. Conducts Strikes Against Houthi Underwater Vessel For The First Time Since Attacks Began; Hospital Director: At Least 13 Killed In Israel Airstrikes In Rafah; Biden Blames "Congressional Inaction" For Fall Of Key Ukrainian Town; Global Outrage Aimed At Russia Over Death Of Putin Critic; Trump Asks Supreme Court To Delay His Trial For Election Subversion. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired February 18, 2024 - 14:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Washington, D.C.

And we begin this hour with breaking news from the Middle East. The U.S. military has conducted a new round of strikes against Houthi controlled areas of Yemen, and Houthi targets in the Red Sea. These new strikes hit anti-ship cruise missiles and vetted assault. And also included strikes on the first unmanned underwater vessel, the Iranian backed rebel group has used since the attacks from the Red Sea began.

The Houthi attacks have forced some of the world's biggest shipping and oil companies to suspend transit through one of the most important maritime trade routes, which could potentially cause a shock to the global economy.

We have team coverage, Jeremy Diamond is in Tel Aviv, but lets begin with Katie Bo Lillis in Washington.

So, Katie Bo, what more are we learning about these new strikes?

KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN REPORTER: Fred, we're just now starting to get details in from U.S. Central Command, from the U.S. military. But the U.S. military, we are told hitting five targets in Houthi controlled areas of Yemen, to include three anti-ship cruise missiles, one underwater drone and one drone boat.

These targets identified by the U.S. military beside -- these targets inside Yemen, identified with U.S. military and said to be quote, presenting an imminent threat to U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region. The combatant command saying in a statement that, quote, these actions will protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for U.S. Navy and merchant vessels.

Fred, this is just the latest round of retaliatory U.S. strikes against the Houthis. This Iranian backed rebel group that occupies large swaths of Yemen and has been carrying out now dozens of attacks on both commercial shipping as well as military vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, forcing, as you mentioned, some major shipping companies to suspend operations through the Suez Canal. It follows just three or four days ago in Friday, another series of strikes by the United States military against the Houthis, that time targeting an anti-ship cruise missile as well as a drone boat.

This, of course, as you mentioned it's the first time that the U.S. military has seen the Houthis use an underwater drone. These attacks have been hugely disruptive, of course to international shipping into the international economy have drawn a tremendous amount of concern, forcing, forcing some boats to -- some ships to reroute all the way around the southern tip of Africa obviously tremendously adding to the cost of commercial shipping.

The question at this point, Fred, is whether or not these retaliatory strikes are going to do anything to deter additional attacks by Houthi militants and right now, the answer at best appears to be, we don't really know. The Houthis have said that they will well intent -- that they intend to continue launching attacks until the Israeli invasion of Gaza has finished, is done. And at this point, the pace of attacks doesn't appear to have slowed at all.

U.S. intelligence gathering inside Houthi controlled to Yemen, also pretty anemic. And so the U.S. at this point doesn't really have a great sense of how much military capabilities the Houthis still have, essentially, how many bullets they still have left in the gun.

WHITFIELD: All right. Katie Bo Lillis, thank you so much.

Let's bring in Jeremy Diamond in Tel Aviv, because, Jeremy, many see a correlation between the conflict going on between Israel and Hamas, and what's happening in the Red Sea.

So give us an up date on the fighting in Gaza, and that hospital which has been under assault for days now

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Fred. Over the last few days, Israeli special forces have been operating inside of Nasser hospital, Gaza's second-largest hospital at the time, it was the largest functioning hospital in the Gaza Strip.

But now, as a result of those operations inside that hospital, Palestinian health officials as well as the World Health Organization now saying that that hospital is not functional anymore, effectively unable to receive or handle critical care for patients coming into that hospital.

We are told that there are about 25 medical staff that now remain on the grounds, unable to handle those critical care cases. Electricity has been cut off to the complex.


And the World Health Organization says that about 20 of the 200 patients sheltering at that hospital urgently need to be moved to other hospitals. And so far that has not been able to happen. There has also been a

wave of medical staff who have been detained as part of this Israeli operation, about 70 health care workers detained, according to the Palestinian ministry of health.

Now, in terms of what Israeli forces actually found at that hospital, they didn't find what they went in there looking for and that was the bodies of hostages that these really military believed would be at that hospital. So far, they have not turned up those bodies, what they'd say that they have found is weapon caches, as well as vehicles that they say had weapons in them as well as other Hamas insignia, which they suggested were used on October 7. We can't independently verify that information.

But beyond the operations at this hospital, there have been other strikes in southern Gaza. Thirteen Palestinians killed at near Rafah, according to local health officials. But really what's interesting is that even as there is this heavy ground offensive in southern Gaza, Central Gaza has really been getting pounded by the Israeli military over the last few days.

In fact, just as a result of the strikes yesterday, at least 68 people were killed, according to Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, which is in central Gaza. So that is certainly a story to continue to keep an eye on. Particularly as we have been watching, as people in southern Gaza, particularly in Rafah, have been starting to flee north to that central part of the Gaza Strip. Even though there is still clearly very heavy fighting and very intense bombardment happening there.

WHITFIELD: All right. Jeremy Diamond, Katie Bo Lillis, we'll check back with you. Thank you so much.

All right. Turning now to Russia and the war in Ukraine. President Biden warning that more towns in Ukraine could fall without renewed U.S. aid. He blames congressional inaction on new funding for the fall of the key town of Avdiivka where Ukraine's forces quickly retreated, in recent days. Multiple towns along the front lines appear to be in danger of falling as Ukraine's forces battle a larger and better equipped Russian military.

We're also monitoring the situation inside Russia where more than 400 people have reportedly been detained for attending vigils and rallies following the death of opposition leader and Putin critic Alexey Navalny in a Russian prison.

CNN chief global affairs correspondent Matthew Chance is in Moscow.

Matthew, what's the latest?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, you're right. There's been a lot of people, hundreds of people now detained across the country, simply for turning out and paying their respects and laying flowers, offering sympathy at the sort of makeshift memorials that have sprung up in various towns and cities across Russia, in the aftermath of the announcement that Alexey Navalny will be one of the country's main opposition leaders that died on Friday in his optic polar penal colony, where he was serving a 30 year prison sentence in the custody, of course, of the Russian authorities.

Now, it's a country 140 million people and 400 arrests or detentions doesn't sound like many. But the consequences for sort of raising your head above the parapet in this country is a very severe indeed. In these cases, most people have been set free or given, given fines it seems at the moment.

But yeah, I mean, look, going out to protests in a country where protests are crushed and the consequences in terms of your job, in terms of long prison sentence, sentences can be very long, it points to the sort of depth of feeling, the depth of anger that many people in the car country are feeling following this news about the death of Alexey Navalny -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Uh-huh. And, Matthew, Navalny's family and his supporters say they still hadn't seen his body. Do we have any updates on that?

CHANCE: Yeah. I mean, this is another unanswered question about what's happening because Alexey Navalny, of course, in this remote site, northern arctic penal colony, about 1,000 miles also north of the Russian capital. His mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, has already traveled to that -- to that location to try and recover the body of her son.

She was told, it was in a morgue in a town close by. But when she got there, the morgue was closed. The morgue authorities said Navalny's body was not inside. Subsequently, Navalny's mom has been told that the family won't be having -- getting the body back until a postmortem examination has been carried out, more tests to try and find out exactly what it was good into the Russian authorities that led to Alexey Navalny's death.


Alexey Navalny's team, his anti-corruption campaigning team, which is sort of based overseas because the group is banned inside Russia, they've said that that is the Russians trying to hide the body of Alexey Navalny. And, of course, trying to hide the cause of his death as well. And so, they're deeply suspicious about the motives of the Russians when it comes to Alexey Navalny, understandably.

WHITFIELD: Matthew Chance in Moscow, thanks so much.

All right. Let me bring in now Michael Bociurkiw. He is a global affairs analyst and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He is in Kyiv.

Good to see you, Michael.

I do want to ask you about Navalny in a moment, but first let's begin with Ukraine and President Biden now laying blame on U.S. Congress for the fall of Avdiivka. Is that a stretch or a legitimate claim?

MICHAEL BOCIURKIW, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good to be with you, Fred. I think it's a legitimate claim because we're already getting credible reports from the front lines of Ukrainian troops having to ration explosive charges, of having to Russia munitions. So they just don't have the muscle, the firepower that they went to use to repel Russian forces.

The other thing, of course, that's happening is they're being vastly outnumbered. And as President Zelenskyy said, the Ukrainians do not have the ability to control the skies above them. Hence, they count bring down Russian warplanes or missiles.

So, absolutely, there's a direct connection and a lot of paper or hope that U.S. lawmakers will look at themselves in the mirror and think twice about what they're about to do, I guess, in a couple of weeks.

WHITFIELD: You're there in Kyiv. Is there a growing concern that Ukraine could lose this war?

BOCIURKIW: You know, it's heartbreaking. I have my don square right behind me and today, there were two peaceful marches. But the first one was mothers and daughters and sons of soldiers held in Russian captivity saying it's time to bring them home.

And there are hundreds if not more, of Ukrainians and Russian captivity. We hear reports of them being put through sham trials, of them being tortured. So that kind of pay in that sense of loss is reverberating throughout Ukraine.

One more thing, Fredricka, also talking to contacts here on the ground, there are fears that in a month or so from now, woman, for the first time, may be mobilized in certain professions, but that's a pretty big step.

WHITFIELD: That's a huge step, indeed.

Ukraine's President Zelenskyy, he was in Munich for the global security conference this weekend and he's warned his allies that Putin would only be stopped by an ongoing show of unity.

What -- what do you believe Putin is watching for now? Because he's always reading the signals and trying to strategize how it will best suit him. When he hears that from Zelenskyy, when he hears the comments from President Biden, what does that fuel him to do or position him to do?

BOCIURKIW: Yeah. It's always difficult to get into the twisted mind of Mr. Putin. But you know, Fredricka, thugs and con-man, they only respond to one thing, that is to fear and a show of force. And I really didn't get that sense coming out of the Munich Security Conference that there is the unity that went needs right now, and there was talk again of sanctions.

Well, I'm sorry, but the Russian economy has been pretty impervious to many, many sanctions. I think what needs to happen right away that they can do quickly is to put it into motion the billions that are frozen and Russian sovereign funds and that money in the interim can go to Ukraine to pay for the war, but also things like pensions and teachers salaries.

But I think Mr. Putin is trying to run down the clock here until someone like Mr. Trump gets in and does an art of the deal on their own terms.

WHITFIELD: Impervious to sanctions, and then as it as applies to Navalny's death. And the blame being placed directly on Vladimir Putin by the president, U.S. president, and others.

Now the widow of Alexey Navalny, she's posted a picture of the two of them on Instagram. Friday, she attended the global security conference in Munich and try to get their attention. She made a very moving speech about her husband.

Inside Russia, we're seeing people being arrested for attending rallies and vigils paying homage to Navalny.

So how much attention are everyday Russians paying to his job? How much are they using that as a barometer for their own fear or livelihoods?

BOCIURKIW: Well, you know, you couldn't ask for a bigger contrast as Matthew was just reporting and Russia their arrests happening of people who were just show up or at the wrong place, wrong time near a place where Navalny is being commemorated; whereas here, there are hundreds of peaceful marchers.


There was hardly a policeman in sight. And that's what Ukrainians want to retain, that's what they want the Russians to see, that this is what a democracy really looks like.

You know, inside Russia, it's so sad. I mean, many Russians, as you know, have left many talented ones. And, you know, it must be so, so difficult on Mrs. Navalny right now because she has to also think about what her return to Russia may mean. Will meet the same fate of her husband, her late husband, because she is expected to take up the mantle now, I think?

So it's a very difficult situation. But one more quick thing is that Ukrainians are going to keep on fighting because they know that if Russia occupies Ukraine, they're going to be under the same repressive boot as people in Russia are facing today. And for the many years in the past.

Michael Bociurkiw, thank you so much. Always a pleasure talking to you, joining us today from Kyiv. Thank you.

BOCIURKIW: My pleasure.

WHITFIELD: All right. We're following more breaking news this hour. Two police officers and a firefighter have been killed in a shooting near Minneapolis. What authorities are saying about that attack, next.


WHITFIELD: All right. There's breaking news in Minnesota where authorities say two police officers and a firefighter had been killed in a shooting. It happened in Burnsville, just south of Minneapolis earlier today.

CNN's Camila Bernal is following this story.

Camila, what are you learning?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fred, little details are still very limited as we are waiting for a press conference expected to happen in a few hours. But here is what we know. Two police officers, two Burnsville police officers shot and killed as well as a firefighter. It was the governor who confirmed the news here and calling it horrific.

He also said that there are other officers that were injured. Its unclear what the injuries are or what the severity is in terms of how they're doing at the moment. So again, we are waiting for authorities to give us those details and conformations here.

WHITFIELD: The governor also saying that this was officers responding to a family in danger, the ATF calling it a domestic related shooting again. So, again, we're waiting to hear about those details, but they were responding to a call of a family in danger according to the governor. He also ordered flags to be flown at half-staff starting tomorrow in the entire state of Minnesota.

And I want to read part of the governor's statement where he says this: We must never take for granted the bravery and sacrifices our police officers and first responders make every day. My heart is with their families today. And the entire state of Minnesota stands with Burnsville.

Now, authorities have said that there is no current threat at the moment, but the scene is still active. There are still officers this investigation is very much ongoing and we are waiting to get those details, but, of course, this is extremely serious, as this involves two officers and one firefighter who were responding to this call.

There's a lot of reaction from local officials. We heard from the police chief in Minneapolis who's maybe about 15 miles south of Burnsville asking for prayers for the Burnsville police department.

We also heard from Senator Amy Klobuchar, who also said her and her husband were praying. She said this. They were doing their jobs, they were protecting our community. John and I are praying for them and their families and the Burnsville PD, this morning.

So again, we are just waiting for that press conference to learn more in terms of what happened here. But two officers, one firefighter killed this morning in Minnesota, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And, Camila, I know were still waiting for details and perhaps that press coverage is going to help fill in a lot of blanks. But when we look at the images, we do see that there was a park and we see a lot of police activity around what doesn't look like residential buildings. Now, is this domestic situation something that happened at a residence or some public location?

BERNAL: My understanding is that this view that you're seeing now is as close as the cameras can get, but it does appear to be that it was at a home where a family had called for help because the governor did say that this was a family in danger. So I think this is just as close as the cameras can get at the moment. But yes, well have to wait for that press conference to really get the details on what happened here.

WHITFIELD: All right. Very good. Camila Bernal, thank you so much.

BERNAL: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. We're also watching for major decision from the U.S. Supreme Court this week. Will Donald Trump's attempt to stall his federal election subversion case work? What the court is considering, next.



WHITFIELD: All right. One day after a New York judge ordered former president Trump to pay nearly $355 million in a civil fraud verdict, candidate Trump used a campaign rally in Michigan to lash out at the New York judge and the New York attorney general in that case. At that event, Trump once again, claimed without evidence that he is being politically targeted in these court cases, and vowed to change the nation's legal system if he is reelected president.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We will have no higher priority than ending the weaponization of this horrible legal system that is developed around us. It's a horrible, horrible thing that's taking place. You talk about democracy. This is a real threat to democracy.

This judge is a lunatic. And if you've ever watched him, and the attorney general may be worse, maybe worse. If you have ever watched her, I will get Donald Trump. Her campaign, I will get Donald Trump. I promise I will get him. She knows nothing about me.


WHITFIELD: This week could bring another critical legal ruling for Trump. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make a decision any day now on Trump's request to temporarily block a lower court's decision that determined he does not have immunity.

Trump believes he should have immunity for actions that he took while he was president, and once the case delayed.

With me now to talk more about this is Michael Zeldin. He's a former federal prosecutor, and served as Robert Mueller's special assistant at the Department of Justice.

Great to see you, Michael.


WHITFIELD: All right. So Trump wants to delay this criminal prosecution while the U.S. Supreme Court considers taking up his immunity case.


What potentially are the options that the Supreme Court could exercise?

ZELDIN: Well, they could extend the stay that the trial judge put in place in the court of appeals affirmed and let this case go in the ordinary course, which could mean briefings and a decision by late June, or they could keep this stay in place and take this on an expedited basis. And then we'd get a ruling probably in the next six weeks to eight weeks.

Or they could lift the stay, let the case go back to the trial judge and then decide whether they want to hear Trump's request to have immunity be made part of the law as he sees it.

WHITFIELD: And these considerations are these considered expedited? Might it be as early as this week when we might hear from the U.S. Supreme Court on which direction it might go or rule?

ZELDIN: One would hope so. The way the court works is the justices meet every week or so in conference, they call it and they discuss requests for cases to be heard or emergency petitions. And if they get four justices want to hear a case, then the case gets put on the docket if they get five, then the case could be put on an expedited docket.

And so I believe they met just this past Thursday or Friday and well wait hopefully no later than this coming week for decision about whether they're going to take the case, take the case on expedited basis, and what to do about this day? Leave it in place, or let this trial proceed while they're deciding whether to take the case or not take the case.

WHITFIELD: So the way the Trump team is proceeding on this as a little peculiar based on their pattern of events where they would outright want to appeal something, Trump's attorneys are arguing that he has absolute immunity from criminal prosecution, he and his legal team decided against appealing a courts decision that found he is not immune from civil lawsuits. You know, they blame him for the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

So what do you make of that decision? And this route in which the Trump team is going?

ZELDIN: So the bottom line of Trump's strategy across the board, state or federal, is to delay the day of reckoning what they would like very much on the federal cases is for them to be delayed until in their minds, he's elected president again, in which case you can order his Justice Department to dismiss the cases. In Georgia, you see the attacks on the prosecutor, Fani Willis and her lead prosecutor Nathan Wade, in an attempt to get them thrown off the case, the case dismissed or the case delayed.

So everything that is true about these cases is delay is their primary goal.

WHITFIELD: Uh-huh. I also want to ask you about comments coming from former President Trump saying, if elected, if reelected, he would end what he calls the weaponization of the Justice Department. As a former federal prosecutor, a member of the Justice Department. What's your reaction to that?

ZELDIN: Well, first, I disagree with the proposition that the Justice Department is weaponized. What he considers to be weaponization is the Justice Department going after important, if you will, people like himself. He doesn't mention, of course that they've gone out after Democratic Senator Menendez as well. And that you have a report that was pretty scathing with respect to President Biden.

He views weaponization as anything that attacks him personally. What's most so disingenuous about what he says as he says they are doing this for me and I am doing this to me and I am doing this for you. In fact, of course, if the system is to work properly, they have to be able to bring cases against people like Trump so that people have a sense that if you're important, or at least in your own mind important, the justice system will treat you as it would treat the less important person that is blind justice with the scales being equal.

So I think he's just got it backwards and I think he's misleading his followers.

WHITFIELD: All right. Michael Zeldin, great to see you. Thanks so much.

ZELDIN: Thank you

WHITFIELD: And tonight, Jake Tapper unpacks the most outrageous political scandals in his new CNN original series, "UNITED STATES OF SCANDAL". That's premiering at 9:00 p.m., right here on CNN.

All right. We are waiting for a Fulton County, Georgia judge to decide whether the district attorney, Fani Willis can stay on the election subversion case against former President Trump.


But what played out last week goes far beyond the courtroom.


WHITFIELD: As Georgia Judge McAfee decides whether Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis should remain on the Trumps subversion case. There was widespread agreement that the evidentiary hearing was riveting alleged misconduct is what brought the hearing after co-defendants alleged Willis had a romantic relationship with her lead prosecutor, Nathan Wade, and that she allegedly financially benefited from it.

Well, despite witnesses claiming the two were romantically involved, Willis in dramatic fashion, reminded the court what is at root.


FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I object to you getting records. You've been intrusive into people's personal lives.


You're confused. You think I'm on trial. These people are on trial for trying to steal an election in 2020. I'm not on trial no matter how hard you try to put me on trial.


WHITFIELD: What played out in the televised hearing, put more than the legal process under the microscope.

Let me bring in now CNN political analyst Coleman Hughes. He is also the author of the new book, "The End of Race Politics".

Of course, you can find it wherever you find your books.

Good to see you, Coleman and congratulations on your book. We'll talk about that at the end, but let's talk about this case.

While plenty of legal minds have dissected the hearing from a merit standpoint, what about the other dynamics on display in that courtroom involving sex, race, generational, and cultural divides? How did you see it?

COLEMAN HUGHES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, well, I saw day one as bad for Fani Willis and day to as bad for Trumps legal team for all kinds of reasons relating to the details of the case. But I think many people have been trying to paint this as a situation where they are coming after Fani Willis on racial grounds or because she is a Black woman.

I think the truth here is far simpler. Trump's legal team is going to use anything they are given to delay the game as much as possible, to delay prosecutions. And Fani Willis has just handed them, you know, an extremely convenient and legitimate pretext for delaying in this case.

So, you know, ultimately, I think -- you can say it's about race, but both sides have in some way played racial elements. So, for instance, Fani Willis brought in race when she said that keeping $15,000 in cash in your home is a Black thing. Now, that's debatable, but I think it's the way of deflecting from the details of this situation.

WHITFIELD: So the allegations of impropriety or misconduct, you know, meant, as we saw it play out, delving into deeply personal matters of both Willis and Wade from cash reimbursements to cancer. Putting Wade, Willis, and her dad on the stand.

Watch these moments and then let's talk about it on the other side.


NATHAN WADE, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR IN TRUMP GEORGIA ELECTION INTERFERENCE CASE: In 2020 and a portion of '21, I was battling cancer and that prevented me from pretty much leaving the -- leaving environments that are sterile and I just I had helped on my mind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're particularly cautious during that time?

WADE: Yes, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you're dating anyone in 2020?

WADE: No, ma'am.

FANI WILLIS: When you meet my father, he is going to tell you as a woman, you should always have -- which I don't have. So let's don't tell him that -- should have at least six months in cash at your house at all time. That I don't know why these old Black man feels like that, but he does.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you got cash to pay him back on these trips, would you go to the ATM?

FANI WILLIS: No, lady.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You would not go to the ATM?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay. So, Fulton County pays you direct deposit, I assume?

FANI WILLIS: Yes. Fulton county and the state of Georgia both pay me direct deposits.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay. So the cash that you would pay him, you wouldn't get it out of the bank?

FANI WILLIS: I have money in my house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You do not know where that money came from?

FANI WILLIS: I do know where it came from. It came from my sweat and tears.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm asking if you have any proof that you paid him any of these monies.

FANI WILLIS: I mean, the proof is what I just told you.

FLOYD WILLIS, FANI WILLIS' FATHER: Your Honor, I'm not trying to be racist. Okay? But it's a Black thing. Okay? You know, I was trained and most Black folks they hide cash so they

keep cash. There was signed said, you know with a credit card, for whatever reasons the man would not take my American Express credit card. So I pulled up my Visa card, and he wouldn't take my visa card. So, then I pulled out my travelers checks. He said, we don't take checks.

I've told my daughter, you keep six months worth of cash always.


WHITIFELD: So, Coleman, I mean, did this hearing reveal something else about where we are as a nation? I mean, I've talked to people who say they have identified with that, you know, elders say keep cash on the experience that her dad conveyed and some who said that is so foreign to them. So might this also be on display a real lack of understanding and appreciation for generational differences, for cultural differences, and how a sort of misunderstanding really ends up being at the root of level of mistrust.


HUGHES: It's certainly possible. So for example famously, people that lived through the Great Depression would keep cash you know, almost their entire savings in their mattress, their entire lives, long past the time when that actually made sense from a financial perspective. There's no doubt that your own personal experiences can just shape your approach to finances your entire life, ad what you -- what you pass onto your children.

So it's certainly possible that that's all of that is true, and that there's a cultural element to that. There's a generational element to that. There's a racial cultural element to that.

At the same time, it's also possible that that's a bit of a deflection because at the end of the day, she hasn't given an account of why she had so much cash, right? She sort of mentioned that she gets cash back at the grocery store.

Look, yeah. You get $20, $50 of cash back at the grocery store. That doesn't really seem to explain from a common sense point of view why you might have up to $15,000 of cash in her home.

WHITFIELD: Well, except she said, well, she was -- there was a follow- up on that. She said it was cumulative. It's over years, and she credited her dad for having to instill that for many, many years, but that's what the point I'm saying. You know, if there wasn't that kind of identifying with that instruction from the family, you heard the attorney was able to use that to help instill doubt about the store.

HUGHES: Right.

WHITFIELD: And so, I felt like --

HUGHES: Right.

WHITFIELD: -- what we watched is that a microcosm of a lack of understanding between people.

HUGHES: It very well could be. And at the end of the day, Judge McAfee's going to have to weigh all of this and make what is a very tough judgment call. The answer, the right answer here. I don't think this at all obvious. So I think we should all be waiting for that possibly next week.

WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk about your book now, "The End of Race Politics". I mean, this is a response to the notion of a colorblind society. I haven't read your book, full disclosure, but just in reading how it was summarized. Help us understand, what are -- are you arguing that a colorblind society is possible, or are you also stating that you see this nation as going backward into a new culture of displays of racism, we understand what the premise of your book?

HUGHES: Yes. So I view the notion of a colorblind society similar to a notion of a peaceful society. It's not that were ever going to get there perfectly. But it's that we have to know and value the ideal and the direction that were moving towards. So we'll never achieve a perfectly colorblind society, just like will never achieve a perfectly peaceful society. But we ought to strive for both.

And what has happened, especially in the past ten years, is that the whole notion of a colorblind society and the word colorblindness has really lost a lot of value in people's minds. People equate colorblindness with naivete, on the issue of race, with denying that racism exists, or even with white supremacy.

And part of the fault of that is this phrase. I don't see color is highly misleading because we all see color, we all see race, but what we should try to do is to treat people without regard to race, both in our public policy and in our personal lives. And if we want to address social disadvantage, disparities of lock-in society, we should do that on the basis of class.

So that's the basic thesis of my book. I'm trying to rescue the notion and the ideal of colorblindness from the past ten years when so many people have heaped scorn upon it as an ideal.

WHITFIELD: Coleman Hughes, thank you so much. Glad you can be with us today.

HUGHES: Great to be with you.

WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: Okay. We're just hours away now from the NBA all-star game. The NBA showcase weekend got a new twist this year with the first ever showdown between the NBA and the WNBA's best three-point shooters.

CNN's Andy Scholes joining us live now from Indianapolis, and it's certainly lived up to the hype. ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it certainly did, Fredricka. It's all anybody was talking about yesterday was the first ever battle of the sexes from the three-point line, Steph Curry versus Sabrina Ionescu. And they came up with this idea after Sabrina scored a record 37 points in a round at the WNBA all-star game, winning that contest over the summer.

And it would be Sabrina shooting first last night and she shot from the NBA three-point line and she just put on his show clearing the first rack completely. She'd gone to finish with a great score of 26, which could have actually been tied for the best score in a no real three-point contest.

But she was going up against the best shooter of all time and Steph Curry. And Steph would get hot late, end up winning 29 to 26. Both saying afterwards, this competition was just a great success and I asked Steph, if he was feeling the pressure after Sabrina's great round.



STEPH CURRY, 10X NBA ALL-STAR: It added a lot of pressure for sure. And you just wanted to get it off to go start and settle in. Thankfully, I made enough to get over to top, but that was perfect. The way great entertainment, great shooting.

SABRINA IONESCU, 2X WNBA ALL-STAR: I think its going to show a lot of young kids out there, a lot of people who might have not believed or even watched women's sports that were able to go out there and put on a show. And so it was really exciting to finally be able to do this. And like Steph said, it happened perfectly.


SCHOLES: All right. In the dunk contest, 25-year-old Mac McClung, who's playing in the G League right now, trying to repeat as champion. And here, he dazzled the crowd once again with his 43.5 inch vertical and Mac jumping over Shaq, who was wearing his high school jersey to win the contest, beating Jaylen Brown in the finals. Mac, the fifth back-to-back champs ever in the dunk contest.

And I caught up with him on the court right afterwards.


SCHOLES: Mac, how does it feel to be back-to-back slam dunk champion?

MAC MCCLUNG, 2023 & 2024 SLAM DUNK CHAMPION: Man, it's incredible. I really feel like I could've done a lot better job ahead. Some downside in execute, right? But I'm super grateful to be right here and compete against these incredible dunkers.

SCHOLES: You jumped over Shaq to win it. How nervous you got to be the jump over human as massive as Shaq? MCCLUNG: Man, he looked at me, and he said, don't miss this dunk. I was like, I can't miss it now, he told me not miss it. He had my high school jersey on which was really cool for him to that.

SCHOLES: Yeah. Some people say, you know, anyone could win one dunk competition. You now have one, two. Do you think that really cements yourself as one of the best dunkers?

MCCLUNG: I don't know. Really, I don't think that's for me to judge. I just kind of go with the flow and have phone with it. I'll do it because I love it.


SCHOLES: And this year's all-star game, Fredricka, going back to the East versus West format. I talked a lot of players this week. They are thrilled that its going back to the traditional format and coverage starts 8:00 Eastern on TNT.

WHITFIELD: Oh my gosh.

SCHOLES: Hopefully, we'd get a good one.

WHITFIELD: Very, it'll be good because hey, that was a great preview. Those were some good pre all-star moments. I loved it, and I love the belt, the Steph. The Steph and Sabrina -- Sabrina belt, I want one of those.

All right. Thanks so much, Andy Scholes. Appreciate it.

All right. We're back in a moment