Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Two Legal Battles For Donald Trump Happening At The Same Time; Russia Batters Ukraine With Missile Attacks; Crowds Mourns Concert Hall Terror Attack; Ukraine Aid Funding To Be Voted After Easter. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 24, 2024 - 17:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: They are extremely moved by the public's warm and support and are grateful for the understanding of their request for privacy at this time" end quote. In Friday's video post, the princess said doctors discovered she had cancer after having abdominal surgery in January, and she is now in the early stages of chemotherapy treatment.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Thank you so much for being with me this weekend. The "CNN Newsroom" continues with Omar Jimenez right now.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN HOST: Welcome everyone. You're in the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Omar Jimenez in New York. We begin with what could be not one, but two major legal blows for Donald Trump. In less than 24 hours, the former president will have to post nearly half a billion dollars in bond money for his civil fraud judgment in New York, or the state attorney general could begin seizing his assets.

And tomorrow, Trump could also learn the new trial date for his criminal hush money case in Manhattan. A delay pushed the start date to mid-April, at least. CNN's national security reporter, Zachary Cohen, joins us with more details. All right, Zach, so how is Trump responding to all this? And there is a lot to respond to here.

ZACHARY COHEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: There absolutely is. And we've been getting some mixed messages from Trump and his lawyers about whether or not he has the money to post bond for his civil fraud judgment. As you mentioned, he personally owes over $450 million as a result of that judgment.

But ultimately, he's going to have to put up the cash tomorrow, by tomorrow's deadline, or the attorney general in New York could start the process of seizing assets. And that includes, potentially, Trump's properties in New York. We've seen prosecutors in New York start to lay the groundwork, potentially, for that process to begin.

But at the same time, there's also a key pre-trial hearing tomorrow in Trump's criminal case in New York. You'll remember that the trial itself was supposed to start tomorrow. But instead, Trump's lawyers are going to have an opportunity to argue for postponement and argue for the case even to be dismissed. That's an unlikely outcome. But we could get some clues as to when the judge in this case might

set a trial date. The postponement due to discovery issues is expected to push this trial into about mid-April. So, we'll have to see tomorrow if we get more clarity around when a trial, potentially Trump's first and only pre-election trial, could begin.

JIMENEZ: And of course, we're only talking about the state of New York there. Obviously, down in Georgia, in the election subversion case, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is still pushing for a summer trial date. And she's also been out and speaking to some cameras, at least our cameras, this weekend as well. What has she been saying?

COHEN: Yeah, Omar, Fani Willis, despite the fact that we've been talking about whether or not she could be disqualified from the Georgia case, saying yesterday that her case against Trump and his remaining co-defendants is still on track and that she wants this trial to start before the 2024 election and confirming that she may ask the judge for a second time to set a trial date for as early as August 5th, 2024.

She previously has asked the judge to put that on the calendar for the trial date to start on August 5th. That request has gone unanswered. But she told us yesterday exclusively that she may re-up that request, but with some additional caveats. Take a listen to what she said when we asked her about the state of her case and a potential trial date.


FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I'm also realistic that one of the defendants has multiple cases going on and some of them have trial dates that are ahead of ours. And so, I'm always going to be respectful of sister jurisdictions, but we plan to just continue to do our work. So, if defendants come to us and they decide that they want to resolve their case, I'm always open-minded and reasonable and we will listen to those explanations and I'll have conversations with people that are interested. Now those conversations will be with me and not Mr. Wade. I hope that was good for everyone.


COHEN: So, at the end there, you heard Willis talking about the potential for additional plea deals with the remaining defendants in the Georgia case. But -- and it comes at a time when she could still technically face the prospect of disqualification and appeals court has about 45 days to decide whether or not it wants to review Judge McAfee, the judge overseeing the case, his decision to allow Fani Willis to remain on the case.

But she's making clear that she's moving forward. The judge in this case has made clear that he's not pausing things and he's moving forward even with the prospect of disqualification still hanging out there.

JIMENEZ: And to remind everyone, all the Fani Willis testimony we've seen at this point was just about whether she would remain on the case. Now, that's settled and now the actual case is moving forward. At least we will see how quickly that ends up happening. Zach Cohen, thank you so much for your reporting. I appreciate it.

I want to turn to some experts in the legal world for more on what all this means. Joining me now is former federal prosecutor and host of the "It's Complicated podcast," Renato Mariotti and CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen. He served as special counsel for the House Judiciary Committee majority during the first impeachment trial of former President Trump.


Okay. And he's also, I don't want to cut you short here, also the new editor of a book that comes out next month called "Trying Trump: The Complete Guide to the Manhattan DA's Prosecution." Yeah. Can't sell you short there. Thank you both, though, for joining me.

First, Renato, I want to ask you about this bond deadline because, you know, I think everyone hears, all right, he owes half a billion dollars that he's got to come up with by Monday. Is there any chance that Trump's team could still sway an appeals court to allow him to post a smaller amount or delay posting this payment until after the appeal?

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think it's highly unlikely. Obviously, Trump has been able to obtain some relief that the average person couldn't obtain. But certainly, if it was one of my clients coming to me and asking whether or not they were going to get more time, I would say that's highly unlikely.

You lost a trial. You don't need to post a bond, but that's just going to mean that the plaintiff's going to come and try to collect their money. And that's exactly what I expect to happen here.

JIMENEZ: And of course, one of the major questions, Norm, is how exactly the attorney general comes to collect, whether it's bank accounts or going after properties. And we know the A.G. has already filed a judgment with the clerk's office in Westchester County earlier this month, specifically his golf course and private estate known as Seven Springs.

But what about Trump's assets outside of New York, like Mar-a-Lago, Trump's Doral Golf Club? Could those be seized as well if he doesn't meet his bond deadline tomorrow?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: There are interstate proceedings that allow you to attach properties. But Omar, the vast majority of Trump's business career has been in New York. He has a lot of properties in New York.

And I think the A.G. has already made clear she's going to start there, both with filing that paperwork in Westchester County, noting pointedly in an interview that she looks at 40 Wall Street, one of Trump's buildings every day. It's adjacent to her office. That's just easier. And there are valuable properties, bank accounts and more in the state of New York at hand. JIMENEZ: Yeah. Yeah. And look, a lot of this is, of course, the mechanics of how this would actually unfold or doesn't unfold tomorrow. But on Friday, Renato, Trump went on Truth Social, as he has frequently over this past week, to claim he has $500 million in cash that he would love to use on his campaign. But his lawyers quickly clarified, saying, no, he doesn't actually have that cash on hand.

This case was part -- was basically found him liable for inflating the value of his assets. So, is he essentially repeating the same offense here while he's trying to avoid paying his bond? And are there any additional penalties, in a sense, for sort of committing the very thing you were just found liable of?

MARIOTTI: Well, you know, he was found liable in this case for inflating the values of his properties and making other false statements related to those properties in connection with obtaining loans. That's obviously against the law. Here on Truth Social, he was essentially lying to the public, which, let's face it, is something he's done very frequently, about the amount of money he had.

The reason his lawyers jumped in quickly to clarify things is because they had previously told the court that he didn't have the money. So, what -- either they were lying or he was lying. And if it was them, they were going to be taken to task by the court. And of course, it would actually undercut his request for relief where we just -- you were just asking about a moment ago.

As a practical matter, I really think that this statement that he made publicly is just going to be used by the attorney general to suggest that you can't really trust what Trump and his team are saying about the impact that this is going to have on his businesses.

He's clearly, you know, making things up, exaggerating the truth, making false statements in order to essentially create a narrative about this when in actuality, this is a fairly routine occurrence when you lose a trial. Certainly, it's routine in the state of New York.

JIMENEZ: Yeah, yeah. Norm, I want to turn staying in New York. I want to turn to the hush money case, because in a series of filings Thursday, the district attorney's office accused Trump's lawyers of a, quote, "grab bag of meritless discovery arguments" and said no further delay is needed in the trial. Can you explain this discovery issue and why the prosecution believes the Trump team can no longer delay this trial?

EISEN: Omar, over a year ago, the district attorney asked federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York for a bunch of information and documents, some of which they provided, some they didn't. Then earlier this year, really relatively late in the day, Trump subpoenaed that information.


And now a lot of additional documents have flooded in, some of which, in my view, should have been turned over much earlier or Trump should have asked for much earlier. There's a pattern with Donald Trump of these last-minute motions in order to delay cases. He's had some success elsewhere. But I don't think it's going to work here because the district attorney is not to blame. There's plenty of time to look at the relatively small number of documents that the D.A. says are relevant here.

And the delay game, just like it's run out, it appears, on satisfying this judgment for civil fraud, seems to be running out on these allegations going to trial about a different kind of fraud, defrauding the voters by hiding information from them in the last days of the 2016 election about a potentially damaging scandal and then covering that up. So, there's a through line here of dissimulation and delay. I think this case is very likely to go to trial in April.

JIMENEZ: Yeah. Well, we will have a lot of answers by this point tomorrow on how this is all going to unfold. But for now, Renato Mariotti, Norm Eisen, thank you so much.

MARIOTTI: Thank you.

JIMENEZ: Still ahead, missiles light up the Ukrainian night sky after Russia launches a retaliatory attack, while Poland is demanding an explanation after one of those Russian missiles entered its airspace.

Plus, mourners traveling up to a thousand miles after at least 137 people were killed in a terrorist attack near Moscow. CNN was on the street as people gathered to pay their respects. You're in the "CNN Newsroom." Stay with us.



JIMENEZ: Today, major airstrikes between Ukraine and Russia and an alarming foray into Polish airspace. First, bright orange explosions over Kyiv. Russia hitting back after Ukraine claims it struck two Russian naval carriers in a huge overnight attack. Ukraine says it hit a key port that Russia took from Ukraine in 2014.

Meanwhile, Poland says a Russian cruise missile entered its airspace for 39 seconds, causing the Polish air force and its allies to scramble jets. Poland says it will demand an explanation from Moscow.

Also, a National Day of Mourning in Russia today. Massive crowds flooded the streets of Moscow to remember the at least 137 killed in a terror attack. Some traveled as far as a thousand miles to honor the dead. ISIS is claiming responsibility and posted a graphic video they say shows its members' ruthless rampage. CNN is choosing not to show that video, but so far, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not named ISIS, only saying terrorists detained by Russian security services attempted to flee to Ukraine.

This as we get a look at some of the suspects arrested by police, blindfolded and being led into Russian security services headquarters. CNN chief global affairs correspondent Matthew Chance is in Moscow with more.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you join me outside the Crocus City Hall near Moscow, where on Friday night, gunmen killed at least 130 people inside that prominent concert hall. You can see thousands of people have now turned out from around Russia to pay their respects, to lay flowers, cuddly toys as well, add respect for the children who are affected. It really is a major event that has affected this country, and it has fed feelings of instability amongst ordinary people.

ALEKSANDRA RUDENKO, MOURNER: I feel terrible about all the violence that exists in our world.

CHANCE: Yeah, in our world, and in Russia as well. Do you feel safe in Russia, do you think?

RUDENKO: Yes, I think so. Not today because of this --

CHANCE: Attack.

RUDENKO: Attack. Can be in every country, and I think that it is a problem of all world.

CHANCE: Do you feel safe in Russia now? Do you still feel safe, or is there so many things happening you feel a bit more insecure?

MAXIM TKACHEV, MOURNER: You know, I don't know how to answer that question properly, but all I can say is that terrorist attacks, they are a worldwide problem. So, this topic, well, it's not safe to feel when there are terrorists in the whole world, so I should say, well, this is --

CHANCE: This is part of a broader, broader problem.

TKACHEV: Yes, yes.

CHANCE: You can see Orthodox priests have come out to deliver prayers at this memorial as well. This as investigators inside the burned-out rubble of the concert hall are still going through the debris and are still saying that they're finding bodies, and so the death toll could rise.

In terms of the investigations, well, the authorities say at least 11 people have been taken into custody, including the four suspects who they believe carried out the actual shootings inside the Crocus City Hall.


Of course, ISIS said they carried out this attack, but the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, who is vowing revenge, calling it a barbaric act, has said that it could be linked with Ukraine, something the Ukrainian government has categorically denied. Matthew Chance, CNN, at the Crocus City Hall near Moscow.

JIMENEZ: All right, our thank you to Matthew Chance near Moscow there. Now, joining me is former longtime CNN Moscow bureau chief, Jill Dougherty. Jill, so can you just put it in perspective for our viewers, the scale of the shock that this created for the Russian people and for the government, and it didn't happen in a vacuum here?

JILL DOUGHERTY, FORMER CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: Yes, that's really true. You know, I think it is traumatizing for Russians because you look back, ever since Vladimir Putin was the president, which began, you know, 24 years ago, there have been a lot of terror attacks. And after each one, there was an investigation, not clear what happened.

And just looking at this, literally days after Putin was reelected, you know, for a fifth term, I think they feel very, very insecure. And then the government on the other side, and we can talk about that, is trying to explain, you know, why this happened. And as Matthew pointed out, apparently Putin was warned by the United States about their picking up intel that there could be some type of attack, in fact, in a theater possibly. And he just dismissed it as blackmail and attempt to destabilize the country.

So, I think there are a lot of answers that Russians would like to have. That said, I think the government will try to divert them into paths of thinking that the government wants them to have.

JIMENEZ: And look, yeah, to your point, the United States has warned Moscow of an impending attack. Russia's ambassador to the U.S. in Washington is now denying receiving that warning. But it was a bulletin that was out there publicly, as has been described by our reporting. I'm curious, from your perspective, Russia has said they've thwarted attacks like these in the past. How do you anticipate Russia addressing the basic security failures that clearly happened here?

DOUGHERTY: Well, I don't think they are going to address them, quite honestly. I mean, I covered so many attacks going way back to the end of Yeltsin and the beginning of Putin, then all through Putin. And there's always an investigation. There's always a big excitement about, you know, we will get to the bottom of this. And they never do. I have to be honest. They never do.

They never quite come to the point of explaining exactly how these things happened. So, I would presume that they will have another investigation, and it will yield probably some, you know, examination and some conclusion. But I don't think they will explain, even if they may know, what the real purpose is.

And Omar, one thing on the ambassador, that statement did come out, ambassador to the United States. But he is saying, we here at the embassy in Washington, D.C., nothing was passed (inaudible). He is not saying that the Russian government did not get this directly. And that's what the Biden administration is saying. We warned Russia, gave them that information directly. So, they may not have talked to the embassy.

JIMENEZ: Yeah, yeah. No, it's a very important distinction there. Now, look, it does appear, because at the center of this, this is a tragedy, over 100 people killed here. And then now comes the investigation and also the information stream that everyone is now trying to parse through what is real, what is propaganda, what is being used for political purposes.

And it does appear Vladimir Putin is trying to, at least in some ways, use this attack for political purposes by implicating Ukraine and trying to unite Russians behind this Ukraine war, as he has been trying to do since this war began. What are the chances that that effort succeeds in the wake of this attack?

DOUGHERTY: Well, you know, they have at their disposal all of the media, all of the state media. They already have a population that is traumatized by the war and has been already propagandized to believe that the West is out to get Russia. You know, it's the West, it's existential battle against the West.

And so, I think the Kremlin will try to fold that into this narrative that, you know, Russia is under attack. They also will probably try to make common cause with terrorism everywhere. You heard that in some of the comments that were given to Matthew in those interviews. So, I think they would try, as I said, kind of derail any attempt by Russians to really hold Putin to account for this, what is obviously a security failure.


JIMENEZ: Yeah. Jill Dougherty, thank you for your perspective, as always.


JIMENEZ: Still ahead, a top Republican congressman says Speaker Johnson will move on a House vote for more aid to Ukraine soon. But Johnson's job as Speaker of the House is under threat from his own party. New CNN reporting on how Democrats are willing to help save Johnson's job, but there's a catch. We'll explain coming up. You're in the "CNN Newsroom."


JIMENEZ: The chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Mike McCaul, says Speaker Mike Johnson will move on a House vote for more aid to Ukraine soon.



REP. MICHAEL MCCAAUL (R-TX): His commitment is to put it on the floor after Easter. And we are working on this bill. I would like to be done as soon as possible. I think the situation in Ukraine is dire.


JIMENEZ: Now, Ukraine aid was notably left out of the $1.2 trillion spending package the House passed on Friday. But more aid for Ukraine could be critical if Johnson wants to keep his job as House speaker.

By supporting that spending bill, Johnson has upset many in the party, namely Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. She has filed a motion to oust him, although she hasn't yet forced a vote, which would be a much more serious step.

Multiple sources tell CNN that House Democrats are willing to help save Johnson's job if he comes up with a plan to help Ukraine. CNN's chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju joins us with more. Manu?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Omar, Speaker Johnson may have to rely on Democrats to save his job if Marjorie Taylor Greene does, in fact, carry through with her threat to oust him from the speakership.

And there's some signs that this could be different than what we saw back in the fall when Kevin McCarthy became the first speaker ever to be ousted by his own colleagues on a vote on the House floor. At that point, Democrats did not come to McCarthy's defense. In fact, they all voted to remove him. Eight Republicans did as well.

The question is, what do Democrats do now? I talked to a number of Democrats over the last few days. They are telling me that they are willing to save Mike Johnson's job if he moves forward on Ukraine aid. This has been stalled for months.

And there has been deep Republican divisions over moving ahead. Johnson has tried to see if there's a path forward on a separate bipartisan plan that is emerging in the House. Democrats have issues with that bipartisan bill.

But there is the Senate package that was approved last month as $95 billion in aid to Ukraine, to Israel, to Taiwan. That does not deal with the issues of the border because Republicans were divided over that prospect. But because it is silent on border security money or any border security provisions, Johnson has said he would not move forward on that.

However, Democrats say if he committed to moving with a vote on Ukraine aid on the Senate package, they would come to save him. That is what the number of rank and file Democrats indicated to me just a couple of days ago.


REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER (D-VA): If he does the responsible thing, which is allowing members of Congress to vote on a bill that will pass and that is in our national security interests, and then subsequent to that, a non-serious actor who doesn't want to govern brings a motion to vacate, yes, I would motion to table in that circumstance.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): I will make common cause with anybody who will stand up for the people of Ukraine, anybody who will get desperately needed humanitarian assistance to Gaza, and anybody who will work for a two-state solution.


RAJU: The timing of this, Omar, though, is a bit uncertain because Marjorie Taylor Greene can call up this vote whenever she wants. The House is in recess for the next two weeks. They'll come back. She can decide to move then or later. She's not saying that yet.

Then there'll be two legislative days to actually have that vote on the House floor. The first vote is expected to be a procedural one to essentially table or kill that resolution. That's the one Democrats are weighing whether to vote for, whether to kill that on the floor, that first procedural vote, Omar.

JIMENEZ: All right, Manu Raju, thank you. Still ahead, Earth's fresh water supply is getting dirtier, saltier, and more scarce. None of that sounds good. But promising technological solutions could be the answer to the global water crisis. We'll explain. You're in the "CNN Newsroom."



JIMENEZ: Imagine a world where everyone has access to clean, sustainable, fresh water. It sounds pretty great. Well, in their quest to make that a reality, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, otherwise known as MIT, say they've made a breakthrough.

CNN's chief climate correspondent Bill Weir takes a look at the new wave of technology that could be a future solution to a growing global crisis.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a planet of nearly eight billion people, as aquifers are drained, reservoirs evaporate and sea levels rise. Earth's freshwater supply is getting dirtier, saltier, and scarcer.

And while desalination keeps some wealthy nations alive, making saltwater sweet demands the kind of energy and infrastructure that's just out of reach for the most desperate societies.

YANG ZHONG, GRADUATE STUDENT, MIT: I really had a chance to teach in a rural area in China. I was really shocked to see that how struggling they were to get some clean water. That journey was like two hours every day.

WEIR (voice-over): So, it's no wonder that some of the most promising breakthroughs in water tech are coming from the melting pot laboratories of Boston, where MIT's Yang Zhong and Li Nanzhang (ph) invented a machine the size of a suitcase that mimics the circulation power of the ocean. Powered only by sunlight, they say their prototype can desalinate six liters an hour at a cost cheaper than tap water.

ZHONG: So, for a device that has the footprint of a solar panel, this will cost around like $150 to $200.

WEIR: Wow, that's cheap. And then you don't have to plug it in. It doesn't need any external power source. [17:40:00]

It's just the sun above it.

ZHONG: Yes, just sun, natural sunlight.

UNKNOWN: Welcome to the Carson Beach. Solar panel, battery, desalination unit.

WEIR (voice-over): Meanwhile, a Korean team from MIT came up with another potential game changer.

JUNGHYO YOON, FORMER RESEARCH SCIENTIST, MIT: Just drink it. We just sent our most recent prototype to the U.S. Army that can produce the 10 liter per hour of the drinking water with a direct feed of the seawater.

WEIR (voice-over): Junghyo tells me his startup ICPWaterTech is just getting its first million in investment, and after two students from India met as MIT lab partners, and set out to clean and recycle the dirtiest of industrial waste. Their company Gradiant is the first in the sector to be valued at $1 billion, a clean water unicorn.

It just strikes me that these ideas are the result of immigrants coming from developing places who see the problem in a much more acute way than Americans do. Then mingling these ideas in a place like Boston at MIT, where the dreamers and the doers meet, it's exciting to think about the possibilities of that combination.

ZHONG: Yeah, we're really fortunate to be here at MIT and in Boston because we are surrounded by a lot of resources. I'm right now just like a sponge learning all these things.

LENAN ZHANG, RESEARCH SCIENTIST, MIT: Seawater is the most abundant resource covering the earth, and solar is accessible everywhere. And then why not make them combined?


Then it can be a very powerful tool. It's more like an equitable resource to anyone, anywhere, and any time.


JIMENEZ: That would really -- that would change the world if they could pull that off. Bill Weir reporting. Thank you for that. Still ahead, March Madness started with 68 teams. That number quickly going down. And soon we're going to have a Sweet 16. Our Coy Wire joins us ahead to talk about the day's surprises and stomp downs. You're in the "CNN Newsroom."



JIMENEZ: March Madness started with 68 men's and women's teams. Twenty-eight remain on the women's side, 22 on the men's side. Purdue is the second number one seed to reach the Sweet 16 on the men's side by crushing Utah State. UConn and Houston maybe could join them tonight.

CNN's Coy Wire joins me now. I'm going to toss it over to you to get us into March Madness. I might have to throw this on just to get in the spirit and show where my allegiance is.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Let's go. Don't think I didn't notice that purple tie you've been rocking all day. Listen, Omar. Purdue was only the second top seed to lose in the first round to a 16 seed last year.

Virginia had the same fate in 2018. And the next year, they went on to win the national championship. So, Matt Painter and company hoping history can repeat itself. And his big man, Zach Edey, is on a mission. The 7'4", 300-pounder towering over defenders. Utah State was no match for him today, 23 points, 14 boards for the soon to be two- time national player of the year.

Boilermakers roll 106-67. Their fans in nearby (INAUDIBLE) loving it for now, but they're going to have a tough test coming up Friday against Gonzaga, who are in the Sweet 16 for the ninth straight year.

Also making the Sweet 16 party, Marquette. Look out. The second-seeded Golden Eagles knocking out Colorado, thanks to Tyler Kolek. He missed six games with an injured oblique, but came back in time for Friday's tournament (INAUDIBLE) ran circles in this one around the Buffaloes. That put Marquette up for good, 21 points, 11 assists for the two-time All-American.

MU in the Sweet 16 for the first time in 11 years. They got knocked out in the second-round last year. Kolek and his teammates, they came back to exercise those demons, and he reminded them afterwards down the stretch there that the past wasn't going to dictate their future.

TYLER KOLEK, MARQUETTE GUARD: I told him in the huddle, I get the last word every time before we go back to the bench. I told him, this is what has been in our nightmares. We just got to go after and attack it. We're not running from our nightmares anymore.

UNKNOWN: What were those nightmares like?

KOLEK: I mean, playing with my guys. It doesn't beat it. In March and, you know, last year, the season got cut short. We didn't do what we wanted to do in the tournament but, you know, now let's survive in advance.

WIRE: On a mission. All right, how about on the women's side? Coach Dawn Staley, South Carolina, stomped North Carolina by 47 points, 88 to 41.

Milaysia Fulwiley, freshman phenom, doing it all. Three steals, three blocks. Even here when the ball gets knocked away, she says, give me that back. And she is money for three of her game-high 20 points. They're like a locomotive on full steam downhill tracks. They won by 52 points in their opener on Friday, and now they're going to advance to their 10th straight Sweet 16.

And in a tournament with very few upsets, we had a shocker in Columbus. Seven-seeded Duke rallying from 16 down in the first half to beat second-seeded Ohio State Reigan Richardson, leading the charge of 28, including this three-pointer that you're going to see here. It sparked a 13-2 run, putting them up for good.

Blue Devils delivering big, 75-63. They'll face UConn or Syracuse next. Games are still going on all night long. You can see the men's games on our sister networks, TBS, TNT, and TruTV. And we have those Northwestern Wildcats taking a crack at UConn, the favorite team to win it all.


Omar, I know who you're rooting for, big dog. Show me that tie and that jersey one more time.

JIMENEZ: Yeah, yeah, we'll show it in a second. Thank you, Coy. Really appreciate it. Go Cats. We'll see what happens.

All right, everyone, no guesses to who I'm supporting this March Madness right here. Go Cats. This is my legit game-worn, lightly sweat-in jersey from my playing days. But it is a play-in game or a game today as Northwestern and so many other teams try to punch their ticket to the Sweet 16.

So, joining me now is Michael Wilbon, co-host of "Pardon the Interruption" on ESPN and longtime Northwestern alum, who I should mention is joining us from a Northwestern pep rally. It's loud in there to get everything we've got together for this matchup with the one-seed UConn. Great to see you.

I want to start just with the tournament in general. We've seen some pretty incredible mid-major upsets early on in this tournament. The college landscape, is it just that different? Why does that upset -- dynamic seem to be so prevalent this year?

MICHAEL WILBON, NORTHWESTERN ALUM: Well, the tournament always had upsets, of course, but I think, right now, you can expect to see more of them. And they're not as shocking because you have so many teams that have players, really good high school players, great high school players from all over the country. And if they're not happy where they are, they can transfer. They can go for whatever reasons they want, including name, image, and likeness money.

So, there are a lot of reasons to go somewhere and play besides for just one of the Blue Bloods. You don't need to sit on a bench for one of the great, great traditional programs when you can play wherever you want and threaten one of those Blue Blood programs like Kentucky, which has already lost and out of the tournament.

So, we've always had tournament upsets in March, but they're not as shocking as they used to be and they're going to continue.

JIMENEZ: Yeah. Look, I had Kentucky in my final four, so I got screwed over a little bit by that. But as you mentioned, it is more common that it's happening.

And maybe, maybe, maybe it happens a little bit today because I want to talk Northwestern for a bit, because for those that don't know, for the longest time, Northwestern had never made an NCAA tournament in its history, including when I played. But over the last seven years, this is now their third time making it, their third time making it to the second round.

What do you think has been so critical in being able to take a program like Northwestern to the next level athletically at a school that maybe has been more traditionally known for academics?

WILBON: Well, continuity, having excellence at the top of any pyramid and being able to keep people there, Chris Collins and his staff, and emphasis on it from the rest of the university. No team, no athletic program can do it without a commitment from the school. We weren't committed to this sort of athletic interest 40, 50 years ago. We just weren't. It wasn't that important.

It is important, and we see it's important to the entire university community, any university community. And so, at Northwestern, we ought to be competitive not just in classrooms but also in gyms and on fields. If Stanford can do this, if Duke can do this, why not us?

And there has been a lot of that as an attitude. And that ought to have existed a long time ago. But it exists now. And so, yeah, this is our third appearance in the tournament in seven years, since 2017.

Here's what's even more important. Twenty-four wins by the Northwestern basketball team the last two years is more than any team in the Big Ten, except for Purdue, number one seed Purdue, and Illinois, which is a three seed. That's it. Not Ohio State. Not Michigan. Not even the great time is on Michigan State. Northwestern, we've got the third most victories in the Big Ten men's basketball in that time.

So, yes, there's an importance of continuity. Is it sustainable? Yeah, it appears to be. But you've got to have the right people in place. You have to have concentrated support for those programs.

We've seen that in our women's programs. We've seen it in lacrosse, where there are eight national championships, in field hockey, where we recently won one and been to the finals three years in a row. We're seeing that more. We've seen it in football. We're now seeing it in men's basketball. And why not?


WILBON: Why those other schools and not us?

JIMENEZ: And look, you said the most critical thing, the critical three words, why not us? The odds are stacked against one-word prediction. Who you got today?

WILBON: Listen --


-- my heart --

JIMENEZ: Listen is all I can do.

WILBON: -- see what I'm wearing?


WILBON: I'm wearing purple.


WILBON: I'm going to be out there rooting.


WILBON: Listen, UConn is probably the toughest draw --

JIMENEZ: That's right.

WILBON: -- of the number one seeds. We've already beat Purdue. We've shown we can beat a top seeded team, a number one ranked team. We've already done that. So, it's not beyond us. But UConn --

JIMENEZ: That's going to be tough.

WILBON: -- playing in New York City --


WILBON: -- it's a tough call.

JIMENEZ: It's going to be tough.

WILBON: I'm hoping we shock the world today. Nothing would make me happier.

JIMENEZ: Michael Wilbon, thank you for taking the time, repping the purple. Appreciate you.


For everyone else, go cats. And we'll be right back.


JIMENEZ: Tonight, on the new CNN Original Series, "Vegas: The Story of Sin City," the strip explodes with new Disney-fied hotels, casinos, and megastars, highlighting the evolution and continual reinvention in the face of difficulty. Here's a preview.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNKNOWN: It's the first time I've ever been in Vegas.

UNKNOWN: I know.

UNKNOWN: So, I'm curious to see if I'm going to really enjoy.

RICH LITTLE, COMEDIAN: The salaries were actually ridiculous. I remember Dolly Parton was playing. They paid her over 300,000 a week. Everybody was astounded. Sometimes, the salaries were so huge, you wonder how they were going to make their money. And they just couldn't continue to do it.


JIMENEZ: The final episode of the CNN Original Series, "Vegas: The Story of Sin City," airs tonight at 10:00 Eastern on CNN. Let's start another hour.