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Trump Posts Video Showing Image Of Biden Hog-Tied In Pickup Truck; Cleanup Crews Maneuvering To Clear Bridge Collapse Wreckage; Trump Appeals Ruling On Fani Willis, Calls For Her Dismissal; U.S. Officials: Talks With Israel About Rafah Are Back On. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired March 30, 2024 - 12:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And you can watch that full conversation along with all my interviews online And don't forget, you can find all our shows online as podcasts at and on all other major platforms.

I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. Thank you for watching and see you again next week.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

All right. New today, former President Donald Trump, setting off a firestorm of controversy after incendiary social media post. Trump posted a video on Friday, this one, featuring an image of President Joe Biden hogtied on the back of that pickup truck.

The Biden campaign is blasting the post as inciting political violence. CNN's Steve Contorno, joining us now with more on all of this.

Steve, I mean, what is the Trump's campaign saying about this?

STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: Well, Fred, perhaps it's no surprise that they are downplaying the severity of this video that Trump posted last night on Truth Social.

If you take a look at the video, you can see, there are two trucks both of them sporting pro-Trump decals and flags. And on the second Trump (PH), there is this image of President Biden, as you said, hogtied, rather large image.

And in a statement to CNN, this Trump campaign said, "That picture was on the back of a pickup truck that was traveling down the highway. Democrats and crazed lunatics have not only called for despicable violence against President Trump and his family, they are actually weaponizing the justice system against him."

And as you mentioned, the Biden campaign wasting no time responding to this. They said this to us in his statements. "This image from Donald Trump is the type of crap you post when you're calling for a bloodbath, or when you tell the proud boys to, 'stand back and stand by.' Trump is regularly inciting political violence, and it's time people take him seriously. Just ask the Capitol police officers who are attacked protecting our democracy on January 6,"

And Fred, we are used to this kind of imagery from Trump supporters at his rallies online. And yes, on the back of their vehicles. But is still striking and somewhat different to get those kinds of images amplify from a former president and someone who is seeking a return to the White House.

WHITFIELD: And Steve, just as the spokesperson exemplified in the post that there is some precedents to this in relation to Trump or his campaign, stoking violence, saying incendiary things like this.

But of course, you have the response from the Trump campaign saying that it's Democrats who have done this. So, is there a response coming from the Trump campaign that the Biden campaign is exemplifying, you know, giving some examples just like January 6, and other times where, you know, inappropriate language like this is used and condone?

CONTORNO: They can certainly point to statements where there are Democrats who have said certain things about President Trump in the past, nothing as direct as what that image itself showed, and certainly is not coming from President Biden himself. But, you know, this is the kind of rhetoric that Trump has been using, going back to his 2016 campaign for president.

It's something that his supporters embraced, and even some independents didn't necessarily mind from the former president at the time. However, it did wear down people as they continued throughout his presidency. And we saw a lot of independent voters, a lot of moderates say, look, we are sick of these kinds of tweets. And this is a reminder that this is who the former president is, and he continues to post this kind of stuff on Truth Social, even though he might not do it in the public forum that was social media back in 2016, like Twitter or Facebook.

WHITFIELD: All right, Steve Contorno, thank you so much. Let us know when you get any more developments.

All right. Now, to the new developments in one of Donald Trump's criminal cases. The former president and some of his co-defendants in the Georgia election subversion case are now appealing a judge's decision to allow Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to remain on the case.

Trump's attorneys want Willis disqualified for having a relationship with the special prosecutor that she hired. Despite the threat of a gag order, Willis continues to speak out.


FANI WILLIS, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA: Recently, they tell me they don't like me to talk about race. Well, I'm going to talk about it anyway. Truth is, is some challenges that come to being black.


And I see so much greatness in this city that has so many great African American leaders, and I appreciate all of the sacrifice that you all have had to make -- to be in these positions.


WHITFIELD: This new comments from Willis and this court filing comes as the district attorney pushes ahead with her case.

CNN's Nick Valencia has the details on Trump's appeal.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ever since Judge Scott McAfee granted a certificate for immediate review, we had been anticipating this filing. But now it is official.

The former president and eight of his remaining 14 co-defendants including his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and his former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, are asking the Georgia Appellate Court to overturn Judge McAfee's decision and remove Fani Willis from this case.

Here is part of what they're saying in their filing, which is downright scathing.

"D.A. Willis has covered herself and her office in scandal and disrepute. The trial court's decision not to disqualify D.A. Willis under these circumstances is a structural error, a violation of the defendants' due process rights, and seriously denigrates the public's confidence in the integrity of the criminal justice system."

We did reach out to the Fulton County D.A.'s Office, but they declined to comment. However, we should expect a response in writing. A source with knowledge of the process tells us that the appellate court will have 45 days to make a decision. But of course, all of this underscores just how much of the disqualification of Fani Willis still hangs over her head, and this case, even as she and her team tried desperately to bring the focus back on criminal charges against the former president and his remaining co-defendants.

Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.

WHITFIELD: All right. Now to Baltimore, where cleanup crews are maneuvering to clear the colossal wreckage from the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse. The largest crane, in fact, on the Eastern Seaboard is now in position to help, potentially, remove debris. Search teams are also scouring the wreckage in hopes of recovering the bodies of four construction workers who were killed when a cargo ship struck the bridge on Tuesday.

And new video shows NTSB investigators on the ship. They have secured the voyage data recorder, which would provide new clues about the disaster potentially.

CNN's Gloria Pazmino is in Baltimore for us. So, Gloria, what's the latest on any kind of cleanup efforts, salvaging parts from that bridge collapse? What's happening?

GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN NEWSOURCE NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, there are about 1,100 engineers as spread out across the entire country right now, who are looking at this wreckage, trying to come up with a plan for exactly how to move it.

This is a complicated and difficult operation, just the sheer size and magnitude of what we are looking at here, you have a portion of the bridge that is resting in the front of the ship, which has complicated all of these search efforts.

And that is going to be the primary first step. So, this is critical. And the reason for that is we have heard from the governor, that there is a critical mission here to go back in there and try to recover the bodies of those four victims that have not been found yet.

We know that two people were recovered, but there are still four families that are holding on to hope that the bodies of their loved ones will be recovered.

And then of course, you have the second part of this mission, which is to reopen the waterway, to clean up so that they can get back to business.

We're talking about thousands of workers, jobs, and industry that's been at a standstill since the collapse. This is one of the biggest ports, the busiest ports in the country. So, that is also a critical part of this operation.

I spoke with Lieutenant General Scott Spellmon. He is the commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer, and he is leading the mission to clean this up. He is in charge of helping -- to make sure that all of this goes well. And as you said, all of that heavy equipment is here. And they're ready to get to work. Listen to what he just told us a few minutes ago.


LT. GEN. SCOTT SPELLMON, 55TH CHIEF OF ENGINEERS AND COMMANDING GENERAL, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEER: The first order of business in reopening that navigation channel is to sever that connection from the bridge, from the ship, so, we can get to work on the remaining steel truss that's at the bottom of a 50 foot by 700-foot-wide channel.

And so, we have all of our engineers working with some great navy and U.S. Coast Guard counterparts, their contractors, doing all that math and analysis now in across tables all around Baltimore, doing all of that math, so that we know when we begin to cut those bridge sections into smaller pieces where we can lift them, we know how the steel is going to behave and we can do this safely.



PAZMINO: Now Fred, I also asked her the general, about what kind of timeline we are looking at here. He expects this process to take at least several weeks. And, of course, things like the weather and conditions here can affect the process and potentially delay.

So, it's really going to be hour by hour, day by day. But again, I just want to emphasize the fact that Governor Wes Moore has made it clear that they have an obligation, and that the priority here is to try and get back into that water and try to find the remaining bodies of the victims.

Their families know that they have lost their loved ones, but they are holding on to hope that they can be recovered, so that they can at least have a chance to say goodbye. Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Gloria Pazmino in Baltimore, thank you so much.

All right, straight ahead this hour. United Airlines flight forced to make an emergency landing after flying through extreme turbulence.

Plus, gusty winds, heavy rain and snow and widespread flooding. Mother Nature is about to bring everything but the kitchen sink to places across the US. We'll take a look at the latest forecast.



WHITFIELD: Gusty winds created some terrifying turbulence on a flight from Tel Aviv to Newark, New Jersey. The Boeing 787 flight with more than 300 people on board had to be diverted Friday to a regional airport, about 75 miles away and seven people were taken to the hospital.


MICHAEL BIGG, NEW WINDSOR EMS CHIEF OF OPERATIONS: Multiple people on the plane complaining of nausea and some chest pain from the turbulence. Just observation, nothing was serious, no major injuries.


WHITFIELD: In a statement, United said the jet refueled and continued on to Newark. The FAA is investigating. And more, rough weather is about to hit millions of Americans from coast to coast. One system is expected to usher in April with severe thunderstorms, heavy rain, and even snow from the central parts of the U.S. to the northeast.

And we're also tracking potential flooding with a threat of landslides in Southern California. It's a little bit of everything this Easter weekend. CNN's Allison Chinchar is in the weather center for us.

It's supposed to be docile, I mean, lots of daffodils like the beautiful yellow, you're wearing. Tulips. We're supposed to be just enjoying everything with ease. This is crazy.


ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Mother Nature -- I know, it's like we got our seasons mixed up here.


CHINCHAR: And kind of going a little bit of everything back at us. Yes, because we're talking quite a few elements. So, the focus today really begins across portions of the West. That's where we've got rain, the potential for very heavy snow, especially into the Sierras. But all of this system is going to make its way off towards the east. And when it does, it's going to take that rain and snow with it.

And also, some very gusty winds. Areas of California and Arizona you're looking at 50 to 60 mile per hour wind gusts that are going to continue through the day today.

But as you notice, this begins to spread towards the east. So, by Monday, the central U.S. is really where the focal point starts to take shape. Also, we've got some very warm air that's going to start to come up from the Gulf Coast. You're talking potential records across areas of Louisiana and Texas -- Laredo, Texas, looking at a high on Monday of 101 degrees.

For perspective, that's the normal high in mid-July. But it's that heat that's going to help fuel some severe thunderstorms on Monday as well.

We're talking several tornadoes, possible damaging winds, and Fred, even the potential for some hail, maybe the size of golf balls, or even larger.

WHITFIELD: Yes, and I guess this is kind of typical of spring. I think I heard you earlier talking about you're from Ohio, and you were making instead of snowman, snow bunnies?

CHINCHAR: Easter bunnies. Basically, yes, in the snow. Exactly.

WHITFIELD: Yes. It's just we're hopeful and we want some sunshine and spring kind of flavor everywhere.

All right, well hang in there. Allison Chinchar, thanks so much.

All right. Take a look at some live pictures right now of that wreckage from the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore. We expect state officials to give an update next hour on the salvage and recovery efforts, look at the cleanup process, and how long it just might take. All that's next.



WHITFIELD: All right. Back now to our continuing coverage in Baltimore. A scheduled update from Maryland -- the Maryland governor, Wes Moore is going to happen at the top of the hour. We'll bring that to you as it happens.

Meantime, crews are trying to assess what will be a painstaking effort to clear the wreckage of the fallen Francis Scott Key Bridge and retrieve the bodies of four workers killed in that collapse.

So, how will this process go? Joining us right now to talk about it the director of operations at SalOcean LLC, a marine survey and salvage company Captain Mark Martin. Captain, good to see you.

I mean, this is a colossal task, right? I mean, when you see something like this, the debris field I mean, it looks very overwhelming to figure out how to clean up what is 4,000 tons of debris, twisted steel, murky, cold water. There are other dangers that we can't see. So, what is the approach to this cleanup effort?

CAPT. MARK MARTIN, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, SALOCEAN LLC: Well, safety is going to be in the forefront of everyone's mind. I would expect that they will command the barge and crane -- at least one of them are on site already. I would expect that they would come in and clear out the channel first, which means they are going to have to cut all those pieces up into the size that the crane can manage, load onto a barge, and then take them to wherever they're going to dispose of them. Once --



WHITFIELD: And let's stop there, because that the hardest part, right? I mean, when you talk about cutting up portions of the bridge, we've got the murky water, you've got divers who have been in the water to try to assess, and at the same time locate the bodies. Things move with that kind of water and the current.

So, let's talk about the cutting up of the pieces before that big large crane that's in place can do anything, you know, lifting any of those pieces. How will that happen? How are these big pieces cut up into smaller pieces to move?

MARTIN: They are -- they are going to -- they are going to send workers. Obviously, the parts that are submerged will be done by divers. But on the parts that are exposed, they'll have a -- pardon me. They'll have steel workers that are in the proper safety harnesses up there, and they'll be using torches or plasma cutters or whatever to cut the beams into sizes that the crane can lift and then place on a barge.

WHITFIELD: And Tuesday and Wednesday, when divers first lay their eyes on things and they couldn't stay for long because the conditions, you know, were so treacherous, it was very cold, it was very dark, what they saw, anything that they may have seen in terms of the infrastructure, the way the vessel may have been touching the bottom, all of those things might have moved since then. So, how do they assess what areas to tackle first based on the movement of the river, the conditions that continue to change?

MARTIN: Yes. The current there is quite fast. And, I mean, having spent a number of days submerged aged in Baltimore harbor, I can tell you that you can never see more than one or two feet in front of your face. Dali, they are currently using small, remotely operated vehicles that will have sonar and cameras that are continually monitoring any movement with the amount of weight on the bow with the ship.

I think the only movement you're going to see there is it may be sinking -- the bow maybe sinking deeper into the sand than it already is. Most of those pieces. The current isn't heavy enough to really shift those now. Smaller pieces, yes, but not the large pieces.

Once those things start getting cut up, then, you have to be careful. You're going to have to monitor the current, the direction, the speed, all of those things.

WHITFIELD: And then, Captain, what about the cargo?

MARTIN: (INAUDIBLE) divers that --

Go ahead. I'm sorry.

WHITFIELD: Oh, sorry about that.

MARTIN: About --

WHITFIELD: So, what about the cargo vessel? The cargo on the vessel? I mean, you can see by every angle, you know, by looking at the way in which the bridge portions of it fell on the vessel, there is cargo. Some of it that fell overboard. But all of that cargo on top of the vessel, does that have to be moved piece by piece? And if so, how do they do that before you even try to take apart? I mean, these are puzzle pieces, you know, but you're having to take them apart in order to even free up that channel. How do you suppose that's going to happen?

Well, what I think will happen is they'll identify the cargo containers that are in the water, and they all probably be some of the first items that are that are lifted. Then, they're going to try and -- they are going to have to try and get as, you know, the portion of the bridge that's laying on the bow is going to have that. That will probably be the first part that's removed, because they can't move the ship until that's removed.

I think what you'll see is when that is removed off the bow, the ship, depending on any whole damage, which there doesn't seem to be any, then, they'll hook up, tugs to the -- to the vessel, and they'll bring it to a port, the port that it left from more than likely. And they'll remove all those containers and then, they'll -- you know, obviously, that ship will probably have to be drydock, completely inspected.

That's going to take some actually offloading. It shouldn't take more than a day or two if they can get it alongside the dock with the cranes.

WHITFIELD: It's a colossal undertaking. Captain Mark Martin, thank you so much for helping us to understand what is going to be -- what will be some of the phases of the cleanup and the recovery. Thank you.


All right. A quick note. We are expecting an update on the recovery efforts at the top of the hour. Of course, we'll bring that to you live as it happens.

All right. Now, to Georgia, where Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is pushing forward with her election subversion case against Donald Trump. Attorneys for the former president are appealing a judge's decision that allows Willis to remain on the case. They want her disqualified for having a relationship with a prosecutor that she hired.

With me now to talk more about all of this, this appeal and other developments in Trump's legal cases, Jessica Levinson. She's a professor of law at Loyola Law School and is the host of the podcast "Passing Judgment".

Professor, great to see you


WHITFIELD: All right. So in the Georgia case, Judge McAfee agreed to accept the defendant's appeals. The attorneys argue that the district attorney, Fani Willis, behaved inappropriately despite Judge McAfee is ruling to allow her to continue on in the case.

So what is going to be different about the argument in the appeal, than what we heard during the process of whether she should be disqualified?

LEVINSON: I think virtually nothing other than that Judge McAfee got it wrong. Instead of ant at -- excuse me, instead of arguing this as a matter of first impression and saying that here's what happened, here's what Fani Willis did. Here's what Nathan Wade did, here's why this amounts to a conflict of interest and why not just she but her entire office should be disqualified.

They will instead be arguing. Judge McAfee got it wrong when he made those determinations. And I do think it's important for a moment to highlight it is not just saying Fani Willis should be off the case. It's saying that her entire office should be disqualified. That matters here because it would mean a very lengthy delay. And as we all know, this is the legal calendar colliding with the electoral calendar, and Trump's strategy has been delay, delay, delay.

WHITFIELD: But that was going to be the issue anyway. I mean, the initial claim was that she, you know, acted inappropriately and if she were removed, then her entire office would be removed from the case. It'd have to, you know, find another route and it would be, you know, to their discretion whether they want to proceed forward. In this case, in the appellate argument, they say, you know, the whole office is covered in scandal, and that she -- her behavior denigrate the public's confidence in the D.A. office and process.

But when Judge McAfee filed his order, he essentially covered all of that. And then said, you know, she's still is eligible to proceed with the case. So they would still mean the defendants would still have to prove to the appellate court in the next 45 days that it has to decide that her behavior or the office is compromised, it would have to be another argument, would it not?

LEVINSON: So it would have to be the argument that Judge McAfee got it wrong when he heard those arguments and he made a determination that under Georgia law there was not a conflict of interests that would require Fani Willis to be disqualified from the case and her entire office. So they're trying to say, I mean, they know Judge McAfee considered these arguments. It's the same argument that they put forward before him.

I think the difference is just saying when he looked at these facts, when he looked at the law, he got it wrong. And I believe that they have 45 days to accept the case, whether or not they're going to hear the appeal. But Judge MacAfee, interestingly has said, we're not staying this case. We're moving forward while the appellate court determines whether or not there are here -- they will hear the appeal.

I think Judge McAfee thinks he's used belt and suspenders and that his particular ruling will stand.

WHITFIELD: OK. And really quick, Judge McAfee says he's going to continue on with the schedule while the appellate process is underway. Does that mean that he is going to set a date for the trial?

LEVINSON: It means that the trial is not paused, like the other trials, for instance, we saw in the D.C. election interference case. That trial is paused while we wait on the Supreme Court. Now, whether or not he sets a hearing, I will say, excuse me, sets a date that's a slightly different question because we know the hush money a trial is going to trial on April 15.

And so, there's a lot of dominos that have to fall into place before Judge McAfee sets a trial date. But it does mean that motion practice will continue before.

WHITFIELD: All right. Professor Jessica Levinson of the Loyola Law, thank you so much.

Coming up, high level talks between Israel and the U.S. are back on after Israel abruptly walked away from the last round.


We'll go to Jerusalem for the latest on any potential Israeli military operations in the southern city of Rafah.


WHITFIELD: High-level talks between Washington and Israel over potential military operations in Rafah are back on. U.S. officials saying it could happen as soon as Monday in Washington.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abruptly called off this week's scheduled meeting as relations with the Biden administration deteriorated even further. More than 32,000 people have now died and more than 75,000 injured in Gaza since October 7, according to Gaza's ministry of health.

CNN's Melissa Bell is in Jerusalem.

So, what is on the table with these talks?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we expect, Fredricka, is now that this Israeli delegation is finally going to get to meet these high level American officials, possibly as you said on Monday, that the United States is going to be able to put its case much more firmly. It had already begun to do so when it had Yoav Gallant, the Israel defense minister early last week, their case is that this idea of a ground offensive that Benjamin Netanyahu has been speaking to again repeatedly this week, insisting that it is necessary, the only way as well to get the remaining hostages out.

The United States wants to convince him, the American administration wants to convince him that it is a too dangerous that the blood bath that would be cause with the 1.2 million Gazans, currently huddled in and around the city but more brutally around that southernmost province of Gaza would be a huge risk. It is the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians potentially that hangs in the balance and I think what the U.S. administration is hoping to do is to convince Israelis that there are other ways of going about their stated aim, which is to dismantle the last four Hamas battalions that are currently believed by American and Israeli officials to be inside that Rafah precinct.

Now, the -- for the time being, you have to bear in mind that this -- these talks on Rafah that could start as early as Monday. It hasn't been confirmed yet, but it's looking likely they will take place even as the negotiations over the hostages proper begin in Cairo and Qatar, once again, Israel has confirmed that its sending a delegation back to pick up where they left off.

And, of course, these two sets of talks are intricately linked given that Benjamin Netanyahu is insisting that the assault on Rafah is needed to keep the pressure up on Hamas, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And, Melissa, meantime, Israel says it killed a senior Hezbollah commander in an airstrike in southern Lebanon and voted to pursue terror group, I'm quoting now, anywhere and everywhere. So what's the latest on that?

BELL: Well, we saw proof of that change in strategy that they were no longer Israeli is going to simply push back against Hezbollah, but its seek them out nauseous in those series of strikes that you mentioned killed that missile commander in Southern Lebanon.

But in the series of strikes that took place in Syria, we saw the highest death toll since this war began here in Israel in Syria by IDF forces, nearly 40 people killed, both Hezbollah militants, but also Syrian soldiers. I think a serious expansion of ratcheting up of the pressure that we'd already seen along that border, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Melissa Bell in Jerusalem, thank you so much. We'll leave it there for now. All right. Still ahead, Beyonce's highly anticipated new album is

here. Those she says it's not quite country. She is getting the seal of approval from one of country's biggest stars.

Stay with us.


WHITFIELD: All right, another top seed crashes out of the men's NCAA tournament. Number one, Houston, sorry, Andy Scholes, loses to Duke in a nail-biter.

And Carolyn Manno joining us now from New York with more on this.

Carolyn, I'm sure --

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I think that's why I'm here today.

WHITFIELD: I'm sure -- I'm glad it's you and, yeah, Andy, I'm sure he's taking this personally.

MANNO: Yeah. I think this is a personal day for Andy Scholes, unfortunately. I mean, Duke has had so many things break their way over the course of this tournament. Fred, it's been crazy. We're used to seeing them make a really deep run. They've made it to the sweet 16 and 19 at a last 25 seasons.

But this is actually the first time that they've done it with Jon Scheyer, who replaced the legendary Coach K two years ago, a player within his own right, who is now firmly at the helm.

This is a really scary moment in the first half. This is Houston's all American point guard, Jamal Shead turning his ankle while dry having to the basket, he ended up leaving the game and did not return. He is such a talented player that, that open the door for the Blue Devils and their big man Kyle Filipowski.

Houston did manage to keep this game close. The Cougars, the chance to tie in the final seconds. Emanuel Sharp's three coming up just short. So, Duke holding to win 54-51.


JON SCHEYER, DUKE HEAD COACH: Any questions about their mental toughness or any questions about their heart, you know, I think they answered that tonight.

KYLE FILIPOWSKI, DUKE CENTER: This team, the togetherness, the -- how we didn't quit out there tonight, that that really does show the growth from last year. I mean, we remember how upset we went from not sharing, well, we didn't want to repeat that again.


MANNO: Celebration starting already even though there's still work to do. Duke advancing to the 24th Elite Eight appearance in the programs history. They will face a familiar foe tomorrow night, their ACC rival North Carolina State. The 11-seated Wolfpack, continuing to do what most view as make a really unlike likely run. They'd beat Marquette, 67-58 last night. NC States now 18 games in a row. So this has started a conference tournament, which they had to win to be a part of this madness, in the first place.


DJ HORNE, NC STATE GUARD: It's magical, but I'm going to say we knew from day, from day one, we knew we were a good team.


It was all a matter, just locking in an understanding our role is and you don't know but its time to be doing that than now.


MANNO: NC State's women's team also continuing to show up on the biggest stages, taking out the number two seeds Stanford by ten points last night to advance to the elite eight for this second time in three seasons. The Wolfpack celebrating this win with a water bottle celebration. In the locker room before they turn their attention to a date with top-seeded Texas afternoon. I know how great is that.


MANNO: It's really fun. It's the best time of the year. The men's elite eight is going to tip off tonight on our sister channel TBS. Illinois and top-seeded UConn, getting things started it just after 6:00 Eastern followed by Clemson and Alabama just before 9:00.

You know, Fred, our producer, Jon, is a market fan. Andy's a Houston fan. It's a sad newsroom today, but we're moving on.

WHITFIELD: I know, defeat really hits you here, but I'm telling -- isn't a magical and electric when you see them so excited, whether it's on the court or in the locker room, or even just like, you know, their struck getting into the stadium. I mean, I just love all of that, that feeling. It's so wonderful.

All right. Carolyn Manno. Thank you so much.

We'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: All right. Queen Bey says, it's not a country album. It's a Beyonce album.


WHITFIELD: And that is Beyonce singing with Miley Cyrus on the new track mode most-wanted, the highly anticipated second act to Beyonce's a Trilogy project, "Cowboy Carter" released this week, and it's already breaking records. Spotify says, it is the most streamed album and a single day so far this year.

I'm joined now by Alice Randall, award-winning song writer and author of "My Black Country: A Journey Through Country Music's Black Past, Present, and Future".

What a great honor, Alice, to talk to you. You are indeed a ground breaker. I mean, some folks may not know, or perhaps they do remember that you are behind a major hit. X's and O's for Trisha Yearwood, making you the first Black songwriter with a number one country music song.

And I mean, your -- you have reached deep into country music and a lot of different ways, also working with Johnny Cash. So how excited are you about Beyonce's "Cowboy Carter" album.

ALICE RANDALL, AUTHOR, "THE WIND DONE GONE": I am absolutely thrilled. I've been in this business for 41 years.


RANDALL: And this is the most important weekend in the -- I have experienced in the history of country music.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh, why do you put it that way? Why, period? Why do you put it that way? That's giant.

RANDALL: When I arrived here 41 years ago, trolley prided already been to the top of the charts. I think 29 times in my 41 years, no Black woman has ever been to the top of the country charts.

And now, she's not just at the top of the charts of these new charts. She's holding all the spaces. This is an extraordinary revelation for the genre. And it's a good news for America.

WHITFIELD: Oh, it really isn't, so many ways. I mean, you talk about Charlie -- Charlie Pride. I mean, now, blazing a trail like no one else. And recently you've got country music stores, Cain Brown, Jimmy Allen, Mickey Guyton, there to -- you know, meteoric rises. Other artists like Berlin, Shy Carter -- I mean, they're making their marks, too.

But what is it about how megastar Beyonce now is making her mark in this way, getting so much buzz -- how do you see it as whether its elevating or expanding the arena? I mean, what do you see happening right now to kind of underscore your comment as this being one of the biggest weekend and of great importance to country music culturally to America?

RANDALL: One, she is teaching us, educating us as she entertains about what country is. She's even challenging the idea of what is genre. Both its limits and its realities, because this album is an education in the definition of what is country, even as it defies the definition it establishes. But the whole history of country I think about first family of country

DeFord Bailey, Lil Hardin Armstrong, whose genius child is Ray Charles. In 1962, '63, Ray Charles, lets out modern sounds and country and western music. This is an album that deconstructs and reconstructs what country can be.

He's coming from R&B and jabs. Here is Beyonce coming from outside of the genre, honoring all the ancestors, the cowboy music, the films that inspire the genre, honoring Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, but introducing all these great new artists from Rhiannon Giddens to Tanner Adell to Reyna Roberts.

She has established a new country canon (ph).