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CNN This Morning

Arrest Warrant out for Vladimir Putin for Alleged War Crimes; Dozens of Mar-a-Lago Staffers Subpoenaed in Classified Docs Probe; 5,000-Mile-Wide Blob of Seaweed Floating Toward Florida; NAACP Leading Effort Against Educational Restrictions In Florida; Trump Says He Expects To Be Arrested Tuesday, Call For Protests; Sweeping Ban On Abortion And Use Of Abortion Pill In Wyoming; Lance Reddick, Star Of "The Wire" And "John Wick", Dead At 60. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired March 18, 2023 - 08:00   ET


AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: And it is Boris' last weekend. We'll have all weekend to talk about that. I won't get sad now, but I'm going to relish every moment with you.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, that's very sweet. There's no reason to get emotional right now.


SANCHEZ: We've got plenty still to go.

WALKER: You're not going that far. Here's what we're watching this morning.


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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think those are things, it's impossible. Fail to understand history.


WALKER: The International Criminal Court issues an arrest warrant for Russian President of Vladimir Putin for alleged war crimes. Putin's response to that and what are the odds that he actually faces justice?

SANCHEZ: Plus former President Trump's attorney ordered to testify as part of the investigation into the former president's handling of classified documents. How he could turn out to be one of the most crucial witnesses in the special counsel's probe.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's thick in the summertime, builds up and smells terrible.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WALKER: Yeah. And it's also headed right for the U.S. What we know about the 5,000 mile long, massive seaweed making its way to the East coast and the impacts it will have on Florida's beaches and tourism.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For just the second time ever, a 16 beats, a one.


SANCHEZ: Plus another stunning upset in the NCAA tournament. A huge underdog, 16 seed knocking out a number one in the first round of the tournament. Our Andy Schulz is laughing at all of our brackets. It is a dumpster fire out there.

We start this morning with big international news. The President of Russia is now a wanted man. The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin and the country's children's Rights Commissioner in an alleged scheme to deport Ukrainian children to Russia. And of course, the Kremlin is rejecting these allegations.

WALKER: Yeah, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov tweeted Russia, like a number of states does not recognize the jurisdiction of this court. And accordingly, any decisions of this kind are null and void for the Russian Federation from the point of view of law.

SANCHEZ: But Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs says the wheels of justice are turning. And President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the ICC for its historic decision.

WALKER: Let's go live now to Ukraine. And CNN's Senior International Correspondent David McKenzie joining us now from Kyiv. David, yeah, what happens from here? I know this is hugely, at least symbolic.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's very symbolic and significant that as sitting head of state, particularly President Putin has had this arrest warrant for allegedly spiriting children out of Ukraine into Russia on a very large scale. This is a war crime says the prosecutor of the Hague.

Now, what happens next? Well, the Hague Court doesn't have a police force. They depend on countries to cooperate and should Vladimir Putin leave Russia travel to a country which is part of that treaty, which of course doesn't include the U.S. and several other countries, they are obliged under that treaty to arrest him. But the track record here isn't great. And in the past there have been leaders indicted or at least under arrest warrant for war crimes that have slipped through the cracks.

WALKER: And David, are more charges likely to follow?

MCKENZIE: Amara, it's a very good question. You know, the ICC hinted that this was just the first of other investigations. We know they've been looking into the crime of attacking civilian infrastructure and civilians during this conflict. There's also daily investigation here in Ukraine when it comes to possible war crimes. We saw in Bucha and Irpin and in the East, and in Mariupol, all across the country, there've been allegations of Russian soldiers targeting civilians.

We expected those cases to come. There's also been a lot of talk about forming a special tribunal outside of the ICC system to possibly try or at least try and get justice of Vladimir Putin for the crime of aggression. That's physically invading this country. Many very smart people are looking at this. The big question is with the Kremlin, unlikely to rarely pay any attention to this other than criticizing it if there is ever a moment that Vladimir Putin nor any of his deputies actually face justice in this matter but, you know, time will tell. Boris, Amara?

SANCHEZ: David McKenzie reporting for us live from Kyiv. Thank you so much, David.

The Pentagon says that the United States is keeping a very close eye on next week's meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Chinese Leader Xi Jinping.

WALKER: It will be their first meeting. Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. and Western leaders are concerned about the close no limits partnership between the two leaders. CNN Correspondent Selina Wang with more.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris and Amara, the leaders of China and Russia are meeting next Monday to Wednesday in Russia. China's foreign ministry confirmed that the war in Ukraine will be a core part of the talks, the Kremlin said they'll also discuss strategic cooperation.

Now, the two leaders have forged this close personal connection, and they share a deep suspicion towards the U.S., which they both believe is bent on holding China and Russia down.


WANG (voice-over): Chinese leader Xi Jinping flies to Moscow next week to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin his first visit since Russia invaded Ukraine. It's a powerful show of Xi's emboldened diplomatic ambitions and Beijing support for Moscow.

Chinese Foreign Ministry said the country's "proposition boils down to one sentence, which is to urge peace and promote talks." Beijing has tried to present itself as a neutral peace broker on Ukraine, publishing a position paper last month calling for a political settlement and casting Xi as a global statesman with fresh momentum after helping Saudi Arabia and Iran broker a historic deal to restore diplomatic ties.

But Western leaders are skeptical of Beijing's portrayal as a mediator. Xi and Putin declared a no limits partnership last year when Putin visited Beijing for the Winter Olympic opening ceremony. Xi has met Putin in-person 39 times since becoming China's leader even exchanging gifts, including pandas.

China has refused to condemn the invasion or even call it an invasion. Instead, Beijing has parroted the Kremlin's misinformation while blaming NATO. On China's heavily censored social media, it's all hearts and thumbs up emojis in response to the government's official post about the state visit. With comments like, hope Russia will win soon. Hope there will be world peace. And long live China Russia friendship.

Beijing has also strengthened economic and military ties with Moscow by boosting trade and holding frequent military exercises. Western officials have raised concerns that China may be considering providing Russia with lethal military aid, Beijing has denied the accusation.

Last month, Putin told China's top diplomat Wang Yi in Moscow that relations between their countries are reaching new milestones. The two nations bound together by their shared vision for a new world order no longer dominated by the West.

While Xi has spoken to Putin multiple times since the invasion virtually and in-person, he's not yet had a single phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Though Ukraine's presidential adviser says negotiations about a potential Zelenskyy Xi conversation are ongoing.

As Xi heads to Russia, the ability of China to help resolve the conflict hangs in the balance.


WANG: At the end of the day, it's not truly a no limits partnership, Xi Jinping only wants to help Russia as much as it helps China. If Xi Jinping does end up speaking with Zelenskyy that could help Beijing repair its relationship with Europe, which Xi does not want to align too closely with the U.S. on restrictions targeting China. So Xi Jinping really wants it both ways, relationship with Russia, and to be seen as this responsible global leader. Boris, Amara.

SANCHEZ: Selina Wang, thank you so much for that report.

First on CNN, a key ruling in the special counsel's investigation into former President Donald Trump's handling of classified materials, a source close to CNN -- rather, a source close to the investigation tells CNN that the judge is ordering Trump's lawyer, Evan Corcoran, to answer more questions before a grand jury.

WALKER: Now, this is a second round of testimony for Corcoran making him potentially one of the most crucial witnesses. Katelyn Polantz has more.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Boris and Amara, it's a monumental decision in Special Counsel Jack Smith criminal investigation into Donald Trump and the handling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, the type of decision that's going to be remembered for presidencies in the future. The Justice Department had made this really significant argument in court that Donald Trump and his attorney Evan Corcoran may have been having conversations about the planning of a crime and that Evan Corcoran needed to share what was said in those discussions with the federal grand jury investigating Trump and Washington. It's a really big decision now from the court in that they are

agreeing with the Justice Department that Corcoran is going to have to testify. Again he has already spoken to the grand jury but was saying he wasn't answering some questions because of because of attorney client privilege but there is a ruling underseal from Judge Beryl Howell in the D.C. District Court.


Now, after we learned of this ruling on Friday through our sources, a spokesperson from Donald Trump's team said that he would be planning to fight this that the former president was likely to appeal this decision from the trial level court, and that the conversations between a defense attorney and their client Trump and Evan Corcoran, those are the sorts of things that should be protected in order to protect the law and American citizens.

And they also said that the case must be weak. That does not appear to be what is happening here, though, because the judge has reviewed what the Justice Department argued and said yes, she agrees, at least to some extent, with the Justice Department the evidence that they've gathered so far in this criminal investigation.

But the Trump team doesn't fully know at this time, what is in her opinion, that is still redacted. And they are going to be seeing some of that opinion in the coming days. And of course, the public has not seen any of it, because the grand jury proceeding is ongoing. And all of that is kept confidential. Boris and Amara.

WALKER: All right, Katelyn, thank you very much for that.

So joining me now is state attorney for Palm Beach County, David Aronberg. Really appreciate you being here this morning, David. So let's start with him. And there's so much to keep track of so many balls in the air. Special Counsel Jack Smith is now seeking testimony from Mar-a-Lago, staffers who may have knowledge of former Trump's mishandling of classified documents, so that includes groundskeepers, housekeepers, restaurant workers, they've all been subpoenaed, of course, some of Trump's inner circle, including that as well. This is an extremely wide net. What kind of questions do you think are being asked and how do they -- how does he decide which staffers and aides should testify?

DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY: Yeah, good morning, Amara. He's casting a very wide net shows that Jack Smith is a pit bull. This investigation has hit another gear since he took over a special counsel. It also shows that he's focusing on the obstruction 18 USC 1519, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. This is not about the possession of documents, it's about the refusal to give them back.

And so they're trying to find out who Trump spoke to, did he instruct employees to move the documents out of the storage area where they're supposed to be kept the Feds thing? So they spoke to one employee who apparently walked the documents to another room. They want to see when talking to employees, what Trump was saying, who knew what and when, because these employees work inside Mar-a-Lago apparently were involved with potentially obstructing justice, even though they may not know they were just following orders. So they're going to bring them in. And as long as they testify truthfully, there should be no promise for them. But if they lie, then they're walking into a perjury trap.

WALKER: So staying on the classified documents investigation and that blockbuster ruling David a federal judge ordering Trump's lawyer, Evan Corcoran, right to testify for a second time in front of a special grand jury. How rare is that move for a judge to order a lawyer to testify?

ARONBERG: It is rare because we have attorney client privilege. But attorney client privilege can be pierced by the crime fraud exception. And that's where the judge found here that it's more likely than not that there was a crime of obstruction. And that the lawyer here was used to facilitate it. So it is a really big deal.

Remember, it was Corcoran, who drafted the letter that assured the Department of Justice that hey, all the sensitive documents had been returned. Well, that wasn't true. Now, the person who signed the letter was a different lawyer, Christina Bobb. It's never a good idea to sign a letter that the drafter of the letter won't sign himself. And so when Christina Bobb was brought in for questioning, she pointed the finger at Evan Corcoran, and that's why the Feds have their sights set on him. He also could be charged with obstruction. And so that's why they say that MAGA stands for Making Attorneys Get Attorneys. He's in a lot of hot water.

WALKER: I haven't heard that one yet. So then this time around, do you think he won't -- Evan Corcoran will not be able to hide behind the attorney client privilege shield?

ARONBERG: I predict that they're going to appeal because remember the Trump litigation strategies delay, delay, delay and eventually they will lose. And Evan Corcoran when he is asked under oath. He's going to take the Fifth. I think it's a really strong likelihood. But although that will protect him and his client at the time. I think it makes it more likely that he eventually will be charged with his client under federal law for obstruction.

So yeah, he's done a lot of hot water, doesn't have a lot of good options right now. So we'll see. But I think they're going to try to drag this out because they believe that delay works for them. The longer they can delay this the closer we'll come to the 2024 election. They can claim this as a political persecution and they can rally their base. So in essence I do think that when Trump was indicted I don't think it's an if anymore. I think that will help him within his base get the nomination for president.


WALKER: Wow. OK. So staying on this, Chief Judge Howell -- this is the judge who is ordering Evan Corcoran to testify. He's stepping down. So I mean, talk about turnover at a bad time. And is this going to have an impact on the grand jury's handling of the Trump inquiry? ARONBERG: No, it shouldn't. It's pretty normal to have a change like this. It's just the natural rotation and judge -- the outgoing chief judge and amazing job. The replacement apparently is also really top notch. The D.C. circuit is one of the best circuits in the country. They've got a lot of very well-respected judges, and the new judge that is coming in is an Obama appointee. So I think based on the new judges reputation, I think you're going to see more of the same -- more wins for the Feds and more losses for Donald Trump and his legal team.

WALKER: All right. I do want to turn to the New York investigation to the hush money scheme involving Trump and adult film star Stormy Daniels. So multiple sources are telling CNN that a possible indictment against Trump could come next week. This isn't again, the hush money case. In fact, the former President just posted that he expects to be indicted. And he's calling for protests. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is following this for us. I know you just tweeted about this, Kaitlan. She's joining us on the phone. Kaitlan, hi, there. What do you know?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CO-ANCHOR, CNN THIS MORNING: Hi, good morning. Yeah, the former President is not offering any details of why he believes he's going to be indicted on Tuesday. But we do know that his legal team has been essentially anticipating that it could happen as soon as next week. And so they've been thinking through the logistics of what that looks like. Because obviously, he would have to present himself and Manhattan, that would mean obviously go in front of cameras as he goes in.

And they've been kind of playing through what that would look like. And so, I think what's really crucial, though, is not just that he posted that he believes he's going to be indicted on Tuesday, he also called for protest. And that's something that privately his advisors, some of them, at least have been urging him not to do, because they have a fear of it, you know, having the optics of looking potentially like a January 6 day or something like that on the streets of Manhattan. And so they have been urging him not to call for those protests. Obviously, he did.

One thing that they have been planning for after he does surrender himself on Tuesday, or once the indictment comes down, I should say, is for him to potentially speak. So he may be delivering remarks. It's not clear when exactly that's going to happen. But I think this post justice go to indicate what has been happening behind the scenes with his legal team, because they do believe that this is happening.

And you say it's complaining privately about Alvin Bragg, who, as you know, is the district attorney here saying that he believes that he hates him. And that that is why this indictment is coming in. And so obviously, we have to wait until the formal charges actually happened. But it does speak to how much they really are just bracing for this this to happen as soon as next week.

WALKER: Yeah, this is obviously a huge development. David, if you're still there, could I bring you in to get your reaction to this? And as Kaitlan was, you know, alluding to, I mean, what exactly that would look like if indeed, an indictment does come down on Tuesday?

ARONBERG: Yeah, I think what's going to happen is that there will be protests, especially right here in my backyard. I mean, West Palm Beach, and Mar-a-Lago is just a few miles away from here. Our question will be whether the former president surrenders to New York or whether he tries to fight extradition. If he tries to fight extradition, then you'll get Governor DeSantis involved because he's got to sign off an extradition orders. That makes it really interesting, because DeSantis is his political enemy right now. And so stay tuned.

But I think you have to worry about the potential of violence. But ultimately, this may be the first indictment of a former president in history of the country. But it will not be the last, I expect that the New York and time will be followed by Fulton County, Georgia, and then the Feds. And so get ready, it's going to be a long, hot summer. But I think ultimately, justice will prevail. It'll be up to the evidence and the facts.

But as I said earlier, it's going to benefit the former President within his party base. He's going to rally the troops. But I think eventually, in a general election, this will come back to haunt him. It'll be the first time anyone's running for president as an indicted individual. That's not going to look good amongst the general public.

And, Kaitlan, to you again, the latter point, you know, the fact that on Truth Social, you have Trump encouraging his supporters to go out and protest. I just wanted to clarify what you were reporting earlier, in terms of what Trump's advisors and aides have been telling him in regards to the words that he is using to I guess motivate his supporters. And did you say that they're discouraging him from encouraging protests?


COLLINS: It's certainly not all of them but some of them are concerned that if he does call for protests as he did just a few moments ago on Truth Social, that it could be a chaotic situation playing out on the streets of Manhattan when he presents himself here.

And so obviously, the former President is someone who likes to see a show of support when he goes places, he always makes note of how many people are at his rallies and his event. And so they had concerns that he would essentially try to recreate something like that, which is what he did on January 6, when you call for people to come and protest in Washington, that certification of Biden's win, his election win.

And so I think that was a concern that they had because of how damaging it has been to him. reputationally. And so some of them have clearly advised him that, he did not -- he is calling to the protest on Truth Social. I will note when it comes to the logistics of when an indictment comes down. If one comes down, his team has said they will follow the normal procedures, essentially implying that he will surrender himself that he will follow the logistics of what that would actually look like and not try to find it essentially.

WALKER: It's just a huge development. Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much for your reporting. And David Aronberg for your insights. You know, the fact that Donald Trump is acknowledging that, you know, he believes and expects an indictment to come down on Tuesday when it comes to his alleged role and that scheme to pay hush money to Stormy Daniels.

We'll continue to watch this closely. David Aronberg thanks again, appreciate your time.

SANCHEZ: Still ahead this morning, it is a few 1000 miles wide, it smells terrible and it's headed straight toward us. We're tracking that rotting mass of seaweed and its potential impact to Florida's beaches.

Plus, a major blow to abortion advocates in Wyoming as the state's governor signs new laws that will limit access to abortion as soon as tomorrow. We're going to explain, coming up.



WALKER: All right, this morning there is growing concern about a big smelly blob. I don't think scientists like calling it a blob. But it looks like a big brown blob that could impact your Florida vacation this summer. A gigantic stretch of seaweed 5000 miles wide about the twice the width of the United States is already starting to wash up on the shores of Florida's beaches.

Now, in open sea it's a critical habitat for marine life. But once it washes ashore, while it could wreak havoc on local economies by closing beaches and cutting off tourism. And jeez, it stinks after a few days, they say. For more on this is Brian LaPointe. He is a Biologist at Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and he has spent most of his career studying sargassum. Is that how you say it, like sarcasm but with the G?


WALKER: OK, good.

LAPOINTE: Good morning.

WALKER: Hi, good morning. So what is this? And why is this huge thing? Seaweed mass coming towards the coast of Florida?

LAPOINTE: Well, this is something new that formed in 2011 in the Tropical Atlantic Ocean. It's a large that extends down from the coast of Africa, all the way across the tropical Atlantic towards South America, Brazil and then up through the Caribbean into the Gulf of Mexico and South Florida. We've seen blooms of Sargassum, this floating ground seaweed for decades in the Gulf of Mexico. But this is a new oceanographic phenomenon that has just recently formed since 2011.

WALKER: So what's the concern then? LAPOINTE: Well, this is very similar to what we have been seeing for years with what we call harmful algal blooms, things like red tides and brown tides, these algae blooms that are increasing in their size and extent and their frequency. So we know we used to have a lot of Sargassum, naturally in the Gulf of Mexico, the Sargasso Sea, 4 to 7 million tons. But this blob as it's being referred to as million tons. And it's a whole new area where Sargassum is now growing that was never there before.

WALKER: Well --

LAPOINTE: So the problem is 13 million tons, that's a lot of algae and even if some of that comes ashore, on beaches of Mexico or Florida, it's going to wreak havoc on tourism.

WALKER: Yeah, well, clearly no one wants to be around, you know, a stinky massive of seaweed but I understand that once the -- all the seaweed is ashore, it can also threatened local sea turtle nests and cause shoreline erosion, is that correct?

LAPOINTE: That's correct. It of course it releases hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas that you don't want to, you know, breathe, particularly when it's at high concentrations in enclosed areas, say with low wind, and it also has a lot of arsenic in the tissue. So attempts to remove it from the beaches and use it for fertilizer or other purposes, you really have to be careful.

WALKER: Yeah, I've seen reports about how many of these tourist destinations like the Cayman Islands and Barbados, I mean, they really have a resource issue. I mean, how -- you need a lot of machines to get rid of all of this, you know, Sargassum that you're saying. What about, you know, what's causing all this? I mean, can it be contributed to human action and perhaps climate change?

LAPOINTE: Well, of course Sargassum is a natural plant. It's this floating ground seaweed and it's been here for centuries, for eons. Columbus first encountered it on his trip to the new world. But it is on the increase. And we have evidence that this is linked to nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus coming out of all these major rivers around the Atlantic basin, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.

We've got the Congo River, Africa and other rivers, you know, discharging into the Gulf of Guinea and along that, that West African coastline and of course, then the Amazon River in Brazil, the largest river in the world, the largest watershed in the world. The Orinoco and of course closer to home, the Mississippi River.

Now we know the Mississippi has been bringing a lot of nitrogen causing these dead zones in the Gulf. So (INAUDIBLE) it's also fertilizing the sargassum.

WALKER: Well, you know what, I know you'll be watching this closely as well. Brian Lapointe, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.

LAPOINTE: You're welcome. Thank you. SANCHEZ: Coming up, one of the most stunning upsets in March Madness history. Fairleigh Dickinson becomes just the second 16th seed ever to win a game in the NCAA Tournament. We're going to have the highlights next.



WALKER: For just the second time in men's March Madness history, a number 16 seed has stunned the sports world.

SANCHEZ: A Fairleigh Dickinson knocking out top seeded Purdue in the first round, leaving zero, zero perfect brackets remaining in the entire country. Let's bring in Andy Scholes to discuss. Andy, I had never heard of Fairleigh Dickinson --


SANCHEZ: -- in my life.

SCHOLES: You and everyone else, Boris.


SCHOLES: Everyone learning last night where Fairleigh Dickinson is, it's in New Jersey in case you're wondering. You know, this is why there's never going to be a perfect bracket, right? It's tens of millions of brackets filled out every year. No one even made it to the second round this year perfect, mainly because Fairleigh Dickinson what they did last night pulling off just an all-time great upset, beating one seed Purdue, FDU, the shortest team in the tournament.

Purdue, the tallest, so this really was David versus Goliath. 16 seeds were one and 150 against one seeds coming into this game, but the Knights hanging tough the entire time and it was Sean Moore coming through in the final moments of the steal, gets it back to the layup on the other end, put the Knights up five.

Then moments later, Moore, the three here puts them up again by five with just a minute to go. Fairleigh Dickinson out of Teaneck, New Jersey gets their first ever first round win, knocking out Purdue, 63 to 58. The Boilermakers the first team ever to lose to a 15 seed last year and now a 16 seed.


TOBIN ANDERSON, FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON HEAD COACH: That's an unbelievable win. I mean, we just did something to us, I mean, that's unbelievable. We just shocked the world and couldn't happen to a better, for a bunch of guys, a better bunch of fans but family, the whole thing. So we are ecstatic. Unbelievable. We're going to stay in Columbus. I love it.

SEAN MOORE, FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON FORWARD: And it feel great to get this though. Show people that we can be here and people didn't think we belong to be here. We did show to people that we could do what we could do in this tournament with the big dog (ph). So we're doing great right now. On to the next, though, man.


SCHOLES: Love how coach could barely breathe in there when he was talking at the postgame there. The Knights, they were 23.5 point underdogs that made this the biggest upset NCAA Tournament history since the bracket went 64 teams.

And get this, Fairleigh Dickinson shouldn't even have been in the tournament. They lost their conference title game to Mary MAC (ph). But Mary MAC still transitioning from Vision Two, so they weren't eligible to play in the tournament this year to the Knights actually got in on a technicality. Certainly made the most of it.

All right, here's something even more rare accident 16 beating a 1 seed. Look at it. Providence's Clifton Moore was shooting a free throw during last night's game against Kentucky rolled around the rim and then just set on the back. I mean, it's got to be like a one in 100 million, right? I mean, you see the ball get wedged quite a bit but perfectly stop and sit. That's pretty incredible.

All right now, the first round it was incredible. What we see today and second round get started with eight games on the schedule beginning with San Diego State taking on another Cinderella, the Furman Paladins that went tips off at 12:15 Eastern and he got the three remaining number one seeds Kansas Houston and Alabama all in action this afternoon and this evening.

And Boris and Amara, I want to take this time to file an official protest against whoever put the brackets together because you've seen one seed is playing Auburn a nine seed in Birmingham, Alabama. Beginning ticket for that -- for those -- that session is over $300 because of all the Auburn and Alabama fans, they're going to be there. So Houston having to play in a hostile atmosphere as a one seed the second round. It's a travesty.

SANCHEZ: It's a travesty, especially for somebody who supports Houston and --

SCHOLES: And went to the school, yes, I will have to say that.

SANCHEZ: Yes, yes, yes. I thought so. Andy Scholes, we love March Madness. Thank you so much for that.

WALKER: I'm still stuck on Farleigh Dickinson. I thought -- there's the name of the coach. I'm totally confused. Moving on. Thanks, Andy.

SANCHEZ: Thanks so much, Andy.

Still ahead this morning on CNN This Morning, a big story out of Florida. The NAACP and the American Federation of Teachers have teamed up today to distribute books and predominantly black communities across the Sunshine State. And this is happening as Florida Republicans are trying to restrict the books that students can read.

We're going to talk to the chair of the NAACP National Board of Directors about the campaign when we come back.



SANCHEZ: The NAACP and the American Federation of Teachers are working together against efforts by Florida Republicans to change school curriculum including the removal of certain books from schools. And just a couple of hours, they're going to kick off a book distribution campaign handing out 10,000 books in 25 predominantly black communities across Florida.

The NAACP State Conference then is going to hold a public town hall to talk about ways to make sure that Florida students get a quality education. Ahead of the event, my next guest released this statement saying in part, quote, "Governor DeSantis is failing our students. His crusade to rewrite history is rooted in white supremacist thinking that aims to disregard the black experience. Let me say this, if cracking down on wokeness means erasing Black History, we are the wokest organization there is."

Joining me now is Leon W. Russell, he's the chairman of the board of the NAACP. Sir, thank you so much for being with us this Saturday morning. Why do you think that distributing books is the right approach to this issue?

LEON W. RUSSELL, CHAIR, NAACP NATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS: It's one approach and it's an approach that's important because it points out that we cannot allow people to take literature away from our children. We can't allow them to deny the experience of reading a book that talks about the history of people, not just black folks but people from across the African diaspora, Native Americans, Hispanics.


We can't deny people the ability to learn from what has happened in this country that has made this country.

SANCHEZ: The counter argument from Republicans in Florida is that they are not trying to prevent students from learning history, but rather that part of the curriculum was weighed down by what Governor DeSantis referred to as political indoctrination.

He objected, for example, to a course in African American Studies, relating stories about the abolition of prisons, courses that involve the Black Lives Matter movement. Queer theory is another example. What's your response to those who believe that a course about black history can be taught without including those issues?

RUSSELL: You can't talk about black history without talking about the history of racism in this country. You can't talk about the history of those who are gay, lesbian, transgender, without talking about the history of those folks. You can't eliminate the bigotry that has been a part of making this country from the history books.

Because if you do that, you destined people to be ignorant about how the country developed. And that, in my opinion, has stunned those same people to possibly relive that history and that oppression. And so, we firmly disagree with what the governor and the Department of Education are doing.

We believe that we have to have the true history of Africans in America, in our schools. We have to talk about what happened with Native Americans. We have to talk about the Hispanic experience in this country if we are to truly advance as a society.

SANCHEZ: So what I'm hearing from you is that you believe that if the curriculum doesn't include those very specific issues, it opens the door for oppression in the future?

RUSSELL: That is absolutely correct. The people who don't know their history are destined to relive that history. We know our history, we know what we experienced over the last 240 years as a nation, 400 years as an exploratory society. So we understand how we got to this place.

We want our children to understand what their history is, so that they can make this place a better place going forward. They can only do that if they understand and know the truth.

SANCHEZ: And quickly, sir, I wanted to show some of the books that are specifically banned under Florida policy that you are going to be distributing copies of today. Several books by Ibram X Kendi, Toni Morrison, who's a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner, a book by the Oscar winning actress Lupita Nyong'o. Why is it that these books are so important for them to be in the hands of students?

RUSSELL: Because they were written by the brightest and best. They truly depict real history. And it's important for our young people to have the influence of the brightest and best of their community represented in libraries and schools, in their classrooms across the nation.

SANCHEZ: Leon Russell, we have to leave the conversation there but we very much appreciate you sharing your perspective with us.

RUSSELL: Thank you for having me.

SANCHEZ: Of course.

Stay with CNN This Morning. We'll be right back.



SANCHEZ: 53 minutes past the hour and we are continuing to follow this developing story. Former President Donald Trump posting on his social media website Truth Social that he expects to be arrested by the Manhattan district attorney next week. And he goes on to call for protests as a result.

WALKER: Now Trump offered no details on why he expects to be arrested but his legal team has been expecting it will happen soon and has been preparing behind the scenes for the next steps. As you know, Trump is under investigation for many things, and this has to do with his alleged role in the hush money that was paid to Stormy Daniels.

Now some of Trump's advisers have urged him privately not to call for protests. Concerned about the optics of the protests in the streets and CNN's John Miller reported Friday that meetings have been ongoing between city state and local law enforcement agencies in preparation for a possible indictment. We will continue to follow this story and bring you any more developments as they come in.

SANCHEZ: And starting tomorrow, abortion under most circumstances will be a felony in the state of Wyoming. The sweeping piece of legislation only makes exceptions for cases of incest, sexual assault, when the mother's life is in danger, or when the unborn child has a lethal fetal anomaly.

Anyone found guilty of violating the law could face up to five years in prison, a possible fine of $20,000 as well.


Wyoming is also outlawing the abortion pill making it unlawful to prescribe dispense distribute sell or use an abortion pill. The punishment if found guilty is up to six months behind bars at a fine of up to $9,000, a law that goes into effect on July 1st.

WALKER: Actor Lance Reddick best known for his work on "The Wire" and in the "John Wick" franchise has died. He passed away suddenly Friday morning according to his rep, apparently from natural causes. The Yale graduate stars in the fourth John Wick film, which hits theaters next weekend. Lance Reddick was just 60 years old.

SANCHEZ: And he was incredibly talented. One of my favorite people on "The Wire", Lieutenant Daniels. He was like the moral center of that. So if you haven't seen it, you've got to.

Join us again in an hour.

WALKER: Yes. Smerconish is up next. We'll see you again at 10:00.