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Sheriff: Deaths Of Three Florida Teens May Be Connected To "Hybrid Gangs"; CNN: Progressive Johnson Beats Moderate Vallas For Chicago Mayor; Three TN State Lawmakers Face Removal From Office Over Gun Protest. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired April 05, 2023 - 07:30   ET



CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's about an hour and a half drive north of Orlando.

The first victim was identified as 16-year-old Layla Silvernail. Her body was found on the side of a road. According to a GoFundMe page for that teenager, she enjoyed playing softball and was a student-athlete.

The following day, on Friday, the body of a 17-year-old boy was also found on the side of another road not too far from where Silvernail was found. And then on Saturday, a 16-year-old girl -- the body of that girl was found inside of a car that was submerged in some water.

The sheriff in Marion County says that it appears the victims -- they all knew each other and that they were all together at some point before they were killed.

Now, there is no indication at this hour that we're dealing with a serial killer or that there are any more victims out there. The sheriff in Marion County said that some of these rumors have been circulating online and so they are trying to dispel that.

One final note, Poppy. When the sheriff was pressed on what he meant by a hybrid gang --


SUAREZ: -- he essentially said that they're dealing with what they believe are wanna-be gangs. Whether or not these three victims were a part of one or whether they were --

HARLOW: Right.

SUAREZ: -- killed by one is still to be determined -- Poppy.

HARLOW: They need answers for their families, for sure.

Carlos, thanks very much.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Also just in this morning, we have new video that you can see here out of Missouri. That is where -- if you're from the south and the Midwest you know how dangerous tornadoes hitting at night is.

A tornado touched down there overnight. This happened in Glenallen, 90 miles south of St. Louis. It's the storm tearing through homes and knocked down several trees. It left behind this huge path of destruction behind it.

We're not tracking several tornado warnings as of this morning. Watches, as well, are in place. The National Weather Service has already confirmed at least two tornadoes this morning. You can see where those watches and warnings are playing out across the country.

This threat comes after a string of devastating storms hit yesterday and over the weekend.




COLLINS: A woman in Illinois capturing yesterday's storm as it ripped the roof off of a gas station near her house. Debris was flying through the air. What sounded like an explosion as she was watching in horror.


REAL: I mean, we're lucky. I don't know how -- I look at all this and I'm just like amazed that -- even my mailbox -- when this sign, this morning, was sideways but my mailbox was still standing normal.


COLLINS: For everyone else, we are keeping an eye on the threat. We'll bring you any major updates this morning as we are watching those warnings and those watches.

HARLOW: Well, voters have decided in a big way in the Midwest. Ahead, the results of a race that could be consequential -- will be consequential for the future of abortion access and elections in Wisconsin.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, and in Chicago, a new mayor has been elected. We're going to discuss these big wins for progressives. That's next.



COLLINS: This morning there is a potential sea change for politics in Wisconsin. CNN is now projecting that the Democrat-backed Janet Protasiewicz will win the State Supreme Court race. That is hugely significant. It means liberals will now hold the majority on that court. That is the first time it's happened in 15 years, and it could be one of the most consequential elections of this year for abortion access and potentially, election rules in a key swing state.

Not only that. Just south in Chicago, CNN also projects that progressive Democrat Brandon Johnson is going to succeed Lori Lightfoot as the mayor of Chicago. Last night he defeated the more moderate candidate in that race, Paul Vallas.

This is what Johnson told his supporters after his win last night.


BRANDON JOHNSON, (D) CHICAGO MAYOR-ELECT: With our voices and our votes we have ushered in a new chapter in the history of our city. A city where you can thrive regardless of who you love or how much money you have in your bank account. A city that's truly safer for everyone by investing in what actually works to prevent crime. Make no mistake about it, Chicago is a union town.


COLLINS: For more perspective on this I want to bring in CNN political commentators Van Jones and Jonah Goldberg. Good morning to you both, and thank you for being here.

Let's start with what we heard Brandon Johnson saying there in Chicago. He had very little name recognition --


COLLINS: -- at the beginning of this. He overcame a very big margin there.

V. JONES: Proud, proud, proud. A schoolteacher, union guy. He's going up against somebody who is saying we're going to use cops for everything. He's like well, we're going to use cops but we're also going to help people. How about that? And it worked in Chicago.

LEMON: Your outfit explains Chicago.

V. JONES: But --

LEMON: It's blue --

V. JONES: Yes.

LEMON: -- black --

V. JONES: Yes.

LEMON: -- and blue with cops, right? It's a police officer's --

V. JONES: Yes.

LEMON: A heavily minority city --

V. JONES: Yes. LEMON: -- and it's blue Democrat-wise.

Vallas had said at one point -- you know, sort of that he was a Republican, relating in some way -- sensibilities.

V. JONES: Yes.

LEMON: And then Johnson has said I am progressive. He stuck with being blue.

V. JONES: Yes.

LEMON: So that explains what happened there.

V. JONES: I just think -- look, there are parts of Chicago very tough when it comes to crime.


V. JONES: And the question for that city was are you going to go with a cops only approach --


V. JONES: -- or are you going to go with cops and helping folks approach. And even in Chicago, even with the crime wave and everything that's going on people chose, I thought, an option that shows that progressives still can make a case --


V. JONES: -- in a big, tough town --


V. JONES: -- and win.

HARLOW: Let's talk about Wisconsin and what happened there. By a 10- point margin you saw Janet Protasiewicz take this seat now on the Supreme Court and flip the balance for more liberal for 10 years.


HARLOW: In a year, when they're going to consider this -- I think it's 1894 abortion law and try to get it off the books there, how big is that win for liberals in the state? And what does it say about abortion being a driving factor in 2024?

GOLDBERG: You know, look, I think it's a huge deal. I grew up with conservatives who -- in Wisconsin who -- I didn't literally grow up, but professionally I grew up.


[07:40:00] GOLDBERG: I knew Wisconsin conservatives really well. They value these Supreme Court seats extremely. This is a very painful loss for conservatives in Wisconsin and it's a demonstration -- look, there's this whole theory that has sort of insourced parts of the right that they can win every election just with the kinds of people who cheered at the Trump Mar-a-Lago rally last night. And the chasm between the base Republicans and the persuadable middle is just turning into a -- just a massive chasm.

And the Wisconsin showing shows that actually, when it comes to like grassroots organizing and getting out the base, the Democrats are much more competitive than Republicans realize in this climate and Republicans don't have a strategy about winning the people on the margins -- on the middle --


GOLDBERG: -- are just going to get drubbed.

V. JONES: Also, I just think it's like important politics in that state has been really weaponized. The right wing really grab-powered and used it under Scott Walker. They even said look, if we have this much power we're going to act like we've got everything. And it's been really, really tough. And the Supreme Court has been on the side of that kind of right-wing strategy.

So this is a turning of the tide against that sort of weaponization of politics I think, and I think -- and I think it's a really big deal.

GOLDBERG: Yes, I think that's going around on both sides. I mean --

V. JONES: Sure, sure.

GOLDBERG: -- Joe Biden came in with his much margin in the House --

V. JONES: Yes.

GOLDBERG: -- and he ruled like -- he governed like this.

V. JONES: I --

GOLDBERG: It's an American problem.

V. JONES: We can argue about what's happening at the federal level but I will tell you this. In Wisconsin, it's been really, really tough. Scott Walker came in there. He broke unions. He broke -- he broke China. And it's been that way for a long time. This is the first time progressives have been able to get back in the fight.

GOLDBERG: I agree with that.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, it's -- it could potentially change the political direction of Wisconsin because --

V. JONES: Yes, and the country.

COLLINS: -- when it comes to gerrymandering the judge has been very --

V. JONES: He's not playing (PH).

COLLINS: -- outspoken on that.

I talked to some Wisconsin Republicans last night. Did they -- do they feel like they dropped the ball here though because this is -- I mean, we saw what a key role the Wisconsin Supreme Court played in 2024 where they could have gone with that, depending on what the majority looked like.

GOLDBERG: Oh, I think there's going to be a lot of soul-searching in Wisconsin. I mean, Wisconsin --

Where I agree with Van is like Wisconsin used to be the play nice in politics state and it is no longer that. It is a scorched earth thing. They -- and a lot of Republicans in that state feel like everything that they had they were entitled to in perpetuity. And this is going to -- this is going to send shockwaves through Wisconsin for a while.

LEMON: And now, Trump.

V. JONES: Who?


LEMON: So the whole thing -- the whole play here is what does it do for him politically? I know that you guys don't have crystal balls but what do you think -- even after the indictment there are questions, is it a strong case, is it not? We just had a full discussion here on this program.

Help or hurt, in your assessment, after watching yesterday?

V. JONES: Look, I think yesterday, both sides did some damage to themselves. In other words, it could prove that this indictment is as strong as Alvin is saying it is and it's all going to work out. But yesterday there was a sense of disappointment. People thought this indictment was going to come down and it was going to be a big anvil dropped on Trump's head and it felt a little light. And there's people still asking questions about it late into the night and even this morning. That was a little bit of a letdown.

And then Trump had an opportunity to -- the whole world is watching him. He could have said look, not only am I a victim, you're a victim, too. Let's all get together. He went down some crazy rabbit hole of grievance and nonsense.

And I think that neither side really advanced the cause as much as they could have yesterday.

LEMON: But on both sides is that -- is that disappointment -- is that a T.V. pundit -- not to call you out here -- is that a T.V. pundit disappointment? Because people at home who love Trump were like -- probably are saying the speech was great. I'm so glad he did it. People at home who wanted to see him indicted are probably saying I'm so glad that he was indicted. So --

GOLDBERG: No. Look, I think that's fair. And that -- what I was getting at before about how -- what the base wants of the Republican Party versus what gets you a majority in a general election is changing really rapidly. And so, that stuff was catnip for the base that just wants this sort of hardcore grievance Trump stuff.

But look, Trump had to take a high road here, right? I mean, like he had this option where all the legal analysts were saying this is not as big a deal as we think it is. And instead of taking the high road he went crazy low. And I don't think that sort of -- I think that strategy is very good for Trump and for his fundraising --


GOLDBERG: -- but it's terrible for the Republican Party.

And the -- and I -- but I do think -- look, I think the average American sees Donald Trump as like a guy who has been juggling chainsaws all his life and he cut off a finger. That's what's going to happen if you are always juggling chainsaws. He kind of deserves this even though legally they're not sure it passes muster.

COLLIN: Hmm, we'll see.

Van Jones, Jonah, thank you both for being here this morning.

LEMON: Great conversation. I had to call you out, Van.

V. JONES: No, no.

HARLOW: So much more than a T.V. pundit.

LEMON: So we were talking about what happened in Chicago last night. Straight ahead in our 8:00 hour, the mayor-elect of Chicago Brandon Johnson is going to join us live here on CNN THIS MORNING.

Those help-wanted signs are slowly starting to come down. The new jobs data that could be a positive sign in the fight against inflation. We'll tell you about that.



LEMON: There is some good news this morning, all right? It's good news for the Federal Reserve. Job openings in the U.S. dropped in February to 9.9 million, the lowest number since May 2021. It is a positive sign for the Fed's fight against inflation as a strong labor market can mean pressure for higher wages and overall prices.

CNN's Rahel Solomon joins us now. Good morning to you. It's good to see you.


LEMON: It's been a while.

SOLOMON: I know, right? Good to be here.

LEMON: Yes, go glad to -- so why is this good?

SOLOMON: OK, so this is good for the Fed because how many times over the last year have we heard Jay Powell talk about the imbalance in the labor market, right? So we're getting a bit closer to balance.

I want to show you just a bit though about what we're talking -- where we saw the largest declines in job openings. Professional services -- think lawyers, think accountants -- that fell. Those job openings feel 278,000. Health care fell 150,000. Transportation, warehousing, and utilities also falling.

So to put this all in context, 9.9 job openings -- lower than we have seen certainly in about two years but still higher, however, than before the pandemic. We can show you before the pandemic we were closer to 7.2 million job openings. So still elevated by historical standards but certainly declining, right?

So what does this mean for jobseekers? Well, if you are looking for a job the labor market is certainly cooling, so keep that in mind. Plan accordingly. It might be harder to get a job as the months go on.


If you are the Fed it certainly means that maybe all of these interest rate hikes are starting to work.

A major week for the labor market, I should say. We get some important data in just about 45 minutes from ADP that will tell us about private employers. And then Friday, guys, it's the biggie. We get the jobs report and that will tell us a bit more, too.



HARLOW: We'll be watching.

LEMON: Come back early and often.

HARLOW: Thanks.

LEMON: Good to see you.

HARLOW: Thanks, Rahel.

LEMON: Thanks, Rahel.

HARLOW: So three Tennessee state lawmakers could soon lose their job, right? They could soon be removed from office after using a bullhorn on the House floor to call for more gun control. One of those lawmakers, Rep. Justin Jones, here next.




TENNESSEE STATE CAPITOL LAWMAKERS: No action, no peace! No action, no peace! No action, no peace.


HARLOW: Protests erupting at the Tennessee State Capitol after the shooting at that Nashville school killed three children, nine years old, and three adults. The people that you see hear yelling "no action, no peace" -- they are lawmakers. And while protesters were outside the chamber demanding action on gun control, inside those lawmakers took over the session with bullhorns, and now they are facing possible removal from office.

On Monday, there were more protests in the House chamber, this time over the possible removal of three Democratic lawmakers. That vote, by the way, to decide if they're going to lose their job -- that vote happens tomorrow.

One of those lawmakers is Rep. Justin Jones. He posted this video to social media and says it shows Republican State Rep. Justin Lafferty pushing him and grabbing his phone. Police are reportedly looking into that matter.

I should note that Rep. Lafferty has put out a statement saying, quote, "...Jones came to my desk and as I turned he shoved his phone into my face in a threatening manner. I reacted as anyone would. Attempts to characterize this as anything else are misleading and false."

So with me now is Democratic State Rep. Justin Jones who represents Nashville. Representative Jones, thank you very much.

I want to keep our eye focused on what's happening, right? We wanted to explain that confrontation to our -- to our viewers.

But you're at risk of losing your job tomorrow. If you lose your job for taking the floor in the way you did to call for more action on guns, will it have been worth it?

REP. JUSTIN JONES, (D) TENNESSEE STATE HOUSE: Well, thank you so much for having me on today.

And I think -- I mean, it's morally insane that a week after a mass shooting took six precious lives in my community here in Nashville, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle -- their first action is not to take actions to rein in this proliferation of weapons of war in our streets, but it's to expel their colleagues for standing with our constituents.

And so this is not just about losing my job, it's about silencing the voices of over 70,000 people in my district. Altogether, the three of us represent over 200,000 people whose voices are being taken and silenced by a party that is acting like authoritarians. I mean, it's very concerning and it represents a clear and present danger to democracy all across this nation. That should trouble us all.

HARLOW: So the response from the Republican speaker says that your actions actually took the focus off the victims of that shooting, though -- six victims. Took the focus off their families. This is a pair of tweets from our -- you know, took the focus off the voices of other protesters. And I wonder how you respond to that.

J. JONES: That we went up to the well because our people were continually silenced. Protesters were silenced. The Speaker of the House refused to let any member speak on the issue of guns, and so he shut down Democratic debate. And so we found a way to get in the way to get in good trouble, as John Lewis called it, because that's what was needed.

That he was shutting the microphone off the movement of the people -- and that's why we had a megaphone because he shut off the microphone on the people. And the Speaker of the House is now, once again, trying to silence voices by trying to oust us. Voices of opposition. Voices trying to hold him accountable for his proliferation of guns --

HARLOW: What --

J. JONES: -- that he promotes in his polices. And so --

HARLOW: What are you going to do if you lose your seat, meaning you lose --

J. JONES: Well, we --

HARLOW: -- that megaphone, right? You lose your vote -- the three of you.

J. JONES: Well, this is not about us individually, this is about silencing a movement. And so we -- I believe that this is unconstitutional. That our State Constitution, Article II gives -- which gives representatives the right to dissent from and protest against legislation and actions that are injurious to the people -- Article II, Section 27.

And so we -- you know, we believe that we were acting in the spirit of our State Constitution and the United States Constitution to voice the concerns and grievances of our constituents. That's why thousands of people gathered with us on Thursday once again, and Monday. And they'll be back this Thursday where we're ousted -- when they threaten to oust us because the people are saying that this is an attack on democracy. This is an attack on the voice calling for action to rein in its proliferation of weapons of war on our streets.

And so this is -- this is -- should concern people all across the nation. If they can silence lawmakers, they can silence anybody.


J. JONES: You know, anyone else.

HARLOW: That's interesting. That's going to be, it sounds like, your legal argument to fight this expulsion -- Article II, Section 27.

I'll just say for our viewers and get your response finally, Article II, Section 12 of the Tennessee Constitution says that -- very clearly that House members -- representatives can be punished for disorderly behavior, and that's what they say you were doing.

J. JONES: And I just want to note that this is only the third expulsion since the Civil War in the Tennessee House of Representatives. The last expulsion was for sexual harassment -- 22 counts -- in 2016 -- Rep. Jeremy Durham. The expulsion before that in 1980 was for a recording of a lawmaker taking a thousand-dollar bribe for his vote.

And so they're saying that our actions of First Amendment activity of standing with our constituents and demanding common-sense gun control is equal and equivalent to those crimes and unethical behavior. That's what they're saying. And it sets a very dangerous precedent that any voice of opposition or dissent can be ousted.