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Trump Faces Several Obstacles In Bid To Return To The White House; Special Prosecutor Resigns From G.A. 2020 Election Interference Case; United States Missionary Workers Stranded In Haiti Amid Violent Unrest; Federal Government Is Once More Counting Down To A Partial Shutdown. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired March 16, 2024 - 07:00   ET



DANNY FREEMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to CNN THIS MORNING. It is Saturday, March 16th. I'm Danny Freeman, in for Victor Blackwell.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Amara Walker. Here's what we're watching for you this morning.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I cannot in good conscience endorse Donald Trump in this campaign.


WALKER: Former Vice President Mike Pence is on the record rebuking the president he served under why Pence says he cannot support Donald Trump this election.

FREEMAN: Plus, dueling rulings in two of the criminal trials former President Donald Trump is facing. There will be a new trial date in the New York hush money case and we'll talk about how will the Georgia election subversion case move forward after the lead prosecutor resigns. Coming up.

WALKER: And recovery efforts underway after multiple tornadoes packing winds as high as 165 miles per hour tear a deadly path across Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. There's also a new severe weather threat for 14 million people today.

FREEMAN: And CNN is the first major news network in Haiti's capital since gangs attacked the government. Two aid workers who are trying to escape the uprising join us live in just a moment.

WALKER: Former President Trump is facing more and more obstacles in his bid to return to the White House. On Friday, his former Vice President Mike Pence refused to endorse Trump in the 2024 general election, citing the two had profound differences on various issues.

FREEMAN: On top of that, Trump still faces four criminal trials and his attempt to topple Georgia prosecutor, Fani Willis, failed after the judge ruled Friday she could continue the election subversion case against the former president.

And in New York, Trump succeeded in his goal to delay the hush money trial against him. The judge there overseeing the case agreed to delay the start of the trial which was scheduled to begin on March 25th. And former Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that he "cannot" in good conscience endorse Donald Trump for president. That's a place an interview, and on Friday Pence said that it should not be a surprise that he isn't endorsing his former boss saying they have "profound differences" when it comes to conservative policies.


PENCE: It should come as no surprise that I will not be endorsing Donald Trump this year. Look, I, I'm incredibly proud of the record of our administration. It was a conservative record that made it clear and saw conservatives appointed to our course in a more peaceful world. But that being said, during my presidential campaign, I made it clear that there were profound differences between me and President Trump on a range of issues. And not just our difference on my constitutional duties that I exercised on January the 6th. I cannot in good conscience endorse Donald Trump.


WALKER: Well, Pence did not mention anything about Trump encouraging a mob of his supporters to get to him on January 6th as a former vice president was hustled by security to safety. He would not say who he would vote for in the upcoming election, though he did say he would not vote for Biden.

The judge overseeing Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial in Manhattan agreed to delay its start, netting another win for the former president's legal team. It was scheduled to start March 25th. A new trial date isn't set yet, but it is unlikely to happen before mid- April.

FREEMAN: Now, despite the delay, there will be a hearing on March 25th to address tens of thousands of documents the Department of Justice handed over for the case. And the judge ordered both parties to file a detailed timeline of events surrounding the document requests.

And to this now, 10 days remain for parties to file an appeal to a judge's ruling allowing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to stay on Donald Trump's election interference case. And Trump's attorney has already signaled he plans to appeal.

WALKER: Despite prosecutors being able to continue the case, it's still somewhat of a win for Trump as it means yet another delay for him. CNN's Nick Valencia explains how Fani Willis will get to continue the case at the cost of her special prosecutor.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The lead prosecutor on the Georgia election subversion case against Donald Trump and his allies stepping down. He says in the interest of democracy and dedication to the American public and to move this case forward as quickly as possible. Nathan Wade handing in his resignation letter hours after Judge Scott McAfee ruled District Attorney Fani Willis could stay on the case only if Wade goes.

Willis accepting the resignation of the man with whom she was romantically involved, writing, "I will always remember and will remind everyone that you were brave enough to step forward and take on the investigation and prosecution." In his ruling, McAfee concluding, the defense failed to prove Willis financially benefited from hiring Wade. But this finding is by no means an indication that the court condones this tremendous lapse in judgment or the unprofessional manner of the district attorney's testimony during the evidentiary hearing.


Judge Scott McAfee wrote, "Rather it is the undersigned's opinion that Georgia law does not permit the finding of an actual conflict for simply making bad choices." McAfee also describing Willis's fiery testimony last month as unprofessional.

FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: You've been intrusive into people's personal lives. You're confused. You think I'm on trial. These people are on trial for trying to steal an election in 2020. I'm not on trial no matter how hard you try to put me on trial.

VALENCIA: And her January remarks at an Atlanta area church as legally improper.

WILLIS: First thing they say, oh she going to play the race card now. But no God, isn't it them who's playing the race card when they only question one?

VALENCIA: The judge also saying reasonable questions exist about the timing of Willis and Wade's relationship.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When did your romantic relationship with Ms. Willis began?


VALENCIA: McAfee writing, the district attorney chose to continue supervising and paying Wade while maintaining such a relationship. As long as Wade remains on the case, this unnecessary perception will persist.

SCOTT GRUBMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don't think it's a good day for the justice system.

VALENCIA: Defense Attorney Scott Grubman faced off against Willis during the case when he represented Trump ally, Ken Chesebro, one of the four co-defendants, to take a guilty plea.

GRUBMAN: I hope and expect that the criminal defense lawyers in this case will appeal this decision. And I hope the Georgia Court of Appeals has a different view than Scott McAfee.

DONALD TRUMP, 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She's not equipped to do the job, and that case should end immediately.

VALENCIA: The former president's legal team vowing to fight on. We will use all legal options available as we continue to fight to end this case which should never have been brought in the first place. Attorney Steve Sadow said.

Trump's Georgia attorney Steve Sadow is expected to appeal the decision which could lead to more delays. Prior to these allegations surfacing against Fani Willis, she had asked for an August trial date. What's unclear is if she can get this case back on track for a trial before the November election.

Unlike the federal charges that Trump faces, these state charges have different implications. Because even if Trump wins the 2024 election, he would not be able to pardon himself from this case. Danny, Amara.

FREEMAN: Nick Valencia, thank you very much. All right, for more on this, let's get right over to constitutional law professor, Anthony Michael Kreis. All right, Anthony, I know that you were on TV for many hours yesterday dissecting all this. You've been watching the case basically since the beginning. Tell me, you've had a chance to sleep. Now that you've done that, does this feel like the right decision by the judge?

ANTHONY MICHAEL KREIS, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR: Well, I think it really is the most prudent decision that he can make because he can keep the case in the hands of Fani Willis and the Fulton County District Attorney's Office, which will keep the case progressing and moving along. But at the same time, he recognizes that there's an appearance of wrongdoing here and there is a quick and easy remedy which is Nathan Wade, the lead prosecutor, just had to leave the case.

FREEMAN: Well, and I know that you and others have been saying that this is a clear legal win for Fani Wills and the DA's office, but that political baggage and those words from the judge, I mean, how does she recover? How does the office recover from this?

KREIS: Well, she definitely took quite a drubbing yesterday in Judge McAfee's ruling and I think the most legal observers acknowledged that there were really ethical issues here and there was really a poor response, right? The DA's office does not get high marks for political crisis communications.

So, there were a lot of missteps along the way, but ultimately people's memories are short and so in terms of how does it affect the jury pool, how does it affect her re-election, I think it might be minimal, but the only thing that she really needs to worry about is if there's other damaging information out there that comes to light, but I think as of now, she's in the driver's seat.

FREEMAN: So, you actually think that this will blow over by the time that we actually get back to the primary case of prosecuting Trump and his allies here? KREIS: Right, I mean absolutely. So we have to remember is that we're

working in a universe beyond Georgia and so there are cases right between the special counsel case in Florida and Washington, D.C. and the upcoming case in New York and of course just campaign trail generally there will be a lot of issues that will drive a lot of attention and I think people will probably have this way back in the rear of view mirror by the time a trial comes or by the time November rolls around.

FREEMAN: Before we start heading up the East Coast to the other court cases, I'm curious do you feel as though the Trump attorneys or again any of his allies attorneys are going to have any luck in this probably inevitable appeal process.

KREIS: I don't think so. So, I think Judge McAfee's ruling was really very detailed, it was thorough, and I think he made it essentially appeal proof in the sense that the appellate process right now is discretionary. He has the discretion to allow this intermediary appeal.

Georgia Court of Appeals also has the discretion to say, no thank you, we don't want to hear it right now. And I think because it was so thorough and because he did give this off-ramp to the D.A. that the DA's office has now taken with Special Prosecutor Wade leaving. It's really unlikely in my view that this is going to be appealed over the summer.

FREEMAN: Do we have any sense of how the case is going to change or if it will change now that again one of the main prosecutors, Nathan Wade, is going to be stepping away?


KREIS: Well, I don't think it's going to change much. So, I think what's important to understand is Nathan Wade's role here. Nathan Wade probably was not the person really driving the legal theory behind this. There were other special prosecutors who have expertise in RICO for example, who have expertise in constitutional law and appellate work that Nathan Wade didn't have.

Nathan Wade's role was really here as team manager, I think. The behind-the-scenes guy who was engaged in deal-making, right, plea deals, working with witnesses. Those were important skills to have, but they aren't the kinds of things that there aren't other attorneys who can fill that void in the coming weeks and months.

FREEMAN: All right, let's move up the cellar quarter to New York, because we've got another headline that this hush money case is going to be pushed off. Is that another legal victory for the Trump world?

KREIS: Well, I don't -- I'm not sure I think what we don't know quite at this moment is what the new information that the D.A. in Manhattan seems to have gotten might do in terms of being inculpatory for Donald Trump. I think it's also not really the kind of the delay that we're going to see what Donald Trump really wants. Donald Trump really does not want trials to begin until after the election, right? Because that's really the key threshold in terms of the timetable going forward.

And so, this case is not going to be pushed back that far. And so, we'll have to see how that all shakes out. But I don't think this is a major victory in the scheduling sense.

FREEMAN: Listen, I know you've been in the courtroom here in Fulton County for quite a bit of it. And I thank you for sharing your expertise and for being inside to give us just a flavor of what's been going on. Thank you, Anthony Michael Kreis, appreciate it.

WALKER: A month's worth of rain could soak some parts of the South this weekend. Meteorologist Allison Chinchar, times out the storm threat for 14 million people.

Also, devastation as far as the eye can see. We are live in the Ohio town that was nearly wiped off the map by a powerful tornado. Plus, inside the unrest, CNN is the first major news network in Haiti's capital as desperate Americans are trying to flee the gang uprising.

And the first Russian presidential election since the country's full- scale invasion of Ukraine is happening right now. The defiant protests at the polls as Vladimir Putin likely sails to an unprecedented fifth term.



FREEMAN: This morning, communities across Ohio are recovering from this week's devastating storms and tornadoes that resulted in at least three deaths.

WALKER: Survey teams from the National Weather Service continued to sift through debris yesterday with the possibility of uncovering evidence of additional tornadoes or even stronger ones. CNN's Ivan Rodriguez is in Logan County, Ohio with the latest. Hi there Ivan, tell us what you're seeing.

IVAN RODRIGUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Amara, Danny, after that powerful EF3 tornado ripped through Logan County, Ohio, people are beginning to come out and assess the damage to their homes and also businesses. Behind me is just a glimpse of that extensive damage we're seeing throughout the Indian Lake community. This used to be a city administrative building. Now I want to show you drone footage that we took when we arrived here yesterday. And this is actually where we're standing right now.

To the left of your screen, you can see what used to be an old fire department building. As it keeps going, you can see part of that neighborhood that's been leveled. Also, in this picture, a laundromat that was destroyed, now being here in the heart of the village of Lakeview, we've had the chance to speak with many people who were shocked by this deadly storm. One woman who's been living here since the 60s tells us she's never seen anything like this before and explains what it felt like when the tornado was approaching her home.


NANCY BRENTINGER, LAKEVIEW RESIDENT: It just sounded like a freight train was coming through outside. And there was so much noise and It just sound like everything was just coming apart.


RODRIGUEZ: Yesterday, Ohio Governor DeWine also toured this destruction. He said could have prepared them for the amount of damage he said, he also said that this Indian Lake community will bounce back. Now, crews have been working around the clock to try and restore power. As of right now, about 4,000 customers remain without power in Logan County. We're going to see that work continue throughout this morning. And we're also expecting more people to begin and come out here again.

WALKER: The distraction is just remarkable. Ivan Rodriguez, thank you. Also, right now, 14 million people are facing severe weather threats as the Gulf Coast braces for powerful storms.

FREEMAN: More on this, we have meteorologist, Allison Chinchar, with us on set here. Before we get to those storms, the strength of those tornadoes is stunning to see.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and it wasn't just one. That's the thing. We had several confirmed EF2s, EF3s, and so you had several significant-sized tornadoes moving through different communities. And yes, there is a potential for more severe weather, hopefully nothing like we saw on Thursday, because again, those folks need time to clean up this damage.

This video from Winchester, Indiana, again, you can see the destruction here. The cars that were rolled over, flipped. All of the debris from the homes and nearby businesses just being lofted as though they weighed as much as a feather. Here's video of the tornado, one of them from Ohio. Again, you can see some of that debris being lofted into the air off to the side of some of this.

And these were just a few of the storms that made their way through these areas on Thursday and Friday. In total, the last 48 hours, 21 tornado reports, nearly 200 damaging wind reports, and over 250 hail reports. Keep in mind, some of those hail reports were larger than grapefruits.

Again, you're talking excessively large hail. For today, the main concern rides right here along this cold front, but especially across portions of Texas and Louisiana. Again, you can see a lot of that heavy rain. The bulk of it really ramps up late this afternoon and into the evening. It will continue through the overnight hours.

Even into Sunday early morning, still looking at a lot of that shower and thunderstorm activity along the Gulf Coast. It spreads farther east towards New Orleans once we get towards midday tomorrow, and then pushing farther into Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and even into the Carolinas by the time we get into late Sunday.

And tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, so if you have some festivals or parades you are maybe headed out to, you might want to bring that umbrella with you as you make your way there. Here's a look at the severe risks for today. We do still have the potential for large hail, damaging winds and also a few tornadoes as well.


FREEMAN: Allison Chinchar, thank you so much. OK, coming up next, there's just no easy way out of Haiti. With roads in the capital blocked and the city's airport shuttered, we'll talk to two aid workers trapped there as the political crisis deepens. Stay with us.



WALKER: The situation in Haiti continues to deteriorate as gang violence takes over the island nation and residents are left with nowhere to go. Haitian police forces say there is a special operation underway in pursuit of a gang leader known as Johnny Barbecue. He is the most prominent figure behind the violence that has devolved into a political and humanitarian crisis.

FREEMAN: CNN is the first major news network in Port-au-Prince since the uprising began. And the U.N. World Food Program says the violence has now left millions of people suffering from acute hunger. CNN's Carlos Suarez has the latest.


CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Danny, Amara, good morning. Medical care in Haiti is on the verge of disaster. That, according to the secretary-general of the Haitian Medical Association, who said that the three main hospitals in Port-au-Prince are all closed due to gang violence and looting.

CNN obtained a video inside of one of the hospitals. You can see the place has been ransacked. Shattered glass and debris cover the grounds. Medical personnel fear that outbreaks of diseases are likely. Now on Friday, the Haitian government extended a curfew in the country through Sunday. According to a government statement, police have been ordered to use, "all legal means" to enforce the curfew and stop public demonstrations.

On Thursday, armed men attacked the home of Haiti's national police director and set the place on fire. Now, it doesn't appear that anyone was hurt. On the humanitarian front, authorities in the Dominican Republic said the transport of aid and United Nations non-essential personnel could get underway next week. An air bridge would have two connection points in the Dominican Republic and one near Port of Prince. Officials are said to be finalizing the details of the plan. And the state of Florida is now collecting the names and information of Americans stranded in Haiti. The portal, run by the Division of Emergency Management, features a questionnaire asking for the location where a person needs to be rescued from. The U.S. State Department has also directed U.S. citizens in Haiti to fill out a form with information on the embassy's website.

Now in October, Florida officials did something similar in Israel. The state contracted with private organizations to fly Americans out of Israel following the October 7th attacks when commercial flights were canceled out of Israel. It's unclear if Florida will try the same rescue efforts in Haiti. The country's main airport in Port-au-Prince remains closed, though CNN has learned it could soon reopen. Danny and Amara.


FREEMAN: Carlos Suarez, thank you very much. For more on this, joining me now is the Founder of Mission of Grace, Lynn Joseph, and Missionary/Worker Maryam Sanati, just a few of the Americans now trapped in Haiti as this violence escalates there.


Lynn, first of all, thank you both for joining us. I can't imagine what you're going through. Lynn, I want to start with you. Can you just tell me how long have you been on the ground, and can you describe the work that your group has been doing?

LYNN JOSEPH, FOUNDER AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, MISSION OF GRACE: Yes. I'm Lynn Joseph with Mission of Grace. We've been underground for three weeks right now. But been in Haiti since 2009, wanting a mission who has an orphanage, over 200 children.

Due to of -- due to the gang violence, we had to relocate them to the south where we are right now in place it's also due soon. It was really bad across the street from the orphanage, or the original orphanage.

We had to gang fighting for months, non-stop burning churches, burning school, burning the clinic and everything there.

So, we had to wash the 200 and -- about 269 children to the south. So, we, here, the group of missionary with me were trying to get them situated, because we could not have one place in the south to put all of them. There were scattered five different places.

So, we here trying to set this -- settle these kids, and then, they shut down the airport, and now we're trapped.

Those missionaries, we have a Canadian with us. And 10 American has to go back. So, we had places (PH) trapped, and we have five. While, of course, the airport, who've been in the -- on a hotel for over 13 days, tried to get home. So, that's the situation right now.

FREEMAN: I mean, it just, again, sounds unimaginable. Miriam, I'm curious from your perspective, what have these past few weeks been like for you?

MIRIAM CINOTTI, MISSIONARY WORKER, MISSION OF GRACE: Well, like Miss Lynn had said, we came here to serve and to move these kids. And we are very, we are very pleased that we're able to do that. But at the same time, being trapped here without a way home to go home to our family, to our businesses, is a -- is a different feeling.

I've never had that here before I've been coming for since 2010. And this is like my fifth trip this year. I've never had this feeling of not being able to get home and it's a little scary. We're just ready to go home.

FREEMAN: Well, Miriam, let me stay with you actually on that. I mean, can you describe exactly what are the realistic challenges of getting home? What does trying to get home realistically look like in Haiti today?

CINOTTI: Well, be in the airports are closed and where we are, we have to have two airlines lined up to get home. Because we have to fly here to (INAUDIBLE). So, trying to get -- we look on to see if there's any flights even available, like in a week, and there is not. And then, so, we've reached out to our senators, our congressmen, we were all from Florida. And they have a program that they are trying to get us out. And we're just waiting to hear.

We've done all the forms, like you've said, we've done everything that we're -- that we're trying -- that we were supposed to do. And we're even looking into our private matter now and spend a lot of money to get us home.

FREEMAN: Lynn, are you afraid right now? I mean, not only -- you're not only trapped right now, but this violence is happening all around you, Lynn, how are you feeling?

JOSEPH: Afraid because even if I get a chance to go back home, I will still have -- I will still left over 300 children and staff at the orphanage. And again, we're food and medication is hard to find. Because why not? Things are very short and gas, food medicine. And I mean, I'm afraid of even leaving them. Yes, I want to go home. But to leave this, it's a big -- it's a big mess.

FREEMAN: Lynn, I'm also curious. What don't you think Americans who are not in Haiti right now -- let me put it this way. Why should America pay attention to what is happening in Haiti right now?

JOSEPH: It's a humanitarian cause. It's that a violent, the gang politic, but people need to set all that apart. See those kids are dying, the early leader in the street, the innocent people whose falling every day.

I mean, they don't -- they were already poor. But now, for them not to have a hospital that can went to, for them not to even know where the next meal going to come to, and it cannot get to us.

Yes, it's a hard situation is in right now. FREEMAN: Lynn Joseph, Miriam Cinotti. Thank you both so much for taking the time to speak with us. I really do hope that people hear this message and you're able to get out safely. Thank you.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Once again, the countdown has begun as Congress comes up on yet another critical government funding deadline that is just a few days from now.


How this could impact millions of Americans?


WALKER: All right. The countdown is on once again to a partial government shutdown. The deadline is less than a week away. Congress passed a first slate of government funding bills earlier this month, providing funding for several departments, including agriculture, justice, and veterans' affairs, but funding for the remaining depart events and agencies including defense, treasury, and labor, that expires at the end of the day on March 22nd. That is a Friday.


Joining me now to discuss this New York Times congressional correspondent, Luke Broadwater.

Hello, Luke, here we go again. Here we go again and again and again. All right. So, negotiators are obviously trying to work out a deal. Is anything different this time around as this is the fifth time since September that lawmakers are up against this funding deadline?

LUKE BROADWATER, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, I think negotiators on both sides are feeling pretty optimistic that we will get a government funding deal, finally.

As you said, the deadline is this Friday for those final six pieces of legislation to pass. The holdup was the department was Homeland Security and specifically funding over a border wall. They seem to have come to an agreement not to make any change in policy on that, and just use a one-year continuing resolution on that portion, which was kind of the last hold up.

But they are still negotiating furiously. I was just talking with some folks yesterday about this. One key difference why I think it will get done is Speaker Mike Johnson, who had voted against keeping the government open when he was not the Speaker has really been pushing to get this done by Friday, and he does not want a government shutdown on his watch, now that he is the Speaker.

I would also note that this is not some great accomplishment. This should have been done last year. We're already in the budget year that started October 1st, and we still don't have this legislation done.

And it would -- if they do finish it this this week, we're going to be coming right up again on the next budget cycle. So, I mean, this is well, well, well overdue. They pick the can five times, as you said, and so, it's not as though we're seeing some monumental accomplishment here. This is stuff that should have done last year.

WALKER: No, it just spotlights the dysfunction over and over again, doesn't it? In Congress.

Let's get to what has been a priority for House Republicans, and that's the impeachment inquiry into President Biden. It has stalled. You have reporting about House Republicans pivoting now. They are trying to save face. So, what is the new strategy if they are realizing, oh, we don't have enough evidence or any evidence to show that Biden, you know, committed any wrongdoing.

BROADWATER: Right. So, you know, another push that the House Republicans have been doing is to try to dig up evidence that they can use to impeach President Biden. They've been wanting to do this for months. They have been investigating him since they took over the house. But they do not have the votes.

They haven't been able to find the evidence to convince enough House Republicans that they should vote to impeach him. So, what's under discussion now is to essentially send a letter to the Justice Department that they will call a criminal referral.

And in that letter, they would name certain things that they think the Justice Department should investigate.

That way, they don't have to put the impeachment vote to the floor and lose. They already had a losing vote on one impeachment, the first time they tried to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. That was very embarrassing. They have lost seats since then. They have fewer House Republicans now, it seems less likely that they can muster the votes to actually vote to impeach Biden.

So, they are in a tough situation.


BROADWATER: But it really is of their own making. They started down this path, they promised a bunch of things to the -- to the base on the right. And now, they are having a difficult time being able to deliver them.

WALKER: And sending a letter to the Department of Justice to investigate as one thing. Whether or not the DOJ will actually open investigations is another, isn't it? I mean, is this really a face- saving move for House Republicans?

BROADWATER: Well, it could be depending on the alternative. If the alternative is that you put something on the floor and it fails, and you force a tough vote on all of your moderates, who are in tough racist to prior --


WALKER: Yes, but what are the chances? BROADWATER: To the House and Republican hands.

WALKER: But what are the chances that the DOJ would investigate?

BROADWATER: That could -- that could be.

Oh, yes. Look, yes, the justice department does not have to listen to Congress. But now, some on the right will say, but look, next year if Trump wins, and he replaces the top management of the justice department --


WALKER: Let's see.

BROADWATER: He's already pledged to go after the Biden family and sort of a retribution prosecution. And so, this could add some fuel to that fire. I mean, I think that's a scary prospect to many people who don't want to see the Justice Department used for political ends to prosecute one's enemies.


But that is something that Trump has promised to do. and I -- a criminal referral could add some fuel to that campaign if he does win.

WALKER: Even though Trump accuses the Biden administration of going on a witch hunt against him.

I will put that aside. Luke Broadwater, good to see you. Thanks so much.

FREEMAN: Russia is holding a presidential election, but the results are all but certain. We'll tell you how Vladimir Putin is coasting towards another term and power. That and much more, coming up next.



FREEMAN: It is the second day of elections in Russia where President Vladimir Putin's victory is hardly even a question. This is the first Russian presidential election though to take place over three days. Putin is set to secure a fifth term when the polls close, securing his rule in Russia throughout this decade and likely into the 2030s.

WALKER: Overnight, over 50 countries condemned the Russian 0 in the occupied Ukrainian territory, saying they have no validity under international law.

CNN's Sebastian Shukla joining us now, from London with more Sebastian, tell us more about what the international community is saying.

SEBASTIAN SHUKLA, CNN FIELD PRODUCER: Well, I think the international community like you say, will very unlikely to say anything other than condemned these elections, because largely, they are staged managed. And as experts have said, for a long-time, elections in Russia are through a manage democracy. It is the phrase that is often bandied around.

Now, elections, as you say, are still ongoing. This is the second day of three and they began on a Friday in the far eastern region of Russia, Kamchatka, which is closer to Alaska than it is to Moscow.

And we'll go -- we'll carry on through until Sunday night 8:00 p.m., local time, where we will then start to have an idea about who is going to be the winner here, which, of course, is very likely to be President Putin, given that he is the front runner and with there being no real opposition candidates to speak of.

And those that are running on the ballot paper are those who are close to him. There are obviously questions about what happens and is going on in the occupied territories of Ukraine, where Ukrainians with Ukrainian passports are still being encouraged to vote.

And President Putin actually spent his last election campaign victory 2018 and another illegally annexed territory of Crimea.

Guys, the thing that everybody will be looking out for given what is happening in Russia, and given the war in Ukraine is how supportive Russians are of a new president. So, we'll be looking out mainly for the -- what the -- what the turnout numbers will be. Guys?

FREEMAN: Sebastian Shukla, thank you so much for that report and keep us posted of course.

WALKER: All right. Changing paces now, and college basketball's March Madness is in full swing. We've already seen some dominating performances and amazing buzzer beaters. Andy Scholes will be here next.

And a new episode of "UNITED STATES OF SCANDAL" premieres tomorrow. CNN's Jake Tapper has more.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Being from Philadelphia, I have an inherent distrust of anything that comes from New Jersey. Although, I do acknowledge that the Garden State punches way above its weight when it comes to political scandals.

In 2004, the Democratic governor of New Jersey Jim McGreevey, stepped into a press room just like this and became an overnight sensation when he admitted to a gay affair and resigned in the same speech.

A governor coming out of the closet was genuinely shocking, a career killer at that time.

Looking back, though, I can't help but feel that we were all so quick to embrace the headline that we may have forgotten to dig a little deeper, because the reason why Jim McGreevey resigned is a lot more complicated than we remember. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: "UNITED STATES OF SCANDAL" with Jake Tapper airs tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.



FREEMAN: All right. It's a magical time for college basketball fans. The conference tournaments are in full swing all leading up to tomorrow's Selection Sunday.

WALKER: Yes. Andy Scholes is here with more of the March Madness action.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes. And guys, you know, we know this, nothing matches the emotions of March Madness. Right? No matter what we always end up getting the buzzer beaters, we always get one fan base so excited. And on the other end, you get some heartbreak as well.

Now N.C. State they needed -- they actually need to win the ACC Tournament in order to make the big dance. And a one looking good, last night. Virginia had the line with a chance to go for and win the game with six seconds left, but Isaac McKneely misses the free throw, Michael O'Connell brings the ball up, throws a prayer at the buzzer.


SCHOLES: And that prayer was answered.


SCHOLES: It somehow bangs in. So, we would go to overtime and the Wolfpack taken advantage of that second chance. They'd outscore Virginia, 15 to seven in the extra period to get the win 73 To 65.

The 10 seated Wolfpack now going to face North Carolina nine ACC championship game. They are win away from an epic five wins in five days to make the NCAA tournament.

All right. Remember the Peacocks? St. Peter's is now one game away from making the NCAA Tournament field again. They were tied with Quinnipiac, with time winding down. Mouhammed Sow comes up with the rebound and he puts it back at the buzzer to win it. As you can see, the players on going nuts chasing him down.

This is the second time in three seasons St. Peter's has made it to the MAAC Championship. The last time was in 2022 when they made that incredible run all the way to the elite eight in the big games.

All right. We will know who is playing, who and where? Come tomorrow, which is Selection Sunday. And this week's difference makers we're going to highlight some of the biggest names in the women's game which has seen exponential growth since last year's final four. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAITLIN CLARK, IOWA GUARD: After the final four, it certainly felt like women's basketball was certainly on the rise. But not even that. It felt like women's sports was just continuing to be on the rise. It felt like people were looking at in a way like, wow, this is amazing this is fun to watch. These women have a lot of talent. And to me that's one of the coolest things.


ANGEL REESE, LSU FORWARD: Being one of the faces of women's basketball is something that is really important to me. And just being able to help grow the game as much as I can.