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ISIS Claims Responsibility For Attack At Concert Venue Near Moscow; Catherine, Princess of Wales, Diagnosed With Cancer; Senate Passes Government Funding Bill To Avoid Government Shutdown; Majorie Taylor Greene Files Motion To Oust House Speaker. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired March 23, 2024 - 07:00   ET



AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to CNN THIS MORNING. It is Saturday, March 23rd. I'm Amara Walker.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Thank you for joining us. We are following several developing stories this morning. Russia says nearly a dozen people have been detained in connection with a terror attack at a popular concert hall. More than 100 people were killed.

New this morning, what the U.S. is saying about that attack and the warning it gave to Americans traveling in Russia in the days leading up to it.

WALKER: Plus, messages of support are coming in from around the world after Catherine, Princess of Wales, revealed that she has been diagnosed with cancer. Our Richard Quest is live this morning at Buckingham Palace with the latest. We will get to him in just a moment.

BLACKWELL: And breaking overnight, the Senate passed a deal to avert a government shutdown. More on the hours-long late-night sprint to get that deal done. That's just ahead.

WALKER: Breaking news in Russia this morning. The death toll from an alleged terror attack near Moscow is now up to 115 dead. And authorities say that number is likely to keep rising. And a warning, this video you're about to see is quite disturbing.

Witnesses capture the moments, gunmen stormed a concert hall Friday, firing shots and then setting the venue on fire. Russian authorities say all four of the people directly involved in the attack are now under arrest along with other suspects.

Just terrifying moments, you could hear and see there. ISIS-K took responsibility for the attack which is the deadliest terror incident in the Moscow region in decades.

BLACKWELL: Now just days before that, the U.S. Embassy warned its citizens, U.S. citizens, to stay away from large gatherings. It said it was monitoring reports that extremists were planning attacks. Joining us now is Ivan Watson from Hong Kong. What else have you learned?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, this was a night of absolute terror. The death toll, you know, reveals just how awful it was. At least 115 people killed, more than 100 people wounded. There were desperate calls for blood donations and lines of people showing up as well.

We've heard from eye-witnesses descriptions of one woman who said she pretended to be dead to escape these gunmen who came in opening fire and setting fire to this place right before a concert was expected to begin. Another man describing trying to escape, but the doors of the venue being locked and not being able to get out.

And then, imagine loved ones who are looking for their missing relatives in the aftermath of all this chaos like this man who was on the scene looking for his missing wife overnight. Take a listen.


SENYON KHRAPTSOV, WIFE ATTENDED CONCERT (through translation): I am in complete panic my whole body hurts even my heart blood pressure rose and all that. I took medicine and I felt better. I don't know what to do. Complete hopelessness. My friends can only tell me just to wait for the list of victims. Wait for the phone line at the hospital to open up.


WATSON: That man said he'd called five different hospitals trying to find his wife unsuccessfully at that point. The fire raged throughout the night. The place is still smoldering, and the images afterwards show this theater absolutely gutted by the flames. So, just a huge amount of destruction.

The investigators on the scene, they say they've found some of the weapons of the gunmen who attacked the place and some of their ammunition as well, and they've begun their investigation. We have not yet heard from the Russian President Vladimir Putin, who just this week was declaring himself president after a very flawed election.

WALKER: And Ivan, we know that ISIS-K which is the affiliate in Afghanistan it has claimed responsibility for this attack but Russia is pointing the finger at Ukraine, right, why?

WATSON: Well, there's been a war going on for more than two years that Russia launched into Ukraine. People are dying on that front line every day. This attack right on the outskirts of Moscow is frankly embarrassing to the Russian president, who again has not been seen yet. There was a warning that came from the U.S. government.

The U.S. embassy in Moscow on March 7th urged U.S. citizens to stay away from large gatherings, warning of intelligence about possible extremist attacks, and the warning included concert venues. Just this week, Vladimir Putin speaking to the FSB, that's the successor agency to the KGB, he basically made fun of this warning, saying it was a provocation aimed at dividing and threatening and blackmailing Russian society.

So, it doesn't look very good if now you have an attack and ISIS has claimed responsibility in a statement on an ISIS-affiliated social media account without providing any evidence. But really, already, the FSB is saying among the detainees, the suspects that it has captured, including four individuals, it says they were trying to escape to Ukraine, driving on the highway southwest of Moscow, and that they're being brought back to Moscow for interrogation.

So, we're already hearing a narrative coming together where the Russian government seems to be trying to point the finger at Ukraine. I have to add that the Ukrainian government has categorically denied any links whatsoever to this terror attack.


BLACKWELL: Ivan Watson, reporting there from Hong Kong, thanks so much. We're joined now by Steve Hall, former CIA Chief of Russia Operations and a CNN National Security Analyst. Steve, good morning to you, that March 7th warning from the U.S. Embassy now seems prescient. Let me read right from it here: "Monitoring reports that extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow to include concerts." And you heard how Ivan described the Russian public political response. Do you expect that internally the intelligence agencies dismissed it as well?

STEVE HALL, FORMER CIA CHIEF: That's tough to say, Boris. I mean, one thing that we do know for sure is that the American Embassy, in sharing this information publicly, which it did on March 7th, would not have done that without warning the Russian government about this information as well. I mean, it's just, that's just the way it's done.

You've heard people talk about this duty to warn thing, which is basically a policy that the U.S. government has that when we receive threat information regardless of where it's happening in a place like Russia where we have, of course, grave significant policy differences with Vladimir Putin.

And the Kremlin, nevertheless, the United States, and most of its Western allies have a policy of sharing intelligence even with a country like Russia. So, you know, the only explanation is, of course, though the information was passed. It's clear that Vladimir Putin simply mocked it, rejected it.

It's unclear at this point is whether the FSB or the other Russian intelligence services actually believed it and we're trying to advise President Putin otherwise or whether they took the same line and said no this is some attempt at, you know, a provocation or some ridiculousness. So, that's unclear, but what is clear is, is that Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin had this information or had information that was very similar and they should have taken better measures.

BLACKWELL: And now it seems that they're shifting blame, although ISIS-K has claimed responsibility, they're now focusing on Ukraine, saying that the four who are accountable here, the four who are, they say, terrorists directly involved, were heading to the Ukrainian border and had ties in Ukraine. Is that where this is going that in the next 24-48 hours, we will hear from Putin, you expect, to say this is a Ukrainian plot.

HALL: That's an interesting moment because clearly the Russians are leaving themselves an option to blame Ukraine should they choose to do so. And of course, that is the easy option, especially with Putin being in the sort of difficult position vis-a-vis the entire Russian population where he's going to, he's going to have to acknowledge or perhaps he will more likely but nevertheless it's clear to everybody that they had this information. So, it'd be easy for him to say, yes, Ukraine.

Unfortunately, of course, for Putin that theory simply makes no sense, the Ukrainians it wouldn't -- this is the last thing that the Ukrainians would want to, this is the last look that they would want to try, to try to perpetrate. They want to, you know, we're terrorists. They don't want to say that, they want to say, look, we are simply a country that is under attack, under invasion by Russia. We're not killing innocents like terrorists do. So, it doesn't make any sense on a variety of different levels for Ukrainian. It makes a lot of political sense for putting to say that though.

BLACKWELL: All right, Steve Hall, thanks so much.

WALKER: And we're following about the news in the U.K. Catherine, Princess of Wales says she is now in the early stages of treatment following a cancer diagnosis. She revealed the news Friday in an on- camera message, saying doctors found the cancer when she underwent abdominal surgery in January. Kate hadn't been seen in an official capacity since Christmas.

And despite the palace initially announcing she wouldn't return to her royal duties until after Easter, speculation about her condition ran wild and attempts to quiet those rumors only added to the frenzy. And of course, those conspiracy theories on social media. But in the message, she explained why the family waited to go public with the news.


CATHERINE MIDDLETON, PRINCESS OF WALES: As you can imagine, this has taken time. It has taken me time to recover from major surgery in order to start my treatment. But most importantly, it has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louis in a way that's appropriate for them and to reassure them that I'm going to be OK.



WALKER: Well, a source tells CNN Princess Kate started chemo in February and waited until their children were home for the Easter holiday to release the video.

BLACKWELL: We now go to CNN's Richard Quest who is outside Buckingham Palace in London following all the details for us. And Richard, I imagine that this has been a realignment for many in the media there after weeks, months of the speculation and now the sobering moment of an explanation for the princess's absence?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, because you have the media who is basically now saying, well, we understand why we haven't seen her. All that nonsense over doctored photographs all looks extremely trite and somewhat embarrassing as a result. If you just think about it, Victor. Here you have the Princess of Wales having to put out a statement about her amateur photography at just about the time she was starting her treatment for chemo.

We now know why, for example, William withdrew from one of his major memorial events that he was supposed to take part in, because he was dealing with his wife's cancer treatment. And so, that gives perspective. This is the mail, the Daily Mail, big selling of course, it's the same lot as the mail online. And this is how they've chosen to go with it this morning. But it's a mainstream newspaper: "I'm well and getting stronger every day. I'm going to be OK."

But the thing I want you to focus on, look at the different commentators that they've got. For once, she must focus only on herself. Richard Kaye, "A terrible crisis for monarchy, but it will survive this." And Amanda Plattel, "How do all those vile online trolls feel now?" That pretty much in a way sums up the three legs of this stool, of this story. On the one hand, the personal, the family, the medical.

On the second, the constitutional, the monarchy, the big questions of what role plays. And the last one, of course, core to us all, the voyeuristic, the memes, how much are we all prepared to say, I don't want any of that.

WALKER: Yes, I'm sure a lot of them have their tails now between their legs. I do want to ask you about, Kate, and in terms of what the palace is saying, because obviously, I'm sure the expectations are no longer that she will return to her royal duties after Easter, right?

QUEST: Completely. I mean, we had expected that we might have seen her at Easter church services or something like that. That's now highly unlikely, if not impossible, because basically the kids are on holiday and the family will be together. We don't even know where they are in a sense, other than whether they're at Adelaide Cottage around the hall, but we don't know whether they're going away.

When she will be well enough to take up full duties, who knows? Please God, sooner rather than later. But I think you're right, we will see her. There will be occasions when there will be an appearance, family, major event perhaps, but no return to major duties. The same, by the way, for the king, King Charles. We don't really know when we're going to properly get to see him back in full duties which means for the queen and the rest of them it's double duties. And so far, they seem to be handling it extremely well.

BLACKWELL: All right, Richard Quest, we'll check back with you. Thanks so much. [07:14:47]

WALKER: All right, back here in the U.S. It was down to the wire, but early this morning, the Senate approved a government funding bill, avoiding a partial shutdown. The latest, next.



WALKER: Breaking news overnight, senators worked past the midnight deadline to pass a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.

BLACKWELL: $1.2 trillion package here funds nearly three quarters of the government for the next six months and is headed to President Biden's desk to be signed today. CNN's Annie Grayer covers Congress. So, how did senators get past the gridlock, and more importantly, what's in this bill?

ANNIE GRAYER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor and Amara, senators were at a standstill until they finally came to an agreement on the amendment that they were going to be voting on as part of this bill. And so, that took them a lot of time to break that gridlock. They finally passed it at around 2:00 a.m. It heads to the president's desk.

We're expecting him to sign it, so we're not expecting to see any stalemate or lapse in federal funding. Let's take a look at what was in this bill that funds the remaining portions of the federal government, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, Labor. You can see just the full breakdown on your screen there.

And now, that the government is finally funded for this fiscal year, we can take a step back and just talk about how tumultuous it was. We saw lawmakers sprinting up to these deadlines to pass short-term extensions multiple times until we finally got until this point. Kevin McCarthy lost his job over his handling of government funding back in October when he was ousted as speaker.

Speaker Mike Johnson, it now faces a threat from Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene for over his job. We'll see what happens there. But look, funding the government in a divided Congress was always going to be difficult. Republicans have a narrow majority in the Senate, in the House, Democrats control the Senate.

But what made it more complicated was that Republicans tried to include a number of partisan measures in this government funding process, and that set up a real showdown between the two chambers. But with this government funding now behind them, lawmakers can kind of just take a collective sigh of relief until they have to do it all again in just a few short months.

WALKER: Yes, that would be September, right? Annie Grayer, good to see you. Thank you so much. Let's discuss now with Politico congressional reporter, Nicholas Wu. Good morning to you, Nicholas. Good to see you. Is anyone, any side, claiming victory this morning?

NICHOLAS WU, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, this morning, I think most of the senators finally went to sleep after working late into the morning on this. But the thing is, like Annie was saying, in an era of divided government and this very narrowly divided Senate, this is the kind of bill that leads to compromises that both sides will claim victory for.

Democrats, I've talked to, were practically gloating that they were able to keep a lot of Republican policy riders and deep spending cuts that they'd initially, that Republicans had initially wanted out of these spending bills.

Republicans, on the other hand, are able to say that they got however many amendment votes last night, and they secured a commitment in the Senate to vote on a bill that could potentially overturn a Biden administration rule on car tailpipe emissions. And so, it's the kind of thing where everyone goes home with a little bit to talk about.

WALKER: Until they have to do it again, right, in September. And look, Nicholas, we've seen this last-minute scramble way too many times to fund the government. Five times since September of last year. So, as Annie was saying this bill will keep the government funded until September 30th at the end of the fiscal year or that particular period, that's going to be a little over than a month before the presidential election. Are we going to see this drama play out again, I guess in a heightened way, because we are in an election season and so close to the presidential election?

WU: Well, if past is precedent with Congress, they are going to run right up against the finish line on the appropriations process, this government funding process. But the thing is, with that deadline coming so close to the presidential election, one possibility that lawmakers have done in the past when the funding deadline is close to an election is just to keep government funding at existing levels through the end of the year. So, that leaving it is something for the lame duck Congress and a potentially lame duck president, depending on how things go, to deal with afterwards.

WALKER: So, when you look at the House bill, it passed with just 101 Republicans supporting it. They needed the Democrats. Mike Johnson needed the Democrats to supply the rest of the votes to get it over the finish line. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene now is saying that she's beginning the process of calling for a vote to oust Speaker Mike Johnson. Here's what she had to say yesterday.



REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): I filed the motion to vacate today but it's more of a warning and a pink slip. This was our leverage. This is our chances to secure the border and he didn't do it. And now, this funding bill passed without the majority of the majority.


WALKER: Is there an appetite for a repeat of the chaos that we saw with Kevin McCarthy?

WU: Right now, there's very little appetite on either side of the aisle to repeat the same kind of chaos we saw last fall where for weeks the House was out without a speaker, and they were unable to move on legislation of any consequence.

So, Republicans I talked to largely declined to back Greene's effort, and Democrats too, signaled that they would not be willing to support Greene's effort, especially if Mike Johnson brought some sort of Ukraine aid to the House floor, as they've wanted for some time. At the same time, the House only has a two-vote majority right now, and this could drop down by one by mid-April when Congressman Mike Gallagher resigns his office.

And so, all it would take is Marjorie Taylor Greene and maybe another Republican or two and Democrats, if it came to that, to oust the Speaker. And so, we'll have to wait and see what happens once lawmakers return from their Easter recess.

WALKER: All right, Nicholas, we'll leave it there. Thanks so much.

BLACKWELL: The number of people killed in that terror attack on a concert hall near Moscow is now more than 100. Coming up, what we're learning about the ability of ISIS to carry out these attacks.



BLACKWELL: We've got more of the breaking news out of Russia. Overnight, the death toll in a Moscow area terror attack surge to 115. More than 100 others have been injured. 44 of them seriously.

A warning, the video we're about to show, it is disturbing. These gunmen, they stormed into the crocus complex outside Moscow Friday. They shot people inside the concert hall and then set it on fire.

One witness said on Instagram that she fell to the floor and pretended to be dead to escape the shooting.

WALKER: The ceiling of the hall partially collapsed in those flames. And hours later, crews were still putting out those hotspots. Right now, nearly 500 people are working to take down the rubble.

ISIS took responsibility for the attack, and Russian authorities say they have detained 11 people, including the four people they say are directly responsible for the attack.

Now, earlier this month, the U.S. Embassy warned Americans in Russia that ISIS militants were planning to target large gatherings like concerts, but President Vladimir Putin rejected the warnings as merely, "provocative".

The U.N. Security Council is working on another resolution for a Gaza ceasefire and hostage release as we move on to another story after a U.S. proposed resolution failed to pass on Friday. It was vetoed by Russia and China.

BLACKWELL: The Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war Cabinet in Tel Aviv, also on Friday. This is part of an intensive diplomatic push toward a ceasefire.

CNN's Paula Hancocks joins us from Doha. Where are the negotiations this morning?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor and Amara, what we saw was a really a concerted diplomatic push by the United States. A three-pronged attack if you like. And two out of three did not go the way that the Biden administration would have wanted them to.

You've mentioned the U.N. Security Council resolution that was voted down. Antony Blinken, the secretary of state meeting with Israel's prime minister on Friday. It was really pushing the ceasefire was pushing the hostage releases and also pushing for the Israelis not to carry out this major ground operation in Rafah. Because of the sheer number of civilians there.

And of course, that's the main humanitarian aid entrance as well. But just after that meeting, we heard from the Israeli prime minister, saying that it would go ahead with or without U.S. support.

So, we'll focus now on the talks that are going on here. These are the indirect talks between Hamas and Israel. You have Qatar, Egypt, and the U.S. in between, trying to hammer out this potential six-week ceasefire, in return for some hostages being released in some Palestinian prisoners being released.

Now, we know the intelligence chiefs of Israel, the U.S. Egypt and Qatar's prime minister, have been meeting, have been trying to move it forward. As of now, no breakthrough.

WALKER: All right. Paula Hancocks. Thanks so much for staying on top of it.

Catherine, Princess of Wales is asking for privacy after publicly revealing her cancer diagnosis. Coming up, more on the response from the shocked British public.



RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Catherine, Princess of Wales, says she's begun treatment from being diagnosed with cancer. There have been months of speculation over her condition. And now, the princess has told the world that she does have cancer in a video that she released on Friday.

And her message to the public, she asked for privacy. She is saying after a string of conspiracy theories fueled by social media led to a lot of scrutiny for the royals. Now, the princess dispelled the conspiracies and world leaders and pretty much all of us are voicing support for the princess as she considered -- continued to recovery.

CNN's Nada Bashir is with me. A shock for all, absolutely. And the message is very much one of sympathy, empathy, and support. But this constant request for privacy.

NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: Absolutely. And that request is very clear in the Princess of Wales's video message. And this comes, of course, after weeks and weeks of media frenzy really about her whereabouts, her condition, particularly after we found out that she had, had what she described as major abdominal surgery back in January.

Of course, we haven't seen her since Christmas. And so, there has been concerned. But there has also been a lot of theories around where exactly the Princess of Wales has been. And so, we heard that message from her again, reiterating that call for time and for privacy. This is, of course a very personal matter.

And we have been hearing that outpouring of support and you can see, of course, it's very busy. Today, lots of tourists out.

QUEST: Yes, yes.


BASHIR: Been hearing that support not just from members of the British public, but also a lot of tourists who are here as well. Take a listen.


HANNAH DICKERSON, UNITED STATES TOURIST: Well, obviously, like I'm just completely shocked. And it was just, it's crazy that like I was actually like right in front of Buckingham Palace when I found out. And it's just -- it's just shocking considering like King Charles was already just diagnosed with cancer. And it's just -- and then all the like rumors, or speculation about Kate. And finally, we know what happened, it was just a complete shock.

JOSH PORTER, AUSTRALIAN TOURIST: Obviously, it will be a big disruption (PH) to the -- to probably her operations and William's family, and William's duties, and yes, I can imagine it would have a big effect on what they do, and how they do it.


QUEST: I'm a little bit torn, but tricks in between. You know, we heard about the major abdominal surgery, but we didn't really hear any more many more details about it. And I do wonder if they told us more, earlier, now why should they I can hear you saying she's entitled about privacy. But if they told us earlier just a little bit more, would it have made any difference? BASHIR: Well, look, there's certainly been a lot of speculation. And, in fact, the fact that the Princess of Wales has given this video messages quite unprecedented for the royal family.

We heard that announcement a few weeks ago that the king had -- was diagnosed with cancer. that was issued in a written statement. But this was quite a personal, intimate message from the Princess of Wales, about a very private matter she was very clear about.

And, of course, there was a lot of speculation, but she also made a point to the fact that for herself and for her family. This is a personal matter involving three young children, as well.

And the timing of the announcement, of course, comes just as the kids go on school holidays, that was an important part as well. So, clearly, this is still very much a family matter for the Princess of Wales.

QUEST: Thank you, grateful, thank you very much.

Amara, Victor, to yourselves in Atlanta.

BLACKWELL: All right, Richard, and Nada, thanks so much for that. Joining us now to talk more about Princess Catherine's diagnosis is cancer surgeon, Dr. April Spencer. Thanks so much for coming in studio.

DR. APRIL SPENCER, BREAST CANCER SURGEON: Oh, thanks for having me, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Let's start here with a portion of Kate's message in which she describes how the cancer was discovered. Let's play it.


KATE MIDDLETON, PRINCESS OF WALES: In January, I underwent major abdominal surgery in London. And at the time, it was thought that my condition was non-cancerous. The surgery was successful. However, test after the operation found cancer had been present. My medical team therefore advised that I should undergo a course of preventative chemotherapy. And I'm now in the early stages of that treatment.


BLACKWELL: A couple elements here.


BLACKWELL: Preventative chemotherapy, not as common as maybe it might have once been what do you hear there?

SPENCER: Sure. So, usually, there is not a whole lot of utilization of preventative chemotherapy. If someone has cancer, we give them chemotherapy, with the thoughts that we are going to try to reduce any circulating tumor cells that may not be visible on imaging, that may not have been seen surgically. Even with my patients, or any surgeon that does cancer, we give chemotherapy when there is a definitive diagnosis of cancer is usually not something that we do as a preventative strategy. Yes.

WALKER: You know, I have to say when I heard her in the message, and when she spoke about having to talk to her children, her three children in an appropriate way, having to reassure them about her diagnosis.

I mean, that really struck home for me. You are also a woman. You happen to be a breast cancer surgeon. So, you're dealing with women day in and day out, you're also a mother. What hit -- did it hit home to you when you listen to this message?

SPENCER: Yes, for Kate, it really hit home. And that people aren't really mindful of what women are grappling with. It's like dual demand of having to manage your own emotions, while trying to maintain the safety, that confidence, and stability of your children and your household. Just that family stability.

And with Kate, specifically, you have the royal family. So, there is a separate set of duties that comes with that, but she's a mother, first.



SPENCER: And that's going to be her priority. And that's what makes it very unique and very child. So that's why I'm very, very proud of her for just speaking out, and just really trying to raise awareness.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And our team says that the timing of the announcement actually was dictated by the school schedule of the children is that now they're on a break for Easter. So, she wanted to wait until they were out of school. Much like what you were saying to navigate all of these other variables beyond the diagnosis.

Based on what we know and not all the details --


BLACKWELL: What do -- what does the next stage of treatment likely -- look like for her?

SPENCER: So, abdominal surgery or having abdominal cancer is so broad, that could have been surgery anywhere from the stomach down to the uterus or a cervix. So, it's just very broad. So, it's really difficult to say what would be the next steps other than she likely will continue some sort of chemotherapy whether that's by mouth or whether it's by I.V.


And really trying to get a good handle on just being well. just her cycle, social stability in terms of making sure she's eating well and maintaining her mental health, exercising, and just really trying to get back to her new normal.

That's the most difficult part for any individual. But especially a woman because there's a lot of other things that they are going to be responsible for in their household. So, it's like, how do we get back to normalcy? Even the timing like, OK, let's -- let them know during break.

And oftentimes, many others don't have to kind of grapple with those sorts of challenges while still trying to heal.

BLACKWELL: And they also don't have the press to deal with, and of immediate demand.

WALKER: I know. I know.

SPENCER: Exactly. Yes, for sure.

BLACKWELL: Yes, yes.

WALKER: And there, the concerns about, you know, your privacy being violated, which, you know, may have happened.

BLACKWELL: Doctor Spencer --


WALKER: Dr. April -- yes, good to see you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you.

SPENCER: You too.

WALKER: Thank you so much.

SPENCER: Thanks for having me.

BLACKWELL: Still to come. Brackets, throw them away. Just throw the brackets away. March Madness is living up to its name the finals from last night after the break.



BLACKWELL: All right. day two -- round two for some teams in March Madness. More excitement even more brackets busted.

WALKER: Oh, oh. Carolyn Manno, joining us now from New York. Lots of excitement, Carolyn.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I threw my brackets away two days ago. I mean, I was done before this thing even started. Friday started with around 2,100 perfect men's brackets out of more than 31 million entries across all major web sites, way less than one percent, and now, there are zero left standing. A lot of people have number four seat, Auburn making a deep run in the tournament. But Yale was not intimidated. The Ivy League Champion Bulldogs roaring back from a 10-point deficit midway through the second half.

And junior guard, John Poulakidas, hitting a big shot after big shot, finishing with 28 points.

His step back three with 210 left, gave Yale the lead, lead and they never looked back. The Bulldogs win the second NCAA Tournament game in school history 78-76.

Unfortunately, Yale's band could not travel with their team to Spokane. So, the University of Idaho's marching band stepping into help. They quickly learn the Yale flight song.

They wear Yale t-shirts in the sands. Very cool move. But Yale and the band representing them will be back in action tomorrow against San Diego State as well.

The third time turns out to be the charm for the Grand Canyon basketball team, the number 12 seated antelopes win their first March Madness game in three appearances, upsetting fifth seeded St. Mary's 75-66. The final, Grand Canyon will face number four Alabama in the second-round tomorrow, with a berth in the sweet 16 on the line.

We've got eight more games on the schedule today starting with Dayton in Arizona at 12:45. You can watch all the action across our sister networks TNT, TBS, and TruTV.

And Iowa star, Caitlin Clark's road to a national championship starts this afternoon with a first round matchup at home against Holy Cross. This single elimination tournament means that every single game can be the last for college basketball's all-time leading scorer or one game closer to the final four to tip off at 3:00 Eastern for that one.

And you know the big 10 Championship guys on the women's side average 3 million viewers. It was one of the most watched games of women's college basketball history. So, I have to think that all eyes are going to be on Caitlin Clark today too.

WALKER: She is the phenom the one to watch. Carolyn Manno, thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: Still to come, a scandal rocking Major League Baseball, allegations of gambling surrounding superstar pitcher Shohei Ohtani and his longtime translator we'll have the latest on the investigation.



WALKER: And here are some of the headlines we are following this morning. Police in Nashville Tennessee saying -- say, that there are no signs of foul play after they found the body of University of Missouri student Riley Strain in the Cumberland River on Friday.

His friends and family have been unable to get in touch with a 22- year-old after he was kicked out of a bar during a visit to the city earlier this month. His stepfather told CNN, affiliate WCTV, that the bartender says drain was over served.

BLACKWELL: United Airlines says the Federal Aviation Administration plans to take a closer look at its operations after close to a dozen incidents this month. And I told employees in a memo Friday that the FAA would be reviewing several areas of the company's operations over the next few weeks.

The company says it's to ensure it's doing all it can to promote and drive safety compliance. The FAA says the agency routinely monitors all aspects of an airline's operation.

WALKER: Major League Baseball is investigating allegations surrounding superstar pitcher Shohei Ohtani and his longtime translator. The Los Angeles Dodgers fired the interpreter on Wednesday, after Ohtani's lawyers accused him of massive theft, saying he stole millions from Ohtani and placed bets with a bookmaker, who's also under investigation.

ESPN reports that Otani's representatives now say he has no knowledge of his interpreter's gambling debt after he initially said he was aware.

"FIRST OF ALL," with Victor Blackwell is coming up next. Hey there, Victor, what's coming up.

BLACKWELL: All right. So, you know, we've been following how states have been going after these Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs, more states adding to the list.

Well, the president of the NAACP says that he thinks black student athletes should reconsider going to state schools that closed DEI programs. He calls it the bus boycott of our era. He is with us.

Plus, betters will gamble a ridiculous amount of money on March Madness. I'm talking more than $2 billion.

So, I looked into the demographics and what's really surprising is that there is a certain group that's betting more often, betting more money, losing more money, we'll talk about that as well.

And Jermaine Dupri will be with us. He's here to talk about the new Freaknik documentary he helped make the epic Spring Break party from the 80s and 90s, huge cultural impact.


And, of course, I'm going to ask him about that Super Bowl Fit.

WALKER: Of course, you do. Yes.

BLACKWELL: So, that's coming up. WALKER: All right looking forward to it. Have a great show, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Thanks so much. Let's start the show right now.