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Hundreds of Undocumented Immigrants Have Been Arrested; Alec Baldwin Returns to Host "SNL" Again For A Record 17th Time; Stage is Set Tomorrow Night for the Grammy Awards; General Michael Flynn Facing More Heat. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired February 11, 2017 - 16:00   ET


[16:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Top of the hours, thanks for joining me. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Let's begin with the arrest of hundreds of undocumented immigrants in the spring of raids all throughout the U.S. Immigrations and customs enforcement agents have launched operations in at least half a dozen states. Roughly 360 people have been taken into custody so far. Some already deported.

Now this is the first major crackdown under President Trump who promised as a candidate to deport millions of undocumented immigrants. And it is sending fear rippling through immigrant communities. ICE officials, however, insist these raids are just part of routine enforcement.

Here is new homeland security secretary John Kelly.


JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Well, first of all, we are not rounding anyone up. The people that ICE apprehend are people who are illegal and then some. ICE is executing the law.


CABRERA: So he is saying they are simply executing the law and despite the assurances some have already taken to the streets to protest the crackdown. \


CABRERA: This isn't the only push-back the president or his party is facing. A number of Republicans are being met with raw anger and emotion at town halls in their home states. Crowds there asking some pointed questions about immigration as well as Obamacare.

Now let's go back to the hundreds of undocumented immigrants being arrested in raids across America. Officials continuing to say this is part of Trump's, not part of his immigration crackdown, but rather -- raids that were planned during the Obama administration. And that they are really doing nothing different than what they do on a routine basis. Tal Kopan, politics reporter is covering the raids. And I know you

have some new reporting about the future scope of these raids, possibly being wider than those carried out under Obama. What are you learning?

TAL KOPAN, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, it's important here to distinguish between what we know and what we don't know. So what we do know is that in fact, as you mentioned, the planning for these enforcement sweeps actually began under the Obama administration. And it is absolutely true that there have been similar crackdowns in the past periodically where ICE goes after certain individuals that very have prioritized for removal. And in fact at those rates as well. Hundreds of people could be swept up at a time.

What has also been clear is that the Trump administration very quickly moved to put out new enforcement priorities. One of those first executive orders he signed actually created really broad enforcement priorities for the department of homeland security to go after the targets. And so what's unknown is who was actually picked up by these raids?

We know the Los Angeles office has put out some statistics and the vast majority of those picked up they said were criminal. We don't know exactly what types of crimes were committed and keep in mind, there's a difference between sort of violent felonies and some of the crimes that undocumented immigrants, sometimes are convicted of like using a fake Social Security number and some individuals didn't actually have criminal histories.

And so, you know, when you combine these questions and uncertainty with the really intense fear in some of the immigrant communities across the U.S. that has brought on by some of the rhetoric of the Trump campaign and Trump administration, and just the doubt and concern that's out there, and then some anecdotal stories of sort of peaceful individuals being rounded up, it has contributed to a really sort of scary environment for some of these people.

And so, as these questions get sorted out, fears are really running high that there could be a new normal going forward with the Trump administration. But we are still waiting to find out from ICE if those fears are actually valid.

CABRERA: All right. Tal Kopan, thank you.

Let's turn to those Republican town halls where tempers have been flaring over the concerns about the future of healthcare and what's going to happen with Obamacare. In Wisconsin, Representative Jim Sensenbrenner is holding a town hall there. And we have some video turn from the reaction and interaction that took place in Wisconsin just moments ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please respect Miss Baumann's ability to speak.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know what? Everybody comes in here. They come with their signs. Some of these people might not even live in the district.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm glad to hear that everyone does.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Miss Baumann has the floor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right. I have the floor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You might not like what she is saying but respect her right to speak on what she wants to say without interrupting or cheering or booing or whatever.


CABRERA: GOP town halls just like that, are taking place across the country today.

CNN's Boris Sanchez was at one of those town halls in New Port Richie, Florida.

Boris, fill us in on the mood there.

[16:05:02] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Ana.

Yes, a lot of the same emotion that we are seeing now in that part of the country we saw here earlier today. And we have seen over the past few days at several of these GOP-organized town halls. The thinking was that Republicans would express their positions on the affordable care act more directly to constituents. Now a lot of activists have used this as a forum to express their anger over the potential repeal of the affordable care act.

Here we see a lot of that emotion. There wasn't as much anger directed toward the representative that was here, the representative Gus Vilarakas from the 12th district here in Florida. There was respect for him standing in front of all of these people that were saying very angry things about his position. In fact, more of the dispute came from other people that supported a repeal of the affordable care act.

I want to you listen to one really heated exchange between a supporter of a repeal and the crowd that was there listening to what he was saying.


REP. GUS VILARAKAS, FLORIDA: Here's the problems I have with the hay fordable health care act. Number one, there is a provision in there that anyone over the age of 74, has to go before what is effectively a death panel. Yes, they do. Yes, they do! It's in there, folks. You are wrong. OK. Children. All right, children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am 77 years old. And I think it's unconscionable for this politician to tell me that at 74, I will be facing death penalties. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! I have -- I deal with end of life issues on a regular basis. These

are heart-rending decisions. And I can tell you, there's no such thing as a death panel.


SANCHEZ: Yes. Some of the more heated portions of the day had to do with the claim that these death panels exist. Of course, they were referring to independent payment advisories boards and the claim that their death panels has been debunked by several fact-checking organizations.

In terms of the representative that was here, he has been open to maintaining some of the provisions of the affordable care act, specifically allowing people that are under 26 to stay on their parents' insurance. And keeping insurance companies from dropping folks that have preexisting conditions. So he is certainly open to that. But several people that I talked to here say that they are not exactly convinced that he is going to take their perspective and take their personal stories back to Washington. He has voted to defund the affordable care act before and they more or less expect him to do the same in the future -- Ana.

CABRERA: Boris, I'm curious about who is exactly showing up for this town hall. I know in Utah, we heard from Representative Jason Chaffetz there saying that the protesters he believed were probably Democrats, who were just bitter that their candidate didn't win in the election. Is that what you are finding there at the town hall in Florida, primarily?

SANCHEZ: Well it depends on who you ask. I actually spoke to one Trump supporter who said the same thing. That the people, the majority of people that were here were just upset because Hillary Clinton lost the campaign and they were looking for ways to quote "get back at Donald Trump."

When you talk to some of these people, though, a lot of them have very personal stories about how the affordable care act changed their lives. And one woman was telling me that her brother had been suffering from seizures since he was as baby and that he had never had insurance until he had access to insurance because of the ACA. And that it changed his life. He was able to get surgery that cured him and that he still needs treatment. So she was very fearful that he might lose that treatment and end up in another negative position without access to healthcare. So it's a really interesting dynamic between those who are hoping to repeal Obamacare and those who have really benefitted from it.

CABRERA: And finally Boris, any talk about what a replacement plan could look like?

SANCHEZ: That was certainly a point of contention. At one point the crowd was yelling out chanting, what's your plan? What's your plan?

There really isn't a unified plan at this moment. As far as the representative that was here, his take was that he was hoping to take some of the input from the crowd and use that to mold a new plan.

CABRERA: All right. Boris Sanchez reporting there in Port New Richie - I didn't get that right. New Port Richie, Florida.

Thank you, Boris, for that report.

Straight ahead, immigration raids all across the U.S. sparking fear in several cities. We know they were planned during the Obama administration. So how does the new president with his own agenda change how they carry out these raids? I will ask a former acting ICE director about that next.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:13:23] CABRERA: We are back with more on the immigration raids happening across the country.

Hundreds of undocumented immigrants have been arrested. And a homeland security official tells CNN more than three dozen have been in fact have been deported already. That is in California alone.

I want to bring in John Torres. He was the acting director of immigration and customs enforcement in 2008-2009. Before that the former director of detention and removal operations.

John, thank you for being with us.


CABRERA: These raids are sparking outrage in some cities. One ICE official says they were originally planned under the President Obama administration. This is just business as usual. We know the raids are targeting homes and businesses, some non-felons have been arrested. Although the majority, at least, we know in California were those with a criminal and violent criminal history. What's your take on what we're seeing in this past week? Is it business as usual?

TORRES: Well, it may be business as usual with regards to how they are targeting is taking place. But what tells me something is a little bit different here is the fact that in California for example, the statistics that were released, demonstrated they also took ten people into custody who were not, did not have criminal back grounds. And so for example, five of those did not have a criminal background, but they had a previous order of deportation. The other five were just people they encountered while they were looking for their targets.

Those ten people alone would not have been a priority in the past administration. And while they may have been targets ten years ago, what we are seeing now is to me, a significant shift in that ICE is out in the community and making an arrest, of the person that they are looking for that is a criminal, and they encounter others who are out of status, they are going to take those people into custody. [16:15:11] CABRERA: So, am I hearing you say that even if those raids

or organizations were initially planned to happen prior to the administration taking office and the Trump administration that's there now, how they are executing these raids may be different, actually?

TORRES: Right. I think you are seeing a shift now that is more in line with what has been communicated with the executive orders. And so in the past while ICE prioritized targets even to the level of criminality where they focused on egregious criminals, aggravated felons, for those that had a minor offense, ICE was discouraged to take those people into custody. In fact, they were strongly encouraged to exercise discretion and not focus on those types of people with that background in the past.

CABRERA: Right. Now the Mexican government - I'm sorry. I didn't mean to step on you there, John. I wanted to, though, bring in another element to the conversation because the fear is very real. The Mexican government in fact issued a statement warning Mexicans who are living in the U.S. to take extra precautions, saying if you are an undocumented immigrant living here, you know, you need to make sure you are in touch with the government services that are available to you. What rights do you have if an ICE official knocks on your door?

TORRES: And so, there are regular enforcement policies that are still in place. Obviously if an ICE agent doesn't have a search warrant, they can't knock down the door and go in and arrest the person. However, if an ICE agent determines that the person they are looking for is at that residence, they can go back and seek an arrest warrant with probable cause. And of course, the judge would need to sign off on that. And then at that point they might be able to then kick down the door.

Now, I'm not saying that's going to happen here in the next several weeks, but yes, they should talk to their consulate to get that type of advice. But at the same time they should also know that if they are out of status, things are changing and ICE agents will take a hard look at them and possibly take them into custody.

CABRERA: President Trump has said his priority is targeting those undocumented immigrants with any criminal history from the petty to the more serious crimes. You said the Obama administration really focused on the most violent offenders. Should there be equal punishment for all undocumented immigrants, regardless of the crimes they've committed? As you point out they are undocumented, they are here illegally.

TORRES: Well, that's a question that ICE agents have had to deal with for my entire career. What we see is that there are a number of people that criticize the agency and the officers for a, either not enforcing the law, as it's written. Or for b, exercising too much discretion and not taking people into custody or being too lax with some of the policies that are out there.

And so, it is one of those things where you have to walk a fine line and focus on the policy directives that are currently in place. And you know, the pendulum swings back and forth between administrations. And I have seen it swing both ways and now we are seeing a swing more towards enforcement.

CABRERA: John, I imagine you have contacts with folks who are working for ICE currently. I'm curious what the pulse is with them. Are they feeling empowered or are they apprehensive with this new administration?

TORRES: Several people I talked to are not necessarily empowered, but a little bit relieved that they are able to go out and do their jobs. Now, others that I talked to that are at some of the executive levels understand that that comes with a lot of responsibility. And so while the president, while President Trump still says he would like ICE to focus on the criminals. We have seen in the past that even though we go out and an agency will go out and focus on the criminals, you end up taking people into custody without criminal back grounds and actually that's something that the agency will have to discuss and defend.

CABRERA: CABRERA: All right. John Torres, thanks for your time today. We appreciate it.

Up next, her story sparked protests across Arizona this week. This is one of the cases, an undocumented immigrant, a mother, Guadalupe Garcia Del Reyes was deported back to Mexico. Why she says she has no regrets, next.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:23:13] CABRERA: This afternoon we are hearing from a family torn apart by President Trump's executive order on immigration. Guadalupe Garcia De Rayos, an undocumented immigrant and mother of two was deported back to Mexico. Now, she was convicted of using a fake Social Security number and she did not follow orders to self-deport. But she says she has no regrets for staying here and says quote "I did it for love."

Here's Jean Casarez.



JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: News that Maricopa County's 35-year- old Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos was deported back to Mexico Thursday, after more than two decades in the United States spread through the undocumented community in Phoenix.

A mother of two teenagers, Garcia de Rayos came to the U.S. when she was 14. Now in Nogales, Mexico, she said it was Sheriff Joe Arpaio who led a 2008 raid by local authorities at her workplace, originally meant to enforce a new controversial state law aimed at punishing employer who is hired the undocumented. The next year, as a result, she was convicted of a class six felony, criminal impersonation for intentionally having a fake Social Security number.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People still would do it today and make up a number.

CASAREZ: Garcia de Rayos appealed a voluntary deportation order but in 2013 lost the battle. A final removal order was entered and acknowledged by the now-convicted felon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She would have been told, go home, wait for the letter and you will come back to ICE on the day that well we tell you come back and be ready to leave that day.

CASAREZ: The Obama administration had more deportations than the Bush administration. But they were focused on violent felons, who endangered public safety. Donald Trump campaigned, using the same terminology.

[16:25:09] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The first thing we are going to do, if and when I when, is we are going to get rid of all of the bad ones. We got gang members, we have killers, we have a lot of bad people that have to get out of this country. We are going to get them out. The police know who they are.

CASAREZ: But now with President Trump's executive order enhancing public safety and the interior of the United States, the emphasis has shifted. Topping the list for enforcement priorities are those who have been convicted of any criminal offense, charged with any criminal offense or even acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense. Farther down on the list, but still a priority for deportation are those just like this mother of two, subject to a final order of removal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was actually a priority list of what to follow. The current executive order seemed to do away with that priority list and make everyone a priority. So I think what we are going to see is the immigration courts are going to go back to being back-logged.

CASAREZ: ICE will not say if they are following the new executive order saying simply for them it is just business as usual. But ICE has released a statement including this paragraph.

ICE will continue to focus on identifying and removing individuals with felony convictions with final orders of removal issued by the nation's immigration courts.

And Guadalupe's husband, he will now have to raise the children alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife is not a threat for the United States. She is a great person. You know, she's a good citizen regardless of her status.

CASAREZ: Jean Casarez, CNN, Phoenix, Arizona.


CABRERA: Thank you, Jean. Still ahead here in CNN NEWSROOM, new information on the Trump

administration and Russia, CNN has now confirmed that national security adviser Michael Flynn did in fact talk sanctions with Russia before the president took the oath of office. We will look at why one of the president's top aides would do that when it may be against the law, next.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:30:23] CABRERA: What to do about General Michael Flynn? That is the question swirling around Washington this weekend. Flynn is the president's national security adviser. He is no stranger to controversy, but now he is facing more heat as we learn new details about what he said to the Russian ambassador in a phone call that came before President Trump's inauguration.

Flynn is a former army three-star general. And initially he denied talking about sanctions with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. during call that happened before Christmas. But now an aide says Flynn actually can't rule out that sanctions came up in the conversation. Again, all this happening before he was officially on the White House staff.

One major problem here is the vice president went on TV in January and said no way, Flynn did not talk about sanctions with the ambassador. Now CNN analyst Kimberly Dozier and Josh Rogin are joining me to talk more about it.

Kim, let's explain how what was said in this conversation was uncovered.

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it came out in a "Washington Post" story this week that intelligence officials had intercepted, were aware of a conversation between Mike Flynn and the Russian ambassador, in which Flynn discussed the sanctions that the Obama administration was levying against Moscow.

Now the problem was, the Obama administration was in power. Trump hadn't yet been inaugurated and therefore that is a violation of something called the lodge act. You're not supposed to interfere with the outgoing administration's foreign policy.

CABRERA: Right. The Logan act.

DOZIER: Sorry. The Logan act.

So it got revealed in this article and then White House or Trump administration officials confirmed to people like me, CNN, others, that the story was true, he had brought sanctions up in this conversation and that put this Pence interview in an awkward light. All of a sudden Flynn was having to explain to Pence that he didn't remember perhaps what he had, what, what conversations he had had. And now it's all down to, I think, what is the personal relationship between those two men? Can they get past this? And then there's the larger question of, will Congress let it go. And you know the Democrats certainly won't.

CABRERA: And Josh, there's still a question about exactly what was said about sanctions. We know it all happened at a time when the Obama administration issued sanctions on Russia for hacking in the election. And there are questions about whether or not Flynn may have made a promise of some sort about what was going to happen to those sanctions once Trump took office. We don't know exactly what was said. Would it matter if there was no promise made?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, according to the reporting in the Post, there's no information that there was an explicit promise, but just a general sense conveyed by Flynn that this situation would be different after the election. And that Russia's real adversary was the Obama administration. And that the Trump administration would view the relationship more favorably. That's in of itself is not a huge revelation. I mean, that's exactly what the Trump administration has been saying publicly throughout the campaign and throughout the first weeks of their administration.

But the problem here is that there's a context. We have a guy, General Flynn, who travelled to Russia in 2015, who took money to speak at an RT event, sat next to Vladimir Putin. Has talked a lot about needing to cooperate with Russia especially in Syria. Then you have an administration that's hasn't really committed to keeping all the sanctions in place. They said they will keep some of them. They haven't talked about all of them. A lot of people, Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill are really unhappy about that.

So from what we know of this conversation, I don't think it's a huge problem by itself. But when you put it into the broader context of what's going on in the U.S./Russia relationship, what's going on in the White House and Congress regarding Russia and then as Kim said, you know, the sort of personal embarrassment of the vice president which is never a good look for a national security adviser to put a principal in that position. If you put it all together, it's pretty bad.

CABRERA: And something tell me we haven't heard the end of the story.

Kim and Josh, thanks to both of you.

ROGIN: Thank you.

CABRERA: Up next, the president tweeting in big capital letters, we will see you in court after an appeals court kept his travel ban suspended. But he may just have another plan in the works. That could be in place as early as this week. We will discuss, next.


[16:38:24] CABRERA: We are back now with more on the immigration raids in cities across the country. Again, operations have been carried out in at least six states. We are told roughly 360 people have been arrested and more than two dozen of those have already been deported. I want to bring in Jack Kingston, he is a former senior adviser to

Trump campaign and a former congressman from Georgia. Also with me, A. Scott Bolden, the former chairman of the Washington D.C. Democratic Party.

A. Scott, to you first. Los Angeles official say 150 of the 160 people they arrested had criminal records, many of those records they say were for violent offenses such as child sex crimes, weapons charges, assault. Should these people be in this country?

A. SCOTT BOLDEN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, WASHINGTON D.C. DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Well they certainly should not. And under the current law if you have convicted of a felony or those crimes, you should not. But the real issue here is what message is the Trump administration sending illegal immigrants whether they are felons or not. The Trump order from weeks ago expanded what was a priority for ICE. And I think these raids around the country are showing a manifestations of that order. That is if you're a felonious immigrant, if you have committed almost any crime, you are going to be rounded up. And the message is clear, you don't belong here, we don't want you here. And they are going to pick you up and send you back to your country of origin.

That's inappropriate because sweeps never work. They go beyond that executive order. That's a problem and that's why you're seeing the protests and the concerns that will probably drive illegal immigrants and immigrants from traveling, but deep near these sanctuary cities.

[16:40:00] CABRERA: Congressman, to that point, Trump's orders have talked about this being for the safety of this country. And before the break, we reported on the mother in Arizona who was deported this week. She was brought here as a teenager. She had never been charged with a violent crime. We do know that she did have a felony, though, on a record for faking a Social Security number. But she was regularly checking in with immigration officials annually. She just got deported. How does removing her from our country make it safer?

JACK KINGSTON (R-GA), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Well, number one, it's the law. In 2013 she has signed a court order that she became what's called a permanent order of removal knowing that her turn to be removed was coming up. She had been here illegally as you pointed out for many years, originally arrested and charged with a felony in 2009. That's the way the law works and how people can get mad about this administration or the previous administration, about enforcing the law is beyond me. Keep in mind, Barack Obama deported two and a half million people, not counting the year 2016, we don't know --

CABRERA: Right. It was closer to three million.


CABRERA: Right. According to ICE --

KINGSTON: This is the way the law works. And I have to say to my friend A. Scott Bolden that, you know, I think do you want to send a signal that if you are here illegally, particularly if you have committed a felony or violent crime, we do want you out of here. CABRERA: But look, Congressman --


BOLDEN: Target them, do not do mass sweeps, do not release it to the press. And do not make it such a public affair. I think the difference is when the Obama administration and the Trump administration is, is that these are very highly publicized raids to send that message. And that executive order made, whether you are a felon or not, whether you committed a misdemeanor or not, it's all a crime. And quite frankly as you read that order, you could you even say it's the fact that you are here illegally, even though you shouldn't be a priority. That you, too, could be rounded up.

KINGSTON: OK, Scott. All last year, all last year Barack Obama was chest-pounding that he had deported more illegal aliens than any other president. He was very proud of that, as you remember. So to say that he did it quietly in the closet is not true at all. But the truth of the matter is if you send, and these aren't raids, they are going after the felons and if you're caught along the way, it is always been the policy until the last couple of years, that you would also be deported.

BOLDEN: If it walks like a duck, if it talks like a duck, and these are raids, these are sweeps. I'm a former prosecutor. I know a sweep when I see it.

KINGSTON: This is what went on under Barack Obama, Scott. And you know this went on under Barack Obama. And the rules --

BOLDEN: It was targeted and surgical.

KINGSTON: If you were caught along the way, you got deported. Two and a half million people, and as Ana just said, probably three million under Barack Obama. I say President Trump, for all of his evil that he is charged with, he has a long way to go.

CABRERA: OK. So hold on. Hold on just a minute. Just a minute, congressman because yes, it is true, President Obama deported more undocumented immigrants than any of his predecessors, who were in office. However, public opinion does side with those undocumented immigrants. In fact, there is result of Pew poll, a Gallup poll, several polls that show the majority of Americans believe there should be some kind of path to legal status for peaceful, undocumented immigrants who are here in the U.S. who have been living here for some time. Of course without immigration reform and the laws being changed, so they do have in many cases, little room to spare in terms of a direction to go and seek a path towards citizenship. So what do you say to those folks?

KINGSTON: Well, of course, we are a Republic, not a democracy. And in a republic, you don't rule by polls. You rule by the thought and the philosophy of those duly elected. And Donald J. Trump in November was duly elected. And part of his stance was building a wall and enforce existing immigration laws and crack down on illegal aliens. And that's what's going on here. So the only poll that really matters in a Republic is the Election Day and the Election Day settled who was going to be in charge.

BOLDEN: Well, it doesn't involve illegal activity. Those are political promises. It does not involve illegal activity. Nor can you have a rational relationship --

KINGSTON: Scott, Scott, they are here illegally.

BOLDEN: And ninth circuit has struck it down, one. Secondly, I have a fundamental problem with getting rid of immigrants who have committed crimes. You are absolutely right. That's the law. The issue is the manner in which you are doing it and the political nature of it and the fact that you are doing more harm than good, because your resources in this area is so limited you have now expanded it and you are causing fear in the community and you are going after people who are not priority. What would happen to citizens?


[16:45:06] KINGSTON: No, it is not. I think it is we continued hyper-indignation of the left that anything Donald Trump does, is blown out of proportion. These will the same types --


CABRERA: All right, gentlemen.


CABRERA: Gentlemen we are going to have to leave it there. You are both coming back next hour so we will continue this conversation. Thank you both.

Coming up here in CNN NEWSROOM, if Melissa McCarty can play Sean Spicer, can Rosie O'Donnell play Steve Bannon? Her new tease at "Saturday Night Live" classic next viral moment.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:49:31] CABRERA: A lot of anticipation for tonight Alec Baldwin returns to host "SNL" again for a record 17th time. But a lot of people are still talking about this. Melissa McCarty's portrayal of White House press secretary Sean Spicer last week. It is still generating a lot of buzz. And following reports that President Trump was upset because Spicer was played bay woman, Rosie O'Donnell jumped into the mix, Trump's long-time nemesis, changing her twitter profile pic to a photoshopped picture of her as Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon.

Now she offered to play Bannon if asked. But her rep telling us, she will not be playing Bannon on "SNL" tonight.

CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" Brian Stelter is joining me to discuss this.

OK, Brian, I see you shaking your head. There's so much to talk about and so much unpredictable, right?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Rosie is the only thing that won't happen tonight.

CABRERA: You're pretty sure about that?

STELTER: That's official. You know, Loren Michaels doesn't like to have people in the press trying to cast themselves for jobs. But Melissa McCarthy, that surprise this time last week has raised the stakes for this weekend, you know. As you mentioned, Alec Baldwin actually hosted the entire show tonight. And the reason why this matters is because the president cares. It matters to the president.

Like you said, he was unhappy with that performance. McCarty playing Spicer, according to our own Jim Acosta, he was not amused by the sketch. I would think that make the producers of "SNL" want to bring McCarty back, if not this weekend then another weekend.

CABRERA: Alec Baldwin has seems to kind of revel that he is getting under the president's skin. Do you anticipate that he is going to really go after him even harder on this one?

STELTER: I don't know how much harder it can get. But I'm sure he will, you know. What he has been doing lately, he has been wearing a Russian flag pin instead of an American flag pin. Those sorts of details must be getting under the president's skin. That's why we have seen the president in past weeks tweet about the show. Although, he didn't last weekend. And one of the theories for that was he was actually so angered by the show, he didn't want to talk about it. Who knows for sure?

But let's remember the Japanese prime minister is at Mar-a-Lago with the president this weekend. Our own Bill Carter was wondering on twitter, if there's going to be a viewing party at Mar-a-Lago tonight. I think Carter is sort of being snarky there. I know he is going to be on the program later this evening talking more about that.

But this is the season of "SNL" where the show is going for broke. They really are trying to go for broke. They know their audience. It seems their base audience, mostly they are left-leaning viewers, or at least folks in big cities that aren't fans of President Trump want to see Alec Baldwin going all in.

CABRERA: "SNL" is living in its heyday right now. Ratings are up. What will you be watching for tonight?

STELTER: By some measures, numbers are the highest they have been in two decades. Normally, election years are big boosts for "SNL." And after the election years, ratings come down a little bit. But this year is different. At least 10 million viewers watching every single week partly for Baldwin and partly because the show is also firing on all cylinders as well. It's got a good young cast, interesting sketches. By the way, we are seeing the Kellyanne Conway character there played by Kate McKinnon. I'm wondering if she'll be making a return appearance. Given the rough week that Conway had, I would be surprised if we didn't see Kate McKinnon re-pricing the character. CABRERA: All right. Well, we will be watching and you'll be watching

and talking about it I'm sure tomorrow.

Thank you so much Brian Stelter. Good to see you.

You can watch his show by the way, "RELIABLE SOURCES" every Sunday at 11:00 a.m. eastern on here on CNN. Tomorrow morning, also on CNN STATE OF THE UNION speaking of politics and comedy colliding, Senator Al Franken joins our Jake Tapper, "STATE OF THE UNION" 9:00 a.m. eastern and pacific. Again, only right here on CNN.


[16:57:08] CABRERA: Beyonce now the most nominated woman in Grammy history. And yes, she is expecting twins and she is planning to perform on stage tomorrow night at the Grammy awards. Also on the Grammy stage, a very unusual pairing, Lady Gaga and Metallica. They are going to sing together for a special one-time performance.

CNN's Stephanie Elam has more.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From Adele to Beyonce, the Grammy awards honor the biggest names in music and 2017 is no exception.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is the Vatican sort of the music business and of music entertainment. There really isn't any bigger award to win.

ELAM: Beyonce leads the charge with nine nominations including song of the year, record of the year and the night's most competitive prize, album of the year.

The singer's latest collection, Lemonade faces off against Adele's "25, "Justin Bieber's "Purpose" and Drake's "Views," and (INAUDIBLE) Simpson, a Taylor Scott to earl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This year even though it's seems like it's going to be a big face-off between Adele and Beyonce, kind of all that stood off.

ELAM: The Grammys are also known for creating household names. Best new artist contenders Chelsea Balerini. the Chainsmokers, chance the rapper, Marin Morris and Anderson Pok may become the evening's major success stories.

There's any number of artists who can have a big night and, you know, enjoy a big bump in sales, in attention, in strength due to their performance.

ELAM: Awards aren't the only thing on deck at the Grammys. Expect some big collaborations. Lady Gaga with Metallica and the weekend with Daft Punk are just a few of the duets set to hit the stage.

Late night host James Corden will handle emcee duties. The carpool karaoke star will likely provide some musical entertainment, too. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With James Corden you're getting more of what

Billy Crystal was to the Oscars, potentially that, BECAUSE can he sing and dance.

ELAM: Expect enough music and mayhem to uphold the Grammy's reputation as music's biggest night.

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Hollywood.


CABRERA: Top of the hour on a Saturday. I'm Ana Cabrera in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And we began with hundreds of undocumented immigrants taken from their homes and workplaces, millions more bracing for a knock on the door. Afraid they will be next. Federal officials insist these raids which have swept across half a dozen states alone aren't rounding people up. But we can tell thaw some 360 people have been taken into custody by immigration and customs agents and deportations have been swift with, more than three dozen of those arrested in in California already set back to Mexico.

Now the arresta have spark outrage. We are starting to see protesters in some cities like this one happening outside the White House.