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Trump: "If China Is Not Going To Solve North Korea, We Will"; Top Intel Dem Calls On Republican Counterpart To Quit Probe; Senate Judiciary Committee To Vote On Gorsuch Tomorrow; Teen Arrested In Group Sexual Assault Streamed On Facebook; NTSB Wants Interview With Truck Driver In Fatal Crash; One Officer's Painful Journey To Earn His Badge. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired April 2, 2017 - 15:00   ET


[15:00:19] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again everyone. And thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

All right. We're following the developments on North Korea. President Trump in a brand new interview telling the Financial Times the U.S. is ready to go alone saying, quote, Well, if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will, end quote. This just days away from Donald Trump welcoming China's president to the U.S.

We've got full team coverage. Ryan nobles, CNN's Washington correspondent, Ryan Browne, CNN's Pentagon reporter. Ryan Nobles, President Trump is scheduled to meet with China's President Xi Jinping later on this week. How might this set the stage for that meeting?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the __ would be the Financial Times and what President Trump had to say is not necessarily that surprising but it is putting it on the record where Donald Trump stands as it relates to North Korea and China's influence over North Korea. And essentially what he told the newspaper is that he wants China to be a part of the solution when it comes to the escalation situation with North Korea.

This is what he said in two different quotes. First he said, China has great influence over North Korea and China will either decide to help us with North Korea or they won't. And then he also said, if they do that will be very good for China and if they don't it won't be good for anyone. And also as you pointed out Fredricka, the president making it very clear that if China does not want to join him in a partnership to try and solve this North Korean problem that he is prepared for the American government take it on, on its own, obviously, that could complicate things in that part of the world. But it's something that President Trump seems pretty committed to. Fred?

WHITFIELD: And Ryan Browne, North Korea has conducted missile tests and engine tests recently. So when President Trump says, you know, we'll handle it, meaning the U.S. will handle it, how does North Korea likely interpret that? Well, President Trump has kind of warned against this North Korean behavior in the past. In fact, he once tweeted that North Korea would not develop a intercontinental ballistic missile when after one of their tests. Now, you know, they moved the scud missile defense system the Pentagon din into South Korea last month. This was something that is seen as kind of a step to help ward off the threat of North Korean ballistic missiles.

However, this is something that has also irked China. China is afraid that that same system could be directed at its own missiles so it'd complicated the relationship there. Secretary of Defense James Mattis last week said that they were going to work through diplomatic channels to help curve the North Korean missile threat, but this is definitely something that Pentagon planners, people at the State Department are looking at closely. It's a very difficult challenge to address at this state.

WHITFIELD: Ryan Nobles, Ryan Browne, thank you so much to both of you from Washington. Appreciate it.

I want to bring in now Gordon Chang, columnist for The Daily Beast, and author of the book "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World". Gordon, good to see. So, when President Trump says he's ready to go it alone on North Korea, is that message for North Korea's Kim Jong-un or to China's leaders?

GORDON CHANG, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: I think it's primarily for China's leaders. Especially he's going to show up in Thursday at Mar- a-Lago. And there's a lot the United States can do.

So, for instance, we can put secondary sanctions on Chinese enterprises and banks that have been involved in North Korea's ballistic missile program, its nuclear weapons program, and other illicit commerce. So there's a lot that the United States can do to make China hurt on this. Now, obviously we don't want to do that, but it's probably the only way that we can get China's attention on this.

WHITFIELD: So North Korea has been very active lately with, you know, missile tests. How would you assess the threat level at this moment? And even if language like this from the president of the United States is, you know, provocative?

CHANG: Well, North Korea already has three missiles that can hit the lower 48 states. The Taepodong-2, KN-08, KN-14. The first haven't been tested at full range, and the other two haven't been tested at all but they're based on proven technologies. And in the absence of American cyber espionage they'll probably work. So I think that what we got here is a threat that is already eminent. That only thing that can't do is made a nuke to those long range launchers but they'll be able to do that in four years.

WHITFIELD: Well, that's not very long away. So, you know, China, does it seem to be a bit reticent, less than enthusiastic to actually jump into the fray?

[15:05:01] CHANG: Well, yes. I mean, because on a short term basis, Beijing really likes it when North Korea does something provocative. Because when that happens we have always get distracted from other issues that we have with China. So for instant, South China Sea, cyber espionage on their part, predatory trade practices. You know, we send our secretary of state to Beijing like we did with Tillerson a week ago and that basically creates bargaining chips for Beijing. So on a short term, you know, China's Xi Jinping doesn't want to change anything because this dynamic is working very well for his country.

WHITFIELD: And then just to borrow the language of President Trump, you know, can China really solve North Korea?

CHANG: Well, they can do a number of things. So for instance they can cut off North Korean commerce and right now about 98 percent of North Korea's foreign commerce is with China. They could stop for instance ballistic missile technology going to the North Koreans from Chinese entities. There's all sorts of help that the Chinese are giving the North Koreans weapons program and we have not done anything about this for a very long time even though we've known about it.

So clearly I think China can actually put North Korea back in the box. They don't want to. And they're not going to do it in absence of pressure from the United States.

WHITFIELD: And when do you suppose this meeting between the Chinese president and the U.S. president is going to be like? I mean, it's already been publicized to a degree the Chinese president hasn't always been very fond of Donald Trump.

CHANG: Well, yes and clearly, you know, Xi Jinping comes into this meeting with some very important political considerations of his own. He has 19th party Congress coming up at the end of this year, he needs to have what's considered in Beijing a good summit. Obviously Trump has a faltering presidency, so there you got somebody else who also needs to come away from this looking strong.

There's so many issues that we have with Beijing right now and we've been kicking the can down the road for a very long time not to the advantage of the U.S. And so I think what we are going to see is probably a little bit of heat and light. And we should have that because there are things that China's doing which are just completely unacceptable undermining America interest across the board.

WHITFIELD: And when at Mar-a-Lago the two gentlemen we know that when you look at the Japanese prime minister who was with president Trump, they golfed. But the Chinese president is much -- is not much of a golfer. How do you suppose they are going to enjoy time together there? What do you envision? I mean, what would be, you know, recreational or appreciated?

CHANG: Well, it certainly not going to be golf because Xi Jinping has targeted golf as a sort of a sign of corruption among Chinese officials so he can't do what Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister did. I don't think there's going to be very much in the way of recreation. This is going to be a business meeting and when you have two big dogs, they're probably going to fight.

WHITFIELD: All right, Gordon Chang, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Good to see you.

CHANG: Thank you Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right straight ahead, one of the men in charge of the investigation to Russia's meddling of the U.S. election in 2016 says when Trump uses words like "fake", alarm bells should sound. Why he says the president is trying to distract Americans from the truth. Coming up.


[15:12:06] WHITFIELD: All right, it's an important week for President Trump. A showdown looms over his Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch. And Trump has important diplomacy to attend to. Meeting with the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, and China all separately this week, all as the cloud of Russia continues to hangover the White House.

New revelations that Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser failed to initially disclose thousands of dollars in Russian money. Speaking fees that he received from Russia's state funded television network R.T. This morning, President Trump insisted that it's all just a distraction tweeting, "The real story turns out to be surveillance and leaking. Find the leakers", he says. The revelation about Flynn's finances coming just days after Flynn's bombshell request for immunity in exchange for his testimony about Russia meddling in the U.S. election. Here's what the ranking Democrat on House Intel Committee says about the request.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, I think we start out with a very healthy skepticism. There's a lot we need to learn before entertaining anything like this. There's a lot we need to learn from other witnesses. But I start out I think with a very healthy skepticism.


WHITFIELD: All right, I want to bring in Michael Allen, former majority staff director for the House Intel Committee and Steve Hall, CNN national security analyst and retired chief of Russia operations for the CIA. Good to see both of you.

OK. So Michael, Flynn's attorney saying in a statement General Flynn certainly has a story to tell and he very much wants to tell it. What may be entailed in that story if already the House and Senate Intel committees are saying not so fast, we're not ready to cut a deal?

MICHAEL ALLEN, FORMER MAJORITY STAFF DIRECTOR, HOUSE INTEL COMMITTEE: Well, that was quite the dangle. I mean, that might be I guess his legal strategy to put out there that hey, I have a lot to say. But what he really wants is FBI immunity, less than the congressional immunity I think. He wants some safety from prosecution and he's trying to make it clear that he's got information to give.

But honestly it felt a little strange. It felt out of left field. It felt like something the lawyers should be trying to negotiate in private rather than put out on the air waves like they did.

WHITFIELD: So Steve, is it your feeling that was a move to try to influence I guess public opinion or perhaps even apply pressure to House and Senate Intel members by doing that?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Fred, it certainly could have been that. I find the immunity -- the possibility of immunity that Flynn and his people were floating. It's fascinating because I think myself and a lot of other people have said, you know, there's a whole lot of smoke but we don't know about the fire yet. And now we have Flynn essentially saying, well, you know, there's enough here at least on my side that I might need to discuss immunity which leads me to believe there may be some fire there.

[15:15:00] The other question I've got is, you know, if Flynn does somehow get immunity either congressional or DOJ, Department of Justice or otherwise, will others like Paul Manafort and (inaudible)and the rest of them start thinking, geez, I better start thinking about this too. So he's not to be the last guy of the immunity draft.

WHITFIELD: And earlier we heard from Congressman Schiff saying, you know, Americans should be wary, particularly of President Donald Trump's words in his tweets and otherwise when he uses the word "fake". Here's what Schiff said.


SCHIFF: It certainly is an attempt to distract and to hide the origin of the materials, to hide the White House hand. The question is of course why. And I think that the answer to the question is this effort to point the Congress in other directions. Basically say, don't look at me, don't look at Russia, there's nothing to see here. You know, I would tell people whenever they see the president use the word "fake" it ought to set off alarm bells. And I think that's really what's gone on here.


WHITFIELD: So Michael, do you agree with that congressman and does it appear that he and perhaps others are kind of on to the strategy of President Trump?

ALLEN: Well, let's take a step back here. I mean, I think what President Trump is trying to say when he sends tweets out like this is that he feels like his legitimacy as president is under attack. That it's been under attack since the moment he was elected. It was a historic victory. It shocked the world. Not many people realized that he was going to be able to win.

And so I think he's still adjusting to the fact that there's a lot of information out there in the intelligence community that we may have collected about foreigners speaking to or about Trump campaign operatives or transition members that's now captured somewhere. And so I think he feels like he's in the middle of a hostile takeover of the U.S. government. This information keeps leaking out all over the place and he feels like it questions his legitimacy. So I think that's why you see some of these shots on Twitter that he's sending.

WHITFIELD: OK. Well, let me play what Republican Senator John McCain had to say about this investigation and Trump's role in all of this.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Yes, I think the national security team that the president has assembled is outstanding and I hope that he listens to me because they don't have any illusions about Vladimir Putin and Russian behavior. So -- but this is why we need a select committee, Martha (ph). Every time we turn around another shoe drops from this (inaudible) and we need to examine all of the aspects of it. President Trump's priorities and the other priorities that many of us believe exist.


WHITFIELD: All right, so Steve, you know, while McCain is praising, you know, his national security team, he's also casting doubt on the real efficacy of House and Senate, you know, investigations and questions whether it can be a credible investigation.

HALL: Yes. And I think that's an excellent concern. I would agree with that. Look, let's just imagine for a second, and I don't believe this to be true, but let's imagine that there is something behind these White House claims of wiretapping or some sort of surveillance. I think it's a lot of junk but just for a second let's (inaudible) that it might be true.

Well, which is more important? You know, trying to find out whether somebody was masked or unmasked or there was some, you know, strange thing that happened to the surveillance or is it more important to get to the bottom how Russia managed to try to influence the outcome these elections. And that's a really much more important question. And furthermore, there's got to be an independent way to get to try to get at that that is depoliticized as possible in this, how the partisan situation we find ourselves. And so I would agree with McCain, there's got to be a way, hopefully a bipartisan way to get to the bottom of this critical question, much more critical than whether or not there was any wiretapping.

WHITFIELD: So Michael, do you see it in the form of a select committee or independent prosecutor or all of the above?

ALLEN: Well, it could certainly get to that. I mean, I think we ought to give the Senate Intelligence Committee a chance. They put their best feet forward this week. They basically said hey, listen, we've got the track record. We've got the experience and we've got the bipartisanship to take them on a serious issue on behalf of the country. And so I'm not sure we're quite to the point of needing a special committee or prosecutor yet.

But obviously there's more to come because every time we all look down at our phones there's a shocking new article and so we'll just have to see how this develops in the coming weeks. WHITFIELD: Steve, do you see that the time is now or do you believe that something else has to happen before an independent prosecutor or select committee is involved?

[15:20:04] HALL: Let's remember that -- look, the Senate Oversight Committee is often on the right foot. They're saying the right things but let's not forget that the House side started off, you know, sort of saying the same thing. Standing behind the podium and (inaudible) the microphones and saying, you know, we're all together on this and it didn't work out so well. I think we need to start planning ahead and thinking about without losing any further time and having any more cloud over this administration. How can we get to a truly bipartisan investigation into what really happened vis-a-vis Russia?

WHITFIELD: All right, Steve Hall, Mike Allen, thanks so much, gentlemen.

ALLEN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Coming up, China's president set to visit Mar-a-Lago this week, but there might be tension in the air as Trump tells the Financial Times if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. More after a break.


[12:25:03] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. President Trump and China's President Xi Jinping are set to meet in Mar-a-Lago later on this week for their first face-to-face meeting. And you might recall President Trump had some pretty tough talk for China during the campaign.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to instruct my treasury secretary to label China a currency manipulator which should have been done years ago.


WHITFIELD: Trump also promised to fix the trade imbalance with China by renegotiating trade deals. I want to bring in David Rohde, CNN global affairs analyst and national security investigations editor for Reuters. Good to see you David. So, how could Trump's tone impact this week's scheduled meeting?

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it will be -- you know, it's a big meeting for both leaders. Trump specifically during the campaign said he was going to impose a 45 percent tariff on all Chinese goods imported into the United States if China didn't continue what Trump said was manipulating its currency. Democrats argue that the manipulation of the currency sort of stopped several years ago and that Trump was sort of exaggerating the problem but, you know, this is a key issue, this is American jobs is, you know, he said over and over again, China is sort of not being fair to the U.S., that we're losing jobs because of this currency manipulations. So for his base President Trump needs to, you know, I think raise these trade issues.

WHITFIELD: And one of the big issues between the two, China and the U.S., it's been North Korea. And this morning U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said China must cooperate when it comes to North Korea. Listen.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: China has to cooperate. This is now down to do we want to continue to see these ballistic missile attacks from North Korea or does China want to do something about it. And this is all about the fact that they need to have action. And we're going to continue to put pressure on China to have action. That will be shown in multiple ways.

But what we are going to do is say China, you know that you're the only one that's doing this, we appreciate that you stopped coal going into Korea but we know it's going in other ways. At some point we need to see definitive actions by China condemning North Korea and not just calling them out for it.


WHITFIELD: And that's in contrast to what President Trump told the Financial Times saying, quote, well, if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you. What does he mean?

ROHDE: Well, you know, it's the threat of unilateral military action. Secretary of State Tillerson, you know, said that decades of military policy towards North Korea had failed. And to be fair it's also not true. I mean, China has a ballistic missile that can reach the United States, it's not very accurate and the fear is that they would be able to put a nuclear warhead on that missile possibly within four years. That was also in the Financial Times interview.

So, you know, something is needed here. It's just what will be different. I mean, you know, is Trump willing to actually use unilateral American military force against North Korea. He's going to maybe threaten that in private, but will he actually do it. And you don't want to make empty threats with China.

WHITFIELD: And what would be the possible repercussions if indeed the U.S. were to go it alone with North Korea?

ROHDE: Well, it's -- there's a variety of things to do but in -- if it were a military strike, you know, you -- the U.S. could setback the North Korean nuclear program. The danger is that North Korea has a large number of artillery rockets within range of Seoul, the very large city that's South Korea's capital. Thousands of civilians could die in an artillery attack by North Korea. And more simply North Korea could attack U.S. military bases that's more, you know, in South Korea that's more likely what does the U.S. do then?

A smaller measure is something safer would be to put -- and an earlier guest talked about this, put sanctions on Chinese companies that the U.S. believes is trading with North Korea. That would be an intermediate step. It would call China's bluff, but it could be the beginning of a trade war with China. And so it's -- you know, this is a crucial meeting for Trump.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And this crucial meeting between the Chinese leader and the American leader is going to be taking place at Mar-a-Lago. And so in your view, does that create a better circumstance or perhaps a better venue so that they could see eye-to-eye, break bread, have a much more congenial meeting?

ROHDE: Hopefully. I mean, you know, Trump's aides have said that he's most comfortable at Mar-a-Lago. I would argue that this is his biggest meeting with a foreign leader of his, you know, young presidency. You know, there's always talk of Russia, China is, you know, a much more important economic, you know, issue for the United States.

So, hopefully it will work. It's a critical week for him. He's meeting with three foreign leaders. But, you know, President Xi is very skilled at this and it will be interesting to see who comes out ahead so to speak after these talks.

WHITFIELD: All right, David Rohde, thanks so much. Good to see you.

ROHDE: Thank you.

[12:30:00] WHITFIELD: Coming up, keeping up the fight. President Trump vowing that the battle to repeal and replace ObamaCare is far from over. So, where does the fight over priority number one for the GOP go from here?


WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. President Trump vowed this morning that the fight to end ObamaCare is far from over. He tweeted, "Talks on repealing and replacing ObamaCare are and as have been going on and will continue until such time as the deal is hopefully struck." This as conservative Freedom Caucus Republican Jim Jordan who refused to support the plan GOP plan despite of flurry of criticism from President Trump is standing by his decision.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: Tweets and statements and blame don't change facts and the facts remain the same. When you look at the document, you look at the legislation, it doesn't repeal ObamaCare. Even people who support it say, it's -- have called it ObamaCare like doesn't bring down premiums. Even the CBO said premiums are going to rise for the next three and a half years.

[15:35:01] And certainly it doesn't unite Republicans as evidenced by the fact he got conservatives and moderates who are opposed to the legislation and it doesn't unite the country. When have you seen a bill come forward only 17 percent of the country supports it? So, let's do better than that. Let's start over. Let's get this thing done right and let's keep our promises with the American people. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. So where does the fight go from here? I'm joined now by CNN Political Commentator Ben Ferguson and Political Analyst Ellis Henican. Good to see you both.

All right, so Ben, you first, the president said, you know, that he would move on to tax reform. This was just an hour after the bill was pulled from vote. And then he tweets this morning. Does this mean that he's shifting, you know, back to the focus of repealing health care?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think, yes. I think you're going to see him focus on multiple things at the same time, but the reality is the political pressure is there from the American people to do something with ObamaCare. Even Democrats will admit that there are problems on ObamaCare and there are changes that need to come with it. The question is how are you going to do this? And I would caution the Freedom Caucus and I would also caution the White House at this point.

Everybody needs to tone down a little bit and realize they went too fast the first time. Seventeen days was too quick, they put an arbitrary deadline on this. Obviously, they did not have the votes there so pull back a little bit. Start all over, try to become friends on this issue instead of it being a war of Twitter because that's not getting anywhere --

WHITFIELD: And so, do you think that's possible trying to become friends, the Freedom Caucus and the president after the dialogue that has transpired, do you think it can help?

FERGUSON: Sure. Yes, I do because I think that -- look, there's -- in politics you fight hard. That's part of what you do, whether it be in a primary or general election and moving forward and you fight for what you believe in. You listen to what the congressman just said, there only 17 percent of Americans were in favor of this bill that they were pushing. There were a lot of Republicans that said it was not conservative enough for them.

And this whole idea is going to work with Democrats. Name one democrat on Capitol Hill right now that actually wants to help the president overhaul ObamaCare. I don't think you can find one, so it's going to be with the Freedom Caucus.


ELLIS HENICAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, explain to me by overhaul. If you mean take it outside and shoot it, no, they're not going to be too many Republicans Ben who will going to join that particular party. Listen guys, there has never been a lack of will by Republicans to kill ObamaCare. They just couldn't come up with a way, right? And the plan they came up with the greatest minds in the Republican Party that produced this thing and everybody hated it. And so, I don't see any indication that that's about to change. As soon as Republicans are willing to say, hey, we want to provide health care, we want to make this better, we want to improve the problems on the margins, Dems will be lining up to join that.

WHITFIELD: OK, well it seems like Trump is, you know, intimating its full team ahead. He also tweeted, "Anybody especially fake news media who think the repeal and replace of ObamaCare is dead does not know the love and strength in Republican Party." And then this was the vice president yesterday.


MIKE PENCE, VICE-PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The president and I have faith. We have faith that Congress is going to step up and do the right thing. When Congress finally decides to repeal and replace ObamaCare, President Trump and I will be ready to work with them hand in glove. OK. You can take it to the bank.


WHITFIELD: So, Ben, I mean, no real timeline we're hearing, you know, from either the vice president or Mr. Trump. But are you getting the feeling that perhaps they're even willing to say even if it takes a long time. Bottom line is the top of the agenda. It was a campaign promise.

FERGUSON: Not only is it a campaign promise, but it also, a lot of congressmen, moderates, independents, conservatives including the Freedom Caucus got an earful after this failed push through. And they said, no, no we're letting you off the hook on this one. I mean, if they don't have some sort of repeal and replace before the primaries, this will be disastrous not just for, you know, the Freedom Caucus that they're blame for, it will be disastrous for every Republican that ran on repealing and replacing it. And I think they realize and so that plays to the hand of the White House a little bit.

They can say, look we've got four years. You guys don't on Capitol Hill and Congress and the House. You've got less than two years so you guys figure this out. We're here to support it and sign it. But I think this is not a bad idea from the president to kind of say, hey, you guys are in charge, you're the ones that have to get the votes together. Maybe you all should slow down and become a little bit more friendly.

But again, I think the Twitter wars on this issue kind of have to stop because it's not going to help anybody get what they want at the end of the day. It's not going to help the Freedom Caucus or the president of the United States of America.

WHITFIELD: So Ellis, we're at what day, 73. And, you know, usually a president has the most political capital in those first 100 days trying to get things done. This GOP plan that was pulled before a vote, such a giant defeat, is it your feeling that it's going to be very difficult for this president to move forward, to try and get anything done, particularly in this first 100 days? [15:40:05] HENICAN: Well, it's not too much to show for it yet, is there? And the Muslim ban is still tied up in the courts, tax reform is just kind of a vague dream. Infrastructure, I don't know where infrastructure is. Maybe they ought to get on to that.

Listen, it is absolutely possible for Donald Trump to change and become a different kind of president. Go make a reasonable deals with the other party, a deal with the same people in his own party and come up with something productive. He hasn't shown any inclination to do that. But you know what, one of the advantage of not believing him much is that you are very flexible. So I got to tell you, I still got some hope.


FERGUSON: Look, I think you definitely -- you know what he believes in. He's been pretty clear about that. I think he's going to be very successful on tax reform. I think will also be very successful on trade. And there seems to be an appetite on those two issues especially on Capitol Hill.

A little bit different from what you're trying to do on repeal and replace ObamaCare. And I think those two issues on top of immigration reform, he's already asked for the $1 billion for the wall, the first year, another 2 billion, the second year. Those are all things where there's a real consensus with Republicans with not as many points that you would have contention over, fighting over which you do have in ObamaCare. Those I think will be much smoother for him.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ben Ferguson, Ellis Henican, thank you so much.

HENICAN: Good to see you too. Thanks.


WHITFIELD: Still to come, a third Senate Democrat now throwing support behind Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch, but he's not assuring yet.

Up next, why Republicans still have major hurdles to clear.

But first in tonight's episode of "Believer", Reza Aslan takes a look at a secret practice now on display in Mexico.


REZA ASLAN, CNN SERIES "BELIEVER" (voice-over): Donya Keta (ph) has become one of the most unlikely of religious crusaders. It all started when her son gave her a Santa Muerte statue that was too big for her tiny house. So she put it outside on the sidewalk. At the time, Santa Muerte devotion was a secret and private affair. People were amazed that Donya Kepta bracingly public active devotion.

They took their cue from her. They started bringing out their own Santa Muerte statues, displaying them publicly. They began flocking to Donya Kepta's house in solidarity with her. Next thing, you knew, this small house in the middle of a tough neighborhood became a kind of mecca for Santa Muerte statue devotees all across Mexico.

(On camera) So many people come here from all over Mexico with their offerings, with their prayers. And I notice that they all have something very specific that they're asking for, whether it's love or a job or protection. When you pray to Santa Muerte, is there something specific that you ask for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): My health, my children, my husband, my mother, she just gives it to me without asking. She just knows what I need.


WHITFIELD: Believer airs tonight at 10:00 Eastern Time and Pacific right here on CNN.


[15:47:41] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. So right now a showdown is brewing over President Trump's Supreme Court Nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch. We now know, a third Senate Democrat will support Gorsuch, Senator Joe Donnelley of Indiana. Tomorrow the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on whether to send his nomination to the full Senate. That final confirmation vote is expected to happen on Friday.

But there are still big challenges. It's still unclear whether Republicans have the votes to break a Democratic filibuster. Let's bring in now CNN Supreme Court Reporter Ariane de Vogue. So Ariane, where are we now that this third Democrat says that he will support Gorsuch?

CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER ARIANE DE VOGUE: Well, Fredrick, tomorrow is the big day, right, the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to vote. We expect Gorsuch to advance but we also will get a sense of where other key Democrats are and it's all about the mat. As things stand, it's going to take 60 votes to confirm him. As of Friday, 36 Dems led by Chuck Schumer said they'd filibuster, but three Democrats, the last one just happening today said that they would vote in a support.

They said, look they are furious about Merrick Garland not getting a vote but they also said elections matter. But the Republicans came back and said, look if you Democrats, if you filibuster, then we'll vote to change the rules, trigger the nuclear option. Fred, that's kind of a showdown.

WHITFIELD: Yes, it is indeed. And it's not necessarily popular with everyone.

DE VOGUE: Exactly. It's not. Both sides are saying -- are calling it historic. But both McConnell and Pence have said, look, we are going to call for a vote by Friday. So we'll see what happens then. WHITFIELD: There -- so there are 52 Republicans, you need 60. They would change the rules so to speak on this nuclear option so that they would be able to confirm Gorsuch in under 60 votes.

DE VOGUE: Yes, that's right. And what's interesting about it is this is a little bit a long time coming, right? We have seen these confirmation votes happen in the past. And if you think back to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she got through 96 to 3 and she was ACLU lawyer. So where things are now is that more things are going through the courts because Congress has deadlocked and so more attention is being paid to the court.

[15:50:05] But this will be an interesting setback in many ways for the courts because it's going to make the court look like it's more of a political place if this nuclear option is triggered. And it's also going to bring forward more extremist candidates. And that's something that really bothers the justices. They don't want the court to look political, as we heard some of the politicians saying over this weekend.

WHITFIELD: All right, Ariane de Vogue, thank you so much from Washington. Appreciate it.

All right, straight ahead, we'll show you new video of the moment before this crash that claimed 13 lives. It could help answer lingering questions surrounding the cause of the accident. The latest after a quick break.


[15:55:03] WHITFIELD: Chicago police have arrested a 14-year-old boy in the group sexual assault of a teenage girl that was broadcast live on Facebook. Police say, this is just the first of many arrests to come. The victim's mother told police her daughter had been missing for 24 hours and showed them the graphic video. Authorities say at least 40 people were watching the live stream and none of them reported it to police.


EDDIE T. JOHNSON, CHICAGO SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE: You know, we've seen a couple of acts in this city now in the last few months involving social media. And just disgusts me that people would look at those videos and not pick up the phone and dial 911. So it makes you wonder, where are we going? What are we doing as a society?


WHITFIELD: Officers also say the victim continues to be bullied and harassed on social media.

All right, investigators are also trying to find out exactly what led to a tragic accident in Texas that claimed the lives of 13 people. All of them were inside a church van that was returning from a retreat. CNN's Polo Sandoval is here me now. So what are you learning about this crash? POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know Fred, it's been almost four days now that members of this church committee (inaudible) really deal with this pain of having to lose so many members of their congregation. Thirteen total there with another person still recovering. And when you look at these pictures incredible that there was in fact a survivor aboard that bus and still in the hospital right now. Also survive that accident was the driver of that white pick-up truck that were able to make out in that pilot twisted metal here.

What will be key for investigators will be not only recreating that accident and picking up some evidence but also some cell phone video that is been released by a only count, a good samaritan, gentleman by the name Jody Kuchler who captured that pick-up truck just moments before that collision last Wednesday afternoon.

In fact Fred, he was one of several phone calls that were made, two local authorities there about an erratic driver. Kuchler, later told CNN affiliate KSAT that after he drove upon this horrific scene that the driver of that pick-up truck still conscious, told him that he was texting and driving.


JODY KUCHLER, WITNESSED TRUCK SWERVING BEFORE ACCIDENT: In my mind kind of went blank. I didn't know what to think. I mean you can't be texting and driving all over the road for that long.


SANDOVAL: I did speak to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Fred and they tell us that they are looking into all possibilities. They still have not determined if that was in fact the cause. But again, that investigation is still rolling forward as members of the congregation remember there friends.

WHITFIELD: When they'll talk to the driver?

SANDOVAL: That's -- they should be doing that in the coming days. They haven't done that quite yet but the investigator with DPS they told me that they plan to do that hopefully at the start of this week.

WHITFIELD: All right, Polo Sandoval, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

All right, one rookie stands apart from the 80 new graduates at the Suffolk County New York Police Department. He had to go beyond the call of duty just to make it on to the force. CNN's Brynn Gingras has more on his remarkable journey.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're all set to go.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right (inaudible). BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is officer Matias Ferreira's first week as Suffolk County New York police officer.


GINGRAS: But the 28-year-old is no rookie rather it's been a long painful road getting to this point.

FERREIRA: I was like, wow I'm so young. I'm not sure if I'm going to be even able to stand again.

GINGRAS: That moment was five years ago, soon after fulfilling a dream of becoming a marine.

FERREIRA: 9/11 was big definitely a big impact and a big turnaround for, you know, actually going through with my dreams.

GINGRAS: His first deployment brought him to Afghanistan, during a raid, he jumped on a hidden IED.

FERREIRA: Falling on a 30-pound bomb which when it was set off, my legs were both amputated below the knees. I remember, you know, the medic coming in, and my guys putting me on the stretcher and putting me on the (inaudible) and saying, hey, man, you're going to be OK, you're going to be all right.

GINGRAS (on-camera): Any anger that this happens?

FERREIRA: No. It's surprising, there's no anger. You know, I was very blessed to survive the blast. And so, for me to point in fingers at anybody were just be silly. I was just pointing fingers at people to help me, like hey you, I want you to help me walk. And I know that you ran, I want you to help continue to run.

GINGRAS (voice-over): He walked, he ran, and it only took him three months of rehabilitation, his next challenge, to join the police force. The marine veteran who also once saved a baby from a smoldering car crash knew he had a tough road ahead, academy training, this time going through it as a double amputee.

FERREIRA: There was an exercise that we did, it's called the fist man and that's when you are simulating with baton use. And there's one time where the fist man proceeded to attack me and I fall on the ground and to them it was a good test to see if I would be able to get back up And I was able to just pop back up.

GINGRAS (on-camera): Why was it so important to you that you were able to do everything equally?

FERREIRA: It wouldn't be fair that I was given, you know, something on a golden platter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've learned a lot --

GINGRAS (voice-over): Ferreira graduated the academy president of his class, an honor given to him by his fellow recruits. And now in uniform again, he's an inspiration to the community he serves.

[15:60:03] FERREIRA: I tried to get myself involved in everything I can to help somebody's bad day turn into a good day.

GINGRAS: Brynn Gingras, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: All right, the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.