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Pence: Alliance with South Korea "Has Never Been Stronger"; North Korea Missile Launch Fails Day After Military Parade; Kushner Versus Bannon on "Saturday Night Live"; Concerns Over This Year's Easter Roll; Jazz Edge Clippers at the Buzzer in Game 1. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired April 16, 2017 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is certainly the most tense that I've ever experienced in 11 trips to this country.

[07:00:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm so sad my presidency is coming to an end.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, sir. You still have 1300 days left.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. If you seen my tweets about North Korea? This could all be over by Monday.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Start a civil war.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNIED STATES: You never give a tax return when you're being audited.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am here because I think our government is corrupt and I think we have the right to know what our president so involved in financially.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pope Francis offered a prayer for the world, saying the world looks at Jesus with its eyes lowered out of shame.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RENE MARSH, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Rene Marsh, in for Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Happy Easter to you. We will take you to Vatican City a little later this morning.

New this morning, we start in South Korea where the Vice President Mike Pence has arrived there in Seoul saying the U.S. stand with its ally. This is hours after North Korea's later provocation falls flat.

MARSH: Yet another missile launch by North Korea but this one fizzled out seconds later. The White House is offering a low-key response, but they are also warning another North Korean nuclear test could be imminent. BLACKWELL: The vice president is wrapping up his first day in Seoul.

Earlier, the second family attended Easter service with U.S. and South Korean troops. Mr. Pence also repeated Mr. Trump's commitment to the region.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a challenging time all over the world, but especially here in the Asia Pacific. The opportunity for me to be here today, at such a time as this, is a great, a privilege for me. But let me assure you, under President Trump's leadership, our resolve has never been stronger. Our commitment to this historic alliance with the courageous people of South Korea has never been stronger. And with your help and with God's help, freedom will ever prevail on this peninsula.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARSH: Meanwhile, we are just learning that U.S. national security adviser, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster is in Kabul, Afghanistan, this morning. That is according to the official twitter account of the Afghan president's office which reads, "Welcome Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster for Kabul, and thank you for your continued support."

We've also learned that he's met with the Afghan president.

This coming just days after the U.S. dropped the most explosive nonnuclear bomb on ISIS positions in Afghanistan.

BLACKWELL: We've got our team of correspondents and military analysts standing by and we're starting with CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash in Seoul. She joins us on the phone.

You're traveling with the vice president. Dana, a very general reference to the missile launch from Mr. Pence.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): That's right, and that was intentionally done. We were told coming over here on the way on Air Force Two when the vice president got word of this failed missile launch, we were told that he was going to keep it low key. And when he arrived here, he gave some brief remarks to U.S. troops where he, the vice president, had Easter dinner and an Easter service with them. He made pretty clear reference, but it was not direct and certainly not threatening.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: This morning's provocation from the North is just the latest reminder of the risks each one of you face every day in the defense of the freedom of the people of South Korea and the defense of America in this part of the world. Your willingness to step forward to serve, to stand firm without fear, inspires our nation and inspires the world. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: So, Victor, what a White House foreign policy adviser said to reporters, again, on Air Force Two on the plane, it was about within an hour after we took off refueling from a refueling stop in Alaska that we got word of this. This adviser said, look, it's a failed test. It follows another failed test, so really no need to reinforce their failure. We've got a range of option, both militarily, diplomatic and others at the disposal for the president.

And this adviser went on to say if they took the time and energy to launch a missile and fail, we don't need to expend any resources against that. However, this adviser, Victor, was also clear, that if it had been a different kind of test, namely, a nuclear missile test, then that would have been very different in terms of the kind of reaction and response that we would have heard and maybe even scene from this U.S. administration.

[07:05:13] BLACKWELL: Full acknowledgment from the vice president.

Chief political correspondent Dana Bash traveling with the vice president in Seoul as he wraps up his first of 11 days of this Asia Pacific tour -- Dana, thanks so much.

MARSH: And now, Will Ripley joins us. He is live the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.

Will, what are you hearing after this failed missile launch?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I met with North Korean government officials here in Pyongyang, Rene. And well, people in the highest levels of North Korean government who are privileged enough to have access of the outside media are aware of reports of this failed missile launch. It happened around the crack of dawn from a city on the eastern coast, the city of Sinpo, home of to a North Korean base where North Korea also attempted to launch a missile last week just ahead of President Trump's meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping.

So, these officials were aware of it, but there is no official comment and certainly no reaction from the North Korean government to this. Most North Koreans will never know this happened, as is typically the case with failed missile launches. There have been a couple during trips to the country I've done previously where the rest of the world is talking about it and it never appears on state-controlled media because it wouldn't serve their propaganda purposes inside the country to talk about a failure.

However, the North Korean rocket scientists will learn from this. They will take the knowledge and they will try to launch again. The question is, when? Will they do it while Vice President Pence is in the region and if the launch is a success, then you will see photos and video and a triumphant announcement of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un overseas, these types of test.

And what is more troubling for analysts is that they now believe -- they thought perhaps because Kim Jong-un chose on Saturday to reveal his new missile arsenal at that big military parade at the Day of the Sun holiday, and maybe showing this off these missiles, including two new types of potential ICBMs, maybe that was enough for North Korea. The missiles we were probably mock-ups, but a lot of the analysts believe they do have the real thing and or at least working towards an ICBM that could eventually reach the mainland of the United States with a nuclear warhead.

But since Kim Jong-un has shown he doesn't seem concerned about increased pressure from China and the United States, he doesn't seem concerned about the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group off the Korean coast, he wasn't deterred by seeing President Trump launch a missile strike on the Syrian regime, could he push the button on this nation's sixth nuclear test?

Analysts in the U.S. and South Korea say it could happen at any time. They say the Punggye-ri nuclear test site is primed and ready. All Kim Jong-un needs to do is push the button. And what we don't know right now, how will the Trump administration respond to that -- Rene.

MARSH: All right. Will, thank you. Yes, that's the concern. Will he push that button?

Will, I want you to stand by.

We are joined now by Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, CNN military analyst and former army commanding general with us now.

Now, you saw, Mark, you saw that display of military force. Then you have this failed launch. Should that give the world a little bit of breathing room that perhaps North Korea, at this point at least, is more style than substance?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: No. I don't believe that the case at all, Rene. I think the parade was probably the most impressive they have ever had on the Day of the Sun to commemorate the birthday of the eternal leader. But they showed some weapons that they want to expand upon. Their ICBMs, their launch missiles as Will just said, but I think they wanted to follow that impressive parade up with a couple of no kidding experiments, the first one being the missile launch. And they have been primed and ready for this nuclear -- the sixth nuclear test for almost a week now. Intelligence indicators have watched this. They've seen all of the kind of indicators that it's about to be tested.

So, I think Mr. KJU will attempt to compound the parade with other actions. The most important of all this is the fact that he doesn't seem deterred at all by both President Trump's words but also by President Xi's word and actions in China. As you know, China has moved several forces, several divisions, it's estimated, to the northern border of North Korea, as well as the U.S. influence with the carrier battle group off the coast of Korea.

So, he is not deterred at all and he will continue to test and he will continue to look upon these provocations as just another measure that he has to improve his capabilities to counter the rest of the world and their feelings on him. MARSH: Yes. I want to talk about the fact that they are likely not

deterred in a second. But isn't there a bit of embarrassment here? I mean, you have this parade and then you do this test launch and then it fails?

[07:10:02] HERTLING: You would certainly think so. But as Will just said, his people don't know about this. So, all they know about is this wonderful parade they just had that they had gobs of North Korean newsmen covering and spattered all over North Korea nets and televisions and newspapers. They don't know about this failed launch. There have been failed launches in the past.

And, in fact, many of the South Korea see this as just another day in paradise where another thing happened in the North, most of the millennials in South Korea as a daily event. The rest of the world sees it as a failed missile launch. But he will continue to do it until he gets some successful missile launches in a variety of ways and he continues, Kim Jong-un, continues to expand his missile program and his attempt at matching and pairing nuclear weapons to ICBMs and other types of missiles.

MARSH: All right. And, Will, I want to bring you in here. As you know, Vice President pence is in South Korea today. He is going to be discussing the military response to North Korea. What do you think Pence's strategy is going to be going into these meetings in South Korea with the leaders there?

RIPLEY: Well, one, he needs to reassure South Korea that the United States is behind them that the alliance is strong and that the 28,000 U.S. troops on the southern side of the Korean peninsula will be ready to come to the defense of South Korea if things escalate, because keep in mind, out of all the U.S. allies in the region, South Korea stands the most to lose if there's a military confrontation because even -- let's take nuclear weapons out of the equation. North Korea has a standing army of more than a million people and they have a heck of a lot of conventional weapons, including artillery lined up along the DMZ, the demilitarized zone, between North and South Korea, the city of Seoul is about 30 miles from the DMZ, artillery pointed right for the city of Seoul could be fired very easily done and could do a lot of damage and kill a lot of people if North Korea felt that they were in a corner here.

So, this is not a Syria-type scenario where you could, you know, launch an air strike on a military target and expect that nothing will happen in terms of retaliation because North Korean official I've been speaking with here have said they absolutely will retaliate with force if the United States launches some sort of preemptive strike on this country. Another interesting thing I learned at the military parade on Saturday, speaking with a government official, there was a special operation that was conducted in North Korea on Thursday where there were commandos jumping out of airplane and North Korean state media put out photos of that special operation. The official told me that was in direct response from tweets from President Trump about North Korea.

MARSH: Well, thank you so much to you both for that great context. BLACKWELL: "Saturday Night Live" shows President Trump pitting his

top two advisers against one another in a contest. Watch.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

BLACKWELL: That is Jimmy Fallon as Jared Kushner versus a skeletal Steve Bannon. Who won? You'll find out next.

MARSH: Plus, it's one of the biggest events on the White House social calendar. Can the Trump administration pull off the first Easter egg roll?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEC BALDWIN AS DONALD TRUMP: Jared, Steve, standing before me is my two top advisers. But I only have one photo in my head. Tonight is elimination night. There's been a lot of drama in the house but that is OK. But one of you must go now. If you don't see your photo, you must immediately leave the Oval Office and join Kellyanne Conway in the basement. The person who will stay on as my top adviser is Jared!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: That sketch coming on the heels of what the president has been signaling this week, that many observers are saying he is putting distance between himself and Steve Bannon.

Let's talk about this. Errol Louis, CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News is here, along with Sarah Westwood, White House correspondent for "The Washington Examiner."

Good morning.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning.

BLACKWELL: Errol, you get first question on every "SNL" conversation because you're the only one of the three of us who has been featured on the show. So, what did you think? I mean, there is some truth to that. The reporting shows there is this feud and things are getting pretty contentious.

LOUIS: You know, the reality is our cousins in the comedy-writing business are actually pretty good and there are a number of people who come out of political journalism and go work for late night comedy shows, including "SNL." And it does, in fact, reflect what the reporting also reflects and whether you're looking at the "The Washington Post" or "The New York Times" or "Vanity Fair" has a great profile, there's a lot of infighting here.

And the infighting actually matters in this case. It's not trivial and it's not just a joke because you got a president who did not come in as part of an established political movement. He wasn't part -- he was never elected to anything, he wasn't part of an organized sort of political force. And so, the personalities and the personal agendas within the White

House matter more than usual and watching this fighting going on actually does tell you what policy is going to look like coming out of this White House.

BLACKWELL: Yes, Sarah, you're there at the White House. How close is this to a breaking point?

SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: There are a group of Trump supporters who are increasingly worried about Bannon losing his influence within the White House because even though Jared Kushner advocates for more centrist propositions and potentially encourages Trump to pursue more compromises, he is politically inexperienced and some of Trump supporters, some in his orbit are worried that Kushner vastly overestimates the likelihood that Democrats are going to work with Trump on anything.

[07:20:01] So, even if Bannon is ousted in some sort of shake-up coming in the West Wing, there are still populist voices inside the White House who could advocate for Trump (INAUDIBLE). We have Steven Miller who came from Sessions office in the Senate and Sessions, himself at DOJ, Mick Mulvaney at the OMB. There are populist voices in the administration, but Bannon is the face of that ideological faction and his demotion would be sign that maybe Trump is moving away from that ideology.

BLACKWELL: The face of that ideological faction, Errol, does a loss of Bannon lose the president potentially those supporters?

LOUIS: Not necessarily. There are a handful of people. You're starting to see some stuff on social media saying that they stand with Bannon and so far, and so on. But the reality and this is really the heart of the question is, does Trump need to really rile up or hold on to that base in order to do what he needs to do both in governing terms and in political terms? And it's not clear that that is the case, you know?

I mean, where would a die-hard Trump supporter, a nationalist, a populist supporter, where would they go now. What would they have him do that he is not doing? You have a whole bunch of policy items that this administration has to get on with and that is governing. That is not the politics of the moment. And so, if the populace aren't happy the way he is trying to build a wall or the way he is trying to reset trade relations or the way he is trying to make our defense posture in the Far East and in the Middle East -- well, you know, we will see in 2020. But right now, they have to figure out how to run the country.

BLACKWELL: Sarah, there has been a lot of talk, or there has been over the last several weeks, after we watched what happened in Syria and Afghanistan, and now, North Korea, about the search for a Trump doctrine as it relates to foreign policy. But as we look at domestic issues, these two men are very different. Is there any clear indication of which is most like the president's own ideology if we know what the president's ideology really is?

WESTWOOD: Well, we know -- all we know about President Trump's ideology is that he is ideologically flexible. What he wants more than anything is to just get things done. And he doesn't really care about the details of how you get there. And I think health care was a perfect example of that. There were conservatives who wanted President Trump to pursue a more black and white repeal of Obamacare and a replacement, rather than just the bill that was put forward which was seen more as tinkering on the margins of the existing health care system.

President Trump didn't care whether it was the conservative approach, whether it was what was seen as a more moderate approach. He just wanted a bill to go through that he could check off the box of Obamacare being reformed. And within the White House, you had conservatives who were concerned about the approach that was put forward and on the other side of the spectrum, you had Kushner and others who wanted President Trump to go even further towards a compromise to get them Democrats on board to work with him.

So, you can see that president Trump only really cares about the ends, rather than the means. And that gives room for these ideologically divided advisers to pull him in different directions.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the rhetoric from the president on Steve Bannon certainly has changed over the last 85 days or so.

Sarah Westwood, Errol Louis -- thank you both.

LOUIS: Thank you, Victor.

BLACKWELL: And this likely will be one of the topics coming up on "STATE OF THE UNION" later this morning. On the show, Senator Bernie Sanders is Jake Tapper's guest. The show starts at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

MARSH: Well, the death toll in a car bomb explosion in Syria has risen to at least 112. Yesterday's blast targeted a bus convoy carrying several thousand Syrian refuges. The buses, which were parked at the time, were taking refuges from two rebel-held towns into Aleppo under a so-called Four Towns Agreement. The United States has condemned the blast. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

BLACKWELL: North Korea is ignoring worldwide angst over the country's missile test and disregarding a clear warning from the United States. So, how is the White House responding?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARSH: Welcome back. I'm Rene Marsh, in for Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Happy Easter to you.

Within the last hour, Vice President Mike Pence wrapped up his first day in South Korea, after North Korea's latest provocation falls flat. But he did not officially acknowledge the country's failed launch, only saying it's a reminder of the risk that people there face.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: This morning's provocation from the North is just the latest reminder of the risks each one of you face every day in the defense of the freedom of the people of South Korea and the defense of America in this part of the world. Your willingness to step forward, to serve, to stand firm without fear, inspires our nation and inspires the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: The vice president's stop in Seoul is the first of an 11- day trip across the Asia Pacific region. The goal is to reassure allies as the tension mount with North Korea.

MARSH: Meanwhile, a White House foreign policy adviser says the missile launch came as no surprise and because it failed, there was no need to expand any resources against it.

Well, our Jessica Schneider joins us now. She is live in Florida.

Jessica, a pretty tepid response from the president as well?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT:. Really no response from President Trump, Rene. In fact, his administration marking this failed missile launch in North Korea with a very terse and short response from Defense Secretary James Mattis, really a two sentence response. Secretary Mattis putting it this way, saying, "The president and his military team are aware of North Korea's most recent unsuccessful missile launch.

[07:30:08] The president has no further comment."

So, administration officials saying that this terse and short response is exactly what was needed because North Korea, that they don't want to give North Korea the attention that North Korea sought in making this missile launch, a failed missile launch at that. The vice president, of course, traveling over in Seoul today. He landed there today after that trip from the U.S. yesterday.

The vice president really just making passing remarks when he spoke with military families in Seoul earlier today, saying that this failed test was a reminder of the provocation and the risk that those people in South Korea face.

Now, onboard Air Force Two, a White House foreign policy adviser did speak with reporters, telling them on background that the administration does not believe that this was an intercontinental ballistic missile that failed. They do believe this was a medium- range missile. And again, the administration really putting a fine point on it with that White House foreign policy adviser really putting it this way, saying, "If they took the time and energy to launch a missile and fail, we don't need to expended any resource against that."

So, to that end, the president, himself, not responding to this failed missile test. In fact, the president here spending a very quite and somewhat relaxing weekend at Mar-a-Lago. We have seen him twice over at his golf course, Trump International here in West Palm Beach. We know the president is down here at Mar-a-Lago for the weekend. He's here with first lady, Melania Trump, their son Barron, also President Trump's son Don Jr. and his family.

We expect it's possible the president might attend Easter services at the church that he does attend here in Palm Beach. So, really, the administration not giving much of a response to this failed missile test, really putting it very tersely and very muted in their response -- Rene and Victor.

MARSH: And perhaps that's a part of their own strategy, is not giving it too much, giving it that "so what" factor.

Jessica Schneider, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Well, the White House is putting the finishing touches on its annual Easter egg roll and one of the biggest social events for the administration puts the new first lady back in the spotlight.

First, though, let's take you on a musical journey unlike any other. The new CNN series "Soundtracks: Songs that Define History" premieres Thursday at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Here's a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Music is an explosive expression of humanity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every movement has to have a song!

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The music will always remind us that it is possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One small step for man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is what anthems are made of.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's about standing up for your rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were killing our own children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the hell are we going to do that for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a cultural political statement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fight the power.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Music is a vehicle for revolution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That kind of courage changed human beings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The aftermath of 9/11, everybody was together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody has to put this into word and emotions for everyone to hear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New York state of mind --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is how we remember history.

ANNOUNCER: "Soundtracks: Sounds that Defined History" premieres Thursday at 10:00 on CNN.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:37:29] BLACKWELL: Today marks the holiest day of the year for Christians around the world and in Vatican City, an Easter celebration is happening right now. Pope Francis led mass for thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square this morning, followed by his regular Easter message and blessings from the main balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

Now, in his message, Pope Francis prayed for peace and addressed world leaders directly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POPE FRANCIS (through translator): May the Risen Lord guide the steps of all those who work for justice and peace. May he grant the leaders of nations the courage they need to prevent the spread of conflicts and to put a halt to dishonest trade.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Pope Francis offered up prayers for yesterday's car bomb explosion in Syria and for those helping with relief efforts in their country.

MARSH: Well, the countdown is on for the first major social event of the Trump administration. Tomorrow, thousands of families will fill the White House lawn for the annual Easter egg roll. But there are some concerns that planning for this year's event was rushed and that it won't live up to standards.

Christi Paul has a look at the history of the event and what we can expect this year.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been an annual tradition for well over a century. One of the most lighthearted days of the year at the White House and one of the most crowded. Tens of thousands of adults, children, and eggs on the south lawn!

The egg roll, itself, is a race. Children push eggs across the grass with long handled spoons but this event dates back to the late 1800s when President Rutherford B. Hayes let a group of kid play their Easter games on the south lawn. It's happened nearly every year since then except for a break for World War II and a few rain-outs.

First Lady Pat Nixon introduced the White House Easter bunny for the first time in 1969 and decades later, a familiar face. Current White House spokesman Sean Spicer put on the suit for a little Easter fun during the Bush administration.

But this year, some concern that the popular event may not come together on time. Reports of late arrangements, overdue invitations and a plea from the company behind the White House's traditional souvenir wooden eggs, tweeting, quote, "Manufacturing deadline for the Easter eggs are near. Please reach out."

[07:40:02] The company assures fans the eggs will be done, even sharing these behind the scenes photos from the workshop of the finished products. And the Bush era bunny says, confidently --

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think we're going to have an excellent time. Come on!

PAUL: No word on whether he will be inside the suit this year.

Christi Paul, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARSH: Well, final preparations for the Easter egg roll are happening today. We want to take you behind the scenes. We've got Kate Andersen Brower, CNN contributor and author of the book "First Women." And Melinda Bates, she was the director of the White House Visitors Office under President Clinton and she is also the author of "White House Story".

Now, good morning to you both.

Kate, we know that the first lady's office is in charge of organizing this event. But Melania Trump's full staff wasn't in place in time to start the planning. How big of an issue do you think this is going to be?

KATE ANDERSEN BROWER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, it's the biggest public event at the White House and during the Obama administration, they had upwards of 35,000, 37,000 people at the Easter egg roll and it's a feel-good event. I know for the Obama administration and I know Melinda can talk more about this with the Clintons. They had a head of the visitors office in place working on this during the transition. So, we are talking about January of 2009.

So, the fact that they didn't have a staff in place to really coordinate the Easter egg roll which is a huge on event. I think it does pose problems. It's going to be a scaled-down event. We know it's going to be about 20,000 people this year versus the upward of 30,000, you know, for the Obamas last year. And like everything with the Trump administration, it was just off to a bit after slow start but I still think it's going to be a fun day tomorrow.

MARSH: So, Melinda, to you. I mean, we've been talking about, are they ready? Are they ready? You've been behind the scenes for this sort of event. Give us some specifics. What exactly could go wrong here?

MELINDA BATES, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE VISITORS OFFICE UNDER PRESIDENT CLINTON: So many things can go wrong. There is all of the logistics of moving tens of thousands of people on the lawn in an orderly way without them having to wait all day to get in. Once they are on the lawn, there should be dozens and dozens of activities spread out across the lawn. There would be celebrity readers on low stages, musical acts. If they have reached out to the diplomatic community, there'd be a display of springtime traditions and countries from around the world. And then, as people exit in a normally way, normally, you would be having each child a wooden Easter egg that looks like this and a little gift bag.

Well, you know what? It takes time to stuff 20,000 little gift bags. You can't do that overnight. I can't imagine they will have them ready.

MARSH: All right. So, it could be chaos on the front lawn of the White House if they don't get their act together.

Kate, I want to back to you. This is one of the largest events that we are going to see at the White House and it is the first lady's responsibility traditionally. How much of a big test is this going to be for Melania Trump?

ANDERSEN BROWER: Well, I think Melania has big shoes to fill with Michelle Obama, because part of this is about playing with the kids, being out there on the lawn. I mean, I covered this as a White House reporter and you see firsthand, President Obama out there shooting hoops with Shaquille O'Neal and Shonda Rhimes was reading children's books. It was a celebrity packed event. And they had Fergie books for the 2009 Easter egg roll well in advance.

So, I think that it's difficult, Melania is a little bit more reticent. You can see that, shy even. And I think that, you know, this is going to be a test of whether or not she can really get down there, play with the kids, interact with people. That's one of the fun parts about tomorrow, so we have to give her a chance and wait and see.

MARSH: All right now. Now, she actually tweeted recently about this event. We are going to put that up on the screen. Looking forward to hosting the annual Easter egg roll at the White House on Monday. So, she sounds like she is geared up and ready.

Melinda, I want to talk to you about performances. Usually, you see some pretty high profile names. In the past, they've had Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Janelle Monae. But this year's performer is relatively unknown boy band, Bro4.

Is this a sign that there have been some struggles in planning this year?

BATES: I think not only have they been slow to pay attention to this and plan, I think perhaps they are not all that many people in the entertainment industry who are interested in participating, which is kind of sad.

I imagine that last year, they had Idina Menzel, the star of "Frozen." And this year, they're having two little known bands. I don't know who the celebrity readers will be and that is always a thrill.

My personal favorite moment out of all eight, I'm the first person in history to have organized eight of these, was watching Robert de Niro reading a children's book on the lawn of the White House -- an amazing experience.

[07:45:02] I don't think they have got any of that lined on up.

MARSH: All right. Kate Andersen Brewer and Melinda Bates -- thank you.

I'm glancing at you because I saw you googling Bro4.

BLACKWELL: Who is Bro4?

MARSH: Did you figure it out?

BLACKWELL: I saw a picture and I still can't name a single verse they sing, much less a hit. But we'll see on the White House lawn.

MARSH: We'll see. They may be good.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's turn to Melissa McCarthy returning to "Saturday Night Live" last night to reprise her role as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. And in the spirit of Easter, and Spicer's stint as the eastern bunny, she showed up in costume. Here's a bit of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELISSA MCCARTHY AS SEAN SPICER: We all know President Trump recently bombed Syria while eating the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake America has ever laid eyes on! That is a fact! OK? People love that. Look on that cake.

Now in defending the president's decision, I said that unlike Syrian leader -- uh, the leader of -- son of a -- what is his stupid name? I got bazooka Felicia Ahmad Rashad.

That about perhaps it up for me. Happy Easter, everybody. Okay, and the president is probably going to bomb North Korea tonight. OK? Spicy's got a hippity hope and deliver these eggs. And everybody, just eat as much candy as you want because this is probably our last Easter on Earth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARSH: I love her version of Spicer.

Well, the NBA playoffs start with a bang. It's one day, a day -- day one of the NBA playoffs but, already, some action to talk about. A buzzer beater seals the deal for the Utah Jazz. We have the highlights coming up on NEW DAY.

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[07:51:11] BLACKWELL: There's a good chance you'll be having a big dinner today. So, let's look at this week's staying well. It looks at ways to control your salt and sugar cravings for better health.

Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANIE MANSOUR, HEALTH AND FITNESS EXPERT: Your cravings could secretly be telling you what your body needs. If you're craving salt, you could be stressed, but you also may be dehydrated. So, get a bottle of water and set the alarm on your phone for ten minutes. Drink the water during that time and then see if that salty craving subsides. If not, opt for a healthy snack such as edamame with some sea salt.

If you're craving carbs or even sugar, you may be low in protein. So, take a few slow deep breaths in through the nose and out through the nose. During that time, think about when it was last that you ate protein. If it was more than three or four hours ago, you may need a protein-packed snack. After eating that, move on and see if you still want the carbs or sugar.

Next, place some reverse psychology on yourself. So, if you don't like chocolate cake but if I tell you, you have eat chocolate cake, you want it because psychologically, we want what we can't have. So, give yourself permission to eat whatever you want when you want and see if that helps with cravings.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: So, if you went to bed early, I did, show started at 6:00 this morning, you missed the thrilling NBA playoff game between the Jazz and the Clippers.

MARSH: Kristina Fitzpatrick has more on the buzzer beater in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

It was close.

KRISTINA FITZPATRICK, CNN SPORTS: Yes, close, day one of the NBA playoffs already some action. It's been five years since the Jazz made it into the playoffs and they're making up for lost time but, of course (INAUDIBLE) all game long L.A.'s Chris Paul ties it up (INAUDIBLE)

BLACKWELL: We got a little audio issue there. I think we fixed it.

FITZPATRICK: All right, (INAUDIBLE) this one?

BLACKWELL: No. All right, we got an audio issue. You know what? This is live television. Pull it out just a bit.

FITZPATRICK: All right, how about i, does that help out?

BLACKWELL: Can we use that?

FITZPATRICK: Testing one, two.

BLACKWELL: Good, let's do it.

FITZPATRICK: Let's roll, OK. I guess we will move on to, stick with the NBA playoffs and take a look at what was going on.

A lot of action here. It's been five years since the Jazz made it and they're trying to make a run. L.A.'s Chris Paul ties it up with 13 seconds in regulation off the glass. The Jazz elected not to take a timeout. That allows Joe Johnson to take the inbound pass and with all the time in the world makes his way down the length of the court, splitting the defenders along the way, finds an opening, delivers the game winner at the buzzer. The Jazz take game one, 97-95.

Now, after the game a reporter asked Clippers coach Doc Rivers about his strategy. Doc didn't take it very well. Listen to his answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: You could have held up and tried to run the clock down to the final -- you know, when you were down --

DOC RIVERS, L.A. CLIPPERS: Who would do that? Like why would you ever do that?

REPORTER: Like maybe five seconds.

RIVERS: So if you miss, the game's over.

REPORTER: Right. Well, no, like five seconds --

RIVERS: That makes no sense.

REPORTER: Right, I'm just asking.

RIVERS: No, that is like the dumbest thing I've ever heard. When you're down two --

REPORTER: Right.

RIVERS: You try to score.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FITZPATRICK: Yes, tell us how you really feel, coach. Maybe not the best question there, but a heated moment. We have a lot of playoffs games going on, four to be exact. Three on our sister station TNT.

And Saturday was Major League Baseball's annual Jackie Robinson Day, honoring the hall of famer for his impact on the game, breaking through the color barrier. Every member of every team in the league along with the umpires donned number 42, a tradition started back in 2009.

Robinson played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and in honor of the legend, the Los Angeles Dodgers held a ceremony to unveil a new statue at Dodgers stadium. His family, along with other legendary Dodgers, were on hand for the event. Fans took home a little replica of the statue. This has been going on in baseball, Jackie Robinson Day, since 2004.

And out to Fenway, sticking with baseball, just before the Red Sox set to take on the rays the ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Boston marathon bombing survivor Roseanne Sdoia, alongside fiance, Mike Materia, so happens to be the firefighter who rescued her on that fateful day. The two developed a relationship during Roseann's hospital recovery after losing her leg. And now, they're set to be married soon, guys.

So, happy, good story there. And it is the 121st running of the Boston marathon tomorrow, Patriots Day in Boston.

BLACKWELL: All right. Great story there. Kristina, thanks so much.

MARSH: Thank you. Thank you so much for joining us this morning and thanks for having me.

BLACKWELL: Good to have you.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts after a quick break.

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