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FBI Deputy Director Fired Two Days Before Retirement; Trump Joins Effort To Stop Porn Star From Speaking Publicly; Russia Hits Back At U.K. Expelling 23 Diplomats; Police Consider Hate Crime Charges For A.Z. Mosque Vandals. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired March 17, 2018 - 07:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[07:01:08] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Attorney General Jeff Sessions firing Andrew McCabe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president has made this political.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have the attorney general being pressured by the president of the United States to get rid of this person.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump for a guy who made his career on the phrase, you're fired, doesn't like to be that person who says, you're fired.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stormy Daniels is really outmaneuvering them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They want to hide the facts from the American people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cohn thinks he's going to get a friendlier hearing in the federal courts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump, if you have nothing to hide, why are your lawyers fighting so hard?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FIU pedestrian bridge and some cracking that's been observed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An engineer for the company that designed the pedestrian bridge that collapsed at Florida International University was aware at least two days before that collapse of cracks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our primary focus is to remove all the cars and all of the victims in a dignified manner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone, so grateful to have you here with us. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.

PAUL: So, from you're fired to firing back. This morning, we are hearing from Former FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe, who was, indeed, fired late last night less than 48 hours before he could retire with full benefits.

BLACKWELL: President Trump is cheering the move as a great day for democracy, but McCabe who worked that agency for more than two decades, calls this an attack on the FBI and on his credibility.

PAUL: Also, it is the president versus a porn star in court. President Trump's personal lawyer claims Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress, who says, she had an affair with the president who violated her nondisclosure agreement and could now owe $20 million.

BLACKWELL: And President Trump starts assembling his team for 2020 run, the data firm used by his campaign has been kicked off Facebook for misusing information. We're following all the details this morning. Let's start with CNN's Abby Philip live in Washington. Abby, Andrew McCabe, Former FBI Deputy Director, was fired less than 48 hours before he could retire with full benefits.

ABBY PHILIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Victor. This decision came at virtually the last possible moment for the Attorney General Jeff Sessions to make it. McCabe was set to retire in just a couple of days when he turned 50 after about 21 years with the FBI. And he was fired in part because of an ongoing investigation into his conduct as it relates to some investigations the FBI had been conducting into Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. That investigation had been referred to an office called the Office of Personnel Responsibility who had reportedly recommended that McCabe be fired.

Now, we haven't actually seen that report, but CNN has reported this week that that report was scathing and criticized McCabe's actions. Sessions then decided to go forward with this action. But what is really at stake here is the question of whether he was being pressured by President Trump to fire McCabe over a separate issue, over the question of whether McCabe could validate the Robert Mueller probe and some claims that the former FBI Director, James Comey, had made about his conversations with Donald Trump.

Trump has been criticizing McCabe on social media for weeks now. He specifically mentioned McCabe's intent to retire in a couple of months and criticized that claiming that McCabe was trying to retire quietly and receive his pension. And last night, after the news that Sessions had actually moved forward with the firing, the president celebrated it, and he seemed to gloat over it. He said in this tweet -- that I'm going to pull up here. He said in this tweet that McCabe's firing was a great day for Americans and a great day for the FBI. He said the sanctimonious James Comey was a boss who made McCabe look like a choir boy. He knew about the lives and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI.

[07:05:15] McCabe is saying in his own right that he was being targeted by the president. That his comments about the ongoing Mueller investigation were the real reason why he was targeted for investigation and then subsequently fired. There's a question now about whether McCabe is going to pursue some kind of legal recourse to receive his pension. And in that process, use the president's own statements, his comments on social media, the constant pressure on Jeff Sessions to justify his claim that he was being unfairly targeted.

On this issue, there seem to be a claim is being made on both sides and I will say that when this inspector general report actually comes out, we will know more about what McCabe was actually accused of doing. But for now, it seems that the Trump administration has moved forward to fire McCabe and remove his pension at a moment when -- at the very last possible moment, he stands to lose, you know, perhaps over a million dollars in retirement funds as a result of this decision made by Jeff Sessions last night, Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: All right. Abby Philips for us there in Washington. Thank you. And moments after being fired, Andrew McCabe released an emotional statement blasting the Trump administration. I'm going to read part of it for you now: "For the last year and a half, my family and I had been the targets of an unrelenting assault on our reputation and my service to this country. Articles, too numerous to count, have leveled every sort of false, defamatory, and degrading allegation against us. The president's tweets have amplified and exacerbated it all. He called for my firing, he called for me to be stripped of my pension after more than 20 years of service, and all along we have said nothing. Never wanting to distract from the mission of the FBI by addressing the lies told and repeated about us. This attack on my credibility is one part of the larger effort, not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally. It is part of this administration's ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the special counsel investigation which continue to this day. Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the special counsel's work."

PAUL: Rachael Bade, CNN Political Analyst and Congressional Reporter for Politico with me now. Good morning, Rachael. I see that you got the green memo, as well. Obviously.

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST AND CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER FOR POLITICO: Color of the season.

PAUL: Yes. It's the season in another way here. I wanted to ask you, first and foremost, the point is nobody knows what specifically is in this report that was filed by the office of inspector general with the Department of Justice's office. With that said, can anybody make a true assessment of where it goes from here?

BADE: No, we definitely got to make -- we got first read the report and see exactly why he was let go. Obviously, McCabe, he spoke to my colleague a couple weeks ago sort of anticipating that this was coming. He said that he walked in the door every single day for the past year expecting that he might actually be let go and might be fired, and he said this is because the president has been trying to attack him. He said that this is all a campaign to discredit him as a potential witness to obstruction of justice case. He, obviously, talked to James Comey about any interactions he had with the president before the president fired James Comey because he didn't like the Russia investigation.

Now, it is interesting, though, that the reason he's being let go is not because of Republican criticism of him or because the president has been, you know, basically tweeting at him and harassing him for the past couple months, but because career officials at the FBI, because of this investigation that we haven't actually seen the results of determined that he made some sort of wrongful disclosure to the media and had not been forthcoming several times under oath. So, it wasn't Republicans necessarily that led to this ousting. We don't know all the details, as you mentioned, but, clearly, the FBI felt it needed to move on this.

PAUL: I want to bring in Philip Bump -- is he with us? There you go. Hi, Philip. Philip Bump, National Correspondent for Washington Post. We got your shot up here. Grateful to have you with us. I want to listen here to Josh Campbell, he's a Former FBI Special Agent and Law Enforcement Analyst for CNN. Here's what he said about all of this last night as it was happening.

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JOHN CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST AND FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: The focus here is, was Andrew McCabe untruthful in answering questions to the inspector general? At least the FBI has looked at that and said, yes, there are some issues here. I'm not happy about any of this, but the one thing I do look forward to is finally being able to hear from Andy himself. He is a great man, he is a true public servant. He should be held accountable, but this issue should not define his service.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[07:10:04] PAUL: Even Former FBI Director, Tom Fuentes, told us last hour that, listen, if you lie to the FBI, if you lied in any capacity as an FBI official, you are going to be fired. That's just what he knows to be true. With that said, is there any recourse here?

PHILIP BUMP, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON POST: Yes, I think --

PAUL: for McCabe?

BUMP: Well, I mean, it sort of remains to be seen. I mean, certainly, he's already started a public pressure campaign. I doubt that he's going to be able to get his job back to maybe some sort of (INAUDIBLE) to try and get some of his pension. It's really not really clear. But I think the point that was just raised is an important one, which is that: we don't really know what the inspector general's report says at this point. There are a lot of rumors, we 've heard rumors for weeks about the in which this might impugn McCabe. But the broader overarching question is that -- this is the second time that we've seen someone from the FBI fired after a report from the FBI that, you know, obviously, referring to James Comey. The last time this happened, there certainly was some question about

the way in which it occurred. The fact that President Trump has been so direct and so forward in criticizing Andrew McCabe, clearly has been putting pressure on Jeff Sessions for a long time. The fact that this happened so shortly before this benchmark of when McCabe was going to be eligible for his pension, as noted by the president in December, there's a lot of questions about how this came about when it came about that I think clouds the issue of what it is that McCabe may have done, which will be answered once we see this inspector general's report, which I think the sooner we can see that, the better for the president.

PAUL: You know, something else Tom Fuentes said last hour was he thinks one of President Trump's, perhaps, bigger mistakes in all of this is the criticism he has continually given to the FBI over the last 14 months and before. For example, in December of 2017, he said the FBI, its reputation is in tatters. It's the worst in history. The January 5th, only collusion is with Hillary Clinton and the FBI and Russia. February 2017, the FBI is totally unable to stop the national security leakers. He has been on the FBI, even in his tweet last night, he said lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI. Even though he did say this was a great day for the hard- working men and women of the FBI. A great day for democracy, he said last night. With all of that in context, how much has what president said about the FBI in the past affecting the way this is viewed now, Rachael?

BADE: It is completely tainted and colored how the American voters, American viewers are going to be watching this, right? I mean, how can they look at this, this guy, this top guy at the FBI who had been attacked by the president, attacked by Republicans, being let go. Somebody who could be a potential witness in Mueller's investigation of obstruction of justice or apparent, you know, alleged obstruction of justice if it was going to, if he was going to bring a case on that. How can they not think that the president's actions and the president's desires has any sort of influence on this? How would they not question that? And I think that that's why a lot of Republicans have asked the president not to attack the FBI. A lot of traditional Republicans, GOP leaders on Capitol Hill, they do not want -- they are very much against the sort of tension and the president going after the FBI in this sort of regard. And so, yes, it absolutely colors everything in this.

PAUL: Philip, something else that might color it. A tweet from the president in July of 2017. The problem is the acting head of the FBI and the person in charge of the Hillary investigation, Andrew McCabe, got $700,000 from, essentially, Democrats for his wife. His wife was running for office. What does -- how does that play into all of this?

BUMP: Well, I think the way that plays into all of this is that is absolutely -- has nothing to do with the matter at hand, it never did. Donald Trump seized upon the fact Andrew McCabe's wife ran for the state senate in Virginia in 2015. She lost the race well before Andrew McCabe became deputy director of the FBI, well before he is involved with the Clinton investigation at all. The money didn't come from Clinton, it came from the governor of Virginia who gave to a lot of candidates. But this sets the scene, right? Donald Trump has consistently attacked McCabe, and the FBI broadly -- almost always under pretext which is inaccurate or completely false as it is in that case, and that's the problem. The problem is Donald Trump clearly wanted to see Andrew McCabe go. He made that very explicitly obvious on Twitter, in public statements. Now, Andrew McCabe is gone at the last possible moment that he could've been fired where he would have this punishment of not being able to receive his pension. And it's impossible to extricate from that Donald Trump's pressure on Jeff Sessions, too. I mean, you said just, you were just outlining the pressure he put on the FBI, but he's also put a lot of pressure on Jeff Sessions to sort of --

PAUL: So, does this give Sessions a little more, a little more gumption, I guess, maybe, with Donald Trump now, with the president?

BUMP: Yes, I mean, I think that this -- Donald Trump will look at what Jeff Sessions did approvingly, absolutely. If Donald Trump didn't have a direct hand in saying, hey, you've to make sure this guy goes. We'll wait and see.

[07:15:16] PAUL: Yes, we will. Rachael Bade, Philip Bump, so glad that you're both with us. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. Still to come, the president's attorney claims that the porn star, Stormy Daniels, violated a nondisclosure agreement and could now owe up to $20 million for what she's already said about an alleged affair with the president and an agreement not to talk about it.

PAUL: Also, much of the recent White House turmoil can be traced back to the Russia investigation. How is Vladimir Putin reacting to everything we've been seeing? Also...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was calling to share with you some information about the FIU pedestrian bridge.

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BLACWELL: No one heard that message until after the bridge collapsed. Could it hold clues about why this happened?

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[07:20:07] BLACKWELL: For the first time, President Trump's attorneys have now joined a lawsuit to keep an adult film actress, Stormy Daniels, from speaking publicly. They say that this porn actress could owe $20 million because she revealed details of her alleged affair or at least talking about this nondisclosure agreement. Daniels claims the agreement is not valid.

PAUL: Listen to what her attorney, in fact, had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIEL'S ATTORNEY: This is truly remarkable. I don't know if there has ever been an instance in American history when you had a sitting president carrying out a personal vendetta and seeking in excess of $20 million at a private U.S. citizen who has merely tried to tell her version of the facts. He and his attorney, Mr. Cohen, and now others, are seeking to gag and silence my client and keep the information from the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Michael Avenatti went on to say in one conversation that the porn star was physically threatened to stay silent about her alleged affair with the president.

BLACKWELL: CNN Correspondent Sara Sidner has more for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I say it's an allegation, you say it's a fact.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The newest allegations from Stormy Daniels' attorney go beyond the suggestion of a mutual financial agreement between the porn star and the president's lawyer to pay for her silence veering into allegations of physical threats and coercion to shut her up during a series of interviews.

AVENATTI: The fact is that my client was physically threatened to stay silent about what she knew about Donald Trump.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: If she felt physically threatened, did she go to the police?

AVENATTI: Well, I didn't say that she felt physically threatened. What I said was, she was physically threatened, and she was.

TAPPER: Did she go to the police?

AVENATTI: I'm not going to comment on whether she went to the police or not.

SIDNER: The White House is not confirming or denying the allegations of physical threats.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Obviously, we take the safety and security of any person seriously.

SIDNER: Saying only that it has no knowledge of Daniels' situation. But Avenatti is suggesting the White House should note, just CNN's Jake Tapper.

TAPPER: Is there anything in the litany of accusations, you would call them facts, that surround this case that happened while Donald Trump was president?

AVENATTI: Yes. SIDNER: We asked, but Avenatti would not provide any evidence to back

up his assertions about physical threats. He has become ubiquitous on cable news over the last two weeks, playing cat and mouse with reporters, dripping out new details of Daniels' story of the alleged sexual affair with Donald Trump in 2006 and the cover up that he says followed in 2016, just days before the presidential election.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, thank you very much.

SIDNER: What he has not done is tell her entire story. Pushing ahead to an interview with "60 minutes" that will reportedly air March 25th.

AVENATTI: I think that when people tune in to this interview they're going to learn the details, the circumstances under which he signed the original agreement as well as what happened thereafter related to the threats and coercive tactics to were used to shut my client up.

SIDNER: We did reach out to Michael Cohn, Donald Trump's personal attorney for comment, he did not respond. As for Mr. Avenatti, he said that six more women come forward with what he says are similar stories of that of his client, referring to Stormy Daniels. He says two of those women have nondisclosure agreements. He says, though, all of the women still need to be vetted and did not give any further details about them. Sara Sidner, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: Thank you. Let's get now to CNN Legal Analyst and Criminal Defense Attorney, Joey Jackson. Joey, good morning to you. There's a lot to get to, so we'll get to as much as we can, starting with these two motions that have been filed. One of them to move this case to federal court. Explain the distinction there and why the president's attorneys, the attorneys for this LLC, would want this in federal court.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST AND CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Good morning, Victor. So, what happens is that there's a process and the process provide for what's called removal. Whenever a case is filed in state court, a defendant in the case -- in this case, the president. Well, or not the president, depending upon whether he knows about the agreement or doesn't know the agreement but yet his people are filing on his behalf. A whole other story. But a defendant in an action can remove it to federal court. Now, what's the basis for that?

There is a number of basis. Number one, we know that the president now is fighting back, right? After all this, Mr. Avenatti going on the media, and everything else, it's his turn. And the second basis is, listen, the court's permit, if there is something called diversity jurisdiction. That means that one party to the action lives in one state and another party lives in another state, you could avail yourself to the federal court -- it's called diversity.

[07:25:02] A long time ago, the founding father said, hey, we don't want anyone to have homefield advantage. That's very important, OK, I'll explain. And so, if two parties are from different states, you can go to federal court if the amount of the lawsuit exceeds $75,000. And to the extent that we know that this could be worth millions in breaches, this is what the president is doing. Now, understand, very important thing here is that, you know, federal court is the president's turf and I would suggest to you that the state is her turf.

Mr. Trump is not very popular in California, of course, we know that. State judges are not controlled by the executive branch, we know that. The federal jurisdiction is something that the president, you know, may very well control, we know that. And, so, it's just a more favorable forum for the case to be heard than relying upon a state court system that the president is not -- they're not answering to the president. These are elected judges. And it's certainly, it's something that he wants to have some measure of control over the litigation. And so, I think from a legal perspective, it's a smart move to get the case in federal court, taken out of the --

BLACWELL: Joey, let me ask you about the reason that the president's attorneys have gotten involved with this because it seems as if that the accusation of these 20 violations of this nondisclosure agreement and the attempt to move this to federal court. Those could have been accomplished with simply sticking with the legal representation of the LLC. Why then would the president, who the White House has tried to isolate from this case, get involved?

JACKSON: Well, that's a great point. And it depends upon, I mean, you know, who knows if the president is involved? Will we get a tweet from him saying that I have no idea what's happening in this case? These are lawyers that are dealing with the case. But, certainly, if this matter is even concerning the president, that is undeniable. Issues as to who had the affair, it involved the president. Issues as to, you know, what physical threats were made, right? We don't know that involves the president, but we know someone is certainly is protecting the president. And so, there comes a point in time that the president or his people now have to take control of this litigation, particularly, Victor, when there is a "60 minutes" interview looming, right, sometime in the next, what, the 25th, a couple Sundays from now, in which she'll tell all.

And so, I think this is their part, their time to get out ahead of it and understand something very important. They're not looking, the president's people, to have this litigated in a public proceeding. The whole reason they're taking it to federal court is so they can enforce what's called an arbitration agreement, that an arbitration provision in the agreement, which doesn't allow for a public fight, but allows a private arbitrator outside the glare of the spotlight in a private room to otherwise settle this case. And so, they want this case in arbitration to hush it away from the public and keep it out of the public view.

BLACKWELL: Well, this is certainly one of the few topics that is getting so much attention that the president has not tweeted about or has not spoken about. We'll see if he keeps that up. It is Saturday morning, we typically hear from the president via Twitter at this hour. Joey Jackson, thanks so much for being with us. JACKSON: Thank you, Victor.

PAUL: All right, so, amidst all of this happening, remember, the Russia investigation is ongoing, as well. And that is ongoing as Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is preparing to cruise to an easy election victory there in Russia. Some people are asking, is it all part of his plan?

[07:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: So glad to have you with us here. 7:33 is the time, I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you. If you are keeping up with the Friday night firings at the White House, add one to your list.

PAUL: FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was asked by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, late last night, less than 48 hours before his retirement. Sessions claimed that McCabe made an unauthorized disclosure to the media and left candor including under oath on multiple occasions. Now, the attorney general came to that conclusion after an investigation into an allegations of misconduct upon McCabe.

BLACKWELL: President Trump, weighed in on the decision. This is part of his statement via Twitter, "Andrew McCabe, fired a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI. A great day for Democracy.

PAUL: McCabe, was set to retire at midnight tomorrow on his 50th birthday after more than 20 years of working in law enforcement. Since he was fired before that time, McCabe is going to take a financial hit on his early pension benefits.

Now, the Kremlin is expelling 23 British diplomats from Russia giving them a week to leave the country. I know that probably sounds familiar because they are responding to the U.K. expelling 23 Russian diplomats and giving them a week to leave.

BLACKWELL: Well, this is because of the nerve agent attack on British soil earlier this month, but the Russians are taking this a step further. Closing both the U.K.-controlled consulate and a cultural center. Joining us now, Philip Bump, national correspondent for The Washington Post and Liz Wahl, former Russia anchor -- Russia Today anchor, I should say. Good morning to both of you.

And let me start with you, Philip. I mean, there was this principle of parity that the Russians said that they replied to their response to the U.S. sanctions related to meddling in the election. Now when it relates to the U.K., they're adding on top of this closing these British facilities. How far can this back and forth go between Russia and the U.K. related to this nerve agent attack?

[07:35:18] BUMP: Well, I think, it's going to be interesting to see what the next step is from the British side. This was -- this is a -- this is an incident that I think, the British are treating justifiably, very seriously. I mean, this was -- this was a very potent nerve agent that was unleashed within the United Kingdom, apparently to trying and to kill this former Russian spy.

This is a significant incident, it's an incident that the United States joined with Britain earlier this week to put out a statement condemning the Russians. So, this is -- this is something that the British are taking very seriously. And the Russian response, as is fairly typical for the Russians, has been essentially, to say, we didn't have anything to do with this. And so, they're doing tit-for- tat.

So, I think, the next move is really the British -- is on British government to see how they respond to what the Russians have done. But really, to see how they move forward the investigation into what actually happened with this attack.

PAUL: OK. So, Liz, I want to read to you just a quick excerpt from the response we're getting from the U.K. that came down just into the last hour to Russia's expelling the diplomats. They say, "Russia's response doesn't change the facts of the matter. The attempted assassination of two people on British soil for which there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State was culpable.

How does -- how does the -- how does the U.K. move forward with this when at the end of the day, they're right, it doesn't change anything. They're still dealing with a situation where there is a nerve agent and they still feel that there is a danger in their country.

LIZ WAHL, FORMER ANCHOR, RUSSIA TODAY: Yes, it's a very serious situation, the use of a nerve agent. I mean, this hasn't been unleashed since World War II and it wasn't just that the two victims, the former double agent, and his daughter. But, responders that were impacted by the attack. So, some people say it was a -- it was a terrorist attack on sovereign soil.

So, the response that we're getting from Russia is, "Hey, it's not us. We didn't do it." What you're hearing in Russian media is that it's a provocation from the west and it's this kind of common narrative that you're hearing from Russia when there's overwhelming evidence that they had, that they're accused of something, they typically deny it. When it comes to Ukraine, they say, "No, it wasn't us."

Their military adventures in Syria, for example. Now, these chemical attacks, the intervention, and our U.S. elections. That's the common response from Russia from Putin is that they didn't do it, despite overwhelming evidence on the contrary.

So, now the U.K. has taken actions. Allies have also joined in and condemning it. Some say that they haven't gone far enough. That there needs to be further actions to possibly sanction oligarchs that store their money in the U.K. So, whether there's further actions to be taken, will be interesting to see.

BLACKWELL: Liz, let me stay with you for this next question. A lot of the chaos that we're seeing in this administration, the White House specifically. And some ways as it relates to the firings, at least, have to do with the Russia investigation. The Russia probes in Congress and the special counsel. This attempt to meddle has exceeded probably beyond Putin's expectations. How is this playing this chaos in the White House playing in Russian media?

WAHL: Well, it is playing in a way that I think would be in line with what Putin's goal was in the beginning. When he had sought to influence the elections eventually and reaffirm by our 17 intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered in our election. With the direction, with the orders from the highest levels in the Russian government. Meaning, from Vladimir Putin, to meddle in our elections through disinformation, through cyber attacks. With the stated goal of undermining our system and spreading this chaos.

I mean, if they are looking at our -- what's going on politically and how this is all playing out, it's absolute and other chaos. So, I think in a lot of ways, Putin's watching and he's saying mission accomplished.

PAUL: And, Philip, when it comes to what she was talking about earlier, what are you were talking about earlier to oligarchs. So, let's say the U.K. is expelling these Russian diplomats. What if they went a step further and they expelled, say, some of the citizen, Russian citizens that are living there that have a lot of money. That brings a lot of money into their country from Russia that may be there for another reason.

I mean, is there anything further they really could do and would maybe focusing on some Russian millionaires that may be there? Would that make a difference to President Putin?

[07:40:08] BUMP: I don't know, that's hard to say. That's a pretty extreme step to try and focus on private citizens. I mean, I think that one of the things the United States and the United Kingdom are both pride themselves on is that they were free societies. If people move here and they -- do you know, if you have the money to buy a house in London, you have the money to buy a house in London. And this -- it will be a pretty extraordinary step, I think, for the U.K. to crack down on them as a results of this.

I mean, but again, the question is, how was this nerve agent, how did it get on to British soil? How was it actually used as an attack vector? That's the question needs to be answered. Once they answer that question, we'll have the better sense of who the people are got culpable in this attack, then, they can take the extra actions. But, I mean, look, the United States --

PAUL: What if they don't find out?

BUMP: Well, then, I'm not sure what they can do. But I mean, this is -- this is the point, is that U.S. and U.K. are not friends with Russia. Thus, it's not as though there are a whole lot of really strong binds that can be sort of severed here. This is already a tense situation going into this. And so, it's not really clear how much more the United Kingdom can do. Certainly, there are some steps they can be taken. But I think, they sort to have to move through their own process before they get there.

BLACKWELL: All right, Philip Bump, Liz Wahl, thank you both.

WAHL: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk now about what's happening in Florida because there was this missed call and now there are some important new questions. An engineer left a voicemail about cracks in this pedestrian bridge before it collapsed, but no one heard it until days later.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:45:49] PAUL: "BREAKING NEWS" in the deadly collapse of that Florida pedestrian bridge right now.

BLACKWELL: Yes, crews may have discovered additional bodies there. Let's get to Kaylee Hartung, in Miami of -- with the latest. What's happening right now, Kaylee?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, Victor, Christi, we have just been informed that the first two vehicles have been extracted from beneath that bridge. And any moment now, we could see those two vehicles on flatbeds escorted behind me down this road. And then, take into the medical examiner's office. The question here is, well, if you're taking these vehicles to the medical examiner's office, are there bodies inside? The officials we just spoke to said they could not confirm that but that these cars would have to be processed by the medical examiner's office.

We were told, at least, eight cars have been trapped under that bridge. Again, these are the first two vehicles that have been extracted here. You can see some action behind me now. Two motorcycles escorting what looks to be vehicles extracted. If you want to take a look over my shoulder.

Again, officials telling us, at least, eight of these vehicles. We see there what looks to me like the flattened jeep Cherokee and another Chevy SUV vehicle. Those two cars being taken, again, to the medical examiner's office. We hope to have an update later in the day from officials here on what, who could have been inside. We know of at least one death, six reported of this continues to be an evolving situation with these vehicles still an unknown number crushed beneath this bridge.

We have been told the priority here is on the recovery of those remains in the most respectful and dignified way possible. But as we learned yesterday, no survivors expected to be found. We will keep you updated on what evolves here as we have been warned not to think that this was the beginning of several cars being taken out. This was simply the first two.

PAUL: Yes, it's a very delicate situation because there's so much instability there with the -- with the rubble that's left. Kaylee Hartung, we appreciate it. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: I'd stay with this, we got more on "BREAKING NEWS". A quick break, we'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [07:52:32] PAUL: Well, listen to this, police say a missing Pennsylvania teen did board a plane to Mexico with a 45 year old man she willingly ran away with. That 15 year old Amy Yu, you looking at there on the left-hand side of your screen. She was reported missing by her mother after she didn't come home from the school about a month ago, March 5th, like a couple of weeks, though, I should say.

Investigators found out, she never even got on the bus to go to school. That Kevin Esterly bought two one way tickets to Cancun and the two left the country that day. An arrest warrant was issued for Esterly, for interfering with the custody of a child. Police in Mexico have issued an amber alert for them and are working with Pennsylvania law enforcement for her safe return.

BLACKWELL: Two women could be facing hate crime charges after allegedly stealing from a mosque and documenting the whole thing on Facebook Live. Tahnee Gonzales and Elizabeth Dauenhauer, have broken into a Tempi Arizona mosque, this was Thursday. And they say that they were trying to, quote "Expose the illegal invasion of Muslims," with their three young children there and Facebook friends watching this 24-minute tirade. They did things like this, stealing pamphlets and posters in the mosque and encouraging also their dog to urinate on the property. They're both charged with third-degree burglary, but Tempi police say hate crime charges are being considered.

PAUL: Nearly six months after Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico and it appears that people are still dying from the effects of that storm. CNN has identified at least five deaths in 2018 believed to be related to Maria and the aftermath. Of the official death toll, however, has stayed at 64, though government statistics do suggest it could be much higher.

In the meantime, at least, 150,000 customers across that Island still do not have power six months later. FEMA says it's doing everything possible to make sure basic services are restored.

BLACKWELL: It's been a rough 24 hours at the White House. In just a day, President Trump has fired his deputy FBI director, launched a lawsuit against the porn star, he claims broke a promise to stay silent, and Facebook kicks the data firm that used -- kicked the data firm used by the Trump campaign off the site for misusing information.

PAUL: First though this week's "STAYING WELL", features a teen who uses music to heal after her father's death seven years ago.

Jordan was 11 years old when her father died from lung cancer.

[07:55:03] JORDAN KAREM, PARTICIPANT OF MUSIC THERAPY: I was really, really close with my dad. Coming home after school and not having him here is a very, very hard time in my life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes her feelings would come out in anger, frustration, and I'd ask her what's wrong? But she couldn't tell me because she just couldn't put it into words. I knew music might be a way in to help her. JAMIE GEORGE, MUSIC THERAPIST: Music therapy is the use of music to attain therapeutic and rehabilitative goals. We find that people are able to share things through music that they might not be able to share in talk therapy. So, we may use things like lyric analysis, songwriting, playing instruments singing.

KAREM: We decided to write a song with all the memories about I had with him. I got to put my own emotions into it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAREM: I remember feels when you hold, when you wrapped me in your arms.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She got more confidence in herself. She definitely, was able to trust other people and feel OK, sharing her feelings. Today she's a theater major. I wouldn't have never dreamed that for her.

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