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NEW DAY SUNDAY

Trump Slams Mueller Probe As a Witch Hunt (Again); Interview with Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois; Sweden Helping Negotiate Release of Americans Held By North Korea; Sweden Helping Negotiate Release of Americans Held in North Korea; First Lady to Meet with Social Media Execs on Cyberbullying; SNL Tackles White House Firing. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired March 18, 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 VIDEOTAPE)

[07:00:31] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not only did Andrew McCabe keep notes on his conversation with the president, McCabe turned those memos over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: McCabe has had an excellent reputation for many years but that regard diminished greatly with regard to the Clinton Foundation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Mueller investigation is not close to wrapping.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A new twist in the Stormy Daniels case. The president's legal team is now officially involved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not surprised at the effort to move it to federal court.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stormy Daniels is outmaneuvering them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vladimir Putin is preparing to extend his powerful grip into a third decade.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are eight candidates standing in this presidential election but, of course, there is only one serious contender.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll have the first returns from the Russian election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putin won!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: I hope Sunday has treated you well so far. Though, it's early, 7:01. I'm Christi Paul. So glad to have you.

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

This morning, the president is escalating his attacks on his own law enforcement agencies and, once again, claiming that the Russia investigation, it's important to point out, which has already ended with some guilty pleas or indictments and sanctions, is a witch hunt.

PAUL: It's a view shared by one of his top lawyers certainly who is facing backlash for suggesting the Justice Department investigation needs to shut it down, but none of this is stopping special counsel Robert Mueller who we know met with former FBI Director Andrew McCabe and has notes on all of McCabe's interactions with President Trump.

CNN's Dan Merica following all of these developments from Washington.

Dan, what specifically do we know about maybe what was in these memos?

DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: So, we know that McCabe met with Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating 2016 collusion by Russia and host of other issues, and then he took notes about his interactions with President Trump during his tenure at the FBI and that those notes have now been turned over to a special counsel, according to a source who has been briefed on all of these matters. This is a busy weekend on the Russia investigation front.

Andrew McCabe especially has been the focus and he was actually fired on Friday night just hours before he was about to basically reach the point where he could receive his full pension for retiring from the FBI. He was fired by the Department of Justice because, according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, his handling of an investigation into the Clinton Foundation, but McCabe and others have said that his dismissal was nothing more than another attack on the Russia investigation and just an escalation of what President Trump has long done about the Russia investigation which is undermine it.

Now, President Trump responded to McCabe's firing by tweeting yesterday and I want to read to you exactly what he said. The Mueller probe should never have been started and that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was based on a fraudulent activities and a fake dossier paid for by a crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly in FISA court for surveillance of my campaign. Witch hunt.

I think Victor is exactly right, it's worth noting that this Mueller probe has garnered sanctions from the Trump administration just announced this week of Russian entities. So, while President Trump is calling it a witch hunt, he is not exactly getting back up from his administration. His lawyers, though, it's worth noting, John Dowd, put out a statement that actually back him and said that he prayed that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia collusion investigation.

What all of this says to many in Washington is that this Russian investigation is not ending anytime soon. So, you can expect more from Trump fuming on Twitter about Mueller's probe.

PAUL: All right. Dan Merica, thank you for walking us through it.

MERICA: Yes.

BLACKWELL: All right. Joining us now, Walter Shaub, CNN contributor and former director of the Office of Government Ethics, and Michael Moore, former U.S. attorney for the middle district of Georgia.

Gentlemen, good morning to you.

WALTER SHAUB, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning.

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Good morning.

BLACKWELL: Walter, let me start with you, and this flurry of tweets offering Andrew McCabe a job. When I saw those, I thought about you and your view. I mean, these members of Congress are offering him employment, not because they need him to do a specific job, but because they just want to get him those extra two days so he can get to his full pension benefits now.

[07:05:08] And they have not read the Office of the Inspector General's report, they don't have the information from the Office of Professional Responsibility. Ethically, what is your view of these job offers, considering what we know and don't know about McCabe's firing?

SHAUB: Well, you know, keep in mind that any job in Congress is a political position. I don't really have a view on it because it's different than if somebody were offering him a career position for which there are safeguards and rules and procedures and you really ought to have a bona fide business reason to be hiring somebody.

But people get hired for all kinds of reasons in Congress. You probably have a number of congressional aides who are the children of major donors. I mean, Congress is just a completely different animal than the executive branch. So I don't really have a view on that.

If they think they are going to salvage his pension, somebody ought to talk to a pension specialist, because I don't know for sure whether you have to be in a law enforcement officer position when you retire. I think they are right because law enforcement officers can get an enhanced retirement at an earlier age and that's what he lost. I believe he still is eligible for the standard federal employee retirement system pension at 56, but that would be a reduced pension.

So, they certainly have taken away a chunk of his pension that he earned. But look at this. You got General Flynn who has admitted to critic committee crimes who's going to get to keep his pension. So, the loss of the pension was not a penalty from being fired, it was a consequence of being terminated before being 50.

BLACKWELL: For the timing, the timing.

SHAUB: And in that sense, then you have to look at the loss of the pension separate from the penalty of firing.

BLACKWELL: OK.

SHAUB: And they are not necessarily trying to tackle the heart of the issue.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let me get Michael in here. I want to read this statement from the attorney general and a statement from the president and then get to the question. This from Jeff Sessions on Friday night. Both the OIG, the Office of Inspector General, and the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility reports concluded that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor, including under oath on multiple occasions.

And hours later from the president on Twitter, the fake news is beside themselves that McCabe was caught, called out and fired. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars was given to wife's campaign by crooked H friend Terry McAuliffe, references to Hillary Clinton and Terry McAuliffe there.

The president makes this hard for his supporters and the Department of Justice to offer a clean argument that this was by the book when he reintroduces the political justification for this firing hours after the firing.

MOORE: I think that is true. I mean, this is sort of a classic Trump move of controlled by chaos, I think here. It's always fascinating to me that he is so obsessed with the state Senate race in Virginia but he keeps going back to that with McCabe's wife and he just can't disconnect the two.

His problem is when he continues to tweet, when he continues to talk about it, when he continues to make a big deal about McCabe and his wife and what went on that he looks like he is putting pressure on the department, that's a problem. And I think it sort of takes away the white hat that the Justice Department should wear.

It's always interesting to me that here, Jeff Sessions who was called out numerous times for not being candid with Congress has talked about McCabe needing to be fired because he was accused of having a lack of candor. At the same time, he got Jared Kushner who has been reading the presidential briefing for the last year who we know has been less than candid in his financial disclosures. So, there is clearly double standards, there's clearly politics at play. As I said before, you don't have to have a degree in chemistry to analyze this.

BLACKWELL: Michael, what's the value of these notes that reportedly Mueller has, these memos?

MOORE: Well, the FBI has a long history of documenting every conversation. I think in this case I think what we are seeing is the contemporaneous note taking or memo writing by McCabe and ultimately by Comey served just to corroborate their version of what went on. What's interesting is that you're sort of stacking level upon level of corroboration.

So, you got Comey meeting with the president. He writes a memo about it. He tells McCabe, McCabe writes a memo about what Comey told him. And those things, when you have repetitive memos that track each other

and that seemed to tell the same story, then it gives reliability to what ultimately the witness says. So, I think in this case, Mueller has got what needs to talk about what went on and ultimately what the justification was for firing Comey and maybe any obstruction that Trump committed during those acts.

BLACKWELL: All right.

MOORE: It's interesting here because they have act after act, they all involve Russia and it seems that Trump wants to take out the key FBI officials as they get closer to the top.

BLACKWELL: All right. Michael Moore, Walter Shaub, thank you both.

SHAUB: Thanks.

MOORE: Thank you.

[07:10:00] PAUL: Now, multiple Democrats -- multiple Democrats are offering Andrew McCabe a job after he was fired as deputy director of the FBI.

And I want to talk to one of them. Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez from Illinois is with us right now.

Congressman, thank you for being with us.

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS (via telephone): It's a pleasure to be with you this morning.

PAUL: Absolutely. I want to read a quick tweet here that you had sent out regarding -- regarding what is happening with this case to Andrew McCabe. You said yesterday, if you need a federal job, call me on Monday. I'm serious. We have to stand up to bullies like real Donald Trump.

First of all, I know you said call him on Monday. Have you heard from him yet?

GUTIERREZ: No, I haven't. And I certainly hope he understands that the proposal is serious. I see imbalance. I always look for equilibrium and balance in life. I think with when you're fired at 10:00 at night from the president of the United States, you should be fired because your wife ran for a state office in Virginia? When you see something as political or indicative as this administration has done to him, I think fountain rules allow, I will certainly put him on the payroll so that he can reach his 50 years of age and be on the payroll at the same time if that is what is going to get him a pension.

PAUL: So, your intention is to give him a job, your intention is to give him a job so he can keep his pension? Would this be a long-term job then or are you just talking about a job for a couple of days and where would you put him? GUTIERREZ: I tell you what, I'm going to be in Congress until January

2nd, 2019. I'm a member of the Judiciary Committee. I'm also one of the proponents of impeachment of the president of the United States. I think his background fits perfectly in terms of the kind of work that we do on the judiciary committee.

But let's be very clear, I'm looking for balance. I'm looking for equilibrium. I think you need to stand up to bullies and a man who pays $130,000 to a porn star has no right to be talking about ethics.

PAUL: So, again, just to clarify. Your intention is to make sure he is hired for a period of time, as you said, until next January.

GUTIERREZ: Yes, yes, that is my --

PAUL: So he can keep his pension?

GUTIERREZ: I want to make very clear too. Exactly.

I'm looking for balance. I see a wrong. I want to make it right. I think very clearly he was fired for political reasons.

Look, Christi, you don't fire somebody at 10:00 at night on a Friday night unless you got something to hide, unless you're not proud of your actions.

PAUL: Congressman, may I --

GUTIERREZ: You have Attorney General Jeff Sessions who lied to Congress, who lied to Congress about his interactions with Russians?

PAUL: But let me ask you this --

GUTIERREZ: And have to go back and fix that? No. I'm not going to accept it and if I can see a wrong and I can make it right, I think we need to stand up to bullies.

PAUL: We have had FBI officials are this show, retired as well, who have said if he did lie, then this is protocol for the FBI, this is what the penalty would be. And we don't know what is in this report yet because it hasn't been -- it hasn't been released. But if the assertions are true that he lied, if it turns out that this firing was warranted, are you comfortable him hiring to secure his pension?

GUTIERREZ: Here is what I to say. He was fired for political reasons in the dead of a night on Friday when Washington and everybody has gone home. It's clearly wrong. I want to make that right.

I'm not the only one that sees it this way. I think the American public sees very clearly through this president, he wants to use the presidency, not as a bully pulpit to bring about his ideas, but in order to pound against everybody that he perceives as an enemy and that could end -- remember, this is really all about Mueller and his investigation, and Mr. McCabe's relationship to that investigation. And in order to sully and dirty the process up from a White House that wants to talk about dirtying and sullying up other people's reputation when they are paying $130,000 --

PAUL: Right.

GUTIERREZ: -- to quiet down the allegations of a porn star.

PAUL: Congressman, we hope that if you hear from him, you'll certainly let us know.

GUTIERREZ: Certainly.

PAUL: Congressman Luis Gutierrez, we appreciate you being here. Thank you, sir.

GUTIERREZ: It's been wonderful to be with you this morning.

PAUL: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Breaking news. Sources are telling CNN that Sweden is helping to negotiate the release of three Americans who are being held in North Korea. Here are the detainees ranging in age from 55 to roughly 62. Kim Dong Chul, a Korean-American missionary from Virginia, Kim Song Dok (ph) who also goes by Tony Kim, an accounting teacher, and Kim Hak-Song, also a teacher.

Now, this news comes as North Korea's foreign minster is in Stockholm this morning for talks. Now, why is the timing important? Because, potentially, possibly, the U.S. president and the North Korean supreme leader are just months from sitting down and negotiating the future of their nuclear arsenal.

[07:15:07] And there are many in the U.S. who said that these talks should not happen as long as there are those Americans who are being detained in North Korea. Could this negotiation with the Swedes and the North Koreans help to pave the way for that conversation? We will continue to follow that this morning.

Our David McKenzie is in Seoul. We'll speak with him later this hour.

Russian President Vladimir Putin not only facing diplomatic pressure. He is facing reelection right now. Voters are at the polls as Russia faces fallout with the U.S. and the U.K.

PAUL: Also, First Lady Melania Trump ready to combat online harassment, but silent about the Stormy Daniels saga. We're going to discuss how these accusations that we've been seeing could be potentially affecting their marriage.

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[07:20:01] BLACKWELL: Right now, voting is happening in the Russian presidential election.

PAUL: Earlier this morning, cameras and heavy security were on hand as current President Vladimir Putin voted in Moscow. He is seeking his fourth presidential term. And while there are seven other candidates on the ballot, none of them really pose a threat. BLACKWELL: Now, Putin is expected to be re-elected giving him six

more years in power.

As Russia's election plays out, the president here in the U.S. continues his attacks on the investigation into Russia's meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

Michael Isikoff is with us, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, and co-author of "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump".

Welcome. Thank you so much for being with us.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: Good morning.

PAUL: Good morning to you. I want to read to you the president's latest tweet because this is his subject right here.

He says the Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion, there was no crime. It was based on fraudulent activities and a fake dossier paid for by crooked H, Hillary, and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA court for surveillance of my campaign. Witch hunt.

We do need to point out that there are several indictments already, charges have been brought in the Mueller probe. Do you see anything that would indicate a witch hunt here?

ISIKOFF: Well, as you pointed out, the Mueller investigation has returned multiple guilty pleas and indictments at this point, including a pretty extensive indictment about the Russian troll farm that was meddling in the election, which sort of ratified the initial conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community, that there was a real Russian campaign to meddle in our election, to denigrate Hillary Clinton and to boost Donald Trump.

And if you want to understand the McCabe firing, or at least Trump's reaction to the McCabe firing, all you have to do is go to the opening scene in our book in which is January 6th, 2017, that's the moment that the U.S. intelligence community gives its presentation to then President-elect Trump about the Russian campaign and Trump resists. He, once again, refuses to accept what the intelligence community says.

Then they all leave the room, except for James Comey who stays behind and gives them the two-page synopsis of the dossier. Comey says give them a heads-up about what might be coming out in the media.

After Comey leaves the room, Trump erupts. He says this is a shakedown. He thinks he is being blackmailed by the FBI and by Comey.

McCabe was Comey's loyal deputy. It explains why Trump put Comey in his sights, why he fired him, and why he wanted McCabe fired as well.

BLACKWELL: Michael, you and your co-author David Corn writes extensively in this book about the dossier and Christopher Steele and it explains actually how the framing of his work and who is working for has really been manipulated in this conversation about the impetus for the Russia investigation.

ISIKOFF: Sure. Look, we go into great depth about this, about dossier. And there is no question, you know, that this was the result of a political opposition research firm hired by the Democrats in the Hillary Clinton campaign, Fusion GPS, which reached out to Christopher Steele who, by the way, was not a political guy. He was the top Russia specialist for MI6, the British intelligence agency. He briefed prime ministers, cabinet ministers but he did have this extensive network in Russia. He had produced reports that were viewed as reliable by the FBI and the State Department and he's hired to go out and look at Trump's ties to the -- to the Kremlin and what the Kremlin is up to.

He comes back with a report that's viewed as raw intelligence. Some of it, in broad strokes, has turned out to be on target. There was, indeed, this Kremlin influence opposition. They were targeting it.

There are details that have not been confirmed and that were salacious and, you know, has given the opportunity for critics to go after. But if you want to understand how it all came about and who the players were, we lay it out in great depth.

PAUL: All righty. Michael Isikoff, we appreciate you being here. Thank you so much.

ISIKOFF: Sure enough.

PAUL: And again, the book is "Russian Roulette."

We have some breaking news this hour. Sources tell CNN, Sweden is helping negotiate the release of three Americans being held prisoner in North Korea.

[07:25:01] We have a live report for you from the Korean peninsula, next.

BLACKWELL: Plus, John Goodman back as secretary of state, now former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on "SNL" to explain why he got the ax this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN GOODMAN AS REX TILLERSON: John Kelly called me privately. He said, where are you? I said, sir, that's private. He said, oh, good. Are you on the toilet? Because I got some good news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:30:11] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: So glad to have your company, as always, 7:30. I'm Christi Paul.

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

All right. Pushing forward on the breaking news this morning. Negotiators, right now, are working to try to free these three men. They are in Sweden now and trying to free the North Korea -- the men who are there in North Korea.

PAUL: These are talks that comes just ten days after the announcement that a meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un is in the works.

CNN's David McKenzie live in Seoul.

So, David, is the goal here to free these Americans prior to that meeting?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi and Victor, yes. I think that would be the goal, because it could be a series precondition of President Trump and others to get those Americans out of the North Korea before any formal talks between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. Now, the Swedes have long been involved in helping American interests in North Korea, but this seems to have taken a whole new level of expediency and leverage.

A Swedish source saying that the Swedes in those meetings of the past few days with the foreign minister have brought up this issue, that they haven't given any deadlines to the North Koreans, but they said that this could really be helpful in pushing forward things into right direction. Quote, which means, of course, that they are suggesting to the North Koreans that the fate of these three men could be crucial if that really high stakes meeting happens between Trump and Kim Jong-un.

Two of the men were taken from a university. They were taken at the airport, one, another from the university, another has been convicted of espionage and serving 10 years.

But the U.S. administration, ever since Otto Warmbier came back to America and died a few days later, this has been, of course, hugely controversial. A very big sticking point before they moved towards talks and, of course, the families of these three men would want any ray of hope. It seems, at least now, there is a sliver of hope that things might be moving in the right direction -- Christi.

PAUL: All right. David McKenzie, we appreciate it so much. Thank you for the update there. And we'll keep you posted on how that continues to pan out.

Meanwhile, next week, First Lady Melania Trump is hosting a gathering at the White House.

BLACKWELL: Yes, she will be speaking with social media executives about helping to prevent cyberbullying and she is expected to talk to them what they have done to combat online harassment. But while she is talking about cyberbullying, one thing she will not talk about is the Stormy Daniels saga.

Joining us now to discuss this, CNN White House reporter Kate Bennett. Kate, good morning to you. And we've not heard anything from the

first lady or from the president about this.

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. We haven't heard from the first lady. In fact, we haven't heard from her discuss any of her husband's bad pressers, the headlines about women since 2017 when she addressed the aftermath of the "Access Hollywood" tape saying her husband had apologized to her. But since then, you know, she's been very quiet. I have to say, it's a strategy that sort of worked well for her. She remains the most popular Trump family member in terms of polling.

She has garnered support from different corners in just her silence alone. I think the ways she has spoken out, via cancelling her trips to Davos, or taking a separate vehicle up to the state of the union or taking a separate motorcade just a couple of weeks ago to meet the president at Andrews Air Force Base rather than walk across the south lawn with him, these are all these things that her office says are due to scheduling and logistics.

However, if we want to read into this, it could be her just exerting some mode of independence in the wake of all of these really salacious headlines.

PAUL: All righty. So, let's take a look at a list here that has been compiled by Victor doing his research here of insults that the president has used against people via Twitter. We've got liddle, we've got short, bad, overrated, lightweight, unhinged, flunkly, flakey, cryin', weak, sleepy-eyed, loser, clown, crazy. It just goes on and on, Pocahontas, wacky, sneaky.

With that said, people -- a lot of people view him as being guilty off online bullying. What is Melania's Trump at this meeting giving what we see from her husband?

BENNETT: Melania Trump's office has said to me when I asked about her about her tackling a topic like cyber bullying is sort of flying in the face of the attitude of her husband. Her office says she doesn't care. There's nothing about what she is doing that really is cohesive with the president in terms of her messaging and that's fine with her as she is independent. And I think that's interesting.

If you think about past administrations, imagine if Michelle Obama had said that about Barack Obama's agenda or attitude.

[07:35:04] So, I think, you know, she could be the ultimate troll of her husband here. She is picking a topic to fight something as that list indicates is sort of goes forward with name calling. I think it's interesting. It's the first lady doing something that she knows is going to add extra emphasis, extra pressure, picking a topic like this.

However, I think she feels it's important. I think she is living with an example of perhaps what not to do and, in a way that could help even make the spotlight greater. I mean, we are discussing it. I don't think she just wants to focus on cyberbullying. Her office tells me it's also just about time online and what kids are seeing on online and general kindness online and sort of social habits. So, all of these combined. From covering the first lady, I think she would prefer if her husband sat in and perhaps paid attention but I don't think what his attitude is about social media and how he uses it is really something she is going to let stop her or influence her as she moves forward in this case.

BLACKWELL: So, it takes every first lady sometime to decide what that platform will be, how they will best use their time in the White House. Is this the platform that she has chosen, cyberbullying, this meeting is about children's time online, but is she growing beyond that or expanding beyond that or is this the laser focus for the first lady?

BENNETT: She has yet to announce a formal platform, sort of like, we think about Michelle Obama and the let's move or Barbara Bush and her reading initiative. Melania Trump has just given a broad umbrella so far of helping children and that could mean anything from, you know, helping them struggle with social media or online issues, health, wellness. The opioid abuse and how it affects families in this country.

So, she has certainly chosen something where we could really -- we are sort of looking at her to hone in on one or two things or topics but, right now, it's just sort of helping children writ large.

PAUL: All righty. Kate Bennett, thanks for walking us through. We appreciate it.

BENNETT: Sure.

BLACKWELL: All right. Coming up, thousands are waking up with no power this morning after a really strong cyclone ripped through a city in Australia. Look at this. We'll take a closer look at the damage and destruction left behind. That's after the break.

PAUL: Also, "SNL" taking on the Trump administration after two top officials are fired in just one week. If you missed it, we've got highlights.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:42:59] BLACKWELL: Yes, we are not talking branches and limbs. Entire trees are being snatched out of the ground. This is a video out of Darwin, Australia. A category two cyclone slammed ashore, winds up to 80 miles an hour pulling those trees just out of the ground. Tens of thousands of people do not have power.

The airport is shut down. Schools are closed. They will remain closed tomorrow.

PAUL: So, of course, anybody who is grateful not to have that. However, there are strong tornadoes. There's baseball-sized hail. There's damaging winds expected from Oklahoma to Florida over the next 72 hours.

BLACKWELL: More than 25 million people will be under the severe weather threat.

Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is here with details.

Allison, I didn't know this was coming until just a couple of moments ago.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, I would especially, from where we're located, I would brace for Monday, because today this is the area of concern and begin to shift to the east. So, today, the main threats are going to be damaging winds and large hail. Yes, report of baseball-sized hail and not out of question to have the same thing today. And a few isolated tornadoes.

But let's a look, a closer look rather at the actual timing of this event. So, here's where we start into the morning. We've already got a cluster of storms right now over areas of Ark-La-Tex and pushing off to the east. But after that first wave moves through, don't keep your guard down in places in Texas because you have another wave that come through, so make sure you pay attention to multiple waves of this system as it makes its way through.

The rain accumulation, widespread will be about 1 to 2 inches, but you could have some spots pick up 3 to 4 inches and that could cause in tern localized flooding. But then the concern is what does this system do on Monday? The big thing here is we expect it to actually intensify even more. So, for cities like Atlanta, Nashville, even Birmingham, now you have more of an enhanced risk, especially for tornadoes, compared to today.

But, also, the threat for damaging winds and large hail will still be there for tomorrow. Then on Tuesday, again, the storm continues to shift. Now, we are talking Tampa and Orlando for much of the same threats.

Now, as this system continues to push east, it takes a severe threat with it.

[07:45:02] But the other thing, Victor and Christi, I'm sure you've heard maybe there could be a fourth nor'easter, as we get into the middle portion of this week, that would be the same storm. But it looks right now, it looks like the big cities to perhaps have some impact is actually going to be Washington, D.C.

PAUL: All righty. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.

CHINCHAR: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: All right. Kate McKinnon is back as Jeff Sessions to explain why former FBI Director Andrew McCabe was fired this week.

PAUL: First, this week "Staying Well" features a teenager who uses music to heal after her father's death.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

JORDAN KAREM, MUSIC THERAPY PARTICIPANT: I was very, very close with my dad.

Coming home from school and not having him here was a very hard time in my life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes her feelings would come out in anger or frustration, and I would 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 to help her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Music therapy is the use of music to attain therapeutic and rehabilitative goals. We find people are able to share things through music that they may not be able to share in talk therapy. So, we may use things like lyric analysis, song writing, playing instruments, singing.

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

I remember feeling at home when you left me in your arms --

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 would have never dreamed that for her.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:51:17] BLACKWELL: This week's episode of "Saturday Night Live" showcases the latest round of firings in the White House.

PAUL: Kate McKinnon and John Goodman back as Jeff Sessions and Rex Tillerson to explain what happened.

BLACKWELL: Joining us now, CNN senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter. I call him Stelter.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: So, yes, they had a lot of material to work with this week.

STELTER: Yes, and Kate McKinnon, most always, appears on "SNL" at this point as Jeff Sessions. He's a recurring character. It gives McKinnon a lot to do. So, let's take a look first at McKinnon playing sessions, reacting to the McCabe firing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, sir, can you give us the exact reason McCabe was fired? KATE MCKINNON AS JEFF SESSIONS: Well, yes. Mr. McCabe was in clear

violation, because of his lack of candor -- I don't know, I can't even dance around -- Trump made me do it. McCabe saw too much, you know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, so this was not your decision?

MCKINNON: Look, I'm always down for clown, but this was sneaky evil for me. I'm just a simple man who wanted to make things bad for immigrants, and now here I am taking away the pension of a Christian white.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: Maybe not surprising that's the way "SNL" reacted to the McCabe firing. But what was surprising was John Goodman showing up, playing Rex Tillerson. Goodman, I thought, was the best part of this cold open. Here's what he said about Rex.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, it was widely reported that you were fired by a tweet from the president.

JOHN GOODMAN AS REX TILLERSON: Well, that's not true. John Kelly called me personally. He said, where are you? I said, sir, that's private. I said, oh, good, are you on the toilet, because I've got some news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you OK?

GOODMAN: I'm -- I'm fine. I just -- it's just crazy how one day you're the CEO of Exxon, a $50 billion company and the next day, you get fired by a man who used to sell steaks in the mail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rex Tillerson, obviously, still processing this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: And by the way, you know, that's why I'm hoping Tillerson gives some sort of interview now that he's leaving the State Department, not John Goodman, but the real Tillerson. It will be really interesting to see if he ever comes out and talks about his time in the Trump White House, the claims that he called the president a moron, what it was like to be fired by a tweet. Until now, we'll have to go with the "SNL" version.

PAUL: I don't even know what to say to that.

STELTER: I also wonder, guys, what it's like for Anderson Cooper. You know, Alex Moffett was playing Cooper there. That's always tough to have to play a news anchor. I wonder if Anderson liked the impression.

PAUL: Well, we'd have to ask him. They do say, regardless of how they portray you, you get on "Saturday Night Live" and you know you've made it. BLACKWELL: You've made it, you have.

STELTER: That's right, that's right. And haven't we left the most important news for last here? Shouldn't we wish your grandma a happy 100th birthday, Christi!

PAUL: Oh, thank you! Grandma Ruth. She was born in 1918. Think about it.

STELTER: Wow.

PAUL: She gave birth to my dad when my grandfather was in World War II. He was a pilot. I always think about people having to do that -- not just her, but people having to give birth, her firstborn, without him there by her side. So, we thank you for your service and happy birthday, Grandma Ruth.

STELTER: That's the happiest birthday of all. That's incredible.

PAUL: Yes, it is. Thank you, Brian. Appreciate it!

BLACKWELL: Stelter, thank you very much!

PAUL: Stelter!

[07:55:00] And you can catch Brian, he's got more, Stelter, on "RELIABLE SOURCES" today at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

Thank you so much for starting your morning with us, as always, we appreciate it. And we hope you make some good memories today.

BLACKWELL: There is a lot to talk about in the next hour. All of the events of the weekend with the firing of the deputy FBI director and the president's response there, and then looking ahead to next week. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts after this short break with all of it.