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WORLD RIGHT NOW WITH HALA GORANI

Fired Adviser Flynn Wants Immunity, Has "Story to Tell"; Tillerson, Mattis Reaffirm Commitment To NATO; European Union Reveals Guidelines For Talks; CNN Documentary Explores How ISIS Recruits Westerners; Russian Militia Anticipates Clash with the West; Israel Approves New West Bank Settlement; Venezuelan Supreme Court Seizes Legislative Powers; Surf's Up at the Big Wave Awards. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired March 31, 2017 - 15:00:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:00:09]

(HEADLINES)

JONATHAN MANN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Jonathan Mann sitting in for Hala Gorani. We are live from CNN Atlanta and this is THE WORLD RIGHT NOW.

Thank you for joining us. A White House spokesman says that President Donald Trump's message to Michael Flynn is simple, go testify, and go get

it out there, but the bombshell announcement that Mr. Trump's fired national adviser wants to tell the story comes with a condition, and so far

no one seems willing to accept.

Flynn is willing to talk about his contacts with Russia if he is granted immunity from the prosecution. The White House says it is not worried

about what Flynn might say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He believes that Mike Flynn should go to testify. He thinks that he should go up there and do what he

has to do to get the story out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And with the route of immunity?

SPICER: Well, I mean, that is up to him and his lawyer to decide. I am not giving Mike Flynn or anyone else legal advice from the podium, but I

will tell you that the president's view is he should go up there, he should testify.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MANN: A Democrat on the House of Representatives panel investigating the Trump campaign's Russia ties calls Flynn's offer, "a grave and momentous

step." CNN's Sara Murray has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): President Trump's fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn, offering to testify before

congressional investigators if he gets immunity from prosecution.

Flynn's lawyer saying in a statement, "General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it should the circumstances permit.

No reasonable person who has the benefit of advice from counsel would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized witch hunt environment

without assurance against unfair prosecution."

Flynn's lawyer saying discussions with both House and Senate committees have taken place, but so far, the offer has not been accepted. The Trump

administration is already battling allegations of collusion amid probes in both the House and the Senate about Russia's meddling in the U.S. election.

The White House declining to comment about the Flynn news, as Flynn's own words from last year about Hillary Clinton loom large over his potential

testimony.

MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: The very last thing that John Podesta just said is no individual too big to jail, that should

include people like Hillary Clinton and five people around her have been given immunity to include her former chief of staff. When you are given

immunity that means that you probably committed a crime.

MURRAY: Then Candidate Trump echoing Flynn's words.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: If you are not guilty of a crime, why do you need immunity for, right?

MURRAY: For weeks, House and Senate investigators have expressed interest in speaking with Flynn in addition to at least three other former Trump

associates.

SENATOR RICHARD BURR, CHAIRMAN, U.S. SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think it's safe to say that we have had conversations with a lot of people

and you would think less of us if General Flynn would be in that list.

MURRAY: The retired general was forced to resign less than a month into Trump's presidency after admitting he misled Vice President Mike Pence

about the nature of his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn's firing coming only after intense media scrutiny about Flynn's

account, and weeks after the Justice Department warned the administration that Flynn may have opened himself up to blackmail. But even after forcing

Flynn out, the president praising his former adviser.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: General Flynn is a wonderful man. I think he has been treated very, very unfairly by the media.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MANN: Sara Murray reporting, let's get some perspective on these developments. We are joined by CNN political analyst, Josh Rogin, a

columnist with the "Washington Post." Thanks so much for being with us.

You know there are new details and new developments every day washing over us, what does this mean? I mean, what does it tell us about where Michael

Flynn is and where this investigation is going?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Michael Flynn is in trouble, and he knows it. He is looking for a way out. The public nature of his call for

immunity shows that, you know, he is looking for allies to help pressure both the committee and the FBI to grant him this immunity.

Now it is totally unclear what he has to trade for the immunity. It does not seem like he has presented that in a private way to the committees in

advance, which is what you would probably do if you had something good to trade.

He is facing a situation where if he testifies without immunity, who knows where the testimony could go, and he could get caught on any number of

things including perhaps misrepresenting his meetings with the Russians, and interviews with the FBI initially as has been reported. That is a

serious thing.

[15:05:14]You know, Flynn is on his own. You know, the White House is supporting him rhetorically, but not in any other way. So right now,

Michael Flynn is looking out for Michael Flynn, and the investigation is focusing on him one way or the other.

MANN: I just want to ask you about one thing you said right off of the top, and it jumped out at me, you said Michael Flynn is in trouble. From

the details that we know of about these conversations he had with the Russians, he may have contravened it seems an obscure statute known as the

Logan Act. He may have said inappropriate things, but what makes you think he is in any more trouble than that?

ROGIN: Well, you know, the Logan Act is almost never enforced. He also allegedly committed some violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act

by doing some work for a Turkish man without disclosing it properly. That is probably not going to get prosecuted.

But when he was initially interviewed about these meetings, he didn't tell the truth, and if he didn't tell the truth to the FBI that's the felony.

That is what they get you on. That's what they got Scooter Libby on and General Cartwright on. That is a big one.

So that might be the reason why Flynn wants immunity before he talks about all of these meetings. It is not the meetings that are the issue, it is

the cover-up.

MANN: CNN political producer, Dan Merica, is with us now and he's been following these developments. Dan, the way things now stand, there are

three investigations. There's the House of Representatives investigation, the Senate investigation, and the FBI investigation. When Michael Flynn

wants immunity, how do all of the lawmakers and agents involved make that kind of determination?

DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: It's very difficult. What Josh just said, it is exactly right. It is very difficult, and he really wants

immunity I would imagine with the FBI, because that is the organization that can actually prosecute and hold him accountable if he, you know, lied

under oath or did something illegal.

The reaction from the Capitol Hill so far has been basically a big shrug to his ask for the immunity. No one has come out and said he should either

get immunity. In fact, some of people have come out and said they are surprised that he is even offered, that he is even asked.

There is a long list of people they want to talk to, and Michael Flynn is obviously on that list, but the idea that he is asking for immunity this

early before he is, you know, this early in the process is surprising some on Capitol Hill.

MANN: Do Republicans seem nervous about it, Dan?

MERICA: I think if you talk to a few Trump Republicans, they are nervous. I mean, the idea is if you get immunity, you have something a bargaining

chip, something to give the FBI or other lawmakers for that immunity.

And Mike Flynn certainly has been around Trump a long time. He is a top surrogate during the campaign and top supporter, advised Trump through the

transition, and then was in the White House for three weeks before he was let go because of his ties to Russia and some of the meetings he had.

But he is certainly has had enough information if there had been some impropriety around the Trump campaigns connections to Russia, he certainly

has been in proximity to know.

MANN: Josh Rogin, does the president really know how the respond to this? I ask because he seems to be all over the map, he called the investigation

a witch hunt, and he has said in the past that nobody seeks immunity unless they have something to hide, and yet just a short time ago, the White House

spokesman was saying that he is encouraging immunity for Michael Flynn and he wants him to testify to the so-called witch hunt.

ROGIN: Yes, the White House reaction has been all over the map I think. It is fair to say that the main goal is to cast doubt and dispersion on all

of the investigations and then portray their position as not being aware or involved in any of it.

And this is combined with the news from last night that House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes came to the White House to get information from the

White House officials that he then announced at a press briefing and then went back to the White House to deliver to Donald Trump, right?

That whole sort of clumsy operation that Nunes is now caught up in is also wrapped into this White House confusion about how to deal with all of this.

You know, there is also a lack of transparency, a lack of engagement with the media about the facts of this.

And there is only really two explanations, one explanation is that this was some sort of, you know, organized White House effort to muddy the

investigation or it is just chaos over there, and people are going rogue and Devin Nunes and White House staffers are going things that are

conflating two separate issues.

And confusing everybody that the White House is then taking advantage of, and to claim vindication for Trump's tweets from three weeks ago. You

know, either of those things I could believe, but both of them are bad.

MANN: Josh Rogin, Dan Merica, thanks very much.

As the Trump administration scrambles to try to put out fires relating to the Russia investigations, the president's cabinet secretaries are

criticizing Moscow over its involvement in Ukraine.

[15:10:04]And also reaffirming Washington's commitment to NATO, but only if the members of the North Atlantic Alliance pay their way. Nic Robertson

reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): His first visit to NATO HQ as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, came to deliver a

clear message, allies must pay their way to meet the 2 percent GDP defense spend threshold.

REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We have three important areas we want to talk about. First is ensuring that NATO has all of the resources

financial and otherwise.

ROBERTSON: A few hundred miles away, James Mattis on his first trip to London as U.S. secretary of defense also offering a corrective to President

Trump's assertion NATO is obsolete.

JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The point I would make is that NATO stands united. The transatlantic bond is united.

ROBERTSON: In London, the joined up message received loud and clear. The U.K. is one of four NATO allies meeting that 2 percent threshold.

TILLERSON: Secretary Mattis and I have agreed that others must raise their game, and those failing to meet the 2 percent commitment so far should at a

least agree to year on year real term increases.

ROBERTSON: The Mattis and Tillerson coordination belies what many see as the chaos of Trump's administration so far, on Russia both secretaries are

joining forces to contradict Trump's early warmth to Putin, and the NATO the more Russian aggression.

MATTIS: Russian's violations of the international law are now a matter of record.

TILLERSON: We want to obviously have a discussion around the NATO posture here in Europe, most particularly the Eastern Europe in response to

Russia's aggression, and Ukraine, and elsewhere.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MANN: Nic Robertson joins us now from Brussels, and Paula Newton is in Moscow, thank you both for being with us. Nic, some (inaudible) are

talking about Tillerson's 2 percent as an ultimatum to the NATO members. Was he that blunt?

ROBERTSON: Well, he certainly said that they should get this -- if they are going to step up their contributions, that they should make it clear

that they are going to do that by the end of May, which is when President Trump here comes to a NATO Leaders' Summit meeting, and Secretary Tillerson

said the reason for the NATO allies to do that is so that President Trump when he comes here at that meeting could have success.

He didn't say what the alternatives are, but there is a little bit of the fine detailer here, and what we understand is that any country that is

making the 2 percent, that is applauded. There are five total including the United States.

Those who have already agreed to increase the spending as agreed by the NATO leaders are this the Wales Summit in 2014 is good if they have started

doing that, but speed it up if you can. And those who have not made any commitment so far, the message is that very clear message, you need to do

it fast, get on and do it in two months.

MANN: OK, so they are talking tough to the NATO members and also talking tough to Russia. Paula, both the defense secretary, and the secretary of

state said that they see Moscow as a clear threat. This is just 24 hours after you and I were talking about pretty much the same language coming

from the U.S. Senate when it comes to the cyber-attacks, and hacking, any response from Moscow to all of this bluster?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we should note that they have been quite more forceful than President Trump has ever been in

talking to Russia in any way, shape or form. The reaction here has not been muted in the least, and as you heard we had the comments from Vladimir

Putin saying that look, we had nothing to do with any of these.

And of course, they've always said that look, NATO is on our doorstep, we consider NATO's actions aggressive. Having said that, we did have a

reaction from Alexi Pushkov, who wrote on Twitter, saying that a new U.S. administration sounds just like the old one.

Mattis is indistinguishable from Carter, and Tillerson is talking about Russian aggression, Obama and Clinton must be happy and that is the

translated thoughts from Russia. What is so interesting here, though, is that Russia had been hoping for so much more.

Through the entire campaign, and then of course, with the election of Donald Trump, they felt he can (inaudible) restarted here and of course,

they always keeping an eye on those sanctions, wanting them to be lifted. You know, the kremlin all but admitting that the relations are not good,

and they don't expect them to be better any time soon.

MANN: Nic, I want to be clear about the secretary of state and the atmospherics here, because he came to deliver a stark message. He must

have been the least popular man in the room because he almost didn't show up at all, and they had to reschedule to accommodate him, how much did that

weigh on the meeting?

[15:15:05]ROBERTSON: Yes, he was here for a total of four hours, and he did not hang around once the business was done. You know, the French

foreign minister when he went in, wanted to know -- he said he wanted to find out more from Secretary Tillerson about the United States position on

Syria, because a new position seemed to be articulating.

So there's already the sense from the foreign ministers that they don't understand what the United States is doing in terms of the foreign policy,

and on top of that, when it comes to the budgetary issues, we already saw Angela Merkel with President Trump a week or so ago pushing the idea, don't

put pressure on your NATO allies to increase their defense spending.

It takes time to work that through the budgets, and et cetera, and that that message came out loud and clear again today that the German foreign

minister was quoted here as saying, you know, Secretary Tillerson wants us to increase our spending, to have a plan to increase our spending.

He said we have a plan, and it is called a budget. You know, that kind of the blunt language that Tillerson will have heard from his European allies

here, and it is that you have your plan and your needs and you have a president who wants to be seen to be getting the spending increase, but we

have agreed to do it, and we are going to do it, but it is on our time frame.

There are things that we have to work out the best way to spend the money. You can't jump into the significant financial shifts of major governments

overnight -- Jonathan.

MANN: Nic Robertson in Brussels and Paula Newton in Moscow, thanks very much.

Well, as Nic was reporting, the U.S. defense secretary met with his British counterpart, Michael Fallon in London earlier and our Richard Quest sat

down with Fallon to talk about allegations of Russian meddling in elections and more. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD QUEST, CNNI HOST, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": Have you seen any evidence or heard any accusations of Russian interference in the Brexit

referendum or anything around the Brexit referendum?

MICHAEL FALLON, BRITISH DEFENSE SECRETARY: We have not seen evidence of Russian interference in last year's referendum here, but we have seen the

allegations of interference in the Russian, in the Dutch referendum, I am sorry, on the Ukrainian association agreement, and interference in the

Bulgarian election, interference most recently of all in Montenegro, the country about to join NATO. So there is a pattern of misbehavior and

interference in the democracies, which we cannot ignore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MANN: Michael Fallon. Still to come tonight, the E.U. response. Donald Tusk outlines what the European Union is looking for in Brexit

negotiations. We'll have details in a few minutes.

And also, an ISIS fighter unmasked, a closer look at what is drawing westerners to the terror army. It is a report you will only see on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MANN: Welcome back. The European Union is putting some of its cards on the table as it gears up to begin those tricky Brexit negotiations.

[15:20:05]It set out its draft negotiation position, and while European Council President Donald Tusk admitted that the negotiations would be

tough, he stressed that he does not want to see Britain punished.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TUSK, EUROPEAN UNION PRESIDENT: The talks which are about to start will be difficult, complex and sometimes even confrontational. There is no

way around it. It does not and will not pursue a punitive approach. Brexit in itself is already punitive enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MANN: Let's get more on this, Erin McLaughlin is covering the story from Malta. And I guess, that was a statement of goodwill, but what is it in

the guidelines themselves, what kind of signals are they sending?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jonathan, E.U. leaders may say that they don't want to be punitive in this process, but at the same time

the guidelines making it very clear that the E.U. intends to be in the driver's seat especially when it comes to the order of the negotiations.

The U.K. has made it clear that it would like to see a future relationship negotiated in parallel to its withdrawal, but Donald Tusk in that press

conference saying that is not going to happen. They will negotiate the withdrawal first which include such thorny issues as the U.K.'s budget

contributions, the fate of citizens going forward.

And once the European Council has determined that they have made sufficient progress on the withdrawal, that is when they can move to phase two, the

framework for the future relationship, and keep in mind, all of it has to be decided within the two-year time period. E.U. leaders saying that they

are working towards an agreement, but at the same time, preparing for the possibility of no deal.

MANN: There are an unbelievable number of details big and small, and some surprises at least to me, Gibraltar, is Gibraltar going to be an issue now?

MCLAUGHLIN: It would seem so, it is a curve ball that came right at the end of the guidelines. Now, Gibraltar, the territory of Gibraltar is

essentially a centuries' old dispute between Spain and the United Kingdom, but essentially what the E.U. seems to be saying in those guidelines is

they are siding with Spain on this.

Let me read you that section of the guidelines what they say specifically on that issue, quote, "No agreement between the E.U. and the U.K. may apply

to the territory of Gibraltar without the agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the U.K."

Now this is yet another example of the unforeseen consequences of Brexit, and at the same time, Jonathan, it is a great illustration of the fact that

the U.K. is not negotiating with one partner, but it is negotiating with 27, and they all have very different interests.

MANN: Erin McLaughlin in Malta, thanks very much.

Another potential headache for British Prime Minister Theresa May, may have gotten a little more real. Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, put

pen to paper seeking a new Scottish independence referendum.

She is calling for that referendum to take place at some stage between autumn of 2018 and spring of 2019. Prime Minister May has indicated she

will reject that timetable and is encouraging the United Kingdom to be just that, united during the Brexit negotiations.

Let's change gears a little now, in a few hours' time, a CNN special report gives us a rare and unfiltered look at how ISIS recruits soldiers in the

west.

Senior international correspondent, Clarissa Ward sits down with one young man who went to Syria to join ISIS, and now he is back in Belgium, and

across Europe hundreds of other former ISIS fighters are walking the streets as well. Here is an excerpt of "ISIS Behind The Mask."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): meet Eunice Delafortri (ph), a 28-year-old ISIS veteran. Eunice offers a rare

insight into the mind of an unrepentant ISIS supporter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are Muslims who are dreaming of a caliphate. Every Muslim in the world, even if he has a beard from one meter to one

millimeter, a Muslim has to believe in the caliphate.

WARD: That dream led Eunice to the civil war in Syria and to ISIS. He says that he never killed anyone there.

(on camera): Let me ask you something. If you had been asked while in Syria to execute someone, would you have done it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look in Islam, there is the pledge of alliance.

WARD: Would you have done it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because you have to obey the emir.

WARD: So you would have?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is Islamic law, and believe me, it is not a funny thing to execute people. It is something terrible, but yes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[15:25:02]MANN: And CNN senior international correspondent, Clarissa ward is live for us joining us from New York. Extraordinary glimpse of really,

I mean, he seems like a perfectly nice guy. What did he do for ISIS?

WARD: Well, it is a little difficult to know. To hear Eunice tell it, he says that basically he was not fighting on the front line, and that his

primary job was to guard the prisoners who were being held in the villa where he was living that had been seized from the ordinary people by ISIS,

and was being used as a kind of the informal barracks.

He is adamant that he did not engage in any killing of any sort, but the problem that, Jonathan, that the authorities are facing when they come home

is that it is virtually impossible to know who is telling the truth, who might have been involved with something more sinister.

Now, based on my interactions with Eunice, I would be inclined to believe him, but I should add that he has just recently been sentenced to 18 months

in prison for domestic abuse. So obviously, there is a huge difference between domestic abuse, and terrorist activities, but this is what the

authorities are grappling with as opposed to who is posing a threat, and who is trying to get on with their lives.

MANN: I am struck by that. He was not put in jail for ex-terrorist, but a more mundane and easier to prove domestic violence crime. But there still

this question, and you are getting to it as best he could with him about killing people. ISIS kills people, and he said he would do it if ordered,

does he still say that, like, if he were ordered even now today walking as a free man in Belgium he might kill in his idea of Islam?

WARD: No, he says that now that he is back in Belgium, that he would not kill someone. He says that he is no longer a member of the officially of

ISIS because he understands that that could send him to jail.

At the same time, it was very striking to talk about the Paris attacks and the Brussels attacks with him where he makes no bones about it, his prayers

and thoughts are not with the victims of the horrible terrorist attacks, but with the perpetrators of those attacks.

So what he basically says is that he supports the actions of violent jihadists, but he has chosen not to use violence to implement his beliefs

himself, and again, it comes back to that issue of how can authorities distinguish between issues of religious freedom, and freedom of speech, and

life or death security threats?

Because technically, it is not illegal to like ISIS and not illegal to have incredibly offensive beliefs, but how did they tell who among these young

extremists is potentially a ticking time bomb?

MANN: Well, let me ask you more about that then. What does it tell us about the face of extremists today, and what western authorities can do

about it?

WARD: Well, I think they were really starting to wake up to the fact that extremism, and Islamic extremism specifically is no longer some kind of

far-flung foreign threat. People are not recruiting in the mosques anymore. This has become a viral propaganda machine that is taking place

on the internet and that is being consumed by westerners all over the world.

This is no longer an external foreign threat, but it is part of our own social makeup, and that makes it much more difficult, because you can

police the streets and you can look through people's records and you can go through all of the sort of the immigration policies that one might want to,

to control who is coming in and out of the country, but you are talking about your own people.

And how do you patrol the vast internet? What you are seeing, Jonathan, as the caliphate, as they call it, the so-called Islamic State in Syria and

Iraq is being squeezed by military operation, you are seeing it sort of mutate, and adapt into the digital and virtual form.

The caliphate is moving on to the internet, and becoming virtual, and they are trying to recruit people in their countries of origin not to come to

Syria and Iraq anymore, but to carry out the attacks right where there they are.

MANN: Clarissa Ward, an extraordinary bit of reporting. Thanks very much. You can catch Clarissa's CNN special report "ISIS Behind The Mask" coming

up this weekend. It premiers in about 6-1/2 hours from now, that is 10 p.m. in New York, 10 a.m. in Hongkong and for viewers in Europe, Africa and

the Middle East, you can catch it Saturday at 1:00 p.m. London time, and all through the weekend.

Still to come on THE WORLD RIGHT NOW --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: If you are not guilty of a crime, why do you need immunity for, right?

FLYNN: When you are given immunity that means that you probably committed a crime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[15:30:03] MANN: That was then, this is now. We'll have much more on the fallout from Donald Trump's fired national security adviser offering to

testify, if he gets immunity.

And in Russia, members of a militia group are convinced of an impending clash between the U.S. and their homeland. We'll see how they're

preparing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MANN: Welcome back. The White House says President Donald Trump wants Michael Flynn to go testify, but it's unclear whether Flynn's conditional

offer will find any takers. The President's fired national security adviser says he'll talk about his contacts with Russia if he is granted

immunity from prosecution.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis is calling out the Kremlin for repeatedly violating international law. He met with his British

counterpart, Michael Fallon, and accused the Putin government of mucking around, in his phrase, in other countries' elections.

The European Union has made its next move on Brexit proceedings issuing draft guidelines for negotiating the divorce from Britain. European

Council President Donald Tusk has offed the possibility that trade talks could begin before the U.K. leaves entirely, but only after what's being

sufficient progress is made in the complex task of untangling Britain from the E.U.

In Venezuela, there have been street protests after the country's Supreme Court stripped its national assembly of its powers. Effectively, the three

branches of the Venezuelan government will now be controlled only by the ruling United Socialist Party. The opposition is calling it a coupe. More

on the story a little later this hour.

Back now to our top story. We know Michael Flynn failed to disclose meetings with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. and failed to acknowledge

that they discussed sanctions, but there are so many other questions that investigators would like for him to answer. Now, they have to decide, is

his information worth the tradeoff?

Here is what one Democrat involved in the House of Representatives investigation had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: There is no way that immunity is going to be granted. And it would be granted by the Department of Justice if and

only if it provided a bigger fish.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MANN: Well, let's dig a little deeper into that now. We're joined by CNN Legal Analyst and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson.

Thanks so much for being with us. Let me ask you, what do you make of Flynn's request for immunity? And I make that question in the context of

his own remarks, the President's remarks, about immunity, which had been that you only ask for immunity if you're guilty of something.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good to be with you, Jonathan. How times change! Yes, we remember him reeling last year regarding the Hillary

Clinton e-mail investigation and saying, hey, you only get immunity if you're probably. And then, of course, we remember Donald Trump on the

campaign trail with suggestions that were likewise.

[15:35:08] However, you know, any attorney who's representing anyone, particularly in a high-level matter like this, is going to want a request

of immunity. Why? Because you don't want to expose your client to the pitfalls of testifying before a congressional committee, particularly when

we know, Jonathan, that there are multiple investigations here in the United States concerning these matters.

What matters? Whether Russia interfered with the elections. What are those multiple investigations? We have a Department of Justice

investigation as to whether this occurred. We have in our House of Representatives, which has 435 congress people, right. In the House, you

have an investigation by their intelligence committee. In the Senate where we have 100 senators, we have a senate investigative committee.

And so as a practical matter and from an attorney's perspective, and as a former prosecutor, I can tell you, it's always wise to ask for immunity,

such that you can protect yourself from potential prosecution moving forward.

MANN: OK. So that is why he would want it. And we've heard on this broadcast from people who are saying that the only reason that anyone would

give it to him is in the context of a trade. They would have to know that he is going to offer up some kind of information that they want in order

for him to get this.

So let me ask you to look forward a bit. If we find out that he does get immunity, does that mean he's offered them something? Does that mean that

he's got something good that the investigators want?

JACKSON: Well, generally speaking, Jonathan, I could tell you this, prosecutors just don't hand out immunity like M&Ms. Generally speaking,

they want what's called a proffer. What information can you provide that might be relevant and that might further the interest of the investigation,

that would get to the bottom of this? Was there any type of quid pro quo between the Trump campaign and/or Mr. Trump and his surrogates between him

and the Russians to interfere with the elections? What can you tell us?

So, generally, you make a proffer. With Mr. Flynn, he would be given a limited immunity for a day. It's called a "Queen for a Day" agreement.

And in the event he had information that they thought was relevant and probative to an investigation, then he'd be given immunity.

It's also important to point out, as we talk about this, that, again, I mentioned the multiple investigations. There's a distinction between being

given immunity to testify before Congress and being given immunity from prosecution, which would not be a congressional decision. It would be a

decision made by the Department of Justice. So there's a lot of moving parts here.

If the Department of Justice grants him immunity from prosecution, that's blanket immunity. He could tell all he knows every day, you know, until

Sunday to whatever committee. But if he's only given limited immunity by Congress, Congress does not have the power to prosecute people -- that is

in the province of the Department of Justice -- and, of course, he would still then be in a position where he could be prosecuted if only given

immunity by Congress and not the department of justice. A lot of moving parts.

MANN: Really, it's complicated. Let me ask you this, if he does get immunity, presumably that's good for him, presumably it's good for the

investigation because it means, as you have pointed out, that he has offered the investigation something valuable, who are the losers? Does it

mean that he's going to be delivering other people who were involved, other people who've had contacts with Russia that may be inappropriate? Should

other people, right now, be nervous about what he might have to say and whether he'll be given immunity to say it?

JACKSON: That is a fabulous question, Jonathan, and it's the million- dollar question because, ultimately, if he tells all he knows, you know, people could be implicated or they couldn't because we don't know all that

he knows. Certainly, there is an interest in getting to the bottom of what happened here.

We already know, intelligence agencies in the United States have said, that Russia has interfered with the process here. Now, who, if anyone, assisted

in that? Was there anyone in the United States who worked cooperatively to further that interest in interfering with the elections? That's the

million-dollar question.

So what Flynn knows, right, he can point to, if he can point to, whether there was such a connection between Russia and the United States. Who was

involved, when it occurred, when this conspiracy was hatched, if any, I think would be central to the investigation. And so we don't know, and I

cannot answer your question because we don't know precisely what we knows or what he could give up in any type of testimony.

MANN: OK. So let me ask you this. If you had a client who was also a peripheral or maybe a central figure in any of this, whether or not they

had done anything wrong, would you be on the phone telling them to get immunity first before Michael Flynn gets immunity?

JACKSON: You know, not necessarily first, but I would certainly want them to get immunity. Remember, when we talk about the issue of immunity, it's

about prosecution. And the fact is, is that anyone who makes statements in a public forum, a private forum, or any official type scenario where what

you say can be used against you, you want to the protect yourself.

[15:40:01] And so, certainly, any attorney who's involved in this case or who's involved with principal players, or even non-principal players, are

going to want to tell their clients to protect themselves because, ultimately, what you say can and will be used against you in a court of

law. And that is significant and it could mean jail.

And I should just hasten to add this, quickly, Jonathan, we had a precedent for this issue. There was a person by the name of Oliver North way back in

the 1980s, and he was given immunity by Congress to testify regarding an Iran-Contra scandal and deal under President Reagan. He did testify in

front of Congress with that immunity, and he was still subsequently prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced.

However, one big however, that conviction was later overturned because, OK, they said that he was giving out all this information and that tainted the

federal investigation. And so it made it complicated for the prosecutors to distinguish between what they could use against him -- hey, I'm given

immunity -- in his actual testimony and what they got independently.

So ultimately here, you know what, immunity could be significant by Congress, but you always want to make sure that it's given be the

Department of Justice because they're in the business of prosecuting people, Congress is not in the business of prosecuting people.

MANN: Joey Jackson, thanks very much.

JACKSON: Thank you.

MANN: Well, as the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee questions the closeness between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, a Russian

militia group is preparing for a frostier future between the U.S. and their home country. CNN's Fred Pleitgen travels to St. Petersburg to visit their

training camp.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Russia and the West may be adversaries, however, few believe there could be an armed

conflict between them. But that's exactly what this group in St. Petersburg is training for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Every Russian man must know how to defend the motherland. I have a wife and kids. I must know how the defend

them.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The group's name is Partisan, run by this man, Denis Gariev. He describes himself as a religious Russian nationalist who

wants to see the return of the Russian czar, and he isn't shy about who he believes the main enemy is.

DENIS GARIEV, LEADER OF THE PARTISAN GROUP (through translator): Our enemy is, of course, the United States of America, but we're aware that the

United States more likely won't fight us with their own forces.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Partisan is one of many such militia outfits in Russia. While they say the defense courses are non-ideological, Partisan

leadership believes Russia is already embroiled in a proxy war with the U.S. in eastern Ukraine.

PLEITGEN (on camera): While groups like this one teach mostly basic military skills, they also pride themselves on training Russians who then

go abroad to fight in places like Ukraine.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Denis Gariev shows me the photo gallery of fighters he says he sent to fight on the side of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

More than 300, he claims, 12 of which were killed.

GARIEV (through translator): I consider that Ukraine is part of Russia. And objectively, it's a reality that the United States is fully engaged in

fueling the war.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The U.S. and the E.U. reject any notion they've meddled in Ukraine, and they blame Russia for supporting separatists in the

armed conflict there.

But some in Russia, like Denis Gariev, are convinced there is a conspiracy against their country, and that they need to prepare for battle.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, St. Petersburg, Russia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MANN: Israel says it will show restraint. That's the word from a government official, coming a day after Israel's security cabinet OK'ed the

construction of a new settlement in the West Bank for the first time in decades. The decision to build is being condemned by Palestinian leaders

as well as the United Nations. CNN's Oren Liebermann breaks it down for us from Jerusalem.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the first new Israeli settlement in the West Bank in Palestinian

territory in some 20 years on the same night Netanyahu announced that Israel would take a unilateral restriction on settlement expansion in the

West Bank. And this comes as Netanyahu and President Donald Trump are trying to work out some sort of agreement on what is acceptable settlement

expansion in the West Bank, an agreement that has not yet come to fruition.

But the restriction on settlement construction is only a limitation from the perspective of Netanyahu's right wing government which opposes any sort

of limitation on Israeli construction in the West Bank. And Netanyahu has caught some flak from the right wing for imposing any sort of restriction.

But according to what Netanyahu told his security cabinet, which we heard from a government official who we couldn't identify because of the

sensitivity of the issue, Israel will limit its construction to within existing settlements. Unless it's unable to, in which case, it will build

next to settlements. Unless it's unable to do that, in which case, it will build near settlements.

[15:45:00] So though that may be a restriction from the perspective of Netanyahu's right wing government, from the perspective of the

international community, from the U.N., and certainly from the Palestinians, that is a blank check to build anywhere Israel wants in the

West Bank.

We saw the U.N. Secretary-General say the announcement of a new settlement is both a disappointment and an alarm for those who support a two-state

solution, which he says is the only way forward for Israelis and Palestinians.

Palestinian Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi blasted the decision. She said, "Today's announcement once again proves that Israel is more

committed to appeasing its illegal settler population than to abiding by the requirements for stability and a just peace."

The time of the announcement is certainly interesting. It come as President Trump's Middle East envoy was just in the region, trying to work

out how to move forward with Israelis and Palestinians. The coalition chair for Netanyahu who comes from his own party says, an agreement on what

settlement construction is acceptable may come as early as next week.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.

MANN: This is THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. Protests on the streets of Venezuela after a controversial decision by that nation's Supreme Court. We'll have

the latest next.

And commuter chaos in Atlanta. Part of one of the city's busiest highways collapsed, bringing traffic to a standstill.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MANN: Welcome back. It's an escalating crisis in Venezuela and the opposition is calling it a coupe. Venezuela's Supreme Court stripping the

country's national assembly of its powers, meaning all three branches of the government are now controlled by Nicolas Maduro or his United Socialist

Party. And as you can see, it's brought people in the streets in protest. Let's get the very latest. Rafael Romo joins us now live.

Rafael, what exactly did the court do and can it get away with it?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so far. And what they did is, late Wednesday night, they decided that they were going to transfer the

legislative powers from the national assembly to themselves.

There was no prior announcement. There was no case. There was no lawsuit. There was nothing prior to that happening. They didn't tell anybody that

they were doing this.

And now, essentially, the judicial power in Venezuela has the legislative power in their own hands, if you can imagine that. But we just showed the

scenes today in Caracas, and let me tell you, by no means is this an isolated event.

Let me show you some scenes that we got earlier today where you clearly see a member of the Venezuelan National Guard hitting a photographer. That's

the moment right there, the photographer in the red shirt gets attacked by that member of the National Guard.

Take a look at those images, Jon, it's just incredible. And again, this is happening at the Supreme Court but it is by no means an isolated event.

This has been happening for the last two days.

Let's take a listen to what one of the students participating in the protest had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[15:50:04] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The reality is that Venezuela is a dictatorship. If they put one of us in prison, they're

going to have to put all of the students in prison.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMO: I don't really need to add any words to describe the level of animosity, Jon. People are very, very angry about this decision. There's

a lot of outrage, and there are countries in the region, like Colombia, who are denouncing the decision by the Venezuelan government to essentially

take over all of the branches of government.

MANN: So is democracy dead there now? I mean, is it crushed because of this?

ROMO: There was a ray of hope today, and the ray of hope, interestingly enough, comes from the Attorney General who, to the surprise of many,

including those in the opposition, said that what happened was unconstitutional and should be returned to normal, meaning the national

assembly should be in the hands of those who were elected by the people, in this case, the opposition. Let's take a listen to what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LUISA ORTEGA DIAZ, ATTORNEY GENERAL, VENEZUELA (through translator): This constitutes a rupture of the constitutional order. It is my obligation to

express before the country my deep concern about this action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMO: Meanwhile, Venezuela is still in the middle of an economic crisis and political crisis, actually. The people are still lining up outside

supermarkets and a shortage of medicines. Something that caught my attention was that last week, Jon, the President, himself, totally

unexpected, reached out to the U.N. asking for help in supplying medicines and medical supplies to his country.

MANN: Yes, all of this is going on in broad daylight. The whole world is watching Venezuela's dissent, the impovernment of its people, the arrests

of political prisoners, and now, basically, the abrogation of its most important democratic institution.

Is anyone in the position to do anything about it? You mentioned some of its neighbors, but is the world just going to watch and let this happen?

ROMO: It has been very interesting to me to see how, on a weekly basis, the government, the President, the Vice President, top officials, make

announcements surrounded by the military, the generals, the top brass. Essentially, the message being that the military is still supporting us, o

in case you're thinking about doing anything about this, you're going to have no luck.

And they have given raises to the military. They are being treated better than any government employee in Venezuela. But the reality is that, these

shortages are really affecting people throughout the country, and the military are no exception.

MANN: Rafael Romo, thanks very much.

ROMO: Thank you.

MANN: Coming up, we're going to change gears a little bit and take you to a competition that's going to make you want to hit the beach, ride some

waves, and just try to avoid a wipeout. The Big Wave Awards. Let's do this, THE WORLD RIGHT NOW.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MANN: Welcome back. We want to show you some dramatic pictures coming from right here in Atlanta. A massive fire caused a highway bridge on

Interstate 85 to collapse. That's one of the busiest roadways in the U.S. The city has now shut down that section indefinitely. It's caused traffic

chaos.

Investigators are trying to figure out what caused the fire. Atlanta's Mayor has ruled out terrorism. Repairs could take months but in the

meantime, it's a mystery. It's a mess. Miraculously, nobody was hurt.

[15:55:03] The biggest waves, the sickest rides, and the gnarliest funnels? One competition's got them all, The World Surf League's Big Wave Awards.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MANN: Let's start with the guys who make it look easy, surfers from around the globe competing for the World Surf League's Big Wave Awards. This is

American Ben Andrews on a wave at Half Moon Bay, California, nominated for Ride of the Year.

There are seven categories in all for men and women. Another favorite, American Kai Lenny coming into the beach at Maui, Hawaii, nominated for the

Biggest Wave Award.

How big are the waves? At least Francesco Porcello is dwarfed by them in this long shot from the shore at Nazare, Portugal. Look at how long he

rides it.

But sometimes, when the surf's up, the surfers are down, so there's a category for the Wipeout of the Year as well. We won't single the surfers

out by name. Somersaulting into the salt water probably stings their egos enough, but if you can watch without grimacing, maybe try it yourself. All

you need is a board, a lot of water, a lot of skill, and a lot of nerve.

The Big Wave Awards will be given out April 29th in Huntington Beach, California, overlooking the water.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MANN: And finally, a different kind of travel to tell you about. SpaceX making space history again.

The Elon Musk project launched a previously used rocket into space from Cape Canaveral, the first time the same rocket has been used in two

separate missions. The recycled rocket returned successfully to a barge at sea. The company says using rockets a number of times will radically cut

the cost of going into space. And probably leave less junk there as well.

This has been THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. Thanks for joining us. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next. You are watching CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:59:58] ZAIN ASHER, CNN ANCHOR: 5:00 then in the city of New York, ringing the closing bell. That sound, that marks the end of yet another

trading day on Wall Street. It also marks the end of the trading quarter.

END