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Trump Lawyer Wants Russia Probe Dropped; Russia Votes; Russian Spy Poisoning; Syrian Conflict; Trump Joins Legal Battle against Stormy Daniels; Bridge Collapse; Community Hides Undocumented Immigrants from Federal Agents; Exploring Antarctic Waters. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired March 18, 2018 - 04:00   ET

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


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GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): We've learned the FBI's former second in command handed over memos to special counsel Robert Mueller, memos about conversations he had with President of the United States.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): We'll have that story ahead here.

Plus Vladimir Putin just voted in his country's presidential election. We will take you live to Moscow.

HOWELL (voice-over): And later, undocumented immigrants hiding from deportation. What some Americans are doing to help them.

ALLEN (voice-over): It's all ahead this hour. Welcome to our viewers in the United States around the world we're coming to the live from Atlanta.

HOWELL (voice-over): I'm George Howell from CNN World Headquarters. NEWSROOM starts right here.

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ALLEN: Thank you again for joining you us.

New developments in Washington. A day after the former number two man at the FBI was fired, a man repeatedly berated by president Donald Trump, we now learned that Andrew McCabe kept notes on his meetings with the president.

HOWELL: Those memos now in the hands of the special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible Russian meddling in the U.S. election. The Justice Department says McCabe was fired for a laundry list of reasons. But critics say it's likely to be used to call his character into question if Mueller uses him as a witness.

ALLEN: CNN has learned Mueller's team has already interviewed McCabe, a source tells CNN McCabe was asked about the firing of FBI director James Comey.

HOWELL: Those conversations and McCabe's notes could be used to corroborate Comey's accounts of meetings with the president. CNN's Laura Jarrett breaks it all down for us.

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LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Not only did former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe keep notes on his conversations with the president but CNN has confirmed that McCabe turned those memos over to special counsel Robert Mueller's team and sat down for an interview.

One major topic covered during that interview, the firing of former FBI director James Comey, a topic that Mueller's team has pursued while they investigate among other things whether President Trump obstructed justice in his dealings with top law enforcement officials.

Now the McCabe memos could help bolster how Comey describes some of his more past controversial interactions with the president, that Trump has said never happened, including requests for loyalty and to go easy on former national security adviser Michael Flynn, especially if McCabe documented those conversations contemporaneously with the events.

But McCabe's knowledge of what happened to Comey, at least in McCabe's view, also explains why he believes he's been subjected to what he calls a pattern of attacks on his reputation and credibility.

He told CNN during an interview that the president taunted him repeatedly about his wife's failed state senate campaign in 2015 and even asked who he voted for in the 2016 election. President Trump did not, however, ask him to end the Russia investigation -- Laura Jarrett, CNN, Washington.

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HOWELL: Laura, thank you.

The firing of Andrew McCabe caused a he said/I said situation. It seems statements made by Donald Trump's personal attorney weren't exactly cleared by his client.

ALLEN: CNN's Boris Sanchez explains what happened next.

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BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: As the president relishes in the firing of former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe via Twitter, his personal attorney, John Dowd, is making some eyebrow raising statements in a statement provided to the "Daily Beast" early on Saturday, he said he was praying for the Russia investigation to end.

And he apparently told them that he was speaking on behalf of the president as the president's personal attorney. He later walked that back to CNN. John Dowd writing, quote, "Speaking for myself, not the president, I pray 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 manufactured by McCabe's boss, James Comey, based upon a fraudulent and corrupt dossier just ended on the merits in light of recent revelations."

Now we should note that a source close to the president says that Donald Trump didn't authorize John Dowd to make that statement. In fact, if you talk to people close to the president, you get the sense that they're annoyed that Dowd went in this direction, in part because it contradicts so much of what we've heard previously from the White House when it comes to the special counsel's investigation.

Over and over again, officials have told us they're 100 percent willing to comply with the special counsel in providing any requested documents or anything he needs. We've heard the president specifically say that he would not fire Robert Mueller. In fact, he said that he was looking forward to sitting down with him --

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SANCHEZ: -- to prove that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Now there have been rumblings prior to this about firing of Robert Mueller, so much so that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle crafted legislation that would install safeguards to protect Robert Mueller from being fired. That legislation really didn't get anywhere but we should point out that, in the next week, there will be a spending bill that's voted on in Congress.

And there may be a push from some lawmakers to include some kind of language that would protect Robert Mueller from that kind of a move, by either someone at the Department of Justice or here at the White House -- Boris Sanchez, at the White House, CNN.

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ALLEN: Let's talk more about this with Peter Matthews. He's a professor of political science at Cypress College. He joins us from Los Angeles.

Thanks for being with us, Peter.

PETER MATTHEWS, CYPRESS COLLEGE: Good to be here, thank you Natalie.

ALLEN: President Trump's lawyer calls for an end to the Mueller probe. Mr. Trump saying there was no collusion. This tweet from the president Saturday.

It reads, "The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime."

He adds, "It was based on fraudulent activity and a fake dossier, paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC and improperly used in FISA court for surveillance of my campaign. Witch hunt." Peter, Washington historians have said over and over, interfering or trying to stop the Mueller investigation would be political suicide. Yet it sure seems like that effort or idea is still on the table for the Trump administration -- your thoughts.

MATTHEWS: It certainly is. His actions have proven it. I mean, look at it in both firing Andrew McCabe, the deputy FBI director for several months now because he figured that that man is a central figure in the Mueller investigation.

He could corroborate what James Comey had said (INAUDIBLE) extensive notes. And so Trump saw him as a real threat and this goes back to, Natalie, the fact that Trump won the election with less than a majority of the votes, less votes than Hillary, he feels a bit that he's not quite legitimate as president.

That's the problem, because he seems to attack anyone who seemed to consider even whether or not -- what the direction he's taking in policy. And he should just be president and stop acting like he (INAUDIBLE) defensively but he's not doing that. And I think that's going to be a problem for him.

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ALLEN: That tweet followed the firing of former FBI deputy director McCabe. We've heard now from former director, James Comey, also fired by President Trump.

He tweeted, "Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon and they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not."

And then this searing condemnation from former CIA chief John Brennan. He tweeted this towards the president.

"When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America...America will triumph over you."

My goodness, very harsh words there from Mr. Brennan. Mr. Trump has tried to own Twitter but the intelligence agencies are clearly firing back.

MATTHEWS: Those are powerful words, Natalie, and they mean a lot because what they're saying is that this president doesn't seem to respect the rule of law that America stands for. Instead, he believes in intimidation and trying to get the law to be bent in his direction and to interfere with justice.

This is a very serious charge because obstruction of justice is exactly what Richard Nixon was ordered upon with his impeachment threat and he had to resign for that. So the president should take warning on this and change his ways but it's getting later and later in the game. You're absolutely right. They're very powerful words from these very eminent people, the two of them you just quoted.

ALLEN: And you talked a moment ago about President Trump wanting to keep spinning this and spinning this. But he's not just alone here. He's getting support from his legal team as well. It seems a concerted effort to discredit Mueller over and over again.

MATTHEWS: Yes. And he doesn't want to directly attack Mueller because that would be political suicide for him, in a sense, but he wants to attack people around Mueller. In fact he called the FBI "disgraceful FBI" back in December.

Calling the FBI disgraceful, that's completely out of control. And then of course going after McCabe and people around Mueller without directly attacking Mueller himself.

And once again, the source of legitimacy is what we're talking about here. You know, the eminent German sociologist, Max Davies, says "The source of legitimacy," -- there are three of them -- "tradition, charisma and legality."

Trump doesn't have any of those that he bases his actions on. Tradition, he's not traditional in any way. Charisma, he only cares about one-third of the people. Legality he just seems to flout a lot of the rule of law principles and this is very dangerous for democracy, Natalie. We're heading down the wrong path here.

But I think eventually the truth will come out.

ALLEN: Let's look at what the fired deputy director of the FBI, Andy McCabe, had to say about his firing.

He said this, "I'm being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took and the events I witnessed --

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ALLEN: -- "in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey."

So McCabe, even though he was found by investigators to not be forthcoming, a fireable offense, he's letting the country know he would have been able to support Mr. Comey in the Mueller investigation and that's the reason the president fired him.

So certainly he is not going quietly into the night, just like Comey is not. And so you've got this continued duel with those that the president has said good riddance to. And the president's still fighting them at every step.

How significant is McCabe's defense here?

MATTHEWS: Extremely significant. He can appeal this to the public especially and be more legitimate in the eyes of the law by saying, look, the reason that President Trump's going after me has nothing to do with what he's saying it is but it's actually because I'm a person who could be very forthright. And as a witness I can corroborate James Comey's testimony and his

facts and I've taken extensive notes as well and they're in the hands of Mr. Mueller already. You know that. But this is a real threat to President Trump. He had to therefore completely discredit McCabe as much as he could by these innuendos and accusations for many, many months now.

ALLEN: Peter Matthews, as always, we thank you and we will likely talk with you again as this saga pushes on. Thanks, Peter.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Natalie.

HOWELL: Still ahead, police are investigating the poisoning of a former Russian spy. They've turned their attention now to the vehicle you see there, his BMW. We'll explain why they're asking the public now for help.

ALLEN: Also just ahead, Russian president Vladimir Putin has been in power for 18 years. He's expected to win re-election on Sunday. But we'll tell you about a concern the Kremlin has about this vote, coming up here in a live report from Moscow.

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HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

There's a presidential election underway in Russia. People there headed to the polls this hour. You see this live image in Moscow. People deciding among eight candidates who are vying for the top spot there but the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is by far the lead contender.

ALLEN: He is expected to easily win re-election after 18 years in power. He is already Russia's longest serving leader since Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

HOWELL: CNN is live in Moscow coverage this story. Our senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance, following the election and CNN contributor Jill Dougherty there also to give context and perspective in our Moscow bureau.

Matthew, first to you there, at the polling station. Give us a sense of the mood of voters as they head to the polls.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's actually quite upbeat and that's surprising because what we understood before this election took place is that there was a high degree of apathy in the country simply because the democratic choice in Russia has been so limited for this presidential election.

You're right; there are eight candidates that are contesting for the presidential election but there's only one real contender and that's, of course, Vladimir Putin. And Russians are acutely aware of that lack of democratic choice and the feeling was that was going to have an impact on their enthusiasm to take part in this vote.

The Kremlin was very aware of that and they've gone to some considerable efforts to try and encourage people to get out, to turn out, to cast their ballots. In fact, Vladimir Putin, a couple of days ago, appeared on state television to encourage Russians to make their voices heard, even though, of course, everybody understands that it's only really Vladimir Putin that has any chance at all of winning this presidential vote.

And you can see, the turnout in this one polling station in Central Moscow so far seems to be pretty buoyant. There are whole lines of people that have been apparently bused in from one particular company over here, a building company, to allow their workers to vote. That's been taking place as well across this city and of course across this vast nation of 11 time zones.

This is where people are actually casting their ballots here. These are automatic vote counting machines. People put their cross on their preferred candidate and enter it into this computer and it's automatically registered as to which candidate they voted for.

We thought it was going to be pretty apathetic but actually it seems at the moment, at least in this one voting station in Moscow, that it's quite a buoyant move. But obviously we're going to be looking very carefully at what the final turnout is to get a better sense of just how much enthusiasm there really is for this one-horse race in Russia.

HOWELL: Matthew, you're at that polling station. I want to show our viewers, if we can pull up this image of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, himself voting, we understand reportedly voting at the Russian Academy of Sciences voting there amid heavy security.

But we see the Russian president casting his vote, the question, who do you think he's voting for there. Let's bring in CNN's Jill Dougherty, following the story as well.

Jill, eight candidates to choose from but there's also opposition not allowed to run and their message to voters, stay away from the polls. Talk to us about why voter turnout will be such an important indicator in this election.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, George, that really is the key thing because, after all, there really is no viable alternative realistically. And everybody knows that Vladimir Putin can win.

So what do you if you're a voter?

And what do you do if you're the Kremlin? You want a very large turnout. The Kremlin wants a very large turnout which gives the imprimatur or the stamp of approval by voters. It's very interesting to watch Vladimir Putin. You know, as he voted, he came over to reporters and said something. They asked him a couple of questions and he said, what do I want?

Any results that would allow me to take office. Vladimir Putin doesn't really describe, you know, a platform in great --

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DOUGHERTY: -- detail, that's not really what he's doing. He's a person who represents the Russian state right now. He represents pretty much what people read into him from across many perspectives.

So he, without defining himself, without even participating in these debates, he has not participated in debates; he is above the fray.

And so ultimately if they get a good turnout, they will argue that the Russian people are now on their side for this crucial vote. They are depicting it as defining, deciding the fate of the nation. Others would say it's not really that much of a contest, it's not much of a question. But for Vladimir Putin, he needs that stamp of approval from the people.

HOWELL: All right, Jill.

And in the backdrop of all of this, that nerve agent attack in Salisbury, this back-and-forth of punitive actions between Russia and the United Kingdom, the U.K. first responded with the steps that its taking. Russia's response went beyond that.

Let's expand the conversation and bring in our colleague, Melissa Bell. Melissa following the story for us live as well.

Melissa, what are the risks for the United Kingdom given Russia's response?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the risk for the international community, not simply for the U.K., is that this tit-for-tat series of measures that we've seen from London to Moscow is likely to continue.

This is likely to be just the beginning, George, of a longer war of words and of measures and sanctions between Moscow and London that could bring other countries into it as well.

I mean, that is certainly what Theresa May is seeking. This is how she responded on Saturday to news of Moscow's retaliatory measures to the ones announced by the United Kingdom just a couple of days before, mirroring those measures of 23 diplomats to be expelled but also going slightly further with measures taken against the British Council and concierge (ph) services in St. Petersburg.

This was how Theresa May responded once Moscow announced its measures.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Today our ambassador in Moscow was informed by the Russian government of the action they are taking in response. In light of their previous behavior, we anticipated a response of this kind and we will consider our next steps in the coming days, alongside our allies and partners.

But Russia's response doesn't change the fact 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BELL: That was the British prime minister speaking to her own Conservative Party, just yesterday and very much, as you heard there, opening the door, leaving the door open to further measures, first at an international level in the next few days the British national security council will meet to consider what further steps it can take.

But also, tomorrow, George, E.U. diplomats will meet in Brussels and they're hoping for at the very least a joint statement from the bloc condemning Russia's actions. That hasn't happened yet. Two weeks after the Skripals were found sick, poisoned in Salisbury on that bench.

But the British will be hoping and putting pressure on their E.U. counterparts so that they go further. They're hoping that more measures will be taken at an E.U. level. Certainly a possible boycott of the Russian football World Cup this summer will be considered.

And what Britain would really like would be for the E.U. to go further than it has so far, to impose further sanctions against Russia. I have to say that's very unlikely at an E.U. level simply because there's very little appetite for a widening or broadening or extension of the sanctions that have already been in place since 2014, the ones that were introduced after the Crimean annexation.

But clearly Britain looking to widen its moves against Russia beyond British borders themselves -- George.

HOWELL: All right, so the question is, how much further will this go, this back and forth of punitive actions? As we've reported earlier, all of this happening during a time of a major election taking place in Russia.

And, Matthew, I want to ask you this question as well, because on top of all of this, Russia is pointing the finger at other nations as the source of that nerve agent. Tell us more about that.

CHANCE: Well, that's right. I think that Russia has pointed at various other nations as a possible source for that Novichok nerve agent. It's mentioned the British facility at Porton Down could be responsible for it. It's mentioned that the Czech Republic could be responsible for it.

It's even mentioned that Sweden could have been the nation which produced this agent, all of which has been categorically dismissed by each of the respective governments --

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CHANCE: -- in the Czech Republic, in Sweden and, of course, in Britain. You know, Russia has a record of trying to distract and confuse the situation when it comes to these very serious allegations that are made against it by the international community.

It did something very similar when MH17, the Malaysian airliner was downed over Eastern Ukraine, refusing to accept any kind of responsibility, despite the evidence that was gathered by the Dutch investigators to the contrary.

Again, the similar situation when it annexed Crimea, Russia refused to acknowledge that Russian troops were on the ground in that peninsula only to confess later or admit later that in fact Russian troops were there with their badges stripped off, sort of incognito as Russian regular forces.

And so Russia has a record of not telling the complete truth about its engagement in these international issues. And I think we're seeing something similar now.

HOWELL: And the question, how will all this play in the minds of the voters. Certainly this is the team to watch to keep up with all these developments. Matthew Chance, Melissa Bell and Jill Dougherty, thank you all for the reporting and insight today.

ALLEN: And just ahead here, what we are learning from the new filing in the case of the porn actress versus the U.S. president.

HOWELL: Plus, safe houses, families in hiding and fears of being caught. It all sounds like history but it's actually happening in the United States. More on that ahead.

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ALLEN: It is coming up on 4:30 am Eastern. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following this hour.

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ALLEN: We have breaking news to report out of Northern Syria. According to Reuters News Agency, rebel fighters from the Turkish- backed Free Syrian Army say they have seized parts of Afrin town and the Kurdish YPG militia has withdrawn. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the Turkish flag has been raised in Afrin and the town center is under control. HOWELL: Keep in mind this could be a major turning point in Turkey's Operation Olive Branch as it's called, the offensive launched against the YPG back in January. Ankara considers the YPG terrorists but they've been a key ally to the United States in the fight against ISIS.

The Afrin offensive isn't the only flashpoint in Syria's civil war. A Syrian government assault is still hammering the enclave of Eastern Ghouta. That is near Damascus.

ALLEN: Airstrikes there have not let up and pro-government troops keep gaining ground. Damascus says it is fighting terrorists but there are reports of heavy civilian casualties.

An exodus of people is trying to leave the area. The World Food Programme says 16,000 have escaped in just the past few days. Many are being housed in shelters around the capital.

Back here to the United States and the U.S. president's legal team, they're now officially involved in the Stormy Daniels matter. Attorneys for the president filed papers in federal court, claiming the porn star could owe as much as $20 million for violating an agreement to keep quiet about her alleged affair with the U.S. president, Donald Trump.

ALLEN: Speaking with CNN's Ana Cabrera earlier, Stormy Daniels' lawyer says his team is ready to fight in court.

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MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: We are not surprised at the effort to move it to federal court. Regardless, whether it is in state court or federal court, we are prepared to fully litigate it.

I had the good fortune just April of last year of securing a $454 million jury verdict in that federal courthouse, that very courthouse that they will move the case to.

So we are very familiar with the judges there. We are very familiar with how smart they are and how deep the bench is, if you will, and we are prepared to litigate it whether it be in state court or federal court.

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ALLEN: CNN's Sara Sidner breaks down the latest developments for us.

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SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the first time attorneys for President Donald Trump himself have publicly joined the legal battle involving Stormy Daniels.

A response filed in federal court on Friday lays out the strategy by Donald Trump's attorney in the case. Lawyers for Donald Trump and Michael Cohen's company, Essential Consultants LLC, are now threatening to seek in excess of $20 million in damages for at least 20 violations of the confidentiality agreement she signed, along with Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen just before the election.

Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti responded to the recent filing.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: 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.

SIDNER: But as part of the non-disparagement agreement, Daniels was paid $130,000 to sign, it says she agrees to pay to D.D. the sum of $1 million resulting from each breach of the agreement. Daniels' attorney said D.D. are the initials for the pseudonym of David Dennison, the fake name used for Donald Trump in the hush agreement.

The agreement was supposed to keep Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, from speaking about an alleged affair she had with Mr. --

[04:35:00]

SIDNER (voice-over): -- Trump in 2006. Trump's lawyers are also asking for something else. They want the case moved from state to federal court and they are seeking arbitration to resolve the matter, where it would stay behind closed doors, keeping the messy details out of the public.

AVENATTI: They want to have this adjudicated or decided in a conference room in a locked secure building outside the per view of the public so that the public cannot view the evidence and the facts and learn about what really happened here.

SIDNER: But Cohen has already admitted to paying Daniels as part of the agreement. Though, he has maintained that Donald Trump knew nothing about the confidentiality agreement or the payment and that he denies there ever was an affair.

But Daniels' attorney claims that the fact that Donald Trump's real name is now being used in filings by his attorney proves that he did know something about the non-disparagement agreement and the hush money paid to Daniels.

If that's true and if he was involved, a watchdog group called Common Cause says that's a violation of campaign finance laws and they have filed a complaint already with the Federal Election Commission -- Sara Sidner, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: In Miami, Florida, police say they have recovered the last victims from beneath the pedestrian bridge that collapsed Thursday. Crews dug through 950 tons of rubble to remove some of the last vehicles that were crushed. For police, investigators and victims' families, that process, as you can imagine, has been harrowing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JUAN PEREZ, MIAMI-DADE POLICE DIRECTOR: It is heartwrenching when you do so to lose a loved one like this. I cannot even express the empathy, the compassion that they have and the empathy that I have to have to face them.

It's heartwrenching, it's hard to hold back your tears when you listen to them, you listen to every individual story.

But we finally got the last victim out. And it would not have happened if not for the work of the men and women from that fire department that is one of the greatest departments, I guess to me is the greatest department in America, folks, because they did not stop.

The only pause, the only pause from the rescuers was when we asked them to pause so we could pray over every victim and escort them out with our motorcycle unit to the M.E.'s office, that was the only pause in work.

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HOWELL: Five victims were found under the bridge. One died in the hospital. Police believe that final death toll will stand at six, though they plan go through the wreckage once again as a precaution.

Here in the United States, the story of some undocumented immigrants and their families, people who are scared and on the run.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We became homeless for five months. We moved schools, we went somewhere else because we had to leave the city. We were sleeping from house to house, anywhere we could find.

HOWELL (voice-over): The real stories and real lives of people dealing with a real situation. Ahead, how ordinary people of all religions and all backgrounds are coming together try to help them. Stay with us.

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HOWELL: The story we're following in the U.S. State of California, there is concern among faith leaders there that the President of the United States will send federal agents into churches and places of worship to detain immigrants seeking sanctuary there.

ALLEN: So they're taking a different approach. In a CNN exclusive, our reporter, Kyung Lah, takes us to a California community that's putting itself as risk by creating underground safe houses. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We can't show you where we are, or who lives behind this door, because the family in this apartment in California is on the run, from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Since my mom's status here isn't safe, then we had to just pack everything up. Everything else just was left behind.

LAH: Off the grid since last year say these two girls, both citizens, born in the U.S., both in high school. ICE deported their father for illegally crossing the border. Their mother overstated tourist visa and is also undocumented. The girls feared their mother was next.

(on camera): What's happened since then when you had to pack up and leave?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We become homeless for five months. We moved schools. We went somewhere else because we had to leave the city. We were sleeping from house to house, anywhere we could find.

LAH (voice-over): Then they heard about an interfaith network of religious group, pledging to resist Trump's immigration policy by hiding them in safe houses, even in spare rooms of congregate homes.

The network estimates dozens are being hidden at any one time, it connected the family to this Jewish woman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I grew up in a time when the Holocaust was not so far behind me.

LAH: She signed for the apartment, a cover for the family she's protecting.

(on camera): Do you hear the echoes of history here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A hundred percent. I think there's a lot of strong feeling in the Jewish community we cannot let this happen. It's our responsibility. Look, what was done to us cannot happen to other people.

LAH: This is technically aiding and abetting somebody who is here undocumented.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't see it that way. I see it as taking a step to help someone who is in need, to help a family in need of support.

LAH (voice-over): It's just a big sigh of relief, says the girl's mother. What happens to me doesn't matter. Everything I'm doing here is for my girls.

(on camera): How would you describe the fear that you carry?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I put a smile on my face every day. But deep down, I'm hurt. And I'm still hurting.

REV. ZACHARY HOOVER, LA VOICE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: I want to say a couple of things.

LAH (voice-over): Reverend Zach Hoover leads the Interfaith Network, 2,000 congregations of various faiths have been trained across the country, the great majority here in California. But Reverend Hoover says the network of sanctuary and safe houses remains most active.

(on camera): The federal government might listen to all of this and say you're violating the law.

HOOVER: Yes, I'm not going to lie. That makes me very nervous and there's a part of me that you know sitting here talking to you I think gosh should I be having this conversation?

But the truth is our folks are facing much greater fear every day. You know, as we sit here in this church, I am just reminded that god that I worship and that guides my life is one who does not always bless every human law. I am convicted that we are doing exactly what we should be doing.

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LAH (voice-over): The girls have both been accepted to separate colleges in the fall, a family united for as long as they can be.

HOOVER: We're going to do everything in our power to try to convince members of Congress not to support a deportation machine that's ripping families apart, you know and there's a part of me that thinks that a different way is possible. But most of the time, I'm preparing for this to get worse.

LAH: In a statement to CNN, ICE says, quote, "Knowingly harboring an alien is a federal crime. Current ICE policy directs agency personnel to avoid conducting enforcement activities at sensitive locations. This includes places of worship."

DOJ guidelines do say that harboring is punishable up to five years in prison. But we're talking about a movement led by clergy and congregants and homes that ICE needs a warrant to enter -- Kyung Lah, CNN.

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ALLEN: Protecting Antarctica unique ecosystem. A new effort is underway to expand protections for this harsh piece of the world. CNN heads to the bottom of the Earth -- coming up here.

HOWELL: Plus, at least 15 people have died in floods that are sweeping through Kenya. The very latest on the forecast as NEWSROOM pushes on.

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ALLEN: We're taking you to the bottom of the Earth now. Video of melting icebergs, that's synonymous with global warming. But while the Antarctic may be changing, it's also playing an important role in combating climate change.

HOWELL: CNN's Arwa Damon joined an expedition find out about the carbon capturing power of the Antarctic and she saw some truly extraordinary scenes along the way of the journey.

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ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's an ethereal world that we wake up to our first morning in the Antarctic. That sort of harsh yet captivating mystical beauty with penguins swimming and jumping in the waters right around our ship, the Arctic Sunrise.

DAMON: It's so beautiful and quiet, you almost don't even want to speak above a whisper. And there is two whales right there. This is absolutely unbelievable.

See them?

DAMON (voice-over): And as if the morning couldn't get more striking, we are in the first week of a month-long leg of a Greenpeace expedition that started in January, a campaign to build the case for the creation of the world's largest ocean sanctuary in the Antarctic, which is a vital carbon sink.

And that's what we've come to learn more about, the Antarctic's potential to act as a buffer to climate change. We started off in Punta Arenas in Chile before hitting the Drake Passage, notorious for its huge swells and rough waters.

DAMON: It's day four and we're crossing through the Drake Passage. And we're lucky because by the Drake Passage's standards, these are actually really calm waters.

DAMON (voice-over): For many of the Greenpeace team on board and us, this is a first.

DAMON: Yes. I think those are seals.

DAMON (voice-over): Before we head to shore, all equipment and clothing needs to be carefully cleaned.

DAMON: It's quite interesting because, when you look at it from the outside in, it feels like it's this very harsh and robust environment. And yet it's incredibly sensitive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really sensitive, especially for the non- native species.

DAMON (voice-over): And we are off, heading toward Yankee Harbor.

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DAMON: Oh, it's so weird to be on land again.

Look at the seals!

DAMON (voice-over): This tiny island, like the rest of the massive land mass in the Antarctic, is designated for scientific exploration and protected under the Antarctic treaty.

But that treaty does not extend to the Antarctic's waters, hence Greenpeace's mission. Even this region's most humorous of animals have their role in nature's equilibrium.

DAMON: What does that mean?

I don't know what that means.

DAMON (voice-over): Marine biologist and Greenpeace campaigner, Thilo Maack (ph), has been looking at the intricate links between these waters, its wildlife and the fundamental role they play in Earth's carbon cycle.

DAMON: If you look over there, they are trying to jump up on the ice. That is hilarious.

Yes, they are really cute, that's true. Yes, it's -- the Antarctic is a cooling chamber that mitigates the effects of climate change. And what happens here is having an effect on the climate of the planet.

The ocean currents are driven by the cold waters of the Antarctic.

DAMON (voice-over): And the wildlife is central to driving carbon- rich biomass to the depths of the dense, cold ocean waters, where it is then stored for millennia if it's left undisturbed.

There are still many unknowns and the more scientists uncover, the more questions arise. But there is no doubt about the harmony here, one whose preservation is potentially linked to our very existence -- Arwa Damon, CNN, the Antarctic.

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ALLEN: Let's keep it pristine.

HOWELL: Absolutely.

ALLEN: That's our first hour but please stay with us, we've got much more ahead. Our top stories coming up. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. We'll be back after the break.