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E.U. Expected to Endorse Brexit at Historic Summit; Copa Libertadores Match Moved to Sunday after Fan Violence; Trump Slams "Catch and Release" Policy; Alabama Mall Shooting. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired November 25, 2018 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The Brexit test: right now E.U. leaders are about to decide whether or not to approve Theresa May's divorce plan. We're live in Brussels with the latest.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Also this signal: Mexico's incoming government denies a report it supports the Trump administration's asylum plan. We'll tell you where things stand.
HOWELL (voice-over): Plus a tense response in Argentina. A crucial football match delayed after fans attacked the other team. The violence so bad police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.
ALLEN (voice-over): Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. We're live in Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL (voice-over): And I'm George Howell. From CNN World Headquarters NEWSROOM starts right now.
HOWELL: 4:00 am on the U.S. East Coast. The issue of Brexit is front and center. Center stage in Brussels, Belgium, as we're watching history in the making. Let's take a live look right now at what's happening in Brussels, Belgium. We're watching European Union leaders arrive at E.U. headquarters.
You saw a few moments ago the French president, Emmanuel Macron, arriving a short time ago. He and other leaders are there to either accept or reject the terms by which the U.K. will leave the E.U. after 45 years.
ALLEN: It's a somber occasion, often described as a divorce. And just like a divorce, there's a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety about the future, especially over what happens to Brexit in the U.K. Parliament. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker spoke minutes ago and sounded optimistic on that point.
HOWELL: Optimism but a somber occasion. Let's bring in CNN's Erin McLaughlin. This divorce treaty is expected to get the backing of the E.U. 27.
Is this as straightforward as being a rubber stamped issue or is there the possibility of surprise from any of these heads of state as we move ahead in this process?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, we are expecting all 27 E.U. leaders to endorse this deal now that Spain has withdrawn its 11th hour threat to boycott the summit.
We understand that the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, has arrived today although none of these leaders seem particularly happy about today's proceedings. Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, saying we're all losing today.
We've also heard from Michel Barnier, the chief Brexit negotiator for the E.U. He's been commended for the way he's handled these negotiations, saying it's time for everyone to, quote, "take their responsibility." Take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL BARNIER, E.U. BREXIT NEGOTIATOR: Now it's time for everybody to take their responsibility, everybody.
I want just to add that this deal is a necessary step to build the trust between the U.K. and the E.U. We need to build, in the next phase, this unprecedented and ambitious partnership. We will remain allies, partners and friends. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP) MCLAUGHLIN: We've also heard from Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, in a letter to the leaders, inviting them to today's summit, saying this deal achieves the E.U.'s main objectives, which is to secure a financial settlement, make sure there's no border on the island of Ireland as well as take care of the citizens living there in the United Kingdom.
In terms of the sequence of events expected today, the president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, is expected to exchange views with the leaders. From there they're expected to have a working session to formally endorse both the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration and then finally hear from Theresa May in terms of the next steps of this process -- George.
HOWELL: Erin, stand by one second. Let's dip into the video that we're looking at right now. We're seeing the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, arrive there at the roundtable. Again many heads of states coming together to decide what happens next.
Will they reject or will they accept this particular plan as it stands now?
Erin, bringing you back in now to talk about what happens next with the prime minister.
Does she have an uphill battle now to sell the deal to not only the British public but then to push it through Parliament?
MCLAUGHLIN: Theresa May does face an uphill battle in all of this. Once these --
MCLAUGHLIN: -- 27 E.U. leaders endorse this deal as expected, then it moves to British Parliament, where she's going to have a tough time convincing lawmakers to approve both the withdrawal agreement as well as the political declaration.
We were just hearing from Boris Johnson yesterday in Belfast at the party conference for the Democratic Unionist Party, which holds the keys to Theresa May's minority government. Boris Johnson says the entire deal is, quote, "an historic mistake."
And it's sentiment like that being expressed by Johnson as well as other Brexiteers and members of her own party that's going to be very difficult for Theresa May to overcome in the days leading up to the parliamentary vote.
HOWELL: Erin McLaughlin, live for us in Brussels, thank you.
We'll have more from Erin at the bottom of the hour but, again, what's next with Brexit?
Leaders of the 27 E.U. countries will officially approve or reject the Brexit deal, a deal that has been negotiated now for a year and a half. And it looks like they are set to approve it.
If approved, it then goes to the British Parliament, where Theresa May does not command a majority. It's uncertain whether lawmakers there will greenlight the deal or send it back, send everyone back to the drawing board.
If British lawmakers agree to it, the European Parliament would decide whether to give it its blessing. Whatever happens, Britain is set to leave the E.U. on March 29th of next year.
ALLEN: British prime minister Theresa May tweeted earlier an open letter explaining Brexit and this is what she said.
"As prime minister of the United Kingdom, I have from day one been determined to deliver a Brexit deal that works for every part of our country. For England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, for our overseas territories like Gibraltar and also for the crown dependencies.
"This deal will do that, it is a deal for a brighter future which enables us to seize the opportunities that lie ahead."
Let's talk about what's before Theresa May now and this summit with Steven Erlanger, who is at the summit site in Brussels. He's the chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe for "The New York Times."
Steven, thanks for being with us. Some say Theresa May is trying to please everyone and pleasing none. But she may about to get the support she needs from the E.U.
How significant is this?
STEVEN ERLANGER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, it's a historic moment because Brexit is real. March 29th, Britain will be gone unless something very dramatic happens. But this is the end of a very long, tortuous negotiation.
Now you can argue Britain didn't negotiate so well; the E.U. held together. But the fact is Theresa May went in with some conditions, which was to stay out of the single market, to stay out of the customs union and to have no border on Ireland. Those three things made it a very difficult negotiation.
So the E.U. will argue this is the best they could do. They like Britain. They want, in the political declaration, an extremely close relationship with Britain after Britain leaves. But the real problem if Theresa May manages to get this through Parliament which is doubtful, is what the future relationship will be like. And that will be a very difficult negotiation that will last a couple more years.
But we still have this great drama to go through in December 10th or whenever the vote is. Everyone is unhappy with the deal. But she's betting that, faced with chaos, no deal or this deal, that Parliament will somehow find a way of backing it. If not, there will be a real political crisis and she may have to resign.
ALLEN: Yes. We heard some of that unhappiness expressed as leaders arrived there at the summit. Let's listen to the Lithuanian president to what she said a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DALIA GRYBAUSKAITE, PRESIDENT OF LITHUANIA: I will not say that we are very happy. I think that the feeling of this step of withdrawal of Britain in this reality is in our minds. Yes, we will agree today, we will endorse the Brexit agreement. But there is nothing good for any side because it is a withdrawal from the European Union.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Similar remarks from the French president as he arrived. Jean-Claude Juncker said it's a tragedy. What we're kind of witnessing today is a divorce and not an amicable one so much.
ERLANGER: Well, that's precisely right. It is a tragedy. It's a cost for everyone. It's likely --
ERLANGER: -- to be a bigger cost for Britain, at least for the next five years or so.
But it is a major failure on the part of the European Union; the whole project of Europe has been damaged by this big economy, by this nuclear power, by this country with a seat on the Security Council choosing to leave the European Union and go it alone. This is a failure for the European Union also.
ALLEN: And if Theresa May fails, what happens come March?
ERLANGER: Well, nobody knows. I've been talking to MPs in her own party and nobody really knows. There's a possibility people talk about, you know, if the vote is close and goes down, that she could come back to Brussels and get some sort of minor adjustments.
The E.U. leaders today made it very clear there weren't many to come. Then she could try to vote again when the markets have reacted badly. I mean, her whole strategy is to say it's this deal or no deal. It's this deal or chaos. We have no other options.
And today the E.U. leaders have been supporting her in that by saying they have no more room to negotiate further.
Now if that fails, I think she would have to resign and then the question becomes, would there be a new election, would there be another referendum?
ALLEN: Got to feel for the folks that will really be affected by this back in the U.K., as they watch and wonder what it all means. Steven Erlanger, we really appreciate your insights. Thank you.
HOWELL: Still ahead this hour, stuck between two countries: the migrant caravan in Central America has reached the U.S.-Mexico border. But a potential asylum overhaul could put their future in doubt. More on that story ahead.
ALLEN: Also coming up, already intense football rivalry in Argentina becomes violent right before South America's biggest football championship. More about it in just a moment.
HOWELL: Welcome back. The final match of South America's biggest football championship is postponed until Sunday after Argentina's fiercest rivalry turned violent on Saturday.
Take a look. These are River Plate fans throwing projectiles at the rival team Boca Juniors on the bus on the way to the stadium.
ALLEN: Inside the bus, the team tried to shield themselves from rocks and shattered glass. Boca's captain and midfielder required hospital care for their injuries. River Plate fans rioting and throwing objects at police in the street were met with tear gas. For more on all of this, here is CNN "WORLD SPORT" anchor Patrick Snell.
PATRICK SNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Argentina's capital city, Buenos Aires, was supposed to be hosting the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final on Saturday. The tournament is the South American equivalent of the European Champions League.
For fans from both clubs now the wait to determine a winner continues. We always knew the rivalry between Boca Juniors and River Plate was intense to say the least. The first leg had ended 2-2 and bear in mind no away fans were allowed to attend either of the two legs of this final, based on the level of volatility between the pair and given the events we witnessed on Saturday. You can see the justification for that.
We can tell you the match has now been postponed until Sunday, after the Boca Juniors' team bus arriving at River Plate's Estadio Monumental ahead of the intended kickoff on Saturday was met with projectiles reportedly hurled at the vehicle, causing glass windows to be smashed.
Reports, too, of some Boca players also affected by tear gas and requiring hospital treatment as well. Boca star Carlos Tevez saying at no point did he or his teammates ever want to proceed with the match.
CARLOS TEVEZ, BOCA JUNIORS (through translator): The truth is this is a situation where they are obligating us to want to play the game. Pablo, our captain, just came back with a patch on his eye. They are obligating us to want to play this game.
SNELL: Tournament organizers confirming Boca and River Plate agreed to the postponement. This is the first time the Buenos Aires rivals have ever met in the final in this tournament's near 60-year history and now the eyes of the football world and beyond will be on both clubs closer than ever -- Patrick Snell, CNN, Atlanta.
HOWELL: Patrick, thank you.
It is morning in Paris and what a difference a day makes. After just hours ago, the most violent anti-government protests in years. Here you see on the streets of Paris, thousands of demonstrators took over the French capital Saturday. Some lit fires and set up barricades, as you see here on the Champs-Elysees.
Police responded using tear gas and water cannons. The protesters are furious at fuel prices, which have risen 16 percent this year alone. That's not all they are mad about, though. Many say they can't make ends meet, as the cost of living keeps getting higher and they blame Emmanuel Macron's government for it.
ALLEN: Mexico's incoming government is denying a report that it reached a deal with the United States regarding migrants seeking asylum in the U.S.
But "The Washington Post" reports the purported deal would require asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while their cases are processed. The agreement would end what Donald Trump calls the United States' catch and release policy. CNN Sarah Westwood has reaction from the U.S. president.
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: After weeks of ratcheting up the pressure on Mexican leaders to do more to help the U.S. with its illegal immigration problem at the southern border, the president is hinting that he may have struck a deal with Mexico that could force asylum seekers to wait on the Mexico side of the U.S.- Mexico border until their claims are processed by U.S. courts.
The president tweeting on Saturday, "Migrants at the southern border will not be allowed into the United States until their claims are individually approved in court. We will only allow those who come into our country legally. Other than that --
WESTWOOD: -- "our very strong policy is catch and detain. No releasing into the U.S."
Then he goes on to say, "All will stay in Mexico. If for any reason it becomes necessary, we will close our southern border. There is no way that the United States will, after decades of abuse, put up with this costly and dangerous situation."
The president has threatened to close the southern border before, although it's unclear how exactly he would do that. And the president has already attempted to make changes to asylum policy through executive action.
Just a few weeks ago the president attempted a proposed rule change that would have required migrants to present themselves at legal points of entry in order to request asylum. They would no longer be allowed to request asylum if they were caught trying to cross the border illegally.
But, of course, a court blocked that executive action from moving forward. That's something that the president has fixated on as he's spent the week here in Florida for the holiday. This deal would represent a major overhaul to the asylum system as currently, anytime a migrant sets foot on U.S. soil, they are eligible to request asylum.
And often they are released from detention while awaiting a court decision on their case. That can take months. The president has referred to that practice as catch and release. It's what he's described as a loophole that he wants to change and he wants to pursue a policy that either forces those asylum seekers to cross into Mexico or continue to be held by immigration authorities until their cases are processed -- Sarah Westwood, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.
HOWELL: Let's talk more about this with Peter Mathews, a political analyst and professor of political science at Cypress College via Skype with us at this hour.
Peter, pleasure to have you.
PETER MATHEWS, CYPRESS COLLEGE: It's going to be here, George.
HOWELL: Let's start with what the incoming Mexican government is now saying by way of "The Washington Post" report, that it had reached a deal with the Trump administration on migrants staying in that country before entering the United States; keeping in mind this new administration doesn't take control until December 1st.
So do you see this denial at face value for what it is?
Or could this be a way of kicking the can until that government officially takes control?
MATHEWS: I think it's delaying a bit until the government takes control. The issues are really critical because until now the United States had no questions about following our own law, which allows asylum seekers to apply for it when they arrive at the United States' border. It doesn't have to be through a designated port of entry; it can be anywhere on the border.
And our government has to accept the application and interview them; 80 percent of those who interview pass the initial fear test, the credible fear test. And then eventually only 10 percent are given the actual right to have asylum.
So it's quite a rigorous process that's been working and now Trump wants to put it on the Mexican government to keep the asylum seekers there rather than allowing them to come here.
HOWELL: It's also interesting to key into what we're hearing from the incoming interior secretary there in Mexico, that Mexico does not have plans to become a, quote, "third safe country" for migrants, essentially saying that Mexico will not be a waiting room.
Clearly this is a response to pressure on that government from migrants and, quite possibly, from the United States?
MATHEWS: Absolutely. Because the Mexican president, the president- elect, Manuel Obrador, he ran for president three times. He won this third time and it was a very strong platform. He won by a good margin and so he has a lot of supporters that want to make sure that Mexico doesn't become a dumping ground, so to speak, for people who will stay stuck in Mexico and may not be able to get jobs, although some of the businesses there saying they would provide a lot of jobs for these folks.
But it remains to be seen. And the Mexican economy is not doing real great right now. It's been having trouble for the last several decades and poverty rates have gone from 29 percent to 49 percent in Mexico after NAFTA and free trade.
I think that they have their own situation there, getting their economy going once again, the working class, the middle class. They don't want to be overloaded with just a whole lot of migrants coming in, getting blocked at the border. That's a real problem for Mexico as well.
HOWELL: Peter, the U.S. president earlier tweeted that migrants would need to stay in Mexico until their asylum claims are processed and would need to close the border, he said, if necessary. It all seems in line with this alleged deal between these two nations.
MATHEWS: Well, initially it seemed that way. But there's some pushback, it looks like, from the Mexican side where they are saying the talks are still in progression. It's not concluded yet because there's pressure from their own base, I'm sure to say don't just roll over and let America dictate to you what you'll do with migrants who are on their way to the United States, not just to Mexico.
So there's still a lot to be worked out here, George, and there's nationalism on both sides and there's also practical questions about how these folks resettle in a country that's still having economic problems itself, that Mexico has, especially since NAFTA was passed and there are a lot of problems with low wages over there and dumping of U.S. corn over there during --
MATHEWS: -- NAFTA and driving Mexican -- probably a lot of work, wouldn't work in factories and finally the people that come here, undocumented wise. And now they've got people from Central America fleeing the economic crises there, coming to Mexico and making their way up here.
So it's not a settled or done deal yet, George. And a lot of macroeconomic problems have to be addressed.
HOWELL: President Trump has been very clear. He wants migrants to either seek asylum at official ports of entry or prepare to be detained if they try to enter the United States by any other means.
How does this square with this ruling by a federal judge earlier in the weak, temporarily blocking the government from denying asylum to those crossing the border between ports of entry?
MATHEWS: I think the federal judge was correct because the law, the U.S. law requires that an asylum seeker who ends up at the U.S. border has to be granted an interview or allowed to be come in and be interviewed carefully. So it doesn't have to be at the port of entry. And President Trump's trying to regulate it, control it considerably to show his base he's not easy on migrants.
These are folks who are having a terrible situation. In a country like Honduras, for example, there was a military coup a few years ago. The president was overthrown but the progressive president who brought in land reform and brought in more health for poor people. And this president was overthrown by a dictatorship and a new government was elected.
So people are fleeing the resultant degradation of the economy and the drug dealing that comes in when the economy goes bankrupt. Those Honduran asylum seekers and also refugees should be given a hearing and given a chance at life once again. Because after all, the United States corporations were involved in Honduras and also in Guatemala for years. It's not always an equitable relationship, either, at the time.
HOWELL: The chronology is important so there was a ruling and then there is this Trump tweet.
Does the Trump tweet go against the ruling?
MATHEWS: It does because the ruling says that an asylum seeker who comes to the U.S. border has to be allowed a hearing, no matter where they land, whether it's the port of entry or not. But Trump again is trying to go against the U.S. Code and saying they have to come to these ports of entry. In fact, they have to stay in Mexico while their applications are being considered.
That's totally egregious, in my view. It's not in compliance with the U.S. Code and the U.S. law. And that means we have to act as a rule of law country. We are a rule of law country and should abide by the law. And the judge is correct in my view.
HOWELL: Peter Mathews, we appreciate your time. Thank you.
MATHEWS: Thank you, George.
ALLEN: CNN has learned that there are now a record number of unaccompanied migrant children in U.S. custody, about 14,000. U.S. officials say that's because they are trying to reduce risks and increase the safety of immigrant children who cross America's borders. For more here's CNN's Polo Sandoval.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A majority of those 14,000 undocumented children came to the United States by themselves. Only about 200 of them were separated from their parents as a result of President Trump's zero tolerance policy. That means a majority of these kids actually came to the United States alone.
Two dynamics at play here. One of them, the rates for the children being released by the Department of Health and Human Services, that's actually plummeted. At the same time, we've seen an increase in the number of days these children are held by the federal government, about two months now.
One reason for this is the Trump administration's recent policy that called for scrutiny, further scrutiny of some of these adults that have been coming forward to assume responsibility of these children. It includes exhaustive background searches, also fingerprinting of all adults in the home. Oftentimes some of these people are undocumented themselves. The
government for its part have made very clear from the beginning they are simply trying to ensure the safety of these migrant children. They want to make sure they know who they are releasing these kids to.
We should note this number that has just reached a record level is certainly always changing here. The Department of Health and Human Services is releasing more children to temporary homes. At the same time, they are also taking on more cases -- Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.
ALLEN: This hour, all eyes are on Brussels and a critical day for Brexit. Theresa May is pleading for support from fellow Britons as she gears up to meet with E.U. leaders very soon. We'll have the latest for you and a live report ahead.
ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States now around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL: And I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you.
ALLEN: Brexit faces a historic milestone right now in Brussels. European leaders have arrived at E.U. headquarters to decide whether to accept or reject the terms under which the U.K. will dissolve its 45-year membership.
HOWELL: They are expected to approve the deal but, really, no one is happy about it. Still unclear what will happen back in London at the U.K. Parliament. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker says it is sad to see Britain leave but the Brexit deal is not going to change. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: I'm upset because watching this, which is nothing. It's not a moment of tribulation. The European Union will not --
JUNCKER: -- change its position when it comes to this issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: CNN's Erin McLaughlin is in Brussels. She's covering this event for us, this history in the making.
After two years of intense negotiations, a Brexit plan is finally before E.U. leaders today, although there seems to be a somber tone to this event. What's expected?
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we understand that, right now, according to the spokesperson for the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, the remaining 27 E.U. leaders are currently in a working session to endorse the withdrawal agreement, the legally binding text, 585 pages, the so-called divorce deal, as well as the political declaration outlining the future relationship between the E.U. and the U.K.
We're expecting that official endorsement in moments and it will be a historic moment for the E.U. 27. But E.U. leaders arriving today also making clear that it will be a somber moment.
We heard from the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, when he arrived here for the summit say that we're all losing in this. Take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK RUTTE, PRESIDENT, THE NETHERLANDS: No victors here today, nobody winning. We're all losing. But given the context, this is acceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCLAUGHLIN: My producer's just handing me his phone here that has a tweet from Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council. It was tweeted out just a short while ago, saying the E.U. 27 has endorsed the withdrawal agreement and political declaration on the future E.U.- U.K. relations.
So a historic tweet there from President Tusk. Now we understand that Theresa May, the British prime minister, is expected to have a discussion with the E.U. 27 about next steps now that they have formally endorsed both the political declaration as well as the withdrawal agreement -- Natalie.
ALLEN: All right. We will certainly be waiting to hear from Theresa May after this news. Erin McLaughlin there in Brussels.
Now the question is, now that they've endorsed it that you just reported, is what she faces back at home, Erin.
MCLAUGHLIN: I mean she faces really an uphill battle at this point to win the hearts and minds, so to speak, of the British public, to get behind this deal going forward, especially considering some of the vociferous objections that we've been hearing from members of her own party.
Just yesterday we heard from Boris Johnson in Belfast tell the Democratic Unionist Party, at their party conference, that this is a historic mistake, that this Brexit deal should be rejected. He plans to vote against it.
We heard from Arlene Foster, chair of the Democratic Unionist Party, sort of express the same sentiment. That illustrates just what Theresa May is up against in terms of trying to get this through Westminster. The arithmetic is not in her favor. And if she fails to do that, it really is an open question in terms of what happens next.
ALLEN: It's interesting that they are approving this now, Erin, but it seems like the details are way down the road as far as what this will look like for these countries.
MCLAUGHLIN: Absolutely. Those negotiations have yet to even fully and officially begin. What's been approved today by the 27 is the divorce deal, the terms of the U.K.'s withdrawal from the European Union. That includes what happens to the rights of European citizens living inside the United Kingdom; what happens to Northern Ireland and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
It also includes the financial settlement. All of the uncertainty, in the words of E.U. leaders surrounding the Brexit process, that is what's decided today as well as a political declaration outlining the framework for the future relationship.
But the exact details of that relationship have yet to be determined. That is expected to be discussed once the U.K. formally leaves the E.U. in March of 2019. That's when formal trade talks are expected to begin.
But if this episode of Gibraltar, where Spain, at the 11th hour, threatened to boycott this summit today over the future of Gibraltar, a last-minute deal being --
MCLAUGHLIN: -- brokered between the E.U., the U.K. and Spain to get the prime minister Pedro Sanchez here today. If that's any indication of the uphill battle Theresa May and the U.K. will face in those future trade negotiations, it certainly is an ominous and somewhat foreboding sign of potentially things to come in those future trade talks.
Already I'm told by diplomats in the minutes to the conclusion of today's council, there will be specifics on fishing and level playing field rights that will be included in this conclusion, sort of raising the alarms of all of the concerns that E.U. countries individually have going forward.
But for now, we're seeing here in Brussels an act of solidarity, all 27 getting behind this divorce deal that has been negotiated by Michel Barnier, the chief Brexit negotiator for the E.U., and his team.
ALLEN: We now have the tweet that you just read to us from Donald Tusk, so let's look at it again.
"E.U. 27 has endorsed the withdrawal agreement and political declaration on the future E.U.-U.K. relations."
It came rather swiftly as all of the leaders took their seat at the roundtable. You talk about the uncertainty with these countries and we know about Parliament back at home, not liking this deal that Theresa May has worked to get approved.
And we even heard her taking to the radio last week to take questions from citizens.
What about the citizens back in Britain, those that voted for this, what is the level of trepidation about what's ahead?
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I think the Brexit process has seen the U.K. become a deeply divided country between Brexiteers and Remainers. But people there both seem united around the idea that this might not be the best deal for the United Kingdom. People I talk to there are genuinely concerned.
Brexiteers are screaming about the prospect of this Northern Irish backstop that has been negotiated as part of the withdrawal agreement, what could happen if that comes into effect. There are objections that could render the United Kingdom as sort of a vassal state.
The objections of the Remainers, that this deal doesn't go far enough to bring the United Kingdom close enough to the E.U., what could happen to businesses, what could happen to the British economy. All of those concerns are coming to the fore.
And all of those concerns really represent what Theresa May is up against in terms of selling this deal to the British public. Theresa May's strategy so far has been, as you say, to talk to the British people on radio. Just last night she tweeted out a letter telling the British people that this will pave the way for them to have a brighter future.
But given the concerns from Brexiteers, Remainers, alike, there are some serious doubts about that back in the U.K.
ALLEN: Erin McLaughlin, live from Brussels, history has now been made there. Thank you, Erin. We'll be right back.
HOWELL: Welcome back.
At least one gunman is still at large after Thursday's mall shooting in the U.S. state of Alabama. This after police say an officer killed an African American man who likely wasn't the person who shot and wounded two people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No justice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No peace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No justice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No peace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No justice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No peace.
HOWELL (voice-over): The death of Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., known as E.J., led to this protest on Saturday. Bradford was just 21 years old and looking at a career in the Army. Natasha Chen has more on the case.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The initial report was that two men had gotten into a fight of some kind at the mall that resulted in an 18-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl being shot. They were both taken to the hospital.
Now, police said Bradford was fleeing the scene and brandishing a weapon and that's when a Hoover police officer working as mall security shot and killed him.
But, later, Hoover police issued a statement saying Bradford may have been involved in some aspect of the altercation but he likely did not fire the rounds that injured the 18-year-old victim. So police say there is at least one gunman still at large.
Bradford's family has now retained civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump. His office released a statement from the family saying they are heartbroken and as we continue to grieve, rest assured that we are working diligently with our legal team to determine exactly what happened and why this police officer killed our son. We will never forget E.J. and ask for your continued prayers during this incredibly difficult time.
I also talked to a woman at the mall who was there when it happened. She said she heard the gunshots and people ran in panic. She hid in a dressing room with others. She told me she is frustrated at how law enforcement has handled this entire situation.
The officer involved with the shooting has been placed on administrative leave. And the Alabama law enforcement agency is now heading up the investigation into the shooting -- Natasha Chen, CNN.
ALLEN: In California, after all the death and destruction, good news for crews fighting the deadliest fire in that state's history. The story right after this. (MUSIC PLAYING)
HOWELL: We're looking at pictures from moments ago; the British prime minister Theresa May arriving at European Union headquarters in Brussels, which, again, moments ago, endorsed this historic Brexit deal that will dissolve the U.K.'s 45-year membership.
The ministers will meet with the British prime minister and she will then return to London and begin the very difficult task of trying to get this deal through Parliament and also to make sure that the public understands the nature, the structure of this deal. It's an uphill battle for the prime minister.
ALLEN: We do expect to hear from her after her meeting and we'll bring you her comments live when that happens.
Now to California. The state's most destructive and most deadly wildfire is now 98 percent contained -- finally. At least 87 people have died since the fire began more than two weeks ago.
HOWELL: More than 18,700 structures have been destroyed; that includes almost 14,000 homes. Right now there is a blizzard in the northeastern part of the United States and our meteorologist Derek Van Dam is here to tell us about it.
ALLEN: Yes, it is so cold, we have this for you off the coast of Massachusetts; at least 170 sea turtles have died in the past three days due to the cold weather. The environmental organization that recovered the turtles blames climate change. The group says it managed to rescue 54 cold-stunned turtles. They plan to slowly warm them up before releasing them.
HOWELL: Again, we're monitoring events in Brussels, Belgium, at this hour. The European Council has endorsed the Brexit deal. We'll take a look now at images we're seeing in Brussels inside the European Union headquarters.
This sets the stage for the U.K. to divorce itself from the E.U. next March. Leaders are expected to meet soon with the British prime minister. We'll have more on what's happening in Brussels at the very top of the hour.
ALLEN: So we'll be right back with more of CNN NEWSROOM and this breaking story. I'm Natalie Allen. HOWELL: I'm George Howell. We are back.