Return to Transcripts main page

HALA GORANI TONIGHT

U.S. House Democrats Turn Up Heat on Trump; UK Prime Minister Meets European Council in Brussels; Mark Carney, Head of Bank of England, Says Brexit Fog Causing Short Term Volatility; Trump Facing New Investigation That Goes Beyond Russia; Maduro Refuses to End Blockade of Aid from Colombia; Afghan Peace Talks Held In Moscow; May's Last-Ditch Effort To Save Brexit Deal; Aid Trucks Arriving At Colombian -Venezuelan Border; Rediscovering The Port City Of Zubarah; Germany Clamps Down On Facebook's Data Gathering. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired February 7, 2019 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00] CYRIL VANIER, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from the CNN center here in Atlanta I'm Cyril Vanier in for Hala Gorani. Tonight,

Brexit dead lock. British Prime Minister is in Brussels but EU leaders are standing firm. We will have the latest.

U.S. House Democrats turn up the heat. We're live in Washington on details of their new investigations. What it means for President Donald Trump.

Also aid blockade in Venezuela. President Maduro's forces continue to prevent food from being delivered. We'll be live in Colombia.

Just 50 days to go now, but countless issues to still address. Nonetheless the British Prime Minister insists she can deliver Brexit on time. Theresa

May has spent the day in Europe where the EU flatly said it will not re- open talks on the Brexit agreement. But in something of an olive branch Brussels said it could add wording to a separate political declaration

between the two sides. The Prime Minister was as defiant as ever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER, UK: Well I set out very clearly positions in Parliament that we must have legally-binding changes to the withdrawal

agreement in order are to deal with Parliament's concerns over the backstop. What I see and hear from leaders is a desire for us to work

together to ensure we can deliver the U.K. leaving the European Union with a deal. My work is to deliver Brexit on time and I'm going to negotiate

hard in the coming days to do just that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: Mrs. May said comments by the European Council President of Donald Tusk for a special place in hell for those who supported Brexit were

not helpful. Some reporters were keen to push that issue.

And there is yet another economic warning about the consequences of Brexit. The Bank of England slashed its forecast for economic growth citing

uncertainty. The bank said the British economy will expand by 1.2 percent in 2019. That is the weakest since the global financial crisis in 2009.

We're covering all sides of this story. Erin McLaughlin is in Brussels. Richard Quest has analysis from New York. Erin is Theresa May getting any

concessions, any crumb at all from the European Union?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, LONDON BUREAU: Well, when it comes to the withdrawal agreement, it seems to be very much Brexit

on repeat at this point. That controversial Northern Ireland backstop remains at the center of this impasse as it has for pretty much months now.

Where we go from here is entirely unclear. Now Theresa May had a series of meetings today in Brussels including with the President of the European

commission. Out of that meeting they issued a joint statement reiterating their red lines in which Theresa May says she feels that she wants legal

changes to the withdrawal agreement in order to get this deal over the line at Westminster. That's what she needs to get this done. The commission

reiterating its position that withdrawal agreement is not open for renegotiation. The two sides have committed to continue dialogue. They

also agreed to a meeting later in the month. But as President tusk says this impasse continues and no breakthrough in sight at this point.

VANIER: That's why, Erin, at this stage, I don't understand what there is to talk about any more. Neither side is budging. You have Theresa May

saying I have to renegotiate this and Europeans saying no way, never. Even if they meet again as they will, what is there to talk about?

MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. That's a very good question. It's not really all that clear at this point. I was just talking to a source with knowledge of the

may-tusk meeting and he told me that President tusk told Prime Minister may that the EU sees potentially Jeremy Corbyn her political adversary, the

leader of the opposition, the proposal he put forward last night as a possible way out of the impasse.

[14:05:00] Corbin put forward five proposals which includes closer relationship for the U.K. to the single market as well as a customs union,

both seen as red lines for Theresa May. So, no doubt that suggestion most likely did not sit well with her. A U.K. source tells me, though, even if

Corbyn's proposal was considered seriously there in the U.K., it would still require legally-binding changes to that withdrawal agreement.

VANIER: All right. Erin, stand by. Let me jump to Richard Quest. Meanwhile as this is happening in Brussels, as into underscore the urgency

of finding a Brexit deal the bank of England is warning the British economy is not ready for a no deal.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: There's a surge down under way anyway predicated by Germany and France and by the United States,

so this isn't a good time to have a crisis. But it's a spectacularly bad time if you also factor in the uncertainty of a no deal Brexit. It's the

fog of Brexit as the governor of the Bank of England put it that we need be most careful and worried about.

VANIER: But, Richard, what I saw --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK CARNEY, GOVERNOR OF THE BANK OF ENGLAND: Economic data and more fundamentally it's creating a series of tensions in the economy. Tensions

for business. Although many companies are stepping up their contingency planning the economy as a whole is still not yet prepared for a no deal, no

transition exit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: Right. So, there you have it. Blunders can possibly be. The U.K. economy is not prepared for a no deal, therefore, no transition Brexit. We

are just 50 days away from it. Remember, you know, as Erin was talking, all the Prime Minister has to do, I say all is get the U.K. over the hurdle

of March 29.

Once you are into that hurdle, he ran the transition period were the status quote maintained while you put together the full free trade agreement.

That's why the danger of the Northern Ireland backstop is so serious, because it is intractable.

And the Governor of the Bank of England knows that and knows the risks are on the down side.

VANIER: Richard, how bad is this really? This forecast from the Bank of England. Because if you remember the doomsday scenario, the anti-Brexiters

were saying well the U.K. will have a year's long recession.

QUEST: Hang on. The doomsday remainers and the Bank of England and treasury all had their forecasts and been proven wrong but haven't been

proven wrong if there's a no deal Brexit. With a no deal Brexit you are talking about the big red button that you don't want to push to see what

happens. If you look at the FTSE, the main London share market you'll see unlike the DAX or the CAC it hasn't recovered to the same level of other

markets in the post-great financial crisis. I think there's a danger of playing here of playing with Gelignite. It will blow up.

VANIER: You're in New York you can call it Jell-O.

QUEST: A real danger of dealing with explosives here. Let's go that way. It really is this. No one knows what's going to happen. No one knows how

bad. And the governor is saying the fog of Brexit is what's worrying most.

VANIER: Richard Quest in New York. Erin McLaughlin in Brussels. Thank you very much to both of you.

U.S. Pres. Donald Trump is lashing out at a sweeping new investigation that goes far beyond his ties to Russia. He calls it Presidential

harassment now led by Democrats the House Intelligence Committee Is investigating whether any foreign country has financial leverage over Mr.

Trump and maybe using such leverage to influence his actions. Chairman Adam Schiff they will pursue what he calls credible reports ever money

laundering and other possible crimes related to the President's business interests.

President Trump said investigating his finances is a red line. He's refused to release tax returns. Notoriously so. At this hour another

House committee is taking up that very issue. Let's talk about all of this with White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins and justice correspondent

Jessica Schneider. Kaitlan, I'll get to you in a second. Jessica, I want to start with you first. Sum for us what Democrats in Congress are looking

at now?

[14:10:00] JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: They are looking at everything. There has been a cascade of Congressional investigations.

We've seen a flurry of activity on Capitol Hill today. Investigations into everything from President Trump's tax returns and how they might go about

getting those as well as the family separation policy. But the real one, the real threat it does come from the House Intelligence Committee. We saw

Adam Schiff yesterday announce they will open these investigations into any foreign influence on the President. Coming from countries like Russia or

Saudi Arabia or other foreign entities. You know, they are saying they are going to dig deeper into Donald Trump's global business dealings to find

out if the President's business interests are influencing any Trump's foreign policy decisions.

That is the big threat. That's what we saw the biggest pushback on from the President. yesterday. But Adam Schiff saying look we're now

empowering the House and we'll take these investigations seriously. We'll investigate everything every which way which you're already seeing

happening on Capitol Hill. The President, of course, not pleased about this. And the biggest investigations coming from the Intelligence

Committee here.

VANIER: Kaitlan, we just saw on screen a list and it was endless of things that the Democrats are going to investigate. How does the White House deal

with this?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well they've been preparing this since the Democrats won in the mid-term elections because

they knew there was going be an onslaught of investigations. Even though White House aides has been warning the President for months this has been

coming hasn't stemmed his fury. What he said about Adam Schiff in person yesterday essentially implying he doesn't know who Adam Schiff is, asking

who and then dismissing him as a partisan hack who is trying to make name for himself even though we know the President knows who Adam Schiff is

before. Sources tell me the President complains about Adam Schiff a lot in private because he sees him on television and tells people that he thinks a

very negative person. But now what's different after the mid-terms is Adam Schiff has gone from being a pain in the President's side who was a ranking

member on the House intelligence committee to now he's chairman and he has the authority to launch all these investigations into the President and

it's a pretty widespread authority and that investigation he announced yesterday is much broader than we originally thought it was going to be.

So, expect the White House to face this going forward. We've reported the staff got their legal staff preparing for this going forward but it won't

change the President's fury over this. Of course, he doesn't like people looking at I had finances and that's the next thing to go, essentially.

VANIER: Let's find out about that. Exactly what the Democrats can do. What are the powers that these House committees now have? Let's take the

example of the tax returns that Donald Trump refused to disclose during the campaign, he refused to disclose since he's been President. If we take

just that example can the Democrats get those?

SCHNEIDER: A hearing is happening as we speak on Capitol Hill in the House and ways mean committee. Here's what the statute says. It says the

chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee can get the tax returns from the treasury department but the caveat being that Trump's team, Roland-

Garros at the forefront, his lawyer who is very outspoken he's already talked about the fact that they will go to court over this. We will not

just let the treasury department hand over the tax returns. By statute it's pretty clear the ways and means committee, they can request the tax

returns, they can get it. The question being, what can they do with it from there. Can they release it to the public? What can they do with tax

return? Now you'll have these hearings that talk about the importance of getting the President's tax return. They are looking into legislation that

would force Presidential candidates to release ten years' worth of tax returns. Then likely that's just the building block here, they will likely

continue moving forward pressing for the tax returns, likely getting it or trying to get it from the treasury department. You can expect an all-out

court battle from the President' team pushing back on exactly that.

VANIER: I remember, I believe it was last year or maybe the year before when Donald Trump said explicitly this is a red line. Don't look at my

finances. That's beyond the pale. That's how he felt. He can tweet at Adam Schiff. He can say it's Presidential harassment. He can lawyer up.

But he cannot stop the powers of oversight that Congress has.

COLLINS: Right. Democrats have said just because the President is fuming about this they won't be intimidated by what he tweets at them. The

President said it would be crossing a red line by looking at his finances that was a question about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

He said he believed that would be going too far for Robert Mueller because it's outside of the scope. The difference there the President has the

authority to fire Robert Mueller if he deems so, though that's up for question, but he could essentially tell the acting Attorney General that he

wants Robert Mueller fired if he so deems.

[14:15:00] The difference is he can't get Adam Schiff fired because he's a Congressman and now the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and

now clearly Adam Schiff is really taking his powers here and going about as far as he can go to look at all of these aspects of the President. As you

saw on Twitter this morning the President knows it's not just Adam Schiff. Other chairman, other committees like ways and means to look into the

President's finances, what's driving his choices as President, which sometimes Democrats have criticized him and said they believe those are

financially driven choices that the President has made. But right the difference here is he can't fire Adam Schiff like he would have the

opportunity to fire Robert Mueller if he thought he crossed the line with his investigations.

VANIER: We're moving into phase two of the presidency. The Democrats said for two years as soon as we have the power to do so we'll be asking tough

questions of the President. Now they have the power. We'll see what if anything those investigations turn up. Thank you both.

Still to come tonight despite many nations calling for his removal Venezuelan President Maduro remains defiant. What is his strategy? We'll

be speaking live with his former chief of staff in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VANIER: Venezuela's self-declared President Juan Guaido said he's confident badly needed food and medical supplies will get in his country.

But military forces allied with President Maduro continue to block a key bridge and prevent aid from being delivered. Look at this. The aid is

coming from Colombia one of many nations backing Juan Guaido to oust Maduro from power.

CNN's Isa Suarez is in the border town of Cucata in Columbia. You've been trying to understand more about the whole aid aspect of this power

struggle. It's a very important part of this story because it's a central part of Juan Guaido's strategy. What have you found?

ISA SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very much so. Yes. We're on top of two trucks. So, you can get perspective. If I can get our cameraman to pan

around. This is the media, all waiting for what we're told the trucks that left Caracas, they left yesterday about 11 plus hours and they are making

their way to come all the way here and we're waiting for them. That's the aid we told would arrive. Two trucks are coming, making their way from

Bogota to here.

[14:20:00] They were supposed to be here by now but some of these roads are extremely dangerous. Now give you a sense where are we. Just over my

right shoulder this is the bridge where Venezuelan government has blocked off, if you remember that shot that we gave you yesterday that drone shot

of two blue containers and orange oil tanker, that's further down. This is one bridge that then separate into three small bridges and at the other end

of Venezuela it goes together yet again. This is a bridge we've been told the aid would be coming in. The question of how much aid, we don't know.

In terms of how long this aid will be here, we don't know. What we do know is that the aid is not staying here. According to the Colombian government

it is going into Venezuela.

When I asked the Colombian government, OK how far in, do you mean over the border they couldn't give me specifics. But this to put into context this

is a high stakes game and it's the last, the latest part of the puzzle in many ways because what they are doing is they are putting pressure on

Maduro to either back away and really testing a lot of his forces on the other side. Will they let them through and if they do then he looks

weakened. If it doesn't, does Juan Guaido look weakened because he doesn't have control of the situation. A high stakes game from both men and this

is the last, the latest piece, the latest move.

VANIER: Wow. I mean the stakes are huge. There's sovereignty involved as well. Colombia can't drive into Venezuela own do what it wants in another

country. Has there been any sign, any sign at all that perhaps the military would heed Juan Guaido's demand to allow the aid in?

SUAREZ: I can tell you from what I've heard, I heard from Venezuelan crossing, a young lieutenant that's near the bridge, the other bridge we

were talking, we've been been talking about, the pedestrian bridge, what they are doing is at the end of their shift they take off their uniform and

cross the bridge to buy goods because, remember, they too don't have enough money to feed their families. They too don't have enough money from the

Maduro government because those sanctions are in place. So, they are making that crossing. So perhaps the young lieutenant will turn a blind

eye. But will the more senior levels of the military, that's a big question. That's why we've heard from U.S. national security adviser, John

Bolton, we have several governments appealing, tweeting on social media for really the arm forces to stand on the side of history, to stand on the side

of its people to let that aid in and some of the tweets we're seeing from Juan Guaido in particular, he's directing the message at the soldiers.

Think of your mother. Think of your family. Would you deny them food when it arrives? This is going to be a test of the wills and it will be a test

as will for Colombia. As you can imagine don't want to see the throngs of people coming here. One woman said if the aid doesn't cross the border she

will go with a group of friends and move those barricades. That's how desperate people are. How soon they want to see movement anticipate change

at this border.

VANIER: Thank you very much for your reporting. Keep a very close eye as I know you well on what happens there because especially with all the

cameras trained on that border crossing you know that it's going to be high stakes both for Juan Guaido to see whether he can deliver on his promise,

get the aid to Venezuelans inside the country and of course for Maduro who is blocking that aid for now.

For some more perspective on all of this we're joined by Temir Porras, former chief of staff to Maduro from 2007 to 2013. That's the year Mr.

Maduro became President. He joins us via skype from Uruguay. Sir, how fragile would you say the Maduro presidency is right now?

TEMIR PORRAS, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO NICOLAS MADURO: Hi. Thank you for having me. I would say that, as you have seen, there's a power struggle in

the country. So far, again, the situation is becoming more tense. Rather than fragility I would describe it as a very tense situation because among

the situation you have described in the border and, again, the reason, by the way, why some members of the international community, Latin Americans

and Europeans gathering in Uruguay to find a framework or political issue to this situation. Once again, we are in a dead lock. We are in a power

dispute. We're not talking once again of any movement happening in Venezuela and this sort of provocative move takes us closer to a conflict

than to a resolution. Once again, I hope that today here in Uruguay we'll find a framework for a political issue to the crisis.

[14:25:00] VANIER: You know Mr. Maduro better than most. You were his chief of staff. What's his mindset as he faces this challenge?

PORRAS: Well, I think his mindset is on the one hand someone who has to handle a very complex and difficult situation within the country,

economically and socially speaking. But on the other hand, someone who is also facing a power challenge. So, I guess that he's assessing the

situation by the hour. But, again, that he is keeping an eye on the risks of this situation becoming once again a conflict turning from a political

dispute to a civil conflict inside Venezuela.

VANIER: From the outside it looks like he's hell bent on keeping power and that's his priority and that appears to be what he thinks about 24 hours a

day.

PORRAS: Well because he has been challenged once again. I think whatever the reasons and whatever the motivations from early January there was a

power challenge from the national assembly that has been backed by the U.S. --

VANIER: Saying the election was illegitimate.

PORRAS: The reason -- I would take some time here. The reason why that happened is because there was a failure before that election of an

agreement between the government of Venezuela and the opposition. So, Mr. Maduro went to the elections and most of the parties of the opposition

didn't participate in the election. That's the reason why that election is legal, but it didn't deliver on --

VANIER: Mr. Maduro has done everything during his term and his time in office to sideline the opposition. They control Parliament. He sidelined

Parliament by creating what you could best describe as a shadow Parliament. There's as you say there's context. There's a reason the opposition

boycott to the Presidential election.

PORRAS: Absolutely. You're describing an extremely polarized country, and, again, this is the narrative of the opposition and the description of

the situation of Mr. Maduro his opposition -- no, none of them are inaccurate. The fact is that you have a government and an opposition who

do not agree on a common set, common understanding and common set of institutions to co-exist with. Again, they both have their motivations.

Some of them might be more legitimate than others. At the end of the day what I mean is the only issue, the only outcome or possible outcome of this

crisis is finding that arrangement, that political arrangement that can include some of the actors, that can exclude some of the actors but in a

way, Venezuela needs to address that deep problem of mistrust and polarization.

VANIER: There's one more question I have to ask you before I let you go. Under his leadership, under the leadership of Mr. Maduro Venezuela has been

run into the ground. Food shortages, medicine shortages, people fleeing the country, 3 million refugees. Do you think Mr. Maduro fully realizes

that and do you think he cares?

PORRAS: Well, the situation is there.

VANIER: Does he realize that? In his speeches he doesn't appear to.

PORRAS: You have to ask him. All Venezuelans --

VANIER: I ask you because you've worked for him for a number of years. I'm trying to get a little bit into his head via you if possible.

PORRAS: I have described in the past the incumbent he is of this government created this situation for this terrible crisis. Everybody

understands that in the country. What we're facing and I assume the President understands that problem and understands it on a daily basis. He

hasn't come up with a solution. His government hasn't been able to address that situation and created somehow through its policies. But beyond that

situation once again this political crisis that we're facing, if we're willing to solve those problems and if we're willing to solve them

peacefully and in a Democratic framework we have to find a space for a political solution or else we will face more economic decline and on the

other hand the risk of a conflict.

VANIER: We'll see whether that space can be found where you are. But for now, the opposition strategy is confrontation and bringing people down in

the streets. Thank you so much for joining us.

PORRAS: Thank you very much for having me.

VANIER: Still to come tonight on the show we go to Moscow where talks were held on peace in Afghanistan. CNN speaks to former Afghan President Karzai

who has warm words for Russia's influence.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:30:18] CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Peace talks took place this week in Moscow between members of the Taliban and some of

Afghanistan's main political players including former President Hamid Karzai. Held at a hotel owned by the Kremlin. The unprecedented meeting

didn't end the 17-year-old conflict but it did bring both sides together. Current Afghan government officials and U.S. representatives were not

included.

Let's go to CNN's Oren Liebermann who is in Moscow and sat down with Hamid Karzai.

So, Oren, you got some great insight from somebody who was president of Afghanistan who saw most of this war unfold. What did you learn?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, he remains optimistic because of what he sees, especially after this last week. And it's more

than just both sides that were brought together here in Moscow.

There were a number of sides here including the Taliban, as well as some of the most influential power brokers and influencers inside of Afghanistan.

And that is why he was so optimistic because of the joint statement they agreed upon because of further meetings that will happen that he believes

next month, perhaps, in Doha, and as well as the progress he believes can be made here.

Now, all of this is happening, of course, while the U.S. has its own peace process that it's working on, a smaller process. The U.S. met first with

Taliban and then separately with the Afghan government which was left out of the Moscow talks here.

But Karzai himself was optimistic about both. Seen both as the right way forward, crucially both included the Taliban. He was, however, critical of

current U.S. policy which is to say he's been harshly critical of continued bombing campaigns which have had higher civilian casualties, according to

United Nations and that's where he's critical.

But now he says, even with President Donald Trump who he welcomes as part process, that's turned the corner in pursuit of peace, in pursuit of a

settlement that includes the Taliban which he has called the brothers of Afghanistan and countrymen of his.

That being said he was most optimistic when it came to Russia and the Russian involvement and peace process. Here's part of our interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAMID KARZAI, FORMER PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN: At this time, it was a grand gathering of all the Afghan people, the representatives of every part

of Afghanistan, everything of Afghanistan and the Taliban too. So it was a very significant meeting, one that perhaps a country like Russia could

arrange.

LIEBERMANN: Is Moscow a more honest broker than Washington when it comes to Afghanistan?

KARZAI: Moscow is a great power. Russia is one of the greatest powers in the world. And an old friend of Afghanistan. Therefore, Russia can play

an extremely important role as it did. It's proven now. It's a country that you can trust and depend on, surely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:35:13] LIEBERMANN: He chose his words carefully there and I followed that up by asking him, what about the U.S? And that's because he's

critical of U.S. policy now, although he sees the value in what the U.S. has done in terms of building Democratic institutions, building education,

building infrastructure in Afghanistan and that he wants to continue.

But when I asked him should the U.S. presence in Afghanistan continue, he was very careful here and he said, basically only if Afghans allow it and

that the U.S. shouldn't stay if the Afghan countrymen don't want it.

One of the other big statements he made, Cyril, is that he believes the elections scheduled for July should be postponed. He says that you can't

monitor the elections. The elections won't be nationwide because of challenges. And there he says those elections should be held off until the

conclusion of a peace process, which despite the challenges, he still remains optimistic about.

VANIER: Oren Liebermann, live from Moscow. I envy your conversation with Hamid Karzai. Thank you very much, Oren, for your reporting.

While of the peace process in Afghanistan is showing some progress, the defeat of ISIS in Syria is not yet certain. What's left of the so-called

Islamic State is now hold up in a tiny corner of land in eastern Syria.

Fighters there are loading up for the final battle. U.S. President Donald Trump said end of ISIS control of territory in Syria and Iraq could come as

early as next week, but not everyone is that optimistic. Proclaiming the end of ISIS doesn't mean the threat is over.

Let's go straight to Ben Wedeman. He's in eastern Syria. Ben, are we really just days away from the defeat of ISIS as Mr. Trump had suggested?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think President Trump by saying within a week the announcement about the victory over ISIS

may be made certainly has accelerated the timetable, so to speak.

It does put pressure on the Kurdish led forces here in eastern Syria to make this final push on an area that I've seen described as about the size

of Central Park. So it may be a relatively small area compared to the vast size of the Islamic State which one was as big as Great Britain, had a

population of as much as 10 million. Now it's whittled down to this tiny sliver of land with perhaps 2,000 people in it.

That being said, among those 2,000 people are some of ISIS' most experienced ruthless and battle hardened fighters. We understand from

commanders up at the front that they believe that there is an extensive network of tunnels within this small enclave, that these tunnels are being

used as bomb shelters, they're being used essentially to attack troops from the rear, so the military challenges are severe.

Now, we were very near the front today. We were actually covering the arrival of people fleeing from that enclave and we saw intense air activity

over the area. There are indications that perhaps within the coming days the final push to take this last pocket of ISIS will begin. Cyril.

VANIER: Reporting live from eastern Syria. Ben Wedeman, thank you.

Still to come tonight on the show, Britain's prime minister makes a last ditch effort to save her Brexit deal. What European leaders told her in

Brussels and what could happen next as that March 29th deadline approaches.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:40:49] VANIER: There are new accusations against Renault's former chairman and CEO, Carlos Ghosn. Auditors of the French carmakers say Ghosn

may have benefitted personally from company contributions to renovate the Palace of Versailles outside Paris.

He was married at the opulent estate outside of the French capital in 2016. Ghosn has spent more than two months in jail since his arrest in Tokyo. He

is charged with financial misconduct and abuse of his position while head of automaker of Nissan which is part of a global alliance with Renault.

All right. I want to go back to our top story now. British Prime Minister Theresa May's last ditch effort to renegotiate her Brexit deal with

European leaders.

After talks in Brussels, those officials stood firm. The withdrawal deal is not open for renegotiation. That's what they told her. If today's

scene looks familiar, that's because it is. May has been trying to solve this puzzle since 2016. You see her making the same arduous journey to the

heart of the E.U. multiple times since she took office.

Today, she wrestled a very small concession. The head of the European Commission did say that wording, wording can be added to the existing deal.

Non-legally binding wording. This only adds to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Now only 50 days away, March 29th is the cutoff date.

Bianca Nobilo is following developments, as always, from London.

Bianca, did Theresa May waste her day?

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, arguably, Cyril, more a waste to be back in the U.K. where the House of Commons is still

arguing amongst itself almost two years on from when the process began. At least she was talking to her negotiating partners.

And you mentioned the fact that the E.U. did concede that they might be able to be added wording but nothing legally binding. She's in a really

difficult situation.

And today, she was undercut by the fact that the leader of the opposition he rein the U.K., Jeremy Corbyn, chose this morning to announce the five

conditions under which he would support a Brexit deal.

Now, those conditions are more like what the E.U. has always pushed for, a far closer aligned relationship, permanent membership of a comprehensive

customs union, alignment with the single market, participation in E.U. institutions, a close security framework.

So that has somewhat undermined the prime minister's position because she's gone back to the E.U. in order to try and get her party on side to ask for

assurances on this contentious issue of the backstop.

Now, the E.U. would far rather the solution that's been offered by the leader of the opposition here in the U.K. than what Theresa May is trying

to achieve.

But it's whether or not she's wasted her time, I think it could have gone worse last year at the Salzburg summit, it certainly did. That was almost

a complete breakdown and talks.

We knew what the expectations were going into the discussions this week. The E.U. have stood firm and said they are not re-opening the withdrawal

agreement. So anything other than that would be a massive surprise. We knew that was unlikely.

So, ultimately, I think what we're going to be looking at is what type of assurances the E.U. can provide outside of that. And the key will probably

be wording. Because alternative arrangements is what's referenced in the legally-binding withdrawal agreement so that there can be an addendum

perhaps agreed using that wording. Then that might be the compromise that both sides could get around.

VANIER: Bianca, I'm glad we've got you covering this. I'm just confused. You know what doesn't confuse me though? The Brexit countdown, screen

write 50 days, three hours. That's not confusing by deadline.

Bianca Nobilo, thank you so much.

All right. I want to go back to Venezuela. A story we're covering at the top of the hour. CNN's Isa Soares is in a border town of Cucuta, Colombia

with new information.

Isa, I see trucks behind you. Earlier, you were telling us that some trucks coming from the Colombian capital were making their way towards you.

What do you know?

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They've just arrived. I'm sure if I -- I'm just going to come down so that Jose can film them.

You see there was two big white trucks, as you can see at the end of your screen. They're the trucks that have come all the way from Bogota.

[14:45:01] I spoke to U.S. official in the last few minutes and said that the U.S. is pre-positioning, it says, relief items which include food and

nutritional supplements, hygiene kits, medical supplies in Colombia they say so they are available to reach those most in need in Venezuela as soon

as possible.

There you see one truck going into that, to the right side of your screen. The second one, that white one also. Those are the two trucks that made

their way from Bogota yesterday in 11 plus hours. And those are the trucks that have the most needed aid for those in Venezuela, the most desperate.

Worth bearing in mind that 90 or so percent of people live in poverty in Venezuela and have been unable to buy any goods or any medication, in fact,

for some time. And so this is the aid that they were been very much were waiting for, not just for days but, indeed for months on end.

And the question there remains how long, Cyril, is this going to stay here? When will Venezuelans, on the other side of the border, receive it and will

Maduro let this in? Cyril?

VANIER: Isa, just as a point of detail, so I'm sure that we know what we're looking at. Where exactly, at what point of the scene behind you are

the trucks in Venezuela? Where does Venezuela start in the background there? Is it after the hangars, the white hangars?

SOARES: You can't see it. You won't be able to see it from here. So after that white sign where it says Colombia, there's still a bridge. It

was one bridge but then divides into three lanes. It's only halfway through that bridge that is Venezuela.

If your show can show you the footage of -- the drone footage that we got when it's blocked, it's really halfway in that is Venezuela. So it's got a

long way to go. So this still very much Colombian territory and even further down, you still got a way to go. Obviously, you've got the police

here are coming in. All the security coming around these trucks. People, of course, Cyril, will be wondering --

VANIER: About the security, were the trucks being escorted about the security?

SOARES: They had. They were escorted by three of the trucks and local Colombian police. The Colombia government told me even this week that, in

fact, the point of this, of course, is not for the aid to stay here as many, perhaps, Venezuelans were hoping they would come here and get the

aid. No.

The aim is to get the aid across the border to Venezuelans. Obviously, a test of wills, let's say, for not just Guaido, but also for Maduro to see

whether Maduro he will buckle under pressure. What they're clearly trying to do with these images is try and see if Maduro's men, his support. Those

men has taken 20 years to get their loyalty under Chavez, whether they will turn a blind eye and whether they switch sides -- switch side and stand

with the side of the people.

So a real test for Maduro, for Maduro's men but, of course, we don't know at this point how long the people of Venezuela are prepared to wait to get

this -- to get this aid if this, indeed, is a waiting game, Cyril.

VANIER: So, Isa, you know what's interesting, we just put up the pictures and maybe let's put them up again of the bridge being blocked. That's what

you told us. We also saw the aerial footage of the -- of the border crossing. So there are no men. There are no Venezuelan soldiers blocking

the bridge. And it seems to me -- and I would like your opinion on this. But I would venture to guess that this is by design. There can't be any

kind of conflict or clash. They have managed -- they found essentially a low conflict way to avoid the aid coming into the country.

SOARES: Very much so. That's exactly it. Because when we saw those two blue containers and the orange tanker, oil tanker, right in the middle of

that bridge.

My impression to authorities here and to police here by Tienditas Bridge is, first of all, who put it there? How do you know who put it there?

We've got cameras this bridge -- up and down this bridge, we've got cameras. We saw them putting in there. We saw the Venezuelan army putting

it there.

But it is a standoff without -- you know, a silent standoff in many ways without having a single body there from the Venezuelan side. So at this

point, from what we're hearing from authorities on the ground, we know that the aid is expected -- is expected to go in as soon as possible, Cyril.

When I asked how far in, they won't tell me. But people have been telling me time and time again that if the aid doesn't go in, if Maduro's men don't

let that aid in, they will move those three containers themselves if they have to. That's the point of desperation that we've gotten to, Cyril.

VANIER: Isa, thank you very much. I'm glad we caught you when we did and you let us know that those trucks were moving toward the border area.

[14:50:04] For Juan Guaido, the leader of the opposition, this is very important. He staked a lot of political capital upon being able to bring

aid into the country and provide relief to Venezuelans. So if it can't get into the country, obviously, that's a loss for him and his bid to push

Maduro out of power.

Isa Soares, thank you so much. You're reporting live from the -- from Cucuta, on the Venezuelan-Colombian border. Thanks.

All right. Stay with us, we're back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VANIER: In the gulf state of Qatar, you will find the remains of an old pearl fishing village called Zubarah. Centuries ago, it was a thriving

port city. Now, its ruins and the lives of its residents are being rediscovered. Here is "ICONIC QATAR."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over the last few decades, Qatar's development has been rapid. It's futuristic skyline showcases a city of the 21st century. But

an hour's drive from Doha on its northwest coast, you'll come across secrets of its ancient past.

MEHRAN KANRAVA, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY QATAR: Throughout the 1800s and the early third of the 1900s, really the primary economic activity revolves

around fishing and pearl diving. And it wasn't interestingly Doha that was the hub of pearling and fishing but it was Zubarah port.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the untrained eye, this area might not look like much but in the 1700 and 1800s, it was a thriving port city with up to

10,000 residents.

THOMAS LEISTEN, ACTING CHIEF ARCHAEOLOGY OFFICER; QATAR MUSEUM: The city that was found was an instant success as it was a free port. The convoys

that came from the Amani (ph) coast from eastern Africa and clearly also from India did not have to pay tariffs. They could trade there and made

maximum profits and that created attractive marketplace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Zubarah was the most important trading port in the region until it was abandoned in the early 1900s. Layers of sand blown in

from the desert have protected the remains of its palaces, mosques, streets and courtyards.

LEISTEN: From the beginning, this was a well-planned town, with gridded streets, with large open squares, particularly around the four main

mosques. Narrow streets that allowed, of course, trade to go through but also provided shade in the summer's heat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After years of careful and intricate excavations, the lives of its residents are being rebuilt and rediscovered.

LEISTEN: We know the import of tradeable goods from the Far East were very important. We found in the houses, in the residential areas porcelain from

China. Even objects from Japan. Indian pottery. Ceramics from Britain. And porcelain from Delft, from the Netherlands. It was very fashionable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2013, what stands here today are the only remains of a pearl village in the world.

REEM AL THANI, DIRECTOR OF EXHIBITIONS, QATAR MUSEUMS: The huge mapping that is currently happening and we're going one by one and trying to

actually uncover, put the stories out there, really showing people how as a tribal and nomadic society at that time and point, we did have something

that we did call a base. And that is important for us because we are continuously rapidly changing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[14:55:12] VANIER: Now the new trouble for Facebook, this time in Germany. The country's antitrust office is moving to break up Facebook's dominant

position in gathering data. That's your data, by the way.

Let's get the details. Our CNN business reporter Hadas Gold joins us from London.

So, Hadas, Germany is doing what the U.S. hasn't or not to that extent. It's taking on Facebook. How is that going?

HADAS GOLD, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Germany has often been on the forefront of regulating social media. But this might be one of their most ambitious

takes so far.

The Germany antitrust regulator, which is interesting, this is not data privacy, this is an antitrust regular, has come forth and said that

Facebook cannot take what it does now which is take data across Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and even third party sites create a user profile for

you and say that if you don't agree to this data sharing, then you cannot use their service.

Germany's antitrust regulator says that they can't do that. That's abusing their dominant position on this sort of data sharing, what's become so

valuable for all these social media companies.

They want Facebook to now change, not only the consent that box you tick that says I agree to the terms and conditions so that you can agree to not

share all of the data across all these platforms and still use their services.

Now Facebook says that they plan to appeal this decision. They say that the regulator is overstepping its bounds and that it doesn't recognize its

competitiveness with other services like YouTube and Snapchat. They say that they are popular but not dominant.

And now, keep in mind, this is only for users in Germany. But it has ramifications across the board, because as I said, Germany is seen as on

the forefront of this regulation. So lawmakers in the United States pay close attention.

If Facebook does not comply with these -- with these new rules, they could face fines of up into the billions of dollars so something they're paying a

lot of attention to.

VANIER: Hadas Gold, reporting live for us from London. Thank you very much.

GOLD: Thank you.

VANIER: And one more thing, I want to bring you before we wrap up the show. An anniversary of sorts. It was 55 years ago today that The Beatles

had a right to play, arrived in New York that is.

On this date, in 1964, the fab four first set foot on American soil beginning the British invasion that would turn music on its head. On its

ear, if you prefer.

Two days later, they would perform on the Ed Sullivan Show, one of the most watched TV broadcasts I history. But Ringo Starr says that it was that

moment, it was arriving at JFK airport that really sticks with him as the defining moment.

He said he could feel New York reaching out to them and he remembers the band saying, "What's going on? Can you believe this?" When they saw the

size of the crowds.

Thank you for watching CNN tonight. Stay with CNN, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next.

[15:00:00]

END