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Fight against ISIS; Munich Security Conference; Police Believe Actor Jussie Smollett Orchestrated Attack; Tense Pause in Protests as Haitians Gather Food, Water; Trump's National Emergency; Funeral Held for Footballer Emiliano Sala; Photo Ops Build Up Russian President's Macho Image. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired February 17, 2019 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The battle for ISIS territory in Syria now in its final days. Our CNN crew is there. We'll have the latest on the victory for U.S.-backed forces.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Plus new details in the alleged attack against actor Jussie Smollett. Sources tell CNN the police believe the "Empire" star may have planned it himself.
ALLEN (voice-over): President Trump promises construction for more border wall soon but some U.S. border residents say the president is making America smaller.
HOWELL (voice-over): Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, I'm George Howell.
ALLEN (voice-over): I'm Natalie Allen and NEWSROOM begins right now.
HOWELL: 5:00 am on the U.S. East Coast and victory against ISIS in Eastern Syria could be just days away and that is the word from U.S.- backed forces squeezing the terror group in its last enclave in the country.
The militants are now surrounded, holding out in a handful of tents near the Iraqi border. With the victory near, the U.S. president, Donald Trump, sent out a series of tweets that read a lot like threats. He writes this.
"The United States," he writes, "is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial. The caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them."
ALLEN: He went on to say, "The U.S. does not want to watch as these ISIS fighters permeate Europe, which is where they're expected to go. We do so much and spend so much. Time for others to step up and do the job that they are so capable of doing. We are pulling back after 100 percent caliphate victory."
Let's go straight to CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman in Eastern Syria.
You've been reporting on this final battle with your team there. Want to start with the U.S. president, threatening to release hundreds of captured ISIS fighters and asking European allies to step in.
Do you understand what the president means by this?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we can understand what he's trying to say but it's said in such a way that has left America's friends on the ground somewhat confused, to say the least.
What is he asking is for the European powers to take back those nationals that have been captured. They weren't captured just by the U.S. It's important to note that there are British special forces, French special forces, the Syrian Democratic Forces, composed of Kurdish and Arab tribal fighters. They've all played a part in this.
So he wants the European countries to take these people back. The U.K. has said they're not going to do that. They don't want people to come back to a country that these individuals had sworn, through their allegiance to ISIS, to destroy. So it's something of a dilemma.
But the problem is that there are more than 800 foreign fighters, a large number of which do, in fact, come from Western Europe. But there are thousands of family members, many children, who also carry or hold the nationality of these countries. They are straining the capacity of the -- this part of Syria, which is run by this coalition of Kurds and Arabs. They don't have the capacity.
There's a camp north of here that has almost 40,000 of these people who have fled the areas that have been freed from ISIS. The camp is crammed to the gills. More than 50 children have died as a result of cold and illness in these camps. And the European powers don't really seem be to taking decisive action to somehow deal with this problem.
In addition to that, yes, the United States, given that -- only a handful of the foreign fighters actually come from the U.S., is saying that this is a European problem and the Europeans should deal with it at this point. The job of defeating ISIS is almost done. We keep on hearing in the next few days but time is passing quickly and nothing is happening yet --
WEDEMAN: -- even though they only control a piece of land 700 meters by 700 meters with about 1,000 people inside, most of them civilians, some of them fighters from ISIS.
ALLEN: They are boxed in but they don't go down without a fight, do they? We know you'll be there for us. Thanks so much, Ben Wedeman.
HOWELL: The Munich Security Conference is wrapping up in Germany. We've heard from many national leaders, defense officials and security experts and it's not over yet. Here's what the U.S. vice president Mike Pence had to say on Saturday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The time has come for our European partners to stand with us and with the Iranian people, our allies and friends in the region.
The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and join us as we bring the economic and diplomatic pressure necessary to give the Iranian people, the region and the world, the peace, security and freedom they deserve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Now Iran's foreign minister has been pushing back at that today. Here's what he said moments ago about the U.S. and Israel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Is it Iran that threatens the annihilation of others?
Or is it Mr. Netanyahu, they both crying in chief (ph), who openly threatens my country's obliteration by standing next to his nuclear weapon pack?
No theatrics here. Including the show put on by Mr. Pence yesterday cannot obscure these realities. Indeed, more and more nations are becoming explicit about the fact that the United States is now the single biggest source of destabilization in our neighborhood.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Let's talk more about this now with our international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, following it all live in Munich, Germany.
Nic, one of the big themes, the vice president, Mike Pence, keeping up pressure on European allies to back out of the Iran nuclear deal. But a short time ago we saw Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, on stage with that strong rebuttal.
What more can you tell us about his message?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, his message was very plain and simple. He essentially called Trump a bully. He said the demands that Europe should pull out of the JCPOA were outrageous. A bully will get bullier, is what Javad Zarif said.
He spoke about the Iranian people and the -- and their views on the international nuclear agreement, the JCPOA, said 51 percent of people in Iran still support it; 80 percent of people in the country don't feel they've gotten anything for it. Clearly his message was support in Iran is wavering and this has been
essentially the message from the Iranian government, that Europe's got to do more to support us. He said that they've done that politically but they (INAUDIBLE) his indication being that they need do more economically to support Iran.
And so that the message here from Javad Zarif, that Iranian people tinker on the brink of deciding whether or not they support this deal and therefore the implication being the Iranian government would reflect the will of the Iranian people.
He pushed back very strongly on a number of issues and what the French defense minister has talked in terms of Iran's development of the ballistic missiles, the European sanctions on those, calling them unfair and unjust. Saying that Iran should have the right to defend itself.
And he said the international agreement that Iran had struck with the international community on ballistic missiles said that the ban on developing those were only for those capable of carrying nuclear weapons, to which he said we don't have nuclear weapons, therefore we're not breaking any agreement. So a very strong pushback on a number of fronts.
HOWELL: Indeed, strong pushback from Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister.
How is the current vice president's message received in comparison to former Vice President Joe Biden, who was also on stage at that conference?
ROBERTSON: It was kind of a yin and yang, having both the current and the former vice president speaking in the biggest U.S. delegation of the history of the Munich Security Conference, which grows in stature and is gathering every year.
Was interesting as well that when Nancy Pelosi was introduced from the stage, she was sitting in the audience, that she got huge round of applause. Biden got the applause; Pence didn't. And I think that really indicated the sentiment here.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, pushing back on a number of the messages coming from the current -- President Trump's administration on the INF, on Nord Stream 2, the supply of gas that is being developed from Russia to Germany --
ROBERTSON: -- bypassing pipelines that go through the Ukraine. The United States critical of that. Angela Merkel pushing back on that. But on the fundamental issue of President Trump's dislike for the international bodies that prop up and hold up international peace and stability and security since World War II, again, Angela Merkel pushed back hard on that.
So you get the clear impression here that Joe Biden went down well, the current administration not so well.
HOWELL: Nic Robertson, live in Munich. We'll stay in touch with you. Thank you.
ALLEN: A story related to the current administration, FOX News host Heather Nauert has taken herself out of the running to be the United Nations ambassador to the United States.
HOWELL: Many question Nauert's qualifications for such a high post. Now the State Department spokesperson has little if any foreign policy experience. She was a journalist and word recently came out at one time she hired a nanny that was not authorized to work in the United States.
ALLEN: About that, she said this in a statement.
"The past two months have been grueling for my family and therefore it's in the best interest of my family that I withdraw my name from consideration. Serving in the administration for the past two years has been one of the highest honors of my life."
HOWELL: Some new questions around the alleged attack of Jussie Smollett. After two law enforcement sources told CNN police believe the actor paid two men to orchestrate the alleged hate crime against himself.
ALLEN: Late Saturday night Smollett's attorneys released this statement, saying, "As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with a police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals that he is familiar with.
"He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying."
For viewers around the world, Smollett appears in the TV drama in the United States called "Empire" but the story he told about being attacked in Chicago last month may be unraveling. Our Chicago correspondent, Ryan Young, has more on this.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation tell CNN that Chicago police believe Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate the assault.
The men who are the brothers who were arrested Wednesday were released without charges Friday after Chicago police cited discovery of new evidence. The sources tell CNN that the two men are now cooperating fully with law enforcement.
Smollett told authorities he was attacked early January 29th by two men, who were yelling out racial and homophobic slurs. He said one attacker put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him. Smollett gave his first detailed account of what he says was a hate crime against him and the aftermath in an interview with "Good Morning, America" that aired Thursday. Take a listen to his account.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSSIE SMOLLETT, ACTOR: I see the attacker, masked, and he said, this MAGA country (INAUDIBLE), punches me right in the face so I punched him right back. And then we started tussling, you know, it was very icy.
I noticed the rope around my neck and I started screaming. And I said there's a (INAUDIBLE) rope around my neck. I want them to see that I fought back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG: The sources tell CNN that there are records that show the two brothers purchased the rope found around Smollett's neck at an Ace Hardware store in Chicago -- Ryan Young, CNN, Chicago.
ALLEN: Jussie Smollett is standing by his story that he was attacked. I spoke with CNN legal analyst Areva Martin about that and about what jeopardy he could be in if his story is found not to be true.
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Jussie from the beginning has been outraged by folks who have been pretty clear about the fact they didn't believe him from the moment this story broke, back, I think, two weeks ago, January 29th or so.
There have been critics, people on social media, people in the media who have raised questions about the validity of the attack. Some pointed to the fact there wasn't any videotape that could be found by the police.
Others were suspicious of the fact he said he was walking alone at 2 o'clock in the morning on what appeared to be a deserted street. For lots of reasons, people were just never -- some people at least, were never convinced that this story made a lot of sense.
But I've always questioned -- this is a young man who has what, from all accounts, is an incredibly successful career. He's on one of the top rated dramatic series on television. He has a very successful singing --
MARTIN: -- career.
For those who say he did this to gain sympathy because maybe the show was going to write his character off and this was a way to curry favor with the network, that just doesn't add up for me. And I still would like to believe that this young man, who has been
very active in the LGBT community as well as the African American community as a leader, would not orchestrate such a heinous event for -- all for the sake of publicity.
ALLEN: Right, absolutely. That would be so unfortunate.
If he is found to be involved in some way, what sort of legal trouble could he possibly be in?
MARTIN: Yes, Natalie, that's a great question. Obviously, when you make a report to the police of a crime, you do so with -- you should do so because a crime has been committed and you are telling the truth.
If it turns out you've made a false or misleading report to the police, you can actually be charged with a crime. It's a crime to make a false, you know, report to the police. Think about all the time, all the effort, all the investigative work, all the resources deployed by the Chicago Police Department investigating, you know, this crime.
So if it turns out that there was no crime, that this was all orchestrated as a publicity stunt for this actor to gain more publicity or to curry favor with the network or some other purpose, he could be facing jail time.
ALLEN: So I guess the next step will be that police want to talk with him again.
MARTIN: Yes, the reports are that they reached out to his attorney as well as to Jussie himself. And the goal, I suspect, at this point, for the police, is to bring him in and to question him now based on the information that they've obtained from these two men, who were, you know, brought into the police department and released on Friday night.
I suspect the police have a lot of questions for Jussie as it relates to that information that they learned from the two men, who were people of interest or persons of interest.
ALLEN: All right. CNN legal analyst Areva Martin on that case earlier today.
HOWELL: Still ahead here on NEWSROOM. The United States sends more aid to Venezuela at the border with Colombia. It's meant for people in need in Venezuela but it has not reached them yet. Ahead, the opposition's slant to distribute those supplies.
Plus Haiti's prime minister is trying to stop the violent unrest with demonstrations want to start with a clean slate -- demonstrators do -- and for them means a new leader altogether. That story coming up.
(MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ALLEN: Welcome back. We're following the latest developments in Venezuela's humanitarian crisis. A U.S. cargo plane carrying additional aid for the country has landed now in neighboring Colombia.
HOWELL: That arrived on the border in the town of Cucuta. It's specifically for Venezuela. You see it there. People that are desperate living across the border, the shipment meant to undermine the sitting president, Nicolas Maduro, who has rejected international help. But opposition leader Juan Guaido is urging military to bring those supplies into the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUAN GUAIDO, INTERIM PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): And, once again, the message to the Venezuelan armed forces, seven days for humanitarian aid to enter, a week for you to do the right thing, to put yourselves not only on the side of the constitution. We are authorizing the entrance not only of humanitarian aid but also humanity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: That's Guaido in Venezuela. Now from Cucuta, let's bring in Nick Valencia, who's following the story, where aid is being stockpiled.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These supplies here are part of the U.S.-led humanitarian mission to help those affected by the crisis in Venezuela. These items, for the most part, arrived February 8th and are still sitting here on the border of Venezuela, prepositioned in Colombia. Nicolas Maduro is not allowing them in, not allowing his people to get help.
The U.S. is still forging on and on Saturday three more C-17s carrying basic goods, commodities that could feed up to 3,500 children, 25,000 adults, arrived on the border here, things like rice, beans, lentils, basic goods that you could find in an everyday supermarket but not right now in the current conditions of Venezuela.
These are some high-energy biscuits also intended to help the children. We're hearing terrible reports of children starving in the country. Sanitary napkins, things like that; hygiene kits to help those that are currently suffering.
This aid has been called politicized by the Maduro regime. His deputy going so far as to say that these items contain carcinogens. It was earlier that I spoke to U.S. State Department's Julie Chang, who is part of this humanitarian mission and I asked her if there is any concern that this humanitarian aid might provoke Nicolas Maduro to doing something drastic.
She says that the U.S. isn't the one politicizing the crisis. That's on the Maduro regime -- Nick Valencia, CNN, reporting on the Colombia- Venezuela border.
HOWELL: Nick, thank you.
The prime minister of Haiti is calling for calm after more than a week of deadly protests there. Speaking for the first time since the riots broke out, Prime Minister Jean-Henry Ceant condemned the violence. He promised to investigate the corruption allegations plaguing him and the president.
For more than a week now protesters have demanded the country's leader resign.
ALLEN: They blame the administration for soaring inflation, high fuel prices and corruption. Haiti's president is refusing to step down. And, meantime, more than 100 Canadian citizens who have been stranded in Haiti for days have finally arrived home and their faces and words, you can see the joy of getting home safely.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was chaotic. Extremely difficult. But I would like to thank God, because God gave me a chance to be here today. It wasn't easy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was organized and exciting and stressful but we're home. We're home. So there's a lot of relief right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: I can understand that. The Haitian people are stuck in that country. Protesters took a pause on Saturday to gather much needed food and water and fuel. Our Miguel Marquez has the latest from Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For nine days, Haitians took to the streets, fighting with police, lighting fires, tires on fire, creating roadblocks across the city, essentially shutting down the main city here, Port-au-Prince, for nine days.
In the last 24 hours, there has been a lull, a very tense lull at the very best, people basically looking for the very basics of life, food, gas and water, all of them in short supply throughout the city.
Large crowds of Haitians gathered looking for water. Gas stations were, for the most part, shut across the entire city. The ones that were open were just -- were heavily trafficked by both those in motorcycles and cars, people just looking for the ability to fill up their tank so they can get to work -- [05:25:00]
MARQUEZ: -- assuming that things get back to normal here in the city in the next couple of days.
Protesters want the president to resign. They say they will not accept anything else. They say that he is implicated in a broad corruption scheme that has engulfed the country.
They say that not only must the president resign but that the country itself has it to go back to tabula rasa, as they say, erase everything, go back to the constitution and start all over again -- back to you.
ALLEN: Miguel Marquez will be continuing to follow developments there and get back to us.
The battle for the border wall now a national emergency by President Trump and he wants the U.S. military to pay for it, not Mexico. We'll explain why private landowners along the southern border fear they'll be the big losers.
HOWELL: Plus people on the border aren't the only ones concerned about the president's wall. How building a bridge across the political aisle will be difficult.
HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. This is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.
ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories.
HOWELL: Now to the border wall deemed a national emergency. The U.S. president has been for 758 days now and still has not built a single inch of promised border wall that he said that Mexico would pay for. Congress turned him down on that and now he's trying to take money from the Pentagon, again saying it's a national emergency.
ALLEN: This graphic shows where Trump hopes he's going to get about $8 billion for his wall. As you can see, the lion's share, more than $6 billion belongs to the U.S. military.
HOWELL: But it's a long way from wallet to wall and in between, a boatload of legal challenges that could block Mr. Trump for a very long time with building this wall. And even so, the acting U.S. Defense chief is counting dollars and weighing priorities and he decides what he's willing to give up for the border wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICK SHANAHAN, ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We always anticipated that this will create a lot of attention. And since monies potentially could be redirected, you can imagine the concern this generates.
So very deliberately we've not made any decisions. We've identified the steps we would take to make those decisions. This is the important part of that. We laid that out so we could do it quickly. We don't want to fumble through this process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Private landowners on the U.S. southern border who could get caught in the middle of this have been losing sleep over this proposed wall. That's because the government is already moving ahead in places as if the wall is a done deal.
HOWELL: Being from Texas, landownership, it's a big deal there for Texans. Many Americans there fear the government will take over their land through a process called eminent domain or, worse, that they'll be cut off and isolated by a giant wall. Our Ed Lavandera is along the border and has this story.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Along a quiet stretch of the Rio Grande in South Texas, there's a place that's just home to butterflies, hundreds of different species. And Marianna Wright has spent the last two years fighting to keep President Trump's border wall from cutting through the 100 acres of the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas.
MARIANNA WRIGHT, NATIONAL BUTTERFLY CENTER: Here, Silvio (ph), where they just came and put all these stakes out. They'll be starting on this federal piece of land.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Last year Congress approved the construction of 33 miles of new border barrier in the Rio Grande Valley and construction is about to begin in the coming weeks.
Part of the wall was supposed to cut right through the Butterfly Center, leaving some of the property south of the border wall and some north. The government used eminent domain to seize the necessary land to build the wall, much to the dismay of the center's executive director.
WRIGHT: They're seizing the land of taxpaying citizens and pushing the boundaries of Mexico north of the Rio Grande River, something General Santa Ana was never able to do. Trump is making America smaller, not greater.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): But the congressional spending bill offered a last-minute reprieve to the Butterfly Center and four other specific locations. For now, no border wall in the Butterfly Center. But wall will come right up to their property lines and leave a quarter mile stretch of the center's property wide open.
But Butterfly Center officials say they're worried the Trump administration will use the national emergency declaration to keep trying to close the gap and worried about what it's doing to the other landowners, who haven't been spared.
WRIGHT: This is a shame. This is a national disgrace. And the idea that it's going to happen and produce none of the purported benefit, I mean, that's like going and buying a new car and driving it into a building.
Why would you do that?
LAVANDERA (voice-over): The Butterfly Center's legal battles paint a poignant picture of what lies ahead. The congressional spending bill compromise allocates nearly $1.4 billion to construct another 55 miles of border barrier in various locations in the Rio Grande Valley.
TRUMP: We're going to get rid of drugs and people and gangs. It's an invasion. We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country that we stop but it's very hard to stop. With a wall, it would be very easy.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Much of this new construction will be on private property, which means the federal government will likely have to sue landowners to acquire the land.
Down the road from the National Butterfly Center, Fred Cavazos and his family are still trying to stop the construction of the looming barrier.
FRED CAVAZOS (PH), LANDOWNER: And we've had this property for all our lives.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Cavazos (ph) and his family own 70 acres that will be left south of the border barrier in a no-man's land. They've been tied up in eminent domain litigation but are losing hope they'll stop the wall from being built starting in the next few weeks.
LAVANDERA: So you're running out of time.
What can you do to fight the government?
We try. We try to stop them and stall a little. But we can't stop the government. They'll do what they want to do.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): So the Rio Grande Valley braces for what most residents here say is the unwelcome wall -- Ed Lavandera, CNN, Mission, Texas.
HOWELL: Let's talk more about this with Leslie Vinjamuri, head of the U.S. and Americas Programme at Chatham House think tank and joins us from our London bureau.
Always a pleasure to have you on the show, Leslie.
LESLIE VINJAMURI, SOAS, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: Thank you, George.
HOWELL: So we just heard that report from Ed Lavandera. And as I mentioned, as a Texan myself, land ownership is a big deal there. So it will be interesting to see how this process of eminent domain might play out if it doesn't get caught up in the courts first.
We'll talk about that in a moment but first let's talk about Americans who wanted the president to do this, to declare a national emergency. This latest poll taken before the emergency declaration was announced shows a resounding no: 66 percent of respondent said no, they did not want him to declare a national emergency to build the wall.
So it really comes down to the president's base here, Leslie, and the question if this doesn't happen, if it gets held up in the courts, does that work against the president?
Or is it a win for the president simply because he tried and went this far?
VINJAMURI: Well, I think if we're talking about his base, that segment of the population that Trump thinks is absolutely essential to his approval and to his future presidential campaign, then the idea that America, that liberal America is pushing back against a segment of the population that's been left out, that is not being protected, that will probably serve to secure the support of the base for the president.
But whether that will be enough to take this president through another election is a very significant question and along the way there's going to be tremendous division. The courts will push back and the Pentagon's going to be brought into that and that's a potentially very problematic and a lot Americans who might have otherwise supported the president, are giving him a pass on this, will probably peel away their support.
HOWELL: But it seems, without delay, this process has started to find the money and even make plans for this wall. At the same time lawsuits are coming to challenge the president's national emergency, which will surely bring delay.
How do you see that playing out over the next several weeks?
VINJAMURI: I think the delay will go on for much longer than several weeks. It will take quite a long time. The ACLU has already made it very clear that they will be pursuing this through the courts. I think there's one court case that's been filed. There will be many more. So the politics surrounding this -- and, remember, if we're talking
about the National Emergencies Act, it's used -- it's there so that the president can act quickly when there's an emergency, not so it can circumvent the authority of Congress, which Congress has the authority to decide on moneys that there necessary not in emergency situations.
And if you go back to Trump's own words on Friday, he said himself he didn't need to do this but he wants to move quickly. He's indicating that it's optional. That's going to come up in all these court cases, that the president himself has alluded to the fact that this isn't actually an emergency.
HOWELL: House Democrats are sure challenge this emergency declaration and it triggers an automatic vote in the Senate as well. Many Republicans who spoke out on the record as uneasy or against the president on declaring the national emergency will either have to stand by their words or twist --
HOWELL: -- their positions. So if feet put to fire, do you see Republicans standing firm or flip-flopping to fall in line?
VINJAMURI: It is, what we've seen so far, I think Ben Sasse has spoken out about this. But with the exception of him, there are very few people who indicated on the Republican side that they will stand against the president if they actively have to.
But it's going to certainly raise that question, especially if we go back to where we started, which is the vast majority of Americans do not want to see a national emergency justification, especially military construction budgets diverted for a wall along the border, for an emergency that simply doesn't exist. So this is going to really put Republicans in a difficult position.
HOWELL: Leslie Vinjamuri, we always appreciate having you on the show. Thank you.
VINJAMURI: Thank you.
ALLEN: President Trump's emergency declaration Friday was criticized for factual errors, running a little long as he talked about it and for getting off track.
HOWELL: And not surprisingly, the comedy skit show, "Saturday Night Live," took notice here in the United States, mocking the speech this weekend with a little help from the actor, Alec Baldwin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR, "DONALD TRUMP": So I'm going to sign these papers for emergency and then I'll immediately be sued and it really will not go in my favor and then it will end up in the Supreme Court and then I'll call my buddy Kavanaugh and I'll say it's time to repay the Donny.
And he'll say new phone, who dis?
KYLE MOONEY, ACTOR, "JIM ACOSTA": There's numbers that show undocumented immigrants committing crimes in much lower levels than native born Americans.
"TRUMP": Oh, my God, Jim, those numbers are thicker than this emergency. Look, folks. We need major immigration reform. Translation: wall.
Anyway, in conclusion, this is a total emergency, a five-alarm blaze, which means I've got to go to Mar-a-lago so I can play some golf.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: The journalist there was supposed to be our Jim Acosta but Jim takes the heat and he just pushes on with the facts.
ALLEN: Yes, he does.
We'll be right back with much more CNN NEWSROOM.
ALLEN: A somber farewell in Argentina for the funeral of the late football star, Emiliano Sala.
HOWELL: You see friends there, family and many fans came together to remember his life. Sala died last month in a tragic plane crash. Our Patrick Snell has more on the memorial service.
PATRICK SNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The world of football has bid an emotional final farewell to the young Argentine forward Emiliano Sala, who died last month in a plane crash just two days after completing his move to the English Premier League club Cardiff City.
SNELL (voice-over): On Friday, the South American had been repatriated to the small town of Progreso in Santa Fe province, where he grew up.
A day later, family, friends and former teammates here paying their respects. His close friend at his previous club, France's Nantes, Nicolas Pallois, and behind him, Emiliano's brother, Dario.
Both of Emiliano's parents, Horacio, and his mother, Mercedes, who traveled to Europe in the aftermath of the crash almost a month ago now. Progreso is a town of just over 3,000 people. It's where it all began for Emiliano at the local club, San Martin, where he shone as a teenage footballer. One message stood out quite simply, "Nunca caminaras solo," "You'll
never walk alone."
The manager who had signed Emiliano for Cardiff, Neil Warnock, also making the trip to Argentina on Saturday to attend the public service. Sala's body was recovered from the plane's wreckage last week while its pilot, David Ibbotson, remains missing. This a day of high emotions for all concerned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEIL WARNOCK, CARDIFF CITY MANAGER: I think it's been a very emotional morning. I think Mercedes has been an immense woman this morning. Everybody she's met have had memories of Emiliano and it's brought tears to her eyes as you'd expect a mom to be. But she's very, very proud of her son.
And met father, his father's the same and the brother and sister. And seems like they're not just a family but the whole village is like united. And they've just been amazing how they cope with it.
People say, well, he's never played for you. But he was my player, you know. And the feelings I had -- chased him, wanted him and, he said to me, I will get you the goals that keep you up in the Premier League. And I said, I know you will.
SNELL (voice-over): Emiliano Sala was 28 years of age.
ALLEN: We are learning more about the gunman who killed five people in Illinois on Friday. First of all, he was using a gun he wasn't legally allowed to own. The gunman had been convicted of a felony back in 1995, making him ineligible to own a firearm. Investigators are looking into why he still had the gun in his possession.
HOWELL: Police also know the shooter was an employee at the manufacturing company he attacked. They know he was being fired that day. Witnesses say he attacked right after the termination meeting. He murdered five fellow employees and wounded five police officers and another coworker before he was shot by police.
Friends of the victim are stunned by this attack.
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BRIAN HAYNES, FRIEND OF VICTIM JOSH PINKARD: It's just a hard time still trying to cope with all this. You never prepare yourself for one of your own family members or somebody that you felt like you was a part of their life growing up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Police released the names of the five workers killed at the industrial valve manufacturers warehouse. The victims included a human resources manager, a human resources intern and a plant manager. (MUSIC PLAYING)
HOWELL: The U.S. president is known for using tough sounding tweets to promote a so-call strongman image. But Mr. Trump's counterpart in Russia uses a different medium: pictures instead of words.
ALLEN: Our Matthew Chance takes a look at Vladimir Putin's rise as his nation's champion.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is classic Vladimir Putin. The Russian president bolstering his macho credentials on the judo mat.
In carefully choreographed hand to hand combat, the political strongman grapples with members of the Russian national judo team, throwing a few of them effortlessly to the ground.
It doesn't all go Putin's way; he gets flipped himself. And in a sparring session with one Olympic medalist, the president seems to hurt his finger. Nothing serious, says the Kremlin, just the nature of the sport. But his opponent was careful to sing Putin's praises on Russian television straight after.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Well, for his age, I'm sure no other president in the world can take him down in a one on one fight. That's for sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHANCE (voice-over): Putin was certainly throwing his diplomatic weight around with these two presidents just hours before, meeting his Iranian and Turkish counterparts in Sochi, Southern Russia, to discuss or dictate the future of Syria.
When U.S. forces eventually leave the north of the country --
CHANCE (voice-over): -- he told them, Syria's government will be taking over. They both agreed.
Casting Putin as a tough-guy man of action has become a staple of the Kremlin propaganda machine. Who could forget these images of the Russian leader, barechested on horseback and fishing in a Siberian river?
Many Russians are extremely proud their 66-year-old president is so fit and youthful. And although Putin's popularity may have dipped from its all-time highs, most Russians still see him as their champion -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.
ALLEN: On March 14th, CNN and young people around the world are joining forces for a student-led day of action against modern-day slavery.
HOWELL: Ahead of #MyFreedomDay, CNN asked actors at the British Film Awards, the BAFTAs, what makes you feel free.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELISSA MCCARTHY, ACTOR: What makes me feel free is that I get to speak my mind and I get to write projects and get things made where I get to have my own opinion. And everyone doesn't have to agree with it. But I feel free when I get to voice what's in my heart.
STEVE COOGAN, ACTOR: What makes me feel free is when I wake up in the morning, knowing that what I do with that day is my choice and my choice alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Tell the world what makes you feel free. Share your story using the #MyFreedomDay. We always appreciate hearing from you.
Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.
And I'm George Howell. For our viewers in the United States, "NEW DAY" is next. For viewers around the world, stay tuned: a special CNN report, "Facebook at 15: It's Complicated." Laurie Segall is ahead. And you are watching CNN, the world's news leader.