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Smaller U.S.-South Korea Military Drills Start Monday; Bolton: North Korea Needs to Come Clean on Warmbier's Death; Family Believes U.S.-Saudi Dual National Tortured; Liverpool See Title Hopes Dented after Draw; Roger Federer Claims 100th Career Title; Some Countries Threatening to Boycott Rugby World Cup. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 4, 2019 - 00:00   ET




NICK WATT, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Venezuela's self declared leader is coming home and calling for more mass protests and he has a warning for President Nicolas Maduro.

Devastating tornadoes touch down in the southern U.S., killing at least 21, children among the dead. Officials say that death toll could still rise.

The U.S. president now facing an obstruction of justice inquiry. But a Democratic leader says impeachment is not yet on the table.

Hello, everyone, and thanks for joining us. I'm Nick Watt in Atlanta. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


WATT: We begin with new developments in Venezuela's bitter power struggle. Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president, says he will return on Monday to lead renewed protests against sitting president Maduro.

Guaido announced his plans in a video shot from an undisclosed location and posted on social media. He's been touring Latin America, rallying support from regional leaders but, in doing so, violated a travel ban placed on him by Maduro's government.

So now Guaido faces the threat of arrest when he returns. But he warned Maduro that detaining him would be, quote, "a mistake."


JUAN GUAIDO, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF VENEZUELA (through translator): Tomorrow, anticipating any intent from the regime, we have left instructions for our people. First, we meet in protest tomorrow to announce the next step.

They can cut a flower but never stop spring. This process is unstoppable. The transition has begun in Venezuela. The only one that puts a stop to it is the regime that blocked humanitarian aid. We are doing well because we are together.


WATT: CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has been following this the story in neighboring Colombia.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is clear both of Venezuela and for its self-declared interim president and opposition leader, Juan Guaido, that Monday is an absolutely key day in the progress of this opposition movement.

Now he was quite clear in a 33-minute long speech which he gave. I have to say with worse audio and conditions that we've seen with his previous addresses on social media outside of the country. He was quite clear that if he is detained, he said that will be the Maduro regime, in his words, last mistake.

He said that you can't really stop the flower in spring and he also was quite clear that they have a plan for the country and indeed a plan for government workers to assist in what he refers to as the resistance.

He referred to how 700 military have so far defected from Venezuela out of the country. But he was quite clear in how important it is for the country to be united on the streets. Monday and Tuesday, he's called for a 10th protest around Venezuela starting at 11 o'clock in the Las Mercedes area of Caracas. Quite whether or not he'd get to those protests is not clear though.

He didn't where he was. He said he was going back to Venezuela. It may be that he is already there. That would perhaps explain the worst audio conditions and presentation of this particular broadcast. We've seen them in Colombia much more professionally organized. But most importantly, the question is whether he can make it to these protests. Now as I say, they will last potentially a number of days and the

number of people on the streets is absolutely seminal as a sign of support here. By our count, we didn't really get above 100,000 or so streams of these different particular social media outlets, in which this was broadcast upon. That doesn't reflect necessarily people to whom it will actually reach.

But still a seminal moment, the Maduro government as often negotiations about Juan Guaido's volition has been.

But unless there are fresh elections that can't be talks, we'll have to wait and see how many people turn out on the street for him and frankly whether he has the freedom of movement, the E.U. and many of his supporters including the United States have insisted upon.

Otherwise, there could be further sanctions on most against the Maduro government -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Bogota, Colombia. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WATT: At least 22 people were killed in one Alabama county alone, as a series of tornadoes struck the southeastern United States. Children and adults were among the dead. That staggering death toll in Lee County, surpassing the death toll from all tornadoes in all of last year across the entire U.S.

Apparently, the town of Beauregard was hit by two tornadoes in the space of just an hour. The storms later moved into Georgia --


WATT: -- destroying more than a dozen homes and other buildings.


WATT: Democrats control the U.S. House of Representatives and the newly minted chief of the powerful House Judiciary Committee said he is launching an investigation Monday into president Donald Trump. Congressman Jerry Nadler says the focus will be allegations of obstruction of justice and abuse of power.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think the president obstructed justice?

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Yes, I do. It's very clear that the president obstructed justice. It's very clear. 1,100 times he refer to the Mueller investigation as a witch hunt.

He tried to -- he fired -- he tried to protect the Flynn from being investigated by the -- by the FBI. He fired Comey in order to stop the Russian thing as he told NBC News. He -- he's dangled parts --


NADLER: He's threatened -- he's intimidated witnesses in public.


WATT: Now President Trump responded to word of the probe on Twitter, saying, "I am an innocent man being persecuted by some very bad conflicted and corrupt people."

Our Boris Sanchez in Washington has more.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler making a statement on Sunday revealing that he is preparing to request documents from some 60 individuals and entities related to President Trump. And this gets personal. Nadler specifically said that he would be asking for documents from the president's own son Donald Trump Jr. as well as Allen Weisselberg. He's a top executive at the Trump Organization. Somebody who is believed to be intimate with the president's tax returns. Something that Democrats have long-press of the president to release.

Also on that list the former chief of staff John Kelly as well as former White House Counsel Don McGahn. So Nadler's scope is very broad. Though he was asked about impeachment on Sunday, he said, it is too soon to go in that direction. Listen to this.


NADLER: Impeachment is a long way down the road. We don't -- we don't have the facts yet. But we're going to initiate a proper investigations.

It's our job to protect the rule of law. That's our core function. And to do that, we are going to initiate investigations into abuses of power, into corruption of -- into a corruption and into obstruction of justice.


SANCHEZ: Nadler is saying that he wants to make a case to the American people about impeachment before going there. I asked for the White House to respond to Nadler's request, they ultimately declined to comment. It's clear though that we will hear more from President Trump on this.

He tweeted a pair of times on Sunday talking about Democrats going after him unfairly. But again, this is personal and we know the president is not shy about sharing his feelings -- Boris Sanchez, CNN at the White House.


WATT: And President Trump faces another hiccup in his efforts to fund his much vaunted border wall. He's declared a national emergency to secure the funds to fulfill his biggest campaign promise without congressional approval.

But the House approved a bill that would block Mr. Trump's national emergency and now Republican senator Rand Paul tells his local newspaper that he will vote for that blocking bill --


WATT: -- in the Senate and his vote could be decisive.

So what then?


WATT: For more on all this let's bring in CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein in Los Angeles.

Ron, Rand Paul votes against it, the president then vetoes and we're left with the court battle.

Is this just symbolic on the part of Rand Paul?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you laid it out exactly the way it's going to unfold. But Rand Paul probably won't be alone in joining the other three who have already said they will oppose this. Look, I think politically the idea of an emergency declaration to do this has been very unpopular from the beginning.

60 percent or more of the country have said that they don't think the president should issue such a declaration in order obtain the funds. If the Republican Senate approves a resolution disapproving of that decision, I think it will compound the public resistance to it.

But ultimately, it is unlikely that 15 Republicans which is what would be required will vote to overturn the inevitable presidential veto which means that this will be decided ultimately by John Roberts and all likelihood in a very closely divided Supreme Court.

WATT: And the other Trump story that we've been following today, Ron, this announcement from Jerry Nadler that he is going to launch this investigation tomorrow, demand documents from 60 people, among them Don Jr.

Does this spell any real political or legal peril for the president?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, it depends on what we find right?

I mean, I think -- first of all there are a couple things that's worth noting about this. I think we're going to see a pretty clear separation of the roads here because on the one hand, the House is going to be very aggressive and successful at forcing testimony and obtaining documents from people in the private sector.

On the other hand, we've already seen from this administration whether it's in the testimony for example of Matthew Whitaker, the acting attorney general a couple weeks ago that they are going to be very aggressive in claiming executive privilege on conversations involving the president as a way to try to defeat that and resist this Democratic oversight.

So you may see the Democrats having more success at bringing in people from Trump's private sector light than they are for example at obtaining information, the information they want about the president's alleged role in overturning the resistance to Jared Kushner's security clearance. Now that may be something that develops.

The other point is that they are deeply ambivalent about whether they want to go down the road of impeachment. and you see that in Chairman Nadler's comments today and previously. On the one hand, there is a certain irresistible momentum as evidence of wrongdoing for example in the hush money payments to women who claimed affairs with him accumulates. On the other hand for the same thing reason that we're talking about before, this is not likely to ever remove him from office because there would never be enough Republicans, may perhaps any Republicans and the Senate to do so.

And voting to impeach without removing might give the president of foil, a chance to say to his supporters, they're not really after me, they're trying to silence you.

WATT: And how do you think the president will react to Nadler going after Don Jr., asking for documents from Don Jr., the president's eldest son.

BROWNSTEIN: Nuclear, I think you know, I think he will react very badly. But you know, he does not have the same ability to resist that he does with conversations involving you know, officials in the White House.

I mean, there is no -- I don't see how he could claim executive privilege over something like that and for Allen Weisselberg and other members of the of the Trump, you know organization.

So he may be in a stronger position to stymie them as they look directly at him. The Supreme Court, Nick, in 1974 in the decision about Richard Nixon when he was president requiring him to hand over his White House tapes to the Watergate prosecutors made clear that executive privilege is not an unlimited authority or an unlimited right of the president.

But exactly where those borders are, exactly where those boundaries are, we don't know.

I'm guessing that this White House is going to fight it all the way to the Supreme Court whatever the House Democrats asked for because of nothing else they know they can burn down the clock that way.

WATT: And Ron, finally, I just want to ask you about Michael Cohen. We saw him testify under oath this week and the president has been tweeting a lot about that this afternoon.

Now the president you know is calling him a convicted liar and fraudster. The president employed Michael cone for ten years and many of the crimes that Cohen is accused and convicted of were allegedly done at the behest of the president. It's quite bizarre to see Donald Trump just you know, absolutely lambasted him on Twitter this way.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. I mean it is -- look, I mean, this is what the president -- you know, the president's strategy from day one, even before day one, during the transition has been to try to discredit --


BROWNSTEIN: -- any individual or institution that he thinks can harm him. And it really doesn't matter what your history is with the president or your history in general. I mean, you know, Robert Mueller appointed by a group you know, a Republican president you know, is now the leader of a gang of angry Democrats. It's not connected to kind of an underlying set of facts.

What it is connected to is this very visceral attempt to convince his base that all of this is a you know orchestrated effort not so much against him but against them. And that is really critical to his messaging.

I mean, you know, the idea that there are these elites -- these deep state elites who are trying to taking it out on me in an attempt to silence you.

And that has helped him connect to his base but it is also worth noting that a majority of the public consistently has said they believe that the Mueller investigation is serious, worthwhile and important.

And the president as on many things is talking to a minority of the country that is passionately for him at the price potentially of deepening the alienation of the majority that has raced questions or has doubts about the way he's conducted himself as the president.

WATT: Ron, joining us from Los Angeles. Thanks very much for your time.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.


WATT: Next one U.S.-backed fighter has a message for ISIS: surrender or die. We'll have a report from the front lines on what could be the terror group's last stand in Eastern Syria.






WATT: The self-declared ISIS caliphate is on the brink of defeat. The terror group has been cornered for weeks in Eastern Syria in a shrinking, bombed-out patch of the Euphrates Valley. U.S.-backed forces, mostly Kurdish troops, have the area surrounded, they resumed their assault on Friday, saying they expect this to be a decisive battle. CNN's Ben Wedeman reports from the front lines.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Hell in a very small place. Airstrikes, artillery and mortar rounds rain down upon the so-called Islamic state's miserable realm. Reduced to a ragged cluster of tents, wrecked cars and trucks perhaps

just a half square mile. Despite the onslaught, people -- men it appears, can be seen walking to the tents.

U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have given up trying to estimate how many people, all fighters they say, are still there.

"Some of them want to surrender. They are suicidal. And some want to escape but we won't let them," says Zarkhan (ph), the commander on this roof.

"They can either surrender or die."

They are surrounded, outnumbered and outgunned. Final defeat seems imminent yet they fight on convinced perhaps that divine intervention will allow them to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

WEDEMAN (on camera): All indications are the battle will not be over today or tomorrow as President Trump says. One commander told us maybe it will be done in four or five days.

WEDEMAN (voice over): In the evening, SDF troops prepare their weapons for battle. The pounding carries on around the clock. There is no rest for the last hold outs.

Midnight and the earth shakes. Night into day the onslaught continues. ISIS lived by the bullet and the bomb; and by the bullet and the bomb it is dying -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, Baghouz, Eastern Syria.



WATT: For more, I'm joined now by Colonel Cedric Leighton. He's a CNN military analyst and a retired U.S. Air Force officer.

Colonel, even if the ground is taken from under their feet surely the ISIS ideology and ISIS threat will live on?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think so, Nick. And, you know, the big issue here is precisely what you raise in your question.

This is an ideological battle and while it's great to, you know, take the town of Baghouz, the place in Eastern Syria that Ben reported from it's really, really important for us to understand that this ideology lives on in places that we have already taken back from ISIS -- places in Iraq, places in Syria and places frankly in Europe.

So this is going to be a long, drawn-out battle and it's going to be a battle that I think will take quite some time and may have some more dangerous events in its future.

WATT: And I think as you eluded to there. I mean the ISIS threat to targets in the west continues. LEIGHTON: Absolutely. And when you think about it, remember that ISIS has already directed its followers and its ideological adherence to look for opportunities to attack targets not only in the Middle East but also in the West.

And they are particularly looking at Europe but I think any place is a place where we need to at least be concerned that ISIS sympathizers might want to strike. So this is not over by a long shot.

WATT: And, I mean of course, the Syrian civil war continues, large swaths of that country still lawless and we've been reporting in the past few days about an Al Qaeda resurgence with Hamza bin Laden, you know, rising up the food chain there.

Is a resurgent in Al Qaeda in Syria and elsewhere also something we need to keep an eye on?

LEIGHTON: Most definitely. When you look at Al Qaeda, of course, they tend to be focused we think in Pakistan and, you know, in areas in Afghanistan that border along --


LEIGHTON: -- the Pakistani area.

But it's very clear that when you look at Iraq and when you look at Syria there are still adherents of Al Qaeda philosophy and the Al Qaeda movement that exists in those countries.

And that they can also present a danger. They are not as strong as they once were but it doesn't take much to cause a huge terrorist attack if really you want to really do that.

WATT: And Colonel, just briefly to finish up, back to ISIS -- I mean what will the demise of the ISIS territory do to the ongoing Syrian civil war?

LEIGHTON: I think that's a really excellent question. Really close

to Baghouz there are both Syrian government forces as well as Russian forces. And those forces will seek to take Baghouz from the Syrian Democratic Forces.

And if that -- when that happens I think we'll see a scramble for as much territory as possible and the Syrian civil war may well unleash other issues that, you know, will have to be settled either on the diplomatic table but more likely in the arena of armed conflict.

WATT: Colonel Cedric Leighton, thank you so much for your insights.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Nick, absolutely.


WATT: Next, South Korea and the U.S. are resuming military drills while trying not to upset North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. A live report from Seoul, that's next.




WATT: Hello and welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Nick Watt with the headlines this hour.


And in South Korea, the annual joint military drills with the U.S. are starting up, but this time they'll look a lot different from the dramatic war games we have seen in the past. They are scaled back, much smaller drills than in years gone by.

The change was announced just days after that failed summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un that ended without a denuclearization deal. President Trump tweeted that dialing back the drills was an idea he, in fact, had a long time ago and will save hundreds of millions of the dollars for the U.S., for which we are not reimbursed. He added, "Reducing tensions with North Korea at this time is a good thing!"

Paula Hancocks joins us live from Seoul, South Korea, with the latest. Paula, how is this going down in South Korea? Is there concern that this scaling back is going to impact readiness in any way?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Nick, if you listen to the official line, they are definitely putting a positive spin on it. We heard from the secretary of defense of the U.S. and the defense minister here, saying that it's not going to affect battle readiness, that they will have smaller drills. They'll be sometimes unit level, and they'll have virtual training, but it's not going to affect battle readiness.

But skeptics disagree. They say it's inevitable. If you don't have these very large-scale drills especially with U.S. soldiers that are here on a rotational basis, then it is likely to have an impact.

Now, we did hear a defense minister's briefing, or defense ministry's briefing this morning, which was interesting, because all the questions that were asked about specific drills coming up this year, the answer to pretty much every single one was "We are reviewing it." So this is very much a work in progress at this point, but the official line is they're trying to put a positive spin on it -- Nick.

WATT: And Paula, let's talk briefly also about that summit in Hanoi that ended without a deal. Listen, South Korea possibly has the most to lose or gain from those talks. How is it going down in Seoul, the fact that Kim Jong-un and Trump did not reach any sort of agreement there?

HANCOCKS: Well, I think clearly, there is concern in the corridors of power. There is going to be a national security council meeting, convened by president Moon Jae-in. He's going to be briefed by many of his ministers, and they're really going to try and hammer out a plan of what to do next.

Because the U.S. president has tasked President Moon once again with being the mediator, phoning him after the summit ended without agreement and asking him to be the mediator between the U.S. and North Korea. It is a role that President Moon is pretty much used to at this point. But it's a very tricky role, as President Moon wants the inter-Korean relationship, the relations between North and South Korea, to continue to improve. And certainly, we've seen that happening at some speed up until this point.

One South Korean official in Hanoi last week telling us that they were perplexed, as perplexed the rest of the world, that it ended without an agreement. So that really tells you everything you need to know. Even though, again, the official line is putting a positive spin on it.

WATT: Paula Hancocks in Seoul, thanks very much.

Meanwhile, the White House national security advisor is rejecting claims that that Kim-Trump summit was a bust. He insists that the U.S. president stood up for American interests.


JOHN BOLTON, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I think it was unquestionably a success for the United States, because the president protected -- defended American interests.

You know, the possibility was there for North Korea to make a big deal with us to do completely denuclearization in exchange for the potential for a very bright economic future. The president wanted to make that big deal. He pushed very hard for it. The North Koreans were not willing to walk through the door that he opened for them.

So now we'll see what happens. If you can't get a good deal, and the president offered North Korea the best deal it could possibly get, no deal is better than a bad deal.


WATT: And John Bolton also says that North Korea needs to come clean on what led to the death of American Otto Warmbier. Remember, he was that young student who died after 18 months in North Korean custody.

Now, last week at the Hanoi summit, the U.S. president said that North Korea's leaders -- North Korean leaders claim to know nothing about Warmbier's suspected torture was plausible. Mr. Trump says he believes him. Now CNN's Jake Tapper pressed Bolton on that earlier.


BOLTON: Look, the president made it very clear he considers what happened to Otto Warmbier an act of brutality that's completely unacceptable to the American side. I've heard him before the summit itself, before the press conference, talk about how deeply he cared about Otto Warmbier and his family.

The fact is, the best thing North Korea could do right now would be to give us a full accounting of what happened and who was responsible for it.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you take Kim Jong-un at his word?

BOLTON: The president takes him at his word.

TAPPER: I know he does, but what about you?

BOLTON: My opinion doesn't matter. My opinion is that the national --

TAPPER: You're the national security adviser to the president. Your opinion matters quite a bit.

BOLTON: I'm not the national security decision maker. That's his view.


WATT: Now, in the coming hours, the U.S. will merge its consulate general in Jerusalem into the American embassy in the city. According to the State Department, the move was made to increase efficiency.

But when the move was first announced last October it was condemned by Palestinian officials. The consulate, the Americans say, will continue to provide outreach to the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. But, you know, the stand-alone consulate was there to provide diplomatic representation to the Palestinians.

The State Department says, quote, "the move does not signal a change of U.S. policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank or the Gaza Strip."

And just ahead on CNN, a Saudi-American doctor held in detention, his family raising the alarm about his treatment. We'll have that story, next.


WATT: Algeria's president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, is defying protestors who are demanding he resign by announcing that he will run for a fifth term in office in elections next month.

The protests are some of the biggest the country has seen in decades. Demonstrators are also demanding those elections be called off and the that the government be dissolved.

Security forces have fired tear gas at the crowds.

It's widely believed that the now 82-year-old president, who was first elected back in 1999, is now largely incapacitated after a stroke and has left the reins of the country in the hands of the military and civilian elite. Now, family members of a doctor with duel U.S.-Saudi citizenship say

that they believe he's being tortured and beaten in detention in Saudi Arabia. They say he has physically and mentally deteriorated since he was detained back in 2017.

CNN's Nic Robertson has more.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Fitaihi's family fear for his safety right now. They say that inside jail, he doesn't feel safe, that he's psychologically deteriorating.

You know, joint U.S.-Saudi in 1980 moves to the United States, a med student. Studies there, becomes a doctor, moves back to Saudi Arabia is 2006. And somehow, in 2017, rounded up with all those Saudi princes and businessmen by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, put in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

But as wearing hearing from his lawyer, his lawyer says that there's been no due process applied to his case, that he doesn't know why he's being held. In fact, the wrote to the U.S. State Department in January of this year. I'll read you that letter that his lawyer wrote to the State Department in January.

And it reads, "Without explanation, he was transferred to a Saudi prison where he has been held for nearly a year, during which he has been permitted little contact with the outside world. It is believed that Dr. Fitaihi has been and is tortured, at least psychologically, during his imprisonment."

The family obviously very concerned for his wellbeing. National security advisor John Bolton has said that there has been U.S. consulate access to him.

BOLTON: Well, as of this moment, my understanding is we have had what's called consular access, meaning American diplomats in Saudi Arabia have visited with him. Beyond that, we don't really have any additional information at this point.

ROBERTSON: Sources I've talked to about his detention say that he's not the only one who's believed to have been beaten during his detention at the Ritz-Carlton and is not the only Saudi being locked up at the moment without due process, without recourse to finding out even why they're being held.

He was known, Fitaihi was known as a motivational speaker, not just a doctor in the community, but a motivational speaker and somebody who stood up for civil rights within the Saudi community.


WATT: That was Nic Robertson reporting.

Now, Saudi officials have not returned CNN's request for comment, but in a statement to "The New York Times," which first reported on the case, a spokesman for the Saudi embassy in Washington denied any mistreatment of detainees, saying, quote, "The kingdom of Saudi Arabia takes any and all allegations of ill treatment of defendants awaiting trial or prisoners serving their sentences very seriously."

Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Nick Watt. WORLD SPORT is up next, and then I'll be back with another hour of news from around the world. You're watching CNN.


KATE RILEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hi, there, and welcome along to CNN WORLD SPORT. I'm Kate Riley at CNN Center.

[00:45:04] Manchester City fans may well be thanking Everton come the end of the season if, indeed, they do lift the EPL trophy. That is after the 200th Mersey site Darby, which ending in a goalless draw.

And that result means that Liverpool couldn't regain the lead at the top of the English Premier League table after this one.

So to the action at Goodison Park, there were no goals in this one. Well, there were some clear attempts to break the deadlock. First from Mohamed Salah in the first half, and that, too, was also followed up by some more efforts in the second. The Egyptian striker once again throwing everything at Everton here.

In the end, the Reds lacked that cutting edge that they really needed, a photo-op with a baby for Firmino, perhaps the most action we saw all afternoon. Nil-nil, the final score.

Liverpool may be left to rue their chances come the end of this campaign.

To break this all down for us, it's now time to catch up with our football expert, Mark Bolton, who's in London for us.


MARK BOLTON, CNN SPORTS INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL EXPERT: Jurgen Klopp blamed the ferocious swirling wind at Goodison Park, rather than Everton, for Liverpool's failure to win. He admitted they should have controlled the game better.

In truth, as Jordan Henderson reflected, Liverpool failed to make enough chances and weren't clinical enough with the ones that they did.

Klopp said pre-match that trying to stop Liverpool winning the title would make this Everton's World Cup final, and preventing Liverpool's return to the top will feel every bit as sweet to the Toffees as a win.

Liverpool players had taken an impromptu early-morning stroll through the city in the rain, sharing autographs and selfies with the fans, but there was little to smile about during this 90 minutes. They lacked a cutting-edge composure and quality when it mattered. This was Liverpool's fourth straight Premier League clean sheet, but

damagingly, also a fourth draw in their last six games, meaning eight crucial points dropped.

So still, no Everton victory in a Merseyside derby since 2010. However, this draw means Liverpool's 7-point lead over City at the turn of the year has now turned into a one-point deficit.

So it's Manchester City that now control their own destiny. There are nine games to go and 27 points still available. Key fixtures for the running that may decide the title race: City's home game with Tottenham, and their huge away trip to Manchester United on April 24.

Liverpool have tough home games with Tottenham and Chelsea.

There are shades about 2013-2014 about this title race, Liverpool leading, then stuttering, and ultimately, City nicking the title from them. It's 29 years since Liverpool last won the English championship. It's likely now that will extend to 30.


RILEY: Mark, thank you very much.

Meanwhile, Brendan Rodgers is getting to know the size of the task ahead of him as the new Leicester City boss. On Sunday, against one of his former clubs, Watford, it was Leicester who were exposed both early and late in the game at Vicarage Road. After just five minutes, Troy Deeney headed Watford into the lead, much to Rodgers' disappointment.

Leicester equalized through Jamie Vardy. But then, deep into stoppage time, Andre Gray completely ruined his day. The East Wickham's (ph) club has now lost three games in injury time this season, more than any other club.

All right. Let's turn to tennis now, where Roger Federer reached yet another milestone in a record-breaking career, and he's showing no signs of letting up either.

The 37-year-old Swiss maestro won his 100th APT tour title. Only one player in history, Jimmy Connors, with 109, has ever won more. Already the owner of a men's record, 20 major titles, an Olympic gold medal, a Davis Cup title and almost countless other achievements.

Federer says he's not too concerned about adding more to his legacy.


ROGER FEDERER, PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: I know a lot of people are probably going to say, "Well, you have to reach Jimmy Connors' record," you know, but I'm not that kind of a guy, even though people might think I am.

I draw inspiration from it, but I'm not here -- out here to shatter every one record out there. And he's a special -- a special player and special legend in the sport. And if he keeps that record, it's all good. I'm just happy to have reached 100 in my career.


RILEY: All right. Love him or loathe him, Mario Balotelli made a name for himself at Marseille earlier. But it wasn't his goal which has taken social media to new levels. We'll tell you more, shortly.


[00:52:01] RILEY: Welcome back to the show. We're heading to Italy now, where leaders Juventus were facing their toughest test of the season so far.

Earlier, they traveled to Napoli, the second-place side in Serie A. And that might actually sound closer than it actually is on the table. Ahead of kick-off Juve were a whopping 13 points ahead of them, Napoli having a shocker from the start here. Having lost their goalkeeper early on, the home side then had a double punishment when Pjanic curves a right-footed free kick into the center of the goal. Emre Can would double their lead on 39 minutes.

After Juve went down to ten men, Napoli's Jose Callejon would pull one back, but Juve hang on. They are still unbeaten in the league after 26 rounds and have an almost unthinkable 16-point lead with 12 rounds remaining.

Every four years, the World Cup is an opportunity for the sport of rugby to show and grow the game on the biggest stage. And up until recently, there was a lot of excitement about the tournament in Japan, which kicks off in September. But now there is talk of a boycott.

Some of the Pacific island countries are threatening to drop out of this tournament, because they say that plans for a new league don't include them.

Well, the sport's governing body, World Rugby, is proposing to revamp the international test calendar from 2020, creating a new 12-team world league competition, but that will [SIC] include Samoa, Fiji and Tongo?

Well, these are all questions that need to be answered. They were established rugby-playing nations and staples of the Rugby World Cup. Well, World Rugby's chairman, Bill Beaumont, denies that they're being excluded, saying that contrary to reports, no decision has actually been made.

CNN's Christina MacFarlane is at the seven series in Las Vegas this weekend. She sent us this report.


CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN SPORTS: There's been a swift and strong reaction from the rugby community to any suggestion that Pacific island teams, among others, will be excluded from plans for a new Rugby World League. Earlier, I spoke to World Rugby vice chairman Agustin Pichot to ask

him to clarify the confusion around which teams will be involved and how the league will work.

AGUSTIN PICHOT, WORLD RUGBY VICE CHAIRMAN: "Confusion" is the right word. I think there has been discussions, obviously, of who will participate, but mainly, the concept is 12 plus 12. Who are those 12 in each of the bands, it's a question that is being resolved. It hasn't been resolved, and that's where the confusion game.

Basically, the most important thing is that there's a pathway. Whoever, by marriage, in those 12 and in the other 12, whoever is there had to have a married base and also has to have a pathway. If you're on the bottom 12 to go up and be part of the top 12, like in every sport.

MACFARLANE: But at this stage, you can't guarantee that there is going to be promotion relegation as part of this?

PICHOT: There's nothing going to be guaranteed, because we haven't discussed it yet.

MACFARLANE: How concerned are you by reports of a boycott brewing for this year's World Cup?

PICHOT: I don't think so. I think this has agitated a lot of things, and that's the first reaction, is to boycott. And I understand the feeling of "Oh, they closed the door, and we have to protest against it." But if there is no closed shop, why will you protest? So I think it's a question of communication.

[00:55:14] MACFARLANE: You can understand how teams feel like they've been shut out from this process. What would you say to those who feel that way?

PICHOT: I would be feeling exactly the same. I spoke to Tipol (ph), the Pacific island representative. I've been speaking to him regularly. And I spoke to him two days ago. I said be confident, we are not going to go on that road. If we're going that road, probably I won't be here.

MACFARLANE: Strong words there from one of the top officials in World Rugby.

Fiji are ranked in the top 10 in the world, and even here at the Sevens World Series, there is concern about what this would mean for the players and for the game.

GARETH BABER, FIJI 7'S COACH: They wanted a world league. I can understand that, but to have all of the Pacific islands out of that seems a little bit unjust. The quality of the players that are there, how much it means to those players in generally, and the contribution they've made to international rugby, to see them with not a position, that is quite poor, in my regards. And, you know, I hope that it gets relooked at. GORDON TIETJENS, SAMOA 7S COACH: Obviously, for a 12-man competition,

it would just improve their rugby so much and give the -- all those aspiring youngsters that are coming through an opportunity to really set some goals and perhaps play for some others (ph) later on in life.

MACFARLANE: World Rugby are expected to meet to continue discussions in the coming weeks, with the league purported to start as soon as next year. Following the intense reaction so far, there will certainly be a lot riding on the outcome.

Christina MacFarlane, CNN, Las Vegas.


RILEY: And many thanks to Christina for that report.

And they say do it for the gram, don't they, these days? And that certainly was the case on Sunday when Mario Balotelli celebrated his goal. The Marseille striker taking to social media and taking his social media game to a whole new level.

After the polarizing character scored into the side of the goal, up against St. Etienne just some 11 minutes into this one, with a bicycle kick, no less. And you'd be forgiven for only remembering this one for his celebration.

It's what happened after the ball went into the back of the net which has grabbed all the headlines. Yes, you can see he grabs that smart phone, opens up Instagram and films his celebrations live.

Well, if you didn't get a photo, it didn't happen, that's what they say, as well. Don't they?

Well, Marseille winning this 2-0 in the end.

All right. That's it from us. Many thanks for watching. Stay with us, though. The news is next.