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HALA GORANI TONIGHT

Opposition Leader Returns to Venezuela; House Panel Launches Sweeping Investigation of Trump; Actor Luke Perry Dead at 52; British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt Speaks to CNN; Hundreds Flee Past Last Holdout of ISIS in Syria. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired March 4, 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] HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London on this Monday, I'm Hala Gorani. Tonight, back in Caracas, Juan Guaido,

the self-declared intermittent President of Venezuela is defiant as he arrives to crowds of thousands.

Also, this hour, Britain's foreign secretary tells me the Yemen peace process could collapse after becoming the first western politician to visit

since the country's civil war began.

And also, this hour, Luke Perry, the actor who shot to fame in the '90s hit Beverley Hills 90210, dies at the age of 52. We'll have that stories as

well.

Stronger together, whatever the risks, we begin with an extraordinary message of defiance in Venezuela where opposition leader Juan Guaido or as

he likes to call himself, interim President, has just returned to the country and to a rock star reception.

Well, this was at Caracas airport. Thousands of his supporters turned out. You can see it there. Guaido arrived on a commercial flight after a trip

abroad, and he seemed to make it through the airport with little official obstruction. The only obstruction you see there appears to be from his

supporters. He then took to the stage calling for unity and said that threats of arrest will not stop him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUAN GUAIDO, SELF DECLARED INTERIM PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): Is there a little bit of fear? No. We are all threatened,

all of us who are here. You all saw it. Of killing us, and I say something. It hasn't been persecution. It's not going to be through

threats that we are going to be stopped. We are more here united, more strong than ever, more stronger than ever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Well, Patrick Oppmann is in Caracas, nick is following the story from Bogota in Colombia. Patrick, we thought you'd be on the streets here,

but you are at a different location. But I think you were out on the streets a little bit earlier. What was the atmosphere like? Because the

birds eye view footage appeared to show huge crowds in support of Guaido.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. We got there an hour before this event started this morning. And there were not a lot of

people. The crowd began pouring in and you looked at every street in every direction and there were just thousands of people. This did play out like

a Hollywood thriller, Hala. We've all been wondering how will Guaido return to his country, will he be smuggled in, an aircraft. He decided to

come through the front door. He got on a commercial airliner, landed here, was greeted at the airport by ambassadors from European countries. Our

colleagues caught up with him a brief moment and asked what his message was. He said, yes, we can. He arrived at the location I was at. You

could feel the electricity in the crowd as he arrived. He is not only in charge of the opposition movement, he is very much energized after this

tour of foreign countries and he will not rest until Maduro is out.

GORANI: So, what about this threat of arrest then? Because when we were anticipating this appearance by Guaido at this rally, what if they take him

after he makes his speech? What if they come up on stage, it could be very dramatic. The Maduro government has chosen not to do that. What is the

thinking behind that? What are people saying about why that was their decision today?

OPPMANN: I have no idea. Any point they arrest him, after he declared himself interim President, someone said we have your prison cell and ready

for you. They kind of muscled him. That could happen at any point. There is a long history of people in the opposition being picked up, let go,

picked up in the middle of the night. At this point certainly the threats from the United States through this -- showing support from countries

around the region seem to have paid off. There certainly are people in the government here that are the harder line that would have like to have seen

arrest a long time ago. Nicolas Maduro has decided not to let it go. Hala, it can change it any time.

[14:05:07] GORANI: Nick, in Bogota, you had an opportunity to speak with Guaido a few days ago. What's his strategy here? What is he trying to

achieve? The military is still backing Maduro.

NICK PATON WALSH, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I have to tell you, I didn't think Juan Guaido would pull something like this off. He managed

to combine both not letting anybody know how he was going to do this with both an extremely public and safe arrival into Venezuela. There's been

enormous amount of smoke around his movements. Was a going to be sneaking across the border? Flying in from Miami? From Bogota? Everything was

thrown out us trying to locate him how he was going to do this.

And it appears he managed to get European ambassadors from the nations that are kind of not on the fence but not as stridently against Maduro as

Washington, to meet him at the airport. Basically, if Maduro moved against him, there would have been stern EU consequence. That's a master stroke.

It's a TV stunt certainly, it's one you've seen on the streets that got people together again. It was a key moment. Beforehand his flying around

south America meeting regional allies, helped build momentum inside the country. You're the name outside. Back in that bizarre scene of him

walking through the Caracas airport, immigration officers stamping him in, almost like nobody minded him coming back. That, I'm sure, is the point he

wanted to make. It will make the military wondering how am power he has over the border as well, that's the message he needs to send. He's put a

stop on it, no protest tomorrow as previously planned, and call people out next weekend. This is the strategy he's using, a lot of visuals for the

world to see and essentially deadlines coming forward, Hala.

GORANI: Nick, lastly, this leaves the country in limbo because you have a President in Nicolas Maduro who says he's the legitimate President. You

have Juan Guaido who says I'm the innocent President. Both sides are able to get those behind them. Where does this leave Venezuela?

WALSH: You're right, we are in this limbo. We have two men who say -- one is the President, one still running the country. The other one, the

interim self-declared President goes around talking in this way behaving in this way with international support. The more and more people around

Nicolas ma during owe have a future inside his side of the lame. The question is where do the military fight and do they have blood on their

hands? Simply changing sides is not going to secure them a safe future. That's the debate they're having. People will criticize Maduro for not

moving quickly. It will be this week, but it seems thus far he's calculated that incurring the wrath of the EU and the U.S. and internal

unrest as well, that significantly worse than the weakness he's been seeing by allowing him to move freely today. Hala?

GORANI: Thanks very much to both of you.

To the United States now, a House committee is casting an extremely wide net. The House, of course, is back under Democratic control and it is

launching a sweeping investigation into Donald Trump's campaign, into his administration, the committee is demanding documents from 81 people and

entities, including Mr. Trump's two adult sons. It is for alleged crimes saying, quote, Congress must provide a check on abuses of power. Not the

same as when the House of representatives was in Republican hands, of course. This is a new time, and something that Donald Trump, the

President, is having to deal with this split government there. Just a short government Mr. Trump was asked if he intends to cooperate with that

investigation. Let's bring in Serfaty. Let me ask you about the subpoenas coming down the pike going as high up as the son's adult Presidents. Who

might we see in term of testimony?

[14:10:07] SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This certainly, Hala, indicates the investigation is entering a new phase. The

scrutiny of President Trump is at its highest level. You have the committee moving forward with request of information from 81 people and

entities questioning with two weeks to respond to the committee. They are going to be very aggressive in their search for information, not only about

President Trump's contacts with foreign contacts, but over the hush money payments to silence the alleged affairs that President Trump has had

allegedly. So, a lot to look out there and some bold-face names to mention on this list. Trump's two sons, but his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Brad

Parscale, a former campaign manager, Hope Hicks and even Alan Weisselberg, he was the CFO of the Trump organization, his name came up so many times.

He was singled out many times by Michael Cohen when he was up here at on Capitol Hill testifying last week. The committee potentially had chew

through, but an important step forward in requesting this information.

GORANI: It is certainly a different time. Let me ask you, Sarah. Has there been a reaction from the President today to this development?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Hala, earlier today President Trump said at an event that he fully intended to cooperate with

everybody asking him questions. He said, I always cooperate with everyone. And he went on to say that there's no collusion, that this is a hoax, but

keep in mind as just mentioned, these investigations are not focused on collusion, or on Russia, but a broad range of things from hush money during

the campaign to whether he's using his office to enrich himself personally through his business ties. The President lashed out on Saturday at

Democrats who are investigating his company, his business associated by basically saying they are shifting their investigative focus to his

company. As he predicted, there won't be any evidence, Mueller said he's winding down. Michael Cohen was testifying on Capitol Hill while he was in

Vietnam talking to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, thought that was disrespectful of him. That's, of course, the kind of split screen we can

expect over the next two years as Trump tries to pursue his agenda and Democrats pursue this very expansive investigation, Hala.

GORANI: Explain to international viewers. If someone is asked to testify on Capitol Hill, are they compelled to make an appearance?

WESTWOOD: It depends who it is and what arrangements are made. Of course, there could be a subpoena, many people if they don't respond, that's the

first phase of this. It's the first step. We'll see how people respond. We saw up here on Capitol Hill with Michael Cohen. There was some back and

forth and fits and starts to his testimony. Ultimately, he ended up testifying in the public testimony in front much House committee. He

appeared behind closed doors. Of the Senate and House intel committees. There could be arrangements made on that. We'll have to see in the days

going forward. Thanks to both of you for that update with the latest on the investigations swirling the President and the White House. And who

could or maybe won't be, in the end, subpoenaed depending whether or not they turn over documents that have been requested. We'll keep our eye on

that, of course.

GORANI: Now to the passing of a 1990s icon. The U.S. actor Luke Perry has died just a few days after suffering a stroke. Perry, people of my

generation, is best known as Dylan McKay, "Beverley Hills 90210." he was appealing to viewers. Luke Perry, dying at the age of 52. But he became a

star with a much younger generation, acting up until his death. I want to bring in Stephanie Ewan in Los Angeles. He was on a cable show called

"Riverdale." We heard he had a stroke. People recover from a stroke. It's quite a shock to hear that he passed away, Stephanie.

[14:15:00] STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's super shocking, Hala. 52 is way too early to be gone. People of our generation were all about

Luke Perry because he did play Dylan McKay on "90210." Now it is very possible that fans of that show, that their children are fans of

"Riverdale"

On that show he plays the father of Archie Andrews. That's what his role is currently. Right now, he was in the midst of shooting that show when he

passed away. But we now know he had a massive heart attack -- I'm sorry, stroke last week and that is what led to this lack of recovery here. We

have a statement that has been put out by his publicity that he was surrounded by his children Jack and Sophie, his fiance was there, as well

as his ex-wife. She is also an actress. His mother, stepbrother, close friends. Obviously shocking news this has come out. He really was an icon

of 90s television being on that show. It wouldn't be surprising if we heard from some of his co-stars. Steve Zander played on "90210." He

wrote, "Dearest Luke, I will forever bask in the loving memories we shared over the last 30 years. May your journey forward be enriched by those who

passed before just as you have done here for those you leave behind."

So just devastating news. I think his son is in his early 20s. I think his daughter is in her late teens. To think about all that goes into it.

This is a man who while he did play that brooding teenager, really wanted to play different roles. You saw him take on different roles like "8

Seconds." He was on "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" the movie not the TV show.

He did many different things, "John from Cincinnati," many different roles that he took on to show he was more complex than just playing that brooding

teenager people fell in love with back in the day.

GORANI: In fact, there is a reboot of "90210." He had that signed on to be part of it,

said in the past he'd moved on from that role. But internationally I heard anecdotally on Twitter, "90210" was a huge international hit. It was

translated in dozens of languages. This transcended the United States and kind of exported this early '90s genre around the world.

ELAM: And they really did become household names. The actors on the show for the characters that they played. And they were connected to them

forever. I think you wouldn't be surprised to see that people talk about it. Just to give you an idea how huge it was, in 1991, Luke Perry went to

a mall in Florida to sign some autographs. They expected 2000 people would be there. Some 10,000 people showed up. They had to close the mall. It

was such a big deal because people were such a fan of Dylan McKay Luke Perry had created. It was something I think for a lot of the characters on

the show, actors on the show, it was hard to get away from those characters and do other things. It was something he felt strongly about. They're

going to reboot 90210, the same time he had the stroke.

GORANI: Thank you, with the sad news the star Luke Perry, later "Riverdale" has died at the age of 52 after suffering a stroke. Thanks

very much.

Still to come tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEREMY HUNT, UK FOREIGN SECRETARY: My worry is that in the end, this process will collapse if we don't see much faster progress towards

influencing what everyone signed up to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: I speak to Britain's foreign secretary after he made a trip to see the situation in Yemen. About that, Khashoggi, British ISIS fighters.

We'll be right back.

[14:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Britain's Foreign Secretary has become the first western politician to visit Yemen, the war-torn country since that vicious civil

war began. Jeremy Hunt said the fledgling peace process was in a last- chance saloon and could collapse if both sides did not shift positions. I spoke to Jeremy Hunt. We were given five minutes and this is the entirety

of that conversation. I asked why he felt the need to go to Yemen in person.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: Well, I wanted to draw the attention of all the parties in this conflict that we have this big opportunity that everyone is committed to.

The first time we've had a cease-fire since this awful conflict four years ago. But it's now over 80 days and we were still haven't implemented

what's been agreed. And my worry is in the end, this process will collapse if we don't see much faster progress towards influencing what everyone

signed up to. So, I wanted to give that message in person and, you know, give as much impetus as I can to the Stockholm process.

GORANI: We had reaction today from the Houthi rebel spokesperson who said he doesn't consider the U.K. to be a neutral mediator. You side with the

aggressor, the Saudi coalition.

HUNT: Well, we completely support the restoration of the legitimate government in Yemen. Remember, the Houthis who are about 15 percent of the

population in Yemen, took over the whole country and the activities of the Saudi-led coalition have been blessed by united nations security council

resolution 2216. So, they're authorized by the United Nations.

GORANI: A neutral mediator, you're seen by some as biased especially because your government also sells arms to Saudi Arabia.

HUNT: Well, there is a neutral mediator there which is Martin Griffith, United Nations Special Envoy who is doing a fantastic job. But because I

was able to have a very good meeting with the Houthis in Oman, he said to me he thought the U.K.'s role had been pivotal in meaning there was a peace

process, but I also met people on the Yemen, Saudi, Emirati side. My message to all of them was the same. In any peace process, you have to

take risks and it's not easy. And we are at a critical moment now where, if we want Stockholm to turn into a lasting path to peace, then everyone

has to do what they agreed to do on that cold day in Stockholm in December. We've got to make it happen.

GORANI: What's your reaction to Mohammad Bin Salman who told you that the U.K. told you had a pivotal role, now saying you're siding with the

aggressor? Clearly those are two different messages.

HUNT: What we have to do in the U.K., we are part of the Saudi/Emirati/U.S. coalition. I met with the Houthis by starting with that

point. We have to use every influence we can to try and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. The U.K. is the biggest western donor to try and

provide humanitarian relief and other $260 million announced by Prime Minister Theresa May last weekend. And because of our strategic

relationship with Saudi Arabia and emirates, we have special access, and we're using that access to encourage them to do what's necessary for peace.

But we are also saying to the Houthis, you, too, need to do what you agreed to do at the Stockholm --

GORANI: And before your trip you were under pressure to bring up the Khashoggi murder in Saudi Arabia. Did you?

HUNTER: I did.

GORANI: What did you say?

[14:25:13] HUNTER: There needs to be accountability for what happens, and we need to know that that kind of thing cannot and will not ever happen

again. Again, because we have a strong relationship with Saudi, we are able to have these discussions, frankly in private, that's what we did.

GORANI: You were reassured by their response?

HUNTER: I think they completely understand how the world thinks about what happened, and I think they are committed to demonstrating that it won't

ever happen again.

GORANI: Last couple questions, because we're in the region, and the news of the ISIS bride as she's called and some U.K. citizens who fought for is,

she was stripped much her citizenship. I know U.K. and other western countries have a big problem on their hands what to do with these returning

fighters. Is stripping them of their citizenship the only solution?

HUNTER: No, there are different measures that you take. You look at these things on a case-by-case basis. And people who leave the U.K. and all the

privileges that come from being a U.K. citizen know before they join a terrorist organization that commits brutal atrocities in the way that ISIS

does, that there are consequences. The consequence will be different for different people. That was a choice that Shamima made. Others need to

know there will be consequence. You can't your life to resume the way it was before because you change your mind.

GORANI: No bringing them back to fates justice in their home country, is that an option?

HUNTER: We will do whatever it takes to make sure each and every one of those people faces justice. But it is different in different situations.

GORANI: Jeremy, the U.K. Foreign Secretary speaking to me earlier today. A lot more to come this evening. These could be the last days of the

remaining ISIS caliphate. We'll tell you why fighters are fleeing its final hold out. How long could the whole process take? And emergency

crews are sifting through mountains of debris after some very deadly tornadoes plowed through the U.S. southeast. We are live in Alabama next.

[14:30:08] Now to Syria and that last tiny hold out of the once vast is caliphate. The terrorist group is clinging to a sliver of land in

northeastern Syria. As the battle heats up, hundreds of ISIS members and their families are getting out. American-backed fighters say the enclave

could fall by the end of the weekend. We've heard, though, in the past time line predictions. They haven't always come true. There has been in

some cases resistance that was not necessarily expected, but it is the end. We are nearing the end, at least for the territorial caliphate. CNN's Ben

Wedeman has been on the front lines. Here is today's report.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hell in a very small place. Airstrikes, artillery and mortar rounds rain down on the 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 bended in fears, can be seen walking through the tents.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Some of them want to surrender. They're suicidal and some want to escape, but we won't let them, said Afkan

(ph), the commander on this roof. They can either surrender or die.

They're 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 that this 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 proper pair weapons for battle. Pounding carries on around the clock. There is no rest for the

last holdouts.

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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: It's difficult to imagine. Ben Wedeman joining us from Syria live. Who could survive that? How many of

these fighters and perhaps even some of their family members are still in that small little sliver of territory, Ben?

GORANI: Well, Hala, what we've seen from at least a month ago is that the number of people, whether fighters, civilians, families of fighters, has

consistently been aster, underestimated. And we saw very vividly how underestimated it's been.

Today, almost 1,500 people came out of that tiny enclave just about half a square mile. We saw as about 20 trucks came out carrying women and

children, but also a surprisingly large number of what looked to be military age men.

So the finding took a bit of a pass, like a complete pass, because we did see some airstrikes. But people are still in there. And they continue to

come out. We're told more may come out tomorrow, but tomorrow is -- we're told the last, the absolute last day.

After that, the military operation will into high gear, we're told. And perhaps, this thing will come to an end. Hala.

GORANI: And you have all these people, again, and there are thousands. They're being held by the SDF and U.S.-backed forces. But their countries

don't want them back. What happens to them all longer term?

WEDEMAN: Well, actually the vast majority of these people are from Syria and Iraq. The number of foreigners, we've heard figures like 800 foreign

fighters, in addition to their families.

Now, at the moment, they're being held, the women and children, and what it amounts to an internment camp. And it's not at all clear how long they'll

be in there, when they'll be allowed to go free, if they'll be allow today go free.

And as far as the men, whether they're Syrian, Iraqi, some men have been actually handed over to Iraq. But the Syrians and then the foreigners.

And this is the dilemma for the Syrian democratic forces, is what do they do with these people? We've heard that President Trump has made it clear

that one particular American woman, Hoda Muthana, they don't want her back.

And the U.K., for instance, is equally obstinate in taking them back. The worry is, of course, for lack of evidence, some of these people who might

have been involved in war crimes from ISIS, there's no actual proof, there's not enough witnesses.

But in the long term, there's not -- no one has come up with a clear idea of what to do with these people because what we've heard, what we've seen

speaking to many of the people who have come out, they continue to be faithful to the message and the mission of the Islamic State, even though

that state is about to become part of history. Hala?

[14:35:01] GORANI: All right, thanks very much. Ben Wedeman live in eastern Syria.

I remember in one of his reports, Ben, last week, some people were even refusing medical treatment because those administering that treatment, they

said were infidels. Thanks very much.

Ben has been there for a few weeks now covering that last final battle against ISIS.

Let's take you to the southeastern United States where some people had only had a five-minute warning on Sunday before tornadoes ripped through the

area, and they have been very deadly. Twenty-three people, at least, were killed in Alabama alone. Dozens more are injured.

Kaylie Hartung shows us the damage from what is being called a weather catastrophe?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A series of deadly tornadoes ripping through Alabama and Georgia, leveling homes and causing

catastrophic damage across both states.

JAY JONES, LEE COUNTY SHERIFF: Houses completely destroyed, homes just basically just slabs left where once stood a home.

HARTUNG: The tornadoes are the deadliest in years, with authorities telling reporters they expect the death toll to rise.

The path of destruction tearing through Lee County, Alabama. Officials say one tornado appears to have traveled for several miles on the ground in one

community, destroying nearly everything in a half-mile wide path and sending dozens of people to the hospital with very serious injuries.

JEREMY DANIEL NORTON, ALABAMA RESIDENT: I wouldn't wish this on anybody. This just came on so quick and changed so many lives that, I mean, it's

really sickening to watch.

HARTUNG: Neighborhood after neighborhood in this Georgia town leveled. Roofs torn off the tops of Houses. Trees uprooted and blocking streets.

Cellphone towers knocked down.

NORTON: This whole area right here is pretty much just gone. Looking out over this way, which was mostly trees, it just looks like toothpicks broke

just all through there.

HARTUNG: This porch, the only thing still standing from this home.

JONES: Contents of one residence we know for a fact was located over a thousand yards away. So we've got a wide -- very wide storm track that

went through the area.

HARTUNG: Families gathering anything they could find in the rubble to take with them to safety.

JONES: These families have lost everything they have.

HARTUNG: In the midst of the chaos, some families reuniting with their pets --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that your baby?

HARTUNG: -- and their loved ones.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, that's a sweet reunion, isn't it, right there? Granny's OK.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: Well, Kaylee Hartung joins me now live from Alabama.

And we were just saying there before we got to your report, people have five minutes to prepare. They're given five minutes warning before these

deadly tornadoes hit their homes and their businesses.

HARTUNG: That's right, Hala, it's hard to imagine. And this area was under a tornado watch. They recognize that severe weather was a threat

here, but this time of year in this part of the country, that is something people are accustomed to.

And so it was almost 24 hours ago that sirens went off, people got text messages on their cellphones, a tornado warning was in effect and five,

maybe 10 minutes lead time in this area of rural Alabama where we are, Lee County, people were given.

And then less than an hour later, a second tornado hit this very same area. And so much of this community looks like the scene behind me, homes

completely devastated.

We walked into a neighborhood earlier today. It was impossible to distinguish which pile of rubble came from which home. This community has

turned into something of an unfamiliar maze with people trying to navigate it as you have the debris from homes and fallen trees and downed power

lines.

And so there has been so much activity around us today. Whether it was helicopters flying in the air trying to survey the area of damage, health

authorities really quantify what they're working with. The sheriff here telling me he thought it was one square mile, maybe two square miles of the

most significant damage.

We've seen trucks repairing powerlines, helping bring power back to the homes there, still standing in this area. They're working with incredible

efficiency.

And then you see people like those you can see behind me, going through what remains of their home. Again, debris, sometimes indistinguishable

remnants of their home and their belongings, trying to see if there is anything that they can salvage.

Also on the ground here in Lee County today, the national weather service working, again, to gather more information similar to those authorities

flying in the sky to determine how strong the storm was.

Yesterday, there were estimates that winds might have topped out around 160 miles per hour. Well, after the National Weather Service got on the ground

today, they say the storm was even stronger than they realized, winds reaching 170 miles per hour.

[14:40:07] We know of that death toll now, 23 people. Authorities saying, as the search and rescue mission continues today, as the search area is

divided into a grid, people get on the ground and literally have to lift up debris that they find when they come to a home like this, they say that

number could raise. Hala?

GORANI: Are these structures -- I mean, those that are destroyed in this fashion and we're showing our viewers this unbelievable video. Is it

because they're weaker structures, mobile homes, that kind of thing? Or are these tornadoes able to cause this much damage on more solid homes

even? I mean, were they stronger this time around?

HARTUNG: We're talking about 170-mile per hour winds that came ripping through here. Tornadoes are measured on a scale of zero to five. This

being a category four. This being one of the strongest types of terrors that could come to an area.

So while -- I don't doubt that there were some structures that were more vulnerable than others, it is unquestionable. The nature of these winds,

the strength of these winds could have taken down just about anything.

There was a report from a nearby town of two incredibly large air- conditioning units on top of a school that were carried -- I want to 30 feet -- 30 yards into a nearby cemetery. And that's the equivalent of a

school bus. Someone described the size and the weight of that, it is that sort of power that these winds had when they ripped through here and ripped

up everything in their path.

GORANI: All right. Kaylee Hartung, thanks very much reporting live from Alabama. That path of destruction absolutely breathtaking. And the people

there have a lot of rebuilding to do in the months ahead.

More to come, including it is the documentary everyone is talking about. I'm talking, of course, about the one accusing Michael Jackson of molesting

young boys. The Michael Jackson family is fighting back. The alleged victims are speaking out. We'll have full coverage after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Well, there's been a lot of talk, a lot of buzz about a disturbing documentary that makes some very explosive claims about the hidden life of

pop star Michael Jackson when he was alive. "Leaving Neverland" tells the story of two men who say they were sexually abused by Jackson when they

were children.

The allegations made by Wade Robson and James Safechuck are horrifying. Including stories of Jackson engaging in sexual act with boys under the age

of 10. Here's a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WADE ROBSON, ALLEGED VICTIM OF SEXUAL ABUSE: He was one of the kindest, most gentle, loving, caring people I knew. He helped me tremendously. He

helped me with my career. He helped me with my creativity, with all of those sorts of things. Those sorts of things. And he also sexually abused

me. For seven years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:45:24] GORANI: Michael Jackson's family is furious about this documentary. They say it's full of lies. Jackson's estate has sued HBO

for $100 million. HBO and CNN shared the same parent company.

CNN's Paul Vercammen is in Los Angeles with that story.

Before getting back to the documentary in a moment, you spoke to some members of the Jackson family, Paul.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: I did, Hala. I spoke with his brothers about all of this and his nephew. And what's particularly galling

for them and what is such a bombshell is that Wade Robson testified for Michael Jackson. He was the first witness in his defense going back to

2005. And now, he's basically admitting that he perjured himself and the allegations, as you pointed out are just explosive. Here's his brother's

view of all of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARLON JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S BROTHER: Well, I haven't seen the documentary. I have no tendency in some. There has no validity to it. So

it's full of lies.

TITO JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S BROTHER: I've heard that it was full of lies. I have not seen it. No one here except for Taj. I think Taj have

seen it.

TAJ JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S NEPHEW: I've read the transcripts.

TITO JACKSON: He read the transcripts.

JACKIE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S BROTHER: I haven't seen the documentary. I'll have to see it. I know my brother. I know he would never do anything

like this. And what I'm hearing, you know, so.

VERCAMMEN: Well, let me play off that. So you know Wade Robson who is a family friend who spent a lot of time with your brother, is now saying that

he testified, perjured himself basically, and that he was wrong.

And instead of being a star witness for your brother is now saying he was molested. Your reaction to that.

TAJ JACKSON: Well, it's convenient. Not only is it convenient, he was the star witness. He was the first witness in the trial which, if you're

molesting someone for seven years, you wouldn't put someone that you molested on the stand, especially around all the sheriffs and all the

police where you feel protected.

One word could have locked him up forever. But my uncle was innocent, and he knew what he was saying. At that time, it was the truth. Under oath he

was speaking the truth. And I think so what I would say is that there's motivation, there's money motivation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: Now, I also spoke with the former prosecutor in this case, Ron Zonen, now retired. He has said clearly if Robson had not testified for

Jackson, they would have won that case. He also points out, Hala, that it's not uncommon for sex abuse victims, alleged sex abuse victims to much

later in life, especially when they become parents, to suddenly want to speak about whatever happened to them because it weighs heavy on their

hearts.

GORANI: And we heard from another alleged victim in this documentary who described in great detail, according to him, what Michael Jackson told them

to at the time, if anyone showed up when they were in the room together. And I want our viewers to watch this clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES SAFECHUCK, ALLEGED VICTIM OF SEXUAL ABUSE: He would run drills with me where he would be in the hotel room and he would pretend like somebody

was coming in and you had to get dressed as fast as possible without making noise. So not getting caught was a big point, just kind of fundamental.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: What's been the reaction, Paul? Because on Twitter and on social media, and by the way, this documentary aired yesterday on HBO part one

did. Here in the U.K., it airs Wednesday and Thursday. And it will air a little bit later in other countries. But what's been the reaction among

those who've seen it?

VERCAMMEN: Well, the gap is just tremendous, Hala, and it always has been with all things Michael Jackson, and with all of these molestation

allegations going back to the early '90s when that first molestation case was settled for allegedly $20 million.

So in the Michael Jackson camp, they are looking at this as a shameless money grab. Both these men had sued the Jackson estate seeking money for

allegedly being molested. That was dismissed.

On the flip side, in the law enforcement community, there is this feeling of I told you so. That these two men stories lineup perfectly with two of

the previous accusers against Michael Jackson. Saying basically there's a stencil here where Michael Jackson brought these boys in, tried to sort of

desensitize them with soft pornography and other things, and then later on would molest them.

So two very different opinions. What's interesting is down the road, well we hear from people who had no opinion on this weigh in on what they think

really happened at Neverland.

GORANI: Yes. Especially since at the time, there were things that were facts. Like we knew these kids were spending the night. We knew some of

them even lived in the Neverland mansion.

[14:50:03] I mean, these things that -- in this era seemed crazy. At the time, we're kind of accepted as Michael Jackson is kid of a big child. He

may be an adult, but he likes the company of children.

So all of those things is seen through today's lens, sound a bit different, I think to people as well.

VERCAMMEN: That's exactly right. And in fact, Zonen, the former prosecutor says he thinks in the post-MeToo era, that people would be much

more sympathetic to listening to the allegations of an abused victim.

And also, I asked the brothers point blank, I said, siblings often have a bigger influence on each other than parent's view, as brothers, as a

nephew. Did you ever say, Michael, do you think you should still keep sleeping having these sleepovers with these young boys?

And they said, they defended him and they said, listen, this was all just part of the way Michael was, that he never had a childhood. That he was

often interested in hearing about birthday parties and sleepovers because these are some of the life events that he never had. So it's interesting.

They flatly deny anything ever happened. The prosecution meanwhile says something definitely happened and they could have won that 2005 case.

GORANI: Yes, absolutely. So Paul Vercammen, thanks very much there for that look at the Michael Jackson's documentary, "Leaving Neverland." And

it airs, I mentioned, in the U.S. in the coming days, in some European countries. Thanks, Paul.

We'll be right back. Stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: We've just over a week left until the next Brexit vote in parliament. The British Prime Minster, Theresa may, is making a last ditch

effort to win votes. She's proposing a $2.1 billion fund to boost economic growth in deprived towns which tend to be pro-Brexit. While Mrs. May tries

to win over members of parliament, we're learning no-deal Brexit could affect pets as well as people.

Jim Bittermann reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Oscar the Yorkie may not look too worried about Brexit, but his caretaker

certainly is. Paul Anderson runs a business called Pets2Go, regularly transporting thousands of pets a year from Europe to Britain and back

again.

And like other animals, Oscar travels back and forth easily with a pet passport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

BITTERMANN: But potentially after Brexit, more paperwork will be needed, and perhaps even a new blood test before he can reenter into France.

PAUL ANDERSON, PETS2GO: There doesn't seem to be any clarity on what is going to happen to our business or transporting as a general. It's a bit

of a mess.

BITTERMANN: With as many as 2,000 pets crossing the English Channel each day according to animal controlling inspectors, any change in the rules

means added expenses and headaches for pet owners.

For the three dogs of Ian Squirrell and Debbie Lansley, this may be the last trip for a while.

DEBBIE LANSLEY, PET OWNER: Until we know what's happening. I mean, some are saying they're going to be needing baby's injections. I mean, all of a

sudden they've got that. But they say they need blood tests. Yes.

IAN SQUIRRELL, PET OWNER: The English basically charging 260 pound for the blood test, which is quite a lot of money.

LANSLEY: When you got three dogs.

SQUIRRELL: And you've got three dogs.

BITTERMANN: Even without a clear idea which direction Brexit may take, it's already costing a lot of money. French customs says it is spending

more than $68 million constructing new customs facilities. Hiring 700 more customs agents and hundreds more veterinarian inspectors.

[14:55:02] BITTERMANN (on-camera): Customs officials here said they've been planning for the worst-case scenario for years and that means going

back to the bad old days of customs declarations, health and sanitary inspections, screening of animals for diseases and fruits and vegetables

for pesticides and weed killers.

In short, reestablishing controls that haven't existed here for 25 years.

BITTERMANN (voice-over): In a time sense under European Union rules, customs inspections have been carried out on a random basis, sometimes

quite literally looking for the needle in the haystack.

But after Brexit, French customs inspectors are expected to be much more thorough.

The French produced a video hoping to explain to people how they can avoid delays crossing by ferry or by euro tunnel by going online in advance of

their trip.

But those new facilities include expanded customs and parking areas for any of the eight million trucks crossing the channel which have not completed

proper paperwork in advance, according to the customs director for northern France.

THIBAUT ROUGELOT, CUSTOMS DIRECTOR FOR NORTHERN FRANCE (through translator): It's possible that with the custom's formalities, there will

be an added cost to transport. I don't know how the companies will react to these extra costs and restrictions on the circulations of merchandise.

BITTERMANN: Merchandise like fresh produce, for instance. At the moment, the French import about 55 percent of the land they consume, much of it

from Britain, according to agricultural statistics. And most after it has been slaughtered.

Customs delays could mean fresh land would have to be frozen, putting British lamb in direct competition with countries as far away as New

Zealand.

TOM BUCKLE, SHEEP FARMER: Things will get complicated. And anything could -- no one knows what will happen really.

BITTERMANN: Some though are already making decisions without waiting. At STC transport which regularly moves thoroughbreds back and forth across the

channel for racing and breeding, one recent client canceled his horse's trip. The companies believe others will follow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: There you have it and Brexit hasn't even happened yet.

I'm Hala Gorani. Richard Quest is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END