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Ousted Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn Granted Bail; Congressional Inquiries Of Trump Launch With Broad Scopes; Opposition Leader Juan Guaido Returns To Caracas; Children Of Terror Group Members Returning To France; U.N. To Look At Its Handling Of Myanmar Crisis; Trump Reportedly Tried to Block AT&T/Time Warner Merger; Netanyahu Echoes Trump in Fighting Graft Charges; China's Annual Communist Party Meeting Underway; Powerful Tornadoes Kill 23 People in Southern U.S.; Actor Luke Perry Dies at Age 52 after Massive Stroke; Icon Takes on Streaming over the Theatrical Experience. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 5, 2019 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Third time is a charm for the former CEO of Nissan. Carlos Ghosn granted bail after spending the past three months in a Japanese jail on charges of financial misconduct. A hero's welcome for Venezuela's self-declared interim president Juan Guaido returning home despite a government threat he would be arrested for violating a travel ban.

Plus, just don't mention the impeachment even though U.S. House Democrats have started a sweeping investigation into Donald Trump's campaign, businesses, and administration. Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Carlos Ghosn, the former head of Nissan and the Titan of the auto industry could soon get his first taste of freedom in more than three months. A court in Tokyo has granted him bail, set at almost $9 million, a billion yen. He's been in custody since late November charged with financial misconduct for allegedly underreporting his salary at the automaker for nearly a decade.

Prosecutors could still appeal the bail decision. Journalist Kaori Enjoji is joining us now online -- actually live from Tokyo I should say. So, Kaori, what are the details here? When are we expected to see Mr. Ghosn actually walk free from that Tokyo prison?

Well, John, expectations are running high that possibly as early as later today Carlos Ghosn, the charismatic former leader of both Nissan and Renault could be released from the detention center where he has been held since late November. This is after the Tokyo District Court approved the bail process that his lawyer, his newish lawyer had filed last week.

But this is not 100 percent sure yet, John, because of -- maybe a formality but the prosecutors who have been pursuing Carlos Ghosn are likely to appeal and that is likely to take time as well. A reminder that there was another gentleman Greg Kelly who was arrested at the same time, a Nissan executive as Carlos Ghosn, he has already been released on bail last December, December 25th.

That came late into the night so it could be hours still until -- before we see Carlos Ghosn walk out of that detention center. Having said that, this is a dramatic turn of events and a big new step in the case surrounding Carlos Ghosn. Not only will be able -- will he be able to have better access to his lawyers, he is starting to meet strategically with a new legal team.

It is also very unprecedented for prosecutors to be granted or excuse me, for people to be granted bail in cases like this where they have not pleaded guilty. This is a line his previous lawyer outlined to us. But his new lawyer yesterday in a news conference said to us hey, maybe expect him to walk to be on bail and this is because he is going to take a new strategy.

He also suggested at the news conference that he is going to question what kind of involvement not only Nissan had that led to the arrest of Carlos Ghosn but the government itself. Bearing in mind of course that Renault is a strategically part -- a strategic partner of Nissan. The majority shareholder in that is the French government.

And Nissan, although it is a private -- publicly held company here in Japan, it's an icon of Japanese industry and it would be a very big interest to the Japanese government should it fall into the hands of a French company or slash French government authorities. So this has been a case that has gripped the nation.

Also remember that Carlos Ghosn, the only real true glimpse that we had of him in the last three months or so has been a court appearance that he made in early January. The press was not allowed in so we only saw sketches of that, but it was a very searing image of a man who looked very gaunt in the weeks that he said -- has faced in detention ropes at the waist in shackles and saying that I am free.

But in response to this, Nissan has said that they have discovered over the last several weeks gross ethical misconduct surrounding Carlos Ghosn in events that possibly could be taking back to over a decade ago.

Also bear in mind the prosecutors have always said that he is a flight risk. But Carlos Ghosn lawyer says that he has put in conditions on the bail that would limit his activity, that would keep him here in Japan, possibly even live in his computer usage in contact with the outside world, and of course that he doesn't tamper with evidence.

I think the next step we do actually confirm that he has been released on bail is when this is going to trial. This could be months down the line, possibly not even until the end of the year. And bear in mind that this is a legal -- new legal team that is making waves here in Japan.

He is almost notorious in legal circles here because he was very successful in defending a criminal case way back in the 1980s surrounding a businessman that was acquitted on murder charges of his wife. Similar to -- very similar to what the O.J. Simpson trial was. So this is going to be a high-profile case and one of course that we will be watching closely and possibly should Carlos Ghosn be released from detention later today. John?

[01:05:18] VAUSE: OK, we'll keep it close on that. Kaori, thank you. Kaori Enjoji there in Tokyo live for us. Well, potential obstruction of justice, corruption, and abuse of power all part of a sweeping congressional investigation of President Trump led by Democrats in the U.S. House.

Well, publicly Trump says he'll cooperate. CNN's Jim Acosta reports White House lawyers Mike just had other plans.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Surrounded by college football players at the White House, the President sounded ready for the blitz as House Democrats launched an expansive new investigation into allegations of corruption in nearly every corner of Trump world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you cooperate with Mr. Nadler?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I cooperate all the time with everybody. And you know the beautiful thing? No collusion, it's all a hoax. You'll learn that as you grow older. It's a political hoax. There's no collusion, there's no anything. Folk (INAUDIBLE).

ACOSTA: The House Judiciary Committee issued demands for documents for more than 80 relatives, aides, and associates of the President, from his own family members to top White House officials, to other close advisers past and present. Also targeted in the probe organizations tied to the President as well as companies and other groups that may have aided Mr. Trump's campaign.

The House Judiciary Committee Chairman said it's too early to talk impeachment.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Impeachment is a long way down the road. We don't -- we don't have the facts yet but we're going to initiate proper investigations.

ACOSTA: The White House signal that won't be complying with the document demands saying in a statement the fact chairman Nadler would try to force the public disclosure of private conversations that he knows are protected by law proves he only wants to play politics. Hugging the stars and stripes over the weekend, the President made it clear what he thinks at the special counsel's investigation into possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.

TRUMP: You put the wrong people in a couple of positions and they leave people for a long time that shouldn't be there. And all of a sudden, they're trying to take you out with both (BLEEP), OK, with both (BLEEP). ACOSTA: using a southern accent, the President also expressed his

feelings for former Attorney General Jeff Sessions who recused himself in the probe.

TRUMP: As you know, the Attorney General says I'm going to recuse myself. And I said, why the hell didn't he tell me that before I put him in?

ACOSTA: The President even tried to rewrite history about his call on Russia to intervene in the election insisting he was just joking in front of an audience.

TRUMP: If you tell a joke, If you're sarcastic, if you're having fun with the audience, if you say something like Russia please if you can get us Hillary Clinton's e-mails, please Russia, please. Please get us e-mails. Please.

ACOSTA: But that's not true. Mr. Trump made the remark at a news conference in response to a question from CNN. He didn't sound like he was joking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not get tough on Putin and say, "stay out"?

TRUMP: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.

ACOSTA: But there may be new calls for other investigations into Mr. Trump's actions while in office. The New Yorker reports the President ordered former economic adviser Gary Cohn to block the merger between AT&T; and Time Warner, then the parent company of CNN.

The president is quoted as saying, I've been telling Cohn to get this lawsuit filed and nothing's happened. I've mentioned it 50 times and nothing's happened. I want to make sure it's filed. I want that deal blocked.

Some of the targets of the House Judiciary Committee's investigation into Trump world are just beginning to receive notification from that panel in terms of what documents they're looking for. One of the targets of that probe told me one lesson he's taken from the 2016 election is that it would be wise to hire a lawyer before joining a presidential campaign or administration and that is certainly the case with the Trump administration. Jim Acosta, CNN the White House.


VAUSE: This investigation is bringing some comparisons to the Watergate scandal back in 1974. The House Judiciary Committee recommended President Richard Nixon be impeached and removed from office. Earlier I spoke with former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman about the similarities to what President Trump is facing now.


HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: There is a parallel with Watergate. When the Congress kicked into impeachment mode in Peter Rodino in that committee, they were taking as a road map the work that a Special Counsel Leon Jaworski had done. So it there's a parallel there, but at least Nadler is saying no, we're not talking about impeachment yet. We're just gathering the facts.

And the investigative dragnet that they've laid out is so broad that it looks like a year or more. And so what that augers is investigations deep into the 2020 campaign. So at least you're right that that what else could it could it mean about possible impeachment mode but at least the Dems for now are saying that's premature. We just want to investigate.

[01:10:25] VAUSE: OK, here's a little more from the chairman of the Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler. Listen to this.


NADLER: Our goal is to hold the administration accountable for the obstruction of justice, the abuse of power, and the corruption. Our goal is to vindicate the rule of law, to protect the rule of law in this country and that's our core function as the Judiciary Committee the Congress. And we have to find out what's been going on and we have to lay out a case to the American people and reveal it.

VAUSE: You know, I guess this is more of a political question, not a legal one, but you know, impeachment is ultimately a political act as we've all been told. But why are Democrats following this process what do they think it's necessary and why is this need that Nadler says to put everything out and lay it out all before the American public.

LITMAN: Right. Well, in part because what's going to happen in the Mueller process which is coming to an end is a big mystery. There's some prospect I personally think it won't happen but there's some prospect for a very sort of bare-bones analytical report.

So if you take it as an imperative and I do, that in some fashion the American people have to receive the facts of the matter in some ways even more important than bringing Trump or whoever to justice is knowing the score and what occurred in 2016 with the Russians but Nadler is stepping up and saying they will play that role.

Because at the end of this long investigation presumably a very thick congressional report would be in the offing. So it's a dual function. Vindicate the rule of law but also tell -- have an official account of just what occurred.

VAUSE: You know, when it comes to you know, the I-word, impeachment, even the outspoken representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is pulling her punches. Here she is.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think he should be impeached?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: Well, I've always been very clear that I am supportive of -- and how I would vote in terms of impeachment. I understand that the leadership perhaps may want to build a stronger case and subpoena more records or figure out what's happening perhaps in the Mueller investigation. And so I defer to the chair, I defer to the party leadership.


VAUSE: And again, this is political, I guess, but why are Democrats taking this approach? You know, avoiding what their base is calling for, you know many within the Democrats want to see the President impeached. Why are they refusing to go there?

LITMAN: Yes. I mean, I think both parties are really taking a very grave situation and think -- seeing it first through a political prism. Why? 1998. The conventional wisdom is that the Republicans way overplayed their hand with Clinton and it led to an electoral landslide in them in the midterms.

So the notion is as confounding as it may be that a close you know, fairly strong case of a whole laundry list of crimes more than any president, I would say, has ever been accused of is nevertheless striking at least the base and the Republicans in the Senate with its having -- its having no impact.

So if the Democrats really agitated least get impeachment ginned up, they will not be able -- you probably know the process and your viewers do. You have to vote out articles in the house but then convict in the Senate. The likelihood of convicting in the Senate is very small and seems to be almost impervious to what the proof is.

So the worry by the Democratic leadership is they'll look overly punitive, they'll look like they don't have a solution for either like economic problems and they're just a one-trick pony thinking about impeachment and the voters will punish them for it. I think it's that sort of political calculus.


VAUSE: And that was former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman speaking just a short time ago. Now to Venezuela and the rockstar welcome for opposition leader Juan Guaido. Thousands of supporters fill the city square in Caracas as he returned from a ten-day regional trip.

See people greeted Guaido over at a rally in the capital chanting "yes, we can" as he stood on top of an SUV waving the Venezuelan flag. Guaido touchdown of the main airport in Caracas arriving on a commercial flight despite the government warning he'd be arrested on a rival for defying a travel ban.

And with the opposition newly energized by his return, Guaido is calling for nationwide protests again this Saturday.


JUAN GUAIDO, OPPOSITION LEADER, VENEZUELA (through translator): Is there a little bit of fear? No. We were all threatened, all of us who are here. You all saw it, of killing us, and I say something, it hasn't been through persecution, it's not going to be through threats that we are going to be stopped. We are here more united, more strong than ever. More stronger than ever.


VAUSE: Well, the U.S.-backed forces moving in on the last ISIS-held territory in Syria. Jihadist and their families are giving themselves up to avoid being killed, and that's posting a new dilemma what to do with foreign fighters and their children.

Also ahead, investigating the investigators. An internal inquiry at the United Nations will try and determine why warning signs were missed in all the years before the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.


VAUSE: A steady flow of women, children, and ISIS fighters have been leaving behind the terror group's last enclave in Eastern Syria. After being searched, they're packed into trucks and taken away.

The jihadists who remain are surrounded by mostly Kurdish U.S.-back forces. The Kurds are reportedly planning to celebrate a victory. But it's still unclear when the ISIS Caliphate will officially be declared defeated.

The collapse of ISIS is raising a major problem for many countries. What to do with foreign fighters who join the terror group and also their children? CNN's Melissa Bell reports on how France is treating the children of ISIS and some of them are orphans.


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: This is the last known picture of Jonah, who is now seven. Ismael whose family doesn't want his face shown is nearly three. Both are in Syria. Orphans of the falling ISIS Caliphate. Ismael's grandmother hopes to see him soon.

NADIA, GRANDMOTHER OF ISIS ORPHAN: This is my only battle and I will not give up. It's for this child. So, please, be human. He shouldn't be out there, and he is all I have left of my daughter. We have to save this little thing.

BELL: The Red Cross sent a picture of Ismael to his grandmother. He is one of around a hundred children captured from ISIS territory that France is preparing to bring home. For now, they're being kept in Kurdish camps.

At first, the adults were to be brought to France and tried. But now, President Macron, says they should be tried in those countries and could face the death penalty. But the children will come to France. Most are younger than seven.

Nadia has been preparing a home for Ismael, the grandson she's never met. Her daughter ran away to Syria when she was just 14, secretly brainwashed, says Nadia by the propaganda she found online. Nadia believes that she is dead, and is now desperate to bring home the son she bore in Raqqa. But she says, French authorities have been slow to bring home the children of the ISIS enemy.

[01:20:21] NADIA: I feel alone, I'm suffering. I can't work, I can't sleep. Sometimes, when I wake up I think, why must I wake up at all? I would prefer to never wake up. I'm sorry.

BELL: Nadia is not alone. Other French families have been fighting along and lonely battle for the children, either taken to ISIS territory or born there.

SAMIA MAKTOUF, FRENCH-TUNISIAN LAWYER: It is already too late. We waste one year. And since last year, we know in which count they are. We know that they are French, we know that they have families in France, and we haven't yet done anything.

BELL: With France as scarred as it is by years of terrorism, the authorities have struggled with the idea of returning jihadists. We reached out to French authorities but they did not respond to comment.

Nadine Ribet-Reinhart who lost her son on the Bataclan believes that a distinction needs to be made between those who chose ISIS and those who did not.

NADINE RIBET-REINHART, MOTHER OF BATACLAN VICTIM (through translator): Just because we are the parents of the deceased and wounded victims of the November 13th attacks, that doesn't mean that we have lost of humanity. So, of course, we wish for those children to be brought home, to find a foster family, grandparents. But their parents, they must be judged. Yes, that is always.

BELL: But for some children, the problem is more complicated still. Jonah is still thought to be in ISIS territory. Her father died after kidnapping her from her mother and taking her to Syria. Jona's uncle says he believes that she's in the hands of a Libyan family lost her dogs in Hajin in eastern Syria.

MUSTAPHA, UNCLE OF ISIS ORPHAN (through translator): This pain has caused tensions between everyone. What we should be doing now? What we should have done? But unfortunately, fate tries something else for this child to be kidnapped, and to find herself today in a war zone.

BELL: Children, stuck in a war zone, and in another no man's land. Caught between the sins of their parents, and their rights as French citizens, and as children. Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


VAUSE: The United Nations has started an internal review into its handling of the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar. Human rights groups has slammed the U.N. for not stopping Myanmar's military from targeting the minority Rohingya Muslims.

That crackdown for 700,000 people to flee, but the U.N. would later describe as ethnic cleansing carried out by the military. U.N. spokesman says the goal here is not to lay blame on anyone personal, any particular department.


STEPHANE DUJARRIC, SPOKESPERSON, UNITED NATIONS: It's important to underscore that the review is not directed at anyone, particular individual, or agency, but rather how the U.N. as an institution works on the ground and possible lessons learned for the future.


VAUSE: CNN's senior U.N. correspondent Richard Roth is with us from New York. So, Richard, this investigation will be looking at the past 10 years to try and find out firstly if warning signs were missed, and if so, why?

But essentially, what is the criticism here? What exactly did the U.N. allegedly bungle in its response to the Rohingya crises?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: By all accounts, the U.N. did not respond well before or after that what happened in Myanmar with hundreds of thousands dead or on the run.

The United Nations had a "resident coordinator" there. She's been accused of ignoring or downplaying reports of what could happen or what did happen, all in the name of trying to put Myanmar together for the world stage, economically or politically after many years in the shadows.

The U.N. has denied ignoring anything and many point to the fact that when you mentioned the U.N., there is the Security Council. Five veto carrying countries and China is a major roadblock for Western nations which might want to have more about what happened in Myanmar become public.

What's occurred last week is that the U.N. secretary-general said he would do an internal review in effect, not as the Guardian reported and investigation. And this review will be conducted by veteran U.N. diplomat Gert Rosenthal.

Rosenthal who was a former ambassador from Guatemala has a lot of experience in house. But he is not even going to travel to Myanmar, he's going to look at documents according to the U.N. spokesman, and he may talk to people.

VAUSE: Yes, that doesn't sound like there's a lot of enthusiasm within the United Nations for this internal review of procedures. So, given that can this be a meaningful accounting of what happened and what went wrong, or is it sort of more to do with P.R., public relations?

[01:24:54] ROTH: Coincidentally, just days after the Guardian newspaper reported that the U.N. would "investigate" what happened in Myanmar, then it was announced that there would be an internal review that will report to the U.N. secretary-general.

Antonio Guterres, the top diplomat in the U.N. is not someone who likes to get out in front and do things publicly. And the timing of this internal review, well, one could say where was it months ago, and where did the U.N. go wrong as it allowed the massacres to take place?

But according to recent U.N. tradition, the place was not established to go in -- certainly without an army. To go in when a country may be imploding or when a leader or military government is doing damage to its own citizens.

Sadly, that's not what the U.N. was set up for, it wasn't anticipated in 1945, and many countries don't want to "get involved", especially when you have a big powerhouse like China in the neighborhood.

Now, a lot of other countries think, "Hey, it could happen to me, why do I want to get tough on some neighboring country?" The U.N. internal review may not really put any teeth into it, it would appear.

And it may be filed on a shelf for lessons learned very similar to a probe of what happened in Sri Lanka years ago, which some people inside the U.N. think went too far, and was too tough in this atmosphere of a U.S. presidential administration that's not looking for the U.N. to get involved. I think the U.N., like its secretary- general, always likes to lay low.

VAUSE: And Richard, it's the big picture here. Looking at global flashpoints, recent ones from Myanmar to the political crisis in Venezuela, where the U.N. couldn't organize delivery of humanitarian aid, which is seeing on the country's border.

You know, it's the all-out absolute failure in Syria. Not so much three strikes and you're out, but at very least, three strikes and maybe that question is raised once again. Is the U.N. even relevant anymore?

ROTH: Is the U.N. relevant more? That's a frequent question at the U.N. other than where is the gift shop? But if you look at certain places, the U.N. can play its historic neutral role.

It took a lot of years but yes, the U.N. is involved in Yemen on the ground. And there's been some initial success getting both sides to pull back from the key port areas to allow humanitarian aid to come in. And that doesn't compare though with the massacres and the thousands of deaths in places like Myanmar and Syria, seven years of war there.

You've got countries that did not want to step up and either commit troops or have a showdown or get involved. And they were willing to have many people lose their lives.

What is the U.N. good for, you might say? Well, it could be a place to talk invent but too often it seems like the talking is after the fact, and then, there are many panels to review how can we do this, what do our best practices, what can we do next time? While just passing over the damage, the extensive damage that has just occurred.

VAUSE: Yes, absolutely. Richard, thank you. Richard Roth, CNN senior U.N. correspondent. Thank you, Richard. Well, after a decades of reckless and in growth, China's economy is slowing down big leap. Now, an annual gathering over the countries ruling elite looking to turn it all around.

Also ahead, Israel's prime minister taking a page out of Donald Trump's playbook in his fight against corruption charges, for the moment.


[01:30:26] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHRO: Welcome back, everybody.

I'm John Vause with an update on our top news this hour.

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn has been granted bail in Tokyo set at almost $9 million or a billion yen. He could be released in the coming hours.

Ghosn has been held since last November accused of under reporting his salary at the auto maker for nearly a decade, as well as other financial misconduct.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido is back in Venezuela despite the threat of arrest from Nicolas Maduro's government. Guaido defied a travel ban and left the country last month to meet with regional leaders to drum up support for his self-proclaimed interim presidency. Now he's back, Guaido's calling for another day of nationwide protests this coming Saturday.

U.S. House Democrats are launching broad investigations into the Trump administration. Three committee chairmen are requesting information on contacts between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Another committee inquiry is looking into allegations of obstruction of justice as well as abuse of power. A new report about President Trump's effort to block a merger goes to that allegation of abuse of power.

Here is CNN's Abby Phillip with details.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): President Trump attempted to personally see that campaign promise was kept, according to a New Yorker investigation, raising new questions about whether he attempted to settle political scores from the Oval Office where he has made a practice of attacking as fake news stories that are accurate but not flattering.

TRUMP: When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people. PHILLIP: According to the magazine, in 2017 Trump summoned Gary Cohn,

then the director of the National Economic Council and his Chief of Staff John Kelly into the Oval Office and ordered them to pressure the Justice Department to stop the merger of AT&T and Time Warner, then the parent company of CNN.

Trump reportedly told Kelly, "I have been telling Cohn to get this lawsuit filed and nothing has happened," adding, "I want to make sure that it's filed. I want that deal blocked."

All this adding fuel to the impeachment fire.

REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN: It does paint the picture of a president who is out of control. And I think it does make the case that this President is unfit for office.

PHILLIP: House Intelligence Committee chairman, Adam Schiff tweeting, "I have long feared Trump would use the instruments of state power to carry out his vendetta against the press he has attacked as the enemy of the people."

Meantime Trump spent the weekend owned lashing out at other enemies on all sides blaming his former personal attorney Michael Cohen's blistering testimony before Congress for his failure to strike a deal with North Korea. Trump tweeting that the open hearing during his summit with dictator Kim Jong-un is perhaps a new low in American politics and may have contributed to the walk.

TRUMP: All of a sudden they are trying to take you out with (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Ok. (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

PHILLIP: Trump also delivering the longest speech of his presidency at the Conservative Political Action Conference railing for more than two hours at the special counsel investigation and Democratic lawmakers who have promised to investigate obstruction of justice, his personal finances and business dealings.

TRUMP: There is no collusion so now they go and morph in to let's inspect every deal he's ever done. We're going to go into his finances. We're going to check his deals. We're going to check -- these people are sick. They're sick.

PHILLIP (on camera): The Justice Department did eventually lose their bid to stop this merger. But in the course of the litigation the antitrust chief wrote this in an affidavit, "At no time did I receive orders, instructions or directions related to this transaction." So the Justice Department denying there that there was any undue influence from the President.

Abby Phillip, CNN -- the White House.


VAUSE: And the merger will be a focus of the House Judiciary Committee's investigation. Chairman Jerry Nadler spoke with CNN's Erin Burnett. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY), HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: The President should not be weighing in with the Department of Justice on a given case. He should not be saying you must block the merger or you must indict this person or you must not indict that person. And he certainly must not be doing it because he wants to hurt somebody because he doesn't like the news coverage that CNN gives.

That's a violation and a threat to freedom of sweep and a threat to freedom -- a threat to freedom of the media and to a free press.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Is that an impeachable act if he did it?

NADLER: I'm not getting into is it an impeachable act. It's certainly an abuse of power.


[01:34:56] VAUSE: Half a world away, Benjamin Netanyahu is facing possible indictment on corruption charges. And the Israeli Prime Minister is taking a page from Trump's playbook as he mounts his defense.

CNN's Oren Liebermann has details.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Two leaders, one message.


TRUMP: Fake news.

LIEBERMANN: as the Mueller investigation coming to a close, criminal investigations are encircling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His probe built like Trump's on the testimony of former associates.

The two have (INAUDIBLE) to the same strategy -- attack the media, the opposition, and the justice system.

TRUMP: So the attorney general is weak and ineffective and he doesn't do what he should have done.

NETANYAHU (through translator): Today the left are carrying against us an unprecedented political witch hunt. Its only goal to overthrow the right wing government under my leadership.

LIEBERMANN: They favor social media to traditional news outlets with one American exception.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have not been able to beat Bibi Netanyahu at the ballot box and so they are trying to beat him through these trumped up -- he calls it a witch hunt -- call it what our president calls it: trumped up charges.

LIEBERMANN: The two leaders share more than a message. Trump and Netanyahu are well-connected millionaires, the ultimate insiders who portray themselves as fighting a system rigged against them and standing up for the little guy.

There is one big difference here. Trump keeps crashing into the American political system. Netanyahu is a master of finessing Israel's system.

ABRAHAM DISKIN, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, HEBREW UNIVERSITY: I think Trump and his reactions definitely was very emotional. Very impulsive. And I don't think that Netanyahu is either emotional. He is very calculated and he's definitely not an impulsive person.

LIEBERMANN: Trump has made his admiration of Netanyahu clear.

TRUMP: I can say this -- that he's done a great job as prime minister. He's tough. He's smart. He's strong.

LIEBERMANN: Netanyahu has done the same.

NETANYAHU: Israel has no better ally than the United States.

LIEBERMANN: The mutual adoration as helped each leader's popularity. Right wing Israeli's celebrate Trump. Republicans hero worship Netanyahu.

In a time of surging right wing politics these two have risen hand in hand. They have supported one another. As each leader faces the investigation that threatens to topple him.

(on camera): In the first election polls since the attorney general announced his intention to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli leader suffered a major blow. Both polls show that he would not be all to form a coalition government. He would not be able to essentially win the election.

In response in a speech on Monday night he went on the attack.

Oren Liebermann, CNN -- Jerusalem.


VAUSE: Right now 3,000 political delegates are gathering in Beijing for China's two-week long National People's Congress -- what is essentially a rubber stamp get together to sign off on whatever the Community Party wants.

Even so the NPC is a chance for party leaders to layout plans for the year and coming years.

Will Ripley, live this hour in Beijing.

And you know, Will, the idea of the NPC is meant to be, you know, democracy with Chinese characters. These 3,000 delegates should be indicative of a cross-section of society but there (INAUDIBLE) identified 153 delegates as each being worth about 2 billion yuan or about $300 million U.S. or more.

That's a lot of stuff (ph) in five years although the total number of the super rich in the two government bodies is down, their combined wealth at 4.1 trillion yuan, about $600 billion U.S. is nearly 18 percent higher than the total wealth of rich lawmakers last year.

This is a bunch of rich guys inviting the government along with stars like Jackie Chan and you know, sports professionals like NBA's Yao Ming. You know, this is not exactly what you would expect as being a cross-section of society.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think you just need to come here and go into Tiananmen Square, John, and say what you just said at the location.

VAUSE: That's why I got kicked out.

RIPLEY: You've worked in Beijing. Right. You have been down this road before. They come from all over China. Still there's geographical diversity in terms of the different regions but yes, you have a lot of Chinese wealthy elite sitting in a room and it's a big love fest Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Remember last year they voted unanimously to give him the possibility of becoming president for life. Votes are pretty much always close to unanimous, maybe there's a couple of dissenting votes, but yes, this is a rubber stamp congress. It gives the appearance of the people having their say.

But the people who have their say are only the people who are often wealthy and who share the ideology and viewpoint of the Politburo and really specifically, the -- you know, Chinese President Xi Jinping.

So what are they talking about here? The economy -- they are slowing their growth target. Their growth outlook once again to 6 to 6.5 percent. Remember last year growth was 6.5 percent, the lowest level in three decades. Now it's going to be even slower growth. They are saying that obviously there are a lot of factors at play. The growth number of 6 percent, 6.5 percent would be enviable for a lot of developed economies but it's not great news for China which has kind of seen this downward trend for a number of years now.

The trade war with the United States certainly adding to the uncertainty. A lot of questions about whether this trade war will be resolved.

[01:39:49] One thing that they're trying to do to perhaps, you know, address some of the concerns of the United States and President Trump is this foreign investment bill that they will be voting on which would offer protection to foreign companies from things like intellectual property theft. Perhaps they could be treated more equally to Chinese companies.

So that's the plan. And also talking about, you know, ending forced technology transfer. The problem though is that they could past this legislation but then will it actually be enforced or could it still in practice, could these things still happen. That's always the question when you're talking about legislation and you know, contracts in general here in China.

And then in terms of military spending that's also expected to go up by 7.5 percent, China being very clear about its stance on regional security issues including Taiwan, a very sensitive hot button issue here in Beijing.

They are investing in an aircraft carrier that can, you know, they've developed these carrier killer (ph) missiles, the kind of things that pose just enough threat of a to U.S. strategic assets in this region that China is sending a very clear message while they are certainly still focused on their economic long-term outlook. They are also definitely wanting to place themselves strategically as a military power in this part of the world.

VAUSE: You know, the best thing about the NPC is that the skies over Beijing are blue. I can see it behind you. You know, the pollution magically disappears.

RIPLEY: Amazingly blue. This morning it was so smoggy you could not even see behind me. And then all of a sudden it was crystal blue.

VAUSE: It's how the communists do it. But the worst thing is that the place gets sealed up like a drum and it's a nightmare to get around.

But thanks for your report. We appreciate it.

Just ahead here on CNN, homes demolished, communities destroyed, at least 23 people dead -- we will have the latest on the tornadoes in the United States.

And at the time he was considered too old to play a high school student, now he's definitely too young to have died. The way too short life of Luke Perry. That's next on CNN NEWSROOM.


VAUSE: CNN is partnering with young people worldwide for a student- led day of action against modern day slavery. It happens March 14th. We are asking people what makes you feel free.

Here are the answers from some of the staff at American Community School in Abu Dhabi.



WASHIDA, AMERICAN COMMUNITY SCHOOL: And I'm Washida (ph), the executive assistant. MONIQUE: And we're both at the American Community School of Abu

Dhabi. And we feel most free when we get to have a few minutes and take a break together.

JONATHAN JOHNSON, AMERICAN COMMUNITY SCHOOL: My name is Jonathan Johnson and I'm the elementary principal at the American Community School of Abu Dhabi.

And I feel most free when I can spend quality time with my family.

Join me on March 14th for #myfreedomday.


[01:45:01] VAUSE: Tell the world what makes you feel free. Share your story using the #myfreedomday.

And in the United States now, entire communities destroyed, at least 23 people dead three of them children -- all due to a streak of tornadoes in the southern states of Alabama and Georgia.

CNN's Drew Griffin reports now from ground zero.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We now know that the tornado that hit this southeastern part of Alabama was traveling at more than 270- kilometers per hour when it struck yesterday afternoon and took everything in its path including a mobile home behind me. The bricks you see behind me were holding a mobile home.

That mobile home is now just scattered in the forest beyond it. All of the things that were inside are just gone. Four people were living here at the time. Miraculously, three of them had just left to run an errand, right before this tornado struck.

You would have been here, but --

JESSICA CHANDLER, TORNADO SURVIVOR: I had just left and we want to the grocery store with my kids to get my baby formula.

GRIFFIN: so but for that mother necessity, you would have been inside that trailer.


GRIFFIN: Tell me how bad your boyfriend is hurt?

CHANDLER: He has a fractured leg, his ribs are broken. He has puncture wounds, cuts, bruises. He's really sore, I mean, he got out of the hospital last night.

We're thankful he's alive. And he'd seen the porch fly up. The front porch was like a patio. He seen that fly up and he said that he had just enough time to dive to the couch which the couch is about a foot away from the screen door and he just held on to the couch for dear life. GRIFFIN: They looked for that couch today out in that field and could not find the couch. The person who was riding on it, is now out of hospital and doing ok. But this family, like so many others in southeast Alabama, are wondering how to start rebuilding their lives.

Drew Griffin, CNN -- southeastern Alabama.

Back to you.

VAUSE: Thank you -- Drew.

Now, music fans are mourning the loss of Keith Flint who was found dead at his home in Essex, England on Monday morning. Flint was one most recognizable figures on the British electronic scene as front man for the group The Prodigy. His death was announced on the band's Instagram page. Band mate Liam Howlett confirming that Flint took his own life.

In a separate post on Twitter, the group called Flint a true pioneer, innovator and legend.

And sad news Monday that actor Luke Perry, just 52 years old, had died as well. He was the bad boy of 1990s hit show "90210" playing the brooding and emotionally scarred Dylan McKay, the role ticked almost every "rebel without a cause" cliche there ever was.

CNN's Jeanne Moos looks back at the iconic moments of his career.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Hard to believe a massive stroke at only 52 could take away the heartthrob of the 90s, the actor Letterman introduces as --

DAVID LETTERMAN, TV HOST: The hunkiest rebel in Beverly Hills, Luke Perry. Luke.

MOOS: A guy who helped make almost all of us able to recite a certain zip code.

LETTERMAN: Beverly Hills 90202.

MOOS: On the show Luke played a teenage stud with a drinking problem.

LUKE PERRY, ACTOR; Hi girls. Hop on. My bike, that is.

MOOS: In real life, he told "Entertainment Tonight".

PERRY: I have only ever had one addiction. And there she is. No. There she is. No, there she is. That's my only addiction I have.

MOOS: His fans once got so rabid he had to escape a mall appearance.

PERRY: They said get in that laundry bin and we'll cover you up. I jumped in, they covered me and then we rolled right out through the crowd. MOOS: In remembrance actress Leslie Grossman tweeting "When I was

lucky enough to work with Luke Perry, I told him about the pillow of his face I used to sleep with and he yelled, "You are such a weirdo".

But there were plenty of weirdoes with that same pillow. His side burns are burned in to our memories. How many of you grew long side burns because Luke Perry made it look cool?

He went on to do everything from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" --

PERRY: You're not like other girls.

MOOS: -- to roles not like his other roles. For instance in the gritty prison drama "Oz".

PERRY: That is showbiz on a stick.

MOOS: He got his start in a teen drama, and his final role was as a father in a teen drama "Riverdale".

PERRY: If you harm a hair on our kid's head I will kill you.

MOOS: It's not easy following your own act when you've been dubbed the epitome of cool.

"Vanity Fair" once asked "Is Luke a fluke?"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say, you look familiar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I'm that guy you wished you were.

MOOS: That guy you wished didn't have to go so soon.

Jeanne Moos, CNN -- New York.


VAUSE: So it doesn't actually matter where you watch a movie. It does to director Steven Spielberg. Why he believes streaming services like Netflix should stay and actually be banned from the Academy Awards.


VAUSE: A battle is being waged between the old guard and the new generation, between the traditionalist and the disruptors.

On one side icon and legend mega movie director Steven Spielberg -- he wants streaming services like Netflix disqualified from the Academy Awards accusing them of gaming the system briefly releasing movies into theaters just to qualify for Oscar consideration.

Netflix fired back in a tweet saying "We love cinema, as well as access for those who can't afford theaters and giving filmmakers more ways to share their art." This list goes on adding, "These things are not mutually exclusive." You get the idea. The Netflix made film "Roma" won three Oscars at this year's Academy Awards. It was in theaters for just three weeks before it was streaming.

Rebecca Sun, a senior reporter at the "Hollywood Reporter" pulling double duty tonight, joining us once again from L.A. Rebecca -- thanks for coming back.


VAUSE: Ok. Just looking at, you know, Spielberg's argument here about movies made for a television format he says are a TV movie, hence keep them away from the Oscars. I wonder if he was around in 1939 what he would say about this brand new fan dangled style of making movies. Here it is.


VIVIEN LEIGH, ACTRESS: Rhett, Rhett. Rhett. If you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?

CLARK GABLE, ACTOR: Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.


VAUSE: "Gone with the wind" nominated for 13 Oscars, won eight. But look at all that color. It's just a fad. It shouldn't even be considered in the same league as the black and white ones .

SUN: Yes, I mean, you know, filmmaking has always evolved from, you know, silent to sound, from black and white to technicolor. And you know, certainly in recent years with the advents of digital, it's really changed the game. I mean, not only for film, but for television.

You know, they have been sort of going from terrestrial broadcast to cable, to now streaming. And so streaming is going to change the game no matter what. But you have sort of traditionalists who are just trying to push back at this traditional theatrical model.

VAUSE: I'm very surprised that Spielberg is actually taking this position. He is such a huge name and carries so much, you know, weight in the industry I just wonder if he will end up being in this battle over movie streaming what Metallica is to music streaming just as Napster was getting ground, the band had their music removed from the site and ultimately succeeded in closing Napster down.

But for a while that kept their regular sales up but today upstreaming accounts for 75 percent of music consumption and where is Metallica?

SUN: Right. I mean that's a great analogy because Steven Spielberg is about as respected as you can get in, you know, film nowadays. And you know, certainly for him to come out against streaming when so many of his peers have gone to it. I mean, the Coen brothers had a movie on Netflix this season and actually ended up getting a few Oscar nominations out of it. You know, the money is really good. I don't know if you can really resist it for very long. It might not be Netflix but it could be Hulu, it could -- you know, it could be Apple, right? Who knows when Apple starts ramping up their original content.

And so, you know, I don't know if he's just going to like pull away from, you know, allowing his movies to be shown. But I don't know if you can resist the tide.

VAUSE: And these are not like small low budget. I mean some of them are but I mean they're spending like, you know, tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars for some of these.

But one point is screenwriter Jessica Ellis made the point that the visual model that Spielberg is defending benefits people or has benefited people like Steven Spielberg.

"I understand that Spielberg, who I love, had to create a path that works for Spielberg. Guess who it didn't work for? The most promising directors in his generation that were not the same gender or race as Spielberg." And I wonder, is that what is sort driving all of this?

[01:55:05] SUN: Well, I mean that's certainly the argument that Netflix and its supporters are making. And they had that tweet come out this weekend, that really, it was obviously a direct response to Spielberg in saying that what Netflix can do is provide access, you know. Access not only to consumers who, you know, may live in small towns where these, you know, more independent-minded films aren't shown but also to directors because, you know, Netflix offers this blank canvas. There are only so many studio making movies for major movie houses and a lot of those movies nowadays are just block busters.

You know, these Marvel movies. And so if you are a woman of color, if you're just an, you know, int' film maker like Alfonso Cuaron, you want somebody to see your Spanish language black and white movie, you know, Netflix may be the only way to get it to as many people as possible.

VAUSE: Movies with actual dialogue and script and talking and acting and stuff. You know, there is one thing that Spielberg said a couple of weeks ago which I kind of agree with. Here it is.

He said "There is nothing like going to a big, dark theater with people you never met before and having the experience wash over you. That's something we all truly believe in." Absolutely.

Here is the thing that's how the movie is consumed. It's not how it's made. And I think whatever argument Spielberg has been trying to make, he kind of just blew it all out of the water with that statement there.

SUN: Right. You know, I think that Spielberg, and you know people on his side -- part of it, aside from the business decision about how this affects exhibitors and things like that, there's that romantic notion of going to the, you know, the cinema.

And I don't think that necessarily goes way with what Netflix is trying do. In fact I saw "Roma" in a movie theater not because I couldn't watch it on Netflix but because so many people said you have to experience it in the movie theater.

So just to provide that option, you know, seems like it could be a happy medium where you have the luxury of doing that and you want to pay for movie ticket, go ahead. But if you live in, you know, Idaho like you might only be able to watch "Roma" on Netflix.

VAUSE: Well, Netflix is what, $28 billion dollars in the hole losing $2 billion every year or something. It could all be gone soon, anyway.

Rebecca -- thank you. Thank you for coming back twice. Appreciate it.

SUN: Thanks -- John.

VAUSE: And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Please stay with us. My colleague Nick Watt takes over after a short break.

You're watching CNN.


[02:00:05] NICK WATT, CNN ANCHOR: One billion yen -- that is the bail set for the former Nissan.