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Michael Cohen Ditching His Ex-boss; Huawei Sues U.S. Government; More Lives Lost in Eastern Syria; Knife Attacks Escalates in U.K.; Ex-Lawyer Hands Over Documents On Trump Tower Moscow; Huawei Suing U.S. Government Over Federal Ban; U.K. Respond To Multiple Suspicious Packages; Ballooning U.S. Trade Deficit; Crisis In Venezuela; Hate Propaganda On The Rise; A Plan For Privacy; Orbital Adventure. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 7, 2019 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: Embattled Chinese tech giant Huawei calls the U.S. Congress, judge, jury and executioner, and then in a bold move, sues the U.S. government.

The U.S. homeland security secretary is grilled on Capitol Hill as she defends the Trump administration's family separation policy and national emergency declaration.

Plus, RnB singer R. Kelly gets emotional and angry and unhinged in his first interview since being arrested and charged with sexual abuse.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Kristie Lu Stout. And this is CNN Newsroom.

Donald Trump's former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen has handed over key documents to the House intelligence committee. Now Cohen has said that the president encouraged him to lie to Congress in 2017 about the timeline for negotiations over a Trump tower in Moscow. But no one was talking specifics about Wednesday's closed-door hearings.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: The hearing went very, very well. I believe that all of the members were satisfied with the statements and the responses that I gave to them. I told them that any additional information that they would want they should feel comfortable to reach out to my counsel and I would continue to cooperate to the fullest extent of my capabilities.


LU STOUT: And meanwhile, new polling reveals how Americans view the state of the country. According to Monmouth University almost two- thirds say it is on the wrong track. That is up eight points since November. Just 29 percent say the country is headed in the right direction. Meanwhile, the Trump administration's security clearances are back in

the spotlight with new questions about the role the president played when it came to his daughter and son-in-law.

Pamela Brown reports.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Special person and she's worked so hard as you all know.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, pressure mounting on the White House to explain the security clearance process. The House oversight committee chairman says he wants answers after sources tell CNN President Trump demanded his daughter and adviser Ivanka be given a clearance despite objections of two top White House officials.


SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're not going to comment on security clearances, that's the policy of the White House and that continues to be the policy of the White House. We're also not going to get into comments and a back and forth over things that are currently dealing with oversight.


BROWN: Ivanka told ABC several weeks ago her father wasn't involved.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are a lot of people that question whether you were given special treatment by the president overriding other --



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- officials. Can you speak to that?

I. TRUMP: There were anonymous leaks about there are being issues. But the president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband's clearance.


BROWN: Sources tell CNN it's possible she didn't know. One person familiar with the process says, quote, "she did not seek nor have outside counsel involved in her process as no issues were ever raised."

CNN's reporting comes days after the New York Times revealed that the same thing happened with the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner. Today, freshmen Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib announced she is taking steps to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump even as the Democratic leadership say it's too soon.


SANDERS: They continue to be a group that is totally taken by a small radical leftist fringe of their party and they are completely controlled by it. They know that's not enough to beat this president. So, they're going to look for other ways to do that.


BROWN: Democrats may choose to focus on the president's economic record after the merchandise trade deficit hit a record high of more than 890 billion, the worst in the history of the United States. Both trade and budget deficit increase surpassing President Obama's record which Trump routinely bashed on the campaign trail.


D. TRUMP: Our trade deficit in goods with the world is now, think of it, $800 billion, trade deficit. Can you imagine? This is the legacy of Barack Obama. This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton.


BROWN: And then yet, another economic blow, the G.M. assembly plant is closing in the key state of Ohio eliminating some 1,700 positions by the end of this month.

Now it is important to note that job growth is on and up for trend and last year was the best for manufacturing jobs in decades. But certainly this G.M. plant closing is only adding salt to the wound with this news of the ballooning trade budget deficits despite President Trump's America first policies.

[03:05:01] Pamela Brown, CNN, the White House.

LU STOUT: Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort could spend the rest of his life behind bars. He'll be sentenced in the coming day by a federal judge in Virginia for financial fraud. Manafort also pleaded guilty in a Washington court to conspiracy and witness tampering. That sentencing will happen next week.

The Chinese tech giant Huawei, says the U.S. Congress acted as, quote, "judge, jury, and executioner when it passed a law banning federal agencies from buying Huawei products." It is now suing the U.S. government over the ban.

Now the U.S. has argued that Huawei's products could be used for espionage. Now the company says those concerns are unfounded and claims that the U.S. hacked its server and source code.

Our CNN business reporter Sherisse Pham joins us now live from Shenzhen. And Sherisse, you're there at Huawei headquarters and you heard the executives make this really strong statement against the U.S. federal government. Walk us through this new court challenge.

SHERISSE PHAM, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Yes. This is some of the most aggressive, the most aggressive pushback that I have seen from Huawei against this U.S.-led campaign against the company.

Executives and board members and even high-profile outside lawyers all being trotted out at this lengthy press conference here at their headquarters, completely in English laying out the case of how this law or parts of this law which is known as the National Defense Authorization Act of NDAA that it is unfair and unconstitutional because it unfairly targets Huawei, naming Huawei specifically and it is essentially punishment without trial.

But of course, Kristie, you know, you follow China and the United States. And there is -- there is a little bit of a broad irony here. Because let's not forget that there are a lot of U.S. tech companies that locked out of the Chinese market and they do not have the same recourse and access to rule of law and transparency and fair legal systems in China.

And so that is a criticism here and I asked that of chief legal officer Song Liuping at the press conference today. Have a listen to what he said in response.


SONG LIUPING, CHIEF LEGAL OFFICER, HUAWEI (through translator): I think if other multi-national corporations or even Chinese companies face unlawful actions from the government they can stand up for their rights. Just like how we are standing up for our rights in the United States.


PHAM: So, like he said there, Huawei is standing up for its rights in the United States. And also, I've talked to said look, this lawsuit is not likely to end with Huawei gaining anymore U.S. market share.

But it could make a difference on the global stage where Huawei is under fire from this U.S.-led campaign and maybe could help sway officials in the U.K. or Germany or Canada who are all considering restrictions on Huawei products.

LU STOUT: That's right. There's so much going on behind the scenes with this ongoing standoff. You know, that global campaign, also additional legal challenges that U.S. prosecutors have filed criminal charges against Huawei in U.S. courts. This is a growing war. It's happening on multiple legal fronts in America. What are the chances that Huawei could score legal victories in the U.S.?

PHAM: This is a great question. And we put this to a lot of executives, a lot of the reporters here today put this to the executives and to the legal team. They are certainly skirting around the issue here. A lot of people are referring to a previous case brought by Kaspersky Labs against the U.S. government. Similar allegations and also challenging parts of the NDAA Act. Not exactly the same but similar.

And in that case the judge ruled against Kaspersky which is headquartered in Russia, saying that look, just because sanctions are severe it doesn't mean that they are punishment that is punishing the company. And the U.S. Congress acted within its authority and within its legal right to protect the national security systems of the United States.

And so, again, analysts saying, look, this lawsuit is unlikely to end necessarily favorably for Huawei but it could gain them a little bit of ground on the global stage. So, we'll be sitting back and seeing what happened next. They have filed this lawsuit in Texas and the government has 60 days to respond, we'll be looking to see what the reaction will be.

LU STOUT: Yes, sitting back and watching with popcorn because this lawsuit takes the standoff between the U.S. and Huawei to a whole new level. Sherisse Pham reporting live from Shenzhen. Sherisse, thank you so much.

The ISIS caliphate is almost gone. But the fighters who remain in the last stronghold are said to be the most battle hardened and determined. And no one imagine the Syrian town of Baghouz held so many people when this offensive began.

A U.S.-backed Kurdish forces say more than 30,000 have been evacuated since February 1st. Ninety-five hundred in the past three days alone.

[03:09:58] Among them are hundreds of ISIS fires who have surrendered or being captured. Aid workers are struggling to care for thousands of women and children at an overcrowded camp in the Syrian desert. And they say dozens of infants have died.

Now Ben Wedeman joins us now live from eastern Syria.

Ben, let's first talk about the civilians because it is a desperate and dire situation for those who managed to evacuate and those, heaven forbid, who remain in the last ISIS stronghold.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Certainly, the conditions here, Kristie, are indeed a dire. It is windy, it is dusty at night it's cold. And you probably can't hear it just because of the wind. But I can hear it sort of a chorus of babies crying behind me. I'm just going to step out of the way so that our cameraman Scott McWhinnie could get you a better picture.

Now what you see here are women lined up. There is an American aide and medical group called the Free Burma Rangers. What they're doing is handing out bread and water. That is all they can provide to these people. They have been lined up now since we got here more than an hour ago.

And we were here yesterday evening and there was no food, there was no water. It was cold. We had women and children coming up to us begging for anything. For water, for bread just -- they've been here. Some of them more than a day. And so, they will eventually be trucked out of here but to a camp

further north of here that is severely overcrowded where the resources there are also stretched to the limit.

Now what's significant over the last few days is the number of men who have come out. Men who are clearly of fighting age. I've spoken to several who didn't confess or admit to the fact that they are ISIS fighters but by all appearances, that's what they are. And they have surrendered.

Now how many people are left inside is not clear. Now actually early, I just want to mention, we were watching as Kurdish intelligence, they were fingerprinting the men. They were taking down their names and getting a picture of their face as well.

Just a little while ago, British, French and intelligence personnel who were not allowed to film also arrived to take part in the questioning and the identification of these people because they're obviously interested to find out a, if there are any nationals from their countries and b, any possible intelligence that would give them an idea of where the leadership of ISIS is and what the situation inside that tiny encampment of just about half a square mile where we have seen pictures, video from yesterday. There are still people, men mostly walking around inside.

So, it's not clear when this standoff is going to come to an end. But for those still inside that encampment, if they don't leave, death is almost certain. Kristie?

LU STOUT: Ben, I am just so struck and saddened by the scene behind you. We see predominantly women and children. We've been calling it a camp but there's no temporary shelter that I can see from your vantage point.

What's going to happen to them? Because they are not being adequately cared for there. Are they waiting for the fall of ISIS to return back home? Where will they go next?

WEDEMAN: OK. First of all, no, this is not a camp. This is simply where the trucks arrive from the outskirts of that encampment still occupied by ISIS. And they are put, left here perhaps overnight, perhaps for two nights until more trucks can take them away.

And as I said, the only thing available for them is very basic first aid provided by the Free Burma Rangers, as well as at this point just bread and water.

OK. I'm going to -- we're going to swing around here and give you a picture of the men who are being -- have been identified. Now they are being taken to another location where the American, British and French intelligence will question them and also identify them.

As far as where the women and children will go, they will be trucked up north to al-Hol camp which is administered by the United Nations. And there that camp is, yes, severely overcrowded. Resources are very short there. But -- and then this is essentially an internment camp. That's not just a refugee's camp where they can walk out as they please. No.

[03:14:57] And it's not clear how long they will be kept there. And this is really the dilemma for the Syrian Democratic Forces. They have thousands, potentially tens of thousands of people, men, as well as women, and I'm afraid to say children who remain loyal to the Islamic state. And what do you do with them, what do you do with the foreign nationals?

We've heard that, for instance, the United Kingdom does not want those people who moved to live under ISIS to go back home. We heard President Trump say that Hoda Muthana, an American citizen will not be allowed home. So, the authorities here are burdened with this huge number of people who will perhaps never be able to reintegrate into their respective societies. Kristie?

LU STOUT: Ben, there's just so much in flux. We await the fall of this last ISIS stronghold in Syria and when it does fall it won't be the end of ISIS for some of the reasons you mentioned just then.

Ben Wedeman reporting live from inside eastern Syria. Ben, we thank you for your reporting.

You're watching CNN Newsroom. We'll be back right after the break.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now a record number are falling victim to knife attacks across Britain. Prime Minister Theresa May will host a summit in the coming hours to discuss the crisis. She has been criticized for rejecting the argument that cuts to the police force have contributed to the attack.

But grieving families they want less talk, they want more action.

CNN's Nina Dos Santos now reports.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPPONDENT: This is what the U.K.'s knife crime epidemic looks like. Filmed in south London more than a year ago, a man tries to smash his way into a car with a Rambo knife after its drive pulls out unexpectedly.

Another scene, this time at a fast-food outlet in the north of the capital, a fight breaks out within seconds three blades are brandished.

Knife attacks claims 285 victims across Britain last year. The highest tally since records began in 1946. In the first three months of 2019 alone, 10 teenagers lost their lives.


DOS SANTOS: Rachel, thank you very much for agreeing to tell us your story. Please sit down.

Rachel Webb's 15-year-old son Kyron died a year and a half ago after a trivial dispute with two other boys.

[03:19:59] RACHEL WEBB, MOTHER OF KNIFE CRIME VICTIM: The young boys were in a group and they made a song and Kyron had said on a Snap Chat video that he didn't like the song and that's potentially is the reason that we were given as to why he's no longer walking the earth.


DOS SANTOS: Kyron wasn't a gang member, his mother says, but he was found to be carrying a knife at the time. Five months after losing one child, another of Rachel's sons was also stabbed. He survived, but the family scars remain.


WEBB: Those three individuals that were involved in that incident in October 17 it left my son dead but it left two young boys in prison. But the ripple effect that destroyed families. My youngest two, they are twins, when they go on the road, they're now frightened of seeing teenagers.

DOS SANTOS: Knife crimes rose 30 percent last year across the country to almost 43,000. A trend blamed on cuts to policing and community services.

Are all of the youngsters who are carrying knifes in gangs?

DAL BABU, FORMER CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT, U.K. METROPOLITAN POLICE: No, I think a very small minority are in gangs. I think what's now happened is that young people carry knives for protection. And the bizarre thing is statistically seven out of 10 individuals who get stabbed get stabbed by their own knife.

WEBB: So that was Kyron at the time when he died.

DOS SANTOS: Rachel says the solution isn't just policing but better prospects for youths. She plans to meet her son's killer in jail this year with the message to turn his life around.

WEBB: You now need to complete what Kyron is building. You've got potential. I don't want to hear I'm sorry, I want you to now make something of your life.

DOS SANTOS: A message of hope, not hate to prevent scenes like these.


Nina Dos Santos, CNN, London.

LU STOUT: And police are also investigating more suspicious packages in the U.K. Authorities destroyed one inside the University of Glasgow's mailroom in Scotland. And they were called to investigate another at a back in Edenborough. Though, they say it did not pose a threat. Officials say the package in Glasgow were similar to three explosive devices found around major London transport hubs on Tuesday. CNN's Oren Liebermann joins us now from London. And Oren, what are the

links between the packages found in Scotland and those discovered across London?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, so far, we don't have too much information about the investigation itself. But we do know the link between these three packages and they were similar devices. Letter sized white envelopes. Small devices. Incendiary devices meant to burn, not meant to explode and maim.

One of the key fears and one of the key concerns is of course this would be a beginning and then the packages get more and more dangerous. One of those was set here in Waterloo station here behind me. This is on Tuesday within just a couple of hours. Another was discovered at Heathrow airport an office building on the side of the airport, as well that city airport and then came to University of Glasgow package on Wednesday morning.

There had been no packages discovered this morning but it remains early here just past eight in the morning in London. So, of course, that could change as investigators are trying to figure out who sent these and why.

The packages at city airport was opened and did ignite. Again, it didn't harm anybody in the process there but the fear and the concern being that other packages could. The other packages were discovered and essentially eliminated before they were able to harm anybody.

One of the key concerns, who is sending these and what's the point? What's the message here? Could this be, for example, in the context of debates about the backstop and increased tensions between Ireland and Northern Ireland, or could this be Irish dissidents trying to send a message with these, or could this be, Kristie, on the other end of the spectrum simply a cruel prank.

Again, counterterrorism investigators haven't put out much information as the investigation continues to try to find out if there are more packages, who is sending them, and why.

LU STOUT: Yes. Whether this is politically motivated we just don't know at this moment. But are there more packages out there? And as we see the crowds behind you, commuters out in the Waterloo station and elsewhere, could that pose an ongoing risk to the public there?

LIEBERMANN: So, of the packages that arrived, the only one that caused any sort of destruction was the one that arrived at city airport. That caused just a small delay.

In terms of the other packages, there's been no major disruption no real disruption at all really. And you can see here at Waterloo station, I, in fact came to the two this morning to Waterloo state, there hasn't been a disruption.

So, police and metropolitan police have tried to make sure this doesn't affect the daily commute. It is worth pointing out that the U.K. government level of which they consider the terror threat from Northern Ireland is moderate. So, this doesn't seem to be a major concern. There hasn't been major impact here yet.

But of course, if there are more packages and if these packages go from small incendiary devices and tend to ignite to something larger. An explosive device intended to maim or even kill that could change very quickly as counter terrorism investigators try to put an end to this before it continues, and certainly before it gets worse.

LU STOUT: Oren Liebermann live in London for us. Thank you.

The singer R. Kelly is back in jail. This time for not paying child support. The accused sexual predator owes more than $160,000 to his ex-wife.

[03:24:57] Now Kelly was free on bail after being indicted last month on 10 months of aggravated sexual abuse. He is to back in court next week.

And Detroit police are looking into another allegation against R. Kelly. This one from a 13-year-old girl possibly in 2001. All this comes the same day CBS aired R. Kelly's first interview since his arrest.

Now the singer portrayed himself as victim. He was crying, ranting, even pleading directly to the camera.

Sara Sidner has more on this explosive interview.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: RnB singer R. Kelly exploding with emotion over and over again in his first interview since being charged with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse against four women, three of whom prosecutors say were minors at the time of the abuse. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.


R. KELLY, SINGER: What women said about me. So, nobody is allowed to be mad at me and be scorned and allow me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, they're lying on you. That's your explanation. They're lying on you.

KELLY: Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You feel that people have maligned your care.

KELLY: I had been assassinated. I have been buried alive. But I'm alive.


SIDNER: It is also the first time that he responded to numerous abuse accusations in the six-part docu series "Surviving R. Kelly" that aired in January. In it, his former girlfriends, his ex-wife, family members of girls and people who worked for him all leveled allegations against him accusing him of extreme manipulation, abuse and starvation. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know the turmoil you brought into my kids' life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was a little girl in like, a bad man's world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Quit hurting people, quit hurting these girls.

KELLY: I didn't do this stuff. This is not me. I fight for my (muted) life. You tell me what this is. I can't help (muted).


KELLY: They're trying to kill me. You getting me mad. This thing is not about music. I tell (Inaudible) have a relationship with my parents and I can't do it.


SIDNER: He also talked about the two women who he is currently living with calling them his girlfriends. He accused their parents of selling their daughters.

The parents of Joycelyn Savage and Azriel Clary shot back, denying Kelly's allegation. They say their daughters met R. Kelly as teenagers and had been brainwashed and abused for years. The Savages say they have had no contact with their daughter for two years.


TIM SAVAGE, JOCELYN SAVAGE'S FATHER: It's just speechless to hear that saying that we would sell our kids. That's unheard of.


SIDNER: The Clary family sent a statement through attorney Michael Avenatti saying they never asked for or received money from R. Kelly. And said, "R. Kelly is a desperate liar and serial abuser of young girls who should die in prison. All of the victims and parents cannot be lying." But their daughters sided with R. Kelly during the interview.


AZRIEL CLARY, R. KELLY'S GIRLFRIEND: I'm crying, because you guys don't know the truth. You guys (muted). This is all (muted) lies for money here.


SIDNER: After Savage and Clary spoke out something unexpected happened. The Savage family received a phone call from their daughter.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have told you guys a million, million times that I am OK, where I am and I'm happy.


SIDNER: Sara Sidner, CNN, Los Angeles.

LU STOUT: You're watching CNN Newsroom. Still to come, a contentious day on Capitol Hill as U.S. homeland security secretary face sharp questioning on the Trump administration's immigration policies.



KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I'm Kristie Lu Stout and let's update you on our top stories this hour. Donald Trump's former lawyer has turned over documents to a House panel which he said were reviewed by attorneys for the president, his daughter and son-in-law. Michael Cohen says Mr. Trump encourage him to lie about a project to build Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 campaign.

The Chinese tech giant Huawei is suing the U.S. government saying a law which bans federal agency from buying Huawei equipment is unconstitutional. U.S. claims Chinese intelligence could use Huawei products for spying. Huawei rejects this concerns and says U.S. hack its server and source code.

Police in the U.K. are investigating more suspicious packages that destroyed -- to be destroyed when it was found inside the University (inaudible) Scotland and say it is similar to three explosives devices found around major London transport hubs on Tuesday.

U.S. House Democrats are putting the Trump administration's immigration policies under the microscope. Jessica Schneider has more on the combative questions that the Homeland Security Secretary face on Wednesday.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Homeland Security Secretary Kirsten Nielsen facing off for the first time today against House Democrats in power. Feeling the heat as members grilled her on a controversial zero tolerance policy which resulted in separating children from their parents after they crossed the border illegally. Nielsen admitting, she had discussed the policy with then Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but didn't realize he was ready to announce it.

KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Sometime before the announcement we had the conversation. I did not know he was making that announcement that day.

SCHNEIDER: That resulted in weeks of confusion until Nielsen issued guidelines for border agents to implement the policy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did you wait until May 4th to issue implementation guidelines?

NIELSEN: Because we wanted to work within the department to ensure we can do it in an appropriately safe way with compassion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know how outrageous that sounds? You want to separate children and families and you want it do it with compassion. So, in the meantime, you didn't do anything at all and you let kids be separated without tracking them.

SCHNEIDER: Nielsen also defended the president's decision to issue an emergency declaration last month to build his border wall and try to avoid addressing this seemingly false statement he made about arrests at the southern border.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Never so many apprehensions ever in our history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that accurate? Was the president accurate?

NIELSEN: Again, it depends on the context and it depends on the type of migrant, sir.

SCHNEIDER: While Nielsen says border protection is on track this year to apprehend 900,000 immigrants crossing illegally or arriving at ports of entry without proper documents and current numbers continue, history has shown higher numbers. In 2006 arrests were just more than one million and during the Clinton administration in 2000, 1.64 million arrests were made.

Republicans seized on the latest figures that 76,000 immigrants were caught crossing illegally last month making it the highest total for any February in the past 12 years.

REP. CLAY HIGGINS (R), LOUISIANA: Let me just put this in context for the American people. Perhaps the most famous invasion in the history of the world, D-day. 73,000 American troops landed in the D-day invasion. We have 76,103 according to my numbers apprehensions along our southern border last month. We have D-day every month on our southern border.

SCHNEIDER: Secretary Nielsen warns the number of immigrants crossing illegally could increase in the coming months. And Nielsen also came under criticism for some numbers she didn't have. When the Democratic Congresswoman Shiela Jackson-Lee asked Nielsen, how many unaccompanied children are still in detention, Nielsen said she did not have those numbers, but promised to submit it to the committee. Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


LU STOUT: In an already challenging week for President Trump, the Census Bureau, delivered a setback for his goal of shrinking the trade gap. The U.S. trade deficit hit a 10 year high in 2018. It grew by $69 billion to reach more than 891 billion.

[03:35:13] These are the contributing factors, one, tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods that helped slowed China's economy and its purchases. Two, the president's threatened tariff increase that sparked Americans to import goods ahead of the hike. Three, the U.S. tax cut that triggered consumer spending on imports and finally a strong dollar that weakened demand for American goods.

Ideological disputes within the U.S. Democratic Party may not be as deep as they first appeared after the mid-terms elections. If progressive freshmen lawmaker and the party's leadership have found at least one issue they can agree on. Jason Carroll has the report.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Seems like only yesterday when it appeared Democratic House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi and freshman upstart Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez might be politically at odds. Given Pelosi's thought soon after that upset primary win in New York's 14th district.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: They made a choice in one district. So let's not get yourself carried away as an expert on demographics and the rest of that.

CARROLL: And then the speaker's initial take on Ocasio-Cortez's sweeping plan to combat climate change, the Green New Deal. In February, Pelosi referring to it this way in Politico, the green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is. But they're for it, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you offended that Speaker Pelosi called it a green dream?

CONG. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: No, I think it is green dream.

CARROLL: That was then. Now, Ocasio-Cortez, the fire brand of the progressive left and the House Speaker have found common ground. The two teaming up to take on moderate Democrats who supported a Republican amendment to a gun control bill that would alert immigration and customs enforcement when an undocumented immigrant attempts to purchase a firearm.

PELOSI: It's a gotcha (ph) on the part of the opposition, let's make life easy. Just throw it against them.

CARROLL: Ocasio-Cortez siding with Pelosi tweeting, mind you, the same small splinter group of Dems that tried to denied Pelosi the speakership are now voting in surprise ICE amendment to gun safety legislation of being called the moderate wing of the party.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I'm not here to bully or tell anyone on how to govern or what their communities feel.

CARROLL: Those comments coming despite reports Ocasio-Cortez threatened to draw up a list of Democrats siding with Republicans. Retribution coming in the form of being challenged in the primary by progressive Democrats.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: What I'm saying is that -- you're -- by separating yourself out from the caucus, you have made a list in the vote count of the caucus of Democrats that are susceptible to Republican manipulation and frankly will be held accountable by progressive activists.

CARROLL: Centrist Democrats speaking out against pressure to shift left.

REP. JOSH GOTTHEIMER (D), NEW JERSEY: Democrats shouldn't be in the business of primary. The Democrats are producing nixonian lists and were deciding who the enemies are within the party. That makes no sense to me. We need to all get together and work together.

REP. JEFF VAN DREW, (D), NEW JERSEY: I know what it is to be a Democrat and to fight to be a Democrat. I know what it is like to be on a list for elimination for people that don't want you there for some reason. Although it is usually not other Democrats, it is usually Republicans, but that never worries me.

CARROLL: And those moderate lawmakers telling us they're simply doing what their constituents want them to do. And while Ocasio-Cortez and Pelosi may have aligned themselves on one particular issue, the real challenge going forward is how the Democratic Party is going to deal with progressives and their influence and those progressives who want the party to move more and more to the left. Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


LU STOUT: In Venezuela the Maduro government's crackdown on journalist continued on Wednesday. Authorities raided the home of an American freelance reporter in Caracas. He was taken into custody, then released hours later. A press workers union said at least 36 journalists have been detained in Venezuela, so far, this year. And it comes as opposition leader Juan Guaido turns up the pressure on the Maduro regime. Paula Newton is in Caracas.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Opposition leader Juan Guaido has now spent a full day back to work, back to business here in Venezuela. He is at the national assembly. Really, we were trying to get some indication of what his next moves are. One of them has to do with, of course, the protests that he's called for on the weekend, but more than that, he is now called for a series of a national strikes.

It is a very risky strategy. What he is trying to do though is inject more momentum into this movement. The problem is that it will be risky if he doesn't get the participation he is looking for and more than that the Maduro government may also claim that what he is doing, but calling for those strikes is again, against the law. [03:40:03] Now, some were surprised that the Maduro government did not

arrest Guaido. Maduro himself had said that he had the full right to some kind of justice, because he was contravening the law by leaving the country, but they didn't arrest him.

What they did though, they did strike back and sent a signal to the diplomats at the airport. There was a collection of diplomats that offered some support and protection. One of them was the German ambassador to Venezuela. The Maduro government has now said that that that ambassador is persona non grata, he must now leave the country.

Adding to the tensions on the ground here, American journalist, Cody Weddle was detained for the full day of interrogation here in Venezuela on Wednesday. He was later released. CNN has reached out to his family. His mother telling us that in fact, she expect him back in the United States on Thursday, but certainly a very tense day as he was interrogated and that -- at first the military intelligence had indicated that they wanted to speak to him based on his work and perhaps some allegations of espionage.

This comes as a relief, especially after both the State Department and Juan Guaido and Senator Marco Rubio had all called for his release. Again something here that is added to the tension, but as of right now has not escalated what are already very complicated politics on the ground here. Paula Newton, CNN, Caracas.


LU STOUT: And next on CNN "Newsroom". A shocking story of sexual assault in the military, from the first American woman to fly in combat. She is now a U.S. Senator and she is fighting for change. Plus, a new report finds that white supremacist propaganda is at record high. How this groups adjust their tactics to avoid public scrutiny and spread their message.


LU STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, welcome back. You are watching CNN "Newsroom." It was a stunning revelation from a military hero. The U.S. Senator Martha McSally was the first American woman to fly in combat and as she told us the Senate hearing on military sexual assault, she was raped while serving in the military. Kyung Lah has her story.


REP. MARTHA MCSALLY, (R), ARIZONA: So, like you, I am also a military sexual assault survivor.

KYUNG LAH, SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Survivor and senator, representing Arizona now and revealing that she was once a young Air Force member who felt she couldn't speak up.

[03:45:05] MCSALLY: In one case I was preyed upon and then raped by a superior officer. I stayed silent for many years and I didn't report being sexually assaulted. Like so many women and men I didn't trust the system at the time. I blame myself. I was ashamed and confused. I thought I was strong, but felt powerless.

LAH: McSally's story even more astonishing, because of who she is. McSally crushed military and societal barriers. America's first female fighter pilot to fly in combat. She sued the Department of Defense over a policy requiring all women to cover themselves off base in Saudi Arabia, a policy that the DOD would change.

A proud veteran, McSally told me as she launched her Senate run how essential her military career was to her identity, but when she eventually reported the assault to her superiors.

MCSALLY: I was horrified at how my attempt to share genuinely my experiences were handled. I almost separated from the Air Force at 18 years over my despair. Like many victims, I felt the system was raping me all over again, but I didn't quit.

LAH: McSally had survived assault before joining the military, telling the "Wall Street Journal" that at age 17, her high school track coach sexually abused her. The coach denied the allegations to the Journal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to be a fighter pilot?

LAH: During her unsuccessful run for the Senate as a Republican, McSally talked about the hard time she suffered as a younger woman. Now as a U.S. Senator appointed to fill the late Senator John McCain's seat, she is fighting for change in the military on behalf of survivors like her.

MCSALLY: We must those distortions in the culture of our military that permit sexual harm towards women and yes, some men as well.

LAH: the Air Force released a statement after Senator McSally spoke in a subcommittee hearing. The statement reading quote, the criminal actions reported today by Senator McSally violate every part of what it means to be an airmen. We are appalled and deeply sorry for what Senator McSally experienced and we stand behind her and all victims of sexual assault. We are steadfast in our commitment to eliminate this reprehensible behavior and bridge of trust in our ranks. Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.


LU STOUT: And bravo to the Senator for speaking out. Now, CNN is partnering with young people around the world on March 14th. It is a student led day of action against modern day slavery. We want to know your answer to the question, what makes you feel free? Now here's what member of the N-child trafficking campaign in Uganda told us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to me means, having the power to speak, laugh, the way I really want to act, having this (inaudible) I would have sense on other people. It's different at some point, you have the right to (inaudible). So, that is what freedom means to me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom. Freedom is a big thing, very wide, very, very wide, yes. To me it means to be free from oppression, being free so I can do whatever I want to say. Being free to do whatever I want to do. Being free to go where I want to go, you know. Now being limited by the -- being limited by the people. That is freedom.


LU STOUT: So the power to speak, to act, to travel. Good answers. Please tell the world, share what makes you feel free, share your story by using the #myfreedomday.

A new report finds that white supremacists in the U.S. have step up their propaganda efforts in 2018. The anti-defamation league recorded more than 1100 hateful flyer distributions and at least 91 white supremacist rallies where organized last year. Stephanie Elam has more on this troubling trend.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Charlottesville, Virginia. One of the larges demonstrations in recent years by white supremacists.

JONATHAN GREENBLATT, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: These extremist are exploiting a charged political environment. They're exploiting a kind of social fragmentation.

ELAM: But since the Unite The Right rally many of this hate groups have adjusted their methods to avoid the scrutiny that came after Charlottesville. Stepping up their campaign and other tried and true ways like distributing leaflets and posting flyers.

GREENBLATT: This flyers are not just about finding new members. They are about spreading terror and intimidation and harassing marginalized groups. Get their ideas and their ideology, literally from the margins on to Main Street.

[03:50:13] ELAM: At first glance these flyers may not seem like hate rhetoric.

GREENBLATT: They try to lure people in by perhaps talking about European culture. And how do we preserve what we have here in the face of illegal immigration? So, only when you dig a little bit deeper do you realize you're talking about classic white supremacy.

ELAM: In 2018 white supremacists increase their propaganda output by nearly 200 percent with more than 1100 distributions across the United States, according to the Anti-Defamation League. That is compared to 421 incidents the year before.

Why is using a flyer, a beneficial tool for them.

GREENBLATT: What they're trying to do is to spread their poison in ways that don't force them to have to confront people.

ELAM: Protecting their own anonymity and in the era of smartphones and social media. And while college campuses are often targeted by hate groups, the Anti-Defamation League finds the number of off campus community propaganda incidents jump a staggering 572 percent in 2018. While on campus incidents rose 9 percent from 2017. The ADL says these 2018 propaganda distribution counts are by far the highest annual numbers ever.

GREENBLATT: White supremacists try to go where the action is.

ELAM: The findings also showed that the rise in hate group propaganda was mainly concentrated in large metropolitan areas with the highest levels in California, Texas, Colorado, New York, Illinois, Florida and Virginia. A way to still get their message out, but with a lot less risk. Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.


LU STOUT: Now the founder of Facebook says he is now all about privacy first. Mark Zuckerberg spent the last couple of years dealing with data privacy scandals. So this is yes, a big, of course, correction. Now he plans to integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook, to let people communicate easily and securely across this networks. Plus, users will have option to delete their messages and content.

Zuckerberg says, users now want to connect in small groups or with private messaging and they don't want whatever material they share to stay on the internet forever. Even on the tough topics, people love it. Host of Jeopardy has grace and humor. Ahead, Alex Trebek shares some sad news about his health. And it's about time, a female superhero from the Marvel comics Universe, finally gets a lead role, Captain Marvel is coming your way.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to end it.


LU STOUT: Welcome back, a now somber news, the beloved host of the TV jeopardy, Alex Trebek went on YouTube to reveal that he is battling stage four pancreatic cancer. It has a very low survival rate. On average just 9 percent of people with this disease are still alive, five years after the diagnosis, but with a flash of grace and humor, Trebek answered the question, what will he do now?


ALEX TREBEK, JOEPARDY HOST: I'm going to fight this. And I'm going to keep working and with the love and support of my family and friends and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease.

[03:55:00] Truth told, I have to because under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy for three more years. So help me. Keep the faith. And we'll win. We'll get it done. Thank you.


LU STOUT: God bless. Now Jeopardy and versions have aired in dozens of countries around the world and Trebek is originally from Canada. He's host of the show since 1984. That is more than 7,000 episodes.

Now, for the first time in history a crew of astronauts will take a giant leap for woman kind. The woman pictured here will soon be carrying out the first all-female spacewalk in history. Anne McClain and is on the left, and Christina Koch on the right. Anne McClain is on the international space station, Koch will be joining her next week. The U.S. space agency NASA tells CNN the flight director and controller are women as well. Now the all women spacewalk is scheduled for March 29th.

And Captain Marvel finally has her own movie. Fans have been waiting forever for her origin story. Now, you can finally see it. The latest blockbuster from MCU, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is being released around the world this week.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I have life here and I can't tell if it is real.

DAVID DANIEL, CNN JOURNALIST: The MCU hasn't had a solo female superhero film until Captain Marvel, but don't tell Brie Larson she is breaking new ground.

BRIE LARSON, ACTRESS, CAPTAIN MARVEL: There had been so many awesome female characters in MCU that I just haven't really been able to see myself as doing anything sort of historical on that way. I just feel like I'm joining them.

DANIEL: Also joining Marvel's cast of heroines is Lashana Lynch as single mother and fighter pilot, Maria Rambeau.

LASHANA LYNCH, ACTRESS, MARIA RAMBEAU: So to be able to play a fighter pilot, just signally is already like, wow, I'm representing some real strong hand here, man.

We have to show this boys how we do it. You ready?

DANIEL: This also features some familiar MCU faces including a young Nick Furry.

SAMUEL JACKSON, ACTOR, NICK FURRY: As much as an origin story for Captain Marvel it's kind of an origin story for Nick Fury. We found out things about him, we didn't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't need that, did you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, I didn't, but I enjoyed it.

DANIEL: And Captain Marvels save them all next month in Avengers End Game?

LARSON: I think she can do anything. No, I'm not really the best person to ask, but we will see what happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a yes or no question.


DANIEL: In Hollywood, I'm David Daniel.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LU STOUT: Can't wait to see it, love Brie Larson. Thank you so much

for joining us. I'm Kristie Lu Stout. Remember to connect with me anytime on social media, on Twitter, et cetera. The news continues next with Hannah Vaughan Jones in London. You're watching CNN.