Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

New Zealand Prime Minister: Tougher Gun Laws On The Way; Lawyers Wants to see Bob Mueller's Report First; Orphans Facing Health And Mental Issues At Displacement Camp In Syria; Top Film Executive Steps Down over Alleged Improper Behavior; New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern And Her Cabinet Promise Tougher Gun Laws; Boeing CEO Records Message To Reassure Flyers; Wall St. Journal: U.S. Transportation Dept. Examining Potential Failures In FAA's Safety Review Process. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired March 19, 2019 - 02:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[02:00:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: We will examine what we did know, could have known or should have known. We cannot allow this to happen again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): New Zealand's leader taking action. Jacinda Ardern says her government will propose gun reforms after the deadliest mass shooting in the country's history.

Plus, we will take you to a displacement camp in Syria, where women and children, fleeing ISIS, are facing desperate new challenges.

Also ahead an emerging disaster in Mozambique. More than 1,000 people are feared dead after a tropical cyclone slammed ashore.

Hello and welcome to our viewers viewing us from all around the world, I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

CHURCH: New Zealand's prime minister says that March 15th will remembered as the nation's darkest of days. Jacinda Ardern's comments came during parliament's first session since Friday's attack on two mosques in Christchurch.

In her address to lawmakers, the prime minister paid tribute to the 50 people who were killed, saying they are us.

As for the suspect accused in the shooting, Ms. Ardern he will face the full force of the law but you won't hurt hear her say his name.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ARDERN: He's a terrorist. He's a criminal. He's an extremist. But he will when I speak be nameless. And to others, I employ you speak the names of those who were lost rather than the name of the man who took them. He may have sought notoriety but we in New Zealand will give him nothing, not even his name.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Meanwhile officials are racing to identify and release the victims' bodies to their families. This is not an easy task, in fact, only one victim has been released.

Joining us now from Christchurch, Ivan Watson.

The prime minister is leading the way in setting the tone.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, continuing to call March 15th the darkest of days in New Zealand as visitors continue to come here to the botanical gardens in Christchurch for the emotional process of looking at the messages of love.

There's a choral group singing, just down the way. Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister, wanted to bring attention once again to the victims, whose lives and families have been shattered by this.

For example, a man named Farid Ahmed, whose wife was killed in the attack on the two mosques here in Christchurch last Friday, and he had the just unbelievable task of trying to explain that to his daughter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FARID AHMED, NEW ZEALAND SHOOTING SURVIVOR: She said, are you telling me, we don't have a mother?

I said yes. But I'm your mother now, I'm your father now. And you are my mother and you are my daughter. We have to change the role. So calm down, take it easy, you are allowed to cry but don't lose your mind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: And yet, this man has an unbelievable message for the suspect accused of killing his wife.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AHMED: I want to hug him and say I have forgiven him. I want to tell him, if he has a mother, I want to hug her, too, and I want to tell her that I will treat you exactly like my auntie. If he has a sister, I want to hug her and I want to tell her, from my heart, I will treat you exactly like my own sister.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: Now there is this one task -- a process that everyone is waiting for, all of these victims and their families, and that is the beginning of burials. That's a process that has been delayed. The authorities keep having to push back the schedule of when they will start handing the victims' bodies back.

They are clearly overwhelmed by the sheer number of people they have to identify. There are cases of repatriation --

[02:05:00]

WATSON: -- to countries very far away from here. And we are hearing impatience, increasingly, from the families, even though they authorities, the police, have stepped out in front of the cameras, along with Islamic community leaders, trying to explain why they are being so diligent and painstaking in this project.

But that doesn't help for folks whose families have been ripped apart and want to complete this agonizing process of closure and saying goodbye to their family members.

CHURCH: Ivan, thank you so much. An impossible situation for those families. It is incredible to watch New Zealanders and how they're dealing with this. Many thanks to you.

During her address to parliament, Prime Minister Ardern also made special mention of two of attack victims who tried to stop the gunman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARDERN: Naeem Rashid, originally from Pakistan, died after rushing at the terrorist and trying to wrestle the gun from him. He lost his life trying to save those who were worshipping alongside him.

Abdul Aziz, originally from Afghanistan, confronted and faced down the armed terrorist after grabbing the nearest thing at hand, a simple epos machine. He risked his life and no doubt saved many with his selfless bravery.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: And 16,000 kilometers, a long way from New Zealand to Jerusalem but the feelings of loss are the same everywhere. CNN's Oren Liebermann brings us a story of one of the terror victims, a family man, being described as a true gentlemen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For a time Atta Elayyan had found a better life. The 33-year-old Palestinian was a futsal star, a goalie for the New Zealand national time.

Two years ago Elayyan became a father. His wife and daughter in so many of his pictures. On Friday, Elayyan went to pray in the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch. A mosque his family says, his father had helped found.

When the shooting began, Elayyan wasn't able to make it out alive. 10,000 miles away in the village of Abu Dis in Jerusalem, Elayyan's community tried to cope with what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This attack was against humanity, against the right to pray, against life. That criminal touched every human being, not only Palestinians.

LIEBERMANN: Those who knew the family gathered for prayer and reflection in Abu Dis, the family's ancestral home. The Elayyans say they left Abu Dis in 1967 following the six-day war. Refugees looking for that better live from Kuwait to Jordan the United States and then to New Zealand a life they thought they found in Christchurch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There is no doubt that this attack will make us closer to one another as Palestine's and Jerusalemites because disasters unify us.

LIEBERMANN: Elayyan's futsal teammates came together for their own moment of silence, trying to make sense of the loss of a colleague and a friend, a loss on the field they can handle. This was something very different.

RONAN NAICHER, FUTSAL TEAMMATE OF VICTIM: He was just a true, true gentleman, a true leader, someone that was there for everyone. I mean, he was a really intelligent guy, had his own company.

LIEBERMANN: FIFA mourns Elayyan's death as well. Saying on Twitter, it is with deep sorrow that we announce today that the goalkeeper of this New Zealand futsal team, Atta Elayyan, was killed in the tragic attacks in Christchurch -- Oren Liebermann, CNN, Abu Dis.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: New Zealand's lawmakers took swift action to begin changing the country's gun policy, later this hour we will talk with an expert about the implications of the proposed agreement.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's report to the U.S. attorney general on the Russia investigation is expected any day now and sources say White House lawyers want a look at whatever will be passed along before it's shown to lawmakers and the public. Pamela Brown explains why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We have learned that White House lawyers expect to review whatever version of Mueller's report attorney general Barr submits to Congress before it reaches lawmakers and the public.

And this is a potential flashpoint, a political battle over the hotly anticipated document. The attorneys want the White House to have an opportunity to claim executive privilege over information drawn from documents and interviews with White House officials over the past couple of years, these sources said.

But the White House is review of executive privilege claims are within its legal purview, but this could setup this political battle over the perception at the very least of President Trump trying to shield certain information from the public about an investigation that has swirled around him since the first day of his presidency.

As one source close to White House put it --

[02:10:00]

BROWN: -- there's always been tension between what looks best politically and what represents the interests of the institution but preserving executive privilege Trump's political optics in the White House view.

Now, Rudy Giuliani, the president's outside attorney has said that he wants to assert executive privilege but that is up to the White House, it's up to the president and the White House counsel's office doing that and we do know executive privilege allows the president conversation with other officials be kept confidential if he chooses to assert it.

Now Justice Department lawyers could advise him against certain assertions if they don't feel that it's legally defensible, but if President Trump does assert executive privilege, the decision could be litigated in court if it's challenged which Democrats would almost certainly do -- back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: Thanks for that.

And still to come, the war against ISIS in Syria has produced a large number of orphans. Most of them are facing serious health and mental issues. Some of their heartbreaking stories next.

Plus the devastating impact of tropical cyclone Idai in Mozambique. We have the latest as communities began to assess the damage there.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

CHURCH: An intense battle continues to rage over the so-called Islamic State's last enclave in Eastern Syria. After weeks of fighting U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces used airstrikes to pound the area of Baghouz on Monday, that's according to Reuters. SDF forces are expected to defeat ISIS soon in Syria.

Meanwhile, the war against ISIS has produced a number of orphans in Syria, with no place to call home and no family to lean on. Our Jomana Karadsheh has some of their heartbreaking stories.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOMANAH KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The aid worker coaxes a few words from the boy. His language, classical Arabic. The boy, Indonesian, growing up in ISIS's crumbling caliphate to parents who traveled across the world to voluntary join the terror group and its manmade hell.

They did not make it out, but in the last few days, he did. Along with eight other Indonesian orphans. With no parents for us to ask permission from, we cannot show --

[02:15:00]

KARADSHEH: -- their faces. There are now 250 children at Al-Hawl camp in Northern Syria who emerged from the war against ISIS without families, without relatives.

SHERIN MURAD-ISMAIL, UNICEF CHILD PROTECTION OFFICER: They arrived at the camp in the worst case, in the worst form. Because they are injured, they are traumatized, they are mentally -- I think they have also mental disorders.

KARADSHEH: And the tenth next door, the impact of the horrors live through their short lives play out in ways so painful to watch. Aid agencies say children here have witnessed acts of brutality and were trapped under bombardment in Baghouz and they are now showing signs of psychological distress, including nightmares and withdrawal.

The vast majority in this overcrowded and underfunded camp are children, more than 40,000 of them stranded here. No one expected so many to pour out of the half square mile that remains of ISIS's so- called caliphate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is an emergency, you have to help us fast. We have called on aid groups and foreign governments to assist us, especially at Al-Hawl camp, because this is going to turn into a disaster when it comes to things like health care and things like food and shelter.

KARADSHEH: The worry is outside aid will be slow to come for this camp associated with ISIS, the most helpless caught up in the politics of the aid, they now so desperately cling to.

Hamad is seven months old, he arrived from Baghouz on the 25th of February and he was severely malnourished that UNICEF and care providers here had to take him to a local hospital where he stayed for the past couple of weeks. And right now after treatments, we are being told that he weighs about 3.7 kilograms that is how much a newborn would weigh.

The majority here never had a choice, ISIS' lethal legacy still defining their future -- Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Al-Hol camp, Northern Syria.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: And that baby in the report is one of the relatively lucky ones. The International Rescue Committee warns that a disturbing number of newborns, babies and young children are dying at the camp because of severe dehydration and malnourishment. The ILC's latest reports says 123 people, including 108 children, have died either on their way or soon after arriving at al-Hol camp.

Misty Buswell joins us now from Jordan, she is Middle East advocacy director with IRC, the group that provided the report.

Thank you so much for being with us. The images we saw there are heartbreaking, of children caught up in a war not of their choosing.

What is going to happen to these orphaned children, how many will survive and who will care for them and love them?

MISTY BUSWELL, INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE: Well, that is a really important and critical question, there are so many children in this camp and in Northeast Syria that have been impacted by this conflict.

These children have lived under ISIS for the last three to four years and now, in the last three to four weeks, the children that are coming out and the women are severely malnourished. They have not had access to sufficient food or water.

And we are seeing a lot of babies turning up dehydrated and malnourished and, unfortunately, many have died along the way on their journeys because of these difficult conditions.

CHURCH: And what about those children with mental issues, what does the future hold for them?

BUSWELL: We know that with the right kind of support, these children can be helped. We have seen in conflicts across the world and in other parts of Syria as well that mental health and well-being issues and distress are very typical, normal signs for children who have been living through what these children have lived through.

But they do need immediate support. They need education, they need to have some semblance of normalcy if they are to have some hope for the future.

CHURCH: And what have these children lived through, what have they witnessed?

How will they ever lead normal lives, if that is even possible?

BUSWELL: Well, they have been, especially these children living under ISIS, they've witnessed so much violence and they do need now an education. For the immediate term they need food, they need water, they need shelter in his camp. Because it is extremely overcrowded --

[02:20:00]

BUSWELL: -- what they need are basic services. For the longer term, we can't lose focus on this crisis or we will have those basic services. And then for the longer term, we can't lose focus on this crisis.

And we have a generation of children who grows up without any hope.

CHURCH: Yes, grow up with no hope, with no families and a sense of bitterness no doubt with the future that lies before them.

Misty Buswell, thank you so much for talking with us, we appreciate it.

Several countries in southeast Africa are coping with the aftermath of tropical cyclone Idai. The president of Mozambique warns 100,000 people are in danger and his country faces a real humanitarian disaster of large proportions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This used to be housing. The people didn't stand a chance here.

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): Misery in the wake of the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's the coffins outside this (INAUDIBLE) bodies inside. Lots of people separated.

SATER (voice-over): This church, like more than 2,000 square kilometers in East Africa, wasn't spared from cyclone Idai, with its whipping winds, drenching rains that cut a trail of destruction through Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique.

The storm began on land, over a week ago. Then moved offshore, strengthened then powered back as a named cyclone. The president of Mozambique warns that the death toll alone in his country could exceed 1,000.

The town of Beira, home to 0.5 million people, was directly in the storm's path. Idai (INAUDIBLE) adding to the devastation. The Red Cross said some communities are completely cut off with no communications and no way to reach them, as many roads have been washed away.

Rescuers in dinghies are searching for survivors, finding a lucky few clinging to the trees above the waters.

Mozambique's president says more rescue equipment as well as doctors and volunteers are on the way.

FILIPE NYUSI, MOZAMBIQUE PRESIDENT (through translator): I spoke with people and they are calm and aware of what is happening. They said water is a problem and that we need to reinforce food supplies and also medicines.

SATER (voice-over): Still, with so many missing in an area that was previously struggling from dry conditions, the scale the damage from cyclone Idai may only just be emerging -- Tom Sater, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: In France, the government is cracking down on Yellow Vest rallies in some areas after protests turned violent on Saturday. Some demonstrators smashed up shops and restaurants and set fire to a bank on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. The French prime minister blames radical groups who aren't part of the Yellow Vest movement for the vandalism and says the government wants to protect people's right demonstrate peacefully.

A morning rush hour shooting in the Netherlands raised the original terror threat to its highest level for a time Monday. Three people were killed and five others injured. A suspect is under arrest. But as Erin McLaughlin reports, the motive remains unclear.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Authorities say they have arrested a key suspect in Monday's attack but they have yet to establish a motive, to rule out the possibility that what happened here, at 10:45 in the morning aboard that busy tram, was the product of terror but also yet to rule out the possibility that this was some sort of family dispute as suggested by an eyewitness that we spoke to earlier in the day who was on board the tram at the time of the horrific shooting, describes the shooter opening fire, seeming to target a woman on board the tram and anyone who tried to help her, as eyewitness accounts such as that that authorities no doubt are going to be going over very carefully.

The suspect, a 37-year old, was arrested 800 meters away from where the tram attack took place. Authorities say they made one other arrest but have yet to link that arrest to the attack itself. They have yet to also release the identities of the victims; three people killed in total, five injured, three critically injured.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte saying that the Netherlands mourns the lives lost on that Monday attack and Tuesday morning the flags will be flying here at half staff -- Erin McLaughlin, CNN, Utrecht, Netherlands.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: Another Hollywood executive's career has been derailed by accusations of an improper relationship in his past. The head of Warner Media's movie and TV studios stepped down from one of the industry's top jobs Monday. Warner Media is the parent company of this network.

CNN's chief media correspondent Brian Stelter is here with details -- Brian.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Hey, guys, this is a big change in Hollywood as the head of one of the industry's biggest movie and TV studios --

[02:25:00]

STELTER: -- is suddenly stepping down.

Kevin Tsujihara is the chair and CEO of Warner Media Entertainment, that includes the sprawling Warner Brothers Studio. He was recently promoted into an even bigger job overseeing more of the Warner Media portfolio. And of course, that was part of a broader reorganization of the media company which also owns CNN.

But days after he was promoted, the "Hollywood Reporter" the big entertainment magazine in L.A. published a detailed story, about allegations that Tsujihara had an improper relationship with an actress a number of years ago. The allegation was that he offered to help find her roles in Hollywood, get her auditions for jobs in exchange for sexual a relationship.

Now Tsujihara at the time through a lawyer said that he never directly was involved in getting her any auditions. He did in a memo to colleagues, say he had mad mistakes in his personal life and that he was sorry for those.

Warner Media announced an investigation and now less than two weeks later he's leaving his job as the head of the studio.

Here's part of the statement from John Stankey who is the CEO of Warner Media. He said that "It is in the best interest of Warner Media, Warner Brothers, our employees and our partners for Kevin to step down as chairman and CEO of Warner Brothers. Kevin has contributed greatly to the studio's success over the past 25 years and for that we thank him." But Stankey went on to say that Kevin acknowledges that his mistakes are inconsistent with the company's leadership expectations and could impact the company's ability to execute going forward.

So that's the explanation from the head of the company. Tsujihara explaining in a similar way in a memo saying he and Stankey had spoken over the past week and they both concluded it was in the best interest of the movie studio for Tsujihara to step aside.

Now there is no immediate word on his successor, but right now this is a time of great change, dramatic change in the television and movie industry.

Later this week the Disney and Fox Studios are coming together, merging. That deal will finally be completed there this week. So it is a time of turbulence and dramatic change in Hollywood -- Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: Thanks, Brian.

Now to the latest example of how plastic is a major threat to marine life; 40 kilos of plastic bags were found inside the stomach of a beached whale in the Philippines. Experts at a natural history museum there say it's the most plastic they've ever found in a whale. They believe it died of dehydration and starvation.

The museum is now urging governments to take action against those who, quote, "continue to treat waterways and ocean as Dumpsters." Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, it has been five years since Russia

used its muscle to annex Crimea. We will take us look at the status of Putin's territorial grab and if anything can be done about it.

Also ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH (voice-over): Brexiteers in the north of England are marching to Westminster to send a message: leave means leave. CNN went to hear their views, that's coming up next.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:30:22] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: In a surprise announcement in the Brexit saga, the Speaker of the House of Commons is throwing the rulebook at Theresa May. After the British Prime Minister struck out twice trying to get her Brexit deal approved by Parliament, John Bercow decided to put a more than 400-year-old rule into play blocking Mrs. May from a third attempt, unless changes are made.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BERCOW, BRITISH HOUSE OF COMMONS: What the government cannot legitimately do is to resubmit to the House the same proposition or substantially the same proposition as that of last week which was rejected by 149 votes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: This means the Prime Minister will have no deal in place when she heads to the E.U. summit later this week, and keep in mind we are now just 10 days away from when the U.K. is set to leave the E.U. Well, out on the road, supporters of the leave means, leave campaign are marching to Westminster from the North of England. CNN's Nick Glass braved buses, bad weather, and even Stanley the bulldog to catch up with them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The long march, English style, 14 days on the road from the North of England to Westminster. A total of 277 miles, they tell us, all to impart a basic message leave means leave. These walkers all voted for Brexit, believing it passionately and feel utterly betrayed by the politicians. The talk was mostly of politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unless the German's are prepared to issue euro bonds to cover to International Debt, I can't see working.

GLASS: It may have look like a procession of country ramblers to the purpose is deadly serious. How much of the march are you going doing to do the law?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God willing, god willing I'm going to go all the way to Westminster.

(CROSSTALK)

JOHN TULLEY, MARCHER: It's just a big, big room full of clouds, isn't it?

GLASS: The march began on Saturday in the wind and the rain. That's quite and tough to handle in the wind, isn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not really, it's great stuff.

GLASS: And almost in secret, a great challenge for us and quite a few marches was actually to find it. So, are you on the march or not?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are.

GLASS: It's over there!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Over where?

GLASS: There's the march.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never.

GLASS: It is. They're half a mile ahead of you. The organizers didn't want any agitators from the remained campaign to disrupt the march, so keep on changing the meet up point. Nigel Farage, arch Brexiter was the star turn, arriving somewhere in there in green hunters coat and flat cup, flanked by body guards. By then, Stanley the bulldog was there too? His owner merely interested in getting a photo of Nigel on the new Brexit betrayal bus and not bothering with the pet talk.

NIGEL FARAGE, MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: Whatever tricks they play, if they extend it, if they not deliver it, if we even have to fight this again, we will beat them again.

GLASS: Nigel then set the pace and a brisk one at that in his blue trainers, he won't do the whole march himself, just joining from time to time.

BARRY LOCKEY, MARCHER: Were being betrayed massively right from the eyes, Theresa May and all the Parliamentary are liars.

GLASS: Come rain or shine, they were only by the hundred are also marches and all, but what's not in doubt is there determination and collective fury at the politicians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not about how many people were there at the beginning, it's all about how many people there in the end, as long as we make it (INAUDIBLE)

GLASS: To get in the long run? The end will be a mass rally outside Parliament on March the 29th. Nick Glass, CNN, with the leave means, leave Marchs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: And those marchers are facing criticism from anti-Brexit campaigners who have taken aim at Brexit champion Nigel Farage you saw there. in a tweet, one group says, an opportunist politicians conceived a scheme that was that was undeliverable. He persuaded members of the public to make sacrifices to further it and recruited millionaires to bankroll it. And when it failed, he simply walked away.

[02:35:01] The march to leave is just a 14-day metaphor for Brexit. Well, it has been five years since Russian Special Forces to seize the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in a lightning fast operation. And while the Russians marked anniversary with parades and rallies, other Ukrainian's remained determined to get them out of there. Ukraine's Foreign Minister, Pavlo Klimlin insists the occupation is in Russia's interest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAVLO KLIMKIN, FOREIGN MINISTER OF UKRAIN (through translator): Crimea was taken away from Crimeans. Their homeland was taken away from them, it is well understood that the international community will never recognize this. I believe that the sooner Russia starts direct negotiations. I emphasize direct negotiations on the occupation, the better it will be for Russia, and of course for occupied Crimea.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Well the controversial annexation of Crimea was one of Vladimir Putin's boldest and most aggressive moves ever. It marked the anniversary at a rally, and as Fred Pleitgen reports. The Russian President seemed as defiant as ever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Vladimir Putin leading chance at a rally in Crimea, which Russia invaded and annex from Ukraine exactly five years ago. Putin asserting, it's what the people they're wanted.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): You who for decades had been outside of the Russian States, kept in your hearts and carried through the years, this love for the motherland for Russia.

PLEITGEN: The Kremlin has long said it will never give Crimea back despite U.S. and European sanctions targeting Moscow for the aggressive takeover. And while the Trump Administration claimed it's being tough on Russia, Moscow clearly doesn't feel the heat. The Russians often stating, they believe President Trump is still keen to improve relations with Moscow, that his adversaries in Congress and the Mueller Probe are undermining his effort.

In a radio interview, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton essentially repeating the Kremlin's line. JOHN BOLTON, UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I think it's

very hard to make progress in a better bilateral relationship with Russia, when anything that is done as used as evidence by the President's political opponents to show some evidence of Russian collusion. The Political atmosphere in Washington makes it very difficult, there's no question about it.

PLEITGEN: A main focus of the Mueller investigation, possible ties between and then Trump Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort and Russian Oligarch and Putin ally Oleg Deripaska. Manafort allegedly offering Deripaska private briefings from the campaign. In an interview with NBC, Deripaska, denying the allegations.

OLEG DERIPASKA, RUSSIAN BUSINESSMAN: I haven't seen Manafort since, 2010 or 2011, it's the only purpose for me of my people to have any interest in his, you know, in dealing future was to get money back which was board for my companies.

PLEITGEN: Russia continues to claim, it did not interfere in the 2016 election. And basking in the chance of his supporters, Vladimir Putin said the annexation of Crimea shows a new more powerful Russia willing to in force its interest. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: And Russia now has strict even harsh new internet laws approved by President Putin himself. One of them calls for up to 15 days in jail for anyone who disrespects government officials online. Another threatens fines for people who post so-called fake news, critics call the new laws censorship, because they decriminalized the actions of those who try to speak out.

When New Zealand is following other countries jolted into taking action after a tragedy. Coming up. We well take a look at the tragic connection between the availability of powerful weapons and mass shootings.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:41:19] CHURCH: You're watching CNN, NEWSROOM. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States who are now joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. Let's update you on the main stories we've been watching this hour. Sources say White House attorneys want to see the findings from Robert Mueller's Russia investigation before they are submitted to Congress, so they can claim executive privilege over certain information. The U.S. Attorney General will decide how much of the report is shared with lawmakers and the public.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern led tributes to Friday shooting victims and her country's Parliament a short time ago. They earlier she and her cabinet promise tougher gun laws will be coming soon. The responses in the wake of Friday's mass shooting 50 people were killed and dozens were wounded when a gunman opened fire in two mosques in Christchurch.

Well as we mentioned, New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern announced her government has agreed in principal to tougher gun laws following the massacre there. Phil Black takes a look at how mass shootings and other parts of the world have spurred governments into action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: New Zealanders just not used to this, the extraordinary pain, the confusion that follows a massacre of the innocent using weapons design for war. Gun ownership here is high especially among farmers and hunters, gun violence is low. So, in recent years politicians have found it easier not to change laws which allow ownership of military style weapons like those used in Christchurch.

JACINDA ARDREN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: It has exposed a range of weaknesses in New Zealand's gun laws. The clear lesson from history around the world is to that make our community safe and the time to act is now.

BLACK: The man accused of attacking the mosque is an Australian citizen. His homeland endured its own, difficult conversation on gun ownership after the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996 where 35 people were killed by a man with semiautomatic weapons. Then Prime Minister John Howard, the lines of a bulletproof vest visible beneath his suit, explain to angry gun owners why he was taking away some of their guns.

JOHN HOWARD, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: If we believe that it is in the national interest that there be a dramatic reduction in the number of automatic and semiautomatic weapons and the Australian community.

BLACK: The most recent government figures from a few years ago show annual gun deaths in Australia have since dropped by around 70 percent. The United Kingdom also experience the pain of mass gun violence in 1996, when a man entered the school, shooting dead, 16 children and a teacher in the Scottish Town of Dunblane. He used four handguns. Those weapons were outlawed within two years.

TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We owe the debt to the people of Dunblane, we said M.P.'s would vote to ban handguns, M.P.'s have had that vote the people have spoken, Parliament has spoken, handguns are banned, we have honored our debt to the people of Dunblane.

BLACK: Norway was forced to think about the importance of its sporting gun culture after alone domestic terrorists killed 77 people using semiautomatic guns and explosives. That was 2011. In 2018, the country finally moved to ban military style rifles.

New Zealand's Government has promised rapid change but the details of new gun laws to be announced within the week. And it's now supported by some of those who previously resisted gun reform, like the country's deputy prime minister.

[02:45:01] WINSTON PETERS, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: The reality is that, that after 1:00 p.m., on the 15th of March, our world change forever. And so, will some of our laws.

BLACK: New Zealand, like other countries before has come to the conclusion there is a link between the availability of powerful weapons. And how easily its citizens can be massacred by a committed individual. Phil Black, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: I want to bring in Hera Cook now. She is a historian and professor in the Department of Public Health at the University of Otago in Wellington. Thank you so much for being with us.

Now in the wake of the mass shooting in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her government to considering how far to go on gun regulation. And she says the time to act is now. So, how likely is it that the prime minister will ban semi-automatic firearms in the country, do you think?

HERA COOK, HISTORIAN & PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF OTAGO, WELLINGTON: Well, they did it in Australia, so, it's possible that we might. But I think there's a lot of other things we can do as well.

We, like Canada or in the USA have no register for all our guns and that would really make a difference in the long term.

I think that -- and also in your introduction, you said we have a high rate of gun ownership. Actually, only six percent of New Zealanders are licensed gun owners. What we've got is a very large number of guns for the size of our population.

So, what we could start doing is yes, banning semi-automatics. But also a whole range of smaller issues need to be addressed around the importing of guns and the lack of any traceability.

CHURCH: Well, that's -- let's look at that. You mentioned Australia. Because in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre in that country in 1996, it responded by creating extensive licensing and registration procedures. Banned all fully, fully automatic and semi-automatic weapons, and instituted a gun buyback program. Could you see New Zealand's government going that far?

COOK: Well, we can hope that they will. We've got a pretty -- we've got a gun lobby that's got used to getting its own way because we haven't really had any improvement in our gun regulation and gun rules since 1992.

Even though we've had a massacre and the interval and two major government inquiries.

CHURCH: Yes. And, of course, you mentioned the gun rights advocates therein New Zealand. They're already pushing back, aren't they? Critics saying they have legitimate reasons for owning semi-automatic firearms for hunting, sporting use, farming, and other uses.

What do you say to those who insist they need access to semi-automatic firearms even for, for hunting? COOK: Hunting and farming are very important in New Zealand, and people certainly have legitimate reasons to have guns. And nobody would suggest any kind of prohibition but you don't need semi- automatics to do those jobs.

You know, these people saying they need semi-automatics for goat culling. Well, goat culling's been going on for a very long time. And these other ways of addressing the needs of goat cullers and putting the whole of the rest of the population at risk.

What we're really trying to argue, for us to get the voices of non-gun users, listened to.

CHURCH: So, how much influence though do you think the gun lobby in New Zealand would ultimately have on the government as it tries to figure out how far to go with gun controls?

And when we've seen in the United States, an almighty push from the pro-gun lobby -- you're going to see that in New Zealand as well, is going to be a lot of pushback. So, what can be achieved here?

COOK: We've had a lot of pushback, and they use some of the same kinds of arguments that the NRA uses in the U.S. Fortunately, we don't have anything like the Second Amendment and self-defense is not a legal reason to own a gun in New Zealand. If you say you want a gun for self-defense, you'll be denied a gun license.

CHURCH: Right.

COOK: That's a really -- that's a great thing. But, it's really going to depend on what the 90 percent of us who aren't gun users or gun on -- gun license owners. I'm sorry, licensed gun owners. How much pushback we put into the equation?

Because what's been happening over the last 30 years is that the gun lobby have made the rest of -- have treated the rest of us as if our opinions and our need to live in a safe society is completely irrelevant to gun policy.

CHURCH: Then, the key point you mentioned, of course, is the number of people who own guns, and how it's the number of guns in New Zealand which is the main point. Which means, I mean compared to the United States there were fewer people per capita using these guns. It's just they have a lot of them.

COOK: Yes, exactly. Exactly. And look, a lot of them are really reasonable, sensible people. And we -- you know, we do have a lot of hunters and we have a lot of forests. And a lot of deer and pigs and other introduced animals that were only into -- in our country, they were only introduced by the colonists. And they're threatening our native bird life.

So, a lot of us really support hunting. So, no one's going to talk about prohibition. We just want to get back to a safe level with a number of guns relates to the actual uses that people legitimately have for guns. And where we don't have guns like semi-automatics that can be easily used on the kind of hideous event that we've just had in Christchurch on Friday.

[02:50:37] CHURCH: Yes, we will certainly be watching to see what the New Zealand government comes up with in the end. And how much resistance there is to any changes made to access to guns. Hera Cook, thank you so much for talking with us. We do appreciate it.

Well, the American heartland has never seen flooding quite like this. We will explain how the aftermath of last week's bomb cyclone and all the snow that was already there is making a terrible history.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Investigators in Paris say that deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash has clear similarities to October's Lion Air crash in Indonesia. That's based on early analysis of the flight data recorder, though the exact cause of the Ethiopia crash is yet to be determined.

Their analysis matches what Ethiopia's transport minister said on Sunday. The aircraft in both incidents was a Boeing 737 MAX 8, which has been grounded across the globe until more is known about the safety of that plane.

Well, meantime, Boeing CEO is trying to reassure fliers, his company is taking action to ensure the safety of its 737 MAX fleet. Here is part of his statement posted on Boeing's web site.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENNIS MUILENBURG, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE BOEING COMPANY: When an accident happens for any reason, we focus relentlessly to determine why. We're united with our airline customers, international regulators, and government authorities in our efforts to support the most recent investigation. Understand the facts of what happened and help prevent future tragedies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: And we are learning more about an investigation into why the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration allowed the Boeing 737 MAX planes to fly in the first place. Here is CNN's Tom Foreman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now, based on from this Wall Street Journal reporting which we've been unable to confirm independently, the Department of Transportation, which is the umbrella organization over the Federal Aviation Administration is looking into the relationship between the FAA and Boeing.

The key question being, "Did the FAA rely too much on Boeing to look at its systems, and its processes, and its equipment involved in these new Boeing 737 MAX planes?"

Basically, letting Boeing say, it's safe, it works. Instead of the FAA independently looking at it. Obviously, a lot of federal agencies here rely on industry to help out with that. The question is, "Did they rely too much?"

And the key to all of this was not the most recent accident in Ethiopia, but the one that happened near Indonesia last fall with the Lion airplane crashed there. After that crash, that's when this question was triggered. Because they said, this new system on board the MAX planes to try to keep them level, which some people think can now maybe make the planes actually dive toward the ground with the pilots unable to control it.

The question after that accident was do we need to scrutinize this relationship? And now, of course, with the news about what happened in Ethiopia, the scrutiny will be only that much more intense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[02:55:26] CHURCH: And many thanks to Tom Foreman for that report from Washington. Well, more than 8 million people are under flood warnings in the American heartland. The extensive flooding follows a powerful bomb cyclone that slammed the central United States last week with hurricane-like winds and blizzard conditions.

Flood records were shattered in 17 places and more rivers will likely break cresting records this week. The State of Nebraska plans on asking U.S. President Trump for federal disaster aid. The flooding is already responsible for, at least, three deaths.

So, let's turn to our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri who joins us now with the latest on the flood conditions. Pedram, what do you seeing?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: You know, Rosemary, it was about 10 days ago across some of these areas we had single- digit low temperatures. So, still felt like the heart of winter and unfortunately, what's happening here in recent days, dramatic warming trend that's led to some of the flooding that's taking place. And we're talking about significant flooding from the north, all the way down there towards portions of the Mississippi River Valley.

And, in fact, when you take a look at the temperature trend, we've climbed not only out of the freezing zone, but into the 50s and 60s Fahrenheit in a couple of days' time here.

And, in fact, the 60s comeback and stay there across portions of the Midwest. And especially what we've seen occur here in the last couple of weeks is a lot of the snowfall, of course, beginning to melt. But rain on top of this -- and by the way, the first time we've seen rain in some of these northern states since Thanksgiving weekend.

So it kind of really puts it in perspective of getting precipitation in the form of rain as opposed to snow. All of this is really exacerbating and rapidly amplifying what's happening at the ground level, which is a melting up are rapidly occurring. But the ground itself beneath all the snow is still frozen.

So, once the water gets on top of this frozen landscape, it becomes runoff, that's left to almost 300 river gauges, but of reported flooding in recent days, and will continue to do so over the next couple of days.

Omaha, Kansas City, St. Louis. All these cities that are adjacent to major rivers are going to be severely impacted over the next couple of weeks. And some additional rainfall is still in the forecast on top of these communities.

So, certainly, going to see additional flooding take place as well. And with that said, we know that warmer temperatures coming just in time for the spring equinox which is going to happen at 5:58 p.m. on Wednesday. And that's exactly when we have 12 hours of night and 12 hours of day distributed between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere -- down on the Southern Hemisphere, of course, autumn gets underway.

But, here is the perspective, Rosemary, across the country and leave you with what's been happening in the northwestern U.S. Seattle had over 21 inches of snowfall across that region. Some two weeks ago, highs at 76 degrees on Monday. The warmest -- this early into the season in on record there across Seattle's pretty impressive run of warmth as well across the Northwest.

CHURCH: It certainly is. Pedram, thank you so much for keeping an eye on all of that. Appreciate it.

JAVAHERI: Thanks, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And thank you for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with another hour of news in just a moment. You're watching CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:00:00]