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CNN NEWSROOM

New Zealand on their Way to Healing; Cyclone Idai Slammed Northern Part of Africa; Possible No Brexit Could Happen in the U.K.; New Zealand Prime Minister To Announce Gun Law Reforms Soon; Prime Minister Theresa May Seeks Brexit Delay as European Union Stands Firm; President Trump Accuses Social Media Companies Of Collusion; CNN Poll, Kamala Harris Climbs To Double-Digit Support; Daring Raid Blamed On Opponents Of Kim Jong-un; Last Soviet-Era Head Of State Steps Down; Resistance Group Allegedly Trying To Topple Kim Regime. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 20, 2019 - 03:00   ET

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


[03:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: As New Zealand begins to bury its dead, we are learning the mosque gunmen may have had bigger plans.

Lawmakers in the U.K. still cannot agree on a Brexit deal, so Prime Minister Theresa May's next move is to beg for more time. But the European Union doesn't seem in the mood for negotiating.

Plus, the aftermath of Cyclone Idai damage from the powerful storm is being assessed, amid fears the death toll will reach staggering levels.

Hello and welcome to are viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. And this is CNN Newsroom.

A father and son, refugees from Syria, are the first victims of New Zealand's mosque attacks to be buried. Hundreds of mourners attended the service Wednesday, as heavily armed police stood guard.

Thirty of the 50 shooting victims have been identified, and their bodies will be released for burial.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was back in Christchurch visiting a school where two of the victims attended, she also met with first responders. She says she will present her plan for gun law reform soon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: We have a large number of loopholes in our laws. And many New Zealanders will be astounded to know that you can access military style semiautomatics in the way that you can hear.

There are a range of things that need to be fixed, and I guess if I were to say if New Zealand were blueprint for anything, in some ways, it's a blueprint of what not to do. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: The police commissioner credits first responders with preventing even more violence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE BUSH, NEW ZEALAND POLICE COMMISSIONER: We strongly believe we stopped him on the way to a further attack, so lives were saved, led by our staff, courageous in their intervention.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: And CNN's Ivan Watson is in Christchurch, he joins me now live. So Ivan, New Zealand's Prime Minister Ardern is healing her nation, meeting with first responders to thank them and with the Muslim community, showing her empathy and keeping her message positive, while trying to make them feel safe in the wake of Friday's terror attack. All this, in stark contrast to other world leaders. How is it all being received there?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The prime minister announced that there'll be a two-minute national moment of silence, in out of the victims on Friday and that they called to prayer. The Muslim prayer will be played on the national broadcast on TV New Zealand and the national radio broadcast, as well.

However, there is a growing diplomatic spat between New Zealand, Australia, and a country far from here, Turkey. Because the Turkish president has denounced the attack, and the terrorism, but he has also been using it as a political -- for political capital running up to elections at the end of the month.

He has been playing excerpts of the suspects live streamed video of the attack on the two mosques here in Christchurch at political campaign rallies, and it has been criminalized here in New Zealand. People are facing charges for trying to spread that video online.

And more recently, he made some comments that officials both Australia and New Zealand have objected to. Saying that if somebody comes with hostility to Turkey from this part of the world, they would go home in coffins, much like their grandparents.

Now that is a reference to the battle of Gallipoli during World War I when ANZAC troops from Australia and New Zealand fought against Ottoman Turkish soldiers.

The three countries involved have had a very respectful tradition among each other, honoring together the anniversary of that battle.

Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders travel to Turkey every year to participate in ANZAC Day, and the fact that prime minister -- President Erdogan has raised that has prompted the New Zealand prime minister to say that the country's foreign minister will travel to meet with Turkish officials to set this straight, face to face.

Worried that misrepresentation could be a threat to New Zealanders at home and abroad and the future.

The Australian prime minister had much stronger words for what he said were offensive statements by the Turkish president. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[03:05:01] SCOTT MORRISON, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: I'm expecting, and I have asked for these comments to be put, to be clarified, to be withdrawn.

I have asked for these comments, particularly the reporting of the misrepresented position of Australia on Turkish television, the state sponsored broadcaster to be taken down. And I expect that to occur.

I will wait to see what the response is from the Turkish government before taking further action, but I can tell you that all options are on the table.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: The key suspect in the deadliest terror attack in New Zealand's modern history did have connections to Turkey, he had traveled there repeatedly and stayed there for long periods of time. And his hate filled manifesto had a lot of threats and anger targeted against President Erdogan and Muslims in Turkey. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Our Ivan Watson, bringing us that live report from Christchurch. Many thanks to you.

Well, in the United Kingdom, an appeal and a warning. British Prime Minister Theresa May needs a Brexit delay, and she is writing to the European Union to beg for one with no guarantee that she will get it.

With just nine days to go until the U.K.'s increasingly messy divorce from the E.U., only now does Downing Street can see this is a full- blown crisis. On the eve of an E.U. summit, the block's chief Brexit negotiator showed little sympathy for Prime Minister May, and instead, issued a warning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHEL BARNIER, CHIEF BREXIT NEGOTIATOR, EUROPEAN UNION: If Prime Minister May requests such an extension, before the European Council on Thursday, it will be for the 27 leaders to assess the reason and the usefulness for an extension. E.U. leaders will need a concrete plan for the U.K. in order to able -- to be able to make an informed decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: And CNN's Anna Stewart is standing by live in London. Anna, the E.U. sending a clear message to Prime Minister May. They want a plan, if any Brexit extension is to occur. They are warning it's not going to be automatic. So how will she persuade them to give it to her? ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: The U.K. needs to be very clear here, and

half the problem is as ever that parliament behind me is very divided on what sort of extension they want the prime minister to ask for and what they would do with the time given to them.

There are those that want a much longer extension, perhaps more than a year, perhaps up to two years, to allow for a total renegotiation of the Brexit deal, maybe even a second referendum.

Now we are hearing today from British media outlets, that in fact, the prime minister is going to ask only for a short extension, up to the end of June, a technical extension, that suggests she still things her deal can get through the houses of parliament.

However, of course it was defeated twice, overwhelmingly. And just this week, the speaker of the House of Commons says she can't keep putting it through for a vote unless substantial changes are made.

But yesterday, the finance minister seems to brush off all these concerns. Take a listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP HAMMOND, CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER: We will bring the vote back to parliament as soon as we have the numbers, as soon as we are sure that enough of our colleagues have coalesced around the deal. There's no point bringing it back until then, we want to do this right. It's more important to do it right and to do it today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: From that, you can see that the government still seems to think that it can get this vote through there. It's unclear how they plan to circumvent the speaker, it's unclear at what states they think they will have the support to get it passed.

Of course, the one good thing about the division at the moment is the threat of a lengthy delay is actually, potentially bringing some of Theresa May's hard line Brexiter rebellious MPs on the side, they're very fearful of Brexit happening at all, or softer Brexit. So, there's all to play for with nine days to go.

CHURCH: I mean, that's the problem, and that was her original strategy. But so far, as you point out, no plan, nine days to go, it looks like they could very well be crashing out of the E.U. without a deal. I mean, that is possible, isn't it, although there are some other options still there, but there's not a lot of time to go.

STEWART: Crashing out of the E.U. without a deal isn't just possible. It is currently the default option. And the E.U. chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier said yesterday that Britain should continue to prepare for a no deal Brexit because if parliament cannot vote a deal through, if a delay isn't agreed on by all 27 E.U. members and then in this incredibly divided parliament, then this is what we are left with. [03:10:01] Crashing out of the E.U. March 29th, next Friday at 11 p.m.

here, midnight in the E.U. But there isn't an appetite for no deal Brexit but that is the default option. Rosemary?

CHURCH: It's not looking good. Anna Stewart, many thanks to you with that live report.

Well, the U.S. president is making it clear when it comes to the crisis in Venezuela, all options are open.

Donald Trump's latest tough talk came during a joint conference with Brazil's President, Jair Bolsonaro.

CNN's Paula Newton has the view from Caracas.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There was a lot of agreement in the Rose Garden about what they want to happen, but still no clear path on how to get there when it comes to policy in Venezuela.

One thing that was startling was that President Trump seems to be starting to come to terms with the fact, it will take much longer than he had wanted despite some very tough sanctions already on the table, and that includes an oil embargo from the United States.

And that Donald Trump hinting that in fact, tougher sanctions could still be on the way. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not being told any specific time, they've been there a long time, to him and his predecessor. At some point, I would imagine things will change.

But we really haven't done the really tough sanctions yet, we can do the tough sanctions, and all options are open, so we may be doing that. But we haven't and the toughest sanctions as you know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON: Now specifically, I want you to hear the fact that it could take much longer. Now coming to some kind of agreement, and most likely they've also heard this from Brazil. If they want that peaceful transition here, it is going to take some time, and everyone just starting to acknowledge that.

We should mention as well, that earlier Tuesday, the U.S. representative on Venezuela, Elliott Abrams met with deputy foreign minister from Russia. they both concluded their meeting saying nothing had been agreed to, in fact what they said was that they had a fulsome frank discussion about what the disagreements are.

And that principally the disagreements remain about who is the legitimacy -- legitimate president here and how to move forward.

In the meantime, here on the ground, Juan Guaido continues what he has been, a tour of Venezuela continuing to try and have that momentum really trying to take a lot of power, quite frankly, from the streets in terms of showing how many people still back him here in Venezuela.

President Maduro, for his part, has been busy actually trying to reconstruct his cabinet, and being very blunt that he intends to restructure his government. And we expect to hear more about that in the days to come.

Paula Newton, CNN, Caracas.

CHURCH: Dutch officials say terror may have been the motive behind the deadly shooting on a tram in Utrecht. A Turkish born man is the chief suspect. He's had previous run-ins with police including an illegal weapons conviction in 2014.

Another suspect has been arrested and his role is being investigated.

Three people were killed and five others wounded in the shooting. Prosecutors say other motive such as a personal vendetta had not been ruled out.

Coming up, a humanitarian crisis in Southern Africa after a cyclone slam through three countries.

Plus, a scary site in Houston, Texas. This massive fire at a petrochemical plant is out of control for a third day in a row.

[03:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Well, they are still assessing the damage in Mozambique after Cyclone Idai devastated that country, as well as Malawi and parts of Zimbabwe.

The official number of deaths in Mozambique alone is 200. But more are likely as some areas remain inaccessible and people are struggling to survive.

As CNN's David McKenzie reports, one population center was hit especially hard.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Cyclone Idai slammed into Southern Africa late last week, cutting across countries and devastating entire cities.

Beira a city of half a million in Mozambique in the epicenter of the storm. Aid agency says 90 percent of it is underwater. The cyclone slammed into the city with winds of up to 175 kilometers or 110 miles an hour, destroying hospitals and homes and killing untold numbers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJINO PAULINO, CYCLONE SURVIVOR (through translator): Flying sheets of metal decapitated people. People are very bad here. Some are in hospital, some are somewhere else. Now we don't have any help here. You see. We don't have any help here.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MCKENZIE: Some help is already there; search and rescue teams are

working tirelessly to get people to safety. The cyclone winds were bad enough, but the flooding is much worse say aid officials, creating what they are calling an inland ocean. And the threat will increase as more rains set in.

Beira's airport is open, but roads into the city are cut off and phone connections mostly down. Outside of Beira, nobody knows how many people are dead or injured, cut off entirely from help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCKENZIE: Idai's destructive path pummeled Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe with nearly 1.7 million people in its path.

Communities near Chimanimani, Zimbabwe are devastated. The storm destroyed roads, homes, bridges, and communication lines. The human loss is far greater.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRAISE CHIPORE, CYCLONE SURVIVOR (through translator): My house was destroyed in the floods and I was buried underneath. My daughter who is with me in bed was washed away from me and a bigger flood carried me farther away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCKENZIE: The true impact of the cyclone is only now emerging, and aid officials say that the next step is to try to reach those remote areas to save as many people as they can.

David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.

CHURCH: Let's talk more about this with Saul Butters, he's assistant country director for CARE Mozambique, and joins me now from the capital Maputo. Thank you so much for being with us.

SAUL BUTTERS, ASSISTANT COUNTRY DIRECTOR, CARE MOZAMBIQUE: You're welcome.

CHURCH: So, what is the situation on the ground there? And how difficult has it been to get food, clean water and medicine to those most in need?

BUTTERS: Yes. The situation is extremely difficult, as you said the cyclone hit on Thursday night and cause widespread damage to the city of Beira which has left power outages, no phone lines, clean water. It's been dwindling, as well as fuel supplies in the city. So, moving around city and getting a clear picture of the extent of

the damage was very challenging initially, and this has been complicated by the continuing heavy rains in the area as you've said we've seen rivers bursting, banks. And now we're seeing images through aerial assessments of rivers stretching 70 kilometer -- 70 kilometers across now.

So, these rivers have blocked access into the city of Beira which is why gaining access is very difficult. Luckily, yesterday the airport was grabbing for cargo and flights. There were cargo flights delivering aid into the city yesterday.

[03:20:08] But CARE's -- CARE's humanitarian supplies which are on the road no longer able to reach the city by road and we have to reassess the situation and we are now trying to bring our aid supplies in by helicopter into the city.

It's very difficult situation. The situation is evolving and the situation seems to be worsening as we continue to experience these heavy rains.

CHURCH: And as you've been speaking with us, we were looking at those aerial shots, and also the people being rescued. And you mentioned all of the challenges that lie ahead. It is difficult to sort of understand how you can sustain some of the care that's needed for all of the survivors who have lost homes, they've lost everything.

BUTTERS: Yes, that's right. The team has been working literally day and night on the ground since the landfall of the cyclone. Our team is working with the government and there's a really good coordinated effort on the part of a humanitarian community to basically work together and come up with a clear strategy of the best way of addressing these problems.

And as you say, accessing the population affected is going to be one of the biggest challenges. People have lost everything. They've been displaced from their homes; their homes have been washed away. They've been clinging on for life in trees, on rooftops. And trying to find a -- trying to develop a system whereby we can access the maximum amount of people, is the current challenge that we're working on.

CHURCH: And how many people would you estimate you still haven't been able to make contact with do you think?

BUTTERS: Our search and rescue effort are ongoing. It's really difficult to put a number on that. But I think the search and rescue efforts are going to be continuing for a number of days.

And we expect the situation of the flooding probably to get worse. So now our key part of the response as we move forward over the next few days. It's too early and too difficult to put a number on exactly how many people are still missing.

CHURCH: Right. And again, as we speak, we're looking at some of these images, and its total devastation in some of those areas, so much has lost. It will take a long time, moths, possibly even years to return to some sort of normalcy.

Saul Butters, thank you so much for talking with us from CARE, Mozambique. We appreciate it.

So, let's bring in our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri who's been keeping a close eye on this issue. And the problem, Pedram, is that, more rain is on the way, isn't it?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. We are in the heart of the wet season, so additional rain is going to be the concern.

Rosie, one thing really important to note here is the wind speed with the storm almost exactly identical to hurricane Irma that impacted the United States in 2017. The difference of course, is that we had the large evacuations, potentially in U.S. history in advance of that storm system.

And the largest in parts of the Bahamas, and then of course in this portion of Mozambique, potentially not the case. As you see the devastation left behind there and the folks that are impacted.

But thunderstorm still at this hour across this particular region. This is a monsoonal trough that has parked in place, so that's going to be the concern over the next several weeks before conditions begin improving.

We exit but it's currently the wet season in the area, but much of the heaviest rainfall north there at this hour and that is what we're watching here at the next couple of days.

Notice some of the totals here pretty impressive, 50 to 100 millimeters still possible. Work your way farther into northern Mozambique as much as 200 millimeters. But Beira still gets in at least some say 25 to 50 millimeters over the next couple of days.

And this is the heart of the wet season. But you notice going into April, May, and June it drops off rather sharply. So, this is kind of culminating what has already been a very wet pattern in recent months across this region.

But look at this. A storm surge with the storm as it moves ashore up to four meters high. It came ashore at 1 a.m. on Friday morning. With that we have high-tide taking place of four meters storm surge on a low-lying coastal area. It certainly leads to devastation.

And a lot of folks wondering if this is something that we see, often across this part of the world. Now often we mention Mozambique in tropical cyclones and that is because typically two to three cycles of such magnitude impact this area every decade, so certainly that not something that is unheard of but certainly not something that we see every single day either.

And you work your way towards the south, it is that time of year. We've got Cyclone Trevor. We've Cyclone Veronica sitting there back towards Broom. And these areas are very much on alert right now. In fact, power across portions on the York peninsula of Northern

Australia there, and also Northern Queensland, I should say, have been knocked out as the storm system now reemerges over the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Everything in the works here for the storm to intensify the next couple of days could get to a category four equivalent but moves this way towards an area that is sparsely populated by say Friday afternoon with heavy rainfall and some powerful winds there.

[03:24:59] But back towards the west, there is a secondary system. And this is Cyclone Veronica that's sitting west of Broom and Port Hedland. It's very similar with this one. It gets up to a category four equivalent, works its way just west of Port Hedland.

These areas also been alerted of a significant storm in the work. So, certainly, a busy pattern right now across portions of the world, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, absolutely, a lot to cover there. Pedram, thank you so much for staying on all of it.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, a fire that started in a single holding tank near Houston, Texas now looks like this. Seven tanks filled with gas, oil and other chemicals are now burning for a third day in a row. And dangerous substances are being released into the air.

Our Ed Lavandera is at the scene with the details.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's not clear when the fire here at the Intercontinental Terminal Company, or ITC, will be put out. This is the fire that you see behind me, it has been burning since Sunday, and it's not exactly clear officials don't know don't when it will be put out.

But it has sent a gigantic plume of smoke over the city, essentially casting an eerie shadow over all of this. This plume of smoke carries on for dozens and dozens of kilometers, across this part of Southeast Texas.

We have driven underneath it and it almost looks like nightfall as you pass underneath this plume of smoke that is covering so much of this gigantic city here in Southeast Texas.

There have been a number of communities in the surrounding areas that have canceled after-school activities, where children are going to be president. There is a great deal of concern about the air quality.

And even though government officials, and company officials with ITC say that air quality is safe, there are many people who are very skeptical of that given the kind of products that are burning in this massive fire that you see behind me.

So that is something they continue to monitor as many people here quickly hoping that this fire will essentially burn itself out, that's what firefighters here are essentially left to do, is try to contain it, to keep other structures another tanks of chemicals from catching fire.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Deer Park, Texas

CHURCH: Amnesty International is accusing the U.S. military of causing civilian deaths in a series of air strikes in Somalia. The strikes came in 2017 and 2018 after President Trump ease restrictions on the use of air power in the east African nation.

The Amnesty report alleges 14 civilians were killed, and eight injured in the air campaigns. The Pentagon denies the allegations, saying the targets were affiliated with the al-Shabaab militant group, and that efforts are made to keep civilian safe.

We'll take a short break here. Still to come, Donald Trump is still feuding with John McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think that's disgraceful, plus there are other things. I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Why President Trump is still going after the late U.S. senator.

And, newly released court documents show the president's personal attorney was a target of the Russia investigation very early on. We'll explain when we return.

[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom, I'm Rosemary Church. We want to check the headlines for you this hour. New Zealand's Prime Minister says, she will be announcing her planned for gun control reform soon, at a news conference following her meeting with first responders. Jacinda Ardern said there are many loopholes that need to be fixed. The first funeral has been held for two of the 50 victims of the mass shootings.

Britain's Prime Minister is appealing to the European Union for a Brexit delay with the deadline now just nine days away, but an increasingly impatient E.U. says it needs a concrete plan from Theresa May, and the British parliament, before agreeing to any extension.

Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe are coming to grips with the death and destruction caused by cyclone Idai. Officials say at least 200 people in Mozambique were killed in the storm, but that number is expected to rise. Some inland areas remain underwater and cut off.

Well, U.S. President Donald Trump peddled a new theory on social media, disrespected of the memory of a fellow Republican, and attacked the mainstream media, all while flanked by the so-called Trump of the tropics, Brazil's President, Jair Bolsonaro.

CNN's Jim Acosta has the latest now from the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lashing on to a new conspiracy theory, President Trump accused the world's biggest social media companies of engaging in what describes as collusion to attack conservatives.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is collusion with respect to that, because something has to be going on. Something is happening with those groups of folks that are running Facebook and Google and Twitter, and I do think that we have to get to the bottom of it.

ACOSTA: The president said, he supported an effort by Californian Republican Congressman, Devin Nunes, to sue Twitter, accusing the tech giant of having a political agenda. Complaining of anonymous parody accounts that have mocked him. Standing with Brazil's leader, Jair Bolsonaro, who has been dubbed the Trump of the tropics and uses the Trump's fake news himself, the president use the opportunity to once again slam the American press.

TRUMP: You look at the networks. You look at the news, you look at the newscasts, I call it fake news, I'm very proud to hear the president use the term fake news, but you look at what's happening with the networks, you look at what's happening with different shows and it's hard to believe we win, it's a very, very dangerous situation. So, I think, I agree. I think something has to be looked at very closely.

ACOSTA: The president made the complaints despite having a powerful social media presence that supported by conservative news outlets. Just today, Mr. Trump tweeted to his nearly 60 million followers, the fake news media has never been more dishonest or corrupt than it is right now. Fake news is the absolute enemy of the people and our country itself. Bolsonaro was asked by the conservative website, the Daily Caller, whether Democrats in the U.S. are supporting socialist causes.

JAIR BOLSONARO, PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL (through translator): We will respect whatever the ballots tell us on 2020, but I do believe Donald Trump is going to be reelected fully.

ACOSTA: Earlier in the day, the president defended his recent tweetstorm attacking John McCain. Saying he'll never forget the late Senators vote against repealing Obamacare.

TRUMP: I think that's disgraceful, plus there are other things. I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be. Thank you very much everybody! Thank you.

ACOSTA: The president also weighed in on the husband of White House counsel Kellyanne Conway, George Conway, whose question whether Mr. Trump is mentally ill, tweeting total loser! On his tweets about the president, George Conway told the Washington Post, the mendacity, the incompetence is just maddening to watch.

The tweeting is just a way to get it out of the way, so I can get it off my chest and move on with my life that day. That's basically it. Frankly, so I don't end up screaming at her about it! The president made it clear, he's ready for the 2020 election, teeing off on Democratic cause to expand the Supreme Court.

TRUMP: No, I wouldn't entertain that, the only reason is that they are doing that, because they want to show and catch up, so if they can't catch up through the ballot box by winning an election, they want to try doing it in a different way.

ACOSTA: The president also weighed in on the crisis in Venezuela, repeating that all options are on the table. Mr. Trump did tell Bolsonaro that he is making Brazil a major non-NATO ally of the U.S., but both leaders were really in sync not just on Venezuela, but on a whole range of topics, the Brazilian president was all, but fawning over Mr. Trump, as he use the term fake news.

[03:35:01] The attacks on the press were just the latest sign that the president's rhetoric aimed at the news media here in the U.S. is spreading across the globe when Bolsonaro used the term fake news, President Trump smiled. Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: Well, joining me now is Larry Sabato, he is director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. Always great to have you with us!

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Thank you so much, Rosemary.

CHURCH: So, President Trump just can't seem to shake his bitterness towards the late Senator John McCain, why is he obsessing over a man no longer with us? And why is this happening now, when so many other issues that need to be attended to?

SABATO: Well, I'm not a psychologist, I'm a political scientist, but I would say essentially, he can't help himself. This is a byproduct, maybe of narcissism or megalomania, continuing anger towards John McCain from beyond the grave? It's really hard to explain, and even some of President Trump's allies say that this is just outrageous. And it is outrageous!

CHURCH: Right. And of course, Mr. Trump also claims Twitter is rigged against conservatives, and not only that, he is also continuing his attack on the husband of his senior aide, Kellyanne Conway, calling him a total loser in response to George Conway questioning the president mental state. All this, as many around the world would like to hear him condemn white supremacy, and the attacks on the Muslim community in New Zealand. What is going on here do, you think?

SABATO: Again, it's the fact that Donald Trump cannot control his emotions, and essentially is going to do precisely what he wants to do. Even when it is not in his interests. You know, he has 59 million Twitter followers. Rosemary, he would not be president were not for Twitter. I don't determine what Twitter's policies are, but I am on a lot, and I don't see the bias that he sees.

They are tough on both sides, as they should be, when they go too far. As far as the Conway's are concerned, God forbid that a husband and wife would have very different opinions, and both be able to express it. So, I don't know what goes on in the Conway household, and I don't want to know, and I would hope most people believe the same.

CHURCH: Yes. Unfortunately, it is a distraction at this time. Let's go to the other side of the political aisle, and there is a new CNN poll out on the 2020 Democratic candidates, and the headline from that is, the California Senator, Kamala Harris, has experience an eight point jump to 12 percent, up against yet to be declared candidate, Joe Biden, at 28 percent, and Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders at 20 percent. What do you think is behind this new enthusiasm for Harris, and what might this mean for the presidential race do you think?

SABATO: Well, Senator Harris had a great launch. She had tremendous crowds in her home state of California and she also have good crowds, and good reaction in Iowa and New Hampshire. So, that certainly has helped her to move up in the polls, and as you noted, Joe Biden is still first, although he is well below 50 percent, and behind him is Bernie Sanders. Beto O'Rourke, also a new candidate, it's about where Kamala Harris is.

So, those are the four front runners, I really don't think there is a front runner, there are so many candidates, probably in the end 15 to 20. That you're going to have other people rise from the low levels of one or 2 percent, there are almost too many candidates to pull about. You can't mention all the names.

CHURCH: Right. Yes, and of course, the big question for Democrats is which candidate can be Donald Trump, because that is what they are looking for here. Who might that be, do you think in that mix?

SABATO: Actually, out of the 15 to 20 that I can imagine running, I can see six to 10, who under the right circumstances, could in fact be Trump. Now, those circumstances may not occur, maybe the economy continues to roar along, maybe Trump somehow learned to control himself more so that he doesn't generate so much animosity, that he doesn't need.

And there are other things that can happen this way, in one way or the other, but Trump has built an opposition, that actually is about 52. 53. 54 percent of the electorate. The best way for him to win is to have a strong third party candidate, who enables him to win with 45, 46 percent, just like he did in 2016.

CHURCH: Larry Sabato, always great to get your analysis. Thank you so much.

SABATO: Thank you so much, Rosemary.

CHURCH: A new series of disclosures show Robert Mueller had his eye on President Trump's personal attorney almost from the start of the Russia probe, Sara Murray has new details of the investigations.

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[03:40:05] SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Hundreds of pages of newly unsealed warrants revealing today that the special counsel's team was allowed to pour over years of Michael Cohen's emails and online data. From his time working for Donald Trump. Robert Mueller targeted Cohen, the president former lawyer and fixer soon after his appointment as special counsel in May 2017 and long before the FBI raided Cohen's home, office, and hotel room.

Investigators dug into Cohen's G-mail account as far back as 2015. As they search for evidence of illegal foreign lobbying, money laundering and other crimes. By February 2018, Mueller handed certain aspects of its investigation into Cohen, over to prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. Those prosecutors then sought additional phone and electronic data from Cohen.

According to the warrant, they were investigating a criminal violation of the campaign finance laws by Michael Cohen. A lawyer who holds himself out as the personal attorney for President Donald J. Trump. As detailed, there's probable cause to believe that redacted.

The FBI raided Cohen's properties in April 2018. Cohen later pleaded guilty in a Manhattan court house to making an illegal campaign contribution, and other crimes. In a new batch of documents details of the campaign finance schemes stretching almost 20 pages are completely redacted, a signal that the investigation into hush money payments to two women who allege affairs with Donald Trump remains ongoing.

The documents highlight the extraordinary lengths investigators went to uncover Cohen's illegal activity. On two separate occasions a judge approved Mueller's request to track the numbers of Cohen's incoming and outgoing calls. They also track the location of his cellphone, seeking a warrant for perspective and historical cellphone location information, and use of electronic technique commonly known as trigger fish to determine the location.

Investigators also subpoenaed Google, knew Cohen was communicating using text messages and encrypted messaging applications, WhatsApp, Signal and Dust and interviewed Cohen's former accountant, Jeffrey Getzel. Investigators also uncovered details about Cohen's consulting work, including seven payments from a company linked to a Russian oligarch, totaling over $0.5 million from January to August 2017. The first few months of the Trump administration.

Now of course everything we really want to know is hidden beneath those redactions, still a mystery, still an indication that there is an ongoing investigation that could potentially ensnare people who are still part of the Trump organization, part of Donald Trump inner circle, or perhaps there could still be an investigation in the future that could involve Donald Trump when he is no longer president. Sara Murray CNN Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHURCH: We'll take a short break here. Still to come on CNN

Newsroom, five years since annexing Crimea and it seems that Kremlins still has some big plans for the peninsula, but do they pose a threat to NATO and the U.S.? We'll take a look.

Plus, new details on a daring daylight raid of the North Korean embassy, blamed on a shadowy group apparently trying to topple Kim Jong-un. Back in a moment.

[03:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: It has been five years since Moscow's illegal annexation of Crimea and Russia's [resident Vladimir Putin marked the day unveiling new power plants and promising to upgrade the regime's infrastructure. But NATO and the U.S. are closely watching a Russian military buildup in the region with new Navy ships, missiles and war planes.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports now from Moscow.

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FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: New signs, the Kremlin might be moving nuclear capable forces to its bases right on NATO's doorstep. Just as Russia celebrates five years since the annexation of Crimea, Moscow confirming it recently flew TU-22 M3 bombers over the Black Sea.

Two lawmakers claiming the planes are now base there. The head of the parliament defense committee stating quote, the deployment of U.S. missile defense in Romania was a serious challenge in response to which the Russian defense ministry decided to deploy squadrons of long range TU-22m3 missile carrying bombers in Crimea, this step erratically change the balance of forces in the region.

To lawmakers and Russian officials press agencies later rebus course and denied that the TU-22m3 bombers or the nuclear capable Iskander M- medium range missile system wherever deployed to Crimea. But the national Security Council has shown its concern, tweeting quote, Russia's annexation of Crimea continues to pose a threat to our regional allies.

Tensions have been on the rise, between Russia and the U.S. and its allies in the Black Sea region. In November, Russia drawing widespread condemnation after its forces captured and arrested the crews of several Ukrainian naval ships and impounded the vessels. The U.S. has increasingly said, war ships to the Black Sea, to reassure its allies.

This week, NATO ripped into Moscow's increase military activity in Crimea. An alliance spokesman saying quote, we condemn Russia's ongoing and wide-ranging military buildup in Crimea, and are concerned by Russia's efforts and state of plans for further military buildup in the Black Sea region.

And the Russians say, they will not back down from their plans, to further fortify and expand their military hardware, and installation in the Black Sea despite American pressure. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: The last remaining soviet era head of state is leaving office. The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, announced his resignation Tuesday. He has been in power for almost 30 years and observers say he was a classic autocrat dominating political life there. But now, acting president has reportedly just propose changing the name of the capitol from Astana to Mazatlan.

We are learning more about a North Korean resistant group, apparently seeking to topple Kim Jong-un's regime. It's believe they raided North Korea's embassy in Spain last month, beat up people inside then took several items, including computers. Our Brian Todd, has more now on the attack and the group's motives.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a raid stunning in its audacity, an operation launch against one of Kim Jong-un's most important foreign embassies, all done in broad daylight. According to Spanish media reports, a group of assailants infiltrated North Korea's embassy in Madrid late last month. The perpetrators reportedly wear mask, restrained embassy's staff members, stole several items including computers, then got away in luxury vehicles.

BRUCE KLINGNER, FORMER CIA KOREA ANALYST: They barged in to an embassy and to overpower the people there and then hold them hostage and some reporting that they beat them, they put hoods over their heads of its incredibly brazen.

TODD: A source familiar with the incidents tells CNN, a mysterious North Korean dissident group called Cheollima Civil Defense is believe to be behind the attack.

[03:50:00] GREG SCARLATOIU, COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN NORTH KOREA: This is the only group we've known to be militant, action oriented, clearly against the Kim regime. And clearly keen on bringing down the Kim regime by any means available.

TODD: The Washington Post was first to report the involvement of Cheollima Civil Defense in the embassy raid in Madrid. In 2017, that group posted this video.

KIM HAN-SOL, KIM JONG NAM'S SON: My name is Kim Han-Sol, from North Korea, part of the Kim family, my father has been killed a few days ago.

TODD: This is the son of Kim Jong-Nam, Kim Jong-un's half-brother who was killed in the VX nerve gas attack at the Kuala Lumpur airport. A hit which South Korean and Malaysian officials accused Kim Jong-un of ordering, but which Kim's regime denied. When it first posted the video, Cheollima Civil Defense said Kim Jong-Nam's son and his family were transmitting from a secret location and feared for their lives.

HAN-SOL: We hope that this gets better soon. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This organization, somehow spirited out of Macau,

they've been harboring or protecting him.

TODD: Back in Madrid, Spanish authorities confirmed to CNN, an investigation is underway, but they are not giving any other information. The way took place on February 22nd, just days before President Trump's second summit with Kim Jong-un in Hanoi.

Experts say, given that it's doubtful the U.S. would have risk being involved. U.S. Intelligence is not commenting on what happened in Spain, or on this shadowy group. Still, analyst say, if Cheollima Civil Defense was behind the raid, and if they did steal computers, what they took could be valuable to U.S. Intelligence.

SCARLATOIU: The North Korean embassy in Madrid has been identified by experts as a hub of illicit activity. Running contraband, running arms, selling arms to hot conflict areas all over the world. And also, procuring luxury goods aimed to keep Kim Jong-un's elites content and happy.

TODD: Another reason why Western Intelligence might benefit from information on computers taken in that raid? A top North Korean officials named Kim Yok Chol, now Kim Jong-un's point man in nuclear negotiations with the United States was until recently posted to that North Korea embassy in Madrid.

The Cheollima Civil Defense group has just posted a statement on its website, neither confirming nor denying any involvement in that raid on the North Korean embassy in Madrid. The group asked the media and others to keep the identities of its members a secret, if anyone learns those names. Analyst say, there is no doubt that Kim Jong-un's regime has its operatives tracking members of this group all over the world, likely trying to kill them. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: And next year on CNN Newsroom, one perk of being presidents gifts from foreign dignitaries. And they range from lavish to a little crazy. We'll take a look. Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: OK, so what do you call something that really wants to leave, but is paralyzed by fear at the very last minute, and blames everything on you when it finally gets what it wants? Well, you call it Brexit! A French newspaper claimed France's European affairs minister had renamed her cat Brexit.

In a Facebook post she wrote the cat wakes her up every morning, meowing to death, because he wants to go out. Then, when she opens the door, he stops undecided and gives her an evil look, when she puts him out, but it turns out, her story was just a joke.

[03:55:12] She says, she doesn't even owned a cat. But it takes a sense of humor to deal with Brexit. Very clever. While the Brexit cat was a fake, the Brexit mouse is real. A man in

South West England caught the rodent on camera, stockpiling nuts, bolts, and screws in his garden shed clearly getting ready for any shortages the U.K. might face if it crashes out on the E.U.

OK, so, etiquette 101, a good guess never shows up empty-handed, but what do you get the hard to shop for you as president. Jeanne Moss, takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh great! A soccer jersey? Just with a pair of presidents need, but there have been way more exciting presidential gifts, like the pair of komodo dragons, Indonesia presented to President George H.W. Bush. The president re-gifted the lizards to the Cincinnati Zoo.

Most things are worth more than 390 bucks, end up in the national archives. President Reagan receive 372 belt buckles, and a bunch of saddles, including this ornate one (ph) from Algeria's president. Britain's Prime Minister and President Obama once got memorably whip at ping-pong, so David Cameron gave Obama ping-pong table. And remember the soccer ball President Putin gave President Trump?

TRUMP: It will go to my son Baron. We have no question, in fact Melania, here you go.

MOOS: A reporter at the summit noted, I just saw a U.S. secret service agent put the soccer ball through a security scanner, but they didn't try that with the Komodo dragons. Even if it's just a ball of shamrocks (ph) from the Irish Prime Minister, a president has to look pleased, if not bowled over.

Artist tend to send one of the kind items, like this Barbara Bush chair, a portrait of Reagan made out of 10,000 jelly beans, and a portrait of JFK carved into a peach pit.

President Clinton received a figure of himself playing the sacks, but one Azerbaijan leader gave the Clinton's their portraits on a rug, this may well have been the look on Bill's face, faced with this gift. Just peachy! Jeanne Moss, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: Lots to choose from. Thanks for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church, remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter. The news continues with Max Foster in London. You're watching CNN. Have a great day.

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