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New Zealand To Ban Military-Style Assault Rifles; Rescuers Race to Save Victims in Mozambique; New Revelations about Lion Air Disaster; Theresa Mays Has Urging Lawmakers To Once Again Back Her Brexit Deal; 51 Students Escape Bus Set On Fire By Driver; U.S. Boosts Military Presence In Europe; President Escalates Feud With Aide's Husband. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired March 21, 2019 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to are viewers joining us from all around the world, I'm Rosemary Church for the next two and hours of CNN NEWSROOM. Let's get started.


JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: The time for the mass and easy availability of these weapons must end. And today they will.

CHURCH (voice-over): New Zealand's prime minister announcing plans to ban the weapons used in the country's deadliest shooting.

With eight days until Brexit, Theresa May is going back to Brussels with the request for a delay.

Plus new details on the FBI's involvement in a criminal investigation involving 737 MAX passenger jets.


CHURCH: Well, less than a week ago, a gunman attacked two mosques in New Zealand and killed 50 people. The prime minister has moved quickly to change the country's gun laws. Jacinda Ardern banned all semiautomatic weapons and a buyback plan for gun owners.


ARDERN: Every semiautomatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned in this country. These changes will require legislation. That legislation is now being drafted and will be introduced. My expectation is that the law will be in place by the end of the next two weeks, which is by the 11th of April.


CHURCH: CNN's Ivan Watson is in Christchurch and he joins us now live. Ivan, the most significant part of this weapons ban is that it comes

so soon after the deadly terror attack and it's immediate.

How is this going to work?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, the prime minister said this would be coming and she made that announcement. It bans semiautomatic military style weapons, assault rifles, the parts to modify an existing firearms and make it more lethal and it bans high capacity magazines for ammunition.

How exactly does that go forward?

Well, they are already encouraging gun owners to voluntarily surrender their weapons. They've announced that there will be some kind of buybacks system. They say there will be kind of an online police registration system that will be introduced by this weekend so that gun owners can start to register their weapons for this program.

But it is dramatic and it's fast; this statement came from the head of New Zealand police.

COMMISSIONER MIKE BUSH, NEW ZEALAND POLICE: People who were prior to 3:00 pm in lawful possession of the firearms, such as semiautomatic assault rifles, are no longer lawfully in possession of those firearms.

Due to the categorization of the change, categorization. We as police want to do everything we can to make sure those people get to bring those firearms to surrender them to us and make it possible and possible quickly.


WATSON: So, Rosemary, this is really dramatic, what he's saying is that if you are a gun owner with a legal permit and you had one of these weapons prior to 3:00 pm today in New Zealand, suddenly you will be in possession of something illegal. But there will be a transition period for turning in these weapons.

The government estimates the buyback program could cost taxpayers between $69 million and $140 million U.S. And, of course, they seem to have looked at Australia and a previous buyback program in the 1990s as a potential model for what they hope to implement here.

CHURCH: You mentioned that, it does seem Ardern has been inspired by the model used by Australia in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre in Australia 1996. But there was resistance back then, before the buyback program to put them in place.

How much resistance can be expected in New Zealand as they work toward the legislation taking effect on April 11th?

WATSON: Hard to know right now. From everyone I've spoken to --

[02:05:00] WATSON: in Christchurch here, everyone seems to support new legislation to limit firearms in this country. But by police statistics, there are somewhere between 1.2 million and 1.5 million guns and New Zealand for a country of a population of just over 5 million. That's one gun for every three or four people in this country.

So you have a lot of gun owners, who will potentially be impacted. We don't know how many of these firearms fall into the new qualification that have been listed. Authorities have said that there will be exemptions. There a lot of farmers in New Zealand, for example. There will be exemptions for pest control and for some sporting and hunting, for duck hunting, for example.

But they've made it clear, that they want these firearms to have low capacity for ammunition. Not to fire more than five rounds at a time for example, to make them far less lethal against human beings.

CHURCH: And, of course, Ivan, the world is watching New Zealand taking the lead on this issue, particularly back here in the United States. Ivan, with that live report from Christchurch, we will check with you next hour.

Prime Minister Theresa May came into office promising to deliver on her country's Brexit referendum now admits she's failed. With eight days until the deadline, she's getting back to Brussels to ask the European Union to delay Brexit for three months until June 30th.

The E.U. might approve the extension if the prime minister and the Parliament can find agree on a deal. But with the lawmakers still divided on how, when and if they even want to leave, Ms. May is putting all the blame on them.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It is high time we made a decision. So far Parliament has done everything possible to avoid making a choice. Motion after motion and amendment after amendment has been tabled, without Parliament ever deciding what it wants.

All MPs have been willing to say is what they do not want. I passionately hope MPs will find a way to back the deal that I negotiated with the E.U., a deal that delivers on the result of the referendum and is the very best deal negotiable.


CHURCH: CNN's Melissa Bell joins us now from Brussels.

So, Melissa, it's a really interesting strategy to attack the very lawmakers that May will need support from for this deal, if she is to get an extension from the E.U.

And if she can't a no deal Brexit is even more likely, isn't?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is, it's just a day and a week away from that catastrophic Brexit, that it is so close now it kicks in a week tomorrow. So with the time ticking presumably May's strategy is to add pressure to the 75 MPs who would vote in favor of her deal.

The step is here in Brussels where European Union leaders will be meeting, not for negotiations that the president, Jean-Claude Juncker has been stressing in front of German media, but rather to talk about the hows and the whens.

This sticking point May needs to iron out today and tomorrow, if that extension is given, how long should that extension last?

She requested up until the 1st of June; the European Union said it needs to happen before 23rd of May. That's the beginning of the European election process and they believe that the U.K. would have to be out of the European Union to not be taken into that sort of process itself.

That will be up to negotiations. But even then, they have to get a decision, Rosemary. Because what European leaders are saying now that they are so fed up with having agreed to things and then got knocked down by Westminster.

They said they'd discuss it today but, look, once you've been back to Parliament and gotten a deal for this extension, we will then formerly grant it. So what as to what happens in Westminster and to Theresa May. And they say it is up to the U.K. lawmakers.

Whether or not that is even possible at this stage is the big question as we look ahead to March 29th.

CHURCH: It certainly is and it's not looking great at this point. Melissa Bell, reporting from Brussels, thanks.

Rescue workers in Mozambique are frantically trying to save thousands of victims of Tropical Cyclone Idai. The port city of --


CHURCH: -- Beira is cut off from the outside world and much is left underwater. Many survivors are waiting on rooftops and hoping for rescue.

Our Farai Sevenzo has the details.


FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Several days after cyclone Idai struck Southeast Africa, enormous damage left in its wake is proven difficult to quantify. Villages and communities in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, still don't know how many had been killed.

Mozambique port city of Beira submerged and battered. In rural areas, rivers have burst their banks, creating an inland ocean and leaving untold numbers (inaudible). Waiting for the miracle of survival, they stand on rooftops for reach of higher branches. This man clinging to a tree was rescued, Shimane Mane (ph) in Zimbabwe, mudslides that buried people in their sleep. Muddy waters destroyed bridges and disappeared road networks. As rescue efforts for those still alive continue many are still in accessible and aid agencies to have their hands full.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you can see around us, it is atrocious weather conditions, the weather is still persisting and despite that everybody is helping and we are offloading 20 tons of cargo manually by hand, because the equipment has been destroyed by the cyclone.

SEVENZO: Mozambique's president Filipe Nyusi says this disaster of enormous proportions may claim more than a thousand lives in his country. That estimate may prove staggeringly low, given the long stretches of n Southern Africa, the cyclone hit. And for those rescued, there is only more trauma and anxiety. This young woman is struggling to accept that she may now be a widow. Because her family and husband were left behind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): There's no way to save them, all of them. The rescue team told us to get in the helicopter, but all our relatives stayed there.

SEVENZO: As humanitarian disasters go, cyclone Idai may prove to be the worst for the African continent. Their questions now as Mozambique experienced is extreme heat and whether bodies not recovered would lead to the crisis of disease. Questions too over food security for the region. Cyclone Idai struck just before the harbor season. And with questions of debate of a climate change.

Africans are asking, is this the new normal. Can a cyclone of such ferocious power strike again? What is certain know, is that in this rainy season another month of rain is set to fall on this drowning lands -- Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Maputo, Mozambique.


CHURCH: We will take a short break here but, still to come, new details on what happened aboard one of the Boeing 747 MAX planes involved in a deadly crash, including how a human pilot saved the same plane just a day before it went down. Back in just a moment.





CHURCH: Well, we were talking before the break about the cyclone that devastated several countries in Southeast Africa. For more on all this I'm joined by Marco Tamburro. He's program director for the nonprofit organization Humanity and Inclusion.

Thank you so much for being with us. MARCO TAMBURRO, HUMANITY AND INCLUSION: Nice to be here.

CHURCH: We understand that aid supplies have arrived at the airport in Beira but they haven't been distributed yet.

Why is that?

And what are some of the options that you've been looking at, to try to get these supplied to those most in need?

TAMBURRO: Yes, unfortunately, we are already aware that the supplies are there. The road that's -- we are in the middle of the cyclone (INAUDIBLE) phase. But the issue that in Beira's airport (INAUDIBLE) where the U.N. donors (ph) and NGOs.

But the issue that is that 80-90 percent of the city of Beirut is totally cut off. And there's a massive flood almost everywhere. So the distribution in order to respond quickly for the flooding security and even the state water and for (INAUDIBLE) distribution, we have to wait for the last cycling to stop in the (INAUDIBLE).

CHURCH: And as you mentioned, we're looking at more heavy rain in the forecast. Let's look at the impact that it's having on survivors. Some of these people have lost their homes.

What's their situation in terms of shelter, in terms of access to clean water, food and any medicine?

What is happening to them?

TAMBURRO: U.N. agencies are working on this, especially WFP, has contingency stock in Beira and they are already working for distributions. But as I say, we estimate that 141,000 displaced people in the city of Beira. And we're not (INAUDIBLE) about the rural areas, because the city is still very cut off in terms of roads and even for the airport.

So NGOs and the U.N. agencies are working for a big preparedness response that also here in Maputo, there is an emergency deployment of (INAUDIBLE) so that emergency humanitarian (INAUDIBLE) and even the government is working on this.

For (INAUDIBLE), bigger focus is with people with (INAUDIBLE) big issues to be assisted in this kind of crisis. So we're working on this and we are assisting also the people (INAUDIBLE).

CHURCH: So many challenges. We commend you and your organization for doing all you possibly can at this time. Marco Tamburro, thank you so much for joining us.


CHURCH: Well, Boeing and the U.S. Federal Administration are under intense scrutiny after two deadly crashes involving the same type of aircraft. And now, we've learned the U.S. Justice Department has issued subpoenas as part of a criminal investigation into the way Boeing was regulated by the FAA.

Now it's not clear what if any crime have been committed. But CNN sources say investigators are looking at exactly how Boeing certified the 737 MAX planes as safe and the data it gave the FAA about that self certification.

In response, Boeing says it does not respond to or comment on questions concerning legal matters.

In the meantime, a new report details the final desperate moment for the flight crew of last year's doomed Lion Air flight in Indonesia. As investigators search for possible links between that crash and last week's Ethiopian Airlines tragedy, here's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For nine terrifying minutes, the cockpit recorder captures the crew fighting to pull up the plane that has repeatedly diving toward the sea.

Scouring the operations manual for any explanation, apparently unaware they are battling an on board computer that is forcing --


FOREMAN (voice-over): -- those dives. This is what Reuters is reporting tonight from sources familiar with the Lion Air crash off in Indonesia last fall. Reuters says that the crew seemed oblivious to the fact that tail was automatically tilting. They didn't seem to know the trim was moving down. They thought only about air speed and altitude.

In the final moments, Reuters say one pilot issued a short prayer before the crash killed all 189 people aboard. Boeing and Indonesian authorities are not commenting, but analyst say the training was insufficient.

PETER GOELZ, FORMER NSTB MANAGING DIRECTOR: It must have been just horrifying in the cockpit for these professionals. I mean, you know, it's been stated or should have been a memory item. Well, clearly it wasn't,

FOREMAN: Once more, Bloomberg reports that same Lion Air jet had the same problem one day before and were save because an off-duty pilot in the cockpit told the crew to cut power to that automatic system. Still the plane took off again.

DAVID SOUCIE, FORMER FAA SAFETY INSPECTOR: This is what I call a flight it and watch it kind of attitude. But that should not have occurred here, this was replicable and I can understand while at least it wasn't test flown or brought up in the ramp and test it again.

FOREMAN: It all raises troubling questions about the fatal Ethiopia jet crash which authorities say looks a lot like the Lion Air disaster. Why did Boeing design that anti-stall software to rely on only one sensor? Why were pilots not getting more pointed warnings and more extensive training and where was the Federal Aviation Administration.

JEAN PAUL TROADEC, FORMER PRESIDENT, FRENCH AVIATION SAFETY AGENCY: What happens in fact is that the measures were taken by Boeing after the first (inaudible), were not in us to avoid a certain accident.

FOREMAN: In the defense of Boeing, some analysts are pointing out that this type of plane has taken off and landed safely tens of thousands of times since the Lion Air crash, but for the worldwide aviation community, that is simply not enough at this point. They're saying that Boeing has to prove the planes are safe before they can carry passengers again. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.



CHURCH: Joining me now a CNN transportation analyst, Mary Schiavo, she is a former inspector general at the U.S. Department of Transportation. And she is now practicing law and represents crash victims and currently has litigation pending against Boeing. It's always good to have you with us.


CHURCH: Now I do want to start with some new information that we have, the Federal Aviation Administration just announced that Boeing has developed a software patch and pilot training program to address the problems associated with the Boeing's 737 Max identified in the October Lion Air crash. How far does that go to fixing this problem as far as you're concerned? Would that make you feel safe getting on this plane?

SCHIAVO: No and I don't think that is going to be enough for the regulators and, certainly not for the investigators who are now investigating Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration. You know, Boeing was working on that software patch after the Lion Air and then when Ethiopian Airlines went down the FAA quickly entered an order saying, they have to have it then by April. But in that FAA order has indicated that it might not have been done, even in that time.

And so, now with the question about the software and the training and how many things went wrong. I think that that won't necessarily be approve. There's still some issues about the software, was it the right fix for this tendency of the plane to pitched nose up and so then they put the software to pitch the nose back down.

And if the training specified is enough and people probably, I think that it would be determined that it was not enough. That you got to have hands on simulator training. So, well, it's a step forward, I don't think this will be enough and it won't be approved.

CHURCH: All right. And were also learning that the Justice Department prosecutors have issued multiple subpoenas. As part of an investigation into Boeing FAA's certification and marketing of 737 Max airliners involved in the Ethiopia and the Indonesian disasters. What would you expect to come out of that investigation?

SCHIAVO: I think that is a really important development, because so often in this government investigations and certainly when I was inspector general, I often had issues, subpoenas and warrants against our own government, against the FAA, because they weren't forthcoming. So the fact that they're resorting right out of the box, to subpoenas and using the powers of the United States Department of Justice and the FBI has also joined into.

That it means that the information they get won't be filtered. Sometimes government agencies give you what they want you to have. And stood of all the documents they've asked for and so what they're executing both subpoenas and eventually I would assume some warrants. Then they have a better chance of getting all the documents and the details. And really painting --


SCHIAVO: -- a better picture, a much more robust and probably more straightforward picture.

CHURCH: Mary Schiavo, thank you so much for joining us, we appreciate it.

SCHIAVO: Thank you.


CHURCH: We will take a short break here, still to come, playing the blame game. Theresa May lashes out of Parliament as the E.U. offers a possible lifeline with one major condition: to keep the U.K. from crashing out.



TRUMP: What you think of McCain?

What do you think?

Not my kind of guy, I've never liked him much, hasn't been for me.

CHURCH (voice-over): President Trump ramping up his war of words against an honest-to-goodness war hero who died months ago.



[02:31:13] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church, I want to update you now on the main stories we're watching this hour. New Zealand move quickly to change its gun laws less than a week after the mosque attacks that killed 50 people. Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern has announced a ban on assault style rifles. The government also plans to create by back and amnesty programs for owners of these semi-automatic weapons.

In Mozambique, rescue workers are scrambling to save survivors of Cyclone Idai. Some victims have climbed to rooftops or trees to escape the floodwater and wait for help. Malawi and Zimbabwe are also dealing with the aftermath of the disaster.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is urging lawmakers to once again back her Brexit deal as she heads back to Brussels to ask the E.U. for a delay until June 30th. The E.U. has warned against extending the deadline beyond May 23rd to avoid the U.K. having to take part in Europe's Parliamentary elections. Joining me now from Brussels, New York Times Chief Diplomatic Correspondent, Steven Erlanger.

Steven, always good to see you and talk about this issue. So, that E.U. has said it won't grant an extension without a deal and there's little interested in supporting Theresa May's Brexit deal as it stands. So, how this likely to play all do you think?

STEVEN ERLANGER, NEW YORK TIMES CHIEF DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Well I think Theresa May's government and the European Commission have colluded to try to create as much pressure on Parliament as possible. It passed this deal next week, which is why the E.U. has said we will grant an extension but only if you pass this deal. Now if she doesn't get it pass and her address to the nation last night, I don't think helped her in her effort to get it pass because she seemed to offend the very parliamentarians that she wants and mean.

And that doesn't happen then we're going to be in the crisis. Then I think there will be another E.U. Summit just before March 29th, maybe even on the 28th and my guess is then they will grant her a longer extension but since she said she doesn't want a longer extension it raises the question of whether she is going to let that happened after resign or be thrown out, whether there will be a general election.

Everything's to play for them, but for the moment it seems everyone is placing their chips such as it is on the hope that Parliament will finally pass her deal that would be the simplest solution.

CHURCH: Right. And of course eight days to go to the deadline with a no-deal exit looking more and more likely though if this strategy doesn't work and that's exactly what Brexiteers want. What would be the consequences of crashing out?

ERLANGER: Well, I think they'd be miserable for everybody frankly. I mean, yes, what some Brexiteers want a no-deal Brexit but they are a very small minority inside the Parliament. The Parliament does not and his back voted against having a no-deal Brexit. So, my guess is the E.U. doesn't want either and that if this all fails her third and perhaps last vote. Then there will be an extension very late fall for midnight. But it May spell the end of Theresa May as premiership.

CHURCH: And it's interesting when you say, I mean, it's your opinion that the E.U. and Prime Minister Theresa May have colluded to put pressure on the British Parliament, have you got any evidence for that? [02:35:07] ERLANGER: Yes. I've been talking to people, it is quite

evident that top negotiators have been talking to each other. It's easiest for the E.U. after all they're negotiated the deal with Theresa May's government over many, many, many, many months. Nobody wants to start it all over again. Everybody is sick of it. So, anything they can do this to get this passed, they will do.

And then they will deal with the crisis that occurs if they have been passed but they're trying to do everything they can to put pressure on the Parliament to pass this deal because if a no-deal goes through it's very bad for everyone.

CHURCH: Right.

ERLANGER: And if everything opens up, you know, with a long extension, you'll have a divided to a party, you can have a general election, possibly without a second referendum, they're be just months and months and months of real confusion and I think everyone if possible would like to avoid that.

CHURCH: Right. And as you mentioned, Prime Minister May attacked lawmakers just to -- when she actually needs them onside to support her Brexit deal, rather interesting strategy. Where does all that leave her leadership going forward you think?

ERLANGER: I think it's coming to an end. I mean, I think people are really -- I just think she gets the tone wrong. She often gets the tone wrong whether it's in a room of other leaders or whether it's inner her speeches to the nation, her cabinet is losing faith in her. The E.U. has -- is losing faith and her ability to get done what she promises to do and clearly it's out of her hands now, it really is with the Parliament.

Now saying she's with the people and challenging the integrity of her members of Parliament I think was, you know, a total mistake. I understand it. She is frustrated her whole career it depends on this. But the fact is I think she offended more them than she really needed to.

CHURCH: It was an extraordinary moment, wasn't it? In this whole process and it -- that saying something. Steven Erlanger, thank you so much for your analysis.

ERLANGER: Thanks, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Well, the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland insists on an unbreakable bond with mainland United Kingdom. But, as Nic Robertson reports some in country are worried the DUP might not stick up for them when it matters most.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: This is DUP heartland territory, the Democratic Unionists Party are more voters here think could impact Theresa May's final days of negotiations with the European Union. It is Lisburn, Northern Ireland third largest city, relatively prosperous, proudly loyal to mainland U.K. but increasingly worried about their plays in it. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are part of the U.K. and I see myself is part

of the U.K. but I don't know, because I don't want this, no. Does the U.K. want this? No. Maybe not, so it's quite worrying.

ROBERTSON: Do you think Theresa May is going to look after interest of the people of Northern Ireland?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she should because I don't think you should have saying that in the first place.

ROBERTSON: Many here are counting on the DUP to stake up for them ensure Northern Ireland's bonds to the U.K. remain unchanged.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) is kind of, they've got responsibility and I don't know where or without responsibility for them is going to be (INAUDIBLE)

ROBERTSON: Do you feel that Theresa May is not listening to the DUP at the minute?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think she is listening but she's back herself into a corner. If there was a deal that suited Theresa May she (INAUDIBLE)

ROBERTSON: And what political cause would that be for the DUP here do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it could be a very significant cost.

ROBERTSON: Some already sensing the DUP might abandon its red lines and shift blame to May's hardliners.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The DUP said there only 10 politicians and yet there is quite a few more on the same the thing as them, there's no more higher they could blame, DUP if things go do wrong.

ROBERTSON: And others contemplating what their parents' generation would never have done turning their back on the Unionists routes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we tried governing ourselves. We have tried being governed by Westminster, so maybe be the option is to be governed by Dublin.

ROBERTSON: United Island? You think the DUP is afraid of that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, of course. Of course, they are, of course they're going to kick out.

ROBERTSON: She was right about the anger, without any prompting, a passerby jumps in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of what you think or what you say. (CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's not what I said.

[02:40:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no. No matter what you think, they'll never be united Ireland in our lifetime.

ROBERTSON: I was going to ask you that question in your lifetime do you think it will happen?


ROBERTSON: Yes. And why? And you're laughing?


ROBERTSON: Were unionists were once united a Pandora's Box has been opened. The DUP, Theresa May, the E.U. will struggle to put a lid on it. Nic Robertson CNN, Lisburn, Northern Ireland.


CHURCH: Well U.S. President Donald trump is again going after former Senator and war hero John McCain. He's also attacking the husband of White House Aide, Kellynne Conway, all this as the President claims to be OK with the Mueller report being made public. Abby Phillip is traveling with the President.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let it come out, let people see it.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A change of tone from President Trump, who now says he wants the public to see the Mueller report.

TRUMP: I think it's ridiculous but I want you to see the report and you know who want to see it? The tens of millions of people that love the fact that we have the greatest economy we've ever had.

PHILLIP: This coming, weeks after the President suggested his willingness for transparency would depend on what's in it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You wouldn't have a problem if it became in public?

TRUMP: Excuse me. Excuse me, that's up to the attorney general, I don't know, it depends, I have no idea what it's going to say.

PHILLIP: But Trump isn't giving up his attacks on Robert Mueller.

TRUMP: But it sort of interesting that a man out of the blue just writes a report, I know that he's conflicted and I know that his best friend is Comey who is a bad cop, and I know that there are other things. PHILLIP: The President insisted this afternoon that he has no inside

information about the timing of the report. But he has expressed confidence in his new Attorney General William Barr to make the final call.

TRUMP: I have no idea when it's going to be released. Now at the same time let it come out, let people see it. That's up to the Attorney General we have a very good Attorney General, he's a very highly respected man and we'll see what happens.

PHILLIP: Trump's attack on the Mueller probe comes as he launched into an unprompted rant, against the late Senator John McCain at a tank factory in Lima, Ohio today.

TRUMP: I have to be honest I've never liked him them much, hasn't been for me. I've really probably never will.

PHILLIP: Blaming McCain for his handling of the dossier.

TRUMP: John McCain received a fake and phony dossier. And what did he do, he didn't call me, he turned it over to the FBI hoping to put me in jeopardy.

PHILLIP: As the crowd listened silently, Trump evoked McCain's funeral last summer in Washington.

TRUMP: And I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted which as President I had to approve. I don't care about this. I did get a thank you, that's OK.

PHILLIP: Trump also feuding with the husband of his top aide Kellyanne Conway after husband George questioned Trump's mental stability.

TRUMP: He's a wacked job, there's no question about it but I really don't know him. He -- I think he's doing a tremendous disservice to our wonderful wife. Kellyanne is a wonderful woman and I call him Mr. Kellyanne. The fact is that he's doing a tremendous disservice to a wife and family, she's a wonderful woman.

PHILLIP: on the White House lawn and again at the tank factory in Ohio, Trump paused for some show and tell.

TRUMP: I brought this out for you because this is map of everything in the red. This was on election night in 2016.

PHILLIP: Months after he declared ISIS defeated and ordered his generals to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria the President acknowledged that some 400 troops would remain, but today he insisted that ISIS is nearly gone.

TRUMP: Everything red is ISIS, when I took it over it was a mess. Now on the bottom that's the exact same, there is no red. In fact it's actually a tiny spot which will be gone by tonight.

PHILLIP: As President Trump spoke in this room it's was virtually silent as he attack Senator John McCain. There were several members of the military in the audience. One of them I could see from were stood, he stood stoically as the President attacks went on and on. Meantime, many Republican Senator's back in Washington have said very little about the President's attacks on one of their own.

But one of those Republican Senator, Senator Johnny Isakson did speak out, he called the President's comments deplorable. Abby Philip, CNN Lima, Ohio.


[02:44:51] CHURCH: And we'll take another short break here. Still to come. The U.S. military is sending a message to Vladimir Putin on the fifth anniversary of his move into Crimea but is the Russian leader even listening? We'll take a look at that.


CHURCH: In Milan, Italy 51 students barely escape with their lives after the driver of their bus set it on fire. They were on the return leg of a school trip when the driver announced he was hijacking the bus. He then poured gasoline, lit it, and crashed the bus into a car.

Police arrived moments later, rescuing the students and teachers just before the bus was consumed by flames. The driver reportedly said he was protesting Italy's immigration policy.

Well, it's been five years since Russia grab the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, bringing the Russian military closer to the west of Europe. In an effort to deter further aggression, the U.S. is boosting its military presence there. But, is Russia listening? CNN's Barbara Starr takes a look at that.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Call it a possible message to Vladimir Putin. The U.S. military can quickly deploy to Europe to stop Russian aggression.

In just the last few days, six B-52 bombers, the Air Force says, nuclear-capable bomber arriving in the UK. 1,500 army troops suddenly in Europe on short notice.

On their way to Poland, for armor and artillery exercises. And it's all happening as the Russian president traveled to Crimea to mark the fifth anniversary of Russia's military annexation.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Today, another important step has been taken to strengthen the energy security of the Crimean Peninsula and of the whole south of the Russian Federation.

STARR: The Pentagon has stepped up its military exercises to counter Russia, and Moscow clearly is not happy.

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: They will always take any kind of deployment of U.S. forces to Europe in a very negative way and they will be very verbal about it. They will message it, say that it's a threat to Russia, they have always done this.

STARR: Putin has stepped up his provocations in recent months, ramming a Ukrainian ship, and the U.S. has reacted consistently. Sailing ships and flying aircraft in Europe and Asia where Russia operates. But the top U.S. commander in Europe says it doesn't appear to be working.

GEN. CURTIS SCAPARROTTI, COMMANDER, UNITED STATES EUROPEAN COMMAND: I'm not comfortable yet with the deterrent posture that we have in Europe.

[02:50:03] STARR: And General Curtis Scaparrotti, says he is not getting what he needs from the Trump administration.

SCAPARROTTI: When you look at the -- both the building capability and the modernization of Russian forces that we face there, and then, finally, of concern is my intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance capacity. Given that increasing and growing threat of Russia.

STARR: So, the question always remains the same. The U.S. is sending a message, but is Vladimir Putin even listening? Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


CHURCH: And coming up after this short break.


TRUMP: I don't know, he's a whack job. There's no question about it. But I really don't know if he -- I think he's doing a tremendous disservice to a wonderful wife.


CHURCH: The president and the power couple. What Donald Trump has to say about the husband of one of his closest aides? We'll back in just a moment.


CHURCH: A total loser, a whack job, a husband from hell. Those are just a few of the things the president of the United States has called the husband of one of his closest aides.

In an administration where very little is now surprising, the Twitter feud between Donald Trump and George Conway as many people shaking their heads. Our Brian Todd has our report.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For a man who values loyalty above all, it is the ultimate loyalty test for Donald Trump, choosing him over a husband. TRUMP: He's a whack job. There's no question about it. But I really don't know if he -- I think he's doing a tremendous disservice to a wonderful wife.

TODD: Donald Trump has injected himself right into the middle of one of Washington's most public power couples, Trump's top advisor Kellyanne Conway and her husband George, a prominent conservative lawyer, and Trump critic. Escalating a simmering spat into an open and bitter battle.

It all began last weekend when George Conway responded to a Trump Twitter tirade by posting these pages from a psychological manual. Suggesting the president was suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. Trump responded, calling George Conway a total loser.

Up until then, the Conway's had rarely allowed the public to get a glimpse into how their disagreements over President Trump had affected the dynamic in their marriage. But by mid-week, all that changed.

George Conway telling the Washington Post Tuesday. He sent his tweets questioning the president's mental health, "So, I can get it off my chest. Frankly, it's so I don't end up screaming at her about it."

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: Even in a town where -- you know, power couples come under a lot of scrutiny, there is no precedent for anything like this. And when you inject the president of the United States right in the middle of a power couple marriage, you know, it's off the charts.

TODD: Trump responded on Wednesday, tweeting that George Conway is a stone-cold loser and husband from hell. Saying, George was "very jealous of his wife's success and angry that I with her help didn't give him the job he so desperately wanted."

The Washington Post reports that Kellyanne Conway, herself, had recently told people at a party that she and Trump think her husband is jealous of her. The crescendo has been building since Trump took office. George Conway, a staunch conservative who says he turned down a job in the administration started with vague tweets before eventually eviscerating the president. Accusing Trump of ceaseless, shameless, and witless prevarication.

Then, in November, he delivered his most colorful broadside on the Yahoo News podcast, Skulduggery.

[02:55:15] GEORGE CONWAY, HUSBAND OF KELLYANNE CONWAY: You know it's like the administration is like -- showing a dumpster fire.

TODD: Observers say, Kellyanne Conway, a survivor in an administration which doesn't have many has gotten where she is by avoiding talking about her husband's views and by understanding one fundamental truth about Donald Trump.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN COMMENTATOR: This is a man who measures everything with the metric that is about loyalty, about devotion to Donald Trump. TRUMP: Thank you --

TODD: Washington insiders say, Kellyanne may have answered just where her loyalties lie. Suggesting to POLITICO on Wednesday that her boss hitting back at her husband was fair game. "You think Trump shouldn't respond when somebody, a non-medical professional accuses him of having a mental disorder? You think he should just take that sitting down?"

Adding a clear jab at her husband, "Yesterday, George spent the day tweeting about the president. I spent my day doing two one-hour briefings with press and intergovernmental affairs people." Those who know Trump best, say the president is setting up an impossible choice for his top adviser. One, she will ultimately be forced to make.

D'ANTONIO: He understands very much how to hurt people. He knows how to hurt families. You know, think about Michael Cohen and what his family has endured because he stood up. And there's no threat that he won't make. He'll threaten to just dismiss you, he'll pillory you online, he'll call you names or in the case of the Conway's, he'll try and get in the middle of your marriage.

TODD: Meanwhile, Michael D'Antonio, says he strongly believes President Trump has pressured Kellyanne Conway to try to make her husband stop attacking him publicly.

Analysts say they don't think George Conway is going to stop his attacks even under pressure from his wife. One of them saying that at this point, he thinks George Conway might see himself as something of a hero, doing the public bidding for all of those who oppose Donald Trump. Especially, those in the Republican Party. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


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