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CNN NEWSROOM

U.S. attorney General Reviews Mueller Russia Report; Hundreds of Passengers Airlifted from Stranded Cruise Ship; Interview with Per Fjeld, Joint Rescue Centre for Southern Norway, on Rescue Efforts aboard the Viking Sky; Plan in Works to Oust Theresa May; U.S. allies Celebrate ISIS' Territorial Defeat; The First "First Gentleman." Aired 5-6a ET

Aired March 24, 2019 - 05:00   ET

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


[05:00:00]

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NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The waiting game: a summary of Robert Mueller's Russia investigation report is due to Congress very soon but Democratic lawmakers demand a full release.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Engine failure leads to a mayday call and hundreds of people now being airlifted off a cruise ship off Norway. We will have the latest on the rescue operations there.

ALLEN (voice-over): Also this hour, the ISIS caliphate loses the last of its territory to Syria but their presence in the region still remains. We will have live reports from Iraq.

HOWELL (voice-over): Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN (voice-over): I'm Natalie Allen and NEWSROOM starts right now.

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ALLEN: Details of the special counsel's long awaited Russian election interference report to soon be sent to the U.S. Congress. Attorney general William Barr spent Saturday reviewing it and plans to send lawmakers a summary of the investigation by the end of this weekend.

HOWELL: The Democrats want the full report to be released and they are prepared for the legal fight. They say they are willing to subpoena the report and its supporting evidence, if necessary. Our Evan Perez has more on this highly anticipated report.

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EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Attorney general Bill Barr spent more than nine hours at the Justice Department reviewing the findings from Robert Mueller's investigation. Barr spent the day working with deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein and a small group of aides. So far they're among the few people who have seen the conclusions from the 22-month Trump Russia investigation.

Officials say that Barr is still pushing to send to members of Congress sometime this weekend what he calls the principal conclusions from the Mueller report.

What exactly Barr's report to Congress will look like, we still don't know. Officials tell us to expect a summary that distills the main takeaways from what Mueller produced.

Justice Department officials say to expect that whatever Barr sends to Congress he will also share with the public. In the weeks since Barr took office, one of the things he was wrestling with was exactly how much detail he can release from Mueller's report.

The more detail Mueller included in his report about evidence that didn't lead to charges, the more complicated for Barr as he tried to prepare his summary. Barr's report to Congress is eagerly awaited by lawmakers and the president, who's been uncharacteristically quiet since Mueller finished his investigation on Friday -- Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Evan, thank you.

As Evan just mentioned, the public response from the president has been muted and sources say that's likely because his advisers are encouraging him to lie low until they learn more about what is in that report.

ALLEN: Mr. Trump's private response has been a positive one. He spent part of the week golfing in Florida and sources tell CNN the president is happy now that the investigation is over. One can understand that.

U.S. lawmakers are awaiting the summary of the report but Democrats, as we mentioned, aren't sitting still while they wait.

HOWELL: They are urging the Justice Department to release the findings in full and demanding the related documents be preserved. Our Manu Raju has the details.

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MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Democrats are anxious about the Mueller report and what they may ultimately see and they are gearing up for what could be a rather intense fight between House Democrats and the Trump administration.

If the Justice Department does not provide what the Democrats say is full transparency. They also want the underlying evidence that underpins everything Bob Mueller decided in his investigation, things who he prosecuted and did not prosecute and why.

They want all of that information. They believe it should be publicly released. Nancy Pelosi today told her colleagues she would even reject having briefing, classified briefings because she believes the public deserves a right to know. She wants this out in the open and her members to talk about this in the -- after if they were to have a briefing and to not be classified so they can go about publicly and discuss what they have learned.

This process fight beginning to take shape and potentially subpoenas as well. Democrats circulated talking points to their members earlier on Saturday and said this.

"If necessary, Democrats would be prepared to use its subpoena authority to obtain the full report and underlying evidence as well as to obtain briefing and testimony from the special counsel, the attorney general, the deputy attorney general and other necessary officials."

The Democrats also sent letters to the heads of various agencies, the Justice Department, FBI --

[05:05:00]

RAJU: -- and the White House and the State Department and Treasury Department and others demanding those records related to the Mueller investigation be preserved because they want to be able to see that potentially in the days, weeks ahead. Now the question is what will Bill Barr ultimately provide?

Will he provide anything more than a summary to Congress of the Mueller's conclusions?

But already Nancy Pelosi made clear, both in the conference call and in a letter to her members, that a summary of the conclusions could not suffice. So the day after the conclusion of the Mueller investigation, Democrats are making clear this is just the beginning of the fight, surely not the end -- Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: There is more fight coming up, yes. Because it's Washington.

HOWELL: Definitely.

ALLEN: We are getting reaction from U.S. lawmakers who are running for president in the 2020 election.

HOWELL: Here is what Democratic candidates are saying about this.

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SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-N.J.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think a lot of things in this are going to be helpful not just to congressional investigations but other investigations going on in the Southern District of New York, around criminal activity.

This president has everybody around him from his personal lawyer to his campaign team be convicted or plead guilty to serious charges. We want to see how far this corruption goes. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is absolutely imperative that the Trump administration make that full report public.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MASS.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is someone who has conducted an investigation on behalf of the people of the United States and it's also producing 34 indictments for guilty pleas and it is a serious investigation. We want to see it. And we should be able to.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MINN.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is about holding people accountable, yes, as you know. Dozens of people have already been indicted but it is also about knowing what happened, what the scheme was so we are in a better place to prepare for the 2020 elections.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Even without knowing the details of the report in full, it's clear the Mueller investigation has been fruitful. Some 199 criminal charges have been filed against 37 people and entities; seven defendants pleaded guilty and five people have been sentenced.

Let's talk about all of this with Leslie Vinjamuri. She is the head of the U.S. and Americas Programme at Chatham House think tank.

Good to have you from London.

LESLIE VINJAMURI, SOAS, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: Thank you, George.

HOWELL: The White House is claiming victory and keep in mind we don't know what is in the report but the U.S. president at Mar-a-lago, we understand it is victorious politically. Is this a win for President Trump, saying no collusion?

And if it is a win, how significant of a win is it for him?

VINJAMURI: I think right now the optics around this are being interpreted in that way. We know virtually nothing about what is actually in the report. I think the headline, such as they have come out, have been captured and they are being very much subjected to these politics.

But fact of the matter is, until we have any sign of that report and details of that report we don't know. So very difficult to draw any conclusions at all at this point.

HOWELL: That is what we are doing. We are drawing conclusions. We are trying to kind of understand or get a sense of the mood around what we know so far. At this point, there are no new indictments. We know that for sure coming from the special counsel.

We don't know what's in the report but does the White House still have reason to worry, Leslie, what could be in the report and should they worry about the Southern District of New York and other investigations? VINJAMURI: They are important questions to come out, once we know what is in that report and we don't know whether there is evidence suggesting obstruction of evidence around the firing Comey or working with the Russians surrounding the presidential campaign and the U.S. elections.

All sorts of things could come out. Of course, there will be ongoing investigations at the federal level across the country. And it's very difficult to know how this will play out; in part, we don't know how much of this is going to be released more broadly and how much of it will be subject to executive privilege, how much will be held back from the public.

So I think what lies ahead could be very destabilizing, will be very political and it could be still very problematic for the president. Until we see that report, we simply don't know.

HOWELL: How do you see the fights playing out between White House and Democrats and attorneys trying to make as much public or as little public as possible?

VINJAMURI: You know, it's very clear that the Democrats want to see this report. They have called for the underlying documentation. They are not going to hold back on that request. I think that it --

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VINJAMURI: -- could very get difficult and I don't think that it's going to -- if less of that report is released to the House Democrats or to the public, there is very serious call for transparency.

People want to see this report. And, remember, the public's desire to see this report will be stoked in an ongoing way by pressure from Democrats in the House. So I think this will be a very intense politics.

HOWELL: I want to look at this. Let's go from micro to macro now with an eye toward 2020. Mr. Trump claiming this news from the special counsel as a win. We don't know what's is in the report yet but the mood victorious among Trump world.

The defeat of ISIS played out as well. A strong economy that Mr. Trump moving forward with the wall he promised his base clearly, his voters must be satisfied.

What does it mean for Democrats now looking to take on president in 2020?

VINJAMURI: Yes. I mean, you know, if you take a look at Trump's base, they have been with him pretty much the whole time, regardless of all of these things. So the territorial defeat of ISIS, remember, ISIS remains a very considerable threat in Asia and Africa and many parts of the globe.

They have lost their territorial strongholds but remain significant as an insurgency. Those factors didn't deplete the support that Trump is receiving from his base and not likely to increase it. It's steady throughout.

The Democrats are negative on Trump and the game changing going forward is if something changes in the economy. The economy is strong right now and don't know where that will go or if something very significant comes out of this report by Mueller or the investigations.

Again, those are things we simply don't know but can't anticipate going forward. Again, the prospects for Trump in 2020, the base is there. But as we saw in the midterm elections, he has lost considerable support in the suburbs and lost a lot of support. The number of registered Republicans have come down and so we can't be certain of his success going forward.

HOWELL: Leslie, thank you for your time.

VINJAMURI: Thanks.

ALLEN: Hundreds of people could be living what could be their worst nightmare right now.

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ALLEN (voice-over): Yes, that is water on board a cruise ship. The cruise ship is going nowhere. We will have the latest for you.

HOWELL (voice-over): And as weather conditions on the water get worse, we will update you on the rescue efforts with those stranded on the cruise ship. Stay with us.

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HOWELL: Hundreds of guests on a cruise ship called the Viking Sky had just three days before wrapping up the vacation of a lifetime. Then the sea got angry. The ship was going from Norway to the United Kingdom when three of its four engines

failed in the middle of treacherous seas.

ALLEN: So far, 400 people have been airlifted out of the 1,300 passengers and crew on board. Three engines we are told have now been restored and tugboats are helping to slowly pull the ship to shore.

So it looks like things are moving along but it has been a harrowing, to say the least, for the folks there on that ship. You can imagine. Salma Abdelaziz is following the story from London.

And there are quite the stories from people who have been rescued, saying that it was no picnic trying to board that helicopter. Tell us about what you're hearing. SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: That is right. There are two things happening in parallel here. First, that ship, as you said, has three out of four engines working now. A couple of tugboats are moving it slowly but surely, to shore. This is, as these helicopters are ferrying people one by one from that cruise ship to safety on shore.

But you can imagine there is 400 people rescued so far. There is high winds, high waves. It is almost a moving target for these helicopters to lower down, pick up these people, some of them elderly and some of them with health issues, and pluck them up in the middle of these manic seas and take them to safety.

Take a listen to what one American couple who were rescued endured.

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JAN TERBRUEGEN, VIKING SKY PASSENGER: Furniture would slide across the room, slide back and with it came people in class. It was a very dangerous situation frankly. A few people got hurt. We could see that we were getting blown in toward some rocks. That was the most frightening thing I think. But luckily, that wasn't our destiny.

BETH CLARK, VIKING SKY PASSENGER: The guy came down from the helicopter, one of the Coast Guards, snapped my belt and said, "Hold it," and shot me up about a hundred fee in the air and onto the helicopter.

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ABDELAZIZ: You can hear how intense that experience was, you know?

Snap me up and take me a hundred feet into the air. So this is really a holiday turned into a nightmare for these passengers and we don't know how long this rescue operation is going to take.

But we do know that, right now, there is a break in the weather before a new storm system moves in tomorrow. So time is simply not on their side.

ALLEN: We are going to get into that in a minute. Salma, is the cruise liner, are they talking about how this happened?

ABDELAZIZ: We don't know exactly how this happened so far. What we do know is that only one out of those four engines was working at one point yesterday when that mayday call went out. Only one engine was working and we had these horrific weather conditions.

This area along Norway's coast is notorious for these terrible bad weather conditions. Shallow waters and high waves and high winds.

We have to wonder why was the ship in that area?

How did they not realize that this could be dangerous?

And why did those engines shut down?

We don't know yet and right now all of the focus is on rescuing those who are still on board, about 900 to a thousand passengers stranded.

ALLEN: That should be the focus. Thank you, Salma. We hope things go well.

HOWELL: One man who raised that question, why was the ship in this area?

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HOWELL: We're joined by -- on the phone by Per Fjeld, a representative from the Joint Rescue Centre for Southern Norway.

Per, good to have you with us. Let's get a sense of what's happening right now because we understand the rescue effort is underway at the same time the ship may still be moving, correct?

PER FJELD, JOINT RESCUE CENTRE OF SOUTHERN NORWAY: Yes, the ship is still moving and it's also now being transported under tug by two tugboats at the moment. The effort is to turn it in the direction so it can turn towards shore.

And parallel to that, the evacuation of persons on board is still ongoing via helicopter as has been the case throughout the mission.

HOWELL: And clearly you have a sense of how people are faring on that ship right now. These pictures that we've been showing our viewers here, the jostling of everything that's not secured to the floor, it's got to be terrifying for people.

What are you hearing about those people who are on board at this hour?

FJELD: We are not directly involved so much in that as those who are on the receiving end ashore in Norway but we've seen the same reports and we're trying to make this evacuation as efficient and safe as possible.

So far the crews of the helicopters have done a tremendous job and they are still going forward with this operation, which has been also challenged by rather rough weather, I must say.

HOWELL: And we heard from our meteorologist, that there may be a break in that weather but then there's another storm system that is likely on the way.

Can you give us any numbers of how many people have been airlifted so far?

Also how many people may still be on board that ship?

FJELD: Well, all in all, when this started, there were 1,373 people on board. We don't have the exact numbers of how many have been transported ashore but the figures should now be above 400. HOWELL: OK. And talk to us about the process because again, the ship is moving. The rescue efforts continue by helicopter.

How many people can you airlift at once?

And how long do you think it will take to get people off the ship?

FJELD: Now there will be an ongoing evaluation as to whether or not the evacuation process will be going to at the same pace as now, keeping in mind that the ship will be planning to go under tug to shore. So that is something that has to be decided along the road.

We have to use one helicopter at the time hovering over the ship. And the rescue personnel goes down and picks up regularly one passenger each time, so it takes some time until the helicopter has been filled up with -- the capacity would be -- normally be somewhere in the vicinity between 15 and 23 passengers that they can take and then fly ashore.

HOWELL: My goodness. So what that translates to is this is going to be a very slow, methodical, surely, process to get people off the ship.

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FJELD: We have also to keep safety in mind here so that we can't really speed up this in order to do it safely.

HOWELL: No, of course, of course. Per Fjeld, we appreciate you giving us insight into what's happening on the ship. Thank you.

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[05:25:00]

ALLEN: And we will keep following it.

Ahead here, it's been more than one week since tropical storm cyclone Idai devastated southeastern Africa and aid agencies say the death toll now stands over 600 but that could go higher. Thousands remain missing.

HOWELL: Relief aid is just beginning to arrive in the badly hit remote areas of Eastern Zimbabwe as army personal, volunteers and aid organizations airlift food and medical supplies into that region.

In Mozambique, one witness says he saw as many as 400 bodies washed up in one place. The immediate concern is flooding, cholera and starvation.

ALLEN: The months long Russia investigation by Robert Mueller is finally over.

Could Congress get its hands on the full report?

We will have some legal ahead on that. HOWELL: Plus the calls are getting louder and the demands are increasing for another vote on Brexit as the British prime minister faces a potential revolt. Stay with us.

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HOWELL: To our viewers on CNN in the states, good morning to you. Our viewers on CNN international around the world, welcome back to the NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Good morning from me as well.

Top stories for you.

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HOWELL: Two years awaiting the end of the special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. Now Washington is on edge, people standing by to learn what's in that report. We will know soon what is in that report, possibly.

The U.S. attorney general William Barr spent Saturday in his office with the report. The Justice Department says he may present its conclusions to Congress this weekend. Democrats in the meantime are preparing to sue if the entire report is not made public along with its evidence.

ALLEN: The Justice Department says there will be no more indictments. The White House sees that as a win since no one from the Trump campaign has been found to be guilty of collusion.

However, several Trump associates have been indicted. President Trump remains silent on the matter but that doesn't mean he has been out of sight. He's at his Florida resort, playing some golf but surrounded by his lawyers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Joining me now to talk about the Mueller report and what comes next, CNN legal analyst Areva Martin.

Always good to see you. Thanks for your time.

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Hi, Natalie.

ALLEN: All right. So the Mueller report is complete. The big question is, what's in it?

Democrats very much want to know. How far could they take the process to try and get the entire report released?

And what could prohibit that from happening? MARTIN: Well, we've already heard Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer be very emphatic about their desire to not just get the principal conclusions, which is what attorney general William Barr has promised to provide to Congress over this weekend, but they say they want the entire report, including all the supporting documentation and evidence that goes with the report.

And they want it made public, not just to Congress but to the American people. They say they're prepared to subpoena Barr and other members of the special counsel's team, including the special counsel himself, to ensure that the information contained in the report and the supporting documentation is made public.

Now here are a couple of issues. What we have heard from reports is that the report is likely to contain information gleaned from grand jury investigations, grand jury testimony. It may also contain classified information and information that Donald Trump may assert executive privilege with respect to.

So we should anticipate a big fight between the Republicans and the Democrats as to what portion of the report can be made public, not just to the American people but what also will be provided to Congress.

ALLEN: Right. Mr. Barr has said he wants to be transparent but how transparent, the question is.

Does he have sole discretion on what is released in this report?

What do you think?

MARTIN: Well, there are some guidelines that dictate what should happen with respect to the report. It's important to note there are no prohibitions against making that entire report public.

Barr, when he was testifying before the Senate during his confirmation hearings, he was somewhat vague about how much information he would provide. He used frames like, we'll make the report available to the extent of the law. So it's not clear what his position is as it relates to how much information he will be providing.

ALLEN: Yes, meantime, President Trump staying uncharacteristically quiet, playing golf at his Florida resort. No doubt his aides are saying let's just sit back here until we look at this.

We know there are no more indictments coming from this investigation and that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

But what questions remain or what, if anything, was left undone that could be worrisome some to the Trump team?

MARTIN: It's not clear if the determination --

[05:35:00]

MARTIN: -- by Mueller is that crimes were committed but because of this Department of Justice regulation about not indicting a sitting president, that there was no indictment for Donald Trump.

We don't know if there was a determination by special counsel Mueller that Trump didn't engage in any criminal activity. Those are the big unknowns with respect to this report.

I think that's why the president and his team have been uncharacteristically, as you indicated, quiet because there could be some very damaging and damning evidence in this report.

And we can't forget about the other investigations and the other legal jeopardy the president and his children still face in districts outside of Washington, D.C., such as the Southern District of New York. We know there are active investigations as we speak that involve the president and his children.

ALLEN: Right. Well, one can understand why he is enjoying golf down in Florida after enduring two years of this. Many questions remain. We'll be finding out as the days tick on here. Areva Martin, always appreciate your insights. Thank you.

ALLEN: Thank you, Natalie.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Now over to the United Kingdom where calls for a second vote on whether the U.K. should leave the E.U. are growing louder. Listen.

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ALLEN (voice-over): That is 1 million people taking to the streets in London on Saturday, demanding a revote. That is after the prime minister convinced the E.U. to give Britain more time to get its act together. Hadas Gold has more from London.

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HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two days after the official Brexit date was delayed, the streets of Central London were packed with protesters on Saturday, demanding a second referendum.

Organizers of what's called the People's Vote March claimed that 1 million people turned out, packing the streets, marching from Hyde Park to Parliament Square. Police haven't commented on that number.

But the streets were full of protesters with children, dogs, with lots of signs. They ended in Parliament Square where speakers, including the mayor of London rallied, saying that Brexit was sold to them on a bill of lies and there should be a referendum to vote on whether Theresa May's exit deal is the way they want to leave the European Union or whether they want to stay in the European Union.

Organizers say it's the biggest march they've had so far. The last time they did it was in the fall, they said they had had 700,000 people then. This time they had 1 million. THOMAS COE, PEOPLE'S VOTE: I think there's been a real growth in belief there can be a revote, that there can be a referendum at the end of the process. I think when we started our campaign in April of last year, people gave us very, very low chances.

But the way things have developed, the way people have seen this Brexit chaos unfold and the U.K. getting this terrible deal essentially, people are realizing that actually, regardless of what Brexit is offered at the end of the day, it will be worse that E.U. membership.

I think people are realizing more and more that, actually, they should have a say and if Parliament can't decide, send it back to the people.

GOLD: But Theresa May has said over and over again while she is in power there will not be a second referendum. We'll see if she will try to bring her Brexit deal forth once again. This will be the third attempt she will have to get that Brexit deal through or whether we will see Parliament wrest control and take a possible vote on a second referendum that the people who showed up for this protest so desperately want -- Hadas Gold, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: On top of the crowds there in the streets, nearly 5 million people have now signed a petition calling on the government to cancel Brexit and the number keeps growing.

HOWELL: At least a couple of times so far many people -- so many, in fact, were signing that petition that it crashed the system. It's now the biggest petition on Parliament's website, the previous record held by another Brexit petition back in 2016.

And there are signs that Theresa May's premiership may be in jeopardy of crashing with reports of a plan that is now in the works possibly to force her out of office.

ALLEN: A few things crashing there around the Brexit situation. "The Sunday Times" says 11 cabinet members plan a revolt and plan to confront the prime minister on Monday and threaten a mass resignation if she doesn't resign.

HOWELL: Following the story of ISIS being defeated territorially at least. The black flag being toppled by a flag of U.S.-backed forces. The latest in Syria is coming up.

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ALLEN: It has been confirmed by the White House. President Trump saying 100 percent of ISIS-controlled territory has been liberated in Iraq and Syria. U.S. allied forces said they had seized the terror group final piece of territorial and Kurdish forces vowing to fight on against ISIS sleeper cells which they say remain a threat.

HOWELL: They are raising their flags; you see here over the terrorists' last Syrian conclave. And they've unveiled this plaque. It reads in part, "It is here where the so-called ISIS terror group was destroyed."

ALLEN: Let's talk about this moment in history with Jomana Karadsheh in Irbil and Arwa Damon who is live in Istanbul, Turkey.

Arwa, ISIS' physical presence may have been knocked down but they are down but not out obviously. Talk to us about the continuing threat ISIS poses.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as we have been reporting for quite sometime now, you can defeat ISIS territorially but defeating its ideology is something else altogether.

If we look at the state of ISIS in Iraq as an example, they are still operating as small groups, able to continuously launch attacks on small villages in areas where the Iraqi security forces do not have a permanent presence.

And this is pretty much ISIS going back to its historical roots, its way of operating to a certain degree, back when it was Al Qaeda is Iraq and back when it was the Islamic State of Iraq. It has gone to ground in territory that it used to control in the past --

[05:45:00]

DAMON: -- very difficult to maneuver in a terrain and it continues to pose a threat in that sense.

When it comes to the threat the ideology poses, one has to remember that trying to combat that is not something -- as we and experts have been saying time and time again -- that can be defeated militarily.

The factors that allowed ISIS to rise in the first place, that is what really needs to be eradicated and when it comes to both Iraq and Syria at this stage at least we are not seeing steps being taken to be able to accomplish that.

And there is also the other factor that ISIS exists in the virtual space and has a significant online presence and ISIS is a forward thinking organization. From the day that Abu Baker al-Baghdadi declared it a caliphate, the organization has been preparing itself for a territorial defeat.

ALLEN: Arwa Damon, thank you for that perspective in Istanbul.

Now to Jomana, you've been to the camps where many ISIS brides and children are held.

What are the conditions there and what do you know what happens to them now? JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is the big question right now, the dilemma, the face of the international community, the countries where they have come from and the Syrian Democratic Forces that are now holding these women and children, more than 20,000 of these in these camps in northeastern Syria and thousands of foreign fighters also in their custody. They come from 50 different countries.

As we mentioned in the camps and the humanitarian situation is dire as described by the aid agencies that 72,000 people in camps and they say on the brink of collapse. They really can't deal with the maximum influx they have gotten.

But the bigger issue now is what happens to these women and children and we spent time in a whole camp, where they have this fenced section where these foreign women are and that is called the immigrant section.

When we speak to these women, you get opinions, some still defiant, true believers that believe ISIS will be back and others who say they were naive and fooled by ISIS propaganda and repented now.

But the majority of these women we have spoken to want their countries to take them back and don't want to be stranded in camps cut off from the world and they don't know what is going on, what the debate in the West is right now whether they should be taken back or not.

When it comes to the SDF, we have spoken to officials and they say they can't handle this for several reasons. One is the added burden in addition to the Iraqi and Syrian population in these camps. They can't house them and they don't have the judicial infrastructure. This is not a state. They don't have the infrastructure to deal with judicial process.

They are calling for the countries to take them back and they say they are not getting a positive response from the countries, who seem to be quite reluctant to take them back. But they are warning this is not only their issue, not only their problem, that this situation pauses a threat to the entire international community because we're talking about radicalized women and indoctrinated children now in these camps, described as a ticking time bomb.

ALLEN: Goodness. They were in a no man's land and exist in one now as well. Jomana Karadsheh and Arwa Damon, we thank you both.

HOWELL: Several U.S. presidential candidates could make history if they win the White House in 2020 and so could their spouses. We will explain after the break.

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[05:50:00]

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HOWELL: Fair to say history could be made specifically with regard to the spouse of the U.S. president, all depending upon which candidate wins the White House in 2020.

ALLEN: Maybe not a first lady. Here is our Kate Bennett.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A new crop of diverse, different Democratic presidential candidates, but six of them have one thing in common -- should they win, their husbands would become the very first "first spouse."

Hillary Clinton had to once consider what former President Bill Clinton could be called.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bill has said that some of his friends from Scotland suggested "First Laddie."

BENNETT: This time around, even more options for a man to make history in the East Wing.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MASS.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So these are my guys.

BENNETT: Elizabeth Warren, perhaps unsurprisingly, didn't follow the traditional norms when she decided Bruce Mann, a professor of law at Harvard, was the one. She asked him to marry her.

BRUCE MANN, HUSBAND OF SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: We've been married a long time and it's always been an adventure. So, this is just another one.

BENNETT: Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana --

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), MAYOR OF SOUTH BEND, IND., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know Chasten?

BENNETT: -- is not only the first openly gay presidential candidate, he's also a newlywed, marrying husband Chasten Buttigieg just last year.

BUTTEGIEG: I married a teacher, so I married up.

You know, that intimate thing in our lives exists by the grace of a single vote on the U.S. Supreme Court.

BENNETT: Chasten, who at 29 is the youngest of the potential first spouses, is a constant and vocal supporter of his husband's candidacy.

CHASTEN BUTTIGIEG, HUSBAND OF PETE BUTTIGIEG: I'm really excited for the country to get to know him on a much larger scale.

BENNETT: Also in the honeymoon phase, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who married husband Abraham Williams in 2015.

ABRAHAM WILLIAMS, HUSBAND OF TULSI GABBARD: And action.

BENNETT: Abraham is a cinematographer. The two met when he volunteered to shot Gabbard's political ads. He proposed while they were riding the waves, surfing in Hawaii.

Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar's husband, John Bessler, already has experience as a political spouse.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MINN.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And he said well, the Senate spouses --

[05:55:00]

KLOBUCHAR: -- are having a baby shower for Jim Webb's wife and I'm going. The world has changed.

BENNETT: Klobuchar married John, a lawyer and law professor, in 1993. The two have a grown daughter named Abigail.

Some, like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's husband, Jonathan, are more behind the scenes. Gillibrand met her British-born financier husband on a blind date in New York City. The two eventually moving Upstate to raise their two young sons and so he could accommodate her political ambitions.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-N.Y.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's not a lot of venture capital in Upstate New York. And so when he said yes, it was just a very huge opportunity for me as a person to start our family there.

BENNETT: When California Sen. Kamala Harris married lawyer Douglas Emhoff in 2014, she took on a new role -- stepmother to his two grown children.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, (D-CALIF.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They call me "Momala."

BENNETT: Harris credits Doug with being her support system in the political whirlwind.

JIMMY KIMMEL, ABC HOST: I don't know if we're ready for a first lady named Doug. I don't know.

HARRIS: He's very much enjoying being the spouse of --

KIMMEL: Oh, he is? He's having fun with it.

HARRIS: He's very -- he's very secure.

BENNETT: Kate Bennett, CNN, Washington.

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ALLEN: Thank you for watching. I'm Natalie Allen. HOWELL: I'm George Howell. The news continues on CNN's "NEW DAY." Stay with us.

ALLEN: See you later.