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One Thorn is Taken Out from President Trump; Democrats Demands Full Transparency of the Mueller Report; Prime Minister Theresa May Not Giving Up Her Brexit Deal; Rocket Fired in Central Gaza; No Collusion, But No Exoneration; Mueller Investigation Wraps Up; Destruction and Flooding in Aftermath of Cyclone Idai; Deadly Outbreak; First British Royal Visit; Cruise from Hell; ISIS Loses Last Stronghold in Syria; Recession Fears Return to Wall Street; "Us" Movie Has Second-Biggest Opening of 2019; Chance of Severe Storm in the South; Horrifying Mali Attack. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 25, 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)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was an illegal takedown that failed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: No collusion. No clear answer on obstruction. Robert Mueller says the Trump campaign did not conspire with the Russians but leaves one major question unanswered, victory for the president and his team.

Welcome to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. Thanks for joining us very early for Early Start. I'm Dave Briggs.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Monday, March 25. It is 3 a.m. in the east.

And who would have guessed President Trump and Robert Mueller would end up on the same page. The main takeaways from the special counsel's investigation have now been made public in a letter from Attorney General Bill Barr to Congress.

And the top headline, as the president has been saying from the start, no collusion.

BRIGGS: The attorney general quoted Mueller saying, "The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities. That means no one will face charges for conspiring with the Russians."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It was a complete and total exoneration. It's a shame that our country had to go through this. To be honest, it's a shame that your president has had to go through this. This was an illegal takedown that failed. And hopefully somebody is going to looking at the other side.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: On the obstruction of justice question, the special counsel decided not to render a judgment.

Here's Barr, the attorney general again quoting Mueller. "While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." Mueller left the ultimate decision on obstruction to the attorney general who was appointed by this president.

Remember, a year ago, the Attorney General, Barr, wrote a memo saying he considered the obstruction investigation, quote, "fatally misconceived."

BRIGGS: In the letter, Barr cleared the president of obstruction and lean heavily on Mueller's findings about collusion to do so. He writes, "The absence of such evidence bears upon the president's intent with respect to obstruction."

In other words, since this was no collusion with Russia, there could not be obstruction for firing FBI Director James Comey, even though the president did say this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Now Comey himself tweeted this pensive picture and the words "so many questions."

ROMANS: All right. A highly charged bitterly divided reaction in Congress to Barr's summation of the Mueller report, Democrats denouncing the process and gearing up for a fight with Republicans doing the victory dance.

Sarah Westwood live from Washington with what comes next. Sarah?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Good morning, Christine. And House Democrats are prepared to call Attorney General Barr to testify in the weeks ahead to explain why he concluded after reading Mueller's report that the president did not commit obstruction even though Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his report did not draw any conclusions one way or the other when it comes to obstruction.

Democratic House judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler said in a a statement, "It is unacceptable that after Special Counsel Mueller spent 22 months meticulously uncovering the evidence, Attorney General Barr made a decision not to charge the president in under 48 hours."

Now even as Democrats were skeptical of that part of Barr's letter, Republicans were ready to take a victory lap after Attorney General Barr revealed that Special Counsel Mueller concluded that one of the main parts of the investigation Russian collusion that did not occur between the president or did not occur with the president's campaign.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican ally of the president was with President Trump in Mar-a-Lago in West Palm beach over the weekend. He wrote in a tweet, "Good day for the rule of law. Great day for President Trump and his team. No collusion and no obstruction. The cloud hanging over President Trump has been removed by this report."

Now Doug Collins, that's the ranking Republican on the House committee has said that Democrats should drop their congressional investigations into President Trump, but of course, the judiciary chairman, Nadler and other Democratic-led committees in the House have already issued 81 requests for information or testimony from people associated with President Trump for lines of inquiry that go far beyond Russia.

[03:05:02] They intend to continue looking in those issues. And Nadler speaking both before and after the Barr letter came out did not seem ready to abandon those investigations. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERROLD NADLER, (D) NEW YORK: President Trump is wrong. This report does not amount to a so-called total exoneration. The attorney general's comments make it clear that Congress must step in to get the truth and provide full transparency to the American people.

Obviously, we know there was -- we know there was some collusion. There's been obstruction of justice. Whether they are -- clearly, whether they are criminal obstruction is another question.

What Congress has to do is look at a broader picture. We are in charge -- we have the responsibility of protecting the rule of law, of looking at obstructions of justice, at looking at abuses of power and corruption.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: Now President Trump has already begun effectively his victory lap on the Mueller report claiming it vindicates him with no collusion or obstruction, even though Mueller didn't draw a conclusion on that front.

A White House advisor tells CNN that there are fears that the president could say something that could cause more trouble for himself, he could overreach as he promotes the results of this investigation. He has a rally this week in Green Rapids, Michigan this week.

So, Christine and Dave, we will stay tuned to what the president will have to say about the end of the Mueller probe at that time.

ROMANS: Absolutely. All right. Sarah in Washington, we'll talk to you again very soon. Thank you.

BRIGGS: It is not clear whether the American people will actually see the Mueller report. That decision is up to the Attorney General Bill Barr. The process to determine what can't be released already underway at the DOJ. The review includes material subject to what is called federal rule six.

Essentially says the Justice Department won't release damaging information about people if they are not charged with a crime. But we've have already seen at least one notable exception.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES COMEY, FORMER UNITED STATES FBI DIRECTOR: Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive and highly classified information.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: All right. CNN has reported that White House lawyers want to scour the Mueller report before it goes to Congress to exert executive privilege where they consider it necessary.

Remember, President Trump was never interviewed in person by Mueller's team. His lawyers submitted written answers covering the time up until the election which would not be covered by privilege. Barr insists he favors transparency with caution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: My goal would be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The House recently voted 420 to zero to publicly release the reporting. Just last week, President Trump said he had no objections.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the American public have a right to see the Mueller report?

TRUMP: I don't mind. I mean, frankly, I told the House if you want, let them see it. Let it come out. Let people see it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Democrats are prepared to fight to get the entire report released.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NADLER: You should not then hide the evidence because that converts it into a cover up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

NADLER: Congress needs that evidence and the American people need that evidence and the information to make judgments.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: As James Comey noted, there are so many lingering questions. Chief among them, why so much smoke if there was no fire. Court filings established senior Trump associates were eager to accept help from the Russians.

Prosecutors zeroed in on one Trump's -- on Trump's one-time campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his extensive connections to Russians including one associate with ties to Russian intelligence.

BRIGGS: Manafort passed Trump campaign polling data to that associate while he was overseeing the campaign. Prosecutors said that move was at the heart of their investigation. Its revelation even forced the president's lawyer to narrow the scope of that no collusion claim.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Yes, you have.

GIULIANI: I have no idea if -- I have not. I said the president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Nor has the smoke clear around Roger Stone. Mueller claim Stone was coordinating with Trump campaign officials, at the same time, he talked to WikiLeaks about the release of e-mails stolen from the Democrats.

There are still no official word which campaign officials were coordinating with Stone, although Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen tried to clear that up last month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Mr. Stone told Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that within a couple of days there would be a massive dump of e-mails that would damage Hillary Clinton's campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: Now even though the president may be absolved by Mueller,

investigations spawned by the Mueller's probe brought down several members of Trump's inner circle.

[03:10:03] Among 37 criminal defendants charged by Mueller, there have been seven who pleaded guilty including Manafort, his deputy, Rick Gates, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Cohen, the long-time fixer and personal lawyer.

ROMANS: Cohen implicated the president in a hush money case spawned by the Mueller probe, a guilty plea that made the president all but in an indicted co-conspirator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: And for the record, individual number one is President Donald J. Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: As many Trump supporters point out that many of these Trump confidants only pleaded guilty to lying to protect Trump.

Meantime, the president's own lies to protect his image go unpunished.

BRIGGS: And legal trouble lurks for the president and his inner circle, potentially other investigations picking up momentum. Among the targets, the Trump inaugural committee, the Trump organization and the president is also being investigated for allege insurance fraud.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, (D) NEW YORK: Did the president ever provide inflated assets to an insurance company?

COHEN: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Special counsel investigation started with Russia but widened significantly. Even if there was no collusion, offshoots of the Mueller probe are just gaining steam.

ROMANS: It's important to keep in mind what Mueller did uncover, the special counsel charged 12 Russian military officers in a sophisticated Kremlin hacking operation against Democrats, and 13 members of a Russian troll farm, internet troll farm accused of trying to manipulate American voters on social media. Russia attacked America's democracy and remains a threat.

BRIGGS: The president's nonstop witch hunt rhetoric may have made him the prime focus. But Russian interference is the core issue, it was ambitious, brazen and it is most importantly, ongoing.

Even if President Trump won't stand up to Vladimir Putin, his entire intelligence apparatus agrees Moscow is not slowing down its interference campaign. You could argue the Russians got the bargain of a lifetime. They got the chaos and division they sewed and they are not done. They'll be back.

What are we doing to protect our current system?

ROMANS: Yes. In this four-page, you know, summary from Barr, the attorney general, front and center here, Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election is a big reminder that it is still --

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: -- a problem. All right. Twelve minutes past the hour.

For the second time in a week, the Parkland community is in mourning. Two students commit suicide a year after the massacre, the shooting massacre that left classmates struggling to cope.

[03:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church at CNN center. We will return to Early Start in just a moment for more coverage of the Mueller report. But first, a look at some of the days' other stories.

It's shaping up to be another crucial week for Brexit. And the British prime minister is fighting for her political survival. There are growing calls for Theresa May to step down amid reports of 11 cabinet members threatening mass resignation.

So far, Ms. May appears to be clinging on. She reportedly met with top conservatives and Brexiteers at the government country's state on Sunday. She is trying to get them to back a yes vote on a Brexit deal.

Now that vote could come this week. The parliament could also give in to the demands of this huge rally in London Saturday. Marchers were calling for a second Brexit referendum.

Well, for more, CNN's Nic Robertson is live at 10 Downing Street in London. He joins us now.

So Nic, how likely is it that Theresa May will survive the political pressure she's currently under and if she doesn't who would replace her?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I think there is a growing sense that she is not going to survive, the question is how long. And in a way she answered that sometime ago when she said she wouldn't leave the conservative party into the next general election which was a concession about her leadership then.

But she is facing, as you were saying, more pressure over her leadership, she appears to have survived what British leaders are characterizing over the weekend as a coup attempt to replace her over the weekend.

We've seen her being very tenacious and continuing with her views and her path and her track. So, I don't think anyone is expecting her to go lightly, the discussions that were held at Chequers, her country retreat, the prime minister's official country retreat, over the weekend there is hard-line Brexiteers there may be close behind those closed doors about what she may or may not have said to them about her leadership.

Certainly, there is no public discussion of that at the moment who replace her. Over the weekend people were talking about David Lidington, her effective deputy. The problem that he would face according to many people is that he was a pro-remainer and that would not make him a suitable choice to be a prime minister even an interim one.

Michael Gove, one of the hot -- one of the leave -- one of the cabinet members who was backing leave is also seen as a prime contender but there are other people as well like the foreign secretary.

So, it's not clear and precisely what might be organized behind the scenes and what might all those who would like Theresa May's job be willing to do. Will they be willing to stand back and let a David Lidington type character have that interim job and everyone else suspend their ambition.

Of course, Boris Johnson as we all know has ambitions for that as well and was writing in the Daily Telegraph newspaper undoubtedly can't be seen as him keeping his voice heard publicly. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Right. We'll watch to see what happens there, and of course with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators hitting the streets of central London over the weekend pushing for a second referendum. And with a senior cabinet minister saying it certainly deserves consideration. How likely is it that a second vote will be put to the people on the Brexit issue?

ROBERTSON: Yes. It seems that Philip Hammond, the chancellor of the exchequer here who lives next door to the prime minister, use that phrase in the context of if there was a vote for, for the current Brexit dealers, Theresa May has it in parliament. And it was to pass perhaps conditional on that, that there would be a bolt on which says, OK, if parliament passes it, then it goes to the people for a referendum on it. So that was the context of what he said.

[03:19:57] Certainly, the march over the weekend raised that, again, that issue of the people's votes a second referendum raise it again as part of the political debate. Millions of people have signed the petition calling for it now. I think the figures are running to about five million at least until late yesterday.

So, it's entering the political discourse but it hasn't reached that tipping point where there is political consent for it or will for it expressed in parliament it's getting closer than it was before.

But it does seem to be entering the narrative. And what we understand the prime minister might be doing this week is potentially holding some indicative votes in parliament, they won't carry -- they're not votes that would then immediately become law but that's supposed to be indicative of the mood and one of those indicative votes might be about having a second referendum.

But there are other issues that could come up there in those indicative votes as well, and in some ways these indicative votes are seen as a way of potentially pressuring those hard-liners, scaring them, if you will, saying if you don't go for Theresa May's deal then potentially could get something much weaker or potentially no Brexit at all. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Wow. We will watch to see what happens next. Our Nic Robertson at 10 Downing Street there in London. Many thanks to you.

I'm Rosemary Church. We'll return to Early Start right after the short break. Do stay with us.

[03:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back.

Breaking overnight. A rocket fired from Gaza hit a house in central Israel, setting it on fire and injuring seven people. It comes the same day Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to meet with President Trump at the White House.

I want to bring in CNN's Oren Liebermann. He is live at the scene of that rocket attack in central Israel. Oren?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, we are in a town of Mishmeret, the small village north of Tel Aviv. And you can easily see the damage to the home here behind me. This is where the rocket landed. It tore apart the home itself. Again, you can see the damage. And it sent shrapnel all throughout the area.

In fact, we are standing right in front of a car that was basically torn apart by shrapnel. Meanwhile, we know from Magen David Adom, Israel's emergency responders that seven people were injured inside this home, including two women who moderately injured, as well as two young toddlers who were inside this home.

As for Israel's response, first, Israel close the two bordering crossings into Gaza after the assessment that this was a very powerful rocket, the most powerful fired from Gaza since the end of the 2014 war.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Washington where he is set to meet President Donald Trump and then to address the AIPAC conference. He has announced that he is cutting his visit short. He will still meet Trump and then return immediately.

He's already had a consultation with the security heads, and he has said that Israel will respond with force to this rocket attack from Gaza.

That leads to the bigger question of, who fired this rocket and why? First, the power of the rocket itself is exceptional. Again, this is the farthest a rocket has been fired into Israel in five years, essentially since the end of the 2014 war. Second, the rocket was fired at roughly five in the morning, so

essentially at first light in the morning which is in of itself very unusual. Normally rockets are fired overnight.

On top of that, there doesn't appear to be any obvious reason that a rocket was fired at this point. There was one fired two weeks ago, Christine. The Israeli assessment was that that was fired accidentally by a low-level Hamas operative. So, it will certainly be a very interesting day to watch here --

ROMANS: Yes.

LIEBERMANN: -- as most perhaps a forceful response from Israel.

ROMANS: OK. Oren Liebermann, keep us posted. Thank you.

BRIGGS: All right. Hand from cries of a witch hunt to this. Now the president claiming total victory on Sunday and for good reason. His campaign was cleared of collusion. But Robert Mueller did not rule out obstruction of justice. The latest for you ahead on Early Start.

[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was an illegal takedown that failed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: No collusion. No clear answer on obstruction. Robert Mueller says the Trump campaign did not conspire with the Russians but leaves one major question unanswered. Welcome back to "Early Start" this morning. I'm Christine Romans, breaking early this Monday morning post Mueller report.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A lot early, all right, 3:31 Eastern time, 12:31 Pacific, welcome to all of you here in the U.S. and around the world. We start with this. The takeaway from the from the special counsel's investigation has been made public in this letter from Attorney General Bill Barr to Congress and the top headline as the president has been saying from the start, no collusion.

ROMANS: The attorney general quoted Mueller saying the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities. That means no one will face charges for conspiring with the Russians, even in that infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting organized to obtain dirt on Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It was a complete and total exoneration. It is a shame that our country had to go through this. To be honest, it's a shame that your president has had to go through this. This was an illegal takedown that failed. And hopefully, somebody is going to be looking at the other side.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: On the obstruction of justice question, the special counsel decided not to render a judgment. Here is Barr quoting Mueller, "While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."

Mueller left the ultimate decision on obstruction up to the attorney general who was appointed by the president. Now remember, a year ago, Barr wrote a memo saying he considered the obstruction investigation "fatally misconceived."

ROMANS: Now, in the letter to Congress, Barr cleared the president of obstruction and leaned heavily on Mueller's findings about collusion to do so. He writes, "The absence of such evidence bears upon the president's intent with respect to obstruction." In other words, since there was no collusion with Russia, there could be no obstruction for firing FBI Director James Comey. And remember, the president at the time said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself -- I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So James Comey, he tweeted this pensive picture and the words "so many questions."

BRIGGS: A highly charged bitterly divided reaction in Congress to Barr's summation of the Mueller report. Democrats are denouncing the process and gearing up for a fight with Republicans doing their own victory dance. Sarah Westwood is live from Washington with what comes next. Sarah, good morning.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN REPORTER: Good morning, Dave and Christine. Yeah, House Democrats are gearing up for a fight to see the Mueller report and potentially to hear from Attorney General Barr in person.

[03:34:56] House Democratic Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler is saying that Democrats want Barr to testify about why he did not conclude that the president obstructed justice based on Mueller's report.

In a joint statement from the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Intelligence and Oversight committees, the Democrats wrote, "It is unacceptable that, after special counsel Mueller spent 22 months meticulously uncovering the evidence, Attorney General Barr made a decision not to charge the president in under 48 hours."

But just as Democrats are skeptical of that decision, Republicans are emboldened by Mueller's apparent conclusion that the president did not collude with Russians nor did anyone on his campaign. Senator Lindsey Graham, a top ally of the president, was with Trump in Florida over the weekend. He tweeted yesterday, "Good day for the rule of law, great day for President Trump and his team, no collusion and no obstruction. The cloud hanging over President Trump has been removed by this report"

Doug Collins, a ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said because of Mueller's findings, Democrats should drop their other inquiries into the president's behavior.

Democrats have already requested documents or testimony from 81 people and entities connected to President Trump. Now they say they still intend to use the power of the subpoena to compel any witnesses who don't want to give up documents to hand over the information that has been requested. And even after Barr released his letter to Congress yesterday, Nadler did not seem ready to let the issue of collusion go. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN OF HOUSE JUDICIARY: President Trump is wrong. This report does not amount to a so called total exoneration. The attorney general's comments make it clear that Congress must step in to get the truth and provide full transparency to the American people.

Obviously, we know there was some collusion. There have been obstructions of justice, whether they -- clearly whether they are criminal obstructions is another question. What Congress has to do is look at a broader picture. We are -- we have the responsibility of protecting the rule of law, of looking at obstruction of justice, looking at abuses of power and corruption.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: Now White House adviser tells CNN that there are concerns that the president could overreach in the victory lap, that he has already began taking on the Mueller report, that he will say something that could cause even more trouble for him with the public.

The president has a rally Thursday in Michigan so stay tune to what else the president might have to say about the end of the Russia investigation, Christine and Dave.

BRIGGS: Right, he will certainly war on the media, call for continued investigation. This fight is far from over on both sides of the aisle. Sarah Westwood, thanks.

ROMANS: It is not clear when or whether the American people will even get to see this report, the Mueller report. That decision is up to Attorney General Bill Barr. His review includes materials subject to what is called federal rule six. It essentially says that Justice Department won't release damaging information about people if they are not charged with a crime. We have already seen at least one notable exception. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR OF FBI: Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive highly classified information.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: CNN has reported White House lawyers want to scour the Mueller report before it goes to Congress to exert executive privilege where they consider it necessary. President Trump was never interviewed in person by Mueller's team. His lawyers only submitted written answers covering the time up until the election which would not be covered by privilege.

ROMANS: Barr during his confirmation hearing said he favors transparency with caution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: My goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Democrats are prepared to fight to get the entire report released.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NADLER: You should not then hide the evidence because that converts it into a cover-up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

NADLER: Congress needs that evidence and the American people need that evidence and information to make judgment.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Now, even though the president may be absolved by Mueller investigations spawned by Mueller's probe, it brought down several members of his inner circle. Among 37 criminal defendants charged by Mueller, there have been seven who have pleaded guilty, including Manafort, his deputy Rick Gates, former National Security adviser Michael Flynn, and Cohen, his longtime fixer and personal lawyer.

BRIGGS: Cohen implicated the president in that hush money case spawned by the Mueller probe, guilty plea that made the president all but an unindicted co-conspirator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And for the record, individual number one is President Donald J. Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[03:40:04] BRIGGS: As many Trump supporters point out, many of these Trump confidantes only pleaded guilty to lying to protect Trump. In the meantime, the president's own lies to protect his image go unpunished.

ROMANS: Legal trouble still lurks for the president and his inner circle. Other investigations are picking up momentum. Among the targets are Trump's inaugural committee, the Trump Organization. The president is also being investigated for alleged insurance fraud.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: Did the president ever provide inflated assets to an insurance company?

COHEN: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The special counsel's investigation started with Russia but widened significantly. Even if there was no collusion, offshoots of the Mueller probe are just gaining steam.

BRIGGS: It is important to keep in mind what Mueller did uncover. The special counsel charging 12 Russian military officers in a sophisticated Kremlin hacking operation against Democrats, and 13 members of a Russian troll farm accused of trying to manipulate American voters on social media. Russia attacked our democracy and remains a threat.

ROMANS: The president witch hunt rhetoric may have made him the prime focus, that Russian interference is the core issue here. It was ambitious, embracing (ph), and it is ongoing even if President Trump won't stand up to Vladimir Putin, at least in public. His entire intelligence apparatus agrees Moscow is not slowing down its interference campaign.

BRIGGS: That hopefully will be the focus of the federal government.

ROMANS: Yeah.

BRIGGS: How do we prevent this from happening again? Ahead, imagine this on your crew ship.

Passengers finally back safely ashore after nearly a day with engine failure at sea.

[03:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church at "CNN Center." We will return "Early Start" in just a moment with more coverage of the Mueller report. But first, a look at some of the day's other stories. Thousands of people are struggling to survive in Southern Africa in the aftermath Cyclone Idai. The storm killed more than 750 people. There is widespread flooding and a communication blackout that has left many disconnected from the outside world. Farai Sevenzo has a report on the devastation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: House after house, factory after factory, Cyclone Idai swept all away before it made landfall in Beira, Mozambique. So we left the city of Beira and I am traveling at the road that should lead us all the way into Zimbabwe. As far as the eye can see, there is nothing but water.

On this drive into the interior of Mozambique, the sea should be behind us by now. But instead, these are the seas greeting motorists. Farmer's crops have disappeared and their livestock have nowhere to graze. For many ordinary Mozambicans, Cyclone Idai waters have taken over their lives.

These waters will not clear because the rains continue to fall. The poorest have lost everything. Hastily improvised shelter has been set up. Here, there is this place, shelter in a railway station some 80 kilometers away from Beira.

With so much water everywhere, rescuers are concerned about the threat of disease. Cholera and malaria thrive on stagnant waters. It is thought many people cannot be reached and that is the problem here. The dead, the missing, the trapped, nothing has been easy to quantify.

This road takes you from Beira to Nhamatanda and then Chimoio and all the way to Zimbabwe and eastern islands. We are traveling along the same path that Cyclone Idai would have taken. All around us, as people try and reclaim the land from the waters, you can see the awesome destruction power of that cyclone and this is the end of the road.

Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Tika, Mozambique.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: The Democratic Republic of Congo has reached a grim new milestone in the Ebola outbreak that began last August. According to the country's health ministry, more than a thousand people have now been infected with the deadly virus, which has claimed some 600 lives. The outbreak is the second deadliest and second largest in history.

Prince Charles has become the first member of the British royal family to make an official visit to communist-run Cuba. He arrived there on Sunday and laid a wreath at the memorial to Cuban independence hero Jose Marti. The Prince of Wales will also dine with President Miguel Diaz-Canel during his three-day trip and tour Havana's restored colonial district.

The nightmare is now over for some 1,300 people aboard a cruise ship stranded off the coast of Norway and extremely rough waters. The Viking Sky made its way safely to port on Sunday after experiencing engine problems in the Norwegian Sea. Salma Abdelaziz reports. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SALMA ABDELAZIS, CNN PRODUCER: After 24-hour ordeal, the Viking Sky cruise ship is now docked at port and its nearly 1,300 passengers and crew are safe and on land. Their drama began midday Saturday when the cruise ship lost engine power in the middle of a dangerous storm, 55 mile-per-hour winds and waves as high as 25 feet with the ship around.

Video from inside showed furniture sliding around as ceilings came down on passengers. Now, rescue services in Norway immediately initiated operations to help those people on board, airlifting them by helicopter, flying down low and plucking people up one by one in the middle of this horrifying weather conditions. Take a listen to what one American couple said about what they endured.

[03:49:58] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Furniture would slide across the room, slide back, and with it came people in glass. It was very dangerous situation, frankly. A few people got hurt. We could see that we were getting blown in towards some rocks. That was the most frightening thing, I think. But luckily that wasn't our destiny.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The guy came down from the helicopter. One of the coastguards snapped my belt and said hold it, and shot me up about 100 feet in the air and on to the helicopter.

ABDELAZIZ: These dramatic evacuations continued for hours. Some 500 people rescued this way. But by midday Sunday, three out of four engines on that ship were back up and the ship was able to slowly but surely get back into port. Back on land, the Norwegian Red Cross said it was treating bruises, broken bones and cuts. We do know that some 20 people were injured.

Now, the company which manages this cruise ship has issued a statement saying, "Throughout all of this, our first priority was for the safety and well-being of our passengers and our crew." That's a statement from Viking Ocean Cruises. They have said that they are arranging flights for people to go home as quickly as possible, some relief after a terrifying weekend.

Salma Abdelazis, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church. We will return to "Early Start" right after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:55:00] ROMANS: The so-called ISIS caliphate is history. The terror group is losing its final stronghold in Syria. A coalition of U.S.-backed Syrian forces is declaring a 100 percent territorial defeat.

CNN's Ben Wedeman has been in Syria for weeks now covering this bloody struggle, trying to make sure we have his connection there. Now that the caliphate has been crushed, there is still concern about the ideology and whether there still a need for U.S. presence in the region. What kind of presence there will be? We are going to get back to Ben Wedeman in just a moment when we secure his connection.

Let's go to check on CNN business this morning. The stocks are lower in mid-recession fears. You can see Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong all bouncing up a little bit here, but U.S. futures are slightly lower.

BRIGGS: The Dow drops 460 points Friday on fears of an economic slowdown, the S&P 500 closed down 1.9 percent, the Nasdaq dropping 2.5 percent, the worst performance for all three major averages since January 3rd.

ROMANS: Stocks finished the week lower. You can see the Dow down 1.6 percent. The Nasdaq and the S&P all down as well, but some perspective here. This has been a strong quarter, a strong start to the year. Stocks are still up this year. The Dow is up 9.2 percent. That's for the week there. For the year, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are about 12 percent and 15 percent.

All right, what could the Mueller report mean for Wall Street this morning? Our futures are pointing lower here. There had been some optimism that the probe was taking a big uncertainty from the president away, but that lasted for about 15 seconds because there are still concerns here about the global economy, a slowdown in the global economy.

Last week, the bond market, there was this big recession indicator of the flash in the bond market on Friday and that nearly spook investors. So we will see how things shape up when trading opens in several hours.

Jordan Peele's new horror film terrified audiences and shattered expectations at the box office this weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a family in our driveway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's probably the neighbors.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: "Us" director made an estimated 70 million bucks in North America, more than tripling his production budget of $20 million. The film has made $87 million worldwide. It is now the second biggest opening weekend of the year behind Disney and Marvel Studios' "Captain Marvel."

BRIGGS: OK, the potential for severe weather shifting to the deep south today. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has more.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Dave and Christine. Some light of active weather to tell you about across portions of Southern Illinois into Indiana, eventually Ohio as well where we have activity this morning and we expect this to continue throughout much of this afternoon. The energy is really going to begin to shift farther towards the south and east. The storms here have had a history of some severe weather and generally having to do with large damaging hill but we have had reports of wind damage, at least one report of a tornado there across places such as Missouri and thunderstorm again expected to flourish this afternoon and this evening has been going in towards a four, five and six into the afternoon evening hours.

But areas around Atlanta, eventually around Columbia, South Carolina, to the coastal region of the Carolinas right around sunset. You can see some straight line winds as well with the storms and notice this, beginning to feel much like spring across this region, 70 in Atlanta, up to 80 degrees in New Orleans. While in places like Chicago, the north winds are certainly not helping out highs, only 39 degrees.

But we do expect a dramatic warming trend at least in the next couple of days but don't count out winter yet. Some cooler temps are still possible and going eventually into early next week.

BRIGGS: Pedram, thanks. More than 130 people have been killed and 55 injured in an attack in a rural village in Mali. The casualties include women and children. David McKenzie is following the latest live from Johannesburg. David, good morning.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave. Yes, this is what one U.N. diplomat calls an unspeakable act. Look at this video here from Central Mali, the immediate aftermath of the attack by ethnic militia. They came in early Saturday morning, killing at least 134 people, according to the U.N., including mothers, women and children, just a horrific attack.

Here is what the U.N. secretary general said trough a spokesman, that they condemn this act and call on Malian authorities to swiftly investigate it and bring the perpetrators to justice. In the wake of this attack, the president of Mali disbanding a so-called defense group -- self defense group which came in part to try and stop al Qaeda and ISIS linked to militia in that region.

This is a complicated story but Human Rights Watch says that these attacks, these inter-ethnic attacks have been increasing rapidly in the last few months and that they are being exploited by ISIS-linked terrorists in that region.

You know, as ISIS loses its territory in the Middle East, the future battleground might be there in the West Africa where the U.S. has significant boots on the ground.

[04:00:02] Dave?

BRIGGS: David McKenzie, live for us in Johannesburg, thank you. "Early Start" continues right now.

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