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Aired March 26, 2019 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Airstrikes in Gaza, including that office of Hamas supreme leader after a surprise rocket attack by the terror group reaches deep into Central Israel.

Britain's Parliament found a new way to humiliate Prime Minister Theresa May, in an unprecedented power grab, lawmakers seize control of the Brexit process.

And Democrats and others demand to see the full report into the Russian election meddling, as the president spikes the football over and over and over again claiming he's been fully exonerated even though he hasn't.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm John Vause and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.


VAUSE: Tensions are building once again between Israel and Hamas, the Israeli military striking Hamas targets in Gaza, including its intelligence headquarters and the office of Hamas' leader. Israel says the strikes are retaliation for Hamas rocket attack on a home I Central Israel Monday, which wounded seven people.

Hamas has not confirmed or denied carrying out the attack.


ROBERT WOLF, BOMBING VICTIM: What scared me was that I knew they were running for the bomb shelter. And I thought, at that second, that I'd lost everything. I'd lost my wife, my two granddaughters, my son, his wife. I thought they'd just evaporated, that was it.

I dropped everything. I went straight to the house, went to my daughter, got her. We got over her and I found my wife, she was outside. She was in shock. She had been cut, she got shot in the head. And the house is, gone as you can see.


VAUSE: These strikes have taken place despite word of a reported cease-fire, CNN's Oren Liebermann has details.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A cease-fire was supposed to have gone into effect at 10 o'clock local time and for a few minutes there, it did appear to be holding as there were no rocket alarms sounding around Gaza and there were no reports of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

But about 45 minutes later we saw two Iron Dome interceptions above our head, indicating Israel's Iron Dome air defense system had intercepted two rockets that were fired from Gaza going into Israel.

We heard another one nearby as well as hearing a number of launches from Gaza into Israel, two or three times. So it appears that the cease-fire that Hamas announced that was supposed to be brokered by Egypt has fallen apart. We'll see where the evening goes from here.

All of this started early Monday morning, when a rocket fired from Gaza deep into Israel, the farthest a rocket has flown from Gaza into Israel since the end of the 2014 war, hitting a home just north of Tel Aviv and wounding seven people inside that home.

Israel said it would respond forcefully. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that from Washington as he cut his visit to Washington short. That came just before sundown. Israeli hit a number of what it called significant targets in side the Gaza strip, including Hamas' intelligence headquarters as well as the office of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

There was a response from Gaza with rocket fire, red alerts, rocket sirens sounding all around Gaza. There was supposed to be a cease- fire, supposed to take effect at 10 o'clock local time.

What we saw with our own eyes on the Israel-Gaza border, that cease- fire appeared to fall apart. The question is what are the next steps is here. And is it possible for Egypt or perhaps the United Nations to step in and bring that cease-fire back into effect.

And is this the beginning of a long and perhaps sharp escalation between Israel and Gaza -- on the Gaza border, Oren Liebermann, CNN.



VAUSE: A political down (ph) where all this may be heading with CNN global affairs analyst ,Aaron David Miller.

So Aaron, good to see you. We've got this quote from the Arabic television network Al Arabiya, saying that Hamas says that the early morning missile which was fired that traveled 120 kilometers, it was fired by mistake.

The same claim they made about a rocket fire in Tel Aviv earlier this month and another which destroyed a home back in October. You know, to accidentally fire one rocket might be unfortunate, to fire two by accident looks like carelessness, by the time you get to number three, it just doesn't look believable.

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: No, I mean you could add a certain measure of incompetence also. And the Israelis are being quite discreet I think or careful in assessing judgment here. Although they assumed it was fire from Hamas control position in the rough area of Gaza.

And obviously, they've now gone off to after military and intelligence targets that belong to the organization. So no -- I mean once incompetence, twice carelessness, three a pretty willful act. I think to test the Israelis in anticipation of what Hamas --


MILLER: -- hopes on Friday, March 30, I think is landing (ph), will be a mobilization of thousands upon thousands of Palestinians along the border.

This might have been a test or perhaps even an intentional escalation to build toward what they hope will be really large and very willful and coherent, cohesive protests on Friday.

VAUSE: Will that, the Israel's prime minister who is in Washington. He was there on Monday meeting with U.S. president. At the time he warned of a tough Israeli response to the Hamas rocket fire. This is what he said.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: Israel will not tolerate this. I will not tolerate this. And as we speak, as I told you, Mr. President, just now Israel is responding forcefully to this wanton aggression.


VAUSE: CNN is reporting that Netanyahu told his security chiefs he wanted a strong attack on targets in Gaza to respond to the rocket strike. His security and defense chiefs had an existing bank of targets already prepared but Netanyahu told him -- told them he wanted more substantial targets to hit. The official added that the prime minister gave his approval for the targets that were attacked.

So you have a situation with the prime minister choosing targets in Gaza whilst visiting Washington.

How unusual is that and how much would you attribute that to the threat posed by you know, this Hamas rocket you know, led deep inside Israeli territory?

How much would you say that is you know, due to the upcoming Israeli elections which you know Benjamin Netanyahu is in a pretty tight race?

MILLER: I mean, this isn't at stake on a tough public position or call -- you're going to call for a forceful response.

You're actually -- you're not actually on the ground. You're going to want to try to find the balance as Netanyahu has done it seems to me over the last decade when dealing with Gaza between too much risk aversion on one hand and too much risk radius on the other.

And he's demonstrated a real avoidance, a fear I think of a slippery slope would -- which would involve an escalation and be to the deployment of thousands of Israeli ground forces into Gaza itself. Obviously casualties this is the main concern.

And looking toward an election that's two weeks away, he's got to find a way I think to be tough enough but responsible enough to avoid a situation where you don't have a lot of Israeli soldiers dying in Gaza days before an Israeli election.

VAUSE: Before he cut short his visit to Washington, he was there for the U.S. president to sign off on his support for Israel's claim over the Golan Heights. It's disputed territory on the border with Syria but not anymore at least according to Donald Trump. This is what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The despicable attack this morning demonstrates the significant security challenges that Israel faces every single day. And today I am taking historic action to promote Israel's ability to defend itself and really to have a very powerful, very strong national security which they're entitled to have.


VAUSE: So how does this move by the U.S. -- by the U.S. president in particular both to Israel's national defense and what does the U.S. get out of it?

MILLER: Well in my judgment, it doesn't. I mean, in large part, this is -- and, again, I voted for Republicans and Democrats that work for a Republican and Democratic administrations, it's not a partisan comment but there is a consistent pattern in the Trump administration of two things.

Number one, coming up with solutions to problems we don't have.

And second, allowing politics and his own persona to -- no pun intended here -- trump American foreign policy and national security interests and I think that's what's happened.

This was driven by a lot -- by and large -- and today if you watch the presser, it was a veritable campaign commercial for the re-election of Benjamin Netanyahu.

VAUSE: Which may explain this heady response from Benjamin Netanyahu. This is what he said.


NETANYAHU: Mr. President, over the years Israel has been blessed to have many friends who sat in the Oval Office. But Israel has never had a better friend than you.


VAUSE: Would you like to replace the word "Israel" with the word "I," as in Netanyahu has never had a better friend than you?

MILLER: Yes. On one hand, there's no doubt that Mr. Trump wants to see Benjamin Netanyahu elected -- reelected prime minister. It's good for his politics, for his -- Trump's politics looking toward 2020.

He's a known commodity; he's dealt with Netanyahu and they play off one another with respect to their grievances against the media, the liberals, conspiracies, all this rattles around and creates a -- they were actually --


MILLER: -- I've watched today -- they were actually wearing matching suits, the red ties.


VAUSE: They looked like brothers.

MILLER: It was real -- yes, it was really quite intriguing to me. So --

VAUSE: Very telling, yes.

MILLER: -- yes. I mean, I think there's --


MILLER: -- no doubt that of all the countries that Trump is not popular in, he is -- the one country that he is very popular in is Israel.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) those numbers. Aaron, we're out of time, but thank you as always. Good to have you with us.

MILLER: Take care, John.



VAUSE: In an extraordinary move British Parliament has seized control of the Brexit process away from Prime Minister Theresa May. A majority of lawmakers including 30 from her own party voted on Monday to take over the agenda. They'll be in control of Parliament for just one day, Wednesday.

And lawmakers will have a chance to vote on different scenarios, including a second Brexit referendum. Here's the opposition, leader Jeremy Corbyn.


JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, U.K. LABOUR PARTY: I would like to congratulate the house for taking control. The government's approach has been an abject failure. And this house must now find a solution.


VAUSE: CNN's European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas joins us now.

Let's just cut through and work out exactly what happened. The prime minister go rolled big time in what was an unprecedented power grab by Parliament. They'll kick down a whole raft of Brexit options, second referendum, a no deal, a softer Brexit, maybe just cancel the whole thing.

But all that will be non-binding and Theresa May says she wouldn't be bound by that outcome anyway, especially if it's at odds with her own Conservative Party. This looks like a really interesting week.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: It really does, John, it's quite a bit remarkable. Basically the situation is historically, of course, the government is there to rule and legislate. Not only has Theresa May been unable to legislate at we've seen. Her withdrawal agreement failed to pass the house on two particular occasions. But this time around, she's unwilling to present it even to the Houses of Parliament.

So ultimately one can argue what is left for them but to take control of the timetable, of the legislative agenda and begin having a debate around these particular questions. April 12th has become the new March 29th. A new deadline is looming. Theresa May has been back to the European Union. A line has clearly been drawn and Parliament must come up with a solution between now and the or we will end up crashing out of the European Union. So in many ways, this turn is not that surprising.

VAUSE: Here is part of Theresa May's pitch to Parliament before she lost the control the agenda. She selling her own Brexit deal, which has already been rejected twice. Listen to this.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I know that the deal I put forward is a compromise. It seeks to deliver on the referendum and retain trust in our democracy while also respecting the concerns of those who voted to remain. But if this house can back it we could be out of the European Union in

less than two months. There will be no further extensions, no threat to Brexit and no risk of a no-deal. That, I believe, is the way to deliver the Brexit the British people voted for and I commend this statement to the House.


VAUSE: It went over so well, that three ministers from her own government resigned to support this parliamentary rebellion. One of them, Richard Harrington, writing in his resignation letter, the government's approach to Brexit is playing roulette with the lives and livelihoods of the vast majority of people in this country.

Parliament wanted this move for a long time, they wanted to have this option of a vote, these different scenarios.

Could they have made this move earlier than this?

THOMAS: Well, they tried 10 years ago --


THOMAS: sorry, 10 days ago on March 14th; They brought basically the same motion to Parliament and it was narrowly defeated by 314 to 312. But a lot has happened since then.

Theresa May is unable to deliver Brexit by the 29th. She's been back to the European Union, who've said to her, you must vote on this particular motion and if you don't, there's no question of having that extension. Theresa May, you will have to decide whether or not you want this no deal.

There is something, of course, once again, Parliament today did support two motions that allowed them to take control and to have a range of indicative votes. But it's not as if they won by a vast majority; in both cases, the amendments passed by a majority of 27 with over 300 people voting against it.

So, yes, it will be extraordinarily interesting, especially for a government that doesn't have a majority, to see how parliamentarians, the very parliamentarians she insulted and offended last week by telling them they were not taking this process seriously, whether it is, in fact, her who take these indicative votes seriously and do something about it this time around.

VAUSE: With this uprising in full swing, we heard Jeremy Corbyn, he actually sounded somewhat sensible.


CORBYN: The government has had over two years to find a solution and has failed.

[00:15:00] CORBYN: It's time, Mr. Speaker, that we put an end to this and move on from the chaos and failure and begin to clean up the mess. It's time for Parliament to work together and agree on a plan B.


VAUSE: Is there enough time to clean up the mess?

Even in a statement saying, as it is increasingly likely the United Kingdom will leave the European Union without a deal on 12th of April, the European Commission has today completed its no deal preparations.

So at least from the E.U. point of view, time's up.

THOMAS: Well, from the E.U.'s point of view, as we saw last week in one day, 27 E.U. countries were able to come together and map out an agreement for May to bring back to the U.K. We do know there is little appetite in Parliament for a no deal.

So as this process goes down the road, Theresa May is obviously losing power every single day. One could say she lost all the way back in 2017 when she called that snap election and lost the Conservative Party majority.

Since then, with cabinet members plotting to take over, votes of no confidence, resignations and so on and so forth, power is slipping away from her. And it is unlikely, if they do end up going down in another week or so, this Parliament will withstand.

Theresa May and her government must command the respect and the confidence of the Houses of Parliament. It looks unlikely she will be able to do that as time goes on. And this process, beginning this Wednesday, is most likely the first of many sequences with the Parliament taking back control and pushes Theresa May either toward resignation or forces her to call a general election or asks the people to weigh in on a people's motion on this.

But simply letting the clock tick away, which is clearly her only strategy at the moment so that she can scare people into voting for her withdrawal agreement, does not seem like the Parliament is going to tolerate this any longer.

VAUSE: Dominic, come back next hour, because a question we are asking is what does this mean now?

Having said all that, Theresa May's Brexit deal is now the least bad option. We'll talk about that next hour. See you then. Thank you.

THOMAS: All right. Thanks, John.

VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, with victory, it seems, comes revenge as Donald Trump wrongly claims total exoneration by the Mueller report. He wants thing to be done about "evil people."





VAUSE: The four-page summary issued by his attorney general that found the Mueller investigation a result of no evidence of wrongdoing, no evidence of collusion with Russia.

But when it came to the question of obstruction of justice, the report did not conclude that Trump committed a crime. And it didn't exonerate him, either. The president proclaims he is completely cleared and came out swinging against what he calls the other side.


TRUMP: There are a lot of people out there that have done some very, very evil things, I would say treasonous things, against our country.


VAUSE: To our panel now, Michael Genovese, author of "How Trump Governs," and president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University.

And Mark Kokanovich, a former federal prosecutor.

So Mark, great to have you with us. We're going to you first. There's been a lot of back-and-forth about all of this and a lot of will center on that question of obstruction of justice. So some legal advice here, Mark.

The attorney general Bill Barr said that because Mueller did not find enough evidence prove an underlying crime, therefore, it would be difficult to prove corrupt intent beyond a reasonable doubt on this question of obstruction of justice.

So here is one explanation of why all of that is nonsensical. The attorney general's position is not only flatly wrong, it's dangerous. If Barr's view was widely adopted by federal prosecutors, it would provide a truly perverse incentive to engage in obstruction.

If wrongdoers knew they were likely to be charged with obstruction if prosecutors are unable to obtain sufficient evidence of an underlying crime, then they would have every reason to engage in obstruction and witness tampering in an effort to prevent prosecutors from gaining access to underlying inculpatory testimony and other evidence that might lead to such charges.

OK, it was long but I know you're still with us. So how do you see it?

MARK KOKANOVICH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: John, that's exactly right. And I would take a little bit of issue with the lead-in tonight. We don't have the report yet. My colleague, Dennis Burke, former U.S. attorney and currently with me at Ballard Spahr now, appeared on this program on Friday.

And I agree with him and many others. And the unanimous vote of the House of Representatives that this report needs to be disclosed. It hasn't been disclosed. All of the discussion that we've had surrounding the report hasn't -- we haven't had the benefit of having the report in front of us, of reviewing what's actually in the report.

Mueller conducted this investigation professionally, scrupulously and as he has in conducting his life with service to a cause greater than self-interest. And the American public deserves to see what's in the report.

You're exactly right that this would provide a perverse incentive to those who engage in criminal conduct to obstruct the investigation. His obstruction has been in plain view on Twitter.

In indeed, evidence of collusion has been in plain view. So we can't say that there's no evidence of collusion. And certainly, that there's no evidence of obstruction. There's ample evidence of both. The determination about whether or not to charge someone with a federal crime is one thing.

But the four-page letter that summarizes this vast report points to the Justice manual and the principles of federal prosecution. One of those principles is to decide whether or not there are other avenues to pursue justice.

And in this instance, one of those avenues is clearly that there's legislative oversight. So that may also weigh in favor of not bringing federal prosecution.

VAUSE: And talking to Michael, very quickly, because right now though, does any of that matter because the narrative has been set?

The president and his allies have owned this story for what, almost 24 hours?

No collusion, the president exonerated.

KOKANOVICH: Well, of course, that's --

VAUSE: To Michael, please.

KOKANOVICH: Oh, I'm sorry about --


MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: It's OK. Of course, the president would say that. We expected that's part of the script. But I think -- I think Mark's essentially correct and I think Mr. Barr made a fundamental error because if the president, according to his own statements and according to Department of Justice regulations, can't be indicted.

Then what's the remedy?

Is there a remedy?

He can't be above the law. So the only remedy is Congress.

Congress is the only body that can look at that evidence now and come to a determination.

Is this a problem?

Is it an impeachable offense?

Or is it not a problem?

And I think Mr. Barr chose party and president over a country in this. He need not have weighed in at all. This should go to the Congress and the entire report with some clear redactions should go to the Congress. If not, to the public as well.

VAUSE: He said one crucial line. The special counsel states that "While this report does not conclude the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." So this is how the Trump legal team views that one-line. Listen to this.


RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP ATTORNEY: It means they didn't feel capable of making the decision probably because they had dissent within their ranks. The most important thing is they didn't make the decision to bring a case.


GIULIANI: Or to conclude that a crime was committed.


GIULIANI: They actually should stop there. This extra language about not exonerating here, a lot of prosecutors called me this morning and said that's just very, very unusual and very unethical.


VAUSE: So Mark, who are these people calling Rudy Giuliani apart from Don Jr. and Roger Stone?

But, you know, why would, you know, why would Mueller include that line if it wasn't important?

KOKANOVICH: Yes, he clearly says, this report does not exonerate Donald Trump. Donald Trump's own public statements, intimidating witnesses on Twitter. Calling people rats, those things are good evidence of obstruction. And --

VAUSE: But why would so -- why would Giuliani call it unethical to include that line though in the report?

KOKANOVICH: Why Giuliani does things? You're asking the wrong person.

VAUSE: Right.

KOKANOVICH: For an opinion on that.

VAUSE: Fair point. It just seems that, you know, they're obviously trying to, you know, undermine the credibility of that one line, I guess.

KOKANOVICH: Yes and I think as between Rudy Giuliani and Robert Mueller, the credibility is an easy call.

VAUSE: Yes. Michael the other bizarre angle here is that the special counsel is appointed to take responsibility of investigating the president away from the people appointed by the president. Yet, one of the most crucial questions Mueller punts and leaves it to the attorney general to decide.

GENOVESE: Well, that's one interpretation. It may very well be that Mr. Mueller knows that the Department of Justice regulations say you can't indict a sitting president. And therefore, he basically said, "I'm -- my hands are tied on this. And therefore, I want you to know that while I'm not concluding that he is guilty of something, I'm certainly not going to exonerate him."

So it may be Mueller trying to just to squeeze the language out around this. So that he basically complies with DOJ rules. But also lets us know that we're not going to exonerate the president. There is something there.

Who's going to find out?

Congress, us, nobody?

Mr. Barr is trying to make it nobody.

VAUSE: Well, with that in mind, you know, Donald Trump has said he would not be bothered if the Mueller report was made public. But yet, hours after that, the Senate Leader Republican Mitch McConnell, he shot down a non-binding resolution calling for the Mueller report to be made public.

We also have the chairman of six House committees, all writing to the attorney general, requesting the report be submitted to Congress by next Monday.

So Mark, to you, if this ends up in some kind of legal fighting court, which is what seems to be where it's heading, who is playing a stronger hand?

Is it the attorney general or to the Democrats?

KOKANOVICH: Well, it's clear that if the position of the administration is that this report exonerates him, despite the fact that the report specifically says, it does not exonerate him. But if that's their position, they have nothing to fear from releasing the report. And it looks very suspicious that Mitch McConnell is fighting the release -- the public release of this report.

It's critically important for the public to know what Russia did to interfere with the election. It's -- a democracy depends upon the legitimacy of free and fair elections with integrity. And the public deserves to know which of their elected leaders take seriously that charge to protect the integrity of elections.

So those leaders that are in favor of allowing the public to get access to the facts as developed by Mueller in this extensive investigation need to stand firmly in favor of releasing the report with redactions as Michael has pointed out to the legislature and also to the public.

VAUSE: Yes, this full-page summary which came out over the weekend, it's got like a Rorschach test of the country. Here's on Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat House Speaker saw it.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Speaker Pelosi, are you ready to say that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and later the Mueller finding?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does this exonerate the president?

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CALIF.), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think that Mueller report was clear the president is not exonerated.


VAUSE: Clear the president was not exonerated. Despite that CNN is reporting that Pelosi has told the party's leadership to move on to focus on, you know, their own agenda, pocketbook issues.

And according to our own reporting as well, Trump plans to turn the investigation, Democrats' constant accusations of wrongdoing and the media's coverage of it all into a new foil, half a dozen advisers and aides have said.

He has already signaled he'll weaponize the results, targeting those who ordered the investigation and Democrats he says waged political warfare. The counteroffensive has some advisers concerned the president could overstep, diminishing a clear victory by sinking back into old grudges and calling for extreme steps to punish those he views as foes.

So Michael, if the Democrats hold the line here -- that's the big if -- and if the president overreaches -- which is not a big if -- how quickly could things turn badly for Donald Trump?

GENOVESE: In a nanosecond. But I think this was -- and I'm -- "was" may not be the appropriate word. But I think it was a great opportunity for the president to push the reset button. He could choose to be a bigger person or a smaller one. He could choose to turn the page or turn to revenge. And he's clearly turned to revenge. He's attacking people as evil as treasonous.


.He wants to now, it seems, use the tools of the federal government to investigate his political enemies. So this could get ugly very quickly, and another offset of this might be that we might be seeing some pardons coming up pretty quickly.

[00:30:19] VAUSE: I think we just lost Mark there in our studio. But we still have you, Michael, and we'd like to thank you for being with us. Also --

GENOVESE: Pleasure.

VAUSE: -- I'd like to thank Mark, as well. So we appreciate you being part of the discussion. Cheers.

GENOVESE: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Well, still to come here, Michael Avenatti, the man who found fame challenging President Trump as Stormy Daniels' attorney, now facing some serious charges himself, including trying to extort millions from Nike. Details on the allegations in just a moment.


VAUSE: Welcome back everybody. Thanks for staying with us. I'm John Vause with an update of the top news stories this hour.

British lawmakers have voted to seize control of the Brexit process from Prime Minister Theresa May. Thirty conservatives voted against the prime minister on Monday to help pass the so-called Letwin amendment. That sets up a non-series -- a series, rather, of non- binding votes on Wednesday. Lawmakers could support a second referendum.

Israel has launched airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza hours after a rocket was fired from the strip hit a home in central Israel. This comes despite a reported ceasefire between the two sides.

CNN's team says Israel intercepted several rockets some 45 minutes after that ceasefire was meant to take effect.

At least 19 people have been killed by flash floods in southern Iran. A month's worth of rain fell in just a few hours, inundating the city of Shiraz, turning streets into rivers and dumping dozens of cars onto the roadside. Officials say the water came so quickly there was no time for a warning.

Michael Avenatti, found fame as the attorney for a porn star locked in legal battle with the U.S. president, but now he's facing his own court fight, accused of extortion, bank and wire fraud charges. Nick Watt has details.


frequent nemesis, President Donald Trump, gleefully celebrated his claimed vindication by Robert Mueller, in a neo-Shakespearean twist, Michael Avenatti was arrested in New York.

GEOFFREY BERMAN, U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: The charges are based on Avenatti's scheme to extract more than $20 million in payments from a public company.

WATT: Charges were actually filed in two totally unrelated cases in New York and California.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER: I am highly confident that, when all of the evidence is laid bare in connection with these cases, when it is all known, when due process occurs, that I will be fully exonerated, and justice will be done.

WATT: California prosecutors say their investigation began well before Avenatti lassoed the limelight.

[00:35:08] NICK HANNA, U.S. ATTORNEY, CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA: It has nothing to do with anything political, or with anything else. It's just the facts in this case speak for themselves.


WATT: This Newport Beach-based lawyer first found fame repping Stormy Daniels in her legal tussles with President Trump. Avenatti cast himself as a resistance warrior. He even briefly flirted with a 2020 presidential run.

HANNA: But the allegations in this case describe something different. A corrupt lawyer who instead fights for his own selfish interests.

WATT: According to charges filed this morning in New York, in meetings and on the phone just last week, Avenatti tried to extort more than $20 million from Nike. "I'm not F'ing around with this," Avenatti allegedly told Nike lawyers, also suggesting that he held their balls in his hand.

This morning shortly for his arrest, Avenatti had tweeted this: "Tomorrow, at 11 a.m., we will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college battle scandal perpetrated by Nike."

BERMAN: A suit and tie doesn't matter the fact that, at its core, this was an old-fashioned shakedown.

WATT: Nike issued a statement that reads, in part, "Nike will not be extorted or hide information that is relevant. Nike firmly believes in ethical and fair play, both in business and sports, and will continue to assist the prosecutors."

An unnamed co-conspirator is mentioned but not charged, identified by a source as attorney Mark Geragos, who was a CNN contributor but no longer is as of today. He didn't immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.

Here in California, Avenatti was also charged today and charged with wire fraud and bank fraud for allegedly falsifying tax returns to secure $4.1 million in loans. And for allegedly delaying payment of $1.6 he won for a client, using the cash for his own personal and business use.

Stormy Daniels tweeting, "I am saddened but not shocked."

(on camera): Now, Avenatti was released on $300,000 bail, and he's due back in a California court on April the 1st.

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.


VAUSE: More arrests are expected in the college entrance scam in the U.S., including students over the age of 18, as well as more parents. Already 50 people have been charged. Some appeared in court on Monday, entering "not guilty" pleas.

Bryn Gingras has details.


BRYN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Twelve people in connection with this college admissions scam appeared before a judge for the very first time. They went three by three. The whole proceeding was done in just about an hour.

This is really the first wave of people that are going to appear before a judge, and they're pretty key players, according to the indictment.

No parents, but some of these people were connected to Rick Singer. Of course, he's the mastermind behind this college admissions scheme. Some of these people, for example, the woman who was in the Athletic Department at USC who allegedly made fake profiles for Singer to help wealthy parents get their kids into school, either through academic or through athletics.

Another person, the accountant of the Key Foundation, that was the sham nonprofit that Singer set up in order to funnel this bribe money to different people. So some very key players.

Later in the week, we're expecting parents who allegedly paid large amounts of money to help their kids get into these schools. And next week, the big names that we've always been talking about, Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman, two actresses who are allegedly connected to this scam.

Another big news that we've learned is that Yale has rescinded the admission of one student that's been connected to this case. But it's important to note that everyone who appeared in court so far with this on Monday pleaded not guilty, and more court dates will be coming in the future. Bryn Gingras, CNN, Boston.


VAUSE: Well, still to come, Apple takes a bite out of streaming TV. Just one of the announcements from the tech giant on Monday in a shift from hardware to software. Details next on CNN NEWSROOM.


[00:41:13] VAUSE: Well, Apple is getting into the movie and TV business in a big way, enlisting industry legends like Stephen Spielberg and Oprah. Brian Stelter has more now on Apple's newest ventures and the questions they're raising.


BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, yes, a big event here on the Apple campus in Cupertino, California. But an unusual event for Apple. There were a lot of Hollywood celebrities here in attendance.

Normally, the events here are about new products, new and improved versions of the iPhone, of the iPad. But this event was all about what Apple's calling services, things that fuel these devices. Content like magazines, television shows, games, etc.

Apple has increasingly pivoted towards services to make up for slowing sales of the iPhone and another devices. So this event, Apple promoted a new news app for the United States and Canada, where people have access to a bunch of magazines every month for ten dollars.

The company also previewed a new gaming idea. You could subscribe and get a bunch of games for one low price every month.

And then, perhaps most interestingly of all, the company's big bet on television and movies. We don't know how much this is going to cost, but starting this fall, apple will have a slate of original TV shows.

Full disclosure, I'm a consultant on one of the shows. It's about morning TV. It's been a projection for months, but it's been a secret up until now.

Apple has been working on these shows with Hollywood veterans, stars like Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, Stephen Spielberg. We're all here onstage, previewing the shows.

But there's still a great unknown. How much is it going to cost, and how exactly will people access the shows? All that was sort of left up in the air at this event. But the launch date was previewed. It's a fall launch date for some of these new shows.

Now, Netflix is not having to be extremely worried about this yet. Apple is aiming more for a small number of shows that it hopes will stand out among the crowd. This is not going to be a Netflix killer, at least not right away. But Apple is investing at least a billion dollars in these shows.

It's also trying to improve its TV app by adding new features, including ways to subscribe to channels individually.

So we see the company trying to focus on what it calls services. Lots of ways to access content on your devices. The idea, of course, being that you'll live even more in the Apple world.

Brian Stelter, CNN, Cupertino, California.


VAUSE: Well, we live a lot in the Apple world. I guess they'll be some more coming.

Thank you, Brian Stelter.

And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Stay with us. WORLD SPORT is next. You're watching CNN.


[00:45:20] DON RIDDELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hey, there, it's time for WORLD SPORT. I'm Don Riddell at CNN Center.

It has been another busy day of qualifying for the European championships in 2020 and the world champions, France, are making easy wake of their campaign so far against Iceland in Paris.

Les Bleus took an early lead Samuel Umtiti. It was a goal made by their young star Kylian Mbappe, and he was on the scoresheet himself by the end of the night. By the time he raced through the middle 12 minutes from time, France were 2-0 up. He took it well to make it 3- 0. And Mbappe was also involved in France's last goal, which made the final score 4-0.

Meanwhile, England have made a perfect start to their campaign. They thrashed the Czech Republic last week, and they got another big win in Group A on Monday, but they had to come from behind on the road against Montenegro.

Everton's defender, Michael Keane, sparing their blushes (ph) with this equalizer, a good header and his first England goal. But Ross Barkley scored twice, and their captain, Harry Kane, got his customary goal to make it 4-1 here. Raheem Sterling put the icing on the cake with a fifth.

England have won both games so far, scoring an impressive five goals each time. That is impressive. Ten goals in two games.

It was a difficult day for Portugal, though. Their star forward, Cristiano Ronaldo, lasted just 30 minutes in their game against Serbia. He was substituted after just half an hour in that Group B qualifier. He pulled out awkwardly enough to be subbed with what seemed like a muscular injury. At the time, Portugal were a goal behind, but they did equalize before

halftime through Danilo Pereira. While they threw everything at Serbia, the reigning European champions could not force a winner.

In other news, a wonderful gesture from the legendary Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson. He's raised 405,000 pounds, or more than $530,000 dollars, to repay the National Health Service, which saved his life in Britain last year.

Ferguson was taken seriously ill in 2018 and needed emergency surgery for a brain hemorrhage. He's since returned to public life and is often seen attending United games at Old Trafford.

He raised the money at a charity event on Friday night. The Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was also there.

And on the subject of saving lives, the best clip from the PGA tour over the weekend wasn't a drive or a putt at the Valspar Championship. But there was a birdie involved, kind of.

The broadcast cameras just happened to be focused on this bird when it dived into the water to pick up what I assume was going to be its lunch. It was a great piece of footage, even more entertaining when it dropped the fish, and a fan decided that he was going to jump in and save the day. He ran onto the course. He carried the fish back into water. While the players were trying to save par, he was out there saving wildlife.

But believe it or not, that might not be the best piece of video that we have on WORLD SPORT today. Stay with us to see what happened when this motor bike racer picked up an unexpected passenger. You won't believe how it ended.


[00:50:26] RIDDELL: Hey, welcome back.

One of the most recognizable faces in the NFL says that he's calling it a day. The New England Patriots tight end, Rob Gronkowski, also known as Gronk, announced on social media that he's retiring at the age of 29.

In partnership with the Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Gronkowski won three Super Bowls, and some have argued that he's the best to ever play the game in the tight end position.

When he won the last of those rings in Atlanta this last month, it was a sense that it might be his last game, and he has now confirmed it. Gronkowski is a larger-than-life personality with a strong media presence, so this almost certainly won't be the last that we've heard of him.

LeBron James is going to have some extra time on his hands this summer. He and the Lakers are definitely out of the NBA playoffs. The first time he's missed the post-season since 2005. And how's this for crazy stat? Only 4 percent of the current NBA

players were playing in the league back in 2005. That is a true testament to LeBron's longevity.

All in all, it was a fascinating of basketball, both for this generation and the next. Here's Andy Scholes with more.


ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS: Well, Don, this is uncharted territory for the Los Angeles Lakers. They've now missed the playoffs for the sixth straight season. They'd only missed the playoffs five times in the previous 65 years before that.

LeBron promising Lakers fans over the weekend on social media that the playoff drought will end soon.

And the NBA, it's going to be starting a new era during this postseason. For the first time since the NBA/ABA merger in the 1976- 77 season, there's going to be a playoff without someone named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal or LeBron James. At least one of those four had been in the playoffs for the past 42 years. Just incredible.

Now Lakers, ten games left heading into Sunday's matchup with the Kings. First quarter, LeBron drives to the basket and throws it down. And then a little later, LeBron setting the screen he's going to roll to the basket. Another slam.

No shutting down from LeBron. He had an all-around great game in this one: 29 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Afterwards, LeBron said he will continue to give it his all, despite the team being out of contention.


LEBRON JAMES, L.A. LAKERS PLAYER: I will never cheat myself. At the end of the day, no matter -- we're out of the playoff race, but if I'm on the court, I'm going to play how I play, and I play to win. So I never would cheat a game, you know. There's such thing as called the game gods. And they're watching no matter what you're doing, and it's our obligation to go out and be a professional; and that's what I'm about.


SCHOLES: The Hornets, meanwhile, continue to fight for their playoff lives, playing in Toronto on Sunday. Charlotte down two in the closing seconds. Jeremy Lamb fumbles it away, then has to heave it from beyond half court; and the prayer was answered.

Lamb's teammates all go to mob him. Now, what's funny about this highlight is Hornets star Kemba Walker, well, he had turned around in disgust when Lamb fumbled the ball away, thinking they had lost the game. He was quite surprised.

The win a big one for Charlotte. It's their third in a row, and it keeps their playoff hopes alive.

This time next year, we will likely be showing you highlights of Zion Williamson, playing in the NBA. For now, the top projected overall pick is trying to lead Duke University to a collegiate championship in the NCAA tournament.

And Sunday, Duke was playing Central Florida in the second round. The matchup everyone wanted to see in this one was Zion take on seven- foot-six Tacko Fall from Senegal. And Central Florida was up three with 20 seconds left in this game when Zion drives strong to the basket, and he climbs the giant, gets the bucket plus the foul. Incredible strength there from Zion.

And that was Tacko's fifth foul, so he fouled out of the game. Zion needed to make the free throw in order to tie it, but he misses it. That's when R.J. Barrett, who is also a projected top three pick in the NBA draft, he was there to put it back in. That put Duke up by one, final seconds. UCF going for the win, and B.J. Taylor's shot no good. Aubrey Dawkins there to put it back in, but the ball rolls off the rim.

Duke survives a thriller. They advance to the Sweet 16 of the tournament. Central Florida, meanwhile, their hearts are broken. After the game coach Mike Krzyzewski, who's won five college titles and three Olympic gold medals coaching Team USA, well, he said he has the utmost confidence in this group of Duke players.


MIKE KRZYZEWSKI, DUKE UNIVERSITY HEAD COACH: You guys were made for these two minutes. And just be yourselves. I have confidence in them, and if they didn't come through, then I've got their back, you know. But they did come through.

ZION WILLIAMSON, DUKE UNIVERSITY 1ST-YEAR FORWARD: I guess he's the best coach of all time. When he looks at you and tell you that you're made for this moment, it's -- it's like the most confidence you can be given. So when I went to the basket, I knew it was going in.


SCHOLES: So Duke has all the confidence in the world now as they move forward in the NCAA tournament. Duke is the favorite to win it all, and normally, Don, the favorite does have to survive one scare early on before they eventually win the championship. We'll see if Duke can complete that journey.


RIDDELL: Thanks, Andy.

And by the way, every year, millions of people fill in their brackets for March Madness. It's an attempt to predict the outcome, and all of the 63 results along the way. Nobody that we know of has ever called every single one right. But for the first time, somebody is on a perfect streak through to the

sweet 16. That is impressive enough. An entry called Center Road has a 100 percent record through 48 games, and the odds of doing that are staggering. Are you ready? It's one in 281 trillion, 474 billion, 976 million, 710 thousand, 656. They've picked Gonzaga to win it, by the way. You heard it here first.

And finally from us today, racing at high speed is dangerous. Even more so when you're doing it on two wheels. So can you imagine fighting with another rider at the same time?

Well, somehow, these two guys managed it in Costa Rica. And this is the wildest video you'll see all day.

Jorge Martinez and Marion Calvo got all tangled up. Martinez ended up on the back of Calvo's bike. And when they finally came to a stop, just have a look at this.

Punches were thrown. Nothing says, "I'm angry" quite like a punch to someone else's helmet. The race was stopped, and both men have been banned for two years.

But on the plus side, hey, their video has gone viral.

And that's it for this edition of WORLD SPORT. Thanks for the company. I'm Don Riddell at CNN Center. Take care and I'll see you again soon.