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Official Says White House Hasn't Seen Mueller Report; Scrutiny of Boeing Safety after Two 737 Max 8 Crashes; Grieving Families Await Relatives' Remains for Burial; $270 million Settlement in OxyContin Case; "Leave" Town Divided over E.U. Migrants; U.K. Lawmakers To Vote On Alternatives To May's Deal; Seven Killed In Yemen Hospital Airstrike; Prosecutors Drop All Charges Against Jussie Smollett; Israel Again Hits Hamas Targets In Gaza. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 27, 2019 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello everybody! Thank you for joining us. I'm John Vause, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Ahead this hour, made the least worst option win. Voting is set to begin at the U.K. Parliament on a host of Brexit alternatives. And in a bizarre twist, hardline Brexiteers might just be throwing their support behind the Prime Minister's twice rejected deal.

Prosecutors drop all charges in the Jussie Smollett case. Chicago cops and city officials are outraged insisting the T.V. actor faked a hate crime, filed a false police report. And blood in the water after U.S. drugmaker accused of driving America's opioid epidemic settles with the state of Oklahoma. Hundreds of cases now lining up to be the next for a multi-million dollar payout.

U.K. lawmakers will finally get what they've always wanted, a say on the kind of Brexit they want. In the coming hours, they'll vote on alternatives to Prime Minister May's twice rejected plan. It's an extraordinary move by Parliament after lawmakers voted to seize control of the Brexit process. Bianca Nobilo now has the latest from London.


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The House of Commons will take control of the Brexit process on Wednesday. Something like this hasn't happened in Parliament for over a century. The halls of Westminster today were alive with chatter about how exactly that is going to work.

It's understood that lawmakers will be given a range of options from tourism May's deal, to a second referendum, to Mays deal with add-ons, to Norway or Canada. Then the most popular of those options will likely go to a runoff early next week.

All the while the Prime Minister's authority and ability to lead is steadily diminishing as she loses control over this Brexit process so much so that members of her own party have been encouraging her to resign in order to win over the votes she needs from her Euroskeptic backbenches. But it's unclear if even doing that will give the Prime Minister the votes she needs to pass her deal. Bianca Nobilo, CNN London.


VAUSE: CNN's European Affairs Commentator Dominic Thomas joins us now live from Los Angeles. OK, so Dominic, according to a copy of House Business tweeted out by Labour MP, there'll be five hours set aside for debate on all these different options. Voting will be done by paper ballots. There's a smorgasbord of options from which to choose. Norway plus, Canada style, second referendum, revoke Article 50, (INAUDIBLE) options as well which don't stand a chance.

The Guardian newspaper reports 16 proposals have been submitted for house votes and it seems at this point Theresa May's deal is not among them which seems odd.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think maybe they're going to leave that one to her to bring up. So we have these two worlds really, the world of Theresa May where she's going to be devoting her attention on Wednesday to convincing the hard right Brexiteers to support her deal and then the members of parliament who will actually show up for this event tomorrow, will be there for several hours discussing and then eventually walking out with these long extended ballots in which they will get to choose between yes or no in an attempt to try and narrow down the various options which they can then bring back to the prime minister who will of course just ignore them completely.

So it's going to be an interesting process. It will nevertheless be revealing and perhaps by the end of the day, we'll have a better idea as to whether or not Theresa May will be motivated sufficiently to bring her deal to the houses of parliament for the vote for the third time around. That's what's going to be interesting tomorrow too.

VAUSE: And that third meaningful vote could actually happen on Friday. It seems there's some support from the hardline Brexiteers moving towards her plan. One of the leaders of the pro-Brexit conservatives Jacob Rees-Mogg explained why.


JACOB REES-MOGG, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE M.P.: I've always thought that no deal is better than Mrs. May's deal but Mrs. May's deal is better than not leaving at all. Inevitably, leaving the European Union even leaving it inadequately and having work to do afterwards is better than not leaving at all.


VAUSE: So how do you -- how do you think about this? What's your opinion? You know, the fear of actually no Brexit, never leaving the E.U. might just be enough to win over those hardliners and to get May's deal through Parliament. THOMAS: Yes. I think there's some really important things that are

taking place there and that are contained in that language from Jacob (INAUDIBLE). I think first of all, what we have and many of these Brexiteers are hunters that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

And what they're beginning to realize is when you look at the spectrum, you have the choice between a No Deal which they would prefer that are unlikely to get between Theresa May's deal which is at least a Brexit and of course then all the other options which produce tremendous uncertainty from a second referendum election and an extended Brexit that is likely then to never happen or to end up a lot softer.

What is I think really indicative in what it was said there is this discussion about essentially phase one and phase two. And we've not been focusing on phase two that much. Phase one is simply their withdrawal agreement. And it may be that Theresa May by delivering Brexit can walk away from this and pass the reins on to someone else preferably in the case of Johnson and so on, one of them, who can then Shepherd this through to the second phase which is the all-important negotiation as to what the deal would look like.

[01:05:43] And it is clear that they are beginning to think in terms of that time period and what they can do in that particular moment of time which could stretch out for as long as two years to get the deal that they actually have wanted all along. It's quite a clever ploy if you think about it.

VAUSE: But to win over those hardliners, that's why we had this talk of Theresa May offering her resignation. They want her out -- they want the deal through, but then they want her out of the way. Even then though, she may not have enough votes because of a lack of overall support from within her own party.

I have a report from the Sun newspaper that May's allies are urging her to suspend all conservative MPs who will not vote for her deal. It's a nuclear move they call it. Because if they're suspended, it means they won't be allowed to stand as conservators in the upcoming election. You know, if she heads down this road, what will be left to the conservative party?

THOMAS: Yes. I mean, that's the big thing. And the big question has been all along is what would be left at the Conservative Party if she actually had moved all along and gone to the center and found a deal across the aisle with the Labour Party which would have fractured the Conservative Party and throughout this process she has put the Conservative Party first over the interests of passing a Brexit deal.

The other thing of course which they seem to be forgetting in these -- in these negotiations and what's so interesting about the far-right talking about supporting her deal is her deal does absolutely nothing, and we know it to solve the question around the backstop in Northern Ireland. And it seems that as interesting as it is that those ten votes are going to be crucial to her if she wants to get the through, that the Northern Irish question seems to have been pushed into the background at the moment as they are so concerned about simply getting the Brexit deal through.

And wouldn't it be ironic if there's ten votes of confidence and supply that they've been relying on actually ended up being the ones that would make the difference between her deal going through and her deal being rejected by the houses of parliament.

VAUSE: There are a lot of ironic moments which seem to be dead ahead. Alistair Burt who is among those who resigned as a government minister over Brexit, he added this defense of the prime minister, kind of a defense.


ALISTAIR BURT, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: I don't think it's about leadership. At this stage, it's about the substance of what's available on offer. Changing the leader makes no difference to what has been agreed with the E.U. It makes no difference to these alternatives that are there. It makes no difference the calculations of people thinking what should they agree in order to provide an alternative.


VAUSE: A very different opinion though from Brussels. Phillipe Lamberts who is on the Brexit steering group for the European Parliament had this opinion of the British prime minister.


PHILLIPE LAMBERTS, BREXIT STEERING GROUP, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: She must be totally devoid of the basic human skills that you need to be a political leader and that is scary.


VAUSE: At this point, are they both right?

THOMAS: Well, I mean, at this particular stage -- I mean, Theresa May has tremendous responsibility for the way in which he has attempted to shepherd this process through. She's not a good listener. She does not consult it. She lost her majority in parliament on both sides. I think that the Conservative Party clearly do not want Theresa May should they achieve Brexit being in charge of phase two of the negotiations.

The European Union is not impressed with her negotiating deals but I think there's also a level of concern as to who may come along after her as they go back into this process. At the moment, you know, when you look at the question of the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration, the political declaration is at best an aspirational document.

There isn't much in there that isn't really open to reinterpretation or negotiation. And I think that the European Union is highly concerned about what should happen if we actually get to the particular stage of negotiating for a phase two of this process. And we're getting closer and closer to that being a reality of course.

VAUSE: Dominic, thank you.

THOMAS: Thanks, John. Well, a lull in the fighting between Israel and Gaza militants did not even last a day. Israeli officials say their fighter jets targeted Hamas military compound and weapons factory in Gaza. Earlier, moments after Israel lifted restrictions on Israeli communities around Gaza, officials say Hamas fired off at least two missiles but no one was hurt.

An airstrike near a hospital in Yemen has killed at least seven people including four children. The charity Save the Children which supports the hospital is demanding an investigation. The timing here there is significant. This week marks four years in Saudi Arabia launched a massive aerial offensive Iranian backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. A military campaign which has only made an already devastating humanitarian crisis even worse. CNN's Sam Kiley reports now from the port city of who Hudaydah.


[01:10:12] SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: She's on the brink between life and the abyss. Like her country she's been weakened by poverty and attacked by external forces. (INAUDIBLE) got a liver infection. Her kidneys are failing and malaria's inside her brain. She's ten. If she lives to remember anything, most of her memories will be a war in Yemen.

The war disease spreads fast in the next-door bed. The nearest child has meningitis, the next one over, a despairing teen who tried to hang herself. Bombs landed at the main gates of the hospital a few months ago. The staff are rarely paid but they still come to work.

HODA SOLIMAN, LEAD ICU NURSE, AL-THAWRA HOSPITAL (through translator): Of course, if you see people who can't find medical care, then we have to rescue them even if this hospital was under bombardment. When there were clashes we remained here. When they attack the hospital, we stayed here. If we don't relieve the suffering of these people, who would?

KILEY: The U.S. support for the Saudi-led war against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who holds Hudaydah and most of the north is under pressure in the Senate but still, death to the usual suspects America and Israel.

Not surprising though, the U.S. is the biggest arms supplier to Saudi Arabia and its allies. It's U.S. bombs, planes, and vehicles that have helped the Saudi-led coalition forces weigh into the outskirts of Hudaydah. They're marking the fourth anniversary of a war that's killed an estimated 60,000 people, a couple of miles from the frontline.

There are obviously many thousands of Houthis who have gathered here in Hudaydah and it's this city that's absolutely central to the survival of the whole Houthi mission. It's through the port here that almost all of the food comes to feed some 70 percent of the population. But they're incredulous after four more years of war that the United States and the United Kingdom continue to supply weapons to the Saudi-led coalition.

Anger here is as widespread as hunger. The U.N. has warned the ten million people are one step away from famine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many, how many blood? How many blood from our body to stood the war.

KILEY: And you know that the U.S. Senate is putting pressure on the Trump administration to stop support for the Saudis? What do you say to that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our people -- our people and our children tell us USA kill us, every day kill us. Kill us in my school, kill us in the (INAUDIBLE).

ABDUL MOMEN AL-MONTASSER, ENGLISH LITERATURE PROFESSOR: Actually they're just thinking of their own benefits from you know, Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries. They're rich. They want to milk them, you know, as I think Trump.

KILEY: That is a sentiment that's reflected on the walls of Hudaydah. That's the Saudi king's head on a cow and the U.S. president is filling golden pails at the other end. Sam Kiley, CNN Hudaydah, Yemen.


VAUSE: We'll have another account of the crisis in Yemen next hour from Frank McManus who's with the International Rescue Committee. OK, a break now. When we come back, no charges but no exoneration either, and we're not talking about the U.S. president. Up next, we'll have the latest stunning twist in the case of T.V. actor Jussie Smollett.


[01:16:22] VAUSE: Well, there's been a surprising turn of events in the case against American actor, Jussie Smollett. He was accused of staging a hate crime and filing false police reports. On Tuesday, prosecutor's suddenly dropped all charges. From Chicago, CNN's Ryan Young has the latest.


RAHM EMANUEL, MAYOR OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: This is a whitewash of justice. A grand jury could not have been clearer.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, Chicago officials furious.

EDDIE JOHNSON, SUPERINTENDENT, CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Do I think justice was served? No. Where do I think justice is? I think this city is still owed an apology.

YOUNG: Police not notified of a dramatic reversal that prosecutors dropped all charges against Jussie Smollett after he was accused of staging a January 29th attack on himself to look like a hate crime.

JOHNSON: We found out about when you all did.

YOUNG: Officials still charging that Smollett's claim leading police on a citywide manhunt was a hoax. The state's sealing all the evidence in the case no longer accessible to the public.

JOHNSON: It shows to hide behind secrecy and broke our deal. My job as a police officer is to investigate an incident, gather evidence, gathered of facts, and present them to the state's attorney. That's what we did. I stand behind the detective's investigation.

YOUNG: Today, Smollett, who has always maintained his innocence, took a victory lap at the courthouse.

JUSSIE SMOLLETT, AMERICAN ACTOR: I've been truthful and consistent on every single level since day. I would not be my mother's son if I was capable of one drop of what I have been accused of.

YOUNG: The State's Attorney's Office says that the facts of the case and Smollett's record were used to make the decision to drop charges.

JOSEPH MAGATS, FIRST ASSISTANT STATE'S ATTORNEY, COOK COUNTY: Also, keeping in mind our resources and keeping in mind that the office's number one priority is to combat violent crime and the drivers of violence. The decision I decided to offer this disposition in the case.

YOUNG: Smollett's lawyers earlier pointing fingers at Chicago police.

PATRICIA BROWN HOLMES, ATTORNEY FOR JUSSIE SMOLLETT: We have nothing to say to the police department except to investigate charges, and not tried their cases in the press.

JOHNSON: Quite frankly, it pissed everybody off.

YOUNG: A nod to these strong words by Chicago's superintendent last month when announcing charges against Smollett.

JOHNSON: And why this stunt was orchestrated by Smollett? Because he was dissatisfied with his salary. So, he concocted a story about being attacked.

YOUNG: Chicago's mayor, livid over the outright absence of fault in the undetermined case.

EMANUEL: Where is the accountability in the system? You cannot have because of a person's position. One set of rules apply to them, and another set of rules apply to everybody else.

YOUNG: Just a lot of questions remain in this case. Not only from the police department to the mayor's office, to the general public. This has played out so publicly, people thought they were going to get all the information. Don't forget, just last month, you had Jussie Smollett and his team saying they wanted cameras in the courtroom for a chance for the world to see that he was innocent that will never happen. Ryan Young, CNN, Chicago.


VAUSE: CNN Legal Analyst Areva Martin, joins us now from Los Angeles. So, you know, wow. I mean, how did this happened? You know, this is so bizarre. Before we get that, I want you to listen to the state attorney, explaining why the charges were dropped.


MAGATS: It's a situation where Mr. Smollett was charged with a low- level felony. One that ordinarily is covered by the alternative prosecution, deferred prosecution statute. He had no prior felony background. He had no history of violence.

Like I said, it is a low-level felony. Based on all the facts and circumstances, we feel it was a just disposition in the case.


[01:20:05] VAUSE: So, in other words, what? Two days community service, give me up 10 grand in bond, that's enough punishment, which near what John Smith, ordering non-actor everyday guy would have got in this case?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, John, that was the most lackluster -- you know, tepid, timid, statement from a prosecutor I've ever seen. Clearly, not a lot of confidence in that statement even from the prosecutor.

And I think the thing that disturbs most of us, yes, this is a low- level felony. And yes, there could have been a plea deal where he only got community service and maybe had to pay a fine and some restitution. But if that's the case, why not do that with transparency? Why make a call to Jussie Smollett's team last night, tell them to show up in court for an emergency hearing, give no notice to anyone else, go into that courtroom where Jussie Smollett had just asked for cameras to be present with no cameras present, enter some kind of deal, ask the court to dismiss the case, and then to seal the records?

I think everyone could understand that someone without a criminal record, someone who has not committed a violent crime would be entitled to community service and restitution. That's not the issue in this case.

The issue, in this case, is Jussie Smollett was charged with staging a hate crime. That's a very serious crime. And we worry about victims of real hate crimes now not being believed because of this alleged hoax.

And this ending of his case, it ends it with a cloud over Jussie Smollett and that prosecutor's office.

VAUSE: And we're hearing from the Chicago Police Department, the superintendent who was so outspoken when these charges were first announced, he is standing by his decision. He seemed almost caught by surprise when all of this came out. Here he is speaking a little earlier on Tuesday.


JOHNSON: If he wanted to clear his name, the way to do that was in a court of law, so that everyone could like to see the evidence. You all know what the bond proffer said. You know, we all know what it said. So, you know, I stand by the facts of what we produced. If they want to dispute those facts, then the place to do that is in court, not in secrecy.


VAUSE: Yes, and we heard to said the attorney doesn't actually disagree with the facts around the case. He also believes Smollett was guilty. So, here is Smollett's lawyer speaking on CNN, just about an hour or so ago, responding to what the prosecutor and the police chief had to say.


HOLMES: Nobody has found him guilty. He's not guilty, he is innocent.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: OK, all right.

HOLMES: You have a prosecutor who said he thinks that he's guilty. Now, how that is proper? I don't know because, in our judicial system, the prosecutor's view and opinion means nothing. It is the jury's view and opinion that matters.


LEMON: But didn't the grand jury --

HOLMES: Or any case.


VAUSE: Can you cut through this? Who's making sense here?

MARTIN: Well, she's right in the sense that you are presumed innocent once you're charged, you're not guilty just because you're charged. You're not guilty just because a prosecutor says you're charged. Even a grand jury issuing an indictment like you did in this case. That's just saying there is probable cause to move forward, and it's more likely than not -- that you are guilty of the charges.

But the problem, in this case, is we don't have a trial. There's not going to be a trial. There's not going to be the presentation of evidence. There's not going to be the cross-examination of witnesses and all the things that happen in a trial that allows us to get to whether someone is actually guilty or innocents.

When you go into court, and the state's attorney dismisses a case, which is fine. Again, dismissals of cases happen all the time. Not usually, after there's been a grand jury indictment, and 30 days later, you don't typically see these kinds of dismissals. But it's the secrecy, John. It's the lack of transparency.


MARTIN: It's the sealing of the records that makes this case so troubling.

VAUSE: OK, and one of the issues which is being raised is about the bail money. $10,000 which Smollett is willing to walk away from, willing to give up. He's not going to court to fight for it. Again, his lawyer explains why. Here she is.


HOLMES: He has a $10,000 bond up on $100,000 matter. 10 percent. Do you on principle, because he wanted his money back. Don't make any mistake about that. He wanted his money back.

But do you make a principal out of that over the next two years, drag his name in the mud. Have him have to pay lawyers, you know, select the jury, go through a jury trial, have the state's case fall apart like it was falling apart just so he can get $10,000 back.


VAUSE: Does that ring true to you?

MARTIN: Yes, this is an actor that makes a lot of money, John. I don't think $10,000 is consequential to him one way or the other. And I think to get beyond this matter, and to move forward with his life, of course, he would forfeit $10,000.

That's not a lot of money to someone who according to reports, may make over $100,000 per episode on the series that he's a part of. So, I don't think this case has been or it has or is about the money. For me, it's about the transparency, and it's about the message that he sends about our legal system. Some saying that this -- you know, is clear representation of celebrity justice.

And then, again, for me, about what happens to other hate crime victims. When they come forward to tell their stories, will they be believed? Or, will there forever be a taint with respect to anyone that comes forward to report a hate crime. And I think to have such a high profile case and in this way without us hearing what happened in that courtroom, without being able to look at those records and to review what was said and what was done. There will forever be question about his innocence.

He may be telling the truth, but we don't know that, because there hasn't been their process and trial.


[01:25:45] VAUSE: We're talking to -- They (INAUDIBLE) me for this. Did the police -- you know, we talked about this when the charges are first announced. Do they make too big a deal out of this at the time and now had to walk it back?

MARTIN: Well, when you look at Chicago, when you look at the thousands of murders that have happened in that city over the last couple of years, some people say this was always a lot to do about nothing.


MARTIN: But I don't think so. This was about a hate crime. And hate crimes are on the rise in this country, and they are very serious, and they should be taken very seriously. And this is a high profile individual. And we like it or not, whenever a high profile individuals involved in a crime or in alleged crime, there is going to be media attention around that individual and the criminal process. So, I don't think there was too much to do about this case.

VAUSE: Right.

MARTIN: I think that ending of the case leaves us all with too many questions.


MARTIN: And not a lot of faith in the Judicial process.

VAUSE: And we are out of time, Areva. So, thank you. Appreciate seeing you. Thank you.

MARTIN: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: While the Southwest Airlines grounded Boeing 737 (INAUDIBLE) headed to storage. But engine trouble force an emergency landing, instead, but the airline's explanation in just a moment.


VAUSE: Thanks for staying with us, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm John Vause, with the headlines.

British lawmakers will debate a number of alternatives to Theresa May's Brexit plan in the coming hours. After taking control of the process away from the prime minister, the government says it will not be bound by those votes and is still pushing for a third vote on Mrs. May's twice rejected deal.

Israel says, its fighter jets have struck Hamas military compound and weapons depot in Gaza after rockets were fired at Israel. Israeli strike put an end to a 16 hour period of calm. Israel says, no one was hurt, but military from Gaza fired two rockets in Israel.

Well, charges against actor Jussie Smollett has been dropped. The television star was accused of staging a hate crime and filling a false police report. [01:29:57] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: The Mayor and the police are outraged. Prosecutors though say Smollett's community service and his decision to give up a $10,000 bond was enough.

A Trump administration official says the White House still has not seen Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report. But that is not stopping the President from crowing about his conclusion that he did not to collude with Russia during the 2016 campaign.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports now from the White House.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Mueller report was great. It could not have been better.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump turning his victory lap into a political strategy today.

TRUMP: This should never happen to a president again. We can't allow that to take place.

COLLINS: Six sources telling CNN that after two years on defense, the President now plans to weaponize Robert Mueller's findings against Democrats and those who ordered the investigation.

TRUMP: It went very high up and it started very low but with instructions from the high up.

COLLINS: The President also taking aim at the media claiming that for two years they pushed the Russian collusion delusion when they knew there was none.

The President isn't the only one going on offense. Senator Lindsey Graham who spent the weekend golfing with Trump, calling for investigations into the Obama Justice Department and Hillary Clinton.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: When it comes to the FISA warrant, the Clinton campaign, the counter intelligence investigation it's pretty much been swept under the rug except by a few Republicans in the House. Those days are over.

COLLINS: Even though Graham admitted he was the one who urged Senator John McCain to turn over the dossier on the Trump campaign's alleged ties with Russia to the FBI.

Behind closed doors today House Speaker Nancy Pelosi telling her caucus they should wait to see the full report instead of relying on Attorney General Bill Barr's letter.

According to an aide, Pelosi said, "We cannot make a judgment on the basis of an interpretation by a man who was hired for his job because he believes the President is above the law. But some Democrats say it is time to move on.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC), HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP: And I believe that the Mueller report has been done. That is a chapter that is closed.

COLLINS: And focus on other fights to come.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D), MICHIGAN: I mean we've got real work to do. And every week we get off on some subject that does not matter to the working people in my district or the Midwest.

COLLINS: Not all Democrats are on board with that game plan. Freshman Rashida Tlaib is pushing ahead with her resolution to impeach the President despite what the party's leadership has said.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is impeachment off the table at this point.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Impeachment is not on the table until it is on the table.

COLLINS: Now, during the President's lunch on Capitol Hill, he told Republican senators that he felt like he got a clean bill of health from the Mueller investigation and added that he's ok with that report going public.

Now as far as that release happens, right now, a DOJ official tells us that there are no current plans for the White House to get an advanced copy of that report ahead of its public release.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN -- the White House.


VAUSE: Boeing is taking the unusual step of hosting hundreds of pilots, technical experts and regulators at its production facility near Seattle on Wednesday to try to explain a software update but this is no routine update. It is a path for the automatic system designed to prevent midflight stalls. A possible fix to the problem which caused two 737 Max 8s to crash leading to more than 40 countries grounding the plane.

Meantime a South Airline's Max 8 was forced to make an emergency landing Tuesday. The plane was being flown to a long-term storage facility in California when the airline says there was a performance issue with one of the engines. This is not related to the computer system.

And in the coming hours, U.S. aviation officials will be on Capitol Hill for a senate hearing on safety oversight.

Joining us now from Perth in Australia, Jeffrey Collins, editor-in- chief and managing director at It's been a while -- Jeffrey. Good to see you.


VAUSE: Ok. Very quickly on the engine problem for the Southwest crew, totally unrelated to the two fatal crashes, but still, it's the last thing Boeing needed right now.

J. COLLINS: Absolutely -- John. The last thing they needed was some more publicity relating to the Max. Yes, totally unrelated. Nothing to do with the MCAS system and it likely landed and it will make its way onto the storage when they repair the engine.

VAUSE: Ok. But by the end of this week, Boeing hopes to have its final submission to the FAA on its software update to the anti-stall MCAS system. According to our own reporting, "Pilots from the company worked with the software design team to incorporate multiple layers of protection in the event of sensor errors or other erroneous inputs. A response that would address the failure that is believed to have doomed the Lion Air flight last year that had received faulty data from a malfunctioning sensor on the nose of the plane.

There are a couple of issues here. But first, the big picture. There's some suggestion that aviation authorities in Canada and Europe that want to test the software packs themselves regardless of what the FAA decides.

[01:35:06] I can't recall a ruling by the FAA, that is what is universally accepted around the world that the Canadians and the Europeans and other countries go down this road. This is a crisis of confidence, not just in Boeing but the FAA.

J. COLLINS: Look, it is indeed. And this is actually very, very unfortunate. This has entered into the realm of politics and a lot of scrutiny, which of course, you know, scrutiny is important to make sure the FAA is working correctly.

But they've been working with Boeing in this particular fashion and with other manufacturers for decades and decades. This isn't something new. This is the way the Boeing 787 was certified and the Boeing 787 is a shining example of a superb product from Boeing although they did have the battery issues, which had nothing to do with the certification process. It was actually a supplier problem. So these things are coming under scrutiny.

Also what we are getting, John, is a lot of misinformation out there about the 737 Max. There are suggestions that the aircraft was rushed through. In fact, the opposite is the case. The certification of the Max was almost the slowest of any 737 model.

And there's also suggestions that Boeing makes money at a safety option. Well, the reality is (INAUDIBLE) Boeing hiked safety options or any option because they snarled production lines and slowed things up and actually cost them money.

So there is a lot of misinformation out there about the Max and the industry in general. And there is a lot further to go in these investigations before we really get to the real truth of the situation.

VAUSE: Ok. Which is interesting because I want to get down to this issue with the faulty sensors because a faulty reading from an angle of attack center -- that's a center which warns if the plane is at risk of stalling. It's believed to be the cause of the Lion Air crash in October, possibly, you know, related to the crash in Ethiopia a few weeks ago.

The software patch from Boeing is meant to fix that problem. Here is part of a report from "The Seattle Times". You know, context here, Boeing started in Seattle a century ago so these, you know, "Seattle Times" is actually across (ph) the story.

"The company typically uses two or even three separate components as fail safes for crucial tasks to reduce the possibility of a disastrous failure. So even some of the people who've worked on Boeing's new 737 Max airplane were baffled to learn the company had designed an automated safety that abandoned the principles of component redundancy ultimately entrusting the automated decision-making to just one sensor -- a type of sensor that was known to fail."

You know,, according to this report, installing three sensors would require major, you know, retrofit. Ultimately though how big of a problem is this looming for Boeing?

J. COLLINS: Well, a couple of comments there -- John. That is the article from "The Seattle Times" but the other issue is here. When you have a stabilizer, this MCAS system activates a stabilizer runaway. When you have a stabilizer runaway, there are two switches between the pilots. They switch them off. He cast the system out. That has always been there on the 737.

On a previous model, the NG (ph), there are four things that can cause a stabilizer true runaway, the nose pitch down that we have been talking about. On the Max there is five. And the rule for dealing with it is the same for the Max at is it for the NG. You simply switch the stabilizer trim (ph) off. You cut the power to the motor that drives this stabilizer trim. It's a memory item. You don't need to look up a manual for it, it is a memory item.

And that is what is baffling a lot of people is why the pilots of these two airplanes -- if this is what turned out to be the cause, why they didn't switch this system off.

VAUSE: We're out of time Jeffrey -- thank you so much. It's been awhile. Good to see you.

J. COLLINS: Thank you.

VAUSE: It has been 17 days since Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed six minutes after take off killing all on board. In the days and weeks since, regulators have searched for clues as to why the plane crashed while many families of the dead arrived in Ethiopian are simply hoping for the bodies of loved ones. But they have been told the process of identifying all the dead could take months.

In a CNN exclusive, Robyn Kriel traveled to two families both searching for answers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is from the bible from the book that was written by King David. And we're using this song and the very same (INAUDIBLE) moments of life.

ROBYN KRIEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the playlist of two grieving families -- Israelis Meir Moshe Biton and Bilam Maslia (ph) never knew each other before March 10, 2019. And neither had plans to ever visit Ethiopia.

But that day when flight ET 302 carrying both of their older brothers crashed in the field south of Addis Ababa they and dozens of other grief-stricken families were thrust rest together under the worst possible circumstances.

[01:40:04] Today, CNN followed them back to the scene of the crash. This is their seventh visit.

MEIR MOSHE BITON, VICTIM'S BROTHER: We have to search more, we started and we have to continue for the passengers, for the Israelis.

KRIEL: Shimon Daniel Rahim Biton (ph) -- was working as a security consultant. He was 61 years old and left behind a wife and five children.

Abraham or Abe Maslia (ph) -- was a sales director in charge of parts of Africa for an Israeli company. He was 50 years old, and left behind a wife and two children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had a lot of fun. You can see it in all the pictures that he had. Every time he is smiling a big smile.

KRIEL: 157 people from 35 different nations perished here. And their families and their countrymen desperately want to work with the Ethiopian authorities to make sure all the remaining evidence is collected particularly the human remains which many believe still exists under the soil.

Several other countries with specialized investigative units including Israel, the United States and France are poised to help Ethiopia with any further evidence collection to help in the identifying process. Families are worried that the longer this stakes, the worst the degradation of the evidence and the less likely their loved ones will ever be identified.

For the Rahim Biton and Maslia families in particular, having even a piece of their loved ones is important because in accordance with Jewish law, they cannot have a funeral until they have remains.

The two brothers purchased rocks from a side of the road and spelled out their brothers' names in Hebrew and held a makeshift ceremony with soldiers and villagers. And the two both admit that while they've both lost their big brothers, they found a friend and one another.

Robyn Kriel, CNN -- Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: Next up on CNN NEWSROOM, well, the makers of America's drug of addiction OxyContin are paying up after a historic settlement in a lawsuit over the highly addictive pain killer.


[01:44:57] VAUSE: The makers of a highly addictive painkiller have agreed to pay $270 million to settle an historic lawsuit in the U.S. The state of Oklahoma had accused Purdue Pharma of fueling a drug epidemic with its product OxyContin.

It's blamed for tens of thousands of deaths across the United States. Purdue denied allegations in this suit but with the settlement, the company avoids what would have been a highly-publicized trial.


MIKE HUNTER, OKLAHOMA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Quite simply we are out of time with regard to the responsibility we have to deal with this crisis. But the money from this settlement will provide significant and substantial funding to the Center for Wellness and Recovery here allowing us to focus our attention on what should be our highest priority -- Americans struggling with addiction.


VAUSE: Barry Meier is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist as well as author of "Pain Killer" which was first published in 2003, at the very beginning of America's opioid crisis. It has since been rewritten and republished available at all good book stores. He joins this hour from New York.

Thank you for taking the time for coming in -- Barry. It's good to see you.

BARRY MEIER, AUTHOR: Thank you for having me on. I really appreciate it.

VAUSE: Ok. So by paying this 270 million dollars, Purdue avoids a trial, more importantly it avoids a televised trial which would have heard the allegations in Oklahoma's law suit. So how damaging are these allegations that it's actually worth $270 million dollars so, you know, to stop them from being broadcasted, you know, during a TV trial?

MEIER: Well, I think it must have been very, very uncomfortable, because I have not seen the exact papers yet, but if this settlement follows the pattern of previous ones, it also means that none of Purdue internal documents will come to light.

So not only are they paying this money to fund addiction treatment, which is a wonderful thing for them to be doing. They're also paying the money apparently to ensure that their internal records don't come to light and whatever information they want to keep concealing also remain secret. VAUSE: Also, some legal experts have made the point that Oklahoma,

the state made a decision here, a bird in the hand decision. They could have actually won a lot more money if they went before a jury but at the same there are hundreds of individual cases which are pending. There are lawsuits from 35 other states.

So if all of them were to reach a similar settlement it adds up to around $200 billion. You know, Purdue and the Sackler family, they have deep pockets but just not that deep right?

MEIER: Yes. I think it's fair to say that Oklahoma decided we're going to take this money. We're going to get what we can. Were going to essentially strike what probably might be a halfway deal with the Sacklers and use this money for addiction treatment and then try to get more of a pound of flesh out of the other defendants in the case.

VAUSE: Because there's a threat too, that the company actually might file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

MEIER: They have said that, and you know, one of the interesting things is that they have been very public about saying that which leads you to believe that bankruptcy threat, is both real but it's also a negotiating strategy on their part.

And one thing that both Purdue and the Sacklers have proven over the 20 years that I've been covering them and writing them is that, as well as anybody else they know how to work the legal system.

VAUSE: Yes. We just heard from the Oklahoma attorney general, you know, talking about how this pay out will work with the bulk of the money establishing an addiction treatment research center.

But here's part of the press release from Purdue. We applaud Attorney General Mike Hunter for his leadership with making such an agreement possible. Purdue has a long history of working to address the problem of prescription opioid abuse and diversion. We see this agreement with Oklahoma as an extension of our commitment to help drive solutions to the opioid addiction crisis."

That seems almost beyond shameless given the role the company has allegedly played in the opioid crisis in this country.

MEIER: Well, they're entitled to put whatever spin on it they choose to. However, I think it's fair to point out that I don't recall a previous period where they had allocated to the $300 million dollars for addiction treatment which is something that they were free to do every year, prior to the point that they had a, you know, a legal gun pointed at their head.

VAUSE: Also in that statement it talked about the (INAUDIBLE) on the Sackler family, again quoting from the press release. "We have profound compassion for those who are affected by addiction. The National Center will provide immediate assistance to Oklahomans and individuals nationwide who need these services and our support is in keeping with our family's continuing commitment to making meaningful contributions to solutions that save lives." You know, the Sacklers were not named in this Oklahoma statement but there is a court filing in Massachusetts which was filed back in January. It revealed the family was not removed from the day-to-day operations but rather played a significant role in marketing OxyContin and allegedly misleading doctors as well as patients.

[01:50:01] MEIER: Yes. I think it's very interesting that the Sacklers agreed to contribute to this lawsuit settlement. One thing that your viewers are probably unaware of is that, I believe it was a week ago two members of the Sackler family were scheduled to be deposed in conjunction with this lawsuit. And those depositions were canceled at the very last minute in fact, the night before they were scheduled to take place.

So this payment, in some ways might be in exchange for not having their depositions taken. And not having their depositions played in a public forum.

VAUSE: Yes. The Sackler family becomes known for the role, you know, it's played in the ongoing operations of this company. It's already gone to charitable works, it has a trust, a family trust but that trust is an amount that (INAUDIBLE) are now on hold. Here's part of the announcement from the Web site.

"The current press attention that these legal cases in the United States is generating has created immense pressure on the scientific, medical, educational and arts institutes here in the U.K., large and small. This attention is distracting them from the important work that they do. The Trustees of the Sackler Trust have taken the difficult decision to temporarily pause all new philanthropic giving while still honoring existing commitments."

Is that entirely true? Or is it because a growing number of institutions are refusing to take their money?

MEIER: Well, I think the idea that medical institutions are being distracted from their research work because of lawsuits against the Sacklers is a pretty tall order. The fact of the matter is that over the last ten days, a series of museums in England and the United States, the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate, the Guggenheim, and others have rejected Sackler money.

So I think at a certain point, the family said, well, if you are not going to take our money we're going to hold off giving it to you for now. It's a little bit of a retreat with grace I guess would be probably the best way of phrasing it.

VAUSE: Yes. It becomes a problem when you can't give money away.

MEIER: It's sad. It's sad. I've never had that problem, but then again I've never supported major institutions.

VAUSE: Ok. Barry -- thank you so much. It's great to have you with us.

MEIER: My pleasure. VAUSE: Barry Meier there -- author of "Pain Killer", one of the first books ever written on America's opioid crisis.

MEIER Thank you.

VAUSE: Next up on CNN NEWSROOM, many in the U.K. who voted for Brexit did so as a protest of immigration and for one town which voted overwhelmingly to leave the E.U. the debate now is over the European migrants who plan to stay in that town in a post-Brexit world.


VAUSE: While U.K. lawmakers debate alternatives to Theresa May's Brexit plan millions E.U. citizens living in the U.K. are facing something of an uncertain future.

The city of Peterborough which voted to leave overwhelmingly has a large population of E.U. migrants. And as CNN's Anna Stewart reports now, the city seems divided over their fate.


[01:54:54] ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a city famous for its imposing cathedrals and increasingly for its politics. Peterborough voted to leave the E.U. by 61 percent. And the Leavers I spoke to haven't changed their minds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just thought that I think when the law's made up by a different country, our own laws, I thought Europe was getting too intrusive into our way of life.

STEWART: Nearly 200,000 people living in Peterborough and 21 percent of residents are immigrants. The population jumped by 11,000 people between 2011 and 2015 and immigration was a driving factor.

TONY MATTHEWS, LEAVE SUPPORTER: We've come over here. I mean they come over here, you know, they get money handed to them. That ends now. I worked all my life, you know. And what I've earned I tell they take it. But that was (INAUDIBLE)

STEWART: Outside of the main city center are residential areas like this one (INAUDIBLE) which are incredibly diverse. In fact, you can travel the world along a very small stretch of (INAUDIBLE). And I've seen 10 to 15 years ago many of the cafes and restaurants where Indian bars. Since many E.U. countries going like Poland, Czech Republic, you see increasingly European shops and restaurants.

We have -- here is Poli (ph) the Polish supermarket over here. And come over here we've got the Portuguese Euro Mini market. Hello gentlemen. We have Chicken Palace. We have Euro Star. You can eat in a different country every night of the week.

It's a rundown area but it has a great sense of community albeit an international one. Pubs have been converted, converted. One is now a Polish supermarket. Another a Romanian restaurant. While some in Peterborough worry about the dilution of British culture, others embrace the multiculturalism.

Well, the air is kind and (INAUDIBLE) and I get on well with the Portuguese. And they are very nice people. I don't think they're entitled to be in this country and earn a living. And I just think it's gotten better.

STEWART: The Torak (ph) family from Czech Republic. They moved here in 1999. Radek helped his grandfather with his English.

RADEK TORAK, RESIDENT: When he came to England, like people were like welcoming -- he's like an immigrant like people were like saying how are you? Like How are you finding England? They were like welcoming them here. They were like really welcoming for him. It was nice for him.

STEWART: And many residents here hope that the U.K. remains open and welcoming to those coming from the E.U.

Anna Stewart, CNN -- Peterborough.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Stay with us. The news continues here on CNN after a short break.