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U.K. Lawmakers To Vote On Alternatives To May's Deal; Israel Again Hits Hamas Targets In Gaza; Scrutiny of Boeing Safety after Two 737 Max 8 Crashes; Yemen Marks Fourth Anniversary of Conflict; Concerns over Russian Military Influence in Venezuela; Israel Strikes Hamas Targets In Gaza After Rocket Hits House; Europe Approves New Internet Copyright Law; European Parliament Votes To Scrap Seasonal Time Changes; All Charges Against Jussie Smollett Dropped. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired March 27, 2019 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world, I'm Rosemary Church with your next two hours of CNN NEWSROOM, let's get started.

U.K. lawmakers take over the Brexit agenda and they will vote on alternatives to Theresa May's plan.

Israel said it's beefing up its military at the border with Gaza. We will have a report on the tensions there.

Also ahead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do I think justice was served?

No. I think this city is still owed an apology.

CHURCH (voice-over): Chicago officials are stunned after all charges against actor Jussie Smollett are dropped.



CHURCH: Good to have you with us.

The U.K. was already in uncharted territory with Theresa May steering the Brexit ship. Now Parliament is in the driver's seat. In the upcoming hours lawmakers will get to say what kind of Brexit they want, voting on alternatives to the prime minister's twice rejected plan.

They will test the waters on a number of options, anything from a second referendum to staying within the E.U. customs union, to crashing out with no deal. The votes are not binding but they are another stinging to Theresa May, who will meet with influential Conservative MPs before the votes are cast. And there is speculation she might lay out a timetable for her resignation in a last ditch effort to get hardliners to back her deal.

CNN's European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas joins us live from Los Angeles.

It's good to see you. So in just a few hours from now, lawmakers will vote on the alternatives to Theresa May's Brexit plan.

Are they any closer to getting a majority of one of those available options you think?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Yes, well it's going to be interesting to see which options of course, they decide to pick. I'd say that some of the more going to see before that the no deal, we're going to see a majority support for that. When it comes to a revoking Article 50, no.

But the most interesting ones are going to be those that pertain to some kind of post-Brexit economic model, such as a Norway model, with some sort of closer connection to the European Union and what we're calling a Canada plus model.

Theresa May's deal has got a maximum of 242 votes. That was the least that she suffered a defeat by, by 149. So it'll be really interesting to see if one of those motions got perhaps not a majority but something substantially higher than 242, that will be a fairly powerful indicator as to where some kind of compromise would lie.

CHURCH: Right and, of course, we will come back to that in just a moment. But we did see 1 million demonstrators take to the streets of Central London over the weekend. In support of a second referendum, we just saw the numbers there, that more than 5.8 million people have signed a petition supporting a second vote.

Will that bring enough pressure to bear on lawmakers to get on board or at least consider this option?

THOMAS: Yes, I think we're going to see some shift. The last time that motion was put to an amendment, it suffered an absolutely resounding defeat. There will be clearly some movement there.

What's going to be interesting is whether or not those particular MPs are feeling pressure from their constituents, who are clearly tired and disillusioned with the way this process has been working.

The question really around the referendum is what would be the language of it?

If these amendments start to talk about that, it will be interesting.

For example, is it between Theresa May's deal or no Brexit?

In other words, not just a repeat of the early referendum, should we remain or leave but some kind of model juxtaposed that would allow the members of Parliament to feed in on. That is something that could be productive and the goal of these amendments is to eliminate those who receive very little support try to see as they move through the process what emerges or comes to the surface, as something that could provide some sort of indication as to where to go on the next step of this complicated process.

CHURCH: Yes a process of elimination seems to be what they're left with right now.

So where does this leave Theresa May's Brexit deal?

Already rejected twice by lawmakers, but if she offers a timeline for her resignation, And there's speculation of that, could it be enough to get what she needs from hardliners that could see her deal as preferable --


CHURCH: -- to some of the other options?

THOMAS: I think when we start to use the word elimination, the person who's looking to be eliminated here from the Brexit game is prime minister Theresa May in this extraordinary move. We see the far right Brexiteers, who've been a problem and a challenge throughout this entire process, potentially come around to the idea of supporting her deal, as the famous saying goes, a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.

What they're seeing here is essentially at two ends of the spectrum, a no deal, which they would prefer, but the other option which is tremendous uncertainty of an extension, a second referendum, a general election, and so on, is Theresa May's deal.

And this paradoxically provides some kind of dignified way to her to exit. Is to claim success that she delivered Brexit but then stepped aside as they move to the second phase of Brexit, which is what some of the hard-core Brexiteers, like Jacob Rees-Moog and Boris Johnson have started to allude to is that they would rather have somebody else in the driver's seat, as they move to the European Union and talk about the free trade or some kind of trade agreement afterwards.

So this could be a working compromise.

CHURCH: It will be interesting to see, of course, these votes will be nonbinding, so we'll see what comes of that.

What will we talk about in 24 hours, I wonder?

Thank you, Dominic Thomas, for talking about this.

THOMAS: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: The seaside city of Brighton voted overwhelming to stay in the E.U. and residents there are angry with the lack of decision coming from Westminster. CNN's Nina dos Santos has more. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR: We are just a train ride away from London on the English seaside. Brighton is the city that voted to remain inside the E.U. when three quarters of its people voted in the referendum almost three years ago and feelings are still riding high, people here expressing frustration at how Westminster is handling the whole Brexit process

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) Parliament are taking control. I don't think it will help. It's all just going to make it even more confusing and more delayed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they need to figure out now only that and let our generation figure it out in a few years' time.


DOS SANTOS: If she can't get that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK with Theresa May still.

DOS SANTOS: People are concerned about the impact that Brexit will have on tourism. Brighton's pier and its beaches attract large numbers of U.K. and international tourists each year.

The city is also home to language schools and a big student university population. For all these reasons, locals are concerned about the impact that Brexit will have on the vibrancy of this once bustling Victorian seaside city -- Nina dos Santos, CNN, in Brighton.


CHURCH: We turn now to the Middle East, where a break in the fighting between Israel and militants in Gaza didn't last very large. Israel's military said it sent a second night of airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza after rockets were fired.

It follows Monday's fierce exchange of aerial attacks between the two sides and Israel said it had deployed additional troops to the border with Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he is prepared to do a lot more if necessary.

Let's turn now to CNN's Phil Black; he joins us now from Jerusalem.

Phil, what's the information you have on this tense situation at the Israel-Gaza border?

And have we learned anything more about why this initial rocket was fired into Israel?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Rosemary, it's in the night hours here, so there is a limited exchange of fire in and out of Gaza in a sign that perhaps this week's much more significant escalation of violence and tension has not yet run its course. At least three rockets were fired out of Gaza toward Israeli

territory. They either fell harmlessly or were shot out of the sky while the Israeli bombed two Hamas military sites in the southern Gaza Strip.

The Israeli government, as you touched on there, said there is a cease-fire in effect and they are prepared to take further action as required. That's after describing the action of the operations that it conducted earlier as the greatest use of force against Hamas since Israel and Hamas last fought a war in back in 2014.

As for the rocket fire that started all this, that you mentioned there. That single rocket that flew deep into Central Israel, landing on a family home, injuring seven people, including children. We still don't have a clear idea of who fired that and why.

What's clear is that Israel holds Hamas responsible for this. They said it was a Hamas made rocket fired from a Hamas facility and they take the view that everything that happens on the Gaza Strip is ultimately the responsibility of Hamas because Hamas is in control there.


BLACK: But from Hamas itself, no official comment, no confirmation or denial of that rocket fire. It was unprecedented in recent history in terms of its length and it came very close to injuring that Israeli family -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: And Prime Minister Netanyahu is just two weeks away from a critical election.

What impact will that impending vote have on how the prime minister responds?

BLACK: Yes, it's crucial political context for this whole recent crisis. The prime minister is in a closely fought parliamentary election campaign. The vote is just two weeks away and he must walk and achieve a crucial political balance to show that he is in control, that he can still be trusted with Israel's security.

That's the number one political issue in this country, to show that he's capable of punishing and deterring Hamas taking further action, of defending Israeli lives. But at the same time not taking steps that could potentially see this escalate into a larger or more widespread conflict.

So it's something that could potentially, theoretically end with a ground incursion for example, into Gaza. That would be politically a problem for the prime minister because he has the burden of being the long-standing incumbent leader in this country. He's also the defense minister, so therefore it's a tricky situation here is very much one of his making. So he would be very open to criticism, he is already being criticized by his opponents.

If the security system were to deteriorate further, also in the event of a wider conflict there would be the possibility of Israeli casualties. And that is something that could be politically very costly to the prime minister leading up to the election.

CHURCH: A lot to consider. Phil Black, from Jerusalem, many thanks to you.

We'll take a very short break. Still to come, it is an agonizing wait for grieving families; relatives gathering in Ethiopia hoping to move forward with burials of their loved ones lost in that doomed flight.

Plus the fourth anniversary of the civil war in Yemen is marked by a rally and bloodshed. More details after the break.




CHURCH: Welcome back everyone.

We turn now to the Boeing investigation and the latest issue for the airplane manufacturer's MAX 8 fleet. Pilots on one of the planes had to make an emergency landing in Florida --


CHURCH: -- on Tuesday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tower, Southwest 8701; we just lost our right engine, we need to declare an emergency. Flight heading 020.


CHURCH: The Southwest Airlines plane was being flown from Orlando to California for storage, while the fleet remains grounded after two deadly crashes. There were no passengers on board and the plane did land safely.

The airline said a performance issue with one of the engines was not related to a computer system that is under scrutiny in those MAX 8s. In the upcoming hours, U.S. aviation officials will be on Capitol Hill for a Senate hearing on safety oversight.

Well, Ethiopian Airlines 302 was one of the doomed MAX 8 flights. Families around the world arrived hoping to take the remains of their loved ones for burial. In this exclusive, Robyn Kriel travels with two families, who have come together in their search for answers.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) from the Bible in the book that was written by King David. And we are using this song in the very sad moments of life.

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

But that day, when flight ET302 carrying both of their older brothers crash in a field south of Addis Ababa, they and dozens of other griefstricken families were thrust together under the worst possible circumstances.

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, as we started and we have to continue for the passengers not only for the Israelis.

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

Avriham (ph) or Avi Matzliah 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 (from captions): 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 (voice-over): 157 people from 35 different nations perished here. And their families and their countrymen want to work with the European authorities to make sure all of the remaining evidence is obstructed, particularly the human remains which people believe still exists under the soil.

Several other countries with specialized investigative units including Israel and 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 takes, the worse the degradation of the evidence and the less likely their loved ones will ever be identified.

For the Rahim Biton and Matzliah 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 the 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 lost their big brothers they found a friend in one another -- Robyn Kriel, CNN, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHURCH: An airstrike near a hospital in Yemen has killed at least seven people including four children. The missile is believed to have landed within 50 meters of the facility's main building. The charity Save the Children, which supports the hospital, is demanding an investigation.

The timing here is significant. This week marks four years since Saudi Arabia launched a massive aerial offensive on Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Many who support the Houthis marked the anniversary with a massive rally in the capital city of Sanaa.

With a reminder on the conflict in Yemen, Houthi rebels allied with Iran took over much of the country, including the capital of Sanaa in early 2015. In march of that year, a Saudi-led coalition backed by the United States began a military campaign against the Houthis.

In August of 2016, peace talks failed to end the conflict, the crisis escalated into a multisided war, allowing Al Qaeda and ISIS --


CHURCH: -- to grow stronger. In November 2017 Houthi rebels launched a ballistic missile at Saudi Arabia's capital, prompting Saudi Arabia to tighten a blockade on Yemen.

In June of 2018, Saudi-led forces began an attack on the port city of Hudaydah, the main port that brings in food and humanitarian supplies. And in early August, the Saudi-led coalition conducted an airstrike that killed dozens of children on a school field trip when their bus was hit.

And in December, opposing sides in the conflict began direct peace talks in Sweden. Those talks called for an immediate cease-fire in the port city of Hudaydah.

My next guest is urging all sides to implement those agreements. Frank McManus is the International Rescue Committee's country director for Yemen and he joins me now from Sanaa.

Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: As the civil war in Yemen marks its fourth anniversary, why haven't the agreements reached in December been implemented yet?

MCMANUS: A complicated question, I think there seems to be a lack of confidence on both sides that, if they move, the other side will move with them. I think there is also a problem with the peace agreement that has been agreed is so localized. It just covers Hudaydah City. The tensions continue to boil over elsewhere in the country. And that has a risk of destabilizing what's going on in Hudaydah.

So, since the signing of the peace agreement we have seen a reduction of clashes, a reduction of violence in Hudaydah City but we have seen violence escalate elsewhere in the country. Sanaa and Hajjah just to the north of Hudaydah but also places like Ad Dahi in the middle of the country.

So, one frontline has gone quieter, other front lines have flared up.

CHURCH: So why hasn't the United States and the United Kingdom done more to move Yemen toward peace?

MCMANUS: I would like to point out that there are only some of the actors involved. I mean, we certainly at the IRC would call on all those with influence over the warring parties to do what they can to get those warring parties to the table and then to implement in good faith the agreements which are reached.

CHURCH: So what do you think it will take to end the conflict there in Yemen?

MCMANUS: I think it'll certainly take stronger messaging and those messages to be backed by action coming from the outside forces who influence the warring parties. For this conversation, particularly the U.S. and the U.K., whether that is a scaling down of the supply of arms or diplomatic pressure or support, we'll leave to others to decide.

CHURCH: And what would the likely ramifications be then if some form of peace can't be found across Yemen?

MCMANUS: We'll continue to see what we -- or what we which is deteriorating situation. A U.N. report recently put it out put it very well who said that, this year we find millions of Yemenis are hungrier or sicker and more vulnerable than they are last year. And I think we'll see a continuation of those numbers going up.

Right now, we're looking at 80 percent of the country needs humanitarian assistance. So that's up a quarter on last year. We are seeing 3.3 million people are currently displaced. That's up a million over last year.

If the war continues, the numbers of displaced, the numbers of those in need, the numbers who cannot access adequate health care, who cannot access adequate clean drinking water will continue to rise.

CHURCH: And is there a sense that the world is watching on and nobody appears to be caring?

When you're describing what is an immense humanitarian crisis on the ground in Yemen.

MCMANUS: I think we believe people care. Your own program's interest and it shows people care, it's just a disconnect between actions on the ground and actions from our politicians, those who have influenced the warring parties.

CHURCH: All right, thank you, sir, for being with us. We really appreciate it.

MCMANUS: Thank you.

CHURCH: And we will have much more on Yemen next hour. Our correspondent, Sam Kiley, has an exclusive report from the port city of Hodeida and the humanitarian crisis there. Stay with us for that.

Well, the United States and Russia are both making their presence felt in Venezuela's political crisis. But now Russian military influence in the country is raising new concerns, as CNN's Paula Newton reports.



PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Trump administration calls this a reckless escalation. Two Russian planes arrived in Venezuela this week. Their presence confirmed by both countries downplayed by Russia. The mission though, a mystery.

KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV, RUSSIAN SENATOR: We do send military planes to this country the same way Americans do all over the world and it's not a big sensation.

NEWTON: Uniformed personnel seems to huddle on the tarmac although President Nicolas Maduro's communication ministry would not confirm a troop presence to CNN. The fallout though has already started. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the U.S. will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov fired back in a phone call Monday with Pompeo accusing the U.S. of organizing a coup in Venezuela and one Russian lawmaker seemed to offer an ultimatum.

KOSACHEV: I am definitely against of seeing any country in the world as a place where the United States of America in Russia compete with each other. We have to do just one single and equal thing, to stay out. And by that, we will have a chance to avoid a direct conflict between the United States of America and Russia.

NEWTON: U.S. and Russia remain dangerously at odds over who's in charge in the oil-rich country. Russia is saying Maduro is the legitimate President and the U.S. backing opposition leader Juan Guaido.

That standoff continues but the stakes are getting ever higher. Now Russia's economic influence here is always help sustain the Maduro government. But now it's increasing military support could become a dangerous flashpoint in America's backyard.

Newly released satellite images posted and analyzed by the Israeli satellite and intelligence company ISI show what it claims are Russian S-300 air defense systems being deployed for the first time in Venezuela presumably on alert for a U.S. military attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All offensive weapons being shipped from Russia to that island fortress.

NEWTON: The defense hardware and troops bring back memories of some of the Soviet presence in communist Cuba during the Missile Crisis.

Do you believe Russia is becoming more and more influential in Venezuela?

Former Venezuelan Major-General Cliver Alcala who defected from the Maduro government worked closely with former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as he cultivated a closer military relationship with Russia. One nurtured and encouraged, he says, by Cuba's Castro led government.

CLIVER ALCALA, FORMER MAJOR GENERAL, VENEZUELAN ARMY (through translator): Russia is a great broker same as Cuba. They have their economic interest in the country. They don't care for the welfare or the protests of the Venezuelan people.

NEWTON: Paula Newton, CNN, Caracas.


CHURCH: Still to come, Donald Trump takes a victory lap on Capitol Hill over the Mueller report but there's a major part of the story he's still getting wrong. That is next on CNN NEWSROOM.

Plus, the decision that rocked Chicago, all charges dropped in the Jussie Smollett case. The stunning reversal leaves a lot of unanswered questions. We'll take a look when we come back.


[03:30:39] CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. This is CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Rosemary Church. I want to check the main headlines for you this hour. Israel says its fighter jets have struck a Hamas military compound and weapons depot in Gaza after rockets were fired at Israel. The attacks brought an end to a 16-hour period of calm. Israel says no one was hurt when militants in Gaza fired two rockets toward the country.

An airstrike near a hospital in Yemen killed at least seven people including four children. The missile is believed to have landed within 50 meters of the facility's main building. The charity saved the children which supports the hospital is demanding an investigation.

British lawmakers will debate several alternatives to Theresa May's Brexit plan in the coming hours after wrestling 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. While 30 members of Theresa May's own party turn their backs on her to allow Parliament to seize control.

Two of them, Steve Brine and Alistair Burt resigned from their post as ministers to vote against the government. They told CNN's Hala Gorani the prospect of a no-deal force their hands but they still support the Prime Minister.


getting very close to the wire and relations to this process. And the fundamental concern for me and I know a number of others is we don't get to the wire and face this so-called no deal where the United Kingdom leaves the E.U. with no serious relationship and agreements to cover immediate few months and the future.

We have a deal which is being negotiated which I want my colleagues to support or consider a right of alternatives. The amendments on that yesterday allowed us to consider those amendments freely if the government were prepared to do that. I wasn't sure they were, so I needed -- it needed my vote to force it over the edge.

GORANI: It's a vote of no confidence in Theresa May's government. Isn't it, Steve Brine?

STEVE BRINE, PARLIAMENTARY UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE, PUBLIC HEALTH AND PRIMARY CARE: No. I think the same as Alistair, my colleague here has said. We don't want there to be no withdrawal agreement. We don't want to no deal, and Parliament doesn't and I don't believe the Prime Minister doesn't need to be. You can't wish it away. You have to have a deal or you have no deal.

Now, I would prefer the Prime Minister is still, I think it's a good deal, I voted for it twice and I'll vote for the third time if I'm allowed. But we spoke about it last time, you can't just keep -- we can't just keep hoping it's going to -- it's going to limp over the line.

GORANI: How is this not a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister --


BRINE: So what I think -- what I think we're doing is helping the Prime Minister because this is -- this is a hung Parliament. The executive doesn't have control in a hung Parliament in the same way as the (INAUDIBLE) what we are doing is reaching across the aisle and talking to other members of Parliament and seeing where the consensus lies in the House of Commons. And that gives us chance to get somebody out of the line that is a deal but then avoids that being --


GORANI: Alistair Burt?

BURT: No confidence votes here quite specific.


BURT: And there are regular votes that go against governments and the members who vote against the government all the time. It just means on a particular issue you don't find and see what the government is saying.

GORANI: Yes. Now, that's a procedural thing. Now, I just meant just in -- you've lost confidence not as in you've called for a vote of no confident.

BURT: Yes.

GORANI: But should the Prime Minister resign? She's tried twice to get that deal through. If she tries the third time and fails again, Alistair Burt, should she step down and let someone else take charge?

BURT: No. Because 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 to the calculations of people thinking what should they agree in order to provide an alternative.

Leadership of course is important but the substance of the agreements and the importance of getting an agreement is more important still.


CHURCH: Now, keep in mind, Britain is still scheduled to crash out of the E.U. on April 12th. If the Prime Minister's withdraw deal is not past and the U.K. fails to find another way out of this impasse.

Well, Donald Trump is riding high after Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence he collusion with Russia during the 2016 Presidential campaign. But he may be in danger of overplaying his hand.

[02:35:06] CNN's Jim Acosta reports from the White House.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Soaking in the finding from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report. President Trump marched up to Capitol Hill to declare victory but he didn't stick to the facts.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Mueller report was great, it could not have been, it said no obstruction, no collusion it could not have been better.

ACOSTA: But that's not true while Attorney General William Barr summary of the Mueller report did state that the special counsel found the Trump campaign did not conspire or coordinate with the Russian government. The question of obstruction was left to the Justice Department and it was Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who decide not to prosecute. Democrats aren't taking the President's word for it and demanding to see the full report.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: WE don't need an interpretation by attorney general who is appointed for a particular job to make sure the President is above the law. We need to see the report

ACOSTA: President also accused unspecified forces of conspiring against him. TRUMP: We cannot let it ever happen again, it went very high up and

it started fairly low but with instructions from the high up, this should never happen to a President again. We can't allow that to take place.

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump has accused the Obamacare White House of wiretapping him without evidence. And he's blamed the late Senator John McCain for the release of a dossier detailing the President's alleged misdeeds. But one of the President's top allies, Senator Lindsey Graham now says he urged McCain to give the dossier to the FBI.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), CHAIRMAN, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: John got the dossier, he called me up and said, what do you think? I think I should turn it over to the FBI, I said, yes, that was it.



ACOSTA: One area where there is some agreement, impeachment appears to be off the table.

TRUMP: I don't think that they're going to run impeachment.

PELOSI: Impeachment is not on the table until it is on the table.

ACOSTA: But new battle lines are being drawn especially over Obamacare after Justice Department sided with the Federal ruling striking down the Affordable Care Act saying in a statement that the district court's comprehensive opinion came to the correct conclusion. The President jumped into damage control mode.

TRUMP: Let me just show you exactly what my message is. The Republican Party will soon be known as the party of healthcare. You watch.

ACOSTA: And the run up to the midterms the President bound to take care of people with pre-existing conditions. One of Obamacare's key protections.

TRUMP: I will always fight for and always protect patients with pre- existing admissions. I have to do it.

ACOSTA: After running on protecting Obamacare during the midterms, Democrats are more than ready to resurrected the issue for the 2020 campaign.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Trump position ties the two-year anchor around the neck of every Republican for the next two years.


ACOSTA: At least one target of the Russia investigation is seizing on Mueller's findings and the hopes of a pardon. Former Trump Campaign Advisor George Papadopoulos confirm to CNN that his attorney is seeking a pardon from the President. Papadopoulos told CNN if offered one, it would be an honor to accept it. The President has sounded open to the idea of pardons, though he has told reporters he hasn't given that prospect a whole lot of thought just yet. Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.

CHURCH: So let's talk more about all of this with Larry Sabato. He is the director of the center of politics at the University of Virginia. Thank so much for joining us.


CHURCH: Well, despite the facts, President Trump still insist the Mueller report found he did not engage in any objection. That question was left to the Department of Justice and the Attorney General and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein decided not to prosecute. And that's exactly why the Democrats want to see the full report. So how likely is it that will happen?

SABATO: I think it's quite likely that we'll see a good deal of the report. It's pretty clear they're going excise something of it and probably, properly so when it comes to grand jury testimony in that kind of thing. But, you know, what's done me today was the first public opinion poll on whether the report should be released in full. And well over 80 percent of Americans, 80 percent want the entire report released.

And that includes 75 percent of Republicans. So this is something that is relatively unanimous and actually is bipartisan. And you see very little of that today in the United States. That will have an impact, the fact that people do in fact believe they should see the report.

CHURCH: And interesting that there is that call for transparency because the Department of Justice official has told CNN that the public can expect a version of the Mueller report in weeks not months. This after Democratic lawmakers demanded Attorney General Will Barr turnover the report by April 2nd.

[02:40:00] Now, that may be too early. I don't know why but apparently they have to go through this report. But how much of that report do you think will be made available as a result of this pressure? Being brought to bear by the Democrats and clearly the public is saying we want to see this, we want to know what's been going on here.

SABATO: If they're smart and I think they are, they will release a lot of it, a large majority of it. And they should explain the sections that are redacted. Because we'll get pieces of it with everything blacked out, ideal with some of these materials is quite frequently and I have to tell you that if the government can redact something, it usually does because the information is power and they want to keep the information to themselves.

But this has got to be an exception because people through the -- their tax money spent 20 to $30 million or more on this investigation. And it's very important, particularly the obstruction of justice questions which were not answered by that brief four-page summary. People want it released, it should be released and it should be as complete as possible.

CHURCH: Right. And President Trump is now moving on from the Mueller report after his victory lap. Now insisting he will overturn Obamacare. But he doesn't have a healthcare plan to replace it with while insisting though to the public saying the Republican Party will soon be known as the party of healthcare. So how is this likely to play out in the 2020 election campaign because polls are showing that people do like Obamacare.

That the public do want Obamacare and they want the security of knowing there's something at least, don't they?

SABATO: Absolutely and this just puzzles me and I think it puzzles most people involved with politics. Why wouldn't you dwell on a subject that apparently you want in terms of public opinion. That is the Mueller report and move entirely to something where you're going to lose the party and Trump had loss repeatedly to Obamacare and healthcare generally. And I wish I can get somebody to make a big bet that I could that the Republican Party would be known as the party of healthcare because -- believing me, that's not going to happen.

CHURCH: Yes. We'll watch to see what comes since his comment on that because it made a lot of people feel very concerned about the future. Larry Sabato, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

SABATO: Thanks, Rosemary.

CHURCH: While the political crisis in Algeria is no closer to a resolution but the country's powerful army chief is making his feelings clear. He's urging President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down or be declared unfit for office. And 82-year-old Bouteflika has been the target of widespread protest for months now. He has said he won't run for a fifth term but has refused to step aside.

Europe is moving to set some rules on the internet. Major platforms will be responsible for copyrighted material the user's upload. The arguments for and against. That's still to come. And also later just when you thought the Jussie Smollett case couldn't get any stranger. A stunning head-turning twist. We'll look at that as well. Back in a moment.


[02:46:07] CHURCH: Well, Europe has approved controversial new copyright laws for the Internet. But critics say the law is unclear and could restrict online information.

Lawmakers who support the law say the goal is to make sure musicians, publishers, and other content creators are fairly compensated for their work. But tech companies say, the law is vague, and one Section, Article 13 would make platforms like YouTube responsible for infringement by users.


NICOLA DANTI, MEMBER, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT (through translator): The new rules simply seek to give fair remuneration to create of authors who are always the backbone of European culture and are therefore are a key part of our economy.

LIDIA GERINGER DE OEDENBERG, MEMBER, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: This is a big mistake. Therefore, the only choice we have now is to delete Article 13. This is the minimum necessary to make this directive less devastating for the European digital companies and our citizens who already demonstrate against this fight in majority of capitals across the E.U.


CHURCH: Eleonora Rosati is an associate professor in Intellectual Property Law at Southampton University, and she joins us now from London. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So, the European Parliament has approved this sweeping overhaul of copyright rules dealing a significant blow to major tech companies. But making record labels, artists, and media companies' very happy. What's your response to that vote?

ROSATI: Certainly, what is the interesting in the legislation that was adopted yesterday is the fact that it is clearly stated there, and that this provision does not change the law. Clarify steeper. So, yes, we can open a discussion whether this is a major blow or it is just a clarification of an evolution that has already accorded.

Secondly, to see the practical effects in place, we will needed to wait until this new piece of legislation is transposed by individual member states because it is the fact of instrument that cannot be directly applied.

So now, there will be a two-year period in which individual countries of the E.U. will need to adopt measures to transpose this directive. And when we have the actual national provisions, it will be possible to see what the new obligations of platforms and data of the user- uploaded content are going to be.

CHURCH: Right, and understood. But flat platforms such as YouTube will be responsible for copyright infringement committed by their users. How is that going to work? And is it reasonable for YouTube to be expected to police all its users?

ROSATI: So, basically, a platforms like YouTube, we needed to get a license from relevant right holder, in order to oust the content uploaded by users. The license will cover a user's activities, but it will be interesting to see how it works in practice.

Already now, YouTube has a filtering system in place. A content I.D. that is meant to prevent the uploading of infringing material. But this mechanism, which had been so far a voluntary one is going to become a mandatory by law.

And so, this means that while YouTube might already have the tools to comply with this new obligations, other platforms that do not currently have a system like taking place might mean the product warn in order not to find themselves in breach of the new obligations.

CHURCH: Yes, there's no doubt.


CHURCH: That I think we've all saying that something has to be done whether this is the move that everyone's looking for, there has to be a first step, right? Eleonora Rosati, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

ROSATI: Thanks. Thank you.

[02:49:58] CHURCH: Well, the European Parliament also voted to scrap the seasonal clock change. The decades-long practice pushes the clocks forward an hour in late March and sets them back in late October. Governments will have the choice to be on permanent summer or permanent wintertime and would change their clocks for the last time in either March or October of 2021. I can hear the cheers from people on that one.

Well, there are no charges but he hasn't been exonerated either. We're not talking about President Trump here. Up next, the latest stunning twist on the case of actor Jussie Smollett. Back in a moment.


CHURCH: A shocking turn of events in the case against American actor Jussie Smollett. He was accused of staging a hate crime and filing a false police report. Now, prosecutors have suddenly dropped all charges. CNN's Brian Todd has the latest on what continues to be a story of dramatic twists and turns.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In a case that Jussie Smollett's lawyer says had spiraled out of control, a sudden dramatic and bizarre turn. Prosecutors announced they've dropped all the charges against the actor. Smollett repeated his claims of innocence.

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

TODD: The announcement angered Chicago's police superintendent who says he was taken by surprise.

EDDIE JOHNSON, SUPERINTENDENT, CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Do I think justice was served? No. Where do I think justice is? I think this city still old an apology. It's Mr. Smollett, who committed this hoax, period. I stand by the facts of what we produced.

TODD: Mayor Rahm Emanuel stood by his police chief.

RAHM EMANUEL, MAYOR OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: This is a whitewash of justice.

TODD: In late January, Smollett told police he was attacked on the streets of Chicago by two men shouting racist and homophobic slurs, who he claimed poured an unknown substance on him and put a noose around his neck.

Police spent more than a thousand man-hours on the case, interviewed more than 100 people, checked more than 50 surveillance cameras. Two Nigerian brothers, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundario, who'd been extras on Smollett's T.V. drama, Empire, were taken into custody.

Police later said they believed Smollett paid the two brothers $3,500 to orchestrate the attack.

[02:54:57] JOHNSON: Of course, it was staged. The brothers had on gloves during the staged attack, where they, they punched him a little bit. But as far as we can tell, the scratches and bruising that you saw on his face was most likely self-inflicted.

TODD: Prosecutors alleged Smollett was in contact with the brothers in the days before the incident. Texting one of them, "Might need your help on the low. You around to talk face to face?" And they say the actor spoke to the brothers an hour after the alleged attack.

Smollett always proclaimed his innocence. And in an interview with ABC, he vented his anger at how the investigation had turned.

SMOLLETT: I'm pissed off. How can you doubt that? Like how do you -- how do you not believe that? It's the truth.

TODD: A week later, police arrested Smollett on suspicion of filing a false police report. He faced 16 counts. The key question now, why the charges were dropped? Still hangs in the air following a murky explanation from prosecutors.

JOSEPH MAGATS, FIRST ASSISTANT STATE'S ATTORNEY, COOK COUNTY: This was a just disposition in the case.

TODD: Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Joe Magats, said prosecutors did not exonerate Smollett. Magats says prosecutors saw no problems with the police investigation or the evidence that they simply don't see Smollett as a threat to public safety, and he offered another explanation.

MAGATS: We dropped all charges based on the fact that he is -- that community service and that he forfeited his bail.

SARA AZARI, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY, LOS ANGELES: This is not sufficient explanation. Again, I don't think there's transparency if this is all that got taken into account and it's as simple as this. Then, let us see the sealed document. Unseal it. Let the public know exactly what the evidence was.

TODD: But the public court file, in this case, has been ordered sealed by the judge. Smollett's attorney insists there was no deal struck with prosecutors. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: And thanks for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you and I'll be back with another hour of news in just a moment. You're watching CNN, do stay with us.


CHURCH: U.K. lawmakers take over the Brexit agenda and they will soon vote on alternatives to Theresa May's plan.

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