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No Options Left for Theresa May; White House Official: No Fresh Plan on Health Care; U.S. Lawmakers Questions FAA and Boeing; Devastation in Mozambique; Brexit Deadlock As U.K. Parliament Rejects Alternative Options; Chicago Police Want Probe Of Smollett's Sudden Release; Jury Awards California Cancer Victim $80 Million; Pope Video Creates Controversy And Laughs. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired March 28, 2019 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): British prime minister Theresa May put her job on the line as a last resort to resolve the impasse.

The U.S. president turns the focus to health care. Donald Trump pushes to eliminate ObamaCare even though it appears he has no backup plan as of now.

And touring the devastation: our Becky Anderson views the recovery efforts in Mozambique nearly two weeks after cyclone Idai ripped through Southern Africa.

Hello and welcome to everyone joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.


CHURCH: The British Parliament finally got its say on Brexit and it amounted to a lot of nos. Lawmakers voted on eight alternatives to Theresa May's deal but they couldn't agree on a single one.

So with Parliament still deadlocked, the prime minister is playing possibly her last card offering to resign to get enough Conservatives on board with her deal. Bianca Nobilo breaks down the busy day from Westminster.


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Developments came thick and fast in Westminster Wednesday. The prime minister outlined when she would resign and Parliament decided that it couldn't decide on anything.

Today was the day that the House of Commons got to take control of the parliamentary agenda and try to find where the consensus was on Brexit. Lawmakers were presented with a range of options, from a no deal to a customs union or even a second referendum.

Out of the eight options, there was no majority for anything.

Does this make the prime minister's deal more appealing?

After all, it is the only viable deal currently on the table which the E.U. have agreed to. Theresa May met with her backbench 22 committee today and said that she would stand down in the event that she got her deal through the House of Commons.

It's been discussed for some months now whether or not the prime minister could essentially bargain her position to try and win over those hardline Eurosceptics, who are yet to support her deal. Their hope is they might be able to replace her with a leader who thinks more similarly to them.

As it stands, the prime minister is still needing to get her deal through by the end of this week in order to secure the longer extension with the E.U. -- Bianca Nobilo, CNN, Westminster.


CHURCH: And CNN's European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas joins us now from California.

Good to see you, Dominic.


CHURCH: So let's just quickly summarize what's happened in the U.K. Parliament Wednesday.


JOHN BERCOW, SPEAKER, BRITISH HOUSE OF COMMONS: Nos were 400 so the nos have it.

So the nos have it.

So the nos have it.

So the nos have it.

So the nos have it.

So the nos have it.

The nos have it.

So the nos have it.

Order, order, order.


CHURCH: Just astounding.

Dominic, British lawmakers had opportunity to come up with a solution and they blew it.

Is a no deal Brexit more likely?

Or will this sway hardline Eurosceptics and others to get on board with Prime Minister May's Brexit deal, since she promised to resign?

THOMAS: It's absolutely incredible and the very idea that a prime minister would resign when successfully passing the legislation rather than the other way around points to the chaotic nature of this whole process.

So yes, as we went into this it, even the motions that was put so that today would be taken over by Parliament only passed by a few votes and there were 300 on both sides voting either for or against it.

So we knew it was going to be relatively indecisive. But at the end of the votes today, the general situation of Brexit, which is tremendous divisiveness, people sticking and adhering and embracing their own positions and being unwilling to move.

So the other extraordinary aspect of this is, in many ways, that nothing came out with overwhelming consensus returns us to the fact that the only legislation that the government is currently pushing is Theresa May's deal.

And therefore, having won over more of the far right Brexiteers, she feels emboldened and if she can now convince the Speaker of the House to present her legislation, she probably has the best opportunity now that she's had throughout the whole process to get this deal go through Parliament.

CHURCH: We'll see whether that happens; she needs 75 votes or so more than what she's already gotten.

What about the prospect of no Brexit?

How possible or viable is that option?

THOMAS: Well, it stands on the table. What I think we need to do to get to the next --


THOMAS: -- stage is to have some kind of meaningful vote on a withdrawal agreement. I think at that point, obviously, if it fails, a no deal Brexit comes on the table. We do know that there is little appetite for there being a no Brexit but without an agreement in place -- and let's not forget that it's the only agreement the European Union has approved thus far -- that unless they can convince the European Union to provide them with an extension or to come up with some kind of substantial change, which may be a general election or a second referendum, that is the path that we are going down.

It remains the greatest threat to not voting for her withdrawal agreement. Yet the numbers are still not there to get this deal through. CHURCH: So, Dominic, who got outmaneuvered?

Was it the prime minister?

The lawmakers?

The hardliners?

What happened here?

Who's going to be the winner?

THOMAS: Yes, well I think when we really look at the situation here, what's happening and I think what should be a great concern to people is that the Brexiteers are in fact continuing to control the narrative. They are the ones who along the way have blocked the withdrawal agreement. And they've been interfering with this process and absolutely unwilling to compromise at any stage along the way.

And they have essentially now offered to support Theresa May's deal on the condition that she steps away, so they can then have a leadership election which they would control, because it would only take place within the Conservative Party and then be in a position to shepherd the process through phase two, which is the negotiation of a trade deal.

This is not what the British public signed up. And there's concern for this at the European Union and the parliamentarians should be concerned that these Brexiteers are organized and potentially trying to do a kind of coup while at the same time denying the British public the opportunity to weigh in, either through a general election or through the people's vote.

So to answer your question, I feel that they are the ones who are in the driver's seat.

CHURCH: Dominic, of course, you have been following this from the very start.

So is your gut feeling that the hardliners will come out on top and get what they want?

And what will that look like?

THOMAS: The arithmetic is still not there. That's quite remarkable that the DUP, that hold these 10 votes, supposedly the Brexiteers were so absolutely intent on making sure that their support was there, they continue to try to find a way for this deal to go through.

I think if this deal does not go through, we move to go to another stage. The European Union obviously is concerned about this whole process. I believe it is prepared to offered a much longer consultation over this process. And both sides of this political spectrum are complicit in this process. Labour Party front benches today did not support a motion that would potentially allow for a vote on revoking Article 50. They did not do that, so my gut feeling is, if this deal does not go through, and that measures are taken to prevent a no deal, we move closer to a general election at that particular point. And that Theresa May in winning this deal has to step down. But if she fails, I believe a vote of no confidence could be successfully passed in Parliament. And this should go back to the British people.

CHURCH: The rest of the world is just shaking its head. It's just extraordinary where this has gone and where it is right now. Dominic Thomas, thank you so much for your analysis, appreciate it.

THOMAS: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, we turn to Washington now, where a senior White House official tells CNN that the Trump administration has no fresh plan on health care, despite backing a court ruling that strikes down ObamaCare. The policy shift has some Republicans and top Trump officials scratching their heads. CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the Russia investigation in the rear-view mirror, the White House is turning the fight to health care.

TRUMP: ObamaCare is a disaster.

COLLINS: But part of that battle is happening inside the West Wing. The Justice Department arguing in a new court filing that the Affordable Care Act should be thrown out entirely.

TRUMP: Phase one of the lawsuit terminates ObamaCare.

COLLINS: A move that sources tell CNN attorney general Bill Barr and Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar are fully against and got in a heated dispute with chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and policy officials pushing the ObamaCare elimination plan.

The president making clear who he sides with today.

TRUMP: We think it'll be upheld and we think it will do very well in the Supreme Court.

COLLINS: This part of Trump's plan to put health care front and center in the 2020 election, claiming for the second day in a row:

TRUMP: We are going to be, the Republicans, the party of great health care.


COLLINS: The issue dominated the midterm elections and led to a bruising defeat for his party.

Neither the White House, nor Republican lawmakers have offered a new plan to replace ObamaCare, which provides health care to 20 million Americans. Without offering details, Trump says he has a plan. TRUMP: And if the Supreme Court rules that ObamaCare is out, we will have a plan that's far better than ObamaCare.

COLLINS: Eager to change the subject from the Mueller investigation, Democrats say they have been handed a political gift.

REP. TOM SUOZZI (D), NEW YORK: They just want to repeal and not really replace.

COLLINS: Whether it will unite them is another question.

Democrats are divided over what to do in a post-Mueller world, with some urging the party to move on, while others push ahead with plans for impeachment.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: It's so important that I make sure that I check this president.

COLLINS: Democratic leadership swatting that down.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CALIF.), HOUSE SPEAKER: You can ask her how she's doing on hers. That's not an initiative of our House caucus.

COLLINS: It was not just Bill Barr that disagreed with Nick Mulvaney. CNN is told by sources that he also voiced his concerns about whether or not the administration had the legal ground to stand on here.

During that heated Oval Office meeting on Monday, Nick Mulvaney pushed back. In the end, President Trump sided with his chief of staff. I'm told that Pat Cipollone and Bill Barr still have reservations about whether or not that this will succeed. At this, point they are getting in line with the boss' orders -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: And new CNN polling shows Americans are divided over what to make of special counsel Robert Mueller's report: 56 percent say they think the president and his campaign have not been exonerated of collusion; 43 percent disagree.

As for what should happen next, 57 percent say that Congress should hold hearings; 43 percent think they should end the investigation. And when it comes to the report's impact on the 2020 election, 7 percent say the findings make them more likely to back the president, 6 percent said less likely, 86 percent say it makes no difference.

Well, U.S. lawmakers put the focus on aviation safety and Boeing.

Coming up, sharp questions about what was compromised in certifying the 737 MAX 8. And an exclusive look inside the simulator, what pilots encounter when they fly the jet.




CHURCH: Welcome, back everyone.

The Federal Aviation Administration's relationship with Boeing came under fire at a U.S. Senate hearing. The agency said it examined the automated system software for Boeing 747 MAX but deferred larges part of the safety certification to the company.

Investigators are looking at software after two crashes in the past five months. The U.S. was the last country in the world to ground the fleet. The transportation secretary defended that call.


ELAINE CHAO, U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Based on the information that everyone had at that time, March 10th, March 11th, March 12th, there was no factual basis upon which to ground the planes.


CHURCH: Meantime, Boeing unveiled its software update and pilot training overhaul at a meeting of pilots and regulators. The FAA is yet to review or certify the upgrade.


CHURCH: And for more on all this we turn to CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo. She's the former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation. She is also an attorney who represents families of airline crash victims and currently has litigation pending against Boeing.

Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So at the Senate hearings Wednesday on Boeing's safety concerns linked to those two fatal crashes, we heard Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao say that, based on the information aviation authorities had on March 10, 11 and 12, there was no factual basis upon which to ground the Boeing 737 MAX 8.

What's your reaction to that?

SCHIAVO: Well, I think part of this hearing was literally like being at an alternate universe. There's been so much information evident that has come out, not to mention the office of inspector general right in the Department of Transportation reporting before the Lion Air and Ethiopia crashes that there were tremendous difficulties with the FAA oversight over Boeing.

It singled out the FAA oversight over Boeing in a 2015 report. That is really surprising to hear the officials from the Department of Transportation and the FAA really summarize their whole situation as they didn't see a problem.

CHURCH: Yes. Fascinating isn't it? Because at the hearings the acting head of the FAA, Dan Elwell defended his agency's handling of these 737 MAX jets and its relationship with Boeing and stood behind decisions made. But he did acknowledge that the FAA had delegated to Boeing, the approval of the anti-stall system that could be a possible factor in these two fatal crashes.

What could be the consequences of that revelation?

SCHIAVO: Well, he said that they delegated because, I mean, he was really caught he's really stuck. There's -- even the FAA has admitted that they almost completely delegated to Boeing and to other manufacturers in the airline.

And of course, that was by an act of Congress back in 2005 that allowed them to delegate almost completely. And that too has been the subject of an investigation.

But the acting FAA administrator made some really astonishing statement in following up with that statement. He said that the FAA had full confidence in the 737 MAX MCAS system, that MCAS that put the plane on a dive. He argued with the senators on whether or not it was the anti-stall device.

He said they had full confidence in the angle of attack indicators. And he said and by the way we don't know what cause these crashes but I have full confidence in the system in the plane. It was stunning.

CHURCH: It is extraordinary. And of course, when the whole world takes the decision to ground the Boeing MAX fleet, in an abundance of caution because there is no explanation for why two 737 MAX 8 planes fall out of the sky.

How does the United States justify allowing their fleet to continue flying until the president steps in and grounds them?

SCHIAVO: Well, they can't. I mean, it's really such a, it was such an amazing series of just astonishing statements. And really, I mean, I've heard many Americans say, you know, thank heavens for the rest of the world keeping us safe.

There are couple other astonishing statements that came out. For example, in the Office of the Inspector General, the office that I used to head, the inspector general said well, FAA, the FAA said that you could do this training on a simulator.

But, by the way, the inspector general said, none of the simulators in the United States of America were configured or were MAX 8 simulators. So, yes, you could do simulator training but there aren't any.


CHURCH: It does make you scratch your head. It's a real concern. More than 300 lives were lost as a result of Boeing or the FAA or whoever takes responsibility for this, dropping the ball. What do expect will be achieved as a result of these hearings?

SCHIAVO: The result of this hearing, probably nothing. I think the more important investigation is the one that wasn't mentioned today -- and Boeing did not appear -- and that is that there's also an ongoing criminal investigation, participation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of Inspector General, my old office.

And they have served subpoenas and really pulling back on its left and right, interviewing people, et cetera. That's the real investigation. The congressional Senate investigation today was a lot of storm and fury but not a lot often comes out of such things.

CHURCH: And we know Boeing has announced some changes.

Could that be enough to see the MAX fleet in the skies?

Or how much longer do you think these planes will need to be grounded?

SCHIAVO: Well, the FAA made a statement on that, too. They said they were confident in the patch. I can't believe they're calling it a patch. Sounds like a makeshift do-over.

But the FAA said that they were confident in the MCAS patch that Boeing was developing and as soon as they approved it, they thought that the 737 MAX 8 planes could be up in the air literally in a matter of weeks.

I don't believe it but the FAA apparently thinks so.

CHURCH: Of course, whether the public have confidence getting on those planes is another thing, too. Mary Schiavo, thank you so much for joining us.

SCHIAVO: Thank you.


CHURCH: And pilots have said their training on the 737 MAX was a short, self-administered online course. And it made no mention of the software system or how to disable it. Robyn Kriel was able to get a look at what pilots would see in the cockpit.


ROBYN KRIEL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We are strapped in for a flight onboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight simulator at the Airlines Aviation Academy. This is the only simulator in Ethiopia for the Boeing 737 MAX 8, the aircraft that crashed two weeks ago, killing all on board.

The simulator, we're told was purchased in January of this year. Chief pilot Yohannes HaileMariam takes us through the brief pre-flight checklist before take-off.


KRIEL: Within minutes, our simulator flight has begun.

The Flight ET-302 took off in a similar way, from Bole International Airport, nestled in rolling green and gold nose. It was at this point, six minutes into the flight and still climbing to cruising altitude. That Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 encountered major problems.

It eventually crashed into a field, south of Addis Ababa. How and why this happened is still under investigation. And it was also at this point the 13-minute mark, that Lion Air flight nearly five months before began its tragic and deadly dissent as well. Our simulator journey, however, continue safely.

But on board October's Lion Air flight, the automated MCAS anti-stall system was trying to force the nose down.

HAILEMARIAM: This is what we call (inaudible) quick reference on the book.

KRIEL: Chief Pilot HaileMariam shows us the flight manual for a 737 MAX 8. This manual contains everything a pilot needs for a flight -- or at least it should. A source with knowledge of the aircraft says there's no information inside about the new MCAS system.

A pilot on board a flight encountering problems could've found all kinds of emergency procedures and systems descriptions but according to our source, nothing on the MCAS. Inside the simulator, the safest it is, our flight progresses smoothly.

Chief pilot HaileMariam flies the plane manually, effortlessly even. But if an actual flight experienced an MCAS failure, the pilot would be left wrestling the airplane. These levers particularly, the pilot pulling up, the system pulling down in a tug of war, one that according to our source, the aircraft doesn't know to stop fighting -- Robyn Kriel, CNN Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


CHURCH: Villages underwater, communities flattened; two weeks ago cyclone Idai was starting its onslaught of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. In its wake, devastation and destruction.


CHURCH: At least 750 people were killed and more than 100,000 with no place to go. The storm may be gone but not the suffering. Our Becky Anderson joined one of the maintained stays. In these communities.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: It's been nearly two weeks since cyclone Idai wrought destruction in this area. And the search and rescue team set up here in a makeshift operation at Beira airport are still identifying people who've received little if no help. We just found one of those teams is doing a fuel drop, an emergency fuel drop to one such community. So we're just going to go along with them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) an area 70 miles to the west of there. There a huge population was affected. The water level came up in just in a few hours but this massive downpour and river (INAUDIBLE) rise like 60 (ph) feet was above normal --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) the trees are down, (INAUDIBLE) of aid they had crews drop down (INAUDIBLE) isolated communities already (INAUDIBLE) keep them alive.

What these guys have been doing have been taking some supplies across the river (INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE) washed away the other night. They lost (INAUDIBLE).

ANDERSON (voice-over): On the ground that vital fuel we're bringing in, helping to fuel boats to get to those in critical need.

ANDERSON: The water is upwards of 8 meters high. So it would've been right up toward the top of these trees.


ANDERSON: Eight meters?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. They would have likely (INAUDIBLE).

ANDERSON: That's amazing. So just in the past three days the waters have receded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's receded a lot.


ANDERSON (voice-over): These guys are doing roughly 10-12 trips a day now, taking aid across the other 1,200 families on the other side there who have had nothing.


ANDERSON (voice-over): You see the vegetation there and the rocks exposed a little further out. These guys are saying that the water levels are clear now, that this is actually becoming a much more dangerous trip in a boat like this.

ANDERSON: Hey, guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what he was saying is straight after the flood, no food, no shelter, nothing. And since the aid has arrived, they have tents, they have some food and we've given them a water purification system.

ANDERSON (voice-over): More than 40 people lost their lives in this one small community. The fear is that many hundreds if not thousands in this region could also lose their lives, if more isn't done and fast to prevent hunger and chronic disease -- Becky Anderson, CNN, Beira, Mozambique.


CHURCH: Well, if not Mother Nature behind another major blackout in Venezuela, who's getting the blame for the second power outage in less than a month?

Plus Spanish authorities identify the person suspected of carrying out a bizarre raid on North Korea's embassy in Madrid. Back with that in just a moment.


[02:30:57] CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church. Let's check the headlines for you this hour. British lawmakers have rejected all eight alternatives to Theresa May's Brexit deal. The Prime Minister has now offered to resigned if fellow Conservatives will back the deal she negotiated with the E.U. But, the Speaker of the House said yet again, there will be no third vote on Mrs. May's deal without substantial changes.

A Senior White House official says the Trump Administration has no fresh plan on healthcare. One day after it backed the court ruling to completely strikes down Obamacare. Other sources described heated debate within the White House of exactly what its healthcare Policy should be. The U.S. lawmakers grilled the Federal Aviation Administration about its oversight of Boeing 737 Max 8 Jet in the aftermath of two crashes. The acting chief of the agency told Senators, the FAA scrutinizes the computer system, but left large parts of the safety certification to Boeing.

Well the second major blackout in less than a month has left millions of Venezuelans without basic necessities like food and water. Embattled President, Nicolas Maduro's government blames U.S. sabotage. He now plans to ration electricity. But that's little comfort to those in desperate need of medical help. CNN'S Paula Newton is in Caracas.

NEWTON: So, when there is a blackout in Venezuela, there's a particular kind of misery that includes at clinics like this, dialysis becomes incredibly desperate. I want you to come with me inside this dialysis clinic. Everyone that you see here is lined up for dialysis that may or may not happen today, they're still waiting for the generator. But the point is the clinic nurse who is right over here is letting people know that they will have to ration the dialysis.

She is trying to take a list of all the patients and ask them, look, when was the last time you had dialysis? I know you might think you need it today but we're only taking patients that haven't had dialysis since last week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We urgently need a generator.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): My life and a lot of everyone here, depends on that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's been more than eight days since they had dialysis. You can see on my face what my situation is like, I feel bad.

NEWTON: Now the staff here is trying to get them to other centers that may have a generator working. But as I said, the longer this blackout goes on the more desperate, the medical situation becomes and that's on top of everything else that everyone deals with that trying to get gas in there gas tank, we have seen very long lines for gasoline already and then, there is the scramble for water, the scramble for food.

Every hour that this blackout continues, it has a more destabilizing effect on everyone. And really, normal life comes to a complete halt, as they wait and pray for the power to come back on. Paula Newton, CNN Caracas.

CHURCH: Well the Austrian Chancellor is considering disbanding a far- right group, after it was linked to the man accuse of killing 50 Muslims in New Zealand almost two weeks ago. Prosecutors say the Australian man donated almost $1700 to the group's leader in Austria. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is calling for an investigation.


SEBASTIAN KURZ, CHANCELLOR OF AUSTRIA (through translator): Our position on this is very clear, no kind of extremism, whatsoever. Whether it's radical Islamist or right-wing extremist fanatics has any place in our country and our society.


CHURCH: And another right-wing group, this one in Germany also had financial ties to the New Zealand suspect. The group is called Generation Identity, just another path of the growing far-right movement in Europe and beyond. And Nic Robertson reports.

[02:35:00] NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: They are the new face of Europe's far-right. Young cleaned cut activists, running training camps, blocking a migrant route through Europe, crowd funding a ship in the Mediterranean to turn migrants back to Africa. They call themselves Generation Identity and claimed European culture and identity is in danger from Islam and Immigration.


ALEXANDER KLIENE, GENERATION IDENTITY ACTIVIST: We're addressing young people that go to university or to school and say OK, I want -- I don't want terrorism, I don't want a mass migration in Europe.

ROBERTSON: German activist, Alexander Malenki Kliene is one of their breakout social media stars. He is still angry that Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel allowed more than a million migrants into the country, three years ago. He takes me to a barricade, put up following a deadly radical Islamist terror attack in Berlin two years ago.

KLIENE: I don't want to live in a Country that needs (INAUDIBLE) I don't want to live in a country where terrorist attacks on normal. I don't want to live in a country where womens has to cover their hair because, yes, Islamization, yes, that's not racist.

ROBERTSON: But these extreme views have landed them on the watch list of Germany's domestic intelligence agency. How should I understand the identitarian movement?

WERNER PATZELT, POLITICAL SCIENTIST, TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY DRESDEN: They are re-inventing German racism. And this makes them dangerous. This basic attitude, you can't be a German unless you're a German so to speak by nature.

ROBERTSON: The dangers are real after a Syrian migrant allegedly killed the German this summer. Right-wing groups and then now infamous town called Kamenetz came out in force to protest against refugees and immigration. Police and left-wing protesters face-off with right-wing thugs. In the scuffle at least two migrants were attacked by an angry mob. The message was clear, you are not welcome.

Nowhere in Germany is the rise of the right bigger than in prosperous Saxony. Every Monday for four years supporters of the right-wing Pedida group have marched in Dresden, protesting against immigration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will change, Germany totally, people from Africa and every available come to here and destroy our economies and our culture.

ROBERTSON: Among this crowed, Trump's America First policies are unpopular.


ROBERTSON: The politician whose right-wing party road this discontent from zero to twenty five percent in the last local election.

FRANK NEUFERT, AFD COUNCILOR (through translator): The established parties are have lost contact with the citizens. Tax policy, family policy, everything went wrong and then the migration crisis. That's when many woke-up and said something is not quite right here. This was too much.

ROBERTSON: Neufert's AFD went mainstreamed by promising to close the borders, the kind of rhetoric that propelled Donald Trump in the U.S. It has become the first far-right party to enter Germany's Parliament in almost 60 years and is now the official German opposition.


ROBERTSON: There is no single reason for the rise of the right-wing here and root causes vary region to region. But there are common threads and biggest among them is immigration. And that issue is causing a surge in the right-wing all across Europe. The old political order is crumbling. Where Germany, Europe or the U.S. go from here is uncharted territory. Nic Robertson, CNN. Saxony, Germany.

CHURCH: We'll take a short break, here is still to come. The top U.S. military commander in South Korea tells Congress that a North Korean attack on the U.S. might not be detected until it's too late. Back in a moment.


[02:41:57] CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. With a top U.S. General on the Korean Peninsula is sounding the alarm when it comes to North Korea. During testimony before a House Committee, General Robert Abrams said Pyongyang's activities remain inconsistent with the denuclearization and he warned lawmakers the U.S. might not even see a North Korean attack coming.


GEN. ROBERT ABRAMS, U.S. FORCES KOREA: Little to know verifiable change has occurred in North Korea's military capabilities. North Korea's conventional and asymmetrical military capabilities, along with their continued development of advance conventional ammunitions and systems all remains unchecked. These capabilities continue to hold the United States, South Korea and our regional allies at risk.

As such I believe it is necessary to maintain a postured and ready force to deter any possible aggressive actions.


CHURCH: Very sobering. Well, new details are emerging about a bizarre raid last month on North Korea's embassy in Madrid, Spain. Spanish authorities now believe they know who is behind it. But there are conflicting accounts of exactly what happened inside the North Korean compound. We get more now from CNN's Amara Walker.


AMARA WALKER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: A North Korean dissident group says it carried out last month's raid on Pyongyang's embassy in Spain. However, the group is denying claims that this was an armed attack on the diplomatic compound. Cheollima Civil Defense is a secretive organization whose goal is to overthrow Kim Jong-un's regime. In an online statement, the group also denied to that any foreign fovernments were involved in the operation or that it was related to President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un's summit in Hanoi, which occurred days later. The U.S. State Department is echoing that denial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States Government at least, had nothing to do with this?

ROBERT PALLADINO, UNITED SATES DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: The United States would always call for the protection of embassies belonging to any diplomatic mission throughout the world.

WALKER: Meantime in Madrid, a Spanish Judge in charge of the investigation has named a Mexican national residing in the U. as the leader of the February 22nd raid. The Spanish authorities claimed, Adrian Hong-Chang and nine others broke into the compound handcuffs staff and then tried and failed to get one official to defect. Hong is a prominent longtime critic of the North Korean regime.

He's seen here testifying about Pyongyang's human rights record to Canadian Senate Committee in 2016. Spanish authorities say that Hong and the others fled Spain for the U.S. after the attack. And that day's later and the radars offered information gathered at the Embassy to the FBI. The FBI declined to comment while Cheollima Civil Defense said they voluntarily share the information at the Bureau's request.

The group also claims that its activists were invited into the embassy and that there was no violence. Earlier this, month Spanish Authorities confirmed an investigation into the raid on the embassy. But didn't provide any details ahead of unsealing court documents this week. Amara Walker, CNN, Atlanta.


[02:45:13] CHURCH: Still ahead on CNN NEWSROOM. New information in the Jussie Smollett case. Police release parts of their investigation reports and it raises more questions as to why all charges against the actor were dropped. We're back in a moment.


CHURCH: Hello, everyone. We want to welcome our viewers joining us from the United States and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church, and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, Chicago police have released a portion of their investigation into Jussie Smollett. It comes after prosecutors dropped all charges against the T.V. actor who was accused of staging a hate crime and filing a false police report.

In the documents, Smollett is referred to as an offender, begging the question, why he was suddenly released? CNN's Brian Todd looks into the surprising turn of events.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police is asking U.S. Attorney General William Barr to get involved in the prosecutor's decision to drop the charges against Jussie Smollett.

KEVIN GRAHAM, PRESIDENT, FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE, CHICAGO: We'll be asking for a full investigation on the entire matter, why the charges were dropped, and the state's attorney's involvement in this case.

TODD: Prosecutor Joe Magats is squarely at the center of the controversy, being scrutinized for questions unanswered. Explanations not accepted.

SCOTT FREDERICKSEN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: There's a lot more here that we're not being told. TODD: Magats, says he alone made the call to drop the charges against Smollett, in spite of evidence reinforced by partial police investigation reports released on Wednesday. Among his reasons, Magats says, were Smollett's history and the nature of the charges against him.

JOSEPH MAGATS, FIRST ASSISTANT STATE'S ATTORNEY, COOK COUNTY: He had no prior felony background. He had no history of violence. Like I said, it is a low-level felony.

TODD: Arguments that one former federal prosecutor doesn't buy.

FREDERICKSEN: This is no way a low-level felony. This is the most serious crime faking a hate crime, lying to the police.

TODD: Magats also seemed to make the argument that in a city wracked with violence, prosecutor's resources would be stretched by trying the Smollett case.

MAGATS: We are focusing our resources on combating violent crime, gun crime, and the drivers of violence.

FREDERICKSEN: Every prosecutor will tell you that a crime that involves lying to the police and faking a crime is every bit as critical to the criminal justice system as violent crimes. So, that is in no way an explanation for dismissing this case.

TODD: There are also questions over whether a secret deal was reached to get Smollett's charges dropped. An idea Smollett's attorneys have flatly rejected.

PATRICIA BROWN HOLMES, ATTORNEY FOR JUSSIE SMOLLETT: There is no deal the state dismissed the charges.

TODD: But the prosecutor says, there was negotiation with Smollett's lawyers.

MAGATS: I called an alternative disposition in that he agreed to do community service, he agreed to forfeit his bail to the remainder of his bond to the city of Chicago. And in return for him doing those things, we agreed to dismiss the indictment.

[02:50:02] TODD: Questions are also being raised over Joe Magats's boss. Cook County State's Attorney Kimberly Foxx, who like Magats, believed Smollett committed the crime.

KIMBERLY FOXX, STATE'S ATTORNEY FOR COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS: This office believed that they could prove him guilty.

TODD: Foxx recused herself from the Smollett case after receiving a private communication from Tina Chen, an influential friend of the Smollett family. Foxx then suggested to the police that they turned the case over to the FBI. Moves which police union officials want investigated.

GRAHAM: Why did that occur? What happened? Why wasn't there a special prosecutor put in place?

TODD: A question so far not answered by the prosecutor's office. Then, there's the question of communication. Chicago police and the mayor say the Prosecutor's Office never told them beforehand that they were considering dropping the charges.

RAHM EMANUEL, MAYOR OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: Not only did they not inform myself. The fact is when we came off the stage after the largest police graduation and promotion, find out about what's happening here, it's to me makes no sense.

FREDERICKSEN: You don't do that without consulting with the police. You don't do that without telling the public in a high-profile case. Look, this is why we really did this.

TODD: So far, there's been no explanation from the prosecutor's office for why they didn't consult the police on the decision.

Jussie Smollett isn't necessarily out of the woods legally, yet. CNN has reported that the Chicago Police are assisting in an FBI investigation into a questionable threatening letter sent to the production company in Chicago were Smollett works. The FBI isn't commenting. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: A U.S. federal jury has awarded a California man, $80 million after it found the popular weed killer Roundup was a substantial factor in causing his cancer. He claims the product's design was defective and lacked sufficient warnings about potential risks. The parent company, Bayer, says it plans to appeal.

And coming up on CNN NEWSROOM. It's been said a kiss is just a kiss. But apparently not when it comes to the pope as people try to kiss his ring.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, kissing the pope's ring has long been a sign of respect for the leader of the Catholic Church. So, it's no surprise that a video of Pope Francis repeatedly pulling his hand away went viral. And, of course, the late-night comics were quick to weigh him. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When it comes to kissing the Pope's ring, he doesn't seem to like the ring of it. Watch Pope Francis yank his hand away time after time as Catholics lined up at a shrine in Italy to pay their respects. One guy looked like he ended up kissing his own hand. It was as if his devoted fans head cooties.

TREVOR NOAH, HOST, THE DAILY SHOW, COMEDY CENTRAL: It looks like, like a weird video game where you have to try and kiss the pope.

[02:54:59] MOOS: But it's not as if the pope tells everyone to kiss off when they go for his ring, he usually goes along with it. Most memorably when this circus performer did it last year.

Ring kissing does tend to slow down the line, this man puckered up then got hustled away. On the day in question, Pope Francis allowed folks to dive-bomb him for 10 minutes before he started playing hard- to-get. Supporters say it's the pope being humble. Preferring to wash people's feet rather than have them kiss his ring.

Most hand kisses, don't involve a ring, be it the queen, or Melania Trump, or Kellyanne Conway. One guy who doesn't refuse it is Don Corleone, and you better not refuse him.

Someone tweeted that Pope Francis looks like he's batting off flies. Still, he did stop for hugs, a papal treat.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, ABC: It's also good if you add an ice cream cone.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CHURCH: Well, someone in the U.S. has hit a $768 million jackpot. One winning ticket was sold in Wisconsin for that huge Powerball pay. The third largest jackpot in U.S. lottery history.

Now, if they choose the cash option, the winner will get a lump sum of $477 million. And a fun fact here, this is now the 17th Powerball jackpot won in Wisconsin in the last 30 years. Maybe we should all live there, right?

Thanks for joining us this hour. I'm Rosewood Church. And remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter. I'll be back with another hour of CNN NEWSROOM in just a moment. You're watching CNN. Do stay with us.