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U.S. Senators Introduce Secure 5g And Beyond Act; Revising Tragedy And Courage Of Grenfell Tower Fire; Wow Air Ends Operations And Strands Customers; Chicago Sends Jussie Smollett $130,000 Bill For Investigation; U.K. Parliament to Vote on Part of May's Brexit Deal; Crisis in Venezuela; Trump Rallies His Base: Collusion Delusion is Over; Trump Goes to Battle with Democrat Adam Schiff; Trump Feud with Puerto Rico Heats Up Again; Investigators Believe Boeing 737 Max Anti- Stall System Activated Before Crash. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired March 29, 2019 - 02:00   ET



GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Down to the wire again. Lawmakers in the U.K. taking another vote on an unpopular Brexit plan as they face a major deadline from Brussels.

In the United States, President Trump is calling the Mueller report a "beautiful conclusion," but the political battle over the release is just getting started.

Also ahead this hour, a stunning dismissal of charges in the Jussie Smollett case shocked officials in Chicago. Now, they are demanding payback.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm George Howell. "CNN Newsroom" starts right now.

Around the world, good day to you. It is the Brexit day that wasn't. Instead of leaving the E.U. on Friday, the prime minister, Theresa May, is once again trying to push her deal through parliament or half of that deal at least. Lawmakers will vote on just the withdrawal section, which includes the controversial "Irish backstop." If it feels again and with PM's unable to agree on an alternative solution, the U.K. risks crashing out of the E.U. on April 12. House of Commons leader explained how crucial this vote is. Listen.


ANDREA LEADSOM, LEADER, U.K. HOUSE OF COMMONS: As I said to the House during my business statement earlier today, the motion tabled by the government this afternoon has been prepared in order that it complies with your ruling, Mister Speaker, while also reflecting that the European Union will only agree to an extension to Article 50 until the 22nd of May if the withdrawal agreement is approved by 11:00 p.m. on the 29th of March.

It is crucial, therefore, that we make every effort to give effect to the council's decision, and tomorrow's motion gives parliament the opportunity to secure that extension. I think we can all agree that we don't want to be the situation of asking for another extension and facing the potential requirement of participating in European Parliament elections.


HOWELL: A lot to talk about. Let's bring in CNN's European affairs commentator, Dominic Thomas, joining is this hour from California. It is good to have you with us, Dominic.


HOWELL: So, another key vote ahead, but only part of Theresa May's Brexit deal, the withdrawal agreement, which is the actual divorce deal, not the political declaration attached that outlines the future relationship with the E.U. What is the likelihood of this getting more support?

THOMAS: Well, it certainly will get more support than it had the last two times around, losing by historic defeat in a 230-margin then narrowing it down to 149, so one would expect them to improve on that. However, in the last few days, absolutely remarkable things have happened.

I think that the whole Brexit situation and the sort of the chaos that it has caused, to summarize what we will be seeing tomorrow, the irony that all it caused is that should Theresa May finally be able to passed her deal or at least part of her deal, she will have to step down because she has essentially promised the far-right wing of her party that she would step away if this part of the agreement goes through and allow a new Conservative Party leader to negotiate the second sequence.

However, having said that, she is not only -- and alienated members of the Labour Party are possibly going to support her because they are very concerned about a leadership change within the Conservative Party that could potentially bring a Brexiteer to the helm for the second part. And she has also failed to enlist the DUP, these 10 votes of confidence and supply on which she relies. And so the situation does not look very good for Theresa May as she goes into parliament tomorrow to face this vote.

HOWELL: Theresa May, as you pointed out, making the ultimate sacrifice of her position. Here is how one Scottish MP put it. Let's listen.


PETE WISHART, SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY MP: It seems that even the prime minister offering herself as a sacrifice to the Brexiteers this week was not good enough for them. As the first minister put it so elegantly in the Scottish Parliament today, this is a prime minister who threw herself on her sword and missed.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOWELL: So, pretty straightforward words there, not mincing words, really, Dominic. So, could this be a parliament without a plan, and a nation kind of leaderless if the prime minister has stepped aside?

THOMAS: Yes. I mean, this is the situation. I mean, she will step aside if the deal passes.

[02:05:01] So, you know, tomorrow's scenario essentially -- I mean, it is complicated by the fact that the political declaration part is not there. So that leads to tremendous uncertainty as we go forward. But if her withdrawal agreement goes through by the 22nd of May, the U.K. will officially be leaving the European Union and a leadership contest will take place. She will step away shortly after that.

But the likelihood of all of this happening is not great. So, tomorrow, she will most likely suffer a defeat in parliament, but a kind of victory of sorts will accompany that because she will still be in power. And given the fact that she has not yet presented the political declaration part that does also remained a question as to when the whole package might itself come before the House as a parliament.

Clearly, if this deal does not pass tomorrow, we are back to a situation where either a no-deal scenario around April 12 or having to go back to European Union to ask for a significant and lengthy extension which of course the likelihood there is that it doesn't lead to any kind of Brexit at all.

So, two radical scenarios that were playing with here, and then of course on Monday, the House has an opportunity to take control again and to go back to those famous eight no indicative votes to see if maybe they can twist it around or turn it around and get some sort of support for an alternative consensus that they could potentially also think about taking to Brussels by the time we get to the 11th of April. So, a lot will happen in the next two or three days.

HOWELL: Where it goes, no one knows. We will have to see. Dominic Thomas, thank you.

THOMAS: Thanks, George.

HOWELL: Across the United Kingdom, people on both sides of this issue are growing more frustrated with parliament. First is the perspective from whole England. More than 67 percent of residents there voted to leave the European Union, and they think the suggestion of a second referendum betrays the democratic process. CNN's Anna Stewart has this report.


ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for people in Hull which of course voted overwhelming to leave the E.U. in 2016, one key topic has been in the Brexit conversation today, and that is what parliament voted for on Wednesday night that had eight different Brexit proposals. None of them actually made it through, but the one that got the most support was a second referendum on any final Brexit deal. That may be popular in the House of Commons. It was not here. Take a listen to what people in Hull have to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people of Hull should (ph) stick by that. I think it undermines the whole process by having (INAUDIBLE) because then, you know, we could do that forever. It saddened people. We just have to keep voting and voting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is difficult because we got ourselves a very democratic country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should get what we asked for.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it been a year ago for same (ph) referendum then fair enough, but I think now it's too late. I think people are just sick and tired of listening. There has been no action from it.

STEWART: That last lady you heard from there was actually a remainer. She (INAUDIBLE) in Hull. As you heard, she is quite fed up and she actually doesn't think a second referendum in any shape or form would be democratic.

People in Hull feel they have had their vote they had in 2016 and many people here would much rather see a no-deal Brexit with all the financial and economic consequences it could bring rather than have any more Brexit debate and discussion.

Anna Stewart, CNN, Hull.


HOWELL: Anna, thank you so much. And remainers are also holding out hope for that second referendum in a different perspective here in the city of Bath. It is a place with historic ties to Europe dating back to ancient Rome. They voted overwhelming to stay in the E.U. and some are still plotting the revenge of the remainers as our Nina Dos Santos reports.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bath (INAUDIBLE) remain, renowned for its beautiful buildings and thermal spas. This is a place where European tourists still embrace Britain and locals aloof (ph) to leave the E.U. Yet it is swimming against the national tide.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it is really sad to lift (ph) the freedom of movement in Europe. That is my big thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it is tragic personally because I think we are meant, you know, united these days. I think it is better than divided.

DOS SANTOS: (INAUDIBLE) had a European legacy. The city was in fact made famous by the ancient Romans who built their famous thermal baths here in 60 AD. And its current member of parliament was born in Germany. Almost 58 percent of its residents said that they wanted to stay inside the E.U. when the referendum happened. And now nearly three years on, many want a second chance to rewrite that recent chapter in history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not yet front page and it's a nice story on page three.

[02:09:58] DOS SANTOS: (INAUDIBLE) local campaign group is plotting the revenge of the remainers. They marched from the West Country to Westminster last weekend. And they signed (ph) a nationwide petition to revoke Article 50.


DOS SANTOS: How many people would prefer a second referendum?

Among their prime targets, the MP next door, Jacob Rees-Mogg.

This is guerrilla tactic. He is even printed in money.

JANE RIEKEMANN, BATH FOR EUROPE: We do have our own money. We have a 50 guinea note (ph). We have Jacob Rees-Mogg on minister for the 18th century because Brexit is a backward step.

EMMA KNAGGS, BATH FOR EUROPE: If the people (INAUDIBLE) to leave, it's very hard for politicians to then say, no, actually we must stop this. I think it's got to get back to the people and say, now we know more about it. Is this what you want?

ALISON BORNE, BATH FOR EUROPE: Really, it's time to reconsider that vote and make sure that it's something that people really want.

DOS SANTOS: To citizens of Bath, Brexit is a nightmare, one they are hoping Britain will soon wake up from before it is too late.

Nina dos Santos, CNN, Bath.


HOWELL: Nina, thank you. The U.S. president feeling vindicated by the Mueller report and now he's turning his ire towards Democrats. One, in particular, he says, should be kicked out of office.

Plus, you will remember this image, U.S. president in Puerto Rico throwing paper towels to the hurricane survivors. Now, he is in a war of words with the governor of Puerto Rico.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Does it feel that way sometimes? Are you dealing with a bully?

RICARDO ROSSELLO, GOVERNOR OF PUERTO RICO: If the bully gets close, I'll punch the bully in the mouth. It would be a mistake to confuse courtesy with courage. (END VIDEO CLIP)


HOWELL: Welcome back. The Venezuelan government says National Assembly president, Juan Guaido, may not run for political office for 15 years. It's the latest attempt by the government to silence one of its most vocal and influential critics.

Guaido is recognized by at least 50 countries as Venezuela's legitimate leader, but Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, may be feeling more confident now that the Russian military has his back. You will these images here that infuriated Washington.

[02:15:00] Moscow admits sending military specialist to Venezuela, ignoring the U.S. president's demand to leave. The Kremlin says the Russians will stay in Venezuela as long as needed.

And here stateside, Mr. Trump is in his element rallying his base in the U.S. state of Michigan with more misleading claims about special counsel Robert Mueller's report. President Trump took shots at Democrats, took shots at the media, at immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S.

He got another dig in at the late senator, John McCain, and praised the Mueller investigation for finding no collusion with Russia. Once again, he falsely claimed that the probe exonerate him of obstruction of justice.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Total exoneration. Complete vindication. You know, it is interesting, Robert Mueller was a god to the Democrats, was a god to them until he said there was no collusion. They don't like him so much right now.


HOWELL: If there is one Democrat that is getting the brunt of President Trump's anger, it is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff. Our Sara Murray has this.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The fight to release special counsel Robert Mueller's full report took a heated turn today.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: We don't need you interpolating for us. It was condescending. It was arrogant. It wasn't the right thing to do.

MURRAY: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi aiming her ire at Attorney General William Barr, who will determine how much of the report will go to Congress.

PELOSI: The sooner they can give us information, the sooner we can all make a judgment about.

MURRAY: CNN has learned that Mueller's confidential report on the Russia investigation stretches more than 300 pages. Barr's four-page summary offers few details, describing it as divided into two parts.

TRUMP (voice-over): This was an attempted takeover of our government, of our country, an illegal takeover.

MURRAY: President Trump firing back during a phone interview on his favorite network while also looking to settle scores by taking aim at Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff.

TRUMP (voice-over): Well, Schiff is a bad guy because he knew he was lying. I mean, he's not a dummy.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I have not had an opportunity to respond at all.

MURRAY: Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, under fire for continuing to insists that Trump campaign colluded with the Russians.

SCHIFF: You can see evidence in plain sight on the issue of collusion.

MURRAY: This even after the attorney general's letter to Congress quoted Mueller's report as saying it "did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities."

TRUMP (voice-over): In one way, you could say it's a crime, what he did, because he was giving -- I mean, horrible -- making horrible statements that he knew were false, and frankly, you know, I heard they should force him off the committee or off the committee chair. He should be forced out of office. He is a disgrace to our country.

MURRAY: Today, Republicans on Schiff's committee agreed, urging the chairman to step down.

REP. MIKE CONAWAY (R), TEXAS: We have no faith in your ability to discharge your duties in a manner consistent with your constitutional responsibility and urge your immediate resignation.

MURRAY: Schiff hitting back.

SCHIFF: You might think it is OK that the president himself called on Russia to hack his opponent's e-mails, if they were listening. You might think it's OK that later that day, in fact, the Russians attempted to hack a server affiliated with that campaign. I don't think that's OK.

MURRAY: Pelosi defending her Intelligence Committee chairman and turning the attention to the president.

PELOSI: So what is the president afraid of? Is he afraid of the truth that he would go after a member, a chairman of a committee? I think they are just scaredy-cats.

MURRAY: Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: Let's talk more about this now with CNN political analyst Nathan Gonzales, joining us in Washington D.C. It is good to have you with us.


HOWELL: So with nine Republicans signing on to this letter demanding Adam Schiff's resignation, his response ticked through a litany of allegations that he says are evidence of corruption and collusion. Republicans though called them lies. But let's listen to more because Schiff definitely had a lot to say here.


CONAWAY: Your willingness to continue to promote a demonstrably false narrative is alarming. The findings of the special counsel conclusively refute your past and present assertions and expose you as having abused your position to knowingly promote false information, having damaged the integrity of this committee, and undermined the faith in United States government and its institutions.

We have no faith in your ability to discharge your duties in a manner consistent with your constitutional responsibility and urge your immediate resignation as chairman of the committee.

SCHIFF: My colleagues may think it's OK that the Russians offered dirt on a Democratic candidate for president as part of what was described as the Russian government's effort to help the Trump campaign. You might think that's OK. But I don't think it's OK. I think it's immoral. I think it's unethical. I think it's unpatriotic.

[02:19:59] And yes, I think it's corrupt, an evidence of collusion. And the day we do think that's OK is the day we will look back and say that is the day America lost its way.


SCHIFF: I will not yield. Mr. Ambassador, you are --


REP. MICHAEL TURNER (R), OHIO: You just made some thing about all of us --

SCHIFF: I will -- I will -- I will --

TURNER: --- that I think we all should get the opportunity to respond to --

SCHIFF: I will not yield.

TURNER: If you're going to say, we think you ought to allow us to speak of what we think.

SCHIFF: You can use your five minutes to speak. You attacked me in your opening statement.

TURNER: I have not had an opportunity to respond at all, especially to your statements of what we think, because no one over here thinks that.


HOWELL: Nathan, it was a long sound bite but it's important to get the spirit of what Schiff had to say because he had a lot to say. Clearly, he and the Democrats want this report to be made public. But here is the question. Without seeing what's in it, what do you make of Republicans' argument that Schiff has nothing solid here to base these accusations?

GONZALES: I think Republicans are putting a lot of stock in a four- page memo based on a 300-page report. I think that is why Democrats are saying hey, let's see the whole thing. But I am not really surprised by the situation. I think that the president had done a good enough job discrediting the investigation before we got to this point, that most Republicans believe it is a witch hunt and there was nothing -- even if something were to be found, that it wasn't credible.

And so I think that this particular moment that happened, a couple of things got to me. First of all, Adam Schiff is not resigning. He is not going anywhere and that elections have consequences. He is running this committee. He is in charge. And even if Republicans want to try to butt in and take their time, it is not going to happen because they're now in a minority and the majority is a party that runs the ship in the House.

HOWELL: All right. Look, the name calling has already ensued, the U.S. president blasting Adam Schiff at a rally, calling him a "pencil neck." The speaker of the House is also jumping in the name calling, defending her colleague, saying that the Republicans are scaredy-cats for leading the charge to push Schiff out.

So in this war of words, and again, no one other than the attorney general has seen the actual report, who is winning the messaging, the war of words around this report?

GONZALES: I just don't know that either side is winning. I think we are just at the status quo. I mean, CNN had a poll just a couple days ago that, I believe, about 80 percent of Americans were not swayed in either direction. Their view of the president was not changed by this memo, by the Barr letter.

And I think that's -- right now, we are at a point where the president is so polarizing and everyone on either side that I kind of default to the position that nothing is going to change the fundamental political dynamic until it is proven otherwise.

Maybe we get to see the report but I think it's going to be a lot of the same. Democrats are going to take pieces of that and say, loo, we told you so. Republicans will just think, you know what, this is just a silly expensive game that the Americans -- that this country was put through.

HOWELL: How much pressure would you say the attorney general is in and also the Republicans to put as much of this out as possible?

GONZALES: Yeah. I mean, we are almost two years from the election and so I guess the argument could be made that hey, if there is something damaging, it is better to get it out now and have plenty of time to recover before November of 2020 with the election.

But I think that Democrats, whatever would come out of that, Democrats are going to use that to keep the base fired up. Republicans are going to -- the president, the White House already had indications that they are going to use this on the campaign trail, not only the report itself but how the media handled the report, specifically going after the media.

I think that could keep the Republicans fired up. So, sadly, this is big news but also not big enough, I think, to change where we are at politically.

HOWELL: Nathan Gonzales, we appreciate your time today, thank you.

GONZALES: No problem

HOWELL: Mr. Trump's feud with Puerto Rico is heating up again specifically over how much money the U.S. is spending to help the island recover from Hurricane Maria back in 2017. Earlier this week, Mr. Trump claimed that Puerto Rico had received $90 billion.

In fact, Congress had appropriated $20 billion, and only one-fifth of that has been approved for spending. The president says he doesn't want U.S. taxpayers to pick up the tab for years of financial mismanagement by Puerto Rico's government.


TRUMP: Puerto Rico has been taken care of better by Donald Trump than by any living human being. And I think the people of Puerto Rico understand it. But you do have a mayor of San Juan that frankly does not know what she's doing. And the governor, they got to spend the money wisely.


HOWELL: Puerto Rico's governor isn't taking this laying down either. He got some harsh words of his own out for the president. Our Jim Acosta got this exclusive interview and some surprising new details about the president's trip to Puerto Rico after the storm.


[02:25:01] ACOSTA: Sources tell CNN that President Trump used some startling (ph) language when talking about North Korea when he visited Puerto Rico back in 2017, when he toured the island to see the devastation left by Hurricane Maria. That was the day when the president was tossing paper towels to storm victims.

According to our sources, this comment came up in a conversation the president was having with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello on that same day. The sources say during that conversation, the president pointed to an aide carrying the nuclear football. That's the briefcase used to authorize a nuclear strike and said that was something he had from North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

The president said, "This is what I have for Kim." That remark shocked the governor who couldn't believe what he was hearing, we are told, but during an exclusive interview with CNN, Rossello did not want to discuss the matter, saying that was a private conversation that he had with the president, but he did not deny the comment. Here is what he had to say.

ROSSELLO: There were other topics that were being discussed and my view is that the sole focus of that trip should have been on Puerto Rico.

ACOSTA: But he was distracted by North Korea when he was there.

ROSSELLO: He was talking about a whole host of other issues, but I would rather leave those conversations internal.

ACOSTA: Do you deny that that happened?

ROSSELLO: I don't confirm or deny. I'd rather keep those things internally. But again, the focus should be on Puerto Rico.

ACOSTA: Rossello was in Washington Lobby Congress for storm relief aid after Hurricane Maria. This week, we are told Rossello's aides went to the White House to appeal for a meeting between the president and the governor. Those aides tell us that top White House officials including trade adviser, Peter Navarro, threatened them to stop complaining, adding the governor is "adding (ph) things up," according to our sources.

Now, when asked about that, Governor Rossello told us his team will not be bullied and here is more of what he had to say about that.

ACOSTA: Does that feel that way sometimes? Are you dealing with the bully?

ROSSELLO: If the bully gets close, I'll punch the bully in the mouth.

ACOSTA: Just like that?

ROSSELLO: Just like that. I don't - it would be a mistake to confuse courtesy with courage.

ACOSTA: President Trump told Republican senators earlier this week that Puerto Rico is wasting disaster relief money. Rossello says that is not the case and that people in Puerto Rico believed they have been treated as second-class citizens as they have only received a fraction of the billions of dollars that is needed to rebuild the island.

Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.


HOWELL: Jim, thank you. And this just in to CNN, investigators believe an anti-stall system was automatically activated before the crash of that Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliner in Ethiopia. This report coming from the Wall Street Journal, according to multiple unnamed people briefed on the matter.

The March 10th crash killed all 157 people who are on board. The Boeing planes have been grounded while software updates are installed. The Wall Street Journal reports investigators' preliminary findings have been shared with U.S. officials. We will bring you any more information we get on the story.

Still ahead, fed up and demanding clarity. The British business community slams parliament's handling of Brexit as they still wait how it will impact the economy.

Plus, it is a first for tech giant Huawei, revenue topping $100 billion and that is despite growing pressure from the U.S. for countries to stop using its products.


[02:30:56] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers welcome back to our viewers all around the world you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour. In just a few hours of time British lawmakers are set to vote on the withdrawal section of Theresa May's Brexit deal. That comes out the Parliament rejected eight alternatives earlier this week. The E.U. said the deal needs to be passed by Friday to get Brexit extended until May 22nd.

The President of Venezuela's national assembly has been banned from seeking political office for 15 years. It's the latest attempt by the Maduro government to silence one of its most vocal critics. Spokesperson for Juan Guaido says he does not considered the government's order to be illegitimate. The U.S. President Donald Trump rallying his supporters for the first time since Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report came out clearing him of colluding with Russia during his 2016 campaign.

He told supporters in Michigan, Democrats should apologies for defrauding the American people with -- as he says the ridiculous investigation.

As the U.K. Parliament remains gridlocked on Brexit, Parliament will debate Theresa May's deal for a third time. You could call this vote 2.5. but the deadline approaching British businesses are getting fed up over all the uncertainty about how Brexit could impact that economy. Our John Defterios explains.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: The debate within the British Parliament is complex and cannot be described as black and white. And the business community saying, they don't like the shades of gray or uncertainty. So key members of that Committee are standing up and suggesting. Enough is enough when it comes to the debate over Brexit.


ADAM MARSHALL, DIRECTOR GENERAL, BRITISH CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE: To land on something and stick with it, so that business had clarity on precision might need to get on and trade. Brexit cost so much uncertainty in our business communities over the last three years. And a lot of companies feel that they're going around in circles. They need to stop that holding pattern they need to be able get back to investing, to hiring and to growing the economy.

And lifting this sort of fog that's all around them, is really, really important over the coming weeks.

NIGEL WILSON, CEO, LEGAL AND GENERAL: What it is like in business, you know, it's time to make a decision, you know, you can make (INAUDIBLE) and so far we've been very successful in delivering a (INAUDIBLE) actually, it's a time for actually getting on and making a decision.


MARSHALL: The annual conference of the British Chambers of Commerce took place after eight indicative votes were all knows going to the next stage. And we're in a scenario right now where Prime Minister Theresa May's proposals have been shot down by a wide margin on two occasions. So the Mayor of London told me that this paralysis in Parliament suggest that the power should go back to the people for the second referendum.


SADIQ KHAN, MAYOR OF LONDON: What's clear to me is Parliament is in a gridlock, and the best way to unlock the gridlock is to give the British public a site. But also, we've got a situation where British businesses are worried about the deal Theresa May has done, they worried about a no-deal situation, of course they want certainty but all of that certainty is a no-deal situation or a bad Brexit deal and my worry is the impression were giving to people outside of our country is we're of reminded our look in pluralistic pro-business.

That is why it's so really important part of realizes that they themselves can't solve this.


MARSHALL: And to avoid crashing at the European Union on April 12th, the mayor said, they should consider revoking Article 50, which would stop the clock on the withdrawal from the E.U. It's a hot button issue and one that the business community doesn't want to touch just yet. John Defterios, CNN Business London.

HOWELL: John, thank you. The Chinese tech giant Huawei has topped $100 billion in revenue for the first time. That is despite intense political challenges. The United States says that Huawei is a security risk still it made bumper profits. In 2018 up to 25 percent -- up 25 percent rather in sales were almost 20 percent. Our Sherisse Pham is following the story live in Shenzhen.

[02:35:00] And Sherisse, look in despite downward pressure from the United States and its allies clearly, Huawei remains a -- an industry leader.

SHERISSE PHAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Huawei is an industry leader buy a lot, George actually. So they're here reporting huge numbers today. Really trying show the businesses resilience in the face of this U.S.-led campaign against the company. Let's just pull up for viewers here, some of the numbers that came out from headquarters here today. Huawei reporting net profit last year $8.7 billion, up 25 percent to the year before.

And revenue more than $100 billion also up, double digits, but here's the number that was really interesting today. George, which is, sales revenue from the carrier businesses which was down 1.3 percent. And it is a small sign that the U.S.-led campaign is having an effect on businesses, at least according to analysis that I've talked too. Now, they are also citing that they were upping research and development investment.

And also their natural cycles that come with the carriers around the world of replacing, replacing in 5 -- their networks and their 5G networks. But look, this is the area of the Huawei business that the United States has been targeting and Huawei reporting today that is down 1.3 percent. Here is another thing that we have -- we found quite interesting from this is as well. Look, they are not --they are not shy now about pushing back against this U.S. led campaign.

Guo Ping was asked about the United States putting pressure on the company. And, you know, the company gets Chinese government supports and he said, look, this is just the United States expressing a little bit of sour grapes. Have a listen to what he said.


GUO PING, ROTATING CHARIMAN, HUAWEI (through translator): The U.S. has the most powerful bounty in the world but we're competing with Huawei, it still loses in certain areas and I can't accept this fact, I think that it's a loser's mentality and the U.S. government should change that mentality.


PHAM: So the United States is a loser according to Guo Ping there, he's not exactly wrong. The United States has no ability to compete in 5G certainly not against Huawei and Huawei really saying look today, George, our business is strong and it's growing.

HOWELL: Sherisse, comments like that coming at a time when the United States and China are locked in these trade wars. How -- something like this play into that broader discussion? PHAM: Absolutely, we can be looking at these earnings in a vacuum.

This is all coming out against the broader geopolitical backdrop of the U.S. and China fighting over who is going to lead in the technologies of the future and 5G is one of those technologies. Trump has said he wants the U.S. to lead on 5G and he even said 6G which doesn't exist yet, but Huawei is the dominant leader right now.

And China is investing a ton of money and Huawei is investing a ton of money in 5G as well. You can bet that these numbers that came out here in here Shenzhen today, it would surprise me if officials were in Beijing at the moment having the latest rounds of trade talks, weren't talking about them as well. Huawei is a massive player and in some -- to some extent they, you know, it represents the -- some of the issues that the United States has with China and how it grows its tech businesses. George?

HOWELL: Sherisse Pham live in Shenzhen on the story and with the numbers. Sherisse, thak you again. The ride-hailing app Lyft is expected to make its highly anticipated NASDAQ debut in just a few hours. The company priced its initial public offering at $72 a share. Higher than its original proposed price suggesting stronger investor demand.

Lyft is kicking off a big year for other tech listings. Uber, Slack and Pinterest are also expected to follow Lyft's lead and go public in 2019. A nations shocked a community scarred, the Grenfell tragedy left a lasting mark I should say on London. Up next, what it was like for a firefighter who saved from the inferno?

Plus the U.S. President weighs on the Jussie Smollett legal drama. Ahead, why he's calling the case a national embarrassment.


[02:42:04] In New Zealand and just steps from the mosque where dozens of people were shot and killed two weeks ago. People came together to pause and take stock of the tragedy and remember the victims. The Prime Minister of the nation Jacinda Ardern said the mass killings may have shaken New Zealand to its sole but the country would never surrender to hate.


JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: Racism exists but it is not welcome here. An assault of the freedom on anyone of us who practices our faith or religion is not welcome here, violence and extremism in all its forms is not welcome here.


HOWELL: The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also attended the service. The accused gunman, an Australian is expected to face more charges.

Cancer causing chemicals and other harmful toxins had been found close to the Grenfell Tower plus aside of that devastating apartment fire in London. Residents have been told to see doctors to ensure that their health is checked. 72 people were killed in that fire that erupted on a night in June back in 2017, hundreds of people were saved. CNN's Hala Gorani went back to Grenfell with one of those firefighters who risk his life to save others.


HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The fire at Grenhell Tower was the biggest loss of life in London since World War II.


GORANI: Nightmare of scenes of a high rise building of blaze. Still haunting almost two years on. Yet among all the stories of tragedy there are those of immense individual bravery.

ALDO DIANA, RETIRED FIREFIGHTER: And it wasn't until about three streets away that you actually saw the smoke and the glow of the -- of the tower.

GORANI: Firefighter Aldo Diana, now retired, says he helped nine people escape the tower that night. As they approached the burning block, his colleagues are audibly stunned at the size of the blaze.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a towering inferno.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is that possible?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's jumped all the way along the flats look.

GORANI: So you were at the base of the tower at that point, was all the equipment you needed to go into this inferno of a fire?

DIANA: Yes. It's what we needed.

GORANI: At that point, just as you're about to go in, what goes through your mind?

DIANA: Goes though my head was just, you know, let's do this, let's get inside.

GORANI: Eager to get inside, it wasn't long before Aldo and his partner came across their first casualty.

DIANA: Once you go further it was just thick black -- thick black smoke. The first guy we came to is only sixth floor, sixth, seventh floor and he was just collapsed and it was between (INAUDIBLE) best thing to do is to get this fellow at the way. So we lifted him up --

GORANI: There's no visibility at this point, right?

DIANA: No. As I say, you can't see your hand in front of you face. It's --

GORANI: So how are you navigating in darkness?

[02:45:01] DIANA: We showing plans or flats downstairs, you know, we knew there was six flats on this floor.

GORANI: For Aldo, one exchange from that night stands out --

There was a young girl who said my mom and my dad are still inside, and I like -- it was just at that time that you saw reassure them, grab them, and make sure that they are getting out.

GORANI: As the toxic smoke filled the inside of the tower on the outside flames spread rapidly across the cladding. Since Grenfell, the London Fire Service has faced criticism for telling people to stay in their apartments.

But Aldo says that procedure is usually the safest.

DIANA: But that, stay put, for me in the 26 years I've served has always worked. Sadly, in the building that's covered inflammable material is -- you know, it's not going to work.

GORANI: By the time dawn broke, Aldo and his colleagues were still searching the tower.

And what was that like when you went into apartments than were you?

DIANA: Just complete devastation. It's a -- it was a quite eerie, because, when you looked onto the floor, you can see all the rubble and the smoldering fires, and the devastation inside. But the strange thing was is when you look out through the burned-out windows, you saw beautiful green trees, the motorway cars going to move away just birds singing. So, it was a quite surreal sort of experience.

GORANI: Some of the most memorable images of Grenfell were of the firefighters, sprawled out, exhausted from their rescue efforts.

DIANA: So, here on this grass area, was guys coming out, taking off their tunics, understand the fire gear. Collecting new cylinders, other breathing apparatus that's grabbing some water.

GORANI: What were you saying to each other that morning to firefighters?

DIANA: We were just -- we were just hoping that we get a chance to go back in again and make sure that -- you know, we did our job as best you're going. We just wanted to note that if we were called upon, be ready to go back in again.

GORANI: It's that instinct to run into rather than away from a burning building that makes all those stories so remarkable. While the memories of those who couldn't be saved, all 72 of them will never fade. Hala Gorani, CNN, London.

HOWELL: Very important story. Hala Gorani, thank you.

A high profile Philippine journalist and vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte has been arrested again. Maria Ressa a Time magazine Person of the Year in 2018 was taken into custody at the Manila Airport. And posted bail just a short time later. She's the CEO of upstart media company, Rappler and she says the government is trying to shut her, try and make her stop talking and to bankrupt her company by constantly filing charges against her.

She has reported extensively on President Duterte's war on drugs which has killed thousands of people.

The Jussie Smollett saga in the United States continues. The U.S. president weighing in on that case as the actor has asked to pay thousands for police. Stay with us.


HOWELL: Welcome back it is not uncommon for an airline to go out of business. But, this usually doesn't happen when passengers are about to board their flights. That's what happened with Iceland -- Iceland's Wow airline. It basically pulled the plug without warning, leaving passengers. Basically, leaving them stranded at airports.


[02:50:10] KIMBERLY WORTHY, STRANDED PASSENGER: I just feel like it's a lack of communication. You don't go into bankruptcy overnight. This is a process. It was not communicated that is a possibility that they might be going to bankruptcy.

CATHERINE GORECKA, STRANDED PASSENGER: I just don't deserve for being here. This -- it's been 24 hours. Literally, over 24 hours. And nobody, nobody really worried about if we have a food, if we have a sleep. We're just human, we need -- you know, we need to eat, we need to drink, at least.

PETER CLARK, STRANDED PASSENGER: Originally, the flight was supposed to leave at 7:00 at night. Then, as like 7:15 rolled around, they said, you know 9:00, we're waiting for -- we're waiting for our crew. The crew shows up. Then, like 9:15, the same thing. 11:00, we're all gone -- were all hysterical at this point. 11:00 shows up. They say try to come back tomorrow. And then, as I woke up to an e-mail, saying, don't even -- it's over.


HOWELL: Wow. The airline started operations in 2012 as a low-cost transatlantic carrier. The CEO has apologized. In a statement, he said that the company had to shut down when a financing deal with investors unexpectedly fell through.

New developments to tell you about in the legal drama surrounding Empire actor Jussie Smollett. The city of Chicago has sent him a bill now for $130,000 to pay for the police work done during the investigation.

All charges against Smollett have been dropped, but city officials say, he staged a hate crime and submitted a false police report. Our Sara Sidner has been following this story and has the latest from Chicago. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is demanding the Empire after Jussie Smollett pay-up. The city sending a letter to his attorney demanding more than $130,000 to help pay for the Smollett investigation.

RAHM EMANUEL, MAYOR OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: Given that he doesn't feel any sense of contrition and remorse, my recommendation is when he writes the check in the memo section, he can put the word I'm accountable for the hoax.

SIDNER: All 16 felony charges have been dropped against Smollett who arrived back in L.A. He has maintained his innocence, saying he was the victim of a homophobic and racially motivated attack in Chicago in January.

His attorney responding to the mayor, saying, "It is the mayor and the police chief who owe Jussie. Owe him an apology for dragging the innocent man's character through the mud. Jussie has paid enough."

As questions mount over the decision to dismiss the charges against Smollett, media outlets went to court today to request sealed documents in the case not be destroyed if the case is expunged. The presiding judge responding the county does not physically destroy case documents. And then, this twist.

NATALIE SPEARS, MEDIA ATTORNEY, CHICAGO: We understand that based on what defense counsel represented to us outside of court that Mr. Smollett will not be filing a petition for expungement, but --

SIDNER: Smollett's attorneys confirm, they are not going to file to expunge his case. A case that has now gotten the attention of President Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that case is an absolute embarrassment to our country and somebody has to at least take a very good hard look at it.

SIDNER: This morning, the president suddenly announced a federal review of Smollett's case via Twitter. Saying, "FBI and DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago. It is an embarrassment to our nation."

So far, the FBI, nor Department of Justice has said whether they will look into the case. Smollett's attorney is maintaining, the case was handled properly.

TINA GLANDIAN, ATTORNEY FOR JUSSIE SMOLLETT: We have nothing to be concerned about, because there was nothing on our end to requests us to do anything improper. And to my knowledge, nothing improper was done.

SIDNER: State's attorney Kim Foxx, who was also facing scrutiny for her decision to recuse herself from the case has defended her office's decision. But said, the sealing of the entire case was a mistake she was trying to rectify.

KIMBERLY FOXX, STATE'S ATTORNEY FOR COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS: We did not advocate, do not believe that the court files should be sealed. We believe in transparency even on difficult situations. We'll answer the questions. We did not ask for that file to be sealed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So let's unseal it.

FOXX: I believe that's in the process now.

SIDNER: But tonight, CNN has learned that Foxx's office will not be able to unseal the charges, her office spokesman telling CNN, "In accordance with state law, all information contained in Smollett's criminal case court file including police records has been sealed by order of the circuit court. The Cook County State's Attorney's office has no authority to unseal court records.

By the way, of Smollett would to ask for the case to be expunged, it would mean that the court would have to unseal the case documents by not asking for an expungement, it means that those documents stay out of the public's view. Sara Sidner, CNN, Chicago.


HOWELL: Sara, thank you. Now, switching to weather. Torrential rain has caused a real problem in New Zealand. Our Ivan Cabrera is here to tell us about it. And Ivan, a bridge even collapsing here.

[02:55:09] IVAN CABRERA, CNN INTERNATIONAL WEATHER ANCHOR: A bridge collapsed ago. This is what you see, this is at Messer in the South Island over the last few days, just incredible amounts of rain, and one of the worst I've ever seen. Thanked unfortunately we've had a fatality as a result. They are still trying to investigate what -- though that was related to the floods.

But, here it is. I'm taking you to Westland District, this is on the South Island, here. And I'll stop talking because I want you to hear what the sound of this bridge coming down. That was like --

Unbelievable power there, coming from a torrent of rain. You have to understand this is the Waiho Bridge, it's on the Waiho River. And the reason the rain was coming down, so, so fast, like a few years because we have mountains on the Eastern Saturday here. So, the water was just essentially taken down by gravity.

It was coming down incredibly. At Franz Josef is the area. There's Christchurch, we're talking about on the other side of the South Island here. This happened actually Tuesday through Thursday. That was the bulk of when the rainfall hit.

And by the time all was said and done, and by the way, it's not raining there right now. We had upwards of 700 millimeters of rainfall. That happened in just a two to three day time period here.

So, record rain. In fact, the Weather Service is calling it that quite historic. We had a state of emergency which thankfully as the rain has now receded, or at least, the worst of it that Westland District state of emergency has now been lifted. So, that is good news. But as I mentioned, that 700 millimeters of rainfall, that was enough for what they're calling now a 100-year flood event here across the South Island.

I want to talk about the forecast though because we have more rain that's going to be on the way. And certainly, not going to help things sound here. We have a little batch of moisture coming in from the north. Not worried about that. It's as low pressure that's going to cross the Tasman Sea heading into the weekend.

Fronts going to move through and I think that will have the potential to bring us more significant rainfall. No, I don't think we're going to have 700 millimeters of rain. But, it is going to rain heavily as we head through the upcoming your weekend here. There you see associated with the front, so the temperatures will drop as well, but that is the least of our worries here.

So, 700 millimeters of rainfall and that bridge was not something small. That was a huge structure that came down.

HOWELL: I mean, I heard it.

CABRERA: And that's going to be millions of dollars there, economically. And unfortunately, again, one fatality as a result.

HOWELL: Ivan, thank you.

CABRERA: You bet.

HOWELL: All right. Thank you for being with us this hour for CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell at the CNN center in Atlanta. More news right after the break. Stay with us.