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Migrant Facilities At Breaking Point; O'Rourke Kicks Off 2020 Bid; Trump Mocks Asylum Seekers; Biden Kissing Allegations; Trump Administration Urges Courts to Get Rid of Obamacare Entirely; George Clooney Calls for Boycott of Brunei for Law Allowing Stoning for Gay Sex, Adultery; WSJ: Boeing Anti-Stall System Activated Before Plane Crashed; Author: Barbara Bush Kept Trump Countdown Clock. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired March 30, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: You're live in the CNN newsroom. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for staying with me.
Right now, on the southern border of the U.S., customs and immigration officials say the breaking point that they've been expecting is completely upon them. In Texas, in Arizona, in New Mexico, processing centers, migrant family shelters, these temporary facilities, they are bursting. And immigration officials are about to release a lot of people, possibly thousands, from detention in Texas. We'll go live to the border in just a moment.
But this is just how overwhelmed some of these facilities are. Customs' officials say these migrant processing centers are well over 100 percent capacity. Edinburgh, Texas, El Paso, Texas, they can't handle any more people. And look at McAllen, 358 percent over capacity.
And we're getting details now about a plan to release hundreds of people currently inside those jammed-packed migrant centers into communities in South Texas because there's just not enough room for everyone. And that's going to happen over the next few days.
CNN's Natasha Chen is on the U.S.-Mexico border and CNN White House Reporter Sarah Westwood is near the president's Mar-a-Lago Resort in South Florida. Natasha, to you first. Give us some more about this mass release of migrants expected to happen in the coming days. Who are the people being released and what is the plan after they're released?
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, Ana, for the past a couple of weeks, the Brownsville city manager tells me he's been observing migrants dropped off in the city at the bus depot about, at first, 50 people a day or so.
But now, it's really ramped up. In fact, within the past hour, we contacted one of the nonprofits in Brownsville helping to receive these migrants. And, as of today, right now, they have 200 that they have been trying to help just today. And so, the problem they're seeing is that some of these people are arriving without any paperwork at all. And the nonprofit staff says they called the Custom and Border Protection to ask about how these people have been processed, whether they were processed, because they were dropped off with no paperwork.
So, at this point, what they're doing to try to help is to get these people a cell phone to contact any family member in the United States to help them get a ticket, a bus ticket, a plane ticket, to get to their next part of their journey.
There are more people expected to be dropped off in the coming days, and there's no telling exactly when this will end. So, a very serious problem there.
Meanwhile, President Trump has talked about this and talked about closing the border entirely if, he says, Mexico does not stop illegal immigration coming through on their side. Now, right behind me, you see people driving through and walking to the Mexico side from Texas. They have daily, weekly business going back and forth there. A lot of people with family on both sides.
Here is what a couple of people told us today in reaction to the possibility of the border being closed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLOS FLORES: Once every time I get a chance, so that I can go see my dad. He lives over there. He just acquired his visa, right, but he's only been over here, like, three or four times. My kids have barely met their grand --you know, their grand daddy. I haven't even showed him around. And now, you know, having this border, you know, getting shut down, what am I -- I'm -- what am I going to tell my kids? You know what? Your granddad can't come over here no more.
CHRIS LEACH: Every day, on Hansen-Douglas (ph) Bridge, sometimes that line, for people coming from Mexico to go to the states, can be up to two hours long. Just to give you an idea of how many people are crossing to go to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: And that man that you just heard from there lives on the Mexico side with his wife but works here in the U.S. He is actually from Boston. He says he's a Trump supporter. Likes our president. And, at the same time, is concerned about what will happen to his daily routine and his life if the border should close -- Ana.
CABRERA: OK. Natasha, stand by and stay with us. Sarah, we're also hearing from the president about the crisis on the border. He's sending tweets this afternoon from Mar-a-Lago. What's he saying?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Ana, Border Patrol is issuing dire warnings about the situation on the border. They're saying the system is reaching a breaking point, that the number of migrants in detention is reaching crisis levels, as President Trump is demanding more cooperation from Mexico to stop this flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S. And he's threatening to close down the border between the U.S. and Mexico if he doesn't get it.
Now, this is not the first time that he's issued such a threat. He said in December that he would close down the border. But it is the first time he's attaching the deadline. He says he's going to do it by next week. And he's continuing to call for Congressional action. And this comes as Customs and Border Protection is saying that the increase in families coming over the southern border is putting an enormous amount of strain on their limited resources. CBP says that their facilities were not designed to handle this many children and parents.
[17:05:00] I want to read you part of CBP's statement this weekend. They said, U.S. Border Protection has been transparent for several months by conveying the message, both publicly, internationally, and to Congress, that the immigration system is broken. And that they are at critical capacity levels across the southwest border.
Customs and Border Protection facilities and manpower cannot support this dramatic increase in apprehensions of family units and unaccompanied children. There is no consequence that the Border Patrol can apply to this demographic under current law and court rulings.
Now, that spike in the number of children and families has caused Border Patrol to have to process these people quickly, release them into the U.S. and CBP also says it's had to divert agents away from their law enforcement duties to focus on the humanitarian crisis created by all of this. But DHS says, it's committee to addressing this humanitarian need, but the current situation is unsustainable for Border Patrol operations. The status quo is not an option. The legal framework must be addressed. The only remedy to this crisis is Congressional action.
Now, the CBP's statement mirrors Trump's message and tweets, just moments ago, where he's writing about the need for Congress to address this issue. He's saying that they could solve the problem in less than one hour with one vote. And he's blaming Democrats for inaction on immigration, even though Republicans had two years to address immigration reform when they controlled both Houses of Congress. They did not do so. And CBP is saying that they are on track in March to apprehend more people than in any month since 2008.
So, even though President Trump caught criticism for describing the situation on the southern border as a crisis months ago when he first started calling for declaring a national emergency, the underlying numbers are starting to potentially shift the debate -- Ana.
CABRERA: All right. Thank you, Sarah Westwood and Natasha Chen.
Now, about an hour's drive east from where Natasha is, Brownsville, Texas is seeing the number of migrants dropped off there by Border Patrol explode from about 50 a day to 300. That's according to Noel Bernal. He is the city manager in Brownsville who is joining us now. Thank you so much for being here. You told CNN you have observed migrants being just dropped off in Brownsville. What do you mean when you say they're being dropped off, like, literally, just taken somewhere and left? And then, where do they go?
NOEL BERNAL, CITY MANAGER, BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS: Well, we are fortunate to be in strong communication with the CBP personnel throughout these past almost two weeks. What I mean -- so, being dropped off, we do have it very orchestrated. There are a couple of drop-off zones. We are in communication so that we can meet the expectations that we have, here at the local level on the ground floor. That cooperation enables us to have our system functional, which is to transition migrants to their destination.
But being dropped off simply means that we have vans and we have buses from the Border Patrol that do get dropped off at one of our nonprofit locations and at our bus terminal.
CABRERA: OK. So, is Border Patrol, after they have these migrants in their custody, are taking them there to Brownsville, dropping them off to then be in temporary shelters of some sort. Who are these people that you're seeing and what stories are you hearing from them?
BERNAL: The individuals that we have -- so, first of all, those drop- off zones are throughout the Rio Grande Valley. That is in Brownsville, Harlingen and McAllen. We are multi-mobile cities. We have airports. We have buses. So, we can address the issue of the migrant families getting to their destination.
They are -- the numbers vary. We hear stories of all kinds. We hear stories of violence. We hear stories of individuals who came here before. Didn't -- weren't successful. Went back. Have a child now. And because of that, they were able to cross over. I mean, the stories are various.
Ultimately, our focus is, we need to do what the city is able to do through our partners, through our nonprofits, to provide support and to provide a positive experience on the humanitarian side. Because these are people that are seeking some type of relief in our country. Our role, however, is giving them a positive experience and helping them transition through.
CABRERA: We have the head of the GOP in El Paso, Texas on earlier. And I asked him why things seem to be getting worse two years into the Trump presidency there at the border. And I want you to listen to me what he -- to what he told me.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ADOLPHA TELLES, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN PARTY, EL PASO, TEXAS: That's why there are family units coming across today, because they know that there's a law that protected them, and it was set for a specific issue a number of years back, and now it's being taken advantage of. And it's being promoted.
And that's why it's -- we have what we have. Do these people have problems in their country? Without a doubt. We have a civil war and we had an American revolution and people stayed here and fought for what was right. These people need to learn to stand up for what's right for them too, not just run.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
CABRERA: What's your response to that?
BERNAL: That is consistent with what we hear down here.
[17:10:02] We hear stories of advertisements down in South Central America, portraying what those legal loopholes are in our system. And so, that is consistent with what we -- with what we hear and what we've observed.
CABRERA: But when he is saying they should just stay and fight instead of leaving their country, do you agree with that?
BERNAL: That is -- that is a foreign policy and issue, domestic issue way beyond the purview of where I sit and where I stand. What I will say is that I do firmly believe that the support that the federal government could provide us could exceed what it does today. And that is, first of all, this is not an emergency in the eyes of the federal government. It leaves us on our own at the ground floor to help these families transition through.
Part of why our approach is heavily focused on transitioning families through is, we cannot sustain the cost that it would take to do anything more. So, our focus is to make sure that we do the right thing and providing them with food, showers, supplies, just a positive, pleasant experience here in Brownsville. But, ultimately, to help them get to their destination.
CABRERA: All right. Noel Bernal, we really appreciate you giving us that insight. Thank you.
BERNAL: Thank you.
CABRERA: The crisis at the border is at the heart of Beto O'Rourke's pitch to voters today. The presidential hopeful is rolling out his first official campaign rally in Texas. We'll take you there, live.
Plus, doctor's orders causing the Rolling Stones to postpone their tour. You're live in the CNN Newsroom.
[17:15:15] CABRERA: Beto O'Rourke formally launching his 2020 bid today with campaign stops across his home state of Texas. And while the Democrat is talking up issues, like climate change, criminal justice reform and health care, his main focus is the border showdown.
And CNN's Nia-Mallika Henderson is joining us now from Houston where O'Rourke will be appearing soon. And, Nia, O'Rourke is taking President Trump head on on this issue. NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is. And in El Paso,
earlier this morning, he didn't directly mention Trump's name but he talked about Trump as a divisive figure. A divisive figure, in terms of race, in terms of ethnicity, and in terms of country of origin as well. And the idea of being in El Paso, of course, that O'Rourke is from El Paso.
But he likes the contrast with the president's rhetoric about illegal immigration, about immigrants in general, and what El Paso is. A city that he says is very safe. He says it's a city that's made better and more vibrant, because of the immigrants that live in this city.
And this is also what he said about immigration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For more than a hundred years, this community has welcomed generations of immigrants from across the Rio Grande. Some having traveled hundreds of miles. Some having traveled thousands of miles. Trying to escape brutality, violence, and crushing poverty to find a better life in this country for themselves and for their kids, that's for sure.
Let's remember, that every single one of us, including those who are just three or four blocks from here, detained under the international bridge that connects us with Mexico, behind chain-link fence and barbed wire, that they are our fellow human beings and deserve to be treated like our fellow human beings.
(END VIDEO CLIP) .
HENDERSON: So, you see there, Beto O'Rourke didn't specifically address what President Trump is threatening to do now, which is to shut down the border. But he did give, sort of, a broad idea of where he stands. What immigration means to the country. What it means to that city, El Paso.
He'll be here later today in Houston at an HBCU, Texas Southern University. You can see the crowd gathering behind me now. A little weather problem, perhaps, as it will probably rain. So, we'll see how that affects the crowd.
But you saw Beto O'Rourke today really, sort of, lay out broad themes of his campaign, diagnosing what he sees as some of the country's problems. And, also, sort of, the Democratic approach to all of them. whether it's immigration. Whether it's health care. Whether it's criminal justice. I think a lot of the folks here, at least some of the ones I talked to, see him as an energetic candidate. They talk about his youth as well. They talk about his positive approach to politics. They think he's not going to be somebody to drag somebody down into the mud, to be very critical in the way that you see this current president.
But they are looking for solutions as well. So, we'll see what he says today, and if he's able to convince some of these folks that he's the right man for the job to take on Donald Trump. CABRERA: And, Nia, what do you see as the significance of him going
there, to Texas Southern, to give his message today? Obviously, that's a historically black university.
HENDERSON: It is. And this university is in a black town as well, a real historic black town. And I have to say, so far, the crowd is very diverse. You would think there would probably be more students present. So far, there aren't any -- many students. So far, I talked to somebody who works here. They said maybe the students are, sort of, in their dorms, at this point, kind of taking a break for the weekend.
But we'll see. It hasn't started yet. You see people gathering so far. But, obviously, Beto O'Rourke is someone who is arguing that he can get a broad-based coalition, like the Obama coalition. But also get some Trump voters as well.
We'll see what this crowd looks like going forward. It starts in about 45 minutes. We'll see what Beto O'Rourke has to say.
CABRERA: All right. Nia-Malika Henderson in Houston. We'll check back. Thanks.
Let's bring in our CNN Political Commentators now. Democratic Strategist Keith Boykin and S.E. Cupp, Host of "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED" at the top of the hour. S.E., I'll start with you. O'Rourke talked a lot about immigration, as they've (ph) been today, obviously. And I want to play what else he said about asylum seekers, specifically in contrast back to what Trump said as well this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'ROURKE: We are safe, not despite the fact that we are a city of immigrants and asylum seekers. We are safe because we are a city of immigrants and asylum seekers.
[17:20:08] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have people coming up. You know, they're all met by the lawyers. The lawyers have -- and they come out. They're all met by the lawyers. And they say, say the following phrase, I am very afraid for my life. I am afraid for my life. OK. And then, I look at the guy. He looks like he just got out of the ring. He's a heavyweight champion of the world. He's a (INAUDIBLE.) It's a big fat con job, folks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: S.E., Trump's way of talking about immigration seems to work for him in 2020. It seemed to help him be, you know, part of his message that really ignited his base and drove them to the polls. Is there any reason to believe that it won't work this time?
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I hope it won't work this time. I thought it was an ugly, awful, divisive message. And I was saddened that it worked. And it worked with a plurality. It did not work, I think, safe to say, with a majority. But he could benefit from that again this time as well. Look, I think it is fair to have a debate about the role this country plays in mitigating the awful conditions that people are stuck in in their home countries and how our asylum laws work. It's a conversation we could have had when Republicans had power and could have done something about it.
Trump doesn't want to have a policy conversation. He just wants to instill fear. Now, to be fair, I didn't hear much policy from Beto either. And this is a Trump -- you know, a stump speech. It's a campaign rally, and he's going to talk in platitudes. But, at some point, we have to ask Beto O'Rourke what his solution is to very real problems.
Jeh Johnson, an Obama-era DHS secretary, said there was a huge crisis on the border. He would say that when he got a report, every morning, there was a thousand detentions. He had a bad day. Four thousand in a day is what we're dealing with. He has said, we are -- our system is being over run. We're not able to deal with this. So, any change --
CABRERA: And I've heard Jeh Johnson also say it needs to come with -- you know, addressing is at the root of the problem, which is in those home countries where these people are (INAUDIBLE.) Because --
CUPP: Oh, it's funding and financing, absolutely.
CABRERA: They're not worried about being taken into custody if all they're trying to do is survive.
CABRERA: And that's what's (INAUDIBLE.)
CUPP: But every candidate for president, including Beto O'Rourke, --
CUPP: -- is going to have to address that from a policy standpoint, and not just a platitude.
CABRERA: Let me just pivot the conversation a little bit and talk about what we are hearing from Beto O'Rourke today and where he's campaigning today, Keith. Because he's going to three different locations there in Texas. He started his day, it was near the Mexico border.
Then, he traveled to the historically black Texas Southern University in Houston, where he's about to speak. And then, later today, he's going to end in the shadow of the capitol in Austin. Do you think Texas is in play for the Democrats this year, this upcoming election?
KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's certainly in play, in terms of the primary. You know, that's important because there is -- there is a Texas primary. It's going to be -- I think it's on Super Tuesday. I could be wrong about that date. But I know there's a Texas primary happening earlier next year than normally what we would think. And so, he wants to win that state. That's one of the biggest states in the country.
We know that Kamala Harris was at that same university where he is today, at Texas Southern University. Just about a week ago, she was speaking about her plan to raise teacher pay. It's a historically black college, as you mentioned. And it's also an indication of the Democratic Party's demographics.
You know, if you want to win the Democratic Party in the primary process, you have to win the Latinos. You have to win African- Americans. You have to win people of color, in general. You have to do well with women. So, Beto O'Rourke, like the other candidates, is trying to address that base in all the different places he's going to in Texas.
CABRERA: Let's talk about Joe Biden, because he's now, kind of, in the middle of a bit of a controversy, another 2020 candidate. Although, Biden has not officially declared yet. I mean, they're talking about it. The 2020 candidates are talking about what's going on on the campaign trail. We're hearing from Elizabeth Warren. We're hearing also from Julian Castro.
Here's the allegation about Biden. A Nevada assemblywoman, Lucy Flores, she says Biden kissed her on the back of her head back in 2014. She says it was inappropriate. It made her feel uncomfortable. And Joe Biden's camp say he doesn't remember this. But here is Warren and Castro addressing it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I read the op-ed last night, I believe, Lucy Flores. And Joe Biden needs to give an answer.
JULIAN CASTRO (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe Lucy Flores. I believe that the vice president put a statement out today. He's going to decide whether he's going to run or not. And then, the American people, if he does, will decide whether they support him or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Here was the response today from Biden's spokesman. People know Joe Biden. They know his character. They know his integrity and his values. They know him to be someone who is empathetic, caring, and who understands their problems and concerns. That's how he reacts to people, and it's how people react to him. In fact, some of the people who know him best, people who have worked for him throughout his career are speaking up to say that he has always been a champion for women in his office.
[17:25:03] S.E., what do you think about it?
CUPP: Well, this is sort of like that old show "This is Your Life." And Joe Biden needs to get ready for that, if he decides to get in. Not only are they going to bring up recent stuff, but they're going to go all the way back and talk about Anita Hill and the crime bill and look at him through a 2019-2020 prism. And we'll have to see how he stands up to that criticism.
But for any of the other candidates, it's no -- there's no downside to coming out and saying, I believe Lucy. And Joe Biden will have to answer for this. That's, I think, sort of the place they're stuck in right now, in the midst of me too, in the midst of a Democratic Party that is increasingly moving leftward. They win nothing by saying, well, I believe Joe Biden.
CABRERA: What do you say, Keith?
BOYKIN: Well, I've been saying, privately, for months now, and I've never said this publicly because nobody has ever asked me about it. I don't think Joe Biden is going to run.
CABRERA: You don't think he's going to run?
BOYKIN: I think -- I don't think he's going to run. I've been saying this for a while. I feel like -- he's a smart guy. I was telling this to S.E. a moment ago in the green room that he's a smart guy. He's got to know that all this stuff about his history is going to come up, going back to the 1970s. And not just the Anita Hill hearings but going back to the 1970s. All this stuff is going to come up. And he's got to, you know, contend in a new era in 2019 and answer for stuff that he did in the 1970s and 1980s.
And he already has a good legacy as being the vice president for Barack Obama who is a very popular guy. Why tarnish your reputation and your legacy by jumping into a race that you know people are going to be attacking you from the moment you get in? And you may not even win so is it worth it? I mean, he's run for president twice. I was there in 1988 when he ran the first time and he dropped out of the race because of a controversary about Neil Kinnock and he was plagiarizing words, allegedly.
BOYKIN: And, now, he ran again in 2008. He lost that time. Does he really want to run in 2020, possibly lose and let that be his legacy? Or does he want to go out and say that he was the vice president of the United States for a very popular president and let that be his legacy? I think that's a smart move.
CUPP: But he's leading the polls.
CABARERA: I know.
BOYKIN: Rudy Giuliani was leading in the polls before. Jeb Bush was leading in the polls before at this time. Leading in the polls a year before the election, a year before the primaries, it means nothing. And he's smart enough to know that.
CABRERA: And it may mean something for the debates. That may be the key, at this point in the race. Thank you both for being here, as always. Don't forget S.E. Cupp's
"S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED" at 6:00 p.m. right here on CNN. Keith Boykin, thank you as well for being here.
President Trump wants to eliminate Obamacare in its entirety. But if that happens, what does it mean for your family and millions of other Americans? We'll discuss live in the CNN Newsroom. We have the facts when we come back.
[17:30:19] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Just into CNN, a federal judge says no to President Trump and his action that would have allowed drilling for oil in Arctic waters off Alaska. The president tore away a ban on Arctic drilling almost two years ago. Now a U.S. district court judge ruled that the president's executive order is, quote, "unlawful and invalid." That means a drilling ban in much of the ocean off Alaska will remain in effect. Conservationists call this a victory. No response yet from the White House.
The Trump administration is now fighting for the courts to strike down Obamacare in its entirety. Republicans have already stripped away the penalty for those who are uninsured. And the administration has made cheaper policies with less coverage available while also taking away resources to help people enroll. And yet, Obamacare is proving resilient.
CNN's Tami Luhby joins us now.
What is the status of Obamacare? What are the numbers?
TAMI LUHBY, CNN BUSINESS SENIOR WRITER: Despite everything the Trump administration has done, Obamacare is holding its own. Some 11.4 million people signing up this year, down only 300,000, a lot less than advocates were worried about. Premiums have stabilized, at average of $600 a month, that's still pricey but better than the last few years when we had double-digit increases.
CABRERA: The increases are going down. That's still a lot of money.
LUHBY: Sure. One of the big issues with Obamacare is it's not necessarily the Affordable Care Act. Remember, most people don't actually pay those premiums. In fact, about 87 percent of people get federal subsidies and only pay about $87 a month. Then you have a little more than half getting help with deductibles and co pays and other kinds of cost sharing.
CABRERA: Your fascinating article explains why 87 percent of those people -- or 87 percent are receiving the federal premiums subsidies leading to $87 a month, is what they're paying, because seven in 10 Americans are making money that is 250 percent below the poverty level. That is eye opening to me.
So if Obamacare does go away in its entirety, what does that mean for the rest of us? Because it's not just people who are getting insurance through the federal exchanges or through the state-run exchanges, right? That could be impacted.
LUHBY: Right. What most people don't realize is that Obamacare affects almost everyone. It affects people on Medicare, Medicaid, you and I who get coverage through our employer. It affects almost everyone. But the most important thing, one of the most popular provisions has been those with preexisting conditions. You have 52 million Americans who prior to Obamacare would have had trouble getting coverage on the individual exchange for things such as acne when they were a teenager. That provision is incredibly popular with people. Both Democrats and Republicans have promised to maintain those protections. But if the lawsuit, if the Trump administration wins the lawsuit, those protections could go away.
[17:35:23] CABRERA: Do you have any idea where this goes next in terms of the court and how this process plays out?
LUHBY: We're still early in the process, it's going through the appellate court right now and it will probably end up in the Supreme Court and will probably end up in 2020, right around the presidential -- or during the presidential campaign.
CABRERA: Another election year, it will be an issue.
Thanks very much, Tami Luhby.
LUHBY: Of course.
CABRERA: George Clooney is calling for a boycott over one country's plans to stone people to death for gay sex and adultery. Now the State Department is weighing in. We'll have this for you live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[17:40:05] CABRERA: The State Department says it's concerned about a law in Brunei that violates basic human rights and is abusive against the LGBT community, although the State Department is stopping short of condemning the law. Brunei is a small nation on the island of Borneo close to Indonesia and Malaysia. In the coming days, it will impose the death penalty if citizens get caught having homosexual sex or committing adultery.
Hollywood star, George Clooney, is calling for a boycott of nine hotels, which are in the U.S., over their connections to Brunei.
CNN Salma Abdelaziz has more.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Ana, actor and activist, George Clooney, has called for a boycott of nine luxury hotels linked with the country of Brunei after the nation of Brunei announced it would stone people to death who were found guilty of having homosexual sex or committing adultery. Now, the sultan of Brunei is one of the wealthiest men in the world. He has properties in major cities.
And George Clooney argued in an op-ed for "The Deadline" that giving business to his properties is like paying for human rights violations. Let me read you a portion of what he wrote: "Every single time we stay at or take meetings at or dine at any one of these nine hotels, we're putting money directly into the pockets of men who chose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery."
Among these nine hotels is the Bel Air, the Beverly Hills Hotel in California. Most of the nine hotels refused to comment. One said in a statement it respects diversity and another said they value LGBTQ rights.
This is shocking news but it is to be expected. In 2014, the country of Brunei had said that it would gradual begin to implement Sharia Law. At the time, in 2014, there was similar celebrity outrage. Ellen DeGeneres and Jay Leno called for boycotts similar to what George Clooney is calling for. However it did not work.
Over the years, we've seen Brunei slowly roll out these conservative changes. For its part, the country says it hopes the international community will respect its laws. But human rights groups say this new penal code will take the country back to the dark ages -- Ana?
CABRERA: Salma, thank you.
A new major clue in the Ethiopian Airlines flight that killed 157 people. The "Wall Street Journal" is reporting investigators have reach a preliminary conclusion that a stall prevention system on the Boeing 737 MAX 8 activated automatically before the plane nosedived. The findings suggest it's likely the same issue that took down a Lion Air flight last October. And 189 people died in that crash. Boeing 737 MAX planes are still grounded worldwide. So the problem may be a particular sensor.
CNN correspondent, Tom Foreman, explains how it works -- Tom?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPODNENT: Ana, if this preliminary reporting holds up, it fits very neatly into what we've been saying all along, that the accident that took all those lines on Ethiopian Air looks an awful lot like the accident that took all those lives five months ago on the Lion Air crash. In both cases what seems to be in play here, at least a possibility, is this automatic leveling system on the plane called MCAS. These planes have a tendency to want to nose up in the sky because of the engine placement. MCAS is a bit of software that automatically pushes the plane back down to level if it gets an indication from the outside sensor that the plane is in the wrong position. But if that sensor is incorrect, that same software can push the plane into a dive. And then, as the crew tries to pull the plane back up, the software can take over and push it back down again. You wind up porpoising through the sky in an uncontrollable fashion.
Boeing has announced a fix for this. Now they're going to use two sensors on the outside, not just one. So the system can't kick in so readily. There will be an automatic warning system in the cockpit, which previously has been an add-on so pilots know the system is in play. They're stepping up a little bit of the training in all of this. There will be a little bit more ability for the pilots to take control of the plane.
Again, remember, this is now not just a technical issue. There have been so many alarms raised about this plane that Boeing must win a perception game here, a confidence business where they have to make the flying public and the airline industry and pilots believe that these planes truly are safe to go back into the sky, or they will likely stay grounded for an indeterminate amount of time -- Ana?
[17:45:06] CABRERA: Tom, thanks for the demonstration as always.
As Women's History Month comes to an end, Senators on the Hill are pushing to showcase the accomplishments of women on the National Mall. The museum they want to add to the Smithsonian family, next in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[17:49:48] CABRERA: The Rolling Stones are putting their upcoming North American tour on hold. A statement from the band says the lead singer, Mick Jagger, needs medical treatment and he can't tour, on advice of his doctors. No word on what is ailing the 75-year-old. Jagger apologized to his fans on Twitter saying, "I'm so sorry to all our fans in American and Canada with tickets. I really hate letting you down like this. I will be working very hard to be back on stage as soon as I can. Once again, huge apologies to everyone."
For tourists, no trip to our nation's capital is complete without seeing at least one of the Smithsonian museums or galleries but there are none devoted to women. Two of the most powerful voices on Capitol Hill are out to change that. Senator Dianne Feinstein is teaming up with her Republican counterpart, Susan Collins. Their new bill would create a new Smithsonian American Women's History Museum, possibly on the National Mall. The lawmakers call this idea long overdue. In fact, a congressional commission pushed for the idea five years ago, but similar bills failed in the last Congress.
There's a new biography giving us rather insight into one of the GOP's most iconic figures. There you see her, the late first lady, Barbara Bush. An excerpt from matriarch from Susan Page details some of the things she held dear, one being the presidential countdown clock. It showed how many days, hours, minutes, even seconds remained in President Trump's term, and apparently she kept it on her nightstand where she could see it every day.
Joining us is presidential historian, Mark Updegrove, the author of "The Last Republicans: Inside the Extraordinary Relationship Between George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush."
Mark, are there any revelations in this book about Barbara Bus surprising?
MARK UPDEGROVE, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN & AUTHOR: Certainty not about the parse to her opposition to Donald Trump. Donald Trump is everything the Bush family is not. He's self-aggrandizing, braggadocios, divisive. It didn't surprise me that came out in Susan Page's book. Barbara Bush talked to me about her feelings about Donald Trump privately, and I knew --
CABRERA: Did you know about the countdown clock?
UPDEGROVE: I did know about the countdown clock, yes. It was a fixture in the Bush household. In fact, she had brought it from Maine down to Houston. That spoke to its importance in her life.
CABRERA: So interesting.
Mark, I know you're featured in our CNN original series "THE BUSH YEARS" chronicling the rise to power. And tomorrow will focus on the second generation of leaders, culminating of the election of George W. Bush. Let's everyone a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PERSIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've come here to tell you today this. I'm running for president of the United States. There's no turning back. And I intend to be the next president of the United States.
ANNOUNCER: Only seven years after his father lost the presidency, George W. Bush announces his intense to run for the White House.
BUSH: I will give it my best shot, talk about a hopeful tomorrow, talk about uniting the country. If it works out, I'm ready. If it doesn't work out, me and the old boy will spend a lot of time fishing together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think, initially, there was some debate in the campaign about whether we should even do the family thing, because that was one of the arguments against George Bush, the dynastic campaign.
GEORGE W. BUSH: See you tomorrow.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think they said to take a couple questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His father who was there in the presidential flight jacket, loved the moment. At some point, he gets in front of the microphone standing in front of his son and starts answering questions from the press.
It's like he gets to be president again for a few minutes. George W. must be thinking, damn it, Dad, get out of the pictures.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So it's interesting, because the family regarded Bush's younger brother, Jeb, as I understand it, as the better politician, and he would be next in line to run for president, but one race reversed things. Tell us about that.
UPDEGROVE: That was the race for the governorships of their respective states in 1994. Jeb Bush was vying for the governorship of Florida. George W. Bush was vying to the governorship of Texas. It was expected -- it wasn't necessarily that Jeb was a better politician. In fact George W. Bush had run a very credible campaign for Congress in 1978 and had been a big help to his father when his father ran for president in 1988. It's just that the family thought that Jeb had a much better chance of winning the race in 1994, because the handicap was different. There was a very popular governor here in the state of Texas named Ann Richards, who had a popularity rating of some 60-some percent, so that was a more formidable challenge, but the at the results were much different than imagined. George Bush won in Texas, Jeb Bush lost in Florida. That put George W. Bush to run for president if he was successful.
[17:55:06] CABRERA: Mark Updegrove, as always, thank you so much.
UPDEGROVE: Thank you.
CABRERA: "THE BUSH YEARS: FAMILY, DUTY, POWER," airs tomorrow night at 10:00 only on CNN.
We want to take a moment to honor this week's "CNN Hero," Carrie Brody. She helps refugees in the U.S. launch culinary careers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARRIE BRODY, "CNN HERO": What we're teaching our students isn't just life skills and it isn't just cooking. It's the idea that you are a human and you have value, and that's something that people have tried to strip away from others for such a long time.
What's the dream team cooking up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Samba cake.
BRODY: Samba cake. Awesome.
That experience of watching our students transform, of seeing our students really come into their own inspires me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: To nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero," go to CNNheroes.com.
I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. I'll see you back here at 8:00 eastern.
My colleague, S.E. Cupp, is up after a quick break. Stay with us.