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Texas City Facing Mass Release of Migrants; U.K. Parliament Deals May's Brexit Plan a Fatal Blow; Ukraine's President Is Running against Vladimir Putin; SDF Fighter Killed in ISIS Attack; Facebook CEO Calls for More Internet Regulation; "SNL" Skewers the Mueller Report. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired March 31, 2019 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Over capacity. An influx of migrants at the southern border. The U.S. president threatens to close it altogether.
And voters in Ukraine head to the polls where a comedian is front- runner to be the next president.
Also ahead this hour:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the people should just realize that all people are not us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL (voice-over): A CNN exclusive report which already prompted one nation's government to reconsider taking back former ISIS fighters.
Live from CNN World Headquarters, we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell. The CNN NEWSROOM starts now.
HOWELL: 5:00 am on the U.S. East Coast.
The U.S. president is renewing his threats to close the U.S. border with Mexico. Mr. Trump calling it an emergency at the border. This isn't the first time the president has raised this alarm but his State Department is taking it a step further, according to the State Department.
Aid will be cut off to three Central American countries. El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
And U.S. authorities say they have been struggling to handle a huge surge of migrants. Processing centers are overflowing with people.
In El Paso, Texas, entire families are being corralled behind a chain link fence under a bridge there.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports every sector of the border has passed its capacity. Stations were built to process hundreds of single adults from Mexico. They're not ready to house hundreds of thousands of families.
The president has been in Florida this weekend, talking tough about what's happening on the border. Sarah Westwood has more now from West Palm Beach.
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump has spent the weekend here in West Palm Beach focusing on immigration. He's renewed threats to shut down the border between the U.S. and Mexico if Mexico doesn't do more to stop illegal immigration into the U.S.
Now this is not the first time President Trump has made this threat. But it is the first time he's attaching a deadline to it. He says by next week he could close all or part of the southern border if he doesn't get Mexico to step up and do more.
Now the president is also calling on Congress to address the immigration laws. He's blaming Democrats for congressional inactions and wrote in a tweet on Saturday, "It would be so easy to fix our weak and very stupid Democrat inspired immigration laws. In less than one hour and then a vote, the problem would be solved. But the Dems don't care about the crime, they don't want any victory for Trump and the Republicans, even if good for USA!"
Customs and Border Protection said over the weekend that they are reaching a breaking point, the number of families and unaccompanied children coming over the border has put enormous strain on their resources.
They say their facilities were not designed to accommodate families and children and that the status quo is unsustainable. And, like President Trump, they are calling for congressional action to change the laws.
Now Trump, on Friday, speaking about the border shutdown said that could involve shutting down trade between the U.S. and Mexico, which would be enormously expensive for both countries.
But it remains unclear what exactly the president means when he says he could close down the border as soon as next week -- Sarah Westwood, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.
HOWELL: Surely a lot of uncertainty there. Federal authorities are struggling with so many migrants. Officials in Brownsville, Texas, say they're dealing with the release of hundreds of migrants every day. CNN's Martin's Savidge has been in Brownsville and spoke with the mayor about how the city is preparing and handling it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY MARTINEZ, BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS, MAYOR: So far, we have been able to handle anything that's come our way and I think we can so long as we have adequate notice to know what's coming.
Right now they're bringing them here. We're feeding them, sheltering them, clothing them, whatever they need at the time, any health issues that they shouldn't have when they get here.
But, if they do and we have, you know -- we have asked some of our local doctors and friends in the medical profession to come give us some assistance and that's what we're doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Let's talk about all of this now with --
HOWELL: -- Noel Bernal, the city manager of Brownsville Texas, joining us by phone this hour.
Good to have you with us.
NOEL BERNAL, BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS, CITY MANAGER: Good evening.
How are you?
HOWELL: Very good. Thank you for taking time with us to explain what's happening there. You've indicated that the Rio Grande Valley could see some 5,900 migrants released in the coming days. The president has called this a crisis.
From your perspective, how do you see it?
BERNAL: Well, I do believe this can be considered a crisis. For the most part, the way the city -- our city perspective is that we cannot sustain costs over a long period of time should these numbers continue.
What we're doing is staying focused on one thing and the one thing is helping families transition through Brownsville to their preferred destination. Whenever the city's costs are jeopardized, taxpayer dollars that are meant to support the city, our local operations here, to me, that's sufficient to classify it as a crisis.
HOWELL: We know that facilities are well over capacity. More than 12,500 people are in custody so when migrants are dropped off at bus stations, places like that, I understand your city staff, nonprofits as well, are doing much more hands-on work to help facilitate and provide migrants with the help they need when they reach your town. Clearly your staff is busy. BERNAL: That is correct. The brunt of the workload, to do this, to have this transition that I'm calling, happen is primarily falling on the hands of our nonprofit entities, the city staff and it -- it's just not a sustainable system.
And the cost that we're incurring, at this point, I would still consider nominal. We're incurring some overtime, things of that sort, where we're still seeing support from private donors, helping provide relief to our nonprofits so that they can sustain themselves as well.
But it's something that could escalate. If these numbers that we're receiving do reach that threshold, that point to where it's upwards of, for us, somewhere between 500 to a thousand a day it does become taxing. And we can incur significant costs.
So the end game or the end, to me, is what is the going to look like in not just the coming days but weeks and months because the costs for now are managed for the most part.
We're -- our system is working, where the majority of the migrant families do leave and depart, through either airfare or bus throughout the day, leaving a fraction that stay overnight. When that becomes a multiple night affair, for example, costs increase for us. Families are still leaving early morning. Those that do stay overnight but we're at that delicate balance.
HOWELL: The U.S. president sees closing the border as a solution here.
Do you agree?
BERNAL: I would be concerned for the unintended consequences. The solution -- I'm not sure that that's the solution at this point right away. I believe that our system is working.
If we were to be provided more federal dollars, our system could work to find more solutions that are more comprehensive. I think that our system is working as long as we have more federal support.
HOWELL: Noel Bernal is the city manager of Brownsville, Texas. Thank you for your time today.
BERNAL: Thank you.
HOWELL: And now with us, Scott Lucas. He's a professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham and the founder and editor of "EA WorldView," joining us from England.
SCOTT LUCAS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: Good morning, George.
HOWELL: I want to start by listening to the Republican Party chairman in El Paso, Texas, giving his assessment of what's happening and why it's happening on the border. Let's listen together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADOLPHO TELLES, REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN, EL PASO: 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. That's why it's what 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 VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: A very hardline view on immigration --
HOWELL: -- and that's how some people see it.
LUCAS: Well, with respect, America is actually built as a country upon people who ran. In other words, people who fled persecution, conditions in Europe and Latin America and Asia. And that is part of what made America great.
If you're not wanting to criticize these migrants dehumanize them and saying they're cowards and they're just running, I'm not going to go there.
The wider point is migration was dropping year on year across U.S.- Mexican border for more than 40 years. The reason why we've had a surge is for two reasons. We've had increase in families because they are fleeing violence and poor conditions in their countries in Central America and because of Donald Trump.
Yes, that's right. What has happened is the Trump administration manufactured a crisis to create the so-called invasion by imposing the zero tolerance laws, by threatening to build the wall. They gave a signal to people, which is you've got a certain amount of time to get into the United States so that has accelerated rather than decreased the flow of migration.
But do they care about it?
No. Because for the next 16 months, the Trump administration is going to use this as an election issue. They'll take the crisis they manufactured and say we have to be the one that has to deal with the crisis. You have to vote for us to stop these migrants running to take over, quote, "your country."
HOWELL: Those who say bring your tired, your poor, those yearning to be free and there's also those saying figure it out where you are.
Trump threat to close the southern border with Mexico. He also plans to cut aid to three Central American countries. The aid organization, Oxfam, had this to say, Scott. Here's the quote.
"Cutting foreign aid to Central America is the absolute last thing the Trump administration should do right now.
"Not only is it morally wrong, it also counters efforts to address the root causes behind migration. Aid cuts would be devastating to the region and would only foster the same instability that is making people flee in the first place."
What impact might these moves have?
LUCAS: Well, closing the border, I think Trump is blowing smoke just to get headlines. If you close the border, you cause damage to both the U.S. and Mexican economies and I don't think Trump's officials want to go that far.
Far more serious is the cutoff of $5 million to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. That money goes for anti violence programs, it goes for education, trying to enhance job opportunities.
If you cut that money, then violence goes up. Job opportunities dry up, people do not have educational opportunities.
So what do they do?
Rather than staying in their countries, they're more likely to migrate because you have cut off your assistance. It's a counterproductive move.
But my main point, does Trump care about what the effects are?
No, because he simply grabs a headline that says he's being tough and punishing these countries for causing a migration crisis when some might say he should be looking closer to home and, indeed, inside the White House.
HOWELL: Scott Lucas in Birmingham, England, a pleasure, Scott. Thank you for your time.
LUCAS: Thank you, George.
HOWELL: In the U.S. State of Texas, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke made his first campaign appearance in El Paso, his hometown, speaking with reporters there just blocks from the U.S.- Mexico border and the front lines of Trump's border battle. Our Leyla Santiago has this.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Beto O'Rourke has now ramped up his official campaign launch in Texas, saying it was very important for him to come back to El Paso. This is his home turf; this is also where the U.S. meets Mexico, the southern border within half a mile from where he gave his speech today to a crowd he's very familiar with, not only friends and family but constituents of his when he served as a congressman. This is a man who got a bit of an energized following when he ran
against senator Ted Cruz in the midterms, raised $80 million, already his campaign for the presidential bid tells us that he has raised $6.1 million in his first day.
So the big question: he's going to -- he's talking about a lot of the issues. He's already mentioned health care, climate change, immigration.
But will that be able to generate the type of support that he generated in Texas for the midterm elections despite the fact that he lost against Ted Cruz?
That's certainly what he's hoping for and that's what he believes he can do. Kicked off in El Paso; from here he goes to Houston and then the state's capital, Austin -- Leyla Santiago, CNN, El Paso.
HOWELL: Leyla, Thank you.
HOWELL: One, two, three times is a charm. No.
How about four times is a charm?
Theresa May may not give up on her Brexit deal. She'll try to put it forward again for a fourth vote.
Plus, the polls are open in Ukraine's presidential election and right now a comedian with no political experience is the favorite.
But will he be able to stand up to Russia?
Stay with us.
HOWELL: Brexit in the United Kingdom and it is not easy to be the prime minister right now. Theresa May is facing a great deal of pressure from all sides as she takes on Brexit. After her withdrawal bill was voted down three times, there are reports that she will try yet another time to try to get that deal through
But "The Sunday Times" says that Ms. May risks the total collapse of her government if she fails to get it through and "The Guardian" reports that her party is threatening to block any attempt to call a snap election.
Let's go live to London and CNN producer Salma Abdelaziz. Salma, Theresa May here, this seems to be her play, to run the clock out, to force MPs, perhaps out of desperation, to reconsider that deal a fourth time.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: George, that's right. That's what analysts will tell you. They'll say this was her plan all along: Grind Parliament down, take over these votes one by one until they can see her option is the only option.
So she lost the first time by 230. Then the second time by 149 and then on Friday by 58.
So you can see those margins are getting smaller and smaller. So she just might try for a fourth time now. Who knows if the speaker will let her hold that vote. And Downing Street hasn't confirmed that that is the plan.
I've brought you some of the Sunday papers here.
"Brexit: The Final Trap" here from the "Sunday Express."
"The Sunday Telegraph" saying "Snap Election under May would Annihilate the Tories."
And then this one from "The Mail," "Number 10 at War over Suicidal Elections."
So you can see the other option that lawmakers are considering is the possibility that the prime minister would call --
ABDELAZIZ: -- for a general election. Members of her party, as you said, have already said that they would not support that. She would need two-thirds majority to push that through.
So if not an election, if not a fourth vote, what else does she have?
She could go back to Brussels and ask for a lengthier extension that would add two more years to the process. There is that looming deadline of April 12th. If they do not find a solution by then, they will simply crash out of the E.U.
So you can see her options are getting slimmer and this is as lawmakers are finding their own solution to Brexit.
They tried this last week. They had eight options on the table. All eight were defeated but, who knows, maybe they're going to try to find some consensus so another week of instability still ahead.
HOWELL: All right. We'll continue to follow it with you. Thank you for the reporting.
Those who chose to leave E.U. say the government is letting them down. They are angry with the lack of progress and they blame Parliament. Our Anna Stewart hears from them. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm tired. I just want it done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We voted (INAUDIBLE). It's up to us. (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The government aren't doing what the people have asked them to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The same message again and again in Southend-on-Sea, Boston, Hull and Doncaster, all areas that voted Leave, although for different reasons.
We started our tour of Brexit Britain with a trip to the seaside. Southend-on-Sea sits on the Essex coastline east of London. Once a glamorous hot spot for British tourists, it's seen better days. While it's not hard to get locals talking about Brexit, they'd rather the conversation moved on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is lingering and I think the general public is getting a bit annoyed and just want it to be over.
STEWART (voice-over): Next stop, the market town of Boston Lincolnshire. If there was a capital of Brexit, this would be it. It recorded the highest Leave vote in the U.K. and also has the highest concentration of immigrants outside of London. People are increasingly frustrated by the political process back in Westminster.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just taking so long, isn't it. And the trouble is, the longer it goes on, the more complicated it becomes and the more difficult it is for the common man and woman to understand exactly what they're voting for and what's going on.
STEWART (voice-over): We head further north to the maritime city of Hull. Despite being a gateway to Europe, the cargo going to the Netherlands and Belgium, most here want to leave the E.U. The local economy here is the hot topic of conversation. Many locals say the E.U. has caused a decline in the city's fishing industry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The French, Dutch, Spanish, Germans, all fishing in our water. They'll catch the fish there then they'll stick it on the --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- and that can't be right.
STEWART (voice-over): Last stop, Doncaster, where it's market day in the city center but it's not what it used to be.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We used to have a lot of businesses. We used to have the coal mines. We used to make all the tractors for harvesters. I mean, Doncaster is the central network for road and rail in this country. And I just find it so bizarre that it's really not getting the recognition that it deserves.
STEVENS: A trip around Brexit shows different areas have different concerns but certainly from the Leavers that we've spoken to, they're united on two fronts. They still want to leave the E.U. and the majority of people we've spoken to would like a no deal Brexit.
Secondly, people are saying their voices are not being heard in Westminster by the politicians they elected and where the Brexit debate just goes round and round in circles -- Anna Stewart, CNN, Doncaster.
HOWELL: Anna, thank you.
History has been made in Slovakia as voters have elected the first female president. Attorney Zuzana Caputova topped her opponent on Saturday in the second round of presidential elections. She's known as a pro-European Union and anti-corruption politician.
Her win bucked a recent political trend to the right in Europe.
Right now in Ukraine people there are voting for their next president. A record 39 candidates are on the ballot. It is a packed race. The top contenders are running on the promise on closer ties to the West all under the shadow of a years-long military conflict with Russia.
The front-runner is Zelensky, a comedian who never has been a politician before but he plays one on TV.
Our senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen is following the story live from Moscow.
Fred, from standup comedy to standing up to Putin --
HOWELL: -- voters seem to be giving Zelensky a chance here as he is the front-runner and also, we are watching right now, Petro Poroshenko casting his vote.
But his front-runner, his top competitor is in the lead right now.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he certainly is and, you know, Zelensky, by all accounts, he at least seems to be able to make it into the next round. We have to remind our viewers that if no candidate gets over 50 percent in the first round of voting, then there is a runoff on April 21st.
But Zelensky certainly is the man to watch and I think one of the things that a lot of voters seem to see as one of his bonuses is that he is not from the original political class, he is not someone who has political experience, which means he doesn't have a lot of political baggage.
One of the things he's running is a big anti-corruption platform. It's interesting to see because politicians like Poroshenko is someone who talked a lot about the Russian threat, the pro-Russian rebels in the east of the country, which, of course, is a big issue.
Zelensky talks more about domestic problems that Ukraine could solve on its own. And corruption is a major one for many voters so there are a lot of people seeming to give him the benefit of the doubt.
The other thing is a big concern for people, is this someone with a distinct lack of politics experience who would be able to stand up to politicians like Vladimir Putin and run a country which is engulfed in a war?
The other two among the front-runners, Petro Poroshenko, Yulia Tymoshenko, have a lot of experience, also have that political baggage as well.
HOWELL: Also if we can go back to those live images, just to show our viewers. This live image of Petro Poroshenko at the polls this hour; 12:25 pm there in Ukraine and he's casting his vote. Thank you, Fred.
A year of protests on the Israeli border brings out tens of thousands of Palestinians from Gaza. CNN correspondents are on the scene there for you.
Plus, the remnants of ISIS in Syria. What to do with the families. We'll take a look at the camps where many of them are being held.
HOWELL: Welcome back. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta.
HOWELL: In Gaza about 40,000 Palestinians turned out for a large protest near the Israeli border. Three teenagers were killed by Israeli security forces. Five rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel but caused no casualty or damage. CNN's Michael Holmes is at the Gaza border and filed this report.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hamas had called for today's protest to be peaceful, for the first time deploying hundreds of marshals to keep protesters back from the border fence and possible death.
The men from Hamas crowd control trying to keep protesters back have had some success but, the longer it goes on, the harder it's going to be. In the end, it didn't work. Hundreds broke through; tires were set
ablaze and rocks thrown towards Israeli troops on the other side. Tear gas, lots of it, came from the Israeli side and there was some live fire as well.
Israel says it only uses such measures when an imminent threat is perceived. The Palestinian ministry of health says a year of weekly protests like this has seen nearly 270 Palestinians killed and thousands wounded, as they protest the loss of Palestinian homes in the Arab-Israeli War of the 1940s.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We're here to get our land back, our homes. I'm participating to get it back.
HOLMES: These protests are a test for Hamas: turn out a crowd big enough that shows support for the cause but, at the same time, exercise enough control over that crowd to minimize violence and casualties.
Hamas also looking for Israeli restraint and so how this day ended would likely impact the success or otherwise of Egyptian mediated talks between Hamas and Israel. Too high a death toll from Israeli fire and Hamas said it would retaliate. And for Israel's part, excessive violence would show a lack of Hamas will or ability to tamp down the violence.
And it appeared to work, at least to a degree. Casualty numbers far less than in previous demonstrations even though, at the end of the day, Palestinian medical authorities said there had been hundreds of injuries, many from bullets but most from tear gas.
Here, a boy overcome by gas quickly recovered. Those truce talks now continue. Hamas wanting Israel to ease restrictions on Gaza in a number of areas. Israel wanting quiet from the Gaza Strip and an end to rocket fire into Israel and protests like these along the border.
The days ahead will determine which direction this ongoing conflict goes -- Michael Holmes, CNN, Gaza.
HOWELL: In Syria, U.S.-backed --
HOWELL: -- forces say that one of their fighters has been killed in an ISIS attack. It comes one week after the terror group lost its final stronghold in the country. Syrian Democratic Forces say there are still remnants of the caliphate in that nation.
Kurdish forces are currently holding many ISIS fighters and their families in Syrian camps. Their future there is uncertain but things could soon change for one former wife of an ISIS member, following a CNN report about families of ISIS fighters stuck in limbo. The Irish government says it will try to repatriate the ISIS wife along with her child. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
SIMON COVENEY, IRISH MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: She's an Irish citizen. She's the responsibility of Ireland and we have a responsibility towards her and, in particular, her daughter. And we will try to follow through on that responsibility and find a way to bring her home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: And as mentioned there are still thousands of men, women and children in custody in the sprawling tent camps. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has toured some of those camps and filed this exclusive report.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is not any refugee camp. Roj is where some of the women of the caliphate and their children end up. For them, this is how ISIS' perverted promise of a utopian state ends. They traded one miserable existence for another.
ISIS brides are housed in these tents.
We have been told we cannot speak to any of the women here. There's about 2,000 women and children. ISIS family members. As we're walking around you feel no one really wants to talk. The women seem to be hiding in their tents.
At the sprawling Al Hol camp, they do.
She says the Islamic State will be back. Only a fence separates these true believers from the tens of thousands of refugees whose lives were shattered by ISIS. Some of the women claim they were naive victims who were chasing the dream of a true Islamic State. Oblivious to the rein of terror that state was founded.
LISA SMITH, ISIS BRIDE FROM IRELAND: I think the people should just realize that all the people here are not terrorists.
KARADSHEH: This woman declined to give us her name but she's been identified by Irish media as Muslim convert Lisa Smith. Former member of
the Irish military. She says she came to Syria an ISIS bride and now she's a window left alone with a 2-year-old daughter.
You might end up in jail if you go home. Are you ready for that?
SMITH: I know they would take my passport. The wouldn't travel and I would be watched. Prisons? I don't know. I'm already in prison.
KARADSHEH: That may be the point as prosecution by home countries could be complicated by lack of evidence. Officials worry that foreign ISIS members are being left for them to deal with. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not responsible this spokeswoman says especially from countries that are part of the international coalition
KARADSHEH: Mostly Kurdish Syrian Democratic forces are now holding thousands of women and their children.
People are asking this question, they are saying you have the opportunity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you marry someone and this is not the guy and you try to get out. If it's an abusive marriage, do you get it. Nothing is easy to walk away from.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some of the women have been duped by ISIS.
But when those women joined him saw some of the events, why do they not try to escape?
They could have but they chose to remain under the control of ISIS.
KARADSHEH: Perhaps the riskiest burden is more than the 1,000 foreign fighters from 50 different countries now in SDF custody. We were granted access to one of those detainees who agreed to speak to us.
A Canadian captured during the battle. The Vancouver native like so many others claims he wasn't a fighter but a humanitarian who joined the terror group to help refugees.
So many people in the West don't want you back. People in this part of the world don't want you because you're a reminder of the heinous crimes that took place.
What do you think should happen to you?
You must have thought about this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I thought about it. I thought I would just like to, even if they just put me in prison at home, it's better than being in here.
KARADSHEH: There are signs of permanence pushing into the camps, a school, satellite dishes and concrete foundations. A warning from officials here, the longer these sites remain --
KARADSHEH: -- packed, the more likely they become a time bomb for a generation trapped here, paying for the wrongs of its parents -- Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Northern Syria.
HOWELL: The question, who should police the Internet?
Facebook's CEO has some interesting ideas that might surprise you. Stay with us. (MUSIC PLAYING)
HOWELL: Live images this hour at St. Peter's Cathedral in Morocco. Pope Frances will give a speech here shortly. The pope visiting for the first time as part of his effort to bridge the divide between the Christian and Muslim worlds.
On Saturday he spoke with King Muhammad and government leaders and spoke about the importance of religious freedom.
Mark Zuckerberg wants government to take more of an active role in policing the Internet. In an opinion piece published on Saturday, the Facebook CEO called for stricter regulation of harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.
This isn't the first time he said this. He voiced similar thoughts in an exclusive CNN interview back in November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ZUCKERBERG, COFOUNDER AND CEO, FACEBOOK: What we see are a lot of folks trying to sow division. That was a major tactic that we saw Russia try to use in the 2016 election. Most of what they did was not directly, as far as we can tell from the data that we've seen, was not --
ZUCKERBERG: -- directly about the election but was more about just dividing people. What I can commit to is that we're going to make it as hard as possible for these adversaries to do that and I think we're going to do a much better job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Let's talk about this with Steve Ranger. Steve is an editor for "TechRepublic" and ZDNet.
Good to have you.
STEVE RANGER, "TECHREPUBLIC": Thank you.
HOWELL: So you have to consider the source first. The announcement coming from Mark Zuckerberg, who himself is under a great deal of pressure about these very issues.
RANGER: Absolutely. So for a long time a lot of people have been saying that Facebook has far too much power and strangely now Mark Zuckerberg seems to agree so this piece talking about bringing in more regulation, bringing in common rulings to controlling the spread of harmful content. Talking about transparency reports, stronger laws around elections,
all of this is stuff that a lot of people have been talking about for a long time. It's slightly different to hear Facebook setting it out like this.
HOWELL: Let's talk more about what he has said here. Let's read a part of it.
"One idea," he says, "is for third party bodies to set standards governing the distribution of harmful content and to measure companies against those standards. Regulation could set baselines for what's prohibited and require companies to build systems for keeping harmful content to a bare minimum."
So he's putting these things out here. The question is, could more regulation here make a difference or is Facebook, to some degree, passing the buck?
RANGER: I think it's a bit of both. I think this is, to a certain extent, Facebook saying we can't do this on our own anymore. I think for a long time Facebook has resisted the idea other people should make rules for it and I think the rest of us realize that Facebook can't do this on its own. Neither can the other social networks.
I think this is also Facebook trying to head off much more regulation. I think if they call for a certain amount of rules and regulations, then maybe that stops politicians around the world -- because this is a global issue -- coming up with even more stringent regulations down the line.
So I think this is Facebook acknowledging a problem and also trying to head off further regulation down the line.
HOWELL: You talk about this being a global issue. It is indeed. I can't help but think back to the terrible tragedy that played out in New Zealand. A deranged man livestreaming mass murder. The prime minister of New Zealand is saying social media companies should be responsible for what's on their platforms.
RANGER: Yes. Absolutely. I think the time has passed where in the past there was this idea that absolutely unregulated, unrestricted sharing was a good thing. We've gone a long way in the last 15 years of the Internet. We don't need to share everything. We do need to have some rules. I think Facebook has been evolving its thinking.
I mean, I think it's been pushed into evolving its thinking over the last few years and terrible tragedies like the one you mentioned there are part of that. We're understanding that the ability to share everything that we do online immediately is not without its consequences.
HOWELL: Steve, we appreciate your time today. Thank you so much.
"Saturday Night Live" is back with its own spin on the finished Mueller report. How these guys or at least their impersonators reacted to that report. (MUSIC PLAYING)
HOWELL: The Rolling Stones are postponing their upcoming North American tour and the reason, Mick Jagger's health. Doctors advised the 75-year-old singer to hold off on touring until he receives treatment for an unspecified health issue.
The band was due to begin their 17-day concert trek on April 20th. His doctors say he's expected to make a complete recovery.
Historic flooding in the midwestern part of the United States continues and the monsoon season also in India. Temperatures are soaring.
HOWELL: The big news in the week that was the release of the --
HOWELL: -- attorney general's principal conclusions on the Robert Mueller report and, of course, the comedy sketch show, "Saturday Night Live," couldn't pass up the chance to have a little fun with all that. How the skit played out from three points of view with "Donald Trump," "Robert Mueller" and "attorney general William Barr," their impersonators.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR, "ROBERT MUELLER": I am submitting these 380 pages.
AIDY BRYANT, ACTOR, "WILLIAM BARR": I am writing almost four pages.
ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR, "DONALD TRUMP": I am reading zero pages.
"MUELLER": On the charge of obstruction of justice, we have not drawn a definitive conclusion.
"BARR": But I have and my conclusion is Trump's clean as a whistle.
"TRUMP": Free at least, free at last.
"MUELLER": As for conspiracy or collusion, there were several questionable incidences involving the president's team but we cannot prove a criminal connection.
"BARR": No collusion, no diggity and no bet. "MUELLER": In conclusion, it is my hope that this report will be made public with a few redactions.
"BARR": Hello, redactions.
"TRUMP": We are going to black out everything except the words no and collusion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Thanks for being with us. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. For our viewers in the United States, "NEW DAY" is next. Hope you have a good day.