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Early Results: T.V. Comedian Has Big Lead; Erdogan's Party Suffers Setback In Local Elections; Bezos Investigator: Saudis Behind Leak Of Racy Texts; U.S. Officials Report Humanitarian And Security Crisis; U.S. House Judiciary Chairman To Authorize Subpoena For Unredacted Report; More Flooding, Evacuation In Iran. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired April 2, 2019 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Brexit options rejected once again. With time running out British lawmakers spending another day in Parliament turning down every deal.
Electricity at one moment, total darkness the next. Venezuela's rolling blackouts are making life even more difficult for people already living in the middle of turmoil.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You get a humanitarian crisis, which has created a border security crisis for us and we've been doing this for an awful long time. And this is all being driven by a policy crisis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: CNN heads to the U.S. Mexican border, to see how Border Patrol agents are dealing with the influence of migrants trying to cross the border.
Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all across the world, I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.
CHURCH: Another day, another deadlock. British lawmakers have rejected four more Brexit alternatives including a plan to remain in the European Union single market. The option that got the most votes Monday was a second referendum to confirm any deal approved by Parliament. CNN's Bianca Nobilo reports on what could come next.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The soft Brexit options are the customs union and the common market 2.0 have been talked about in the press and in parliamentary circles as possibilities to command a majority already in the House of Commons but neither did in the votes on Monday night.
The customs union only failed to pass by three votes but still it means that Theresa May's deal gets more support, votes wise, than any of the alternatives.
Tonight was also full of drama, with one of the prime ministers own members of Parliament, Nick Boles, an MP for nine years, resigning the prime minister's party on the floor of the House and crossing over to the other benches. He said he did so because of his own part's inability to compromise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICK BOLES, FORMER CONSERVATIVE MP: I accept I have failed. I have failed chiefly because my party refuses to compromise. I regret, therefore, to announce that I can no longer sit for this party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: So what happens now?
Theresa May will meet with the cabinet on Tuesday morning for a mammoth session to try to thrash out what their remaining options are. And it will not be easy, as the votes tonight did not help to clarify anything.
And Theresa May needs to find a way to reconcile her Leave ministers with her Remain ministers and find a strategy forward. All this needs to happen before she meets with other E.U. leaders next week -- Bianca Nobilo, CNN, London.
CHURCH: Thom Brooks is a professor of law and government at Durham University in England and he joins me now live.
THOM BROOKS, DURHAM LAW SCHOOL: Welcome. Thank you.
CHURCH: Once again British lawmakers failed to find a path forward to Brexit. And less than 10 days ago a no deal scenario is looking increasingly likely. Why do they seem to be coming up with a compromise on this?
And what is the likely next move?
BROOKS: Normally the elections in U.K. for a standard general election, different parties stand on a particular manifesto, their plans for the future, their vision in the future and how they will achieve it.
With the referendum there is nothing about that. It was just, do we want to say as we are or leave the European Union? Without any particular plan, what happened?
People on the Leave side said different things because they had different visions for what Brexit would look like. And that's the difference, lack of a unified vision is what you're seeing played up right now.
So while members of Parliament know that the country -- 52 percent to 48 percent voted to leave the European Union they did so with no particular plan. And so the plan members of Parliament are looking, no particular vision is getting the majority.
So it's a real problem. Especially last night at the customs union vote. That the cabinet minister lost by only three votes. That seems to be the best of all the options so far, in terms of a commanding a majority. So what happens?
Now what happens now is --
BROOKS: -- in 10 days, if it does nothing different, it will crash out of the European Union without any trade deal, with its biggest trading partner by over 40 percent of our trade, is with the European Union. That's could happen in 10 days.
Other options are the MPs could cancel Brexit altogether, although there's lots of reason that seems very unlikely. Or possibly supporting Theresa May's deal. But there is a question of whether or not they can vote a fourth time on the same thing. The Speaker of House of Commons is clear that they cannot. Or they can go to referendum. There's lots of resistance to that.
CHURCH: OK and we know that Theresa May meets with her cabinet in just a few hours from now, to discuss Brexit. So with the Conservatives so divided, what can they possibly achieve and how likely is it that they would seriously consider triggering a general election?
BROOKS: That's absolutely right, they are thoroughly divided right down the middle. It would seem, in normal times in normal politics that a prime minister, if she saw a position for a softer Brexit, some type of being in the customs union. At least for another year or two, beyond the transition that would seem to be a way forward.
But if she does that, there are most of our backbenchers are against moving a softer Brexit. In fact, they want to move even harder to Brexit, further away, from getting a majority that she might get reaching across the aisles.
So it's a real political dilemma. If her deal passed, she might split her party even more. In terms of a general election, she was promising voters for two years she would deliver Brexit in March and she hasn't done it.
Nor has she or anyone else found a better way of getting a Brexit deal past the finish line. Right now a majority of the U.K. in many public opinion polls are for staying in the European Union. And a majority are for other parties.
If she were to head against the Labour Party, she would be five or six points behind. So this is the dilemma. Where general elections don't solve anything, there is a real problem for a hung Parliament or throwing the Tories out of power altogether.
Real question marks over what kind of Brexit can command any majority. It doesn't appear clear what she can do. The only real option right now is, given that she's not done these things, is to consider stepping down. And having a new leadership to try to lead the Brexit negotiations forward to the next and see if there can be another extension over the next couple months.
That change might be something that the European Union might be open to but she's been very keen to resist that for many reasons.
CHURCH: Thom Brooks, thank you so much for your analysis. We are looking to see what happens in the next few hours, as the cabin meeting is a starting point and then whatever happens after that. Many thanks.
BROOKS: A pleasure.
CHURCH: U.S. President Donald Trump hasn't decided if he's going to close the border to Mexico. That's according to notes from a conference call, with Trump advisor Stephen Miller. Authorities say there is an immigration crisis at the border and they are rushing to deploy more officers. CNN's Pamela Brown has more from Washington.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump tonight not backing away from threats to close the U.S. border with Mexico as soon as this week, tweeting, "We have a major National Emergency at our Border. GET IT DONE NOW."
Administration officials warn that the ultimatum he launched last week...
TRUMP: We'll keep it closed for a long time. I'm not playing games.
BROWN (voice-over): -- is serious.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: It's certainly isn't a bluff. You can take the president seriously and here is why. You're giving those metrics but he's looking at is that 4,000 migrants apprehended in one day recently. We're on track this month for close to 100,000. We have never seen a surge like this.
BROWN (voice-over): Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney telling ABC News that something dramatic would need to happen to change the president's mind.
MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We need the people from the ports of entry to go out and patrol in the desert where we don't have any wall. We hate to say we told you so but we told you so. We need border security. And we're going to do the best we can with what we have.
BROWN (voice-over): The threats follow the highest month of undocumented migrant crossings in 11 years, according to Customs and Border Protection. Still, acting Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan said, as of late Monday morning, the Pentagon had not yet been asked to support closing the boater.
PATRICK SHANAHAN, ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It's a very dynamic and fluid situation. I'll be having conversations with secretary of state today and, most likely, Secretary Nielsen.
BROWN (voice-over): Aides also defending the president's decision to discontinue aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador for not doing more to help --
BROWN (voice-over): -- stem the flow of migrants.
MULVANEY: We need the Northern Triangle countries to do more about not allowing their people into Mexico. They could help us. We need them to do that. If not, it makes very little sense for us to continue to send them aid.
BROWN (voice-over): President Trump also keeping up pressure on House Democrats to end their investigations into Russia meddling, now that special counsel Robert Mueller declined to recommend criminal charges against the president, tweeting, quote, "No matter what information is given to the crazed Democrats from the no-collusion Mueller report, it will never be good enough. Behind closed doors, the Dems are laughing."
MULVANEY: We really do think enough is enough. And it's time to move on to other things.
BROWN (voice-over): Acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, defending Trump after Democratic congressman Adam Schiff said Trump campaign associates' interactions with Russians were unethical.
MULVANEY: I think the voters are going to decide about the ethics and morality of the people they vote for on either side.
People liked Bill Clinton, even though they may not think he was that ethical. That's not the job of the House Intelligence Committee. It's not the job of the House Judiciary Committee. It's not the job of the House Oversight Committee. They're supposed to review the functioning of government. Voters make decisions about the candidates.
BROWN: A source familiar with the matter says the White House is considering a border zone of immigration efforts and it's something that's been entertained over the past year. More recently has been in consideration as the situation at the borders worsen in their view -- Pamela Brown, CNN, the White House.
CHURCH: Let's get more on all this with CNN political analyst, Michael Shear, he is the White House correspondent for The New York Times. Always great to have you with us.
MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Happy to do it.
CHURCH: So President Trump is doubling down on his threat to close the U.S.-Mexico border as early as this week, how much of this crisis at the border is real? And how much of it is manufactured to justify the president's declaration of a national emergency and ultimately trigger funds to build his bolder wall?
SHEAR: So I think what is true is that there is a -- something of a crisis at the border, it's just not the one the president describes, right? There is a surge of -- there has been a surge of families coming up from Central America, that surge of families has overwhelmed a bureaucratic system that was never intended to deal with that number of families.
The system of immigration detention and processing along the Mexican border in United States was always built on the premise that it would be sort of single Mexican males coming looking for work in United States. And so they don't have the room to process, to hold his families, they don't have the room to process them, they are overwhelmed.
So to that extent there is a crisis but what isn't true is this sort of national security, safety danger crisis that Trump warns about all the time. Hordes of murderers and rapists and drug dealers pouring across the border, that just isn't happening and yet that is what he -- that's what he identify with it, because I think, that's what he knows will play politically with his base.
CHURCH: Right. And acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, says something dramatic would have to happen for Mr. Trump to change his mind on closing the border. What do you think he means by that? What's he waiting for?
SHEAR: Well, look, my sense of what is happening here is that you have a president who speaks in blunt terms, closed down the border, shut it down this is what he keeps telling his aides and his advisers, he gets frustrated and angry that his policies aren't easily implemented. And you have an administration around the president that keeps trying to prevent the blunt things like that for happening.
There is no way that the people around the president, people at the border patrol and the State Department and at DHS, think that shutting down all trade and commerce and all passage of people back and forth across the Mexican border or anything to do.
So I think the wiggle room that they left themselves is, what does he really mean by shut down the border? Does he actually mean shut everything down or does he mean, you know, shift resources from say, some of the busy airports. Which would have the effect of slowing commerce and slowing travel across in those port areas, so that you can sort of shift the resources to other parts of the border.
I mean, that is what we just don't know. And I think they are purposely -- Mulvaney purposely left that vague, because he wants to give the president, you know, some room to maneuver later in the week. When a completely shut down likely does not happen.
CHURCH: Right and, of course, it's worth noting that President Trump has not close the border, just yet but when he does what impact will it have on the U.S. and on Mexican?
SHEAR: I mean, it could be huge, right? I mean if there are billions of dollars' worth of commerce to go come back and forth across the border --
SHEAR: -- every single day. Not to mention the individuals and American citizens in Mexico White House who try to come back into United States. Mexican citizen who legally try to move back in to Mexico from the United States.
It's a huge border with a lot of good and services legally back to Mexico from the United States. It's a huge border with a lot of goods and services and people moving across. And so, that's why, say if -- take into the extreme. If you were to shut down all ports of entry. It would precipitate an economic and pacific crisis I think along the border.
And certainly -- and perhaps in other parts of the country in both countries. But we just don't know what he intends and we don't know when he says shut the border down, if he mean something less than that complete shutdown. Then, you know, the effects would be somewhat mitigated. CHURCH: Right and, of course, the White House is also defending
President Trump's decision to cut aid on Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador. For not stopping migrants from entering the U.S., what impact will those cuts have on those countries? And are they even able to stop the movement from their nation to the U.S. that flow -- the flow of migrants from their nations into Mexico and ultimately to the U.S.
SHEAR: Look, human migration from Asian nations is something that is not easily controlled, I mean, we see it all over the globe whether you are looking at the Syrian exodus from their civil war there or elsewhere. Venezuela, you know, there's lots of places around the world where human migration happens. And it happens for big reasons that are not easily controlled.
That said, you know, the diplomatic community in the United States is unified behind the idea that, if you take money and you provide money and resources to try to help prop up a country like Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador where the economies are fragile, where there's gang violence, that you can have some effect.
The problem is, you need to take that money, you need to spend it and you need to spend it over time. And you give it time to work and to try to help improve the situation in those country. So that the people have less reason to flee their own country and come to ours. And I think what the unanimity around the diplomatic community is what the president is doing by yanking those funds is cutting off his nose to spite his face, because that is money that ultimately was going to, you know, make some difference.
I think the agreement -- the general consensus was some difference in reducing the flow of migrants into United States. That is exactly the opposite of what's going to happen if he cuts that money off.
CHURCH: All right. Michael Shear, thank you so much for joining us, will continue to watch this story very closely.
SHEAR: It's going to keep going.
CHURCH: We will take a very short break. Still to come, in Venezuela, shortages of almost everything.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We don't have water, services work badly, it's -- I don't even know how to explain.
CHURCH (voice-over): Desperate, lacking food and water, Venezuelans are now having power rationed.
Plus a private investigator for Amazon found Jeff Bezos claims the Saudis stole racy text messages to his girlfriend and leaked them to the "National Enquirer." We'll have that story just ahead.
CHURCH: Venezuela's electricity minister got the ax Monday as blackouts continue to plague the country. President Nicolas Maduro made the change as he confirmed plans to ration power to residents of a nation that's already suffering from chronic food and water shortages.
Opposition leader Juan Guaido urged his supporters to keep protesting as he called for intervention. CNN's David McKenzie tells us a new United Nations report is causing even more concern.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The alarming U.N. draft report says that up to 94 percent of Venezuelans are living in poverty, 94 percent. A country that has arguably the largest oil reserves on the planet. The report also says that almost 2 million people are expected to leave this country just this year, because of the ongoing crisis.
Across Venezuela, there is still blackouts and also water shortages. We saw people here in Caracas, on the mountain side, collecting water for their daily needs. This is how one person told us the situation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): As Venezuela's were very upset. Listen brother, we don't have power, services work badly, it's -- I really don't know how to explain. If it was for me we would have force this government out. Five people come forward, they get killed and nothing is achieve.
MCKENZIE: Schools have been close and worker had been told to go home early here in the capital, the subway system isn't working and people are having to cram on busses just to get to and from work. The president of the country embattled Nicholas Maduro is standing by the promises to bring back the part and said schools will open next week.
In a live television broadcast with cabinet members and other government's officials, he blamed the power outages on the terrorist attacked. Something he is done before. Even though experts say, the main issue has been investment and allegations of corruption against the regime. Despite anger on the streets, the regime is trying to maintain it's gripped on powers, the loyalist Supreme Court saying that they want the opposition leader Juan Guaido's immunity to be stripped from him.
And so that they can move with potential allegations and even arrest in the coming days. Guaido is calling for intervention from countries around the region and across the globe but at this stage, Maduro isn't going anywhere -- David McKenzie, CNN, Caracas, Venezuela.
CHURCH: On Wednesday a law goes into effect in the southeast Asian country of Brunei that will punish adultery and homosexual sex with death. Anyone found guilty will be executed. As our Alexandra Field reports, people around the world are outraged and taking action against Brunei.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A tiny Southeast Asian nation, Brunei, now the target of international outrage. This week it will fully implement their plan for sharia law, punishing adultery and homosexuality with death.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hard to think that just being who you are can get you get stoned to death.
FIELD: George Clooney leads a pack of global superstars speaking out. He says, Brunei will begin stoning and whipping to death any of its citizens that are proved to be gay. Let that sink in, in the onslaught of news where we see the world backsliding into authoritarianism this stands alone.
And from Elton John, "Discrimination on the basis of sexuality is plain wrong and has no place in any society."
Both now urging the public to boycott hotels around the world controlled by the Sultan of Brunei, who defense his countries right to impose its laws.
The government issuing a statement that says Brunei is a sovereign Islamic and fully independent country and, like all other independent countries, enforces its own rule of law.
A transgender woman whose identity we are protecting, fled the country to be able to live freely in Canada.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want my LGB friends to be safe and if possible, get out of the Brunei. It's not a good place to have --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- your freedom taken away from you, your human rights have not been there. It's a terrible way to live.
FIELD: Shahiran left Brunei after he says he was charged with sedition for criticizing the government. He hid his sexuality until he was safely in Canada. He sends this message home.
SHAHIRAN S. SHAHRANI M.D., BRUNEIAN REFUGEE: Stay safe and please watch out for yourselves. If you feel that you're in danger, I made it out. You can, too. I hate to be a pessimist, I know Brunei can change, but I don't think Brunei can change anytime soon.
FIELD: Brunei imposed parts of sharia law back in 2014. Full implementation was quietly announced on a government website last December.
MATTHEW WOOLFE, FOUNDER, THE BRUNEI PROJECT: In Brunei the economy is starting to decline. It has been declining for some time now. It could possibly be a way of further strengthening the government's grip on power.
FIELD (voice-over): We've concealed the identity of a young gay man who spoke to us still inside Brunei.
FIELD (on camera): To hear it will be law in your country that homosexual acts can be punished by stoning, what is your reaction to that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inhumane. It's a very, I guess, aggressive punishment. It's not something that a human should suffer with just because of the being a homosexual. That degree of punishment should not even exist in our modern time. FIELD (voice-over): Despite mounting international pressure, he believes the laws will be imposed April 3rd as scheduled. He now lives with the fear that those laws will be enforced -- Alexandra Field, CNN, Hong Kong.
CHURCH: Coming up next on CNN, a tough election for the Turkish president with preliminary results showing major setbacks for his ruling party. We'll have an update from Istanbul.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not in the detention business. We're border security experts.
CHURCH (voice-over): CNN rides along with U.S. Border Patrol agents on the southern border and why they say they are seeing a humanitarian and political crisis. That's still to come, stay with us.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church with the stories we're working on this hour.
British Prime, Theresa May will meet with her Cabinet in the coming hours to discuss next steps on Brexit. Parliament voted down four more Brexit alternatives Monday, including a customs agreement, a common market plan and another deadline extension.
At E.U. headquarters in Brussels, there is a growing sense of pessimism and confusion over what comes next. European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker, said Monday, "The sphinx is an open book compared to the U.K." We get more now from CNN's, Erin McLaughlin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[02:31:30] ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brussels will be reading the tea leaves like everyone else trying to figure out what this latest round of indicative votes means for the Brexit process. The One thing and all of this it is certain, is that on April 10th, there will be an extraordinary summit here in Brussels. And with the 27 E.U. leaders will gather around the table and figure out next step. Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council has said he wanted to see a plan from the U.K. well before then, given tonight's vote that this not seem, like it's going to happen and overall, there is a gloomy mood here in Brussels. Speaking to Diplomats throughout the day, they tell me there's a
hardening view to that long term extension, option given the continued uncertainty on the other side of the English Channel, which is a big problem potentially for the United Kingdom because it raises questions as to how this impasse will end. Erin McLaughlin, CNN, Brussels.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well all this confusion and uncertainty having real economic impacts both in the U.K. and abroad. One company, Siemens, has had enough. Siemens CEO in the U.K. has pinned an open letter regarding his frustrations, writing in part. "The world is watching and where the U.K. used to be a beacon for stability, we are now becoming a laughing stock."
Well, parliament's inability to find common ground on Brexit is frustrating many people in the U.K. even those who voted to remain like the city of Winchester, say they just want lawmakers to get on with it already. CNN'S Nina dos Santos reports.
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: Winchester was an ancient cathedral city in the south of England. It voted heavily to remain inside the E.U. when the referendum was held nearly three years ago with nearly 59 percent of its citizens opting to stay in, rather than going out.
And we found that the views on the streets of Winchester become more entrenched since that referendum was held. Well, some saying that they wanted to leave as soon as possible and at the cleanest manner possible, where's other said, they wanted another say on the subject straightaway.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a mess, and if politicians didn't all come together and just refuse on everything that Mrs. May puts to them, perhaps, it would be a fair vote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democracy is (inaudible) of thing. And now people have seen more and more than the consequences what they votes for. I believe they should have a final say of saying, "Well, this is I'm actually I want to go forward for."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where deciding to leave, but now, I don't care. For now, because it's so much in-fight in within the E.U.s and everybody arguing and people turned in against people. It's just a vote that should have gone one way.
DOS SANTOS: And in fact, the local Member of Parliament for this part of the world the Conservatives, Steve Bray, recently resigned from his government ministerial position partly in protest in how Brexit have been handled. He is one of the Conservative Members would like to see a slightly softer Brexit, than other members of the Parliament having voted in favor recently of a Customs Union.
And also, with a House considering other softer options, like for instance Common Market 2.0, the membership of the common market.
Whether or not the M.P.s are considering this, what we learn on the streets of Winchester is that people don't really want to be bored with the details of Brexit. They just want Westminster to get over and done with, so that they can all get on with their daily lives. Nina dos Santos, CNN in Winchester.
[02:34:59] CHURCH: Well, it's no joke. A Ukrainian comedian who plays the president on T.V. just might get to be one in real life.
Now, it appears the television comedian is headed for a run off for President. Volodymyr Zelensky has a sizable lead over two establishment candidates with about 60 percent of votes counted. Zelensky is the star of a popular T.V. shown, which he plays a no body who accidently gets elected president. Life imitating out perhaps.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, UKRAINE (through translator): Thanks for all the Ukrainians, who did not cast their vote as a joke.
CHURCH: Well we turn now to Turkey, were President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing a major political setback in local elections. His A.K. Party lost control of the Capital, Ankara for the first time in 25 years. And it also lost Turkey's third largest city is Izmir. CNN'S, Arwa Damon, looks at the impact.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Turkey's president's party did not quite have the sweeping victory, it was best known for. But the President himself is still touting how well his party and its coalition did across the country. But still, there has been a very serious and deliberate message delivered by those who took to the polls.
The loss of major cities, the Capital, Ankara, the country's political sit lost to the opposition party's mayoral candidate. All be it by the slimiest of margins. Really underscores many voter's grievances and key among those are grievances that have to do with the economy.
The Leader has been in a downward tumble. Inflation is in double digits, and unemployment at 10 percent, 20 percent among youth. Not necessarily a new phenomenon, but it is on the rise.
And Turkey's president despite what he says, is going to have to pay very close attention to his countrymen's grievances. This is something he himself did acknowledge vowing that both he and his party would do more to try to better the economy. And other issues that the country is facing but this is still, a potentially very devastating blow. Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: The flight between Amazon, CEO Jeff Bezos and the National Enquirer is getting uglier. An investigator working for Bezos, says Saudi Arabia had information about the Amazon leader's extramarital relationship with Lauren Sanchez, before the photos and text were leaked to the Enquirer.
The Tabloid says the only source for the story was from Sanchez brother. CNN'S, Athena Jones has the details.
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: After this salacious headline, a January National Enquirer expose about Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos's affair with former T.V. anchor Lauren Sanchez, a stunning new twist.
A probe conducted by Bezos's long time investigator to find out how the tabloid got the story, now leading to a very specific claim about Saudi Arabia. Gavin de Becker writing in the Daily Beast, "Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos's phone and gain the private information.
De Becker, said his team spoke with a long list of sources, including Middle East Intelligence experts, Trump advisors, and source of the Enquires publisher American Media Inc. Run by longtime Trump friend, David Pecker.
AMI deny the Saudi link, telling CNN Business. It relied on only one source for its story. Sanchez's brother, Michael Sanchez. AMI statement read. "American Media has and continues to refute the unsubstantiated claims that the materials for our report were acquired with the help of anyone other than a single source who first brought them to us."
De Becker argues that while text and photographs sent from Bezos and Lauren Sanchez were shared with the Enquiry by Michael Sanchez. The tabloid knew about the messages before approaching Sanchez. He believes the Saudi government was the source of that knowledge. But said it was not clear whether AMI was aware of those details.
NOAH SHACHTMAN, EDITOR IN CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: What de Becker is implying is that, the Saudis may have tipped the Enquirer or off. And then, they went to Sanchez. And indeed, Sanchez has said, that the Enquirer came to him not the other way around.
JONES: Sanchez has admitted to leaking to the Enquirer, but claims he acted out of support. Telling page six, "I would never sell out my sister. Everything I did was to protect Jeff and Lauren."
De Becker, who has for decades worked with celebrities including Cher, Olivia Newton John and the Cosby's, according to The New York Times. Did not present any concrete evidence to support his allegations. But he said he had turned over his findings to federal officials. His claims turned what was tawdry tale about the personal life of the
richest man in the world and the owner the Washington Post into geopolitical mystery. Bezos, in a February post on Medium. Implied that AMI try to extort him to the please Trump or the Saudi Government, which is upset with Bezos over the post coverage of murdered columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudi government has denied any links to AMI. Bezos and The Post have been frequent targets of Trump.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He owns Amazon. He wants political influence, so that Amazon will benefit from it. That's not right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And we thank CNN'S Athena Jones for that report. U.S. Authorities say they are struggling to process so many women and children migrants. CNN rides along with the border patrol will have that for you next.
And more deaths are confirmed in Iran. A severe flooding caused by heavy rains, forces evacuations. We'll be back in just a moment.
CHURCH: President Trump is threatening to close the U.S.-Mexico border, and customs officials say they're at breaking point. They're struggling to process a surge of Central American migrants including many families and children. Border facilities overcrowded, and thousands of migrants are being released into local communities. CNN Aaron Burnett spoke about the situation with the mayor of the Brownsville, Texas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY MARTINEZ, MAYOR OF BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS: We feel very comfortable, were very well organize. Were very well prepared, and the numbers haven't -- you know, overwhelmed us at this particular point. So -- but, and I don't anticipate that they will --
These people cannot be given over to us, without their paperwork being process by the customs and border protection officials. They've already been check and they wouldn't be given to us if they had criminal records to begin with.
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CHURCH: Well, U.S. authorities believe more migrants tried to cross the border in March than at any other time in over a decade. Customs and Border Patrol agents say they are swamp but doing everything they can to handle a humanitarian crisis. CNN'S Chris Cuomo reports from the Rio Grande Valley.
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[02:44:57] RAUL ORTIZ, DEPUTY PATROL AGENT, CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION RIO GRANDE VALLEY: And I tell people, "This border is so complicated. It isn't just about what do you feel strongly one way or the other about the fence, and the system that goes along with it.
With what your politics are. No matter what, the people that are caught in the middle or certainly, the migrants that are coming, because they're getting -- you know, manipulated by the smugglers, by the cartels, all the way from -- you know, corner origin to destination. And then, you know, certainly the ICE agents, the border patrol agents, the customs officers that are getting villainize for doing their job. That's a -- that's a tough one.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: How do you deal with the emotion of knowing that Congress, the administration, the people in power could be doing stuff that they're not doing?
ORTIZ: It -- you know, we keep reminding our workforce that -- you know, we -- we're servants. We serve our communities. We serve. And what we protect isn't just the border, we're protecting the nation. I tell people all the time.
You've got a humanitarian crisis which has created a border security crisis for us that have been doing this for an awful long time. And this is all being driven by a policy crisis. And until we fix the policy crisis, we're going to continue to deal with those other two.
CUOMO: I'm saying, the men and women who are in the job of knowing the reality, do you think that they get what they're sleeping on here?
ORTIZ: Yes. Yes, I do -- I do think that there is some certainly political jockeying that's going on. I think they're sleeping on it, and I think that they're ignoring it to some extent, and it's sad that -- you know, we have a workforce that is getting stretched awfully, awfully thin right now. We've be at the -- we've got to give them some relief, and -- you know, having DoD resources come in, having other agencies support us, or -- is helpful. But it's not the same as replacing them with a Border Patrol agent or an ICE officer, or custom's officer out there. They're not interchangeable.
CUOMO: Now these guys set up so far as guys who were looking here for opportunity. They were coming through for work.
ORTIZ: Economic migrants, most of these folks that we experience here and along the southwest border are economic migrants.
CUOMO: Now, if these were women and children, whoever they were. You believe that if you change some of the rules, you would change the flow.
ORTIZ: Yes, definitely, there has to be an adjustment to the policy. You had to be able to retain people longer than 20 days so they can hear -- or their case to be heard by an immigration judge or an asylum officer, so they can make a determination as to whether they should actually receive some sort of relief to stay in the country.
(CROSSTALK) CUOMO: That's an important thing. You know, you guys get hit with a stick all the time. I'll tell you, Ortiz, why you want to keep them more than 20 days. You want to keep them more than 20 days to send a message of harshness. And let people know to be afraid that they're going to catch you, and they're going to keep you, and you're going to hate where you are. You're telling me a different story today though in terms of why you need to do that.
ORTIZ: Yes. So, for us, you know, we're not in the detention business. We're a -- we're security experts. We apprehend, we process, and we turn them over to the other agencies that are out there.
CUOMO: So, it's a domino effect. You can only keep them 20 days, you don't have the resources to keep this many people anyway. So, you got to get rid of them, you got to get let them go, that gets perceived as weakness. Now, you do catch and release again. That feeds the chance that we should come because we're going to get a good chance of getting through the system because they're overwhelmed, and it just keeps going.
ORTIZ: Yes, this becomes a cycle. I guess like I said this is played out in 2014, it's playing out again here in 2019. And until we actually fix the system, this is going to continue to be a problem for us.
CUOMO: And another problem that I don't hear talked about that often is you're worried about them. You're worried about being able to take care of them, being able to take care of the kids, deal with them when they're sick, being able to give them the things that they need. Because overcapacity means you can't give the care that you want to give. The harshness doesn't work for you, you're saying you don't have any other choice.
ORTIZ: Yes, at double our capacity right now. I don't have to have enough medics, I don't know having enough Border Patrol agents to ensure that these folks are getting processed within the 48 hours that we should be processing them. We're having to keep people in custody longer. Our agents are getting assaulted, potentially could be a liability. Where even one of the individuals that are in custody could be assaulted. And detention facilities that are overcrowded.
These folks just cross the river. The river is about half a mile, maybe a quarter of a mile, south of us.
CUOMO: So, obviously they know we're here.
ORTIZ: If they turn themselves in, they are looking for more patrol agent to turn themselves in right now. And so, typically, you've got us with a large group already, apprehended up here on the levy, you've got this group. And probably another 10 or 15 minutes you're going to have another group behind them, and another group behind them. These are unaccompanied children and family units, they're not trying to evade apprehension.
CUOMO: I know you have to shut off a part of yourself when you do the job. Because you got a job to do, you got to be professional. I know this breaks your heart, seeing people who have nothing, who have come here with nothing. Most of them are desperate, they're all carrying these babies. How do you handle this?
[02:50:13] ORTIZ: I'm a father, I'm a grandfather. Somebody needs to do something about this. This goes on each and every day. Our officers are dealing with this each and every day, and until, you know, folks in Congress, folks at the White House, folks on Capitol Hill, actually put forth an honest effort to address the situation here on the border.
It's not just a humanitarian crisis, it's a border security crisis. We've talked about that it's being driven by policy crisis. Certainly, it pulls at our heartstrings but I'm awfully proud of the work the men and women are doing down here. Very vigilant in what they're doing and very dedicated to the mission. But this is tough.
CUOMO: When you look at these babies, you care about these people.
ORTIZ: Most definitely, both definitely.
CUOMO: It's just you're not a cop looking at perps.
ORTIZ: No. These folks have done nothing other than cross the border illegally. And most of them are economic migrants, they're looking for a better way of life. Understanding all of that, but they shouldn't have to do it this way.
They should be able to apply for some sort of immigration relief in their home country without having to travel -- you know, 3,000 or 4,000 miles.
CUOMO: Now, I keep hearing from your men and women that you make a point to go up to kids and say -- you know, you're going to be all right, it's going to be OK. Don't worry about it. Why is that so important?
ORTIZ: Well, for once, in their journey, this is the first time that they're not going to be exploited, they're not going to be manipulated by a smuggler, they're not going to be forced to pay a bribe. At some point during that route, officers are going to make sure that they're fed or make sure that they get clean clothes. That they're looked at by a doctor, so, if they have any medical aid ailments.
So, we're doing everything we can in our power to ensure that they're safe. That's all. We want to let them know that they're safe now.
CHURCH: Chris Cuomo with that report. Well, showdown is brewing in Washington over access to special counsel Robert Mueller's nearly 400- page report. As the House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler says he will authorize a subpoena to obtain a full and unredacted copy.
It will likely be met with opposition from the Trump administration. Attorney General William Barr is planning on releasing a redacted version of the report later this month.
And this important programming note, Christiane Amanpour will have an exclusive interview with former FBI director James Comey on her program Tuesday. Tune in to hear his take on what we've learned about the Mueller report so far.
Well, Iran is reeling from flooding that has now claimed 42 lives. We will have the latest on the current weather and what it means for those in the flood zones. We'll back with that.
CHURCH: The misery goes on in Iran. 42 people are now reported dead as a result of severe weather there. Heavy rain and snowfall continue to cause flooding throughout the country. Damaging, at least, 23 of Iran's 31 provinces. That's according to state-run T.V. The disaster began more than 10 days ago. Since then, some 25,000 homes have been destroyed.
And our meteorologist Ivan Cabrera joins us now with the very latest on this. So, Ivan, how many more days when you're talking about 10?
[02:55:01] IVAN CABRERA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We're at the end of it here, but that's just on credible scenes coming out of Iran. And then the problem was is that we had the flooding event. You had folks trying to get in to help those that need or were on the rooftops, and they couldn't get in because of additional weather here.
So, we're at the end of it here, but the worse has been done and the damage has been glancing. You saw some of those scenes there. In fact, my concern continues to be some of these reservoirs as well. We have numerous rivers, as you can imagine with all that rainfall funneling down the mountains, right? They have burst their banks.
And then, on top of that, we have the reservoirs at the dams, their overcapacity, so what officials are having to do is forcing discharges which are creating additional flooding. So, this is just a mess and it's a domino effect that you would expect with the kind of flooding that we've seen, and obviously, the infrastructure there has been heavily damaged as a result.
I mean, they haven't been able to get to people that need assistance. This is just Monday, right? And remember, this is a desert region. So, we're not talking about foliage, and trees and vegetation that could absorb all that moisture, it cannot.
It hits the manor and getting them moves down the mountainside. So, eight 74, 85 millimeters of rainfall in just one day. I mean they can go months without that kind of rain. In fact, they have which is why I think this has been particularly bad. We've had a drought throughout the year in Iran and I'll be getting all this so rainfall.
I have to count these for you because this is amazing. This is Tuesday from last week, there goes one low, heavy rain. Two, heavy rain. Three, heavy rain. And in the fourth one here has just been stuck there and has been pumping all sorts of moisture and that's the one that dropped a good 75 to 85 millimeters in just 24 hours. Wetlands obviously, can absorb the moisture.
Again, not only are we dealing with desert terrain here but because of the drought, it is cement. And so, that rainfalls has nowhere to go and it overflows the rivers and dams and as you've seen, the calamity that has ensued.
Here is the forecast, look at that. Still some rainfall but not as heavy. And so, over the next 24 to 36 to 48 hours, we could pick up an additional 15 to 25 millimeters of rainfall. And I tell you what, that is better than what we've seen over the last several days.
And I think, after today, heading into Wednesday, Thursday, a much right pattern that they have been hoping for is finally arriving, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Right. That has been relentless for them.
CABRERA: Yes, you bet. Sure.
CHURCH: Thank you so much, Ivan. Appreciate it. And thank you so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter @rosemarycnn. And I'll be back with another hour of news in just a moment. You are watching CNN, Stay with us.