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British Parliament Turned Down All Options for Brexit; Bad Weather Killed 42 People in Iran; Israel's Closed-Tight Election Between Candidates; Turkey Wants a Change in Leadership; Trump Threaten To Close U.S. Border I think Mexico; U.S. Cutting Aid To El Salvador, Guatemala, And Honduras; White House Overruled Security Clearance Concerns; Second Woman Accuses Biden Of Unwanted Touching; Venezuela In Crisis; The Perils Of Plastic. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired April 2, 2019 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Failed and rejected. The British parliament votes down all of the latest Brexit options. Driving Prime Minister May's government into even deeper uncertainty. We have a live report from outside 10 Downing Street in London.
Plus, authorities in Iran has ordered further immediate evacuations following deadly flooding that's already destroyed thousands of homes.
And later, our CNN team goes to the U.S. southern border and speak to both migrant and border agents while the president swears, he's serious about closing it altogether.
Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. And this is CNN Newsroom.
We begin with another round of bruising defeats for Brexit. Parliament rejected for more alternatives on Monday including a plan to keep the U.K. in a customs union with the E.U. They also defeated a common markup option which some have called a soft Brexit. The sponsor of that plan resigned from the conservative party after the Vote.
Prime Minister Theresa May plans to meet with her cabinet in the hours ahead. The House of Commons tweeted the results of Monday's vote, all of which are nonbinding. And the speaker the House of Commons reports that this now -- that this is now familiar refrain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERCOW, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS: The ayes were 273, the no's with 276, so the no's have. The ayes were 261, the no's were 282. So, the no's have it. The ayes were 280. The no's were 292. So, the nos have it. The ayes were 191, the no's were 292. So, the no's have it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And CNN's Nic Robertson joins us live this hour from outside 10 Downing Street. Good to see you, Nic. So British lawmakers failed again to reach an agreement on the path forward for Brexit. How did it all play out in parliament? And why can't they figure this out?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, they managed to narrow the difference in the customs union. A difference of six last week, three votes of it last night. They managed to narrow the difference on a second referendum, 27 votes the difference last week, 12 votes of difference right now.
But it makes no difference because none of them passed. The voting was very much along party lines, majority of conservatives voting majority no, on all four issues. majority Labour voting yes on the majority of all those four -- on all the four issues as well.
This leaves a division clearly within parliament, a very clear one. But more troublingly for the prime minister if she tries to figure out the next way forward, whether she goes for a softer Brexit option and looks for a longer extension from the European Union. Or whether she goes for what many of her M.P.s are calling for which is sort of a negotiated no deal. Which is the hard option which is coming out without -- without a real deal with the European Union.
She's meeting for five hours today with cabinet ministers, the first three hours without their senior civil servants. So, a very political based first three hours of those meeting. The length of this cabinet session is relatively unheard of -- or not entirely unheard of, but it does tell you the stakes at play are the deep difficulties of Prime Minister faces because her cabinet is so deeply divided.
And today we've heard already this morning before that cabinet session can get underway, we've seen the chief go in, we've seen the deputy prime minister going through the front door already this morning.
The European Union's chief negotiator Michel Barnier has himself kind of set out his stall again in case the members of a cabinet and the prime minister have forgotten what has been said over the previous few days and months.
And all most years now, he has a very clearly that the withdrawal agreement as agreed last November with the European Union is the one that stands. This is how he put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL BARNIER, CHIEF EUROPEAN UNION NEGOTIATOR: We tried to make sure that the U.K. could leave with the E.U. in an orderly manner under 29th of March. Yet, the U.K. has foreseen itself.
And let me just make this very clear. If the U.K. still wants to leave, still to leave E.U. in an orderly manner, this agreement, this treaty is, and will be, the only one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[03:05:07] ROBERTSON: So, the aspiration there is still for all this to happen, as Michel Barnier said in an orderly manner. The expectation however, in Brussels seems to be veering towards Britain heading out with a no deal.
And of course, one of the things on the prime minister's agenda today potentially, discussing with cabinet members the possibility of calling a snap election. The roads ahead are more limited. The decisions tougher than ever.
CHURCH: And Nic, as you mentioned the problem here for Theresa May is her cabinet is so divided, isn't it? So, there is a possibility here they could trigger a general election we could possibly say that. What is the likely next step here? When we're talking to, and you mention that possibility of basically crashing out.
ROBERTSON: Well, there are a significant number of conservative M.P.s. We believe a number of at least 200 was noted yesterday and confirmed by CNN. M.P.s within the conservative party. That would be half of those, half of all conservative M.P.s who are appealing to the prime minister to leave without a deal. So that's a huge weight of responsibility.
Inside the cabinet seems that the Euro skeptics make up almost the preponderance at least of ministers who have declared their hand. There were, I think 13 as of yesterday who are in favor of the hard deal. I think nine, of perhaps 10 more in favor of trying to find an accommodation for potentially across the political aisle potentially on the customs union.
But at least looking for the option of a softer Brexit with four yet to make, four cabinet ministers, yet to make up their minds. I think these numbers have to be treated as fluid.
But I think they are indicative that the weight inside the cabinet, the weight of M.P.s as well as far as we know, it does seem to indicate that the greater pressure on the prime minister from within her party at least from those around the cabinet table is to take the no deal option.
And of course, the bottom line here is that this has to be decided by a week on Friday. And everything that's happened so far within the Brexit negotiations over the past two and a half years has been ever so slow, and incredibly incremental.
The point about today is, the prime minister needs to try to get her party and her cabinet on board with whatever options she goes for. They are limited. They are again very simply this. No deal, leave that way. A softer Brexit, again unpalatable to some on the other side of the party.
The possibility of calling a snap election with the unpredictable nature of what that may bring potentially a loss -- a loss of majority, potentially Labour coming out on top in the general election.
CHURCH: All right. We'll watch to see what comes out of this cabinet meeting. Whoever knows. Nic Robertson joining us from 10 Downing Street where it's just after eight o'clock in the morning. Many thanks. At E.U. headquarters in Brussels there is a growing sense of pessimism
and confusion over what comes next. European Commission president Sean Claude-Juncker said Monday this sphinx is an open book compared to the U.K.
And the European parliament Brexit coordinator tweeted on Wednesday that U.K. has the last chance to break the deadlock or face the abyss.
We get more now from CNN's Erin McLaughlin.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brussels will be reading the tea leaves like everyone trying to figure out what this latest round of indicative votes means for the Brexit process.
The one thing in all of this that is certain is that on April 10th there will be an extraordinary summit here in Brussels in which the 27 E.U. leaders will gather around the table and figure out next steps.
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 does not seem like it's going to happen, and overall, there is a gloomy mood here in Brussels.
Speaking to diplomats around today 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.
CHURCH: And Quentin Peel is an associate fellow in the Europe Programme at Chatham House, also a commentator for The Financial Times, and he joins us on the phone from London. Good to have you with us.
QUENTIN PEEL, ASSOCIATE FELLOW, EUROPE PROGRAMME AT CHATHAM HOUSE: Thank you.
CHURCH: So British lawmakers, again failed to get a majority on any Brexit option, and with less than 10 days to go, a no deal scenario is looking increasingly likely, isn't it? Why can't they get this right? And what likely will happen next?
[03:09:59] PEEL: Well, they can't get it right because one, the government itself is hopelessly split and it's been papering over this, papering over these cracks but it remains very split as Nic explained.
And secondly, parliament is deadlock with not enough support for any alternative solution. So, it's really caught between those two things. And every way out for Theresa May looks likely to actually bring that split within her government into the open and she lose ministers.
So, if she goes for a softer deal to win the majority in parliament, which would be possible, she will split her government. If she goes for no deal, she will also split her government, and if she goes for a general election, everybody is appalled at the prospect and they don't think it will resolve anything.
CHURCH: Right. So not many options for Theresa May, and of course as we were discussing with Nic, she will meet with her cabinet in just a few hours to discuss the way forward.
But of course, as you mention, the conservatives are so divided. What can they possibly achieve at this juncture? And how likely is it do you think that they would decide to call a snap election, seemingly because there is no way forward, no way that they can all get on board with one idea here.
PEEL: Well I think it would be a sort of nuclear option a policy of desperation that they would be very worried that they would actually lose badly. Because Theresa May, herself, approved at the last general election that she is not a good persuader of the public. They haven't got a clear platform on which they would stand.
And they'd be very worried there would be a real backlash in the country against their failure to come up with a negotiated solution. So, it really is a policy of desperation.
I think two thing that is a potential compromise out there, but it would split the conservative party. And that compromise is the suggestion that the opposition would allow the deal to pass if Theresa May would agree to another referendum to confirm it but it would split the government.
And finally, the other, if you like, nuclear option would be, revoke the request to relive the -- to leave the European Union, revoke it entirely and set up some sort of national convention to bring everybody together across party times and decide what are we going to do in the future. But we'll need a year or two years to discuss that.
CHURCH: Maybe you need to give the government a little bit of advice. But ironically, Theresa May's Brexit deal got more support than any of the other options.
How likely is it that we could see perhaps on Wednesday another vote on her deal, or perhaps a vote on some of those other options once they worked out if they can join some of those up, or if they can move forward and at least reduced that list.
PEEL: Well, the problem is that the Northern Irish unionist are still adamantly opposed to the deal. She relies on their 10 members in parliament for her majority. And they said she can bring the deal back a thousand times and they still won't support it. Because they hate the idea that in the deal is the so-called backstop option to guarantee an open border in Ireland.
And that implies treating Northern Ireland in a different way to the rest of Great Britain and the unionists see that as undermining the union. So, they're still very opposed.
As are about 30 hardline Brexiteers within the conservative party who really want a no deal outcome. That's what they're perfectly happy with. They think that crashing out of the European Union would be the pure form of Brexit, that they could live with.
CHURCH: Right. Of course, that terrify so many other people. Quentin Peel, thank you so much for your analysis. We do appreciate it.
PEEL: Thank you.
CHURCH: Well, a division of opinion is deepening on immigration in the United States. Why communities on both sides fear the president's threat to close the U.S.- Mexico border.
And flooding brings more violence in Iran. Forty-two people are confirmed dead in the severe weather there and it is not over yet.
[03:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: Forty-two people are now reported dead in Iran as the result of heavy rains and flooding. The weather emergency began more than 10 days ago. And it shows no sign of letting up as rain and snow continue to fall.
Iranian officials are trying to control water logged areas to prevent further casualties. Twenty-five thousand homes are believed to have been destroyed leaving thousands of people and nowhere to go. And now new emergency alerts and travel advisories have been issued. Army and navy resources are being used to help with rescues.
So, let's get more on all this from our meteorologist Ivan Cabrera. And it just been relentless, hasn't it?
IVAN CABRERA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Incredible. And those pictures were the cameras were able to get to. There are lot of villages that are just completely cut off.
CABRERA: So, the image we have from those villages are just basically islands at this point. So, it's an incredible calamity obviously with so many dead.
Let's talk about why this has been particularly harsh for Iran as far as the rainfall over the last several days. We've got of course the rivers involved as well. When you get that got that much rainfall of rivers, streams, creeks, whatever, they will overflow those banks and then that creates additional flooding along with the reservoirs.
The dam reservoirs they have been at and above capacity so if you want a dam to break so what they have to do is they have to discharge that water to prevent that additional calamity and that in turn allows for additional flooding.
So, infrastructure as you saw there is just furniture bumping down the streets becoming rivers at this point. Look at this. Just totals on Monday, right. Eighty-five to 74 millimeters of rainfall. That's an incredible amount of rain for a desert area to get in 24 hours.
And they not just got that on Monday, but we have to go back to last week where this thing started. And we have this multiple Mediterranean low that usually will just kind of fizzle out across the Eastern Med but that moisture has been relentless.
Number two wasn't so bad. Three was certainly a problem, and then the last feature here, notice that moisture just getting pumped in from southwest to northeast and that's the one that brought all that heavy rain over the last several days.
Keep in mind, this area typically between January and March get its most of it rains, right. But the problem is the last three months we haven't had much, and so we have a drought on top of desert. And so, as that heavy rainfall over the last couple of weeks has fallen it has hit cement basically.
And additionally, we have this. The funneling effect, of course, Rosemary as you know because of the topography there we have the rain is falling on mountains and it goes through the canyons it gets funneled. And when that happens the rivers the flood can really rise rapidly and we don't have enough time to get folks out of harm's way, which is why I think we've had so much unfortunate loss of life there.
But the good news is beginning today and the rest of the week much brighter weather on the way.
[03:19:59] CHURCH: Right. But devastating all the same.
CABRERA: Yes, you bet.
CHURCH: Thank you so much, Ivan. I appreciate it.
We turn now to Israel where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party is trailing his rival Benny Gantz and his Blue and White Party by four seats with only a week until the election. That is according to a poll by Israel's Chanel 13 news.
But Mr. Netanyahu appears to have an easier path to forming a coalition of at least 61 seats in order to govern.
CNN's Oren Liebermann joins us now live from Jerusalem with for more on this. So, Oren, while Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party's trailing in the polls he still has a path to victory, doesn't he? How is this likely to play out?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, he's behind by four seats, his rival former chief of staff Benny Gantz is pulling at 32 seats while Netanyahu's Likud Party is at 28 seats. And that's significant. Benny Gantz has been in the lead almost since the election campaign began some three months ago.
But it's not just a question in Israeli politics of who comes out with the biggest party. If it is, this election would be over right now. It's a question of who can form that 61 seat coalition. And this is where Netanyahu has an advantage from a whole bunch of smaller right- wing parties that are polling right around four, five, or six seats.
Those are naturally or ideologically more fitted to go with Netanyahu's Likud Party and that would be Netanyahu's path to victory come election day. But of course, that's not the end of it. The question is can Gantz who portrays himself and puts his party forward as a centrist party, can he convince some of those center-right parties to go with him. If so, that would be a major blow to Netanyahu.
And then one of the other major questions we'll look at on election night is which of these smaller parties isn't able to cross the electoral threshold. If one or two of them isn't able to make it into the Knesset, Israel's parliament, that too could be a major blow to Netanyahu. So those are the questions we'll look for on and after election day, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Very quickly, what are the main issues influencing voters in this campaign? And what are they hope to see in a new government?
LIEBERMANN: One of the biggest issues is of course Netanyahu himself, the investigations he faces on one side, versus the effective endorsements he has gotten on the other side from President Donald Trump, visits from the Brazilian president going on right now.
Netanyahu has turned himself into the biggest issue here. And that is driving many voters. Beyond that, one of the other big issue here is always security. For more than a decade now Netanyahu has portrayed himself as Mr. Security.
Gantz himself, his rival, is of course a former chief of staff and he's running with two other former defense ministers who he's trying to challenge that issue of Mr. Security of Netanyahu.
Economics, the cost of living here is high, that is also an issue, but obviously the biggest issues are Netanyahu himself, as well as that mantle of who is really in charge of security here.
CHURCH: All right. We'll see what happens. Oren Liebermann from Jerusalem, where it is 10.22 in the morning. Many thanks.
Let's turn to Turkey now where 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 Izmir.
CNN's Arwa Damon looks at the impact.
Turkey's president's party did not quite have the sweeping victory as 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 lost of major cities, the capital Ankara, the country's political seat lost to the opposition party mayoral candidate, albeit by the slimmest of margins. Really underscores many voters' grievances. And key among those are grievances that have to do with the economy.
The lira has been in a downward tumble. Inflation is in double digits, and unemployment at 10 percent, 20 percent amongst 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 still a potentially very devastating blow.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.
CHURCH: Facebook is removing hundreds of what it calls fake accounts linked to two parties contesting India's election. The social media giant says, quote "coordinated inauthentic behavior is behind the move." The information perch comes less than two weeks before hundreds of millions of Indians go to the polls to elect their next leader.
[03:25:02] Facebook has stepped up efforts to prevent the spread of false and malicious content.
To a Ukrainian comedian who plays the president on TV just might get to be one in real life. Early results show Volodymyr Zelensky that he has the lead in Sunday's presidential election with 30 percent of the vote. Since he didn't have an outright majority with 50 percent, he is headed for the April 20th runoff against this man, current president Petro Poroshenko who got just over 16 percent of the vote.
Well, being in the president's family has its perks, but one former White House staffer says one of those perks went too far for Donald Trump's daughter and son-in-law. Details of her allegations coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: I know this breaks your heart seeing people who have nothing who come here with nothing, most of them are desperate, they're all carrying these babies? How do you handle this?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: CNN rides along with U.S. border patrol agents at the southern border. Why they are struggling with the surge of undocumented migrants. We'll have that for you when we return.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church.
Let's update you now on the main stories we've been watching this hour.
British Prime Minister 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.
Turkey's president is facing a political setback in lobal elections after his A.K Party lost control of the capital Ankara to the opposition party. Preliminary results also show the opposition narrowly ahead in Istanbul. The election is being seen as a test of Mr. Erdogan's popularity amid an economic downturn.
After months of protest Algeria's ailing president has agreed to step down by April 28th. That is according to state run media. Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been largely incapacitated since a 2013 stroke and has been in office for 20 years.
The death toll is now 42 in Iran, the result of heavy rains and floods. The bad weather is expected to continue. Emergency warnings have been issued. Since the disaster began more than 10 days ago, 25,000 homes have been destroyed.
[03:29:59] Well President Trump is standing by his threats to close the U.S. border with Mexico. Customs officials say they are at a breaking point and can't handle a surge of Central American migrants. Mr. Trump is blaming asylum laws and Democrats, on braving asylum laws and Democrats, on Twitter he demanded they act on what he calls a national emergency, but Trump administration also says aid will be cut off to three countries Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The president accuses them of setting up migrant caravans.
Well, communities in Mexico and the U.S. are bracing for what happens if the border is closed. CNN's Ed Lavandera, has been in El Paso Texas and filed this report.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump's threats to close down the U.S. Southern Border is looming large over border cities from Brownsville Texas to Santiago California. Here in El Paso, Texas, that threat is being taken very seriously and people tells us that they already starting to see the effects.
Business starting to become worried about what might happen here in the coming days and they are trying to figure out if President Trump is gonna follow-through on this threat, the amount of time people are spending crossing these bridges between Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas, those times are starting to grow longer as Customs and Border Protection agents are being moved out of those ports of entry and moved out into more remote areas to help out border patrol agents.
They say, that there's been this massive influx of migrants that they need help to process. So, all of these really kind of looming large over this region here. As this week moves along, many people anxiously awaiting to hear what President Trump is going to do. The economic impact of a border closure here would be catastrophic up and down the border.
You take the city of El Paso area, where there are $77 billion of trade that were done between Mexico and the El Paso area just last year alone. Millions of jobs on the line, also just goods and products that come back and forth across the border every day is something that perhaps most people in the United States don't have a full grasp of the amount of agriculture that comes from Mexico in the United States.
Shirts, tennis shoes, any kind of products you buy in stores are very often those materials and goods are brought on trucks. Take a look the border town of Laredo, Texas, which is south of where we are. It is one of the largest, if not the largest in-land port here in the United States. More than 4 million trucks crossed that port of entry every year.
So, it's a significant impact and something that is of serious concern all along the U.S. Southern Border as you have this debate raging here in the United States about the number of migrants showing up at the border and the ability or the inability of U.S. Customs and Immigration officials to control and tide those flows of undocumented immigrants coming to the U.S. Southern Border and how all of this plays into the idea of closing down the border. So, you see all of these issues really coming to a head here, in places like El Paso, Texas. Ed Lavandera, CNN, El Paso, Texas.
CHURCH: And Ed, also spoke to a migrant father who came to El Paso with his young son. He says they were among those kept under a bridge by U.S> authorities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: They say they cross the border across the river and then turn themselves in to border patrol agents.
He says he is one of the people who was being housed underneath the bridge here in El Paso, where he spent four days with his son sleeping all day on the ground. He said he struggled with his son, because his son wouldn't eat the ham and cheese sandwiches that they were being given under the bridge. So you stared to get worried that his son was getting -- was being malnutrition and he was worried about complications from that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials say they are doing everything they can to handle so many migrants, but they are stretched in. CNN recently got a ride along with border patrol agents and we capture dramatic images of migrants surrendering in south Texas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL ORTIZ, DEPUTY CHIEF PATROL AGENT: Were gonna take everybody into custody right now, we have EMT's that will respond, they'll check them out, make sure that there is nobody requiring an immediate hospitalization or some sort of medical services and then will start the process. The clock starts now for us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And the same border patrol agent you heard there spoke more to CNN's Chris Cuomo, take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: 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 come here with nothing, most of them are desperate, they are all carrying these babies, how do you handle this?
ORTIZ: I'm a father, a grandfather. Somebody got to do something about this. This goes on each and every day, officers are dealing with 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 is not just the humanitarian's crisis, it's a border security crisis.
[03:35:20] We talked about -- it's been driven by a policy crisis. Certainly, it pulls that our heartstrings, but I'm proud of the work, men and women are doing down here, very vigilant and what they are doing and dedicated to the mission. This is tough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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 POLITIOCAL ANALYST, THE NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: 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 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.
[03:40:18] 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 gonna keep going.
CHURCH: A White House whistleblower tells investigators that senior Trump official overturned security clearance denials for 25 people. This despite serious disqualifying issues. A source tells CNN, the president's daughter and son in law or on that list. For his part, Jared Kushner told Fox News that because of his father in law's leadership, the world is safer today. Alex Marquardt has the details.
ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A White House whistleblower is alleging the Trump administration handling of security clearances is threatening U.S. national security. The 18 year career official, claiming the Trump administration gave security clearances to dozens of people who should not have had them.
Including according to a source, the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Overruling the office that determines whether a person should get access to the country's biggest secrets. In a letter to the White House Council, house Oversight Committee Chairman, Elijah Cummings, said the whistleblower named Tricia Newbold, a career supervisor in the White House office that oversees security clearance operations believes that Congress must intervene immediately to safeguard our national security.
It's the latest sign that Democrats planned to use their new subpoena powers in the House to demand answers from the Trump administration. Chairman Cummings says now subpoenaed the former personnel security director, Carl Kline, who allegedly pushed through the clearances, the whistleblower says. Despite potential conflict of interest, or possible manipulation by foreign powers.
At what point do you say enough is enough?
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: There will come a moment where I will do whatever is necessary to be done to carry on my responsibility on this constitution.
MARQUARDT: The president can give out security clearances as he sees fit, but had denied a role in pushing through these clearances.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you tell General Kelly or anyone else in the White House to overrule security officials? The career veterans?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No I don't think I have the authority to do that. I'm not sure I do. But I wouldn't do it.
MARQUARDT: The ranking member on oversight Congressman Jim Jordan called the investigation reckless, that it is an excused to go fishing with the personal files that dedicated public servants. This as the House Judiciary Committee under Congressman Jerry Nadler announced it plans to subpoena to obtain the full un-redacted Mueller report.
He also wants to subpoena some of the biggest names who have worked in the Trump White House. Including Steve Bannon, Hope Hicks and former White House counsel, Don McGahn, in relation to their roles in the Mueller probe.
I've been speaking with that whistleblower, Tricia Newbold for several months now, she was deeply concerned about the way her boss Carl Kline, was running the office and the security clearance decisions. Like the ones for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, that we now know he overruled.
Republicans have responded to the Democrats memo arguing that Newbold have limited knowledge about specific application. And pointing out that on her list of 25 people she had very serious concerns for just four or five of them. Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.
CHURCH: A second woman has come forward to allege former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden touched her inappropriately.
[03:45:05] Former Democratic aide Amy Lappos, says Biden rub noses with her at a 2009 fund-raiser in Connecticut. He was Vice President at the time. A CNN source says the allegation against Biden won't dissuade him from running for president in 2020. Our Jeff Zeleny, has our report.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: As Democratic presidential hopefuls took the stage today in Washington. It was the candidate in waiting. Joe Biden at the center of the conversation.
KATIE METTLE, MARYLAND DEMOCRAT: He kind of has already had a reputation for being kind of hands he. And women developed that instincts with this things. So, if someone kind of shows her face like, yeah I know who you are.
ZELENY: Katie Mettle is passion about the environment. And eager to see Democrats win back the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From attack of politicians --
ZELENY: She is weighing both as she considers new allegations against the former vice president.
METTLE: I think that is perfectly valid to have complex feelings from people like Joe Biden. And I continue to have complex feelings.
ZELENY: As voters mingled in one of the largest Democratic gatherings yet of the 202 campaign, other women say, they wanted to hear more from Biden.
PIA MORRISON, MARYLAND DEMOCRAT: I'm willing to allow him to apologize and to evolve in his thinking around these issues.
ZELENY: It's not a disqualifier?
DOLLY KILDEE, MARYLAND DEMOCRAT: I don't think so, I think if we look back over a lot of the candidates, they have something that we are concerned about.
ZELENY: The conversation comes as Biden is explaining and apologizing for parts of his long record.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stand and be sworn as you will.
ZELENY: Including in the Hill's testimony during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas.
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's taken advantage of her reputation was attacked. I wish I could have done something, I posed Clarence Thomas nomination, I voted against him.
ZELENY: Yet as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, critics say, he should and could have done more. The allegations against Biden have reverberated across the Democratic presidential campaign. Were for the first time in party history five candidates are women.
Isn't enough on this case though, just to say, oh, that's just Joe being Joe?
AMY KLOBUCHAR, U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. Here is what I think. I have been through a lot of this in the last year. Questions about other male politicians. And I would say this, if we spend our whole time talking about what men have done or maybe they didn't do or could do. Were never gonna talk about what women can do. And my position is we have some extraordinary women running for president right now.
ZELENY: So, Biden aides say this is not gonna change his calculation, that he is still looking toward an announcement likely at the end of April, but the question also is, could this keep him out of the race. If there are more allegations that there is a new calculation, could this change his thinking?
His advisor say no, but a lot of his fellow Democratic rivals, how they react to this and if they choose to make it an issue. Could also come into play. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Washington.
CHURCH: Next on CNN Newsroom. Venezuela in crisis, yet another blow to those who had been living with food and water shortages. Now power is being rationed. We are back with that in just a moment.
[03:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: Welcome back everyone, well, life is becoming even more difficult in Venezuela, were residents will now have to cope with power rationing. President Nicholas Maduro made the announcement to a country already suffering from food and water shortages. He said schools will reopen Monday, establishing a sense of normality, where there has been very little. And Venezuela's top quarters, calling on lawmakers to stripped Juan Guaido of his parliamentary immunity. The court wants to make it possible for the opposition leader to be arrested for leaving the country in January while under international travel ban. And all this as a new United Nations record documents dire conditions. CNN's David McKenzie has this report.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The alarming year end 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: Still ahead here on CNN Newsroom. It is a problem that shows no signs of diminishing. Plastic waste polluting our oceans and killing marine life as well. What can be done to protect are waters and their homes?
[03:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: As our oceans become more like garbage dumps. Especially because of plastic, the consequences are becoming deadly for marine life. This pregnant sperm whale washed up on the coast of Sardinia and according to the environmental group SeeMe, she had 22 kilograms of plastic in her stomach. And her calf was likely dead before its mother due to starvation. Earlier we spoke to an official of Greenpeace USA, who says we are approaching a point of no return.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM FORBES, GLOBAL PROJECT LEADER, GREENPEACE USA: It's just a matter of time before some of these corporations and other players are going to -- really need to rethink our kind of business as usual. I think the awareness is increasing but we really still have a long way to go. I mean the U.N., environment had a meeting just a couple weeks ago in Africa and unfortunately the U.S. was sort of the biggest sort of blocker to making progress there, but I think, you know, just as public awareness grows, I mean, plastic as it breaks down, it's in our food, it's in our water, it's increasingly in our bodies. You know, we are going to need to see government taking action and there's that incentive to do so. You know, I'm optimistic that people will step up and put the regulations in place that really needed to protect us.
Yes, I think there is a reason for optimism and at the same time, we are still producing so much plastic when we think about company like nestle, and Coca-Cola. We are talking about millions of metric tons of plastic every single year and so we have a long way to go, but I think with the growing public attention, we are going to start to see some changed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And stop using those plastic shopping bags, right? Well, chunks of glaciers fall off every day, but this weekend in Iceland, a sinking wall of ice sent a group of tourist running. At the bottom of your screen you can see them rushing to get away from a huge wave. Let's bring that up.
Terrifying you can see that the tourist were with an expert guide and manage to scrambles to safety as that giant wave approach them, according to the guide, no one was injured. Thank you so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church, the news continues next with Max Foster in London. Have yourself a great day.