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Prime Minister Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn Will Try to Resolve Brexit Issue; Former Malaysian Prime Minister's Trial Starts; Boeing's Anti Stall System Failed; Poverty Rise in Venezuela. Aired 3- 4a ET

Aired April 3, 2019 - 03:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: A new way to push through Brexit. The British prime minister is promising to work on a deal with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and gearing up to ask the E.U. for an extension.

President Trump changes his mind as a 2020 election looms. Mr. Trump backs down on a major overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system.

Plus, Malaysia's biggest corruption scandal. The trial for former Prime Minister Najib Razak begins in a few hours, and we will look at his fall from power.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church, and this is CNN Newsroom.

He couldn't get her Brexit deal through parliament with a little help from her friends. So now Theresa May is hoping she an opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn can come together to find a way forward.

Corbyn says he is willing to talk. Mrs. May also plans to ask the European Union for another delay, though not a long, one she says. And she insists her withdrawal agreement thrice rejected by parliament will remain a part of any deal.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I know there are some who are fed up with delay and then these arguments, that they would like to leave with no deal next week. I've always been clear that we could make a success of no deal in the long term, but leaving with a deal is the best solution.

So, we will need a further extension of article 50, one that is as short as possible, and which ends when we passed a deal.


CHURCH: And CNN's Nina Dos Santos joins us now live this hour from outside 10 Downing Street. Good to see you, Nina. So whenever went down in that cabinet meeting, Brexiteers have been left on the sidelines at Theresa May turns to the opposition leader for Brexit talks and a possible way forward out of this deadlock. How is this going to work and what's in it for Jeremy Corbyn?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPPONDENT: Well, those are two very big questions. Again, just like today's Brexit crisis, nobody knows the answers and the immediate to how those two things will pan out. I mean, when you are talking about the fact that Theresa May has finally in the 11th hour, maybe even after the 11th hour, because remember, Brexit was supposed to happen last Friday.

She has finally pivoted, it seems, away from that hard flank of her conservative party, the euro skeptics bunch of which there were said to be as many according to unconfirmed media reports, as many as 40 members of her cabinet who spoke out in favor of a no deal during that marathon cabinet series of talks that happened yesterday for several hours.

During which, there were also reports that some of these ministers had their telephones taken off the full all of those hours before Theresa May made that final speech extending that olive branch to the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn at this late hour.

That means she appears to finally have pivoted away from those loud voices inside her party and her cabinet that were advocating leaving the E.U. with no deal at all, and has said pivoted towards a much, much softer Brexit, one which, if Jeremy Corbyn is include would probably have to include a customs union.

You are asking me before, Rosemary, about what Jeremy Corbyn to have to gain from these kinds of talks. Well, he said that he will be picking up what the prime minister has thrown down, he recognizes his responsibility as a leader of the opposition to help the country through this impasse. Even Brexit voters who are conservative voters not Labour voters.

They are trying to tempt some of them in a future general election. But what he did, will be getting from this is potentially some kind of concession here.

Let me just step away and see who is arriving for the cabinet. We have David Lidington there, who is the de facto deputy prime minister arriving this early hour for talks with the government.

As I was saying before, Corbyn will be looking for six things or some of six things. His party has said that for any Brexit deal to pass, it has to pass six tests. And those will include a permanent membership of the customs union, continued access to the single market, as well as guarantees for rights and protections to the environment and also for workers.

Now, as I was saying before, David Lidingotn, the de facto deputy prime minister has just arrived now. That is interesting because later on today, we're expecting Jeremy Corbyn to come here to have talks with Theresa May, and perhaps this is laying the groundwork for that Downing Street. At the moment, not saying when those talks will happen, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, perhaps. And of course, Brexiteers are watching very closely hoping this will all fail, no doubt.

Nina Dos Santos, thanks so much for joining us from 10 Downing Street, just after eight in the morning there. Many thanks.

[03:05:04] Well, David Herszenhorn is the chief Brussels correspondent for Politico, he joins us now via Skype. Good to see you.


CHURCH: So, Theresa May will ask the E.U. for another extension and will try to reach a deal with opposition leader, the opposition leader to break the Brexit deadlock, turning her back on her own divided, and very unhappy now, party.

How likely is it that the two of them, Corbyn and May can reach a compromise, with a possible customs union agreement at the center of that deal, and also Theresa May's deal? How will that work?

HERSZENHORN: Well, it's been tough so far, right? And it really comes down to the question of does Jeremy Corbyn see more value in reaching a deal finally with Theresa May, or in setting up a circumstance by which her government is finished once and for all, having failed to resolve this Brexit conundrum.

Here in Brussels the E.U. leaders are watching very guardedly. Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council his first reaction on Twitter last night, even if we don't know what the outcome will be still, let's be patient.

Now, that patience will run out. The E.U. has set some very clear deadlines. April 12th is the deadline for the U.K. to get out unless it has ratified the withdrawal agreement that was already reached between Theresa May and the E.U. back in November.

Now that's the deal that's been rejected multiple times by British parliament. If the customs union becomes part of the mix, and they can adjust what's called the political declaration to include that. That would make this controversial backstop provision on the Irish border unnecessary and it may bring along the vote.

But the real question is what is her timeframe? She has been told either get a deal done by April 12th or you are out. If you get that deal done, then you have until May 22nd, but the E.U. is really thinking about its own institutional issues.

There are big European parliament elections coming up in May, they don't want this interfering with those, and it's unclear about how this request that she says she'll make for another short extension fits in there.

That's exactly what they told her not to do. It's either a long, long extension and commit to participating in those E.U. elections, because the U.K. is staying or get out by April 12th.

CHURCH: Yes. Of course, everyone's patience is running out at this point, and as we mentioned, the Brexiteers they are furious. They have been left out of all of this and they are watching from the sidelines. Now they want to see these talks between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn fail. If they do, what is likely to happen there? If they fail.

HERSZENHORN: Well, there is one small gamble here that Theresa May maybe banking, which is that once these Brexiteers see her ready to cut a deal with Labour, that they finally give in and provide the votes that are needed to pass her deal, it's not clear that she would have them even in that instance.

But there is that narrow possibility that what she is angling for here is not ultimately a deal with Corbyn, but to finally bring around the holdouts on her own side, in her own coalition, who say, OK, whatever they dislike about the deal that May has, it's the hardest version of Brexit that they are going to get.

Now she has known all along that doing this risk splitting her party, the conservatives are very, very deeply divided and already we are seeing that anger. It really depends on how this plays out. If it works for her, she makes it a deal, it may cause her job at either way.

CHURCH: Right. And I do want to ask you this, so certainly because you are there in Brussels. And a lot of people around the world they are scratching their heads as the politicians there in Britain bicker over Brexit.

Talk to us about why a small nation like the United Kingdom which choose to break away from the world's largest trading bloc, especially when the U.K. sends more than 40 percent of its exports to the E.U. It doesn't appear to make economic sense. How will the U.K. survive if it ends up crashing out of the E.U.?

HERSZENHORN: Well, Brexit is very hard to defend on the numbers. These are economic analysis that have been provided by the British government themselves, the chancellor, the exchequer describing how a no deal Brexit would be devastating for the British economy, but this is really an emotional question.

It goes back to all of the emotion that surrounded the referendum this issue of leave or remain, whether be part of a bloc. In many ways, it goes back to the 1970s, when the U.K. was first joining the E.U.

I was in London last week, and saw one Brexiteer British M.P. who was adamant that this never felt right, the U.K. never fit in as it needs to get out as it's wearing the wrong clothes or something.

There are others in Brussels who say, you know, this is insane. Certainly, I find this disconnect when I hear some British listeners and viewers that I talk to say that they think that the U.K. is somehow enslaved by the E.U.

In fact, the E.U. views Britain as a leader, it's a leader of the block of 500 million. Obviously, able to compete on a much more even scale with powers like China and the U.S. economically, but this is the choice that the U.K. made in the referendum. [03:10:00] And what the U.K. has said all along, is look, it can only respect that choice. It can only help Brexit along. Folks in the U.K. find it hard to believe that's been the case, but this is true. Folks in Brussels have said, look, if this is what you want, get on with it. We are trying to make it a safe as possible, as least damaging as possible. But there will be consequences.

And this is what Brussels tries to remind them. And even yesterday senior officials of the European Commission laying out in very basic terms, they really think that the British society has not fully digested the ramifications of this break, of how tough it will be going forward, and that maybe, just, maybe if they can to us situation where they request a long-term extension, they might reconsider and drop the whole thing.

CHURCH: And David, you've been watching this all along. All the twists and turns. What's your gut feeling when April 12th arrives? What do you think is going to happen?

HERSZENHORN: I think all sides understand that no deal is not an option, but it's also not an escape. So, for folks who think that no deal would let the U.K. just walk away, that's impossible.

So, my guess is, there is going to have to be a deal and, there is still a time between now and April 12th if the parliament can get together and vote and they were doing this. The indicative votes were starting to move in the directions of a custom union, this idea failed by just three votes, and it was held up because there was opposition from folks who want a second referendum.

So, the majority for a softer Brexit is there. That's obviously not a surprise. When you think back to the E.U. complaining that the U.K. wanted to have its cake and ate too, a softer Brexit is the way to try to maintain some of the benefits of E.U. membership while being outside of many of the obligations.

It may cost more. There's a price for that, Norway in other countries pay for the benefit of having good economic ties with the E.U. without being politically obligated to the E.U. as strongly as member states.

So, my gut instinct is that in the end, that's where there is the majority in the House of Commons. That's where probably the British public is in terms of what they intended when they voted to be out. To separate as much as they can politically, but still, maintain a strong economic ties as possible. There are limits to that.

CHURCH: Right.

HERSZENHORN: But E.U. has been very (Inaudible) that there are limits but a softer Brexit maybe the best way to do it.

CHURCH: We'll watch -- I mean, nobody expected Theresa May to be sitting down with Jeremy Corbyn, so we'll see what comes of those talks and what happens in the days ahead. David Herszenhorn, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it. Well, new details into the doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight that

crashed last month. According to the Wall Street Journal, the pilots flying the 737 Max initially followed Boeing's emergency procedures to shut off an automated anti stall system, but they still failed to regain control of the plane and it plunged to the ground killing all 187 people on board.

The Wall Street Journal cites people briefed on the preliminary findings of the investigation. CNN has not confirmed the details of that report.

Our Robyn Kriel joins us now from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia with more on this. So, Robyn, what can you add?

Robyn, you're with us live now.

ROBYN KRIEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, if this scenario that the Wall Street Journal is reporting turns out to be true, this is perhaps even worse for Boeing then already imaginable.

So, what the Wall Street Journal is saying is that the MCAS, that's anti stall system on board Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 failed, the pilots then followed all the emergency procedures to shut it down, but still, could not make the plane regain control.

So, it indicates really, Rosemary, a deeper failure. And it could be why Boeing has said that it needs to examine an additional -- it had an additional piece to address before coming out with this additional upgrade they said to get the MAX aircraft back into service.

It could also potentially indicate, Rosemary, why this report, this preliminary report that we are expecting to be released any day now was supposed to be released on Monday here in Ethiopia by the Ethiopian authorities, has also been delayed.

So just to wrap up again, Rosemary, the pilots recognize this reported problem with the automatic trim, the MCAS failure, the anti-stall system for the aircraft.

This is according to the Wall Street journal, the pilot deactivated automated trim, they went to the manual trim option which is really a backup option, a fail-safe option, and they struggled with this too.

And what it sounds like, according to those Wall Street Journal article, Rosemary, is that these pilots force the plane until it crashed into the ground. Now this all happened just within six minutes, Rosemary, and you can imagine pilots flying with all the sorts of emergency bells and sirens that would be going off inside their cockpit as they tried to force the plane up, and this plane reportedly kept plunging them down into the ground.

[03:15:06] It only happened within six minutes after taking off from Bali International Airport here in Addis Ababa, and I can just tell you that right now we're hearing and watching planes take off every few minutes. This is a huge hub of international travel. Not just in Africa, but really the world connecting some flights to the Middle East and Africa.

What does this mean if this report is true, Rosemary? Bad news for Boeing. Even worse. As I said, it could be potentially the only worse news because it means that the pilots did follow emergency procedures to try to shut down this failing MCAS system before Ethiopian Airlines, if it turns out to be true it could mean good news for them in some ways.

If you can have any good news out of this because it would mean that the pilots did follow emergency procedures that were stipulated by Boeing, and can be further vindicated.

Ethiopian Airlines obviously an enormous amount of poor publicity for this report, so and for this crash. And in this doesn't turn in the end turn out to be true, then it will vindicate the pilots in some way. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Yes. It is chilling to think what those pilots went through in those minutes as they tried to keep that plane in the sky and save their lives and of course the lives of the passengers on board.

Robyn Kriel, thank you so much, joining us from Addis Ababa.

Time now for a short break, but when we come back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "President Trump, come and help us," she says, we cannot take it anymore."


CHURCH: Pleas for help from a country where the U.N. says 90 percent of the people live in poverty.

And the former prime minister of Malaysia has arrived in court for what some are calling the trial of the century.


CHURCH: In Venezuela, the Maduro government has voted to continue its probe of National Assembly leader Juan Guaido, possibly clearing the way for his arrest.

At least 50 countries recognized him as Venezuela's legitimate interim president.

Now a Supreme Court justice says Guaido is in contempt for leaving the country in February without permission, and is demanding he'd be stripped of parliamentary immunity. Venezuela's opposition says it will not recognize any decision that could lead to Guaido's arrest.

[03:19:56] Well, for Venezuelans, the situation seems to get worse every week. Food shortages, power blackouts and hospital closures are all making life miserable. And many blame the man at the top. Nicolas Maduro. CNN's David McKenzie reports.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Venezuela's president could always count on this neighborhood in Caracas for support, now they want Nicolas Maduro out.


ANTONIO PARERA, UNEMPLOYED MECHANIC: They don't have water, no electricity, they don't have security. They don't have so many things on their hospital. We are broke down. The Venezuelans is now broke down.

MCKENZIE: Are you angry right now?

PARERA: Yes, very angry, very angry.

MCKENZIE: Angry, and some are asking for help.

"President Trump, come and help us," she says, "We cannot take it anymore."



MCKENZIE: Trump hasn't ruled anything out.


TRUMP: All, just so you understand, all options are open.


NICOLAS MADURO, VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Donald Trump said he had all options on the table. They didn't go ahead with the invasion because they couldn't. They went ahead with the sabotage of the electrical service instead.


MCKENZIE: Maduro blames the nationwide blackouts on the U.S., but years of government mismanagement and corruption, and little money for maintenance has hammered the grid. U.S. oil sanctions could make it difficult to fix.

So, the shops are shuttered. The people are jammed into buses for the shortened work day. A draft U.N. report seen by CNN found that more than 90 percent of Venezuelans now live in poverty. Even in the capital, it's a struggle for the very basics.

"Listen brother, us Venezuelans are very upset," says Xavier, "if it was up to me, we would have forced this government out."

More than three million people have fled Venezuela because of this. The U.N. believes almost two million could leave just this year. But one man still refuses to go.

David McKenzie, CNN, Caracas, Venezuela.

CHURCH: Well it is being called Malaysia's trial of the century. Former Prime Minister Najib Razak in court for his long-delayed trial on corruption and abuse of power. He denies any wrongdoing but prosecutors say he and the Malaysian financier embezzled billions of dollars that they spent on lavish luxury items like yachts, paintings and jewelry.

CNN's Ivan Watson is following developments from Hong Kong. he joins us now live. Good to see you, Ivan. So, Malaysia's former Prime Minister Najib Razak is defending himself against these charges of corruption, he says he's innocent and it's all politically motivated. So how strong is the evidence against him?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's starting to be laid out right now. The judge just announced that he was throwing out an appeal by the defense to once again try to delay the trial. The judge saying the trial should start now.

And the attorney general has stepped forward with seven charges against the former prime minister who is now sitting in the dark for as the accused party here, three charges of corruption in money laundering, three of abuse of power and another criminal charge as well.

The attorney general saying in his opening statement that the prime minister has lived, work for almost a decade, sitting at the top office with quote, "near absolute power."


WATSON: It is Malaysia's trial of the century. Former Prime Minister Najib Razak in court on charges of corruption, he has pleaded not guilty. Razak's incredible fall from grace began in 2016 when the U.S. Department of Justice implicated high ranking Malaysian officials in an elaborate corruption, scheme.



LORETTA LYNCH, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Department of Justice has filed a civil complaint seeking to forfeit and recover more than $1 billion in assets associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds stolen from One Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB.


WATSON: Razak's government set up 1MDB as a sovereign wealth fund, but in 2016, U.S. authorities moved to seize luxury property allegedly purchased with stolen 1MDB money, including mansions and penthouse apartments in New York and L.A.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty-six thousand dollars for one (muted) dinner.


WATSON: The rates to the films "Wolf of Wall Street, and "Dumb and Dumber 2" and this $250 million super yacht. U.S. authorities claimed a key mastermind in the 1MDB scandal was Jho Low, a suspect who is now in hiding, and also asserting his innocence.

[03:24:53] This flashy Malaysian financier was a friend of Razak's stepson, he grabs shoulders with Hollywood celebrities and allegedly sent jewelry and payments to some on Justice Department indictments identified as Malaysian official number one. That official, widely believed to be Najib Razak.

In May 2018, a political earthquake shook Malaysia when the opposition unexpectedly trounce Razak's party in national elections.


MARC LOURDES, JOURNALIST: Today is the most significant moment in the country's history since independence in 1957.


WATCON: Malaysian police then moved swiftly, raiding Razak's properties, seizing $225 million worth of jewelry, luxury handbags and cash. Soon after, Malaysian authorities press charges against Razak.


LIM GUAN ENG, MALAYSIAN FINANCE MINISTER: The critical question would be why did the prime minister allow Jho Low who just graduated from college to run riot, to do as he pleased.


WATSON: Razak claims the charges against him are politically motivated. And he's even recorded and released this song on social media to make his case. Songs won't protect the former prime minister in court, however, where he faces a possible sentence of more than 20 years in jail if convicted.

Rosemary, in the last few minutes the former prime minister has repeated his not guilty plea. And that's even though the police say they caught him in his houses with close to a quarter billion dollars' worth of jewelry, luxury handbags and cash in the raids last year.

He's been a free man essentially despite this looming trial, and very active on social media trying to rally support with his considerable support base in Malaysia.

The Malaysian government and the attorney general have been conducting their own public relations campaign. They announced today, that the super yacht that was valued by the Department of Justice at $250 million. That's the Equanimity which has been seized, has now been sold for the price of $126 million. I'm not an economist, but it seems like whoever bought the yacht got it at about 50 percent off, which is pretty remarkable. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Wow. It's going to be extraordinary. We'll see what comes out of this trial. And we know you'll be watching it very closely. Ivan Watson reporting from Hong Kong where it is nearly 3.30 in the afternoon. Many thanks.

We'll take a short break here, still to come, President Trump has been pledging to close 100 percent of the U.S.-Mexico border now it seems to be -- or now he seems to be easing up a little on that threat. A look at the president's latest border strategy when we come back.

Plus, Mr. Trump likes to host VIP's at his Mar-a-Lago club. But prosecutors say one guest wasn't on the list. The latest on a security breach.

Back in a moment.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back everyone, I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN Newsroom. Let's update you now on the main stories we had been watching this hour.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, says she will ask the European Union for another Brexit delay, the U.K. is set to leave the E.U. next Friday with or without a deal. Mrs. May also says she wants to talk with labor leader Jeremy Corbyn to try to find a way forward.

Algerian president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika has given into pressure and resigned, weeks of protest focused on the 82-year-old leader. He was really seen in public since he suffered a stroke six years ago. The country's army chief also push for him to step down.

A controversial law has gone into effect in Brunei punishing anyone found guilty of adultery and gay sex to be stoned to death. The new law was first announced by the sultan of Brunei back in 2014. Officials say the sultan does not expect other people to accept and agree with it, and his country has no plans to back down, despite growing international pressure and outrage.

Well, it was a busy Tuesday for U.S. President Donald Trump. Democrats are ramping up demands for the full release of the Mueller report. Mr. Trump was also pressed on health care and whether he actually plans on closing the border with Mexico. CNN's Jim Acosta has more now from Washington.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: In his latest showdown over the Russian investigation, President Trump ripped in to top House Democrats who were insisting that the administration release the full report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nothing you give them,

whether it's shifty Schiff or Jerry Nadler, who I've know he's been fighting me for half of my life in Manhattan and as very successful, thank you. But Nadler has been fighting me for years and years in Manhattan, to successfully. I will tell you anything we give them will never be enough.

ACOSTA: The president then accused unnamed forces of treason for launching the probe in the first place.

TRUMP: People did things that were very, very bad for our country and very, very illegal, and you could even say treasonous.

ACOSTA: But Mr. Trump was circling the wagons on Obamacare confirming that he is postponing any GOP plans to announce legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act, under cutting aides who said the White House would do just that.

TRUMP: I want to delay myself. I want to put it after the election, because we don't have the House.

ACOSTA: The president previewed the poll back on Twitter, saying that both will be taken right after the 2020 elections when he predicted Republicans will hold the Senate and win back the House. Democrats say that's because the GOP is all repealed, and no replace.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Last night the president tweeted that they will come up with their plan in 2021. Translation, they have no health care plan.

ACOSTA: On immigration the president is amping (ph) up the rhetoric, warning he is prepared to close the border over the recent spike in asylum seekers.

TRUMP: If we don't make a deal with Congress. The borders gonna be closed, 100 percent.

ACOSTA: But the president left himself some wiggle room.

TRUMP: Or we are going to close large sections of the border. Maybe not all of it. Mexico as you know as of yesterday has been starting to apprehend a lot of people at their Southern Border coming in from Honduras, and Guatemala and El Salvador and they are really apprehending thousands of people.

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump conceded shutting down the border could put a big dent in the economy.

TRUMP: Trading is very important, the borders are very important. But security is what is most important. Security is more important to me than trade.

ACOSTA: The White House also busy answering new questions about granting security clearances to top officials like Jared Kushner. After administration whistleblowers came forward to accuse the West Wing of making too many exceptions. JARED KUSHNER, PRESIDENT'S SENIOR ADVISER: Well, I can't comment for

the White House's process, but what I can say is that over the last two years that I've been here, I've been accused of all different types of things and all these things have turned out to be false.

ACOSTA: Democratic critic's counter this are valid questions given that some aides like Kushner had been accused of using private messaging to the government business.

CONG. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: I mean, really? What is next? Putting nuclear codes in Instagram DM's. This is ridiculous.

ACOSTA: The president made mention of an inspector general report that he hopes will reveal how the Russia investigation got started. But the president keeps forgetting, he is the one who fired FBI Director James Comey, which led to the appointment of the special counsel. That's likely to be a big part of the release of the other findings from the Mueller report.

[03:35:07] But as the president told reporters, he will live with whatever the Attorney General William Barr decides, in terms of what to release from that Mueller report. Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: Let's get more on all of this with Siraj Hashmi, he is commentary writer and editor for the Washington Examiner. Thanks for joining us.


CHURCH: So let's start with the health care issue, because President Trump confirmed he is now a postponing GOP legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act, and appears to think, he can go into the 2020 presidential campaign with a vague promise of a health care plan that will be released after the elections.

Well, voters buy that strategy and how much damage could that cause him politically, if he tries to push this line that the Republican Party will be known as the party of great health care, when there is no health care package right now?

HASHMI: That is a very good point right there. How could the party of health care not have a health care plan? You know, the Republican Party, in the last decade, ever since Obamacare was passed in 2010, has been trying and campaigning against Obamacare in trying to repeal it, and they failed multiple times. I mean, they've failed while they had majorities in the House and Senate under President Trump, and with the divided Congress, it's very unlikely that they can get anything done now, at least in the lead up to the 2020 presidential election.

So, Trump kind a going after Obamacare is not going to go over very well, politically speaking. There are many independents who voted for Trump in 2016, who are actually fans of Obamacare and probably want to see it improved. And him going after is probably the biggest gift politically that he can give to Democrats.

CHURCH: Right, of course, the reality is that Republicans do not want to go anywhere near the issue of health care, do they? They know it is politically toxic. So, is this the president way of retreating and can we expect him to eventually avoid the topic altogether when the campaign gets fully underway?

HASHMI: Absolutely, Trumps kind of rebuke or I should say withdrawal of going after health care in this regard, kind a stepping away from it, certainly is a sign politically that he understands at least the polls of the country right now.

Obamacare and health care in general is probably one of the top issues that voters consider when they go into the voting booth. And with respect to even Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, he sort of actually punted the issue over to the White House, saying that he was waiting for them to come up with a health care proposal that could replace Obamacare. So yes, Trump probably got the signal and he got it pretty quick.

CHURCH: Right, and he's got to do it without losing face, right? So, I do want to shift to the Mueller report, because the president says he will never be able to meet the demands of the Democrats when it comes to the release of the findings of the Mueller report. But the Democrats are asking for the release of the entire report, and just a few days ago Mr. Trump said himself that he had no problem with releasing it, saying let them see it. So, what changed?

HASHMI: Well, because obviously changed politically speaking, if we're looking at the Mueller report, and probably individual lines within the Mueller report that maybe Democrats are trying to seize on, to at least hit the Trump administration on and the trump campaign going into the 2020 presidential election.

I'm sure there are some advisors of his that spoke to him and probably told him that the release of the Mueller report, while it is good for transparency, may not help him in the 2020 presidential election. So, you know, ultimately, the Mueller report will not satisfy all of Trump's critics, because the principal findings found him in the clear, while it did not exonerate him of at least obstruction of justice, found there was no collusion with the Russian government or with the internet research agency, and there wasn't any at least sufficient evidence to indict him on obstruction of justice.

CHURCH: Right. So why not release it? I mean, that's the big question, isn't it? And also, the president even went so far as accusing those behind the report of treason. What's that all about? What does he mean?

HASHMI: You know, that is a good question. I'm not 100 percent sure what the president means. I know Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, also sort of repeated that line. I'm not sure if it's treasonous behavior to want the full release of the Mueller report or if it's treasonous behavior to actually push for an investigation into the Trump campaign during the 2016 election and basically allege that there was collusion between his campaign and the Russian government.

I feel like that is what he is focusing on in terms of treasonous behavior, but even alleging that against any person, whether a public official or not, doesn't really need to definition of treason.

[03:40:07] CHURCH: Right. Siraj Hashmi, thank you so much for joining us.

HASHMI: Thank you for having me.

CHURCH: Sharing your analysis, I appreciate it.

Well, former FBI Director James Comey has some reservations about the Mueller report, in an interview with CNN he questioned the Attorney General's decision about whether President Donald Trump had committed obstruction of justice. At the same time, Comey urged faith in Bill Barr when it comes to transparency and making the report public.


JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Bill Barr, our Attorney General deserves the benefit of the doubt. Give him a chance to show us what he feels like he can't show us. I have to imagine that the former Director Mueller wrote the report with an eye towards it being public someday, so I can't imagine that a lot needs to be cut out of it, but let's wait and see. The Attorney General deserves that chance.

I think Republicans are now against transparency, I think of them keeping a writing in public and Democrats are for it, it used to be different about that. Forget that. The American people will get substantial transparency and I'm optimistic about that.


CHURCH: We are learning more about an alleged security breaches at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. A woman was charged Monday, for illegally entering the property last month. Prosecutor says, she had a Chinese passport and a thumb drive with malware. CNN's Jessica Schneider has more.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: She allegedly made her way all the way into the main reception area of the club, all while carrying several electronic devices, one of which allegedly contain malicious malware.

Now federal authorities say this woman Yujing Zhang presented herself at the initial checkpoint at Mar-a-Lago showed her two passports and then gained entry of under the guys that she was the daughter of a Mar-a-Lago club member. She made her way to the club reception area. Where she was then questioned by a receptionist about why she was inside Mar-a-Lago.

While Yujing Zhang mentioned an event that wasn't happening, the receptionist there flag the secret service agent who eventually question her off the property. At the point agents say she became verbally aggressive and claimed that her Chinese friend Charles told her to travel from Shanghai to Palm Beach Florida all an attempt to speak with a member of the president's family about Chinese and American foreign economic relations.

Now Zhang said she had communicated with the so-called Charles over the popular messaging app in China called WeChat. Now, perhaps the most troubling that Zhang was also found several electronic items. Four cellphones, one laptop computer, one external hard drive and one thumb drive. And authorities say the thumb drive contained that malicious malware.

Zhang now faces two felony charges, she had her initial court appearance this week. And will also be back for a detention hearing in Palm Beach on Monday. Important to note though the president was actually not at Mar-a-Lago at the same time this happened. He was actually at the golf club about 10 minutes away, but this incident no doubt raises major concerns about security at Mar-a-Lago. Where the president spends just about every weekend in the winter. Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: North Korea maybe reclusive, but it has a network around the world.


All North Korean embassies are conducting elicit activities around the world. They are laundering money, they are trafficking methamphetamines, counterfeiting hundred dollar bills.


CHURCH: Why Kim Jong-un's regime waited more than a month to speak about a raid at one of its embassies. And in less than a week voters will decide whether Benjamin Netanyahu will remain Prime Minister of Israel, despite his legal troubles. Up next, we are live in Jerusalem monitoring the upcoming elections, back in a moment.


CHURCH: We turn now to Israel where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is going to need strong support from his base to help him win next week's election. Despite the threat of indictment hanging over him. Mr. Netanyahu local party is now polling slightly ahead of rival Benny Gantz and his blue and white party. That's according to a newly released poll by Israel's channel 12 news.

This is the first time a local party has led this poll in weeks. Our Michael Holmes joins us now live from Jerusalem with more on all of this. Good to see you Michael. So Mr. Netanyahu will be relieve, of course, to hear about these new polls, but it's not over yet, and even though Netanyahu can see a part of victory by forming a coalition, this will still be one of the toughest fights of his career. So how nervous would he and his party be at this time do you think? MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Rosemary, it's been, it's

like both the main contenders would be pretty nervous, because they are so close in the polling in head to head terms. You have Mr. Netanyahu rallying his supporters this week saying, they should not be complacent.

He is being busy burnishing his image as the leader around the world stage. Of course, he met with Donald Trump last week, the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro this week, Thursday he is off to Moscow to meet with Vladimir Putin. You mentioned the polls and notoriously unreliable in many ways, but that new one that you mention, does show that for the first time in weeks, Netanyahu's could party ahead 29 seats, former chief of staff Benny Gantz in the blue and white party, 28 seats couldn't be more neck and neck.

You have another poll a few days ago had Gantz ahead with the lead. So, really it couldn't be closer. As we know though in Israel, it is not about the head to head, because neither men is not -- is going to get enough seats to win out right. They need to then negotiate the coalition and there were nearly a dozen smaller parties to pick from. At the moment, I think it's fair to say, Netanyahu, who has the edge in that regard, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Well, Michael let's look at Benny Gantz, what is he offering the electorate that could possibly convince some voters to abandon Netanyahu and just how big a threat is he really?

HOLMES: Yes. Security is always the number one issue in Israel, and Gantz, of course, is former military chief of staff. He has the good security credentials, and that is appealing to a lot of people. He was wooing voters in a town hall in Tel Aviv last night. Hundreds of people were there. We went along as well, and got to ask a question. Gantz is it known for fiery rhetoric or his oratory fuels to say the least, but for him, he was seen as performing pretty well last night in Tel Aviv.

He made the point, many have here saying, Netanyahu, he has been Prime Minister since 2009 and he was four periods before that as well. 13 years, Gantz said, it's simply too long. Netanyahu needs to go, and he only thinks of himself and not the people.

On the issue of coalition building of all important issues, Gantz said, he would work with ultra-orthodox parties to try to form a coalition, but not Arab parties. And Arab parties could get 10 seats also working with the ultra-orthodox is complicated by the fat that fellow blue and white leader, (Inaudible) is anti-ultra-orthodox and that could lead to some interesting internal discussion. He does not have the charisma of Netanyahu, but Benny Gantz is certainly neck and neck. So it's all about the coalition building, Rosy.

[03:50:09] CHURCH: Absolutely, and it's not over until it's over right, Michael? See what happens, we know you will be watching it right to the finish line, coming up to worth nearly 11:00 in the morning there for you in Jerusalem. Thank you as always Michael.

Well there is a string of complaints from North Korea connected to the mysterious raid on its embassy in Madrid. More than a month ago, Kim Jong-un's regime is demanding an investigation amid questions over whether the FBI was involved. CNN's Brian Todd reports.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kim Jong-un's regime is lashing out after more than the month of silence over a mysterious incident at one of its important overseas outpost. In anew statement, the North Korean Foreign Ministry calling the February 22 raid at its embassy in Madrid, a quote brave terrorist attack. And urging Spanish authorities to quote, bring the terrorist and there wire pillars to justice. The North Koreans say they're following rumors that the FBI was involved.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That is something that the FBI would not condone, on the flip side, if they are now on received mode. If someone comes at them and say, we have information that may be important intelligence information. The FBI would certainly, you know, welcome that information.

TODD: Cheollima Civil Defense, the group claiming responsibility for the raid, says it did share information of quote, enormous potential value taken from the operation with the FBI, at the FBI's request. The FBI isn't commenting on any of this.

The North Koreans say the attackers quote extorted the communication apparatus of the embassy. And Spanish officials say they got away with thumb drives, hard drives, computers and phones. Analysts say that could be a goldmine for Western intelligence.

COL. DAVID MAXWELL (RET.), SENIOR FELLOW FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: All Korean embassies are conducting a list of activities around the world. They are laundering money, they are trafficking methamphetamines, counterfeiting 100 dollar bills, counterfeiting drugs, medicines, Viagra and so evidence of those listed activities could be very important.

Cheollima Civil Defense, is a dissident group committed to over throwing Kim Jong-un's regime. The group denies claims by North Korean and Spanish officials that its members beat and tied up staff members at that North Korean embassy.

There is still no word on the whereabouts of the Cheollima operative, who Spanish authorities say led the embassy raid. Adrian Hong Ching, a Mexican living in the U.S. Spanish officials say right after the raid, Hong traveled through Lisbon Portugal then flew to the U.S. and got in contact with the FBI.

Analysts say the lives of Phang (ph) and nine other Cheollima members allegedly involved in the raid are likely in danger. And they say the North Koreans have demonstrated what the killing of Kim Jong-un half- brother at an airport in Malaysia. A hit which the North Koreans deny ordering that their intelligence operatives have the skills to hunt enemies down.

MAXWELL: I think they would pose as their country nationals, or they would recruit proxies as they did in Malaysia, to try to get close to somebody, but their network around the world and of course the North Korean diaspora that exist, they know where defectors are and they keep track of them.

TODD: Apparently none of the many question about this raid are going to be answered publicly by anyone in the U.S. government. Including questions about whether the alleged ringleader Adrian Hong Chang (ph) was in contact with anyone at the FBI or elsewhere in the government, neither the FBI nor the U.S. Intelligence committee are commenting on the raid. And the state department spokesman says, no U.S. government entity was involved in it. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: Time now for a short break just ahead how Indonesia is working to protect an endangered species and one of its most popular tourist spots. Back in a moment.


CHURCH: The skyline of central London is set for change after officials approved plans for a new skyscraper. Take a look at this. It's being dubbed the Tulip. And in just over 305 meters high, it expected to become the second tallest building in Western Europe after the Shad. The new development is set to include a viewing platform, a restaurant and sky bar and a rooftop terrace, and could welcome more than 1 million visitors each year. That's pretty incredible.

Well, Indonesia is shutting down one of its most popular tourist destination in a move to protect endangered Komodo Dragons, home to the largest lizards on earth. The famed Komodo Island plans to close to visitors for a year, that's according to local media. It comes after smugglers were arrested, authorities believe they stole 41 dragon from the island and sold them internationally. Each can fetch about $35,000 or more.


WIDODO, SURABAYA NAURAL RESOURCE AGENCY (trough translator): A more important part of the trafficker's circulation is not only the living specimens, but also its genetics. If a genetic specimen is used for an industry abroad, the suspects can get more than $56 thousands, because the specimens are often used for medicine or medical industry products.


CHURCH: During the islands closure, officials are to work to preserve the protected animal's habitat and increase its population. Komodo Dragons are only found wild in Eastern Indonesia, they have venomous bites, can grow up to three meters long, and they weigh as much as 90 kilos.

We will leave you with that. Thanks for your company. I'm Rosemary Church, remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter @rosemarycnn, I would love to hear from. And our special coverage of Brexit continues next with Max Foster, live from outside of the U.K. parliament. Do stay with us.