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Trump Visits Border and Declares Country Is Full; White House Willing to Fight Demand for Trump Tax Returns to the Supreme Court; Two U.S. Citizens among Those Arrested in Saudi Crackdown; U.K. Prime Minister Seeks Brexit Extension until June 30; Boeing Admits Its Equipment Played a Role in Two Deadly Crashes; Vacationing Family Discovers Hidden Camera in Airbnb. Aired 3-3:30a ET
Aired April 6, 2019 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whether it's asylum or whether it's anything you want, it's illegal immigration, we can't take you anymore.
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CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Turn around; the country is full. That's according to Donald Trump as he takes his tough talk on immigration to the U.S. Mexico border.
Crackdown on dissent: Saudi Arabia arrests seven activists including two U.S. citizens.
And Mick Jagger undergoes successful heart surgery. The 75-year-old rocker says he is now on the mend.
We're live from the CNN Center, I'm Cyril Vanier, welcome to CNN NEWSROOM.
VANIER: President Trump raising eyebrows again. Harsh words on immigration are not new for the president. He was visiting the U.S. Mexico border on Friday. A man whose paternal grandparents and mother emigrated from Europe now says the United States is full. And immigration is not the only thing raising the president's ire. Jim Acosta has the details.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Touting his administration's efforts to secure the border, President Trump lobbed new rhetorical hand grenades on immigration.
TRUMP: Our country is full, our area is full, the sector is full. Can't take anymore. Sorry, can't happen. So, turn around. That's the way it is. I look at some of these asylum people, they're gang members. They're not afraid of anything.
ACOSTA: Aides to the president are building a different wall around Mr. Trump's most closely guarded secret, his tax returns. The president's lawyer sent a letter to the Treasury Department arguing he should not have to turn over those returns to Congress.
TRUMP: I have nothing to say about it. It's -- I got elected. They elected me. Now they keep going. I'm under audit. When you're under audit, you don't do it. But I'm under audit.
ACOSTA: One official said the White House is willing to take the battle over the president's tax returns all the way to the Supreme Court, telling CNN, "This is a hill and people are willing to die on it."
The battle lines are being drawn as the president is in retreat on immigration, backing down from his threat to close the border, though that's not how Mr. Trump sees it.
TRUMP: I never changed my mind at all. I may shut it down at some point. But I would rather do tariffs.
ACOSTA: Despite declaring a national emergency at the border, the president is now giving Mexico one year to crack down on migration into the U.S., as he demands that Congress scraps much of the nation's immigration system that's been in place for decades.
TRUMP: They have to get rid of the whole asylum system, because it doesn't work. And, frankly, we should get rid of judges. You can't have a court case every time somebody steps their foot on our ground.
ACOSTA: Just before his trip to the border, the president made a sudden change to his immigration team, pulling the nomination of Ron Vitiello's as his pick to run ICE, taking aides by surprise.
CNN has learned White House domestic policy adviser and immigration hard-liner Stephen Miller lobbied the president to make the move.
TRUMP: We're going in a little different direction. Ron's a good man. But we're going in a tougher direction.
ACOSTA: The president continues to mislead Americans over what's happening at the border, tweeting: "Heading to the southern border, show a section of the new wall being built."
But so far, only repairs and replacements of border barriers have taken place, as a legal fight looms over the president's plans to divert taxpayer money to build portions of Mr. Trump's wall.
While the Department of Homeland Security mounted this plaque down on the border last year, it's attached to a section of replacement fencing. Just before leaving for his trip, the president defended his needling of Joe Biden over accusations the vice president has engaged in unwanted touching. TRUMP: I think I'm a good messenger and people got a kick out of it.
ACOSTA: Sounding more like a contender, Biden fired right back.
JOSEPH BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it doesn't surprise me. He doesn't have time to do his job. But, look, it's -- everybody knows who Donald Trump is.
ACOSTA: Claiming he doesn't see Biden as a threat, the president is selling his performance on the economy and pointing to the latest unemployment numbers. It finds nearly 200,000 jobs were created last month.
TRUMP: Our country's doing unbelievably well economically. Most of you don't report that, because it doesn't sound good from your perspective. But the country's doing really, really well.
ACOSTA: Both the White House and the president's outside legal team are pushing back on this request from House Democrats for Mr. Trump's tax returns.
The president's attorneys essentially argue this would set a bad legal precedent for future occupants of the Oval Office. As one senior administration official put it to me earlier today, if Democrats can go after the president's tax returns --
ACOSTA: -- Republicans can go after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's tax returns -- Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.
VANIER: Going back to the border, as Jim mentioned there, there's actually a plaque mounted on a portion of replacement fence that the president visited on Friday, calling it Trump's border wall. But the project was authorized under the Obama registration. I asked political analyst Peter Mathews about that.
PETER MATHEWS, CYPRESS COLLEGE: It's quite amazing the lengths this president will go to make a point. It's so ironic that he would choose that fence, to sell the fence as a voting point for his voters. I think that's outrageous that he's not looking at the economic impact of this whole thing.
It's the macroeconomic situation of free trade but not fair trade that's caused people to come up from south of the border, not to mention Central America, where the political wars are going on, where the United States actually intervened; in Nicaragua, with the contras, for example, El Salvador.
A lot of the refugees are coming here for political asylum, have a legitimate reason to come here.
VANIER: -- said on Friday it's a hoax.
MATHEWS: -- Yes, go ahead -- a hoax?
He can call it a hoax but the international law requires that we accept asylum seekers at the border and interview them to see them and get them a judge and let them have a fair hearing to see if they are going to be persecuted back home or not.
There are some concerns people could go back home and get tortured and killed and a lot of that has to do with the United States' involvement in Central American wars and the inequities of the rich and poor, the need for reform.
Now Mexico is a different situation. In Mexico, the free trade agreement did not require we have higher wages and environmental standards under President Clinton. That would've made a big difference. Then though Mexican workers got paid more these 15 or 20 years, they can buy the products that we have and stay in Mexico because they would have a good living.
Instead they have very low wages, Mexico workers are being paid $4-$5 an hour. This new trade agreement might help that a little bit better. But the Mexican workers are coming here because of a lack of jobs and low pay jobs that American corporations benefit from.
VANIER: I want to say, Peter -- I want to say Mexico and immigrants from Mexico are really not a problem anymore from Mr. Trump's perspective. He's focused on Central American migrants because, if I'm not mistaken, there are more Mexicans going back from the U.S. to Mexico than the other way around.
MATHEWS: That's true at this point, that's true.
VANIER: Mr. Trump has flip-flopped on his threats to Mexico, saying that he would shut down the border and now he's backed away from that, touting the tariffs and he appears to believe that's a more effective tool.
Why is he flip flopping like this?
MATHEWS: He doesn't have his mind made up yet which is because he doesn't understand the situation fully. The tariffs will be a total disaster. It'll cause the cost of cars to go way up here and will reduce the trade of $100 billion in cars comes between Mexico and the United States every year.
We have a $600 (sic) trade with them in terms of overall trade in goods and services. This will be a total disaster if he brings tariffs on cars and escalates the war. That's the real problem, it'll become a trade war and both sides will lose. He doesn't know which way to go because he hasn't really studied the situation carefully and listened to measured, objective economists because he has so many extremists on his side like Stephen Miller, other economists like Peter Navarro, who are total protectionists and don't believe in fair trade.
He's got to get his economics together, Cyril, before we can go forward properly with one policy.
VANIER: Well, we don't know where he's going to settle on this because his threats have been changing quite a lot over the last few days. Who knows where he will end up on that. Peter Mathews, thank you so much for joining us today.
MATHEWS: You're welcome, thank you.
VANIER: Libya's interior minister says the battle is underway near the Libyan capital. It's part of an offensive launched on Tripoli by renegade general Khalifa Haftar. He ordered his so-called Libyan national army to clear the city of its militia.
The U.N.-backed government said his forces took the abandoned international airport on the outskirts of Tripoli but it has since been liberated.
There's a rivalry between forces loyal to Haftar -- that's the red part of this map here -- and the U.N.-backed government; that would be the yellow part of the map, as both sides fight for control of the country.
Libya has been plunged in chaos since the 2011 civil war.
In Saudi Arabia now, authorities have launched a new crackdown on dissidents. Sources say the kingdom has detained seven people, including two U.S. citizens, all tied to a prominent women's rights defender. It is the first such sweep since the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year. Michelle Kosinski has the details.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: If you thought the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi officials, would keep the crown prince on his best behavior for a while, it didn't last long.
Now, the kingdom has rounded up a group of activists, including two American citizens. Journalist Salah al-Haidar, physician Badar al- Ibrahim. Seven people in total --
KOSINSKI: -- according to CNN sources, under arrest, all writers and bloggers interested in social reforms and women's rights in this latest Saudi crackdown.
MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: Don't give up, don't despair. We will not. KOSINSKI: Just this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to family members of American hostages, like journalist Austin Tice in Syria and those who have lost loved ones like Otto Warmbier in North Korea.
POMPEO: I want you all to know, I'm not here today to instill in you any false hope. Sometimes our best simply is not enough.
KOSINSKI: The Trump administration has made some energetic efforts to bring Americans home. More than a dozen in the last two years. And some tough cases. Finally freed from North Korea, Venezuela, Egypt. The Coleman family from Pakistan, Pastor Brunson from Turkey. The president clearly revels in these successes.
Yet, still, many nations remain undeterred to arrest more Americans, both friends and foes. Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia, China, Iran. Not long after Trump publicly said the arrest of a Chinese telecoms executive on U.S. charges might help in trade talks with China, as if this was politically motivated, CNN learned there are now multiple American residents believed held in China's vast internment camps.
REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Because Trump is showing disdain and disrespect for the rule of law, that there's not going to be any repercussions if they do the same.
KOSINSKI: Some analysts say, the administration has been inconsistent.
KIRBY: The administration, while doing well in some areas, has not done well in others. And therefore, has a mixed reputation.
KOSINSKI: For example, not yet opening a hostage-only communications channel with Iran. A former administration official, says the U.S. has been insisting that the, at least, five Americans held there need to be released before there can be a discussion of anything else.
A stance some experts feel won't work. And Trump's refusals to hold North Korea's Kim Jong-un responsible for Otto Warmbier's death.
TRUMP: He tells me that he didn't know about it and I will take him at his word.
KOSINSKI: And the crown prince not knowing about Jamal Khashoggi sends a message on how brutal things can be explained away to those at the top. As for Americans detained around the world, it's always tough to know exactly how many there are. Some are never made public. Some are held for a short amount of time.
But top experts tell us that the best estimates they go by are that currently 3,000 Americans are held globally. And about 100 of them are considered hostages -- Michelle Kosinski, CNN, the State Department.
VANIER: Thousands of people in Algeria are demanding radical change. On Friday they gathered in the country 's capital for the seventh straight week to call for reforms. Protesters say it is not enough that the country's president stepped down from his 20-year tenure. They want others to go, a complete sweep.
For now, a caretaker government has been appointed and the country's intelligence chief was reportedly fired.
The U.K. prime minister is again asking Brussels to delay Brexit, this time until the end of June. But the E.U. has rejected that deal before and it might do so again.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Damage is a risk of turning a property into a business and it certainly doesn't negate the responsibility to firstly let people know that they are being surveiled.
VANIER (voice-over): Also coming up, the shock of a vacation rental and uncovering a hidden camera, transmitting a live video signal. Stay with us.
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VANIER: A no deal Brexit now seems more likely than ever. Less than a week remains to work out a solution and the cross-party talks in London are going nowhere. British prime minister Theresa May is again trying to buy more time. It may be her only option to avoid crashing out on April 12th.
She has asked the European Council to give her until the end of June to get an agreement through Parliament. But there's already resistance among the European Union members. The council is to meet Wednesday to consider it.
Adding another wrinkle to the Brexit chaos is the upcoming European Parliament election in May. The U.K. could be forced to participate, even though it doesn't want to. CNN's Hadas Gold has the latest from London.
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Prime Minister Theresa May is asking for another extension to that Brexit deadline. She has written a letter to European Council president Donald Tusk asking for the new deadline date to be June 30th.
This is the second time she's asked for that June 30th date and the first time it was rejected. Instead she was given this April 12th deadline, which is just a week away. And so far, we have no deal.
In that letter to Donald Tusk Theresa May also acknowledged that this new deadline that she is requesting means that the U.K. will likely have to send candidates to sit in those European parliamentary elections set to take place in May.
Meanwhile in London, deputies for both Theresa May and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn are still engaged in talks, trying to find some cross-party consensus on some sort of Brexit deal that could finally win the majority votes in Parliament, which Theresa May has so far failed to do for her own withdrawal agreement now three times.
There's also a question of what sort of compromise they can find because both sides are somewhat far away on certain red line issues, including a customs union and a possible second referendum.
Things don't seem to be looking good, though, for those talks because, on Friday afternoon, the Labour Party came out with a new statement, saying, "We are disappointed that the government has not offered real change or compromise. We urge the prime minister to come forward with genuine changes to her deal in an effort to find an alternative that can win support in Parliament and bring the country together."
And then, of course, there is the other side to this complicated table dance. The European Union and what they will say to that extension and to whatever deal Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May can come up with -- Hadas Gold, CNN, London.
VANIER: Boeing has cut the production of its 737 jets, most of them the grounded 737 MAX. Instead of making 52 airplanes a month, they will now make 42. Meanwhile, Ethiopian Airlines says it has not decided whether to cancel its order of 737 MAX planes.
That airline operated one of the two doomed flights that caused the entire fleet to be grounded. Boeing's CEO has acknowledged the plane's anti-stall software played a role in those two crashes.
But that's not the only cause of concern on the 737 MAX jets. "The Washington Post" is reporting that regulators are ordering Boeing to fixed a second software problem. Tom Foreman has the details.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A source inside Boeing says this latest matter is relatively minor although it deals an with important part of the plane, the flaps, which you can see highlighted in red here on our model. But even if by minor he means easy to fix, there's really nothing that is minor in this matter of this airline right now or this style of airplane because there's so much scrutiny on it, particularly on what's called the MCAS system.
There are sensors on this plane that show the angle of the airplane in the air. They're right up front. The MCAS system is a bit of software that basically takes a reading from these. And if the plane would be nosing too far up into the air where it might stall, this computer takes over and it brings the plane back to a down to level. It's a safety measure.
But in the Lion Air crash and now in the Ethiopian crash as well, the indications are that there was a false reading coming from one of the sensors, feeding into the computer, telling it, the computer, that the plane was angled up when it was not.
And so the computer took over and started pushing the plane down further, right toward the ground and as the crew started fighting with that plane, the computer trying to --
FOREMAN: -- take control back, the computer kept trying to fight them back, too, and the plane ends up just like that, going through the air.
Ultimately, the preliminary report from Ethiopia says the plane went into the ground at about a 40-degree angle going close to 600 miles an hour.
So the challenge for Boeing?
They now have to convince an awful lot of people that they have completely brought all of these problems under control -- the airlines, the pilots and the flying public -- because a lot of people may not understand avionics. They do understand the loss of hundreds of lives in a terrifying pair of accidents.
And until Boeing convinces people that it absolutely cannot happen again, these planes will probably stay parked.
VANIER: Three weeks after cyclone Idai slammed into southern Africa, the situation there is so desperate. At least 843 storm related deaths have been reported from Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.
USAID say nearly 2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Mozambique alone and a cholera outbreak is spreading rapidly. CNN anchor Becky Anderson traveled to Mozambique after the storm to show us the devastation.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: When cyclone Idai made land on March the 14th, it was the coastal city of Beira which took the brunt of the
storm and the flooding that followed has decimated huge tracts of land in Mozambique, in Zimbabwe and in Malawi.
When we arrived 11-12 days after the cyclone, it was only becoming clear just how destructive this storm had been. The water levels have dropped so quickly now, that this is actually becoming a much more dangerous trip.
You could see just tracts of muddy, brown water. It's one of the most impoverished areas in the world.
How were these hundreds of thousands of people across these areas going to cope?
They don't contribute anything like the developed world to issues of climate change. And yet they bear the brunt of it.
The water, is upwards of eight meters high. So water would have been well up towards the top of these trees.
WFP has set up a distribution center. This was in a village which was on higher ground. When we arrived, there were thousands of people, from small children to grandmothers and grandfathers, who were desperate. They were absorbing people from outlying areas who had lost everything.
Now in this village, the school had gone, houses were wrecked. They had very little food and they needed water.
We were shown by one old lady the crop that had survived the cyclone, which was a lonely piece of corn. That was it.
How was she going to feed her family?
If we are to believe the climate change scientists, it is likely that areas like Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe will see more extreme weather events going forward, not fewer.
These communities need help to become more resilient. There are people who get very little help on a regular basis, as long as they have survived this initial phase of cyclone Idai, they will survive. You can see that in their eyes. They need an awful lot of help.
VANIER: Busted: a family from New Zealand is describing the shocked feeling they had when they discovered a hidden camera in the Airbnb that they rented. It happened just after the Barker family checked in to the rental in Cork, Ireland.
When high-tech savvy dad scanned for the wi-fi network, he found a camera, actually livestreaming video from the living room. CNN's Isa Soares asked the mom, Nealie Barker, what she thought.
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NEALIE BARKER, AIRBNB TOURIST: It was one of those sort of adrenaline rush moments, he looked at me across the table and then I could see him -- I could see that he had seen something shocking on his mobile phone. (INAUDIBLE) and I peered over to have a look and I saw essentially myself looking at his mobile phone at the kitchen table. So it was such a shock.
ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And for your children -- we're looking at a photo there --
SOARES: -- of the family.
How did they take to it?
BARKER: Different reactions. They're --
BARKER: -- ages but it's safe to say that a couple of them were actually really worried and afraid. The particular house had quite a sophisticated IT system and he could also exit the front door remotely and open it and I guess the worst-case scenario sort of things went straight to their minds and they were quite worried.
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VANIER: Airbnb permanently banned the rentals' hosts as you would expect, as you would hope. But the family says the company took the action only after the public was alerted on Facebook and by the media.
The health scare that sidelined Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones is over. As CNN's Polo Sandoval reports, word of a successful treatment came Friday.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A representative for the Rolling Stones frontman confirms that Mick Jagger is, quote, "doing very well" and is expected to make a full recovery.
On Thursday, the 75-year old underwent heart surgery; this coming after a source close to the band told CNN that Jagger would be treated to replace a valve in his heart. A representative for the performer, however, declining to elaborate more. The recovering Jagger, however, taking to Twitter on Friday with a message of appreciation for not just his fans but also his medical staff, tweeting, quote, "Thank you, everyone, for your messages of support."
He write, "I'm feeling much better now and on the mend. And also a huge thank you to all the hospital staff for doing a superb job."
A reminder about a week ago Jagger also took to Twitter, apologizing, saying that he was devastated having to announce that he would have to push back his scheduled tour to parts of North America and Canada.
Jagger said, however, that he will work as hard as he can to get back on stage as soon as possible.
Now based on what we are hearing from his representatives, he said devastation could be short-lived, as he could be rocking on the stage again very soon -- Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.
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VANIER (voice-over): Banjo rift, check; booming bass, also check.
So what this?
This is "Old Town Road" the name of the song.
Is that a country song or is it rap?
It's made by a hip-hop singer but that's by the by. Many are debating how it should be classified, if it should be classified at all. Last week Billboard pulled it from its country charts. And some are actually accusing them of racism since it is performed by the black artist, Lil Nas X.
But Billboard says the song doesn't, quote, "embrace enough elements of today's country music."
Well now, country star Billy Ray Cyrus is endorsing it as country -- and he should know what he's talking about. He says it was obvious to him as soon as he heard it.
He recently joined Lil Nas record a remix.
VANIER: And that remix topped the iTunes sales chart on Friday. So far Billboard hasn't said if they will put the song back on their country charts.
In an earlier show we asked you, the viewers, to weigh in on Twitter. Right now, our little snap minipoll -- and, granted, it is small sample size -- stands at 56 percent in favor of country, 56 percent of people believe it's country, 24 percent for rap. I guess one of the quotes on my Twitter feed sums it up best.
Hell of a country. Billboard is messed up.
That's the gist of it.
All right, I bid you farewell, thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I will be back with the headlines in just a moment.