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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; Forces of Renegade Libyan General Advance on Tripoli; U.K. Prime Minister Seeks Brexit Extension until June 30; Boeing Admits Its Equipment Played a Role in Two Deadly Crashes; 2020 Candidates Address Race, Violence, Economy And Reparations As They Court Black Voters; Final Polls Released before Tuesday's Israeli Vote; Ocasio-Cortez Makes History Assembling IKEA Furniture. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired April 6, 2019 - 05:00   ET





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.


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): U.S. president Trump delivered a tough new message to migrants, as he visits the southern border with Mexico.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Also, escalating tensions in Libya. That country's most powerful general is advancing towards Tripoli to overthrow a U.N.-backed government.

ALLEN (voice-over): Also ahead, mastering the art of social media. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is making history as a member of Congress.

HOWELL (voice-over): Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. NEWSROOM starts right now.


HOWELL: President Trump raising eyebrows yet again on the issue of migrants crossing into the United States.

ALLEN: Harsh words on immigration are not new for this president but while visiting the U.S. southern border Friday, the man whose paternal grandparents and mother emigrated from Europe, now says the United States is full. And, he says, there's no need for a summit with the presidents of

Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, saying they understand why he cut aid to what's called the Northern Triangle countries.

ALLEN: And immigration is not the only thing raising the president's ire. Our Jim Acosta has all of the details for you.


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.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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, Republicans can go after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's tax returns -- Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.


ALLEN: Despite the president's tough talk on immigration, migrants still head toward the U.S. southern border as they have for decades. The pace has slowed in recent years although there's been a recent spike in the numbers.

HOWELL: And businesses and the government of Mexico are still trying to figure out what the president's ever-changing positions mean for them. After all, Mexico is the U.S.' third biggest trading partner. Our Paula Newton has that part of the story from Mexico City. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Mexico, of course, they are relieved that the border won't be closed today but they are taking Donald Trump's threats seriously and, of course, that includes slapping that 25 percent tariff on automobiles.

Now Trump was very clear, the president saying that, look, he thought Mexico had been doing a better job in the last few days. We understand from officials here that they have been in very close collaboration with the Trump administration over the last few days.

But they are not saying that, in fact, they changed their policy here at all, only that they are highlighting what they are doing in terms of apprehensions of those Central American migrants at the southern border.

Listen now to the president of Mexico as he tries to calm down the situation. Take a listen.


ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO (through translator): The only thing that I can say is that we have a good relationship. There are no confrontations with the U.S. government. We are financially stable. This is what the data shows.


NEWTON: Mexico will be grappling with this for months to come, even if they have a year. And the reason is, as one Mexican commentator put it, the president has basically shot a missile into the USMCA, the free trade agreement between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

And this government here in Mexico, a very new government, will be trying to make sure that what they call their more humanitarian approach to immigration will work but also will not undermine their own economy -- Paula Newton, CNN, Mexico City.


HOWELL: Let's talk about this now with Natasha Lindstaedt from Colchester, England.

Good to have you. Sorry, I've got a little cold so let's get past that and get to the question here, the president's latest rhetoric on the border. He did not visit the centers where families or children are being held.

Instead, Mr. Trump took the opportunity to focus on his message that asylum seekers are perpetrating a hoax on America, saying the country is full, which contradicts, Natasha, a longstanding tradition.

NATASHA LINDSTAEDT, UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX: Yes, the country is not called the United States it's geographically enormous and has always been known as a big part of its identity as a country of immigrants. But he continues to focus to his base or to target his base and talk

about all this unwanted immigration and these fears that the country's demographics are rapidly changing and that he wants to stop asylum seeking.

But these are individuals that are leaving incredibly violent situations and homicide rates in countries like Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador are incredibly high. There's very high levels of insecurity. That's what causing people to leave and seek asylum, they're not doing it because they're gang members or they want to come to the U.S. and engage in some sort of acts of violence.

They're coming because they themselves are escaping violence. That's the reason why they're asylum seeking, why countries accept this, because it's a humanitarian issue.

HOWELL: And Trump seems adamant on changing the immigration law and building the wall that he wants. We now know from California's attorney general that 20 states have filed a preliminary injunction to challenge Mr. Trump's national emergency for funding of the wall.

What are the chances this will delay or overturn the president's declaration of a national emergency?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, I think with certainty there's just going to be delays on this because there's so many legal battles concerning the building of the wall. The declaration of a national emergency. And he himself seemed to be aware of this.

The Democrats just completely disagreeing with him, about the way to deal with immigration with Mexico. And they don't want more borders. They don't want a national emergency.

I mean, the fact that they reassigned already hundreds of officers has caused all kinds of delays and slowdowns at the border. And this is something that is sort of ongoing. And if they are to shut down ports and continue to have --


LINDSTAEDT: -- more and more delays, this causes economic consequences for the U.S. When a port near San Diego bordered with Mexico was shut down for five hours, it cost American businesses $5.3 million.

So the solution from the Democrats' point of view is not to erect more borders, not to have a national emergency, not to have more of a slowdown but to understand, as you mentioned, that Mexico is the third biggest trading partner with the U.S. and there are all kinds of business interests and trading interests that are vital to the U.S. economy and that they need to have more of a comprehensive immigration reform policy rather than declaring a national emergency.

HOWELL: And the other big topic is Mr. Trump and his tax returns, which he claims are under audit. He claims the law is 100 percent on his side and that he would take it to the Supreme Court. How does this play into 2020, the presidential election, just around

the corner?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, for the Republicans or Trump supporters in general, they don't care about his tax returns. This does not matter to them one bit. Whatever is revealed won't matter to them.

This is more important to Democrats, who believe that there are many suspicious reasons why he's hiding his tax returns. They want to look into what his financial dealings are possibly with countries like Russia, what loans he's taken out, whether or not his tax cuts benefited him financially with a mix of business and politics taking place, whether or not he's not paying taxes enough. Or -- and I think this would be personally most upsetting to Trump -- whether or not it revealed that he really isn't as rich as he says he is.

This is more of a polarizing issue. The Republicans and his supporters, they don't really care about his tax returns. The Democrats really care more about the (INAUDIBLE) subpoena (INAUDIBLE).

HOWELL: So really just depends upon what side of the political divide you land on. Natasha Lindstaedt, again, thank you for your time.

LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me.

ALLEN: Libya is spiraling into more chaos as renegade general Khalifa Haftar leads an offensive toward the capital of Tripoli. The interior minister said a battle is underway on the outskirts of the city. The U.N.-backed Libyan government says Haftar's forces took the abandoned international airport but it has since been liberated.

HOWELL: Libya has faced power struggles since its 2007 civil war. Warring militia have prevented the government from taking control.

ALLEN: Let's go now live to London, CNN producer Salma Abdelaziz is on this story.

What is the latest, what are you learning?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: Let's go through how we got to this point. General Khalifa Haftar, a man who has emerged as the strongman of Libya's east, he controls large swaths of that part of the country.

A few days ago in an audio message, he called on his men to take control of the capital. They did exactly that. They marched a multifront offensive on the city, still very much on the outskirts of that city.

However, at the time the U.N. secretary-general Antonio Guterres was in Tripoli. He began scrambling to try to stop this. He rushed to the east of the country to meet Haftar. Take a listen to what he said from Benghazi.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES: I still hope it would be possible to avoid a bloody confrontation in and around Tripoli. And United Nations remain available to facilitate any political solution able to unify the Libyan institutions. And whatever happens, the U.N. will remain committed.

And I will remain committed to support the Libyan people. Libyans deserve peace, security, prosperity and respect of their human rights.


ABDELAZIZ: So far, his calls for peace have fallen on deaf ears. The government of national court, the government in Tripoli, backed by the international community, has formed a coalition of other militias to try to slow his advances outside of the capital clashes.

Now others may tell you that Haftar is simply posturing, grandstanding, trying to get himself a bigger slice of the pie when it comes to U.N. talks or a future peace settlement for the country. But even if it is, it still has residents in Tripoli very much worried.

We know that families are stocking up on food, on fuel, causing long lines at gas stations. It's simply terrifying for everyone who might preparing for what could be a long and bloody conflict.

ALLEN: Did the U.N. secretary-general state what the next step might be to help on behalf of the U.N. support there?

ABDELAZIZ: Well, the U.N. secretary-general has a very difficult task, Natalie.


ABDELAZIZ: This country has been in a state of chaos since the end of the civil war in 2011, which overthrew Moammar Gadhafi. The U.N. has been constantly trying to find some political solution and, so far, it hasn't.

In many ways, this is a result of the failure of finding a political solution that you're now seeing Haftar trying to march on the capital. He's been talking about this for two years and now we're seeing him actually try and do it.

And it's an extremely confusing situation on the ground. You have all these various militias with different alliances. So for anyone to try to sort through this, especially at such a late stage, will be difficult, Natalie.

ALLEN: And the citizens caught in the middle there. Salma Abdelaziz, we know you will continue to watch it. Thank you.

HOWELL: The U.K. prime minister is again asking Brussels to delay Brexit, this time to the end of June. But the E.U. has rejected that date before and it might do it again.

ALLEN: Also ahead, Boeing slows production of its planes as it works to get the grounded 737 MAX jets back in the air. We'll have the latest from the company, ahead here. (MUSIC PLAYING)



ALLEN: We continue to follow the latest developments in Venezuela's power struggle.

HOWELL: The United States is once again saying that a military option in Venezuela is still on the table. A senior administration official also said Friday that exit options for the embattled president, Nicolas Maduro, are dwindling. And the U.S. vice president has announced new sanctions on that troubled country; this time, the U.S. is targeting companies that transport Venezuelan oil to Cuba.

ALLEN: And dueling protesters are once again expected on the streets of Caracas this weekend. National assembly leader Juan Guaido says he will have more details on a plan to force Mr. Maduro to resign. Tensions in Venezuela are still high, as the country continues to recover from recurring blackouts.

HOWELL: Now to a no deal Brexit, seems more likely than ever. Less than a week remains to work out a solution. And cross-party talks are going nowhere at this point, though government has expressed some optimism.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The conversations to delay the party are continuing. They were continuing last night. We're expecting to exchange some more texts with Labour Party today. So this is an ongoing process and I'm optimistic we will reach --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- some form of agreement later.


ALLEN: While this is happening in London, British prime minister Theresa May is trying to buy more time from Brussels. Now she's asking until the end of June to get an agreement through Parliament. The European Council meets Wednesday to discuss that but already there is resistance among E.U. members.

Adding another wrinkle to the Brexit chaos, the U.K. could be forced to participate in the European Parliament election in May.

HOWELL: And neither London nor Brussels is really happy about that possibility. Our Hadas Gold has that story 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.


HOWELL: Hadas, thank you.

At least some members of the European Council appear resigned to a no deal on April 12th and they're ready to let it happen but there are consequences.

First, there will be no transition period. Current relationships would simply end with nothing to take their place.

ALLEN: Yes, folks that are watching closely say that would be a disaster for the U.K. Freedom of movement in and out of the U.K. would suddenly become restricted. Britons traveling to Europe could face unexpected delays at borders they now cross freely. And 1 million U.K. citizens living in Europe may find their circumstances affected.

HOWELL: Trade would immediately be thrown into turmoil. The U.K. would suddenly come under World Trade Organization rules. And British consumers could see rising prices as tariffs are imposed on imports. Food and medicine shortages are also a concern there.

And the U.K.'s manufacturing sector, it could grind to a halt if critical parts and supplies are held up at the border.

ALLEN: That gives me an idea of what they're up against.

HOWELL: A lot.

ALLEN: All right. Boeing has cut the production of its 737 jets, most of them the grounded 737 MAX. Instead of making 52 airplanes a month, it will make 42. Meanwhile, Ethiopian Airlines said it's not decided whether to cancel its order for the 737 MAX. The airline operated one of two planes that crashed, causing the entire fleet to be grounded.

HOWELL: Boeing's CEO has acknowledged that the plane's anti-stall software played a role in the crashes but that's not the only cause of concern on the 737 MAX jets.

"The Washington Post" reports that regulators are ordering Boeing to fix a second software problem. Our Tom Foreman explains.


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 --


FOREMAN: -- 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 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.


ALLEN: 2020 presidential candidates making their case to a very, very important demographic. We'll have that story coming up here.

HOWELL: Plus, Joe Biden makes his first public appearance since being accused of inappropriate conduct. Hear his response when asked if he owed people an apology.




HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories.



HOWELL: Calexico, California, is a border town east of San Diego and that's where Mr. Trump visited Friday.

ALLEN: Our Anderson Cooper spoke to Calexico's former mayor to get her thoughts on the president's rhetoric and about living on the border.


MARITZA HURTADO, FORMER CALEXICO MAYOR: I just think that there has to be a very, very comprehensive conversation about the true, true reasons of why we're in the position that we're in now.

I think that's what we tried to do today is to let him know that he needs to listen. He needs to listen to these communities of the true effects of what it is to live on border -- in a border like this.

We have other issues. We have the New River that's right behind me, that is the most polluted river in all the United States. It carries so many different causes of cancer and other illnesses. We have the Salton Sea that causes so much asthma in this area and he's not looking at that. And so we wanted to make sure to send him that message that, number one, we're united as one voice with our neighbors in Mexicali, Mexico, as one region and that we also want him to take a look at what we care about, the issues that are very important to us.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The notion of the border closing, which really means ports of entry being shutdown, now it's -- the president said, "Oh, we'll look at that in a year depending on how Mexico acts." If it was to shutdown, what impact would that have on Calexico?

HURTADO: I can tell you that ever since this started our community has been in panic, our schools, our businesses, the agricultural industry. And so when the -- the hearts and minds of the people of our community are being -- it feels it's being played with. We don't take that lightly.

This is our lives. We haven't heard anyone. We're law abiding citizens. And as a very friendly city, we feel that we need to have a discussion. And if you want to start with Calexico, let's start Calexico now.

COOPER: All right.

HURTADO: It's time to actually pay attention to us.


HOWELL: There were some protests around the president's visit to Calexico, including the appearance by the so-called Trump Baby blimp. Demonstrators called on the president to stop his threats to close the border and stressed that they may be two nations but they are one community.

ALLEN: The Democratic presidential candidates have been flooding a conference room in New York.

HOWELL: Twelve of the 2020 hopefuls made it a priority to stop at Al Sharpton's National Action Network annual convention for a chance to stand out to a key demographic. Our MJ Lee has this report.



UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): No peace.

SHARPTON: No justice --

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): No peace.

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A string of 2020 presidential candidates today, courting a key Democratic voting bloc.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will not back down. LEE: Making their case at the National Action Network conference to the African-American community, a powerful constituency crucial to the outcome of the Democratic primary. Just today, seven presidential hopefuls addressing the crowd, following five others earlier in the week, all focused on key issues, like racial inequality and criminal justice reform.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's talk about what justice looks like. It looks like leaders having the courage to understand we need reasonable gun safety laws in this country, including universal background checks and a renewal of the assault weapons ban.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The boldest policies we're talking about right now can't just be about sentiment or about acknowledging the past. They need to be about actually balancing the economic scales and confronting the bias that persists right now in the present.

LEE: Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, for the first time, calling for eliminating the Senate filibuster, saying the tradition has been used to block racial progress.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For generations, the filibuster was used as a tool to block progress on racial justice. And in recent years, it's been used by the far right as a tool to block progress on everything. We should get rid of the filibuster.

LEE: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders rallying the audience by slamming President Trump.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It gives me no pleasure to tell you that we have a president today who is a racist, who is a sexist, who is a homophobe, --


SANDERS: -- who is a xenophobe and who is a religious bigot.

LEE: South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg forced to explain his controversial comments from the past that all lives matter.

MAYOR PETER BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I did not understand at that time was that that phrase, just early into -- especially 2015 was coming to be viewed as a sort of counter slogan to Black Lives Matter. Since learning about how that phrase was being used to push back on that activism, I've stopped using it in that context.

LEE: Host Al Sharpton asking every candidate whether they would sign a bill that would create a commission to study the issue of reparations. The overwhelming response from the 2020 contenders --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 100 percent, of course. JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I support Congresswoman Jackson Lee's H.R. 40.



WARREN: I already support that bill. Go H.R. 40.

HARRIS: And I will sign that bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm going to pass this. Come on, now.

LEE: The conference, an important campaign stop for Democrats, hoping to court African-Americans, who make up about 20 percent of Democratic voters.

Now this conference is just one more reminder that all of the Democratic candidates are doing everything they can to set themselves apart in a field that's increasingly growing -- MJ Lee, CNN, New York.


HOWELL: MJ, thank you.

The former vice president Joe Biden is apologizing for his behavior after allegations that he invaded women's personal space.

ALLEN: Mr. Biden told reporters he is sorry he didn't understand how his actions made others feel. But as CNN's Arlette Saenz reports, the former vice president also made light of the situation.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, a partial apology from Joe Biden.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm sorry I didn't understand. I'm not sorry for any of my intentions. I'm not sorry for anything that I have ever done. I never have been disrespectful intentionally to a man or a woman.

SAENZ: The former Vice President still grappling with how to respond to claims he made women feel uncomfortable in their interactions and acknowledging more people could come forward.

BIDEN: I wouldn't be surprised. But I've had hundreds and hundreds of people contact me and -- who I don't know and, you know, say the exact opposite.


SAENZ: As he took the stage at his first public appearance since the allegations, Biden gave out a hug and made this joke.

BIDEN: I had permission to hug Lonnie. SAENZ: And then did it a second time after calling a group of children up to the stage.

BIDEN: By the way, he gave me permission to touch them.

SAENZ: Shortly after, Biden scrambled into cleanup mode, telling reporters he wasn't making light of people's feelings.

BIDEN: I hope it wasn't taken that way.

SAENZ: Biden appearing to inch closer to that 2020 bid, hinting it's not a matter of if but when.

BIDEN: I'm told by the lawyers that I've got to be careful what I say so that I don't start a clock ticking and change my status.

Everybody else today, then I get a shot and then off to the races.

SAENZ: With a large and historically diverse field of candidates taking shape, Biden shared how he would brand himself.

BIDEN: I'm an Obama-Biden democrat, man. And I'm proud of it.

SAENZ: Biden has already drawn the attention of President Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: No, I don't see Joe Biden as a threat, no. I don't see him as a threat. I think he's only a threat to himself.

SAENZ: He is hitting back.

BIDEN: He hasn't had time to do his job. But, look, it's -- everybody knows who Donald Trump is.

SAENZ: With his White House run just around the corner, Biden says, these allegations make it clear something has to be different.

BIDEN: I think it's going to have to change some of how I campaign. It's not a bad thing. It's a new thing. It's important.

SAENZ: And Lucy Flores, the first woman who alleged Biden made her feel uncomfortable, tweeted out a statement in response to Biden's comments saying it's clear he hasn't reflected enough. We'll see if Biden offers any other responses as he gets closer to that 2020 run. The former vice president told me he'll be announcing his decision very soon -- Arlette Saenz, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: Israel's election is later this week. And the prime minister of that country is trying to hang on to his party seats, as he faces a corruption scandal. More on that, ahead.




ALLEN: Israel holds a national election Tuesday and the final polls before the critical vote are out. You can see that prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's main rival, Benny Gantz, has a slight edge.

HOWELL: His Blue and White party is projected to win more seats than the prime minister's Likud. But here's the catch, as usual Israel's next leader will likely have to form a coalition and Mr. Netanyahu has the upper hand there. Oren Liebermann is following the story in Jerusalem.

Oren, the latest poll numbers show a tight race.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They do. The parties are quite close, the Blue and White Party led by former chief of staff Benny Gantz and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party.

The polls differ a little bit and part of that is simply the difficulty of predicting the Israeli elections, these polls are notoriously off. And there are surprise results in every election going back probably more than a decade at this point.

And yet this by law is the final chance where we have a look at where the race stands heading into the final weekend and the last few days of campaigning. In these polls, you see that Benny Gantz, the rival, has a couple of seats' lead, as much as 1-5 seats.

He is behind in one of the polls but again that speaks to how hard these are to predict. The next chance we'll have to look at election results is on Election Night. Exit polls come out at 10:00 pm, when all the polling stations have closed.

Crucially, George, you pointed out that Netanyahu has the advantage when it comes to forming a coalition and that's even more important than simply walking away on Election Night with the biggest parties. There are a number of right-wing and a couple of center-right parties expected to be natural coalition partners for Netanyahu and Netanyahu knows this and so does Gantz.

He'll either have to lure some of them away or hope they don't get enough seats to make it into the Knesset if he has a real shot of being Israel's next prime minister.

HOWELL: You point out a right wing. Oren, if you could explain, what will that coalition look like for Benjamin Netanyahu, in order to maintain that control?

LIEBERMANN: The coalition he has right now has probably described itself as the most right wing coalition in Israel's 70-year or so history. The next coalition, if Netanyahu goes the way he's promising with another rightwing coalition, would be even more to the right, including some far right parties that have extreme right members inside of that. [05:45:00]

LIEBERMANN: Those parties could demand more of Netanyahu. They could demand a harder line on Gaza. They could demand annexation. They could try to demand more steps against the Palestinians, especially with the coverage of the Trump administration that has come out as so pro-Israel and apparently blatantly pro-Netanyahu.

That would be a challenge for Netanyahu. It would move his coalition farther to the right; they could make demands of him that may be difficult to meet, just given international consensus and international positions when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But that's the way he's campaigning and that's the way it looks like he wants to form his coalition, with all of the right wing parties and none of the center or left parties.

HOWELL: Oren Liebermann on the story, thank you.

ALLEN: Saudi Arabia has launched a new crackdown on activists. Sources tell CNN the kingdom has detained seven people, including two U.S. citizens.

HOWELL: One of the detained Americans is the son of a prominent women's rights defender. Both here are pictured. CNN's Michelle Kosinski has this.


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 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.


ALLEN: A U.S. politician makes history with an unusual and attention-grabbing live feed on Instagram. That's next.






HOWELL: Welcome back. This story is about one of the most buzzworthy members of the U.S.

Congress, assembling IKEA furniture live on Instagram.

ALLEN: Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We've seen her in press conferences...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the great Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

MOOS (voice-over): -- in congressional hearings and on the cover of "Time" magazine but this time...

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: Oh, shoot. Five-second rule.

Hey, everyone.

MOOS (voice-over): -- she was munching popcorn, sipping white wine and assembling furniture on Instagram Live.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: All right, what am I doing here?

MOOS: Breaking news: an historic first, this appears to be the first time a member of Congress is taking questions from the electorate while assembling IKEA furniture.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: This is what I'm making, OK.

MOOS (voice-over): AOC moved into her Washington apartment three months ago but has been too busy to furnish it.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: (INAUDIBLE) this room, boom, I did it.

MOOS (voice-over): She answered questions on topics ranging from the mundane...

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I put ground pepper over my popcorn.

MOOS (voice-over): -- to the big picture, the need for taking bold stands on issues like climate change.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: As long as I can sleep at night, that's all I care about.

MOOS (voice-over): As for what she's sleeping on, it's a mattress on the floor.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Under the mattress is like the plastic wrap that the mattress came in, I'm just doing all the secrets right now.

MOOS (voice-over): Her fans loved it.

"AOC railing against oil company profits and climate change, while assembling furniture on Instagram Live is the Millennial representation I crave."

When the desk assembly --


MOOS (voice-over): -- required a screwdriver she didn't have, she polled those watching on whether to plunge ahead without it. They voted yes.

Eat your heart out, Beto O'Rourke.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), TEXAS, SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, so I'm here at the dentist.

MOOS (voice-over): By the time AOC signed off, she had a leg up on Instagram, actually, two legs -- Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


ALLEN: She's versatile, I'll give her that.

HOWELL: Authentic, yes.

ALLEN: All right, Mick Jagger could soon be headed back to the concert stage.


ALLEN (voice-over): The Rolling Stones frontman is recovering -- of course he is, he's Mick Jagger -- after having a successful heart valve replacement operation.

HOWELL (voice-over): The representative for Jagger said he's expected to make a full recovery. The band had to postpone its North America tour that was supposed to begin later this month.

After Friday's procedure, Jagger tweeted this, "I'm feeling much better now and on the mend. And also a huge thank you to all of the hospital staff for doing a super job."

Natalie, I think it's fair to say he will be --

ALLEN: -- back in business.

HOWELL: -- taking care of business.


ALLEN: Gah, I blanked.

Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. We better be done with business here. I'm running out of steam. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. For our viewers in the United States, "NEW DAY" is next. For viewers around the world, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" is ahead. Have a good day.