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DHS Secretary Forced out of Trump's Cabinet; Mulvaney: Dems Will Never Get Trump Tax Returns; Netanyahu Vows to Annex West Bank Settlements; American Woman Kidnapped in Uganda Rescued; Inside Sudan's Brutal Crackdown on Anti-Government Protests; Corby: We're Determined to Avoid Crashing Out of E.U.; Behind the Music of 'Game of Thrones'. Aired 12p-1a ET

Aired April 8, 2019 - 00:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Nielsen is out: a key member of Trump's cabinet has resigned and we have the latest for you.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): An American tourist rescued: this woman was held hostage for days until found in Congo but she is back safe in Uganda today. We will have the details on that.

ALLEN (voice-over): And it is one of the most recognizable theme songs in pop culture history. We will hear from the man responsible for creating it.

VANIER (voice-over): Thank you for joining us. We are live in the CNN Center, I'm Cyril Vanier.

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


VANIER: So another Trump administration official is out of a job as the president ramps up his battle over border security. U.S. Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned on Sunday. The source says she did not step down willingly. Nielsen was the face of White House immigration policies, including the controversial separation of migrant children from their parents.

ALLEN: Just last week she visited the border with the president. He announced her departure on Twitter Sunday. She will stay on until Wednesday to help the transition for her replacement.

This comes just days after the president made decisions signaling an even tougher stance on immigration.

VANIER: They were moves that took Nielsen by surprise. Boris Sanchez has the details on that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: According to a source close to Kirstjen Nielsen, she did not resign willingly. The source indicates that Nielsen was not expecting to resign when she walked into this Sunday meeting at the White House with President Trump, but that she was prepared to do so.

A source says that she did not beg for the job, that she did not grovel or fight to keep it. Sources have indicated that in the past few months she has been bearing the brunt of President Trump's anger on the border and what he sees as a broken immigration system.

I want to read to you now a portion of her resignation later.

She writes, "Despite our progress in reforming Homeland Security for a new age, I've determined that it is the right time for me to step aside. I hope the next secretary will have the support of Congress and the courts in fixing the laws which have impeded our ability to fully secure America's borders and which have contributed to discord in our nation's discourse.

"Our country and the men and women of DHS deserve to have all the tools and resources they need to execute the mission entrusted to them. I can say with confidence our homeland is safer today than when I joined the administration."

Sources close to Nielsen say that she was blindsided by some recent moves made by the White House, first when President Trump decided to pull the nomination of Ron Vitiello to lead Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, an agency that Nielsen would have overseen as the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

The second move was the cancelling of aid to three Central American countries, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Keep in mind, that announcement came shortly after Nielsen was in Honduras talking about the importance of aid to preventing more immigration from those nations to the United States.

President Trump announced via Twitter that her replacement, at least for the time being, would be Kevin McAleenan. He is the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, at the White House.


VANIER: Let's discuss. Karoun Demirjian joins us. She's a CNN political analyst and a congressional reporter for "The Washington Post."

This has been a long time coming. We have talked about a quasi- resignation or being a few steps away from a firing/resignation for a while.

Big picture, what lessons should we learn from this?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this comes after several months, there were speculation about whether she was going to make it in Trump's cabinet. We have also seen the president doubling down on his plans to be more aggressive about his border policy. There were threats of course last week to shut down the border in its entirety and he stepped back from it at the last minute.

But we have seen this full steam ahead approach by the president to be really, really tough when it comes to the border security issues. It's something he feels plays well with his supporters and it's something that he and Nielsen were never 100 percent in line.

It was mid-last year, I think, where she was saying we're not trying to separate families here, when that was clear that it showed that was happening. Generally speaking, it seems there has been a mismatch here in terms of personalities.

She has been walking the line with what the president has asked her to do in implementing these policies. But there is always a question about whether they really were of the same mind.

Now that the president is getting to favor this tougher position, was she going to be the person to carry that through?

I think we have seen is that the answer is no.

VANIER: Right, and I understand the mismatch of personalities but I don't really understand if I'm told there was a mismatch of policy.


VANIER: Nielsen has been enforcing his policy vision without fail, she was even the face of the controversial family separations policy.

What more could Trump want from a Homeland Secretary?

DEMIRJIAN: Well, we'll see, in terms of who we appoints next or who he names as the replacement, that's when we will know what exactly he wants more of.

Does he want someone who's going to be more rhetorically off the cuff sharing the more aggressive approach that he has espoused towards the border?

Some things that he has said border on racist sentiments, being projected about people on the southern side of the border coming up to the United States.

Does he want someone like that?

Does he just want someone who looks and talks tougher?

He has really enjoyed this idea -- the out of central casting border guards that he's met when he's made these trips as he just did in the last few days. But we don't know what it's going to be.

As you mention, Nielsen has been implementing the policies he's been asking for, directing, which is why really she has no sympathy among the president's critics in Washington and in Congress especially. So people are reacting to this by saying, good; she should have to own up to the fact that she did implement these extremely controversial, criticized by members of both parties for how they dealt with the people that are coming across the border, especially the children.

Critics are not really speaking of her very approvingly as she makes her exit. But we will see who the president appoints next and that will be the indication of exactly where Trump thinks he is going with this.

If he wants to raise the stakes even more, he could do that -- he may think that plays well politically. But it will just lead to a lot more tension in D.C.

VANIER: All right, Karoun Demirjian, always a pleasure to speak to you. Thank you very much.

DEMIRJIAN: Thank you, too, Cyril.

ALLEN: Border issues not the only White House news Sunday. House Democrats have requested six years of the president's personal tax returns and returns from eight of his businesses.

VANIER: They've justified the move, citing an obscure code from the Internal Revenue Service. The acting White House chief of staff calls it a political stunt. Here is Mick Mulvaney speaking to FOX News.


MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Keep in mind, they knew they are not going to get these taxes. They know what the law is. They know that one of the fundamental principles of the IRS is to protect the confidentiality of you and me and everybody else who files taxes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be clear, you believe Democrats will never see the president's tax returns?

MULVANEY: No, never. Nor should they. That is not going to happen and they know it. This is a political stunt by my former colleagues.


ALLEN: While Israeli voters head to the polls on Tuesday, it will be one of their closest elections ever and it is shaping up to be a referendum on Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister is facing a huge political challenge. He is also facing a list of corruption investigations, allegations including illegal gifts and favors.

The accusations are serious but so far they have not derailed his candidacy.

VANIER: The polls show that he's running neck and neck with former military chief of staff, Benny Gantz. Gantz tried to rev up last- minute support on Sunday, going to the streets with this motorcycle convoy. Mr. Netanyahu is also using last-minute tactics. He said Saturday he

will annex West Bank settlements if he's reelected. The move has been slammed by Palestinians but the Netanyahu camp hopes it win over more right-wing support. CNN's Oren Liebermann has the latest from Jerusalem.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's latest comments is that he will pursue not only annexation and Israeli sovereignty over settlement blocks of the West Bank, even isolated settlements.

A sharp turn to the right with just days to go until the elections. We saw him do it right before the election, on the eve of the election in 2015, and we see him do it again as he tries to pull as many right wing voters as possible with just a couple of days before the election.

But there is a risk here that he pulls voters from other, smaller right-wing parties who don't make it in to the Knesset. It looks like it is a risk he is willing to take.

Meanwhile his rival, former chief of staff Benny Gantz is campaigning in other areas. His politicians, his cronies are out in Tel Aviv, areas they are more likely to have centrist or liberal voters. Here in the market in Jerusalem, this is a new stronghold, this is where Netanyahu's comments are going to go over very well as he tries to secure a few more votes to come out ahead on Election Day -- Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.


ALLEN: Aaron David Miller joins me from Washington. He is a CNN global affairs analyst and vice president and distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center.

Aaron, good to see you, thank you for joining us.


ALLEN: Here are at the final hours of a tight race and we see Mr. Netanyahu make a pledge to extend sovereignty over the --


ALLEN: -- West Bank.

Is that a prudent political move or a risky act to hold onto his career -- or both?

MILLER: I think right now it is political convenience and expediency. In the last couple of years, the prime minister personally blocked at least three bills introduced by right wing members, some of his own coalition, to formally annex the West Bank

I think he realizes the complications of such a move and the question, what is the purpose at the moment?

The purpose is to attract right-wing voters and to demonstrate that, at least in his own mind, unlike his challenger, Benny Gantz and the Blue and White Party, Mr. Netanyahu is not in favor of separating Israel from the Palestinians and under no circumstances plans to separate Israel from the West Bank territory.

So at the moment, I think it is political convenience and expediency.

ALLEN: What about people who say that it is also something that can bring more violence to Israel?

MILLER: Well, annexation of the Golan, which occurred in 1981 with 17,000-20,000 Jews and Israelis on the Heights is one thing. A formal annexation of the West Bank will probably mean violence and most likely I suspect the end of any relationship with Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

It might mean Mahmoud Abbas would dismantle the Palestinian Authority, which would force Israel to get into an amiable position of formal reoccupation of the West Bank, even though right now the Israelis control 60 percent of the West Bank territory.

ALLEN: The bigger picture here, why is Mr. Netanyahu in such a tight race with the centrist, Benny Gantz?

Is it against his party or simply Netanyahu fatigue?

MILLER: In 1977, Menachem Begin rose to power. For the last 42 years, Likud has dominated Israeli politics for about 31 of those years and the times in which Likud has lost -- and it has only been twice -- Likud lost power to two former Israeli chiefs of staff, Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak.

Benny Gantz represents a very credible threat, perhaps the most credible challenger that Netanyahu has faced. He is clearly a man with deep military experience, he is charismatic and, in some respects, he reminds me of the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. He seems to be authentic and represents the essence, I think, of many Israelis would like to see in a prime minister.

Add to that the fact that we are in a historic election because this is the first time that an indicted Israeli prime minister -- preliminary indictment to be sure -- but an Israeli prime minister is actually running for office under former indictments; never happened.

So you add Benny Gantz, the challenger; you add Netanyahu fatigue; you add the indictment and it is conceivable -- although, after the 2016 elections here in the United States, I don't predict election outcomes anymore.

But this is the most serious challenger Mr. Netanyahu has faced.

ALLEN: All right. And the vote happens Tuesday, we appreciate your insight so much, Aaron David Miller for us, thank you.

MILLER: Thank you, Natalie.

VANIER: Uganda says its security forces have rescued kidnapped American tourist Kimberly Endicott through intelligence support from the U.S. military. Endicott and her tour guide were taken hostage at gunpoint April 2nd while on a game drive at Queen Elizabeth National Park.

These photos were taking not long after their rescue.

ALLEN: A Ugandan government spokesman tells CNN that they were found unharmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the neighboring country. Here's Robyn Kriel with more about this story.


ROBYN KRIEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We do have information that a ransom was paid. However, we're not sure the amount of that ransom. According to a spokesperson for the Wild Frontiers tour group, the handover went over quietly and peacefully. Ms. Endicott and her guide both in good health and safe now.

The Ugandan Police Force and other security agencies in Uganda are calling this a rescue operation. Here is a tweet coming from the Uganda Police Force. They said police and its sister security agencies have today rescued Ms. Kimberly Sue, an American tourist, together with her guide who were kidnapped while on an evening game drive at Queen Elizabeth National Park.

The duo is in good health and in the safe hands of the joint security team. At this point, we don't know if Ms. Endicott was targeted because she was an American. We understand that four other people --


KRIEL: -- were with her and her guide but were later released. We're also not sure who these kidnappers were. Were they just an armed group looking for cash or were they part of a terrorist group?

We do know that there are terrorist groups operating in the DRC, as well as a number of just other armed groups operating in that particular part of the country. Obviously, still a lot of unanswered questions that will be explained over the next few days, we hope, but all in all a good news story emanating out of Uganda -- I'm Robyn Kriel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


ALLEN: Yes, a good ending there.

And next we turn to Brexit. With Brexit at stake, it is all about getting the deal done, even if it means reaching across the aisle. That is what Theresa May is trying to do to the consternation of others in her party.



NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are going into the safe house. We don't know how long we'll have to wait here. They are trying to figure out how to get us out of here.

VANIER (voice-over): A CNN exclusive report: how anti-government protesters in Sudan face torture and death to fight for democracy.





VANIER: As anti-government protests in Sudan grow larger and louder, the country's security forces are taking extreme measures to try to stop the world from finding out.

Demonstrators are calling for the country's long-time president to step down and they're accusing the government of using violence against them.

ALLEN: At least six people died in protests over the weekend and that is not counting how many have died since protests began in December. In her exclusive report, CNN's Nima Elbagir takes us inside the uprising to expose the government's brutal crackdown on protesters.


ELBAGIR (voice-over): This is my hometown, Khartoum. For months now, in the grip of pro democracy protests, much of it brutally hidden from the world by Sudan's government. And yet people here are still risking everything for change, even as the United States works with Sudan's government.


ELBAGIR (voice-over): Sudan's capital, as I was growing up here, the government's grip on its people was all-encompassing. But a rise in the cost of living in recent days has triggered protests against one of the world's longest serving dictators, President Omar al-Bashir.

The Sudanese government doesn't want the world to know that this is happening. Any journalist caught reporting on demonstrations risks life imprisonment and the death penalty.

In the crowd, I try to stand back and film with secret cameras and smartphones and hope that I am not spotted.

ELBAGIR: I smell the tear gas they have been releasing on the demonstrators. And people are starting to get tense.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Some of the demonstrators start shouting that national security agents are on the way. Infamous for their brutality, we have to leave. A family agrees to hide us in a safe house. Really, it is just someone's home.

ELBAGIR: As national security arrive and broken up the demonstrations, they're going from house to house. We don't know how we will have to wait here. They're trying to figure out how they can get us out of here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

ELBAGIR: I just saw their cars. They're going door-to-door, trying to figure out who is out there.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): That sound you hear, tear gas canisters. We are trapped.

Hours pass. We can only watch and listen through a gap in the window. Just next door to us, security agents are slapping and kicking a protester as they drag him out, their neighbor's son. In the end, we leave our equipment behind and take a risk to run.

We got lucky but so many others did not. CNN gathered detailed testimony from former detainees held in Sudanese government facilities. Of the over 3,000 people who have been arrested since the demonstrations began, almost all have said they have been abused. One of them agrees to speak with us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We were all masked, armed and holding batons. As soon as we stepped out, we were beaten with batons. One man slapped me on the left side of my face. It became numb. And then he struck me with the butt of his gun in my back. It's not even an official center. It was one of those ghost houses.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Ghost houses: torture houses which the government says doesn't exist. We went to try and find one.

For all of us who grew up under Bashir's dictatorship, ghost houses conjures up immediately the horrors the government has used, torture, sexual assault, brutal beatings.

Right in the center of Khartoum we find a heavy military and intelligence presence. On your left, a holding pen. Activists picked up in the city center tell us they are beaten here and sorted according to their alleged crimes. We cannot linger. Everywhere there's a high level of security.

From here, activists say they're moved on to any one of ghost houses scattered around town.


ELBAGIR: Using descriptions given to us by eyewitnesses and activists formerly held there, we are able to pinpoint one, using aerial images just south of the Blue Nile in Garden City.

Keeping watch over this green building, we witnessed national security pickups and what appear to be detainees. Worse though, many of the detainees we interviewed described being tortured just across the river, here in what is known as the Refrigerator.

Its very name inspires terror and yet, one woman agreed to speak to us.

WIFAQ AHMED ABDULLAH, ACTIVIST (through translator): They detained us in an abandoned building. Because we were so severely beaten, we went numb. I couldn't feel my legs and arms. The place was so cold, it felt like there were knives piercing our bodies. I only spent two days there but they were the worst two days of my life.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): So why, in spite of all this, is President Trump's administration in talks to restore relations with Sudan?

This is the brutal aftermath of the terror attacks on the U.S.S. Cole and the U.S. embassies in East Africa. For years, families of victims have been seeking compensation from Sudan's government, who they believe was complicit.

CNN has learned that a key requirement for talks between Sudan and the U.S. is that Sudan enter into good faith negotiations regarding compensation for victims' families.

In a statement, the U.S. State Department does not deny that talks are continuing with Sudan or that this is ultimately about the terror claims but says "Relations will improve only if the Sudanese government takes steps related to human rights."

The Sudanese have shown no signs of doing so and yet talks to improve relations still continue.

After days of searching, we are able to verify that the neighbor's son, who we filmed being detained, was released, only after hours of torture, he says. You can see it here, another casualty in the litany of victims of Sudan's brutal repression.

This is what we witnessed in just one day back home. The demonstrations, the tear gas, the fear. But the horrors have been going on for so much longer. And there's still no end in sight -- Nima Elbagir, CNN, Khartoum, Sudan.


ALLEN: And we will be right back with more news.



[00:31:07] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our headlines this hour.

The U.S. homeland security secretary, well, she has resigned. And a source says Kirstjen Nielsen didn't go willingly. President Trump announced her resignation Sunday on Twitter. Nielsen defended the administration's hardline immigration policies, but the president has apparently been angry over, of course, the continued influx of migrants at the southern border.

VANIER: The acting White House chief of staff says Democrats will never see President Trump's tax returns. Make Mulvaney made the comment speaking to FOX News Sunday. House Democrats have formally requested six years of the president's personal tax returns, and returns of some of Trump's businesses, under a legal position which requires the IRS to turn them over.

ALLEN: Uganda says its security forces have rescued kidnapped American tourist Kimberly Endicott, with intelligence support from the U.S. military. Endicott and her tour guide were taken hostage at gunpoint April 2 while on a game drive at Queen Elizabeth National Park.

VANIER: American Airlines says it will continue to ground its fleet of Boeing 737 Max planes through June 5. The flights were set to resume later this month, but the airline says it's waiting for more information about the aircraft from regulators. This comes almost a month after the crash of a second Boeing 737 Max jet.

ALLEN: All right. It's been too long since we've said "Brexit," so we're going to get back to it. After year --

VANIER: It's been a while since we saw the countdown!

ALLEN: Yes, there we go. After years of catering to Brexit hardliners, Britain's prime minister is now scrambling to make a deal with the opposition party. It has come to that. And she has less than a weeks to do it or risk crashing out of the E.U.

Theresa May will head to Brussels Wednesday for an emergency meeting with E.U. leaders.

VANIER: She's hoping to postpone Brexit until June 30, but if the E.U. doesn't allow it, the U.K. could crash out of the European Union without a deal on Friday.

Theresa May posted a video message on Sunday, calling for compromise, saying that cross-party cooperation is essential for a successful Brexit. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke about his priorities.


JEREMY CORBYN, LABOUR LEADER: I'm waiting to see the red lines move, and we have had two meetings this week: one with the prime minister, and a further meeting with Rebecca Long-Bailey and Keir Starmer, held with David Lidington and the team. And that was more of a technical discussion about the nature of the future relations agreements, as well as with the withdrawal agreement, which has many, many problems and many flaws and it, as we've pointed out in Parliament.

The key priority is to avoid crashing out of the E.U. with no deal because of the disruption that would mean to industry and the supply chain. So we're determined to make sure there is no crashing out without a deal. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: CNN European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas is in Los Angeles.

Dominic, is there a chance of a deal, an agreement between Theresa May and her opposition this week before she goes to Brussels?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: I think it's extraordinarily, extremely unlikely, rather Cyril. From the moment that Theresa May officially reached out to Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition, I think that it was too little too late.

She took over in 2016 after the referendum. She called a snap election in 2017 to try and consolidate her power, and she has been pushing and pushing for her for the values of the withdrawal agreement, and it's continued on last week. And what we saw ere two sides coming together in an attempt to compromise, but seemingly unwilling to make concessions.

The Labour Party has been very clear that it wants much closer proximity to the European Union through a customs union, an arrangement with the single market, and these are areas in which Theresa May has not really been that open.

[00:35:05] And both sides of the political spectrum are facing extraordinary pressures from the Brexiteers, in the case of Theresa May, and Jeremy Corbyn, from a number, from remaining constituents, and also from those that want a meaningful vote, and a second referendum or a people's vote.

So it doesn't seem likely. If anything, at this stage, both of them are concerned about who will take the blame for Brexit failing, or for a no-deal happening, and I think that's the more important issue here. Because a general action is hanging over both of these people and both these parties as things stand.

VANIER: Yes, and I think if you look at their parties and you look at their respective bases, you realize they probably -- neither of them has much of an incentives to really give in that much.

Theresa May is going to ask European leaders in two -- three days -- three days for an extension to Brexit. How do they feel about that?

THOMAS: Well, it's a great question, Cyril. I mean, ultimately, for the European Union, it's a -- it's a whole process now as they come together again, of risk assessment.

On the one hand, they don't want to be blamed for pushing the United Kingdom out of the European Union and seem too tough on them. But on the other hand, they have their own institutions to think about protecting.

There are elections coming up at the end of the month of May. Emmanuel Macrons, one of the most outspoken members of the E.U. 27, has talked about how crucial these elections are, bringing in juxtaposition the Europhiles, pro-European groups that look for further integration; and the deep concern about far-right parties being well-represented in these elections.

And so there is a serious concern about a country in which the prime minister and the Conservative Party won Brexit, and where the opposition want a Brexit, and yet at the same time, have ruled out a no deal. So this complicates the situation.

And I think ultimately, as these E.U. leaders come together, they're going to be wondering about the sort of -- the existential nature, really, of the U.K. around these issues. It would be much easier if there was one side that was absolutely, unambiguously pro-European. And so they have to make those calculations and be very concerned about the potential of the U.K. participating and sending 73 MEPs that could potentially, as they've mentioned, be disruptive to the practices and to the institutions of the European Union. So that's a serious concern that will be front and center, as the E.U. 27 come together next week.

VANIER: They've got to weigh the potential disruption of having the U.K. participate in European elections, as against the disruption of a no-deal Brexit.

The point that you made earlier gets to my next question, which is even if the U.K. were to get an extension, what would they do with it?

THOMAS: Yes, well, this is a great question. It's why Theresa May ultimately is pushing for a shorter extension, because she knows that if she goes for a longer one, she's going to even further enrage the far-right members of her political party.

It really all rests on the question of the no-deal. She's talked about the fact of not wanting to participate in E.U. elections. If no deal is taken off the table, this ultimately leaves an option, which the E.U. would be unlikely to go along with, is they begin the process of preparing for the E.U. elections. And if by, let's say, the 22nd of May, they have come up with some kind of agreement, then they would not be able -- they would not participate and they would then leave the E.U.

But if they do provide an extension -- and I think there are two models -- either there's the long extension that involves participation in the E.U., and, after one year, you either come up with a deal or you stay in the European Union. Or the other option is that you did not participate in the elections. You accept that you're leaving the European Union, and you're given an extension for a year to decide whether you leave with a deal or a no-deal.

No matter what comes out of this, whatever the E.U. 27 agree -- and they will agree on something -- there will be a red line that is deep, deep, deep red, and they will not entertain further extensions. This is it for them. And it's going to be a difficult negotiation.

And let's not forget that, historically, back in 1967, the French exercised their no veto to the U.K. joining the E.U. This is a scenario that we also have to think about again here. VANIER: One of the extensions that the Europeans are thinking of

right now is called a flextension. Frankly, none of this jargon is particularly appealing.

Look, as things stand, as we were talking, we had the countdown up on the screen. Four days, 17 hours to Brexit. And we don't know. When it strikes zero, either that's it, or maybe we have to come up with another countdown for up to a year. There you go: four days, 17 hours, 20 minutes, 34 seconds.

Dominic, I have to leave it there. Thank you so much.

THOMAS: You got it. Thanks, Cyril.

ALLEN: What will we have done without Dominic to explain this to us?

VANIER: And the countdown.

ALLEN: Yes. My goodness, all right. We'll, of course, be watching that very closely this week.

But still ahead here, the songs of ice and fire. As "Game of Thrones" makes its long-awaited return, we look at the music behind the magic.


[00:41:38] VANIER: Winter isn't just coming; it's almost here. In less than a week, the hit show "Game of Thrones" will make its much- anticipated return to HBO for its final season,

ALLEN: And I'm going to start watching it. So uncool.

Fans have been waiting for this last set of episodes for almost two whole years. Now that the wait is almost over, we decided to take a look at one of the things that has made the series so special. Here's Rick Damigella.


RICK DAMIGELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The cello-driven theme of "Game of Thrones" is as iconic as the visuals it accompanies. Composer Ramin Djawadi was aiming for that.

RAMIN DJAWADI, COMPOSER, "GAME OF THRONES": It can be very moody. And I think this dark show, I think it was perfect. That's an instrument I love to write for, and that's why it's everywhere in "Game of Thrones."

I wanted people to, when they hear this melody, that they know our show is about to come on and just get ready, and sit down and get at the mood.

DAMIGELLA: Even working behind the scenes. he shares the audience's reaction to the show's major events, including the red wedding.

DJAWADI: I have to say, I'm a fan of the show myself, so even though I did see it before, but I see for the first time, too. So I lock myself in my studio and I just watch the episodes. And I'm just as surprised as everybody else. It gets quite emotional for me, because I get attached to characters and then having to write music for them getting killed off the show is tough sometimes.

DAMIGELLA: As is the winding down of the series.

DJAWADI: Who would've thought that this show would have been such an amazing success? But at the same time, I think it's also very exciting to see this now come to an end. I can't wait for the rest of the world to see this amazing final season. I mean, it's -- it's been very emotional for me to write the music on this last season.

DAMIGELLA: In Westeros, or rather Hollywood, I'm Rick Damigella.


CYRIL: All right. Thank you so much for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier.

ALLEN: We've got to get with the program on that show. I'm Natalie Allen. WORLD SPORT's next. We'll see you in 15.





VANIER: Kirstjen Nielsen is out. A key member of Trump's cabinet has resigned. We'll have the latest.

ALLEN: An American tourist rescued.