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Kirstjen Nielsen Has Resigned; Israeli Voters Head to the Polls; Dems Request Six Years of President Trump's Personal Tax Returns; Rescued Kidnapped American Tourist; the Fighting Rages on in Libya; Virginia Politicians Still in Office; Kirstjen Nielsen Resigns As Trump Homeland Security Secretary; Europe's Far-Right Parties Meet In Milan Ahead Of Brexit; U.S. To Designate Iran Revolutionary Guard As Terror Group; Huge Python Removed From Florida Wildlife Preserve. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired April 8, 2019 - 02:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: After months of rumors, one of U.S. President Donald Trump's key cabinet members is out. Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, has resigned. But according to one source, she did so unwillingly.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, in Israel, voters head to the polls on Tuesday in an election that could impact the future of Middle East peace.

CHURCH: And an American tourist kidnapped in Uganda now rescued. We have the details on her dangerous ordeal. Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and from all around the world. I am Rosemary Church.

HOWELL: And I am George Howell from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Newsroom start Newsroom starts right now.

CHURCH: 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 Sunday. A source says she did not step down willingly. President Donald Trump announced her depart or on Twitter.

HOWELL: Nielsen was the face of the White House immigration policies on the border, including the controversial separation of migrant children from their parents. Nielsen will stay on until Wednesday to help the transition for her replacement. The U.S. president named Kevin McAleenan, I should say, the current Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, as the Acting Secretary for the department.

Now, this comes just days after the president made decisions, signaling an even tougher immigration stance.

CHURCH: Yeah, they were moves that took Nielsen by surprise. Boris Sanchez has the details.


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 have determined that it is the right time for me to step aside. I hope that 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 of 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 Ronald Vitiello to lead Immigration 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.


HOWELL: Mr. Trump is reiterating his threat to close the southern border with Mexico, though he has backed off the warning last week.

CHURCH: Yeah. In a tweet Sunday, he said there have been more captures of undocumented migrants at the border than in many years. He says the country is full and Democrats must agree to fix loopholes in the immigration laws. Then he said he would close the border if necessary.

HOWELL: Last week, he said that he'd give Mexico one year to address border crossings and to cut the flow of drugs, or he will take action like imposing auto tariffs. Let's talk about all of this now with Natasha Lindstaedt. Natasha, a professor of government at the University of Essex in England joining this hour from Colchester, England, good to have you.


HOWELL: Natasha, so look, Nielsen has basically been on the bubble. Rumored to be on the bubble to lose her job for a long time, but she seemed to weather many storms. And most recently, she's been very visible on television talking about what's happening on the border, as we saw last just week with my colleague Chris Cuomo on Cuomo Prime Time. Let's look.


[02:04:50] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So went I went down there and all the reporting suggests the same thing, that the men and women trying to keep us safe on the border say they have never seen anything like the flow they are encountering right now. Is that your understanding as well?

KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, OUTGOING U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Absolutely. I have been down here about just over two dozen times since I have been secretary. But yes, the men and women have never seen -- and as you saw when you were down here, Chris, it's the type of flow that we're seeing. So it's mostly families and children. And that's what's so concerning from a humanitarian perspective.


HOWELL: And it has been her face on the frontlines of what's happening on the border, but something about her performance didn't quite sit well with this administration.

LINDSTAEDT: No. And this is surprising, because she's probably the toughest secretary of Homeland Security that we -- the United States, has had. I mean there have only been six of them. But she's really implemented everything that Donald Trump wanted that was feasible. And I think what he wants is something that is probably impossible. But if you look at her record, she implemented the zero tolerance policy, which led to the separation of over 2,700 families.

She formally requested to have the National Guard units, thousands of them, deployed along the border along with active military. She also requested billions in funds for the wall. She hardened the ports of entry and even used tear gas on people. She even tried to ban people who entered illegally from seeking asylum. And she was also the architect of the migrant protection protocols, where asylum seekers would have to wait in Mexico and not the U.S. for their immigration court date.

So from her perspective, she probably thought she really couldn't do much more than she was already doing. But for Donald Trump, this wasn't enough. He just wants to prevent people from entering and seeking asylum. And that's not something that is really possible.

HOWELL: Right. That's true. The president's immigration adviser, we understand, Stephen Miller, reportedly played a key role in forcing her resignation. Just days after the president pulled the nomination of another person to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Mr. Trump says that he wants someone tougher to lead ICE, so clearly the president looking for a harder line approach to what's happening on the border.

LINDSTAEDT: Right. And it's not possible, though, to be much tougher than Nielsen was. I mean she did really practically everything. What I think he's thinking of is trying to go after some of these judges a little bit harder, which he referred to as sort of so-called judges that are putting a hold on some of the policies that the Department of Homeland Security has been trying to implement, and even more of a stronger deterrent policy.

That's what they initially thought would work, that they could deter individuals from coming in by using tear gas, by separating families. And he's hoping to go after individuals coming in even harder so that it's a bigger deterrent. Because in the last six months, they've had a 25 percent increase in the number of detained people. And so this is a reflection of the fact that the deterrent policy isn't really working.

HOWELL: You know it is important to point out this latest resignation. It comes just days after the government indicated it could take up to two years, Natasha, to reunite migrant children with their families.

LINDSTAEDT: Right. And this is one of the legacies of this very hard line immigration policy that has gained international attention in a very negative light on the U.S. It's made the U.S. look quite bad, in that -- it just looks like the U.S. is creating a humanitarian crisis and abusing human rights, basic human rights of people that are escaping violence, escaping very, very difficult situations, poverty and so forth. And it's really not inline with the identity of the U.S.

HOWELL: Nielsen has been criticized by Democrats for putting children in cages. But the clip you heard just a moment ago with Chris Cuomo, she was using the words children, families, talking about the humanitarian crisis there, the situation. It is quite the contrast of what Mr. Trump has been describing himself, essentially calling migrants criminals here to perpetrate a hoax, as he says, on the country.

So if that's the benchmark for getting tougher on immigration, how do you see things moving forward?

LINDSTAEDT: In some ways, I don't know if it can get much tougher than Nielsen. I don't think she could have been really any tougher than what she was, because what Trump wants to do is something that is just completely not possible, preventing people from entering the country illegally, and preventing them from eventually getting papers or seeking asylum. There is international law. There is U.S. law that supports people that are seeking asylum.

If they are leaving their home because they're leaving violence or persecution by their own country, they have the right to seek asylum, and he wants to prevent this completely. And that's just not possible. And I think at the end of the day, that is why she was sort of forced out. He wanted her to achieve something that is completely impossible.

HOWELL: Natasha Lindstaedt with perspective. Thank you again.

LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me.

[02:10:02] CHURCH: Well, border and staffing issues weren't 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.

HOWELL: 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's Mick Mulvaney speaking to another network.


MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Keep in mind. They knew they were -- 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: Oh no, never, nor should they. That is not going to happen, and they know it. This is a political stunt by my former colleagues.


HOWELL: Uganda says its security forces have rescued kidnapped American tourist Kimberly Endicott with intelligence support from the U.S. military.

CHURCH: Endicott and her tour guide were taken hostage at gunpoint on April 2nd while on a game drive at Queen Elizabeth National Park.

HOWELL: A Ugandan government spokesperson tells CNN they were found unharmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our Robyn Kriel has this report for you.


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 spokesman for the Wild Frontiers Tours group, the handover went over quietly and peacefully. Ms. Endicott and her guide both in good health and safe now. Now, the Ugandan police force and other security agencies in Uganda are calling this a rescue operation.

Here is a tweet coming from the Ugandan police force. They say 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 are in good health and in the safe hands of the joint security team. At this point, we do not know if Ms. Endicott was targeted because she was an American.

We understand that four other people 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 am Robyn Kriel in (Inaudible) Ethiopia.


HOWELL: Robyn, thank you. The fighting rages on in Libya. The U.N.- backed government there has announced a counteroffensive against eastern forces led by renegade General Khalifa Haftar.

CHURCH: Now, this comes as Haftar's forces have begun launching airstrikes on the Internationally Recognized Government. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz has more on the country's power struggle.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: Clashes are intensifying in Libya today between General's Haftar's forces and troops from the Internationally Recognized Government. The area of focus troops seems to be the southern districts just outside of Tripoli, where a defunct airport is now serving as a frontline between these two warring parties, as they seem to go into an all out battle.

Most worryingly, there seems to be a duel from the skies, General Haftar's forces today saying they carried out airstrikes on the outskirts of Tripoli. This comes just one day after the Internationally Recognized Government said it had carried out airstrikes as well. This is extremely concerning for residents who are caught in the middle of this fight.

We spoke to a local journalist earlier today who had spent time in a Red Crescent operations room. They were receiving dozens of calls from terrified families, saying they needed to be evacuated, that they were pinned down in fighting. Some reporting wounded that needed immediate medical attention. The influx of distress calls led the United Nations to call for a two-hour temporary truce in those southern districts to allow for the evacuation of civilians.

The Government of National Accord, for its part, did say it would abide by that truce. But so many different militias on the ground, it is extremely difficult to guarantee safety. There are U.N. talks scheduled in the United Nations (Inaudible) that they will continue as planned. It's very difficult to imagine what progress they could make with these two rivals literally pointing their guns at each other.

Key to any resolution to this conflict will be the international community. Critics of General Haftar will tell you that he has long had ambitions to take control of Tripoli and take control of Libya. As a whole, he spent the last few years building this consolidation of power in the east of the country. Taking control of oil fields in the south and most importantly courting governments in Saudi Arabia, Russia, Egypt, the UAE and others, even France.

[02:15:16] Now, most of these countries have condemned General Haftar's advance on the capital. But the question is, is this just lip service or are they truly willing to withdraw support. We are also hearing from U.S.-Africa command today, saying that a small contingency of U.S. troops had to be evacuated from Libya due to the security situation on the ground. Another reminder of just how dangerous these confrontations are. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


CHURCH: And we'll take a short break here. Still to come, we are less than 24 hours from Israeli elections. Why this is one of the country's closest votes ever. We'll have that in just a moment.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Israeli voters get to decide Tuesday on the fate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He is facing a serious corruption scandal and a major political challenge from the former military chief of staff. Polls show Benny Gantz with a slight lead. But Mr. Netanyahu might have the edge when it comes to building a coalition.

[02:20:08] HOWELL: Gantz could still cruise to victory. He hit the streets on Sunday looking for last minute support, as you there, on a motorcycle. The prime minister is also using a last minute tactic as well. He's announced on Saturday that he will annex the West Bank settlements if re-elected. CNN's Oren Liebermann has the story from Jerusalem.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's latest comments that he would pursue not only annexation of Israeli sovereignty over settlement blocks in the West Bank, but (Inaudible) the 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, in fact, on the eve of the election of 2015.

And we're seeing him do it again as he tries to pull in as many of those right-wing voters as possible with just a couple of days to go here until the election. There is a risk here that he pulls voters away from other smaller right-wing parties and they don't make it into the Knesset. Right now it looks like it's a risk that he's willing to take.

Meanwhile, his (Inaudible) former chief of staff Benny Gantz is campaigning in other areas. His politicians, his colleagues are out in Tel Aviv, areas that are more likely to have centrist or liberal voters here in the market in the (Inaudible) in Jerusalem. This is a Likud stronghold. This is where Netanyahu's comments are going to go over very well, as he tries to secure a few more votes, tries to come out ahead on Election Day. Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.


CHURCH: And for more, we are joined from Jerusalem by Gil Hoffman. He is the Chief Political Correspondent and an analyst at the Jerusalem Post. Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So Tuesday's election proving to be one of the biggest fights of Benjamin Netanyahu's political career. Polls have mostly had him trailing his main opponent, Benny Gantz. But now, Netanyahu is vowing to annex West Bank settlements. How politically desperate is this move to bring right-wing voters on board? And will it work for him or backfire, perhaps?

HOFFMAN: It could very well backfire. The reason why Netanyahu is facing such a challenge is if you look back over the last 40 years, the only time his Likud Party lost was to former generals, chief of staff of the army who could make Israelis feel safe and secure. And for many years, Netanyahu's told Israelis that he and only he can help them feel safe and secure.

And perhaps that's no longer the case with three and now four former chiefs of staff of the IDF all joining forces to run against him. And that's made Netanyahu look for votes on the right. There are a lot of parties on the right in Israel that he can take votes away from. And getting another seat or two could make the difference in the election tomorrow.

CHURCH: Right. Of course, even without this last minute announcement on the West Bank settlements, Mr. Netanyahu still has a path for victory, doesn't he? If he can pull together a governing coalition, how are you expecting this election to play out, given what you know so far and who is better positioned to form a viable coalition?

HOFFMAN: So, first of all, I wouldn't take too seriously anything a politician says a few days before an election in any country. And I don't expect Israel to be annexing any territories after April 9th, even if Netanyahu wins. The most likely scenario is still that Netanyahu would win. After all, Israelis value experience. He is the most experienced leader possible, except for Jesus or Moses come back between now and tomorrow.

So then it's going to be up to the president of Israel. There is a very formal role in deciding who he appoints to form a government. He is supposed to take into account not only who the largest party is, which Benny Gantz perhaps could have, but the largest block, which Netanyahu could have. And then there will be recommendations from the different party leaders. And that's the third factor. It could be that neither will have

enough recommendations to make it obvious for the president. And then with all due respect to the 6.3 million people who are eligible to vote tomorrow, one man, the president, will decide who our prime minister will be.

CHURCH: Right. Of course, we have to remember that Netanyahu faces multiple corruption investigations. How much do voters care about that? And what other issues are influencing their vote for this election?

HOFFMAN: So apparently, the corruption allegations have not had such an impact on how people are voting, because they were aware of them before. And those who have decided that Netanyahu's innocent until proven guilty and are going to give him a chance are going to continue to do that. And those who are disgusted by what he's alleged to have done are going to vote for a different party.

When the corruption allegations were announced as an indictment pending a hearing, the support for Netanyahu's Likud did not go down. In the end, people are voting for security and the economy, like people do in any other country.

[02:24:53] CHURCH: And so just finally, what does Mr. Netanyahu's main opponent, former Military General Benny Gantz, bring to the table? And what does his path to victory look like?

HOFFMAN: So he brings to the table the security experience. He can tell the people of Israel, I can make you feel just as secure while being clean. He brings a certain amount of charisma. He's tall. He has blue eyes. Not a lot of Israelis have blue eyes. They're very captivating. And he at least brings change and hope, which for a lot of Israelis is extremely important after having the same prime minister now for 10 years running and 13 years total. It should be exciting and interesting.

CHURCH: Yup. Too close to call. We shall be watching it very closely, as will you. Gil Hoffman, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your analysis. Appreciate it.

HOFFMAN: Pleasure.

CHURCH: Well, just two months ago, they were at the heart of racial and sexual abuse scandals. But three Virginia politicians are still in office with no apparent plans to leave. Coming up, what happened to the allegations against them?

HOWELL: Also, a U.S. budget motel chain admits violating the privacy of tens of thousands of its guests. We'll explain what they did and who they left the light on for. Stay with us.


HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You're watching CNN Newsroom live from Atlanta. I am George Howell. CHURCH: And I am Rosemary Church. Let's check the headlines for you

this hour. Voting begins Tuesday in Israeli elections and the latest polls show a tight race. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a major challenge from his former military chief of staff Benny Gantz. Mr. Netanyahu says he will annex West Bank settlements if re-elected. That move is seen as a bid to win over more right-wing voters.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: In Sudan, an opposition group says at least six people have been killed over the weekend during anti-government protests. Dozens more were reportedly hurt during clashes with security forces. You see it, protestors started gathering outside the President's compound on Saturday, calling on him to the resign.

CHURCH: 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 2nd while on the game drive at Queen Elizabeth national park.

HOWELL: The U.S. Homeland Security Secretary has resigned. A source says Kirstjen Nielsen was pressured to quit. She was the face of the Trump Administration's hard line on immigration policy. The U.S. President thanked her for her service but said, was said rather to be unhappy with her efforts in secure the southern border.

CHURCH: Well, the U.S. House Speaker was unsparing in her reaction to Nielsen's resignation.

HOWELL: That's right, this statement from Nancy Pelosi saying, this is deeply alarming that the Trump Administration official who put children in cages, is reportedly resigning because she is not extreme enough for the White House's liking. America, she says needs a Homeland Security secretary who will respect the sanctity of families, honor our proud heritage as nation of immigrants and restore sanity to the Administration policies.

Democratic presidential candidates has also attacked Nielsen's defensive of a zero tolerance policy that separated families.

CHURCH: Elizabeth Warren tweeted this, about time Secretary Nielsen's legacy of tearing innocent families apart will follow for the rest of her life. And she should be ashamed of the role she played. She was completely unqualified to lead the Department of Homeland Security and that's why I voted against confirming her. Kamala Harris wrote this. Kirsjten Nielsen misled the American people and defended Trump's inhumane policy of separating from their parents. It was long past time for her to go.

HOWELL: Just a few weeks ago, shocking allegations against three top officials in Virginia came to surface. The accusations of racist images and sexual assault captured international attention.

CHURCH: But as Jessica Dean reports the three men have remained in office with the scandals apparently put aside.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The trees and flowers scream spring in Richmond Virginia, while the seasons have chains some things are very much the same. Two months after scandal in golf the top three officials in the commonwealth all remain in office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like this is just a story we've seen a bunch of times, people do something bad, we talk about it a little bit and they just get off it, scot-free.

DEAN: Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax faces two accusations of sexual assault, allegations he denies. And despite renewed attention there are still no official investigations or hearing set. Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring who both found themselves embroiled in blackface controversies have moved forward with business as usual, as have many Virginians.

JUSTIN FAIRFAX, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA: It's amazing because I forgot myself. It was just so egregious and atrocious yesterday, tomorrow there's a new atrocity.

DEAN: On Wednesday that state capital buzz with energy. The legislature was back in session. And demonstrators filled the capital lawn. But they were not there to protest any of the scandals. But Republicans are trying to revive attention on those scandals with House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert holding a press conference talking about Fairfax and questions surrounding Northam.

TODD GILBERT, MAJORITY LEADER OF THE VIRGINIA HOUSE OF DELEGATES: We still have questions related to his promises.

GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA: It's definitely not me.

DEAN: It was early February when Northam, a Democrat apologized, admitted and then denied being in a photo from his medical school yearbook. That shows one person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan outfit. A chorus of state and national Democrats called on him to step down.

NORTHAM: If I were to listen to the voices calling on me to resign, my office today, I could spare myself from the difficult path that lies ahead.

DEAN: Northam promise to make amends and has continued on with business as usual. Fairfax also a Democrat still faces accusations of sexual assaults from two women, Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson.

VANESSA TYSON, JUSTIN FAIRFAX ACCUSER: I honestly didn't know what was going on and then, the next thing I know. Like, my head is like literally in his scratch and I'm choking and gagging.

MEREDITH WATSON, JUSTIN FAIRFAX ACCUSER: He forcibly, sexually assaulted and raped me. DEAN: The women and Virginia Republicans have called for bipartisan

open hearings in the state legislature. Fairfax is called on officials to investigate the allegations.

FAIRFAX: I look forward to clearing my good name.

DEAN: Meantime, Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring admitted and apologizes for using blackface in his past saying "I had a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness."

[02:35:02] A Washington Post poll from February showed Virginians split on whether Governor Northam should stay in office. But, he had more support from African-Americans with 58 percent saying he should not step down, while 37 percent thought, he should. We stopped by Richmond men park to see how people felt now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: PCS would be yes, they should have vacated the office, but in our current clan, well I have to say no.

DEAN: Because the President has set the bar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He set the bar, you can do what you want and say what you want and there are no repercussions.

DEAN: As for Northam specifically.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The real problem is the environment that encourages that kind of thing, in the first place and that's what has to changed.


DEAN: And we talked to a number of people off camera as well, and one person told me as a black man. He experiences racism all the time and he simply was not surprised by the blackface controversies.

CHURCH: Jessica Dean reporting there. Well, American Airlines has announced that it will ground its fleet of 737 Max planes longer than planned.

HOWELL: That's right. Those flights that were supposed to resume later this last month but, the airline said in this statement the following. In an effort to provide more certainty and avoid last minute flight disruptions, American has extended cancellations through June 5th. This will result in the cancellation of approximately 90 flights each day base on our current schedule.

CHURCH: The announcement comes almost a month after a second Boeing 737 Max 8 plane crashed shortly after takeoff.

HOWELL: An American budget hotel chain has admitted to sharing the private information of its guests with U.S. Immigration agents and it's going to cost.

CHURCH: Yes, Motel 6 will pay $12 million as part of a lawsuit settlement between 2015 and 2017. Seven, Motel 6 locations in the State of Washington illegally violated the privacy of some 80,000 guests according to the States Attorney General. CNN's Polo Sandoval has more.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Washington state attorney general says the Motel 6 chain admitted to sharing some of its private guest information with agents with immigration and customs enforcement between the years 2015 and 2017. According to the A.G.'s office, disclosures led to not only some of their guests being detained but also in some cases even being deported.

CNN actually trying to reach out to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, however this information release by the Washington state A.G. suggests that in one case employees at (INAUDIBLE) Washington locations provided guest list to those ICE agents, those ICE agents were then reportedly circle, what are being described as Latino sounding names. That private information includes everything from the names of guests, their date of birth, license or I.D. number information.

The room that they were staying in even some of their license plate details, in a statement provided to CNN. Motel 6 confirms that the settlement has been reached. But they also go on to write that the chain would "continue to enforce its guest privacy policy which prohibits to sharing of guests information except in cases where a judicially enforceable warrant or subpoena is present or local law requires this information."

Now as part this, that this agreement, not only thus the chain have to pay $12 million in restitution to the those guest but they also have to cover Attorney fees and provide training for their employees to make sure that these kinds of private information disclosures don't happen again. Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.

HOWELL: Polo, thank you. With Brexit at stake, it's all about getting the deal done apparently even if that means reaching across the aisle might be necessary, that's what the British Prime Minister is trying to do with contradiction of her own party.


[02:42:09] CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well after years of catering to Brexit hardliners Britain's Prime Minister is now scrambling to make a deal with the opposition party and she has less than a week to do it, all risk crashing out of the E.U. Theresa May will head to Brussels on Wednesday for an emergency meeting with the E.U. leaders. She is hoping to postpone Brexit until June 30th.

HOWELL: But if the E.U. doesn't allow it, 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.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Now, I think the Government thinks, we absolutely must leave the European Union. We must deliver Brexit. That means we need to get a deal all over the line. And that's why we've been looking for new ways and a new approach to find an agreement in Parliament. And that means cross party talks.


HOWELL: Theresa May posting that on Twitter and then, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke about his priorities, listen.

JEREMY CORBYN, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY 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 Kier Starmer held with David Lidington and the team and that was more of a technical discussion about the nature of the future relations agreement, as well as with the withdrawal agreement which has many, many problems and many flaws in it, as we 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 change. And we determine to make sure there is no crashing out a deal.


HOWELL: E.U. Nations we'll have to decide and Europe's far-right is also paying close attention to what's happening with Brexit. Matteo Salvini, Italy's Deputy Prime Minister is hosting the gathering of far-right parties ahead of European parliamentary elections next month. CNN Contributor, Barbie Nadeau is in Milan following that. And Barbie as E.U. nations decide where they stand on supporting or rejecting an extension. It is interesting to get the perspective from Italy given its far-right politics.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Now, that's actually right George and those people meeting today here to kick off this COMMON SENSE Europe program ahead of European Parliamentary election want to be a part of that European Parliament not because they like how it's going, they want to change it and that's one of the things Mattoe Salvini hopes to get across here today. That he wants to able to bring to the hall of the European Union just what he's brought here to Europe.

Very nationalistic approach, you know, hard-line on migration, those are the types of things he thinks that he can bring to the whole of Europe. But it's also interesting, George, a poll that came out just yesterday in La Stampa Newspaper here, show 49.5 percent of Italians would support a vote, a referendum on Italexit. So, they are not necessarily saying this is the future that they want for everybody, but, you know with the European Parliamentary elections coming up, it's not out of the question that Italy would have a vote of some sort to see if they want to stay or if they want to go to. George?

[02:45:24] HOWELL: Interesting. And Barbie, you say, you know, Salvini looking to bring nationalism, those type of concepts to the E.U. But isn't that quite counter to what the E.U. is all about obviously?

NADEAU: Well, obviously, you know, you have to look back at Matteo Salvini's history. He's coming from a party that he sort of resurrected of separatist party that not only wanted to leave Europe, they wanted to leave Italy, they wanted northern part of the -- of the Italy to separate from the other part of the country.

Now, he's been able to bring that party into the mainstream, and his popularity grows and grows and grows almost every single month, every single poll we see. He's gaining more, and more, and more support.

And with that -- with what he's bringing to the table really is the idea of the "Italy first", and that's the mantra he uses. And he wants to bring that approach into Europe to say that the European nations tend to be united on certain policies but need to go back and focus a little bit more on their own nationalistic priorities.

And that's something that I think that he's got a lot of support for with these far-right parties across the European Union. George.

HOWELL: Barbie Nadeau, following the story in Milan. Thank you.

Iran is threatening to classify the U.S. military as a terrorist organization.

CHURCH: It's pushed back because of an announcement that the United States is expected to make this week. Here is Ryan Browne.

RYAN BROWNE, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: The Trump administration is preparing to announce as soon as this week that it's going to declare Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization. Now, this would make the IRGC part of a long list of groups, including ISIS, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda. But it's the first time the U.S. has ever designated a foreign country's military as a foreign terrorist organization.

Now, this could open up some avenues for prosecution in U.S. courts, but it's more of a signal part of the Trump administration's hard line against Iran something that's getting it on display ever since the U.S. pulled out of the Iran nuclear pack.

Now, Iranian lawmakers have threatened to retaliate something that U.S. officials had cautioned could happen. In fact, the director of National Intelligence Dan Coates had warned the administration previously that U.S. troops who operate in close proximity to Iranian groups and places like Iraq and Syria, could find themselves coming under attack if this designation were made.

Now, the U.S. is long way doing this and has long accused Iran's IRGC of being behind a range of this destabilizing activity in places like Yemen and Syria. However, the U.S. has held off making this announcement until now.

And it will be interesting to see whether or not Iran does, in fact, follow on its threats to retaliate, to declare the U.S. military a terrorist organization. It remains to be seen what exactly these changes on the ground. But all eyes now on this relationship between Washington and Tehran as U.S. makes this latest diplomatic push. Ryan Brown, CNN, Washington.

CHURCH: Well, severe weather strikes the U.S. once again. We will take a look at the latest damage brought to the American heartland. And check on what else might be on the way. We'll back in just a moment.


[02:52:46] CHURCH: Well, winter is technically over in the United States, but the cold weather is not finished just yet.

HOWELL: That's right. A powerful storm is expected to bring snow, rain, and strong winds to the American heartland later this week, and severe weather as well. To tell you about Monday, our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is here report. Pedram.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Hey, good morning, guys. Yes, lots going on across the country and really across the Gulf Coast states at this hour. Line of active weather already has had a history of producing severe weather. In fact, in the past 24 hours alone, we've had reports of over 100 wind damage, hail damage. And also, tornado reports across portions of the southern portion of the U.S.

But put it in motion here for you, 175,000 customers across the state of Texas without power at one point on Sunday. Some 375 flights out of Dallas's Airport, out of Houston's Airport, all impacted in association with these storms. And then, the system itself on the move right across the Gulf Coast over the next several hours and in fact, hat's the area of concern.

26 million people underneath a risk of severe weather, includes northern Mississippi, portions of central and northern Georgia on into parts of the Carolinas and certainly into Virginia, as well.

So, this is an area of interest here for some damaging winds into the afternoon hours of Monday, could see some isolated tornadoes. Again, the storm has had a history of producing them across Texas and Louisiana in the past 24 hours. And spring has sprung at lease on this perspective on Monday.

Look at the conditions here St. Louis, middle 70s, Chicago 71 degrees. Almost 90 in Jacksonville. And the mild and warm temperatures persists for, at least, a couple of more days. But as we go towards Wednesday and Thursday, you notice the shift in the trend. Well, that's what we're looking at carefully and look at what happens in Chicago.

Say goodbye to the 70s, the 60s even the 50s drop down into the 40s by Wednesday afternoon. And that's all in advance of what's going to be happening out across the northwest in the next few hours.

System develops -- pushes across portions of the plains. And eventually, we're talking about a significant threat here for blizzard conditions going in Wednesday into Thursday. That puts this region highlighted across the areas of the plains there in line for some impressive snowball, potentially, which is very impressive, guys.

For this time of year, some of these areas could see as much as six to 10 inches of snow after enjoying the 70s on Monday afternoon across this area. So certainly big changes in the forecast. [02:55:01] CHURCH: Wow.


CHURCH: Well, it's crazy. Thank you so much, Pedram. Appreciated.

HOWELL: Thanks, Pedram.

CHURCH: OK. So, there is a new champion in women's college basketball. Baylor held off Notre Dame, 82 to 81, Sunday night, winning the scores third, NCAA title, and it's first since 2012. The Bear has won despite losing star forward Lauren Cox to a leg injury in the third quarter.

HOWELL: On Monday night, it's the monster, Virginia and Texas Tech will play for the championship. It is the first-ever meeting between these two programs, and neither has won a national title.

So, if snakes make week you a little skittish.

CHURCH: No problem with them.

HOWELL: Maybe you want to look away for this next story. Look at this.


HOWELL: That's almost 17 feet, carrying 73 eggs. This was discovered by researchers in the state of Florida.

CHURCH: Now, they captured her in a Big Cypress National Preserve. She is the biggest one ever caught there. The researchers located the massive snake by tracking male pythons equipped with radio transmitters.

It's part of the effort to control the invasive species and collect data for research. That is unbelievable.

HOWELL: A lot of data to collect there.


HOWELL: Thanks for being with, us I'm George Howell.

CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church, we'll be back with another hour of news next. Do stick around.

HOWELL: Maybe more snakes too.

CHURCH: Yes, it could be.