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Trump Ousts Another Top Official; Iran Responds After United States Designates IRGC A Terrorist Group; Trump's Homeland Security Secretary Resigns Under Pressure; Nielsen Believed Trump Was Becoming Unhinged; Inside Sudan's Brutal Crackdown on Democracy Protests. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired April 8, 2019 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: Live from CNN I'm Robyn Curnow filling in for Hala Gorani. Tonight, the US labels Iran's Revolutionary Guards a

terrorist organization. Tehran warns it will retaliate.

Trump ousts the head of the U.S. Secret Service, a day after he forced the Secretary of Homeland Security to resign, details on what one official

calls a near systematic purge. Two more people die as anti-government protests intensify in Sudan in an exclusive report, CNN goes inside the


And three African-American churches burn, all in the same parish, in the southern U.S. state of Louisiana. We have the latest on that investigation

just ahead. But we begin with Iran hitting back after U.S. President Donald Trump said the U.S. is labeling the Iran's Revolutionary Guard a

terrorist group. It's the first time the U.S. has named a part of a foreign government a terrorist organization.

Peaking at the United States State Department, Mike Pompeo said the designation will go into effect in a week.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: For 40 years, the Islamic Republic's Guard Corps has engaged in terrorism and created, supported and directed

other terrorist groups. The IRGC masquerades as a legitimate military organization. None of us should be fooled, it regularly violates the laws

of armed conflicts, it plans, organizes and executes terror campaigns all around the world.


CURNOW: Iran quickly responded proposing it would designate U.S. troops operating in the Middle East as a terror group. So, joining me now talk

about this is Ryan Browne covering this story from the Pentagon. We begin with Fred Pleitgen who's frequently reported from Tehran. Fred is live

from Berlin. Talk us through Iran hitting back. They see this as a provocative move by the Americans.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Extremely provocative moves. And we have to keep in mind just how powerful the

Revolutionary Guard is. It's the elite branch of the Iranian military. It's close to the clergy and the supreme leader. But it's important in the

economy as well. It owns a lot of businesses, it runs a lot of parts of the community. This is an organization that is extremely powerful and

almighty inside of Iran.

It's interesting to see some of those reactions. One of them just a couple of minutes ago, where the Iranians are proposing that the U.S., or at least

its present in what they call western Asia, which translates into the U.S. sent com be designated a terrorist organization. If it chose to do so,

could cause a lot of problems for the United States inside or in the greater Middle Eastern area and certainly really doesn't have very much in

the checks and balances inside Iran to stop it from doing so. It's more powerful than the Iranian government and only answers to Iran's supreme


CURNOW: Ryan at the Pentagon, what could and would the impact be for troops on the ground particularly with the threat of some sort of


RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: There were genuine concerns among senior U.S. officials that this decision could result in some sort of

retaliation against U.S. forces in the region. Of course, the U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq often find themselves operating in close proximity to

their local proxies. There were concerns that prior to this designation that this could be -- there could be some below back on U.S. forces.

The Pentagon saying, they have no specific threats against U.S. personnel at this time that they're aware of but they were taking protection measures

to protect their forces in the field. But, again, heightening tensions as U.S. forces find themselves near Iranian forces all across the Middle East.

CURNOW: And, Fred, with that in mind, is there also a need for calm in the sense of is this just posturing by both the Americans and Iranians. Do you

think there's going to be more of an economic impact rather than some geopolitical military impact that Ryan was potentially talking about?

[14:05:00] PLEITGEN: Certainly, could be an additional economic impact for Iran as well. If the US really falls through and all entities that

actually do any business or have any sort of relations with the revolutionary guard would be sanctioned by the U.S. government. That could

impact for Iran as well. Although it has always found ways to get around economic sanctions. But certainly, if the Iranian Revolutionary Guard

chose to do so they could cause a lot of headaches for the United States inside the greater Middle Eastern region.

Whether or not this is posturing or not, it's something that I've heard from senior Revolutionary Guard people, it's not only the fact that we have

militias in places like Syria, they have the missile program, they also threaten to, for instance, try to close the Strait of Hormuz which is an

important waterway as well. There are a lot of pressure points that the Iranians have. But they're well aware of the fact that if they escalate

against the U.S. military, that could be a devastating blow against themselves as well.

CURNOW: There have been some suggestions that the Pentagon warn it had White House that this could be dangerous and the White House ignored these

warnings. Do we know anything about that?

BROWNE: We do know that senior administration officials both from the Pentagon and the intelligence community had advised against this

declaration at times and in fact, we had heard earlier that the administration has been moving to make this designation of the IRGC as a

terrorist group several months ago. And that slipped and we believe part of the reason was because of this discussion, because of this debate,

because certain officials had cautioned that there could be repercussions from this.

However, we now know that the Trump administration decided to proceed and the Pentagon is saying it's behind that decision and it will help implement

that decision. It's largely rhetorical. This designation doesn't have a lot of meat on it for lack of a better word. There are some -- the

Department of Justice could take some new actions, but for the military, U.S. military side, the declaration doesn't change much for them as they

view Iran.

CURNOW: OK. Great to have you guys. Thanks so much. Appreciate it. Ryan was talking about timing. Well Mr. Trump's move was welcomed by the

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He praised Donald Trump in a tweet thanking him for the decision. It comes hours before Israel comes to

the polls. Mr. Netanyahu is hoping to win a record fifth term as Prime Minister and polls show his party is neck and neck with his main rivals,

the former military general.

Oren Liebermann joins us from Israel. I want to get your take on the ground. Is it a political gift for Mr. Netanyahu?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it has the looks of it. Not quite as big as what happened two weeks ago when President Trump noticed

the sovereignty of the Golan. It looks like a gift to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just about 12 hours or so before polls open. There is

no doubt that's how Netanyahu is playing it. He didn't thank Netanyahu him in a tweet, he said thank you for responding to another one of my important


Netanyahu seems to be taking credit or some credit for this decision from the White House saying this is one of his requests. We know others would

be canceling the Iran nuclear deal, Netanyahu has played that up and his relationship with Trump in the lead up to the elections. We know there's

someone else who thinks this was a gift to Trump to Netanyahu. The foreign minister said it's a misguided election eve gift to Netanyahu.

So regardless of Trump's intent, that's how Netanyahu is playing it. Is it enough? Netanyahu was in one of the central markets in Jerusalem and he

told his followers there, we're behind, if you don't bring out more voters, we're going to lose the election. Polls show this is quite close. It

looks like Netanyahu may be playing the underdog card here. It worked well for him in 2015. Let's see how it works tomorrow.

CURNOW: It's such a critical election and we also know Mr. Netanyahu has been getting a lot of attention regarding his comments about settlements in

the west bank as well.

LIEBERMANN: We saw it in 2015 on the eve of the elections. He said there would be no Palestinian state under him. And suddenly he was surging

ahead. We expected the same thing and we got it in this statement about annexing the statements.

[14:10:10] He said I'm not just going to annex the settlement blocs, but also the isolated settlements themselves. His rival, former chief of

staff, said it's an irresponsible comment you made, you've also had 13 years to do it, so there's no reason to believe you now. Annex the

settlement blocs, but also the isolated settlements themselves. His rival, former chief of staff, said it's an irresponsible comment you made, you've

also had 13 years to do it, so there's no reason to believe you now.

That was Netanyahu's move. It looks like he's trying to suck up as many right-wing votes as possible. He wants to come out ahead. It looked like

he was trailing but he had the better chance of forming a coalition. With this move to the right, he risks putting some of his right-wing coalition

partners under the electoral threshold. He may lose out on some parties. His strategy is to go for the biggest party when the polls close.

CURNOW: Covering all of that, Oren Liebermann on the ground.

A government official says a near systemic purge is underway at the country's second largest national security agency. We just learned that

the President has ordered the Director of the Secret Service to be fired that. Director's boss, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen

resigned under pressure just yesterday. She was the face of the administration's hard-line stance on illegal immigration. But apparently,

she wasn't hard line enough. Today she thanked President Trump, though, for the opportunity to serve.

Take a listen.


KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I share the President's goal at securing the border. I will continue to support all efforts to

address the humanitarian and security crisis on the border. Other than that, I'm on my way to keep doing what I can for the next few days.


CURNOW: Show of support for Mr. Trump there, but behind closed doors, Nielsen worried that the President might be coming -- a quote here,

unhinged. Let's bring in White House correspondent Abby Phillip for more on all of these details. I want to talk broadly what we're seeing with

this new information that this official saying what we're seeing is a near systemic purge in America's second largest national security agency.

What's happening?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This is all unfolding as we speak. A lot of these details coming out right now. What's interesting

about this departure of the U.S. secret service director is that it was actually passed down several weeks ago, that Mick Mulvaney, the acting

chief of staff, was asked by the President to ask Randolph "Tex" Alles to leave his job. They asked him to stay on for several weeks while they

looked for a successor.

Kirstjen Nielsen was seeing -- coming down the pipe, the possibility that a lot of her deputies would also be pushed out of their jobs. We're learning

that Stephen Miller, one of the President's top aides, has been trying to push out the General Counsel at DHS, the head of USCIS, and now most

recently, Kirstjen Nielsen was asked to resign yesterday.

So, there's a clear shift in power happening within this administration where Stephen Miller, the President's top aide who has always dealt with

these issues of immigration, has been empowered to make some of these decisions. The President announced in a meeting in the oval office

recently that miller would be charge of a portfolio that includes immigration issues and he's using that power to create some personnel

changes at DHS. We I don't think have seen the end of this.

What we're seeing now is an unfolding of a changing of guard where the President wants people in these jobs who are tougher.

CURNOW: Again, in terms of our reporting, one official saying this is a wholesale decapitation of the homeland department -- the department of

homeland security leadership. Maybe it's not over. Kirstjen Nielsen also behind the scenes suggesting that the President is unhinged about all of

this immigration conversation. What do we know more about that?

PHILLIP: Well, the tension between President Trump and Kirstjen Nielsen has always been about what is the means to their shared end. You heard her

say earlier today that she agrees with the President about wanting to resolve this issue at the border, wanting to reduce the number of migrants

who make the journey up to the U.S. southern border. But where they butted heads was how to do that.

[14:15:00] The President has pushed her to do difficult things, things that in some cases might violate the law, one of those things is related to the

family separation issue, that this policy they put in place, zero tolerance, resulted in children being separated from their parents. It was

struck down in the courts and the President had pushed her to reinstate it. We're learning that as the President has pushed to close the border, that

was something that Nielsen and other officials pushed back on.

It would cause economic chaos, and other issues and so you're seeing Nielsen pushing back on some of these things, on the issue of asylum, the

President wants DHS to stop people from being able to claim asylum in the United States which would violate both U.S. and international law. There

were some problems with the President's wish list and how that might be accomplished by the people in those positions. Nielsen couldn't push back

any longer and she was especially pushed out of her job.

CURNOW: Thank you very much. Abby Phillip, good to speak to you.

Still to come tonight --


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're going from door to door trying to figure out who is out there.

That sound you hear, tear gas cannons. We're trapped.


CURNOW: In this exclusive interview, Nima Elbagir goes under cover in Sudan where an uprising could be brewing. What the country's government

doesn't want you to see, that, after the break.


CURNOW: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I want to talk about an unfolding situation in Sudan where the government is enforcing a brutal

crack down of protests demanding the resignation of the president, Omar al- Bashir. Two more people have been killed today bringing the death toll to 8 since Saturday. Reports from the country's capita, Khartoum, say some

army troops are now protecting demonstrators from security forces. Well, CNN has witnessed this brutal crack down on protests and in an exclusive

report, our Nima Elbagir takes us inside this uprising and I must give you a warning, this report does contain images you might find disturbing.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is my hometown, Khartoum. For months now in the grip of pro-democracy protests.

Much of it hidden from the world by Sudan's government and yet people here are still risking everything to change. Even as the United States works to

restore diplomatic relations with Sudan's government.

[14:20:00] Khartoum, 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 years has triggered protests against one of the world's longest serving dictators. President al-Bashir.

The government doesn't want the world to know what's happening. Any journalist caught reporting on the demonstrations risks life imprisonment

and the death penalty. In the crowd, I try to stand back and film with secret cameras and smart phones and hope I'm not spotted. You can smell

the tear gas that they've been releasing. The people here are starting to get tense.

Some of the demonstrators start shouting that national security agents are on their way. Operatives infamous for their brutality, we have to leave.

A family agrees to hide us in what people here call a safe House. But really, it's just someone's home. The national security agents have

arrived. They're going from House to House. We've been brought into a safe House. We don't know how long we're going to have to wait here.

They're trying to figure out how to get us out of here. I just saw their cars driving -- they're going from door to door trying to figure out who is

out during the demonstrations.

That sound you hear, tear gas cannons. We're 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. The neighbor's son.

In the end we leave our equipment behind and take the risk to run. We got lucky but so many others didn't. CNN gathered detailed testimony from

former detainees held in government facilities of the over 3,000 people who have been arrested since the demonstrations began, almost all say they've

been abused. One of them agrees to speak to us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, ABUSED BY SUDANESE GOVERNMENT forces (through translator): They were all masked, armed, and holding batons. We were

beaten. One man slapped me on the left side of my face and 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: Ghost houses. Torture houses which the government says don't exist. We went to try and find one. For all of us who grew up under the

dictatorship, it conjures up immediately the horrors this government is accused of right in the central of the city we find a heavy military and

intelligence presence. On your left, a screened off square, a holding pen. Activists picked up in the city center tell us that beaten here according

to their alleged crime.

We can't linger. Everywhere there is a high level of security. From here, activists say they're moved onto any one of the ghost houses scattered

around town. Using descriptions given to us by eyewitnesses and activists formerly held there, we're 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 appeared to be

detainees. Worse, though, is in store.

Many of the detainees we interviewed described being tortured just across the river here in what's known as the refrigerator. Its very name inspires

terror and yet one woman agreed to speak to us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, DETAINED AND TORTURED IN SUDAN (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 they were knives piercing our bodies. They were the

worst two days of my life.

[14:25:00] ELBAGIR: So why is President Trump's administration in talks to restore the relationship. 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 victim's families.

The U.S. State Department does not deny that talks are continuing with Sudan or this is ultimately about the terror claims but says relations will

improve only if the government takes step related to human rights. Th talks to improve relations continue. After days of searching, we are able

to verify that the neighbor's son was released only after hours of torture he says.

You can see it here. Another causality 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. The horrors have been going on for so much longer. And there's still no end in sight.


CURNOW: Nima joins us now. We're hearing from within the government the defense minister making a statement or perhaps even a threat.

ELBAGIR: Yes, Robyn. Many of those gathered on the ground has been holding out hope that the army would be stepping in to flip the switch on a

transition. The defense minister seeming to indicate that that is not quite the case saying they would not allow the army to be used in any way

that would allow for any kind of security downfall or insecurity in Sudan.

But this comes while opposition figures have pulled a Venezuela. They are saying they've set up a transition council. The government is no longer

legitimate. The impasse continues, the crowds are in front of the armed forces headquarters showing no signs of moving on in spite of as you saw in

our piece there, the tolls of oppression at this government's disposal.

CURNOW: What do we know, though about this momentum against Mr. Bashar?

ELBAGIR: This is absolutely unprecedented and it comes just at the end of his 30th year and there is a sense that having consolidated power, so much

around himself and his family and the family of his wife, he has ended up consolidating the blame around him and there's a sense that deals perhaps

are beginning to be made, conversations about deals are being had. Is there a way for the ruling party to survive without Bashir?

His defense minister coming out is trying to show that the army at least at the very top will not be part of that, Robyn.

CURNOW: Thanks some. Nima Elbagir. Still to come tonight, Theresa May gets ready to take European talks. She'll be in Berlin as a crucial week

for Brexit looms again. Harry and Meghan will have plenty to worry about and now thanks to the U.S. tax system, the royal accountants have their

hands full. That's coming up as well.



[14:30:35] ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Strap yourselves in. It's going to be another -- yes, another, manic week for Brexit. Remember,

if nothing changes before Friday, Britain crashes out without a deal. And Theresa May is frantically trying to avoid just that. We know that talks

to the opposition Labour Party are ongoing to try and get a deal that will make it through parliament. And Downing Street says they are meeting as we


And then on Tuesday, Theresa May heads to Berlin and Paris for last-minute talks with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. Now, that's ahead of a

crucial E.U. summit on Wednesday where she needs to convince all 27 E.U. leaders to back her idea of a further extension. And then that brings us

back to that big date, Friday.

So let's get more on all of this. Bianca Nobilo is in London. Atika Shubert joins me from Berlin.

Bianca, OK. So this is a pretty big week ahead. And as we know, lots of talking even taking place right now.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Technical talks are happening between the Labour Party team and the prime minister's team.

What we know about the substance of those talks is it centered around this issue of a custom's union.

Now, there are some things which are less controversial like the idea of ensuring workers' rights are protected, environmental standards are upheld,

dynamic alignment on goods and regulations. So what that means is just that the U.K. would keep up with when the E.U. changes laws and regulations

on certain things. That's what the dynamic alignment refers to.

Now, where it gets really thorny is this issue of a customs union. The Labour Party had been pushing for a softer Brexit, a permanent, and

comprehensive customs union. But a huge amount of the prime minister's own party object to that. In fact, only about 10 percent of the prime

minister's party supported the idea of a customs union in votes last week. Because you can imagine that puts her in a really difficult position.

The other thorny issue is this one of a confirmatory vote. Basically a second referendum. So that would be a public vote to ratify whatever deal

it was that the leaders managed to agree on.

The final thing which I'm understanding is being discussed between the two parties is this idea of a lock on whatever is agreed between May and Corbyn

being protected from any future leader on picking it.

Now, you can appreciate why this is important for the Labour Party. Theresa May has said, after all, that if her withdrawal agreement passes,

she will step down and make way for a new leader of the Conservative Party. That could be someone as deeply Eurosceptic as Boris Johnson, let's say, or

another Eurosceptic candidate. In which case, they might have an incentive to try and opt for a harder Brexit and a more distance future relationship.

Now, that wouldn't sit well with the Labour Party. So these discussions are centered around, how can the Labour Party ensure that whatever is

agreed between the two teams, at the moment, isn't going to be undone by a future leader?

There doesn't seem to be indications coming from either team that there's huge amount of progress at the moment. In fact, the Labour party have said

that the prime minister seems unwilling to budge from her original red lines. And this is all just a day or so out from when the prime minister

has to be able to present the E.U. with some kind of plan or process to justify that longer extension.

CURNOW: Yes. So many naughty issues here. So with that happening, Angela Merkel -- Atika, where you are, Angela Merkel is very key in this. She's

meeting Ms. May tomorrow. What does Germany want?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Germany, like much of the other -- rest of the E.U. nations, wants to know what it is

that Great Britain wants. You know, this is the sticking point. Can there be a credible alternative to the withdrawal agreement that has already been


This is what they need -- what the E.U. needs, particularly, to have an extension. Without another credible alternative, you know, the crash out

date is still Friday.

Now, the question here is, what will happen if there is a longer -- if there is an extension? Does the U.K. sort of end up in this half in, half

out of the E.U.? And this is something that Germany definitely does not want.

If the U.K. is going to have this longer extension, the E.U. and Germany's position has always been, it must participant in European elections. And

so a much longer extension might be a possibility. But for Germany, it's got to know that there is some way out of this, that Britain is going to

put together some sort of credible alternative.

[14:35:07] Whether or not that's going to materialize, before Prime Minister May comes to Berlin to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel, we just

don't know yet.

CURNOW: Yes. I mean, it's difficult to tell. But, Atika, do you think that the Europeans would give Mrs. May her extension? Is that that


Shubert: I don't think they're likely to give the June 30 extension that she requested, but they could give a much longer extension if they feel

that there is some sort of a guarantee that, yes, the U.K. will be able to put together either this withdrawal agreement or a credible alternative.

But if they don't see a way forward yet, then there may be this inclination to say, well, what is a longer extension really going to get us? And this

is what Theresa May will have to be -- will really have to convince Angela Merkel of tomorrow.

CURNOW: She certainly will and we'll be talking about that tomorrow as well. Thanks, ladies, Atika and Bianca. Appreciate it.

So Brexit wasn't the only big news coming out of Westminster today and this story could certainly have big, big implications for the internet. The

British government is planning to make tech firms legally responsible for the content on their platforms. It says internet sites could be fined or

blocked if they fail to remove material that is damaging to individuals or countries.

So Hadas Gold has the very latest on this story coming out of London. I mean, this is interesting that the Brits certainly getting ahead on this


HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they are also falling in line sort of what Europe, in general, has been doing when it comes to

regulating these tech platforms. This has been a long anticipated white paper from the U.K. government laying out how they plan to possibly

regulate what they say are user generated online platforms.

These are things like Twitter, Facebook, but it also could be file sharing site as well. They said that these tech platforms should adhere to a code

of practice. This would include things like removing conduct that's deemed harmful, everything from terrorist content to anything that seems to

encourage suicide or self-harm. They have these different categories for what these -- what these types of content would be that would need to be


Now, we didn't have details necessarily on it, for example, the time period they would need to remove this. But this laid out sort of general idea of

what the U.K. government sees as a possible way forward. This would also include appointing an independent regulator would have the power to find --

and potentially even block websites and apps from being accessed from the U.K. if they do not adhere to this code of practice.

And there's actually a new element that individual managers, at these companies, could be held personally responsible, and personally liable for

what appears on their websites.

I actually spoke with the U.K. Digital and Culture Secretary just a few hours ago on this exact topic. Take a listen.


JEREMY WRIGHT, U.K. DIGITAL, CULTURE, AND SPORT SECRETARY: One of the things we're looking at in this white paper, and we want to hear views on,

is whether or not we should pursue individual direct liability, whether civil or criminal. And, of course, also, even higher up the scale you

might argue. We're looking at the possibility that websites that refuse to comply with the regulator will find themselves excluded from the U.K. all


And we think it's important that we consider all of these options. They all have practical challenges to them. But it's important that we consider

them all at this stage, so that the regulator when it does begin its work, has a suitable range of sanctions available to it.

GOLD: Are you not worried that some platforms will right off operating in the U.K. entirely rather than deal with these regulations?

WRIGHT: Well, I think if they were going to take that approach, they'd have to do it on the basis that they believe the U.K. would be the only

place to have such regulations. I don't think that's realistic.

We may be the first, and I will be proud of the fact that we are. But I think we won't be the last. And I think other countries which are dealing

with exactly the same kinds of pressures as we are exactly the same demands from their citizens to keep themselves and their children safe online, will

want to pursue something very similar to what we're setting out.


GOLD: And, Robyn, this proposal will now go through a 12-week consultation period before it will likely go through a lengthy process of debates and

votes before actually becoming law.

CURNOW: OK. Thanks for that update. Hadas, appreciate it, there in London.

So still to come tonight, burning African-American churches was a terror tactic used during the American civil rights era. Well, now, a series of

suspicious blazes make some worry it could be happening again.


[14:40:32] CURNOW: Well, residents in the southern U.S. State of Louisiana are anxious for some answers. That's because just in the last two weeks,

suspicious fires have damaged three historically African-American churches in just one parish alone. Investigators say they're getting more tips

every hour. One pastor says his faith will get him through the fear.


HARRY RICHARD, PASTOR, GREATER UNION BAPTIST CHURCH: Quite naturally something like this would shake our -- shake us up in the natural -- I'm

very concerned. But I'm very optimistic because God, our faith is in God. And no matter what happens, I feel like that's -- this is his plan. This

is God's plan. He allowed it and I believe he brought me here. He's going to bring me through this.

CURNOW: There's a whole bunch of faith there. So let's go to Athena Jones for now, now with the latest on this investigation. What do we know about

how all of these incidents are connected and certainly causing concern?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Robyn. Exactly. This is disturbing. So far, authorities have not linked these three fires, but we

know that there are fires at three black churches all in the same parish. A parish would be the equivalent of a county in other U.S. States.

All of these fires taking place under suspicious circumstances. All of them being set in the middle of the night. So there were no injuries

involved. And these were all very old churches, churches that had a long- standing ties to the community.

I spoke with one woman who's 75 years old and she said her father, her father's father and her father's father's father went to this -- to one of

these churches that was burned to the ground. So there's a lot of concern. We know that the FBI and officials from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol,

Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, are helping out with the investigation.

We know that law enforcement had an increased presence at churches in the area just yesterday on Sunday. But there's a lot of concern. This began

on March 26th. There have been three fires at three separate churches. There's a fourth fire that's being looked at in another area that's a

predominantly white church. So they're not certain that that's connected. But there's just a lot of concern in the community. Robyn.

CURNOW: Yes. And I mean, it's important to note here that burning churches, particularly African-American churches was a tactic in the old

days used to intimidate and cause terror. So that's why particularly under the current sort of political tensions that we're seeing, the rise of white

nationalism as well, that's why there are real issues around what's been happening here.

CURNOW: Well, absolutely. The black church has been certainly essential in the black community. But also, it played a central role when it came to

the civil rights movement. Back in the 50s and 60s, a lot of the organizing and the meetings that were taking place to plan these marches

and events were done at black churches. So they had played a central role.

Everyone remembers or has heard the story that the tragedy of 1963, the Birmingham church bombing when those four little black girls died. And, of

course, just a few years ago, we saw a white supremacist target a black church in Charleston, South Carolina with the shooting of several folks at

that mother -- Emanuel AME.

So this is -- black churches have often been a target now. These pastors, so far, are saying they don't -- they don't want to say this is racially

motivated until they know that it's racially motivated. But the folks in the community are concerned saying, this can't be a coincidence. What

church is going to be next?

[14:45:00] The woman I spoke to said, "Look, it puts you on edge as a human being, all of our hearts are broken. Everybody's heart is bleeding for

these churches. How do you do this in God's house?"

So there's clearly a lot of concern. The fire marshal, the state fire marshal warns that arson investigations can take a long time, because

you're dealing with a lot evidence that's been destroyed. I mean, these churches are pretty much burned down very much to the ground. I mean,

there's only debris left. So it could take a while to get to the bottom of this.

CURNOW: Yes. I mean, as you said, I think some of them are over a hundred years old. So, what else have people been saying to you? I know you've

been talking to a lot of people. I mean, in terms of how they're going to go forward, this is certainly playing into -- as I was saying, the broader

political tensions that we're seeing.

JONES: Well, one woman I saw, she's 75 years old, she's lived in the area all of her life. She only left for college. She said, she's never known

this to happen in the past. And so she told me she's very happy that the FBI is involved. She's hoping that they can get to the bottom of this.

We've heard from the state fire marshal saying it's imperative that the entire community do what they can to try to help authorities figure out who

is at fault for these fires. But, yes, there's general concern. I will tell you that the woman -- several people I spoke to said that their

churches have been -- or planning to hold a collection, to collect money to help the affected church communities.

And this woman I spoke with said that she went to a white church yesterday, and that that church also prayed for these churches. So the area is coming

together around this disturbing, at this point, mystery of these three black churches in the same parish being set fire over the course of just

over about a week and a half. Robyn?

CURNOW: Athena Jones, thanks so much for that update. Keep us posted if there's any new information.

So the United Nations says nearly 3,000 people have fled the violence in and around Libya's capital. Libyan officials say they successfully

repelled an offense from the country's biggest militia which is attempting to seize Tripoli.

Meantime, the United Nations and the E.U. are calling for humanitarian truce. There's been a long simmering power struggle since Muammar Gaddafi

was overthrown in 2011. Dozens of people, military and civilian have been killed or wounded in just the past few days alone.

The fighting is blocking emergency vehicles from reaching casualties. We also know it threatens a U.N. conference later this month that was set a

planned elections to counter years of anarchy.

And then across Venezuela, fearless women are taking on the government. Desperate to find justice for murdered family members. Thousands of

fathers and sons are being tortured and executed with no consequence for the killers. Here's David Mackenzie sharing some of their stories.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Araceli Sanchez keeps track of the killings, despite the death threats. She says

she won't give up.

ARACELI SANCHEZ, VICTIM'S MOTHER (through translator): We have to denounce that. We have to document it. We know we are not in a time of justice,

but it has to be done. Because if we stay quiet, we allow the same thing that happened to us to happen to others.

MCKENZIE: She wants justice for her son, Dal Wilson (ph), a promising student shot in the back by a suspected state actors in 2013. And for the

thousands of men killed in extrajudicial violence in Venezuela.

SANCHEZ: It's a massacre, an extermination of young Venezuelans.

MCKENZIE: Human rights groups say the crackdown on Venezuela's young men is getting worse with frequent raids into the barrios surrounding Caracas.

Nicolas Maduro's government says it's to curb crime. But the barrios are turning on his regime.

CARMEN ARROYO, VICTIM'S MOTHER: I think that this is terrorism, that they inflict in the people of the barrios. So that the people do not come out

and protest.

MCKENZIE: To face their fear Araceli's formed formed a support group of women. They speak out, agitate and file lawsuits against the state.

But for some, the pain is still too raw.

YARLEIDYS DIAS, VICTIM'S WIFE (through translator): It was horrible. They had no compassion for our little girl. Nothing. They just took him as

they struck him. They put him on the van and they hit him and they hit hum and they hit him.

MCKENZIE: Yarleidys says her engineering husband, Ronny (ph), was grabbed and marched from their home by men in black uniforms. She searched for him

for weeks. She doesn't know why they took him, doesn't know what to tell her three children.

DIAS (through translator): His children are asking for that. Asking for their dad. I have no more words to explain things to my children because

of them.

MCKENZIE: The state hasn't commented on Ronny's case. He was found next to a pile of trash, both hands missing and badly burned.

DIAS (through translator): Just as my children ended up without a father, there are a lot of kids who could as well if we continue this way.

MCKENZIE: David McKenzie, CNN, Caracas, Venezuela.


[14:50:08] CURNOW: Thanks to David for that powerful report there.

You're watching CNN. More news to come.


CURNOW: So we want to end the show on a little bit of escapism. If you fancy getting away, and these days boy, oh, boy, it can feel like there are

plenty of reasons.

To a region in India is offering those with cash, the chance to live like royalty. Take a look.


CYRIL VARNIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): Rajasthan, the Land of Kings. From the Mehrangarh Fort to Jodhpur, a sea of blue houses washes

over, and otherwise, arid landscape. The iconic hue, once the mark of nobility. But for the better part of the last century, the zenith of

Jodhpury wealth, power, and privilege was centered here, at the Umaid Bhawan Palace, home to the royal family that founded Jodhpur and ruled this

region from the 15th century.

GAJ SINGH II, MAHARAJA OF JODHPUR: A line of 800 years. My grandfather had resisted for some time the idea of building a new palace. But every

state in the neighborhood had built new palaces (INAUDIBLE) training time from his private palaces. My grandfather said, "OK, now, we build a


VANIER: After India gained independence from the British in 1947, things started to change for the royals of Rajasthan. Titles became honorary and

allowances were stripped. So the present maharaja, Gaj Singh II, made a move in the early 70s to preserve Umaid Bhawan and its wanted history, by

turning a part of his home into a hotel.

MEHRNAVAZ AVARI, GENERAL MANAGER, UMAID BHAWAN PALACE: In India, particularly in Rajasthan, people are very proud of their culture and

heritage and they like to preserve their heritage. I think the best way to do that is to convert it to hotels.

Within India, these beautiful palaces take you back centuries and decades to see how the maharajas were actually living at that time and it gives you

a glimpse of history that you can't get otherwise.

VANIER: Blending Western and Indian styles, the Umaid Bhawan is a vision in Sandstone that luxuriates on 26 acres and 70 suite style rooms overlook

manicured bougainvillea and roaming peacock. A night at the palace can fetch upwards of $700 during peak season.

Standard hotels are a bit like factories. It's a very fast-paced business. The level of personalization is much higher at palaces. At the palace,

you're actually treated like a maharajah or a maharani.


CURNOW: Well, Britain's royal family will welcome a happy new edition any day now. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, are expecting

their first child. You know that.

[14:55:01] Well, the baby will also be the seventh in line for the British throne and also crucially this is what happened before a U.S. citizen. So

that means the royal accountants are also expecting a bundle of paperwork. Here's Max Foster.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are also in greatly honored tonight to welcome the royal highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.


MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since Harry and Meghan announced their pregnancy last October, all eyes have been on one royal and

her emerging bump. Even the palace accountants are taking interest, and that's because Meghan is a U.S. citizen and both she and her baby, the

seventh in line to the throne, will be liable for U.S. taxes.

DAVID TREITEL, FOUNDER, AMERICAN TAX RETURNS LTD.: Ultimately, the taxes in the United States, the law says all income everywhere is taxed, unless

it's exempt. So compensation from personal injury is exempt. For example a few other things are exempt. But most income everywhere is taxed. So

the baby has income, Meghan has income, they're taxed.

FOSTER: That could potentially open up the notoriously private royal accounts to the IRS. The Internal Revenue Service.

TREITEL: The queen's got to sit there and her advisers have to sit there. I think it would have liked, lend Meghan -- if I have the baby use abuses

for silver rattle that was used by Queen Victoria, how much is that worth? What's the value of it? How much it's been reported to the states? It's a

tough question. It's not easy.

FOSTER: There's the wedding ring, gifted by the queen from a nugget of Welsh gold in the royal collection. There's the priceless diamond and the

engagement ring from Princess Diana's world famous jewelry collection. There are also the wedding presence from international royalty and a-list

friends. And the biggest gifts of them all, the multimillion dollar newly renovated home in Windsor where the couple got married.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope to cook for you next time.

MEGHAN MARKLE, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: Oh, thank you. Yes. My whole family next time.

FOSTER: Any way for Meghan to avoid paying U.S. taxes will be to renounce her U.S. citizenship. However, even she does that, the baby will still be

liable to U.S. taxes until the age of 18.

Max Foster, CNN, London.


CURNOW: It was never simple when the tax man is involved.

So that's the show for today. I'm Robyn Curnow. Thanks so much for watching. CNN is the place for you to get all the latest news. And, of

course, Richard Quest is also joining us right now. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next.