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Netanyahu And Gantz Both Claim Victory In Israeli Election; Barr Criticized For Summary Of Mueller Report; Barr: White House Made No Changes To Summary; Mnuchin Clashes With Waters Over Leaving Hearing. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired April 10, 2019 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And the winner is no one, at least not yet. Israel's election still too close to call despite claims of victory from the leaders of the two main political parties.

If you like a seasoned one in Brexit, good news. The reality horror show looks set to be renewed for another 12 months with the E.U. leader proposing a year-long extension. And the U.S. President may have finally found the Attorney General he always wanted. William Barr appears before Congress, stonewalls Democrats and makes it clear he plans to never release a full unredacted version of the Mueller Russia Report.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world, I'm John Vause, you watching CNN NEWSROOM. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed the result is a great victory. His chief rival Benny Gantz says he's the real winner. But the day after the night before with more than 90 percent of the votes counted, the parties of both candidates are hovering around 26 percent.

Now it's all about building a coalition and that's where Netanyahu may have the advantage in forming a right-wing government. And if he wins this fifth term as Prime Minister, he's said become the longest- serving Prime Minister in Israeli history. Staying power could also give Netanyahu political capital to try and end multiple corruption investigations.

So it's too soon though to count out Gantz. The political novice has proved to be Netanyahu's toughest opponents. He leads the centrist Blue and White Party. He was a military chief of staff, a career soldier, a challenge of the Prime Minister's reputation as Mr. Security. CNN's Michael Holmes live for us once again this hour from Jerusalem.

So, Michael, it's now up to Israel's president to decide which party will get the first chance to try and form a workable coalition government. So explain the process here. How does it play out? If both parties say end up with 35 seats each, how does the president decide who goes first? Will he flip a shekel, they rock-paper- scissors, how does it work? MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, both of those things. But there's also a lot of horse trading and deal-making that goes on here to win over the smaller parties. You got the two bigger parties, you've got Likud, you've got a Blue and White, but there's a bunch of smaller parties, perhaps ten, 11. We don't know yet actually.

That horse trading is still going on. We don't know which parties are going to make the cut in terms of the 3.25 percent of the vote you need to get seats in the Senate. Now, when we do and it could take a day or two, then the president Reuven Rivlin, he asks a delegation from each party which has won seats to come in and see him and he asks which Knesset members they think has the best chance of forming a government. That might not happen until perhaps the weekend.

Now, after he consults with each party, the president, then within seven days has to ask one member of the newly elected Knesset to come back and accept the job of forming a government. The clock starts. That M.P. has -- or M.K. has 28 days to form a government. You are basically for several years, you know better than most it is complicated.

VAUSE: Everything in Israel is complicated. Nothing is ever easy. It's just how the place works. It's part of the endearing qualities. You know, at the last election date back in 2015, Netanyahu you know, put up this warning that Israeli voters are turning out in great numbers and there was all that getting him that are all against him.

This time we had a video message from Netanyahu complete with this audio which he said were recordings of conversations between senior opposition lawmakers are talking about plans to form a government with the support from Israeli-Arab parties. You know, everyone who was accused of this denied it. Arab says they've never been part of a coalition government.

We also have the situation with 1,200 hidden cameras which were found in these Arab-Israeli voting areas. Netanyahu said they were there to monitor the vote. And all this seems have had the desired effect of turning out support for the right at the same time sending the Arab vote to an all-time low. And that sets some major implications here.

HOLMES: Yes. It really was the -- it was the lowest turnout we've seen in many, many years. And in some ways, John, it shows the hopelessness I suppose of Israeli Arabs, Palestinians in the Israeli political system, also too it has to be said in their own representatives that they haven't come up with much.

There's a -- there's a palpable loss of faith in the system itself and it end the notion of any peace proposal that's going to be acceptable to Palestinians. That's a distant thing and not helped of course by Benjamin Netanyahu promising to declare Israeli sovereignty over all settlements in the West Bank big and small.

You know, one of the two Israeli Arab parties, in fact, is just hovering above that threshold. I mentioned earlier, if it doesn't make it, the other Arab-Israeli group will have six seats. That is pretty poor representation when you consider that Israel Arabs, Palestinians make up 22 percent of the population in Israel.

So there was a call among the Palestinian population to boycott this election. It looks like that turn -- that was heeded in many ways, not a good result for that section of the electorate.

[01:05:27] VAUSE: It also seems that there's two narratives playing out right now that this is -- this result is either a huge blow politically to Netanyahu or it's an incredible success. The argument is you know, with the economy doing so well, you've got the security situation relatively stable, you get the President of the United States weighing in multiple times to give Bibi a bit of a boost. That you know, really the Likud shows a lot better than winning what, 35 seats.

You know, on the other hand they say you know, this is actually the party's best showing if it gets over 33 seats which it looks like -- looks like it will. This is the best showing since 2003 since Ariel Sharon.

HOLMES: Yes. I mean, a lot of people here going with the latter. You know, you've got those corruption and bribery allegations hanging over Netanyahu, a possible indictment coming down the line in the months ahead. But still, he's looking at the moment like the ultimate survivor for now.

You know, as you know well, he's got this political guile, this cunning, this ruthlessness in spades. His opponent in this election Benny Gantz certainly has security credentials but no political experience and it showed. You know, it was often said that this was a referendum on Bibi Netanyahu. Many portrayed it that way.

But let's face it. At the end of the day, Bibi he got more seats than he did in the last election even though those legal troubles loom large on the horizon. So it's hard to see it as a failure for him when you look at it on the face of the results that he's got compared to even last time.

VAUSE: He is the ultimate political l survival -- political survivor. You know, he -- back in what, 2005, he led the Likud to 11 seats in the Knesset. And one idiot reporter said that was the end of his political career and that was me. Michael, good to see you, Mike. Thank you.

Staying with the Israeli elections, now we hit the Tel Aviv and Dalia Dassa Kaye, Director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy at the RAND Corporation. Dalia, thank you for being with us.

Thank you.

VAUSE: OK, Netanyahu needs a coalition of 61 seats for a majority. That's at least 61. This is the Knesset. If he was put together maybe 65 seats which just kind of looks possible right now, how will the indictments or the possibility of indictments impact those coalition negotiations and then the stability of a government. How much harder will it be for him to try and govern with these indictments looming over him and you know, his future? DALIA DASSA KAYE, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR MIDDLE EAST PUBLIC POLICY, RAND CORPORATION: Yes. Well, it will certainly be a challenge. Right now the numbers are looking like the right side of the block has about 65 and the center-left has 55. So it's -- he has a pretty clear path to building this coalition. I think it was understood he would be doing this under the threat of indictments. He is facing indictment for bribery and corruption.

Because he is able to form a full right nationalist religious coalition as it looks now, he will probably be going for the potential of immunity if he can get it. At the very least, you know, he will be trying to -- he will be trying to stay out of jail frankly. But there is questions about whether there may have to be new elections by even as early as late summer if -- depending on how serious the charges are. We have yet to see them or you know, they have yet to be made public before the election.

So it's going to be a serious battle. While he did survive this election, he is facing some serious criminal issues.

VAUSE: What are the chances of success if he goes out there and says look, this is you know, like the Donald Trump argument about you know, the people knew all about these indictments. They've elected me anyway. The people of Israel don't care.

KAYE: Yes. Well, he could make that argument. Although the rule of law I think that you know, it's still very difficult to really combat that. You know, I don't know if he'll get immunity but he may have to it eventually resign. But he -- he's going to -- he's going to probably fight it out.

And don't forget these ministers, this government, you know, they're in positions of power. They're very comfortable with this government so they're not going to want to give up their positions and risk a new election and who knows what could happen. Look how close it did appear at one point last night.

So I think he's going to have some leverage. He came out pretty well. The center-left is looking incredibly weak. Of course Blue and White did better than many expected. It came out of nowhere. But the Labor Party is completely diminished. It has you know, only it looks like about six votes that you're talking about from the height of Labor's power under Yitzhak Rabin in 92 with a third of the seats in the Knesset, the height of the peace process.

So Netanyahu is -- he's got more leverage than one might have bought going into this. So I think he's probably feeling pretty good today.

[01:10:09] VAUSE: Yes. And this was a much tighter race than anyone had expected between Bibi and Gantz. But I'm wondering is it anyway at this point to quantify the impact that the U.S. president had on the outcome. You know, the recognizing the Golan Heights, you know for one listing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. You know, both of which Bibi took credit for essentially.

Is their way of knowing if that actually had a positive impact for Netanyahu?

KAYE: You know, it's really hard to say it certainly couldn't have hurt. Of course, remember, there were missiles from Hamas that just hit in the Tel Aviv area just weeks ago. So you know, those kinds of issues probably have as much of an effect as anything that President Trump does. The Israelis are very security minded and that's what they vote for first and foremost.

In fact, that's why Benny Gantz fits so well with his military credentials. So I -- you know, I don't think it's hard to quantify but I think ultimately what really locked it in is that we have to recognize that the Israeli society and political system has structurally moved very much to the right to the nationalist and religious side of the equation.

And so even if Benny Gantz have had more votes or his party managed to have more votes, it wasn't clear if he would have a path to be able to form a government. So you know, President Trump didn't have to work too hard given the structural dynamics in Israeli politics today that have moved very much to the right.

VAUSE: And with that move to the right, we're hearing from the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority who made the point to CNN that neither major party in Israel actually has a peace plan. He said the competition in Israeli elections is between those who want to annex Palestinian territories and those who want to maintain the status quo.

I mean, is he right essentially the outcome of this election is meaningless to the peace process?

KAYE: You know, one say meaningless but it is a good point. And there really isn't a status quo as we speak. You know, facts are changing on the ground and Israel is controlling and settlement expansion is continuing large segments of the West Bank. I'm quite pessimistic on this front I have to say. I think we are moving toward an annexation scenario. We need to be prepared for that.

The Prime Minister Netanyahu who looks like he will be the next prime minister of Israel again has -- did make the election promise that if you know, if he survived that he would move ahead with this. In the past he's been more reluctant than other members of even his own party to do so, but I think he'll have a significant pressure.

And I think he's certainly not going to get resistance, in fact one could argue maybe even a green light from the current administration in Washington. This could be viewed as a really critical opportunity. There's a narrow window in which you have a very favorable U.S. administration toward these kinds of moves.

You have a narrow window in which Netanyahu may be able to survive before he has to face criminal indictments. So we could see a lot of activity for the worse when it comes to preserving a two-state solution. It's really on life support at this stage.

VAUSE: Yes. It has not looked well for a very, very long time and this is obviously not a good sign for that course of diplomacy at least. Dalia, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it.

KAYE: Thank you.

VAUSE: It could be a legal battle for the ages. Congressional Democrats versus the Attorney General of the United States of America. Democrats want the entire unredacted Mueller report into Russian election interference. The Attorney General says not a chance.


[01:16:13] VAUSE: Stage look set for a legal battle between U.S. lawmakers and the attorney general over the Mueller report. William Barr answered questions on Capitol Hill Tuesday for the first time since the investigation roundup. But as CNN's Sara Murray reports, Democrats did not get the answers they wanted.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Attorney General William Barr, telling lawmakers he will soon be ready to share Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report.

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that from my standpoint, by the -- within a week, I will be in a position to release the report to the public.

MURRAY: But not the complete version Democrats are clamoring for.

BARR: I don't intend as at the stage to send the full unredacted report to the committee.

MURRAY: Barr's comment setting up a fight between Congress and the Trump administration over the fate of the Mueller report. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee already authorized the subpoena for the full report and its underlying evidence.

So far, Democrats haven't moved forward with it, but that could soon change.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): I presumed we're going to get the redacted report within a week. When we do so, if we don't get everything, we will issue the subpoena and go to court.

MURRAY: Barr's resistance setting off a pointed exchange over 6(e). The rule governing the release of grand jury material. That material is meant to be kept secret except in certain circumstances. Barr says this isn't one of them.

BARR: I'll have to say that until someone shows me a provision on 6(e) that permits its release, the Congress doesn't get 6(e). The chairman of the Judiciary Committee is free to go to court if he feels one of those exceptions is applicable.

MURRAY: Instead, Barr says Congress will only get explanations for the redactions. BARR: We will color code the excisions from the report. And we will provide explanatory notes describing the basis of -- for each redaction.

MURRAY: Barr also under fire today for how he crafted his summary of Mueller's conclusions.

REP. NITA LOWEY (D-NY): All we have is your four-page summary which seems to cherry pick from the report to draw the most favorable conclusion possible for the president.

MURRAY: Barr acknowledged Muller's team may have wanted more of their original wording included even as he defended his letter.

BARR: I suspect that they probably wanted -- you know, more put out. I felt that I should state the bottom line conclusions, and I tried to use special counsel Mueller's own language in doing that.

MURRAY: Only about a hundred words in the four-page letter were Mueller's. Barr added that Mueller declined to weigh in on it.

BARR: Mr. Mueller's team did not play a role in drafting that document. Although, we offered him the opportunity to review it before we sent it out, and he declined that.

MURRAY: Barr also acknowledged the White House Counsel was given a heads-up about the initial summary sent to Congress.

BARR: We did advise the White House counsel's office that the letters were being sent, but they were not allowed or even asked to make any changes to the letters.

MURRAY: But he refused to say whether the White House has seen the full report.

BARR: I've said what I'm going to say about the report today.


MURRAY: Now, even though Bill Barr made it clear he did not want to release any grand jury information, he sounded a little bit more willing to maybe make some of the classified information available, at least, to members of Congress.

He also said, when he does release his version of the report, the redactions will be color-coded, explaining the basis of why things are missing from the report. Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.

[01:19:48] VAUSE: David Katz, joins us now live from Los Angeles. David is a former assistant U.S. attorney, appointed during the Reagan administration. And David, thank you for staying up with us. We have late reporting from Bloomberg that the Attorney General William Barr has assembled a team -- actually, put together a team to review decisions made by the Justice Department and the FBI in the early days of the Trump investigation. Here's part of the report. "This indicates that Barr is looking into allegations that Republican lawmakers have been pushing for more than a year that the investigation into President Trump and possible collusion with Russia was tainted at the start by anti-Trump bias in the FBI and the Justice Department."

OK. So, if Barr's investigation we separate to the one being carried out by the Inspector General, and but did touch on the string -- his testimony on Tuesday. But this is the firm reporting that it's actually underway. With this latest news in mine and also what we saw on Capitol Hill, would you say that Bill Barr is everything the president had ever wanted in an Attorney General? Or put this way, is he acting for the people, or is he acting for the president?

DAVID KATZ, FORMER ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, LOS ANGELES: Well, he looks like he's the dream attorney general for Trump. He looks like another Trump fixer, this one with a more polished resume. And if he's going to be a hatchet man for this investigation about how supposedly the whole Trump probe was fruit of the poisonous tree, I think the Democrats see that as a farce.

And regarding the Mueller report, John, it looks like the Barr doctrine to call it that, the Barr doctrine now is what? According to the Democrats, the way it looks from the testimony today, hide the ball, spin, redact as much as you can, run out the clock, repeat as needed. And this just looks absolutely terrible, John.

And for our democracy, we have a separation of powers. And the House has every right to get this material. And you know, the irony is that if Barr gives them enough of a hard time, it may be that, that will encourage them to go the route of impeachment. Because it's rather clear that under impeachment, they would get much rapid -- more rapid rulings from the court. And it would be very hard, I think, for any court including the Supreme Court to stop a House investigation that was an impeachment. Because that's the one under the U.S. Constitution that is the preferred remedy.

The preferred remedy is not a Mueller report or a special prosecutor. It's that the House investigate misconduct by the president. And they have huge power to do so and it seems like Barr is almost egging them on, John, to do that by this stonewalling.

VAUSE: The other things we feel pretty bad was when Barr was presented with a very simple yes or no question, he simply refused to answer. And whether it was one about the White House seeing or being briefed on the report or this -- in this occasion on the president's claim that he'd been totally exonerated. Listen to this.


LOWEY: Your memo stated, "While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." Yet, President Trump has publicly stated that this report is a complete and total exoneration. Can you tell us who is factually accurate? BARR: I'll help you in a position. As I said, within a week, to release the report -- so, I'm not going to discuss it any further until after the report is out.


VAUSE: It was a simple answer, his own summary letter quoted -- you know, the special counsel Robert Mueller that -- you know, the report doesn't exonerate Trump on obstruction of justice. And he couldn't bring himself to say it.

KATZ: Well, it's remarkable because suddenly, he clammed up, suddenly he didn't want to answer questions. As I say, this is an equal branch of government. They have every right in the world to query him, to get answers to their questions.

And for him, to just act like "I won't answer", and of course, what he was not answering about was critical. Was he in league, in cahoots with the president and the White House in issuing this four-page letter?

If this letter was deceptive, was this a deception that was perpetrated by him in league with the White House? And for him, to now admit that he read the letter -- apparently verbatim to White House staff, that sure was not the impression that he gave that Sunday when he released the letter and thereafter.

Now, all of a sudden he has different stories. And as a criminal defense attorney, he's acting more like a criminal defendant. It's unbelievable.


KATZ: This man is the Attorney General of the United States.

VAUSE: Yes, it is incredible. At least, though there is now this timeline for a redacted version of the report, when it be released, at least, to Congress? Or they'll be color coded with Barr working on redacting four main topics? Secret grand jury testimony, ongoing investigations, classified intelligence, and unindicted peripheral players.

Given those sort of very broad areas, how much of the actual report do you think we're going to see would not be redacted?

KATZ: Well, I think in what he calls the first pass it'll be very unsatisfactory. And then, the question will be how much does the House clamor to get everything? And how much did the people hold the Houses feet to the fire so that they hold the president and Bar's feet to the fire? Because it's quite clear that they intend to redact a lot of it. And the grounds, John, are a little hard to accept. Grand jury material as a federal prosecutor, I went into the grand jury all of the time.

But then, grand jury material was released for example to a defendant and to a defendant's attorney. If a -- if Barr went into the court and asked the judge to release that grand jury material, it would be released. He refuses Barr does to do a simple thing like that.

So now, Nadler, the chairman of the committee, he'll go in there once they get the report and it has redactions to it. He'll go in and ask for that. They'll also a subpoena Mueller so they can get Mueller. But that's going to be another battle royal where the Department of Justice is going to come forward and claim -- there are all these privileges and all these reasons why supposedly Mueller can't even testify in the Congress.

[01:25:50] VAUSE: Right. Almost out of time. I want to finish up with this schoolyard like exchange between Congresswoman Maxine Waters, chairman or chair of the House Financial Services Committee. And the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, he was on the Capitol Hill to answer Democrats demands for Trump's tax returns for six years. Listen to this.


STEVEN MNUCHIN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: If you'd wish to keep me here so that I don't have my important meeting and continue to grill me, then we can do that, I will cancel my meeting, and I will not be back here. I will be very clear if that's the way you'd like to have this relationship.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): Thank you. The gentleman, the secretary has agreed to stay to hear all of the rest of the members. Please cancel your meeting and respect our time.


MNUCHIN: OK, so just let's be clear to the press.

WATERS: Who is next on the list?

MNUCHIN: I am canceling my foreign meeting. You're instructing me to stay here and I should cancel.

WATERS: No, you just made me an offer.

MNUCHIN: No, I didn't make you an offer.

WATERS: You made me an offer that I accepted.

MNUCHIN: I did not make you an offer. Just, let's be clear. Please dismiss everybody. I believe you're supposed to take the gavel and bang it. That's the appropriate --


WATERS: Please do not instruct me as to how I am to conduct this Committee.


VAUSE: Here's don't touch the gavel. This was a sideshow though because the real issue here is that Mnuchin actually admitted that being contact between White House lawyers and his department over Trump's tax returns. Which -- you know, potentially is a violation if felt the letter of the law, the spirit of the law.

KATZ: Well, this is totally improper. One of the lessons from the Nixon era was that Nixon had an enemies list. The people on the enemies list were selected out for tax enforcement. There was very close coordination between the president and his staff, the Treasury secretary, and this list of people who were to be audited.

That's what the whole enemies list was about to think that there is coordination between the president and the IRS. Have we learned nothing from Watergate? This is -- this was not done under Reagan, this wasn't done under Obama, this wasn't done under Bush. There shall be no coordination between the IRS, and the IRS performing its functions and the executive branch. That's like something from like a banana republic.

VAUSE: Yes. There are a lot of things from banana republic these days it seems. David, thank you. Thanks for being with us.

KATZ: Pleasure to be with you. Thank you.

VAUSE: Yes. Theresa May off to Brussels to plead and beg for a short Brexit delay. But waiting for her there is a great big flex tension. And that's all policy (INAUDIBLE). Details just ahead.


[01:30:36] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

With more than 90 percent of the vote counted, the race to be Israel's prime minister is in a dead head. Fewer than 13,000 votes separate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief rival Benny Gantz. Both have claimed victory but Mr. Netanyahu may have the advantage when it comes to forming a coalition.

The U.S. Attorney General says he will release Mueller reporter on Russia's interference in the 2016 election within a week. But William Barr told lawmakers parts of it will be redacted. Democrats are promising a legal fight to obtain the full unredacted report.

President Trump's scoring a political victory of a much sought after border wall. On Tuesday the Defense Department announced it was awarding $976 million dollars in contracts to two companies to build a portion of the wall along the southern border. Construction will take place in Santa Teresa, New Mexico and (INAUDIBLE) Arizona. It will be completed by next year.

Today's Brexit update brought to you by the word "extension". Here's CNN's Bianca Nobilo reporting from London.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Theresa May will be meeting With European leaders Wednesday to try and secure an extension to the Brexit negotiations without crashing out with no deal on Friday the 12th of April. It's considered unthinkable that the E.U. wouldn't grant the Prime Minister an extension at this point but potentially not one of the length which she desires.

Theresa May is asked for a shorter extension to the 30th of June, and she did accept that that could mean Britain fielding candidates for the European parliamentary elections, something which Brexiteers cannot abide three years after the initial referendum results.

The E.U. has said that they're more incline to grant the U.K. a longer extension. President of the European Council Donald Tusk said that would be in order to prevent a series of rolling short extensions or cliff edges. Michel Barnier, E.U.'s chief negotiator said that it was imperative that Britain provide a reason for needing that longer extension.

MICHEL BARNIER, E.U. CHIEF NEGOTIATOR (through translator): this extension has to serve a purpose. It's got to serve a purpose to provide for more time if necessary to ensure that the political process I described can be crowned with success and that this majority can be obtained.

NOBILO: The European Union had also put forward the notion of a flextension -- a longer extension to the Brexit negotiations of no more than one year which could be truncated if the Prime Minister managed to pass her Brexit deal early.

Any of these extension that the E.U. would grant would likely come with conditions like the U.K. pledging to cooperate sincerely and fairly in the interim on issues around electing European officials or discussing E.U. budgets.

While the Prime Minister is talking to her European counterparts on the continent, cross party talks in the U.K. continue between Labour and the governing conservative party.

Theresa May is trying to seek a consensus around a softer Brexit with Jeremy Corbyn. And if she fails to do that, she's pledged to put a number of Brexit scenarios forward to the House of commons for a vote. And said that the government will be bound by the results.

Bianca Nobilo, CNN -- London.


VAUSE: Journalist Josh Boswell joins us now from Los Angeles. So Josh, you know, Theresa May darting about between capitals and meeting with leaders of France and Germany -- all for nothing it seems light of this letter from the E.U. leader Donald Tusk he wrote to the 27 member states. He argues against that sort of short term extension to June 30th. This is what he writes.

"In reality, granting such an extension would increase the risk of a rolling series of short extensions and emergency summits, creating new cliff-edge dates. This in turn would almost certainly overshadow the business of the EU27 in the months ahead. The continued uncertainly would also be bad for our businesses and citizens.

And finally if we fail to agree on any mixed extension, there could be the risk of an accidental no deal Brexit. This is why I believe we should also discuss and alternative longer extension, one possibly would be a flexible extension which would last only as long as necessary and no longer than one year."

So Tusk wants the U.K. to have this year to get an agreement with parliament. If it happens any time before the 12 months is up, then, you know, happy days. Wheel's up -- goodbye. See you later.

And it seems to be France is now on board with this because they were the only one sort of playing bad cop here opposed to a longer extension, right . so this seems to be the only game in town now.

JOSH BOSWELL, JOURNALIST: That's correct. It does seem to be the only game in town. And I think that's because Theresa May failed to do what she promised the E.U. which was to have some serious developments.

[01:35:01[ She's been having these cross party talks with the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. But those didn't come to anything. She went to Europe empty-handed.

So they didn't offer her probably this one year or so extension. Which leaves her in a very difficult position with her party. Because of course, in the E.U. on her probably this one year or so extension which leaves her in a very difficult position with her party. Because of course, the E.U. may offer this tomorrow but that's not to say that the British parliament will accept it.

Her own MPs Theresa May's MPs, are very concerned about the long delay. Anything longer than June 30th which they've agreed to.

That could cause a real split in the conservative party. And possibly the end of her premiership.

VAUSE: Yes. Let's say -- let's assume this goes ahead. The other situation that the U.K. will remain a member state of the E.U. with full rights and obligations but essentially one foot in the E.U. and the other one is out the door.

BOSWELL: That's right. There are some limits which people like Macron have suggested which would be to stop the U.K. being able to influence longer European policy by putting limits on the U.K's role in the European Council and the European Commission.

But also there's this worry that if we stay in the European Union for a year that means that we are going to be in there for the European election which is coming up on May 23rd.

Now Brexiteers in the U.K. have threat in the E.U. saying look, if you keep us in beyond that date then we are going to field all of these Brexiteers capital. We're going to send them into Brussels and we're going to wreak havoc for the next year or longer. And as long as you keep us in, we're going to be a Trojan Horse, conservative MP described it as.

VAUSE: So like dozens and dozens of Nigel Farage is heading to Brussels with sympathy or got on anybody . They seem to know it's like a humiliation for the British Prime Minister. We know from Atika Shubert reporting that the German Media had described her trip to Berlin as you know, begging to her.

But the leader of Northern Ireland's minority DUP which props up the conservative in parliament put it this way.


ARLENE FOSTER, DEMOCRATIC UNIONIST PARTY LEADER: Someone who passionately believes in the United Kingdom and its capacity and potential, I find it quite painful to watch what's going on at this present moment in time. It is rather humiliating that we're having to go and to beg so that we can leave.

You know, it's nearly three years since the nation voted to leave the European Union. And we're now pleading to stay in and so that we can deal with matters that should have been dealt with before in Ireland.


VAUSE: She makes a good point. But you know, Any extension here it must be a unanimous decision by all 27 E.U. members. Once they could think at all. So if Brexit was all about written, taking back control away from Europe so far this process has been anything but.

BOSWELL: There is a deep irony there yes. And the other thing that should be pointed out is Arlene Foster -- she is propping up Theresa May's government at least nominally at the moment. There's this confidence between supply agreement between the conservative and the DUP. That's breaking down as far as we can see with Arlene Foster making these comments.

You also have Theresa May's apparent win today in the House of Commons at the MPs approved her delay to June 30th. So she could can say to the European Union hey, you have until June 30th our MPs have approved it.

However, if you look at who voted for and who voted against the government's proposition there 12 ministers didn't vote with the government. And 42 percent of her own party voted for -- only 42 percent.

So you can see not only is she being criticized by her own confidence and supply end supporters. She also is losing control of her own party.

VAUSE: Yes. However, there is one very senior British politician who has sympathy for Theresa May.


TONY BLAIR, FORMER BIRTISH PRIME MINISTER: Look, you've got to have sympathy for her because she's been dealt a very difficult hand. The Conservative Party is pretty ungovernable. I mean --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're still saying that -- you don't think she's doing a good job but you do have sympathy?

BLARI: I have sympathy with her at on a personal level. I understand how difficult the job and how tough it is to do. But I think the key challenge for her, let's aside all the criticisms up to now.

The key challenge for her now and I think what she can do and should do because I don't, by the way, think a change of prime minister at the moment is in the interest of the country or a general , by the way, change the country with a general election.


VAUSE: Former British minister Tony Blair speaking with Hala Gorani. Probably the last thing Theresa May wants now is support from Tony Blair.

And there are many who disagree with Blair when it comes to this question of a general election. There is a belief that that might just might be used the only way to actually sort this thing out once and for all.

BOSWELL: In the long term, I think you're absolutely right. We're at an impasse in parliament at the moment. There doesn't seem to be a majority for anything.

[01:40:03[ And I think we need a general election to try and recast that balance, change the parliamentary mathematics and make sure that we can actually have some kind of majority for some kind of deal albeit, you know, a second referendum or maybe even canceling Brexit, who knows?

I think that Tony Blair there is probably getting concerned that we're edging close to a no deal Brexit. And that's why he's making those comments.

VAUSE: Yes. He also made a good point that Theresa May should just get up and leading the conservatives, act more as a referee at this point because that's pretty much her only option because the conservative just cannot be led on this issue right now.

Good to see you. Thank you.

BOSWELL: You too.

VAUSE: At the end of last month, the Israeli Prime Minister was at the White House trying to parlay his warm and friendly relationship with the U.S. president into political capital ahead of this week's election. On Tuesday, the Egyptian president visited the White House with a similar plan. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's photo op in the Oval Office comes on the eve of a constitutional in Egypt which would exempt el- Sisi-from presidential term limits, tighten his grip over the judiciary and empower the military with the constitutional right to intervene in politics.

The move is widely seen as a power grab by el-Sisi, an attempt to entrench himself as Egypt's president for life. And Donald Trump seems to be an enthusiastic supporter.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you support his efforts to stay in power through 2024.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he's doing a great job. I don't know about the effort, I can just tell you he's doing a great job, great president.


VAUSE: Mohamed Soltan is a human rights activist and founder of the Freedom Initiative and he knows firsthand the end result of el-Sisi's crackdown on free speech and dissent. He spent almost two years in a prison on Germany on journalism-related charges. His father still locked up today.

So Mohamed -- thank you for being with us. We appreciate it.

MOHAMED SOLTAN, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Thank you for having me -- John.

VAUSE: Ok. So first up, when the U.S. president says he thinks el- Sisi is doing a great job. And is a great president especially, you know, in response to this, you know, power grab. What message does that send to the military, the generals, the judges -- anyone that needs you if you might be in a position to criticize or challenge el- Sisi?

SOLTAN: It definitely sends a very wrong message that the erosion's of any tenet of democracy is ok. That General el-Sisi can basically do as he wish and get away with it.

We started off with the killing in Damascus -- killing over thousands of protestors in what Human Rights Watch called the biggest killing of protestors in a single day in modern history-- Egypt's modern history.

Then you had an entire political opposition being cracked down on. You have on 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt, extrajudicial killings . You have detainment of journalists and actors, and activists and bloggers.

And then you've had them -- el-Sisi was then able to suffocate the political and public space. He then started looking inwards into his regime where he started locking up former joints chiefs of staff and former judges and folks that dare to challenge him.

So then when you have some of these tenets of democracy, you have obviously the suffocation of the media. You have over 500 sites, Web sites and media outlets that are being blocked. You have laws that. prohibit people to have over 5,000 followers on Twitter and treats them like a media outlet that they could be charged for spreading false news which I got life sentence for which basically is anything that does not toe the line of the state.

So you have basically major tenets of democracy, the freedom of expression -- you have death of politics in Egypt and the suffocation of political and public speech. You have civil society being completely pummeled.

And then the last standing basically tenet of democracy which is already a very corrupt institution. But you have the judiciary and basically Sisi's expanding his powers within the judiciary in a way that's unprecedented. Not even during Mubarak and his 30-year reign over Egypt.

VAUSE: Ok. So when you were originally sentenced, it was for life in prison. So that was reduced and in the op-ed which you write in the "Washington Post".

You outlining a case that is bad and it's corrupt as the courts are right now in Egypt? You're fighting to try to maintain them because whatever independence they have, it's going to be better now because after the referendum, they will be beholden to -Sisi?

SOLTAN: That's exactly right. And again, this is the same judiciary that sentenced to life in prison. This is the same judiciary that sentenced a journalist friend of mine and my father to death on trumped-up politicized charges.

[01:44:54] Nonetheless, this is the last standing hope for any sort of course correction because the way that the country -- that Sisi has his policies, his brute force policies and his erosion of and gutting of state institutions makes it so that this acceleration and fast- tracking of the collision course that this country is on.

And it's a very, very dangerous slippery slope that we are seeing here.

VAUSE: You know, if anyone was hoping that this U.S. president might actually give a heated disapproval even in the most diplomatic terms, they will be sorely disappointed with that photo instead this is what they got.


TRUMP: Well thank you. and I just have to say before we perhaps take a couple of questions. The first lady was recently in Egypt. She was treated beautifully but maybe even more importantly what she saw with the pyramids was -- you could call at the seventh wonder or the eighth wonder of the world. She thought it was incredible. She thought it was one of the most incredible things she's seen. We have lots of pictures. And it was a great day, and a great moment to see the pyramids, the great pyramids.


VAUSE: On the pyramids. The pyramids are great. But you know, someone argue Donald Trump has actually made a similar argument to this. That it's more imp to the United States to have an autocrat or a dictator in power, friendly to Washington, running a certain country than it is to be concerned with all those things like human and civil rights.

SOLTAN: Well, I mean for a country -- an ally, a strategic ally like Egypt, that country that received $1.3 billion dollars of our U.S. taxpayer dollars, it should be concerning because this is not just about human rights. It's not just about, you know, people that are being tortured and being imprisoned and being tortured as we speak right now. And they have been four years on end.

It's more about now the actual stability of the country and the direction that the country is going in where you eliminate what el- Sisi has successfully and effectively eliminated every avenue for peaceful dissent so that he can present the world with this false dichotomy either me or instability me or chaos me or extremism is an extremely dangerous one where he's able to eliminate anything, every peaceful means of change or reform.

VAUSE: Mohamed we'll leave it there but we wish you well, and also --


VAUSE: Thank you for being here.

SOLTAN: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

A new wave of protests in Sudan turned deadly after thousands U.S. aide (INAUDIBLE) in the middle of the headquarters. Ahead why these Demonstrations have escalated.


VAUSE: Forty-seven people have been killed, more than 180 wounded in three days of intense fighting in Libya, according to the World Health Organization. Doctors and civilians they say are among the dead. The U.N.-backed government has been battling the renegade Libyan national army for control of the capital.

Widespread anti-government protests have turned deadly in Sudan. Doctors say at least 22 people have been killed since Saturday during a crackdown by security forces. The demonstrators have been demanding the president step down and protest leaders now urging the military to join them.

CNN's Farai Sevenzo reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (INAUDIBLE) in Tuesday morning in Sudan's capital of Khartoum. Protesters here have been facing live ammunition since that day.

Protests have began in December over rising living force and now have only one aim -- to end the three decades rule of Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's long serving ruler since the military crew in 1989. and

The soldier (ph) president imposed a state of emergency in February and has yet to answer charges of past war crimes at the International Criminal Court.

Sudan's protests were reignited by changing events in north Africa. A potential new kind of Arab spring is prompting a change of guard in this region, unplanned and unexpected.

Algiers Bouteflika resigned following protests of (INAUDIBLE) in elections of the age of 82. While Sudan has seen protests and deaths since 2018.

Thousands of Sunnis have been saving, the very symbol of their (INAUDIBLE) power, the military headquarters. As soon as Saturday they surround this massive complex in the heart of the capitol, an area housing the state police -- army, navy and al-Bashir's dissidents and goes to the airport.

The death toll has been rising since Saturday alone, says Sudan's Dr. Zee. But now the stakes are higher for the beleaguered president. Eyewitnesses told CNN that there has been gunfire between the security forces.

With many soldiers protecting civilian protesters from police and national intelligence officers, cracks in the military's (INAUDIBLE) unwavering loyalty for al-Basher, are everywhere.

As a new camaraderie emerges between soldiers and the people. The stakes will be high for the men in camouflage too. If this does not go the way the protestors expect, with al-Bashir then there will surely be executions for treason.

The president is striving for control, addressing his ruling party and urging the people to wait until the elections. While his officials rush to declare that the (INAUDIBLE) is over.

Conflicting statements from officials cannot hide the growing crowds at Sudan's military headquarters. After months of protests, the decision on whether he should stay or he should go may longer no longer be in Omar al-Bashir's hands.

Farai Sevenzo, CNN.


VAUSE: And we will take a short break.

When we come back as a rainbow redaction -- U.S. Attorney General William Barr's color coded rendition of the Mueller report.


[01:55:03] VAUSE: Democrats demand disclosure. Republicans rant redaction. Either Mueller's Russia report is set to be released in maybe a week or so. And it will be in color, lots and lots of color.

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Prepared to be teased, frustrated, annoyed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what drives the public crazy.

MOOS: If you prefer the Mueller report left to the imagination, you'll love --


MOOS: Or may one of those people --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't want the redactions.

MOOS: But don't get your hopes set on --

MOOS: Because Attorney General Bill Barr.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's still busy redacting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- bars cleaners redactions while you wait, penned one cartoonist.

Another predicted readers might cherry pick their conclusions from blocks of black bars. The satirical Borowitz report headlined "Redactions of the Mueller report halted as Barr passes out from sharpie fumes."

But forget redaction black, the way it's usually done -- are you ready for a little redaction distraction. It's getting a makeover.

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We will color code the excisions from the report.

MOOS: Twitter tittered, imagining a kaleidoscope of redaction, whether say grand jury testimony or something that would reveal intelligence sources.

You can bet one past mistake won't be repeated when lawyers for Paul Manafort redacted a court document in a PDF format that allowed the redaction to be lifted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So then the reporters they just kick on the black like delete and then they just scroll the stuff. (INAUDIBLE)

MOOS: Past heavy-handed redactions have been the butt of joke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When Donald Trump complains this investigation was costing us millions, I didn't know he meant in in toner.

MOOS: At least, you don't have to bother trying to read between the lines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: by the way, I like that pattern and with a few slight alterations this could be the new American flag.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN -- New York.

VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us.

Rosemary Church takes over for me after a short break.

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ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers.