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Arrests Made in Journalist Lyra McKee's Murder; Mueller Report Gives Dems a New Road Map; Sarah Sanders on Defense after Lying; Yellow Vests' Concern over Notre Dame Donations; Judiciary Chairman Subpoenas Unredacted Report; Ukrainian Presidential Candidates Debate; Celebrating Holy Week. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired April 20, 2019 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The killing of a young journalist in Northern Ireland. Police there just announced the arrest of two young men. CNN is live with the very latest for you.
Plus as top Democrats demand to see more of the Mueller report, the U.S. president is lashing out at the probe on Twitter, a day after claiming vindication.
Also ahead, France's Yellow Vest protesters prepare to protest again, now angered by the millions of dollars donated to restore Notre Dame cathedral.
Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, we welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell. The CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
HOWELL: We begin in Northern Ireland. The killing of a young journalist and a major development in that case, police have arrested two men, the two, 18 and 19 years old, under the Terrorism Act. The slain journalist Lyra McKee was shot while standing near a police vehicle during a riot in Londonderry.
The timing couldn't be more poignant. It happened as the world remembers the Good Friday agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland. Following the story, CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is live in Londonderry.
Nic, what more are you learning from investigators?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, the police have taken those two young men, 18 and 19, to the police central headquarters in Belfast for questioning. The police had initially appealed for anyone who had seen what had happened.
There was video evidence of the gunman walking up and shooting towards the police. The police had access to that video. The police asked for anyone else with information to come forward. It is not clear precisely what led them to arrest these two men and it is worth cautioning that, in previous dissident Republican attacks, a new IRA car bombing here earlier in the year, that the police did arrest very quickly a number of people and those people were subsequently let go.
But what is very clear in this community in Northern Ireland and across the world, the killing of Lyra McKee has really caused a moment of concern and a moment of unity. Even President Bill Clinton has tweeted about it.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Where she was killed, a shrine to her short life is growing. Flowers left clustered around a forlorn lamppost, as cleanup trucks do their best to sweep the murder from the streets.
"Not in our name." Everyone here united in grief and shock at Lyra McKee's murder, few more so than her partner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARA CANNING, LYRA MCKEE'S PARTNER: The senseless murder of Lyra McKee has left a family without a beloved daughter, a sister, an aunt and a great-aunt, as well as so many friends without their confidante.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): McKee had been covering riding in the Catholic Creggan neighborhood of Derry. Police had raided a house; local youths gathered, throwing petrol bombs and firecrackers at their armored vehicles.
McKee, highlighted in this police video, was standing near their vehicles. She had tweeted, "Derry tonight. Absolute madness."
In the melee, a gunman, highlighted in this police video, can clearly been seeing shooting at the police. McKee was hit.
MARK HAMILTON, ASSISTANT CHIEF CONSTABLE, POLICE SERVICE OF NORTHERN IRELAND: She was taken away from the scene in a police Land Rover and taken to Gallegan Hospital but, unfortunately, she has died.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): She was a rarity here, well respected, an LGBT advocate, one of "Forbes'" top rated under 30 journalists. She reached across divides. In an incredibly rare act of unity, Northern Ireland pro-British and pro-Irish politicians issued a joint statement, "The murder was also an attack on the people of this community, an attack on the peace and democratic process. We are united in rejecting those responsible for this heinous crime."
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who visited the town earlier in the day, joined in condemning the killing of McKee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: -- and of course to extend the deepest sympathies and sadness to the family on this Good Friday. (END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON (voice-over): A terrible irony that she was killed 21 years after the Good Friday peace agreement was signed. McKee would have been 8 years old then. The peace that ended three decades of sectarian bloodshed was intended to give her generation --
ROBERTSON (voice-over): -- a chance to shine. She did. And that's the tragedy.
CANNING: We are all poorer for the loss of Lyra. Her hopes and dreams and all of her amazing potential was snuffed out by a single barbaric act. This cannot stand. Lyra's death must not be in vain because her life was a shining light in everyone else's life and her legacy will live on in the light that she's left behind.
ROBERTSON: Now in this town here, in the past, you could sees support for groups like the new IRA, dissident Republicans, who the police believe may be behind Lyra McKee's murder, you're already seeing some of their pro-IRA graffiti being painted over; where it said "unfinished struggle," it now says "finished 2019," which gives you a real sense that many people in the community here, who already wanted nothing to do with this terrorist organization, are making it very clear this is not a place for them.
how And to that point, how else are people there in that community in Derry, how are they remembering McKee?
ROBERTSON: They are remembering her as somebody who had a real talent, you know, who grew out of the community, who was able to take advantage of the last 20 or so years of peace. But there has been an undercurrent here, particularly in Londonderry. Derry and a couple other cities in Northern Ireland, where groups like the new IRA have begun to find their feet, if you will.
The way groups like this can operate in a city like this and pull off attacks like this is to have what people call safe houses, houses where people will take them in and give them shelter, you know, when they are in the middle of some military type or other sort of operation.
The way that it is affecting people in the community here, one person I talked to here said -- told me that there will be no more safe houses for them around here. "Not in our name" as it says on the plaque at the memorial to her, where she was murdered.
So I think the way that it is affecting people here, it is a terrible reminder of something no one here wants to see, a return to violence. And if you will, it reaffirms people's belief that groups like the new IRA should not be allowed to get a head of steam.
But the question is how do you stop them, how do you tackle them? The British intelligence services have an incredibly deep penetration
in the communities here; so do the security services. Yet still these groups are able to get by.
HOWELL: Nic Robertson, following the story, thank you for the update.
HOWELL: Now to the Mueller report, the U.S. president says it is time to move on. But Democrats seizing on the details of that report see new openings to further investigate Mr. Trump; some are even calling for impeachment.
Their first action: to get the full version of the special counsel's report into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, not the redacted version they just got. Next, they want the special counsel, Robert Mueller, to testify before Congress. Our Manu Raju explains what they might do next.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Today, Democrats opened a new phase in their push to investigate President Trump, aided by the redacted Mueller report, detailing Trump's efforts to thwart the Russia probe.
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I believe he committed obstruction of justice, yes.
RAJU: First, the House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena to the Justice Department, demanding the full Mueller report and underlying evidence by May 1st.
Next, Democrats plan to soon issue subpoenas for records from five former White House officials, including former White House counsel, Don McGahn, who was ordered by Trump to fire Mueller and disobeyed the president's demands.
Democrats say the Mueller report gives them a road map to investigate the president for obstruction, since it's states that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the president's corrupt exercise of the powers of office. And that it accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.
But Republicans said, it's time to move on.
REP. CHRIS STEWART (R-UT), MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Frustration is not obstruction. I think for those who are pursuing this, I think the American people are exhausted by it.
RAJU: The Mueller report also suggests the probe did not dive into the president's finances, an area that House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff wants to investigate to determine whether the president has any financial ties to foreign interests. Yet some Democrats are trying to tamp down calls from the left to pursue impeachment proceedings, saying they ultimately will be unsuccessful because of GOP opposition.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): We need to see that the Republicans actually have an open mind about the situation, rather than acting like members of a religious cult.
RAJU: Now as top Democrats are unwilling to go down the route of impeachment, at least yet, one top Democratic contender for the 2020 presidential nomination, Elizabeth Warren, made very clear that she believes that impeachment proceedings should begin in the House.
She argued in a series of tweets that there is ample evidence to begin impeachment proceedings.
But the man who's in charge of those proceedings, Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, said that his goal right now is not to debate articles of impeachment but to understand who did what, when, as part of his own investigation into potential obstruction of justice.
When asked if he is willing to open up impeachment proceedings, he said that's not what he's planning to do, at least now. But they could certainly go down that route once their investigation concludes -- Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.
HOWELL: Manu, thank you for the reporting.
Some of the president's Republican allies claim the Mueller report exonerates Mr. Trump. One prominent Republican senator, however, who is a frequent critic of the president, is speaking out against him.
The former presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, writes this in a statement, "I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and the misdeeds by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the president."
The report reinforced and documented the number of statements coming from the president and his staff that simply are not true. For his part, Mr. Trump has ramped up his attacks against what he called the crazy Mueller report. Our Kaitlan Collins has this from the White House.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a complete and total exoneration.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From total exoneration to total B.S., President Trump changing his tune on the special counsel's report one day after its release, tweeting that, "Statements made about me by certain people in the crazy Mueller report, in itself written by 18 angry Democrat Trump-haters, which are fabricated and totally untrue."
The president adding a warning to watch out for people that take so- called notes when the notes never existed until needed.
"Because I never agreed to testify, it was not necessary for me to respond to statements made in the report about me, some of which are total B.S."
The president didn't use that shorthand and didn't finish that thought, but at the eye of his tweetstorm is former White House counsel Don McGahn, who, according to the Mueller report, took detailed notes of his conversations with Trump, including one where he asked, "Why do you take notes? Lawyers don't take notes."
McGahn responded that it was because he's a real lawyer with a legal responsibility to keep an accurate record.
Trump responded, "I have had a lot of great lawyers, like Roy Cohn. He did not take notes."
The report details a troubled relationship between McGahn and Trump, but reveals the former White House lawyer was a major player in stopping the president from influencing the investigation, potentially protecting him from an obstruction charge. The report reveals a president who lied often to the public and his own staff.
TRUMP: What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening.
COLLINS: Including claiming he never tried to fire Mueller, which the report says he did.
QUESTION: Mr. President, did you seek to fire Mueller?
QUESTION: Do you want to fire Robert Mueller?
TRUMP: Fake news, folks, fake news.
QUESTION: What is your message today?
TRUMP: Typical "New York Times" fake stories.
COLLINS: He claimed he wasn't pursuing business in Russia, but the report says he was.
TRUMP: I promise you, I never made, I don't have any deals with Russia.
COLLINS: He insisted he knew nothing about WikiLeaks, though the report says he directed campaign associates to find Hillary Clinton's deleted e-mails.
TRUMP: I know nothing about WikiLeaks. COLLINS: But the dishonesty from the White House didn't stop there, press Secretary Sarah Sanders now under fire after admitting to investigators that she wasn't basing this claim on anything:
QUESTION: So what's your response to these rank and file FBI agents who disagree with your contention that they lost faith in Director Comey?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, we have heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things.
COLLINS: Today, Sanders defended making false statements to reporters.
SANDERS: I'm sorry that I wasn't a robot, like the Democrat Party, that went out for two.5 years and stated time and time again that there was definitely Russian collusion between the president and his campaign.
COLLINS: Sanders characterized that as a slip of the tongue, even though it was a comment she made multiple times over the course of that period. She was asked in another interview if the president had ever directed her to lie.
She said no and that he had also never instructed her to break the law -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.
HOWELL: Let's talk about all of this now with that Natasha Lindstaedt.
HOWELL: Great to have you with us, Natasha.
NATASHA LINDSTAEDT, UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX: Thanks for having me on.
HOWELL: It comes down to this fundamental question.
How much do voters really care about the details that are in this report?
And Democrats find themselves at a pivotal point.
Do they pursue the path of impeachment, as some are calling for, or do they focus on 2020, the issues that will be key to the presidential race ahead?
LINDSTAEDT: Well, the initial reaction from Democratic voters and Republican voters is actually predictable. Republicans think this was a complete waste of time. They are not convinced that the report released any new information that is particularly damning of the president. And they probably think that Donald Trump is correct to be upset about
this, to think that it was a witch hunt. And Trump, of course, will use this in 2020 to rile up Republicans about the huge waste of time and money of the Mueller report.
The Democrats will have a completely different response to this; they feel that they have had a complete loss of trust in Trump, that some criminality had taken place, definitely obstruction of justice had taken place.
They feel frustrated; they are hoping that there will be more investigations coming from House Democrats about Trump's behavior.
And in terms of what the Democratic Congress people are going to do, it looks like the lower members of the House want to impeach Trump, feel very, very adamant that he needs to be impeached.
But the senior members of the House are exercising more caution because this could backfire because it is not that the entire American public is in agreement about Trump's obstruction of justice, whether or not he obstructed justice.
And they feel if they go after him too hard without really laying out a convincing case, where everybody can agree upon this, that this will backfire for them in 2020.
HOWELL: With regard to continuing investigations, Democrats do want to see more of that report, given the subpoena that was filed recently. The DOJ calling that premature.
What are your thoughts?
LINDSTAEDT: Well, they want to see the entire report because some of it had been redacted. And they also feel that the report seems to be providing a lot of evidence about obstruction of justice.
Now on the issue of conspiracy or collusion, it was inconclusive. But on the issue of obstruction of justice, it really looks, from the Democrats' standpoint, like obstruction of justice did take place; in particular the revelations about President Trump ordering his counsel, Don McGahn, to have Rod Rosenstein possibly fire Mueller and then telling him to lie about it.
And then also wanting to get Jeff Sessions to unrecuse himself. There are other instances as well prior to that; that they also want to investigate, why he fired Comey, him trying to get Comey to go easier on Michael Flynn. These are all instances that they feel need to be further investigated.
And, therefore, they need to speak to Mueller, they will need to speak to Barr and subpoena the entire report so that they can get a full picture of what exactly took place.
HOWELL: Politically I'm curious to get your thoughts on the attorney general William Barr, who wrote the summary of the report, which the president claimed he was totally exonerated. He pointed out no collusion.
Now that the report is out, it is opening the door to many other questions that go beyond Barr's summary.
How does he come out looking from all of this?
LINDSTAEDT: Probably depends on who you are asking. But, from my standpoint, he doesn't look particularly very good because the summary didn't match the report. It was a very far cry from the report.
The way he had been speaking about Trump, he sounds like he is Trump's own personal attorney. He doesn't sound like he is the attorney general for the nation. He sounds like he is trying to advocate on behalf of Trump.
And the way that he summarized the report initially, it sounded like there was absolutely no evidence of collusion and just sort of some questions about the case of obstruction of justice.
When we see the redacted version of the report, it looks to be that the question of collusion or conspiracy just couldn't be proven and that obstruction of justice, that there was a lot of evidence of obstruction of justice.
And so there were questions about Barr coming back and the fact that he had sent Trump this long memo about his feelings about the Mueller report. But he's come across as even more biased than people initially suspected.
HOWELL: Natasha Lindstaedt, giving perspective, thank you.
LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me.
HOWELL: Still ahead here, Yellow Vest protesters are preparing for another weekend of rallies across France. Ahead, why many are upset about donations to rebuild Notre Dame cathedral.
Plus the Turpin parents found guilty of torturing their children for years, they have been sentenced. How one of their daughters described living in what investigators say was a house of horrors.
HOWELL: In France it has been 23 straight weekends where Yellow Vest protesters have been hitting the streets demanding social and economic reforms. And new concerns of theirs are coming to light, concerns about the huge donations that are pouring in to rebuild Notre Dame cathedral.
Almost $1 billion have been pledged so far after that massive fire that destroyed it. Some protesters feel that their demands are not getting the same kind of attention. All of this coming as officials continue to investigate the cause of that fire.
Let's go live to the French capital. CNN's Melissa Bell is following this story.
Melissa, the fire at Notre Dame, truly a tragedy that was felt around the world. But many of these Yellow Vest protesters feel the sympathy, they feel the money that is pouring in, could be used better on social issues that they are so frustrated about.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I think there was a question, given the emotion around Monday night and what we've seen, as the fire raged throughout the cathedral, the question had been how would it affect this coming Saturday.
Because well before that happened, the Yellow Vests had been calling for some time now to make this particular Saturday on Easter weekend another Black Saturday. What they want to have happen is to repeat the violence we saw on the 13th of March or even at the end of December.
The question is, what impact the events since Monday will have had. The question was whether it would dampen down their enthusiasm for another day of large protests here in Paris and across France or, as you say, given the controversies that have emerged since, with large donations from companies and also from some of France's wealthiest families.
And I think reading some of -- a lot of the comments online and in the French press, which is fairly full of this controversy, you get a sense that people amongst the Yellow Vest protests or movement are not just concerned about the question of tax rebates that some of the wealthy might get on their donations but the fact that there should be people capable of giving such large donations.
This is a profoundly divided country and precisely along those lines. So the expectation for police is that this could be another difficult Saturday. In fact, they deployed 60,000 police men and women across the country -- George.
HOWELL: And so we'll be watching that. Can you tell us more about the investigation, have officials gotten any closer to nailing down the cause of the fire at Notre Dame?
BELL: It took a few days for investigators just to get inside the building, given the heat, given the fact that firemen hadn't been able to ascertain the solidity of the building in the wake of the fire.
And we know that they have interviewed at least 40 people, construction workers, security guards. And, of course, the principal lead at the moment -- and it is just a lead, they long said that they believed it was accidental -- is that there may have been a electrical short circuit caused perhaps by some of the electrical equipment in place, as you know, because the renovation of Notre Dame was going on even when the fire caught.
So that is something that they are looking into, trying to find out where the devastating first spark emerged from.
HOWELL: Melissa Bell, following the story live in Paris. Thank you for the reporting.
Still ahead here, the Mueller report may be out but the investigations are far from over. The tentacles of the Russian probe, as NEWSROOM continues.
HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you.
HOWELL: The Mueller probe stretched far and wide but exactly how far, we don't really know because many of those details, as I mentioned, are redacted, as they may relate to other investigations. Our Sara Murray has this report for you.
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is over but more than a dozen offshoot investigations continue.
Mueller referred 14 investigations to other U.S. attorneys' offices, 12 of which are still unknown, redacted in the Mueller report as harm to ongoing matter. But Democrats are already raising concerns about attorney general William Barr, who will oversee those ongoing cases.
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL), MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It's hard to imagine anyone trusts the attorney general after his performance so far.
MURRAY (voice-over): And they are taking action.
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: We still want the Mueller report in its entirety and we want other evidence, too.
MURRAY (voice-over): House Judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler issuing a subpoena for the full Mueller report without redactions plus the underlying evidence, giving the Department of Justice 12 days to comply. Nadler writing, "I cannot accept any proposal which leaves most of
Congress in the dark as they grapple with their duties of legislation, oversight and constitutional accountability."
Democrats are pointing in part to heavily redacted sections of the report. They cover the campaign's extensive interactions with Russians and WikiLeaks.
NADLER: I think it was probably written with the intent of providing Congress a road map, as other reports have in the past. And with a lot of the redactions and others, attorney general Barr seems to be trying to frustrate that intent.
MURRAY (voice-over): The redacted sections point to just how eager Trump's team was to get help from Moscow and allied entities like WikiLeaks, mentioning conversations the president had with close aides like deputy campaign manager Rick Gates and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen.
At one point in the summer of 2016, Trump takes a phone call and then Tells Gates that more releases of damaging information would be coming. The person Trump talked to, redacted, along with much of the rest of that section of the report, citing harm to ongoing matter.
Plus there were the many other leaks between the Trump team and Russians, like when then candidate Trump said this...
TRUMP: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.
MURRAY (voice-over): -- and later asked his campaign staff to find the deleted Clinton emails. Michael Flynn recalled that Trump made this request repeatedly and Flynn subsequently contacted multiple people in an effort to obtain the emails.
Mueller also found that, within hours of Trump's directive, Russian hackers targeted Clinton's personal office for the first time. And while, according to Mueller's team, these attempts did not rise are to the level of criminal conspiracy, Mueller revealed that his conclusion might have been different if his investigators had access to more information.
The probe, Mueller says, was impeded by witnesses who lied or even deleted information, writing in the report, "The office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on or cast in a new light the --
MURRAY (voice-over): -- events described in the report."
HOWELL: Let's talk more about this now with Katie Cherkasky, a criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, joining us from Los Angeles. Good to have you with us, Katie.
KATIE CHERKASKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Good to be here.
HOWELL: So from what we've been able to read of this report so far, what are your key takeaways from it?
CHERKASKY: The key takeaways that I would really home in on is the prosecutorial decision of AG Barr to decide essentially that there wasn't enough for an obstruction of justice. And I think that that is a very interesting legal call. I think that it was a very close call.
And I don't think that it necessarily exonerates the president, if you will, on the political side. But on the legal side, it absolutely seems to get him there, at least for the time being.
HOWELL: This report is about 10 percent redacted. Democrats want to see all of this report.
Should they be given access to the full report?
And do you believe that it would make a difference for these lawmakers, given what we already know and see?
CHERKASKY: Well, when you're dealing with anything from the government, there is going to be redactions. Some things have to be redacted as a matter of law. There is going to be more information that comes out. Congress is going to run their own investigations now and look into some impeachment potential.
So I don't know that it will make a big difference. There will be information that kind of spills out as other investigations close out. I don't think that it is ultimately going to change things legally for the president, at least at this point.
But for the purpose of potential impeachment, perhaps that would be something that should be looked into. So there are avenues for them to do that. And I don't necessarily think that it is futile altogether but I don't think that it will give us that much more necessarily.
HOWELL: So those redactions are said to be tied to at least 14 investigations, as Robert Mueller handed off other matters to other federal prosecutors. The Southern District of New York, for instance, investigators there may be looking into campaign finance violations.
How serious do you believe all of this is for President Trump?
CHERKASKY: Well, the Southern District has been looking into the campaign finance issues for quite some time. But the same policy is going to apply regardless of what federal district we're talking about. A sitting president cannot be indicted.
We don't know whether those redacted portions of the report pertain to President Trump himself or to other individuals who are close to him. So it is not necessarily that he is out of the danger zone altogether. But on the prosecutorial side, it is really pretty much a done deal, as far as I can tell at this point.
HOWELL: Consider this opinion from Bret Stephens, who wrote the following in "The New York Times" editorial, about not firing Robert Mueller.
It reads, "Trump's absolution by Mueller did not come about because his intentions were innocent but because his aims were thwarted or his methods were incompetent. If his own staff hasn't blocked him from firing Mueller, he would have done so.
"If Don Jr. had been delivered a crate full of stolen Clinton documents at that Trump Tower meeting with a shady Russian lawyer, he would have taken it."
Legally, it comes down to the question of intent and execution. And there are indications that this could have gone very differently, Katie, had his staff carried out the orders of this president.
CHERKASKY: I think you're right and I think that even AG Barr's opinion might have been different if those items had been carried out because AG Barr's analysis of whether there was obstruction really comes down to whether there was intent on the part of the president that was corrupt.
And if there was a corrupt intent in what he did to obstruct the investigation, then that could have yielded a different outcome. Now obviously he still wouldn't have been indicted because he can't be, per DOJ policy.
But it would have been a lot different for potential impeachment proceedings and for other actions that could be taken in the future.
So I agree; I think that whenever you're looking at a case, you look at the facts as they are and perhaps President Trump lucked out because of insubordination, of all things.
HOWELL: And Mueller did not make a determination on obstruction.
What are your thoughts on why he did not cross that line there and, ultimately, how the attorney general framed that part of the investigation?
CHERKASKY: Well, Mueller made it very clear that he wasn't going to make a comment on obstruction or on any criminal findings whatsoever because he couldn't indict the president or recommend indictment.
And per the policy of the DOJ, it wouldn't be fair to make such a recommendation and not provide a forum in which for President Trump to clear his name essentially. So that was somewhat an interesting part of the report. I think it was somewhat expected from most people.
But he pretty much punted question because he found it futile to really go down that --
[04:40:00] CHERKASKY: -- path. I don't know if he agrees with AG Barr's analysis or if he actually believes personally that obstruction was committed. I think that is the million-dollar question obviously. But he is never going to answer that for us because he doesn't think that it is necessary from his perspective.
HOWELL: All right. Katie Cherkasky, thank you for taking time with us.
CHERKASKY: Thank you.
HOWELL: Now to the U.S. state of California, the parents who beat and imprisoned their children have been sentenced to 25 years to life. David and Louise Turpin were arrested after one of their 13 children escaped their filthy home and then called police.
The siblings, ranging from w years old to 29 years old, had been isolated from the outside world. Investigators say they were living in a house of horrors, where sometimes they were shackled to beds for months at a time, denied medical care and also denied food.
One of the daughters told the court about the ordeal. Louise Turpin spoke, too.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TURPIN DAUGHTER: My parents took my whole life from me. But now I'm taking my life back. I'm in college now and living independently. I love hanging out with my friends and life is great.
I believe everything happens for a reason. Life may have been bad but it made me strong. I fought to become the person I am. I saw my dad change my mom. They almost changed me. But I realized what was happening. I immediately did what I could to not become like them.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOUISE TURPIN, CHILD ABUSER: Despite everything I've done to hurt my children, I love my children so much. I want to be a mother to each one of them. I only want the best for them. Their happiness is very important to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: The court placed protective orders on each of the children to prevent the parents from having any contact with them.
So this had all the trappings of a sporting event, opposing sides with screaming fans. But actually it is a political debate in Ukraine, held in a stadium. We'll have that story for you ahead of that election.
Plus the horrific Columbine shooting is remembered 20 years later. Ahead, what some survivors are doing to help other victims. (MUSIC PLAYING)
HOWELL: In Ukraine, voters head to the polls on Sunday for a runoff presidential election. The incumbent, Petro Poroshenko, is facing a comedian turned politician Volodymyr Zelensky, who has never held public office.
They sparred in a heated debate on Friday in front of thousands of people at a football stadium. Polls showed Mr. Poroshenko has an uphill fight against Zelensky. CNN's Phil Black is following this story.
Phil, this debate in a stadium was Zelensky's idea. Poroshenko agreed to follow suit.
Who benefited best from a debate in this setting?
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poroshenko thundered confidently and looked pretty comfortable. His crowd was bigger; it was loud, boisterous. But he didn't land any killer blows. And, crucially, his opponent, Volodymyr Zelensky, didn't mess up.
The novice held his own largely through the debate. And so in that sense, you could say it was a draw but really that means that it was a win for Zelensky because nothing really changes. The political momentum in this campaign stays with Zelensky and it is significant momentum. The polling shows that he is leading by a really, really big margin.
The debate, well, there was not a lot of substance in it in terms of policy but a lot of personal attacks and mockery, with Poroshenko essentially saying that Zelensky is inexperienced, weak, not fit to be president, not fit to be commander in chief of a country that is still at war.
While Zelensky said that Poroshenko represents the decades-old political structure in this country, dominated by self-interest and corruption. Here's a text from both men's performance last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): I'm not a politician. I'm not a politician at all. I'm just a human being, an ordinary human being, who has come to break the system.
I am the result, Petro Oleksiyovych. I am the result of your mistakes and promises. This is true and you know it.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETRO POROSHENKO, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Mr. Volodymyr, you said yourself that you are a cat in a bag. You are not a cat in a bag, you are a bag. And your bag today is full of demons and cats, including all of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACK: So unless something truly extraordinary happens in the next 24 hours or so, it looks like Volodymyr Zelensky will be the next Ukrainian president, a comedian, an actor, a man who's become famous through playing a regular guy in a TV series that accidently becomes president and does battle with corruption and cronies of an oligarch.
He will now get the chance to do that in real life. But crucially no one really knows precisely how he will do it because, through this campaign, he stayed pretty tightlipped on detail. He hasn't made a lot of public appearances; he hasn't submitted to interviews. His campaign has largely been low key in a public sense but driven by pretty slick online social media videos.
But he's got a big smile, he is likeable, he seems to mean well. And for most Ukranian people right now, that appears to be enough. Or for them, it is at least better than the alternative, better than more of the same.
HOWELL: We'll be looking ahead for the next several days to see how this plays out. Phil Black, thank you for the reporting.
Also in Egypt, voters are heading to the polls, deciding on constitutional changes that could affect every branch of government, including the presidency. If the changes are approved, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi could remain in power until 2030. Egypt's parliament is dominated by his supporters and there is concern any change would undermine freedom in Egypt.
It was one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. Now 20 years on, survivors of the Columbine High School shooting are helping others to heal. Ahead, a powerful conversation between survivors of two school shootings.
HOWELL: In the U.S. state of Colorado, a grim anniversary that should always be remembered. Twenty years ago, a dozen students were killed when two gunmen opened fire at Columbine High School. The attack considered one of the deadliest attacks in U.S. history. Now two decades after that tragedy, survivors are helping other
victims of school shootings. Recently one spoke of them with the survivor of another attack, this one in Parkland, Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRANDON ABZUG, PARKLAND SURVIVOR: I have a question for you.
What do you think are like the main ways you enable yourself to get through this?
AMY OVER, COLUMBINE SURVIVOR: That is a good question. You're going to go through like really dark times and times where you don't think that you can take another step forward. But you learn coping skills, you know.
You figure out kind of, OK, I need to go get help or I need to -- like, for me, I had to go punch something. I had to go start physically fighting in a ring to get through my anger and, you know, my journey. So you will find like what works for you and what doesn't work for you.
ABZUG: For me, it is just so surreal. It will never seem right. I find that the coping mechanism for me is trying to take action.
OVER: Yes, it takes -- each one of us working every day tirelessly, you know, especially with dealing with the effects that it has mentally on us.
ABZUG: I went back to school two weeks later and your class never went back.
Do you think there was an advantage to not going back?
Or do you think going back would are helped more with the healing?
OVER: I don't think I could have gone back. I think it was probably a good thing that we went and finished out our last two weeks at Chatfield High School. I remember trying to do a little bit of work and I remember just bursting out into tears, like I can't function, I can't do this work you're asking of me.
I was so mad. I didn't want to be there. I didn't want to do that. And I just wanted to be with my friends. Everyone else, I just pushed out because they didn't understand what I had gone through.
People treated me differently. And I didn't like that. And I think that was the hardest thing about not going back to Columbine and graduating, is that I didn't get to be with my people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Organizers in Littleton, Colorado, held a vigil Friday to remember the victims of the shooting. Christians around the world are preparing to celebrate Easter this Sunday. And Pope Francis will hold his annual Easter mass at St. Peter's Basilica. He is celebrating Good Friday, the day Christians believe Jesus was crucified by leading the way of the cross to the Roman Colosseum.
The pope tapped a nun, who works to rescue women from human trafficking and sex slavery, to write this year's reflections.
Thank you for being with us for this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Another hour of news right after the break. Stay with us.