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Competing Narratives From Venezuela; A New Emperor Takes The Throne In Japan; New Complaints Of The How The U.S. AG Summarized The Mueller Report; Assange's U.S. Extradition Battle Begins Thursday; U.K. Minister Sacked After Admitting U.K. Would Use Huawei Equipment in 5G Network; Senator's Quote on Trump Turns Into Internet Memes. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired May 2, 2019 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody, I'm John Vause, you're watching CNN Newsroom. And this hour, after Democrats grilled the Attorney General, demands grow for Bill Barr to resign amidst handling of the Mueller Report. But the US President called his testimony a really solid great job.
The slow burn revolution, Venezuela's opposition leader calls for another day of mass protests against the Maduro regime, as the smallest of cracks emerge within the senior ranks of the government.
Plus should he stay or will (ph) he go? The legal battle only just getting started over Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange and his extradition to the US to face charges of hacking a government computer.
Round two of the US Attorney General versus the Democrats has been canceled. William Barr will not appear before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, because he objects to the ground rules, but Wednesday's hearing before a Senate Committee was filled with plenty of punches.
We begin our coverage with CNN's Sara Murray.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: What you're about to give this Committee...
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Attorney General William Barr in the hot seat today...
WILLIAM BARR, US ATTORNEY GENERAL: It was my decision how and when to make it public, not Bob Mueller's.
MURRAY: Barr defending his rollout of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report just hours after it was revealed that Mueller criticized Barr for mischaracterizing his conclusions.
BARR: His work concluded when he sent his report to the Attorney General. At that point, it was my baby. MURRAY: Mueller initially raised objections on March 25th, a day
after Barr sent his four page summary to Congress. On March 27th, Mueller reiterated his concerns writing there is now public confusion about critical aspects about the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Council, to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.
BARR: I said Bob, what's with the letter, you know, why didn't you just pick up the phone and call me if there's an issue.
MURRAY: Barr recounted the call he had with Mueller after receiving the letter.
BARR: He said that they were concerned about the way the media was playing this and felt that it was important to get out the summaries, which they felt would put their work in proper context and avoid some of the confusion that was emerging. And I asked him if he felt that my letter was misleading or inaccurate and he said no.
MURRAY: But Mueller does not mention media coverage in his letter, instead writing that Barr did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of this office's work and conclusions. Senators pounced.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: This letter was an extraordinary act, a career prosecutor rebuking the Attorney General of the United States, memorializing in writing, right.
BARR: The letter's a bit snitty, and I think it was probably written by one of his staff people.
MURRAY: Mueller also pressed Barr to release the summaries the investigators had written, something Barr did not do until he released the full report.
BARR: I said to him I wasn't interest (ph) - the fact is, we didn't have readily available summaries that had been fully vetted.
MURRAY: Now, Democrats are accusing Barr of lying to Congress when he said this on April 10th, just weeks after Mueller expressed his concerns.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Did Bob Mueller support your conclusion?
BARR: I don't know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusion.
MURRAY: Today, Barr evaded explaining that discrepancy, instead bringing up a different answer from a different hearing.
BARR: The question was relating to unidentified members who were expressing frustration over the accuracy relating to findings. I don't know what that refers to at all.
MURRAY: Democrats weren't buying it.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: You lied. And now, we know.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Mr. Barr, your - I feel that your answer was purposely misleading, and I think others do too.
MURRAY: Barr also pairing (ph) questions about why he concluded President Trump's conduct like trying to fire Mueller, did not rise to obstruction of justice.
BARR: There is a distinction between saying to someone go fire him - go fire Mueller and saying - have him removed based on conflict...
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: And what would...
BARR: ... they have different results.
MURRAY: But Mueller did not see that distinction, writing in the more than 400 page report that in seeking to fire the Special Council, the President sought to exclude his and his campaign's conduct from the investigation's scope.
Barr argued that without a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians, an obstruction case was tough to make.
BARR: An obstruction case typically has two aspects to it, one there's usually an underlying criminality (inaudible)...
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Let's stop right there...
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: ... was there an underlying crime here?
MURRAY: Democrats also raised a number of concerns about the fact that Barr will be overseeing more than a dozen offshoot investigations from the Special Council's probe. Barr says has is no plans to recuse himself from those investigations.
Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Joining me now from Los Angeles, CNN Legal Analyst and Civil Rights [00:05:10] Attorney Areva Martin and Political Analyst from Loyola Marymount University, Michael Genovese. Thank you both for being with us. So, Areva, first to you...
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST AND CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: OK (ph) sure...
VAUSE: ... is there a legal basis for the Attorney General of the United States to refuse to appear before a congressional committee and ignore a subpoena from House Democrats?
MARTIN: No, John, there is no legal basis. And what we are seeing from Attorney General William Barr is that he is a - you know, telling the Congress basically that he does not have to comply with their constitutional mandate of oversight.
He is acting as if he is the President's personal attorney. He might as well be Rudy Giuliani, in terms of how he conducted himself in these hearings and how he's conducing himself with respect to his interactions and communications with the United States Congress.
And now it's up to Jerry Nadler - Jerry Nadler has a decision to make, whether he will hold the Attorney General in contempt, whether he will go into court and try to enforce a subpoena to force him to appear, but Congress clearly has an oversight obligation under the United States Constitution.
And Barr's - you know, claim that he doesn't want to appear because he doesn't want to be questioned by staff members, attorneys that are staff for the United States Congress and this committee that (ph) they're absolutely baseless arguments on his part.
VAUSE: Well, here is the House Judiciary Chairman, Jerry Nadler, who (ph) you've mentioned, here is his response to Barr's refusal to appear on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERRY NADLER, HOUSE JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN: He is trying to blackmail the Committee, and I (ph) can understand, given how dishonest he has been since March 24th at the earliest - since March 24th at the latest, I can understand why he - why he is afraid of facing more effective examination.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, Michael to you, could you argue that Barr is anything but terrified, anything but afraid. But (ph) you know, the lower house moved to hold him in contempt, issue a censor - the censor (ph), then what? There's no real price to pay, it's like being hit by a wet piece of lettuce?
MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: John, John, John, that was a pretty sneaky question you just asked me, but I'm a good sport and I'm going to answer it. And the answer is that historically, Congress has a very strong claim to have their subpoenas answered.
And historically you find cases where for example in 1930, the Secretary of Commerce defied a Congressional subpoena. He was imprisoned. The good news for him, is he was imprisoned in the Willard (ph) hotel, which is a luxury hotel.
But the modern wars of subpoenas really started in the Clinton years when Representative Burton, new Head of the Oversight Committee of the House subpoenaed administration - Clinton administration people over 1,000 times in a five year period.
And so, what we see is that history is on the side of Congress. It's tough to defy a subpoena from Congress. It's tough to get away with it, and even if you do get away with it in a technical sense, politically, you pay a big price for it.
VAUSE: OK. Well, (inaudible) Senator Mazie Hirono, put the issue of criminality to one side as she very bluntly asked Barr if he approved of the President's behavior as outlined in the Mueller report, and here's part of that exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAZIE HIRONO, SENATOR, HAWAII: Do you think it's OK for a President to ask his White House Counsel to lie?
BARR: Well, I'm willing to talk about what's criminal. (Inaudible)...
HIRONO: No, we've already acknowledged that you think it was not a crime. I'm just asking whether you think it's OK, even if it's not a crime, do you think it's OK for the President to ask his White House counsel to lie?
BARR: Which (inaudible)...
HIRONO: Look, if you're just going to go back to whether or not...
BARR: Which event are you talking about...
HIRONO: ... (inaudible) you're telling me that...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, Areva, we have - you know, the highest law officer in the land in the United States, the Attorney General who seems unable to say whether or not it's OK for the President to ask his counsel to lie. What does it say about the current state of politics?
MARTIN: John, he wasn't unable to say that. He absolutely refused to state on the record that it is not OK for the President of the United States to ask the White House Counsel to tell a lie. Look at the dangerous precedent that's being set by Barr's unwillingness to state the obvious.
I can say to my kid it's not OK to lie. We can say to our coworkers, we can say that without any hesitation, but we cannot get the United States of the - United States - the Attorney General of the United States to say emphatically that it is not OK.
And whether you determine that you could prove beyond reasonable doubt, the very high legal standard that a crime could be committed, we could all agree, it's not a partisan issue about whether the President should be - you know, instructing anyone to tell a lie.
And the fact that he didn't - wasn't able to state that just - you know, I think one other example of why this Attorney General has lost so much credibility and why we see so many Democratic law makers calling for him to resign. VAUSE: And one of the worst moments for Barr came during questioning by Senator Kamala Harris, [00:10:20] a Democrat who is also running for President. Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, SENATOR CALIFORNIA: Has the President or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? Yes, or no, please, sir?
BARR: The President or anybody else...
HARRIS: Seems you'd remember something like that and be able to tell us.
BARR: Yes, but I'm trying to grapple with the word suggest. I mean there had been discussions of matters out there that - they have not asked me to open a investigation, but...
HARRIS: Perhaps they've suggested?
BARR: I don't know, I wouldn't say suggest...
BARR: I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You know, and Michael, the answer here is yes. The President has not only suggested but demanded, because we've seen the tweets.
GENOVESE: And we've also read the report. And so, there's so much damaging information in there, but - you know, and there's no need to sugar coat this, Attorney General Barr has been lying. He lied the day that he made his announcement to - in preparation to release the report when he said oh, there was full White House cooperation.
There was not. President refused to testify in person. And so, the Attorney General has dishonored himself and the Department of Justice. There's a lot of repair work that needs to be done. He can't do it. He's lost the trust of the American people.
He did a lousy job defending the lousy job he did, and now we're all going to be suffering from this, because you can't trust the Attorney General of the United States. He put party and President over constitution and country. And the Democrats are calling for his head.
I'm not sure he can survive this.
VAUSE: Well, what we saw with that answer, you know, struggling with the idea of you know, what suggests means, and someone, that kind of stuff, it was really just sort of that infamous moment when Bill Clinton was being questioned by prosecutors in the Monica Lewinski affair. Here it is if you - just as a reminder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: ... say that there was no sex of any kind, any manner, shape or form, President Clinton (ph)? It was a utterly false statement, is that correct?
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: It depends upon what the meaning of the word is is (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Yes, Areva, the meaning of the word is is, I mean (ph) - you know, this is Bill Barr, the Attorney General struggling with the concept of what - you know, suggested means.
MARTIN: Yes, I don't think - again, I don't want to give him the benefit of the doubt. He was not struggling. He was purposely evading answering that question. He knows that answer to it. He knows that Trump has talked with him about opening investigations against what we probably can surmise are his political opponents, because he's talked about it openly.
That's the thing that's so galling about Barr's testimony. He was refusing to answer questions that Trump himself have made clear for the record. So, it didn't take a whole lot for us to know the answer to that question. He simply refused to tell the truth.
And I have to agree with Michael, Barr has been lying since the first day that he - you know, came back onto the scene, when he was in his confirmation hearings. He hasn't stopped lying yet. And he has just damaged his own personal reputation and the reputation of the Department of Justice. And that's a really sad commentary for where we are in our body politic.
VAUSE: But there are those out there who believe that you know (ph) - this was a great performance.
I mean there is an editorial running in the - in the Wall Street Journal, which describes Barr as a real Attorney General he's part of it (ph) Washington parlance are (ph) never pretty, but this week's political serp (ph) of Attorney General Barr is disreputable even by Beltway standards. Democrats and the media are turning the AG into a villain for doing his duty and making the hard decisions that Special Counsel Robert Mueller abdicated.
Just as a counterpoint to that, over at The Week, to be blunt here, we hope (ph) Barr's appalling testimony today is further evidence of the Trump administration's intent to create (ph) something like an executive branch crime syndicate of lawlessness, hegemonic (ph) branch of government that is above the law, beyond scrutiny and beneath contempt. The Trump administration has triggered the most serious constitutional crisis since the Civil War.
So, Michael, we either have - you know, the man described as a real Attorney General or a man who's helping trigger the most serious constitutional crisis since the Civil War.
And it depends if you're a conservative or if you're - you know, a liberal.
GENOVESE: No, I don't think it does, John. I think it depends on whether your look facts or if you look at fantasy. And you can see whatever you want to see in something if you really want to see it. But if you look at the facts, you - for example, the morning that the Attorney General released the report, I saw his press conference and I turned to my wife and said it's over. The President didn't commit a crime, we have to move on.
And then, I read the report. It bore no resemblance to what the Attorney General said was in that report. And so, he's lost credibility. There is - it's not a partisan argument anymore, it's simply a matter of can you read the facts - does one and one equal two?
And the Attorney General says one and one equals Trump's innocent.
VAUSE: And at the end of the day, there is one person though, who is very, very, very happy with Bill Barr.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: I heard that the Attorney General was [00:15:30] really, really solid and did a great job today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And Areva, that pretty much says it all.
MARTIN: Well, that says it all, because John, what we do know about Barr today was that he was playing for an audience of one. And now, he's gotten affirmation from - you know, Trump, who obviously was the only person he was concerned about.
And we have watched Trump for the last two years talk about how upset he was and annoyed with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and how he wanted an attorney general that would stand up for him at all costs, and he got that today in Barr.
Barr was willing to lie. He was willing to evade. He was willing to undermine the Department of Justice all in - you know, all to advance the agenda of Donald Trump, even to use Donald Trump's language - no collusion, and he did that over and over again today, so no surprise that Trump has come out and has applauded his performance.
VAUSE: Michael, very quickly, Donald Trump, we said this before, I think we now know for certain, Donald Trump finally has the Attorney General he always wanted.
GENOVESE: He does, and lost amid this controversy is the fact that Russia was engaged in an effort to undermine our democracy. The President isn't talking about that. The President is not doing much about that, and that is the national crisis.
We have a constitutional crisis, we also have a national security crisis that the President is letting go unattended to. And that's going to really come back to haunt us.
VAUSE: Yes, there are a lot of things here which seem to have a very big sting in the tail, which we're yet to find out (ph). But, Michael and Areva, thank you so much. Really appreciate you both being with us.
GENOVESE: Thank you, John.
MARTIN: Thanks, John.
VAUSE: Next up here on CNN Newsroom, Venezuela's President faces a reenergized opposition determined to force him from office as some of those cracks within the senior ranks emerge of (ph) within the government.
Also, later this hour, why British Prime Minister publically sacked (ph) the Defense Secretary.
VAUSE: Venezuela Opposition Leader and President of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido has called for more anti government demonstrations on Thursday.
Protests and violent clashes in recent days, have not produced the massive popular uprising Guaido had hoped for, and it's emboldened the embattled President, Nicolas Maduro, who is claiming his military put down a coup attempt, all this while more than 50 countries recognize Guaido as the legitimate Head of State of Venezuela. And the US says military intervention is still on the table.
Michael Holmes, [00:20:40] is in the Venezuelan capital and filed this report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN REPORTER: The day after one person died and more than 100 were hurt in clashes, Venezuelans were back on the streets Wednesday. The people have listened to the man they consider to be their President, Juan Guaido and turned out here in Caracas, in their thousands, perhaps not in the numbers he might liked to see.
Guaido considered yesterday's protest the beginning of the end for President Nicolas Maduro, but as has been the case for months now, Mr. Maduro showing no signs of going anywhere.
And in the light of day, Guaido acknowledged there just aren't enough anti Maduro military defectors to provide a tipping point. And it was Mr. Maduro who claimed victory.
On the streets, defiant and long suffering Venezuelans saying that tipping point will come.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Maduro's time is over. It's time for him to go.
HOLMES: But he's not going anywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Right (ph), there's still time. You know, Guaido has got his program - it's going - it's going to take some time, but we're going to be here forever.
HOLMES: How long will you keep doing this?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Here?
HOLMES: Yes (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Here - well, until - I don't know (ph), 10 years - no (ph).
HOLMES: As the day wore on, the numbers steadily built (ph) (inaudible) and other places around the city, indeed the country.
Preparations here, Molotov cocktails for the violence that would inevitably come. It's a familiar script, the protesters are just outside a military base. They're throwing rocks and security forces firing tear gas, plenty of it.
Along with the tear gas, the sound of shots fired - rubber bullets or live fire, it is difficult to tell, though, one medical team leader said among the injuries treated, bullet wounds.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Gunshot...
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Rubber bullet or...
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: No, no...
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: (Inaudible) ground (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Ground and shot from fire (ph).
HOLMES: There is continued determination among these people to see this through. And they say they will be back until Nicolas Maduro is gone. But he's not yet. While the military continues to support him, his position seems intact for now.
Michael Holmes, CNN, Caracas, Venezuela.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And earlier, I spoke with Victoria Gaytan, of Global Americans, a think tank which focuses on foreign policy in Latin America.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
VAUSE: So, Victoria, there was a rally in Caracas on Wednesday. Juan Guaido was addressing supporters. At one point, he asked this rhetorical question, here it is.
JUAN GUAIDO, VENEZUELA OPPOSITION LEADER and PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY: Foreign language.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: How much longer, how much longer to gain freedom? How much longer to recover electricity, water, relatives? How much sacrifice will freedom cost? Democracy? Happiness? At the moment, I can't pin it down, days, hours, weeks, but I want to say something, we are on the right path.
VAUSE: You know, perhaps he could have added, you know, months or you know, maybe years or possibly never, especially if he doesn't receive significant support from the military, because at this point, it's difficult to see how President Maduro is forced out of office, while the Generals remain loyal to him. Is there another path that he could take?
VICTORIA GAYTAN, AUTHOR, GLOBAL AMERICANS: You're absolutely right. It's very difficult to put a timeline on what's happening right now in Venezuela, particularly what happened yesterday - Juan Guaido - some people say it's - it was very unsuccessful but there are some signs of hope and there are some signs of small fractures within the government.
As to what will happen next, as to a timeline on to where free and fair election ns will happen in the country, it's difficult to say at this moment. But can we say it was completely unsuccessful what happened yesterday? No.
There are some signs of small fractures within the military. There were a few elements accompanying, as we saw in the images, Juan Guaido's uprising, calling the military to stand against Maduro.
There was also the very, very symbolic figure of Leopoldo Lopez next to Juan Guaido. He was under house arrest and now he's out on the streets protesting as well. And he's also taking asylum, yes on the Spanish embassy, but the sign of Leopoldo Lopez, the symbolic figure of Leopoldo Lopez, yesterday in the streets is a good sign.
VAUSE: What you're saying - it will be a slow burn - the overall process here, much slower, I guess, than many had expected. And you (ph) mentioned, the US has been enthusiastic in its support of Guaido, the first of at least 50 countries who recognize Guaido as Interim President.
On Wednesday, the National Security Advisor John Bolton tweeted, Interim President Guaido bravely leads the Venezuelan people through the streets, while Maduro hides in a military bunker somewhere surrounded by his Cuban overseers and corrupt cronies. Guaido shows the courage of a leader. Maduro is nothing but a cowardly autocrat.
What is interesting here is the shift towards calling out Maduro's allies, in this case, Cuba, which Donald Trump, the US President, threatened on Tuesday, you know, with a full embargo, further sanctions [00:25:10] if it continues to support Maduro. Is this a shift which indicates Washington is sort of running out of options when it comes to putting pressure directly on Caracas?
GAYTAN: I mean here, State Secretary Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton, they - they are still under the same discourse that all options are on the table. And Secretary Pompeo did say that there were some red lines that he would not discuss out in the public, but presumably that would be a move by Russia or even Cuba on forcing Maduro into something else.
The US stands by its policy that all options are on the table, but they are following up the situation very closely, providing help in any way it can. Although, they don't rule out any option and that is quite conflicting.
VAUSE: You know, we heard again from John Bolton, offering his assessment of just how vital the Cubans are when it comes to propping up the Maduro regime, this is what he said.
JOHN BOLTON, US NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I think the key point here is that if this afternoon, 20, 25,000 Cubans left Venezuela, I think Maduro would fall by midnight. It's this foreign presence that sits on top of the military - sits on top of the government that makes it impossible for the people's voice to be heard.
VAUSE: Firstly, is it really that simple, 25,000 foreign troops that are from Cuba, all that stand between Maduro and the opposition forcing him from power? And where does he get that number, 25,000? Is it - is it confirmed? Or is it something - you know, just his assessment?
GAYTAN: Well, presumably the US government has kept contact on ground, and their intelligence information is much better than what I can provide your audience, John. But absolutely there is Cuban presence in Venezuela. There is infiltrated presence in the intelligence agency in Venezuela, the SEBIN, and while what we've seen in the past weeks is there's also Russian involvement at this point.
So, the US is following very, very closely whatever move the Russians and whatever move the Cuban government is doing in Venezuela.
VAUSE: What I found interesting over the last couple of days is that Juan Guaido remains a free man, and not just a free man, but able to walk the streets, rally his supporters, address the crowds. He hasn't been detained. He hasn't been put under house arrest.
Is the regime running the risk of looking weak or maybe fearful or - you know, in (ph) allowing Guaido to continue to build his credibility the longer he's out there as a free man?
GAYTAN: It's a tricky situation for Maduro that of having Juan Guaido in the streets, because that would be a sign of weakness, right. But also, imprisoning Guaido or taking another stance against Guaido would also - would also raise red flags, not only in the US, but also to other international partners that are following the situation closely.
Everyone has - that is rallying their support behind Juan Guaido has warned Maduro not to - not to take any movement forward against the security of Juan Guaido or his family.
VAUSE: Yes, essentially they've warned hands off I guess, but like you say, that (ph) does run the risk of - you know, them appearing weak and unable to control the situation.
Victoria, thank you so much, we appreciate you being with us.
GAYTAN: Thank you.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
VAUSE: And (ph) still to come, Julian Assange has his day in court. The Wikileaks Founder is sentenced for jumping bail, but this is likely to be the first of many days in court.
Details when we come back.
VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.
[00:31:28] U.S. Attorney General William Barr defending his handling of the Mueller report. He dismissed criticism from Special Counsel Robert Mueller that he did not fully capture the report's context and conclusions.
Barr is refusing to appear before a House Democrat committee in the day ahead.
Venezuela is bracing for a third straight day of anti-government protests. In the past 24 hours, the head of the secret police has broken ranks with the Maduro government. In an open letter, he criticized those in power that caused widespread corruption. He's the highest ranking official so far to defy Nicolas Maduro. Even so, Maduro still has the backing of the military.
May Day demonstrations in Paris turned chaotic with riot police firing tear gas and water cannons at protestors. Anti-government Yellow Vest activists were out in the streets, along with labor unionists and masked anarchists. Nearly 400 people were arrested.
Julian Assange now faces nearly a year in prison for violating his bail conditions set back in 2012. The WikiLeaks founder appeared in a London court Wednesday. He was wanted in Sweden on sexual assault and rape allegations when he took refuge in Ecuador's embassy to avoid extradition. Police finally hauled him out of there last month.
In a letter to the judge, Assange apologized to those who felt disrespected by his actions. The judge, though, was unmoved, saying he chose to commit a crime.
Assange's next legal challenge is just ahead: the first hearing on a U.S. request for extradition takes place a few hours from now. Assange faces conspiracy charges for trying to access a classified U.S. government computer. While the U.S. and the U.K. are allies, extradition cases have put a strain on their ties.
We get details on that from Isa Soares.
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Before Julian Assange faced extradition, it was his friend Lauri Love who fought to avoid American justice.
LAURI LOVE, FRIEND OF JULIAN ASSANGE: On an October evening in 2013, a large troop of gentleman turned up to the door. They got handcuffs and and arrest warrant thrust in my face.
SOARES: Love was accused of hacking several U.S. government agencies, stealing data from the U.S. Army, NASA and even the Missile Defense Agency.
(on camera): Do you consider yourself a computer hacker?
LOVE: I am a hacker, yes. Those skills can be put to what's constructive or malicious ends, and I would consider myself more on the constructive or ethical side.
SUAREZ (voice-over): But the Americans didn't see it that way. A U.S. indictment detailed crimes that carried a U.S. prison sentence of up to 99 years.
(on camera): How did you react? What did you think?
LOVE: It was very scary, and almost mind-boggling, as well.
SUAREZ (voice-over): Love, who lives with his parents in rural England, is diagnosed artistic. At his extradition hearing, he argued he would not survive the U.S. prison system, given his health, and should instead be tried in the U.K.
LOVE: I really worry for the toll it's taking on my health and my family's.
SOARES: A British judge ruled in his favor after a four-year battle. His case struck a nerve among the British public, wary of Americana justice, and could provide a roadmap for Julian Assange.
(on camera): You've said publicly that Julian Assange is being put in a sacrificial altar. Why do you say that?
LOVE: He is up for this quite horrific treatment that he would face in the USA. It is a pretext to send a message that, if you are going to report on things, there is a line; and you do not go beyond that line.
SOARES: They're making an example of him?
LOVE: They're making an example of him, yes.
[00:35:00] SUAREZ (voice-over): The U.K. has long wrestled with sending hackers to the U.S. for extradition. In 2012, then-Home Secretary Theresa May controversially blocked extradition of Gary McKinnon. He was accused of breaking into U.S. military computers.
NICK VAMOS, FORMER HEAD OF EXTRADITION, CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE: She said his health, and in fact, his life was in danger, because he was threatening to commit suicide if he was extradited.
SOARES: Nick Vamos is the former head of extradition for the Crown Prosecution Service. He worked on all three cases -- McKinnon, Love and Assange -- and says there's a key difference with Assange.
VAMOS: Really, when it comes down to, it the U.K. doesn't have any skin in the game with Assange. He didn't commit any offenses here. He's not a U.K. citizen. So there's no great national interest to say, you know, "We need to protect Julian Assange."
SOARES: Lauri Love says he visited the WikiLeaks founder in the Ecuadorian embassy just weeks before his arrest.
LOVE: I know this from personal experience. Knowing that your situation is about to go from difficult to extremely difficult. This was weighing heavily on his mind and soul.
SOARES: It's a weight Assange may be bearing for a long time. It will likely be years before there's a final ruling on his extradition.
Isa Soares, CNN, Suffolk.
VAUSE: Britain's defense minister has been sacked over a security week. The prime minister made the decision after an investigation found Gavin Williamson told "The Daily Telegraph" newspaper that the U.K. would allow tech giant Huawei to supply some equipment for the country's 5G mobile network.
Downing Street says the leak caused the prime minister to lose confidence in Williamson. He, though, denies any wrongdoing, saying he is confident that a thorough and formal inquiry would have vindicated his position.
But all of this puts London at odds with Washington. The U.S. has been trying to pressure allies like the U.K. to limit or ban Huawei equipment, alleging Beijing could use the company's products for espionage.
But Huawei denies it poses a security risk. Here's Samuel Burke with more.
SAMUEL BURKE, CNN TECH CORRESPONDENT: Yet another issue entangling Huawei shows just how powerful this Chinese telecoms company is. On the one hand, the United States has put incredible pressure on the U.K. and other countries to take Huawei out of their 5G systems, but so many of the British companies that have already paid for this equipment want it to stay. And that's why this issue is so sensitive with Theresa May and her government. Now, even though there are so many negative headlines around Huawei,
new numbers just out show how powerful the company is with consumers and how popular they are with consumers.
Even though the smartphone market is in decline around the world, Samsung, you see there in these numbers is losing volume. They're down about 8 percent, year on year. Apple is now in third place. They're down 30 percent.
But look at those credible numbers from Huawei, up 50 percent. One of the reasons is they've done very well in China. With the trade war, the Chinese have stopped buying as many Apple products and are starting to buy more Huawei products.
But it also shows there in credible innovation. Because there are so many negative headlines, many have forgot that Huawei has definitively moved ahead of Apple when it comes to smartphone innovation. They'll have have a 5G smartphone before Apple will, and of, course they'll have a folding phone out before Apple will.
So, it's classic China in the sense that Huawei looks at the big picture and always says, "They'll come around. People will use our products." That may not be true in the United States, for now, but in the rest of the world, Huawei is surging ahead.
Samuel Burke, CNN, London.
VAUSE: Well, they have been bitter rivals. They've also been golfing buddies and brothers in arms. Just ahead, Donald Trump and Lindsey Graham and an out-of-context quote sweeping the Internet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP))
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Trump is a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) idiot. He's unable to provide a coherent answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[00:41:00] VAUSE: Well, it's language unbecoming of a U.S. senator, especially one from the great state of South Carolina. But Lindsey Graham provided some much-needed viral content by dropping an "F"-bomb during a Senate hearing, and the Twitterati was thrilled.
Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's not what you usually hear at a hearing,
GRAHAM: Trump is a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) idiot. MOOS: Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham dropped the "F"-bomb
while quoting an FBI agent's text to his then-girlfriend. Graham was trying to demonstrate the agent's bias.
GRAHAM: Sorry to the kids out there.
MOOS: Sorry to the networks covering the hearing live.
BILL HEMMER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: About 90 minutes ago, I had a little bit of language slip by us, and for that, we apologize to our viewers down the line. We can thank Senator Lindsey Graham for his candid response, there.
MOOS: But the peoples most thankful for the "F"-bomb were Trump critics: "Nice of Lindsey Graham to have created 'Trump is a bleeping idiot' memes for years to come."
GRAHAM: Trump is a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) idiot. Trump is a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) idiot.
MOOS: Cue the remixes.
GRAHAM: Trump is a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) idiot. Trump, Trump, Trump.
MOOS: "My new ring tone is Lindsey Graham saying, 'Trump is a bleeping idiot."
Though definitely not safe for work, "I just accidentally played this in the office, and everyone around me laughed. Get yourself some of that joy."
(on camera): But you know who said the very same thing about candidate Donald Trump? And he wasn't quoting anyone. In his very own words --
GRAHAM: Well, I think Donald Trump is pretty much an idiot on policy, and he's a complete idiot when it comes to Mideast policy.
MOOS (voice-over): And guess who then-candidate Trump called an idiot?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And then I watch this idiot Lindsey Graham on television today, and he calls me a jackass! "He's a jackass!"
GRAHAM: He's becoming a jackass.
MOOS: But that was almost four years ago. Idiots and jackasses are now golfing partners and allies. Senator Graham's effort to defend President Trump --
GRAHAM: Trump is a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) idiot.
MOOS: -- didn't seemed to raise an eyebrow, even if it's not the kind of swearing you expect at a hearing.
Jeanne Moos, CNN --
GRAHAM: Trump, Trump, Trump.
MOOS: -- New York.
VAUSE: Oh, my.
Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Stay with. WORLD SPORT starts after the break.
[00:44:54] (WORLD SPORT)
[00:56:47] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[00:59:34] VAUSE: Hello, everybody. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
Ahead this hour, after Democrats grill the attorney general, demands grow for Bill Barr to resign over his handling of the Mueller report. But the U.S. president called his testimony "a really solid, great job."
The slow-burn revolution. Venezuela's opposition leader calls for another day of mass protests against the Maduro regime as the smallest of cracks emerge within the senior ranks of government.
And later, for friends who want to be more than just friends, Facebook is trying to get into the dating game. But do we really want Mark Zuckerberg in our bedrooms?