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Cyclone Fani Ripped India's East Coast; War Between House Democrats versus William Barr Deepens; Venezuela's National Guard Sweeps Everyone; U.S. Warns Russia to Back Off from Venezuela; Cyclone Fani Makes Landfall On India's East Coast; Democrats Weigh Contempt Citation For William Barr; Arrest Warrant Issued For Key Venezuelan Activist; Facebook Bans Dangerous Figures From Platforms; College Admission Scam; United Kingdom Local Elections; Fallout Over Security Leak Sacking In Britain; Treasure Claims To Good To Be True; Manhunt For Adrian Hong; Political Poultry; The Original Wookie Died At 74. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 3, 2019 - 03:00   ET



GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: One of the biggest cyclones to come off the Bay of Bengal in years, Cyclone Fani now ripping into Indian East Coast.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The White House is now accusing Robert Mueller of playing politics with his report. It is the same report the U.S. president used to claim he has been exonerated. We'll delve into. It

HOWELL: Also, tension to grow between United States and Russia, as the political crisis in Venezuela deepens. We have an update from Moscow. The rhetoric on both sides heats up.

Live from the CNN center in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers around the world.

I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen.

CNN Newsroom starts right now.

And we begin this hour in India where a powerful storm is hammering the nations East Coast.

HOWELL: We're talking about tropical Cyclone Fani, it made landfall just a few hours ago with winds of 240 kilometers an hour. Look at that. You see the power of the storm there in India. It is the strongest cyclone to hit the country in 20 years, and it's expected to bring significant wind damage and a strong storm surge.

At least one million people in India were evacuated ahead of this storm. Earlier, we heard from Kirti Mishra of Catholic Relief Services about the response effort on the ground. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIRTI MISHRA, OPERATIONS MANAGER, CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES: The people are in evacuation centers where the government is providing food, water, and necessary supplies there.

As of now, the weather is getting really bad. Landfall process has already begun in Puri with a wind speed of 180 kilometers, up to 200 kilometers per hour. As of now the reports are coming this way. But it is likely to increase to 220 or above kilometers per hour in the area.

Rains are heavy, we are getting the reports from the field that trees have collapse, walls are uprooted, some of the walls of the buildings have collapsed, and there is a report one dead -- death has also been reported by the local media.


ALLEN: We'll be getting more reports as the storm moves on. And Derek Van mis here with us now, and there are millions of people being impacted by this in two countries.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. This is a densely populated part of the world, Puri, where the storm made landfall. It has a population of about 200,000. They saw the brunt of the storm, the triple threat. That was storm surge, catastrophic wind, as well as extreme rainfall in a short period of time.

That's definitely going to be leading to the potential at least for catastrophic flooding.

Here's the latest information from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The storm system is now lost its energy source, which is the warm ocean waters in the Bay of Bengal, so it is moving on land, interacting with the land, and therefore we're going to continue to see a weakening trend, but not before producing a significant amount of rainfall.

Not to mention the coastal storm surge that is still a threat with the ongoing push of water from this strong, very powerful cyclone, and the excessive rainfall. Two hundred forty kilometers per hour. There is no longer a defined eye any longer as the storm has moved on shore.

But the latest radar showing some of the heftiest rainfall, right around the ring or the center of the storm systems, just now moving inland and away from their Puri region. This is the Odisha Coast, and nonetheless, the India Meteorological Department has put its highest alert levels for all three states along the East Coast of India from Uttar Pradesh into Odisha and West Bengal.

Their warning there are asking for people to take action, and millions of people have, evacuated from the coast as we know.

Now the path going forward shows that in a general north to northeasterly direction. But if you look at the population density in the path of the storm, we're talking over two million people, 200 million people, rather.

This is an extremely densely populated part of the world. And we're talking about equivalent storms that have impacted this region, they've only been nine storms since 1970 that have been category three Atlantic hurricane equivalent or stronger.

This storm, currently at a category four equivalent. So that just gets to show you the perspective here that this is a very rare type of intensity for a tropical cyclone, to say the least.

It will weaken in terms of its strength, in terms of its winds but it will continue to pound this area with heavy rainfall as it moves into northeastern India, as well as Bangladesh. Bangladesh, you're not out of the woods. In fact, you've got the worst ahead of you over the next 24 hours.

You have the potential to see over 300 millimeters of rain. Remember, this is mountainous terrain as well, so it's going to just act like working out a sponge. You're like pushing a sponge against a wall, you take out all the available and water and you dump that into the valleys and rivers below.

[03:04:59] And unfortunately, we're expecting all those rivers and deltas and estuaries to fill up quickly. The potential there for flooding does certainly exist, not to mention the catastrophic damage from the wind that is toppling trees, as we speak. Taking down electrical lines and causing some structural damage.

As we know, this area is very vulnerable to that issue. So, some of the structures there may not be up to hurricane code, like we're used to here in the United States. So that can cause some serious, serious problems.

ALLEN: We'll be watching it. Thank you, Derek.

VAN DAM: And we will update all morning.

HOWELL: Thanks, Derek.

U.S. politics now and House Democrats say they are considering holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress. They left an empty seat for Barr at a House hearing on Thursday. Barr didn't show up because he objected to being questioned by staff lawyers.

ALLEN: One Democrat brought a ceramic chicken, and a bucket of Kentucky fried chicken to the hearing to mock Barr, but the committee chairman took things much more seriously.


REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): He's trying to render Congress inert as a separate and coequal branch of government.

The challenge we face is that if we don't stand up to him together today, we risk forever losing the power to stand up to any president in the future. The very system of governance in the United States, the systems of limited power, the system of not having a president as a dictator is very much at stake.


ALLEN: Serious words from Mr. Nadler there. President Trump says former White House counsel Don McGahn should not testify before Congress because the Russia investigation, in his opinion, is over.

HOWELL: In the meantime, the current White House counsel is taking some new shots at the Mueller report.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins has this.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: With the Russia investigation still on Trump's mind.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People say how do you get through the stuff, how do you go through those witch hunts and everything else? And you know what we do, Mike, we just do it. Right? And we think about God.


COLLINS: New CNN reporting reveals his White House sent Attorney General Bill Barr a letter last month blasting the special counsel, claiming its report suffers from an extraordinary legal defect.

Emmet Flood accusing Robert Mueller of playing politics and straying from his mission, alleging his team failed in their duty to act as prosecutors and only as prosecutors.

The White House lashing out at the special counsel for how he handled the obstruction investigation into Trump. Even though current guidelines say a sitting president cannot be indicted, Flood said Mueller needed to ask the grand jury to return an indictment or declined to charge the case, adding the one thing the special counsel was obligated to do is the very thing the SCO intentionally and unapologetically refused to do.

But Mueller said that DOJ guidance had a major impact on how he conducted the investigation, arguing that even if he found concrete evidence against Trump, he couldn't charge him.

But Mueller making clear, he wanted to preserve the facts if investigators want to revisit the case once the president leaves the office. Yet, Barr testifying yesterday, repeatedly disagreed with his longtime friend Mueller and the actions he took during the investigation.


WILLIAM BARR, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think that, if he felt that he shouldn't go down the path of making a traditional prosecutive decision, then he shouldn't have investigated. That was the time to pull up. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: The White House telling bar in his letter that Mueller overstepped his mandate because some Democrats now want to use his report as a roadmap for impeachment. Under oath yesterday, Barr stood by his assertion that the Trump campaign what spied on.


BARR: I'm not going to back off the words spying.


COLLINS: And today, a report in the New York Times could give Trump and his allies ammunition for their claim. According to the Times, the FBI sent an investigator wo was posing as a research assistant to meet with a former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos in 2016 as part of its effort to look at the campaign's link to Russia.

The bureau's moves are now under investigation by the department's inspector general.


BARR: Many people seem to assume that the only intelligence collection that occurred was a single confidential informant, and a FISA warrant. I'd like to find out whether that is in fact true.


COLLINS: Now this letter was a scathing evaluation of not only Robert Mueller and his investigation in the way he conducted it, but it also turned an eye toward the ongoing battles between the White House and House Democrats.

[03:10:01] And it said that the president wanted to be made clear and understood that just because he did not assert executive privilege over the Mueller report doesn't mean he won't do so in the future.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


HOWELL: Let's talk more about this now with James Davis. James, the dean of the school of economics and political silence at the University of St. Gallen, joining this hour from Switzerland. Good to have you with us, James.


HOWELL: So, House Democrats want Don McGahn to testify, the question now is, can the president legally block his former White House counsel from testifying?

DAVIS: Yes. This is going to be the important and interesting question. Don McGahn was the president's attorney in the White House, that is to say he is not a member of one of the agencies of the government over which the Congress has oversight authority.

So, the president is by no means obliged to allow Don McGahn to testify. There's the rule of confidentiality here. The problem is however, he did allow him to testify before the Mueller commission, before the special counsel.

And so, the question here is whether or not executive privilege has already been waved, if it's already been waved then there's no reason deny him access to or deny the Congress access to him and to prohibit him from testifying before the Congress.

I think this is an interesting question, and probably one that's going to land in the courts.

HOWELL: OK. And also, for the attorney general, William Barr. So, he didn't show up to testify the day before. Democrats definitely took that opportunity to highlight his absence, criticizing him for, basically a made for TV circus-like atmosphere, but they are still pushing to get that unredacted Mueller report from him. He could be held in contempt of Congress.


DAVIS: yes, I mean, this --

HOWELL: How difficult a fight will that be for Democrats to get that report, James?

DAVIS: Right. So, these are two different issues. The attorney general is subject to congressional oversight, and cannot deny the Congress access to information. And so, he can be held in contempt. The question is whether that serves eye to the Congress or the Democrats in the House of Representatives, or the attorney general.

My guess is that there's going to be some negotiations going on between Mr. Nadler's staff and the staff of the attorney general, and they'll come to some arrangement whereby the attorney general will in fact appear.

But if he doesn't, I fully expect the committee to hold him in contempt, and then we'll see where that goes. The unredacted report, I think it's going to eventually see the light of day. It's just a question of when.

You're right. It is a circus atmosphere. But in this case, I think both sides are playing their role as clowns. It's a rather clownish act to come in the hearing with a bucket of Kentucky fried chicken, but the attorney general has also made himself out to look something of a clown in the middle of the three-ring circus.

HOWELL: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is saying the attorney general lied to Congress, and in doing so, committed a crime. Clearly, Barr has no intention of resigning as, some are demanding, and he's likely not to be prosecuted.

DAVIS: That's right. I mean, look, when you stand before a committee of Congress, you take an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And I think any reasonable American watching the attorney general's testimony before the Senate would have come to the conclusion that he was not telling the whole truth.

He was splitting words; he was going back on the position that he had held in the past. If you look back at his original testimony, after the release of his memo on the Mueller report, it's clear that he was not telling the whole truth.

They asked him whether or not he was aware of some belief amongst members of the Mueller staff that his summary was incorrect, or did not provide enough context, he said he did not. It's clear now that the special counsel, Mueller, had already told him that he had concerns that the summary was not correct.

So, I mean, he's clearly not telling the whole truth. And I think this is, clearly, a breach of his oath when he testified before the Congress, and that under normal circumstances would be considered a crime.


HOWELL: That was an interview with James Davis earlier, James, the dean of the school of economics and political science at the University of St. Gallen.

ALLEN: Two longtime adversaries once again find themselves on opposite ends of a political tug of war, this time in Venezuela. Next here, we explain why the U.S. is calling on Russia to get out of Venezuela, and why Moscow is not likely to listen.

[03:14:59] HOWELL: Plus, a big Facebook purge, the social media platform now banning some of the most famous and infamous names on the far right.

More on that ahead.


ALLEN: In Venezuela, opposition leaders are calling for Venezuelans to continue protesting against the Maduro government.

HOWELL: Two days of massive street demonstrations failed to deliver, to trigger, rather, of military uprising against President Nicolas Maduro. But then there was this.

It seems like this Thursday scenes that convey the impression the military was solidly with Maduro. He told the troops the people responsible for this week's unrest would be rounded up.

ALLEN: That pledge was backed up by an arrest warrant with key opposition activists seen here, Leopoldo Lopez who escaped house arrest. Lopez and his family have taken refuge in the Spanish embassy in Caracas. He came outside briefly to give a statement.


I want to say to all my brothers and sisters in Venezuela and around the world we are not going to rest. We are not going to rest for one single moment. We are not going to rest under any circumstance from the challenge and promise we have taken on which is to end the usurpation.


HOWELL: A group of paramedics in Venezuela say they have been targeted by the country's National Guard during anti-government protests.

ALLEN: They says they're just trying to help wounded people, yet they cannot escape the country's violence.

Rafael Romo has the story. A warning some of the images here are graphic.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He suffered multiple wounds and several shots from a pellet gun to the right leg and a burning contusion to the left buttock.

He's not a protestor. The 23-year-old is a Blue Cross paramedic who says members of Venezuela's National Guard shot at him point blank range. According to the Blue Cross, this image shows the moment when the paramedic who asked not to be identified was shot.

He says he was riding the motorcycle Blue Cross paramedics use for quick access to victims when he was shot, first on the right side and then on the left.

The Blue Cross is a group of civilian volunteers including doctors and medical students, and for the last two years have gone to protests with the purpose of helping the wounded.

[03:19:59] They say it's the first time they're attacked by the National Guard.


VALERIA GALLEGO MENGOD, OPERATIONS DIRECTOR, BLUE CROSS (through translator): We never had a direct attack. It was always a coincident like falling off a motorcycle or getting hit by pellets who are not aimed at us.

But since Tuesday, we've seen a different act towards our paramedics.


ROMO: According to Gallego who also rides a motorcycle to help wounded protestors, five Blue Cross paramedics were injured as they were at the scene of a violent protests Wednesday.

They were shot at point blank range, she says, one of those injured was Salvador Salazar, a 23-year-old dentistry student who says he was hit by a tear gas canister in his lower left buttock.


SALVADOR SALAZAR, PARAMEDIC, BLUE CROSS (through translator): They shot me with the tear gas minister point blank range which cause the injury I have in my left buttock.

ROMO: So, when they got there you had your Blue Cross helmet, you had your uniform? Was it clear to them that you are not one of the protesters?

SALAZAR (through translator): Yes, in fact we identify ourselves in several forms. We have flags on each one of our motorcycles and vehicles identifying we are the Blue Cross. We have a white helmet with the Blue Cross. We also wear full uniforms.


ROMO: The Blue Cross says their mission of saving lives and they don't make any distinction between protesters and security forces. As a matter of fact, they say they have rescued members of the National Guard in the past.

CNN contacted the Venezuela ministry of defense but they decline making any statements about the alleged attack. The Venezuelan defense minister has referred to the violent situation in Venezuela in recent days in terms of war.

"Our country's weapons," he said, "are there to defend our sovereignty and independence."

For the Blue Cross, this first attack against these paramedics sends the message that security in the country continues to degrade. They also say it was an aggression that means that in Venezuela, that even those dedicated to saving lives can escape violence.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Caracas.

HOWELL: The Trump administration is looking for ways to funnel more money to the Venezuelan opposition. But it's not just cash.

ALLEN: President Trump says the U.S. has a wide range of options to help those standing against the Maduro government including U.S. military intervention.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a very, very serious situation.


TRUMP: I don't want to say but we have lots of options and some of them are very tough options.

HERRIDGE: Is there a tipping point for military intervention?

TRUMP: There's always a tipping point. But certainly, I'd rather not do that. I just want to help the people. The people are dying.


HOWELL: Opposition figure and National Assembly president Juan Guaido is recognized by the United States and dozens of other countries as Venezuela's legitimate head of state. U.S. official say he needs cash to set up an interim government.

The political tension in Venezuela has put Russia at sharp odds with the U.S. Both sides accuse the other of meddling in Venezuela's internal policies.

ALLEN: Yes. But Russia has been deeply involved in Venezuela for decades and is not likely to abandon Maduro.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen has that story from Moscow.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, the crisis in Venezuela rapidly turning into a standoff between the U.S. and Russia. Washington accusing Moscow of meddling in America's backyard.


JOHN BOLTON, UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Look, the Russians like nothing better than putting a thumb in our eye. It's not ideological, it's just good old-fashioned power politics. That's why we have the Monroe doctrine which were dusting off in this administration.


PLEITGEN: Russia's foreign minister firing back.


SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): I believe that the boldly announced intentions of returning to the doctrine which is 200 years old, is disrespectful, not only to the Venezuelan people but in general, to the people of Latin America.


PLEITGEN: While the Trump administration supports Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido and says embattled President Nicolas Maduro must step down immediately. Russia, remains fully committed to Maduro.

Secretary of State Pompeo even telling CNN the Russians talk Maduro out of leaving office.


on the tarmac he was ready to leave this morning as we understand it. The Russians indicated he should stay.


PLEITGEN: Maduro and the Russians deny that version of events. Meanwhile, the U.S. national security adviser John Bolton saying Moscow is undermining American interests in Latin America.


BOLTON: But this is our hemisphere. It's not where the Russians ought to be interfering. This is a mistake on their part, it's not going lead to an improvement of relations.


PLEITGEN: Nicolas Maduro is a long-standing ally of Vladimir Putin. The Russians flew nuclear capable bombers to Venezuela last year. A direct show of force against the U.S.

[03:24:59] And even now, the Russians have soldiers on the ground in Venezuela. Though Moscow claims they are only trainers and maintenance personnel.

While President Trump and Vladimir Putin have repeatedly declared their mutual admiration for one another, the crisis in Venezuela could be turning into a high stakes game of chicken between Washington and Moscow. President Trump alluding to the option of U.S. military force in an interview with Fox Business.


TRUMP: We're doing everything we can do in short of, you know, the ultimate. There are people that would like to do, have us do the ultimate.


PLEITGEN: And the Russians for their part are certainly showing no signs of backing down. Moscow says it wants to mobilize other countries in the United nations to counteract what it called America's scheme in places like Venezuela.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.

ALLEN: So, what next for Venezuela? Celia Szusterman joins us from London. She's a senior lecturer in Latin American politics at the University of Westminster. We really appreciate your time. Thank you for joining us.

I want to ask you first. As we just saw there the heat has been turned up in Venezuela, and now we have Guaido asking for the public sector to strike on Friday. After he didn't get the military defections he had hoped for this week, is this volatile situation leaning in his favor. How do you see it?

CELIA SZUSTERMAN, SENIOR LECTURER, UNIVERSITY OF WESTMINSTER: I'm afraid I don't think it is. I think we're in a stalemate but with Maduro increasingly having the upper hand. So, this has already -- I mean, but we don't -- we cannot get what the outcome is going to be, but certainly not going to be a happy one for those who had hope to see the end of Maduro.

But let me say there that it's not just a question of getting rid of Maduro. It's a whole international, criminal organization that Venezuela has become that needs unraveling. And that's not going to be easy even if Maduro is persuaded to go.

ALLEN: Well, yes, that illustrates the situation right there what you just said. So, is Guaido, though, right to make this aggressive push now?

SZUSTERMAN: Well, I think he sounds -- he sounds increasingly desperate. So, I just don't think the whole idea was based on splitting the army and getting enough support from the armed forces to back the opposition.

This hasn't happened. We don't know whether Defense Minister Padrino was in fact acting as a double agent during the months of negotiations with the opposition and letting Maduro know what was going on. Or whether he was acting in good faith and then had a change of heart.

But the fact is, that the armed forces haven't shown no sign of splitting.

ALLEN: Celia Szusterman, thank you so much.

We'll continue to watch what happens in Venezuela this Friday.

HOWELL: Absolutely. Still ahead, a powerful storm is moving through the Bay of Bengal threatening millions of people. India is now responded with a major relief operation. We'll have details on that in a live report from New Delhi for you.

ALLEN: Also had here, British voters are using local elections to express their Brexit frustration. What could it mean for the future of the major parties? We'll have that in a live report for you coming up.


ALLEN: And welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and all around the world, I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell with the headlines we are following for you this hour. India's East Coast getting hit hard right now with the worst cyclone in 20 years. Tropical cyclone Fani made its landfall just a few hours ago with winds of 240 kilometers an hour. 200 million people in northern India and Bangladesh are in its path. Significant storm surge and wind damage are expected there.

ALLEN: House Democrats in the U.S. left an empty chair where the U.S. Attorney General would have been had he shown up to testify. William Barr skipped Thursday's hearing on his handling of the Mueller report. Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said, he is considering siding Barr for contempt of Congress.

HOWELL: And arrest warrant has been issued for Venezuelan opposition activist Leopoldo Lopez. He escape house arrest just as anti- government protests were getting underway. Lopez and his family have now been taken refuge at the Spanish embassy in Caracas. Spain says it has no intention of turning him over to Venezuelan authorities.

Let get the very latest now on this news we are following. As we mentioned, cyclone Fani has made landfall in India and now threatens millions of people who are in its path. For more on India's response to this storm, let's bring in CNN's New Delhi bureau chief, Nikhil Kumar, who is following the story. And Nikhil, we understand -- so, India is far better prepared now for a storm like this than we've seen in years past.

NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI'S BUSINESS CHIEF: That is absolutely right, George. Back in 1999 was when we last saw a storm of this size and ferocity, and back then we had a death toll in the thousands. Since then, we have seen other storms that have hit this area.

This area is particularly prone to storms, to flooding, it's by (inaudible), part of the country. When we talk about climate change, and the locations around the world that would be most at risk. People often talk about the (inaudible) that coastal area because of by low lying by (inaudible) (inaudible).

And so, all the last two decades or so, the country over here, India has basically built itself a very, very, very robust disaster management infrastructure and that has meant in the days, in the run up to this particular storm, they move quite rapidly to basically clear the coast and evacuate people from there. More than 1 million people have been evacuated, they have cleared entire villages, thousands of villages around the coast had been completely cleared of people.

People who lived in bungalow housing, such as (Inaudible) and so on, they have been moved into much, much more solid structures as the emphasis is on making sure that the loss of life is minimized. Those death tolls in the thousands that we use to see in the 90's, we have not seen that for a long time, because of action such as this, but of course, we are right now still in a very, very risky part in the life of the storm.

It has hit land, as you said earlier today, morning, Local Time. It has been a few hours that is making its way up that coast, but there is still a risk of storm surges in the area, which is something that all the authorities here are keeping a close eye on, but they have moved quite rapidly to move people away. And then of course, once it has passed, once we have a full picture of the destruction on the ground. And we do expect to see quite a lot when it comes to physical infrastructure, it will be a very long process of rebuilding, George.

HOWELL: That's the other question I wanted to ask you, Nikhil. I mean, have they spoken at this point about what that will look like, given the intensity of the storm, rebuilding will certainly take some time.

KUMAR: That is something George that you know, we will get more details, of course, in the days ahead as we get a better picture of the destruction on the ground, but it is a big, big issue. Because, of course, people who have been moved way, this is their home, this is where they earn their livelihood, there are fishing communities, where no doubt, boats and so on, I expect it to become destroyed.

And so they will have to be rebuilt to make sure that the people who live in these communities, that they can return, that they can settle back in, but as I say, right now, the focus very much on making sure that the loss of life is minimized.

[03:35:04] And you know, there's one agency, in the middle of all of these, which is the National Disaster Management Agency, it did not exist back in 1999 when that death toll in the thousand that we saw. So, all the emphasis right now is making sure that people are not hurt, and that then the focus will shift to the very, very long process, no doubt, it will be of rebuilding, making sure that that the communities can -- as I said, resettle, have their livelihoods back, have their homes back. George.

HOWELL: Following all of the details on this story, we will stay in touch with you as we continue to monitor the storm. Thank you.

ALLEN: Facebook says it's removing dangerous individuals and groups from social media platform. Thursday, the company bans several high profile and controversial people.

HOWELL: the company says it's trying to crack down on hate speech and anything that could lead to violence. CNN business reporter, Donie O'Sullivan has this story.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Hi, there, yes, among those who Facebook ban from its platform and labeled as dangerous are the right-wing conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones and Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the nation of Islam, who was notorious for using anti- Semitic language.

Now, Facebook has been coming under increasing pressure to clean up its platform. Just last month, it banned representation and praised of white nationalism, that came just after the suspect and the New Zealand terror attack streamed the massacre live on Facebook.

Now, Facebook and its platform Instagram which he also owns have been working for weeks to try and remove copies of that video of the attack from its platforms, however just this week CNN found several copies of that video circulating on both sites. Once we brought it to Facebook's attention, they took them down. Back to you.


HOWELL: Donie O'Sullivan with hat report. Donie, thank you.

ALLEN: And now the admissions scandal rocking the U.S. University systems. The family of a Chinese students paid 6.5 million dollars to William Singer for a place at Stanford University. Singer has pleaded guilty to charges that he worked with wealthy families to get their children spots in top schools using bribes and false test scores.

HOWELL: But the mother of the Chinese students says she believed that she was making a legitimate donation to Singer's Foundation. In a statement, she said that she was told, it was to help students in need. The family and the student have not been. Brynn Gingras has this.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORREPOSNDENT: This particular family is so significant, because it the most amount of money, at 6.5 million dollars that U.S. Attorneys say any family paid Rick Singer. Now, what's unclear according to our source is, if this family, who we learned is from China, gained any sort of advantage for their child to get into school, they took advantage of that college scheme, because they have not been charged with any crime at this point, and neither has their child.

We do know that child did go to Stanford though in that school certainly distancing themselves from all of this new news saying quote, it is important to clarify that Stanford did not receive 6.5 million dollars from Singer or from a student's family working with Singer.

Again, according to sources, it's possible this family did nothing wrong, and that is still being investigated. However, what we did learn is that this family was connected to Singer by a man named Michael Woo, he was a financial adviser at Morgan Stanley, and that company says, he no longer works with them, because he would not participate in its own internal investigations into the college scam.

I actually did speak to Woo's attorney who says that it was Morgan Stanley who was the trusted source for Woo introducing Singer, so there's sort of a back and forth going on there. But this really just gives you a good idea of how large the scheme is, how much money it really raised for allegedly Rick Singer, and how widespread, going all the way to China.

It's also important to know, that we've learned through a source that federal prosecutors have issued more subpoenas to parents. They are investigating others, looking to get financial records, phone logs and other evidence, possibly more charges coming down as this case seems to just get bigger and bigger. I'm Brynn Gingras, CNN, New York.


ALLEN: Results are coming in, in local elections across the United Kingdom. It is still very early in the counting, but so far people are voting both of Britain's main parties out of their counsel seats. Anna Stewart is live in London for us, let's see what could be behind this, Anna. It seems Brexit anger is showing up at the polls.

ANNA STEWART, CNN PRODUCER: It really is. And that is why it's so interesting in these local elections, which we wouldn't normally cover. These is an elections for some 8,000 counselors, they don't sit restless today (ph), they don't represent their areas in terms of a nationals scale, but they are being punished by Brexit!

Both parties, the main parties, conservatives and the Labour Party leaving many seats there. A conservatives particularly, they have now lost around 400 seats. Labour have lost around 80. Having trouble around the U.K. myself and gone to a lots of areas that voted to leave the E.U. in 2016, speaking to people there, this not come as a surprise.

[03:40:19] There's a lot of anger actually and frustration that the politicians aren't listening to the people. They voted to leave, their still in the E.U., it doesn't look like a Brexit deal is forthcoming at the moment. So, these results go to show that. Just to highlight, one vote (inaudible) in area in the east, they voted to leave the E.U. by 71 percent in 2016, and today, although at the Labour stronghold -- Labour have lost that as a council.

ALLEN: That is very interesting, isn't it? Well, will the outcome of these elections, you stressed the local, you would have been covering it otherwise -- could it have though any effect on the Brexit process?

STEWART: Yes. Interesting idea. I think it could, because I think, both -- the main parties, the conservatives and Labour, have done so badly in these elections, it goes to show what people around the country are feeling about Brexit. And that might help the conservatives and Labour Party get together, because they are currently talking about a Brexit deal, of trying to find a compromise, perhaps it will push them further ahead to reach that and make Brexit finish quickly.

Because, frankly, they can't afford to lose more support through the nations. Now, what's happening at the moment, they are trying to find a compromise, they have until May 23rd, to try to find a compromise deal between themselves, get the E.U. on board, get it through the Houses of Parliament, otherwise, unfortunately, the U.K. will have to take part in the E.U. parliamentary elections on May 23rd, and we could see the same Brexit backlash then. Natalie?

ALLEN: All right. These local elections sending a signal to their leaders. Thank you so much, Anna Stewart, following it for us.

HOWELL: Fallout over security leaks in Britain and the sacking of the defense secretary who has been blamed.

ALLEN: But the man who lost his job is fighting back. CNN's Phil Black is in London with more on the drama that unfolded Friday.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The sacked now former British defense secretary Gavin Williamson insist, it wasn't me, and his denials have been so strenuous they've included controversially swearing on the lives of his own children. But the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, says there's compelling evidence suggesting his responsibility for leaking information on discussions at the National Security Council.

The clues are in the name, the National Security Council considers the most sensitive national information. It is where there are discussions and decisions made on issues critical to the U.K. safety and security and it's all supposed to happen in the strictest of confidentiality. In this case, the government says the concern is not so much the substance of the leak, reportedly, permission for Chinese company Huawei to help build part of the U.K.'s 5g telecommunications infrastructure.

Instead the government says, what is really worried about is protecting the forum, the sanctity of the National Security Council. The code of silence that supposed to shroud it's working. And so Theresa May ordered an inquiry. And she says it found no other credible explanation. She says, she was also concerned by the lack of openness and the fact that Gavin Williamson wasn't perhaps as helpful as he should have been in working with that inquiry.

And so, he is out, and the government says it considers the matter closed. Except, in the United Kingdom, telling national secrets can be a crime. It's covered by the official secrets act. The government says it will not be referring this to police for investigations. And the police say they probably won't investigate if they don't receive an official referral.

So it is possible that the matter is closed, but in Parliament, opposition M.P.'s said, this can't be the end of it. The issues are too serious, and it shouldn't be up to the government to decide if a crime has been committed. Some also argue there is an issue of fairness here. Williamson has been accused of wrongdoing, he denies it. They say, there should be some official process for determining the truth.

Politically this is all bad for Theresa May. Williamson was an ally, someone rapidly promoted by her, he was her chief whip that is the chief parliamentary enforcer, the person responsible for implementing her policies and tactics within the party. So now, this already extraordinarily weak Prime Minister has lost a close senior ally in cabinet and possibly created a new very well informed adversary within her own party.


HOWELL: That was Phil Black reporting for us from London.

ALLEN: And still to come here on CNN Newsroom, the promise of billions of dollars, gold and a sunken shift. All too good to be true. We will explain, right after this.


HOWELL: An international mystery has taken a new twist. The hunt is now on for a man who is now identified as the prime suspect in the raid in February on the North Korean embassy in Madrid.

ALLEN: CNN's Brian Todd reports about the man allegedly behind this bizarre plot.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Adrian Hong is on the run. His face is plastered on the U.S. marshal's wanted poster and he is allegedly armed and dangerous. Hong, who strangely uses the name Oswaldo Trump as an alias. He is accused of being the mastermind behind the bizarre raid on North Korea's embassy in Madrid on February 22nd.

According to court documents from prosecutors just unsealed in Los Angeles, U.S. and Spanish officials accused Hong and several others of breaking into the North Korean embassy using knives, iron bars, machetes and fake guns. They tied up embassy staff members and beat them, court documents alleged, before making off in embassy vehicles with a stash of thumb drives, hard drives, computers and at least one cell phone.

The North Koreans call it a grave terrorist attack. Spanish authorities have asked the U.S. to find and arrest Adrian Hong, but his lawyer tells CNN, the U.S. marshals aren't the only people hunting for him.


LEE WOLOSKY, ATTORNEY FOR ADRIAN HONG: We know from credible sources that the North Korean government has and is seeking Adrian Hong and some of his associates from the provisional government of (inaudible) and is seeking to target them for assassination.

ADRIAN HONG, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST FOR NORTH KOREA: It's a brutal totalitarian regime ruled by (inaudible) family.


TODD: The goal of Hong's group, the provisional government of Free Joseon, is to overthrow Kim Jong-un regime. U.S. authorities raided Hong's apartment last month, but he wasn't there. His lawyer says Hong is scared for his life and that he denies roughing up anyone on the North Korean embassy.

He says they were invited into the embassy that day. And he points to these surveillance photos of another member of the group entering. Attorney Lee Wolosky says, members of the group had contact with someone at the embassy in the days before the incident, but why would members of a group which wants to overthrow Kim Jong-un be invited into that embassy?


WOLOSKY: Is there where the defections generally occur there. It is -- individuals who are posted outside of North Korea who when given the opportunity will choose to defect.


TODD: So, did they go to the embassy to help someone defect?


WOLOSKY: They have said that they were responding to an urgent situation in that embassy. And I really, you know, I have concern for the safety of some people who may still may be in that embassy. I would prefer to just leave my answer for now at that.


[03:50:04] TODD: U.S. prosecutors now say, Hong's group tried to get a top embassy official to defect, but quote he would not betray or desert his country. Still analysts say, Hong's group has succeeded in embarrassing the violent and vindictive North Korean dictator.


BRUCE KLINGNER, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: You would see it as a threat, he is assassinated or executed any number of senior official's that he sought or perceived to be a threat. So, he would go after these members as much as he could.


TODD: Adrian Hong's attorney is slamming the Justice Department, telling CNN, he has dismayed that the department is executing warrants against Americans based on the accounts of North Korean officials. The attorney says, he is worried that Adrian Hong or other members of the group might eventually be extradited to North Korea. Justice officials tells CNN, anyone extradited to Spain will get due process under Spanish law and that they have indicated they are not likely to facilitate any extraditions to North Korea. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: Brian thanks. The promise of a billions of dollars and gold has turned heads.

ALLEN: But as it turned out, a sunken treasure story was just that. A story. CNN's Paula Hancocks has our story from Seoul.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a story that sparked plenty of global interest and also investment attention last year. A South Korean company Shino Group had claimed that it did find the Russian warship that was sunk back in 1905 that potentially had billions of dollars of gold on board as it went down.

It turned out to be a scam in the executives of that group were jailed for fraud this week. The former vice chairman was sentenced to five years, two other executives received jail terms of two and four years. The centered around the Dmitri Donskoi, a first class armored cruiser. Which was sunk in the waters between Japan and South Korea during the battle of Tsushima, part of the Russo-Japanese war which Moscow eventually lost.

But since its sinking rumors have persisted that it was carrying a very large amount of gold coins, the experts in government official's cost out on those claims. (Inaudible) tainted it would make an announcement at last year's press conference perhaps even showing photos and video of the gold, but nothing was revealed.

It furiated the company amid allegations, the story was made up, to boost the shares of a steel company that executive have invested in before their suppose discovery. Authorities concluded that the whole thing had been made-up. It was nothing, but a scam to try and boost a stock price. Which means that the Dmitri Donskoi, with its rumors of gold treasures on board is still out there. Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


ALLEN: Well, coming up here in United States, Democrats maybe boiling mad at the Attorney General for skipping out on a House hearing, but one Congressman got some deep fried revenge. We'll tell you about it, just ahead.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You made a fair move. Screaming about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) it's not wise instead of Wookie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But Sir, nobody is upsetting a droid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because a droid don't pull people's arm out of their sockets when they lose, because you are not allowed to do that.


ALLEN: We have remembering the original Chewbacca as played in Star Wars, by Peter Mayhew, who has died at the age of 74. His family said he put his heart and soul into his role as Hans Solo Wookie sidekick.

[03:55:02] HOWELL: Well, politicians in Washington D.C. are used to dealing in pork, in term for trading government spending for political support.

ALLEN: But they're not as familiar with political poultry. Well, that all changed Thursday as we learn from Jeanne Moos,


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Attorney General William Barr was supposed to be on the menu for grilling in the House Judiciary Committee, instead they settled for chicken, a ceramic chicken and a bucket of KFC. It was only nine in the morning when Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen chowed down on chicken purchased the night before. A better breakfast choice would had been.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kentucky fried chicken and waffles are back.

MOOS: But the Tennessee Democrat was making a show of the no-show Attorney General, placing the statue atop the chicken bucket and proclaiming --

REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): Chicken Barr should have showed up today and answered questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would narrowly at this point, I would introduce the witness.

MOOS: Instead, they were split screen shots of his empty seat, the hearing was gaveled to a closed despite Republican protests. The mic was cut off. And Congressman Cohen transported the chicken to the witness table and placed it in front of the honorable William P. Barr's placard as photographers rushed in to capture the 1950's vintage statue made by a staffer's uncle.

Cohen even tweeted this image of a feathered Attorney General. Wait a minute, is that a chicken impersonator? I hear squawking outside the committee room, interrupting Chairman Nadler live on at least three networks?

But not everyone was amused, leave the childish name-calling to Trump, please. Don't stoop to his label. The congressman kept his statue handy for interviews.

COHEN: The message is to Bill Barr is a chicken.

MOOS: Hashtag Chicken Barr inspired jokes, why did the chicken cross the road, because it was afraid to testify? But Representative Cohen treated his chicken tender. Jeanie Moos, CNN, New York.


ALLEN: And that is CNN Newsroom, we thank you for watching. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. The news continues with our colleague Isa Soares in London.