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Aeoroflot Crash Killed 41 People; President Trump Threatens to Raise Tariffs by Friday; No Redo for Robert Mueller's Russia Probe; Ceasefire in Gaza-Israel Border Has Been Restored; North Korea Back to Testing Nukes; World Headlines; Monday Marks Two Congressional Deadlines; President Trump's Fixer Begins Sentence; A Hero's Goodbye; Venezuela Crisis; Brunei: Death Penalty Won't Apply to Anti-Gay Law; Severe Weather in the U.S.; Nurse Denied Marathon World Record Because She Wasn't Wearing a Skirt; "Avengers: Endgame" Crosses $2 Billion Mark in Record Time. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired May 6, 2019 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[03:00:00] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Brunei a step back from enforcing the penalty for a law that promise to punish gay sex with death by stoning.
Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world.
I'm George Howell.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Rosemary Church. This is CNN Newsroom. Do stay with us.
HOWELL: Our top story this day, 41 people have died in Russia. This after a plane made a disastrously hard emergency landing.
CHURCH: The Aeroflot passenger jet caught fire as it tried to land at an airport near Moscow. Social media video captured the fiery scene from inside the plane and a warning this footage is very hard to watch.
HOWELL: And then there is also this footage of the moment the plane attempted to land. You see it here. The plane first bounced off the runway before coming back down and then bursting into flames.
Interfax reports that a loss of communication caused by a lightning strike forced the landing.
CNN's Moscow bureau chief Nathan Hodge is following this story live in the Russian capital. Nathan, the investigation underway. So many people watched this plane as it landed, bounced and then burst into flames. What more are you learning?
NATHAN HODGE, CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: George, I think what we're all trying to find out at this point is what actually forced the plane to turn back. It was in the air for about 30 minutes after it took off from the airport in Moscow, heading to Murmansk, that's a city in the north of Russia. And it was forced to turn back because of -- at this point, according to the airline, Aeroflot, a technical issue.
And as we had the video that emerged last night showing the plane making this hard landing, literally bouncing on the runway and then landing again and bursting into flames as the undercarriage appears to hit the ground.
So, I think there's going to be a lot of focus on what was the issue that actually forced the plane to return to Moscow? And to make this hard landing in such a dramatic hard landing that set the -- this chain of events in motion, George.
HOWELL: And we understand the Russian president has ordered an investigation on this.
HODGE: George, that's right. And it's important to point out that the Sukhoi super jet here is something of a prestige project for Russia here. It's the first proper commercial aircraft that was designed and build at post-Soviet Union in Russia. And it's built by Sukhoi, which is primarily known as the manufacturer of military aircraft.
So, an aircraft operated by Aeroflot include both Boeings, it include airbus, that have a -- they like to say that they have a very modern fleet. This jet has been in service for just under 10 years.
There have been a few incidents reported around this, but you know, Aeroflot has said that it has a good safety record -- or saying safety certification on this and they also point out that they evacuated this plane in about 55 seconds, which they, you know, pointing out that the industry standard in a situation like this is 90 seconds, George.
HOWELL: Nathan Hodge, thank you for the reporting. Of course, we'll stay in touch with you as we learn more about this investigation.
CHURCH: Well, another story we're watching. Global markets feeling the impact as U.S. President Donald Trump threatens to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods by Friday. Now, he tweeted Sunday trade talks between Washington and Beijing are moving too slowly.
HOWELL: And the result, Asian markets tumbled in response. The Shanghai Composite index, as you see here, closed down nearly 5 percent -- at 5 percent. While the -- while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index also closing down nearly 3 percent.
CHURCH: And U.S. futures are down sharply as well. As you can see, Dow futures lost nearly 2 percent there. The NASDAQ down about -- well just over 2 percent.
All right. Well, CNN's Matt Rivers joins us now from Beijing with more reaction to President Trump's tweets. And, Matt, what impact might President Trump's tariff threat have on trade talks with China this week in D.C. And when might there be an official response to the president's comments from China?
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's official at this point that these trade talks for this week are now up in the air. What the president did here absolutely surprised just about everybody that had been closely watching these trade talks.
It was just last week that there was widespread expectation on both sides that there could be a framework of a trade agreement agreed upon by Friday. This coming Friday in Washington, D.C. when that Chinese delegation was there for talks.
[03:05:03] That was widely expected, and yet this Sunday tweet from the president throws all of that completely off course, at least at this point. We don't have an official reaction yet from Beijing. The ministry of foreign affairs briefing -- daily press briefing is going on right now, so we might get something there. Not sure.
We do expect to hear something by the end of the day, though, but the Wall Street Journal has reported that as a result of these tweets the Chinese side, the Chinese government is considering cancelling outright Lie He, who is the top Chinese negotiator, they're considering cancelling that trip.
And that makes a lot of sense given what we're heard from China in the past. They routinely say that they won't negotiate under threat from the United States, tariffs or otherwise. And so, the fact that they are considering, according to the Journal, cancelling this trip, does make sense with what we've heard from China in the past.
But, really, we don't know how this is going to play out. Do the Chinese side say you know what? This deal is too important. We're going to go to the United States anyway, despite what the president is saying. Will the president actually raise tariffs from 10 to 25 percent on Friday, whether or not these talks happen?
These are huge unknowns at this moment. But the takeaway from all of this at least so far without a ton of concrete information to go on, is that what looked more and more like a sure thing just a few days ago, that we could see an agreement by the end of this week, has now been completely left to question by the president and his tweets.
CHURCH: This is the problem, isn't it? Because it's really been confusing and surprising to most people. Because up to this point all we've been hearing, all this positive feedback on trade talks between China and the U.S. So is this a ploy on the part of President Trump thinking that if he says it's all going too slowly, threatens these tariffs, that that he'll get what he wants?
RIVERS: It's certainly a possibility. Yes, it could be a negotiating tactic. Often times in negotiations like this you see a bit of brinksmanship from either side. As deals come to a close both sides trying to get a little bit more out of the other, but ultimately, we don't know what prompted these tweets from the president, at least so far.
All we know is the outcome, and that is that the trade talks are up in the air at this point. So, we don't know his motivation there. It could be negotiating tactics. It could be that he truly believes that the Chinese negotiations are just going too slowly. We're really not sure. It's also not totally clear that he would actually raise those tariffs
from 10 to 25 percent in a matter of days because that would have a huge impact on U.S. businesses. And typically, if tariffs are going to go into effect like that, the U.S. government takes the time to try and alert the industries that are going to be affected in the United States to be able to give them some time to plan for these things.
So, it's not even clear that those tariffs could survive any sort of legal challenge that might come from some of the affected industries this week. So really, it is just -- I hate to say this, Rosemary. I wish I could, you know, give concrete facts here, but it just isn't there. This has really thrown off the talks and where we're going to be in a matter of hours, days, by the end of this week is really anyone's guess.
CHURCH: Yes, real concern for the markets, too. Matt Rivers bringing us the very latest there. Hopefully we'll get an official response from China very soon. I appreciate it.
HOWELL: The United States is sending more warships and bombers to the Middle East. This a response to what it says are troubling warnings and threats from Iran against U.S. land and naval forces.
CHURCH: The USS Abraham Lincoln strike group and a bomber task force will be deployed. That is according to U.S. national security adviser John Bolton. He says the U.S. is not seeking war with Iran, but it's ready to respond to any attacks on U.S. interests or allies.
HOWELL: President Trump is once again tweeting about Special Counsel Robert Mueller. This time he says Mueller should not testify before Congress about the Russia probe that he spearheaded.
CHURCH: Now, that earned him a sharp rebuke from House Democrats. Our Boris Sanchez has more now from the White House.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump letting his feelings known on Sunday morning, as he often does via Twitter, tweeting out that he does not believe Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, should testify before the House judiciary committee.
The president writing this out in a tweet in which he suggests that Democrats are looking for a do-over of the report. And there it is. "Bob Mueller should not testify. No redo-dos for the Dems."
Of course, this comes on the heels of the Democrats striking a tentative deal for Robert Mueller to come testify before the House Judiciary Committee on May 15th. That is not set in stone yet. It may be soon.
However, there are many reasons that this White House would not want Mueller to testify. Namely some of the embarrassing details in the report that Mueller outlined. Aides ignoring the president's orders. Suggestions that witnesses involved in the investigation may have deleted evidence.
[03:09:59] The president, though, on Friday rang a different tone. He suggested that he would be fine with Mueller testifying if his Attorney General William Barr approved it. That was Friday.
Remember that on Wednesday, William Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and here's what he said about the potential for Mueller testifying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, should Mueller testify? Would you like to see him testify?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know. That's up to our attorney general, who I think has done a fantastic job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Another reason the White House would potentially want to avoid Mueller testifying, that letter that Robert Mueller sent to the attorney general outlining some inconsistencies or mischaracterizations that he saw in the summary letter that William Barr wrote regarding the Mueller report before its release.
Boris Sanchez, CNN, at the White House.
HOWELL: Let's bring in Gina Yannitell Reinhardt for more perspective. Gina is a senior lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of Essex joining this hour from Essex, England. Good to have you.
GINA YANNITELL REINHARDT, SENIOR LECTURER, UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX: Thank you, George. It's good to be here.
HOWELL: So, should Mueller testify, what kind of Pandora's Box would that open for the Trump White House? And do the attorney general and the president do they have the legal authority to stop him from doing so?
REINHARDT: Well, the legal authority question is pretty interesting, actually. The attorney general can ban him as an employee of the Department of Justice, but not as a private citizen. And he is essentially on the fence -- on the line between being the special counsel and being a private citizen. He could testify and he can be subpoenaed by Congress to do that.
Whether or not he would if he were ordered not to is a different question. Because Mueller has a history of respecting the chain of command and respecting the way the Department of Justice works.
HOWELL: So, we are just around the corner, Gina, from the 2020 election. With the continued push to examine the details of the Mueller report, do you get a sense that the American public is as committed to doing so as some lawmakers are in seeing more probes and more investigations into this matter?
REINHARDT: No, I don't, actually. And back to your other question about whether, you know, this would open a Pandora's Box, I think it definitely could, but so far all we know is that there were several occasions where Trump was found to be giving false information or found to be contradicting himself, as were his aides and associates found to be contradicting him, et cetera.
Most of his supporters are not going to care at all about any of those things. Rather than one fabulous smoking gun that his opponents would have liked to see, it's like there's lots of little kindling fires, and most of the people that are behind Trump or are not sure whom to support aren't really going to care about any of those.
So, it could stir up a lot of contention in Congress and on the Hill, but it's unlikely to actually reach the American public or do much more than frustrate people.
HOWELL: All right. I'd also like to get your thoughts on another issue we just reported on, the announcement from the national security adviser John Bolton that the U.S. is deploying warships to the Middle East. He says because of troubling warnings from Iran. We've not heard anything at this point from the president on this, but what do you make of this stern message being sent from this senior official?
REINHARDT: Well, at this point I think we can only anticipate that we will find out something eventually. And the deployment of warships is a substantial action. And so, I don't think that we should take it lightly.
However, we know that very often stationing ships and moving ships and things like that is a threat, it is a show of brinksmanship. That doesn't mean that there's actually going to be any sort of attack or invasion. It does mean that we're probably trying to exert a show of power and that, you know, we could find out soon why that's happening but we may not find out ever.
HOWELL: And hearing from Iran's response, essentially saying that they -- it will be reciprocal. Where does this go from here, Gina?
REINHARDT: Well, at least at the beginning we're going to see a little bit of escalation on each side, is what we should expect, and some grandstanding and some -- as my previous colleague said, brinkmanship.
So, we're going to watch that escalate at least a little bit, but I don't think that we're going to see a large show of force or any sort of firepower for the time being.
HOWELL: Gina Yannitell Reinhardt joining us in Essex, England. Gina, thank you again.
REINHARDT: Thank you, George.
[03:15:00] CHURCH: Well, it looks like North Korea is back to launching ballistic missile. Exclusive evidence and how this could shape nuclear talks with the U.S. That's coming up in just a moment.
(WORLD SPORTS) CHURCH: Well, the skies over the Gaza/Israeli border are quiet as Islamic Jihad, a militant group in Gaza, says a ceasefire with Israel has been restored.
HOWELL: Israel has lifted restrictions on civilians living near the Gaza border. That indicating it accepts the truce. It ends a weekend of deadly violence and the worst round of hostilities there in years.
CHURCH: Oren Liebermann is near the Israel/Gaza border. He joins us now live. Oren, good to see you again. Let's talk about the ceasefire that apparently has been restored between Israel and Gaza. What more are you able to tell us about that?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It went into effect at 4.30 in the morning, so overnight between Sunday and Monday according to a spokesman for Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Israel rarely, if ever, comments or confirms these ceasefires, but the indication from the Israeli military was that this had gone into effect because at 7 o'clock, all of the restrictions on civilian activities and civilian living around the Gaza strip in the Gaza periphery had been lifted.
[03:20:05] And that is a clear indication that Israel and the military expected to be a relatively quiet and calm down along Gaza. Again, an indication that there is in fact a ceasefire.
We were in Ashkelon City just north of Gaza overnight, there was some firing, but it came just after midnight. Since then we haven't really heard anything. Yes, we hear a drone overhead now, and again we've heard a fighter jet overhead.
But none of the firing, none of the hostilities, none of the strikes, none of the rockets that we've seen here over the course of the past 48 hours.
It was, as you pointed out, the worst weekend, the most violent weekend of fighting since the end of the 2014 war with a sharp escalation beginning on Saturday morning and going all the way until Sunday night.
By the end of that fighting, Israel says militants have fired more than 600 rockets from Gaza into Israel, killing four people in Israel. The Israeli military had carried out a wave of air strikes across targets, more than 300 targets, in fact, across Gaza.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 23 Gazans were killed in this under fighting before that ceasefire went into effect.
Rosemary and George, there were intense efforts from the very beginning by Egypt and the United Nations to try to restore that ceasefire. Those didn't bear any fruit until overnight from Sunday into Monday. As you can see behind us here, it is a quiet horizon behind me in Gaza for the first time in what feels like a very long time here. CHURCH: Yes, indeed. And that is very important. But what more are
you learning about the circumstances leading up to this latest violence? We're talking about 600 rockets being fired from Gaza, air strikes from Israel. Talk to us about what you know on that.
LIEBERMANN: So, it's important to note that this round of fighting comes after what had been a week, or rather, a month of relative calm between Israel and Gaza. Ever since before the Israeli elections even. And that was all up until Friday.
There were usual weekly Gaza protests along the border fence. And those have been standard over the course of the last year. But during that, the Israeli military says a sniper inside Gaza wounded two soldiers along the southern Gaza border.
Israel responded with a strike that killed two Hamas militants in a military post. Hamas and other militant factions vowed to respond on Friday. That response came and began at least on Saturday morning with a quick barrage of more than 50 rockets within an hour and that escalated into the fighting we saw.
And it did very much did escalate in stages from short-term rockets coming out of Gaza to medium-range rockets and then even an anti-tank missile that was fired to the civilian week. In terms of the Israeli air strikes, those too escalated in stages.
First, smaller posts along the border that were hit then multistory building that Israel says was terror infrastructure. And then after that a targeted killing of a Gaza official, the first in years that Israel has carried out.
It is that evolution in stages that allows both sides to understand sort of the rules of the game and how these progresses. It is also that evolution and because these two sides know each other so well that mediators are able to step in before it reaches the next stage and the next escalation.
CHURCH: Yes, that's a good point. Oren Liebermann bringing us the latest from the Israeli-Gaza border where it is nearly 10.30 in the morning. I appreciate your update.
Well, North Korea is back to firing missiles months after a failed nuclear summit with the United States. Take a look at this exclusive satellite footage from Planet Labs and the Middlebury Institute. Analysts say it likely shows smoke from a short-rage ballistic missile in eastern North Korea.
HOWELL: This comes after the country's state media reported a strike drill on Saturday. Here's how the top U.S. diplomat responded about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: So, we know a couple of things. One, at no point was there any ever any international boundary crossed. That is, they landed in the water east of North Korea and didn't present a threat to the United States or to South Korea or Japan and we know that they were relatively short range, and beyond that we know they weren't intercontinental ballistic missiles either.
And beyond that, I'll leave the Department of Defense to characterize this when the further information arrives.
We still believe that there is an opportunity to get a negotiated outcome where we get fully verified denuclearization. Chairman Kim has repeated than. He's repeated that quite recently, in fact.
So, we hope that this act that he took over the weekend won't get in the way. We want to get back at the table. We want to continue do have these conversations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Our Paula Hancocks is following the story in Seoul, South Korea. Paula, clearly North Korea sending a message. The response around the world, though, and from the United States seems measured.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, George. And certainly, what we're hearing from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as well is pointing out that it wasn't an ICBM test, an intercontinental ballistic missile, that could potentially hit the United States.
And within that interview with ABC, he also was quite clear, saying that's what concerns the United States, and that is what the moratorium that Kim Jong-un had promised was about. It was about not testing ICBM. It wasn't talking about the short-range missiles.
[03:25:04] But of course from those in the region, from their point of view, that is of concern as well. And it's interesting to see that we did see a stronger response from the South Korean side than we did from the U.S.
On Saturday after this took place, we heard from the presidential office here, the Blue House, and they said that what North Korea has done has gone against the military agreement, which was agreed last September in Pyongyang between the president of South Korea and Kim Jong-un, and they say that they both agreed that they were not going to do anything to raise tensions on the Korean peninsula.
As far as South Korea is concerned, this goes against that. Also calling on Pyongyang to come back to the negotiating table as soon as possible. So it is interesting to see that South Korea has a stronger response to this than the U.S., which is very unusual, but, of course, this tactical guided weapons system that was tested, the South Korean defense ministry says that that is something new, it's a new model and this is something clearly that would clearly put South Korea in jeopardy as opposed to the United States as it is short range. George?
HOWELL: And Paula, just briefly remind our viewers, exactly what is North Korea looking for in response to the United States, you know, of course, pushing to denuclearize? HANCOCKS: Well, there was a consensus that this is a pretty clear
message to the United States that -- and a reminder of where things could go if negotiations don't get back on track.
Kim Jong-un has publicly said that he wants the U.S. to change its attitude. They should change the way they deal with Pyongyang. And he's given them a timeline of the end of the year or talks are off and he will choose another path.
So, this is a way, according to most experts of pushing President Trump, to remind him of what could happen if Pyongyang is not dealt with the way that Pyongyang wants to be. I.E., if sanctions are not even considered to be lifted, a step by step process, then this could be something that happens.
But it's not far enough that the United States feels that they have to react. It's not an ICBM test. It's not one that the U.S. themselves feel threatened by.
HOWELL: Paula Hancocks in Seoul, South Korea. Paula, thank you.
CHURCH: Well, we are following -- excuse me. We are following a big day in Washington where two major congressional deadlines are looming, and they both center around President Trump.
We'll have the details for you just ahead.
HOWELL: Welcome back to viewers here in the United States and around the world. You're watching "CNN Newsroom." I'm George Howell.
CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church. Let's check the headlines for you this hour.
HOWELL: Forty-one people have died at an airport near Moscow. This after a plane made a hard emergency landing and video shows this Aeroflot passenger plane bursting into flames as it slammed into the runway. Russian news agency Interfax reports a lightning strike caused a communications failure, forcing that plane to return for a landing.
CHURCH: A militant group in Gaza says a ceasefire with Israel has been restored and Israel has lifted restrictions on civilians living near the Gaza border, indicating an acceptance of the ceasefire. It ends a weekend of escalating violence with hundreds of rocket launches and airstrikes and more than two dozen killed on both sides of the border.
HOWELL: European stocks have fallen sharply after President Trump threatened on Sunday to restart the China trade war. Asian markets and U.S. stock futures tumbled earlier as well. The president in a tweet threatened to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods by the end of the week. His remarks came just days before talks were set to resume between the U.S. and China. CHURCH: Well, we are following two major deadlines looming in Washington. First is the deadline for U.S. Attorney General William Barr to turn over the full unredacted Mueller report in just hours. Well, House Democrats are demanding Barr provide this report to Congress by 9:00 a.m. Washington time. If the attorney general does not meet the ultimatum, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler is vowing to charge Barr with contempt of Congress.
HOWELL: And House Democrats are demanding the U.S. Treasury Department provide them with President Trump's tax returns in the coming hours. Mr. Trump has refused for years to release his returns. Now we're waiting to see if the Treasury Department can and will override his wishes.
CHURCH: So let's take a closer look now at all of this with CNN legal analyst Ross Garber. He teaches political investigations and impeachment at Tulane University Law School. Thank you so much for being with us.
ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Happy to be with you.
CHURCH: All right. Two congressional deadlines are coming up on Monday in just a few hours from now. Let's start with the request for Attorney General Bill Barr to provide Congress with an unredacted Mueller report. What are the legal requirements for him to do this and what are the possible legal ramifications if Barr decides not to comply?
GARBER: So, the House has actually asked for an unredacted copy of the Mueller report and then all of the background materials underlying that report. Now, one of the issues there is that the report and the underlying materials contain what's referred to as grand jury materials, information that is related to the taking of evidence by the grand jury. By law, the attorney general actually can't disclose that information.
There are all sorts of other information that he doesn't want to disclose, but by law he can't disclose that information. And so what's happening now is there is a tussle between the attorney general and the House where he has resisted providing the unredacted report and all the underlying information. The House has insisted on it and it's headed for a showdown, I think.
In reality, there is not that much that the House can do to compel the attorney general to provide the information. Really, what has to happen is for the House to go to court and ask a judge to order the attorney general to provide the information. That's likely to take a long time to play out with appeals and appeals and any final result there.
CHURCH: All right. Interesting. OK. So, no legal requirement for the attorney general necessarily to comply with that and it could take a great deal of time. So let's move on then to the other congressional deadline. That's the obscure law that requires that the Treasury Department hand over President Trump's tax returns and that's in just a few hours from now. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asked for more time to consult with lawyers in his department.
[03:35:00] So he's done that. He's had that opportunity. So what might their legal argument be if they decide to push back and not comply, given President Trump has already said he'll fight this all the way to the Supreme Court?
GARBER: Yeah. So let's keep in mind that we actually have a law in the U.S. that says that that information shall be provided, that it must be provided to Congress if Congress asks for it, and that's pretty powerful language.
On the other side of it, though, what I expect the Treasury Department to argue is that the constitution requires that for there to be that kind of requirement, there has to be a legitimate legislative purpose.
That's something the Supreme Court has said in other settings, that congressional demands for information are fine, but there has to be a legitimate purpose for them in doing so.
And what I expect the administration to do here is argue that there really is no legitimate legislative purpose, that really what's going on is essentially politics. And here, as in the previous situation, what I expect is that eventually this will wind up in court. And the difficulty is litigation over these things can take a long, long time.
CHURCH: And that's what the strategy is all about on the part of the Trump administration, isn't it? I mean, they've pretty much admitted that this is buying time. But if they do go ahead with that strategy, as you mentioned, legitimate legislative purpose, how much strength is there in that legal argument, do you think, for the administration?
GARBER: The answer is nobody really knows. It's a hard issue. On the one hand, you know, Congress has this powerful law. On the other hand, Congress has asked -- this committee has asked for all sorts of tax information going back a long, long time, and so far hasn't identified a particularly powerful purpose.
They've identified this provision in regulations that give the -- that require the Internal Revenue Service to review the president's tax returns. It's probably a tough argument that that allows Congress to go back for a long, long time and look at the president's business and personal tax returns.
So it's unclear how it works. And, you know, I'll say this. It may not be a bad strategy also for the House to have this take a long time because I'm not sure anybody really wants a fast showdown here. We've got elections coming up in 2020. And I think both sides may be content to let the voters decide what they think of the president.
CHURCH: Interesting. So, two congressional deadlines coming up in just a few hours from now, and from what you say, it doesn't look like either will be complied with. We shall see, of course. Ross Garber, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.
GARBER: Good to be here.
HOWELL: This is the day the president's self-described fixer and former attorney has been dreading.
CHURCH: Yeah, Michael Cohen reports to prison Monday for crimes he committed while working for Donald Trump as his personal attorney. CNN's Brynn Gingras has more about where he is going and what he can expect over the next few years.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The time has come for Michael Cohen to trade in his designer suits for prison garb. The former fixer to President Trump turned foe reports to the prison in Otisville, New York Monday, day one of his three-year sentence for several white collar crimes including tax fraud and campaign finance violations.
Forbes magazine rated the Federal Correctional facility one of America's 10 cushiest prisons in 2009. It houses 858 inmates including doomed Fyre Festival promoter Billy McFarland and former "Jersey Shore" cast member Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino.
Otisville is located 70 miles from New York City, tucked at the foot of the Catskill Mountains and is made up two campuses, a medium and a minimum security center. The Bureau of Prisons which designates where inmates stay won't comment on where Cohen will be housed until he checks in.
But according to the BOP website, Cohen's day will likely begin at 6:00 a.m. with a wake-up call and lights on. Lights out is at 11:30. His days will be made up of meals, work calls, unit sanitation and leisure activity time, which depending on the campus could include basketball, bocce ball or horseshoes, perhaps a stark difference from the past year --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Cohen. Mr. Cohen.
GINGRAS (voice-over): -- where Cohen kept busy meeting with his lawyers, appearing in court or testifying to Congress publicly --
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER LAWYER FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Today, I am here to tell the truth about Mr. Trump.
GINGRAS (voice-over): -- and behind closed doors in his efforts to clear his name and distance himself from the president.
Brynn Gingras, CNN, New York.
HOWELL: Friends and family of Riley Howell said their good-byes to him on Sunday.
HOWELL (voice-over): Riley Howell was the 21-year-old college student who stopped the campus gunman who opened fire at the University of North Carolina Charlotte on Tuesday.
[03:40:00] CHURCH (voice-over): The shooter killed Howell and Reed Parlier and injured four others. Howell's body was brought to his hometown earlier in the week with a police escort. His obituary read "Riley died the way he lived, putting others first." One of Howell's best friends spoke at his memorial.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the beginning, I could see his love for others through little things like offering to carry the heaviest bag or fighting for the right to cook us all dinner up at camp, which I was fine with, because as some of you know, he made some damn good food, especially his fried chicken.
Through our long days at the farm is where I met the real Riley, a person not many were fortunate enough to know. During the summers, we were always outside, running the gator to spots deep in the woods where we could explore and wander, leaving our serious personas behind. He taught me so much about life and consequently myself on these walks through the woods, and I will remember these moments for the rest of my life.
HOWELL (voice-over): For his bravery, the 21-year-old military training cadet received full military honors at his funeral.
CHURCH (voice-over): And we'll be right back after this short break.
CHURCH: Well, top diplomats from the United States and Russia are scheduled to meet in Finland on Monday. The volatile situation in Venezuela remains tense after their remarks over the weekend.
HOWELL: Statements from America's secretary of state and Russia's foreign minister were at odds with each other. The U.S. says military involvement in Venezuela is an option. It supports opposition leader Juan Guaido as that country's leader. Russia, which backs the embattled president, Nicolas Maduro, warned the U.S. to stay out of it.
SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): We call on all the Americans and all those who support them to cancel irresponsible plans, according to the international legislation, as president Putin said a couple of days ago in a phone conversation with President Trump.
[03:45:03] MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: I'll tell him the same thing the president told the world. That every country must get out, including the Russians. That's what we'll tell them. We don't want anyone messing around with Venezuela. We want to be an autonomous, independent, sovereign state, Democrat elected officials. This is what we desire for the Venezuela people.
CHURCH (voice-over): A prayer vigil was held in Caracas on Sunday to honor those who have been killed in the ongoing protests against President Maduro. Roman Catholic priests in white robes led the vigil as some waived Venezuelan flags and shouted freedom.
CHURCH: The country of Brunei says it is modifying a new law that punishes home sexuality and adultery.
HOWELL: Brunei's sultan says the nation will no longer impose the death penalty on those convicted of having gay sex. The law and its penalty went into effect in April. Celebrities and businesses worldwide condemned it and called for a boycott of Brunei-owned hotels.
Lin Zuria is an advocacy officer at ASEAN Caucus of activists for Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression, joining us this hour via Skype from Jakarta, Indonesia. Good to have you.
LIN ZURIA, ADVOCACY OFFICER, ASEAN SOGIE CAUCUS: Hi.
HOWELL: Clearly the pressure campaign on Brunei made a difference here. Tell us more about this law that was changed.
ZURIA: So, the law -- the death penalty law is not only for LGBTQ people but also for women and children. Such cruel penalties including (ph) amputation and impersonate is criminal law for Islamic society. But then mercy and compassion are clearly key points, key principles underlined by the sultan's statement yesterday, which is good timing in Ramadan.
So, we see clearly that actually the sultan has compassion in this Ramadan month, actually. So we appreciate that and then the policy moves out, but the law still remains and we need to push the sultan.
HOWELL: So before this law was implemented, the U.N. warned that the laws contravened international human rights standards set out in 1948, the universal declaration of human rights, which was ratified by Brunei in 2006. The sultan now saying it is important for that country to uphold international commitments on human rights.
ZURIA: Yeah, it is. Well, as we see, the sultan has also issued the statement that international cannot impose anything for their government. But still under the United Nations, Sultan Brunei Darussalam is a member state of the United Nations and the sultan needs to impose the human rights declaration to govern and to rule the government with human rights approach.
HOWELL: Lin Zuria, we appreciate you being with us today. Thank you.
CHURCH: And we'll take a short break here. Still to come, strong storms are threatening parts of the Central United States. We'll show you where they're heading. Back in a moment. [03:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: The Central United States is bracing for impact with severe storms.
HOWELL: That's right. More than 15 million people across four states are at risk for severe weather. They're expecting wind, hail, heavy rain and possible tornadoes.
CHURCH: Our meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri, joins us now with all the details. So, who exactly is in the line of fire here?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, George and Rosemary, you know, this is a pattern we've seen for a couple of weeks now. Across these areas of Western Texas, Western Oklahoma, that's the concern zone. Unfortunately, the pattern hasn't shifted much. So the thunderstorms have been prevalent not only just the past 24 hours, but, again, several weeks back.
And notice a decent number of tornadoes. That was Sunday afternoon storms that prompted 20 tornadoes, nearly 100 large hail and damaging hail reports as well. Over 50 wind damage reports across portions of the plains and also the south central U.S. That is, again, the identical pattern we'll expect to see going in towards Monday, potentially on into Tuesday.
Really looking at long range, doesn't see much of a change here as far as the displacement of these storms. So even if severe weather doesn't materialize with these storms, we know the rainfall is going to be heavy. That's part of the concern here because flooding has been major issue.
If you're watching Joplin, Wichita, Oklahoma City, these are the areas where the risk is at its highest, generally again for damaging wind and hail, but you can't rule out a dozen or more tornadoes across this region as we've seen in the past couple of days.
Notice as we go towards right around sunset period, that is where you will see these storms want to flourish across this region, so any time you see afternoon or evening storms, it is another element of concern associated with it as visibility drops across these areas.
But going into Tuesday, you notice the increase here into orange. That's a level three there on the scale of one to five for severe weather. So, you look at the calendar. You see May, you see June, and you see the spike typically associated with severe weather. That is going to really play out here in the next couple of days.
Once again, the heavy rainfall becomes part of the concern here with Wichita mainly being the area that could see potentially as much as three to four inches of rainfall in that general region. So, the flood warnings have already been prompted across some of the rivers. You notice some widespread flooding that has taken place in recent weeks here.
In fact, at this hour, over 140 rivers reporting at least some flooding, moderate flooding to upwards of 58 rivers and over 40 rivers reporting major flood. So you put additional water on top of these areas that are already been strained, you're going to have additional problems.
[03:54:59] The temperatures at least warmed up nicely across portions of the country, middle 70s out of Kansas City, but notice back towards the Midwest and portions of the northern plains at least, we are talking about much cooler temperatures, 40 degrees out of Rapid City. A stark contrast to what's happening across the southern U.S. and a little bit of a cooler trend.
If you're tuned in across the Northeastern U.S., you will notice, George and rosemary, the cooling trend going in towards the middle of May, back to the middle 50. So, maybe you want to go the other way on thermometer. Cool off a little bit initially across this area.
HOWELL: All right. Pedram, thank you.
CHURCH: Thanks so much.
JAVAHERI: Thanks for having me.
CHURCH: A woman hoping to break the Guinness world record for running a marathon dressed as a nurse did not achieve her goal, but she would have had she been wearing a skirt.
HOWELL: Jessica Anderson who really is a nurse ran a London marathon last week in three hours, eight minutes, and 22 seconds, beating the old record by 32 seconds. The only problem here, Anderson wore, as you see, scrubs and pants rather than a skirt and that didn't fit within the Guinness definition of a nurse's outfit.
CHURCH: Even though she was a nurse wearing what she usually wears as a nurse. Well, Guinness officials admit a review of that requirement is long overdue and say they will have another look at their rules. I suggest that's a great idea.
HOWELL: I think that's a good idea.
CHURCH: And finally this hour, if you thought the "Avengers" were done smashing records, you'd be wrong. "Avengers: Endgame" is still dominating the global box office, now soaring past the $2 billion mark. It's only the fifth movie to ever do that and in record time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): We're in the endgame now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three, two, one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): No fears. No regrets.
HOWELL (voice-over): "Endgame" is now the second highest grossing film of all time.
CHURCH: Got to get out and see that. (END VIDEOTAPE)
CHURCH: Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church.
HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. "Early Start" is next for viewers in the United States. For viewers around the world, Hannah Vaughan Jones has the news live from London.