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Trump's Iran Strategy Faces Partisan Divide; Interview with Javad Zarif, Iranian Foreign Minister, on U.S. Sanctions; Trump Taps Cuccinelli for Immigration Post; Trump Tax Returns; Prime Minister May Announces "New Brexit Deal" for Fourth Vote; Women against New Abortion Laws. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired May 22, 2019 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): CNN exclusive: Iran's foreign minister says Washington needs to show Tehran respect to help ease heightened tensions.

An alleged subpoena showdown between lawmakers at the White House is triggering new calls for impeaching the president.

Plus, Theresa May gives it another shot. The British prime minister's new attempt to get her Brexit deal passed.

Welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.


CHURCH: The White House moved its Iran strategy away from Twitter Tuesday, trying to sell it to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo says the Senate and House learned about the latest Iranian threats in a closed door briefing.

This as the U.S. has sent extra warships to the Middle East and ordered non-emergency personnel out of Iraq. The acting defense chief says moves like these have deterred attacks on U.S. troops.


PATRICK SHANAHAN, ACTING U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Our biggest focus at this point is to prevent Iranian miscalculation. We do not want the situation to escalate. This is about deterrence, not about war. We are not about going to war.


CHURCH: Lawmakers from both major parties agree that Iran poses a threat but they're divided about the White House strategy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): They are the ones who are being aggressive, they're the ones who launched the attacks, the vessels in the Persian Gulf. They're the ones who fired a rocket in the green zone near our embassy. We cannot sit back and allow those attacks to occur without a proper defense and deterrent strategy.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): This briefing was all about tactics, not about strategy. And that's been our worry from the beginning, that this is blind escalation with the hope that the Iranians will come to the table in the end or the hope that the Iranian people will rise up and topple the regime.

I don't know why this administration can talk to the North Koreans but can't talk to the Iranians.


CHURCH: The U.S. has been sending mixed signals about whether it actually wants to negotiate with Iran. And Tehran says it can't trust the U.S., especially after the Trump White House left the nuclear deal. CNN's Fred Pleitgen discussed recent tensions in an exclusive interview with Iran's foreign minister.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Especially with those mixed messages that apparently have been coming from the Trump administration in the past couple of days, with President Trump one day saying that any sort of fight between Iran and the United States would lead to the official end of Iran, as he put it, and then only a day later saying that he actually wants negotiations with the Iranians.

I asked Iran's foreign minister whether or not negotiations are something that are currently in the cards. And he said in the current political climate and situation, it's absolutely not something the Iranians think is possible.


JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We are not willing to talk to people who have broken their promises. Because we talk to people. We did not believe that our nuclear program, our nuclear energy program required us to provide concessions or confidence building measures. But we engaged. We acted in good faith. We negotiated. We reached a deal.

What the United States is saying, if we make a deal, whatever we can get you in the negotiations through the deal is fine. Whatever we cannot get you, we'll come back to try to get you. This is not the way serious countries deal with each other. The United States may be used to doing that with clients but they cannot do that with Iraq.

PLEITGEN: How dangerous do you think the situation is currently in the Persian Gulf with the U.S. aircraft carrier on its way, B-52 bombers. At the same time, from your side, saying, look, we don't want an escalation but it will be painful if there's one.

ZARIF: There will be painful consequences for everybody if there's an escalation against Iran. That's for sure.

The United States is engaging in an economic warfare against Iran. It has to stop. Economic war means targeting Iranian people. That has to stop. The United States does not have the legal position, does not have the moral position, does not have the political position, does not have the international position, to impose economic war on Iran.

Iran is not interested in escalation. We have said very clearly that we will not be the party to begin escalation but we will defend ourselves.

Now having all these military assets in a small waterway is, in and of itself, prone to accident --


ZARIF: -- particularly when you have people who are interested in accidents. So extreme prudence is required and we believe that the United States is playing a very, very dangerous game.


PLEITGEN: So the Iranian foreign minister there saying that he believes that the U.S. is playing a dangerous game, as he put it, in the Persian Gulf.

I also asked him about those recent apparent sabotage attacks on tankers in the Persian Gulf. He said that the Iranians absolutely had nothing to do with that. But still he says he believes that, right now, the situation between the U.S. and Iran in that very narrow waterway, still extremely dangerous -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Tehran.


CHURCH: A new report from "The Washington Post" is sure to encourage Democrats hoping to get their hands on Donald Trump's tax returns. It cites a confidential draft memo from late last year, which says the Internal Revenue Service must hand over tax returns when Congress asks unless the president cites executive privilege.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has refused several times to provide President Trump's tax returns, despite a subpoena from the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are stepping up the pressure on former White House officials in their obstruction probe of President Trump. The panel has subpoenaed Mr. Trump's ex- communications director, Hope Hicks. Democrats want to ask her about a misleading statement regarding Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer in 2016.

The committee has also subpoenaed Annie Donaldson, the one-time chief of staff to former White House counsel Don McGahn. It's highly unlikely either Hope Hicks or Annie Donaldson will testify, thanks to the White House strategy of stonewalling Congress. CNN's Jim Acosta has more.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In another swipe at Democrats tonight, the president's legal team is aggressively fighting to appeal a federal judge's ruling that ordered Mr. Trump's longtime accounting firm, Mazars, to turn over his financial records to House investigators, who see those documents as a potential impeachment mother lode.

REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA): This is a very important loss for him. It sets the stage for the documents, his tax returns and other information to be available.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Also tonight, an empty table that speaks volumes, as former White House counsel Don McGahn followed Trump administration instructions and defied a subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, where chairman Jerry Nadler warned he's running out of patience.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Mr. McGahn has a legal obligation to be here for this scheduled appearance. If he does not immediately correct his mistake, this committee will have no choice but to enforce the subpoena against him.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Despite threats from Congress to go to court, Mr. Trump is making it clear he's in no mood to cooperate.

ACOSTA: What do you have to say to Americans who feel that your administration is stonewalling all of these investigations up on Capitol Hill?

Why not let Don McGahn testify?

Are you afraid of what he has to say?

TRUMP: I think we've been the most transparent administration in the history of our country. Now what happens is the Democrats want a redo and we've had enough and the country has had enough.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president is continuing to take his case to his base, lobbing accusations that unnamed forces in the Russia investigation.

TRUMP: It was treason and it should never be allowed to happen to another president again, ever, ever, ever.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Drawing a new twist on a familiar chant at his rallies.

TRUMP: Well, we have a great new attorney general who's going to give it a very fair look.

ACOSTA (voice-over): That attorney general, William Barr, told "The Wall Street Journal" he's sympathetic to the president's complaints that he's been unfairly targeted, adding, quote, "I felt the rules were being changed to hurt Trump and I thought it was damaging for the presidency over the long haul."

The president is clearly turning his attention to the campaign, hitting former Vice President Joe Biden in Pennsylvania.

TRUMP: don't forget, Biden deserted you. He's not from Pennsylvania. I guess he was born here but he left you, folks. He left you for another state.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The reality is Biden moved to Delaware when he was a child. Mr. Trump also appears to have his eye on South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg after his town hall on FOX.

TRUMP: Something strange is going on over at FOX , something very strange.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president remains focused on border issues heading in to 2020, tapping former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli to coordinate immigration policy at the Department of Homeland Security.

That's despite Cuccinelli's past criticism of Mr. Trump during the 2016 campaign, which peaked at the Republican National Convention, when he put his anger with the party on display by throwing his credentials on the floor.


Sometimes I wonder if I'm watching my country commit political suicide. But I don't think it's really accurate to characterize him as a conservative.



CHURCH: CNN's Jim Acosta reporting from the White House.

The lack of cooperation from the Trump administration is fueling calls from the Democrats for impeachment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will lead a caucus meeting in the day ahead. She favors a more deliberate approach, gathering evidence before starting the impeachment process.

But other Democrats want to be more aggressive.



REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIR, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We think the case gets stronger the more they stonewall the Congress.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA), CHAIRMAN, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: I'm getting there. I think what the president has done has put us in a position where we cannot get any information to do the oversight that we need to do.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: I think impeaching and choosing to not impeach when there is an abundance of evidence could also be construed as politically motivated as well. And we can't be scared of elections. We need to uphold the rule of law.



CHURCH: So let's bring in Michael Shear. He is a CNN political analyst and a White House correspondent for "The New York Times."

Great to have you with us.


CHURCH: Well, let's start with the president's legal team, appealing a federal judge's ruling that orders Mr. Trump's accounting firm to turn over his financial records.

Now the initial ruling, of course, was a major blow to the president but this appeal process is going to take a lot of time so, Mr. Trump's stonewalling tactics they're really working for him across the board, aren't they?

And there's very little the Democrats can do about it.

SHEAR: Right. I mean, this is -- this is an example, this case, in particular, is an example of both good and the bad for Democrats.

On the one hand, there is some indication through the judge's ruling that they have -- they may have the better case in a lot of these instances, at least at the lower court level in terms of condensing judges that the president really doesn't have the right to withhold both documents and information as well as testimony from some of his people.

On the other hand, as you say, the American legal system is a slow one, particularly in these kinds of cases where both sides get the opportunity to file a lot of briefs, make a lot of arguments, that the judges take a long time to rule and it goes up through an appellate system that ultimately ends at the Supreme Court but it takes an endless amount of time to do that.

And so, from the president's perspective there is a clock ticking. And he has to do is delay all of this. Basically, until the election which is about 18 months away. And once that happens, assuming that he wins reelection, you know, a lot of this kind of goes away.

CHURCH: Yes, indeed. And we're also learning from a report in "The Washington Post" that a draft confidential memo from the Internal Revenue Service at the end of last year says that it's mandatory for the IRS to turn over the president's tax returns if asked by Congress, unless executive privilege is invoked. This comes, of course, as the IRS and Treasury Department refuse to hand them over to do this. So what does this confidential memo indicate to you, given Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has said he's not authorized to disclose the requested returns and says that request from the House Ways and Means Committee lacks a legitimate legislative purpose?

SHEAR: Right. I mean, on one level this is not all that surprising. You know, there are often private internal draft discussions and memorandum about big kind of weedy issues like this inside an agency, whatever agency it might be, in this case it's treasury.

And the memo was drafted by lawyers that worked for the IRS who are sort of grappling with this question of if the Democrats go after the president's taxes, what is the legal argument that we could make?

And they concluded, the lawyers concluded that there was really no legal argument to withhold the president's taxes from the congressional committees.

That said, it's not binding on the political leadership of the agency. And so, in this case, Mnuchin who is the secretary of the treasury, which is overseas the IRS, clearly made a political decision.

I mean, I don't think there is anyone who doubts that the decision that Mnuchin came to on behalf of President Trump, saying look, we don't have to hand over his taxes a political decision.

And so, it does, the revelation that the memo from the lawyers exist does put a little bit more pressure on him but I suspect that barring any other kind of different developments, that he will go on. I mean, he clearly ignored the advice when it was a private piece of advice and I suspect he'll continue to ignore it now that it is public.

CHURCH: Because it works, right?

SHEAR: Right. Well, because it works and because the president of the United States wants -- does not want to hand his taxes over. And I think, you know --


SHEAR: -- Mnuchin has, as other top officials in this administration have shown, they are clearly plainly operating in the interests of their boss.

CHURCH: Right. And in another effort to stonewall former White House counsel Don McGahn followed instructions from his former boss, he failed to appear before the House Judiciary Committee.

What are the legal ramifications or consequences of Chairman Nadler enforcing the subpoena against McGahn?

And if his refusal to appear helps push House Democrats to seriously consider impeaching the president, doesn't that play right into the hands of the White House? They want that to happen, don't they?

SHEAR: Yes, they really do. I mean, you really get the sense here over the last few weeks that the White House has been egging the Democrats on, to sort of, please, impeach me. Because they conclude I think, that it would be such a controversial move that would be so divisive and perhaps make Trump look like the victim in all of this.

I think Don McGahn, the president's ex lawyer, the White House counsel is in kind of a tough spot. He is being tugged basically between two coequal branches of government. That's the way Don McGahn's lawyer put it in a letter that essentially being given orders by two coequal branches of government.

The oddity of it was that typically, somebody in that situation might actually show up for the hearing for, you know, essentially show up for the subpoena but simply say, I can't say anything. I've been instructed by the administration not to say anything.

The fact that he simply didn't show up is I think one of the things that anger Democrats the most. And I think the next step is the court system. I think the next step is that Nadler will go to the legal system to a court.

But as we talked about earlier in the segment, that takes a long time and it's unlikely to resolve this question in a matter of days or weeks. It's more like months or years.

CHURCH: Yes. It's the White House making the systems work for it. Right there before everyone's eyes.

Michael Shear, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your analysis. We appreciate it.

SHEAR: Sure. Talk to you soon.


CHURCH: And we will take a short break. Still to come, the British prime minister makes a last ditch offer. Theresa May's latest effort to get her Brexit deal through Parliament.

And feelings of outrage: we are following demonstrators as they rally across the United States of America in opposition to new restrictions on abortion.

And Japan is asking that we say the prime minister's name correctly. Turns out, English speakers have been saying it wrong all along. Back in just a moment.





CHURCH: In her long running battle to get her Brexit deal passed, Britain's prime minister could face another confidence vote. Some report senior Tory backbenchers will mount a new bid to force a vote in the coming hours. This comes after Theresa May announced a fourth and final attempt to get her deal through Parliament next month. Phil Black explains what she's offering.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Theresa May's last chance to get a Brexit withdrawal agreement through Parliament. Her legacy is riding on this and so, too, in many ways, is the future of British politics.

After the deal she negotiated was voted down by big numbers in Parliament on three separate occasions, May now concedes she needs the support of opposition MPs to get it through.

So she suggested a series of compromises to try to win and secure support from members of different parties from across the spectrum of Brexit belief in Parliament. Two ideas are attracting a lot of attention.

One, a temporary customs union. Her own Conservative Party wants out of the customs union altogether while the opposition Labour Party wants a permanent one. May's compromise would potentially be temporary because she says future governments would have the option of changing the arrangement.

The other risky idea, May says vote for her new deal and Parliament will have the chance to vote on whether it should be put back to the people with a referendum. It is not a guaranteed further referendum on Brexit. It is simply the chance for Parliament to vote on one.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The revised deal will deliver on the result of the referendum. And only by voting for the withdrawal agreement bill at second reading can MPs provide the vehicle Parliament needs to determine how we leave the E.U.

So if MPs vote against the second reading of this bill, they are voting to stop Brexit.


BLACK: So the tactic with all this is to try and pick off enough new support from opposition parties while, hopefully, not further enraging members of her own Conservative Party.

There are early signs this isn't working as hoped, with members of the Brexit wing of her party declaring this to be an even greater mess than the deal some had reluctantly voted for previously. She has around two weeks to try to sell this. Once again, she has little reason to be optimistic -- Phil Black, CNN, London. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, predicts the new deal won't make it out of Parliament.


JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, U.K. LABOUR PARTY: We can't support this bill because it's basically a rehash of what was discussed before. And it doesn't make any fundamental moves on the (INAUDIBLE) alignment or the customs union or indeed protection of rights, particularly in relation to consumer rights and the quality of the food that we will eat in the future.

There's also of course the question, of the deliverability of it. The prime minister has already indicated she is going to leave office. Many of her own MPs have already said that they cannot support the bill. I don't see how it can get through Parliament anyway. There will not (INAUDIBLE).


CHURCH: And it's not just Corbyn; the Democratic Unionist Party, which props up Ms. May's government, Conservative Brexiteers and Labour moderates all appear opposed to the new deal, giving it long odds of succeeding.

Abortion rights supporters rallied across the U.S. on Tuesday in a show of opposition to laws attempting to restrict the medical procedure. More than 50 organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, participated nationwide. CNN's Jessica Dean has more from Washington.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Today a group of protesters gathering outside the Supreme Court as more and more of these restrictive bans on abortion are being passed throughout the country.

They gathered here, one of many protests all across the United States, to speak out in support of abortion rights. There were women, men; young, old; they were all here to make their voices heard.

While that was planned and many other protests across the country were planned today, what happened organically here in Washington, D.C., is that we began to see a number of 2020 presidential candidates.

They stopped by; some people, Mayor Pete Buttigieg just talking to the crowd, interacting with people; others, like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, were speaking to the crowd. But all of them here to show their support for this movement and all of them acknowledging that as we head into 2020, this is going to be a big issue. So you can certainly expect to see more of this and likely to see many more protests in the days to come -- Jessica Dean, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHURCH: And the reasons women get abortions are varied and --


CHURCH: -- personal but now some women are feeling inspired to share their experiences on social media using the hashtag #youknowme. CNN reached out to a few of these women and compiled their stories for an article featured on We invite you to read it.

In Jakarta, Indonesia, police used tear gas to disperse demonstrators who had gathered to protest against election results. This follows an official announcement that president Joko Widodo had been elected to a second term by a wide margin. His opponent says he believes there was widespread cheating and vows to challenge the result.

The Western world has been saying the name of Japan's prime minister all wrong and the country is politely asking that we get it right. They want us to say Abe Shinzo, his family name first followed by his given name.

But for almost a century and a half, English speakers have been saying Japanese names the other way around. The government says, from now on, the prime minister's name should be written Abe Shinzo. And it will take us a little while to get used to it but we will get it right.

The war in Yemen has left millions of people starving but the country's biggest crop isn't food. Our exclusive report ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM.

Plus why Huawei's CEO is downplaying the U.S. trade restrictions.

And later this hour, breaking free from forced labor can leave victims lost and confused. How a group in Australia is helping people adjust to life after modern-day slavery. We are back with all of that in just a moment.



[02:30:00] SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is Sana'a's khat market.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, 4,000, 10,000, 15,000, 25,000.

KILEY: That's $5.00 for the cheapest bag of khat. You could feed a family for a whole day for the price of your cheapest khat? Do you think that it make sense for Yemen that has no food for everybody to be chewing?


KILEY: It doesn't make sense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A simple family can spend for less than $5.00 to eat.

KILEY: So is it surprising then that Yemen is having a hard time with hunger?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not problem. It is a disaster. It is a disaster.

KILEY: Yemen is town by war. The north is under siege, 12 million Yemenis will be fed by the U.N.'s world food program this year. Houthi rebel ministers are aware of the problem. It's very simple. Most of your land is given over to growing drugs, not food.

HUSSEIN AL-EZZI, HOUTHI DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): I agree with you. This is a bad habit that we should get rid of. This is indisputable. We have government programs to combat growing khat. We remove khat trees and plant coffee been trees instead.

KILEY: Yemen's mountain farms and terraces have been taken over by khat. It's so important to Yemenis that is delivered the day it's picked throughout the country, driven at breakneck speeds to consumers. Up to a third of all agriculture is dedicated to the plant, which consumes a third of all water for farming. 25 years ago, this whole valley what's planted with wheat. But the farmers say that that's just one crop a year.

Now they get four crops a year from this narcotic, and in times of war, a cash crop is what really counts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We only make a profit from the khat, the others don't cover our home expenses. This is the only crop that would to cover our daily and annual expenses.

KILEY: Yemen's agriculture ministry estimates that Yemenis spend 12 billion a year on the drug. That's about three times the amount. The U.N. says it needs an aide for Yemen. These figures speak for themselves. Sam Kiley, CNN, Sana'a.


CHURCH: Aid agencies for Yemen is on the brink of a new cholera search. On tomorrow's show, Sam Kiley visit a clinic in a town hundreds of kilometers from Yemen's frontline. Refugees fleeing war have brought color with them and it is spreading quickly. Take a look.


KILEY: When did you first see that she was getting sick?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Around four days ago. It started with diarrhea, then it got worse.

KILEY: One of the catastrophic side effects of this war has been that people from outside the city have been forced into beautiful, ancient towns like this, Hajjah, that is a consequence of that the systems are overloaded, to clean water systems, and these women have been telling me that they've been drinking from the river in the town. The same river the sewage flows into. That will guarantee a cholera epidemic.


CHURCH: And you can watch Sam Kiley's full report on CNN NEWSROOM. 6:00 a.m. in London, 1:00 p.m. in Hong Kong. And we have an update with the story we brought you last week. An accused Somali war criminal who CNN revealed as a driver for Uber and Lyft has been ordered to pay $500,000 to the man he reportedly tortured, Yusuf Abdi Ali's attorney says there was no evidence against his client.

But a civil court jury in Virginia believed otherwise. However, Ali is unable to pay, he lost his job as a ride-share driver after his past as an army commander was exposed. Well, 40 million people around the world are currently living in slavery. It takes many forms of course from human trafficking to forced labor. The CNN Freedom Project is dedicated to ending modern day slavery and today we highlight a school in Australia that's helping people adjust to a new life of freedom. CNN'S Anna Stewart has our report.


ANNA STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: Sandra came to Australia from Fiji in 2006 to work as a housekeeper. A week after she arrived, she says the family she was working for took her passport. Despite their initial promises of a wage, and help obtaining permanent residency, Sandra says she was forced to work for them unpaid for three years. The issue of forced labor is at the forefront of Australia's fight to end modern day slavery.

[02:35:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was doing all the housework like washing, cooking (INAUDIBLE) looking after the two dogs, and a little bit of gardening, and even massaging the lady of the house. When I asked for money, they would shout at me.

STEWART: Years later, after suspected tipoff from someone who knew the family, she says the Department of Immigration arrived at her door and were able to get her out. Once freed, she changed her name to Sandra for her safety. Soon after, she met this Sally Irwin who she started the freedom hub. For the norm side cafe to raise funds and awareness, the freedom hub primarily runs a survivor school for people affected by slavery in Australia.

SALLY IRWIN, FOUNDER, THE FREEDOM HUB: It's a long wait, four to five year wait for a court case to come around and what I was seeing was that these women are being in bedrooms, too scared to go out, there was no out here. All right. So this is the class that we did. It's got a lot of courses, everything from personal care right to the language skills, right through the computer classes, the Australian culture.

I mean, you know, the really basic ones, might even be just how to get a bus to the beach and, you know, buy an ice cream and bit by bit, they start to build their own confidence so that they feel that they can go out themselves, they start doing it together as a little group.

STEWART: In 2019, Australia's first modern slavery act has come into effect. Australian businesses with a revenue more than $100 million are required to report annually on the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains and how they've addressed those risks.

IRWIN: What I love about it in Australia is that it will actually raise awareness. So I think the main impact will be that people will have more identification of victims.

STEWART: Today, Sandra stands as a beacon of hope. What can be achieved in Australia's mission to end slavery.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I'm a (INAUDIBLE) I have a full-time job, I have my own life, I have freedom, I can drive. And I'm living on my own, I have so many family and friends, and I'm happy.


CHURCH: And CNN'S Anna Stewart had that report. Australia's has had a good record in recent years combating modern slavery earning a tier one ranking from the U.S. for serious and sustained efforts to eliminating -- to eliminate trafficking. But some problems do posses the annual U.S. report as Australia is primarily a destination country for women and girls subjected to sex trafficking.

And for women and men subjected to forced labor. The most recent global slavery index estimates that on any given day in 2016, there were 15,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Australia.

Well, it has been several years since the Ebola virus swept through parts of Africa killing thousands of people. But the fight against the disease is not ever yet especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Details now from CNN's Robyn Curnow.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If the fight against Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo wasn't tough enough. Health officials says violence inside the country is helping to further spread the virus. The World Health Organization says there have been over 100 attacks on treatment centers and medical staff since the beginning of the year.

TEDROS ADHANOM, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: We are fighting and security, we are fighting violence. Every attack makes it harder to reach communities. Every attack gives the virus an advantage.

CURNOW: Since the outbreak began in August last year more than 1100 people have died, making it the second largest Ebola outbreak in history. Initially, there were high hopes of containing the virus, especially after an effect of the vaccine was distributed in the country. But experts say politics may have added to the tensions. The country wrapped up a national election a few months ago with the government coming under fire for suspending the vote in some Ebola stricken areas that will also opposition stronghold. Eastern Congo is also an area where many militias operate. So just who is coordinating the attacks against aid workers is unclear.

MICHAEL RYAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WHO HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME: We have the tools to do the job, we have the surveillance, we have the vaccines and we have a very strong team on the ground that really, really set us back. It has been just hugely intense both the violence and in security.

CURNOW: Officials says the outbreak is now spreading at the fastest rate since its inception last year. And unless medical personnel can safely get to the affected areas, the death toll could dramatically rise and no one wants a repeat of the outbreak that ravaged West Africa just a few years ago where over 11,000 people died. Robyn Curnow, CNN.


CHURCH: Just ahead. Fishermen off the coast of Maine caught up in an international trade war.


[02:40:03] SHAWN MCEWEN, OWNER, SEA SALT LOBSTER: Anyone of the dealers here in the State of Maine including myself was shipping, you know, tens of thousands of pounds per week to China and that went to almost zero.



CHURCH: A catastrophe could be in the offing if carbon emissions continue to go unshaped. That is according to the authors of a new study on climate change. They warned that sea levels may rise faster than predicted due to melting ice sheets, possibly as much as two meters by the end of this century, swapping coastal cities like Shanghai and New York. 187 million people, 2-1/2 percent of the world's population could be displaced if this all plays out. Very sobering indeed.

Well, Beijing is ready to continue its trade talks with the U.S. according to a top Chinese diplomat. Trade discussions have stalled since the last round ended in a stalemate and both countries increased tariffs.


CUI TIANKAI, CHINESE AMBASSADOR TO UNITED STATES: I think that we have to keep in mind, first, a good deal -- a good trade deal between our two countries would serve the interest of both countries. Number two, a good deal has to be made on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit. And number three, China remains ready to continue our talks with our American colleagues to reach a conclusion. Our door is still open.


CHURCH: And meantime, China's telecommunications giant Huawei is caught in the middle of a trade war. The U.S. has eased restrictions giving Huawei a 90-day grace period after blacklisting it last week.

SHERISSE PHAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL TECH AND BUSINESS REPORTER: Huawei is on the defense. Company founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei saying Tuesday that the ban on Huawei hurts U.S. companies as well.

REN ZHENGFEI, FOUNDER & CEO, HUAWEI (through translator): Although this time we are on that black list, our own company will be affected by it. But the U.S. as a country with the rule of law, U.S. companies cannot avoid respecting the law. Substantive entities also must respect substantive law. As the media report on this, they should deeply understand that U.S. companies share a common faith with us.

PHAM: Huawei spent a $11 billion buying parts from dozens of U.S. firms last year. It's also the sole provider of networking equipment to many rural American internet providers.

[02:45:04] The U.S. temporarily eased restrictions on Huawei products after the Trump administration blacklisted the Chinese company last week.

The U.S. commerce secretary saying, it's intended to give telecom operators that rely on Huawei equipment time to make other arrangements. The relief also applies to Google, which is restricting Huawei's access to its Android operating system to comply with the U.S. ban. A Google spokesperson saying Tuesday that the temporary license allows us to continue to provide software updates and security patches to existing models for the next 90 days.

That means current Huawei devices will continue to have access to Google's ecosystem and services, but future Huawei phones won't. Consumers in Europe or Latin America likely won't buy Huawei smartphones if they can't get apps like YouTube or Google Maps.

Huawei is China's most successful global tech company. It's the world's largest telecommunications equipment maker and sells more phones than Apple. It's also a leading 5G players.

But Huawei still needs U.S. parts to build its products. The company has stockpiled supplies and can survive for a while, but experts say a long term ban would be crippling. Sherisse Pham, CNN, Hong Kong.

CHURCH: Lobster fisherman in Maine are feeling the trade war pinch from two directions. Canada signed a deal with Europe making Canadian lobsters cheaper. Then, China slapped a tariff on American lobsters, making their product more expensive. Miguel Marquez, reports.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Siblings, Chelsea, and Cody Nunan, their family plucking lobsters out of the waters off the Maine coast for five generations, now worried they might be the last. CODY NUNAN, FIFTH GENERATION LOBSTER FISHERMAN, MAINE: It's scary. You know, I have an 8-year-old daughter now, and it's hard for me to want to bring her into this industry.

MARQUEZ: Did you ever think that you would be sort of caught up in an international trade war?

CHELSEA NUNAN, FIFTH GENERATION LOBSTERWOMAN, MAINE: No, never did. But I guess that's up to the president.

MARQUEZ: The president's trade war slamming the main lobster industry after China retaliated last July with a 25 percent tariff.

MCEWEN: Any one of the dealers here in the state of Maine including myself was shipping -- you know, tens of thousands of pounds per week to China. And that went to almost zero.

MARQUEZ: Wholesalers like Shawn McEwen with Sea Salt Lobster says these days business' treading water.

MCEWEN: I would have, at least, another five to seven employees running my export. Which would be a third -- second and third shift, and --


MARQUEZ: Full-time jobs.

MCEWEN: Yes, full-time jobs.

MARQUEZ: How much an hour?

MCEWEN: Anywhere from $15 to $25 an hour.

MARQUEZ: So, these are decent jobs.

MCEWEN: Yes, yes, it's a living wage.

MARQUEZ: Maine coast moves 7 million pounds of lobster a year. They've aggressively pursued other markets when exports to China collapsed. They'd like to expend more, but --

SHEILA ADAMS, VICE PRESIDENT, MAINE COAST LOBSTER: The uncertainty it's what's hard, and it gets -- it's trying on all of our employees. We exited the year performing basically on target. We didn't grow as much as we would like to grow or historically have grown, but we didn't lose.

MARQUEZ: The industry holding on for now as a simple message for the president.

ANNIE TSELIKIS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MAINE LOBSTER DEALERS ASSOCIATION: This is American jobs, its rural jobs, and these are industries that are really, really important for rural America.

MARQUEZ: For lobstermen like Cody Nunan, who likes the president, the tariff war wearing thin.

CODY NUNAN: He made it sound very good, you know when he was running.

MARQUEZ: How much is he hurting you personally right now? Or this tariff war hurting you personally?

CODY NUNAN: It's hurting. It's hurting.

MARQUEZ: Miguel Marquez, CNN, Cape Porpoise, Maine.


CHURCH: And we'll be back in just a moment.


[02:50:29] CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM and we want to welcome our viewers joining us from the United States this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. Let's update you on the main stories we've been following.

More Democrats are joining the call for impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. The president's former White House Counsel Don McGahn defied a House Judiciary Committee subpoena on Tuesday, that same panel issued more subpoenas including one for former White House communications director Hope Hicks.

Iran's foreign minister says the U.S. is playing a quote very dangerous game. He spoke to CNN in an exclusive interview, this as the U.S. has sent extra warships to the Middle East. Trump officials briefed U.S. lawmakers Tuesday about the president's strategy. They say they shared recent intelligence about Iranian threats.

Google won't cut off its relationship with China's telecommunication giant Huawei just yet. Google says it will continue to send software updates to Huawei's phones for the next 90 days. At that's how long the U.S. has eased restrictions of re-ban Huawei's equipment last week.

Well, the central United States is trying to recover from widespread devastation left behind by more than 20 tornadoes. This was just one of several dramatic rescues, and you can see those men used a rope to pull a woman to safety. Flooding has forced people out of their homes in Oklahoma City and shut down Interstate highways. And the threat of more storms and flooding remains for some residents of the central plains. Ed Lavandera is tracking the latest from El Reno in Oklahoma.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The skies have cleared out and the sun on Tuesday afternoon started to come out. Quite a change from what we've seen here in Central Oklahoma over the last few days.

On Monday, this massive storm system spawned more than nearly 20 tornadoes and that turned into massive widespread flooding from Central Oklahoma to Eastern Oklahoma. And we are still seeing even hours after the storm system has passed through, we are still seeing scenes like this where a small creek, all of the water spilling out of this small creek, overtaking this roadway.

Out there in the distance, you can still see a pickup truck stranded in the high waters, and that's what emergency officials are urging people to still be cautious about these types of situations. They say that even though it stopped raining, and that the skies have cleared, that the water is still trying to make its way out of fields, and it's still a very dangerous situation as the water still covers a lot of roadways.

It has been a very dramatic few days here in Central Oklahoma springtime. Here in this part of the United States brings tornadoes, we saw that in large numbers. And these flooded -- flooding situation also caused a dozens of high water rescues all across the state -- of dramatic rescues.

In fact, we spoke with one family who said they had gone to bed the night before the storms came, and it rained so much overnight that when they woke up the next morning, they found themselves sitting on an island surrounded by water. Ed Lavandera, CNN, El Reno, Oklahoma.


CHURCH: North Korean media had harsh words for a U.S. Democratic presidential candidate KCNA calls Joe Biden an imbecile bereft of elementary quality as a human being. Those are the words they use.

Now, it came in response to Biden's reference to Kim Jong-un at a campaign rally. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, are we a nation that believes there's a moral equivalence between right supremacist, neo- Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and those with the courage to stand against them?



BIDEN: No, we don't. But Trump does. Trump said there's a moral equivalence. Are we a nation that believes ripping children from the arms of their parents at the border?


BIDEN: No! We don't, but Trump does. Are we a nation that embraces dictators and tyrants like Putin and Kim Jong-un?


BIDEN: We don't, but Trump does.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: And for more on this, Paula Hancocks joins us now live from Seoul in South Korea. So, Paula, why are they singling out Joe Biden and what might this signal about where North Korea stands with President Trump?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, North Korea is notorious for being extremely thin-skinned when it comes to any criticism of its leader, Kim Jong-un. We have seen this time and time again in the past where U.S. individuals or officials have been slammed by state-run media KCNA.

They have been called particular words. John Bolton, for example, who's a national security advisor, has been called human scum in the past by the North Koreans. So, this particular occasion is not a surprise. The fact that Joe Biden did call Kim Jong-un both a dictator and a tyrant was always going to anger the North Koreans. They called him a fool of low I.Q. and reckless and senseless.

One interesting thing though you can notice is that some of the insults that KCNA is calling Biden are actually quite similar to insults that the U.S. President Donald Trump has been using.

For example, fool and low I.Q. That's something that President Trump mentioned just a couple of months ago. The KCNA op-ed article also talked about a time when Biden appears to be falling asleep whilst his boss, the former President Barack Obama was giving a speech, and that ties in with the nickname that President Trump is giving him of a sleepy Joe.

So, certainly, the cynical amongst us would look at whether or not this is another attempt to try and curry favor with the current U.S. president, but it's no secret that North Korea is not happy with what happened with the strategic patience policy of the previous administration of which Joe Biden was vice president.

So, clearly, they are not happy with -- potentially the fact that he is the front-runner, they're looking very closely at U.S. politics and looking very closely at who they may be dealing with post-2020. Rosemary?

[02:56:40] CHURCH: Yes, it's interesting because, of course, it's Donald Trump who has pretty much -- he's selected Joe Biden himself as the main rival within the pack of 23 possibilities there on the Democratic side.

And clearly, North Korea is watching what is going on very closely to the point of listening in on these rallies.

HANCOCKS: Absolutely, and with good reason because clearly, North Korea wants to be dealing with U.S. president Donald Trump. Kim Jong- un has made it publicly very clear that he has a relationship with Donald Trump. With all the slander, the insults, the slurs that have been going towards Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, there's nothing that's going towards Donald Trump.

CHURCH: Paula Hancocks, always a pleasure to chat with you live in Seoul, South Korea.

And thank you for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with another hour of news in just a moment. You're watching CNN. Don't go anyway.