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A man in his 70s from Washington State was killed by coronavirus; Trump Administration Change its Tune on the Epidemic; Japan Still Reeling of the Cruise Ship Isolation; Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer Dropped out of the Race; North Korea Fired Two Short-Range Projectiles Into the Eastern Sea, South Korea Says; Pete Buttigieg Drops Out of Democratic Presidential Race; The Global Death Toll From Coronavirus Has Now Climbed Past 3,000; Israeli Voters Are Going to the Polls for the Third Time in Less Than a Year; Turkish and Syrian Forces Clash Around Rebel-Held Idlib; John Lewis Revisits Site of 1965 March in Selma. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 2, 2020 - 03:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[03:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers joining us here in the United States, and of course, all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. And I'm Rosemary Church.

Let's get started.

More deaths in Washington. And for a first case in Florida, this brings the total number of cases in the U.S. to 89. Second coronavirus death confirmed in the U.S.

All right. We seem to have a little problem here. But we'll just continue to go on with our -- we're going to throw to a break because we're having some technical issues. We will be back in just a moment.

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CHURCH: Well, the U.S. has reported its second death from the novel coronavirus. Officials say a man in his 70s died Saturday in Washington State. The same area where the first death was confirmed.

[03:04:58]

So far, at least 89 cases have been reported across the country. Sixteen of them are in California. Thirteen in Washington State. But the virus has also spread beyond the west coast. Two people have tested positive in Florida. While New York State has reported its first case.

Well, the U.S. vice president warns the number of deaths and infections could continue to rise as the virus spreads.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more on how the White House is dealing with the outbreak.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The day after the president announced new travel restrictions to try and fight back against the coronavirus epidemic, the president on Sunday taking to Twitter to announce that there will be secondary screenings for passengers coming into the United States who may have traveled to Italy and South Korea.

This would be a second screening for those passengers asking them health questions, in particular, to try and see if they have been affected by this coronavirus.

Now, Italy and South Korea have been two of the hardest-hit countries outside of China by this coronavirus epidemic and on Saturday, the president's increased to a travel advisory, warning level four for specific regions in Italy and in South Korea that have been hardest hit by this outbreak.

The president also saying that the U.S. is working to get exit screenings for passengers leaving those countries to try and catch them on the front end.

Now, we know that this administration has had some messaging issues. Earlier in the week, we heard differing messages both from the president and from top health officials about the extent to which this virus would continue to spread. Now, it appears that the administration is starting to get on the same page.

And we did hear from the Vice President Mike Pence. Here he is speaking with our colleague, Jake Tapper, about the future of this outbreak.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Now, we know there will be more cases.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And possibly more deaths?

PENCE: And -- you know, it is possible. I mean, the reality that Dr. Fauci and others explained to me since I took on these duties a few days ago, is that for most people that contract the virus, they will recover. They will deal with a respiratory illness. We'll get them treatment.

But for people that have other conditions, that would militate toward a worse outcome. That we could have more -- we could have more sad news. But the American people should know the risk for the average American remains low.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DIAMOND: And over the weekend, congressional negotiators have been trying to hash out a deal for this emergency funding. Sources familiar with the matter say that the two sides are getting closer to an agreement on the emergency funding. It's going to be, though, looks like far more money than the White

House was initially look asking for. They had asked for just $1.25 billion in new funding. We are now told that that figure is looking closer to $7 billion and perhaps in excess of that.

Of course, the president on Saturday said that he would take whatever money congressional appropriators want to give.

Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.

CHURCH: And the coronavirus is still spreading rapidly worldwide. The number of infections stands at more than 88,000. And Indonesia is reporting its first infections. Globally, more than 3,000 people have died.

South Korea reports nearly 500 new cases, bringing their total to more than 4,200. That comes after Italy reported more than 500 new cases over the weekend. The vast majority of cases are still in mainland China.

And CNN senior international correspondent Sam Kiley standing by in Abu Dhabi with the latest developments from the Middle East. Blake Essig is in Tokyo. And John Defterios is following markets in London. Good to see all three of you.

Sam, let's start with you. And I want to talk about the latest numbers that you are getting there. And containment efforts across the Middle East.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, just in the last few minutes, we understand from medical authorities in Kuwait, that the number of confirmed cases there has leapt by nine to 56. There have been a similar number, 47, in nearby Bahrain. There are 21 confirmed cases here in the United Arab Emirates.

But there were two hotels on Yas Island, which is the scene of the site of the, among other things, the Formula One race track. A popular tourist destination. Two hotels there are under quarantine following the confirmed infection of two Italian cyclists from Italy who were part of a big cycle race that was had to be cancelled last Friday.

But this a very problematic region, indeed, Rosemary, with a number of countries, like Iraq in Turmoil. Syria in civil war. Yemen in a state of civil war.

[03:09:58]

Lebanon almost crippled by its own internal configurations and a very severe refugee crisis reporting 10 infections in a very densely- populated country.

This is not a region really that is capable outside of the very wealthy gulf countries in Saudi Arabia, arguably, that's really going to be capable of managing anything that gets to epidemic proportions.

Mercifully, most vulnerable nation perhaps Egypt with very low levels of healthcare. They have only reported, so far, two confirmed cases.

And, again, there will be some irregularities or flexibility, one should recognize, in the whole reporting system here. Since the more developed the healthcare system, the more likely you are to be able to identify the people that have been infected with this virus.

But it is a region that is moving very fast to try and contain it. Israel has cancelled flights from infected parts of the world. So has Bahrain. A lot of the affection -- infections particularly in the immediate gulf region of Kuwait and Bahrain being linked directly back to Iran.

And that is, Rosemary, where the greatest problems in this region have been reported. Nine hundred seventy-eight confirmed infections and 54 deaths there, Rosemary. That, of course, a country that is being subject to very, very heavy economic sanctions led by the United States.

CHURCH: Yes. Very problematic. Sam Kiley bringing us the latest from Abu Dhabi. Many thanks to you. We turn to Blake Essig now joining us from Tokyo. And, Blake, Japan is still reeling from criticism over its failed quarantine effort on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship. And now, it's trying to contain infections across the country. What's the latest on that?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, the good news about the Diamond Princess saga is that it has now all but finished. Just yesterday, the captain was the final crew member to disembark the Diamond Princess. Before he did that, he made one final announcement over the intercom saying, good night, Diamond Princess. Before blowing the horn.

Now, he and several crew members are here in Japan at government-run facilities doing a 14-day quarantine. But you're absolutely right. As far as the admitted failed quarantine on board the Diamond Princess, and really the criticism being a slow response by the Japanese government just in the past week, that the idea of social distancing has been the main focus for the Japanese government.

People are working from home. They've recommended the closure of public schools starting today, across the entire country. That decision, of course, is up to local authorities. And it has also impacted sporting events.

Just this weekend, sports-crazed Japan held two specific events. A baseball game between two Tokyo-based teams, which was played inside a 55,000-seat Tokyo dome with nobody inside. I was there. It was eerily quiet. You could actually hear, you know, the echo of, you know, when the -- when the ball was hit, the crack of the bat just echoed throughout the stadium.

You could actually hear the change in the umpire's pockets, you know, jingling and echoing, as they ran from home plate to third base. I mean, to be in a stadium where there was nobody there because of the fear of the spread of this virus was just a surreal experience. We also went to the Tokyo marathon. This iconic event where more than

30,000 people, typically, take part. Only 200 elite runners were allowed to participate. We were on -- on the street, along the route of the race course where -- where tens of thousands of people typically are there to cheer on these athletes. And there was almost no one there.

Again, in comparison to what there typically is, the streets are pretty much empty. I talk to baseball players, I talk to a former coach or current coach, former Major League Baseball player, who talked about, you know, the idea that this experience for these fans -- or for these players really paints a picture how important the fans are.

Two, whether it be a baseball game or, you know, pushing his runners to push through the pain to finish the race. And all of this, with just five months to go before the Olympics are supposed to start here in Tokyo. And maybe, Rosemary, this past weekend was a precursor of what these Olympics could look like if the coronavirus continues to be a problem.

CHURCH: Yes. It's a good point. People are wondering what final decision will be made on that. We'll keep watching. Blake Essig, many thanks for joining us from Tokyo. I appreciate that.

And we are coming off the worst week for markets since the financial crisis of more than a decade ago. Our emerging markets editor John Defterios joins us now from London to see if this week is starting off any better. Good to see you, John. So how are European markets looking right now?

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JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, you know, in fact, we are seeing a market contagion which is actually favorable with the pace being set in Asia today, Rosemary. And the headline here is that the Bank of Japan, the central bank in that country, is also now suggesting it's ready to act against COVID-19, if necessary. This follows, of course, what we heard from the U.S. Federal Reserve as well.

In the first quarter hour of trading in Europe so far, we have seen that the FTSE 100 here in London is up 2.5 percent. The DAX index in Germany is up nearly 1.5 percent. Paris with a gain of nearly 2 percent. And the wider index in Europe is trading up 1 percent.

Asia did set the pace with Shanghai up 3 percent on the day. Somewhat of a relief that the bank of Japan is ready to act. We had the Nikkei index up nearly 1 percent. South Korea, about three-quarters of a percent. And Hong Kong up about two-thirds of 1 percent.

Let's not overlook of course the danger to the global economy here. We were coming into 2020 with the threat of a recession. Where very mediocre growth of just over 3 percent. It sounds decent, Rosemary, but it actually is not. And this could tilt it into recession as time goes on depending how this plays out. And I think the most profound impact has to be in the tourism sector

itself. We heard over the weekend that the largest oil and gas in the United States called CERAWeek which was supposed to take place in Houston next week has been cancelled. We saw similar moves on Friday here in Europe with the ITB, a very big travel market in Berlin, cancelled. The Geneva motor show doing the same.

Now, we have to keep in mind here, on Saturday, and the biggest scare that we saw for the global economy, was from China. Since they have been keeping records on the manufacturing sector, they produced their worst performance ever. So not out of the woods yet but a market relief we're seeing today on word from the bank of Japan.

CHURCH: All right. Many thanks to John Defterios keeping a very close eye on these markets. I appreciate it.

Well, North Korea has fired two short-range projectiles into the sea. That is according to the South Korean defense ministry. It says they were launched from near the eastern city of Wonsan and they are believed to be part of North Korea's military drills which Kim Jong-un oversaw himself on Friday. Japan says no damage from the launch has been reported.

We are following breaking news out of the Philippines where a hostage situation is underway at a shopping mall. The mayor of San Juan City says about 30 people are being held in Manila by a former security guard right now. One person has been shot and is in stable condition. We will, of course, continue to bring you the very latest on this story as those developments come in to us.

Well, Democrat Pete Buttigieg has dropped out of the U.S. presidential race. He broke the news Sunday evening to his supporters in his hometown of South Bend, Indiana. Buttigieg was the first gay candidate to earn presidential primary delegates for a major party's nomination. But he struggled to reach voters of color. A key Democratic base.

Still, Buttigieg surprised many with his strong showing in the early voting states. And the fervent base of support he's built.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), SOUTH BEND, INDIANA: And we have a responsibility to consider the effect of remaining in this race any further. I will no longer seek to be the 2020 Democratic nominee for president. But I will do everything in my power to ensure that we have a new Democratic president come January.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Well, the remaining candidates will be using the coming hours to try and pull in every supporter they can. On Super Tuesday, there is a lot at stake. More than 1,300 delegates in 14 states. And as you see here, California and Texas alone offer more than 600 of those delegates.

CNN's senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny has more. JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: One day left before

the big Super Tuesday contest. But, boy, has this race changed over the weekend. Joe Biden dramatically winning the South Carolina primary on Saturday. Turning a convincing win. Beating Bernie Sanders back and, in fact, reviving his candidacy.

Tom Steyer, out of the race on Saturday night. Then Pete Buttigieg surprising his supporters by jumping out of the race on Sunday night. This is clarifying this race. Quickly becoming a two-person contest between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

Now, Michael Bloomberg is still in this race. The former New York City mayor was considering over the weekend, talking to his advisers. But he is still in this contest. He is going to get the first judgment by voters on Super Tuesday when 14 states across the country come together to put their say on this campaign.

But it is the fact that this race is consolidating. And the momentum behind Joe Biden that does, you know, amount to a big turning point in this campaign.

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And Pete Buttigieg, in his speech announcing that he is getting out of the campaign, he did not offer an endorsement. But we do know, his words were clear, he does believe the majority of Democrats are supporting someone other than Senator Sanders. He believes the direction for the country is not through Sanders' policies. But rather, a more moderate approach.

So, look for him, potentially in the coming days, to offer an endorsement. But for now, he is urging his voters to go with their hearts. So, what this leads us here with one day before the biggest contest yet, the biggest day of contest on Super Tuesday is that Joe Biden is trying to pull that momentum from the weekend into his head- to-head contest with Bernie Sanders.

What will the Bloomberg factor be? What will Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren still factor as well? She is trying to win her home state of Minnesota, that's Klobuchar. And Warren trying to win her homes state of Massachusetts.

So certainly, a dramatic sense of urgency in this race. But it's quickly, at least, shaping up to be a much smaller field between Biden, Sanders, and potentially Bloomberg. Boy, what a weekend.

CHURCH: You bet. Well, joining me now is Natasha Lindstaedt, professor of government at University of Essex in Colchester, England. Thank you so much for joining us.

NATASHA LINDSTAEDT, PROFESSOR OF GOVERNMENT, UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX: Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: So Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer. They've both bowed out of the race. So, what does that mean for Joe Biden and Bernie sanders on Super Tuesday and, of course, beyond?

LINDSTAEDT: Right. I mean, this race has really, really turned. And of course, it's due to, as the report mentioned, what happened in South Carolina. That Biden had such a decisive victory. People were assuming that Biden was going to win. But he really did need to win big to change the course of this race and that's exactly what happened.

And so that forced Tom Steyer to back out because he had put so much of his energy in South Carolina. And I think Buttigieg also sensed that he can't really have a path to win the nomination without the African-American vote. He only received 2 percent support from African-Americans in South Carolina. And that comprises a big percentage of the democratic voting base, nationally, around 20 percent.

If we look to Super Tuesday, some big key states in the south. You have over 20 percent African-Americans. In Virginia, in North Carolina, 26 percent in Alabama. And so, it was going to be really benefit for Buttigieg to come in there.

This news of both Buttigieg and Steyer dropping out of the race, of course, is good news for Biden. So now, he has to hope that people who might have wanted to vote for Bloomberg, saw his initial debate performance and may think, you know, maybe he's not the best bet to beat Trump in 2020.

But we're going to have to see what happens with that. But I would expect that if Bloomberg doesn't see a path to victory, he'll drop out after Super Tuesday. And we're going to have a two-person race of Biden versus Sanders.

CHURCH: Right. Because of course, he is fracturing the vote but he's got the money to do it. So, what about the others in terms of what's likely to happen to Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren going forward. Because they are fracturing votes there, as well.

LINDSTAEDT: Right. They are fracturing votes. I mean, Warren, probably a little bit more for Sanders. Although, she's been hesitant to ever really criticize Sanders. I think once in the last debate, she went after him a little bit.

Klobuchar is taking a little bit off of Biden. Both seem to be very determined to stay in the race. They probably will change their mind after Super Tuesday if it doesn't go well for them. But both of them have been very committed to their policies. And that they believe that they are the best candidate to beat Trump in 2020.

Whereas, after Super Tuesday, with almost 1,400 delegates up, it's a third of all delegates, it really is going to change the nature of the race. And we're going to see who has the best chance of hanging in there.

CHURCH: Yes, we'll certainly get a better idea of the landscape after Tuesday, won't we? And of course, the Democrats have insisted their goal is to beat Donald Trump. But they're so divided right now and the Democratic establishment is pretty nervous about a Sanders nomination because they believe it will hand victory to Donald Trump. Will that be the likely outcome if Sanders is on the ticket do you think?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, the other fear for the Democratic establishment you could say with Sanders being on the ticket is how it's going to affect the other races. So, the Senate races, the House races. Is he going to cause problems for Democrats in those races? And that's actually one of the things that they were also considerably worried about.

Of course, they're worried about whether or not Sanders can pivot enough to attract moderates and people in the center. Independents. Is he going to completely scare off independents? Is he going to really galvanize Republicans to go to the polls more so than ever before?

[03:25:06]

I mean, these are all questions the Democratic leadership has and they are deeply concerned about. Which is why there may have been a lot of pressure on people like Buttigieg to drop out, to offer Biden a better chance to victory. After Biden got off to such a terrible start in Iowa and New Hampshire.

CHURCH: All right. Natasha Lindstaedt, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate your analysis.

LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: Well, two candidates were sidetracked Sunday by protests. A Black Lives Matter protest shut down an event in Senator Amy Klobuchar's home state of Minnesota. The protestors are critical of Klobuchar's handling of a case involving a black teen, convicted of murder, back when she was the county attorney.

And in Selma, Alabama, on Sunday, members of the historic brown chapel AME church turned their backs on billionaire Michael Bloomberg, as he spoke during a ceremony honoring the 1965 Civil Rights march from Selma to Montgomery.

And be sure to tune in as voting kicks off across 14 states. Our Super Tuesday special coverage starts at 4 p.m. in New York and Washington. Nine p.m. in London. Five a.m. Wednesday in Hong Kong right here on CNN.

Well, NASA says it's found an unexpected outcome from China's coronavirus crisis. These satellite images show certain air pollution levels in China fell as urban areas quiet down. Comparing the orange marks on these maps, levels of nitrogen dioxide dropped dramatically. It's a toxic pollutant emitted by cars, factories, and power plants.

Some changes in air quality are common this time of year. With manufacturers in China closing out and workers going home for the lunar New Year but scientists say the drop is more significant this year and has lasted longer.

If you are watching internationally, thanks so much for being with us. Made in Egypt is coming up next for you. And if you are a joining us here in the United States, do stay tuned we'll have more news on the other side of the break.

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ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States. You are watching "CNN Newsroom" and I'm Rosemary Church. Let's take a look now at our top stories.

North Korea has fired two short-range projectiles into the sea, according to the South Korea defense ministry. It says they were launched near the eastern city of Wonsan. Japan says no damage has been reported.

Democrat Pete Buttigieg is out of the U.S. presidential race. The former South Bend, Indiana mayor broke the news to a spirited hometown crowd Sunday night. He is the first openly-gay candidate to earn presidential primary delegates for a major party's nomination.

The global death toll from the coronavirus has now climbed past 3,000. On Sunday, China reported another 42 deaths and at least 200 new infections, mostly in Hubei province. The World Health Organization says the number of new cases in that region has increased for two straight days.

Well, in the U.S., at least 89 cases of the virus have been reported. And the vice president says those numbers will rise as the disease continues to spread. He spoke with CNN about the Trump administration's response thus far.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: I am happy to report that this weekend more than 15,000 testing kits have been released. Also, the FDA has approved a testing regimen that state and local officials can be using. And, beyond that, we actually are working with a commercial provider with the new testing framework to send another 50,000 kits out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: For more on efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus, we are joined now by Ivan Hung. He is a clinical professor with the Hong Kong University Medical Faculty where he is chief of the infectious diseases division. Professor, thank you so much for being with us.

IVAN HUNG, CLINICAL PROFESSOR, HONG KONG UNIVERSITY MEDICAL FACULTY: Thank you.

CHURCH: Now, more than 3,000 deaths as a result of the novel coronavirus, mostly in mainland China. But it's continuing to spread to other countries with two people now dead in the United States and more deaths reported in Australia, Thailand, South Korea, Iran, and Italy. And Americans are worried that their country is not ready to cope with this. Just how prepared is the U.S. and how effective will the new screening procedures be, do you think?

HUNG: Well, I think the most important measure to contain this novel coronavirus is still basically by infection control by people wearing masks and also by hand hygiene, hand rub with alcohol as well which is basically the main measures here in Hong Kong, and also, I think, in China nowadays which is very effective.

And also that the important is for early diagnosis and early isolation and early treatment will be the mainstay of -- the mainstay of isolation and prevention of this infection from spreading.

CHURCH: You mentioned the masks but a lot of people in America, they have been told that the masks are only useful if you have coronavirus and those should be kept specifically for those who are providing health services.

HUNG: Well, I don't think that is true because what we know about the novel coronavirus, it is very contagious and there are a lot of asymptomatic carriers. So people are infected with the virus and they have no symptom. So you don't know who actually is carrying the virus. And already before the symptom onset, they will be shedding the virus.

So wearing a mask is extremely important. And also probably home officing is another measure and stopping school for a while will be the main measure to control the spread of the virus.

CHURCH: Right. And this is the problem because a lot of people across the United States are getting mixed messages about what they should and shouldn't do. Infections have spread to about 10 states across the U.S. and Vice President Pence says 15,000 test kits were distributed over the weekend with 50,000 more to come.

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CHURCH: Will that be enough and why did it take so long, given South Korea has tested more than 100,000 people, we understand now? The U.K. has tested 8,000 and the U.S. -- only 500. Why is the U.S. so far behind everyone else?

HUNG: Well, I think the main reason is because the infection rate in the United States has not been high at the beginning. Even with the crew passengers returning to the U.S., they have ben isolated quickly and the number has been kept very low. It is only recently that they have problems that they have communities -- unknown community outbreaks. So, I think the main measure is still to test more and also to isolate these patients as quickly as we can.

CHURCH: All right. Professor, many thanks for joining us. We do appreciate it.

HUNG: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, it's a third trip to the polls for Israeli voters in just 11 months. Ahead, we will look at whether this election could end the country's power stalemate. Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, for the third time in less than a year, Israeli voters are going to the polls. Israel has been in a political stalemate since two previous elections failed to result in a governing majority. Opinion polls indicate the deadlock won't be broken this time either.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying for an unprecedented fifth term. But neither his Likud Party nor challenger Benny Gantz's Blue and White Party are expected to win enough seats to form a government.

For more, we are joined now by journalist Elliott Gotkine in Jerusalem. Good to see you again, Elliott. So the polls indicate this third election will end the same the way with a stalemate.

[03:40:00]

CHURCH: What's it going to take to end this cycle of elections because they can just keep going for another one after this if it's not resolved?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: They could, Rosemary. You've heard of the "Avengers: Infinity War" This could very well end up being infinity elections. There is nothing legally to prevent us going from this third election to fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh election and beyond until something gives.

Now, in a short term, you may see President Reuven Rivlin trying to bang heads together between the two biggest parties, Netanyahu's Likud and Benny Gantz's Blue and White, to get them to form a government of national unity.

But since Benny Gantz has already said that he will not serve or rotate the prime ministership with Netanyahu while he's got charges hanging over him and he is due to face trial in a couple of weeks, that outcome, that exit from this impasse would seem to be blocked.

CHURCH: All right, many thanks to you, Elliot Gotkine, for bringing us up-to-date on the situation there. Appreciate it.

And joining us now from Jerusalem is Reuven Hazan. He is a political science professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Thank you so much for joining us.

REUVEN HAZAN, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM: Hi, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. So we are dealing with a third election in less than a year. It looks like they're heading for the same outcome. We understand that they could keep going back, one election after the next. But at some point, there has to -- a decision of some sort surely has to be made as to how they can resolve this.

HAZAN: Well, that is correct. The only problem is that the three main actors don't seem to want to compromise. These three actors are the Blue and White Party that refuses to sit with Netanyahu, who has been indicted, the Likud Party that refuses to get rid of Netanyahu even though he's been indicted, and the small party in the middle called -- it's Avigdor Lieberman's Party that refuses to sit with anyone but the two of them together.

So, one of these three is going to have to give in. If not, yes, we could be heading for a fourth election.

CHURCH: What's the political fallout of all of this? Because meantime, as this is all going on, presumably, some of the workings of government are not going forward.

HAZAN: Oh, that's correct. After a year of no government, if we head for a fourth election, it will be over a year and a half of no government. We do have a caretaker government but it is just trying to put out fires. There is no long-term planning. There is no budget that has been approved. We're going from month to month.

At some point, if this third election does not produce a government, some people will cease to be paid. Government programs will no longer be funded. And the people of Israel will start to feel the pain if they haven't felt it already.

CHURCH: So it's really up to the voters now, isn't it? Maybe they need to start thinking they have to change their vote. But they, the same as the politicians here, they are sticking firmly to their guns here in deciding I'm not changing my vote.

HAZAN: Well, maybe we could put a positive spin on it and look at the majority of the Israeli voters that if we're going to have an election every four or five months and nothing significant has changed in those four or five months and they are ideological voters, then maybe they shouldn't change their voting patterns.

And if we look back at history, this country had 20 elections before this past year. And after every election, the first person who was asked to form the government succeeded in doing so. In other words, it's not the system and it's not necessarily the voters.

We have to ask, why have we gone down this strange path? And maybe the answer is Benjamin Netanyahu, that the Likud Party won't get rid of him. If they did, they'd be in government. The Blue and White Party can't unseat him. If they did, they would be in government.

CHURCH: So they're locked in. I do want to talk about U.S. President Donald Trump. Of course, he has his own re-election bid later this year. But he has played a considerable role in Israel's election so far, with among other things, his Middle East peace plan. What impact do you think the U.S. president has had on this campaign overall and could that possibly change the outcome or not?

HAZAN: Well, that's a very interesting question because the American president has gotten involved in Israeli elections in an unprecedented manner. At every election, we have seen a gift, a major gift being given to Benjamin Netanyahu in order to help him with the elections.

But what we saw in the first two rounds is that Netanyahu's party actually lost votes when we moved from the April to the September elections. And this time, trump went all out with the peace plan that allows Israel for the first time to annex territories and settlements that the world had perceived as being illegitimate.

[03:45:03]

HAZAN: And yet nothing seems to be moving in the polls. Not the indictments to hurt him, not the peace plan to help him. Israeli voters seem to be quite resolute and maybe it's time for our politicians to do the job that we're going to elect them to do and that's to put together a government and stop throwing it back to the people.

CHURCH: Yep. Good point. Reuven Hazan, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your perspective and analysis with us. We do appreciate it.

HAZAN: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, clashes are escalating between Turkish and Russian- backed Syrian forces around rebel-held Idlib in northern Syria. Both sides say Turkey shot down two Syrian warplanes there on Sunday. Turkey also said it destroyed Syrian air defense systems, helicopters and dozens of tanks, and neutralized more than 2,000 Syrian troops in recent days. Turkey ramped up its military operation after dozens of its soldiers were killed in an airstrike last week.

The conflict in Syria is raising fears the migrant crisis will get worse and Turkey is trying to pressure the E.U. to do something about it. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he has opened the doors to Europe so that migrants can cross into Greece.

But the Greek prime minister tweeted Sunday that his country won't accept any new asylum applications for a month. He says migrants who try to enter illegally will be turned back. And, in fact, border guards this weekend fired teargas at migrants who were trying to enter.

Well, already, there are disputes over details in that historic agreement signed between the U.S. and the Taliban. The deal calls for the U.S. to begin withdrawing thousands of troops over the next 135 days with the goal of an eventual full withdrawal. In return, the Taliban must commit to ending terror attacks in Afghanistan, including helping in the fight against ISIS and Al Qaeda.

But here's the sticking point. The Taliban say they expect 5,000 prisoners to be released ahead of talks with the government in Kabul due begin in barely over a week. But U.S. officials say the number is up to 5,000 while Afghanistan's president says his government has made no commitment to such a release.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASHRAF GHANI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN: We will discuss the question of prisoners as part of a peace deal, which has to be comprehensive, which is to discuss. The wording that is used there is that the United States will facilitate. We have made it very clear to the Ambassador Khalilzad that the political capital and the consensus in the country that would be necessary for such a major step does not exist today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Well, just today, after the agreement was signed, CNN's Nic Robertson sat down for an exclusive interview with a Taliban negotiator and asked him to clarify some key details about the deal.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, before the ink barely dry on that agreement, already a hurl (ph) in the way that Taliban expect the Afghan government to release what they believe are 5,000 of their prisoners before the Taliban say they'll go into the intra-Afghan talks with the Afghan government expected to begin on the 10th of March.

The Afghan government, for its part, believes that is too many prisoners, too soon, they're not ready for that, so that first round of intra-Afghan talks, the timeline on that, could slide. But a big question going into this is the position of the Taliban. Are they going into this believing they're coming in as victors, something Secretary of State Pompeo warned them against? I asked that to one of the Taliban negotiators. Do they think they beat the Americans?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON (on camera): Does the Taliban believe the United States has been defeated militarily?

MUHAMMAD SUHAIL SHAHEEN, TALIBAN NEGOTIATOR/SPOKESMAN: We reached a solution through talks. That means when you reach a solution through talks, it means it is a win/win situation for both sides.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Why should the United States trust you now when you say that you will now go after Al Qaeda and go after ISIS because the Taliban have been allowing Al Qaeda to live inside their territory in Afghanistan for the past 20 years?

SHAHEEN: It is our policy that anyone who wants to use the site of Afghanistan for their goals against other country and harm our country, our people, we will not allow that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Nic Robertson talking there with a Taliban negotiator. We'll take a short break here.

[03:49:58]

CHURCH: Still to come, U.S. Congressman John Lewis returned to Selma, Alabama to mark the anniversary of the "Bloody Sunday" march. The civil rights icon delivered a challenge to the thousands in attendance. His message is up next.

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CHURCH: U.S. civil rights icon and House Democrat John Lewis revisited Selma, Alabama on Sunday where he famously marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. more than 50 years ago. The Pettus Bridge was engulfed with thousands of peaceful marchers, strikingly different than 1965 when Lewis was among those brutally beaten by police. That day later became known as "Bloody Sunday." CNN's Arlette Saenz has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thousands gathered here in Selma, Alabama to commemorate the 55th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. But one person, in particular, stood out in the crowd. That was Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights icon who marched across this Edmund Pettus Bridge 55 years ago, marching for civil rights and voting rights. He was among those that was beaten and tear-gassed by Alabama state troopers 55 years ago.

[03:55:04]

SAENZ: There have been questions about whether Congressman Lewis would make these commemoration services as he is currently battling Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. But he stood at the top, at the apex of the Edmund Pettus Bridge and gave a message to people across the country about the power of voting. Take a listen.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): I thought I was going to die on this bridge. But somehow and some way, god almighty kept me here.

CROWD: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Not too bad.

LEWIS: We cannot give up now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): No.

LEWIS: We cannot give in.

CROWD: No.

LEWIS: We must keep the faith. Keep our eyes on the prize. We must go out and vote like we never, ever voted before. Let's do it!

(APPLAUSE)

LEWIS: Selma is a different place. America is a different place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Yes.

LEWIS: But we can make it much better! We must use the vote as a nonviolent instrument to redeem the soul of America.

SAENZ: In addition to Congressman Lewis's appearance, five of the Democratic presidential contenders participated in the commemoration services here in Selma. Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg spoke at a church service. Bloomberg, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg all marched across this bridge. But certainly, the emotional high point of the day was when Congressman John Lewis returned here to Selma 55 years after Bloody Sunday.

Arlette Saenz, CNN, Selma, Alabama.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: And thank you so much for joining us. I am Rosemary Church. "Early Start" is next.

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END