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U.S., Iraq Investigate Civilian Deaths In Mosul; Cyclone Debbie Makes Landfall On Australia Coast; Top Democrats Ask Intel Chair To Recuse Himself;. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 28, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] ISHA SESAY, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Ahead this hour, a U.S. airstrike targeting ISIS in Mosul may have killed more than a hundred Iraqi civilians. An official investigation is now underway.

SESAY: Plus, one witness says it came through like a battering ram. We're tracking a powerful cyclone now, pounding the Eastern Australian coast.

VAUSE: And he's one of the top lawmakers investigating potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, but democrats claim he's too close to the White House.

SESAY: Hello and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: Hello, I'm John Vause. We're now into the second hour of NEWSROOM L.A.

Iraqi forces are now trying to surround the remaining ISIS fighters in the old city of Mosul. One official says they are ramping up the number of snipers as well as the number of drone attacks.

SESAY: Yes, indeed. But the battle for the last ISIS stronghold comes with increasing concerns about civilian casualties. Our own Barbara Starr, reports.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The bodies keep coming. More than 100, so far, pulled from the rubble on this street in west Mosul. Civilian defense workers try to help, survivors tell of the horror.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): More than 100 people were inside. Half an hour later, the house was hit in an airstrike.

STARR (voice-over): The U.S. military investigating what happened March 17th, when airstrikes were quickly called in at the request of Iraqi forces. A suicide bomber in a truck filled with explosives was believed to be there according to Iraqis.

JOSEPH SCROCCA, U.S. ARMY AND COALITION FORCES SPOKESMAN: The coalition conducted strikes in that area, a number of strikes throughout that neighborhood, and one fairly close to the place where they have indicated that they have civilian casualties.

STARR (voice-over): The US believes ISIS was using dozens of civilians as human shields, not letting them escape the fighting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Whether the area was hit by an airstrike or booby trapped by ISIS, a mistake has happened. Civilians have died. We are responsible to them.

STARR (voice-over): Defense Secretary, James Mattis, insisting the U.S. is careful to protect civilians.

JAMES MATTIS, UNITED STATES DEFENSE SECRETARY: There is no military force in the world that has proven more sensitive to civilian casualties. We are keenly aware that every battlefield where an enemy hides behind women and children is also a humanitarian shield, and we go out of our way to always do everything humanly possible to reduce the loss of life or injury among innocent people. The same cannot be said for our adversaries.

STARR (voice-over): But in the narrow streets of heavily populated west Mosul, airstrikes may not be able to avoid civilians. The Pentagon also is looking at other airstrikes in the area to see if they might have resulted in civilians being killed. Iraqis are already calling for a reduction in airstrikes. The U.S. insists it's not yet changing how it operates. One reason, 250 troops from the 82nd Airborne are on their way to Mosul to advise Iraqi forces. Those U.S. soldiers will always have the right of self-defense to call in airstrikes.


STARR: Finding out exactly what happened in Mosul is now a top priority, military officials say. But they are also still investigating at least two other major allegations of civilian casualties, and those reviews may have to take a backseat at least for a while. Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

SESAY: Joining us now from Florida with a closer look at the events in Mosul is Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. General Hertling, thank you so much for joining us. Now, more than a week has gone by since Jadida neighborhood in western Mosul was struck resulting in the deaths of dozens of civilians. Should we be surprised that the U.S.- led coalition has still not determined what actually happened that day?

MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST AND FORMER UNITED STATES ARMY OFFICER: No, not at all, Isha. This is -- this is a very difficult situation. I've been in this kind of situation before where I've had reports that an aircraft has dropped ordinance in an area. And it's very difficult sometimes to determine not necessarily where the bomb was dropped, that's relatively simple. You could have followed gun camera tape and find out how a target was struck. But what you don't know sometimes is the collateral damage, the sympathetic detonations, if you will, where if -- if it did, in fact, hit a car bomb, and that car bomb exploded and then had sympathetic detonations on other areas, and caused buildings to collapse, all those things occur.

[01:05:08] The other things you have to concern yourself with is what were the people doing in the house? Were there enemy around it that were drawing attention to it using human shields as we've discussed? There's a lot more that goes into this than just determining how the aircraft dropped the weapon and where the bomb landed. And that's what I think central command is trying to do.

SESAY: Will these civilian deaths in Mosul come on the heels of two recent incidents in Syria, which also resulted in civilian deaths as you know. All three are being investigated by the U.S. military, but some people are already asking the question, whether rules of engagement have been relaxed under President Trump resulting in these deadly consequences. Do you see anything here that makes you think that that is the case?

HERTLING: I do not. And in fact, I've talked to some people within central command; they are still very concerned with any kind of civilian casualties on the battlefield. And I tell you, the responsibilities of a commander in that regard are intense. All commanders want to make sure that there's no collateral damage as it's called, that there's no civilians injured. And I don't think any commander is lightening the news on approving the checks, or making sure targets that are hit are the right targets. But we're now in a phase of the operation, in both Raqqa and in Mosul, where the fighting is much more challenging, much more difficult, in neighborhoods that are much more compact, and where ISIS in both of those areas are using local civilians as human shields.

So what we're talking about is a combination of more intense fighting, more refined spaces, more intense areas of operation, and ISIS is pulling out truthfully all the stops right now to make sure they can try and defend to the last man. And I believe, honestly, that they are pushing civilians to the front of the battlefield trying to get these kinds of propaganda victories. That's my feeling.

SESAY: Well, General Hertling, if that is indeed the case, and as has been widely reported that ISIS is using civilians as human shields, they're operating in a terrain that is densely tightly packed. I mean, what are the options for the U.S.-led coalition in terms of taking them on? Because when it comes to the question of airstrikes, I mean, they may have to rethink that, right, in this kind of terrain, this kind of environment?

HERTLING: That's the balance that every commander goes through right now, Isha. And it's part of the issue where the commanders on the ground, the Iraqi security forces, are working through an intermediary, and that's the spotter who's working through the coalition aircraft. So you also have that confusion of how you go through a chain of command to get the airstrikes on the ground.

So, yes, and I think the Iraqi security forces are seeing the challenges as they go into these tight neighborhoods. And in fact, the command -- the Iraqi commander on the scene said we've got to take a temporary pause in this and determine how we can better ensure the safety of the people of Mosul while continuing the operation. They knew it was going to be tough going into this. They've had discussions on this. The Iraqi commanders and the American advisors on the ground know that they had a lot of a plan going into this west Jadida section of Mosul.

SESAY: Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, it's always a pleasure to speak to you. Thank you so much for joining us.

HERTLING: Thank you, Isha.

VAUSE: Well, the push towards ISIS's self-declared capitol of Raqqa in Syria is raising concerns about a strategic dam. Syria's government says airstrikes have damaged the Euphrates dam at Tabqa, risking catastrophic flooding. U.S.-backed forces have launched an offensive in the region, and say the dam is not in danger of collapse. They gave engineers a four-hour window to carry out inspections. That same rebel group has also seized the Tabqa air base.

SESAY: Now, Australia's most powerful storm in years is making landfall on the coast of Queensland. Tropical Cyclone Debbie is battling the region with torrential rain and winds over 260 kilometers per hour.

VAUSE: As you can see, this is how massive this storm is from the International Space Station as Debbie made its way towards Australia.

Storm chaser, James Reynolds, joins us now on the phone from Airlie Beach in North Queensland. So, James, it seems that you're pretty much there on ground zero. What's the latest from where you are? Are you on the other side of the storm now? Has the eye past and the winds are picking up?

JAMES REYNOLDS, STORM CHASER: Yes, absolutely. That's exactly what is happening. Now, about two hours ago, we were in the dead calm of the center of the eye of the storm, and now, as it's moving inland, we're getting lashed by the wind and the rain of the second half of the storm. And it's been a very long day. This storm has been impacting this coastal region from midnight last night. And now, it's about 2:30 in the afternoon here, so everyone's a bit weary and waiting for this storm just to get out of here, John.

[01:10:04] VAUSE: James, so you're saying it took two hours for the eye of the storm to pass over where you are. That is a very, very slow moving cyclone. That seems to be incredibly unusual.

REYNOLDS: Yes, absolutely. It was really -- before it made landfall, it was just hovering off the coast here. And, you know, that brings problems. It brings a longer period of time of the more severe weather, the extreme winds and the heavy rain, just creates bigger opportunity for more damage to be done, and just makes the whole experience far more unpleasant for the locals here who just have to go through a very long period of time enduring the cyclone.

VAUSE: What do you see as being the biggest concern, the biggest danger over the coming hours as Debbie passes through the area?

REYNOLDS: Well, if this - and this storm is moving in land. It's dumping a lot of rain. A lot of areas of this (INAUDIBLE) coastal area of Queensland are prone to flooding. So there's going to be a lot of highways cut off. Just walking around town where I am during the eye, there was a lot of debris doing across the street, like large tree blocking the road in places. So it's really going to be quite hazardous until the storm has moved away much further inland and then, like, tonight into tomorrow morning when you really get an idea of how bad the damage is, and all the threats have subsided.

VAUSE: OK, James. Thank you for the update. James Reynolds, storm chaser at Airlie Beach giving us the very latest from the eye of the storm which has now passed.

SESAY: Well, let's bring a meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri, who joins us with much more on this storm. And Pedram, talk to us about the track of this storm and how fast it's moving.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: Yes, you know, it's going very slow. That's the concern as you heard there with James as well. I mean, look at the storm system, you know, the size of the storm is pretty significant. The rapid nature of how it intensified is significant, and when you put the map of Europe on here, it then gives you a sense of scale and perspective where it stretches from parts of, say, France, all the way out there into Poland. 1200 kilometers, that is a conservative measurement. You can take the cloud field and take it all (INAUDIBLE), only if you want to stretch out some of the moisture that is tropical across this region.

But, what is this? We've had wind gusts over 260 kilometers per hour. Windstorm moves right over some of the islands offshore there, and the perspective again, very blustery day in store. You want to -- show you kind of the geography in the lay of the land in this region because we know, once you work toward the great dividing range of Australia, some of these mountains easily get up to about 2,000 meters high. So, they will absorb a lot of the energy associated with the storm system.

And again, that is the third longest chain -- land-based mountain chain in the world, the great dividing ranges. So certainly, very not (INAUDIBLE) going to impact the storm system and weaken it significantly, but again, this speed here is more threatening to me than that 175 kilometer per hour winds that are being felt around these communities. And the reason I say that is because rainfall, flooding, and the storm surge threat are extremely high for these areas, and any time you slow a storm system down to essentially would be a average person's running speed within one hour, 10 kilometers, that could with a tropical system, drop between 500 to 700 millimeters of rainfall. The speed of tropical disturbance, many of them do move very quickly, say 20 to 25 kilometers per hour, that brings the rainfall total down to about a hundred or so millimetres. So we're on the higher end with the storm system, and already about a half a meter has come down in a few sights across this region.

Here, the area of concern, just north of (INAUDIBLE), population density here, when you combine both cities and then, the areas in between, about a quarter of a million people stand to be impacted with the storm system, but notice the track takes it over the mountains, wants to bring it farther to the south. The winds will begin to die down by tonight. The rainfall stretches all the way to the south, and potentially, what is left of the storm even impacts parts of Sydney before it moves out of here, say, Thursday with rainfall and (INAUDIBLE) the bull's eye here for additional rainfall. Another 400 millimeters, which is about four months worth of rainfall, guys, coming down through today until tonight.


VAUSE: Well, OK. Pedram, thank you.

SESAY: Thank you.

VAUSE: We just heard from James Reynolds. He was at Airlie Beach, let's hear a little bit North of that (INAUDIBLE) Regional council in North Queensland. This is essentially bookending where the storm is passing the coast right now.

(INAUDIBLE), thank you for being with us. Can you tell us what it's like to -- what it's like (INAUDIBLE) down and riding out this storm over the past few hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it hasn't been pretty. Whitsunday is a famous tourist (INAUDIBLE) famous tourist region. It's normally absolutely beautiful, but the last 24 hours, it's been very ordinary. Lots of torrential rain, mammoth winds, lots of damage around the place, and it's just not so good.

VAUSE: How long do you think it will be before the worst is over, before you and the other emergency services can get out there and assess the extent of the damage?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it still going to be quite a few hours yet. The problem with this cyclone is it's such slow moving, so rather just coming in and giving you one basically sucker punch, it's just hanging off and just belting us and belting us and belting us, but it's a very difficult -- so it's sort of started last night at about midnight. And it's just been raining and working its way through. So, the big issue is now a lot of the trees and everything, all the ground is very wet. It's at the time to get really, really wet. Now, we've got the high winds, so all of the trees are blowing over.

[01:15:20] VAUSE: And (INAUDIBLE) we're also hearing some reports that a few people have actually seen some photographs on social media of -- I'm assuming they're accurate, people actually heading out to check out the surf, and actually just to head outside. What's the best advice at this point?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, not at all. I think that's - anyone (INAUDIBLE) idea of (INAUDIBLE) this. From where I am at the moment, you wouldn't go outside because you'd get blown away. So, yes, that's a bit self-regulating where I am right at this present point in time, but I had guys who maybe just in the eye or just off that, be very careful because as that crosses around, it can come back and get you from the other direction. So, please, I'm encouraging everybody to stay inside, stay safe and we'll all get through this. VAUSE: In the latest numbers, we have about 50,000 people right now in that region without electricity as well. (INAUDIBLE), thanks for being with us. We appreciate it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No worries. (INAUDIBLE) come and visit us (INAUDIBLE) Sunday after it's all over.

VAUSE: Absolutely. Head down, stay safe. Thank you, sir.


VAUSE: OK. A short break. When we come back, new revelation about team Trump's contacts with Russia. More democrats are now saying they have lost trust in the republican congressman who's leading the House investigation.

SESAY: Plus, the Brexit clock will soon officially start ticking at last. Ahead, why the divorce negotiations could be contentious and challenging.


DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORTS ANCHOR: I'm Don Riddell with your CNN WORLD SPORT headlines. We are just 10 days away from the start of the year's first golfing major, the Masters, and although anything can happen and often does, there is one clear favorite. His name is Dustin Johnson, the most top-ranked player, won the WGC Match Play of the weekend, beating Jon Rahm and attends final. It was Johnson's third consecutive title, meaning he's won the last three tournaments that he's entered, and this one completed an unprecedented sweep of the four WGC titles. Nobody's ever done that before. Most bookies now have him as a solid favorite to win the Masters. Both Ladbrokes and William Hill pricing that five to one.

Manchester City have been fined almost $50,000 by the English Football Association after protests on the pitch over a penalty decision. The game in question was the one-all draw with Liverpool earlier this month. Pep Guardiola's side admitted to a charge of misconduct relating to players not acting in an orderly fashion.

Now in three years' time, the NFL is headed to the land of bright lights and long nights, Las Vegas. That's after 31 of 32 league owners on Monday approved the move of the Oakland Raiders to Nevada beginning in the 2020 season. The team will play in a $1.9-billion stadium which is going to be shared with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as well. That is a quick look at your sports headlines. I'm Don Riddell.


[01:20:38] SESAY: Well, the chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee is facing growing criticism for its handling of the investigation into the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is among those now calling for Devin Nunes to recuse himself. VAUSE: We learned on Monday, news went to the White House complex to look at classified information from an unnamed source. Nunes says U.S. intelligence incidentally picked up communications from members of Mr. Trump's team.


DEVIN NUNES, UNITED STATES HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I've been working this for a long time with many different sources and needed a place that I could actually finally go because I knew what I was looking for, and I could actually get access to what I needed to see.

I'm quite sure that I think people in the west wing had no idea that I was there. Look, I go over there a lot. I go over there often for meetings and briefings, to meet foreign dignitaries. All those sort of thing. I go to all the agencies. It's part - it's part of the role of oversight.


SESAY: Well, here with us to talk about all of this, California talk radio host Ethan Bearman and California Republican National Committee member, Shawn Steel. Gentlemen, good to have you with us again. So listen, Devin Nunes's movements on the White House complex raising all sorts of questions, but the White House doesn't seem very eager to clear any of the confusion. Ethan?

ETHAN BEARMAN, CALIFORNIA TALK RADIO HOST: Yes, of course, they don't because President Trump wants to deflect everything that's going wrong in his administration on Hillary Clinton, which is what he said today. And on top of it all, Representative Nunes, his story is changing regularly. Who can we trust at this point? By the way, remember, he worked on the Trump campaign as well. So, he's a trump loyalist who I -- at this point in time, I'm not believing a word that's coming out of his mouth because his story has changed repeatedly. Sure, he was on the White House grounds meeting somebody in a special location. I don't know that I should even believe that at this point.

VAUSE: Shawn, I'll give you a chance to respond but first, I want you to listen to Sean Spicer going through all sorts of trouble trying to explain exactly what Devin Nunes was doing on the White House grounds.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: All of what I know has been available through public comments. I know that Chairman Nunes has confirmed that he was on White House grounds Tuesday, and frankly, any questions regarding who he met with or why he was here should be referred to him.


VAUSE: Actually, no. That's not how it works. If -- the way it works is that if you're on the White House grounds, be it the White House or the executive wing, the Eisenhower Building, you need to fill out a form, you need to be escorted in, and cleared by a White House staffer and that applies to congressmen as well. So, you know, Shawn, surely Spicer knows this. I get - you know, I know he's new on the job, but this is pretty basic stuff, isn't it?

SHAWN STEEL, CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE MEMBER: You know, I think the only two sources in America that are upset with Devin Nunes is Nancy Pelosi and the democrats and a lot of mainstream media. That's not the issue. I don't care where he saw the information. He found it in a secure room inside the White House compound, the issue is that there are -- there's a civil war amid intelligence agencies in America at war with each other. Each side leaking information. Right now, there's people leaking information inside the CIA and the NSA to Devin Nunes. That's important because these agencies are spying on us. In fact, you guys, too. In fact, everybody, that's the issue. I don't care where he heard it, he's actually talking about it.

BEARMAN: No, Shawn, that's a classic misdirection. Shawn, are you kidding me?


STEEL: Misdirection? You're talking about nonsense when --

BEARMAN: -- Representative Nunes. We're talking about Representative Nunes and his inconsistent story and how he is going to be incapable of leading any kind of objective investigation of the president when he worked on his campaign in the first place. That's what I'm talking about.


STEEL: All republicans worked on the campaign. That -- if that's - if that's a criteria for having a republican being ineffective because he worked for President Trump in his re-election, every republican did. Here's the good news. Nancy Pelosi is irrelevant. Adam Schiff is not serious. Devin Nunes is going to be chairman, and there's nothing the democrats can do about it. Now, you can have a lot of hot air, but the bottom line is he's revealing information about the deep state in America and the conflict with intelligence agencies. That's the story, gentlemen. That's the story -


BEARMAN: What is this deep state? What is this mysterious group that is in control of our government? I mean, are you going to say the aliens are in charge next?

STEEL: He's not in control.


VAUSE: OK. Well - hang in a sec, guys. Hold that thought.

[01:25:03] SESAY: So, just to be clear --

STEEL: I've got to help him out.

SESAY: You're complain - no, no. Well, help me out. You're talking about these leaks that are taking place, but didn't Devin Nunes himself leak this information? Does that not trouble you?

STEEL: No, I think that's wonderful. This is the information we need to get.

SESAY: So, leaks are good for someone, not for -


STEEL: Look, that's why we have investigations. The democrats don't want this information out. You've got Obama holdovers that are trying to subvert this government, and they're not going to get away with it. The leakers are going to go to jail.

VAUSE: OK. Well, while the House Intelligence Committee deals with all sorts of issues and conflicts of interest or whatever, the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation is continuing. They're actually asking the president's adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner to answer some questions about his contacts not just with the Russian Ambassador but a meeting the ambassador set up with a CEO of a state bank which was under - say, Russian bank which was under U.S. sanctions due to his ties to Vladimir Putin.

Shawn, I mean, you know, there's nothing wrong with new government officials coming in and meeting with foreign government. But answer me this, has anybody in the Trump campaign met with a foreign official not from Russia?

STEEL: Probably from Uruguay and I understand they've had a few contacts in -

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) Cyprus, perhaps. I mean, Cayman Islands.

SESAY: Ethan, isn't part of the problem here again that in the case of Jared Kushner, that he was effectively as has been reported, operating like a one-man State Department? I mean, the meetings in and of themselves may have been completely above board, but it's the secrecy, the fact that the State Department wasn't involved that has kind of led to some of all of this.

BEARMAN: Yes, it's actually very disturbing that you pick the son-in- law of the new president to lead our foreign policy during the transition and he has none, zero foreign policy experience. This is very upsetting. I mean, we --are we going to find out that he's dumping stuff to WikiLeaks next, too, who released all of our State Department cables as well. This is absolutely mind blowing that you would pick somebody who knows nothing about this topic and to go - and then on top of it all, meet with a bank that was already on our sanctions list. Do they not do their homework before they leave the building?

STEEL: That's the problems with that, Ethan. Number one, he doesn't lead - he doesn't lead the State Department, he's not leading foreign policy. That's a myth made for mainstream media.

BEARMAN: That was during the transition, Shawn. That wasn't - that is well-documented.


STEEL: That's not documented anywhere except in some strange left- wing fringe news outlets.

BEARMAN: Right. Because the Washington Post is strange left wing.


VAUSE: Very quickly --

STEEL: -- feel a lot better.

VAUSE: OK. Very quickly, look at the president's approval numbers, because you know, this is the latest Gallup numbers. We know they go up and they go down, but mostly for Donald Trump, they seem to go down. You know, last week, it was at 38 percent, now, it's a 36 percent. You know, this is reflective of other polls, Shawn. And to be fair, Gallup has been on the low side for Donald Trump over the last couple of weeks but, you know, surely, this has to impact the president and his ability, you know, to get stuff done with Congress because in Washington, poll numbers are political capital.

STEEL: Well, of course, this is the same Gallup poll that predicted Hillary is going to be our president and we'd be - oh, wait a minute, she's not president.

VAUSE: It's not just Gallup, Shawn, it's every single poll has him in low 40s or low 30 - or high 30s.

STEEL: There's been a decline, but Rasmussen is better, they're more accurate. Gallup is not so good. Look, polls are going to change or going to continue to shift, but today, Trump announced a sanctuary city policy. That's a very big news item. He's got the infrastructure planned that the democrats are excited and do want to support. There's going to be tax cuts. This agenda is going to keep going forward, but you know what? It doesn't matter about the polls today because Trump's going to be president today, a year from now, two years from now, three years from now, and more liberal heads are going to explode and I'm going to enjoy it.

BEARMAN: The polls are going to continue to go down, Shawn, because he's going to fail one thing after the other. The sanctuary city thing just brought to us is going to lose at the Supreme Court once it's challenge. The way they are approaching this, I don't know if this president doesn't know how to do homework. It's evident because of the way he tweets at people like Alec Baldwin in "Saturday Night Live" instead of actually going to intelligence briefings, but if he did his homework, we wouldn't have things like this Trump travel ban, the Muslim ban being held up in court. That's what's going to happen with Sanctuary cities, while his numbers are going to continue going down. STEEL: You're going to be (INAUDIBLE) disappointed.

SESAY: OK. Gentlemen, that's it. We call time.

STEEL: No, no.

VAUSE: You're done. Shawn and Ethan, thanks so much.

SESAY: No, no, no, that's it. Thank you very much. Hold on to your heads.

VAUSE: Always a pleasure. Thank you, guys.

SESAY: Thank you. Time for a quick break. Yes.

The Brexit process is set to officially start on Wednesday. Coming up, what to expect from the negotiations that will shape the future of Europe.


[01:33:12] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.


The headlines this hour --


VAUSE: The Brexit countdown will soon officially start with British Prime Minister Theresa May expected to trigger Article 50 on Wednesday.

SESAY: That means the U.K. will start formal divorce negotiations with the European Union. What exactly happens next is uncertain, but what is clear that in two years the U.K. will no longer be part of the union deal or no deal.

Henry Zephman (ph) joins us now from London, a political reporter with the "Times" of London.

Henry, good to have you with us.

So Article 50 is formally triggered when a letter is hand delivered to Donald Tusk, the E.U. council president, and at that point Britain will begin its journey past the point of no return. How much good will Theresa May encounter as she sets about these investigations with the remaining 27.

[01:35:02] HENRY ZEPHMAN, POLITICAL REPORTER, TIMES OF LONDON: That's a really good question. I'm not sure that the British government will quite know how much the E.U. feels towards it until it sits around the negotiating table with its Brussels colleagues. So on Wednesday, Sir Tim Barrow, Britain's chief diplomat in Brussels, will walk down and hand deliver a letter to Donald Tusk, the president of the European council saying that Britain is going to be the first country to use procedures in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty that set out the two-year protests for member states leaving the union. I think it is fair to say that though the E.U. has reconciled itself to Britain's decision in the referendum last June to vote to leave, it still is, you know, to put it simply, disappointed. You have lots of large member states like Germany and France insisting that whatever deal the U.K. gets has to be worse than the terms it currently has under membership. Otherwise it might incentivize movements that want to leave the E.U. in their own countries.


SESAY: To that point -- go ahead.

ZEPHMAN (ph): No, just as a question of good will, it's not so much about good will. It may be that Germany and France understand the perspective from which Theresa May and her negotiators are coming, but they -- they will just say that they're making a simple calculation, which is the terms of exit for the U.K. have to be -- have to be sufficiently severe that they dis-incentivize exit for other large states in the future.

SESAY: That being said, the remaining 27, those left behind, as I like to call them, have to reach a consensus on their negotiating position with Britain before talks get underway formally. Given they all have different interests, how easy will it be for them all to get on the same page?

ZEPHMAN (ph): Very difficult. And you're right. They'll have to forge consensus. That's going to be one of the most interesting things to look out for after Wednesday. On Wednesday, May's letter will offer some clues as to how Britain will negotiate. She'll make a statement to the House of Commons, as Sir Tim Barrow delivers the letter, which people in Europe will be watching avidly for how Britain intends to negotiate.

But in the following few weeks, the most interesting story to look out for is what's going on in Brussels and between the 27 member states of the European institutions? 48 hours after getting the letter, Donald Tusk will deliver draft guidelines to the 27 remaining member states. Those 27 states, although they've had some warning and some chance to discuss with each how they plan to discuss the negotiations, we'll then have a month until April 29th when they'll finally get around together and formally agree the guidelines for how to begin the negotiations.

Britain as you say is certainly very keen to exploit any cracks that may appear in their negotiating teams. The E.U., for its part, is pretty adamant but all of the remaining countries want a united Europe, and unity will flow from that.

SESAY: Quickly, Henry, breaking up was always hard to do and it often comes with a price tag. There's a big question about the commitments. What are the chances of Theresa May getting out of the E.U. without settling the U.K.'s tab? ZEPHMAN (ph): I think it's possible, but leaving the E.U. without

settling the tab would mean leaving the E.U. with no deal whatsoever. It is quite clear that Britain will is going to have to pay that sum, perhaps a significant sum, the E.U. insists as much as $60 billion Euros if he wants orderly terms of departure. That would mean a free trade deal on customs and regulatory standards, on policing, on security, on home affairs. Some of Theresa May's conservative back benchers who wanted Brexit for a long time -- and have to remember she supported the remain vote in the referendum, despite her behavior since becoming prime minister -- some of them do want Britain to leave without paying any money at all but that was compromised by a comprehensive deal across the terrain.

SESAY: Breaking up can be an expensive business.

Henry Zephman (ph) joining us there from London. Henry, appreciate it. Thanks so much.

ZEPHMAN (ph): Thank you.

[01:39:25] VAUSE: Still to come on NEWSROOM L.A., how to hold the U.S. president accountable in a world of partisan media where ideology often wins out over fact.


VAUSE: Have you ever ordered groceries online?

SESAY: I haven't.

VAUSE: I did once but they left the ice cream outside and it melted.

Having said that, though, online grocery delivery services are gaining popularity.

SESAY: They are.

VAUSE: There is one in particular that is doing better than most.

SESAY: It is called Honest Bee, based in Singapore.

Our Kristi Lu Stout has details in CNN's "Road to Asean."


KRISTI LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is not your average trip to the supermarket. Lily is on the clock as a trained personal shopper for Honest Bee, an online delivery service in Singapore.

It's simple to use. Just click what you want on the app and an Honest Bee shopper will pick up your groceries and hand it to a delivery person and had their food ready within an hour.

JOEL SUNG, CO-FOUNDER & CEO: I think we were too ambitious and tried to do too much. But we just went ahead and did it. STOUT: Joel Sung is one of the co-founders and the CEO.

SUNG: The name Honest Bee stems from really wanting to be able to convey to our customers we want them to -- you trust us? These are also going to be -- always working, very, very hard, but more importantly they work in a team -- a group and often times for the common good.

STOUT: The startup is made of nearly 13,000 part-time bees that shop and deliver products, including groceries, pharmaceuticals and laundry.

SUNG: What we wanted to do is try and figure out how we can empower and enable a work force. To be able to quickly and efficiently trying temporal jobs.

STOUT: Honest Bee is now operating across much of Asean, the association of southeast nation nations. It has expanded into Thailand, Malaysia and soon the Philippines.

SUNG: I think this whole government, because of where all the different kinds of treaties that they have, it's relatively easy to -- to get out. I think being in Singapore and really being, you know, having had the opportunities to go to different cultures, but wherever you are, you're able to actually understand the different nuances. You're able to have a better appreciation for their views.

STOUT: A key aspect of Honest Bee's overseas success has been customization to each country.

SUNG: Every country in Asian is different because our business is really about how can we service the local population, so whether it's in Thailand or Malaysia or Singapore it's really saying how can this service be of value to you in your country? And the only way we can do that well is by making sure you bring on the best local talent.

STOUT: For customers, Honest Bee is all about convenience. For workers, it creates news job opportunities. And for merchants, it's another revenue stream.

For Sung, he says business only gets better with scale.

Kristi Lu Stout, for CNN.



VAUSE: There was a time in the U.S. when the evening news anchors of the big three networks, ABC, NBC, CBS, carried not just power and prestige but wielded incredible influence as well, and none the more so than the most trusted man in America, Walter Cronkite.


WALTER CRONCHITE, FORMER NEWS ANCHOR: To say that we are mired in stalemate, in the next few months, we must test the enemy's intentions in case this is his last big gasp before negotiation.


VAUSE: On that night, February 27, 1968, and with those words, Cronkite changed the way Americans thought about the war in Vietnam. And now almost 50 years later, some anchors are challenging an administration and a president again.


DONALD TRUMP, PREIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I never said I guess I'm here what, 64 days? I never said repeal and replace Obamacare. I never said repeal it and replace it within 64 days. I have a long time.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, A.C. 360: Never said repeal it, but keep in mind, that's not true. He promised to repeal it during his campaign and make it his first order of business. Take a look.


[01:50:13] TRUMP: On my first day, I'm going to ask Congress to immediately send me a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.


TRUMP: Immediately repealing and replacing the disaster known as Obamacare.


VAUSE: But here's the problem. This is 2017, not 1968, and these days, you can get the news to fit your political believes.

For more, Dylan Byers, CNN's senior reporter for media and politics, is with us now.

Dylan, I guess the question is these days so many exist in their own bubbles, which means you could have FOX News reporting that Trump is working at the White House when he's actually spotted wearing golf shoes at his course in Virginia, if you're a FOX viewer, you wouldn't know any different would you?

DYLAN BEYERS, CNN SENIOR REPORTER FOR MEDIA & POLITICS: No, you wouldn't. And it's a choose-your-own-adventure news environment. You look back at that footage and you sort of long for what now seems to be a golden age. Not just because he had authority or because he was a sort of singular voice, but because we had a shared narrative. As Americans, we had a shared narrative. We had a shared understanding. We might disagree in terms of our views, you know, on policy or world events or what have you, but there is a shared understanding of what we were talking about, and there was a shared appreciation, I think, of the facts. Now facts seem to be beside the point. If you -- if you want one narrative you can go to Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly on FOX News. If you want another narrative you can go to Rachel Maddow at MSNBC. Among the conservative media, there's three types. There's a far-right populous media. There's a sort of Trump fan-boy media. There's a Never Trump, sort of more moderate wing of conservative media, so it's really all over the map and we are siloed and it prevents us from having these authoritative voices.

VAUSE: Over the weekend, here in the U.S. was an incredible moment when traditional old media clashed with new media, if you like. Ted Koppel, old TV news man, and Sean Hannity, who you mentioned. Listen to this.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: We have to give some credit to the American people that they're somewhat intelligence and that they know the difference between an opinion show and a news show.


HANNITY: You're cynical.

KOPPEL: I am cynical.

HANNITY: Do you think we're bad for America? Do you think I'm bad for America?



KOPPEL: In this long haul, I think you and all these opinions --

HANNITY: Really? That's sad, Ted. That's sad.

KOPPEL: No, you're very good at what you do and you have attracted people who determine that ideology is more important than facts.


VAUSE: What do you make of all of this?

BEYERS: Well, I think, first of all, that moment was quite significant. It would have been a lot more significant again, if we lived in an era where people actually cared about what the other side thought. I think there will be a lot of people who are going to rally around Hannity, the same people, and then there will be a lot of other people who identify with what Ted Koppel was saying.

And, look, you know, opinion has a place on television just like it's always had a place in print, you know, in the opinion pages of any newspaper. I think the issue here really is what Koppel was saying about prioritizing ideology and championing ideology ahead of facts. To go back to what I was saying before, there's no problem with having a perspective on things or not agreeing on certain things. The issue is, do you adhere to the fact? Do the facts matter to you or are you so driven by your adherence, even to a figure like Donald Trump or another president, that you forget about the facts and that you sort of put that aside? And that is where the damage to society comes, and that's the damage that ted was talking about.

VAUSE: And to that point, we also have a president of the United States promoting programs on FOX over the weekend. He pointed to one particular show in particular, and the anchor of that show went on to slam Paul Ryan for failing to get the vote on health care. Listen to this.


JUDGE JEANINE PIRRO, FOX HOST: Paul Ryan needs to step down as speaker of the House. The reason? He failed to deliver the votes on his health care bill.


VAUSE: Yeah, the administration says it's all just a coincidence, the president was helping promote a show for a friend. But why would the president of the United States be taking time out of his day to promote, you know, a show on a -- on the FOX News channel?

BYERS: Well, the excuse I've heard from folks at the White House -- and they do say it was a coincidence -- was that FOX News was advertising this countdown clock to new evidence that would bolster the president's claims that he had been wiretapped by the previous administration. So you know, there is a chance there that it was an accident.

But look, Trump is sort of boxed in here, and Ryan is sort of the only guy he has to work with because, in addition to having alienated Democrats, who certainly don't have any intention of working with him, he's also starting to alienate the far-right Freedom Caucus side of the Republican Party who has shown that they're willing to stand up against the president, shown that they're will to stare him down, all indications may be that they might, you know, part ways with him on future efforts to pass future legislation. So he needs Ryan right now. I think that's a relationship that's going to hold firm.

[01:55:57] VAUSE: OK. Dylan, thanks so much. We'll leave it there. Dylan Byers, senior reporter for media and politics.

SESAY: Very interesting.

VAUSE: Still very strange the president was tweeting about a particular FOX News show promoting it. You would think there would be more pressing things to do.

SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause.

Back with more news right after this.


[02:00:11] VAUSE: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.