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Flynn to Testify in Exchange of Immunity; Living in New Territory; Tillerson's Message to NATO; Shake-up of Power; Looking at the World's Beauty. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired March 31, 2017 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[03:00:00] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN HOST: A new twist in Washington's investigation into Russia's election meddling. Trump's former national security adviser says he wants immunity in exchange for his testimony.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN HOST: In South Korea, the ousted president is now under arrest. We'll find out what kind of charges she'll face.
HOWELL: Plus, as the battle against ISIS intensifies, we hear from civilians. People there who are caught in the crossfire.
Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm George Howell.
ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. This is CNN newsroom.
Our top story, U.S. investigators looking into the Trump campaign ties to Russia may be about to get a big break. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn says he'll talk with the FBI and congressional leaders.
HOWELL: But here is the catch, Flynn wants immunity from prosecution.
CNN's Jessica Schneider has details for us.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: General Michael Flynn's lawyers putting the offer out there. Telling congressional investigators that Michael Flynn will testify if offered immunity, putting it in somewhat of a tantalizing way in a statement saying this, "General Flynn certainly has a story to tell and he wants to tell it to the circumstances permit."
And then going on to say, "No reasonable person who has the benefit of advice from counsel, will submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch hunt environmental without assurances against unfair prosecution."
But the details really not coming out here on Capitol Hill. In fact, the spokesman for the House intelligence saying that there have been no request from General Flynn and the Senate intelligence committee refusing to come.
And of course, General Flynn did resign just after President Trump took office when it was disclosed that he had not revealed his communications with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to Vice president Mike Pence.
So, right now General Flynn's lawyers trying to strike a deal with some of the congressional investigators here. But the question is, will General Flynn's words come back to haunt him.
In fact, it was just last year when he spoke on MSNBC about Hillary Clinton's staffers and he basically said if you're granted immunity, if you take that immunity, it basically means that you've committed a crime. So will those words come out to haunt him and will any deal be struck here on Capitol Hill. That remains to be seen.
Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.
HOWELL: Jessica, thank you. All the talk of immunity for Michael Flynn, it has legal experts asking the question, whether investigators would let him off the hook in exchange for damaging evidence against a more valuable target.
ALLEN: For more on that here's CNN legal analyst Laura Coates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: of course, the issue is not why you would request immunity, of course, if you're going to be presented with a criminal investigation. And you already heard the FBI director say there is a criminal investigation into whether or not people in the Trump campaign to which he was a part of, were involved in collusion. You have that.
You also have the Logan Act of allegations that he may have represented the United States in a way whether it was supposed to, not very well used law at all by imagination.
But really one bigger question is, why would I give you immunity. And as a prosecutor he bluffs all the time. The reason I would give immunity is if there is a bigger fish to fry that you can actually give me, or with what you're going to tell me, I can find nowhere else.
So what he has to do is first tell the prosecutors kind of off the record what I'm offering here, why it's worth your while. And then if they decide that it is worth their while, guess who has to give immunity, it's not just the FBI. It's the Department of Justice, which means that Jeff Sessions' recusal has monumental implications.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: We know Michael Flynn went to Russia in 2015 for a now famous dinner with President Vladimir Putin.
HOWELL: CNN's Wolf Blitzer has a look now at the timeline of Flynn's Russian connections.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: December 25th, Flynn text Russian Ambassador
Sergey Kislyak, "I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I look forward to touching base with you and working with you and I wish you all the best." The ambassador text him back, "Merry Christmas."
December 28th. The Russian ambassador texted Flynn, "I would like to give you a call, may I?" December 29th they connected by phone. The same day, the Obama White House ordered extra sanctions on Russia and ordered 35 Russian diplomats to leave the U.S. immediately.
The call was first reported on the morning of January 13th. Trump's team confirmed the call that same day but denied any discussions of the sanctions.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The call centered around the logistics of setting up a call with the President of Russia and the president-elect after he was sworn in and they exchanged logistical information on how to initiate and schedule that call, that was it, plain and simple.
BLITZER: Two days later, on January 15, Vice President Pence defended Flynn and the call in an interview with CBS.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States' decision to expel diplomats or impose sanction against Russia.
BLITZER: The controversy reigned until February 9th, when the Washington Post reported that Flynn did indeed discuss sanctions with Kislyak. Flynn who previously denied the accusations changed his tune.
His spokesman telling the Washington Post that Flynn quote, "indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn't be certain that the topic never came up."
Then on February 13th, CNN and others reported that the Justice Department warned the Trump administration in January that Flynn misled administration officials and was potentially vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians.
ADAM ENTOUS, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: According to two officials that we spoke two have been briefed on this, it was, as they described it, a main topic of the discussion. It wasn't something that Kislyak maybe threw out at the end or anything like that.
BLITZER: Shortly after the report emerged, Flynn submitted a letter of resignation saying quote, "Because of the fast paced of events, I inadvertently briefed the vice president and others with incomplete information regarding my phone call with the Russian ambassador."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: CNN's Wolf Blitzer reporting there for us. The Senate intelligence committee hearing -- is hearing evidence, I should say, that Russian interference of the 2016 U.S. campaign was much worse than previously thought.
ALLEN: And cyber security experts say it hasn't stopped since the election. Here is a look at some of the headlines from their first day of hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), NORTH CAROLINA: The vice chairman and I realized that if we politicized this process, our efforts will likely fail. The public deserves to hear the truth about possible Russian involvement in our elections.
MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: I will not prejudge the outcome of our investigation. We are seeking to determine if there is an actual fire, but there's clearly a lot of smoke.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Russian meddling in our presidential election most likely is viewed by the Kremlin is an unqualified success.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: This is a coordinated effort across multiple spectrums to sew instability and to pit Americans against one another, politically, social, economically.
CLINT WATTS, SENIOR FELLOW, FOREIGN POLICY RESEARCH INSTITUTE: They were in full swing during both the republican and democratic primary season. It may have sink the hopes of candidates more hostile to Russian interest long before the field narrowed.
Senator Rubio, in my opinion, you anecdotally, suffered from these efforts. The other part that I think we should be looking at is follow the trail of dead Russians. There's been more dead Russians in the past three months that are tied to investigation who have assets in banks all over the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Let's get more reaction now from the Kremlin. Let's head to Moscow with our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance, live. Matthew, first of all, the probe into Russian hacking we just heard that sound bite about the trail of dead Russians.
We also understand, you know, Michael Flynn, this is big news here on this side of the pond seeking immunity for testimony in a major moment in this investigation. How is this news being perceived in Russia?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think at this point and probably at a much earlier point, the Russians are very frustrated about what they regard as a poisonous and toxic atmosphere in the United States, politically, when it comes to the Russia issue.
They categorically denied any suggestion of hacking, any attempts to manipulate the U.S. election and that's the position they're holding to.
In fact, just yesterday, Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, for the first time since the Trump administration came out and gave his denial, as well, calling the allegations that Russia had got involved in manipulating the U.S. election quote, "nonsense and irresponsible." Take a listen.
It's hard for Russians to escape the constant allegations of interference in U.S. politics, questions even following Vladimir Putin, he was at an international arctic summit where the Russian president again tried to lay the matter to rest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You and the Russian government did -- never tried to influence the outcome of U.S. presidential election and there will be no evidence found?
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Reagan once said to the American people, I think it was regarding taxes, read my lips. No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[03:10:01] CHANCE: Actually it was George Bush, Sr. who said that, but the point was made.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This morning the committee will engage in an activity list.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHANCE: But it's a point unlikely to be heard in the U.S. congressional hearings now in the way in Washington to investigate the feverish allegations of Russian collusion.
In the latest twist, Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, an adviser is confirmed to have met the top Kremlin appointed Russian banker. His bank VEB, is under U.S. sanctions. And the banker Sergey Gorkov has close Putin contacts. Putin has now spoken out on that too, saying the meeting as routine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PUTIN (through translator): American bankers come to Russia and talk to us, don't they? Including our officials. I think it's not in the interest of the American people to carry Russian American relations to the point of absurdity just to benefit the domestic political agenda.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And by the way, wouldn't be nice if we actually got along with Russia. Wouldn't that be -- wouldn't that be nice?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHANCE: That political agenda observes the Kremlin has prevented Trump implementing his own campaign promises including to rebuild links with Moscow. Allowing relations between the former Cold War rivals to plunge dangerously.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PUTIN (through translator): Our relationship is almost at the point of zero already, what we want to break off the diplomatic relationship force the situation to the point of the 1960s and the Caribbean crisis. I think it's a big mistake and I hope the situation will normalize, the sooner, the better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHANCE: Amid mounting controversy, though, the icy relations between the U.S. and Russia show few signs of an early thaw.
Well, that means an early thaw. Not that's definitely not on the cards, is it, by the atmosphere as you can judge by the atmosphere politically in Washington. In fact, you know, on some levels, the trust gap between Washington and Moscow is at its widest that certainly I've seen in many years, George.
HOWELL: You see, no thaw in the way things look, but again on this side of the pond it seems that the questions continue where there is smoke the question is there fire, these investigations, obviously, continuing here. Matthew Chance, live for us in Moscow. Thank you for the reporting.
ALLEN: The White House says it has uncovered classified information about surveillance during the 2016 election. Spokesman Sean Spicer says national security council staffers found the document.
And the White House is inviting the head of the intelligence committee to see the information. Democrats say they suspect this is the same information Nunes got from unnamed sources last week and they say it looks like the White House is trying to launder the material through the House committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: I did express, in my reply to White House counsel, though, my profound concern with the way these materials are being made available to the committee. On the same day that the New York Times broke a story saying that the source of the materials that were provided to our chairman was, in fact, national Security Council's staff.
I was informed in a letter from White House counsel, that White House -- excuse me, national security council staff found these materials in the ordinary course of business. Now, that timing concerns me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: A lot of development happening. The White House though, refusing to comment on that New York Times report.
HOWELL: Still ahead here on newsroom, Israeli officials prove a new settlement in the West Bank. We have a live from Jerusalem ahead. ALLEN: Plus, Arwa Damon reports on the battle to take the Iraqi city
of Mosul from ISIS and its growing human toll.
[03:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KATE RILEY, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: I'm Kate Riley with your CNN World Sports headlines.
On Thursday, FIFA announced the continental allocation of slots for the 2026 World Cup under proposed new 48-team FIFA World Cup. The new scheme would see all football confederations gaining increase placements, also proposed is a six-nation playoff tournament to decide the last two slots in the 2026 World Cup. Both of the proposals will be voted on by the FIFA council on May ninth.
Staying with FIFA and the governing is also aid from proceedings against Wales full-back Neil Taylor following his leg breaking tackle of the Irish defender Seamus Coleman during Friday's World Cup qualified. Coleman's injury required surgery on a broken tibia and fibula.
Taylor received a red card for the tackle and the automatic world match ban but also faces the prospects of having that ban extended giving these new proceedings by FIFA.
And Emmanuel Santos has come to the defense of the his Ronald sculpture a day after it was unveiled at an airport renaming for the Real Madrid super star in Madeira, Portugal. The unveiling that many are questioning the sculptures resemblance to the footballer.
And speaking to the Portuguese web site Glover Sports the art is referred to his sculpture as a matter of taste going on to say that even Jesus did not please everyone.
And that's a look at your World Sports headlines. I'm Kate Riley.
HOWELL: On Thursday, Israeli officials approved a new settlement in the West Bank. States first on Palestinian territory in more than two decades.
ALLEN: It's set to be built north of Ramallah for settlers evicted from this West Bank outpost. The outpost was destroyed in February after Israel Supreme Court ruled it illegal.
CNN's Oren Liebermann is tracking this story for us and he joins us now live from Jerusalem. And I'm sure there's reaction to this move by Israel, Oren.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There certainly is. This came at a late night security cabinet meeting last night here. And there was almost immediate reaction, not only from the international community from of course the Palestinians who condemned this.
It was PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi who said today's announcement, once again, proves that Israel is more committed to appeasing its illegal settler population than to abiding by the requirements for stability and adjust peace.
That was followed by a statement from the U.S. secretary general who also condemned this as a disappointment and an alarm. He said, "The secretary general has consistently stressed that there is no plan b for Israelis and Palestinians to live together in peace and security. He condemns all unilateral actions, that like the president one threaten peace and undermine the two-state solution."
So there's no surprise there, condemnation coming from the international community. Because this isn't just an announcement of new settlement construction. This is an announcement of an an entirelt new Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
But first, as you pointed out some two decades. And that's why this is such a big deal, especially as the White House and President Donald Trump tries to push forward with the new peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, Natalie.
ALLEN: And do we know if the Trump administration had anything to say about this when they heard Israel is going to do it?
LIEVERMANN: There has been a bit of reaction it certainly wouldn't surprise me if this was coordinated to some extent between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump.
The White House, and this comes from an unnamed official who refused to be named because of the sensitivity of the peace process, said that the promise to build the new settlement predates Donald Trump's presidency, it was made in late December, such that it was already in the queue, and I use quotes there, that was the statement coming from the White House is that it was already in the queue, but it doesn't change the White House's position that continued settlement expansion and settlement activity is an obstruction to peace.
[03:20:04] So. it seems the White House is slightly condemning. It's certainly not to the level of condemnation that we've seen from the international community. But also gave, basically giving it a pass saying it was already there before President Trump, so we'll let this one slide.
We'll see how this proceeds. Now it is worth pointing out that the coalition chair whom we spoke just a short time ago, says an agreement between Trump and Netanyahu on what settlement construction is acceptable to the White House it may come as early as next week, that's after some marathon meetings between the two administrations over the last few weeks.
ALLEN: All right. Thank you. Oren Liebermann for us on that. Thanks, Oren.
HOWELL: As U.S. backed coalition forces fight to retake the city of Mosul, Iraq from ISIS all too often, innocent civilians are getting caught up in the cross fire.
ALLEN: Yes. It's more threatened to leave the city and its people broken and beyond hope. Our Arwa Damon has that report.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The bodies are rolled down the streets passed the rubble of homes where children use to run and laugh. In a five-daytime frame hundreds of civilians were killed in western Mosul. And we went to a hospital in Irbil to look for some of the survivors.
Aliyah (ph) was cradling her granddaughter, Hauras (Ph), who was just four-and-a-half years old.
It was March 17th, which is the main day under investigation by both the U.S. and Iraqi governments. Hauras (Ph) father, Ala, drew their streets for us showing us where the ISIS fighters were on the corner. There were multiple explosions.
Hauras (Ph) was in a home down the road with her mother and two relatives. They were breaking bread when the air strike started. Hauras (Ph) father ran towards the house.
His daughters little body was black. It was barely recognizable at all. "After Ala (Ph) pulled her out of the rubble, he begged the ISIS fighters to be allowed to leave just for the sake of saving his little girl.
On a different day, Muhammad stuck his head out the front door when an air strike came in to take out a suicide car bomb. Now he has a shrapnel lodge in his head. He can't talk. He's lost his memory.
Down the hall in another ward, we found a bunch of children. Fatmah (Ph), she's just 16. She lived in an apartment block and was on the second floor.
Her back is broken. She probably won't ever walk again, but no one has the heart to tell her. And she still has dreams of being a doctor. She's here with her sister whose son was also injured.
Much of western Mosul has been physically destroyed. People are dying every day, coalition air strikes, mortar, sniper shots, ISIS explosions, deaths that don't make headlines. It's population is emotional shattered and they're haunted by the ghosts of those who are gone.
Hauras (Ph) doesn't know her mother is dead. She still has shrapnel in her eyes. She may never see again. "Don't say you're sorry," her father told us. "Sorry doesn't help. It's not going to bring her mother back."
Arwa Damon, CNN, Irbil, Iraq.
ALLEN: Really unbelievable what people have gone through there. If you would like to help those devastated by the battle for Mosul, visit our special Impact Your World web site cnn.com/impact.
[03:25:03] HOWELL: You'll find links there to groups that are working to help the people, even many of the people you just saw there struggling to survive. Again the web site is cnn.com/impact.
ALLEN: Ahead here on CNN Newsroom, a major shakeup of power in Venezuela, the country's supreme court have taken over the legislative powers of the opposition for controlled national assembly. The court says the Congress is in contempt, but the laws of the country and wants to preserve the rule of law.
HOWELL: But the opposition calls the move a coup, and the government of President Nicolas Maduro, quote, "a dictatorship." Here's the president of the National Assembly you have to see.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIO BORGES, PRESIDENT, VENEZUELA NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (through translator): These are court decisions against the Venezuelan people, they are not decisions against the assembly. They are decisions against the people who voted for change in their country and the Supreme Court believes they can step over the Venezuelan people. I want to say what this ruling means to us.
This is simply trash.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: That move by the court comes as Venezuela faces a deep humanitarian and economic crisis.
HOWELL: Shortages of basic food products, medicine, its commonplace and inflation is expected to rise more than 1,000 percent this year alone.
A corruption scandal is not over for the disgraced former leader of South Korea, even though she's given up presidency. Coming up, we'll have a live report from Seoul.
ALLEN: Plus, the major shakeup in South Africa's government. We'll have a live report from Johannesburg. Stay with us. You're watching CNN Newsroom.
[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers around the world. You're watching CNN Newsroom. It is good to have you with us. I'm George Howell.
ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Let's update you on our top stories this hour.
Former U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn says he will talk with investigators looking into the Trump campaign possible ties to Russia, but in exchange, he wants immunity from prosecution. Flynn resigned last month after misleading the White House about his contacts with Russian officials.
HOWELL: Israeli officials have approved the new settlement in the West Bank, the state's first on Palestinian territory in more than 20 years, that will be built north of Ramallah and is intended for settlers from an outpost that Israel destroyed. Israel Supreme Court had ruled that outpost illegal.
ALLEN: Police have arrested former President of South Korea Park Geun-hye. She's accused of leaking state secrets, abusing her position, and bribery. A judge says the court feared the former leader could destroy evidence. Park was impeached after months of widespread protest over corruption scandal.
HOWELL: Let's head to Seoul South Korea. Following this investigation our Paula Hancocks is live with us this hour. Paula, good to have you. So just explain to our viewers around the world, how much trouble the former president is in at this point?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, Park Geun-hye is currently in detention. She's in a detention center just outside of Seoul. So she is being held ahead of prosecutors formerly charging her.
Now we know that the prosecutors have up to 20 days in order to indict her. We've already spoken today's prosecutors who said they will absolutely indict her. That the charges they're been touting are abuse of power, bribery, leaking classified documents. And certainly the bribery accusation and that charge with the kind of tens of millions of dollars that prosecutors are alleging was involved in these alleged crimes.
That would mean that that could be a minimum sentence of 10 years if found guilty. So certainly the accusations against the former South Korean president are serious.
The president -- the former president and her lawyer have already said that they have not done anything wrong, Park has denied wrongdoing. The lawyers saying that he believe that this is politically motivated, George.
HOWELL: You remember before the impeachment and many protests that took place there in Seoul, divided crowds, in fact, big crowds who supported the president and big crowds who opposed her, so given her situation right now, where she sits, does she still have that support?
HANCOCKS: We certainly still saw some pro-Park supporters outside her house on Thursday as she was going up to the prosecutor's office and was going to be questioned by the judge. We saw them, also, outside the detention center that was about 5 o'clock in the morning outside of Seoul.
Obviously the numbers were small. But there is that contingent who still believes that Park Geun-hye should be reinstated. They believe this was politically motivated. But it's definitely a smaller number of people that are pro-Park than are anti-Park.
We saw hundreds of thousands of people on the street almost every single Saturday since October when this corruption scandal broke. They have been calling for impeachment and for imprisonment and for an end to corruption. For those people, this is exactly what they wanted to see. George?
HOWELL: Paula Hancocks, live for us in Seoul, South Korea. Paula, thank you for the report.
ALLEN: A major political shakeup is rocking South Africa. President Jacob Zuma has fired his finance minister and reshuffled his cabinet. The purge follows days of speculation and opposition parties have vowed a response.
CNN's David McKenzie is tracking this story from Johannesburg. He joins us now live with the latest. And David, Mr. Zuma was asked not to do this, but he did it anyway. Why?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. It was a midnight statement, not exactly the sign of someone confident of their choices, but he pushed through any ways, Natalie. And this isn't just a typical shuffle.
This is a pivotal moment in South African politics, he fired the respected finance minister, Pravin Gordhan despite him being asked by opposition leaders, business leaders, and even members of his own party just in the last few days to hold back, to not do this, and yet he went ahead anyway.
So the question is why did President Jacob Zuma, a man who has corruption charges hanging over him make this move. Well, the assumption by many is that he's trying to get his hands on the treasury.
The keys to the finances of South Africa. And we've already seen the rand tumbles, South African's currency. We're going to watch the markets closely in South Africa today. And it does seem that we're heading into a very difficult period and unchartered period in South African politics.
[03:35:03] ALLEN: Yes. Like, I was wondering what will be the long- term implications for South Africa just, you know, not beyond the markets.
MCKENZIE: Well, beyond the markets, one other economic implications might be that the ratings agency that have been holding guillotine of South Africa could finally do that ratings downgrade which could punish the economy. But there's more important issue at play here. It's the long-term politics of South Africa, how this might punish ordinary people both in terms of the economy and the chaos that might bring in the parliament of South Africa.
Opposition parties already calling for a vote of no confidence in President Zuma, they say this is proof that he is embolden to outside actors who are trying to corrupt him and that he is put in loyal subjects when there had very competent finance minister at the helm.
They say it's an owned goal in their country that it is over 50 percent unemployment and struggling economy. This might be the last straw for the opponents of President Zuma but it's being shown to be very wide and political character in the past and has managed to avoid any real consequences to his actions thus far. Natalie?
ALLEN: Well, we'll wait and see how this turns out. Another day for you there, thank you, David McKenzie for us in Johannesburg.
And coming up here, America's top diplomat heads to Belgium. What Rex Tillerson is expected to tell his NATO counterpart? That's ahead here with the live report.
HOWELL: Plus, CNN is live from Malta to find out how the E.U. plans to negotiate Britain's withdrawal from the block. Stay with us.
HOWELL: Welcome back. NATO's top diplomats are set to gather in Belgium shortly, including the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. His Brussels trip follows meetings with officials in Turkey on Thursday.
[03:39:59] ALLEN: He discussed that the fight against ISIS there have indicated removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was not a top U.S. priority.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: I think the status and the longer term -- longer-term status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Rex Tillerson there. Our international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is in Brussels for this NATO meeting. And he joins us now live for the latest. And certainly, Tillerson is coming with a message to NATO countries to fulfill their obligations that's been on defense. Who are the offenders not doing that?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. Well, there's only five of the 28 nation -- NATO nations that are the United States pays the most 3.61 percent of its GDP on defense spending. The NATO target limit is that 2 percent of GDP, Britain, Estonia, Greece, Poland also, you know, meet that commitment. But many of the others don't and the message will be to them that they need to step up to the plate.
France is just below that threshold, but a close presidential election is coming up there. Belgium, where is that's hosting the home of NATO, if you will, is right on the bottom of the list, almost.
So this is a message that many around the table are going to hear. But just to also, to look back to that point that Secretary Tillerson was making there in Turkey, we just heard from the French minister arriving here, and he said he's very keen to hear from Tillerson more about the United States position on Syria.
I think it's new to everyone this new position that's coming from the United States the sort of default old position reiterated more firmly that the departure of President Assad is less a priority for the United States.
So the French is very keen to get more on that. They want the peace talks in Geneva to succeed. The sub text there is they want the United States more engaged than it is in that process. So the French also got something on their agenda for Secretary Tillerson for the Secretary Tillerson when he arrives, Natalie.
ALLEN: Right. And Tillerson also has terrorism on the agenda, what is your position on that issue?
ROBERTSON: Well, one of the things that he wants and President Trump wants to see NATO do is more to tackle terrorism. And if you look at the statement that came out of the NATO summit in Whales of 2014, there were over 100 points on the final conclusion, terrorism came in number 79, really, Secretary Tillerson is going to look to see that move of the agenda.
But he is also going to hear from the NATO partners and say, look, you know, NATO has been tackling terrorism for a decade and a half it's been involved in Afghanistan since 2002. One of the primary roles there was to defeat Al Qaeda and continue to tackle the terrorism and as recently as last year, NATO was taking decisions to put vessels in the GNC, in the Mediterranean Sea to tackle the refugees that are leaving Syria, and amongst those there is a concern also about terrorists.
So the message is going to be that something that NATO is on, move it up authorities yet. But it's something that they're working on already, Natalie.
ALLEN: All right. Nic Robertson for us there, covering the meeting. Thank you, Nic.
The European Union is laying out how it plans to negotiate Britain's withdrawal from the E.U.
HOWELL: Earlier this week, Britain officially triggered the two-year withdrawal process to leave the E.U.
Erin McLaughlin is following the story live in Malta where Donald Tusk is outlining the E.U.'s next move. And Erin, again, we're talking about a two-year process with some pretty intense negotiations.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, George. And today, the E.U. is releasing its so-called draft guidelines, essentially, it's negotiating position ahead of Brexit. Negotiating position that still needs approval from all 27 remaining E.U. member states that will be the focus of E.U. counsel.
President Tusk press conference later tonight. Now they're not making the draft guidelines public, however, we have just managed to get our hands on a leaked copy of the draft. We're still going through it. Some 26, 27 appoints.
Let me walk you through just some initial points that we've been able to pull from this draft so far. According to this document saying that the union's overall objective in these negotiations will be to, quote, "preserve its interest," those of its member states, its citizens and businesses and also points to significant uncertainties throughout the Brexit negotiations, as well as the potential for disruption in the U.K.
It says, in particular, but also in the member states. It stays that the union will act as one and try to be constructed throughout. It says that the union will strive to find an agreement and work to achieve that outcome.
[03:45:03] But also, it says prepare itselves to be able to handle the situation, also, its negotiations were to fail.
Now, again, still working our way through this document. We'll bring you more points as we see them. Those are so far some of the initial points that we were able to pick out. And again, this is a draft guideline, it still needs to be approved by all 27 E.U. members at a summit that is scheduled for the end of April.
HOWELL: Erin giving us a look there at this draft document. Erin, and here the question, though, so this is the first time that the E.U. has, and any nation, has gone through this triggering article 15.
These are negotiations, there's always a chance that negotiations would fail, again, you know, that the goal here is for the United Kingdom to come out of this with a deal that's not quite as favorable as being a member of the E.U. So, if these negotiations fail, how are they preparing for that?
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I mean, that is the key question. But, again, in this document, specifically citing, the possibility of failure that the E.U. -- is preparing for that possible eventuality.
But I've been also speaking to E.U. officials behind the scenes. And they say that, they tell me that they're also preparing for the best case scenario, in which these negotiations go smoothly and in which the U.K. and the E.U. agree on Brexit. The budgetary contributions, the rights of the E.U. citizens, and the situation in Northern Ireland.
And what these E.U. officials are telling me is if those negotiations go smoothly, then they can have an agreement as soon as the end of the August, early fall. And if they agree to specific principles, then the technicalities could be handled alongside sort of a framework talk of the future relationship.
And we know that the U.K. wants to negotiate the future relationship in parallel to the Brexit, George.
HOWELL: Erin McLaughlin, live for us following this situation there. Erin, thank you. We'll stay in touch.
ALLEN: Almost three years on, the Sewol Ferry has been raise from the bottom of the ocean and has been brought to port in South Korea. The ship sank in April 2014 killing 304 people, mostly high school students. Nine of those bodies were never recovered. But now that investigators can get inside the ship, they may finally
find them. Grieving families have been looking on hoping for closure after all this time. But for some it was too much to take. One woman had to be carried away from the scene.
HOWELL: A daredevil journey in the harshest arctic conditions all in the name of education.
ALLEN: We'll talk with the U.S. professor who braved the cold in Iceland to shed light on climate change, that's coming next.
[03:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ALLEN: A team of researchers from the University of Minnesota recently pulled off a daring trick across the Arctic wilderness of Iceland. They set off from a small city near the northern coast of the country and traveled south between two massive glaciers.
Here they go. This expedition s part of a larger series called changing earth. It's meant to study the environmental, social, and cultural changes across the planet.
Aaron Doering led the team. He's right there. He joins us now here in our studio.
AARON DOERING, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Great to be here. I feel warmer.
ALLEN: Just back, three weeks ago you were in Iceland.
DOERING: That's right.
ALLEN: It's easier here than there.
DOERING: It is.
ALLEN: Well, talk to us about this, because you set out, as I just said, between two glaciers and you, I think your first track was going up 2,600 feet.
DOERING: That's right. And so, they have the largest snow fall since 1927, over 20 inches. And that was the day we were going to climb this mountain.
DOERING: So we were set back about three days. Where we climbed about 3,000 feet to the top the high lands and we did that to put a face on the climate change, that's all from the Gulf.
ALLEN: Yes. So you're sending it back to students anywhere that can tune in.
DOERING: That's right. ALLEN: You brought your gear with you.
DOERING: Right. So, everything in our sled behind us is what we need to send it off to the entire public. So not only K-12, but also anyone who wants to turn in -- tune in, it's free. So, yes, behind us is the field. The field, the food, everything that we need to survive on the land while we're out there.
ALLEN: And send them back to the rest of the world.
DOERING: That's right, all the technology.
ALLEN: Right. We have some step right here, so let's come back to the studio so we can show people what you deal with. These are the boots.
DOERING: These are the Muk Luks. They're amazing. And one thing about them is they keep your feet warm because they flex, so even at 40 below even you could stay warm in this.
ALLEN: All right.
DOERING: So that's one key.
ALLEN: Of flex. So that was about this--
DOERING: That's right. That's right. And then when it gets really cold--
ALLEN: I love this.
DOERING: -- you have to go to the men's, and so here we go if you want to try that on.
ALLEN: Yes, yes, yes.
DOERING: OK. Just go for that. So that's the other thing that we use to survive on the land while we're out there. That's the worse, you always have the last case scenario as you're going to go with that, absolutely.
ALLEN: That should do the trick, I think.
ALLEN: And then you have summer pants. You're actually setting a (Inaudible).
DOERING: Right. Yes, yes. So, many people asked how it is that we're setting all of this footage out, we're doing it in the tenet night, we're cutting out the video so it gets out to the K-12 audience. And we do it because we have a solar panel on the back of our sled, and that powers the battery which then powers all the technology that we need. And so we're self-sufficient but also we're enduring all of this incredible weather as we're traveling in this region.
ALLEN: And why did you fit -- I know you're going to arctic places and tropical places to bring attention to what's going on in our environment and how we need to adapt. But why Iceland, in particular, what are they dealing with?
DOERING: You know, last week as I travelled in entire Florida and I chose Iceland this year because it's like this perfect model for renewable energy. They were importing all the fossil fuels up to the 70's and then they said, you know, we're going to be self-sufficient.
So, 25 percent comes from hydro power, 75 percent comes from geothermal and they're doing it alone. And they're also capping all of this carbon and putting it back into the ground. So it's a great model for how to deal with climate change.
ALLEN: And it's working because a lot of people say it just can't be done, renewables aren't there yet.
DOERING: That's tight.
ALLEN: But Iceland is proving that different, right?
DOERING: Absolutely. In fact, just it was two days ago they said that 25 cities have now in the United States have said that they're going to do 100 percent renewable energy, and that's exactly what we want to see.
ALLEN: That's wonderful. But you know, we're saying right now, with our new administration they're rolling back some climate initiatives and the United States was seen as hopefully leading some of these worldwide initiatives. Is that having an impact on your work?
DOERING: Yes. As a professor, I think the biggest thing is impacting our research and also impacting climate change and education in the K- 12 schools which I'm focused on. Because we know that if we get them in the school, right, at the fifth grade level, at the eighth grade level, it is going to make a difference in the future.
And so that's the thing that is really impacting what I'm doing and hopefully we can adapt to this and see that we can make a difference in the future.
ALLEN: Well, I hope that works because being able to bring where you are to the students, that must really have an impact on them.
DOERING: It does. You know, the goal is that they don't have to leave their classroom, they can literally tune in from anywhere they're at, from their iPod in the classroom wherever it is, and they're able to experience the world. And that's what we've been doing to this approach that we called adventure learning.
ALLEN: And where are you headed next? DOERING: Next is Peru. And so with this climate change education
initiative, we have four trips to the arctic and four trips to the tropics, there's going to be a compare and contrast as we interview all these elders and how they're trying to adapt to a changing world.
ALLEN: That's very fascinating. And the hash tag, choose number two care, right?
DOERING: That's right. That's how we choose and care.
ALLEN: That's how we find you on Instagram.
DOERING: That's right. We're looking on how people are choosing to care to make a difference in their own neighborhood.
ALLEN: All right. Wonderful. Aaron Doering, thanks so much.
DOERING: Thank you.
ALLEN: And congratulations. Welcome back.
DOERING: It's good to be back here.
ALLEN: It's very warm. Thanks, Aaron.
[03:55:02] Well, to see more pictures and reports from Aaron's expedition, log on to his web site it's at chasingseals.com.
HOWELL: The gloves are cool.
ALLEN: Yes. I like them. We don't need them here.
HOWELL: No, no, no. Never. And I'm here in Atlanta. OK. So now, to the story of a French artist trying to hatch eggs.
CNN's Cyril Vanier explains.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN HOST: At first glance the latest performance hatched by a French artist may not look like much. But Abraham Poincheval he hopes he really lays an egg this time and that would be a good thing.
Poincheval is on display at the contemporary art museum in Paris, where he is mimicking a mother hen. Using his body heat to incubate 10 eggs inside this samarium until they hatch.
"I will, broadly speaking, become a chicken." He recently told reporters. Museum visitors seem to love it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's sitting all this person like, I think it's great.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're going to seat that for days like how are they doing that. You know, you see the commitment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: Poincheval has made a career out of artistic stunts like this. Last month he spent a week he in a body shape slot inside a rock.
In 2014, he spent two weeks inside a bear sculpture. The artist says the best way to understand his subjects is not from a distance, but by entering them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I think that for him and in the end for the visitors it's about having new perspectives on the living world. In the end, maybe the borders between man and animal are more pores than we imagine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: Poincheval will be able to leave his enclosure for up to 30 minutes a day, although he even doesn't have to get up to relieve himself, his artistic game of chicken is expected to take 21 to 26 days, that is, if he doesn't crack first.
Cyril Vanier, CNN.
HOWELL: I don't know what to say.
ALLEN: We'll get back to you on that one with the eggs hatched, I guess.
HOWELL: What an excellent experiment.
ALLEN: Sure. Thanks for watching, after a quick break, more news with Isa Soares in London.
HOWELL: Have a good evening.
[04:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)