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Trump Tariffs Spark Retaliation Plans; Week of Chaos within Trump's Inner Circle; Populist Italy Five Star Movement Has Lead ahead of Vote; The Voice behind Merkel's Future; Late Winter Bomb Cyclone Hits Northeastern U.S.; Deadly Cold Snap Grips Europe; U.S. Embassy in Havana; Transforming Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired March 3, 2018 - 04:00   ET




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Tariff retaliation: the European Union prepares to respond with taxes on American Harleys, on bourbon and blue jeans.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A monster storm brings punishing winds and rising waters in the Northeast U.S. We look at what's still ahead in the coming hours.

HOWELL (voice-over): Plus he is one to watch for at the Oscars on Sunday. We take you behind the scenes with Gary Oldman's transformation into Winston Churchill. What a transformation.

ALLEN (voice-over): These stories ahead here. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL (voice-over): And I'm George Howell from CNN World Headquarters. NEWSROOM starts right now.


HOWELL: 4:00 am here on the U.S. East Coast.

And if the United States imposes tariffs on steel, on aluminum imports, as President Trump has promised, countries around the world are threatening to retaliate.

ALLEN: The E.U. is already preparing a list of American products to target like motorcycles, whiskey, blue jeans. The International Monetary Fund says the most important restrictions announced by the U.S. president are likely to cause damage not only outside the U.S. but also to the U.S. economy itself, including to its manufacturing and construction sectors, which are major users of aluminum and steel.

HOWELL: And Japan also defending its exports to the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We hope to find the opportunity to tell the United States that steel and aluminum imports from Japan, which is an allied nation, pose absolutely no threat to its national security.


HOWELL: And from Germany, leadership there saying the move endangers thousands of jobs in Europe and warns it will respond decisively.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The European Commission is already prepared with counter measures for specific products. It appears that the U.S. side does not understand any other language.


ALLEN: So how would these tariffs work?

And what would they mean for workers in the U.S. and around the world?

HOWELL: Tom Foreman breaks it down for us.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Take a look at the numbers here. The United States imports about a third of all the raw steel it uses and more than 90 percent of all the aluminum it uses. And these proposed tariffs would push up the cost of that 25 percent and 10 percent respectively.

That's money that would have to be paid by the foreign companies that wanted to get their products onto U.S. soil. So yes, if it became more expensive for them, it could help U.S. producers of steel and aluminum by making them more competitive, especially since they have complained for years about unfair practices overseas anyway.

But what about all the companies that rely on that raw material to make cars and airplanes and equipment and aluminum cans and appliances?

What about those companies?

Because now they would face a different supply chain where there may be shortages, there may be higher prices. And that could affect an awful lot of people in other fields. One estimate has it that more than 80 times as many people work making stuff out of that raw material than in producing the raw material.

Those people would now potentially face uncertain wages, uncertain hours, maybe more offshoring, not to mention what would happen with consumers out there. One estimate says some products in some places could go up by 15 percent.

I don't think we really know that but we do know that there's uncertainty about the consumer market and what the impact would be.

Here is another question, though.

Does this actually get at the trade practices of other countries?

Does it strike a blow for that?

It depends on who you are talking about and how this would actually be applied because we don't have the details yet. This is where the United States gets its foreign steel, from Canada, the biggest supplier, then Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Russia and so forth.

You know who is not on the top 10 though?

China, the country that the United States, the president has said so many years is not being a fair trading partner out there. This is the one that President Trump has said he wants to get at.

Would this get at them?

It might but the numbers suggest only after it had an impact on a lot of long-standing trade allies and possibly unleashed a trade war with very uncertain outcomes.


ALLEN: Let's get more reaction from around the world. Matt Rivers is live in Beijing. John Defterios is in London.

Thanks for joining us, guys.

Matt, first to you, we heard Tom Foreman say, would it get at them as far as these tariffs with China. Beijing does not seem overly concerned that it will be hurt by this move.

What more are you hearing?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are not overly concerned. Let me tell you why. Let me read you the top five import categories from China to the U.S. --


RIVERS: -- electrical machinery, furniture and bedding, toys and sports equipment and footwear. Steel is not in the top five and neither is aluminum. So what you're looking at there is a Chinese economy that is not reliant on either of those two products in terms of getting dollars from their export to the United States.

So the Chinese government in their response has had a relatively measured response, in part, because these two products really don't have that big of an impact on the economy here. They are certainly not for this move. They came out right after the proposed tariffs that the president announced and said that it would be counterproductive to global trade and that it would hurt an already slow global recovery. But what we haven't seen so far is tangible action taken by the Chinese government in order to retaliate like you are seeing potentially in the European Union.

ALLEN: Let's hear from John.

As Matt just said, a measured response from China; but, certainly, John, not a measured response from Europe, which is talking retaliation.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Very swiftly, in fact, speaking of retaliation, Natalie. The first wave of criticism came from the major countries impacted in the trade bloc. So then the second wave from the global institutions.

Let's cover the countries of Europe and the big trade bloc itself, better than 0.5 billion consumers. That is the European Union. Jean- Claude Juncker is the president of the European Commission. But he's been around circles in Europe for the last 20 years.

He suggested that Europe will not be sitting on the sidelines. I have never seen in fact such a quick response. And he singled out very American products that you talked about before but it's worth bringing back up again: Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Bourbon whiskey, American blue jeans. These are things that are in demand in Europe right now.

The European trade commissioner suggested, Ms. Malstrom (ph), that the domino effect is there, suggesting if the U.S. is going put on tariffs, then expect the European Union and other countries like Canada to respond as well.

I have to say, Natalie, I covered the creation of the World Trade Organization going back 23 years ago. I have never heard such bellicose language and such a quick response. Nobody uses the term "trade war" very lightly at all.

And if something does not square within the Trump White House itself, President Trump likes to judge himself on the performance of the financial markets. You saw the response as soon as it was announced, Wall Street sold off by better than 2 percent and then another day of selling on Friday. That's something that obviously President Trump is not going to like.

This does play to his base. But, overall, financial markets around the world get very concerned when you have the largest economy in the world talking about trade wars and then you have multiple countries led by the European Union and the European Union trade bloc respond very swiftly with a list of counter measures already.

ALLEN: They sure have. So Mr. Trump's move is rattling U.S. trade partners.

But, Matt, back to you for a moment, where does this put U.S.-China relations?

Is there any more damage there? RIVERS: Well, this one individual move I think won't change the relationship that much. I think the Chinese government has been expecting something to come out of the Trump White House. If you remember what the president said on the campaign trail, I think they probably this kind of move a long time ago.

I think though you have to take this move perhaps as a signal toward more harder line policy from Washington toward Beijing. That is something that could absolutely have a long-term effect on the bilateral relationship, if the Trump administration goes further than this, if they put more tariffs on Chinese products, on the kinds of products that frankly this economy relies on, then, absolutely, that will have an extremely negative effect on the U.S.-China relationship, Natalie. We're just not there yet.

ALLEN: Yes, interesting that you point out that China exports more toys and footwear to the U.S. than steel and aluminum, Matt.

But, John, one more from you, you mentioned global institutions are speaking out.

Which ones and what are they saying?

DEFTERIOS: Well, I think they are concerned about the unpredictability, Natalie. That's what we're talking about here. The global institutions are those created after World War II, that governed trade and finance. The two top ones that responded quickly, the World Trade Organization itself.

This has been a whipping boy for Donald Trump ever since he came into office. In fact, even when he was campaigning for the White House.

Roberto Assabeto (ph) is the director general. He said, look, this is not a path that anybody should be following. President Trump has criticized the WTO for not responding quickly enough.

He said from beginning to end on any trade dispute, it takes 18 months. It's the fastest institution anywhere.

International Monetary Fund managing director, Christine Lagarde, she said we don't want to have any sort of tensions regarding trade at this juncture and nobody benefits on either side from trade measures. That was her very blunt point.

One thing I wanted to mention here, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, right before he got started, before Donald Trump got there --


DEFTERIOS: -- he slapped tariffs on Chinese washing machines and solar panels. Inch by inch, he is trying to play to his base in America. This does not play to his trade partners in the future and I don't think it will benefit the U.S. economy as he is suggesting -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Exactly. Many saying that base could be hurt. It could hurt U.S. jobs.

We thank you both for your reporting, very interesting stuff, Matt Rivers, John Defterios, thanks a lot.

HOWELL: So trade disputes, that is what we look ahead to see how this plays out. But the week behind us has been a tumultuous week at the White House to say the very least.

ALLEN: Chief of staff John Kelly says the administration's handling of classified material was not up to the standards he expected. This on the same day he again defended his own handling of the firing of his former top aide, Rob Porter.

Kelly's defense included a new version of the timeline on what he knew of Porter's domestic abuse allegations and when. This comes also as "The New York Times" reports another bombshell.

HOWELL: That's right, Natalie. That headline: the president asked Kelly to help remove his daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, from their White House posts. Mr. Trump is said to be upset that Kushner's security clearance was downgraded while officials from four nations discussed how to manipulate him.

The president also, reportedly, unimpressed by his daughter's trip to South Korea.

ALLEN: Boris Sanchez now reports on the turmoil in the White House.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Just one of these controversies would be plenty for any president to deal with. But all of them compounded and unfolding in a short period of time gives you an idea of the amount of turmoil at the White House right now, the amount of pressure that President Donald Trump is under.

Key allies have privately told CNN that they are worried about the president, that they fear that he is losing control. We understand that the president has recently lashed out at some of his staff, including Hope Hicks, the communications director, apparently berated by the president for her testimony before Congress and, shortly thereafter, leaving the White House.

The president is also frustrated with his chief of staff over his handling of the Rob Porter saga and the controversy surrounding security clearances. He attacked his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, yet again this week. There are also questions about key figures within the administration, potentially moving on from the White House.

You have the head of the National Economic Council, Gary Cohen, reportedly threatening to resign over the announcement that the president would levy tariffs against imported steel and aluminum and H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, apparently exploring options beyond the White House.

The president isn't just frustrated and at odds with some of his staff, it's also his own family. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, getting less than a vote of confidence from the president in recent reports over press coverage of Kushner's financial dealings overseas and reports that foreign governments have apparently analyzed those to try to find ways to manipulate the president's son-in-law and senior adviser.

That's why allies are telling us that they are worried that the president is losing control. And we should note that this could potentially get worse soon. The special counsel, Robert Mueller, has given every indication that he intends to interview President Trump, something that the White House counsel says they are still working on negotiating -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, traveling with the president in Palm Beach, Florida.


HOWELL: Boris with the reporting, thank you.

Let's bring in Leslie Vinjamuri now. Leslie is an associate professor of international relations at SOAS at the University of London, live in our London bureau this hour.

Leslie, always a pleasure to have you with us on the show.


HOWELL: Let's start by talking about Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and son-in-law, who reportedly have been seen as the unfireables in the White House, quite frankly. Now their stars seem to be diminishing as both face investigations.

Is the idea of having the president's family in the White House now being seen as a liability?

VINJAMURI: Well, I think for many people, it's always been a very serious problem and one that doesn't feel right. I think many people, for a long time, were surprised but it was actually, that there was no rule against it. People have gotten accustomed to it.

But now we are returning to a level of chaos in the White House that I think is approaching that, which we haven't seen really since the summer, before John Kelly came in.

And a lot of it circles around the question of Kushner's business dealings. He has lost his security clearance. One wonders how he can do his work.

And yet, there's a broader question here about whether or not the president is constrained in his ability to make pragmatic and important decisions for the country, given that he's dealing with members of his own family.

You know, will he turn this decision over to John Kelly?

Remember, this is coming at a time when there's some very serious, important, as so often has been the cause, global, national issues -- [04:15:00]

VINJAMURI: -- on the table, the beginning of perhaps a trade war, unpredictable announcement by the president of tariffs. So the context is one which we so often see, which is the president is faced with internal chaos in the White House at a time when really he needs to have a much more certain focus on politics in America and beyond.

HOWELL: Let's delve deeper on that topic of chaos because, again, we are in a very polarized society. Some people see what's happening, they like it. Others see it, they wonder what the heck is going on.

We have seen so many names leave the White House. Some people repeatedly on the bubble, like General McMaster and the president's attorney general, Jeff Sessions. And actions that surprise people around the president, like his comments on tariffs.

Do you see this as a White House in chaos?

Or is this more predictably the promise of this president to be unpredictable?

VINJAMURI: Well, I don't think that -- it would be very hard -- it's very hard to imagine that anybody actually likes the fact that the White House doesn't seem to be running well.

They might like particular individuals. They might be more favorable. There's certainly a certain number of Americans have been waiting for tariffs and have followed Donald Trump with this particular line, that it's important to have tariffs against steel and aluminum.

But to suggest that anybody is fond of chaos in the White House I think is probably not accurate. But, it's also not unpredictability. There's unpredictability but it doesn't look like anything that's coming out of a strategic rationale.

Unpredictability could be very advantageous for certain instances, if there's a strategy behind it that's intended to make others wonder about what the next move will be.

But when it's just simply a product of bad management, of questionable ethics and policies that, remember, the role about the tariffs, nobody at the White House seemed to been very aware that this was going to happen. Certainly nobody in the State Department, commerce across the agencies and the rest of the world had received no prior communication.

So this doesn't seem to be unpredictability, it just seems to be the president acting in part on impulse and whim, which we have seen, unfortunately, so often for the past 14 months.

HOWELL: All right, Leslie. I want to switch to the other topic, the topic of gun control.

Is there any indication, in your view, which way the president will move on this, as he has said certain things to certain people publicly about taking action, then seeming to have a different point of view in private with the NRA.

How do you see this topic playing out in the weeks ahead?

VINJAMURI: Well, this one is very interesting. And let's go back to something that is very different. Remember the president's response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, when one would have never thought this would have been a president who would have looked at those images and then decided to use military force in what was essential a humanitarian crisis.

This is a president who does actually have some sort of response when he sees the violence, the devastation and listens, perhaps, to the teenagers. Nonetheless, despite having said that he might actually be in favor of raising the minimum legal age of purchasing weapons to age 21, something for which there's very broad support in the United States, around 82 percent, and to have a universal background check.

He then of course walks back when he's in a conversation with the NRA and when he looks at the politics in Congress.

Nonetheless, I think that there is something is changing here. BlackRock has come out and said that they are going to start rethinking questions, you know, the world's largest asset manager is going to rethink this question about guns, perhaps offer customers the opportunity to invest in stocks that remove gun manufacturers from their portfolios.

So I think there's a tidal wave. There's something changing; the student activism has been tremendously powerful, gotten a lot of attention.

And I think that this president does have a response to that. And yet he looks at Congress and he looks at the NRA and he knows he is facing a difficult set of politics. But I think it's very hard to predict and anticipate where the president will come out on this.

And I think we actually might see some movement, notwithstanding entrenched politics that might guard against it.

HOWELL: That move with BlackRock, certainly seismic. We have seen Walmart, Delta Airlines here in Atlanta also taking decisive moves.

The question now, what is the move for the President of the United States?

We'll have to wait to see. Leslie, thank you for your time today. We'll stay in touch with you.

VINJAMURI: Thank you.

ALLEN: Italy may be at a crossroads with its election this weekend. Coming up here, it's the migrant issue at the center.

HOWELL: Plus, if Germany's Angela Merkel loses her bid to form another grand coalition, many people will --


HOWELL: -- say it was because of this person.





ALLEN: Campaigning has ended in Italy ahead of Sunday's general election. The field is deeply fractured and anti-migrant rhetoric has heated up on the far right.

HOWELL: The disgraced former prime minister of that nation, Silvio Berlusconi, has made a comeback of sorts. He's barred from running for office but he could come out as a power broker on this, if his center right coalition comes out ahead.

The populist Five Star Movement topped the most recent polls with 28 percent.

And in Germany, that nation's chancellor, Angela Merkel, is known as both a savvy politician and a political survivor but now she has a very determined, very effective and relatively young nemesis.

ALLEN: As our Atika Shubert reports, this new political figure could pull the rug right out from under her.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kevin Kuhnert is a T-shirt wearing 28-year-old who's managed to turn the normally staid world if German politics upside down with just three syllables, NoGroKo, short for New Grand Coalition.

He tells CNN, "We cannot continue like this.


SHUBERT (voice-over): "The cozy politics represented by Angela Merkel which does not decide anything. This is now slowly ending," he said.

Kuhnert, who was elected as the Social Democrats' youth leader just three months ago is on a mission to get his party to reject Angela Merkel's proposed coalition government. And that is why he's campaigning at this youth center, offering coffee and cake to the mostly elderly audience members. Many are here simply curious to see him.

Peter Vitzelen (ph), SPD member for 52 years, stood up to ask a question.

He said, "I'm skeptical but I'm impressed with you, Kevin.

"My worry is what happens if we really say no?

"Will this mean new elections?

"Or does it mean for our country and Europe?" He asked.

Angela Merkel has led Germany to prosperity for the last 12 years, eight of them in a so-called grand coalition between her conservatives, the CDU Christian Democrats and the central left SPD, Social Democrats.

The September 2017 election was supposed to be an easy victory, cruising Merkel into a fourth term in office. But voters revolted against the status quo. Both the CDU and the SPD barely maintained their leads as top parties, suffering record losses to the far right nationalist party alternative for Germany or AFD, which took nearly 13 percent of the vote.

That's pushed Kuhnert to demand that any coalition government with Merkel must be approved by the rank and file of the party. And now, more than 400,000 are casting ballots in a postal vote. Results will be announced on Sunday.

Yes, would mean Merkel can get back to running the country with her coalition government in place. No, would mean Merkel must take her chances with a minority government or face new elections.

"The differences between the political parties has systemically become blurred," he told CNN.

"That will only end up strengthen political parties like the right wing populists. I think a new grand coalition is playing right into that and this is more dangerous for democracy than possible new elections," he said.

Twenty-five thousand new members have joined the SPD since Kuhnert started his campaign, including Hasam Jozivayat (ph), who's worried about the rise of the far right. He came to see Kuhnert in person.

"He's quite impressive and authentic, although he's young, he's very talented," he said. "I've voted against the GroKo. I think this will just cause more problems for us in the end."

Kuhnert does all this in his spare time, as he holds down his day job as a lawmaker's assistant.

Do you have any ambition to be a chancellor one day?

"No, not the chancellery, please," he answers. "I like my free time too much," he jokes.

But considering what he's accomplished in his free time, so far, Germany's political elders maybe wondering what he will do next -- Atika Shubert, CNN, Hamburg, Germany.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: The northeastern U.S. is staring down day two of a punishing storm. Next here, we take a look at the damage that's been done and get a forecast of what's still to come.

HOWELL: Plus stranded trains, cars and in airports, people are stranded as ice and snow cause chaos across much of Europe as storm Emma (INAUDIBLE) east from the east.





ALLEN: Welcome back to those of you watching here in the U.S. and around the world, this is CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: I'm George Howell with the headlines we are following.


HOWELL: Emergency crews, emergency workers around the place they are calling as one of the region's most extreme storms in recent memory. They are warning of astronomically high tides as well in the coming days.

ALLEN: And they say those without power should expect to stay that way for quite a while. Here is more from CNN's Polo Sandoval.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Howling winds, soaking rain and wild waves slash this coast as a powerful nor'easter morphs into a bomb cyclone Friday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight is not the night to check out the storm. Please stay safely away from the waves and the water.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Eighty million people in its path and 22 million under a coastal flood warning. Officials are sounding the alarm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you've been asked to evacuate by your city or your town, please do so immediately.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Adding to the danger, a nearly full moon with particularly high tide, meteorologists warning the storm surge could force as much as four feet of water into coastal neighborhoods.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the next high tide hitting while most of us will be in bed, it could make for very dangerous rescue situations if people stuck in their homes.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): The slow-moving storm expected to continue through the weekend with some areas expecting up to five inches of rain. The hurricane force winds gusting up to 70 miles per hour shuttered the federal government in Washington Friday and caused widespread damage throughout the region, as trees and debris came crashing down.

The winds, rain and snow also wreaking havoc on travel, more than 3,000 flights have been canceled and Amtrak has suspended its service between Boston and Washington -- reporting in Boston, I'm Polo Sandoval.


ALLEN: The storm is turning into a nightmare for travelers. Thousands of flights have been canceled and it's not much better on the ground, as you just heard from Polo Sandoval there. Amtrak canceling a dozen trains for Saturday and stopped service between Washington and Boston.

HOWELL: A canceled trip is a hassle, of course, but it may be better than a rough landing. The Aviation Weather Center tweeted --


HOWELL: -- this report from a pilot near Washington on Friday.

"Very bumpy on descent. Pretty much everyone on the plane threw up. Pilots were on the verge of throwing up."

Natalie, you don't want to be on that plane, right?

ALLEN: No, those poor people, apparently they missed the first landing, had to come around. They did land. Every landing is a good landing.

HOWELL: That's good news, yes, but what a rough ride.


HOWELL: Let's talk now about the snowy United Kingdom on Friday. It was a picture of a frozen rush hour that kept going and going and going. Just take a look at this. Hundreds of motorists there, standing still, basically; no traffic moving on the main road southwest of London.

ALLEN: And this is after already spending the night in their cars because of the snow.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many miles have you traveled overnight, do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have done four miles in 15 hours.


HOWELL: Let's go to CNN producer Salma Abdelaziz in London, a snowy Hyde Park behind you.

And just to hear from that driver there, Salma, you really feel for him. Unable to really do anything until the situation improved.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: That's right, George. It has been almost five days of chaos here, not just here in the U.K. but in Europe at large because of these extreme weather conditions.

We've come to Hyde Park just to get a sense of how snowy it's been. This is a very rare occurrence here in London, to see it just this white. Now temperatures are beginning to rise. It's just above 0 degrees Celsius here. But there's still concern about ice on the roads and in particular floods: 15 parts of the U.K. have received flood warnings.

Again, let's remind our viewers, it's about the beast from the east meeting with Storm Emma that's giving us these extreme weather conditions at the turn of spring. And it's not just here in the U.K. but it's Europe in general. We have seen airport closures across the region, Geneva, Ireland --


ABDELAZIZ: -- others reporting complete airport closures as well as cancellations and delays on trains. You heard that passenger there.

But what is most tragic about these conditions, of course, is the loss of life. We know that at least 21 people have died due to weather- related reasons. We know that 15 of them lost their lives in Poland in what the World Health Organization said that it is the most vulnerable who are losing their lives, that is migrants, the homeless, those who don't proper shelter, proper warmth overnight in these freezing hours.

I just want to share one story with you out of Sweden of an asylum seeker, a mother, two children, 8 and 9, they left their home in the asylum, ventured out into the forest. The mother lost her life. Local papers reporting they weren't dressed well enough.

And this is exactly what authorities are worried about, is that these are deadly conditions -- George and Natalie.

HOWELL: That is a very important story to point out. There are a lot of people that certainly are vulnerable to this very cold weather that's sweeping through Europe and the United Kingdom. Salma, thank you for the reporting. We'll stay in touch with you.

ALLEN: More evidence the relationship between Cuba and the U.S. is waning. One example, U.S. visas are now impossible to get in Cuba. We'll have more about that coming up.

HOWELL: Plus the anti-sexual harassment movement, #TimesUp, that will be represented at the Oscars. But not like previous awards shows this season.



HOWELL: Welcome back.

CNN is teaming up with people around the world to fight modern-day slavery with a student-led day of action that's set for March 14th.

Ahead of My Freedom Day, we are asking what freedom means to them. Here is what Salma (ph), an 8th grader from the American Community School in Abu Dhabi, had to say.


SALMA, AMERICAN COMMUNITY SCHOOL: To me, freedom means equality and the right to live your life the way you want it.


HOWELL: That's awesome. Millions have used --


HOWELL: -- social media to share what freedom means to them. You can do the same. Join them. Share your story using the #MyFreedomDay.

ALLEN: The U.S. State Department says its embassy in Havana will remain at minimum staffing, as it has been for the past six months.

HOWELL: Relations between the two countries have been on the decline for the past year and cultural exchanges are at a near standstill. Our Patrick Oppmann has more from Havana.



PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Cuba's (INAUDIBLE) dance company (INAUDIBLE) ballet, the new with the traditional. It plays sold-out shows all over the world.

Until 2017, many of those shows were in the United States. But increasing tensions between the U.S. and Cuba have made it impossibility for Cubans to receive U.S. visas in Cuba.

The company's founder and director doesn't know when they will perform again in the U.S.

"For me, those times have already gone by. We can't go backwards," she says.

"We have to sit down and find a solution because it's the people, not the governments that are paying the price."

Last September, the State Department pulled most of its diplomats from the U.S. embassy in Havana, saying officials had been targeted by mysterious health attacks that left them with hearing loss and concussion-like symptoms.

The Cuban government has denied any role in the alleged attacks and said the U.S. diplomats may be suffering from mass hysteria. On Friday, U.S. officials announced that that American diplomats won't return to Cuba, calling on the Cuban government to solve the mystery of the health attacks and guarantee U.S. officials' safety.

The U.S. consulate was closed after the diplomats' withdrawal. Now the tens of thousands of Cubans that want to travel to the U.S. every year can no longer obtain a U.S. visa on the island.

OPPMANN: I'm outside the Colombian embassy in Havana and many of these Cubans are lining up to get a visa to go to Bogota, to go to the U.S. embassy there to then request a visa to go to the U.S.

OPPMANN (voice-over): These days, most Cubans need a visa to go to a third country before they can try to get a visa to go to the United States. For many like this Cuban dance company, the added cost of seeking a visa from a third country makes travel to the U.S. a distant dream.

"Maybe we will have to wait four or eight more years," she says. "Maybe we won't live to see it. Our children and our grandchildren will live to see it. And all this will be forgotten and then they will say, how stupid, so much time was lost and all the good and beautiful things that they could have done."

The Cold War divided Cuba and the U.S. for the entirety of these dancers' lives. And once again, two countries are drifting farther apart -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.


ALLEN: Oscar nominee Gary Oldman is 59 with a nice head of hair. But you wouldn't know it in his performance in "Darkest Hour." Next, his remarkable transformation into Winston Churchill.






ALLEN: Welcome back.

It looks like The Weinstein Company will not be filing for bankruptcy after all.

HOWELL: Its board and a group of investors are selling off the film's studio assets for $500 million. The buyers will launch a new company with a new board, which will supposedly leave behind any scars from the Harvey Weinstein sex abuse scandal.

ALLEN: The new firm will include a compensation fund of up to $90 million for Weinstein's accusers.

HOWELL: It is unclear, it's fair to say whether or how the Weinstein scandal will come up at the Oscars on Sunday evening. One thing we do know is that organizers of the #TimesUp anti-harassment initiative say they will have a lower profile on the red carpet compared to other awards shows.

ALLEN: As for the host of the Oscars, Jimmy Kimmel, he says he'll address the #MeToo issue during the telecast. His monologues on his own show recently have been highly political.

#TimesUp organizers don't want a big protest to overshadow the main event, the winners. One nominee already reaping honors is actor Gary Oldman, he portrayed Britain's World War II leader, Winston Churchill, in "Darkest Hour."

HOWELL: To say the two men don't resemble each other is an understatement. Nick Glass talks to the makeup artist who also earned an Oscar nod for the uncanny transformation and it is quite remarkable. Take a look.



GARY OLDMAN, ACTOR, "WINSTON CHURCHILL": You cannot reason with a tiger when your head is in its mouth.

NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So how did they do it?

How was Winston Churchill reincarnated so convincingly by Gary Oldman?


GLASS (voice-over): On the face of it, even in the shadows, the actor and politician don't exactly look alike.

KAZUHIRO TSUJI, MAKEUP ARTIST: Gary's face, for example -- like Gary looks like a greyhound. But Churchill is like a bulldog.


GLASS (voice-over): The extraordinary transformation from greyhound to bulldog began here in an artist studio in Los Angeles. Kazuhiro Tsuji is a sculptor of hyperrealist faces. He likes to recreate historical figures, the bigger the better. But once upon a time, he used to work in the movies.

OLDMAN: I needed not only a makeup artist but I needed an artist, I felt, for this. And I remember saying, there's only one man, Kazuhiro Tsuji. And my playing Winston was really contingent on Kazu.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OLDMAN, "WINSTON CHURCHILL": So here's to not buggering it up.


GLASS (voice-over): Kazu, as he's known, created the makeup for Jim Carrey in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and for Brad Pitt in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." But in 2012, he decided to leave the industry.

TSUJI: I love to do special effects makeup but --


TSUJI: -- it was stressing me too much to the level that I felt like I'm shortening my life.

GLASS (voice-over): So Gary Oldman had to coax Kazu back just for this one movie.

TSUJI: I never had opportunity to do a historical character in a film, like a main character, with the makeup. And I felt like, OK, well, this could be once in a lifetime.

GLASS (voice-over): Under the liquid resin, Gary Oldman with a shaven head, this process gave Kazu the mold for a life cast and, from that, he began to design the prosthetics.

TSUJI: This is the neck. It's like a hood piece that goes over his head.

GLASS (voice-over): Kazu did the tests on Oldman himself, everything like real skin, including a prosthetic Adam's apple. In all, he designed six pieces, including cheeks, nose and chin. Kazu left the meticulous daily application to British colleagues, David Malinowski (ph) and Lucy Civic (ph).

The process took them more than three hours every day, for 48 consecutive shooting days. Kazu made a series of wigs from baby hair and angora rabbit fur.

TSUJI: The great thing about Gary is, like, he just disappears. After 10 minutes, I start to forget about the makeup and start to forget about the Gary, because it's just became Churchill. And that's really rare.

GLASS (voice-over): Nick Glass for CNN, with Kazu Tsuji.



ALLEN: That's unreal.

HOWELL: Unbelievable.

ALLEN: What a talented man. We have another hour of news just ahead. Our top stories. Thanks for

watching this hour, I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. The news continues right after the break, stay with us.