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Trump Tariffs Spark Retaliation Plans; Week of Chaos within Trump's Inner Circle; Late Winter Bomb Cyclone Hits Northeastern U.S.; Deadly Cold Snap Grips Europe; U.S. Assessing Putin's Nuclear Threat; Israeli Investigators Question Prime Minister Netanyahu; Populist Italy Five Star Movement Has Lead ahead of Vote; Trump Feuds with "SNL" Impersonator on Twitter. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired March 3, 2018 - 05:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Trade wars: two big exporters of steel and aluminum to the U.S. send warnings to Washington after President Trump says trade wars are good.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Plus a massive winter storm barrels across the northeastern part of the United States, leaving more than a million people without power.

ALLEN (voice-over): Also ahead this hour, Hollywood's biggest night, just one day away. We take a look at how a first-time director's film made it to the Best Picture category at the Oscars.

How about that lead?

HOWELL (voice-over): That's right. At 5:00 am here on the East Coast, we are live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. We welcome viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I am George Howell.

ALLEN (voice-over): I am Natalie Allen. NEWSROOM starts right now.


ALLEN: Our top story, if the U.S. follows through and imposes tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, it may be U.S. consumers who pay the price.

HOWELL: Countries around the world are already planning ways to retaliate, targeting U.S. products like motorcycles and blue jeans, and some economists say it could blow up any thought of a new North America free trade agreement or NAFTA, as it's called.

ALLEN: It all started when President Trump made these surprise announcements. The U.S. would impose 25 percent tariffs on steel imports, 10 percent tariffs on aluminum. That sparked talk of a trade war and also a tweet from the president.

HOWELL: And Mr. Trump said, "Trade wars are good and easy to win."

Canada calls the tariffs unacceptable. The prime minister there says in the long run, the move will hurt the United States.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: The Americans have a significant trade surplus with us on steel, which means we buy steel from them; they buy steel from us. The integrated nature of our supply chains means that there would be significant disruption in Canada, obviously, but also in the United States.

But that's why we are impressing upon the American administration the unacceptable nature of these proposals that are going to hurt them every bit as much as they will hurt us. And we are confident that we're going to continue to be able to defend Canadian industry.


ALLEN: Canada is a big exporter of steel to the U.S. and Mexico sent more $2.5 billion worth of steel to the U.S. last year.

It says if the tariffs begin, it will have no choice but to retaliate.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are a country and the second most important buyer of U.S. steel and we are the first buyer of U.S. aluminum. So in a way, we have a trade deficit with the U.S. of $2 billion. The North American (INAUDIBLE) industry is highly integrated. So anything that would distort that integration will not be good news for North America and definitely will make (INAUDIBLE) industries less efficient in terms of competition.


HOWELL: Fair to say people around the world are talking tariffs and around the world we go. Let's bring in Matt Rivers, live in Beijing, and John Defterios, live in London with us this hour.

John, first to you, as U.S. allies are planning their first move in a trade war in Europe, that plan includes hitting the United States by targeting some classic American brands.

How else is Europe preparing, if the U.S. president formalizes this plan?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: George, first and foremost, I think the heat has been turned up rather quickly. The rhetoric is very high. I would suggest in my three decades of financial journalism, nobody likes to talk about a trade war itself. that is not a term that's used lightly because of the implications and the influence it could have on jobs, first and foremost.

Let's talk about the European Union and discuss Jean-Claude Juncker, who's the president of the European Commission. As you suggested here, he has singled out some very American products that are popular overseas, Harley-Davidson motorcycles, perhaps Bourbon, looking at blue jeans.

But they're drafting up a list of other products as well, including steel products, ironically, the finished steel products, agricultural products, industrial products. So trade goes both ways.

In fact, they are incredible trade partners, the United States and the European Union. And the trade commissioner for the European Union was suggesting that there are broader implications going forward, that retaliation is very possible. It could lead to a domino effect.

This is the same thing that the head of the World Trade Organization, which is almost a whipping boy for Donald Trump, suggested, you cannot expect countries to sit on the sidelines and do nothing.

Donald Trump's number one complaint, George, is that the WTO takes too long to act from beginning to end, it takes about 18 months. But the organization has nearly 200 countries. So it cannot move that fast so the Trump Organization moving aggressively.

Now something doesn't square here, George, and that is the president --


DEFTERIOS: -- likes to see his financial markets go up on Wall Street. Financial markets and investors don't like trade disputes. So this plays to the president's base in terms of workers at aluminum plants or steel plants.

But it does not help those that work in other manufacturing lines as well, where they need those products, lower cost products for car manufacturing, for example. So it is not a simple equation and you see the response from Europe and other countries, including Canada.

HOWELL: We have seen the response of the markets as well. John, stand by for us.

Let's bring in Matt now in China.

Matt, Europe is targeting popular products here in the United States. But in China, what does this all really mean for that economy?

Will this make an impact there or not?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. I think the short answer is not to the kind of level that the Trump administration would probably want it to if they really wanted to hurt the Chinese economy.

Let me just read you the top five Chinese imports to the United States in 2016: electrical machinery, number one; general machinery, number two; furniture and bedding, number three; toys and sports equipment, number four and footwear rounds out the top five. Notice that steel is not in there, aluminum, not in there. So these are two products that if you're really trying to hurt the

Chinese economy, you wouldn't target them. That's probably why we have seen a relatively measured response from the Chinese government so far.

They are not happy about this at all. But they also recognize that this is not an across-the-board tariff on Chinese imports. So it just kind of begs the question.

If the Trump administration wants to hit China, like Donald Trump has said many times before, this is not really the way to do it.

HOWELL: All right, Matt, stand by.

John, let's bring you back in. So I know you heard from many people who see this as a bad idea. Let's look at it from the perspective of those who see it as a good plan. The U.S. Commerce secretary, even the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Bill Richardson, repeatedly backing this idea of sending a message to China.

That seems contrary, though, from what we heard from Matt just a moment ago. Some Republicans and Democrats and unions backing the proposal.

Explain how this could potentially help the United States?

DEFTERIOS: Well, George, let's go to the top line first. There is a subtle approach and there is a sledge hammer. I would call this a sledge hammer, by putting tariffs of 10 percent to 25 percent. That's not small on aluminum and steel products, first and foremost.

I think we can address your question with an answer to Wilbur Ross, who came from Wall Street originally. But he was an investor in steel mills in the United States. So he knows how to restructure the steel industry and refine products. He's done it himself.

But the challenge is, George, they signed onto the World Trade Organization nearly 25 years ago. This train has left the station. The U.S. has very high costs of manufacturing, productivity in these sectors has been low.

So trying to put tariffs to revive the industry is difficult and as I was suggesting before, raw products are one thing but other manufacturers and other blue-collar jobs are in other products as well.

So it's not a net-sum game, if you will. The alliance you are talking about, Wilbur Ross, Ambassador Richardson, who's a Democrat, and the unions, they all have one thing in mind here. That's trying to protect U.S. jobs.

But it is not very clear by putting on $9 billion of tariffs for two sectors that you will actually create more jobs in the future.

And I think Christine Lagarde is the head of the International Monetary Fund, said at the start of the year, we should not be complacent, we have had almost the best growth in a decade, 3.9 percent globally.

But when you do trade measure like this, it sends the wrong signal. And it could create as the E.U. trade commissioner was suggesting, a domino effect which would undermine growth and therefore undermine jobs. That's the challenge for President Trump.

HOWELL: John Defterios, there live in London with us and Matt Rivers in Beijing, thank you both for the reporting. A lot of uncertainty here. In the week ahead, we'll see how it all plays out, gentlemen, thank you.

ALLEN: This is a huge story we'll continue to follow. But trade wars aside, it has been a chaotic week at the White House.

HOWELL: The chief of staff, John Kelly, says the administration's handling of classified materials was not up to the standards he expected. This comes as "The New York Times" reports another bombshell.

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

And the president was also said to be unimpressed by his daughter, Ivanka's, trip to South Korea.

HOWELL: Let's get the reporting now from CNN's Boris Sanchez, 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 --


SANCHEZ: -- 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.


ALLEN: Much on the administration's plate inside the White House and outside the White House. Let's talk about it with Inderjeet Parmar, professor of international politics at City University in London.

Inderjeet, thank you. Thanks so much for joining us.

Let's begin with this personnel dilemma for the White House. His son- in-law has had his security clearance downgraded after questionable business dealings inside the White House, among other things.

Should he step aside?

INDERJEET PARMAR, CITY UNIVERSITY LONDON: Well, the probes which began about with that possible meddling by Russia in the election have now moved very far away from that.

They are investigating quite legitimate concerns about the business interests of key people, very, very close to the president. So I think that basically violates a very large number of ethical concerns, concerns about conflicts of interest. And these are the kinds of concerns, in fact, that were raised about Hillary Clinton and many other Democrats before her as well, that their connections with big money and so on and foreign forces of governments.

So yes, I think it does seem to suggest that if these allegations are proven and they actually have evidence based around them, then I think that makes the position untenable.

ALLEN: And "The New York Times" is also reporting that Trump may be ready for both of them. We just heard that story, Jared and Ivanka to move back to New York and give up their roles.

But he already lost his close aide, Hope Hicks this week; Rob Porter also. So many others have bailed. Others could be headed out.

What more exits could do to the inner working and affect the stability of this administration to the world?

PARMAR: Well, I think that's it. That's the intensifying crisis and the crises are swirling around the president and presumably right within him, too. And I suspect that tells us a little bit about his usual strategy; when the crisis intensifies or any crisis intensifies around him, he tends to throw out a few diversionary forms of announcement or tweets and things like that.

And I suspect that his tweeting that trade war is good, that breaking alliances and relationships can be a very good thing to defend American interests and possibly even going out on a limb in regard to gun control, I think he's trying to divert a lot of attention away from what is a crisis coming right close to the White House and the Oval Office itself.

ALLEN: Right, and that involves Russia. And, you know Russia, what might be their reaction to this turmoil that we are seeing in the White House and beyond, from this administration?

That is what they have been working to achieve, is it?

PARMAR: That is very difficult. I don't know if I can comment on what the intentions of the Russian government have been. But what I can say and talk about is that although the series of probes and investigations have largely focused or originally began around the idea of Russia and its influence and its attempt to destabilize the United States --


PARMAR: -- the fact remains that the policies pursued by the Trump administration have not really gone against the dominant trend that he inherited from President Obama.

In fact, you could say that he has probably strengthened that tendency somewhat. So in Syria, for example, you can look at the way in which that intervention and the now what looks like a permanent military intervention in regard to Ukraine and the selling of various kinds of missiles and other weaponry to the Ukrainian government, the stationing of even more forces at the Baltics of NATO, et cetera, so at the military expenditure increases.

So I am not sure that -- I'm not sure what the situation really allows us to draw in regard to what Putin might think. What it has enabled is that Putin now is able to ramp up the arms race as well and he's arguing that he's doing it in response to the kind of people who are saying that Russia is a big threat and they'll be militarizing the situation.

ALLEN: All right, we have seen that announcement from Vladimir Putin this week. We appreciate your thoughts, Inderjeet Parmar, thank you.

PARMAR: Thank you. HOWELL: Parts of the northeastern part of the United States are facing one of the most extreme storms in recent memory and it's not over yet. We'll bring you the latest on the powerful bomb cyclone.

ALLEN: Also, we were just talking about Russia. The Russia president boasting of a new arsenal of nuclear weapons, reviving fresh fears of a Cold War and a global arms race, as our guest was just discussing. We'll have more about that coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM.





ALLEN (voice-over): Yes, those waves going over those houses.

HOWELL (voice-over): Wow.

ALLEN (voice-over): A powerful later winter storm battering the northeastern U.S. with heavy rain, snow and the fierce winds. It's the second day of what we're hearing again is a bomb cyclone and it is not letting up yet. In Massachusetts, emergency officials warned of astronomically high tides in the coming days.

HOWELL (voice-over): Just listening to that. You get a sense of how ferocious it really is. Many of these areas have already seen heavy flooding, more than 1.2 million households without power and five deaths have been reported so far.

More than 3,000 flights were cancelled Friday, stranding travelers at some of the country's busiest airports as well.



HOWELL: Now parts of Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts are blanketed in heavy snow and are experiencing very strong winds.

ALLEN: But despite what you might think, that doesn't mean that they are in a blizzard.


HOWELL: All right, and Europe also getting its own share of extreme weather. A deadly cold snap has gripped the continent and causing chaos for thousands of people. Just take a look here at the snow and ice that blocked railways and stranded trains on their tracks and passengers in their cars for hours on Friday.

ALLEN: Hundreds of motorists were trapped in those cars overnight and into the day on one of Britain's main roads. The storm drove floodwaters into the train station in England. Authorities say the cold is responsible as well for at least 21 deaths.

Let's get more on it now and go live to our CNN producer, Salma Abdelaziz, who is in a very white Hyde Park there in London.

Salma, we all know that Londoners are used to the rain but not so the snow and cold.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: That's exactly right, Natalie, these are very rare scenes here in London, where snow almost never falls. And of course this extreme weather has not been seen in decades here in the region. It is simply not prepared here.

We don't have the snowplows, the proper equipment to clear the roads. So it has really caused a great deal of trouble, chaos and of course deaths, as you mentioned, not just here in the U.K. but across the region. Now temperatures --


ABDELAZIZ: -- have started to rise but the concern is flooding now. And of course the icy roads; 15 flood warnings have been issued across the U.K. And in the rest of Europe, everybody is playing catch-up. We had airport closures in Glasgow, in Ireland, in Geneva and others.

That means lots of planes that did not take off on time, lots of passengers that are still stuck, trying to get to their destinations. And it is not just the planes of course; it's the trains, it's the cars that were stuck out on the roads.

But what is of most concern to the authorities is that death toll, 21 people killed due to weather related reasons. That death toll is expected to rise. The World Health Organization has said it is the most vulnerable who are losing their lives, that is the homeless, that is migrants, that is people who cannot get into proper shelters as these temperatures drop in the evening hours and are left out in the cold.

I just want to share one story to you that kind of explains the situation. Local media in Sweden reporting an asylum seeker, a woman with two children, left the asylum, ventured out. They were later found in the forest. The woman was dead. Local media saying she wasn't properly dressed.

The two children are alive and recovering but it is these kinds of vulnerable people that authorities will be most concerned about during these conditions -- Natalie.

ALLEN: That's such a sad story, certainly illustrates what many people are up against. Salma Abdelaziz for us, thank you.

HOWELL: The story of tariffs, tweets and retaliation. We take a closer look at President Trump's plan for steel and aluminum tariffs and we'll see what it means for you, the consumer.

ALLEN: Also, a Russian show of force. Vladimir Putin brags about his nuclear power and gives two reasons why he might use his new missile technology, we'll have that.





HOWELL: We're on coast to coast across the United States and live around the world this hour, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta, I am George Howell.

ALLEN: I am Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories.


ALLEN: And more countries around the world are also talking about retaliating.

HOWELL: Countries like Canada, Mexico and China. Others they say they'll likely join if they have no choice. The International Monetary Fund says the import 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.

ALLEN: So what would the tariffs mean for workers in the U.S. and around the world?

HOWELL: That is the big question. Our 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: Another global issue now, the U.S., France and Germany demanding the start of a cease-fire in Syria. The White House says President Trump spoke with French president Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel Thursday. All agreed that Russia, Iran and the Syrian government must implement the truce which the U.N. adopted one week ago.

HOWELL: Activists say the resolution has not stopped the bombs from falling in Eastern Ghouta. The Syrian military says it dropped these leaflets on Friday, telling civilians how to escape as the U.S. accuses Damascus of bombing its own people.

Moscow's bold claim --


HOWELL: -- of an invincible nuclear arsenal may have many Western analysts questioning how much of it is true and how much of it is a calculated bit of boasting.

ALLEN: Real or no, Russia's president had a clear reason why he made this announcement and who it was aimed at. For more on that, here is CNN's Brian Todd.



BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Full of bravado, following his unveiling of dangerous new missile systems, Vladimir Putin delivered his threat straight to American living rooms.

Putin said the money American taxpayers have spent on missile defenses, quote, "has been thrown into the wind," because his new missiles are so good they can evade those defenses.

Speaking with NBC's Megyn Kelly, Putin was asked whether nuclear powered intercontinental ballistic missiles he just boasted about have actually been tested successfully.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): All those tests were successful. It's just each of those weapons systems is at a different stage of readiness. One of them is already on combat duty. It is with troops.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe him?

Could any of these new missiles actually be on combat duty?

Where would they be?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it is quite possible, and if they are on combat duty, most likely I think they would be in the western military district, opposite the Baltic States. That's where they have now moved these Condor nuclear capable missile into Kaliningrad.

TODD (voice-over): If Putin's got some of his new missiles in Kaliningrad, they are right at the doorstep of America's NATO allies. Kaliningrad is a Russian enclave wedged between Poland and Lithuania, where Putin has a massive naval base and tens of thousands of troops.

But the Russian leader promised his American interviewer he'd never use his new weapons unless provoked.

PUTIN (through translator): We have two reasons that would force us to respond using our nuclear weapons. The first is a nuclear attack against us or an attack against the Russian federation using conventional weapons.

TODD (voice-over): The new weapons Putin claims to be developing include a low-flying nuclear powered cruise missile that he says has unlimited range. And an unmanned underwater drone that could carry a nuclear warhead to an enemy city.

In one of Russia's animations, the target is Florida. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The purpose of that was to terrify you. That's exactly what he achieved.

TODD (voice-over): U.S. officials downplayed the Russian show of force, calling it, quote, "cheesy." But at the same time, there are reports that the Trump administration is ramping up America's missile defense to counter Putin's threat. Analysts say Putin has cleverly maneuvered this standoff to box in President Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we don't respond in kind in some way to show that we are capable of responding and deterring an attack like that, we look weak. And I think that Putin has forced Trump into a position where he either looks soft on Russia, which might be because of election related activities, which he's already vulnerable on, or he has to take a harder line.

TODD: What it all points to is what many analysts see as a new arms race. What some are warning could be a new Cold War between the U.S. and Russia. Vladimir Putin for his part refuses to take the blame for that. Putin says if there is an arms race, America started it by getting out the anti-ballistic missile treaty 16 years ago -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: One of Mr. Putin's neighbors is also making strides in its missile program. A U.S. official tells CNN North Korea has been improving its missile guidance systems over the past few months. It is still struggle with warhead reentry but it's still making progress.

HOWELL: Its ultimate aim appears to be a nuclear missile that can hit the United States mainland. CIA director Mike Pompeo has said publicly North Korea could be months away from that goal.

Candidates in Italy have had their say and now it is up to voters to decide what happens next in that country.

ALLEN: That's coming up here.

Plus Israel's prime minister and his wife both questioned in that corruption probe. We'll tell you what Benjamin Netanyahu had to say after it was over.





HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

In Italy, the campaigning has ended ahead of Sunday's general election. The field there is deeply fractured to say the least. ALLEN: Disgraced former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has made a comeback. He's barred from running for office though but he could emerge as a power broker.

HOWELL: Currently leading in the polls is the populist Five Star Movement. Our Ben Wedeman takes a closer look for us.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Few cities on Earth approach Rome when it comes to history, elegance and (INAUDIBLE).

But if you tune into Radio Roma Capitale, listen to the laments.

It is all about a city littered with garbage, streets full of potholes and substandard services.

There are two Romes. There is the Rome that tourists come and enjoy and then there is the other Rome, where people actually have to live and work. One is beautiful, the other is a mess. And few are the politicians who have been able to do anything about it.

The latest to try to turn the Eternal City around is Mayor Virginia Raggi of the Five Star Movement, a political party founded by the Beppe Grillo, comedian turned fire-breathing, curse-flinging critic of the status quo.

The latest polls ahead of Sunday's election give the Five Star Movement almost 30 percent of the vote, the largest share of any party.

But critics warn if Mayor Raggi and the Five Star Movement couldn't fix Rome, they won't be able to fix Italy.

Roberto voted for Raggi two years ago and now regrets it.

"She promised many things," he says, "but achieved nothing."

Rome was not built in a day and it won't be put right in a year or two. Five Star Movement leader, 31-year-old Luigi Di Maio, counters criticism of his party with a familiar phrase.

"I suggest you don't read Italian newspapers," he tells me --


WEDEMAN (voice-over): -- "because they tell a lot of fake news."

At the final rally in the capital's Piazza del Popolo, Di Maio has another message for his supporters.

"We are a step away from victory." -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.


ALLEN: Well, of course, follow this election and let you know the outcome and voting results are expected Sunday on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's quest to form another grand coalition with Social Democrats. And on this key question, a 28-year-old naysayer has became a major thorn in her side.

HOWELL: Kevin Kuhnert is a lawmaker's assistant in his day job. But in his free time, he's been traveling across Germany, urging Social Democrats to reject a grand coalition with Ms. Merkel conservatives.

Now in Israel, the prime minister of that nation, Benjamin Netanyahu, is once again denying any wrongdoing, this as investigators question him as a suspect in a third corruption case.

ALLEN: Oren Liebermann reports Mr. Netanyahu emerged as defiant as ever.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Investigators left the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem after a marathon five-hour questioning of Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli leader was questioned under caution, an Israeli official tells CNN, meaning he's a now suspect in a third corruption investigation.

Demonstrators protesting outside the official residence, holding signs that say "Crooks, go home."

Netanyahu was questioned in what's known as case 4,000, involving a relationship between the ministry of communications, then under Netanyahu, and Israeli telecommunications firm, Bezeq.

Prosecutors say Benjamin Netanyahu pushed regulatory benefits worth up to some $280 million for Bezeq and its controlling shareholder, Shaul Elovitch, also a suspect in the investigation.

In exchange, Netanyahu was to receive favorable media coverage in an online news site. Elovitch denies any wrongdoing.

As Netanyahu was questioned, his wife, Sarah Netanyahu, was simultaneously interrogated at a different location. She, too, was questioned under caution, meaning she's also a suspect in this growing case.

In a video posted to Facebook shortly after the questioning ended and shared by the family's spokesperson, Netanyahu speaking for him and his wife declared their innocence.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translator): I feel certain because there will be nothing. And I want to tell you another thing. To millions of citizens in Israel, who express such a strong support in me, my wife and my family, you warm our heart. Thank you, Shabbat Shalom to all of you.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LIEBERMANN: Netanyahu has been named a suspect in two separate criminal investigations. Pressure both political and public is growing on the Israeli leader. But he refuses to back down, denying those charges.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Netanyahu has the support of his government with key political partners saying they still back him but they'll wait for the attorney general to decide whether to indict the prime minister, a process that could take months -- Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.


ALLEN: Well, the Oscars are Sunday and the horror film, "Get Out," beat the odds to make it to the Academy Awards.

But what are the chances of its taking home the top prize?

We'll take a look coming up here.

HOWELL: All right and the question here, will the real president please stand up for a tweet?

Trump versus Baldwin, we'll have that story ahead. Stay with us.






ALLEN: On Thursday, the U.S. president was tweeting about imposing tariffs on our trading partners. On Friday, he was back to tweeting with one of his favorite foes from a TV show.

HOWELL: That would be Alec Baldwin, who plays the president on "Saturday Night Live."

President Trump fired first.

"Alec Baldwin, whose dying mediocre career was saved by his terrible impersonation of me on SNL, now says playing me was agony. Alec, it was agony for those who were forced to watch. Bring back Darrell Hammond, funnier and a far greater talent!"

HOWELL: The Twitter war continues. Well, Baldwin could not let it go unanswered, so he did, he said he would like to hang out in there for -- (INAUDIBLE) he'd like to hang in there for the impeachment hearings and the resignation speech -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Then adding, "And Mr. President, please ask your wife to stop calling me for SNL tickets," adding, "Hey, Melania, we've got Charles Barkley this Saturday."

HOWELL: Funny thing about it is, when you are reading these Twitter wars, you are just not quite in the mood that they are in. So it is hard to --

ALLEN: You are making an excuse for us just bombing that story.

HOWELL: Yes, well, I tried.


HOWELL: Let's move on.

ALLEN: Thank you.

HOWELL: Hollywood's biggest night of the year marks the end of the entertainment awards season with the last-minute preparations underway for the Academy Awards on Sunday. And all eyes will be on how anti- sexual harassment movements will be represented.

Leaders of #TimesUp say they'll have a lower profile on the red carpet compared to previous awards show. Celebrities dressed in black at the Golden Globes to support victims and gender equality. Activists say the cause will have an as yet undefined moment during the Oscars telecast. We'll wait and see.

HOWELL: One of the films in the Best Picture at the Oscars is "Get Out." It's a rarity that the Academy recognizes a horror film and one held by a first-time director.

ALLEN: But "Get Out" has beaten the odds to nab nominations in four categories.

Stephanie Elam looks at how it went from a low-budget thriller to an Oscar contender.



STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A thriller that cost only $4.5 million to make...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you feel now?


ELAM (voice-over): "Get Out" has grossed more than $250 million worldwide and is now a Best Picture contender at the Academy Awards.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are still mostly going to put --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- their money on either "Three Billboards and "The Shape of Water," which comes in with the most nominations.

However, second to those two movies, I would say "Get Out" is right there.

ELAM (voice-over): Oscar front-runners normally consist of period dramas, like the "Darkest Hour" and "Dunkirk" or big-name projects like Steven Spielberg's "The Post."


ELAM (voice-over): "Get Out" might be this award season's most unlikely success story. No one is more surprised than the film's nominated star, Daniel Kaluuya.

DANIEL KALUUYA, ACTOR: It will be cold. I'll put on a coat following and it will do what it needs to do. But for it to transcend do us in, the fact that I am here talking to you is -- I did not think that.

ELAM (voice-over): Without a big star attached, the contemporary film from Jordan Peele, a first-time director known more for his comedy, "Get Out" had an uphill battle getting awards attention.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So how long has this been going on, this thing?



ELAM (voice-over): But "Get Out" went on to score a rare 99 percent approval rating on the movie review website, Rotten Tomatoes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It got a lot of people who are not horror fans at all, like myself, into the movie theater to see what this thing is that has really tapped into the real world zeitgeist.

ELAM (voice-over): The horror genre is often ignored by major awards shows. In fact, the last scary film to have a Best Picture trophy was the "Silence of the Lambs" in 1992.

JACKSON PEELE, DIRECTOR: Besides just wanting to make a horror film that brought something new to the genre, I wanted to call out racism in America. It is a true horror and it deserves -- it is turning the genre.

ELAM (voice-over): The question is, will that be enough for "Get Out" to pull off another thriller and take the Best Picture win at the Academy Awards? -- Stephanie Elam, CNN, Hollywood.


HOWELL: Stephanie, thank you. The news continues right after this.