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Data Breach Drags Facebook's Market Value and People's Trust; Serial Bomber Still on the Loose in Texas; Syria Admits Bombings; Russia Denies Use of Nerve Agent to Skripals; U.S.-U.K Demand Answers In Facebook Data Scandal; Trump Under Fire For Congratulating Putin; Trump Adds New Attorney To His Legal Team; Protecting Antarctica's Ecosystem; What's Next To the Northern White Rhino. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 21, 2018 - 03:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Cambridge Analytica suspends its CEO after an undercover video shows him bragging about ties to the Donald Trump campaign.

Meantime, the U.S. president calls Vladimir Putin and does the one thing advisers warned him not to do. Now, he is facing criticism.

Plus, Israel formerly acknowledges destroying a Syrian nuclear facility back in 2007. So the question is, why now?

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church, and this is the CNN Newsroom.

There are growing demands for answers and the expanding scandal involving Facebook and a data firm's reported misuse of Facebook user's information. The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly investigating Facebook for possibly breaking its privacy promises to users.

U.S. and U.K lawmakers are calling on Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg to testify about the web site's relationship with Cambridge Analytica.

The president of the European parliament have a hint of new regulations when he urge lawmakers to be strict with social media companies. The E.U. is taking action.


VERA JOUROVA, EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER FOR JUSTICE: We are going to launch the investigations in several member states starting with the United Kingdom to find the facts and the information about what happened and to what extent our data protection rules have been breached


CHURCH: Cambridge Analytica suspended CEO Alexander Nix following undercover reports from Britain's Channel 4 showing him discussing potential bribery and entrapment methods for political campaigns. In another clip, Nix took credit for Mr. Trump's winning strategy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: have you met Mr. Trump?



NIX: We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting. We ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign and our data informed all the strategy.


CHURCH: Channel 4's Washington correspondent Kylie Morris joins me now to talk more about this undercover investigation. Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: Now we just heard part of your team's report highlighting Cambridge Analytica's close relationship with the Trump campaign. The company claimed it ran all of Mr. Trump's digital campaign and essentially put him in office. Just bragging or can they indeed take the credit for that.

MORRIS: Well, we have to allow for some exaggeration on their part. I think, you know, this was a sales pitch within a meeting where they were trying to entice clients, namely ourselves, to do business with them, and indeed, a lot of the -- a lot of the allegations against them they have denied by saying that actually, they were trying to tease out the bonafides of these clients, and that's why they were talking about, you know, all kinds of dirty tricks. That was about the clients and not about them.

But, in terms of, you know, those exaggerations, the reality is, that this company was the data analytics company for the Trump campaign. You know, they say within the kind of, the mother ship of the Trump digital team. They may perhaps be exaggerating what their overall effect will be.

And I think in the fall out from the story there's been a little bit of reorganization or the renewal in the assessment of the role that they played, suggesting that perhaps this psychographic stuff wasn't used in the end and it was not that important. But the point is that they were certainly there, and they did played a role within the campaign that led to Donald Trump winning the presidency.

CHURCH: Kylie, let's just listen to another part of your report, this one set in a restaurant with Cambridge Analytica's CEO, Alexander Nix.


NIX: I went to speak to them.


NIX: And the Republicans asked three questions. Five minutes, done. The Democrats asked two hours of questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you have to answer everything?

NIX: No, it's voluntary, but I did because I'm trying to help them.


NIX: We have no secrets.


NIX: They're politicians, they're not technical.


NIX: They don't understand how it works. They don't understand because the candidate never, is never involved. He's told what to do by the campaign team.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the candidate is the puppet?

NIX: Always.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, right, right.

NIX: But in every election, or nearly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So for democrats this is like the sour grapes, they're saying?

NIX: Yes, sour grapes. That's exactly what it is.


[03:05:04] CHURCH: And Kylie, as your team's report went to air, Cambridge Analytica announced that it had in fact suspended CEO Alexander Nix pending a full investigation, what does that tell you, and what would you expect the full ramifications to be of your undercover investigation?

MORRIS: Well, the company itself it's important to say is still denying many of the allegations within our reports, they are saying that this was a pitch meeting. They were, as I mentioned earlier, the defense is that they were simply, you know, teasing out and trying to work out the bonafides of the clients.

Having said that, though, you know, they are obviously taking very seriously the comments that Alex -- that Nix has made, because that's why they took this action to do suspend him, they say that he wasn't properly representing the company and they are very worried by it and they are going to invite independent investigators to deal with that.

Moving forward, I think into future elections now, there will be a great deal and more scrutiny of the kinds of beings and images and videos that come into your individual feeds, your computer, your timelines, you know, where are these messages coming from, who designed them and what are they trying to tell you and what are they trying to manipulate you to do with your vote.

And I think that's going forward, hopefully, the ramifications of this will be that people will begin to understand better, you know, the engineering behind that.

CHURCH: Yes. Indeed, and of course, on Tuesday, a Cambridge Analytica spokesman said this, and I am quoting here. "Cambridge Analytica has never claimed it won the election for President Trump, this is patently absurd. We are proud of the work we did on that campaign and have spoken in many public forums about what we consider to be our contribution to the campaign."

Kylie, what's your response to that?

MORRIS: Well, I think Alexander Nix today we door stepped him as he was going into his office before he was suspended, and he said that appearances can be deceptive. So I think that is their defense.

But what we're seeing on tape isn't really anything that we should put too much still by. But having said that, I think it's important to note that even though they say they were just kind of stringing us along in these meetings, seven weeks after our final meeting with Cambridge Analytica and the final meeting with Alexander Nix, we were still, our undercover team were still getting e-mails from the company saying, hey, what about this partnership, can we move forward? So that sends a strongly contradictory message.

CHURCH: And Cambridge Analytica's chief data officer was recorded separately claiming their firm is responsible for Donald Trump's triumph in the Electoral College. He said, and I'm quoting again here. "When you think about the fact that Donald Trump lost the popular vote by three million votes but won the Electoral College, that's down to the data and the research. That's how he won the election."

So, of course, Kylie, the chief data officer claims Cambridge Analytica is responsible for Donald Trump's victory, but the company spokesman says it has never made such a claim.

Again, this could come down to an over -- overly enthusiastic boastful employee about what the company's capable of doing and that's the problem here, isn't it? Trying to make that differentiation and sort of say, well, there is a something to this? Or it's just bragging.

MORRIS: Exactly. I mean, I think we have to deal with the fact that you know, the Trump -- the Trump re-election campaign in 2020 has today announced that it will not be working with Cambridge Analytica in the upcoming elections.

There are investigates here by the State of New York, by the State of Massachusetts into Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. And of course, Facebook's own action in suspending Alexander Nix suggests that there is more to learn here and certainly more to understand. CHURCH: And we will continue to keep a very close eye on this and all

the developments that come as a result of this report. Kylie Morris, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

MORRIS: Rosemary, thank you.

CHURCH: And Cambridge Analytica announced an independent investigation and said, Nix's comments do not represent the company's values and that his suspension reflects how seriously the firm views the violation.

Well, the scandal is taking a huge financial toll on Facebook and it's dragging down other tech firms as well.

Andrew Stevens joins us now from Hong Kong with more on that. So, Andrew, what impact is this crisis having on the value of Facebook, and of course, on trust in the company?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think the latter point there is more important to Facebook at this stage, Rosie. It's just about the trust in Facebook and how it is being eroded by what's been happening.

Financially though, we've seen the stock price fall more than 9 percent over the past two days. Fifty billion wiped off the value of that stock, including a few billion off of Mark Zuckerberg's holding as well. So, there is that.

[03:09:57] But the wider implication here, Rosemary, is that this is now a full blown crisis for Facebook. They are still not fronting Mark Zuckerberg to say what has happened and what they are going to do.

So, at the moment, they're sort of seen as leaderless at a time of deep, deep crisis. Remember, that this has got 2.2 billion users and trust in their ability to keep the people's details private is paramount to people using Facebook.

It is obviously a social media tool, but the last thing that most people want to see is their data used unknowingly, which is what has happened.

But if you look at what Facebook has actually done, all they have done so far is issue a statement. And just let me read it to you. It does says that, "Mark and Sheryl," that Sheryl Sandberg, the COO, "and their teams are working around the clock to get all the facts and take the appropriate action moving forward, because they understand the seriousness of this issue. The entire company is outraged, we were deceived. We are committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people's information and we will take whatever steps are required to see that it happens."

OK, that sounds good. But, any P.R. person will tell you that when you have a crisis of this magnitude in a company which is so globally well-known, you have to put the person who is closest to that company, which in this case, obviously, it's Mark Zuckerberg, put him forward. Get him -- get the company on the front foot, get him explaining, getting, trying to win the people's trust back. Remember, people are always, were already a little bit skeptical about

Facebook or perhaps more than a little bit when it was, it was seen that a lot of the information of fake news was spread via Facebook and fake advertising by Facebook in the 2016 elections.

Mark Zuckerberg's initial response to those allegations was that's a crazy idea. So he has recanted those. But there is this trust issue at the center of Facebook now, and the company isn't addressing it.

CHURCH: Now it is that people want to hear from Mark Zuckerberg. Andrew Stevens joining us there with that live report from Hong Kong, where it's just after three in the afternoon. We thank you so much.

Well, for the first time ever, Israel has admitted to bombing a Syrian nuclear facility in 2007, although the world quickly found out about an Israeli air strike in the Syrian desert, the nature of it remain secret. Both Israel and Syria stayed quite.

More than a decade later, tensions in the region are still high.

And CNN's Oren Liebermann joins us now live from Jerusalem. Oren, of course, why has Israel decided to release the footage at this time? That's a big question. Why are we learning more about this now?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It absolutely is, especially because everyone here and probably most people outside of Israel knew it. It was this country's air force that had carried out the strike, even though both Israel and Syria were markedly quiet in the days, weeks and months following that attack.

So, why now? Even if it is essentially fascinating footage to see from the cockpit when that strike was carried out, the timing of this is still very interesting in a different Middle East, Syria is now a fractured country. So we ask ourselves, who is the target audience of the release of the footage and the information, and that may very well be Iran.


LIEBERMANN: In the crosshairs of an Israeli fighter jet, a secret Syrian nuclear reactor, mere months away from completion. In this never-before released footage, you see the reactor as it was in the early morning hours on September 6, 2007 as precision guided Israeli bombs bore down on their target. After the strike, Israel's nuclear war shifting from Syria to Iran.

AARON DAVID MILLER, VICE PRESIDENT FOR NEW INITIATIVES, WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR SCHOLARS: I mean, Israelis, not only are trying to demonstrate deterrents but to make it unmistakably clear that they would strike again and make it unmistakably clear to Russia, to the Assad regime. And with respect to the Iranian nuclear program, should the Iranians accelerate enrichment and seek to break out that the Israelis are prepared to act against Iran as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LIEBERMANN: Israel has never fully acknowledged the strike against Syria. The video held by military sensors who review the story and enforced strict rules on media before publication.

These pictures released by the U.S. in early 2008 they say were taken inside the facility, show the core of reactor under construction. The U.S. said the gas cooled, graphite moderated reactor was built with North Korean assistance, the only other country to have built such a plant in decades.

Syria has never acknowledged building a nuclear reactor at the site instead, insisting it was a missile facility.

BASHAR JAAFARI, SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Syria builds many buildings all over the country, does that mean any building we build should be a project or a design to be a nuclear reactor building?

[03:14:58] LIEBERMANN: IAEA inspectors found traces of uranium at the site. The CIA said the reactor could not produce electricity and was not for peaceful purposes.

For years, Israel stayed quiet, believing silence could prevent escalation with Syria. Israel had been collecting top secret intelligence on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his nuclear ambitions. Their conclusion in 2007, Syria was less than a year away from an operational nuclear reactor. If completed, the facility would have made Syria the first Arab nuclear state.

A quarter century earlier, Israel fighter jets struck the Osirak nuclear facility in Iraq, crippling that country's nuclear program. It established Israel's policy that it would carry out preemptive strikes against weapons of mass destruction it considered a threat, like it did in Syria.

MILLER: Whether or not the United States is prepared to take the lead, Israel has agency and it's prepared in anticipation of any of their neighbors who presume to develop a nuclear program to weaponize that the Israelis are prepared to act well in advance of that weapon becoming operational.


LIEBERMANN: There may well be other reasons this video, this information was released, for example, the prime minister at the time has a book coming out where he talks about his reasoning behind the strike, as well as Israeli media have been working on the story for months, if not years, and all of that may have got into the Israeli military's calculation.

But the overriding reason here seems to be Iran, when you look at today's Middle East, especially the Israeli government, they've been waging an all-out lobbying campaign against Iran and the nuclear deal. Iran has entrenched itself in Syria, increased its influence its presence with the ongoing civil war.

Meanwhile, Israel is trying to keep Iran as far away from the border as possible.

Rosemary, it seems that Israel-Iran relationship their battle for opinion that battle for policy here may very well be at the center of the information in the video we've just seen.

CHURCH: Interesting. Our Oren Liebermann with that live report from Jerusalem, where it is 9.16 in the morning. We thank you very much.

We'll take a short break here, but still to come, the latest on the bombings in central Texas, five explosions in 19 days. And the serial bomber is still on the loose.

Plus, the Kremlin has faced accusations for years about poisoning its opponents. Still to come, a look at some people who have been killed and a few who survived. We're back in just a moment.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, investigators may have some crucial new leads on the bombings that have terrorized Austin, Texas. Six packages, rigged with explosives are now connected to a serial bomber or bombers. And a source tells CNN the motive appears to be mayhem and death, rather than targeting one specific group.

Nick Watt reports from Austin.

[03:19:58] NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Austin is a city on edge, a false alarm of false bomb report called in from this Goodwill store it actually turned out to be a box of donations. In one of those boxes there was what they are calling an incendiary device, a military memento that did catch on fire and slightly injured an employee.

But on the scene there were cops, there were FBI, there was ATF, of course, the day began with an explosion at a FedEx facility down near San Antonio, about 60 miles away from here and that slightly injured one worker there.

And then six hours later, another device was discovered at another FedEx sorting office up here near the Austin airport. The FBI and the police are saying that those two devices are definitely linked to the spate of bombings that we have seen here in Austin since March 2nd.

And the FBI, we are told by local police department here, the FBI is looking into the probability that those two packages, those two FedEx packages were dropped off at the same office. That is a major lead right now.

Nick Watt, CNN, Austin, Texas.

CHURCH: Twenty three Russian diplomats are back in Moscow after the U.K. followed up on its threat to expel them over a chemical attack in England. The diplomats and their families flew out of London's Stansted Airport on Tuesday. Britain is blaming Russia for poisoning former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter. But Moscow says it was not involved. CNN's Matthew Chance joins me now from Moscow with more. So, Matthew,

in the midst of this nerve agent crisis, and of course, the tit for tat punishments going back and forth between Russia and Britain, Moscow continues to insist that it is not behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, but of course, history seems to tell a different story.

MATTHEW CHANCE, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: I mean, that's absolutely right, Rosemary. I mean, with all eyes now focus on the Skripal's nerve agent attack in Salisbury in England, and the Kremlin has, for instance, dismissed that's unthinkable any allegations that have been made, for instance, by the British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson that Russia has this covert chemical weapons program aimed at assassinating its political opponents.

But in fact, you know, the past several years, recent years, past decade or more in fact, has been littered with examples of people who were seen as opponents by the Kremlin, who have met untimely deaths through the use of exotic toxins.


CHANCE: He was one of the Kremlin's most ruthless enemies, an Arab Jihadist called Khattab, notorious for executing Russian troops during the brutal Chechen War. When Russia security services finally announced his assassination in a special operation in March, 2002, they released this video to prove it showing Khattab laid out dead, with no visible wounds.

Russian state media and the rebels both said, he died ever after opening a poisoned letter. It was it seems quite literally a message from the Kremlin. And there

have been alleged messages from Moscow too.

In 2004, the pro-western Ukrainian presidential hopeful Viktor Yushchenko who went on to lead the country was badly disfigured after severe dioxin poisoning. He told me back then his push for Ukraine to join the European Union and NATO had made him enemies at home and in Moscow.


VIKTOR YUSHCHENKO, FORMER PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): We started dinner at about 10 o'clock and finished around 3.30 in the morning. While driving back home, the first thing I felt was a terrible headache. I had never felt anything like it before. When I got home my wife kissed my lips, she said she could taste something metallic, I asked her for some medication but the pain was aggravated. Only then I said to myself, Viktor, you're in trouble.


CHANCE: For others that trouble proved deadly. The radioactive killing of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006 foreshadowed the recent Skripal nerve agent attack. Both were former members of the Russian secret services were poisoned with chemicals said by Britain to be Russian and seen as traitors by the Kremlin.

There has been, in other words, a growing list of people. This Kremlin sees its opponents and long before the poisoning of Skripals in Britain who have met painful and untimely deaths. Not all of course were poisoned, one of Russia's main opposition figures, Boris Nemtsov there was shot dead in 2015 right here on this bridge.

Of course, the Kremlin denies any involvement and rejects the allegation it could have ordered the Skripal nerve agent attack as unthinkable.

[03:25:02] And as this poisoned father and daughter, Sergei and Yulia Skripal fight for their lives in intensive care, the Kremlin insists Britain should apologize for the series of allegations it has made or present proof of Russia's hand.


CHANCE: Well, Rosemary, the Russian foreign ministry has now summoned all the foreign ambassadors in Russia to a meeting later on today to clarify, in their words, the situation regarding the allegations coming from Britain about Russian use of nerve gas in Salisbury. So far, as I mentioned, the Russians have categorically denied any involvement and there's very little sign that that position is likely to change.

CHURCH: They are digging their heels in. Matthew Chance with that live report from Moscow, where it is nearly 10.30 in the morning. Thanks so much.

Let's take another short break here, but still to come, a top executive is out for Cambridge Analytica's problem are far from over. An update on the growing scandal over the firm's use of Facebook data.

Plus, President Trump calls Russia's Vladimir Putin to say congratulations. Why that led to backlash even from some of the top republicans in Washington. We're back with that and more in just a moment.


CHURCH: And a warm welcome back, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church, I want to update you on the main stories we have been following this hour.

At least 35 people have been killed, scores wounded after a rocket attack on a busy market in the Syrian capital. State-run media say the rocket landed in a government controlled neighborhood in Damascus. The attack in the capital comes as government forces continue to pound rebel-held Eastern Ghouta.

Critics are blasting Donald Trump for congratulating Vladimir Putin on his re-election. Republican Senator John McCain called the Russian president a dictator who won a sham election. President Trump says he plans to meet with Mr. Putin in the not too distant future. Cambridge Analytica suspended its CEO following undercover reports

showing him discussing political methods including potential bribery and entrapment. Alexander Nix is shown claiming he met with then- candidate Donald Trump many times, and that the data firm's research steered the campaign strategy.

Cambridge Analytica calls the reports gross misrepresentations.

Well, U.S. and U.K. lawmakers are pressing for more answers on all of this.

Isa Soares joins us now from London with the latest.

[03:30:01] So, Isa, what are U.K. lawmakers planning to do about the scandal that's exposed both the firm Cambridge Analytica, and of course, Facebook?

SOARES: And like you quote quite rightly said Rosie, fresh on both sides of the Atlanta, you got lawmakers, you got regulatory bodies, you got Face -- ordinary Facebook users right around the world who want answers from Facebook, as well as Cambridge Analytica, as well as Professor Kogan, if you remember Cambridge University, who created that App.

On how exactly was the data passed on to Cambridge Analytica and was it consent given and crucially what did they do with that data once they had it. So many questions being asked now, you've got the European Parliament, European President Tajani, spoke early this week, basically saying he wants answers. This is what he said. "Allegations of misuse of Facebook user data is unacceptable violation of (inaudible) privacy right."

The European Parliament he says, will investigate fully, pulling digital platforms to account. But you also have Britain's data protection authority. They are the ones that, the last two days, Rosie, have been trying to get a warrant basically to walk in to the offices of Cambridge Analytica and get all that data to try to attain exactly what they are doing with that data, whether that data is still there or whether that it has been deleted is another question entirely.

But Cambridge Analytica said yesterday, they were willing to cooperate and provide all the relevant data. Then on top of that, you have the Irish regulator, that is the body that oversees Facebook within the European Union, also wanting questions and then, in addition to that, you have the Chair of the Digital Coach of Median Sports Committee, Damian Collins, who has hosted a whole range of committees in terms of fake news and one he wrote a letter yesterday to Mark Zuckerberg, who has been missing in action for the last few days on this, and he has asked him to come to the U.K. and to testify and in addition, he wants, Alexander Nix, the CEO -- the former CEO, I should say of Cambridge Analytica to also testify and he wants them to testify again.

The reason I say against, because only last month he testified, Rosie and he basically said, we have never used Facebook data and we don't use Facebook data. So, he thinks, Damian Collins thinks that he is being misled entirely by Alexander Nix. Take a listen to what Damian Collins told CNN just yesterday.


DAMIAN COLLINS, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE PARTY: They need to explain how they keep user data safe. Why they didn't investigate more rigorously the data breach involving Cambridge Analytica, why they did not act quicker to make sure that data has been destroyed and also what can they do ensure that user data that is gathered from Facebook. Picture that people's interaction with apps and games, and surveys created by other people. What can they do to make sure that data is safe too? And because of those -- it's not at all clear how that works at the moment.


SOARES: He went on to say that data mishandling, Rosie, is nonnegotiable and he wants to tighten, clamp down on U.K. laws on a kind of big tech companies and ask for more regulation and more power for the U.K. authorities here to have over these tech companies here in the U.K., Rosie.

CHURCH: So, Isa, where does this leave Cambridge Analytica, can the company actually survive this scandal, do you think?

SOARES: Well, it's interesting when we heard yesterday that Alexander Nix was stepping down, because earlier in a day, he had floated the idea of stepping down in order to keep the company alive, to keep the jobs going for the -- all those young people working there.

Now, of course, the revelations we've seen in the expose in the last three days, do raise many eyebrows, in terms of the dirty tricks they played, right around the world, and it' worth pointing out that it's not just, they didn't just work on the U.S. election, which they boast about it, and the last two expose, Rosie, but they also worked on several elections right around the world, including the Kenya election, 2013 and 2017 and the Kenyan opposition is looking in to exactly what their role was there.

So, you have got those questions of what they did, in terms with the data. That could be -- you could be looking at a really implications in terms of in the U.K. and the U.S., criminal investigation in the U.S. and possibly one here in the U.K. was.

Did they break any laws? Facebook to be facing that in terms of did they past data's of third party, but crucially also, Rosie, let's think about this, it's the ethics behind the company that they might survive maybe a criminal investigation, perhaps, but in terms of, you know, long-term, can this company survive as it is right now in what it does? And the ethics of what we have seen in the exposes from channel 4 really raise huge questions about whether it can function.

CHURCH: Yes. Interesting point, Isa Soares, with that live report from London, were it's just after 7:30 in the morning. Thank you so much. [03:35:00] Well, Donald Trump is under fire, for congratulating

Vladimir Putin on his re-election, despite warnings from his staff not to do that. But Washington Post reports a National Security Advisers wrote, do not congratulate in all capital letters on the president's briefing materials before that phone call and yet, he did it anyway. We get more now from CNN's Pamela Brown.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much, everybody.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: President Donald Trump announcing today that he called Russian President Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his recent re-election.

TRUMP: I had a call with President Putin. And congratulated him on the victory, his electoral victory. The call had to do also with the fact that we will probably get together in the not too distance future. So, that we can discuss arms, we can discuss the arms race.

BROWN: After a scathing statement from Senator John McCain, critic of the President and calling Putin a dictator who won a sham election. The White House would not say whether it believes Russia's election was free and fair.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We don't get to dictate how other countries operate. What we do know is that Putin has been elected in their country and that's not something we can dictate to them how they operate. We disagree with the fact that we should not have conversations with Russia.

BROWN: The President maintains he has been tougher on Russia than his predecessor. But today the White House said the president didn't bring up the recent poisoning of a Russian in the U.K. during his conversation with Putin or Russia's election meddling ahead of the 2018 election. This has sent in an Intelligence Committee reiterated some of its key findings that Russia meddled in 2016.

RICHARD BURR, U.S. SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Let me say this with a great deal of confidence. It is clear the Russian government was looking for the vulnerabilities in our election system, highlighted -- and highlighted some of the key gaps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Director, if you would please rise.

BROWN: Meanwhile the White House is insisting that there are no plans to fire the man conducting the independent Russian investigation.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: The White House had been confirms that the president is not considering or discussing the firing of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why doesn't he push for the firing of Robert Mueller if he thinks the probe should not have been going on in the first place? If he thinks the whole thing is a witch hunt, why does he need to fire him?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Look, we will continue to be cooperative and we would like to wrap it up soon. We don't feel like that's the most productive step forward, but we would like to see this come to a conclusion.

BROWN: Democrats are not buying what the president's surrogates have to say, pointing to what the President himself has been saying on Twitter. That the probe should never have been started and suggest the Mueller's investigative team is politically bias.

JACKIE SPEIER, U.S. HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I trust the tweets of the president puts out when he's unsupervised and I think what we have seen over and over again is his intention to obstruct justice.

BROWN: And some Republicans believe a Mueller firing could spell the end for the Trump administration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the President fired Robert Mueller, do you think that would be an impeachable offense?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Probably so, if he did it without cause, yes. I can't think of a more upsetting moment in the rule of law to have an investigator looking at a president's campaign as to whether or not they colluded with a foreign government. What kind of crimes may have been committed? I've seen no evidence of collusion, but to start an investigation without cause, I think, would be a Constitutional crisis.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

BROWN: But even if President Trump himself categorically denies any intention of firing Mueller, his credibility on such issues is highly suspect. Just last week Trump flatly denied in New York Times report saying he was unhappy with his legal team and intended to add another attorney.

But then they did exactly that on Monday adding Joe diGenova, for months has filed a conspiracy theory about the FBI and Russia's election meddling.

JOSEPH DIGENOVA, ATTORNEY: Make no mistake about it, a group of FBI and DOJ people were trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime.

BROWN: Well the president lawyers also reached out to former solicitor General Ted Olson to join the legal team, also declined that request, he also declined the request earlier last year when he was asked to join the team and despite the fact that the president's lawyers have been saying for months that the Russian probe is going to wrap up soon, it appears they are preparing for something different. Pamela Brown, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: Well, the president's lawyers are also busy on other fronts, they are facing legal action from a porn star, a Playboy playmate and a reality show contestant. On Tuesday the attorney for adult film actress Stormy Daniels released the results of the polygraph over lie detector that she took back in 2011.

According to the report she told the truth about having unprotected sex with Donald Trump in 2006. Now, remember she was paid $130,000 just days before the election to sign a nondisclosure agreement to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Mr. Trump.

[03:40:11] She now wants to speak out about it, also on Tuesday former Playboy playmate, Karen McDougal filed a lawsuit to get out of the deal requiring her to keep quiet about her owned alleged 10 month affair with Mr. Trump back in 2006.

The suit is against American Media, the parent company of the National Enquirer tabloid and they paid her $150,000 for her story, but never published it and the owner of American Media is David Pecker, who just happens to be a long time close friend of President Trump.

Then there's Summer Zervos, she appeared on Mr. Trump's reality show "The Apprentice," and has accused the president of sexual assaults and is now suing him for defamation. On Tuesday a judge in New York allowed her lawsuit to go forward.

A sexual breaks, spring has arrived in the United States, but you would know it from the weather in the Northeast, the reason it may get worse before it gets better. We will explain when we come back, stay with us.


[03:45:00] CHURCH: Welcome back everyone a 17-year-old gunman is dead after a school shooting on Tuesday in the U.S. state of Maryland. Two teenage students were wounded, including of girl with life-threatening injuries. The sheriff says the shooter had a prior relationship with that young girl.

School resource officer Blaine Gaskell find at the gunman, but authorities say they don't know yet if that's how the attacker died. The state's governor says something needs to change to prevent school shootings.


GOV. LARRY HOGAN, MARYLAND: No parent should ever have to worry about when they send their kid off in the morning to school, whether they're going to come home safely or and not. And we need more than prayers. I want to thank these first responders and law enforcement officers for the job they did, but we need more - we've gotta take action.


CHURCH: And it's worth noting the attack in Maryland was the 17th -- that's 1-7 school shooting in the U.S. since the beginning of the year. They are happening with increasing frequency, averaging 1 1/2 incidents a week -- just some background on how CNN tallied that list. This map refers to shootings with someone was hurt or killed. Includes grades from kindergarten to college.

All right, it is spring in the United States, apparently, but winter is refusing to leave is the fourth major snowstorm in three weeks hits. Forecasters expect more snow than the three earlier Nor'easters combined, more than 70 million people from Virginia to Boston are under a storm warning or advisory, and more than 3000 flights Wednesday have already been canceled.

Now this comes after storm battered Alabama with powerful winds and baseball-sized hail. Let's turn to our meteorologist, Padram Javaheri to get some answers on why this is all happening. So Padram, why the reluctance for winter to move out and let spring move in?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I love the way you said it -- apparently spring right? It certainly doesn't feel like it across parts of the U.S. and you know Rosemary, this particular one, as you said really have the potential to be the most significant most disruptive and really, because of the time of year it is as you worked way into a lot of portion of March , of course, the atmosphere becomes a little bit warmer, so although it's cold enough to snow, it's fairly cold enough, so the snowflakes are going to be large, they are going to be wet, and they are going to cause a lot of disruptions, in fact, as you said over 70 million people from the Ohio Valley, towards New England and of course the major metro cities of the Northeast. Yet, again, in line for an absolute wintry nest across this region.

Look at the tremendous amount of snowfall already in place for the secondary feature closer to the coastal communities there in that particular one in addition to what's already in store, in addition to moisture from the Atlantic, getting towards this region really set the stage here for temps to be right around the freezing mark.

So, we think as the snow fall begins to comedown lightly at this hour, so really begin filling in here over the next several hours and could bring in the nation's capital through a tremendous amount of snow, as far as how much it could accumulate through Wednesday evening, but how about this, you look at the volume of flights impacted and Rosemary, just 3000 flights are impacted by this, but about 65 percent of flights out of LaGuardia impacted about 64 percent out of Newark and JFK, half of their flights have already been disrupted even afterwards Philly and Boston seen 30 plus percent of the flight impacted by all of this and the amount of snowfall 30, 40?

How about some areas of 60 cm of snowfall here in the second for their, first day of spring the -- first partial day of spring being Tuesday now, first full day on Wednesday, but 15 to 20 cm in Washington. That would be the highest amount for the city in the spring season. Same stories are fairly similar set up for New York City, upwards of 40 cm in the forecast across that region, you go in towards the Western U.S., Rosemary.

Another weather pattern that is just as impressive, this is a classic atmospheric River pattern or what is called a Pineapple Express, because of that line I drew, originates from this, the Hawaiian Islands, the moisture source coming in from that region directed towards Southern California, parts of Southern California could see a tremendous amount of rainfall really for anyone's standards, but you put this over that region of Santa Barbara County, you know what happened here recently, 150 plus millimeters of rainfall, noticed the burn scar indicated in the white outline here, the rainfall, the heaviest could be over that burn scar. This could be catastrophic of parts of California, Rosemary. So we are going to watch that, as well along the Southwestern United States.

CHURCH: And we appreciate you doing that as well, Pedram, thanks so much, a lot to cover there.

JAVAHERI: Yes, absolutely.

CHURCH: And just as quick programming note for all of you, CNN takes you to Antarctica, to see one of the key areas in the battle against climate change.

Arwa Damon spent three weeks on the Greenpeace shipped the Arctic sunrise, to stopping the waters and the wildlife there. Part two of her report shows us how the balance of nature may depend on a tiny crustacean known as krill and you can watch for the stunning report only on CNN, coming up this Thursday. The world says goodbye to the last male Northern White Rhino.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can make another Sudan, but believe and we are hopeful that we can propagate the species.


CHURCH: And how science might save this merely extinct subspecies. That's still to come, stay with us.


CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Well, the last male Northern White Rhino, Sudan, has started the conservancy in Kenya, but all hope is not lost for the subspecies. Faria Sevenzo, reports on Sudan's life and legacy.


FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The world's last male Northern White Rhino, name as Sudan, because he was born there, had to be put down. In the end Sudan's succumb to old age, at 45 his muscles and bones had begun to degenerate and he could hardly carry his own weight. Those who had look after him, felt his passing painfully.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The last (inaudible) of his life, so at that time it was raining. Heavy rain and it was rain outside there, where he was lying. The fact, the rain stop, from there it stretch completely, he pulled the hand down at about the rain stop. So, that came.

SEVENZO: It was almost impossible to imagine, Sudan was born in the wild in 1973, hundreds of its kind roam the grasslands of the East Central Africa. Now, these two females, Najin and Fatu, Sudan's daughter and granddaughter are the only remaining Northern White Rhino's in the world. How did we get to this?

For decades now, all species of rhino have been pushed from their home. The valley does medicine in the Far East, demand for rhino horn and the profit from his sell, remain that rhino was always under threat. The Northern White's population became extinct in the wild in 2008, unlike another subspecies, the Southern White, whose numbers had rebounded. Wildlife vet, Dr. Steve Ngulu, put Sudan down.

STEVEN NGULU, SUDAN'S DOCTOR: Euthanasia was the best option at that moment, because then he was in a lot of pain. We had gotten to this stage, because of various catastrophes that have been created by mankind. When you look at (inaudible), when you look at illegal deforestation, and you look at Bush Habitat Clearing, all these things have led to where we are. We can't make another Sudan, but we believe and we are hopeful that we can propagate this species.

SEVENZO: Sudan's spent much of his life in a Czech Zoo, a move that almost certainly saved his life as posting an African wars took their toll on the remaining numbers. Czech Conservation is (inaudible) flew in on the eve of Sudan's death. He had known the Northern White Rhino for over a decade.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, this is exciting prospect that even in death, Sudan can still (inaudible) children. There are some unbelievable that Sudan still could have an offspring and the way is that actually, because there are White out on the wild, we have to help them, or assist them with an artificial techniques of reproduction.

One way is, that we would be able to harvest eggs from the females that we see behind me, its eggs will be fertilized in a laboratory and the embryo that would be produce through this procedure, will be put into a surrogate mother of the Southern White Rhino origin, then the baby that would be born will be Northern White Rhino.

SEVENZO: The challenge now for conservationist and scientist is to see how they can keep Sudan's lineage alive on this planet, here is Naji, one of Sudan's daughters, beyond their is Fatu, his granddaughter, this are the two only remaining Northern White Rhino alive.

Cutting edge technology and advance in the state of biology, scientist are now working hand-in-hand with conservationist to keep critically endangered species from dying out completely. After 50 million years on earth, it took mankind a couple centuries to wipe out an entire subspecies of rhino, even if the scientist manage to recreate Sudan's kind. Will mankind start killing them?


CHURCH: And Farai Sevenzo joins me now live from Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, Farai, while science comes to the rescue, in terms of trying to keep the Northern White Rhino species from disappearing, what is the Kenyan government doing, to try to stop other species from being hunted to near extinction?

SEVENZO: Well, you know, rosemary, this has been a fight throughout all of Africa's wild life services. The Kenya Wildlife Services (inaudible) with the corporation of people like El -- Ol Pejeta Conservancy here and indeed we are surrounded in a moment by zoologist and conservationist from the Czech Republic, well once look after Sudan, when he was in the zoo and ironically, it was that zoo that save his life.

[03:55:08] When you ask, what is the Kenyan Government doing? This is a problem that we had for so long, since there are rhino horn became so popular in the Far East for its legend, for this medicinal purposes now it figures, speak for themselves. This 1960, Rosemary, to 1990, in that 30 years, worldwide rhino population shrunk by an incredible 96.7 percent, that just tells you that these two last females of the Northern White Rhino, they did not have much of a chance in a world where so many of their number was being killed.

At the moment, of course, the emphasis is on education, to tell people that you cannot get anything out of a rhino horn, they just as hard as our nails, and it's incredible that they had become so profitable and then of course, in order to stop it, we have the government, the government have to try and take the game to the poaches and of course was such great amount of money, Rosemary, this poaches are used by GPS technology, that was advance weaponry and they think nothing of shooting of an entire hood, just to get to those horns.

It is going to be an uphill struggle, but of course the fight starts right here. Trying to keep this magnificent beast on the planet. So your grandchildren and mine can actually see them in the places they were meant to be.

CHURCH: Exactly right. It is heartbreaking and we hope to see some progress made. Farai Sevenzo, thank you so much for that live report.

And before we go, take a look at this, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos ignoring leash and walking his robotic dog named Spot Mini, it's the creation of the robotics firm Boston Dynamics, Spot Mini is about the size of a Springer Spaniel, it's the same mechanical canine whistle earlier this year, opening a door on its own and we don't know yet if Bezos could teach it any new tricks, but we do know he doesn't need any doggie poopy bags, that's progress, right?

Thanks to your company this hour, I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me any time on Twitter, the news continues now with Max Foster in London. You're watching CNN, have yourself a great day.