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Trump Taking Steps To Build Border Wall; Israel Announces New Settlements; More Diversity At The Academy Awards; Protesters Decry Trump's Orders to Revive Oil Pipelines; Iraqi Forces Claim a Key Victory Over ISIS; Trump to Announce Visa and Refugee Restrictions; Oscar Nominations Announced in Hollywood; Donald Trump and His Alternative Facts. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired January 25, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Benjamin Netanyahu has his own plans for construction. Israel announcing thousands of new homes will be built in the West Bank.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: And later, diversity comes to the Academy Awards. But is this just a one-year fluke or a sign of real progress?
VAUSE: Hello, everybody. Thanks for being with us. I'm John Vause.
SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay, this is NEWSROOM L.A. Donald Trump's campaign events resounded with chants of "build that wall." And soon, the rallying cry will be one step closer to reality. A White House official, confirms Mr. Trump will take executive action Wednesday, directing federal resources toward building a border wall with Mexico.
VAUSE: And Mr. Trump is said to unveil another aspect of his America First Policy. A Congressional source says, he will restrict Visas and refugees from countries including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
SESAY: Mr. Trump's continued insistence of widespread voter fraud is taking attention away from his Presidential actions. Maybe, on purpose.
VAUSE: The White House is getting a lot of pushback on the President's false claims. Here's Jeff Zeleny.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The White House is standing by President Donald Trump's unsubstantiated claim that millions of people voted illegally in the November election.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President does believe that. He stated that before. I think he stated his concerns of voter fraud and people voting illegally during the campaign. And he continues to maintain that belief based on studies and evidence people have presented to him.
ZELENY: Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, doubling down on the President's claim, but repeatedly unable to point to evidence that backs up the charge that has been debunked by Republicans and Democrats alike.
ZELENY: You said that the President believes that there was voter fraud. I wonder if you believe that. You were at the Republican National Committee at the time, and Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus was the Chairman of the RNC at the time. Do you believe there was widespread voter fraud?
SPICER: This is my job - is not, look -
ZELENY: How can he be comfortable with his win, if there was three million votes?
SPICER: He's very comfortable with his win.
ZELENY: Maybe he didn't win.
SPICER: No, he's very comfortable with this win. It's electoral based system, he got 306 electoral votes. 33 of 50 states voted for him. I think, look, Jeff, I've asked and answered this question twice, he believes what he believes based on the information he's provided. Yes ma'am?
ZELENY: What does that mean for democracy, though?
SPICER: Thanks, Jeff. Ma'am? It means that, I have answered your question.
ZELENY: Have you?
ZELENY: The allegations of voter fraud which Trump has repeatedly made before ticking off has surfaced again, after the President repeated that claim Monday night while meeting with Congressional leaders at the White House.
SPICER: I think we knew he won very handily. He is very comfortable with his win.
ZELENY: But he doesn't sound like it. He won the electoral college but lost the popular vote by nearly three million. He charged that three to five million people voted illegally, a claim as unsubstantiated as when he first made it after the election. But now it carries the weight of the presidency. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said if Trump believes it, he should disclose his proof and ask for an investigation, telling CNN's Manu Raju such allegations erode the President's credibility.
LINDSEY GRAHAM, UNITED STATES SENATE REPUBLICAN: I would urge the President to knock this off. This is the greatest democracy on earth. You're the leader of the free world. And people are going to start doubting you as a person.
ZELENY: From the White House podium, Spicer left open the door to launching an investigation, but repeatedly brushed aside questions from reporters.
SPICER: There is no investigation. It says - it said - I've said it was possible. Anything is possible. It was a hypothetical question. My point to you is that to ask us on day two he made a comment last night on something he has believed and said for a long, long time.
ZELENY: Even as he gets to work laying out his agenda, Trump is still on a quest to prove his legitimacy. The exchange came on the fourth full day of Trump's presidency, overshadowing his executive actions to revive the keystone pipeline and clear the way for the Dakota access pipeline. Two more reversals of the Obama administration. The President said today he is closing in on his first Supreme Court nomination to replace the year-long vacant seat of former Justice Antonin Scalia.
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PRESIDENT: We will pick a truly great Supreme Court Justice.
ZELENY: The President discussed his Supreme Court appointments or his leading list of contenders with four top Senators; Republicans and Democrats. He is planning on making his announcement early next week. It's one thing his aides hope will move him beyond all this controversy of the voter fraud he is still talking about privately. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, The White House.
VAUSE: Joining us here in Los Angeles; Talk Radio host, Ethan Bearman; and Shawn Steel, Member of the California Republican National Committee. Let's just keep with Jeff Zeleny's reporting on what Donald Trump has been saying about voter fraud. I want to play for you what Senator Bernie Sanders said, the Democratic Presidential candidate had to say about this. And he said that this is a lot more than an issue of ego. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[01:05:00] BERNIE SANDERS, UNITED STATES SENATE INDEPENDENT: But what I fear about that statement, and what is something we should all worry about. Is when Trump talks about three to five million people voting illegally, he is sending a message to every Republican Governor in this country to go forward with voter suppression.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Ethan, is this sort of some kind of invitation to those Republican Governors to ramp up voter suppression?
ETHAN BEARMAN, TALK RADIO HOST: Well, this clearly been an issue in the United States with some of the voter I.D. laws being struck down by the courts. And I think that Bernie Sanders - Senator Sanders, actually, has an interesting point. Look, we need to make sure that the integrity of the election is valid. Meaning, people who aren't allowed to vote can't vote, but we need to give Americans every opportunity to vote. And I actually think that our system can be made better by expanding the opportunities to vote.
SESAY: Shawn, South Carolina Senator, Lindsey Graham; blasted President Trump for repeating these unfounded claims. And he's warned Mr. Trump that this is going to erode his ability to govern this country if he does not stop it. Do you agree?
SHAWN STEEL, CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE MEMBER: Not at all. I don't agree with much of Lindsey Graham has to say on anything.
VAUSE: You would agree with Bernie Sanders, though.
STEEL: Bernie Sanders, actually, is an expert on voter fraud because he is such a victim of it, coming from the Democrat National Committee. So, he knows how to get screwed and he knows how to smile about it. So, I don't have a lot of respect for the guy. The real issue here on voter fraud is that it really needs to be talked about. It needs to be investigated. It needs - It's not something that is completely vacuous. It's not something that's completely made up.
SESAY: But it has been investigated?
STEEL: Investigated by the usual suspects.
VAUSE: Why won't the White House investigate it then?
STEEL: Well, you know what, I saw that Mr. Comey got his job renewed in the FBI. And I think if there're serious voter fraud situations, that's a national issue. I think the FBI will be looking at that. So, I'm not saying that there isn't any at all. But John Fund from The Wall Street Journal, has written several books about voter fraud going; listen, the Democrats have been stealing votes since Tammany Hall, long before you came to this country, 150 years ago. So, the Democrats are experts on stealing vote, particularly in the urban areas. That's just a fact.
VAUSE: You see their investigation, but the White House doesn't want one. OK, let's move on because there is some very big news tonight. In the coming hours, we can expect Donald Trump to make good on that promise to build the wall on Mexico. He tweeted this out a short time ago, "big day planned on National Security for tomorrow. Among many other things, we will build the wall." So, Shawn, I mean, this is one of his key campaign promises. A lot of people will be watching to see how all of this plays out. And also, a lot of Muslims, not just here in the United States, but around the world will be watching to see if there is that ban on Muslims entering the country.
STEEL: Two issues; building the wall, border security in the South, is something that legislation from Congress. Bush signed 11 years ago, but it was never been employed and used. Obama completely shut it down on purpose. Bush didn't do it wholeheartedly. So, we're taking an 11-year law, plus, the funding that was granted 11 years ago, and finally putting it into play. That's really not really news, it's something that should have been done that most Americans want.
In terms of explicit anti-Muslim behavior coming from the Federal Government, nobody is going to support that. Nobody believes in a plural - pluralistic society like America has. Remember, we have the most integrated nation in the world. There is no nation comparable to the United States with the various hues, and languages, and diversity that we have. And that's something to be proud of. So, there is not going to be a hex on Muslims, per se, because that would be unconstitutional.
SESAY: And the language we heard from President-elect Trump on the campaign trail, which many people would say was decidedly anti-Muslim.
STEEL: You mean - you mean, extreme vetting? That's not -
BEARMAN: He talked about actually stopping all Muslims from coming back to -
STEEL: He backed away. He's not -
BEARMAN: Another example of he'll say whatever he needed to during the campaign, which included the big beautiful wall which will now be a fence in some areas.
STEEL: I hope it's a beautiful wall.
BEARMAN: But the point is, is he said whatever it took to get elected, and that's what happened. And so, now, look -
STEEL: Are you accusing him of being a politician?
BEARMAN: Exactly, which everybody claimed he wasn't. I'm going to say, right now, if there is a Muslim registry; I'm Jewish, I will register as a Muslim in this country to stand with my brothers and sisters who are Muslims, who are here legally, who are peaceful, who want to participate in our pluralistic society. I will not stand idly by.
STEEL: I almost hate to agree with you. But I can't think of a single Republican conservative, and I know a lot of them that supports a Muslim Registry.
VAUSE: General Foran, I say, has proposed the Muslim Registry, and he is advising Donald Trump right now.
STEEL: Well, I tell you, that's a very isolated point of view. But nobody wants a -
VAUSE: That he cut to presidency? Yes, he is meeting with Donald Trump.
STEEL: Thousands of people have the President's ear. And probably he's listening to it right now, because he likes watching T.V.
SESAY: Ethan, what message does this send to the world about who America is? What America is at this point in time under a Trump presidency?
[01:09:48] BEARMAN: It shows that we're withdrawing from the world. And I think that's actually a very dangerous message. When the United States withdraws from the world, it leaves a power vacuum. We're no longer the beacon of liberty, which is what we're supposed to be. And when we withdraw, bad things happen. I mean, bad people like to fill those vacuums. And I want us to be that pluralistic society, that beacon of freedom and liberty. And so, if we withdraw that, that light goes dim.
STEEL: I disagree. I think the fact that he's meeting with the Prime Minister of England, the President of Mexico -
SESAY: Talk about the tax for the wall.
STEEL: Well, you know, he's coming here, and he seemed to be in good spirits about it. Maybe he'll write his first check to Trump. I don't know. And Prime Minister Trudeau. So, he's very much, and he's talking to world leaders constantly. He's not withdrawing from anything. And if anything, I think the American credibility is going to increase in the Middle East.
BEARMAN: He just withdrew from the TPP, which I actually supported him on. But he is talking about withdrawing -
STEEL: Which the teamsters liked too.
BEARMAN: He attacked, NATO. He is questioning the validity of our North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
STEEL: I think I - you know what, he doesn't like a bunch of parasites having Americans pay for their protection.
VAUSE: See, this is the part, is that when Donald Trump makes a point, quite often there is something there. Like NATO, yes, those countries are not dedicating their defense budgets like they should be to the four percent level; only three or four countries in NATO. So, there is a point. But the criticism of Donald Trump is he then takes it too far; calling NATO obsolete.
STEEL: Read his book. It's a classic art of deal making. He makes a position. It may be strident. And then the other party is really shocked and amazed, and ultimately, it goes halfway. That's exactly what Trump wanted.
SESAY: But it's not business. It's diplomacy. It's politics.
STEEL: It's called negotiations. Everything in life is negotiations, including diplomacy.
SESAY: But when you are the President of the United States, would you not agree that words matter? And when you put statements let out like that, you destabilize the world on many levels, including financially, economically?
STEEL: I think it's called disruption. And I think Americans wanted to disrupt the President, and they're tired of the way the Congress is acting, they're tired of the way world leaders have acted. And yes, what Donald Trump is doing is crazy, as a fox.
BEARMAN: And he has taken the word bully pulpit too literally, and taken it as a bully pulpit. I mean, that's the problem - STEEL: People really need to get a good bully pulpit pounded on their head. That's what Americans love. Sorry, but that's the truth.
VAUSE: The problem with, you know, many of the issues is that there is a lack of clarity. And is there a Muslim Registry? Is there not a Muslim Registry? And there's confusions -
STEEL: There isn't.
VAUSE: Well, we don't know that for certain. Because -
STEEL: I do.
STEEL: I'll put money on the table. I can tell you it's not happening and it won't happen.
SESAY: Based on?
VAUSE: Will there be a ban on Muslims entering the country? Because, you know, you said -
STEEL: I hope so, there'll be vetting.
VAUSE: -- that there'll be vetting. There, you know, doubling restrictions for the refugees -
STEEL: What is wrong with that?
VAUSE: But there are - there are many people out there, right now, in this country who are Muslims, who are terrified. They don't know what is going to happen next. And they want some kind of definitive statement from their President, because he's their President as well. And right now, you talked to Muslims in this country, and they say they feel ostracized. They feel isolated. You know, they are -
STEEL: John, that's not true. These are professional - these are professional organizations like CARE, which is pro-Hamas, pro- terrorists, speaking on behalf of Muslims in America. I'll tell you, most of the Muslims in America, are Americans and they got day to day issues and they're not afraid of anything.
SESAY: Shawn, you can't say that. That's not true.
STEEL: They're a lot better from the places they came from. I guarantee you the people in Minnesota, who are Somalians are so much - 8,000 times happier being in Minnesota than they are back in Somalia.
SESAY: But that doesn't mean they are not worried. And you can't say that people don't have concerns within the Muslim American Community. Because they do.
STEEL: Show me some metrics. Show me some evidence. I don't see it. I hear talk. It comes from discredited Muslims, self-appointed discredited Muslim leaders who are extremists themselves that have an agenda that are tied in to terrorism in the Middle East. I don't trust the information.
SESAY: No. Just an anecdotally, I can tell you. Just anecdotally, I can tell you about Muslim Americans who are upset and who are concerned.
SESAY: Are their views not valid?
STEEL: Well, I got mine too. I got Mohammed Khan. Whose yours? Name them.
VAUSE: OK. Well, one of the other big controversial executive orders was signed by Donald Trump, and that was essentially to sign the go ahead for the Keystone Pipeline and also the Keystone of the North Dakota Pipeline as well in North Dakota. Donald Trump signed this, after President Obama essentially put a ban on it because of environmental reasons.
Now, after the order was signed by President Trump, protesters gathered outside the White House. Native American groups they spent months in North Dakota trying to stop the Pipeline, because they say it would disturb sacred sites as well as pollute their water supply. Michael Knudsen, Joins us now from Bismarck, North Dakota. He's a Logistic Coordinator for the Standing Rock Medic Healer Council.
Michael, last week the organizers of the protest up there in North Dakota; they asked the water protectors to leave the site and head home. Will that still happen now? Or will there now be renewed protests?
[01:15:00] KNUDSEN: A lot of our -- a lot of our structures and the supplies that we have here. And we definitely respect the standing rock's two tribe's request for people to clean up the camps before floods or any kind of, you know, melting would happen. But we are also very committed as medics and health care providers to stay as long as water protectors are at camp and in the area because we are kind of the closest health care providers to the camp.
What's happening now is that for months now, Highway 1806, which is the fastest route to Bismarck, which is the closest advanced hospital, is still closed. And so, we're still here at camp, and we're asking for that highway to be opened so that people can get medical care.
VAUSE: What basically are the options now left for these groups which have been protesting? Because when Obama was president, he clearly was against the pipeline. He ordered the Army Corps of engineers to take a look and essentially to re-assess the situation. Now, Obama's out of office, you have Donald Trump. Does this now present itself as like a legal challenge? Is that basically how this now needs to play out?
KNUDSEN: You know, I think that the legal aspect is really important. The environmental impact statement should still be going through. Obviously with Trump's, you know, memorandum, he is asking that be expedited. We'll see what the Army Corps says in response to that. But honestly, we all knew that this was a very real possibility, and we expected based on Trump's statements during his campaigning, that he wouldn't be our ally. He wouldn't advocate for indigenous rights or environmental protections. So the question really is, you know, what's going to happen to demonstrators who are still, you know, at a camp or across the country, demonstrating against Trump's policies, and what will that mean under this administration.
And even under the Obama Administration, we've seen escalations in the violence, you know, the police violence and the state violence against, you know, peaceful demonstrators. We haven't seen a lot of regulation from the Obama administration. We don't expect that the Trump administration will take measures to make sure that people's rights to express themselves and free speech are protected. So at least as a medic collective, we're committed to providing care to demonstrators who are experiencing real physical and mental trauma at the hands of those who oppose, you know, our right to demonstrate.
VAUSE: OK. Michael, we'll leave it there. But thank you for being with us. Michael Knudsen there in Bismarck, North Dakota.
SESAY: Back to Sean and Ethan here in the studio. We need to take a listen to some of what President Trump had to say during his meeting with Auto Executives on Tuesday. Take a listen to what he had to say as he promised to cut regulations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm going to have friends that want to build in the United States. They go many, many years and they can't get their environmental permit over something that nobody ever heard of before. And it's absolutely crazy. And I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist. I believe in it. But it's out of control.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: To a large extent. He is an environmentalist.
VAUSE: I'm just curious.
STEEL: I think he likes the environment because he likes to breathe the air and drink the water. So that kind of makes us all pro- environmentalists. Look, we've seen --
VAUSE: That's a pretty basic definition.
STEEL: We've seen some people that have taken this environmental activity and regulation and control into a religious zeal that has become -- declares any body of water in the United States a marshland. Therefore, under the control of the EPA. That created a lot of fake stories in the past. Remember how coal dust was supposed to be spoiling the atmosphere throughout the states and creating what was called acid rain? That never existed. That was unscientific, unverified and blown out, not talked about anymore. But there is --
BEARMAN: Yes. Totally untrue.
STEEL: There is dozens and dozens of stories like that that created by some environmental strange person and university never had a real job in his life.
SESAY: So you think -
STEEL: And the problem is, they're completely shown unscientific over the years. And now they're in charge of the nut house. And that's what Donald Trump is trying to restore some -
BEARMAN: That's entirely untrue. And on top of it all, we have unregulated chemicals unlike Europe, which takes the precautionary principle with chemicals.
STEEL: You want to be like Europe?
BEARMAN: We did -- on the topic of chemicals, at least, yes. We have unregulated chemicals, Atrazine polluting our waterways. We have Glyphosine, a brand-new report came out showing the liver damage that happens at the low dosage extended period exposure to the -
STEEL: We're the healthiest society.
BEARMAN: We're not the --
STEEL: They're bringing us water.
BEARMAN: And cancer rates are off the curriculum because of the --
VAUSE: Cancer rates are through the roof.
BEARMAN: Yes. And because of all these issues which actually President Obama even ignored as well that we need to address. And that is the unregulated chemicals that are polluting the water, the food, the air and everything else. And that's going to go all the way to the wayside.
STEEL: Typical scare mongering.
BEARMAN: It's not --
STEEL: Americans are living longer and healthier. The trouble is we have so many healthy old people.
VAUSE: The age expectancy for the white male in the United States actually declined for the first-time last year.
STEEL: That's -
[01:20:05] VAUSE: They're not living longer.
STEEL: That's - that's actually true for one segment of society. A lot of it has to do with they're not working, they're cold, they've forgotten American. And that was that community, along with not just white males, but a forgotten male and a forgotten female that got Trump elected, ironically.
BEARMAN: One more really important note back the pipeline. This is more than 200 years now of violating treaties with Native Americans that this president is going to continue just like all of the previous presidents.
STEEL: We don't know that yet, we don't know yet.
BEARMAN: So far so good. I mean, it doesn't look like he is going to respect.
VAUSE: Real like the pipeline.
STEEL: Nobody - nobody argues against keystone. Keystone's a rational, a good approach.
BEARMAN: Nope, I do not argue. I do not argue against keystone.
SESAY: We'll be going to leave it there. I know we will reconvene in the days ahead. Ethan Bearman and --
VAUSE: Sean Spicer?
SESAY: And Sean Spice -
VAUSE: Sean Spicer, thank you. Oh, my goodness.
STEEL: I'm not really Spicer. My man.
VAUSE: I just promoted you. Thanks, guys.
SESAY: Wonderful to have you both in this. Thank you. Thank you very much. All right. Quick break now. Israel approves new settlement housing. We'll tell you why all the past condemnation, by that matter.
VAUSE: Also a big victory for Iraqi forces against ISIS in Mosul. We'll hear why the next part of their fight could be much more difficult.
RHIANNON JONES, CNN INTERNATIONAL WORLD SPORT, ANCHOR: I'm Rhiannon Jones, this is your CNN World Sport Headlines. And his run continues. 53-year-old Roger Federer in his first competition since last year's Wimbledon, following a knee injury moves on to the Semi-finals at the Australian Open. On Monday, Federer faced Misha Zverev who's beaten world's number one, Andy Murray for the weekend. The 17th seed breezed past the German, 6-1, 7-5, 6-2. Federer said onto the match that his run, so far, has been a huge surprise. The 17-time grand slam winner faces Stan Wawrinka in the semifinals.
In the African Cup of Nations, on Tuesday, where as a winner advances past the group stage in Group C between who Morocco and the Ivory Coast. One goal is all it took from Morroco's Rachid Alioui and the 64th minutes. They went home to win one-nil and knocked out the defending AFCON champs. And the other game in Group C, the Democratic Republic of Congo,
safely advances to topping Togo 3-1.
The former world number one golfer Tiger Woods tees off for the first time this year on the PGA Tour. The 41-year-old has expressed concerns about fiscal challenges of playing four tournaments over the next five weeks. But he is looking forward to getting out at the Torrey Pines Course where he has enjoyed eight career wins to date. That's a look at your sports headlines. I'm Rhiannon Jones.
[01:25:01] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. Israel appears emboldens now that Donald Trump is the U.S President.
SESAY: The two allies seemed at odds 1so much of Barack Obama's presidency. But as our Oren Liebermann reports, Israel is welcoming what it calls a new era.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORREPONDENT: Just days into the Presidency of Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a major surge in construction in West Bank settlements. Netanyahu says he has approved 2,500 new housing units. In a tweet, he said "We are building and we will continue to build." it wasn't long ago, not even a few weeks ago, that he said a new era is coming, and it's coming soon. Clear reference to Trump's presidency. For Netanyahu, this now is that new era. Israel hasn't advanced plans this large, this many housing units on the west bank in years. President Barack Obama routinely condemned settlement construction. What about White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer in his second press-briefing under President Trump? He said Israel continues to be a huge ally of the United States, and that the white house will give Israel, quote, "The full respect it deserves." As for the settlements, Spicer said Trump will talk to Netanyahu when they meet next month. No condemnation, no criticism.
Netanyahu has been under pressure from his right-wing government to advance settlement growth. Some politicians have called on Netanyahu to even annex parts of the West Bank. He rebuffed those calls, instead announcing this new construction. The Defense Minister said most of the units are in the settlement blocks, but about 100 units are in the settlement of Beit El. That's noteworthy because Trump donated to that settlement in 2003.
Palestinian leaders condemned the move saying it damages the prospects for a two-state solution. PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said, quote, "It is evidence that Israel is exploiting the inauguration of the new American Administration to escalate its violations and the prevention of any existence of a Palestinian State." Palestinian leaders called on the International Community to intervene
here to stop Israeli settlement construction, which was called a, quote, "Flagrant violation" under International Law in the U.N. Security Council resolution late last year. Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.
SESAY: Well Russia, Turkey and Iran are agreeing to back a truce between Syria's warring parties. They're in charge of monitoring compliance. The agreement comes after two days of talks in Kazakhstan. It was the first time in nine months the government and rebels came together. But they didn't get anywhere on a broader political deal to end the conflict.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASHAR JA'AFARI, HEAD OF SYRIAN GOVERNMENT DELEGATION: Astana is Astana and Geneva is Geneva. Astana was held for a very specific reason, very specific purpose, which is, as I said at the beginning answering one of your colleagues, the question of one of your colleagues, Astana has only one goal, consolidating the regime of the cessation of hostilities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And a Syrian Army has posted video showing government troops fighting with rebels near Wadi Barada, an area which supplies most of the water to the capital Damascus. The government says its offensive will continue as long as the city is deprived of water.
SESAY: After months of fierce fighting, Iraq's Prime Minister says Eastern Mosul is finally free from ISIS control.
VAUSE: Now Iraqi forces are preparing for their next challenge, retaking the Western half of the city. Arwa Damon has details.
ARWA DAMON, CNN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: Celebrations did break out in some parts of the country following Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi's announcement that security forces had managed to recapture all of Eastern Mosul from ISIS. He also promised a quick and swift victory in the Western portion of the city as well. This is a fight that has lasted well over a hundred days, one that has proven to be unspeakably tough and difficult, costly for the Iraqi Security Forces. Namely, the counterterrorism forces that were the tip of the spear, pushing through these various different neighborhoods, coming across wave after wave of ISIS's suicide bombers and a variety of other tactics, also backed up by police forces and various different army elements.
It's really only now to a certain degree, that we're beginning to understand the sheer scale of the horror of what life under ISIS was like for the civilian population. Life in Mosul today does have traces of what it was and of what so many in the population hope that it will become. Markets are open.
Things that were banned under ISIS like cigarettes and cell phones are on sale. Women do not have to wear the full black niqab covering that ISIS forced them to don. Men can shave their beards. We have also seen ISIS prisons that they had established inside residential civilian homes, various different bomb making factories as well as stories from family upon family about the pressures that ISIS put on them. Little school children talking to us about how their fathers were taken away and lashed about how they witnessed people's hands being chopped off and all sorts of other unspeakable horrors. This is a battle, though, that is far from over with many military commanders acknowledging that in the western part of the city where the streets are a lot narrower, the population density a lot greater could prove to be even more difficult than what we have already seen.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Irbil.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: A short break here. When we come back, Donald Trump will soon announce new restrictions on visitors from Muslim majority countries. Some group, though, call it un-American and downright dangerous. More after break.
VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour.
Israel has approved the construction of 2500 new housing units in the West Bank. The settlements have been condemned internationally in the past, but the Trump administration does not appear likely to continue that trend.
VAUSE: Iran, Russia and Turkey have agreed to monitor and enforce the ceasefire in Syria. The agreement was announced at talks in Kazakhstan's capital. The joint statement also noted the only way the conflict can be resolved is through the political process.
SESAY: U.S. president Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive action directing federal resources toward building a border wall with Mexico. Mr. Trump will also announce new restrictions on visas and refugees for people coming to the U.S. from countries associated with terrorism.
Joining us here in L.A. to discuss President Trump's plans, Edina Lekovic, communications director for the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
[01:35:11] Edina, good to have you with us once again.
EDINA LEKOVIC, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, MUSLIM PUBLIC AFFAIRS COUNCIL: Thank you.
SESAY: When you look at the list of countries that the president is looking to, as we understand it, restrict access to the United States from, we're looking at Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Muslim majority countries. Your thoughts on these plans. LEKOVIC: Well, tonight I can't help but feel anything but sick to my
stomach. This is the divisive, bigoted rhetoric that we saw on the campaign trail coming to life in the first five days of this administration. This is the Muslim ban that he called for dressed up in selective country's clothing so that it's not an outright ban on a religious group. But as you said countries that all have in common one predominant faith group.
So this is just the first of a set of discriminatory policies that we're expecting to come down the pipeline. And that is what is -- that's what should be raising alarm bells for everyone out there who showed up for the women's marches around the world this weekend. And for those who have said to themselves if they called for Muslims to register, I will register, now is the time to do a gut check. Because this is the first step in a process that -- where folks of conscience, people who are standing up against this will have to use their voices, stand up, and protect religious freedom for everyone.
Because if they're coming for us today, we just know where this pattern takes us. It was Executive Order 9066 that authorized the internment of Japanese Americans. So it doesn't take more than an executive order.
VAUSE: Did you think it would happen this quickly? The first week isn't even done, and here we are. And did you harbor some hope that maybe this policy or this campaign promise would have been softened or sort of quietly gone away?
LEKOVIC: I mean, we could only hope that. But we knew that the stark reality was that some sort of aggressive immigration action was going to take place under the guise of extreme vetting. But what we're really talking about is selective targeting around nationality and religion disguised in other ways. So what we expected was that it would come down to countries of origin because that's what the Bush administration did with NSEERS, the National System of Entry-Exit.
VAUSE: Entry-exit, yes, yes.
LEKOVIC: It's important to note that that program was supposed to keep us safer as a country. Billions of dollars spent. Hundreds of thousands of lives impacted. Zero prosecutions related to terrorism. So that is what we were expecting. And this is just an even more aggressive move frankly than I expected, considering this is a president who has -- you know, whose party controls both Houses of Congress, why go with an executive order when you can engage in the legislative process in a way that would be more -- that would uphold the Constitution.
So I'm hoping that this is something that will be challenged by the public and by Republican lawmakers, frankly, you know, not to mention Democrats.
SESAY: Well, it has been made, it's not just about, you know, the people that he won't allow in, but that even for people who are already here from those countries, they are being stigmatized with this move. LEKOVIC: Absolutely. And we know the connection between political
rhetoric and actual -- the impact on actual lives. There was a study done about this last year where they studied the difference between when President Bush said Islam is a religion of peace and we're not at war with Islam, we're at -- you know, we're at odds with terrorism. Hate crimes went down in the subsequent weeks. When Donald Trump called for an outright ban on Muslims during the campaign season, hate crimes went up in the subsequent weeks.
These policies now in place go beyond -- this new policy goes beyond that even into something that will have very real impacts not just on the legal status and travel ability of folks, but their very safety on the streets. And so, again, it's a time where we need to pull out love. We need to pull out ways of knowing each other and of expressing solidarity.
VAUSE: OK. Thank you so much for being with us.
SESAY: Edina, thank you. We really appreciate it.
LEKOVIC: Thanks for having me.
SESAY: All right. A quick break. This year's Oscar nominations have been announced. And the topic of diversity is back in the spotlight. This time in a positive way.
[01:42:24] SESAY: Hello, everyone. The Oscar nominations are in. And the musical "La La Land" leads the pack with 14 nods, including for Best Picture, and for both of its stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.
VAUSE: "La La Land" is now tied with "All About Eve" and "Titanic" for the most nominations ever. The film won a record seven Golden Globe Awards earlier this month.
SESAY: Another big winner, this coming-of-age story, "Moonlight." It got eight nominations including one for Mahershala Ali, as Best Supporting Actor.
As you know, the Oscars have been criticized in the past for lack of diversity among nominees, but this year seven actors of color were recognized for their work, including Ali.
VAUSE: Both Denzel Washington and Viola Davis were nominated for the film "Fences." Davis is now a three-time Oscar nominee, a first for an African-American woman. The hashtag OscarLessWhite has been making the rounds on social media.
SESAY: We're joined now by co-founder and president of the African- American Film Critics Association, Gil Robertson.
Gil, so good to have you with us. I know you said you're thrilled about the 18 African-Americans nominated across various categories. But put the significance of this moment into context for us. GIL ROBERTSON, CO-FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, AFRICAN-AMERICAN FILM CRITICS
ASSOCIATION: Well, I mean, it certainly brings to a close at least for now, you know, the whole controversy connected with the previous two years where we didn't see any nominees of color. And so one might hope that it's going to lead to, you know, a different set -- a different agenda for Hollywood where quality pictures that feature actors of color, storylines about people of color will become the norm. I think the jury is still out on that.
VAUSE: There was so much publicity last time around because, you know, Denzel Washington missed out. You know, "Creed," you know --
VAUSE: You know, got the nod for the Best Supporting Actor, the only white guy in the movie. And there was a lot of pressure essentially on the Academy to change the way it was doing things. I don't want to be sort of the Debbie Downer here, but is there a concern that there are so many black actors and black talent who got nominated that somehow, you know, it's a result of all of that social pressure? I'm not saying this is the case. But is there a concern that maybe they didn't get there themselves?
ROBERTSON: No, no, no. Absolutely not. All of the people who were nominated today deserved it. They earned the right to be nominated. Just as last year all of the performers who received nominations, they deserved it. You know, filmmaking is a very arduous process. And it often takes years to get a film off the ground to the big screen. So certainly anyone who is nominated for an Oscar, you know, should be applauded for their efforts.
[01:45:04] I think where the controversy stems from is that, you know, the body of the Academy wasn't representative of the people around them. I mean, this is a diversity. It's a diverse country. But yet we didn't see a reflection of that in terms of the nominations. And so, you know, that's the reason why, you know, repeatedly, you know, the first year was like OK. But year two, it's like really?
SESAY: What does it say to you, though, that the number -- in fact I'd say most of the films that garnered awards on nominations for the African-American actors were made outside of the studio system. What should we make of that? And what does that say about diversity and change and just where we're at in terms of Hollywood?
ROBERTSON: That's a real interesting question. And I think that, although the Academy has certainly shown great leadership with regards to their efforts, the studios really need to do something as well. And after all, the studios are the ones who provide the pipeline of content that the Academy members ultimately vote for.
SESAY: Because if that doesn't change, this could just be a flash in the pan.
ROBERTSON: Absolutely. Absolutely. And already when you look at what's being lined up for 2017, it really looks like business as usual. So we're hopeful that -- SESAY: You don't sound too hopeful, Gil, I have to say.
ROBERTSON: My fingers are crossed.
VAUSE: OK. Well, the other big complaint this year is the absence of Latinos.
VAUSE: And not because any particular Latino actor or talented producer, director, or staff, simply because they don't have the chance there are no roles for Latinos. There was a study in UCLA that said 5 percent of speaking roles on television go to Latinos. And this is not representative certainly of L.A.
ROBERTSON: You know, I mean, if you can't drive through this city, I don't know how the creators in the studio system can't see that. They're driving to and from work every day, to lunch, to wherever they go. And yet the projects that they create and invest in don't reflect their own personal reality.
And you're very right. Where are the Latinos? Where are the Asian Americans? Where are the Muslims? Where are the women behind the camera in technical roles like directing, like editing? I mean, granted, an African-American woman was nominated today. But there just are not enough opportunities being extended. And very much like Viola Davis said a few years ago after she won her Emmy, just give me the opportunity.
SESAY: And I'll do my bit.
VAUSE: Give us a chance. Thanks, Gil.
SESAY: Really appreciate it. Thank you.
ROBERTSON: Thank you.
VAUSE: Well, coming up, Donald Trump's ties to alternative facts and his obsession with audiences did not start at his inauguration. We'll look at the president's history with both of those things. Next on NEWSROOM L.A.
[01:51:45] SESAY: Hello, everyone. News just in to us from Somalia. A truck bomb has exploded at a Mogadishu hotel. And police say attackers stormed the property. VAUSE: A second explosion was heard at the scene about 15 minutes
later. Gunfire is still ongoing, according to a journalist not far from the scene. We'll have more information as soon as we get it.
U.S. President Donald Trump has not always had the most loyal relationship with the truth and with facts.
SESAY: But now his new administration is making false claims about things as mundane as his inaugural audience.
CNN's Jake Tapper shows us this is standard for Mr. Trump.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): During his first weekend as president, Donald Trump and his team were fixated on an issue of no consequence to most voters.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a massive field of people. You saw that. Packed.
TAPPER: How big the crowds were at his inauguration.
TRUMP: I looked out. The field was -- it looked like a million, million and a half people. They showed a field where there was practically nobody standing there.
TAPPER: On Saturday the president sent his press secretary Sean Spicer to the White House Briefing Room to make several patently false claims to the public.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was the first time in our nation's history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass in the mall that had the effect of highlighting any areas where people were not standing.
TAPPER: Wrong. Ground covers were used on the mall as recently as 2013. And it went on from there. But the bigger question, why? Why the desperate need to prove a lie, thus trotting out even more falsehoods to serve it about an issue of no importance?
Well, past is prologue.
Folks who worked on NBC's "The Apprentice" know well the president is someone who does not let facts get in the way of claims.
TRUMP: Anybody here knows because you're in the television business "The Apprentice" is the number one show on NBC. The ratings are through the roof.
TAPPER: "The Apprentice" was spectacularly rated for the first few seasons. But then viewership began to drop, and the show's former publicist said Trump never was willing to recognize that change. He even tried to influence those who published the ratings. Quote, "He would want to make sure I called all those 10 people and told them number one show on television. Won its time slot. And I'm looking at the numbers, and at that point, say season 5 for example, we were number 72. I can't tell that to him. I can't say that."
A former supervising editor on "The Apprentice" told the "Journal of the Motion Picture Editors Guild," quote, Trump would just take numbers and throw them around. I mean, from season one to season two, he said his net worth tripled. He just made stuff up."
For years it's clear President Trump has been surrounded by enablers in showbiz and elsewhere who would not push back on these falsehoods. And he would attack those who told the truth.
In his Trump biography "TrumpNation," author Tim O'Brien wrote about the mogul's fluid estimates of his own worth. Trump sued O'Brien for libel, accusing him of low-balling Trump's wealth. Trump lost. He then appealed. He lost again.
TIM O'BRIEN, AUTHOR, "TRUMPNATION": He is very conscious and shrewd about the image he presents to the American people and to American viewers, which is the notion that he is America's most famous rich guy.
[01:55:06] He is a can do businessman. He is an adept deal maker. And when you dig into the track record on any of these things, it turns out the emperor really has no clothes.
TAPPER: So the big question for us, what happens when the facts are more consequential than crowd estimates? Will our president be truthful about the size of a terrorist cell, the number of troops in harm's way, or the strength of our economy? Will his enablers serve his ego or the nation?
VAUSE: And Jake Tapper there with that look at Donald Trump and some of his past exaggeration, let's call them, or alternative facts.
SESAY: Well, possible alternative facts.
VAUSE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. We'll be back with more news right after this.
VAUSE: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Coming up this hour --
SESAY: President Donald Trump set to make good on his signature campaign promise in the coming hours with executive orders to restrict immigration and to build a wall on the border with Mexico.
VAUSE: Trump effects. Just days into a new president in Washington, Israel now says thousands of new homes will be built --