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Aired February 9, 2017 - 15:00   ET


[15:00:00] CLARISSA WARD, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, lashing out from war veterans to department stores, Donald Trump is on the attack. So what's

the President's strategy? Then anger in France after an alleged rape of a young man by police. Plus, a brawl breaks out in South Africa's parliament

during the president's State of the Nation Address.

Hello, I'm Clarissa Ward standing in for Hala Gorani live from CNN London. This is THE WORD RIGHT NOW.

U.S. President Donald Trump is focusing on law and order today as he waits for an appeals court to rule on his controversial travel ban, but even with

the packed schedule, he found time to take on his critics. Mr. Trump is lashing out after his Supreme Court nominee criticized his attacks on the

judiciary, but instead of directing his fire at Neil Gorsuch, he's attacking the messenger.

Gorsuch has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill meeting with senators who will vote on his confirmation. Democrat Richard Blumenthal says

Gorsuch told him the President's attacks on judges were, "disheartening and demoralizing." A Gorsuch's spokesman confirms that account, but President

Trump disputes it, and so does his press secretary, saying just a short time ago that Gorsuch wasn't speaking about any specific attacks on judges,

but rather that he dislikes attacks like those in general.

Here's what Mr. Trump himself said during a working lunch at the White House.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You misrepresented his comments totally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to ask you what your thoughts were, sir.

TRUMP: His comments were misrepresented and what you should do is ask Senator Blumenthal about his Vietnam record that didn't exist after years

of saying it did. So ask Senator Blumenthal about his Vietnam record. He misrepresented that just like he misrepresented Judge Gorsuch.


WARD: Well, let's talk more about all of this. We're joined by White House reporter, Stephen Collinson and Michael Smerconish, host of


Michael, let me start with you. The White House appears to be really doubling down on this idea that Gorsuch's comments were not aimed at

President Trump. What you make of this and how is it working for them as a strategy?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, SMERCONISH: Well, I think it's strange and I think we're going to find out the definitive truth. I mean, so much of the

controversy that has surrounded President Trump thus far has to do with hyperbole but this is something capable of being proven true or false. Did

Judge Gorsuch behind closed doors with Senator Blumenthal in regard to President Trump's tweets about the federal judiciary one judge in

particular did he say that he finds that demoralizing?

And, Clarissa, as soon as these Senate confirmation hearings get underway in the light of day, somebody's going to ask him that question and we're

all going to know the answer.

If I can also say this, I think that President Trump was dealt a good hand by Judge Gorsuch behind closed doors using that verbiage because it defused

this issue in part. If only President Trump could have kept his mouth shut but instead he lets no insult pass without response. And I think that he

worsened his political hand as a result.

WARD: So, essentially, he's almost shooting himself in the foot. Stephen, do you agree with that assessment?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, I think that's exactly the case. You can make the case of this was a very shrewd strategy, not

just by Judge Gorsuch, but by the White House, which seems to have been behind it, because after all, the White House, essentially, confirmed last

night that Gorsuch did actually say this during the conflict -- during the meeting with Senator Blumenthal.

In a way, it looks like they were trying to get it off the table before the confirmation hearing. And I think the show of independence from the

President would actually help Judge Gorsuch with Democratic senators who are worried about that very aspect of this.

So I think what we're seeing is -- what we've seen repeatedly over the last three weeks is that the President says something and his communications

team, Sean Spicer or Kellyanne Conway or someone else has to sort of tie themselves in knots to try and find a way in which his comment can be

deemed acceptable.

It's a really tough job being Donald Trump's spokesman right now because he contradicts things, he intervenes, and as Michael said, he just cannot

abide anything being out there with tool which seems even slightly to be a criticism of the way he acts and what he says.

WARD: And you mentioned Kellyanne Conway there. We did hear from the White House Spokesman Sean Spicer just recently saying that she has been

counseled, I believe the term was that he used, after her comments, essentially, advocating people to go out and buy products at the

President's daughter, Ivanka Trump.

[15:05:06] Stephen, what is that mean exactly to say that she's been counseled?

COLLINSON: Presumably, she was called into the White House Counsel's office and it was, I guess, because Sean Spicer wouldn't say, but explained

to her the what she said basically amounted to a violation of federal law. The law says that you can't sort of tout products on behalf of yourself or

a friend while you are a federal official.

Now, it's clearly very unlikely that Kellyanne Conway will be prosecuted over this, you know. It's unlikely is not a criminal offense but it's

something that will be watched by those who sort of keeping an eye on the administration on Capitol Hill.

But what it does do -- and if could be someone else in another administration that said this, it might have passed unnoticed but this

issue about the extent to which the Donald Trump has not really walled himself off from his business operations. It looks to all intents and

purposes, that members of this administration helping benefit the business of Donald Trump and his family's by their position in the White House and

that's a very dangerous line. And it's a theme I think we're going to see repeated throughout this administration.

WARD: And certainly is. But I should say, it wasn't just Kellyanne Conway who seems to be having a bad week.

Michael, I want to play you an exchange from the press conference with the White House Spokesperson Sean Spicer and then ask you to weigh in on it.

Let's take a listen.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So for you to sit there and say --


SPICER: I know. So, why are you asking why he didn't do it when I literally stood here and did it? I don't understand what you're asking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kellyanne's comments were about that the President doesn't have time to tweet about everything. He's tweeting about this.

He's not tweeting about something else.

SPICER: Right. I came out here and actually spoke about it and said the President spoke --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) President's time --

SPICER: What are you -- you're equating me addressing the nation here and a tweet? I mean, that's the silliest thing I've ever heard.


WARD: I mean, Michael, Sean Spicer almost really sounding hostile here. He doesn't come out of this well, does he?

SMERCONISH: He doesn't. And for those of us in the United States, I think many are thinking of "Saturday Night Live" which has done a spoof on his

performance already as press secretary. I will say this, there's been no honeymoon, period. And perhaps there's been no honeymoon, period, between

Mr. Spicer and the media because the very first media availability was him standing in front of a podium and taking the media to task over the number

of people who attended the Trump inauguration. And so the gauntlet was really laid down from the first day on the job. And I would not have

expected that three weeks in that the relationship would be as tense as it already is.

WARD: But do you think, Michael, there's a sense that this is playing well with the people who voted for President Trump that this is exactly what

they want to hear?

SMERCONISH: Well, that is really a great observation because I think for many who are in the media and who see that which you just played, you think

this doesn't bode well for this brand-new administration, but he -- the President has very effectively branded the media as an enemy, and I think

that it plays quite well in 46 percent of the country because that's the percentage of the vote with which he was elected. And we should not

overlook that he gets political advantage in some quarters over a contentious relationship with the press.

WARD: OK. Michael Smerconish, Stephen Collinson, thank you as always for your insights.

The alleged rape of a young black man by police has sparked violent protests in a suburb north of Paris. Police arrested more than two dozen

people following several nights of clashes. Four officers are accused of forcing the man to the ground, beating him and then raping him with a

baton. Our Paris correspondent Melissa Bell now joins me live.


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Clarissa, we are now in an election period here in France, less than three months now from the first round of

the presidential campaign that had already been looking bitter and unpredictable. But in which the question of the banlieue, that is those

French suburban areas, often slightly remotes, often characterized by high levels of criminality and unemployment. That question, that issue, that

problem had been largely come -- absent from this particular presidential campaign so far.

That old chase with what happened to a young man last Thursday in one of the suburbs of Paris, Aulnay-sous-Bois. Have a look.


BELL: For five nights now, violence has gripped the suburbs of Paris, anger over the alleged assault by police of the 22-year-old, Theo, in Les

Ulis, Thursday.

[15:09:56] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): First, he was mistreated in full view of the town's cameras. Several things happened

there, including the violence with the baton.

Then, they took him on purpose to a place for the cameras could not film and there they continued to beat him up.

BELL: According to the prosecutor's office, the police stopped a group of about 12 people for suspected drug dealing. They say during the operation,

a 22-year-old man resisted arrest. The man, Theo, with tear gassed and allegedly raped with a police baton. He needed emergency surgery.

Forty-eight hours later, details of the incidents immersed, violence broke out in the town. Cars were burned, bus stops destroyed and the town was

plunged into darkness after the public lighting system was sabotaged.

The policemen have been suspended pending the investigation. Three have been charged with assault and the fourth with rape. His defense lawyer

denies the rape charge thing. The violence with the baton was accidental and the result of Theo's attempt to resist arrest. Theo for his part has

not been charged.

But in Ulis, the anger remained. And on Monday, Theo's family led a march calling for justice. At night though, that anger turned once again to

violence spreading two other towns in the (inaudible) area.

From his hospital bed, Theo made this appeal.

THEO (through translator): I just want to appeal for calm. I really hope that they will stop hostilities because I love my town and I would like to

find it the way that I left it.

WARD: On Tuesday, the French president was by Theo's bedside. Francois Hollande was joined in condemning the attack by most of France's

presidential candidates, well, they're by Marine Le Pen. After launching her campaign Sunday, the far right either refused to apportion blame.

"I don't see what else I could do," she told the press, "in a lawful society, but to wait for the judiciary to arbitration. I find it

unacceptable that policemen should be tolerate before the investigation into what went on has even begun."

But neither the charges against the policeman nor the appeals for calm have so far brought peace back to (inaudible) region. After a fifth night of

protests on Wednesday, 26 people were arrested.


BELL: The question now, Clarissa, is where these -- whether these protests will continue, whether these violence will continue and whether once again,

as we've seen over the course of the last few years, that question, that problem of police brutality will once again proved a spark that really

inflames the banlieues and becomes a central question in this presidential campaign.

WARD: And Melissa, do you have the sense from people who you've spoken to on the ground that this will likely continue, that the protest will

continue, that there will be more violence?

BELL: Already, there are calls for a demonstration at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. The real question is whether the violence will

continue in the banlieues themselves. That is, if those sporadic and spontaneous outbursts of car burning that you saw in that report will carry

on and indeed will grow.

There is this question also of the difference between the judiciary that has now charged these policemen, tree of them with assault, one of them

with rape, and a police report that is due to be published so far. Parts of it has been leaked that suggest that the police do not agree with that

version of events. They contest this idea that the man was raped, believing that it was instead a sort of accident has -- that was resulted

from Theo's resisting arrest.

Now, that discrepancy could lead to more questions about whether police brutality is simply being swept under the carpet by the men and women whose

job which is to defend those on the banlieues as well.

WARD: OK, Melissa Bell for us live in Paris. Thank you.

Still to come tonight, President Trump welcomes airline executives to the White House and spends the meeting bashing the entire American

transportation system. What he promised the industry, next.

And a program to house unaccompanied child migrants in the U.K is scrapped. We will hear from the politician who came up with it. Stay with us.


[15:16:05] WARD: U.S. President Donald Trump says he's planning to fix America's infrastructure. He mat with airline industry executives early in

the day and told them he would be rolling back regulations to help the industry thrive. CNN aviation correspondent, Richard Quest, joins me now

from Abu Dhabi.

Richard, you know, infrastructure is obviously been have big theme throughout the campaign trail. Was that the focus of today's meetings with

the -- meeting with these airline executives?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: I think it was the public focus of the meeting. If for no other reason then it's the one thing that they

can pretty much all agree on, the airlines, the cargo carriers the airports themselves. There can be common ground on the idea that America's air

traffic control system is antiquated and needs updating, money's been appropriated, but it's being very slow. They need new runways, they need

new terminals. Put it all together, more than one person has made disparaging, including the President, by the way, has compared America's

airports to those of a Third World country.

And now, they can all pretty much agree something needs to be done. Of course, who will pay for it, that will be a much larger and more tricky

question than just saying something needs to be done.

WARD: Certainly, a tricky question, Richard. And obviously, President Trump today was meeting with American CEOs, but you have actually had the

opportunity to sit down with CEOs from Emirates Airlines and also Qatar Airlines. I mean, what did you learn from them? Are they concerned about

how this new administration may impact their business?

QUEST: Well, you know, I started to the last by saying that that was the area of agreement because the big area of disagreement is that the U.S.

three, the American, Delta, United, are trying to get the Open Skies Treaty reopened once again. They're back claiming the unfair trade, unfair

competition. And they're hoping a protectionist president will be more sympathetic.

But Sheikh Ahmed of Emirates, the chairman of Emirates had a solid pre- warning for the Americans. Just remember how much we spend in the United States, he told me.


SHEIKH AHMED, CHAIRMAN, EMIRATES: As we speak to today, I mean, we signed a bilateral with the U.S. in 1999. It was actually the paramedic and they

were pushing for this agreement to be signed as an open sky publishing, which we did. And since then, I mean, we'll be in operating to the U.S. as

of -- next March, we'll be operating about 18 flights daily to the U.S. And that's really a big contribution and also we shouldn't really forget

that Emirates had the biggest order on 777, over 114 billion in total.

That really has created a big number of shops within the U.S. would come to the Boeing, on the --


QUEST: And, Clarissa, on the issue of the travel ban, well there, Emirates played neutral, basically saying we won't tell the United States how to run

their country if they don't tell us how to run ours.

WARD: OK, touche. Richard Quest will obviously have a lot more from that interview at the top of the hour. Thank you as always, Richard.

The British government is facing a backlash after deciding to scrap a program to take in unaccompanied child migrants. Critics accused the

government of abandoning vulnerable children. But the Home Secretary Amber Rudd defended the move, saying the scheme encouraged human trafficking.


[15:20:09] AMBER RUDD, HOME SECRETARY: The government has always been clear that we do not want to incentivize perilous journeys to Europe,

particularly by the most valuable children. I am cleared when working with my French counterparts, they do not want us to indefinitely continue to

accept children under the Dubs Amendment because they specify and I agree with them that it acts as a tool, it encourages the people --


WARD: And you heard Amber Rudd there, describing the Dubs Amendment, that's because the man behind the program is politician, Alfred Dubs, who

himself was a child migrant during the Second World War. He spoke to CNN's Christiane Amanpour in the last hour and gave his reaction.


ALFRED DUBS, FORMER MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: That's bitterly disappointing after all the campaigning, all the work, all of public support for the

government just to say no, just like that.


DUBS: Well, I wish I really knew. But allegedly, local authorities have a responsibility for finding foster parents for the children. Local

authorities can't do anymore, but I know they can. They've said they can. So the government I think, they're using that as an excuse. I think they

want to shut the thing down and find any excuse to do it.

AMANPOUR: And let's just figure out where exactly these kids come from. I've said from Calais, the jungle camp, but are there others from other

parts of Europe who had been trying to get across from the war zones?

DUBS: I think most of the unaccompanied child refugees that we are worried about are in -- were in France, and then Greece, and then Italy. And I was

visiting refugee camps in Greece in early January. So I saw for myself the desperate conditions for all people, including unaccompanied children.


WARD: Three Turkish soldiers were killed and nearly a dozen wounded after a Russian airstrike in Syria. President Vladimir Putin spoke to his

Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan to "convey his condolences," according to Russian media. It happened in the city of Al Bab in the north

of Syria. Ivan Watson has the latest from Moscow.

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Clarissa, there's been a phone call between the governments of Russia and Turkey after a deadly incident in the

north of Syria after a Russian military jet bond, what were supposed to be ISIS targets there and instead killed at least three Turkish soldiers and

wounded at least 11 more.

So you've had the Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, also

phone calls between the top military commanders of both countries expressing condolences for what's been described as an accident on the part

of the Russian military as well as public vows to work together better to cooperate more in the campaign against ISIS.

This isn't the first time that both governments have worked together after a deadly incident. Last December, a rouge Turkish police officer

assassinated, shot dead Russia's ambassador to Turkey at a public event, and in that case you had a similar expression of condolences to try to to

move past that.

Now, this is all part of a broader kind of rapprochement between Russia and Turkey, all the more remarkable because both countries were very much at

odds over the Syrian Civil War. They were backing opposite factions that were battling each other. Russia supporting the regime of Syrian President

Bashar al-Assad, Turkey supporting largely Sunni-Muslim militants fighting against Assad forces.

And they had a real rupture of relations in November of 2015 when Turkey actually shot down a Russian military jet over Syria in more recent months

the two countries have agreed to work together. And they've even embarked on diplomatic peace initiatives to try to work out some kind of resolution

to this awful Civil War. Clarissa?

WARD: OK, Ivan Watson, thank you.

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma delivered his annual State of the Nation Address and Parliament, it didn't go quite as planned. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You must live the House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are the one who's not prepared to go. I hope this gentleman --

JACOB ZUMA, PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA: You can kill me. It's fine to kill me. Just kill me. There's no problem. Kill me.


WARD: Eleni Giokos joins me now from Johannesburg.

Eleni, can you explain to us how did a fight break out in parliament? What's going on here?

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, Clarissa, it was actually doomed from the very beginning. You know, we saw that the

Economic Freedom Fighters, the people that you saw being physically and violently ejected from the National Assembly earlier this evening.

[15:25:00] They had vowed to interrupt the State of the Nation Address and they did for almost an hour and a half. Other political parties also

chimed in.

Now, why were they trying to interrupt? The address today, they're saying that Jacob Zuma is an illegal. The president citing the fact that highest

courts in the land had judged that he violated the Constitution because he's spending a lot of money on -- taxpayer money on non-security operates

to his private residence.

You know, this kind of debate continued for a very long time, though, which talk about the fact that Jacob Zuma had put in 441 military personnel to

ensure that there was law and order around the states of the nation address.

So, it was a lot of intimidation, publication that occurred and eventually because they refused to leave and they would not just letting Jacob Zuma

take the stand today, they were eventually removed.

And as you saw, punches were throwing, there was fist fight through the first (inaudible) are remains to be seen.

WARD: So, Elani, is there a sense that Jacob Zuma's presidency might actually be threatened by this?

GIOKOS: Yes, I mean, this is not the first time it's happened. Over the last few years, we've seen violence outburst in parliament around the state

of the nation addresses as well as other major events at the parliament. So this is almost become a little bit of a president. Whether it's going

to threatened him in any way, I think he showed his force and power this week by saying, well, I can't deploy military that will right police around

parliament as well to ensure that won't going to be major clashes.

But also other visuals that we've seen is that many protesters were pushed back. There were a lot of people standing up and saying they weren't happy

with the status quo. And that's basically what we've seen in South Africa over the passed year. Many called for him to step down, he survived a few

motions of no-confidence votes. He still has the support of parliament and the African National Congress. But he's losing support on the ground and

he's losing a lot of the support from ANC veterans.

And what we've also seen is the opposition parties are coming in quite strong. It's going to be a make or break year for him this year. They're

going to be announcing the new ANC president. We've got national elections coming through in a couple years time. Whether this was his last state of

the nation address, many are calling for that, many said that he won't survive the rest of his term.

But it's incidents like this and images like this that you see that people are just so unhappy and of course the opposition parties are not letting it

go even when it comes to the opening of parliament.

And, you know, when you see violence like this in the National Assembly, Clarissa, it creates a lot of concerns about, you know, sort of the state

of democracy and the state of protection for parliamentarians and an institution like the National Assembly.

WARD: It certainly does. Eleni Giokos in Johannesburg, thank you so much.

Still ahead, a new world order. I speak to the man known as Putin's brain and ask him what the warming relations between Washington and Moscow mean

for the world.

Also coming up, passports for sale. CNN's investigative team uncovers a shocking scheme for allegedly buy and sell Venezuelan passports from inside

one of the country's embassies. Stay with us.


[15:30:41] WARD: Welcome back to the program. Let's take a look at the top stories this hour.

U.S. President Donald Trump says he plans to roll back regulations on the airline industry. He met with airline industry executives earlier in the

day and spends a lot of time bashing the American transportation system, calling airports and planes obsolete.

French police have arrested more than two dozen people following several nights of clashes in the Paris suburbs. The clashes follow the alleged

rape of a young black man by police. Four officers are accused of forcing the man to the ground, beating him and then raping him with a baton.

The South African president was giving his state of the nation address when a fight broke out in Parliament. Jacob Zuma had deploy the Army to

maintain peace as well all factors underscoring the extreme political tension in South Africa.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's leader Vladimir Putin have frequently expressed admiration for each other. But what is that bromance

mean for the future of the world? Well, I sat down with a man who has been nicknamed Putin's brain. Alexander Dugin says Putin inspire Trump and that

the two men will now forge a new world order together.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got ahead, Mr. Trump. In Trump, we trust.

WARD: Meet the man who has been dubbed Putin's brain. Ultra conservative philosopher and T.V. personality, Alexander Dugin, is a champion of Russian

nationalism, and he says, President Trump is on the same wavelength.

ALEXANDER DUGIN, DUBBED AS PUTIN'S BRAIN: As long as I could judge on Donald Trump, I have remarked many, many similarities with my thoughts.

And his inauguration speech discourse was as if I would write it myself.

Dugin is seen as one of the architects of Russia's growing ideology, a conservative nationalism with roots in the Orthodox Church that is being

exported across the world as an alternative to liberal democracy.

DUGIN: November 8, 2016 was an important victory for Russia and for Putin personally.

WARD: Dugin says that Putin didn't meddle with the U.S. election but that he provided Trump with a different kind of assistance.

DUGIN: The real help of Putin to Trump was the example shown, how we could challenge the country.

WARD: He provided an inspiration?

DUGIN: Yes, inspiration. And a kind of example, example to challenge the status quo, to challenge the conventional wisdom, challenge all this

totalitarian principles of globalists and ultra-liberals.

WARD: So do you think that President Putin and President Trump can carve out some kind of a new world order together?

DUGIN: Yes, but not only together, with the participation of others.

WARD: Not everyone agrees, Dugin is a controversial character, even here, but his rabid brand of anti-liberalism appears to be spreading.


WARD: Are Putin and Trump simply playing up to their domestic audiences, or do you really intend to forge some kind of a new world order? Well,

let's discuss what shape that relationship might take. I'm joined now by Tony Brenton. He is live in Cambridge, England. He is the former U.K.

ambassador to Russia. And also with us is Gideon Rose. He is the editor of Foreign Affairs and he joins us now from New York.

Ambassador Brenton, I want to start with you and of course we should say that Alexander Dugin is not officially part of the Kremlin. Some of his

comments are clearly speculation, but at the same time, I wonder, when you listen to that piece and you hear some of his thoughts, what kind of new

world order do you think Russia would like to see carved out?

TONY BRENTON, FORMER U.K. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Well, I don't think they have ambitions for a new world order. I think Mr. Putin is much more

cautious than that.

[15:34:58] What they do have ambitions for is to be respected in a way that they don't think they have been by the United States and by the West. He

feels that the West is consistently ignored him and his policies towards Ukraine, towards Kosovo, and so on. He feels that his interests have been

neglected. He feels that we have taken reckless risks without policies in the Middle East where we in effect allowed the growth of Islamic extremism,

which the real problem for him at home.

And he's very keen therefore that Russia be listened to and that Russia's interest be taken into account as we formulate our policies. And his real

hope will be because you have see a very bad relationship with President Obama, that with the new U.S. president talking quite warmly about him that

he can establish that new relationship and can begin to work together on such issues as Islamic extremism.

WARD: But there is a sense I think that there has been a sort of geopolitical shift, let's say, in the past year as we look at Russia

playing an increasingly assertive role in Syria, in Ukraine. I mean, how do you see this playing out, Gideon?

GIDEON ROSE, EDITOR, FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Well, I mean, I think basically there are only really three policy options broadly speaking for the U.S.

when it comes to Russia. There's a continuation of the basic status quo which is cooperating on some things, but conflicting on others and trying

to navigate a middle path or there is a path that's really going towards conflict that could end up in war or a path is determined to do

conciliation that could end an appeasement.

And the thing we don't know is whether the Trump administration wants a moderated version of what we currently have a little bit more friendlier

but is still not in the appeasement range or whether they truly want to reshape relations and essentially for example drop Europe and partner with

Russia instead. They wouldn't get away with doing that but that's what Dugin is talking about or something like that. And I don't think it's

going to happen.

WARD: So, Ambassador, I mean, you do you get the sense -- how do you think Europe is responding to all of this when they're looking at, you know, an

increasingly assertive Russia, when they're looking at this, you know, change in new president in the U.S. How is Europe feeling right now? Who

stands to win and who stands to lose from this new world order?

BRENTON: Well, I think -- I mean, Europe -- to the extent that has woken up to the new situation. It's feeling pretty nervous. Europe has an

effect free written on the U.S. military e guarantee since the end of the Second World War. And Europe is now on the rather weird situation that on

the whole European leaders a pretty hostile to Mr. Trump because of his views on race and all the rest, but also a pretty hostile to Mr. Putin.

And they're going to have to make a choice.

That choice will inevitably be in the direction of United States. But I suspect there's an order to guarantee themselves the sort of support from

United States that we've been used to. Europe is going to have to do more, for example, in defense. It's going to have to spend more on defense.

It's going to have to spend the U.K. for example already meets, the 2 percent NATO requirement. Other big countries like Germany and France are

going to have to do the same.

WARD: I mean, Gideon, we're seeing obviously how President Putin stands to gain from President Trump taking office, but what does President Trump

stand to gain from this anticipated rapprochement from this so-called bromance?

ROSE: This is a good question. We're not sure of the answer. There are some obvious and legitimate answers that you could give that would say,

gee, nobody benefits from a war and certainly the U.S. has not necessarily in the West more generally, perhaps handled all of its Russia relations as

delicately as it might of -- might have.

And so, you could imagine a more realist oriented president cooling things down a bit and trying to do better relations with Russia. Let's not forget

that the last two presidents have started out by trying to partners with Russia and do a better job. So this is the third reset in a row you might


But the question of whether it goes beyond that to something more passionately romantic or more nefarious is something that we just don't

know and will have to see.

BRENTON: If I may?

WARD: Yes.

BRENTON: I think Gideon is right. There's not going to be a passionate relationship, but relations between the West, between United States in

particular and Russia have gotten into an appallingly dangerous situation over the last few months. We got perilously close to manage conflict and

the effect back in September and everybody and Mr. Trump, I'm sure is aware of this, has an interest in getting away from that. And while keeping up

our god, beginning to find areas that we can work on together to begin to reestablish a relationship of trust.

As Gideon says, we're not going to -- another reset isn't going to work but finding all the items of international business, I have already mentioned

Islamic extremism, another one, ironically, is cyber warfare, another is nuclear terrorism, the big bits of business out there which the West can do

much more effectively incorporation with Russia.

[15:40:09] And I rather hope that Mr. Trump will look for those items of business and begin to carry forward cooperation on them.

WARD: All right.

ROSE: I agree with that but I think that there's two things in particular. I would hate to -- most Russian -- most Western Russia experts that I

talked to would hate to see better relations with Russia by the Trump administration purchased at the expense of either acquiescing in Russia's

attempt to seize parts of Ukraine and bully parts of Eastern Europe on the one hand. And second to simply ignore our Russia's attempt to essentially

intervene in the U.S. elections and suborn Democratic outcomes in United States and other countries.

So if you can continue to oppose Russia on those kinds of things while working for better relations, fine, the worry that people are expressing

and we just have to wait and see is that the Trump administration might be giving -- prepared to give up too much to have better relationship.

WARD: OK. All right, gentlemen, I'm afraid we have to leave it there. Thank you as always for your analysis.

Still ahead, how an alleged scheme to sell Venezuelan passports could be opening borders to criminals and even terrorists?


WARD: Imagine being able to buy a passport that would get you visa free access to anyone of 130 countries around the world. Now, imagine how

dangerous that passport could be in the hands of a potential terrorist. These concerns are at the heart of a year-long investigation by CNN and CNN

en Espanol. A former Venezuelan diplomat says a scheme to sell passports was operating out of that country's embassy in Baghdad.

Here, CNN senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: There is good reason this Venezuelan strolling the streets of Toledo, Spain instead of Caracas,

Venezuela. Misael Lopez is frightened, because he says he told the truth about Venezuela, possible terrorists and corruption that will have him

forever looking over his shoulder.

MISAEL LOPEZ, FORMER EMBASSY OFFICIAL: I'm concerned about my safety and my family's safety. Everywhere I go or where they are.

GRIFFIN: If what this former official for the Venezuelan government in Iraq says is true, criminals and potential terrorists could be freely

moving about the world undetected with authentic Venezuelan passports that were sold at a profit to anyone who was buying. Passports good to enter

more than 130 countries, without a visa, not including the United States.

[15:45:04] Lopez was the legal adviser for the Venezuelan embassy in Baghdad, starting in July 2013. A former police officer and an attorney,

he provided CNN with documents that he says show an employee at the Venezuelan embassy in Iraq sold passports and visas for a profit. And a

CNN investigation found serious irregularities in Venezuelan passports and visas.

On his first day in Baghdad, Lopez says Venezuela's ambassador, Jonathan Velasco entrusted him with a very special envelope.

LOPEZ: Full of visas and passports. He told me, "Get this. This is one million U.S. dollar." I thought it was like a joke. Then he told me here

people pay a lot of money to get a visa or passport to leave this country.

GRIFFIN: You said you thought it was a joke.

LOPEZ: Of course. The first moment, yeah. That's his meaning, but OK, I take it like that. It was the first day, so.

GRIFFIN: But about a month later, Lopez learned the ambassador's joke foreshadowed a frightening discovery. Lopez says an Iraqi employee of the

embassy seen here in a video he recorded told him Venezuela's passports and visas were being sold. She had made thousands of dollars. Cash. And

Lopez could too.

LOPEZ: Some good money. You can make lot of money with that. They pay $10,000 U.S. for a visa. Then I got really, really mad. And I told her,

"How could you think I'm going to be selling visas or passport."

GRIFFIN: And who was the person that was supposedly going to get the document?

LOPEZ: An Arab guy.

GRIFFIN: With no connections to Venezuela?

LOPEZ: No. No connection at all.

GRIFFIN: It was only the beginning. Over the next several months, he says he was approached again and again by the same employee asking him to

participate in the scheme. Lopez says she even once offered to sell visas to an entire group of Syrians and give him a cut.

LOPEZ: She told me, I have 13 Syrian people wants to pay $10,000 U.S. each for a visa.

GRIFFIN: $130,000.

LOPEZ: I suspect that might be terrorist. That's why I reject, of course, immediately.

GRIFFIN: Lopez decided to investigate further. He searched the Iraqi employee's desk and took these pictures of what he found. The embassy's

official stamp, used to authenticate visas, still wet with ink, along with sheets of paper printed with the Venezuelan government seal. She was an

interpreter, wasn't authorized to have any of these items. He eventually fired the employee. Lopez did not have any other documents that would

confirm the allegations.

Do you think that Venezuela is basically offering free travel passes to potential terrorists?

LOPEZ: I have found link to three things, laundering money, trafficking drugs and terrorism.

GRIFFIN: And it was this document, he says, he found inside the embassy that alarmed him most. It is a list of 21 Arabic names and corresponding

Venezuelan passport numbers.

Curiously, many of the passport numbers are consecutive. Same with the official government I.D. numbers, which are like Social Security numbers.

A Venezuelan immigration official tells CNN, these passports are valid and match the names. We checked with a Venezuelan database and found for

example Atif has an I.D. that belongs to Jose. That's the case were 20 of the 21 I.D. numbers registered to other people, people with Hispanic names.

Not the Arabic names listed on the passports.

So these are fake people with real passports?

LOPEZ: No, it's not fake people. It's different people.

GRIFFIN: Lopez says he even found this man, who has an Iraqi national I.D. but who has a Venezuelan passport that says he was born in Venezuela.

LOPEZ: So this guy, it's like he has two mothers, and he was born in two places.

GRIFFIN: Lopez documented everything, including details of the offering of money to issue visas to 13 Syrians and sent an official report to the

Venezuelan Ambassador Jonathan Velasco.

And there's no doubt in your mind that the ambassador knew this was happening.

LOPEZ: How could he being there for so long, couldn't notice that?

GRIFFIN: And you presented that information to him, and he did nothing.

[15:50:04] LOPEZ: Sometimes he used to say, Caracas do not need to know anything about that.

GRIFFIN: Lopez says the ambassador threatened his job, so he took his allegations all the way to Delcy Rodriguez, the Foreign Minister of

Venezuela, reporting his suspicion of the fraudulent issuing of visas, birth certificates and Venezuelan documents. He says he heard nothing.

Finally, frustrated and fearing the implications, Lopez contacted the FBI at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid. Law enforcement source tells CNN, an FBI

official did meet with Lopez at this restaurant across the street from the embassy and send his information to Washington.

The FBI told us it could not discuss anything about what happened next. By the end of 2015, Lopez was removed from his position by the Venezuelan


For months, we repeatedly tried to get comments from the Venezuelan government.


GRIFFIN: Caracas, the government threatened CNN en Espanol's crew with expulsion for just asking about the passport and visa allegations. At a

press event, Foreign Minister Rodriguez ignored our question.


GRIFFIN: Months later, during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Rodriguez ignored us again.


GRIFFIN: Until finally, we tracked down the Foreign Minister on the sidewalk outside the U.N.


GRIFFIN: As she walked into the U.N., Rodriguez refused to answer any more questions.

Is there anything you'd like to say?

GRIFFIN: And Ambassador Velasco, in an e-mail to CNN wrote that he has nothing to hide or fear, and the embassy don't never and ever sell

Venezuelan nationalities. As for the former employee in Iraq, who Lopez says was selling the passports, she did not respond to our calls or e-


Misael Lopez says he knows what he saw. He has lost his job and even his country.

He's under official police investigation for revealing confidential matters or secrets. But he says he could not stay silent.

LOPEZ: You cannot be cop and a thief at the same time. I decide to be a cop and do the right thing.


WARD: That was Drew Griffin reporting there.

Still to come on THE WORLD RIGHT NOW, a huge snowstorm is battering the East Coast of the U.S. and causing havoc with travel. We'll have the

details. That's next.


WARD: A huge snowstorm is playing havoc with travel in the United States, airlines have canceled 1,800 flight with blizzard conditions forecast in

the countries northeast.

[15:55:05] Let's go live now to Jessica Schneider, who is in New York.

Jessica, tell us what you're seeing there?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Clarissa, you know, this was a rapidly moving storm that went through New York City. And as you can see

out here on the streets, we've been roving around.

This storm left behind 23 centimeters of snow and a lot of slippery streets out here were going down the side streets on the upper west side of


There is actually, despite the fact that the snow is no longer falling, there is still a winter storm warning in effect for New York State and a

blizzard warning up in Boston just about four hours from here.

So this storm still wreaking havoc, especially when it comes to air travel. So far today, we've seen 1,800 flight canceled all across the Northeast

that includes JFK and Newark here in the New York area, also Philadelphia, Baltimore, Reagan National down in Washington D.C.

So even though the worst has moved through here, you're seeing traffic moving along. The streets are still slippery. And, Clarissa, we are still

seeing a lot of those delays and cancellations still affecting the airports around here. We know the airports are up and running but it's just a

matter of actually getting those flights, those airlines up and running as well. Clarissa?

WARD: Jessica, it looks like you are managing to stay warm, though, this must be the most ingenious way of covering up a blizzard.

SCHNEIDER: You got it covered, you know. Where -- this is our way of covering a lot of ground and also staying nice and dry as well.

WARD: OK. All right, thanks to Jessica Schneider braving the blizzard there but from inside the warmth of the car in the northeast of the U.S.

Well, this has been THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. Thank you so much for watching. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS is up next.