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WORLD RIGHT NOW WITH HALA GORANI
Fallout From Michael Flynn's Resignation; Justice Department Warned That Flynn Could Be Blackmail Target; Growing Calls For Investigation Of Flynn; White House: Trump Knew For Weeks Flynn Withheld Truth; Ethics Office Recommends Investigation Of Conway; Malaysian Police Kim Jong-Un's Half-Brother Dies; Official: Russia Deploys Ground Launched Cruise Missile; Russian Lawmaker: Flynn's Departure Part Of Witch Hunt; Steven Mnuchin Sworn In As Treasury Secretary. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired February 14, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Hala Gorani. We are live at CNN London. Thanks for being with us on this Tuesday. This
is THE WORLD RIGHT NOW.
Well, who knew, what and when, what was discussed? Donald Trump's administration is facing a firestorm of questions today after the abrupt
resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Flynn resigned after it emerged he discussed sanctions with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. while Barack Obama was still president in a phone
call. Democratic and some Republican lawmakers are now calling for a full investigation of the administration's contacts with Russia.
The White House press secretary says Mr. Trump didn't tell Flynn to talk sanctions on that call and he maintains Flynn broke no law. He says the
president lost trust. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The issue isn't whether or not what he discussed. There has been a complete legal review of that and
there is no issue with that. The issue is whether or not he failed to properly inform the vice president or not be honest with him or not
remember it. But that's just plain and simple and when he lost trust with the president that's when the president asked for and received his
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, tells us how it all unfolded.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump's embattled national security adviser, General Michael Flynn, stepping own Monday night
in a firestorm of criticisms after misleading Vice President Mike Pence and others about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United
An official telling CNN, the Justice Department warned the White House last month that Flynn discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador in
December before Trump was sworn in despite repeated denials, a move that could have broken the law.
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates informed the Trump administration prior to being fired that General Flynn was vulnerable to potential blackmail.
In his resignation letter, Flynn conceding that he inadvertently briefed the vice president-elect and others with incomplete information, but
falling short of admitting he lied.
Despite reporting by the "Washington Post" that the sanctions on Russia were a main topic of conversation between Flynn and the ambassador.
ADAM ENTOUS, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST" (via telephone): According to two official that we spoke to who have been briefed on this,
it was, as they described it, a main topic of the discussion. It wasn't something that Kislyak maybe threw out at the end or anything like that.
JOHNS: With pressure mounting on the White House on Monday afternoon, Counselor Kellyanne Conway said the president supported Flynn.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR: General Flynn does enjoy the full confidence of the president.
JOHNS: An hour later, a different message from the White House press secretary, the president was evaluating the situation. President Trump
refusing to answer questions -- about his controversial adviser.
We still don't know what the president knew and when he knew it. In a statement, Democrat Adam Schiff, accusing the administration of not being
forthcoming about who was aware of Flynn's conversations with the ambassador and whether he was acting on the instructions of the president
or any other officials or with their knowledge.
Democrats now calling for an immediate classified briefing into the situation writing, "We in Congress need to know who authorized his actions,
permitted them, and continued to let him have access to our most sensitive national security information despite knowing these risks."
GORANI: Joe Johns reporting. Let's get the very latest now from CNN's political director, David Chalian, is joining us from Washington. So the
question now is, did someone tell Michael Flynn to discuss these sanctions with the Russian ambassador?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That is the question, Hala, and the White House says it -- the president did not. Donald Trump did not
instruct him to do so and in fact, the White House is saying that the president was unaware that sanctions were part of this conversation at the
time the conversations took place during the transition.
He did not become aware according to the White House that sanctions were actually part of this conversation between Flynn and the Russian ambassador
counter to what Flynn has been saying until January 26th.
GORANI: OK, but that's several weeks ago? So why the loss of trust now and not on January 26th?
CHALIAN: That is a question that Sean Spicer could not adequately answer and I think you're right to highlight it, Hala, because I think it is the
core of this.
[15:05:08]We were told today by the White House press secretary that there is -- there were sort of different considerations. The first thing the
president wanted to figure out was, was there a legal violence here. Something here called the Logan Act, was there something that where Flynn
really broke the law here.
And they came to the conclusion, the president, his White House counsel, that that was not the case. But it begs the question since they said, then
there was this whole trust process, and that the trust has been eroding, and this really came down to a trust issue.
Well, on January 26th, the president learned that Mike Flynn lied to his vice president. There was no other data point presented between January
26th and now to further erode the trust other than the fact that the "Washington Post" learned that Michael Flynn's story was changing and they
made it public.
GORANI: And also David, they've been working alongside each other since, right? Up until the point Michael Flynn was asked for his resignation?
CHALIAN: Yes, he was with the president at Mar-a-Lago this weekend working the North Korea situation when that made itself apparent over the weekend,
the first big national security test for this president, and Mike Flynn was right there working it. So the trust clearly have not eroded enough to
have him not working that situation. But recently as this weekend, again, what happened from January 26th until now other than it became public.
GORANI: All right, David Chalian, our political director, thanks so much for joining us from Washington.
CHALIAN: Thank you.
GORANI: Some lawmakers say one way to clear all of this up is just to ask Flynn himself what happened. They want him to testify before Congress. If
not, an independent commission. Our next guest sits on the House Intelligence Committee and supports a full investigation, Democrat Eric
Swalwell is live on Capitol Hill. Thanks for joining us. So you want a full investigation. Do you think you're going to get it?
REPRESENTATIVE ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: I hope so. I'm counting on Republicans to care more about our country than their party. We all love
our country, but these are moments where you have to really standup and say we're never going to tolerate a foreign adversary meddling with our
And this most recent situation with General Flynn shows that there are a lot of questions about Russia's role in the election and continued role
with the administration today.
GORANI: But the White House says nothing illegal happened here. Initially that -- essentially that it was a question of trust. Do you have -- I
mean, what makes you say that perhaps something untoward happened to a degree that an investigation is needed?
SWALWELL: You know, Hala, I would buy that if Michael Flynn was let go on January 26th, that's the day that Acting Attorney General Yates informed
the White House that Flynn had lied. Instead Michael Flynn was not let go until this reached a boiling point, which shows me that there is a lot more
there and that the White House was OK with a person who could be subject to blackmail by Russia receiving top secret information and advising the
president, and that's a problem.
GORANI: But we don't know the exact content of the call?
SWALWELL: Well, what we do know is what was reported and what was reported was that the day that the president -- President Obama issued sanctions
against the country that attacked us, Flynn is telegraphing five times in a call to the Russian ambassador, don't worry about it. And I would suggest
to you that if there was not an intercept that had this conversation, Michael Flynn would still be there today, but it looks like this was too
embarrassing for the administration and he had to go.
GORANI: But our sources are saying, yes, sanctions were brought up, but no promises were made.
SWALWELL: Well, Hala, I think just by bringing it up to a country that had just attacked us the day that sanctions are put in place, you're
telegraphing whether you're doing it in a direct way or a link and a nod way, you're telling that country, don't worry about it and they didn't.
They went from ready to kick out our diplomats in the country, ready to close down a school in Russia to sitting back and saying, we'll just wait
GORANI: Well, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunez, a Republican, he says he's more concerned about the leaks that are
coming from the Department of Justice than the actual -- what was said, what was discussed on that phone call. What do you make of that?
SWALWELL: Yes, anyone who's more concerned about the leaks here is taking away the wrong lesson. We should focused on right now our national
security, and if our national security adviser or anyone in the Trump administration who has access to classified information has been
compromised by the Russian government, that makes all this less safe. So today, we have more questions than ever before and I hope we bring Michael
Flynn in to answer those questions. And I hope that we get to the bottom of what were the personal, political, and financial relationships between
Donald Trump, his team and the Russian government.
GORANI: But when you say compromised by the Russian government, what do you mean by that and how do you back that up?
SWALWELL: Well, I'm using Sally Yates' phrase that she conveyed to the White House in January 26th.
[15:10:05]That she believed that the manner in which Michael Flynn was talking to the Russians and for the lied that he told to Vice President
Pence, he could be subject to compromise, and so what I'm suggesting to you, Hala, is when you look at a country that attacked us ordered by its
dictator, intended to help Donald Trump, and then Donald Trump speaks in such flattering ways about this dictator, wants to roll back sanctions,
wants to get us out of NATO, the only check on Russia, and won't show us his taxes, there's a lot of questions there that need to be answered.
GORANI: So what's the next step here? I mean, obviously, Republicans control both houses, and the president is a Republican, I mean, what can
you do here?
SWALWELL: Democrats are in the minority in both houses but we're not helpless, the American people are behind us, and I also believe that
Republicans love their country as much as we do and they will say that we're never again are going to tolerate an outside adversary meddling in
our elections or having relationships like we saw with Michael Flynn, and having control over our national security decisions.
GORANI: But you want an investigation, how are you going to go about doing that?
SWALWELL: I'm going to keep asking Republican colleagues in Congress to have the courage to come forward and put country ahead of party. I believe
that's going to happen, and I think today was a big step in that direction.
GORANI: And so have you already received, you know, even verbal support from some of your Republican colleagues in Congress that they support this
SWALWELL: I have continued to talk to Republicans privately. I was encouraged today to see Senator Blunt is calling for an investigation, and
I really have to give credit to Senators McCain and Graham, who aren't letting this go. And I think as more and more comes out, folks are going
to see that we have to make sure that our country's national security is always put first and that we never have a person in the position, who is
winking and nodding toward our Russian adversaries that we're going to change policies toward them because of whatever compromises may have been
GORANI: One last one, sir, three potential replacements, this is just based on sort of speculation, it has to be said, but David Petraeus, Keith
Kellogg, who is the number two right now, Robert Harward, would you be happy with any of those three men as the new national security adviser?
SWALWELL: Well, I certainly want to learn more. I have concerns about General Petraeus. I believe everyone in life is deserving of a second
chance and I think certainly in light of what has happened with the most recent national security adviser, I would caution the president in putting
to replace Michael Flynn somebody who was convicted of disseminating classified information, but I do respect General Petraeus' service to our
country and I think everyone is worthy of a second chance. I just don't know if this is the time for that second chance.
GORANI: All right, I'm not hearing you're bringing endorsement here on that one. Thank you very much, Eric Swalwell. He sits on the House
Intelligence Committee, a Democrat from California. Thanks for joining us from Washington.
And this just in to CNN, the U.S. Office of Government Ethics says the White House should consider taking disciplinary action against Kellyanne
Conway. Of course, you know her, she's a top adviser to President Trump.
Now it's recommending an investigation saying there is strong reason to believe, she violated ethics standards by endorsing Ivanka Trump's clothing
line during a television interview last week. The White House says Conway has been counseled over the incident. We'll see if that goes anywhere.
Now, let's move away from the United States and take you to Asia, where there's a major story coming out of that part of the world. The half-
brother of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un, has died suddenly in Malaysia.
Kim Jong-Nam became ill at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. It is being described by police as a quote, "sudden death" pending an autopsy. Let's
go live to Seoul. Paula Hancocks is there. What more do we know, Paula, about the sudden death of this half-brother of the North Korean leader?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, what we know is we're being told by Malaysian police that Kim Jong-Nam arrived at the airport. He then
approached one of the airlines counters and asked for help saying that he felt unwell.
He was rushed into an ambulance, but passed away on the way to the hospital. As you say, it is being described as a sudden death and
intelligence officials here in South Korea have a lot of questions.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): From heir apparent to black sheep, Kim Jong-Nam was not what you'd expect from North Korean royalty, the eldest of late leader,
Kim Jong-Il, seen here seated beside him, the half-brother of current leader Kim Jong-Un. Kim Jong-Nam was known internationally as a playboy
who was partials at gambling.
He's (inaudible) falling from grace after being caught trying to sneak into Japan in 2001 on fake documents to visit Disneyland. A book later written
by a Japanese journalist based on interviews with him, shows he was unimpressed that Kim Jong-Un had been chosen the successor.
[15:15:05]UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not (inaudible) that his younger brother succeed (inaudible).
HANCOCKS: Yomi (ph) claims the two brothers have never met because of the ancient practice of raising potential successors separately. But Kim Jong-
Nam told him he thought his younger brother would fail.
Speaking to CNN affiliate, TV Asahi, in 2009, Kim Jong-Nam said he himself had no desire to be leader of North Korea.
KIM JONG-NAM: No, personally, I'm not interested in this issue.
HANCOCKS: Kim Jong-Nam was not present at his father's funeral in 2011, fueling earlier rumors he was vanished from the country. He lived in China
for many years and traveled with body guards after Kim Jong-Un executed their mutual Uncle (inaudible) in 2013 for alleged crimes against the
state. Defectors say most elites felt they too could become a target. This sudden death in Malaysia is an unexplained.
HANCOCKS: As you can imagine, there is a lot of rumor and speculation that's swirling around about this death. There is a post-mortem that's
going to be carried out and we know that the intelligence agencies here inside Korea will be briefing lawmakers in the coming hours. So we hope to
have some more concrete details about what happened after that -- Hala.
GORANI: All right, mysterious what happened there at that airport. Thanks very much. Paula Hancocks is live in Seoul.
Still to come this evening, a senior Russian lawmaker sounds off about the resignation of Trump's national security adviser. We'll dig deeper on how
Flynn's departure could impact the new administration's dealings with Russia. Stay with us.
GORANI: Well, of that North Korean missile test was a big test for the Trump administration in terms of foreign policy, here's another one.
Breaking news, a senior military official is telling CNN that Russia has deployed a cruise missile and an apparent violation of a decade's old arms
control treaty and also has had some fly-bys, a spy ship, for instance, sent off the coast of Delaware and there was a concerning flight near a
U.S. Navy warship. All of those considered some provocative moves from Moscow.
Our Pentagon reporter, Ryan Browne, joins us live with much more. What more do we know about these Russian actions?
RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, that's right, Hala. We're just learning about some of these provocations in the recent hours are kind of
all coming together at once. Now in the Black Sea, NATO just conducted a military exercise there and we're seeing shortly thereafter, Russian war
planes conducting a near fly-by, which was considered unsafe and unprofessional by U.S. Naval forces in the region.
And then moving on -- in the continents of the United States, off the coast of Delaware, Russia's spy ship with advance surveillance capabilities to
intercept signals intelligence was discovered off the coast of Delaware today.
[15:20:11]And so these are just a couple of different actions and then of course, this violation of the INF treaty dating back to 1987 governing the
deployment and usage of intermediate range cruise missiles.
So these things all coming together as U.S.-Russia relations are in the spotlight in the wake of Michael Flynn's resignation due to his
conversations with the Russian ambassador.
Now again, these things aren't entirely new. Russia tested their cruise missiles, similar-styled cruise missile back in 2014, but this deployment
is new similarly the spy ship has approached the U.S. coast before. It's international waters, but in 2014, 2015, the same spy ship operated in the
But these taken together, these provocations could be seen as some as a signal to the new administration that Russia won't back down in the face of
NATO exercises. Secretary of Defense James Mattis is traveling to NATO today to attend a ministers meeting in Brussels. So this could be a way of
Moscow signaling to Washington that it's not going to back down.
GORANI: Yes, and we saw those types of fly-bys and also submarine action up in Scandinavia by Russian submarines, some British jets had to escort
some Russian jets that got a little bit too close to their part of the -- their area of control. But the question is what would the U.S. do about
this in response? If they feel like this is just no accident, that all these things are happening at once as a provocation.
BROWNE: That's right. You know, U.S. officials -- these aren't seen as (inaudible). Sometimes these are seen as kind of a strategy of -- a
strategy of harassment in some cases. Again, it's a form of signaling. You know, of course, it was a much closer call during the last
administration when we had that very memorable fly over, a Russian jet flying very close over a U.S. ship.
Now then Secretary of State John Kerry said that ship would have been within its rights to actually shoot that plane down. Now we're not talking
about something that close in this scenario, but it is interesting because you know, there are a lot of positive signals coming out of Moscow about
the new Trump administration.
But it seems to be keeping with some of these same techniques, some of these same tactics of making its presence known both here, you know, off
the coast of Delaware, but in the Black Sea, and elsewhere.
GORANI: Yes, certainly. Thanks very much, Ryan Browne, our Pentagon correspondent in Washington. We appreciate it.
With more on that breaking news, Ivan Watson joins me now live from Moscow. Were there on what might be behind these moves from Russia, what could the
motivation be, these fly-bys, these, you know, sort of failing very close to territorial waters off of Delaware, et cetera. What could be behind
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think -- it's approaching midnight here, Hala, so we'll be reaching out to Russian
officials to try to get their response to these claims. We have to recall that this is all really coming from the Pentagon right now. So we don't
have confirmation from the Russian side about any of these reports just in.
In the case of the report of this Russian warship that's supposed to be sailing off the coast of the U.S., the report says that the ship is in
international waters so presumably the Russians would say, hey, we're allowed to sail a ship in this area.
As far as possible motives for any of these, if they're confirmed to be true, and we don't even know if the Russians will confirm or respond to any
of these reports. Well, Russia has consistently said it sees NATO expansion as a threat to its own national security.
It calls a NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, a provocative action, posting of NATO troops and equipment near Russian borders as a potential
threat to Russia and would argue that it's potentially in its right to react accordingly.
Of course, kremlin, the Russian government, has been very open to the Trump administration, very welcoming to it. We've heard a lot of positive
signals while top Russian officials continue to vilify the former Obama administration.
So it will be interesting to see if there's perhaps a two-prong track going on here between the official words coming, the diplomacy from the kremlin,
and these kind of military maneuvers if they're confirmed by Russian military assets -- Hala.
GORANI: And I want to ask you, of course, about the news coming out of Washington over the last 24 hours that Michael Flynn, the national security
adviser to Donald Trump was asked to resign after it emerged that in a phone call, he discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the
What more do we know about Michael Flynn's connections in Moscow? Of course, there is this video that's emerged now of Michael Flynn at the 10th
anniversary party of Russia today.
[15:25:07]That's a television station there. We see him with Russian officials as well. Maybe we have that video there that we were discussing
-- but anyway, what more do we know about this Michael Flynn -- his connections in Moscow?
WATSON: Well, one things that's very interesting to see is the reaction, not from the kremlin so much, which has declined to comment over the past
two days about this affair, and said that this is an internal U.S. domestic matter, though, last week, a kremlin spokesman was denying reports that
Flynn discussed the possible lifting of U.S. sanctions with the Russian ambassador, what seems to have gotten him in the hot water in the first
But what's fascinating here is to hear a number of senior Russian lawmakers, the heads of various foreign affairs committees in the upper and
lower houses of the Russian parliament, Hala, coming out and effectively denouncing the sacking of Mike Flynn saying that this is a blow against
possible improvement of U.S.-Russian relations.
One top lawmaker saying that this was one of the few American officials in the Trump administration who was open to possible dialogue with Russia.
And some of these -- actually talking about -- these lawmakers talking about a witch hunt, about (inaudible), about paranoia in Washington versus
Regarding this video, yes, Mike Flynn, came to Moscow in 2015 to attend the celebration, the 10th anniversary of the kremlin funded network Russia
today. He sat at the right hand of the Russian president, and for that perhaps, that is part of why Russian lawmakers -- seemingly Russian
lawmakers saw him as a potential ally to him.
And we're seeing this very unusual scenario of senior Russian lawmakers were very critical of past U.S. administrations now defending effectively
this U.S. official who's now been summarily fired -- Hala.
GORANI: Right. And it's truly internal U.S. politics here. I'm getting comments from lawmakers in Russia about it. It's fascinating really.
Thanks very much, Ivan Watson, for joining from Moscow.
Now with all the political drama surrounding Michael Flynn's departure, it would be easy to miss that Steven Mnuchin has been confirmed and sworn in
as the new U.S. treasury secretary. He got through the Senate confirmation process by 53 votes to 47, mostly along party lines.
And he's going to have hit the ground running. The inbox on his first day is to avert a fiscal crisis. Richard Quest is next to me to explain more,
to tell us more about Mnuchin.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": The fiscal crisis is the one to raise the federal debt ceiling. He's already been enjoying his
confirmation process. He said that that is a priority. He doesn't it to turn into a political circus. So nearly raising the amount of money that
the U.S. government can raise, the debt ceiling.
GORANI: And we know that sometimes a contentious --
QUEST: Yes, it won't be on this occasion, though, but it's going to be fairly straight forward because the last thing the administration wants is
a battle royal just on this. The next things is all to do with taxation and tax reform. We are expecting the full tax brief in about two to three
weeks from now. That's what the president said when he was with the Japanese prime minister. So that will be a massive operation.
And then of course, he's got the rollback of Dodd-Frank that he is responsible for or will be largely responsible for shepherding through. A
huge agenda for a man who has no experience of government.
GORANI: All right, and what's his background?
QUEST: Goldman Sachs, of course, is the famous partners --
GORANI: I thought we were the draining the swamp.
QUEST: But anyone told to become the producer in Hollywood. I mean, he's funded various movies, but this is a new area. And you saw it today. He
was answering questions at the White House from the press corps about some rather esoteric rules concerning Venezuelan drug dealing and that sort of
thing. And he just couldn't get away from the fact that people wanted to ask about Russia, and he just wanted nothing to do with it.
GORANI: Well, you know, if you're at the press briefing at the White House, you can expect some news of the day questions. Let's talk about
Apple, everybody like to talk about Apple because it's unbelievable. The numbers are eye popping. Apple, its new share price hits the record.
GORANI: Its market cap and the cash-on-hand of this company?
QUEST: Over 700 billion if you look at the cash-on-hand, 250 or so is -- but hundreds of billions in cash sales, 700 billion market cap heading
towards 1 trillion. What are you looking --
GORANI: No, I'm going to look at -- those fact factoid, what is the GDP -- 230 billion in cash, so what country has a GDP equivalent to the cash
reserves of Apple?
QUEST: Well, Apple --
GORANI: I hope I'm going --
QUEST: -- the GDP -- just 17th in the world, total GDP value of the company, which, you know, it sounds extraordinary. And it is.
GORANI: I felt like I was getting that wrong. What country has a GDP similar to the market cap of Apple this year?
QUEST: Go on then. Go on.
GORANI: So it is Saudi Arabia.
QUEST: That is the -- because that's about 17th in the world. Yes.
GORANI: $745 billion is the GDP of Saudi Arabia. Apple's market cap, $700 billion. That is unbelievable.
QUEST: It is. And what is fascinating about the Apple market cap and the Apple share price is that, just last year, it was under $100 a share,
$91.92 a share.
GORANI: This is like --
QUEST: Go on. Tell me you bought.
GORANI: No, I did. I did not. So I dabbled --
QUEST: Did you gain in at all?
GORANI: Eh, a little bit.
QUEST: Yes? Yes? Yes?
GORANI: All right. Stop.
QUEST: A little bit.
GORANI: All right. We got to go. I'm being hard rapped, as we say in the business.
QUEST: Oh, because we get to the prices.
GORANI: We'll see you at the top of the hour.
All right. Still to come, the White House says its relationship with Michael Flynn could not rebound after he misled the Vice President, but
it's just the latest in a long list of controversies. We'll be right back.
GORANI: The U.S. National Security Council is in a holding pattern, according to one White House official. Michael Flynn tendered his
resignation as national security advisor. He was asked to do so by Donald Trump. That's leaving a vacuum near the top of the intelligence community
responsible for implementing President Trump's goals.
Misleading the Vice President was apparently the final straw, but it wasn't the first controversy dogging Michael Flynn. Jonathan Mann has more.
JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn has long been controversial in military circles. He previously served as
commander of military intelligence in Afghanistan and as director of intelligence for U.S. Central Command.
But on at least two occasions, Flynn's handling of classified information has come under scrutiny by the U.S. military. And in 2014, he was pushed
out as the head of the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency for his contentious management style. Flynn has also faced criticism over his
inflammatory views, including numerous Islamophobic remarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN (RET.), FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Islam is a political ideology. It is a political
ideology. It definitely hides behind this notion of it being a religion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANN: Flynn also tweeted last year that, quote, "Fear of Muslims is rational." And in his public statements, Flynn has repeatedly dabbled in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FLYNN: I've had people in the media, mainstream media, who said, oh, that's all a conspiracy. It's a lie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[15:35:02] MANN: Flynn and his son, who served as his aide, were proponents of a bizarre fake news story, alleging that a Washington D.C.
pizzeria was home to a child sex ring visited by Clinton campaign staffs. The allegations remain entirely unsubstantiated.
Just one week before the election, Flynn tweeted, "U decide - NYPD Blows Whistle on New Hillary E-mails: Money Laundering, Sex Crimes with Children,
et cetera. Must read!"
On the campaign trail, Flynn accused Clinton of being a security risk and lead Trump supporters in this controversial chant --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FLYNN: Lock her up. That's right. Yes, that's right. Lock her up!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANN: Critics say Flynn's multiple controversies finally caught up to him.
Jonathan Mann, CNN.
GORANI: So how does this resignation leave President Trump's security team?
Reid Wilson is the national correspondent for "The Hill," and he joins me now live from our Washington bureau.
So thanks, Reid, for being with us. First of all, the President didn't ask for the resignation of Michael Flynn when he learned that he misled the
President. It took several weeks. Why was there gap in the timeline?
REID WILSON, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE HILL: Right. It not only took several weeks, but it took several leaks to the media. And that is
becoming a problem for the White House. We've already started to hear from Republicans on Capitol Hill starting to call for investigations into what
the White House knew and when they knew it.
So far, Republicans on the Hill had been leery of getting to the same sort of investigations of this White House that they were eager -- overly eager,
in some cases -- to get into the last White House. These are President Trump's allies. They're turning on him now on this particular issue.
We'll see if this is a harbinger of some future investigations, or if this is either a dam that's breaking or just one step too far that the White
House can reel back in.
GORANI: I mean, is it atypical to have this many leaks early on in an administration?
WILSON: Well, I think one thing that brings up is that there are not necessarily three branches of government in the U.S., but functionally,
there are four branches of government. We've got the executive, the President; the legislative, Congress; and the judicial, of course.
But there's also a more bureaucracy that exist, you know, during the Bush administration, during the Obama administration, and during the Trump
administration -- career officials who are in Washington for their entire lives. And they are some of the sources of a lot of these leaks. This is
a bureaucracy that's pushing back against the White House that, I think in a lot of cases, they believe is going too far.
GORANI: So how do you describe then the situation within the administration? I mean, are they simply responding to a crisis by asking
the national security advisor to resign because they realize that, basically, he lied to the Vice President? Or is this basically a sign that
there is chaos within the administration?
WILSON: Well, I think what we've seen from the first couple of weeks of the Trump administration is that even his senior advisors are advisors who
served at the pleasure of the President, and this is a President whose pleasure may disappear a lot sooner than some other presidents.
You know, the average national security advisor lasts for about 2 1/2 years. This national security advisor lasted for three weeks. What does
that say for the Chief of Staff, for the Press Secretary? All of whom have been subject to rumors that the current President is not terribly
enthralled with their early performance.
Is this going to be just one resignation that doesn't sort of bode ill for the rest of the administration, or is this the first in a wave of turn ever
from a President who's used to firing people?
GORANI: And these are based on reports. This is all speculation, but potential replacements for Michael Flynn because they're going to have to
act pretty quickly. There's the number two, Keith Kellogg, potentially; David Petraeus, he has problems of his own though; Robert Harward.
What's the word there on whether or not there's an early favorite?
WILSON: Well, I think the fact that there is a list and that there was a list just hours after Michael Flynn resigned is sort of emblematic of who
this President is. He likes to have lists. He likes to trot people out and sort of float these trial balloons, if you will.
All three of those people that you just mentioned are imminently qualified to serve as national security advisor. I mean, David Petraeus used to run
the CIA and was a four-star general. I wonder if this job is almost a step-down for him.
But, you know, everybody there on that list is qualified, but this is what Donald Trump likes to do. He likes to tell people that, hey, there's this
list of really qualified people and then they're sort of playing almost a reality show politics of who's going to be the ultimate survivor.
GORANI: Right. Reid Wilson, thanks very much, national correspondent at "The Hill." We really appreciate your time with us this evening.
[15:39:58] And let's speak now to a foreign policy expert with firsthand experience in this field. My next guest is former deputy national security
advisor under Bill Clinton, Nancy Soderberg.
Thanks for joining us from New York.
NANCY SODERBERG, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Good afternoon.
GORANI: We appreciate it. What do you make then of, essentially, the firing of Michael Flynn when you heard about it? What did you make of it?
SODERBERG: Well, I thought he was ill suited to the job. He's not a policy person. He's a policy bully, and he makes up Flynn facts. It is
surprising how quick it happened, but it quickly transitions from that story to President Trump.
What did he know? When did he know it? Did he condone this behavior? Did he want the Russian conversations to go on? How long have they known about
it? It's apparently weeks.
And ultimately, it's teeing up a fight within the White House, of the ideologues with Mike Flynn, Bannon, this young guy, Stephen Miller versus
the more pragmatic guys with policy experience, Reince Priebus. And Donald Trump is going to have to decide. It's very unclear which direction he's
going to go, but he's going to have to make that decision.
GORANI: But, typically, a national security advisor, how closely would he or she communicate to their president what they're discussing in terms of
sensitive issues like sanctions with the Russian ambassador? How often typically --
SODERBERG: Well, I worked in the --
SODERBERG: Yes, I worked in the White House for four years, and I've seen this job up to very close. And I think it's the hardest job in the
government. You're the last voice in the room with the President.
The number one job is to give the President good policy advice. The second is to make sure that the rest of the team feels that they're views have
been adequately aired before the President makes a decision. So you have to listen, you have to sit through meetings, way different points of view,
and give the President a considered view.
So the names that they're talking about all are capable of doing that. I think this administration's already very heavy on the generals, and it's a
different policy view, being a general than having been in State Department or something like that. So I think they'll get it right. If they don't,
it's going to be one scandal after another.
And one of the most concerning things about this first almost month in office now is how little they care about facts. We already have extreme
vetting on immigrants. There is no voter fraud. And so are you going to have a fact-based policy process, or are you going to keep the campaign
rhetoric, which was not factually based, and just trying to keep campaigning?
GORANI: But Mike --
SODERBERG: If they do that, it's going to be continued chaos --
SODERBERG: -- and a mess.
GORANI: But I guess my question is, with all your extensive experience -- as you said, you spent four years in the White House -- would it be
atypical for a national security advisor to have a conversation like that with the Russian ambassador a few weeks before the inauguration of the
President and not share it with anyone else?
SODERBERG: Well, it's -- a couple of questions there. It's perfectly normal for transition teams, and I've been on them, to have conversations
with the incoming President, with the incoming team. That's fairly normal. Not sharing it with the State Department, not taking notes, not having
translators, that is highly unusual.
But that's not what killed Flynn's job. It's the fact that he'd lied about it inside the White House. It's always the cover up every time. The
original sin is never the worse one. It's hiding it, covering up, that's the killer.
And he's potentially on their investigation for having lied to the FBI about this, for no reason. He could have just said, yes, I did it, sorry,
oops, and moved on. But having lied about it and tried to cover it up, I think, is why he had to leave quickly.
GORANI: But --
SODERBERG: And the next --
GORANI: I was going to say, by all accounts, the President knew about the fact that he misled the Vice President Pence in late January --
SODERBERG: It appears that way.
GORANI: -- in late January. The resignation came yesterday.
SODERBERG: I think it's going to be very much an investigation of what the President knew and when he knew it. What did he authorize? What was he
The other piece that's going on here is the role of Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon put himself in the middle of the national security council. You're
not supposed to politicize the national security council.
These decisions, I've sat through many of them -- Democrats and Republicans do the same thing -- you take politics out of it, that's not allowed in the
situation room, and have a discussion of what is in the U.S. national security interest. Politics may come in at a later stage, but not in there
as original recommendation.
So you're going to see continued shake up until they push Bannon out of the national security council, potentially out of the White House, and have
people that are a bit more experienced in policy experience in. And which way this President is going to go, none of us will ever know.
SODERBERG: Our predictions are all on the floor.
GORANI: They have been over the last several years, that's for sure. Nancy Soderberg, thanks so much. We really appreciate your time on CNN.
SODERBERG: My pleasure, any time.
GORANI: All right. Don't forget you can check our Facebook page, facebook.com/halagoranicnn.
Still ahead this hour, a powerful report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How many of you left the United States because of Donald Trump's executive order? Raise your hand.
All of you?
MOHAMED HOSSAIN, SOMALI ASYLUM SEEKER: All.
HUSSEIN AHMAD, SOMALI ASYLUM SEEKER: Yes. All of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[15:45:02] GORANI: The asylum seekers making a perilous journey out of the United States and heading north. Stay with us.
GORANI: Donald Trump's travel ban has caused confusion for asylum seekers and not just for those trying to get into the country. Many are risking
their lives to try to get out. Some are making the journey north to Canada in freezing temperature.
Sara Sidner reports from Emerson, Manitoba.
SIDNER: In the middle of the night, this is when refugees are choosing to try and escape the U.S. to Canada. Just behind me is Minnesota. To the
left of me is North Dakota and this is Emerson, Canada. It's pretty easy to cross here. There is not much to stop you, except for the snow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Come, follow me, OK?
SIDNER (voice-over): Men, women, and children picked up in the middle of the night in the dead of winter, looking for refuge after being denied it
in the U.S.
This is the latest wave of asylum seekers, who has snuck across the United States border, not trying to get in to the U.S. but trying to get out.
Destination? Canada. These four men were among them.
SIDNER (on camera): What was it like trying to get here?
AHMAD: I cannot believe, now speaking to you, that I'm alive. I was almost dead to be freezing.
HOSSAIN: It was very, very difficult.
SIDNER (voice-over): At one point, they all thought they are going to freeze to death.
SIDNER (on camera): This is an easy entryway into Canada because this is a decommissioned border crossing. This is actually one of the route people
were walking in knee-deep snow, in sub-zero temperatures, for hours. And they did it all in the dead of winter. In a panic. For one reason.
AHMAD: When Donald Trump was elected, so I fear that I will not have an opportunity to be granted and to live as an asylum or refugee in the United
States because Donald Trump hates the refugees.
HOSSAIN: They don't want any immigrants, especially my country, Somalia. They banned.
SIDNER (on camera): How many of you left the United States because of Donald Trump's executive order? Raise your hand.
All of you?
AHMAD: Yes, all of us.
SIDNER (voice-over): All of them ended up stumbling into the small border town of Emerson, Canada, and calling 911.
Here, border jumpers are nothing new. But the numbers coming over are.
BRENDA PIETT, EMERSON, MANITOBA RESIDENT: I guess it started with a trickle, and now, it's increased to like a flood stage.
SIDNER (voice-over): We witnessed 21 people, including an entire family, come into Canada near Emerson in just 24 hours. The Mayor of Emerson says
he feels for the asylum seekers, but he's also worried about the safety of his town.
SIDNER (on camera): Are you worried about terrorism? Are you worried about the people coming across the border at all?
MAYOR GREG JANZEN, EMERSON, MANITOBA: Well, I mean, that's always in the back of your mind. Like, when you're getting this people coming across,
for one thing, they're breaking the law when they jump the border, so right away, they're criminals.
[15:50:04] SIDNER (voice-over): Not everyone we saw was from the list of banned countries, but they all have their reasons for making the journey.
Seidu is from Ghana.
SEIDU MOHAMMED, GHANIAN ASYLUM SEEKER: Right now, I'm wanted in my country.
SIDNER (voice-over): Wanted, he says, for the crime of being gay.
SIDNER (on camera): What would they do if they caught you?
MOHAMMED: If they didn't kill me, I will go to jail.
SIDNER (on camera): Tell me how this happened to you. How did you lost your fingers?
RAZAK IOYAL, GHANIAN ASYLUM SEEKER: I (inaudible) in my life.
SIDNER (voice-over): They had never heard of frostbite, until all of their fingers had to be amputated, save one thumb. When asked if it was worth
it, they said they had no choice.
IOYAL: We feel like we are home.
MOHAMMAD: In Canada, yes.
IOYAL: That's what we feel. And the Canadian people opened their hands to us.
SIDNER: But even those two men from Ghana, who lost all their fingers except for one thumb, they have no guarantee that they will be given
refugee status here in Canada. But more people keep coming and hoping.
Sara Sidner, CNN, Emerson, Canada.
GORANI: We'll have a lot more after break. Stay with us.
GORANI: To Thailand now where one company is hoping to become a household name in skin care. But they're not trying to do it with celebrity
advertising or unrealistic health claims. Saima Mohsin reports this brand is looking to its Thai heritage for that.
SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tradition is also at the heart of organic lifestyle brand, Panpuri. I'm meeting up with Vorravit
Siripark who started the business at the age of 28. At the beginning, he secured partnerships with hotel spas in both Asia and Europe to carry his
line of luxury skin care and aromatherapy products.
MOHSIN (on camera): Tradition plays a really big part in Panpuri and your story, including making things with your grandmother when you were a child.
VORRAVIT SIRIPARK, FOUNDER, PANPURI: Yes. She would teach me how to make jasmine scented water. We would go to her garden and we would pick
jasmine, you know, floral buds. So jasmine always has a special meaning to me. And for Panpuri, we use jasmine a lot.
MOHSIN (on camera): And now you mentioned picking the flowers yourself. Organic products are very important to Panpuri, aren't they?
SIRIPARK: Yes. Organic is very important to us. And personally because I'm allergic to chemical ingredients, and I always seek for natural,
And I believe we are one of the first brands in Thailand to use organic ingredients in cosmetics. And that's because it's gentle for your skin.
It's also good for the environment.
MOHSIN (voice-over): But it's not just about organic ingredients. Vorravit says eco-friendly packaging is important to him. The brand
utilizes chlorine-free paper and soy ink. And his in-house design team carefully considers the message sent by those boxes.
HANS AUDRIC ESTIALDO, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, PANPURI: It's important now for niche brands like us as well, you know, to hit that balance between being
global but still conveying the heritage of being Thai.
[15:55:07] One of the challenges, I think, is really playing on the strength of Thailand being a hub for runners, how we redefine it so that
it's seen in the modern way.
MOHSIN (voice-over): Another evolution of the brand is in the works, including a cleaner aesthetic. Panpuri is currently sold in 20 countries.
It's planning to open another flagship store in Tokyo this year.
MOHSIN (on camera): And what's your vision for the future, for growing a Thai brand on the international market?
SIRIPARK: I want Panpuri to be a reference brand on a global scare. And that when people think of organic and natural products from the East, they
would think of Panpuri as amongst the first brand that comes to their minds. And so we have a lot of work to do.
We have come quite a way in our 14 years, but we still have a long way to go. And I'm very excited to be on this journey.
GORANI: And that was Saima Mohsin reporting. The Brits may be breaking up with the E.U., we all know that, but their love affair with the French
bulldog, apparently, is still going strong. That's because, according to the U.K.'s Kennel Club, by next year -- oh, buddy! Buddy! -- this little
flat-faced pup is set to become the new top dog in Britain.
There were only 670 registered 10 years ago. That number has now surged to more than 21,000, putting them on track to oust the Labrador as the
nation's favorite pooch. Apartment friendly. That's probably the reason why.
This has been THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. I'm Hala Gorani. Thanks for watching.
I'll see you tomorrow, same time, same place. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is in London today, and Richard is up next.