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Trump and Netanyahu Seek Warmer U.S.-Israel Relations; U.S. Considers Ground Troops to Syria; Arrests in Connection to Kim Jong- Nam's Death; Trump Dodges Questions about Russia Contacts; Thailand Modernizing Classical Crafts. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired February 16, 2017 - 00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:00:11] MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

Hello, everyone. I'm Michael Holmes.

ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Isa Soares in London.

Ahead this hour, Donald Trump welcomes Israel's prime minister to the White House and appears to back away from a two-state solution.

HOLMES: Plus, the U.S. considers boots on the ground in Syria. We'll take a look at the risks and the possible rewards of a change in policy.

SOARES: And this just in to CNN, police make a second arrest in the death of Kim Jong-Un's half-brother. We'll have all the details for you.

HOLMES: A warm welcome, everyone.

Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu trying to renew the U.S./Israeli romance. The leaders met Wednesday at the White House as chummy pals working towards peace.

SOARES: While the U.S. President and the Israeli Prime Minister heap praise on each other, Mr. Trump did throw some curveballs as Elise Labott now explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: President Trump made a remarkable break in decades of U.S. policy, backing away from the two-state solution that would give Palestinians their own state.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm looking at two- state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like. I'm very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one.

LABOTT: Still Trump insisted that he was committed to a peace deal. TRUMP: We'll be working on it very, very diligently -- very important

to me, also. Something we want to do. But it is the parties themselves who must directly negotiate such an agreement. We'll be beside them. We'll be working with them.

LABOTT: And he made clear he wasn't giving Netanyahu a blank check.

TRUMP: As with any successful negotiation, both sides will have to make compromises. You know that -- right?

LABOTT: And with a playful tone, warned Netanyahu to stop settlement expansion in the West Bank that has grown exponentially since Trump took office.

TRUMP: As far as settlements I'd like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit. We'll work something out.

LABOTT: Referring to quote, "other players" at the peace table, the President wants to enlist Arab states who share Israel's concern about Iran to help close the deal.

TRUMP: I think we're going to make a deal. It might be a bigger and better deal than people in this room even understand. That's a possibility. So let's see what we do.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Let's start.

TRUMP: That doesn't sound too optimistic. But he's a good negotiator.

NETANYAHU: That's the art of the deal.

LABOTT: Netanyahu embraced Trump's tough message to the Palestinians.

TRUMP: I think the Palestinians have to get rid of some of the hate that they're taught from a very young age. They're taught tremendous hate.

LABOTT: And he lavished praise on Trump's negotiating skills and courage as well as his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump's close adviser who he tapped as his personal peace envoy.

NETANYAHU: Can I reveal, Jared, how long we've known you? He was never small. He was always big. He was always tall. But I've known the President and I've known his family and his team for a long time. And there is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than President Donald Trump.

LABOTT: Diplomats and experts say that President Trump may have been showing some wavering on the two-state solution to help Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu who is facing political problems at home. And they note the Palestinians do have a vote in all this and they're unlikely to accept a deal that doesn't lead to their own independent Palestinian state.

Now, President Mahmoud Abbas had a chance to discuss all of this with CIA director Mike Pompeo who was in Ramallah on Tuesday night where they discussed among other things, the future of the peace process.

Elise Labott, CNN -- the State Department.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Let's talk a little bit more about this with Saree Makdisi, he's a professor at the University of California here in Los Angeles, author of "Palestine Inside Out and Everyday Occupation". Professor -- thanks for being with us.

We heard Donald Trump saying he's looking at one-state, he's looking at two. It could be either one. Do you see that as maybe keeping the negotiating table clear or do you see it as a lack of direction in policy? Two-state solution has been a pillar of U.S. policy for decades.

SAREE MAKDISI, UCLA PROFESSOR: Well, he is clearly, in letting go of the two-state solution, he's clearly marking a dramatic shift in U.S. policy. And raising the one-state was one of the most interesting things of what he said today.

[00:05:04] So raising the one-state raises basically the reality we have on the ground today. There is a one-state. It may not be the perfect state. For Palestinians it certainly is not a perfect state but that is the reality we have on the ground today.

The question is will that state go on to be as it has proved to be for the past several decades, a kind of apartheid state, a state based on occupation and dispossession. Or will it go on to be a state of all of its citizens, a state that treats everybody equally irrespective of their ethnic or religious background? That's the big question.

HOLMES: You had a raft of ministers and this sort of points to the sort of right-leaning government -- a raft of ministers in Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet who were nothing short of gleeful, really over what happened.

You had Naftali Bennett, of course, the minister of education he said -- he said this. He said after 24 years, the Palestinian flag has been taken down and replaced with an Israeli flag. This is a cabinet minister. And the minister of science and technology, quote, "This evening has put an end to the two-state solution."

And you touched on this just now. It begs the question what would a one-state solution look like? One imagines that if it was going to be a democratic Israel it would no longer be a Jewish Israel going forward at least.

MAKDISI: Well, I mean there are several things to say about this. The first thing is the irony is that the Israelis people like Bennett and Netanyahu and so forth are very happy about the situation because they basically have been given what they've been asking for which is basically the removal of all of this business about a two-state solution and hence many of them are now talking about annexing the West Bank outright and what you just said sort of, you know, verifies that. The point is if you turn it around say, ok, let's say they go ahead and they annex the West Bank and they really -- de jure as much as de facto, create a one-state, an actual official one-state, it's a state that will as it already has but it will officially be doing it now, treat Palestinians as permanently disenfranchised second or third or fifth-class citizens.

And the other question is will the rest of the world looking on at this let it endure? Because this is the thing about the two-state solution is even if it's been kind of a fictional process, because it really has been. I mean the Israelis have been settling the very territory that was meant to be the place for a Palestinian state for the past 30 years plus.

And so the fiction of the two-state solution has allowed basically the status quo to go on.

HOLMES: Right.

MAKDISI: If you take away the fig leaf or the fiction then people are left with a much more obviously and much more glaringly naked kind of state that discriminates on the basis of ethnic and religious background. And then we come back to the same question, will the world let that go on?

HOLMES: Yes. You know, he also said, in (inaudible) to Netanyahu, I'd like to see you hold back on settlements a little bit. It was a bit of an oddly-phrased line.

But talk about the reality. Mr. Netanyahu also said today that the thousands of settlement units that have already been announced, they are going ahead. Has the growth of settlements in recent years effectively made a viable Palestinian state problematic anyway regardless of any shift in policy? The settlement grows -- has really made a contiguous state impossible even as things stand. Is that fair to say?

MAKDISI: Yes. That's exactly right. There are around 600,000 Jewish settlers living now in the West Bank and -- between the West Bank and east Jerusalem. And the settlements basically, as you say, break up any possible contiguity of a putative Palestinian state.

So the end result is the discourse of a two-state solution covering for what is in fact the reality of a one-state solution. But as I said, once you take away the discourse and you're left with the glaring reality where Palestinians can't move around freely. They can't get -- they can't access their own land. They can't access health care facilities. They can't get to and from school without going through some kind of Israeli check point. They face all kinds of dispossession.

And by the way, that happens inside the state of Israel, not just in the occupied territories. The question is, again, when the world looks at this, will it just look the other way or will it be glaringly obvious the apartheid reality be dealt with by the world. I think the answer to that question is clearly -- the irony here is the Israelis are worried about the increasing pressure on them in terms of boycotts and sanctions and so forth which are all about the movement for, you know, one-person, one-vote, and for equal rights and a democratic state.

Once they remove the fig leaf of a separate Palestinian state then it sort of redoubles the emphasis on the need for equality of all citizens in a democratic state. And that's something that the Israelis are going to find it very, very, very difficult to argue against.

So even some Israeli -- even right-wing politicians, by the way, some of them in Israel have been saying for a long time we need the -- at least the fiction of a Palestinian state in order to get the pressure off our backs. If we remove it there's nowhere hide at that point. And that's where we're going.

[00:10:00] HOLMES: It's going to be interesting to watch this relationship develop.

Saree Makdisi there -- thanks so much, Professor.

MAKDISI: My pleasure.

HOLMES: Isa.

SOARES: Now, the U.S. Defense Department is considering using U.S. ground troops to fight ISIS in Syria. The proposal is one of several options being reviewed. Right now, as you can see there, small teams of U.S. Special Operation Forces are in Syria as trainers as well as advisers.

Let's get more on this story. CNN's Muhammad Lila joins me now from Istanbul in Turkey.

Muhammad -- what would a U.S. mission in Syria look like? I know, it's pretty speculative at this stage.

MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isa -- one thing makes this proposal unique and of course, this proposal would have to be approved by President Trump to begin with. But this actually calls for conventional ground forces on the ground in Syria.

And that's important because, you know, when we talk about Special Forces, they are usually much smaller units. They can attach themselves to, for example, Kurdish militias that are already on the ground.

But conventional forces are bigger numbers. They would need a lot of supply chains, they would need logistics and then we have to start talking about where their bases would be. These are bases that might be built from the ground up. They would need logistics in terms of plumbing and supplies and all sorts of stuff that the U.S. military tends to be very good at. So we would be talking about a very large footprint if this proposal goes through of lots of American forces on the ground and certainly not dealing with just the small numbers that we've seen in the past.

SOARES: Now Muhammad, our viewers who know this as well the Obama administration never really embraced the idea of ground combat troops because of the inherent risks involved. Bring those risks aside what would be the benefits though of having U.S. troops on the ground? How would that change the fight against ISIS?

LILA: Well, it would be a fundamental shift on the ground. Look, right now the problem in Syria is that there hasn't been unity amongst the opposition. And then you've got ISIS and you've got al Qaeda and you've got the Syrian army. They're all sort of fighting each other in this weird mishmash of violence and terrorism and extremism and brutality in Syria.

The interesting thing about this is what role the Americans would play. Would they play a stabilizing role? Would they engage with the Syrian army? Or would they focus their efforts strictly on ISIS.

Now, there's an interesting timing in this -- Isa. Just last week, Syria's President Bashar al Assad came out and was asked specifically if he would be open to having an American presence on the ground and his answer was interesting. He didn't dismiss it. He actually came out and said if America is sincere in targeting ISIS the way that he says Russia has been sincere in targeting ISIS then American troops would be welcome in Syria.

So you can see there's possibly a small, little opening left there for America to play a role. And just now we're already talking about this potential plan for American troops to be on the ground. So things seem to be shifting slightly in that direction.

SOARES: And Muhammad, I suspect also the U.S. would then have to work more closely or closely, I should say, with Russia both on the ground and in the air. How complex would that be?

LILA: Well, this is probably the most interesting aspect of all of this. Look, with everything that's going on in the United States domestically with accusations about Russian hacking and Russian tampering in the elections and ties between Trump administration and Russian officials. Well, if this plan does go ahead in Syria it's inconceivable to see it going ahead without some sort of arrangement in place with Russia.

And the reason for that is simple. Russia controls Syria's air space. Russia's bombardment campaigns in Aleppo and other places have led to the defeat of the opposition in many cases.

And so for American troops to be on the ground there would have to be coordination with Russian officials to make sure there weren't any incidents where, for example, American troops could be mistakenly targeted. In effect what it means is that Russia and the United States as far as targeting ISIS goes in Syria, they would effectively be fighting the same war. SOARES: Muhammad Lila for us there in Istanbul, Turkey. The time is

13 minutes past 8:00 in the morning. Thanks very much -- Muhammad.

Michael.

HOLMES: Thanks -- Isa.

Well, joining us now, Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson and Republican consultant John Thomas. You know, you were saying before the program, what are we going to talk about? Where shall we start?

We heard Donald Trump today saying that Michael Flynn was treated, in his words, very, very unfairly by the fake media, basically almost blaming the media and leaks as well, for his downfall rather than the fact that Flynn actually lied about a phone conversation and what was discussed with the Russian ambassador and was fired for it. What did you make of it?

DAVE JACOBSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Two things -- one, I think the leaks are coming from true patriots and they're whistle blowers, frankly. I mean this is stuff that needs to get out there into the public realm, number one.

But I think Donald Trump's hypocrisy really is beyond the pale. This is a guy who like endorsed Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks, you know, leaks that were coming out from the DNC, from Clinton throughout the course of the campaign. Donald Trump also back in July, went up on a podium and said, nearly asked Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's e- mails.

[00:15:09] There's sensitive material in there that wasn't revealed that's classified. That's essentially what's happening right now. But he was asking for the Russians to do it.

JOHN THOMAS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, I think there are two conversations here. One about the leakers and, of course, you'd imagine my position would be different than if our national security apparatus is leaking is dramatically different than Hillary Clinton mishandling her own classified information and being hacked by a foreign government. These are our own people. So that's number one.

Number two, what he is talking about with the fake news is yes, some of it is self-wrought. Michael Flynn did embarrass the Vice President. But I think what he means is the media overreached assuming that there was a quid pro quo that --

HOLMES: We don't know that. We don't know -- do we?

THOMAS: And that's the point.

HOLMES: And the other argument, the other question that's being asked is would Michael Flynn, who is not a dumb guy, would he have gone freelancing to the Russian ambassador to discuss sanctions. That's the question, I suppose. There's going to have to be investigations. Who knew what and when?

THOMAS: Yes, absolutely. But right now it's just --

HOLMES: And the President knew on the 26th of January that this happened but his disloyalty or his trust didn't take an impact until yesterday.

THOMAS: Right. Because President Trump didn't know what actually was said in those conversations. President Trump admits today he didn't fire General Flynn because he had a conversation. He fired General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President of the United States and embarrassed him. That's why he got fired.

HOLMES: Shouldn't he have been fired for talking to the Russian ambassador about sanctions?

JACOBSON: Well, those are real questions that need to be asked. We actually need to see the full transcript of the conversation.

HOLMES: Right.

JACOBSON: But I think, you know, the "New York Times" expose that came out really injected a gigantic jolt of momentum behind the Flynn story and I think really underscored, you know, some real questions that need to be asked like who -- which high level officials within the Trump campaign speaking with the Russians?

Why were they speaking with the Russians so frequently, a known adversary of the United States? Why weren't they talking with our allies like the Japanese or the Germans or folks in Great Britain? What was the need to have the ongoing frequent conversations with the Russians?

This is a nation, by the way, that Donald Trump has continued to caress and hug its leader, Vladimir Putin at the same time that just days ago they launched a cruise missile in violation of a treaty with us, number one.

And number two, they have a spy boat flying in the ocean -- sailing in the ocean, pardon me, off the coast of Delaware.

THOMAS: These are all great questions but we are completely speculating at this point. And so the problem is --

HOLMES: Could that be a transparency issue?

THOMAS: No, no. It means an investigation needs to be done.

HOLMES: Right.

THOMAS: And if there is a there, there then let's have that conversation but right now we're just speculating from a chair.

HOLMES: You mentioned leaks and it was interesting watching Jake Tapper today on that. And when you go back and you look at what Donald Trump was saying about leaks on the campaign trail as a candidate. Let's have a quick listen. It's not very long.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: WikiLeaks.

The wonder of WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks --

WikiLeaks --

Some new stuff --

At WikiLeaks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Multiple -- I mean we could have run a much longer clip of that. Is that that the President, he liked leaks before he didn't like them?

THOMAS: I'm sure there's a degree of that but there is a big difference, just like I was saying earlier in the sense of WikiLeaks was hacked by a foreign government. These leaks allegedly are coming from our own government, our own civil servants and that's a dramatic departure from a foreign government.

HOLMES: That's a fair point.

JACOBSON: I guess. But look, what is really, I think scary at this point is you've got a White House whether it's the President or you've got his high-level officials who have continued to lie to the American people.

Hope Hicks, Sean Spicer, Vice President Mike Pence have all said that there were no conversations with the Russians and then, of course, yesterday's "New York Times" story shows the complete opposite. I think that is really damaging to the credibility of the White House.

HOLMES: Dave Jacobson and John Thomas -- I've got to leave it there, unfortunately. But you are going to be back a little bit later this evening because we only just scratched the surface. There's a lot to talk about.

THOMAS: Great.

HOLMES: All right. Well CNN tries to get answers from Donald Trump, speaking of that, on his campaign staff's contacts with Russia. You'll hear and see his response just ahead.

SOARES: Plus, Malaysian authorities have a new lead in the death of Kim Jong-Un's half-brother. We'll have more on that after a very short break.

[00:19:33] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Welcome back. Malaysian police have arrested a second woman in connection with the death of Kim Jong-Un's half-brother. The first suspect was detained at Kuala Lumpur's airport on Wednesday. Kim Jong-Nam seen here years ago died after he was attacked at the same airport two days earlier.

SOARES: Well South Korean intelligence officials believe Nam poisoned. Malaysian state media reported the autopsy had been completed but officials have yet to release the results.

Our Matt Rivers joins us now, live from Seoul with more. Matt -- what do we know at this stage about the second female suspect?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the second female suspect was picked up at around 2:00 a.m., we're told. We're not exactly sure where -- the Malaysian police not really providing a lot of details at this point. We know that she is 26 years old according to the Indonesian passport that she was arrested with.

But that's really all we are hearing from Malaysian police; that, in addition to the first suspect who was picked up, as you mentioned right off the top there. Apparently she is 28 years old according to the Vietnamese travel document, as the Malaysian police put it, that she was picked up with.

But, you know, more details on these suspects, how exactly they're involved in the case, were they the two suspects that were first mentioned by South Korean intelligence officials here during the day yesterday? We're just not sure yet.

SOARES: Let me ask you about the Malaysian authorities because we are waiting for that post-mortem examination. Any idea when that -- whether that's been completed and when that will be made public?

[00:24:58] RIVERS: Well, we do know that that has been completed. That much information the Malaysians have confirmed. But we don't know when those results are going to be made public.

And that, of course, is one of the things that everyone is sort of waiting on because presumably the results of this autopsy would confirm or shed some light into what other people like the Malaysians and the South Koreans have been saying and maybe shed some light on to exactly how Kim Jong-Nam was killed but so far no time frame on those results being released.

SOARES: As you would have heard as well, experts believe that Kim Jong-Un is in the process of a purge campaign and may be behind this. What motive would he have to having killed? Was he a threat to Kim's leadership?

RIVERS: Well, here in South Korea there's been absolutely zero proof offered up by any government officials or anything that the North Koreans were somehow behind what happened here. But as you might imagine given Kim Jong-Nam's connection to Kim Jong-Un there is rampant speculation here in South Korea that the regime in Pyongyang had something to do with it. Again, we want to underscore the point that we have seen no evidence that that is the case. But what you hear from those speculating about it is that perhaps Kim Jong-Nam could have been seen as some sort of threat to Kim Jong-Un just by his very existence. By the fact that well back when Kim Jong-Il was still alive, both men's father, that at some point Kim Jong-Nam was seen as the favorite son and possibly the heir apparent to Kim Jong-Il.

Of course that didn't end up happening. Kim Jong-Nam was apparently banished from North Korea, has been living outside and has even said in public record that he has no desire to become or had no desire to become the leader of North Korea.

But despite all of that, many experts will tell you that Kim Jong-Un sees threats in just about everywhere he looks. And Kim Jong-Nam could have been no different. But again, just one more time, we have no proof offered up by any one official that North Korea has anything to do with this so far.

SOARES: Matt Rivers for us in Seoul. We shall await those autopsy results for more details. Matt -- thank you.

HOLMES: Well, North Korea's missile launch over the weekend prompted many to think Pyongyang was challenging the new White House. But sources from the North Korean government say that's not the case at all. Rather they call it a gift to the late leader Kim Jong-Il whose 75th birthday would have been this week. We should note though, analysts say it could also be a show of force both to the world and Kim's own people.

U.S. President Donald Trump had plenty to say during his meetings with Israel's prime minister on Wednesday but there was one topic he wouldn't discuss.

We'll talk about that coming up.

[00:27:41] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:30:10] MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live, from Los Angeles. I'm Michael Holmes.

ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Isa Soares in London. The time is 5:31 on Thursday morning. And we're bringing you up-to-date with the main news headlines we're following for you this hour.

Malaysian police said they have arrested a second woman in connection to the death of North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother. South Korean intelligence said two Asian women was suspected of poisoning Kim Jong-nam, seen here in video from years ago. He died soon after he was attacked at Kula Lumpur airport on Monday.

HOLMES: U.S. President Donald Trump says he'll write whatever plan for peace that the Israelis and Palestinians like. He made that announcement while hosting the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday. The leader is praising each other. Mr. Netanyahu calling Mr. Trump Israel's best friend. SOARES: The Pentagon may recommend sending U.S. combat forces into Syria. A U.S. Defense official said it's been considered to help step up the fight against ISIS. Ground troops would be a major change for the U.S. in Syria. Until now, only small teams have been used to assist and train local forces.

HOLMES: Well, a growing number of U.S. senators are calling for an investigation into the Trump administration's ties with Russia. They specially want to know about newly-resigned national security adviser Michael Flynn, but reporters asking President Trump for answers did not get very far on Wednesday.

CNN's Jim Acosta reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One day after the White House said former national security adviser Michael Flynn was forced out for misleading the administration, President Trump praised the man he fired.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Michael Flynn, General Flynn is a wonderful man. I think he has been treated very, very unfairly by the media. As I called it, the fake media, in many cases. And I think it's really a sad thing that he was treated so badly.

ACOSTA: Then the president blamed leakers in the law enforcement and intelligence communities for disclosing the reporters that Mr. Trump's top advisers and associates were in constant contact with Russian operatives during the campaign.

Leaks he tweeted "We're very un-American."

TRUMP: It's criminal action. Criminal act. And it's been going on for a long time before me. But now it's really going on. And people are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the Democrats had under Hillary Clinton. I think it's very, very unfair what's happened to General Flynn. The way he was treated and the documents and papers that were illegally -- I stress that -- illegally leaked.

ACOSTA: But after dodging tough questions by calling on only conservative news outlets at his news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the president would not address a question from CNN about whether his campaign had contacts with the Russians.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, are you going to answer any questions about your associates' contact with the Russians during the campaign.

ACOSTA: An opportunity he passed on once again in the oval office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any comments on the reports that there was contact between your senior advisers and suspected Russian operatives during your presidential campaign, Mr. Trump?

ACOSTA: Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Michael Hiltzik is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist with "The Los Angeles Times" joins me now from Seal Beach in California. Thanks for doing so. This blaming the media, the fake media, or in fact for Flynn's demise. What do you make of that as a tactic?

MICHAEL HILTZIK, LOS ANGELES TIMES: I think it's a tactic that we in the media have gotten used to and I think the public is getting used to it as well. Obviously the so-called press conferences are really canned affairs. Trump calls on very friendly reporters. He calls on reporters from "Fox News." He calls on reporters from right wing Web sites and then he answers their questions but doesn't answer legitimate questions and he certainly doesn't take follow ups.

When he sits there and says that the media has treated General Flynn poorly, what's unsaid -- but what I think much of the public understands is that he was the one who fired General Flynn. And the question that he doesn't answer is why did he do so if he thinks the coverage was unfair?

HOLMES: If he was being treated unfairly, then surely it was by him for firing him.

You know, you mentioned this and it's interesting. Three media opportunities in a row, Donald Trump has called on, as you say, only conservative, let's say friendly media rather than mainstream reporters. I think Jim Acosta actually early today described it as the fix is in. And you can see there, the outlets that were called upon.

I mean, is that tactic -- I don't know. Is it sustainable or at what point does it become propaganda?

HILTZIK: Well, I think it's already propaganda. I think Trump is living in a bubble of his own creation. I mean people are going to understand that. The point's going to come when there is a question that the public really does want answered.

It may not be this sort of adds crews question of who his national security adviser is, but it could be something much more urgent and much more immediate and this is not going to fly when that happens.

He is getting used to being very comfortable with a group of hand- picked, cherry-picked reporters. I wouldn't even call them reporters. They really are propagandists in his club. And when the public wants answers to something, he's going to have to provide them and he's not training himself and he's not providing this.

And I don't think it's going to end very well for him. And I think what the White House needs is some adult supervision there to basically get him to behave the way traditional presidents have behaved.

HOLMES: Well, there's obviously a lot of antipathy between the Trump camp and the mainstream media. But, you know, when you go back to that, is it sustainable. I mean, you know, is he underestimating the mainstream media and the power that it has?

HILTZIK: Well, I think the mistake he is making is that he thinks that by closing off the media from the White House or from immediate access to him in person at the so-called press conferences, he is controlling coverage. And, clearly, that's not happening and that's not going to happen.

In fact really good reporters don't really care about the sort of access that you see at presidential press conferences. They go out and do their digging and they talk to sources who have things to say. And then they write stories that the president is going to have to respond to.

So I think he's living in a dream world if he thinks that by conducting these canned events, he's controlling the media. He's not. He's actually liberating the media to do more of the sort of digging that we and the White House Press Corps really need to do and we are doing it.

And that's why you're getting this flow of stories that are exposing what's really going on in this White House. It's not -- these aren't being done by people who were there on the scene. It's being done by reporters who have independent sources.

HOLMES: Yes. And certainly I can't remember another time when the media was so forth right in calling out untrues as well, which you're starting to see a lot more of. We've got to leave it there, Michael. Thanks for that. Michael Hiltzik with "The Los Angeles Times."

HILTZIK: My pleasure.

HOLMES: All right. We're going to take a short break here now on the program. We'll be right back. More news after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:40:00] SOARES: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

Now Thailand's second largest city is working to keep classical crafts alive. Saima Mohsin reports artisans there are preserving skills like weaving as well as wood work while adding some modern technology to the process.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The past serves as an inspiration for the artists of Chiang Mai. The northern city was the capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom. Now it's trying to position itself as the country's creative hub at this workshop, traditional weaving meets modern design. Boon Charoenpoonsiri started with leading fashion houses in Italy and strives to combine European quality with local crafts. BOON CHAROENPOONSIRI, TORBOON: So we try to be local-based terms that existed in Chiang Mai. It takes so much time to weave and we bring it up with a very modernity.

MOHSIN: Across town that sentiment is shared, but interpreted in a different way. Makerspace Thailand hopes to build on the legacy of local handicraft by providing people with modern tools from laser cutters to 3D printers. Founder Nati-Sang says members can learn to use them for free and provides additional usage at cost.

NATI-SANG, MAKERSPACE, THAILAND: In order to use, for people to innovate, they need to try to experiment, they need to be able to fail and if they have these cost pressures in place, then, OK, who is going to just experiment and just try things out? In other words, it allows people to be more entrepreneurial and trying to monetize their idea.

MOHSIN: One of Makerspace Thailand success story is Thamarat Sukjeeradei or Ong. He designed a foldable loom for his wife who wants to practice her grandmother's hobby of weaving.

THAMARAT "ONG" SUKJEERADEI, REDA LOOM: Traditional looms are the size of beds. I chose a more modern material. It doesn't break as easily. And also this loom can be taken apart, every piece and then put back together.

MOHSIN: Now Ong and his wife have opened a store to sell their loom and they say they are working to keep up with demands. Nati tries to help members like Ong to find investor for their ideas and he's working on a few projects of his own.

SANG: What we're looking at here smart farm system. In Thailand, the number one industry is agriculture. So it makes a lot of sense that with the Makerspace, that we start trying to put in more advanced technologies into something that is very traditionally done.

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HOLMES: And you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Michael Holmes.

SOARES: And I'm Isa Soares. "World Sports" starts after a short break. We'll be back at the top of the hour. See you in a bit.

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