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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump: Leaks Are Real, News Reporters Are Fake; Trump: "Nobody I Know Of" In Campaign Contacted Russia; Trump: New Executive Order Next Week To Protect U.S.; Trump: Obamacare Replacement Plan Next Month; Russia Deploys Missile In Apparent Treaty Violation; Trump Vs. The Environment; Source: No FBI Charges Expected Against Flynn; U.S. Senate Expected to Confirm Trump's EPA Pick; Hungary Plans to Detain Migrants Seeking Asylum; Samsung Chief Arrested on Corruption Charges; TV Ads Move More Than Merchandise. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired February 17, 2017 - 01:00   ET

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


[01:00:00] ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR: Isa Soares, in London.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR: And I'm Michael Holmes in Los Angeles. Welcome, everyone, to NEWSROOM L.A.

SOARES: We're going to start this hour in the United States because President Donald Trump will have to find someone else that seems to fill his vacant National Security Adviser post. Retired Vice Admiral Bob Harward, turned down the job on Thursday fighting family concerns. Harward would have replaced Michael Flynn, who was asked to resign as we remember on Monday. Well, Mr. Trump says, he lost confidence after finding out Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence about contacts with Russian officials. A law enforcement source tells CNN, the FBI is not expected to pursue charges against Flynn.

HOLMES: Well, the Trump administration's relationship with Russia dominated a last-minute news conference called by the President. Mr. Trump, railed against the media for reporting leaked information he says, "even though the leaks are real, the news is fake."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Today, an embattled President is dismissing the notion that his administration is in turmoil.

DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I turn on the T.V., open the newspapers, and I see stories of chaos. Chaos. Yet, it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine. Despite the fact, that I can't get my Cabinet approved.

MURRAY: But controversy continues to haunt the West Wing.

TRUMP: The whole Russian thing, that is a ruse. It's a ruse. And by the way, it would be great, if we could get along with Russia.

MURRAY: The administration, still facing scrutiny over its Russian connections. Today, President Trump said he was not aware of any campaign advisers being in touch with Russian intelligence officers during the presidential campaign.

MURRAY: During the election?

TRUMP: No. Nobody that I know of.

MURRAY: And insisted he has no personal ties to Moscow.

TRUMP: Speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don't have any deals in Russia.

MURRAY: That comes after sources told CNN, former Top Advisers for Trump's Presidential campaign were in constant contact with suspected Russian operatives before the President took office. Today, Trump kept up his rosy view of Russia saying, he'd love to have better diplomatic relations.

TRUMP: Nuclear holocaust would be like no other. They're a very powerful nuclear country, and so are we. If we have a good relationship with Russia, believe me, that's a good thing.

MURRAY: That's in spite of recent provocation from Moscow. Russia has buzzed a U.S. warship. Placed a spy ship 30 miles off the coast of Connecticut and deployed a cruise missile, in an apparent treaty violation. For now, the White House appears unlikely to respond.

TRUMP: But hopefully, I won't have to the anything. But I'm not going to tell you.

MURRAY: In a winding and wild press conference, that stretched for other an hour. The President aired a list of grievances.

TRUMP: I inherited a mess - it's a mess, at home and abroad. A mess.

MURRAY: Insisted he would take a compassionate approach to children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents.

TRUMP: We're going to show great heart. Dhaka is a very, very difficult subject for me.

MURRAY: And leapt to the defense of his travel ban which is currently being blocked by the court.

TRUMP: We had a very smooth roll out of the travel ban, but we had a bad court. I think that circuit is - that circuit is in chaos. And that circuit is frankly in turmoil.

MURRAY: Now, Trump says the administration is crafting a new executive order based on the court's decision.

TRUMP: We can tailor the order to that decision and get just about everything in some ways more. But we're tailoring it now to the decision.

MURRAY: But while the administration faces pressing priorities, Trump, who once professed his love of WikiLeaks.

TRUMP: This's just came out. WikiLeaks. I love WikiLeaks.

MURRAY: Is now preoccupied with cracking down on them.

TRUMP: I've actually called the Justice Department to look into the leaks. Those are criminal leaks.

MURRAY: President Trump spent much of his time criticizing the press.

TRUMP: The press, honestly, is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control. I'm changing it from fake news though, very fake news. The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake.

MURRAY: Yet even as he called the media dishonest, the President repeatedly made false claims.

TRUMP: Got 306 Electoral College votes. I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.

[01:04:58] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama, 332; and George H. W. Bush, 426 when he won as President. Why should Americans trust you, when you accuse that the information they receive of being fake, when you are providing information --

TRUMP: Well, no. I was told - I was given that information.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Sara Murray, reporting there. Joining me here in L.A., CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein; CNN Political Commentator and Trump Supporter John Philips; also, CNN Senior Reporter for Media and Politics, Dylan Biers. Gentlemen, thanks so much. It's one of those days where you're like: where do we start? Let's - we'll start with you, Ron. But first, before we do. That was seen as a very chaotic sort of news conference there. But let's just play what Donald Trump had to say about how things are going at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I turn on the T.V., open the newspapers, and I see stories of chaos. Chaos. Yet, it is the exact opposite. This administration, is running like a fine-tuned machine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: It was an interesting thing to say, given what's been happening over the last three or so weeks.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Given the? The chaos?

HOLMES: Yes.

BROWNSTEIN: No. Look, I mean, a lot has been happening. They have moved forward on a lot of areas that they talked about during the campaign, some with more substance than others. But the other side of the ledger is pretty long. No new administration has had their National Security Adviser forced out in three weeks, or faced the kind of protests that Donald Trump did the day after the election, or face the kind of court reversal that he did, or have Congressional Committees on really both chambers now investigating their interactions with a foreign government during the campaign, or had a National Security crisis played out in the ding room of a private club with people taking pictures on their cell phones.

The fact is, that the President is moving forward on a lot of things that he said he wants them before too. He is - he is maintaining the tone that he had as a candidate, and there are supporters who like all that. But the reality is, he is facing more resistance and public opinions any newly elected President ever. Another poll today, with the approval at 39 percent.

HOLMES: Never happened. Does it?

BROWNSTEIN: Fought way beyond anything you've ever seen. He is at 55, 56 percent disapproval in Gallup and Pew. It took 600 days before Barack Obama even got to 50 percent disapproval. It took 1200 days before George W. Bush even got to 50 percent disapproval. He got there in eight, he's now at 55. If you want to say everything is fine to the public, that's one thing. If you are saying it internally, when you have all of these signs of distress, then you've got a problem.

HOLMES: John, do you think he believes things are all sunny and roses or not?

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do. And I think that he ran on the platform of draining the swamp. And today, he would argue that he went alligator hunting. John Edwards said that there's two Americas, and he said it broke down on socioeconomics. I think there's two Americas too. But you have the Republicans, and you have the Democrats. And Republicans, look at the media the same way the Democrats look at oil company executives or tobacco company executives. The listeners that called in to my show after watching that press conference - people that voted for him, thought today's press conference was cathartic. It was something in between catnip and pornography. They loved it. They couldn't get enough of it. He didn't lose anyone who voted for him today.

HOLMES: But at 30 percent? He can have 30 percent all day long. That's not enough -

BROWNSTEIN: 39.

HOLMES: 39, to maintain, is it? You can't go forward like that.

PHILLIPS: He has an electoral majority in this country. We saw that happen on November 8. And I just do not believe that he's going to - anyone that went and pulled the lever for Donald Trump on November 8 is not go to be offended at what happened today. I think they loved it.

BROWNSTEIN: I will qualify just lightly. And I know that you don't want to come in. If you look at the exit polls on Election Day, one quarter of the people who voted for him said they doubted that he had the temperament to succeed as President, and one quarter said that they doubted that he was qualified. They wanted him. They wanted to take the risk, because they did not like what Hillary Clinton represented and they wanted change. But they recognized it as a risk.

And I think if you look at this first month, there has been a lot of turmoil. And for voters, who are uneasy about whether Trump really has what it takes to be President. I would just note, that his approval rating among college educated white voters is down in the mid-30s, after he won about 48 percent of them in the election. Those are the voters who are the most ambivalent. And you can see, I think very clearly in polling, a lot of them are getting not quite what they wanted, what they feared rather than what they hoped.

HOLMES: Let's bring in Dylan and talk about this. I mean, what's interesting, Dylan, that he talked - he seemed to talk more about CNN than he did about Obamacare. That this - it was like a campaign sort of stuff. And he does have a campaign event if you like, in Florida over the weekend, a rally, which is - seems extraordinary. What did you make of the tone and tenor?

[01:09:51] DYLAN BIERS, CNN SENIOR REPORTER FOR MEDIA AND POLITICS: Well, I think that's absolutely right. And you do see him sort of pivoting from, you know, going through three weeks - one month in office trying to behave like the President of the United States. And now, sort of retreating to that campaign mode. So many of the themes, the sort of anti-media themes that he hit upon during this more than an hour-long press conference, were very reminiscent of what happened on the campaign.

I mean, look, I think John makes a great point. There are two different Americas. While so many in the media were looking at what happened in this press conference and thinking, how can he say that? This is outrageous. So many of the things that he said were not true, were misleading, were disingenuous. There was a different side of America which was very much sort of reveling in seeing the President of the United States take it to the press, which itself has a very low approval rating. That said, I think it's really important to pay attention to the statistics that Ron brought up which is that that side of America isn't necessarily even half of America. And in fact, it's dwindling.

And if you are starting with such a low approval rating, over time that anti-media narrative it's going to wear thin. And at a certain point people are going to question, well, wait a second, aren't you President of the United States? Doesn't the buck stop with you? Can you really go before the American people? Say something that is fundamentally untrue, and then when asked about it then say, well, someone gave me the statistics. I mean, where does the buck stop? And ultimately, that accountability will rest with the President of the United States.

HOLMES: And Dylan, you know, the Republican leadership is going to be looking at this as well. In fact, I want to - I want to just read a line that from Tom LoBianco, one of our reporters. He spoke with a - with one Republican Congressman, and I just want to put up the quote here. That is a Republican Congressman. He said, "Most people in congress see Trump's press conference as the new normal." And he said, "the people that love him will love him more, the people that hate him will hate him more, and the people in the middle will probably look at the way we look in Congress, which is that it's the new normal." And he went on to say, "that just -- you know, happens. I don't know how else to manage it." And John Phillips, I mean, the Republican leadership - two years is a long way away. The mid-terms, that's when you normally get crushed if you're not doing well and you'll lose the House at least. What are they thinking about all of this?

PHILLIPS: Well, the Democrats are going to be on the defensive. They're going to be defending ten seats in states that Trump won. So, I would say they're more worried than a lot of these Republicans. But look, I think -

HOLMES: Really?

PHILLIPS: Yes, of course.

BROWNSTEIN: In the Senate.

PHILLIPS: In the Senate.

HOLMES: I don't know. I think about the House.

PHILLIPS: I don't think the Republicans are going the lose the House either. But on the point of Trump saying things that aren't true. Like, what he said about the Electoral College victory. There is a difference between being a biaser, and a liar. And Trump is a man who've made his fortune on his brand, and his brand as his name. And I - he talks about how great things are, how tremendous things are, how wonderful things are. And he's very braggadocios, and he uses a lot of hyperbole, and sometimes he says things that just aren't true.

HOLMES: But then reality bites, doesn't it?

HOLMES: But then - but look at the big picture stuff though. He said he was going to would appoint a Supreme Court Justice based on the list that he putted together. He did it. He said he was bring back extreme vetting. He tried to. The courts knocked it down. He going back to the drawing board. He said he was going to build a wall. He's coming through on that. So, on the big picture stuff that the Trump supporters care about, he is money in the bank so far.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, I think what we can all agree on is that more than most politicians, Donald Trump, is being judged on his personal style, his values, his approach to the presidency. You think of him as a human being, he's not yet really being judged that much on the success or failure of his agenda. And while he has kind of put markers in the ground on things that are important to him, the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare is kind of caught in the mud, in Congress.

The tax reform plan is caught in the mud between this dispute between Paul Ryan who wanted this complex import/export tax, and pretty much the entire Republican Senate which doesn't want to do it. And if they can't do that, then they don't have the funding. There is a lot of areas where - despite all the fireworks in the foreground, kind of the machinery - the finely oiled machine is kind of getting caught in the mud. And you've seen Mitch McConnell among others, express a certain amount of frustration that we kind of can't - we can't get past on the history on this, to get down to actually governing. Moving forward on the agenda that we ran on.

HOLMES: That's right.

PHILLIPS: Ron is right. He has to come through on those things.

HOLMES: Well, he does. And Dylan, I got to get you get in the last word here. We've to go to break. But do you think the T.V. reality show President, that'll get you so, far won't it? Before you actually have to come through with the goods. You got to get some stuff done, and a lot people are saying today. When you look at the first three weeks it looks like he has done a lot, but he hasn't.

BIERS: That's absolutely right. And, look, everything we're focusing on right now is about this sort of Donald Trump's personality, his fight with the media, that sort of braggadocios bravado. At a certain point, this isn't actually going to be a fight Donald Trump and the media. It's going to be a fight between Donald Trump and Democrats. And it's going to be a fight, potentially, between Donald Trump and Republicans who are going to - at some point, perhaps, draw a line in the sand and say, look, we can't go for that. We can't back this President anymore because his approval ratings are driving us down and they're threatening our own seats. They're threatening our own re- election campaigns. That's really where the fight's going to happen. Everything we're watching right now, it's fireworks and it is, like you said, it's television show.

[01:15:22] HOLMES: Dylan Byers, thanks so much. John Phillips, Ron Brownstein, gentlemen, thanks so much. We could go on for hours.

SOARES: Now, Donald Trump says he won't tip his hand on what some call recent military provocations by Russia and they include deploying a cruise missile in apparent treaty violation and stationing a spy ship off the U.S. East Coast. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PRESIDENT: If we could get along with Russia, that's a positive thing. We have a very talented man, Rex Tillerson, who's going to be meeting with them shortly. And I told them, I said, I know politically, it's probably not good for me. The greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that's 30 miles offshore right out of the water. Everyone in this country's going to say, "Oh, it's so great." That's not great, that's not great. I would love to be able to get along with Russia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SOARES: Let's get the view from Moscow, Clare Sebastian joins us now. And Clare, it's not just the ship that President Trump was there talking about. There have been several other military incidents. So, is this what some would argue, Russia testing the new U.S. Administration? What's the official reaction from the Kremlin this hour?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Isa. It's not just the ship there was also, he said that, that accusation from a Senior Military Official to CNN that Russia has deployed a cruise missile and apparent violation of a 1987 treaty that restricts short and intermediate range ground launched missile. The Kremlin saying, not only it remains in compliance with that treaty, but it has not been formally accused of violating it, perhaps a reference there to the fact that this comes from an unnamed source taken CNN's reporting. And the other incident is the accusation from the U.S. Military that Russia -- Russian planes buzzed a U.S. navy destroyer in the Black Sea on February 10th. The U.S. Military has released pictures of this which I think, we can show you but the Russian Defense Ministry saying that the incident didn't happen. That it was in fact, surprised at the Pentagon's concern.

So, whether or not this is a test, well, President Trump says he doesn't think so as yet. And certainly, the public signals that we're getting from the Kremlin would certainly align with that. But I think it's fair to say, Isa, that the foyer around this relationship that we saw when President Trump first was elected and took office is certainly waning. Although publicly, the Kremlin is saying that it hopes, sooner or later, relations with Washington will improve.

SOARES: Yes, let's talk about these relations there because President Trump said in that press conference, it would be good to have a deal with Russia. But his Defense Secretary and his Foreign Secretary are taking a much harder stand. So, how is Russia processing these mixed messages from this administration?

SEBASTIAN: Yes, I think there's a level of confusion, perhaps, a level of frustration. I just want to read to you a tweet that we had in the wake of that press conference and the events in the last 24 hours from prominent politician, Alexei Pushkov. He says Trump hopes to make a deal with Russia. Mattis thinks in vain that he can put pressure from a position of strength. Tillerson is playing the role of a second carry, three lines from one administration. So, that really just gives you the sense of -- the kind of - the sense of confusion, perhaps even frustration that we're hearing here. But particularly, on those Mattis comments about Russia - about approaching Russia from a position of strength, that has been met with a very harsh response here in Russia. The Defense Minister, Sergey Shoygu, saying that, you know, that essentially is fruitless, Isa.

SOARES: Clare Sebastian for us in Moscow this hour. Thanks, Clare.

HOLMES: OK, next here on NEWSROOM L.A., Donald Trump versus the Intelligence Community. Hear what he has to say about possibly hiring an outsider to review U.S. Spy Agencies. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:21:30] HOLMES: And welcome back everyone. The White House could hire one of Donald Trump's friends to review U.S. Intelligence Agencies. Officials who know about the plan say President Trump is looking at Stephen Feinberg, a New York billionaire. At his news conference on Thursday, Mr. Trump said he might take advantage of Feinberg's services but he also said he thinks that the situation will straighten out on its own.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I've actually called the Justice Department to look into the leaks. Those are criminal leaks. They're put out by people either in agencies. I think you'll see it stopping because now we have our people in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SOARES: Let's get more on this, Alex Little, a former CIA analyst and a former prosecutor joins me now from L.A. Alex, thanks very much for joining us.

ALEX LITTLE, FOMER INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Thanks for having me. Good evening.

SOARES: At that press conference -- good evening to you. At the press conference today, President Trump really riled against criminal leaks by the Intelligence Services as he attempted, I think it's fair to say, to shift focus away from his former National Adviser -- Security Adviser, Michael Flynn. What did you make of his comments today?

LITTLE: He was plainly trying to change the story. The news has not been very good with respect to the Intelligence Agencies and their relationship with the President. I think he was trying to hide the ball a little bit about how bad that's going.

SOARES: OK, let's -- it's fair, I think our viewers will know this. He's pretty much been declaring war on his own Intelligence Agencies for the last four weeks.

LITTLE: Absolutely.

SOARES: So, explain to our international viewers, if you can, Alex, how why there's been such a dispute between President Trump and the Intelligence Agency. Why the disconnect here?

LITTLE: Well, it's not uncommon for new presidents to have a rocky relationship in the beginning with the Intelligence Services that are full of folks who have been career analysts, career intelligence officers and they think things should be done a certain way. That's not uncommon. What's fundamentally different about President Trump's dispute with the Intelligence Agencies is what appears to be his complete disdain for the product that they produce.

Now, intelligence officers treat the President as the first customer, the ultimate person that they are developing actionable intelligence for. And by all looks of it, President Trump just has no interest in that information. And I think that really strikes at the core of what the Intelligence Agencies try to do and really questions whether they have the role they've had traditionally. It's very dangerous and it can be certainly a problem.

SOARES: Why is it dangerous?

LITTLE: It's dangerous because you have a mechanism -- a bureaucracy which is able to get intelligence in all sorts of ways, satellite signals. It's incredibly powerful and we need to use that for a purpose and develop being positive policy that helps the United States interest. And when those tools can't be used, or aren't being used by our decision makers, I think it makes us less safe and our adversaries know that.

SOARES: And Alex, you hinted at that their -- your earlier answer that we know from Russian beginning, he never really took intelligence briefings. Do you believe he doesn't care about it? Does he not trust the intelligence or does he even believe he and his own team know more than they do? How should we read President Trump when it comes to this?

LITTLE: It's anybody's guess why he has act the way he has. The reporting's been pretty consistent that he's not taking briefings like other presidents have. He's not taking the time to devote to that issue. Ultimately, I think it comes down to his view about news and facts. At the end of the day, the intelligence communities produce news for the president. It's news about very specialized, important international affairs. And you've seen the president talk about fake news and how much he hates the media. I think that same sort of attitude is on display when he interacts with the Intelligence Community.

[01:25:13] SOARES: What are the view - or what you're hearing from the Intelligence Community especially in light of what we've reported that perhaps, Mr. Trump might take advantage of Stephen Feinberg's services although he later said in that press conference that the situation will straighten out on its own. How are the Intelligence Agencies seeing this?

LITTLE: I think they're reporting this week that they're withholding some intelligence is incredibly troubling. I think it indicates there's real concern at the top levels of some of these agencies about the way that intelligence is being handled within the White House, particularly the National Security Council. And so, I think you're going to see that continue. I think the rift is not going to stop any time soon. And whether or not Mr. Feinberg comes in and does a review, he's going to have a very difficult time sort of cracking the safe and getting into, I think, what is a very protected inner circle within the Intelligence Community that has the best interest of the country at heart, ultimately.

SOARES: Alex Little, joining us up from L.A. thanks very much, Alex. Always great to get your insight. Michael?

LITTLE: Thank you for having me.

SOARES: Pleasure.

HOLMES: Thanks, Isa. Well, the Senate gets ready to vote in Mr. Trump's pick to supposedly safeguard the environment as the president starts his rollback on environmental regulations. We'll discuss when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

SOARES: And I'm Isa Soares in London where the time is 6:30 on Friday morning. Let me bring you up to date with the main news headlines this hour. A source says the FBI has no plans to sue charges against former U.S. National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn. He resigned, Monday, of his pre-inauguration contact with Russia's U.S. Ambassador. President Trump says Flynn was right to have those discussions, although he wasn't directed to do so.

HOLMES: A third suspect is now in custody in connection with the death of the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Kim Jong-nam died in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia earlier this week after he was attacked at an airport. The first suspect seen here on surveillance video was arrested two days later. Then a second woman and a man followed shortly after.

SOARES: A suicide attack at a shrine in southern Pakistan killed at least 75 worshippers and wounded more than 200. The ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan and Pakistan is claiming responsibility for the attack. A Pakistani military spokesman says the border with Afghanistan is now closed for security reasons.

HOLMES: And ISIS claiming responsibility for a car bomb that killed more than 50 people in southwest of Baghdad on Thursday. At least 51 more were wounded in the blast which targeted a busy car market. ISIS has been actively attacking the capital lately. Several similar attacks since January.

Well, a confirmation vote is coming on Friday for U.S. President Trump's pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Now like many of Mr. Trump's nominees, Scott Pruitt is facing some stiff opposition. Pruitt says he doesn't think climate change is a hoax but he also isn't planning any quick moves to curb it. Democrats are trying to delay the vote until next week after e-mails between Pruitt and fossil fuel companies are released. As Oklahoma attorney general Pruitt repeatedly sued the EPA and on Thursday Mr. Trump by the way overturned a regulation preventing coal mining waste from being dump into waterways.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am continuing to keep my promise to the American people to get rid of wasteful regulations that do nothing, absolutely nothing but slow down the economy, hamstring companies, push jobs to other countries, which is happening all over, although I must tell you we stopped it. Compliance cost for this rule would be over $50 million a year for the coal industry alone and it's unnecessary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Bruce Nilles is a senior director and co-founder of the Beyond Coal Campaign joins me from San Francisco.

We'll get to Scott Pruitt in a minute but, you know, just touching on what we just saw there, we're already seeing environmental rules being removed. That legislation ending a key Obama administration rule designed to protect waterways from coal mining waste. And then on Tuesday he also did away with a financial disclosure requirement for energy companies. How concerning are those moves before Mr. Pruitt is even at the EPA?

BRUCE NILLES, SENIOR DIRECTOR AND CO-FOUNDER, BEYOND COAL CAMPAIGN: It's really shocking. If you think about the fact that Congress has done basically nothing on energy for several years. And the very first thing this new Congress does at the request of Donald Trump is to pass an energy law, the first thing they did, and that was to allow more coal waste to get dumped into our lakes, rivers and streams here across the United States.

It is so taking us backwards to the 19th century, and that's their vision for our energy future, which is to allow more pollution for an industry that's really on its last legs. It's really a cynical hoax.

HOLMES: OK, back to Scott Pruitt. There's a massive level of opposition to that nomination given his past actions against the EPA. Some have said he's made a career out of it. But he probably in reality have the numbers. What will be the impact if he's running the agency in your view?

NILLES: Well, I think you look at the last six years. He was in charge. He was elected in Oklahoma to be attorney general. The very first thing he did was to eliminate the Office of Environmental Enforcement. Think about that. The first thing he did was take the public money that was used to protect the people clean air and water in Oklahoma. He took that office, eliminated it, and put that money into not doing the people's business but defending the polluters in Oklahoma.

So he took public money and has spent the last six years on behalf of ExxonMobil, large multinational oil and gas and coal companies and been suing to protect them. And that's exactly what he has threatened to do and why we are so vehemently opposed and we hope the Senate tomorrow will have the courage to say this is not American values. This is not what we're about. We're not going to have public money being used to advance the interest of the polluters.

HOLMES: You know, even I was reading today employees of the Environmental Protection Agency are being urged by the union to call senators to urge them to vote against the confirmation of Scott Pruitt. I mean, can you think of any other time when people in the bureaucracy have been this active against the man coming in to lead them?

[01:35:03] NILLES: Well, it is the most dangerous man ever proposed to lead this agency. For 45 years they've been at the forefront to clean up our air and get rid of smog, get mercury out of our fish. And this guy has said he's going to take us backwards. And so it's not just the employees. Most importantly, it's the people who have been enjoying clean air, who love to go fishing, who love the fact that it's safe to breathe on most days across this country. They're the ones who are calling their senators and say you've got to stop Scott Pruitt if we're going to have any sense of continuing to build on the progress of the last 40 years.

HOLMES: Well, about the -- what about the argument that his supporters will put up. There are too many regulations. There are tens of thousands of regulations. They're barrier to industry, to work smoothly. They're holding back the economy. Is there an argument there? Is there a balance to be found?

NILLES: Look, we've always had a vigorous conversation about how to solve problems but what he says is we're going to pretend there's not a problem. About a decade ago, we realized there was way too much mercury in the United States ending up in fish and people were eating and particularly pregnant women. The EPA put together a commonsense regulation to go after mercury from coal fire power plant.

He has spent six years, Scott Pruitt spent six years trying to stop EPA from regulating in a commonsense way mercury from coal fired power plants, even going as far as saying mercury is not a problem. It's a known neurotoxin. And he's out there saying it's that mercury is not a problem. We have to make sure we protect people in the most responsible way possible. But he is so dangerous because he is saying mercury and arsenic is not a problem. More pollution he is saying is actually better for us. And that is just completely different from any candidate we have ever seen before.

HOLMES: Yes. Efforts to try to delay that vote, but as you say it is coming up.

Bruce Nilles of the Beyond Coal Campaign, our thanks.

NILLES: Thank you.

SOARES: Now coming up right here on CNN NEWSROOM, Hungary's hard line migration program may get a little bit harder. What the government plans to do and why human rights groups say it's illegal. We have more on that story next.

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HOLMES: Welcome back. Foreign-born workers in the U.S. are hitting back against U.S. president Donald Trump and his harsh stance on immigration. A Day Without Immigrants protest shut down businesses across the U.S. on Thursday. Many employees refusing to go to work or spend money. Restaurants were especially hard hit. The National Restaurant Association says almost a quarter of U.S. restaurant workers are foreign born.

Lawmakers in Washington felt the pinch as well. Three dining options at the capital were closed along with eateries at the Pentagon. Even a steakhouse in the Trump International Hotel in Washington had a limited menu and reservations.

SOARES: Well, the protests come as Mr. Trump says his new executive order on immigration will be issued next week.

[01:40:04] And he's not the only world leader promising a crackdown. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has a hard line stance against immigration and a lawmaker from his party says it plans to detain migrants while their asylum requests are processed. Human rights groups said the proposal would be illegal. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTA PARDAVI, HEAD OF HUNGARIAN HELSINKI COMMITTEE: Detaining every asylum seeker from the moment of arrival in Hungary until their case finally considered would be absolutely illegal. It's very clear under Hungarian law and also under human rights law that automatic detention, indefinite detention does not comply with the rule of law. It would be arbitrary detention, in fact.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SOARES: Well, let's get more on this Hungarian ruling party's plan. I'm joined now by Zoltan Kovacs. He's the international spokesperson for the Hungarian government.

Mr. Kovacs, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us here on CNN. Talk us through the plan by your government to detain all asylum seekers. Why go this far?

ZOLTAN KOVACS, INTERNATIONAL SPOKESPERSON FOR THE HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT: The reason is very simple. For the past years, maybe decade, asylum seekers, illegal migrants as a matter of fact, have basically misused not only the Hungarian but the European asylum system for their benefit. And that means that applying for asylum or applying for any kind of legal status is basically used to gain access to the freedom of movement within the European Union.

And we believe it's completely unacceptable that illegal migrants, asylum seekers, enjoy better conditions or the rights which are only for European citizens. And also keep in mind that just lately in the couple of weeks the European Union is stepping up and introducing stricter rules for its own citizens who are in possession of visas and documents according to the agreements with the United States and other international organizations. So we are going to check, say, European citizens leaving and entering the European Union, the Schengen borders. And it's impossible that illegal migrants and asylum seekers enjoy more rights or, you know, the freedom of entering the European Union without any kind of check in.

SOARES: OK. So what happens to asylum seekers under this plan? You know, while they wait for the application to be processed where do they stay?

KOVACS: Well, we have already provided for the past year, basically, the possibility to enter Hungary, therefore the European Union, legally. The so-called transit zones. So according to the plans, we've discussed in the Cabinet we are going to introduce a regime which is going to ensure that everyone who would like to enter the European Union are going to be provided shelter and everything that is required by international law. But up until there is a final verdict in that case they should remain in the transit zones and will not be able to move freely within Hungary and therefore within the European Union.

SOARES: You said shelter. What kind of shelter? Did you say they were able to move -- they are able to move freely or not?

KOVACS: No, they will not be able to move freely because that would be against Hungarian and international law. We believe that, again, you have to be a legal migrant to be able to move, in possession of visas and documentation in a given country or in the European Union. I believe that's the case in the United States.

SOARES: Well, I'm sure you heard just before we came to the Hungarian Helsinki Committee basically say that your plan is basically illegal and violates international law. Do they have a point here?

KOVACS: Well, that's not a new claim. So-called civil societies, NGOs who are interested in a completely different scenario and ideologically are against what we do and they believe that the illegal migration itself is good and should be incited, we believe that, you know, they have criticized and went against the measures we have introduced for the past year and a half including building the fence which we don't like but was necessary to stop illegal border crossings along the Hungarian-Serbian and the Hungarian-Croatia borderline.

And it just turned out that building the fence, though it's not a nice thing, is completely in line with European law and international law because European law under the Schengen criteria requires member states to do everything at their disposal to stop illegal border crossings.

SOARES: I think their point was the fact that you would detain them en masse and they wouldn't be able to move. But let me ask you this, Prime Minister Orban is well known for pretty much taking -- go ahead.

KOVACS: If I may interrupt. I mean, each and every case has always been the case is going to be considered individually. And as a matter of fact it's not Hungary who is trying to introduce something on the level of groups or en masse, it's the European Union.

SOARES: Yes.

KOVACS: We believe that indeed will be completely legal actually to talk about quarters and distributions without each and every case being considered individually.

[01:45:12] SOARES: But let's look at the bigger picture, your prime minister, you know, takes a pretty tough position when it comes to migration. His right to defense. Yourself said it there, we have been looking at pictures of that on the border with Serbia. And then as well as the refusal to accept EUI, the silent protest. Is it fair to say that looking at your government's policies that your prime minister simply does not want any asylum seekers and refugees in Hungary?

KOVACS: Well, in general if you like the bigger picture we don't believe that Europe's future is dependent on -- Europe should be relying on migration as a source of renewal or addition to population issues. We believe governments, Hungarian governments and member state governments should be more for their own citizens actually to have more kids to be born. But that's a philosophical difference and a big difference based on principle. We believe that -- otherwise we believe that all member states should be doing everything at their disposal to follow the existing rules in the European Union. And again what you see at the borders of Europe, at the Hungarian border, the Mediterranean Sea, are basically against the existing European legal environment. So states --

SOARES: Yes.

KOVACS: They like it or not, willing or unwillingly, are violating European law today.

SOARES: Zoltan Kovacs, thank you very much, sir, for joining us here on CNN. Michael?

HOLMES: Isa, thanks.

Well, the head of Samsung under arrest on corruption charges in connection with the scandal that brought down the South Korean president. Jay Y. Lee is accused of bribing the then president Park Geun-Hye to gain support for a merger which would have given Lee a tighter grip on Samsung, South Korea's biggest conglomerate.

Paula Hancocks joining us now live from Seoul.

All right, Paula, let's walk through the arrest and exactly what it is he's accused of. What's believed he has done?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michael, it was a couple of days ago that the prosecutors wanted to have this arrest warrant issued. They have to apply in advance then Jay Y. Lee has to come in front of a judge and make his case as to why he doesn't need to be arrested. The judge in this occasion did not agree. Last month they actually rejected the arrest warrant. But this time they said there was a new charge the prosecutors have brought against him. New evidence and they believed it was necessary that he was kept in detention whilst this investigation continues.

So the charges that prosecutors have at this point are the likes of bribery, perjury, concealing criminal profits, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas. Now Samsung denies any wrongdoing. Jay Y. Lee denies any wrongdoing. There was a fairly swift response from Samsung. Their statement saying, "We'll do our best to ensure that the truth is revealed in future court proceedings."

So the basic crux of it is that prosecutors allege he gave money to the government and to a confidante of President Park Geun-Hye who is at the center of this massive corruption scandal to try and gain favor. Something he denies -- Michael. HOLMES: Yes. And just quickly, we're talking about the biggest

company in South Korea. How damaging might this be to Samsung and for that matter, the government?

HANCOCKS: Well, certainly from a brand point of view it is not going to help them. From the day-to-day running of the company, he is the overall head. Each different affiliate of Samsung has its own chief executive. So you're not going to expect anything to come grinding to a halt. But certainly it's very damaging for a company that only last year had that embarrassing exploding phones fiasco. So certainly it's not welcomed.

HOLMES: All right. Paula, thanks so much. Paula Hancocks there in Seoul, South Korea. And do stay with us. We'll be back right back with more news after the break.

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[01:52:56] SOARES: Now TV commercials are usually filled with beautiful people trying to sell us stuff. And you know that. But in Thailand some ad campaigns are going in another direction. They're using real people and appealing to real emotions.

Our Saima Mohsin has this made in Thailand story for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You may have heard Thailand being called the land of smiles. But now millions of viewers from YouTube to Cannes are being introduced to the wistful even melancholy side of Thais. It's been dubbed "sad-vertising."

This isn't a clip from movie or a short film but an advertisement for an insurance company called Thai Life. The characters in the ad are quintessentially Thai but values of selflessness and generosity speak to people around the world.

Unsung hero went viral when it was released in 2014 and people continue to share it. The clip's now approaching 30 million views.

THANONCHAI SORNSRIWICHAI, DIRECTOR: (Graphics) In the past, in advertisements, they always used beautiful people. I personally agree with that. I think if we want to sell things, we have to present reality.

MOHSIN: Director Thanonchai Sornsriwichai is breaking the mold with cinematic and sensitive works, tugging on heartstrings and connecting a new generation of Bangkok creatives with audiences from Chinese social media to South Korean TV.

SORNSRIWICHAI: (Graphics) I believe that if we understand our society, our viewers can see themselves in TV, they would feel that it is indeed them.

MOHSIN: In 2015, advertising companies made over $30 million in profit in Thailand from online campaigns in Thailand alone. Professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers believes that figure will triple by 2020. Ogilvy & Mather Bangkok Corporation is the market leader. It was honored with nine Gold Lions, an advertising prize at Cannes last year. Chairwoman Khun Punnee Chaiyakul puts the success down to deep relationships with clients and a willingness to experiment on new platforms.

KHUN PUNNEE CHAIYAKUL, OGILVY & MATHER THAILAND CHAIRWOMAN: I think speed and scale is very important contribution for digital platform. Don't forget digital is a technology that you get involved to the consumer but what you need is an idea.

MOHSIN: Last Ogilvy in Thailand surged controversy with a campaign on behalf of the animal rights organization, PETA. Bangkok shoppers were introduced to leather products sourced from exotic animals with a gruesome surprise under beneath. Like "Unsung Hero" the advertisement was watched around the world.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: All right. You have been watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes in Los Angeles.

SOARES: And I'm Isa Soares in London. We'll be both back with more news after a very short break. Do stay right here with CNN.

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