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White House Blocks CNN And Others From Press Briefing; Iraq Forces Secure First Neighborhoods In Western Mosul; Lawyer: Le Pen Can Speak To Police After Election; Police: VX Nerve Agent Used To Kill Kim Jong-Nam; FBI Refused White House Request On Trump-Russia Stories. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired February 24, 2017 - 15:00   ET




HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Hala Gorani live from CNN London. Thanks for being with us on this Friday. This is


He's gone from meeting to meeting today and he's about to sit down with the president of Peru, but Donald Trump is also taking time from a busy day at

the White House to rally his conservative base.

Mr. Trump gave a campaign-style speech to a conservative conference today called CPAC, stressing once again his America-first theme. He drew huge

cheers for vowing to push ahead with a border wall with Mexico.

And he promised to keep, quote, "Criminal aliens and radical Islamic terrorists out of the country." Mr. Trump also took aim at one of his

favorite targets, the media.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you saw throughout the entire campaign, and even now, the fake news doesn't tell the truth,

doesn't tell the truth. So just in finishing, I say, it doesn't represent the people, it never will represent the people, and we're going to do

something about it.


GORANI: All right. Not exactly sure what the "something about it" means there. Just a few hours after that speech, though, the White House blocked

CNN, "The New York Times," and other news organizations from attending a press briefing with the spokesperson, Sean Spicer. We're still asking for

an explanation.

Let's bring in CNN's senior media reporter, Dylan Byers. We're also joined by Ashley Parker, a White House reporter for "The Washington Post." Dylan,

first, talk to us about this closed-door press briefing. CNN was excluded. In protest, in fact, I understand the AP as well said they weren't going to

take part in it. What happened and how unusual is it?

DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Well, first of all, it's very unusual and it's raised immense alarm bells among members of the media and

First Amendment watchdogs, as swell. What happened exactly, A, we're still figuring it out. B, what we know is somewhat complicated so bear with me


The White House press secretary, instead of holding a press briefing today on camera held an off off-camera press briefing, what's known as a gaggle.

Usually what happens in that situation is everyone who's in the press briefing gets to come in or a pool gets to come in.

That's just a few reporters and members of the media who come in and take notes for the rest of the White House press corps and relate it back to

them. That's not what happened this time.

What happened was, the White House blocked certain media organizations from attending that off-camera press briefing, including CNN, including "The New

York Times," including "Politico," even including "Buzzfeed."

Meanwhile, the four other major television networks were invited, other newspapers were invited, and several conservative media outlets were

invited. The White House is saying that this was strictly a matter of, you know, they were going to hold a briefing for the pool, they decided to

expand it to some reporters, not every reporter.

But when you look at the fact that CNN was not invited, whereas ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox News were all invited, and you think about that in the context

of some of the reporting that CNN has just done, especially in terms of the relationship between the FBI and the Trump White House, it certainly reeks

of an attempt to block news outlets to only let in other news outlets and skew the narrative in the Trump administration's favor.

GORANI: I'll read CNN's response in a moment. Ashley Parker, was "The Washington Post" part of that media briefing, do you know?

ASHLEY PARKER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": "The Washington Post" was not part of that briefing. I believe today, I wasn't the

reporter at the White House, I think we do not have a reporter at the briefing and we were also not part of that smaller gaggle with Sean Spicer.

GORANI: CNN, as I mentioned, has responded from being excluded from that media gaggle. The statement reads, "This is an unacceptable development by

the Trump White House. Apparently, this is how they retaliate when you report facts that they don't like. We will keep reporting, regardless."

Ashley, one of the things the president brought up at the CPAC conference today was the use of anonymous sources, saying essentially nothing should

be published unless, you know, you're table to name the source.

[15:05:10]How are reporters, especially at "The Washington Post" where you work, reacting to these types of statements?

PARKER: Well, on the one hand, I think much of the media does agree with President Trump and that we prefer not to anonymous sources. That's

certainly true at "The Washington Post" and I know other organizations.

That said, I will say there's a little bit of rich irony to hear that statement coming from the president this morning, after just about an hour

before he made that statement, his own aides had basically demanded anonymity, you know, so to basically be those anonymous sources he claims

he dislikes, to push back against a story they were having problems with.

GORANI: OK. And Dylan, how -- I mean, essentially, the president is saying now, we're not going to let them get away with it, these fake news

outlets, naming CNN as well. And I guess people want to know, well, what do they have in store? What are their plans? How are they going to, I

guess, I don't know if "retaliate" is the right word, but sort of take action against what they call fake news?

BYERS: Well, look, it's a full throttle campaign against the media, at least rhetorically. These attacks -- it's the same attacks that the

president has been doing since before he became president. You're seeing them ramped up now. It's two-pronged.

On the one hand, it's strategic. By putting CNN, "New York Times," by putting certain media outlets under the banner of fake news, you're trying

to convince people who do have questions about their trust in the media, how much can these news organizations be trusted?

And then when you have the sort of aggressive reporting that we do on the Trump administration, people are sort of more wary of whether or not it's

actually true. The problem with that strategy is that it's only effective among Republicans. Republicans, by and large, trust Donald Trump more than

they trust the media, according to recent polling however --

GORANI: All Republicans or the Republicans --

BYERS: Most Republicans. Which, by the way, and not just the base, and that speaks, by the way, A, to a long-standing frustration that Republicans

have had with the media, generally speaking. It also speaks to how effective some of Trump and his administration's rhetoric has been in terms

of demonizing the media.

However, if you look at every other voter, independents, Democrats, by and large, they trust the media more than they trust Trump and his

administration. So this seems to me to be a losing tactic in the long- term, even though it plays well with the base.

The other thing I would say is that this is very sincere. It comes from Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's chief strategist. There's a real feeling that

the media in this country is in favor of Democrats, is in favor of a sort of global cosmopolitan vision of the world.

We saw Steve Bannon outline that in CPAC. We see Donald Trump say that today at CPAC, and not in favor of Republicans, conservatives, and working

class Americans.

GORANI: Those are the outlets -- there are the outlets, essentially, obviously, that are clearly leaning perhaps toward, you know, the sort of

political positions that would please Republicans, who believe Donald Trump more than they believe certain media organizations.

There wasn't just in his crosshairs the media, though, Dylan and Ashley, it was once again, you know, attacking allied countries, like Germany and

France, for being unsafe. He even had this to say about a friend of his named Jim, we don't know exactly who it is, who used to visit Paris often.



TRUMP: I have a friend. He's a very, very substantial guy. He loves the city of lights. He loves Paris. For years, every year, during the summer,

he would go to Paris, it was automatic with his wife and his family. I hadn't seen him in a while, and I said, Jim, let me ask you a question.

How's Paris doing? Paris? I don't go there anymore! Paris is no longer Paris.


GORANI: So, Ashley Parker, I mean, first of all, I can tell you, people in Paris, this is the last thing they need. Their tourism season has been

terrible the last year because of the attacks. Why is the president saying these things about Paris and France, which is an ally?

PARKER: It's certainly an interesting question that complicates relationships for this country and, you know, as you said, is quite strong

allies abroad. It's interesting, I actually just got back from Vice President Pence's trip to Munich and Brussels.

And one of the main reasons the vice president was deployed was basically to go to these very traditionally strong allies and kind of reassure them

and do a bit of diplomacy and say, you know, the subtext was, everything the president is saying isn't quite accurate. You know, we still support

you, you can still count on us.

[15:10:02]But then when the president comes out and makes statements like these, it certainly complicates the job of his top diplomats, his vice

president, his cabinet secretaries, and his relationships.

GORANI: And we still don't know who Jim is. Has anybody identified Jim, his friend?

PARKER: Not --

BYERS: I don't believe we know who Jim is. Just to add to Ashley's point, the -- a way that you can gin up support among your base, beyond demonizing

the media and creating a sort of us versus them atmosphere is to convince them that they live in a world of fear and they live in a world where

terror and crime and threats of various natures sort of lurk around every corner.

What Donald Trump is trying to do is not so much paint America as a city upon a hill so much as the last bastion against a world of unknown dangers

and unknown threats. And that's part of why you see him painting the rest of the world this way.

And, you know, obviously, there's a lot of this he said there that sort of portray Paris, which is a wonderful city, in a very negative light.

GORANI: Dylan Byers, Ashley Parker, thanks to both of you so much for joining us today.

PARKER: Thank you.

GORANI: A leading supporter of Britain leaving the European Union also addressed this conservative conference today and this is a face and a name

you probably know. Nigel Farage says Brexit and Mr. Trump's election victory are the beginning of great global revolution.


NIGEL FARAGE, FORMER UKIP LEADER: This will roll out across the rest of the west. We've got some very exciting elections coming up in the

Netherlands, in France, in Germany, possibly even in Italy.


GORANI: Well, he's certainly hoping that populist fever is going to spread to other countries. Let's turn our attention now to an important

developing story in the Middle East. Iraqi forces say they are securing their first areas of Western Mosul after taking control of the city's


Tanks and attack helicopters have been firing on ISIS targets as they continue their attempt to push the terrorists out of the city. A strategic

military base near the airport has been reclaimed, but of course, the fight for the rest of Mosul won't be quick and it will not be easy. Our Ben

Wedeman, close to the front lines, has been watching the battle.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're on the southern end, edge of Mosul, where we've seen a steady bombardment of ISIS targets.

Of course, that's a helicopter overhead. Firing heavy machine gun fire and missiles inside the city.


GORANI: Ben Wedeman is now in Erbil. So Ben, let's talk first about the strategic importance of the airport for the Iraqi Army.

WEDEMAN: Well, the airport is a large, open space just to the south of the city. We spoke to officers and soldiers who took part in the battle and

they said that even though ISIS was using car bombs, IEDs and what not, that the level of resistance was fairly small.

What it does give to the Iraqi military is a large, expansive territory, just to the south of the southern suburbs in Western Mosul. Now, what we

also saw that was interesting was American spotters, just about a mile away from ISIS positions.

They were providing cooperates for targets inside the city to those Iraqi helicopters flying overhead. We do know that the pentagon has said that

American spotters and advisers are going to be playing a more forward role in the fight against ISIS -- Hala.

GORANI: And Mosul itself -- so we know it's very densely populated. The complications involved in trying to flush out ISIS from this half of the

city, they must be -- I mean, there must be so much to take into account. What is the best-case scenario here?

WEDEMAN: Well, the best-case scenario is perhaps the possibility that the morale of ISIS collapses. Now, the Iraqis are trying to basically cause

sort of shove a wedge in between Iraqi-ISIS members and foreign fighters.

In fact, the Counterterrorism Service of the Iraqi military put out a statement on Facebook. Its Facebook page, essentially saying that Iraqi-

ISIS fighters, who turn on the foreign fighters, fight and kill them, will be given special consideration when they end up going before a judge when

this is all over.

[15:15:02]They clearly want -- because there is a lot of resentment within Mosul, not just among the ordinary residents, who are about 800,000 people,

but we are hearing that Iraqi fighters who joined ISIS for whatever reasons are increasingly resentful at the somewhat arrogant attitude of the foreign


Speaking to officers today, who said they found many bodies after the battle at the airport, they're talking about Chechens, Russians, and other

nationalities who have come from all over the world, basically, to fight on behalf of ISIS -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. We'll see if this divide and conquer strategy works. Thanks very much, Ben Wedeman in Erbil with his reporting from Mosul.

Now, to a potentially major development in French politics. Now, the French presidential candidate, the conservative, Francois Fillon, is now

going to face a formal investigation. Prosecutors say they're investigating the embezzlement of public funds and the misuse of public


The center-right candidate previously denied any wrongdoing, claiming he has nothing to hide. Initially, he said he would drop out if he was put

under formal investigation, but it seems as though he's dialed that back and that he would probably stay in.

Another candidate under the spotlight is Marine Le Pen. A lawyer for the far-right leader says she won't speak to police until after the election.

The lawyer says Le Pen was summoned by police earlier this week, but she was traveling to Lebanon.

Le Pen's chief of staff is under investigation because of allegations of misuse of E.U. funds. Lots of investigations in French politics, but the

race is barreling ahead.

Still to come, tonight, Malaysian police say they know what killed Kim Jong-Nam. Details from Kuala Lumpur, next.

And officials tell CNN the FBI refused a request from the Trump administration to downplay reports about the contact it had with Russia.

How the White House is responding, when we come back.


GORANI: Well, there have been some major new developments in the investigation into the sudden death of the North Korean leader's half-

brother. Malaysian police say Kim Jong-Nam was killed with a highly toxic and dangerous substance in a busy airport. Alexandra Field has the details

from Kuala Lumpur.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): VX nerve agent found on Kim Jong-Nam's face and his eyes, this from Malaysian police. It's an

internationally banned chemical weapon that can kill almost instantly by stopping someone from breathing.

LT. COLONEL RICK FRANCONA (RETIRED), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: VX was developed in the 1950s by the British and it was soon copied by the

Russians, the Americans, the Syrians, and possibly the Iraqis. So it's a very, very lethal agent. Just a few drops on unexposed skin will -- on

uncovered skin will kill you, very, very quickly. So it is probably the most lethal of the nerve agents ever designed.

FIELD: The half-brother of the North Korean dictator died in an ambulance after complaining of dizziness.

[15:20:05]Before that, CCTV video in Kuala Lumpur's airport appears to show the attack. Malaysian police say two women were trained to poison him and

taught how to protect themselves.

North Korean officials have sharply criticized the investigation, insisting the women would have suffered themselves if they'd handled the chemicals.

Weapons experts point out that some versions of VX are only lethal once two components are combined.

FRANCONA: Any modern country with a sophisticated chemical industry or universities that have decent chemical engineering departments could

replicate this formula. The formula is out there.

FIELD: Malaysian investigators don't know yet where the chemicals used in the attack on Kim Jong-Nam were made. They've asked Interpol to issue

alerts for four North Korean men believed to be back in Pyongyang. They're suspected of giving the women the deadly weapon.


FIELD: Malaysian officials say they have requested help from North Korean officials in tracking down some of the North Korean citizens they want to

speak to in relation to the case. A spokesperson for North Korea's Embassy here in Kuala Lumpur says no such request has been received.

North Korean officials have not made any comment on the announcement from Malaysian police that they discovered VX on Kim Jong-Nam's body. In Kuala

Lumpur, Alexandra Field, CNN.

GORANI: Let's get more now on how exactly the VX nerve agent works and how it was used potentially. We're joined by Bruce Bennett. He is a defense

expert from the think tank, RAND Corporation. Thanks for being with us.

First of all, if someone had some of this highly toxic, highly dangerous material on their hand and they wiped Kim Jong-Nam's face with it or

sprayed it in his face, wouldn't they, too, have been exposed?

BRUCE BENNETT, DEFENSE EXPERT, RAND CORPORATION: Certainly, they couldn't have it in their hand, but they could have it, as I understand it, they

splashed his face with water or something, but they could have had it on the claws that they then tried to dry him off with. This is even part of a

drop is enough to kill him if it gets on his skin. So this may well have been just a little bit.

GORANI: But is it airborne after you splash it or you use a cloth to wipe someone's face, if it's --


GORANI: So people around Kim Jong-Nam, would they have been exposed?

BENNETT: No. So the liquid that was used was probably a diversion that splashed on him. If there had been that much VX, he would have been dead

almost instantaneously. But instead, it was probably just a drop on the cloths that they touched his face with, being very careful not to touch it

themselves, and then they threw it in a trash can.

So, it was something like that, very little. VX is like oil. It doesn't vaporize. So you don't get a broader area threat, making it a perfect

assassination tool. You use it, the person is the only one affected, even the ladies, if they'd been holding the cloths prior to this, would not have

been affected by it. It's the physical contact that would have counted.

GORANI: So, but would it have been -- you can transport this, right? I mean, if they came from another country, landed at Kuala Lumpur airport,

with this on a cloth, they could have undetected transported this across borders?

BENNETT: Well, they would have probably put it in a sealed container because this is extraordinarily dangerous material. I would think they

would have a small container, probably inside a pen, in somebody's pocket. And so who would notice that it was being carried in because, again, you

just need a drop.

GORANI: Who can make this? I mean, can you make this in a kitchen sink? Do you have to be a highly sophisticated, you know, state-sponsored weapons

program? How do you manufacture this?

BENNETT: Well, if you make it in a kitchen sink, you're probably going to kill yourself. This has to be very carefully handled, has to be ventilated

and properly handled. Now, could they do that in a university? Possibly, but this is very dangerous stuff. They probably wouldn't do this. This is

probably nationally produced.

GORANI: All right. And so, but, of course, this is banned. I mean, VX nerve agent is a banned substance. The U.N. considers this essentially a

weapon of mass destruction, potentially, in large quantities. So one countries would -- it's not every country that would keep this in its


BENNETT: No, no, it's very few countries. Historically, Russia, Britain, the United States, possibly China, possibly Syria or Iraq and apparently

now North Korea, has had it in their stockpiles. And we have to recognize that North Korea may actually not have made it. They may have purchased it

from some part of the former Soviet Union where it was available after the collapse of the Cold War.

[15:25:03]GORANI: All right, scary stuff. Bruce Bennett, thanks so much for joining us. We really appreciate your time. Very enlightening

conversation with you.

BENNETT: Certainly!

GORANI: Thank you. CNN is told that the FBI rejected a recent request from the White House to publicly knock down media reports they didn't like.

The reports in question were about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to U.S. intelligence during the campaign last


But a White House official said that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it didn't believe all of the reporting was

accurate. Multiple American officials tell CNN the White House sought the help of the bureau and other agencies investigating the Russia matter, to

say that the reports were wrong, and that there had been no contact.

FBI Director James Comey rejected the request, according to sources, in part because the alleged communications are the subject of an ongoing

investigation. The White House spokesperson said, "We didn't try to knock the story down, we asked them to tell the truth," quote/unquote.

The FBI in this case declined to comment. Justice correspondent, Evan Perez joins me now from Washington with more on this story. What more do

we know, Evan?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, today, the White House has been quite on the defensive with a senior administration officials

holding an impromptu meeting with reporters at the White House in response to that exclusive reporting that we had, that the FBI had refused a White

House request to knock down stories about Trump associates' contacts with Russians during the 2016 campaign.

We had two senior administration officials earlier today strongly arguing that the White House officials acted appropriately in asking the FBI to

knock down these reports, because the FBI's deputy director, Andy Mccabe, was actually the first to make contact about it.

Apparently, he asked for a five-minute one on one last week with the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, to say that the coverage was

inaccurate. And at that point, according to them, Priebus asked what could be done.

Now, these senior administration officials, who spoke again anonymously, said that Priebus spoke to both McCabe, the deputy director of the FBI, and

to the director of the FBI, James Comey, and that the FBI declined to speak publicly, because, quote, "The FBI could not get into a position of making

statements on every story."

Adding to all this drama, Hala, administration officials say that Director Comey, the FBI director, gave the OK for Reince Priebus, the White House

chief of staff, to go out publicly and say that top intelligence officials said that "The New York Times" report on this whole Russia contacts was

untrue. As you mentioned, the FBI has declined to comment on this entire story.

GORANI: And this is -- how unusual is this interaction between the FBI and the White House, this direct interaction?

PEREZ: Right? Behind all the fighting, that is the issue at hand, right? The communication between the White House and the FBI is unusual, because

there's a decade-old restriction on these types of contacts, specifically, laid out in two memos that were established by the Justice Department.

Now, if the deputy director of the FBI, Andy McCabe, said this to the White House, he may have overstepped the bounds, simply because it is an ongoing

investigation. Not to mention, it's an investigation that involves the president's associates and Russia.

Now, a U.S. official says that McCabe didn't actually discuss aspects of the case. Now, we don't know exactly what McCabe said to Reince Priebus.

The request from the White House, however, we know, is a violation of these procedures that limit communications between the FBI on pending


Now, this is an ongoing investigation, Hala, that is still being handled by the FBI's counterintelligence division.

GORANI: Evan Perez, thanks very much, with more of CNN's exclusive reporting. You are watching THE WORLD RIGHT NOW.

Coming up, some Republicans are saying they will not attend town halls because they're afraid for their safety.

And later, a report from the red carpet as Hollywood gears up for the Academy Awards. We'll be right back.


[15:31:43] GORANI: U.S. President Donald Trump is intensifying his attacks on the media. He blasted what he calls fake news at a conservative

conference in Maryland, and he threatened to take action but he did not give specifics. Later in the day, though, the White House blocked CNN,

"The New York Times," and other news organizations from attending a press briefing.

The French presidential candidate Francois Fillon is to face a judicial investigation. Prosecutors say they are looking into the embezzlement of

public funds, the misuse of public assets, as well. The center-right candidate has previously denied any wrongdoing.

Russia's ambassador to the United Nations was laid to rest today. Russia's Foreign Minister spoke at the funeral services for Vitaly Churkin, and he

called him a people's diplomat. This, of course, unfolding in Moscow. Churkin died suddenly, one day before his 65th birthday in New York.

Town hall events across the U.S. are feeling the brunt of anti-Trump protesters, leading to some Republicans refusing to show up. One Texas

congressman, Louie Gohmert, explained he feared for his safe and invoked the 2011 shooting of Democrat Gabby Giffords when explaining why he

wouldn't appear in person at these public meetings.

Deborah Feyerick has more on these angry protests.



DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republican lawmakers confronted by furious constituents in town halls across the


CROWD: Do your job!

FEYERICK (voice-over): In Florida, rowdy crowds demanding answers from Congressman Matt Gates about whether he'll call for the release of

President Trump's tax returns.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: Let me say, right here, right now. Absolutely, Donald Trump should release his tax returns.


FEYERICK (voice-over): In Arizona, tempers flaring when Representative Martha McSally sidesteps questions about Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just answer our questions --


REP. MARTHA MCSALLY (R), ARIZONA: You may not like the answers that I'm giving you --


FEYERICK (voice-over): In Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell avoiding scores of protesters outside this ticketed luncheon.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: It's pretty clear what they're protesting, and that's the outcome of last year's election.

FEYERICK (voice-over): But when pressed by two constituents inside who paid up to $60 to make their voices heard --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are protesting the fact that, to get in front of you, we have to pay dollars. Why won't you hold a town hall with your

constituents? We want to hear from you.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Faced with public anger, some Republican lawmakers, opting for telephone town halls or skipping the face-to-face meetings


CROWD: Where is Dave? You work for us!

FEYERICK (voice-over): Outraged voters holding empty chair town halls like this one in Ohio, with cutouts of missing Senator Rob Portman. And in

Florida, one constituent chasing down Marco Rubio.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But are you going to host a town hall?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Nice to see you, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a constituent's town hall today. We need to hear from you, Senator.


[15:34:56] GORANI: This is just a very interesting movement and a phenomenon in the United States. Nick Valencia joins me from Brow Bridge

in Louisiana.

Who is behind this movement? Because we're seeing more and more of these very rowdy town halls from, basically, anti-Trump citizens wanting to hold

their elected representatives to account and press with their agendas.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are individual constituents that are showing up here to challenge their representatives, in this case,

Senator Bill Cassidy, but there also is a larger movement here at play.

The group, "Indivisible," which is a heavily democratic group, has shown up at these town halls across the country. Their presence was certainly felt

here earlier today. It wasn't quite as tense of an environment as Senator Cassidy had faced earlier this week in a neighboring district. There were

certainly some tense moments, but by and large, the atmosphere was a respectful one or very respectful tone.

I did catch up earlier with the Senator's staff. They said they had anticipated people coming from outside of the state to cause problems. But

from what we witnessed, Hala, we spoke to people in line, the majority of them were either from this district or surrounding areas.

I mentioned that group, "Indivisible." We caught up with the local chapter president, James Proctor, who said that Senator Cassidy didn't answer any

of the critical issues at hand.


JAMES PROCTOR, LOCAL CHAPTER PRESIDENT, INDIVISIBLE: I wasn't politically active, really, until the election. And I won't deny that watching a man

who I consider completely unethical get elected has influenced my desire to be politically active.

But my representation is Senator Cassidy, and so I'm here to ask him questions about what he's doing legislatively that will affect my life and

the lives of my children and everyone else I know here in Louisiana.


VALENCIA: Some of those bigger issues that Proctor says he was concerned about include health care, the Affordable Care Act, so-called ObamaCare,

and what repealing it would mean to thousands of residents here who say that their premiums would skyrocket.

Other issues that are more affecting the local community have to do with the proposed pipeline that is waiting in the wings. Residents here say

that it will affect the craw fish industry. And while that may not be a big deal to people outside of the state of Louisiana, that's certainly a

big deal here in this state.

Also, they took exception with Senator Bill Cassidy's support and endorsement of President Trump's cabinet picks, specifically his Education

Secretary, Betsy DeVos, which critics here say has no business holding that position -- Hala.

GORANI: So, first of all, is this having some sort of impact? Obviously, these are citizens, constituents. They want to put pressure on their

lawmakers to oppose some of the, maybe, cabinet appointments, maybe, you know, even the Supreme Court justice nominee proposed by President Trump.

So is it, right now, having an impact? And in the long run, if it reaches some sort of critical mass, is this how these, basically, opposition groups

are hoping strategically to, you know, oppose some of Trump's agenda?

VALENCIA: I think if there's any impact, it's just the optics, to see all of these people lined up hours before these town halls start to voice their

opposition. This state is a heavily Republican state, but to see all those in line, to see all these Democratic voices in line, was certainly

startling for me. And I'm sure it was for Senator Cassidy as he does his week-long tour throughout the state holding these town halls.

They're certainly feeling the pressure. And when I spoke to the Senator's staff, they said that they had anticipated these angry voters. But they

also said that they were willing to have these conversations so long as the tone was respectful.

As far as the "Indivisible" group and those that are challenging Republican representatives across the country right now, they have fizzled out. You

see behind me, there's no one left here. But they do say that they're going to continue to put pressure on until they get some sort of change.

And whether that's a change in Republican leadership when the midterms come up in about two years or just, you know, having the world see that there

are people that are challenging the perspectives of the Republican Party, that, to them, is a victory all in itself -- Hala.

GORANI: Yes. It will be interesting to see if it goes beyond optics. And, by the way, Gabby Giffords --


GORANI: -- who herself, at one of these public events, was shot, nearly died, she said in a tweet, "To the politicians who have abandoned their

civic obligations, I say this, have some courage, face your constituents, hold town halls."

This in response to some representatives who claim that it's too dangerous to appear in person, Nick?

VALENCIA: Right. Right, some people have decided not to show up to these town halls because of public safety. You just aired a report by my

colleague, Deb Feyerick, seeing Senator Marco Rubio, who was avoiding a town hall. He said he had a trip to Europe.

Other senators are saying they're choosing just not to host these because they see the formats and forums. They see the shouting matches that happen

in some of these town halls. We saw an exchange that nearly turned physical at the very end of the town hall between some Trump supporters and

members, or so it seemed, from the "Indivisible" groups.

So far, we haven't seen that violence escalate to the point of a serious injury, but there's certainly a sense of tension at these town halls. And

I don't think that that tension is going away anytime soon, Hala.

[15:40:01] GORANI: Well, let's hope it doesn't become violent. Thanks very much, Nick Valencia in Louisiana.

We've seen a lot of emotion at these town halls, but a particularly moving question at a meeting in Arkansas made the crowd erupt in applause. No one

saw this coming, from the last person who took the microphone.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump makes Mexicans not important to people who are in Arkansas who like Mexicans, like me, my grandma, and all my people.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he's deleting all the parts in PBS Kids just to make a wall.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He can't do that?

SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: Tell, how old are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm almost eight, but I'm seven.


GORANI: "I'm almost eight, but I'm seven." He was speaking to one of the senators from Arkansas, Senator Tom Cotton, there, who probably got his

toughest question at that appearance from a 7-year-old.

This is THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. It's the all-singing, all-dancing tale of old-world romance that swept the Oscar nominations. And it's set in real

place. We'll take you on a tour of the now famous "La La" landmarks.


GORANI: Well, sadly, human trafficking victims are all around us -- in the corner store, at the nail salon, even maybe living in the apartment next

door to you. But how do you spot the signs that someone may be a victim? Isa Soares shows us.


PHIL KNIGHT, FOUNDER, JUST ENOUGH U.K.: I would love to see a world where you've got a whole generation growing that go, we know about modern-day

slavery. The reason it's gotten so big is because nobody knew about it.

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former drummer Phil Knight set up his education charity, teaching children about modern slavery, after

hearing the story of a 16-year-old student who'd been sex trafficked from Moldova to the U.K. as a young girl.

KNIGHT: I just couldn't get my head around it, that this could happen. And it was only as we sort of got deeper and deeper into it that we

realized, well, I don't think there's anyone else who's going into primary schools and teaching kids about this type of stuff because it's such a

difficult subject matter.

And you phone a school, you talk to a school to say, can we come in? And you know, they sort of, go, modern day slavery and human trafficking,

really? But once we sent in the staff and they see how we work, we're straight in.

LYNSEY MACKAY, PRESENTER, JUST ENOUGH U.K.: What happens if everything you make -- you're a slave too? What happens if I make you do that?

SOARES (voice-over): "Just Enough U.K." has been running school workshops on modern slavery for eight to 16-year-olds since 2013.

[15:45:00] KNIGHT: In the U.K. alone now, we've educated over 30,000 children. And that's just going up and up and up with the amount of

schools that are now booking in because we've built a name on trust.

MACKAY: Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Catch a -- you! You look quite strong. You're quite strong?

Good. Because today you're going to be my slave. I have a lot --

SOARES (voice-over): Trained actor Lynsey Mackay has been leading workshops for the past year.

MACKAY: Within the hour-long workshop, we start off with introducing who we are, establishing that we're in a safe environment. We then jump back

in time just to see the knowledge that children have already of the topic.

Now, has anybody heard of William Wilberforce? Twenty years it took for him to get all the signatures he needed to ban slavery, but --

We go through a role play scenario with them where the kids get up and get involved.

Up you come, Barry (ph).

MACKAY (voice-over): Through acting different scenarios that could lead to trafficking and how people are tricked into it.

MACKAY (on camera): So I have their passport. So what does that mean now? Bart (ph), yes?

BART (ph), STUDENT: They can't leave the country.

MACKAY (on camera): They can't leave the country or they can't leave me.

And then from there, we do our five signs of slavery.

So these are the signs to keep you all nice and safe, also the people around you.

SOARES (voice-over): Lynsey believes she has firsthand experience of being groomed by a trafficker while studying in Madrid.

MACKAY: I lived in an all-female flat with live-in male landlord. And within the short month that I lived there, I had guests given to me. I was

told I needed to go to meet his friends. He would get angry when I didn't. If I went home, he'd come pick me up from the airport unannounced, would

track my flights and things like that.

He sent me letters telling me about how I need to go with him. And looking at it back after that, especially with the work that I'm involved with

"Just Enough," I realize how close I actually was. And if I didn't have a supportive family, I probably might have fallen into it.

KNIGHT: The most important thing for me was that she was able to take all of that knowledge and all of that, and adapt it into her workshop without

ever scaring the children because the biggest thing for "Just Enough," and my rule, is it can never shock them. They can never be scared. They can

never be worried about what they've seen.

MACKAY (on camera): Let us know what you thought of the workshop, whether you enjoyed it, whether you'd like something different, what was your

favorite bit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The five ways that you can identify someone who's maybe in slavery because I think that's a very helpful thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The presenter was like showing her expressions, and she wasn't really shy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just learned more about modern slavery and now, I understand.

SOARES (voice-over): The aim now for Phil and his team is to spread the anti-slavery message to children worldwide.

KNIGHT: I'm off to America to start building "Just Enough USA." We've been asked by government, where else can you build this? If you can do a

workshop on, you know, a great flat screen in a, you know, really great school in London, could you do the same workshop on the back of a truck in

Nigeria with no electricity and stuff? And I've said, definitely, because, as you saw, with Lynsey and the team, it's all down to the magic of the


MACKAY (on camera): So now, how many of you believe that one person can change the world? I thought that would happen.

SOARES: Isa Soares, CNN, London.


GORANI: Well, on March 14th, CNN is teaming up with young people like many of you watching us for "My Freedom Day." Tell us what freedom means to

you. Use the hashtag, #MyFreedomDay, on social media, and we'll share your responses on our website.

We'll be right back.


[15:50:10] GORANI: What does the word "hero" mean to you? Anderson Cooper was inspired by a Haitian boy who survived the country's devastating

earthquake. Take a listen.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: For me, when I think of heroes, I think of a little boy named Monley, who I met in Haiti back in 2010, in the days after

the earthquake. And he was 5 years old at the time.

This is Monley Elize, the 5-year-old boy trapped in the rubble of his collapsed home for eight days after the quake.

And he found kind of a crawl space that he was able to crawl into. We were there when he was brought to General Hospital here in Port-au-Prince and

treated by doctors from the International Medical Corps. And so in the midst of this horror, to have this little boy emerge with his blinking

eyes. He was clearly emaciated and could barely talk.

In the years since, my executive producer, Charlie Morris, kept in touch with him. We've been down there a couple of times. And Monley is 11 years

old now and he's doing really well.

I think so many of us kind of view our own situations and think, well, you know, things aren't where I wanted to be in life and, you know, for very

understandable reasons, we're unhappy with things. But I just think there's something about that determination that Monley showed and that kind

of burrowing down and barreling through determination to survive, to get out and to make it.

And I don't know that, if you ask him, he could even tell you how he survived or what it was in him that made him survive. But to me, he's a

sign of hope. And he's a hero.


GORANI: Now, have you ever loved a movie so much, you wanted to be in it? When it comes to the critically acclaimed "La La Land," the next big best

thing, I should say, may be a scenic tour of Los Angeles, California.

Paul Vercammen takes us on a real-life trip to "La La Land."


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN REPORTER/PRODUCER: The odds are astronomical against a star struck fan meeting "La La Land's" Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The cinematography and the music and the dancing, it just told a beautiful love story.

VERCAMMEN: But they can remember dancing and romancing at "La La" landmarks. The Griffin Observatory.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it was just a really good movie. And I'm an artist anyway, so I thought the movie was very artsy, and it has nostalgia

to it with, like, old Hollywood, kind of.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Folks want to come on in and they want to dance in the planetarium. And some even think that perhaps they can float through the


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I could recreate some of the scenes like I'm floating.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Impossible, of course.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): Robert Foulkes, location manager for the film, guided Director Damien Chazelle to 48 locations in 42 days of filming.

ROBERT FOULKES, LOCATION MANAGER, "LA LA LAND": Beginning stages of movie, often times, is me and the production are sitting in a car, driving around,

figuring out if this is where we're going to make the movie or not.

VERCAMMEN (on camera): I know! I don't look like Ryan Gosling, but I am allowed to walk on this pier, the Hermosa Pier, and you can too. It's

featured in the movie.

One thing you may notice, though, there are no actual lampposts. It's getting political, the Hermosa City Council is considering adding the


JEFF DUCLOS, COUNCILMEMBER, HERMOSA BEACH CITY COUNCIL: Whether it's Dyersville, Iowa and the "Field of Dreams" or that bench in Georgia for

"Forrest Gump," I mean, people connect with a moment. And there was a moment there in that film that will always be remembered.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): Near the pier, the Lighthouse Cafe where Gosling played jazz. It's a treasure. And so is the 91-year-old woman who books

the music acts.

GLORIA CADENA, TALENT BOOKER, LIGHTHOUSE CAFE: And I'm Gloria Cadena, but they call "Glow" because I shine. Can you feel it?

VERCAMMEN (on camera): It's lighting me up right now. The Lighthouse.

Here's the "La La Land" landmark from the opening scene, where they were all dancing on this freeway on-ramp. This is where the 105 connects with

the 110 in L.A. So you can't set foot on it, but you sure can go ahead and drive this part that so many people remember.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): Now, the scene where Gosling gets fired is inside Burbank's dark Smoke House Restaurant across from Warner Brother Studios.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be sitting here in a landmark of "La La Land," an Oscar-nominated film on my lunch break, I couldn't think of a better place

to be.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): They removed the head shots for filming. Recognize Jennifer Aniston and George Clooney?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So many cool things happened here. This place was filled with actors and crew. And, you know, watching the movie and being

in the same place is actually pretty cool.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): Also cool, this mural of actors, which looks like the entrance to the smokehouse in the film, but isn't. The mural is over

the hill at Hollywood. Seems it's all just one sprawling special effect.

Paul Vercammen, CNN, "La La Land."


[15:54:59] GORANI: Well, "La La Land" will have its moment of truth this Sunday, along with all this year's Oscar-nominated movies. Stephanie Elam

sent us this preview of the 89th Academy Awards from the red carpet.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hala, we are here on the Oscar's red carpet, but as you can see, preparations are still underway. So if you

take a look at the carpet right now, it looks a little white. They've got it covered in plastic because they want to make sure it looks good for the

stars when they get here on Oscar Sunday.

But they are not taking any chances. It looks like we might get some rain on Sunday, so the tent is up as well to make sure that people don't have

their gowns messed up, you know, hairdos messed up. Can't have that happen to these people on their most important day, right?

You also have here where you can see the Oscars are into the wall. This is where you'll see the still photography happening. You'll see everyone

stopping there to pose before they make their way into the big show.

And speaking of which, let's just show you what it's like because this is where the stars are going to walk down as they make their way in. And on

this side, this is where you'll see family, their guests, will walk on this side with the bleachers behind them.

And then if you turn around and look at this side, this is where all of the media is. And so they stop and do their interviews and they tell us about

their fears and their excitements.

Will it be "La La Land" that is going to win? It has the most nominations going into this Oscars, but could it be an upset? Could it be "Moonlight"?

Could it be "Lion"? Could it be "Hidden Figures," which does have the biggest box office numbers of these nine movies?

That's what people are going to be waiting to see. There is some international intrigue as well. You've got, for "Elle," you have Isabelle

Huppert, who is nominated for her role as Best Actress. And you also have a movie like "Lion." "Lion," obviously, a huge international interest in

that story as well.

So this is where we're going to be. You can see the names already up and scrolling here. This is letting us know who is nominated and who we are

looking to see, the big stars that will be out here as they make their way down the red carpet here.

The emcee will be Jimmy Kimmel. This is his first time out taking the job on. He's saying that he hopes people give very honest speeches from the

heart. But there's a very good chance, Hala, that we may see some politics play into this, as well, as we've seen throughout most of the award shows.


GORANI: Thank you very much, Stephanie Elam. And by the way, join John Vause and Amara Walker for a special edition of "NEWSROOM L.A." on Oscar

Sunday. We'll bring you the highlights, the winners, and the celebrity reactions. That's Sunday at 9:00 p.m. in Los Angeles and early birds, 5:00

a.m. Monday in London.

This has been THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. I'm Hala Gorani. Thanks for watching. Have a great weekend if it's your weekend.



[15:59:57] RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: Quite remarkable. Literally, in the 30 seconds while the closing bell has been ringing, the stock market, which

had been down all day -- let's watch the closing bell.