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WORLD RIGHT NOW WITH HALA GORANI
Budget Blueprint Sent To U.S. Government Agencies; Former President Bush: Media "Indispensable To Democracy"; Confusion Reigns As "Moonlight" Takes Best Picture; Retracing The Killing Of Kim Jong-Nam; Iraqi Security Forces Gaining Ground On ISIS; Moscow Denies Tightening Monitors in Eastern Ukraine; Calls for Special U.S. Prosecutor to Probe Russia Claims; Nokia Relaunches Its 3310 Phone. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired February 27, 2017 - 15:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:15] HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Hala Gorani. We're live from CNN London. As you can see, an eclectic mix of top
stories. Thanks for being with us this Monday. This is THE WORLD RIGHT NOW.
Donald Trump is calling for an historic increase in military spending in America. Just as his administration is considering what to do about ISIS.
Now, first, the U.S. president ordered a speedy review of battle plans last month and today the Pentagon sent over some recommendations. We'll talk
about those in a moment.
Defense Secretary James Mattis is briefing top administration officials this afternoon. And there's also this, strengthening the world's most
powerful military, one of Donald Trump's top priorities. His first budget proposal will look to boost defense spending by $54 billion. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It will include an historic increase in defense spending to rebuild the depleted military
of the United States of America at a time we most need it. And you'll be hearing about that tomorrow night in great detail. This is a landmark
event, a message to the world, and these dangerous times of American strength, security, and resolve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, let's bring in Dylan Byers. He's in L.A. as our media and politics reporter. So, first, this is a campaign promise, obviously, that
he's fulfilling, Dylan.
DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Yes, it's absolutely a campaign promise that he's fulfilling. And in fact, one thing that members of
Donald Trump's administration love to point out, chief among them, his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is that everything that the president is
the doing, every action he is taking, is something he promised he would do during the campaign.
And indeed, there are sort of three pillars or three verticals of what Trumpism is, and what Trump and certainly Steve Bannon hope to accomplish
while they're in office and that begins with national security because it begins with national sovereignty. It begins with this idea, as Bannon
said, that America has a culture and a reason to exist.
So, before even getting to issues like economic nationalism, before sort of trying to deconstruct the administrative state that has been the sort of
chief whipping boy of Bannon and Trump in his campaign, it begins with these promises that have to do with defense, with national security, and
therefore, with national sovereignty.
GORANI: And of course, this means cuts to other agencies, as well, but this is the beginning of a process. This isn't the budget. It still
requires a big fight, not just with Congressional Democrats, some Republicans might not be 100 percent onboard. In fact, some Republicans
are saying the increase to the defense budget, you know, isn't big enough. So what about the road ahead here for Donald Trump?
BYERS: Well, the road ahead is extremely hard and for one reason, you know, Trump and his senior officials haven't really done anything to extend
the olive branch to Capitol Hill. So it's not just an issue of dealing with Democrats who feel newly emboldened because of this sort of grassroots
protest that's taking place in the street across the board from Trump's policies and to Trump himself.
It's also Republicans, who are waiting to see how their own constituents feel, who are going back to town halls -- or not going back to town halls,
in many cases, in their own districts and running into problems there with -- by backing Trump, by endorsing Trump, by not appearing to stand up
against Trump on some of his more radical policy proposals. So, look, it's a very hard road ahead.
[15:05:02]It's going to be very interesting to see in this address to a joint session of Congress what -- how much of an olive branch the president
tries to extend or whether he continues this sort of antiestablishment, anti-media rhetoric in talking about himself and the margins that he won by
or may not have won by. A lot of the rhetoric needs to shift now in order for him to make that case to the Hill.
GORANI: Right. And he has not released -- in pretty much every opportunity he's had in speeches and presentations and addresses to bash
the media. We'll see if he does it tomorrow at the joint address on Capitol Hill.
Sean Spicer, in his daily briefing, was asked once again about a possible sort of investigation or a looking into some of these alleged links between
the Trump campaign team and Russia. He had this to say to reporters who asked him that question, just a few minutes ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So at what point, you have to ask yourself, what are you investigating?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- interference --
SPICER: No, I think that both the House and the Senate have looked at it. You know as well as I do the intelligence community have looked at it, as
well. There's a big difference. I think that Russia's involvement in activity has been investigated up and down. So the question becomes, at
some point, if there's nothing to further investigate, what are you asking people to investigate?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: So, a bit defensive there. What are you people asking to investigate? There's nothing left to look at. This, of course, about
possible Russian interference during the campaign. So what happens now?
BYERS: Well, first of all, what Press Secretary Spicer is saying is not exactly true. There are a lot of questions here. There are a lot of open
questions that the administration hasn't answered. And there's certainly a lot that the administration could do, steps the administration could take
to be more transparent about lingering questions about potential ties between the Trump White House and the Trump campaign and Russia and top
So it's a little disingenuous to suggest that simply because the investigations are ongoing, because they haven't turned anything up yet,
that reporters should stop asking about them. But, of course, that reflects the sort of general attitude that this White House press office
has taken toward questions and coverage that it doesn't like for members of the media.
GORANI: And lastly, Former President George W. Bush was asked today about the Trump presidency. One of the things he was asked was about,
essentially, the media, about the relationship, the very tense relationship between the Trump administration and mainstream media. Here's what he had
to say on another network today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. That we need an independent media to hold people like me to
account. I mean, power can be very addictive, and it can be corrosive and it's important for the media to call to account people who abuse their
power. Whether it be here or elsewhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: George W. Bush, there. Interesting to hear him talk about that, essentially, he's making, I mean, you know -- not commenting directly, but
indirectly commenting on some of the things that have come out of the Trump administration in its first few weeks. How have people reacted in
Washington or in the sort of -- in the political sphere in Washington to this?
BYERS: Right, well, you know, it's interesting, because, of course, George W. Bush used to be the sort of nightmare president for so many liberals and
progressives. And of course, we came into office, Washington, like the country, was incredibly divided. Now, in retrospect, in the context of
President Trump, he looks much different.
And I think his comments about the media and the importance of the media are reassuring to lot of people and I think they're very genuine. Look,
every single presidential administration has had its issues with the press. It has always felt like the press was the opposition party to some extent.
And that the press often got a lot of things wrong and that there was a difference of standards for administration officials than there was for
members of the media. That relationship has always existed.
But I think it troubles people who have held the office of the president of the United States, even if they are Republicans. Even if they caught a lot
of incoming fire from the media.
I think it troubles them to see a president in power, who gets coverage he doesn't like, and simply wants to sort of dismiss members of certain news
organizations from press briefings, doesn't want to call on them, doesn't want to answer questions, and doesn't feel accountable to the American
people through the mainstream media.
GORANI: All right. All right, well, one of those news organizations, obviously, is CNN. Dylan Byers, thanks very much, joining us from L.A.
Speaking of L.A., it was an Oscar night to remember in some ways for the wrong reasons, just in some ways. The evening came to a dramatic
conclusion when "La La Land" was awarded best picture by mistake. That wasn't the night's only historic moment, though, let's not forget.
[15:10:06]CNN's Stephanie Elam has more.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The academy awards are billed as Hollywood's biggest night, but this year's ceremony ended with
what could be one of the biggest screw-ups in its history.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry, no. There's a mistake. "Moonlight," you guys won best picture. This is not a joke. This is not a joke. I'm
afraid they read the wrong thing. This is not a joke, "Moonlight" has won best picture. "Moonlight," best picture.
ELAM: It was a "La La Land" who producer who announced the gaffe.
JORDAN HOROWITZ, PRODUCER, "LA LA LAND": I'm a little bit in a daze. They just kind of handed us an envelope and the awards and we just kind of
started accepting and everybody came up and then there were some people with headsets that started kind of coming out on the stage and it was
suddenly clear that something wasn't right.
ELAM: The reactions backstage were equally confusing.
EMMA STONE, BEST ACTRESS, "LA LA LAND": Is that the craziest Oscar moment of all time? Cool! Guys, we made history tonight!
BARRY JENKINS, BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: I noticed the commotion that was happening and I thought something strange had occurred. And then I'm sure
everybody saw my face, but I was speechless.
ELAM: After the mistake, with the biggest prize was corrected, "Moonlight" ended the night with three wins, best picture, adapted screenplay, and
actor in a supporting role for Mahershala Ali.
MAHERSHALA ALI, ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE, "MOONLIGHT": It's not about you. It's about these characters. You're a servant, you're in service to
these stories and these characters and I'm so blessed to have had an opportunity.
ELAM: A new record was set for the most black Oscar winners in a single year, with five taking home awards in four different categories.
JIMMY KIMMEL, OSCARS HOST: It's important that we take a second to appreciate what is happening here. We're at the Oscars. The academy
awards! You're nominated! You got to come. Your families are nominated. Your friends. Some of you will get to come up here on this stage tonight
and give a speech that the president of the United States will tweet about in all caps during his 5:00 a.m. bowel movement tomorrow.
ELAM: While Oscars host, Jimmy Kimmel took jabs at President Trump throughout the telecast, it was the best foreign language film win by
Iranian director, Ashcar Faradi, where politics took center stage.
ANOUSHEH ANSARI, IRANIAN-AMERICAN BUSINESSWOMAN: Dividing the world into the us and our enemies categories creates fear, a deceitful justification
for aggression the war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression.
ELAM: Stephanie Elam, CNN, Hollywood.
GORANI: CNN's Paul Vercammen is in Los Angeles and joins me now live. Paul, first of all, the question that everyone's been asking today. How
did that mix-up happen when the best motion picture was announced? And of course, "La La Land" was read out by Faye Dunaway on a card that was
actually the card for best actress. What happened? How did that mix-up take place?
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nobody knows for certain, but let's get into the details of these cards. There's actually two of them. They are
put in a briefcase, secured in a briefcase by the accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Now, somehow, as you pointed out, they had gotten ahold of Emma Stone's card, which is for best actress. Interestingly enough, Emma Stone says
that backstage after -- let's listen to her for a second -- she had her card in hand. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STONE: But we are so excited for "Moonlight." I think it's one of the best films of all time. So I was pretty beside myself. I also was holding by
best actress in a leading role card that entire time. So whatever story -- I don't mean to start stuff, but whatever story that was, I had that card.
So I'm not sure what happened and I really wanted to talk to you guys first.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VERCAMMEN: So what does that tell us? That the second card, somehow, perhaps got in the hands of Dunaway and Beatty. Back to this accounting
firm, they'd been doing it since 1935 and they have issued an apology for what went wrong, but it's still completely unclear, or nobody's saying, how
the card got in the wrong hands. And of course, the rumors are flying.
GORANI: I can imagine! So one card was in Emma Stone's hand the whole time. That leaves another card floating around, right?
VERCAMMEN: Correct. Exactly. It had been secreted in that briefcase you see the accountants carry in every year as if it's the nuclear football or
GORANI: Yes, exactly. Now, but lots of historic wins, though. I mean, overshadowed a little bit by the card controversy, but talk to us about
that. I mean, some historic moments, especially with the best actor in a leading role and even best picture.
VERCAMMEN: Absolutely! And as you know, last year, remember the hashtag Oscar so white? Well, a far different story this year, indeed. Even with
[15:15:07]Just a lot of diversity, the films, themselves and lots of great backstories, as we look at Mahershala Ali. You know, you might remember he
was thanking a lot of his teachers and professors. He went to a Catholic school, small one at that university, which is Mount. St Mary's in
He had come from Oakland, and at one point, his father had passed away and he revealed there was a teacher, this was online in a letter, he revealed
there was a teacher who hung with him and told him, don't give up. And it was some of those instructors who basically propelled him into acting.
He had gone there on a basketball scholarship. So just one of the many to stand on there on stage with Oscar in hand, a glorious night, in many ways.
By the way, they still believe in tinsel town, crawling out of the woodwork here, that any publicity is good publicity.
So one of the funnier things that I've heard is that Jimmy Kimmel is a notorious prankster. You might remember that whole twerking girl caught on
fire debacle? That was a Jimmy Kimmel special, remember --
GORANI: I fell for it! I remember it, yes.
VERCAMMEN: And so Jimmy Kimmel's office is right across from the academy, by the way, or at least where they have the Oscars show and you'll recall
that the girl was not in Kansas City. She was there in his office, anyway. One of the more sensational things I've heard is was Jimmy Kimmel up to one
of his pranks again? I don't think so, not with billions of viewers --
GORANI: I've read everything from Leonardo Dicaprio switched the envelopes, to you name it because, obviously, conspiracy theorists are
going to have a field day with this type of mix up and it is true. We are talking about the Oscar, the announcement for best pictures, perhaps more
than if it had gone smoothly.
Thanks very much, Paul Vercammen, for joining us from L.A. We appreciate it. We'll have a lot more academy award coverage on THE WORLD RIGHT NOW.
Still ahead, shining a light inside Syria's darkest moments. A documentary about the white helmets wins an Oscar. We'll hear from the cameraman who
risked his life to tell their story.
But first, the most specific accusations yet against North Korea about the killing of Kim Jong-Un's half-brother. Why one South Korean lawmaker is
calling it a systematic actor of terror. We'll be right back.
GORANI: South Korea is now directly accusing North Korean Leader Kim Jong- Un of ordering the killing of his own half-brother, who was poisoned two weeks ago at Kuala Lumpur Airport. The country's spy agency says the
North's foreign and national security ministries planned Kim Jong-Nam's assassination and recruited the two women accused of carrying it out. One
South Korean lawmaker calls it an act of systematic terror.
CNN's Matt Rivers walks us through the moments Kim was murdered in a very public way.
[15:20:00]MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the spot where Kim Jong- Nam was poisoned. He was here waiting to check in for a flight to Macau when, as you can see in some pretty incredible CCTV footage, a woman walks
up behind him and police say she then puts VX nerve agent on his face, one of the world's most deadly poisons.
She flees the scene and he immediately becomes uncomfortable. He starts walking this way goes up to this information desk, cuts several people in
line to ask for help. He tells the attendants that he's feeling dizzy.
This is a really public pace. It's big, it's open, and frankly it's kind of bizarre to think that an alleged assassination of such a public figure
could happen in a place like this and yet, here we are. He then heads down to the clinic where the Malaysian health minister said he later fainted.
From the time he was poisoned to the time he died en route to the hospital in the ambulance was only 20 minutes. Once officials confirm that VX nerve
agent was used, they finally send in a hazmat team to check if there were any chemicals left over here in Terminal 2.
Thankfully, they didn't find anything, but it begs the question, what took so long to send in the team? Why didn't they send them in earlier? That's
not the only question here. The two female suspects involved both told investigators that they thought they were just part of a prank show that
they didn't know they were doing anything wrong.
But Malaysian police said they specifically trained for this attack. So which version is correct? And furthermore, police say they had VX nerve
agent on their hands, so why didn't either one of them get sick?
The fact is, we've learned a lot over the past two weeks since this alleged assassination took place, but there are many questions that still remain in
this most public murder of Kim Jong-Nam.
GORANI: Matt Rivers joins us now live from Kuala Lumpur. Now, anybody around that area where the murder took place, any contamination of any
other individual, because if it's such a potent sort of dangerous substance, is it possible that someone else might have been exposed?
RIVERS: Well, Malaysian officials are saying that they've monitored that area for the better part of -- for a little over two weeks now, at this
point, and that no one has presented any symptoms, any sickness, any illness, and of any kind.
And when I was standing there earlier this morning at the airport, people are walking up to the very kiosk that Kim Jong-Nam was using when this
happened and they were going about their business, probably none the wiser.
And so that is a good thing, right? That there was no sickness or anything like that. But as I brought up in that piece you just aired, why were
there not hazmat teams brought in earlier?
Even if the officials didn't know the exact chemical agent that was used, was there not some sort of broad-based spectrum test that hazmat officials
could have employed there.
I mean, it's just a question that, you know, considering there are tens of thousands of people that have traveled through that airport before that
hazmat test took place, really, it's kind of a scary thought -- Hala.
GORANI: And we know that it took 20 to 30 minutes for Kim Jong-Nam to pass away. Could anything have been done to save him? If employees of the
airport or medical personnel or anyone like that had known what he'd been exposed to?
RIVERS: I mean, had they known, maybe. But I think the real issue is, well, would that clinic inside the airport have been equipped to handle
that kind of a medical emergency? I mean, we do know that you can be inoculated or there is some kind of cure to that VX nerve agent, but it has
to be given to the victim incredibly quickly.
And so even if, for some reason, they were able to determine that Kim Jong- Nam had been poisoned with that kind of a deadly agent, given how fast the symptoms come on, and given the fact that he died within just a matter of
minutes after being exposed to it, could they have even administered some kind of antidote to him fast enough. I think logic would tell us that the
answer was probably no.
GORANI: Yes, certainly. Thanks very much. Matt Rivers is in Kuala Lumpur.
Millions of people are without drinking water in Chile's largest city of Santiago after heavy rains triggered some massive flooding. Authorities
say all the extra water is making it difficult to repair the damage in the capital.
Meanwhile, in remote areas, muddy debris from landslides is blocking roadways, making rescue operations difficult. Three people have been
killed, in fact, 19 are still missing. This is the second serious flood within Chile in the last year alone.
Major rainfall over the weekend caused the river supplying water to the capital to burst its banks and look quite a mess there in some parts of the
An update now on what's going on in Iraq. Flags are now flying over more buildings in Mosul, Iraqi flags, after fierce battles in the streets. Take
[15:25:02]GORANI: So this is, of course, the main goal, is to go deeper and deeper into Western Mosul and security forces fought their way into a
western neighborhood today, retaking it from ISIS. Police say they also now control a strategic bridge that could help open supply lines.
Iraqi forces already control the eastern part of Mosul and are fighting ISIS for full control of the city. Thousands of civilians are fleeing
since the offensive began. That flow has increased.
As ISIS fighters lose ground, they're leaving behind a trail of complete and hurt and heartbreaking destruction. The city of Nimrud once known for
its rich cultural heritage has been utterly devastated beyond repair. CNN's Ben Wedeman was there.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was an orgy of obliteration wrapped up in the usual slick production. No one
(inaudible) barbarian than ISIS. In the spring of 2015, the extremists meticulously documented their destruction of the ruins of the ancient city
of Nimrud, founded in the 13th Century, B.C.
They took their sledgehammers to the city's famous winged bulls, the Llamasu, reducing them to a pile of rubble. Iraqi forces recently retook
Nimrud just south of Mosul. We came to have a look, lone visitors to a lonely hilltop that haven't seen a tourist in years.
(on camera): The scale of the vandalism that took place here boggles the mind. Only ISIS could turn ruins into ruins. By some estimates in
Northern Iraq, the extremist group destroyed or severely damaged around 80 sites, archaeological ones like this one, as well as Muslim and Christian
(voice-over): Through the warped lens of ISIS' logic, all idols must be destroyed. Their every action here, nothing less than utter contempt for
Iraq's rich, multi-millennial history.
And that includes the remains of the fast Syrian empire that once stretched from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea, the ruthless super power of
its day. The statues, the inscriptions now lie in pieces, exposed to the elements.
(on camera): In ancient Mesopotamia, structures like houses or shops were made out of mud bricks. In time, they turned into dust. But for the
statues to have the Gods and the kings, they used stone. The purpose was, they would last for eternity. That is until ISIS came along.
(voice-over): Archaeologists may someday be able to piece some of this together, but that won't happen until the war against ISIS comes to an end.
There is gold in this hill. In 1989, Iraqi archaeologists uncovered what became known as the treasure of Nimrud. More than 600 pieces of gold
jewelry and ornaments considered to be one of the greatest archaeological finds in history.
No doubt ISIS, not above the love of money, was searching for more treasure when their cameras weren't rolling. But the Syrians built their tombs here
with a curse, damning the souls of those who violated their sanctity to wander in thirst through the open countryside, restless, for eternity. A
curse that may soon come true. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Nimrud, Northern Iraq.
GORANI: To Germany now and the Interior Ministry there has just released some hard data about attacks against asylum seekers and the facilities that
help them and the numbers are disturbing. The ministry reports more than 3,500 attacks against asylum seekers and refugee shelters last year, with
the vast majority of them against individuals. Nearly 600 victims are injured, that includes 43 children. Germany has accepted hundreds of
thousands of refugees in recent years. Many of them fleeing the war in Syria.
Still to come, rhetoric ramped up, Russia and the United States trade bashes over the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. We'll be live in Moscow.
Also, it is a story that just will not go away for Donald Trump. Now one Republican is calling for a special prosecutor to look into the alleged
contact between Donald Trump's campaign with Russia. We'll be right back.
GORANI: U.S. President Donald Trump is calling for a historic increase in military spending. He's looking to boost funding for defense programs by
$54 billion. That's 9 percent, pretty much on the current budget. The Pentagon, meantime, is briefing Trump administration officials today on new
options for fighting ISIS.
South Korea is now directly accusing the North's Kim Jong-un of ordering his own half-brother's assassination. The South's spy ministry says two
North Korean ministries planned and carried out Kim Jong-nam's killed two weeks ago in full view of passengers at Kuala Lumpur airport. North Korea
denies that it was involved.
The Philippine government has confirmed that Abu Sayyaf militants have beheaded a German hostage after a ransom deadline passed. The militants
had been holding 70-year-old Jurgen Kuntner since November. He was kidnapped with his partner, who the militants fatally shot soon after they
GORANI: A war of words has broken out between the United States and Russia over the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. The U.S. called on Russia to
immediately observe the cease-fire there after accusations that Russian- backed separatists targeted international monitors in the region. Let's get more on this diplomatic tit for tat. Nic Robertson joins me now live
So first, the Russian response to what the U.S. is saying, Nic?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The Russian response is very simple. They say, this is Dmitry Peskov, the president's
spokesman, said for the hundredth time, Russia says, it doesn't have forces involved in that conflict.
Also saying that the United States, essentially, should check and be careful before it accuses anyone of doing things to the OSCE, the European
observer mission forces inside Ukraine.
We know from the OSCE that what happened was rebels approached them and at gunpoint took away a drone that they were hoping to launch, so that they
could monitor a breakdown in the cease-fire and attack and the targeting of a civilian water processing facility.
So the Russians from that point of view are saying, absolutely, not us. You're all so confused about the situation.
GORANI: Now the question, of course, is, we were just hearing a few days ago, President Donald Trump talk about improving relations with Russia.
Is this the end before it's even started of that effort?
ROBERTSON: It seems to have run into the long grass, that's for sure. And, certainly, that's a perspective viewed when considering President
Putin's executive order a week ago, essentially recognizing --
ROBERTSON: -- the papers and documents of the separatists' breakaway movement in the southeast of Ukraine. That's widely viewed in Kiev and
also in other international capitals around the world as a very negative step.
And it appeared to come in, if you will, a response to the United States, through Vice President Pence, clearly saying that the United States was
backing him behind NATO. But I think if you look at the coverage here in the Russian media and take the temperature of those executives of media
companies here, it is that there is far less coverage of Trump on the TV and in the newspapers than there was.
And when you listen to the language today, which doesn't seem to be sort of narrowing any gaps, only building walls higher, if you will, to use that
metaphor, yes, the diplomatic dance between the two capitals, for now at least, seems to be over.
GORANI: I wonder about the sale of those Russian nesting dolls featuring the Trump family?
Maybe they're cooling off as well. We'll see. Thanks very much, Nic Robertson.
That U.S.-Russia relationship is for many reasons a big part of the story of the Trump administration so far. Over the weekend, Republican lawmaker
Darrell Issa, who supported Donald Trump, said a special prosecutor is needed to investigate reported communications between the campaign and
Russia before the inauguration and also after the win.
The House Intelligence Committee chairman, Devin Nunes, downplayed the that idea and warned against a witch hunt against Americans who appear in news
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We do need to know if there are any Americans that are talking to the Russians and
anybody connected to the Russian government or Russian agents. But, at this time, I want to be very careful that we can't just go on a witch hunt
against Americans because they appear in a news story somewhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right. Let's get the latest analysis on this. Katrina Vanden Heuvel is in New York. She's the editor and publisher of "The Nation."
Our political analyst, Josh Rogan, is in Washington, D.C.
Katrina, I want to start with you. In a piece you wrote, you suggested perhaps that journalists and Washington in general is overreacting without
firm evidence to possible Trump team contacts with Russia during the campaign.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, "THE NATION": Hala, I believe we need an independent investigation into allegations of hacking or possible collusion
between the Trump administration officials and the Russians. But what I'm trying to separate out is there is a vital need. It is neither pro-Trump
nor pro-Putin for a better U.S.-Russian relations. It is in the United States' national interests, on nuclear proliferation issues, on trying to
resolve the Syrian crisis, on combating terrorism. The Iran nuclear deal would not have been possible but without Russia's involvement.
So what I'm saying is investigate but I do think some of these investigations are driven -- and I'm sad to say, largely, by the Democratic
Party, in order to hobble or cripple a potentially better U.S.-Russian relationship. And I think that is going to be destructive to the U.S.
GORANI: Well, what kind of investigation, though?
A special prosecutor?
An independent investigation?
VANDEN HEUVEL: Ideally, an independent investigation. I don't know if that's possible but a team of bipartisan eminent officials with real
experience and casting a wide net for all kinds of people to testify.
I would include in that the intelligence community. I believe in leaks. I think, as a journalist, it often, in times of secrecy, provides
transparency, if vetted properly. It is accountability. It is a check on this administration.
But it seems appropriate that intelligence officials also be included in an investigation as to what their role has been in this period.
GORANI: But there have been a lot of leaks -- and, Josh, I'll get to you in a moment -- there was a leak about the meeting on the leaks, I mean,
within minutes of the end of that meeting. It seems as though this administration is, you know, lots of information is just seeping out.
What is that indicative of?
Why is this happening to this degree with the Trump administration?
VANDEN HEUVEL: My view is that because this administration has closed the circle so tightly and is really clamping down on agencies, which understand
that the goal of Trump-Bannon is to dismantle or to destroy the very purposes of an agency like the EPA, that you have citizens of conscience,
civil servants of conscience, who want to preserve what they can.
But I come back. I think on the U.S.-Russian relationship front -- and Josh will disagree with me -- but there is -- whether you agree with better
relations or not, we have had one hand clapping for the last 2.5 years. We need a robust debate in this country, if it's possible, as to whether --
VANDEN HEUVEL: -- we want to gin up a new Cold War, with its collateral damage to budgets for good purposes, collateral damage to civil liberties
and the danger of name-calling or linking or demonizing those who question and seek more evidence for these allegations or who seek better relations
with Russia, the name-calling that has gone on, Hala, is not in the spirit of American democracy.
To call people Putin puppets or apologists is to demean those who are skeptics or who want to raise questions in a moment when dissent, robust
dissent, is needed.
GORANI: And Josh, what do you -- I mean, how do you react to that?
There's been a bit of hysteria, a bit of sort of like just absolutely no tolerance for any Trump administration position, explanation or anything
like that because there's just been immediately this type of knee-jerk opposition?
JOSH ROGAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, no, I -- sorry to disappoint Katrina, I'm not actually in disagreement with her on the core of this. I
think there's been a lot of reporting about what Russia has done in our elections that needs to be followed up on.
And I think that a lot of reporting between -- of the connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government has been overblown.
And I think that we need to seriously separate what Russia did to interfere with our election, of which there is a ton of evidence, of which there's a
real assault on sort of our democratic processes, from the sort of innuendo and hearsay about what specific Trump officials may have said or done,
which I think is a somewhat separate issue and lends itself to a little bit of character assassination.
But on the broader point, I do disagree with Katrina in the sense that I don't think most people in Congress and both sides of the aisle are
primarily motivated by an attempt to thwart a U.S.-Russia reset.
I think the primary motivator is that -- to make sure that if the Trump administration does pursue better relations with Russia, that Russian bad
behavior and Russian bad actions are not simply tossed aside.
I mean, we're looking at an ongoing campaign to influence elections in Europe, to undermine democratic processes all over the world. There's
continued cyber espionage and propaganda efforts.
So I think it's about having a reset that's honest, that defends American interests, that defends the interests of American allies who are depending
on the United States. And if we can sort of -- you know, again, I agree, we should take away sort of the Russia-bashing rhetoric and focus on
Russia's actions. And I think there's a lot there that really needs to be investigated.
VANDEN HEUVEL: History matters here. Former Ambassador Jack Matlock (ph) says at the end of the first Cold War, there was American triumphalism.
Neither side won that war. What it led to was NATO expansion, which George Cannon (ph), one of the great American diplomats, said was the most fateful
error of the post-Cold War world.
We are seeing the results -- Ukraine should be not aligned. It should be a member of the E.U. and it should be a member of the Russian economic
But why should it be a member of a military alliance that had as its mission to bring in and to militarize a space in Europe which should be
And I just think his -- I think Ronald Reagan -- I'm quoting, you know, he said it takes two to tango. Too much of the media in this country at this
moment is one-sided. It is not simply black and white. There is guilt to go around. And I think we need to pay attention to that.
GORANI: -- if I could just jump in here, there are, obviously, conventional conflicts, you know; you have annexation of -- the annexation
VANDEN HEUVEL: But you just showed -- Hala, you just showed ISIS. You just showed ISIS and its destruction of parts of this world.
Should there be -- and I think Secretary of State John Kerry, before he left office, was trying to pull together an alliance to defeat ISIS.
And you know what's happened in Syria?
GORANI: -- you need to get to the bottom of why ISIS exists. And a lot of it has to do with some of the regimes in the -- in the region that have
been supported by one side or the other.
But I've got to ask you, though, about this low-level -- there's another warfare going on, which is a cyber warfare, which some would argue, in the
U.S. election, contributed in at least some ways to the victory of Donald Trump.
And when you look at European elections, we were speaking with Emmanuel Macron's campaign team in London a few days ago. They said they've been
attacked, they believe, by Russian hackers 4,000 times in the space of the last few months.
There is also something going on there that needs to be addressed.
Right, Katrina, don't you think, to get to the bottom of --
VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, you know what I think?
First of all, President Obama, about a year ago, said America is the number one hacker. We need a strong cyber security treaty. United States and
Russia were negotiating one. It was scuttled on both sides a few years ago. But this idea that everything is hacking -- I would argue that the
U.S. election --
VANDEN HEUVEL: -- what about hacking black and brown votes?
Right-wing voter suppression probably had more to do with the outcome of this election than Putin's and -- or non-state Russian hacking. So I think
there's a lot of blame.
The German intelligence agencies just said hacking didn't play a role in the German elections. Emmanuel Macron can blame the fact that there are
allegations, I believe, spread, he said, by Russian hacking, that he's gay --
I mean, let's get --
GORANI: He addresses those directly. He's not shy about it, either.
ROGAN: A couple -- I just want to say a couple quick things. I mean, I think the vision of U.S.-Russian relations that Katrina is pointing out is
a valid one. It's actually one that's shared by a lot of people in the Trump administration. It does represent a departure from the bipartisan
consensus in Congress.
And if the Trump administration wants to pursue a foreign policy that's less focused on data that doesn't really put a lot of stock in the E.U.,
that sees Russia as sort of encircled on all sides unfairly, they can do that.
I think what a lot of people in Congress and often in the State Department and Defense Department and intelligence community are saying that, OK, if
you're going to do that, you have to do that with your eyes open.
Russia is not actually a viable partner in the war against ISIS, because they're committing atrocities against Syrians every single day. They're
not actually someone who can be joined with on certain issues.
On other issues, arms control, sure. Let's explore that. But we have to look at Russia for what it is. We have to listen to our allies, who are
saying that they do see Russian interference in their political process to this day. So we can have a new Russia policy. But we can't sort of
whitewash what Russia is, under the --
VANDEN HEUVEL: I'm not for whitewashing. I've been traveling to Russia for 35 years. My close friends there are the remaining independent media,
NGO. I see Putin as an authoritarian. But I think what is cold-eyed -- but one doesn't buy into what we're witnessing in this country, which is a
I mean, I respect this conversation. And I write a column for "The Washington Post." But "The Washington Post's" editorial op-ed page every
day is essentially a kind of calling for a very Cold War relationship with Russia.
ROGAN: I totally disagree with that.
VANDEN HEUVEL: -- on arms control, on ISIS, I mean, it takes two, again. America has also been arming rebels, who have committed atrocities in that
country. And, you know what, if we want a stable Europe, the migration out of Syria has destabilized Europe in fundamental ways, which I'm sure, Hala,
you've discussed on your show.
So I think we need to think tough, we need to be realistic. We don't paint anything pretty that isn't. But we need a different policy and not make it
about pro-Trump, pro-Putin but in the vital interest of the United States - -
ROGAN: I agree with that.
GORANI: We're going to -- Josh, we've got to leave it there. But it's been a fascinating discussion. And we would like to actually have you both
on again to talk about more issues related to the Trump administration.
But also the very interesting sort of organization of -- at the grassroots level of a new kind of opposition, as well, on the Democratic side.
Thanks very much, Katrina Vanden Heuvel and Josh Rogan, to both of you, for joining us.
And check out our Facebook page, facebook.com/halagoranicnn, we'll be right back.
GORANI: Migrant communities in the U.S. are dealing with new fears in the wake of Donald Trump's election. His tough talk on immigration has
coincided with a spate of disturbing incidents directed at immigrants and minorities and now, a possible hate-inspired murder.
Michael Holmes reports on the death of an immigrant tech worker from India, gunned down in a Kansas bar.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A crowded restaurant with people watching basketball on a Wednesday night became the scene of what
many are calling a hate crime. Adam Purinton is accused of shooting three people, including 32-year-old Shrinivas Kuchibhotla, who later died.
Witnesses say the suspect shouted, "Get out of my country." Kuchibhotla (ph) was an Indian immigrant. He worked as an engineer for GPS company
Garmin. His widow says she was worried about violence against immigrants in the U.S.
SUNAYANA DUMALA, WIDOW OF SRINIVAS KUCHIBHOTLA: I told him many times, should we think about going back?
Should we think about going to a different country?
He said no.
HOLMES (voice-over): A witness says Purinton became agitated at the bar and was asked to leave but the suspect later returned and started shooting.
Ryan Grillot tried to intervene but was also shot.
RYAN GRILLOT, BAR PATRON: I can hear him (INAUDIBLE) call me a hero and (INAUDIBLE). It's not like that. I was just doing what anyone should have
done for another human being. It's not about where he's from or his ethnicity. We're all humans.
HOLMES (voice-over): The FBI is assessing whether the shooting was a hate crime. Purinton has been charged with one count of first degree murder and
two counts of attempted murder.
As Kuchibhotla's family members in India and the U.S. mourn, Indian officials are demanding what they call a thorough and speedy investigation.
Kuchibhotla's widow is asking Washington how she's supposed to comfort his grieving parents.
DUMALA: I need an answer from the government. I need an answer, not just for my husband, who lost his battle in this, but for everyone, all those
people of any race.
HOLMES (voice-over): Michael Holmes, CNN, Atlanta.
GORANI: Well, his body has arrived in Hyderabad, India, just a few hours ago. A cremation ceremony will be held tomorrow.
It's a long way from Hollywood to the streets of Aleppo but, for a short moment at the Academy Awards, the war in Syria took center stage. The
film, "The White Helmets," won for Best Documentary Short. It follows a group of those volunteers who risk their lives to dig people out of the
rubble after an airstrike.
But a cinematographer who worked on the film missed the award ceremony. Khaled Khatib tweeted that, after three days at the airport, he was not in
the end allowed to travel to the Oscars. He had an American visa but the Syrian government canceled his passport.
"Sad," he tweeted, "but important work to do here."
CNN's Nina dos Santos caught up with Khatib in Turkey today and she asked about the dangers involved in making the documentary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR: It's a very dangerous thing to have done. You're a very young man.
Were you scared at any point?
KHALED KHATIB, CINEMATOGRAPHER (through translator): It is true this is dangerous work. But there is a message that I had to deliver. It was
important to tell there is something called the White Helmets and their mission is so important.
So as soon as they established their office in Aleppo, I was very moved by them and loved their work. So I decided to join the Syria Civil Defense
but, as a shooter, so that I can speak about these individuals and show the world their work and also show the world what's happening in Syria.
So I decided to take the risk but with the goal of relaying this important message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Khaled Khatib there, one of the camera men, there documenting some of the White Helmets' work, who was not able to travel to L.A. for the
Oscars. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Nokia has released their new phone and it's all about the past. The iconic 3310 is getting a relaunch 17 years after the original dropped.
And unlike the modern high-tech smartphones you may be used to now, the 3310 goes back to its roost.
Its roots. Reminds me of my 20s.
With a long battery life, 22 hours of talk time and a low cost, $50. You can't check your Facebook on it, you can't post on Instagram, you can't
But guess what?
Maybe sometimes you just need a few weeks of just a, you know, simple phone to make calls and text your friends the old-fashioned way. I'm Hala
Gorani. I'll see you same time, same place tomorrow. This has been THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is coming up next on CNN.