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Trump and Russia; Dow Soars Past 21,000 for First Time Ever; The Front Lines of the Philippines' Drug War; Potential Shakeup could Sideline Fillon Candidacy; Yemen Raid Under Scrutiny After Navy SEAL Killed; CNN Crew Returns to Mosul; Saudi King's Luxurious Trip to Indonesia. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 2, 2017 - 00:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:59:43] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour --

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: New questions about the Trump campaign's dealings with Russia that Trump then adviser and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with Russia's ambassador twice during the campaign and he didn't mention either during his Senate confirmation hearings.

VAUSE: Meantime, Donald Trump basking in good reviews for his address to Congress but now he faces a new task -- getting U.S. lawmakers to pay for his agenda.

SESAY: Plus, CNN's Will Ripley takes you to the violent front lines of the drug war in the Philippines; more than 7,000 people have been killed in just eight months.

VAUSE: Hello everybody. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

We begin with that breaking news on Donald Trump campaign staff's contact with Russia. The Justice Department says Attorney General Jeff Sessions who was the top adviser to candidate Trump spoke twice with Russia's U.S. ambassador last year in July and September.

Sessions did not mention the contacts when he was specifically asked about it during his Senate confirmation hearing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: And if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign what will you do?

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Senator Franken I'm not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SESAY: Well just within the past few minutes, Jeff Sessions has responded saying this, "I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false."

CNN's Justice correspondent Evan Perez has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: In addition to the September meeting there was also one on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. There was an event held by the Heritage Foundation and apparently according to the Justice Department there were about 50 or so ambassadors who were there. And one of the people that was on the sidelines of it and who met with the now attorney general Jeff Sessions was Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador.

Now the context of all of this and obviously the "Washington Post", my friends Adam Entous and Greg Miller and Ellen Nakashima did a great job on the story, but the context here is that Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador is considered by U.S. intelligence to be essentially their top spy in Washington. And not only their top spy but their top spy recruiter.

This is the reason why when Mike Flynn was in routine and seemingly routine contact with him and then lied about it and misled the Vice President about meeting with the Kislyak, that's, that's one reason why the intelligence agencies and the FBI were very concerned because they felt that, if you are going to meet with the guy and not recall or mislead when you are asked about it then that raises some questions.

Again he is considered to be the top spy recruiter for the Russians in Washington. And that's one reason why that raises concern.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESAY: Evan Perez reporting there.

Well, leading Democrats including House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and Senator Elizabeth Warren are calling for Sessions to resign. Congressman Elijah Cummings spoke with CNN just a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: When these kinds of instances came before our committee in the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, if Hillary Clinton, if they thought she lied they were referring it to the Justice Department. If they imagined it and they did it over and over.

So I'm just saying I think all of us need to take a deep breath. I think Attorney General Sessions ought to at least recuse himself. And then I think we need to look in to figure out why he doesn't remember a meeting with the Russians, then that's a problem too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Senator Al Franken who asked that question during the hearing he issued this statement saying this. "It's clearer than ever now that the Attorney General cannot in good faith oversee an investigation at the Department of Justice and the FBI of the Trump- Russia connection and he must recuse himself immediately."

SESAY: Meanwhile, the top Democrat and Republican on the House Intelligence Committee have agreed on parameters of their probe of Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential campaign.

VAUSE: The investigation will cover what cyber activity Russia used against the U.S. and whether Russia had links to political campaigns or other Americans. The committee will also assess the U.S. government response and whether anyone leaked classified information.

[00:04:50] SESAY: Well, as you'd expect, lots of reaction coming in. We have this from the White House, "This is the latest attack against the Trump administration by partisan Democrats. General Sessions met with the ambassador in an official capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee which is entirely consistent with his testimony. It's no surprise Senator Al Franken is pushing the story immediately following President Trump's successful address to the nation."

Well, that speech to Congress did inspire confidence from Capitol Hill to Wall Street. The Dow soared at record territory Wednesday topping the 21,000 mark.

VAUSE: But a surging stock market will not pay the bills for President Trump's ambitious agenda.

More details now from CNN's Jeff Zeleny.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: As President Trump basked in the glow of his big speech to Congress --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.

ZELENY: The hard work of turning those promises into reality was the first order of business today at the White House with the President sitting down for lunch with Republican congressional leaders.

TRUMP: We're just here to start the process. It begins as of now and we think we're going to have tremendous success.

ZELENY: Yet tremendous success depends not only on Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan but on persuading the party's rank and file to pay for his agenda.

The President delayed again today the signing of a travel ban to replace the one blocked in the courts. CNN has learned the Secretary of State, Defense Secretary and national security adviser are all pushing for Iraq to be removed from the list of majority Muslim countries included in the banned.

But in most of his primetime address, the President struck a more optimistic note.

TRUMP: A new national pride is sweeping across our nation.

ZELENY: But it remains an open question whether it was a lasting pivot or a one-night performance after a rough start to his presidency. In either case, his wish list is an expensive and complicated one, even among Republicans. Not to mention Democrats who are largely resisting the Trump agenda from health care --

TRUMP: We should assure that Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage and that we have a stable transition for Americans currently enrolled in the health care exchanges.

ZELENY: -- to tax reform --

TRUMP: It will be a big, big cut. At the same time we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class.

ZELENY: -- to infrastructure.

TRUMP: To launch our national rebuilding I will be asking Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure of the United States.

ZELENY: After the speech, Speaker Ryan offered praise but walked away when asked about the price tag.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), HOUSE SPEAKER:

ZELENY: Did he answer questions how he would pay for things tonight?

So Speaker Ryan not answering our question how much this will cost. But several fiscal conservatives are raising the question how much will all of the President's agenda items actually tack on to the federal budget.

Now deficit spending no longer in vogue like it was some decades ago. This is a key part of the question of how much the President will have to push to get his agenda enacted.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN -- the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Well, despite the lack of specifics coming from the President, Asian markets are showing renewed optimism for his economic plans. You can see there, green arrows across the board. The Nikkei up by 1 percent; Hong Kong up by almost half of 1 percent; Shanghai pretty much flat; but Australia the S&P ASX 200 up by almost 1.25 percent.

SESAY: As we mentioned Wall Street's response to the speech was historic.

The Dow rose more than 300 points, sailing past the 21,000 milestone for the first time.

VAUSE: The Dow was up nearly 1.5 percent on Wednesday. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 showed big gains as well.

Richard Quest gives us his take on the market's reaction.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN MONEY EDITOR AT LARGE: Isha and John -- the market opened straight into record territory and never looked back. A gain of over 303 points but it wasn't just that. It went right through 21,000 over to 21,115. Over 1.5 percent rise in a day at a time when everybody had perhaps been expecting the market was going to take a breather having had so many gains and so many records in a row.

The reason is really very simple -- Donald Trump's speech to Congress. That address gave people the hope that the expectations will come to fruition -- $1 trillion in infrastructure spending, tax reform which eventually will arrive and greater deregulation which the President can do without congressional approval.

Put it all together from what I've been hearing in the market, most traders seem to believe the rally has legs and still has got further to go. Of course, if the expectations don't arrive, well then it's a different matter.

But for the time being I would describe this market as quietly confident in the direction of travel.

Richard Quest, CNN -- New York.

[00:10:03] SESAY: Turning away from the markets now.

Some Philippine police officers are back on the streets in the president's drug war. Rodrigo Duterte suspended the force a month ago to get rid of rogue officers but says now he is lacking manpower.

Our own Will Ripley joins us now with more on the deadly war -- Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi -- Isha.

This is one of those stories that has really been underreported since the inauguration because it has been a turbulent few months in the Philippines this year with hundreds of additional deaths in this country's drug war, many have been these vigilante-style killings that I saw on the ground when we spent several weeks there late last year and into earlier this year.

There have also been high-profile murders -- one of a South Korean businessman, the other of a sitting mayor, and even President Duterte's most fierce opponent now sits in jail, herself facing drug charges. And with Duterte saying that the police are re-entering the drug war many fear even more killing to come.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RIPLEY: Another night on the streets of Manila, another neighborhood echoes with the gut-wrenching sound of grief. Elaine Soriano's 16-year-old son and his 15-year-old friend are lying dead in an ambulance. She is begging the drivers to release their bodies.

"Our boys are already dead," she says, "please have pity on us."

They don't have the $1,900 this funeral home wants.

They say once the bodies go in there, they're not going to be able to afford to pay to get them out. So they're trying to stop this ambulance.

The boys were killed here -- four gunmen opened fire, seven people died including four teenagers and a pregnant woman. Neighbors say it was a party. Police say it was a drug den. The victims killed over a personal feud. So far, they've made one arrest.

Night after night we see violence and slaughter in the Philippine's poorest slums. The same neighborhoods long plagued by poverty and drug-fuelled crime. Neighborhoods President Rodrigo Duterte has promised to make safe again through his nationwide war on drugs; the President, encouraging police and citizens to shoot to kill when they feel threatened. Most Filipinos support the plan despite the rising body count.

Less than eight months into the war on drugs more than 7,000 people dead. Police say more than half, unexplained or vigilante killings like this man, suspected of being a small-time drug dealer, shot outside his one-room shack next to a sewage-filled creek, the assailant unknown.

Police shootings make up the rest. The officers who opened fire on these young men are quick to point out guns on the ground and shabu, meth, in their pockets. Nearly all police reports say the accused fired first.

The Philippines Commission on Human Rights says of 20 police shootings they're investigating there's zero evidence of suspects actually shooting at police.

The manager of this Manila funeral home says they usually get busy after 2:00 a.m. Sometimes the bodies sit for months. Those never claimed get the same label.

"Mr. X" if they don't have a name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It means no family.

RIPLEY: Eventually they go to a mass grave.

Soriano wants to bury her son, Angelito. She worries it will take weeks or longer to raise the money. The ambulance drivers with the two boys' bodies inside eventually yield to the pleas of the families or perhaps the glare of our cameras. They agree to transfer the body to a cheaper funeral home. Soriano didn't think she had any tears left until her son's body appears, uncovered, riddled with bullets. Another night on the front lines of the Philippines' drug war; another mother who will never see her child again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RIPLEY: Just today the group Human Rights Watch put out a report claiming they have evidence that Philippines police officers have been planting things at crime scenes like drugs and guns to make it look like these suspects fired first when in fact they didn't. We haven't been able to corroborate that independently but we know that those claims have been made before in Senate testimony and police corruption is one reason why President Duterte just a month ago pulled all the officers off the drug war but he says that drug crime jumped by 20 percent over the last month so now they are headed back in -- John and Isha.

[00:15:02] SESAY: Will, how is it with all of that, the President is still really popular there in the Philippines? Help us understand why that's the case.

RIPLEY: His approval rating, Isha, is still around 80 percent. And it's because frankly, people have been so fed up with drug crime in their communities so long and there's also been a very strong push on social media in many cases directly from people working in the President's office to get the word out that this war on drugs is making the streets safer.

If you look at the overall crime trends in the country, they are down although the murder rate has spiked and that is a trend that looks to continue if these vigilante-style killings continue.

But still people do feel that President Duterte is doing something that might actually change their communities for the better even if it means, and we've seen this, innocent people are dying in the process.

SESAY: Will Ripley reporting there from Tokyo. Will -- we appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Well, you can find more of Will Ripley's report in our Website. We have dedicated an entire section to President Duterte's war on drugs. It's all there for you at cnn.com/Philippines.

VAUSE: We'll take a short break.

And when we come back, a dramatic shakeup in the French presidential election could knock out one of the major primary candidates.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: March is starting very differently than what January and February brought across parts of the western U.S. It is mild, it is dry across California. We haven't seen that since at least late last year. And the pattern across parts of the eastern United States is beginning to shift and become more wintry, believe it or not, in nature as well. Here's the frontal boundary responsible for some very active weather in the last couple of days.

In fact, the last 48 hours, almost 900 severe weather reports, almost exclusively in the strong wind department. But notice, we had 27 reports of tornados. Some were fatal unfortunately across this region. The trend now goes back into a winter-like (inaudible).

In New York it was in the 20s earlier in the week. Look at this Saturday minus 1. That's the high temperature after being into the 20s -- about 21 degrees just a couple of days ago.

And even places like Charlotte, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia the temps will stay mild across that region, generally into the teens and of course, days are getting longer here to support more daylight to work with as well.

Chicago, 3 degrees, some welcome snow showers in the forecast -- have not seen that so far in 2017. And a couple of shots of cold air but look how quickly it wants to be spring again into early next where more mild temps are expected to return across the region.

Then we go to the south around Kingston, Jamaica 30 degrees; Cartagena going with 32; Caracas at 31 with dry conditions expected. And we'll take you down into South America and leave you with these conditions.

[00:19:46] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Round one of the French presidential election is April 23rd, more than seven weeks away. But now a looming criminal investigation threatens to sideline one of the three main candidates.

SESAY: If it does become a two-way race which of the other candidates will benefit the most?

CNN's Melissa Bell has the very latest from Paris.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Marine Le Pen was in friendly territory on Tuesday. She took her unashamedly populist campaign to France's Annual Farmers' Show. There despite the media scrum, she met with people from the countryside who have provided strong support for the far right and its radical anti-system platform.

Marine Le Pen believes that support is now spreading and that the populist wave that led to both Brexit and the Trump presidency going to take her all the way to the Elysee.

But could that wave also be helping this man? The polls suggest that Emmanuel Macron will beat Marine Le Pen in the second. He was also at Annual Farmers' Show in Paris on Wednesday as part of his campaign to become the first man ever to reach the Elysee without neither experience at elected office nor an established party behind him. He has been described as a new kind of populist, a centrist whose anti- system message is gaining support.

It all began when the former economy minister resigned last August.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRANCE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): I have touched with my own finger the limits of our political system. It leads to last-minute compromises because all too often the work of explaining things is not done. It allows for fears to dominate because it prevents the construction of an ideological and solid consensus.

BELL: Emmanuel macron then announced his bid for the presidency taking his message of a broken system that he alone can fix around the country. But could Emmanuel Macron's apparent populism be more style than substance?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has very good communication. And it's communication to say I'm the new man. I'm not somebody from the establishment. When you are a populist that means that you are not part of the establishment. So when you are looking at the many opinions from Emmanuel Macron, it's not the case.

What is the opinion of Emmanuel Macron is business friendly. So it's not very populist. He defends when he knows it's right. (inaudible) So he is a progressive. He's not populist.

BELL: Economically conservative, socio-liberal Emmanuel Macron may not a populist but he is a new breed of centrist and one that is getting more credible by the day.

In late February, France's most famous established centrist Francois Bayrou joined his ranks. He explained his choice was all about keeping Marine Le Pen out of power.

FRANCOIS BAYROU, DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT (through translator): We are in a situation of extreme risk and faced with this exceptional situation I believe we need an exceptional response. I have decided to offer an alliance to Emmanuel Macron.

BELL: It is an idea that is gaining traction that Emmanuel Macron somewhere inside that media scrum just behind me could be the man best positioned to take on Marine Le Pen. And here at the Farmers' Show, the reception has been enthusiastic for a man who may not be a populist but who nonetheless hopes to ride the wave of what appears to be the electorate's insatiable thirst for change.

Melissa Bell, CNN -- Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESAY: Well, joining us now is Dominic Thomas, chair of the department of French and Francophone studies at UCLA here in Los Angeles. Dominic -- so good to have you with us.

I've got to ask you because I think the mind boggles somewhat. How someone like Fillon who has run a campaign as Mr. Clean, Mr. Moral, Mr. Above the Fray can find himself embroiled in something like this. As he's said, if it indeed it comes to an investigation, I will step down. And he turns around and says, not going to happen.

DOMINIC THOMAS, UCLA PROFESSOR: Right. So now that the investigation is really moving forward in a very serious way, he now finds himself completely contradicting, you know, his earlier statement. And he's already --

SESAY: And his brand

THOMAS: Right. And it's cost him his brand completely and it's cost him political support because (inaudible) one of his big backers, a former minister and has backed down and will no longer be supporting him. The thing to remember about Francois Fillon is that not only does he run on a sort of Mr. Clean campaign but his policies were also extraordinarily tough on average French people. He's talked about cutting public servants' jobs, making it easier for employers to fire people and so on. That's creating some kind of antagonism as well.

The big issue with him too and this is very different than say the conversations that took place around the Trump administration, there are no official laws on the books that prevent people from hiring family members. It's just very unlikely that they perform the work that he's claimed that they performed and also to be paid almost 100 million euros to be doing this. It's completely out of line with any other kind of standard.

[00:25:03] And the big issue really is that this is about personal enrichment and so what it does is it reinforces an image of a politician who is completely detached from the sort of the broader concerns of the French populist and feels like he's entitled and shielded --

VAUSE: Yes.

THOMAS: -- from that kind of controversy.

VAUSE: So is there a way out of this standard for him? What can he do? What are his options right now to try and survive this scandal?

THOMAS: It's almost impossible. He is trying to turn the rhetoric and talk in these sort of the terrible terms, this is political assassination of a candidate, conspiracy theories coming from the left and the far right and so on.

Now interestingly enough, he is the official candidate of Le Republican, it's kind of center right official mainstream political party but you are not really officially a candidate until the 17th of March when you present your backings and support. And he will appear before the magistrate on the 15th.

Now, I personally would say it is extremely unlikely for him to be able to sort of run this out. I think that his party is going to have some even more serious meetings than they've been having and will potentially try to oust him.

SESAY: But that carries political risks for the party. I mean who have they got to put up in his place? THOMAS: Right. So far, Juppe, a former prime minister who ran in the

primaries just said he's not interested; and Sarkozy the same. The interesting thing about it is both the far right and also Emmanuel Macron, who's running as an independent have been a little bit careful and moderate in their criticism because I think that they believe that Juppe is actually a greater threat.

They were surprised that Fillon actually made it through and won the primaries. You know, one week going into the primaries he was ranked third in his particular race. So it was a shock that he made it through and he was considered a weaker candidate at the time.

VAUSE: Is there a mechanism within the party to replace the candidate? Is that something which is fairly simple or is it complicated?

THOMAS: It's complicated, it damages the brand, right -- which is a complicated thing. How do they come back from this? But he's -- I mean he has -- I would say, no hope right now of make it through particularly in this political climate where it's interesting that the two candidates that are way ahead in the polls now Emmanuel Macron and Le Pen are running as independents.

And so the sort of the rejection of mainstream political parties, you know, it's been over 40 years since the socialists were not in the second round. And their party's in complete disarray after the Hollande presidency. And nobody wants Fillon right now, right.

So in other words, the brand is damaged and unless they go about replacing him they are heading for political suicide and I'm not sure that his supporters are ready to stand up against Marine Le Pen and support Emmanuel Macron. This would come with a whole range of compromises for them as well.

SESAY: Yes. And a whole host of political ramifications down the line.

VAUSE: The law of unintended consequences.

SESAY: Indeed.

Dominic -- thank you so much.

VAUSE: Good to see you.

SESAY: Appreciate it.

THOMAS: Thank you.

SESAY: All right. Time for a quick break.

Still ahead -- why the Pentagon may soon authorize some raids without the White House's approval.

VAUSE: And later the Saudi king packing two limos, two elevators for a nine-day trip to Indonesia. What else is in his plane? We'll tell you when we come back.

[00:28:03] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:31:29] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour.

A number of leading Democrats are calling on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign. During his Senate confirmation hearings the former Trump campaign adviser failed to disclose contacts with Russia's U.S. ambassador. Sessions says he never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign and calls the allegation false.

VAUSE: Donald Trump is working to line up support from senior Republicans for his ambitious legislative agenda. The U.S. president met with House and Senate leaders on Wednesday. In his speech to Congress Mr. Trump asked for a huge increase in military spending and a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan.

SESAY: Wall Street welcomes President Trump's speech in a big way. The Dow surged more than 300 points to reach 21,000 milestone for the first time Wednesday. The Dow is now up 2700 points since Mr. Trump's victory in November.

VAUSE: Military commanders in the White House are reconsidering how counterterrorism missions are authorized.

SESAY: It comes after Navy SEAL Ryan Owens was killed in a raid in Yemen in January. An incident which played a big part in President Trump's speech to Congress on Tuesday.

CNN's Barbara Starr has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just spoke to our great General Mattis just now who reconfirmed that, and I quote, "Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence."

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A full- throated defense of the raid in Yemen that led to the death of Navy SEAL William Ryan Owens last month. U.S. officials tell CNN the intelligence gathered points to additional al Qaeda hideouts that may lead to even more raids. Documents the SEALs seized detail training, targeting and explosives manufacturing by the group which has attacked the West including the 2015 attack on the "Charlie Hebdo" offices in Paris and the attempted 2009 bombing of an aircraft landing in Detroit. But there are serious questions about how the SEALs ran straight into a firefight resulting in several civilians also being killed. Several military investigations are underway to determine what really happened.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: One thing that I would caution the president to do is don't oversell.

STARR: CNN has learned the Pentagon and the White House are discussing changing how some counterterrorism missions are approved and authorized. Under consideration whether Defense secretary James Mattis and military commanders should be able to green light some missions.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: The problem that you have with that is if something goes terribly wrong you're going to end up with a lot of political fallout for something that you didn't really approve or understand the minute details of.

STARR: The White House insists President Trump will continue signing off on raids that require his approval. White House press secretary Sean Spicer saying, "It is a philosophy more than a change in policy." He believes these are the experts in this field. President Trump already suggesting he wasn't completely involved in the Yemen raid.

TRUMP: This was a mission that was started before I got here. This was something that was, you know, just they wanted to do. And they came to see me, they explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected. My generals are the most respected that we've had in many decades, I believe. And they lost Ryan.

[00:35:04] LEIGHTON: From a political standpoint it may be good for somebody who wants to wash their hands of something but from a military standpoint it really abrogates the authority that the commander-in-chief has inherent in his position.

STARR (on camera): Details of the Yemen raid remain highly classified so don't expect to see more information made public any time soon if ever.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESAY: Well, a U.S. general says Russian and Syrian planes accidentally bombed U.S.-backed fighters in northern Syria. He says regime aircraft hit villages they thought were held by ISIS near the city of Al-Bab.

VAUSE: The general says calls to Russian forces to stop the bombing that Russia's Defense Ministry denies ever hitting those targets in the first place.

Meantime, a scathing report from a U.N.-backed commission accuses both sides in the Aleppo crisis of war crimes. It says the Syrian and Russian government used illegal explosives on civilians and that Syria carried out a deadly aid convoy attack in September 2016.

SESAY: It also says rebel groups prevented civilians from fleeing the city while it was under siege, using them as human shields. The commissioner's report is based on testimony from witnesses and victims, forensic evidence and satellite imagery.

VAUSE: And in neighboring Iraq, the U.N. says about 28,000 people have been displaced from western Mosul in a matter of weeks.

SESAY: That's just in February 19th when Iraqi forces began their offenses to retake that part of the city from ISIS. Officials are also concerned about the 800,000 civilians still in western Mosul where food, water, and medicine are running low.

CNN is learning more about ISIS' weapon capabilities and it comes after our own Arwa Damon spent a harrowing day trapped in Mosul.

VAUSE: November 4th, CNN correspondent Arwa Damon and cameraman (INAUDIBLE) Lane entered Mosul with advanced units of the Iraqi army looking to liberate the city from ISIS. Their convoy was ambushed. They spent 28 hours under siege.

VAUSE: Two months later they returned. In this excerpt from the Special Report "Return to Mosul," Iraqi soldiers unearthed a surprising find.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We've always wondered how ISIS had so much ammunition in Mosul. And it's obvious when you see the weapons factories they had everywhere.

They were making everything from scratch. Mortars, rockets. In one factory, they even had fake Humvees out of wood that they were using as decoys.

(On camera): This almost feels like it should be some sort of crafts workshop. There's a childish feel to everything, but that is also what makes it all the more sinister.

(Voice-over): ISIS had even begun building its own planes. Planes not designed to land anywhere, but instead to be flying suicide bombs.

(On camera): They found this inside the industrial zone in one of the areas used for manufacturing, along with some manuals. It is fairly crudely put together. But this would take a certain level of expertise, creativity and ingenuity. They've cobbled together all sorts of different parts and even used glue to try to fix some of the wires into place.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: "Return to Mosul, A CNN Special Report with Arwa Damon" airs several times this weekend, You can see it on Saturday noon in Hong Kong or later at 3:00 p.m. in London over here on CNN.

SESAY: Quick break now. What ways roughly as much as 100 elephants and fits on a plane?

VAUSE: Wow. It could be the Saudi king's luggage.

SESAY: It could be. When he travels to Indonesia that is. See what on earth he is bringing. We'll explain, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:45:56] VAUSE: Well, CNN is teaming up with young people around the world for a unique student-led day of action against modern-day slavery. They're using social media to spread the word. All culminates March 14th, My Freedom Day. So what does freedom mean to you? Here's what students in Europe had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To me freedom means having control of my own body and happiness.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that freedom is everything and it should not be based on where you're from, what you're doing or where you're going.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to me means the right to be safe, to be happy and to be proud.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Tell us what freedom means to you and be sure to use the #myfreedomday.

Do you know what freedom means to the king of Saudi Arabia? It means packing up your plane with about a thousand or so people, a couple of gold-plated escalators and chauffeuring off to Indonesia.

SESAY: Sweet, sweet freedom.

VAUSE: Yes.

SESAY: I think so. And it's safe to say it does not pack light as you've just laid out.

VAUSE: Yes.

SESAY: CNN's Jonathan Mann gives you the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN MANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Arriving in style. Saudi Arabia's King Salman landed in Indonesia Wednesday. An escalator lowered the 81-year-old monarch to the tarmac, bringing new meaning to the phrase "luxury travel."

The king also brings an epic entourage of 1500 people, including 800 delegates, 25 princes and 10 ministers, according to the "Jakarta Post." Along with more than 500 tons of luggage and cargo. Two Mercedes Benz limousines and two electric elevators. The king also brought his own elevator on a 2015 trip to France which he used to get down to the beach. A move that prompted an outcry from many locals.

But outside Jakarta, crowds of flag-waving school children cheered the king where as he arrived in the pouring rain at the presidential palace where he was greeted by a marching band and a mounted honored guard with a 21-gun salute.

It's the first visit by a Saudi monarch to the world's most populist Muslin nation in nearly 50 years, and security is tight with 10,000 Indonesian police officers on alert according to local media.

While the trip is lavish, Indonesia's president calls it historic, adding he hopes it will lead to closer economic ties between the two countries.

Jonathan Mann, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESAY: What do I have to do to get an escalator to get on and off set?

VAUSE: Be the king of Saudi Arabia. Pretty simple, isn't it?

(LAUGHTER)

VAUSE: And while we know that the king of Saudi Arabia packs heavy, so too actually does the U.S. president.

SESAY: You?

VAUSE: He doesn't stick to that two-bag limit. Official information about the size, the nature of U.S. presidential entourage is pretty hard to come by.

SESAY: But we do know that presidents almost always bring multiple limos on their trips, identical versions of the beast, that as you know, that vehicle right there, that specially built Cadillac with armored doors that can reportedly withstand a chemical attack.

This is President Obama's trip to India in 2015. And to give you an idea of the number of people that travel with the U.S. president, well, Bill Clinton's trip to Africa back in 1998 involved 1300 staff not including security personnel. It cost $3.5 million a day. That's about $5.2 million in today's money.

VAUSE: Donald Trump, the new president, is getting a new version of the beast. It's being built by Cadillac and it is camouflaged. Go figure.

SESAY: Go figure.

Thank you for joining us here at CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. "WORLD SPORTS" is up next. And then we'll be back with another hour of NEWSROOM all around the world with the very latest on the scandal involving Jeff Sessions, that attorney general.

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