Return to Transcripts main page
More Countries Banning Electronics on Flights; Concerns Over Trump's Former Campaign Manager; North Korean Missile Launch Appears to Fail; South Korea Attempts To Raise Sewol Ferry; White House Trump Optimistic Reform Bill Will Pass. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired March 22, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour, Britain joining the U.S., banning electronic devices in the cabin of certain flights with new intelligence revealing Al Qaeda may be trying to hide explosives in laptop batteries.
SESAY: Plus, nearly three years after it sank, South Korea trying to raise the Sewol ferry from the bottom of the sea.
VAUSE: And later, new questions over President Trump's former campaign manager, his ties to Russia, and now, some possible dealings in Ukraine.
SESAY: Hello, and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause. You know what this is? This is the second hour of "NEWSROOM L.A." In line to have just days to implement new rules banning electronic devices from the cabin of some flights from Turkey, the Middle East and Africa. The security measures have been ordered by officials in both the U.S. and Britain, it means laptop, tablets, anything bigger than a smartphone must be checked into the luggage hold.
SESAY: Officials say, the restrictions were prompted by fear that terrorists could smuggle explosives onto the flight, but there's still a lot of confusion. Here's CNN's Rene Marsh.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: In an unprecedented move, the Department of Homeland Security is demanding international flights from 10 overseas airports in eight mostly Muslim countries, ban almost all electronics larger than a cell phone from the cabin of the plane. The U.K., following the United States' lead, will now ban large electronics in the cabin of certain flights too, indicating there is intelligence that's creating concern.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: It's clear that with these new restrictions, the United States is essentially saying that they do not have full confidence in these airports, in these various countries to stop bombs getting on planes. MARSH: Sources tell CNN the electronic ban was not prompted by a
specific plot, but in part by new intelligence. A U.S. official tells CNN, Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen was perfecting techniques for hiding explosives in the batteries of electronic devices. The information was obtained over recent weeks and months. The Department of Homeland Security said the intelligence, "indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, including smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items."
DHS pointed to the February 2016 midair bombing of a Somali passenger plane as proof of terrorist groups' continued efforts to target commercial aviation. Sources say, a sophisticated laptop bomb blew a hole in that aircraft. But U.S. intelligence has known for years, terror groups have been working to perfect and conceal explosives to smuggle on board. So, why such a drastic ban now?
CRUICKSHANK: One scenario is that, the new administration in the United States has reevaluated the entire threat stream to passenger aircraft, taking into account all of the intelligence that has come in over the last several years.
MARSH: The ban is indefinite, and it is unclear when it could end. If airlines refuse to comply, they would lose travel certification to fly to the United States. Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.
VAUSE: Bobby Chacon joins us here in Los Angeles. He's a former Special Agent with the FBI. But first, we will head to CNN's Jomana Karadsheh, who is live in Istanbul. Jomana, Turkish officials are among those questioning not just the need for this ban, but also the motive behind it.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, yes. You know, John, everyone is saying, you know, the countries that are impacted, the airlines that are impacted, they say they will comply, they say that this will be enforced by the deadline on Saturday. But there's a lot of confusion, a lot of questions. More questions than answers really. And as you mentioned, Turkish officials have been very vocal about this, and that is understandable.
Ataturk International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. It is a main hub. A lot of people use it to connect. They have several flights a day to the United States. And you're talking about an airport where about 80 million flights go through it every year. So, Turkish officials are questioning this. They are saying that they also are talking to U.S. officials, they want them to revise this ban. And here's what Turkey's Transport Minister had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AHMET ARSLAN, TURKISH TRANSPORT MINISTER (through translator): However, our problem is not how this will be put in practice, but we are pointing out that this might reduce the number of passengers, and reduce the comfort of our passengers. So, we're talking to them about how they could back down, or how this should be eased up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[01:05:10] KARADSHEH: And you know, John, it is not just Turkish officials who are questioning this. A lot of people in the countries that are impacted are questioning the motives behind this, some people describing this as an extension of the Trump administration's travel ban. This is how they view it. And you have others questioning, how checking in these devices, if there's concern about them, how is that going to make people safer on these flights, John.
VAUSE: Well, there will be confusion and unhappiness for a few days, to say the least. Jomana, thank you. Jomana Karadsheh, live in Istanbul.
SESAY: While airlines aren't the only one who's confused about how to implement the electronics ban, even tech-experts are trying to understand why some devices, instead of others, are being restricted.
VAUSE: CNN Samuel Burke, has details now from London.
SAMUEL BURKE, CNN BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY NEWS CORRESPONDENT: While this electronics ban has left many people scratching their heads. Not only because the U.K. and the U.S. don't have the same countries on their list, but a lot of tech experts are wondering, if this is just a public band-aid for a much bigger problem. A lot of tech people are wondering, why smartphones are allowed in the cabin, even though you have phablets phones, nearly the size of tablets, they're allowed in the cabin whereas the tablets have to go into the belly of the airplane.
And they worry that the problem in the belly of the airplane could be much worse, if there is an explosion and it catches on fire. At least in the cabin, the crew could have some chance of putting it out. Other tech people are also saying that a much surer way to do this, would be to do what El Al Airlines does, the Israeli airline checks the devices of so many of their customers to make sure that they turn on, that they're functional, showing that they likely don't have explosives in them.
And they also say that really, what so many airports need to do is up the amount of sniffing machines that they have. You go to your airport, you stick out your device, they wipe it and go back and check it. And they say, that's really a much better way to know if there are explosives in these devices. Back to you.
VAUSE: Samuel, thank you. OK, Bobby is with us now. Just to pick up what Samuel Burke said there, why can't they do what Israel does? If every airport was like Tel Aviv Airport, we wouldn't have a security problem, right?
BOBBY CHACON, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION FORMER SPECIAL AGENT: Sure. But in the same report or early in the other report, you had people complaining about how they were going to implement this ban well. Obviously, to do something like El Al does or Israel does, it's even much more burdensome, to put something like that in place. Of course, it's long-term once you get something like that in place, it's much safer.
But right now, we got specific intelligence information, they want to take specific steps to address it. So, they did something that they thought that could be rolled out fairly quickly. And this is what they make adjustments down the road, but this is what they thought they could do quickly and with relation to the specific information that they have.
SESAY: So, as far as you're concerned, you feel they've got the balance right between safety and inconvenience of passengers.
CHACON: Well, I think that's the balance they make. I've never been a policymaker, I've been an operational guy. So, but I think that that's the balance that they strike or they try to strike all the time, and they tweak it back and forth all the time. This could be a temporary thing. We could see some lesser form of this, last longer term. It could be expanded depending on the intel. The problem is, there's an insatiable appetite to know what the information is, and we'll never know, nor should we know. Because that could compromise sources and methods. So, we have to go on that they're making the best compromise for us.
VAUSE: This is like what? Back in 2006 when we stopped taking liquids on to the plane. We heard from the Turkish Transport Minister, he is pushing back the - he wants the United States to revise this ban. The chances of that happening are?
CHACON: It's impossible for me to say. I would hope that in time, because this is a very new rolled-out, that DHS will work with the airlines in their home airports and work on security measures that may be adjusted as necessary to placate some of these concerns.
SESAY: Yes. Speaking of which, it strikes some as odd, that Abu Dhabi is on the list here. Bearing in mind, that it's one of the 15 airports that has actual U.S. -
VAUSE: I think it's Dubai.
SESAY: Dubai, my apologies. Dubai, is one of 15 airports in the world - deploy homeland security officials to carry out stringent checks. I mean, what does it say to you that it has these measures in place already, yet it still is on the list?
CHACON: Well, you know, sometimes DHS and DHS agents are in those places to audit the security measures at those airports. Because - in fact, the responsibility for security at those airports is on those airlines and the airports. So, we have treaties and we working agreements, but the strength of those things happened to be when the airlines in those airports themselves actually put into play.
VAUSE: Just to keep this in perspective, we're talking what, about 50 flights will be impacted by this?
CHACON: U.S.? Arriving in the U.S., a very minuscule amount. Very minuscule. Small amount of flights arriving into the U.S. will be affected. Remember, it's only the flights arriving - if you're flying to any of the 10 airports, you don't have to follow these procedures. It's only the flights originating at those foreign airports and landing directly in the U.S. that's affected.
[01:10:11] SESAY: But ultimately, the ultimate goal in all of this, if it is achievable which I doubted, is would be to strengthen security checks at each and every airport around the world. Because it's the loose links that exist there, that cause the problems.
CHACON: Sure. But these measures are directed at specific intelligence that was recently developed.
VAUSE: OK. Bobby, as always, thank you so much.
SESAY: Thank you.
VAUSE: Appreciate the insight.
SESAY: Thank you very, very much.
VAUSE: Well, South Korea and the U.S. believe the North, has attempted another missile test in the past few hours. But the launch appears to have failed.
SESAY: It's unclear what type of missile it was. But U.S. officials say, the missile exploded within seconds after it was launched. Robert Kelly joins us now, he's an Associate Professor of Political Science at Pusan National University in South Korea. Thank you so much for joining us, Robert. Does the - does the frequency of North Korea's missile tests indicate that they see themselves in a middle of a tit for tat with South Korea and the U.S. right now?
ROBERT KELLY, PUSAN UNIVERSITY ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE (via Skype): Yes, I think right now they are. Because this is the season of the military exercises between South Korea and the United States. The North Koreans respond to this stuff almost every year with some kind of out lash and provocation or something like that. Missile tests are a nice way to sort of send a signal, but it's not too dangerous when it's not actually an attack. We do know that they have an extensive missile program, they have to test. So, that's what I imagine all this is. This is just part of a long-term arc as they go for a, you know, real nuclear missile.
SESAY: Yes. So, as we know this test failed. But what is your sense of the rate of progress they're making with their nuclear program?
KELLY: Yes, a lot faster than people thought, right? I mean, you know, we have this sort of sense that North Korea is really heavily sanctioned. They have a hard time getting information, and people, and resources and what not to develop a program. But they've actually come awfully fast - awfully far pretty rapidly right, they've done five test now. They told us that they're working on a hydrogen weapon which would dramatically expand the destructive power. So, yes, they're actually going pretty quick.
And now that I think most people accept that they have a nuclear weapon that works. And now, the trick is, can they miniaturize it and put it on a missile, and can the missile land where they want to it go, and that's why all the missile test. And once they can marry the two of them, you know, they've got it.
SESAY: Yes. I mean, the fact of the matter is, even though we're hearing it's been said that this test failed, it's still a reminder of the threat posed by Pyongyang. Do you think that this Trump administration sees themselves as having something of a narrow window to blunt this threat?
KELLY: Well, we do know that President Obama told incoming President Trump that this is sort of now the biggest issue in American foreign policy. I'm not sure if I agree with that completely, but it's pretty high up there now. The last couple of administrations have tried to clear on what to do with North Korea and had just not had a lot of luck. I mean, it's an awfully difficult nut to crack. I do get the sense that, you know, Donald Trump is more use of force - a countenance use of force, and there're a lot of troubles I think with that because South is very vulnerable to North Korean retaliation which is why we haven't sort of escalated I think in the past. But certainly, Trump is talking about military force in the way that people haven't talked for a while. He is raising the level.
SESAY: Yes, no doubt. He's definitely doing that. And then added to - added into the mix is, you know, we heard that IEAT in an interview with Wall Street Journal a few days ago, basically saying that the chances of diplomacy, you know, cracking this and of bringing an end to the nuclear program, that's extremely slim.
KELLY: Yes, I think that's true. The North Koreans violate the deals that we sign with them, that we agree with them. I mean, this is a very big point of contention, whether or not the North Koreans keep their word in the analyst community. I would argue that they did not, this is one of the reason why's the Obama people fell back on what they call strategic patience because they just didn't feel like they could get a deal that the North Koreans would stick to. The last time we signed something with them, the (INAUDIBLE) deal five years ago, the North Koreans cheated on it within a couple of weeks.
So, you know, ideally, we find a diplomatic solution, but I mean North Koreans have to be willing to come around or the Chinese have to twist their arm. And that's what everybody is hoping, right? The North Korea's always seem to respond. So, we're kind of hoping that China is going to come around on this, and the Chinese are waffling. I guess they slapped the ban on the coal exports. So, I guess that's an improvement. You made it listen to the Trump people but, you know, China's not giving us too much.
SESAY: A lot of hoping and wishing. Meanwhile, Pyongyang continues to test their missiles. Robert Kelly, joining us there from South Korea. We appreciate it. Thank you so much.
VAUSE: And we'll take a short break. When we come back, we'll head to South Korea and these are live pictures right now as salvage crews try to raise the Sewol ferry, three years after it sunk with the death of more than 300 people on board. More on that, in just a moment.
[01:16:52] SESAY: Well crews are taking on a massive operation off the coast of South Korea raising a 680 ton ferry that capsized three years ago. They are testing right now to see if it can be done. More than 300 people died when the Sewol sank.
VAUSE: Mostly students on a school trip. Nine bodies still have not been recovered. Let's hope they are among the wreckage. The ship is under about 40 meters of water.
SESAY: Well our own Paula Hancocks joins us now from Jeju, South Korea with the very latest. Paula, where do things stand right now with efforts to raise the Sewol?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isha, it was about four hours ago that officials started to see if they could lift this massive ferry about one or two meters. That is the test today. And the expectation is if it is successful, there is a small chance that they will continue and try and bring the ferry to the surface. Now we know many of the bereaved families and some of those parents we saw this morning of those children still missing inside that boat have now gone out on boats themselves. They're monitoring very close to the site, as close as they can get to see what happened. Obviously a day has not gone past that they have not thought of this tragedy. But now this final testing is going on. The rest of the country is starting to think of a very sad day in this country's history.
HANCOCKS: It was a disaster that devastated a nation. April 2014, a passenger ferry sank off the coast to South Korea, taking more than 300 souls with it. Most were high school students on a field trip to a holiday island, told by crew to stay where they were, to wait for rescuers. As the ship sank beneath the frigid waters of the yellow sea. The captain and much of the crew saved themselves, knowing hundreds were still on board. Tortuous hours turned into days, weeks and months as family members waited for the bodies of their loved ones to be found. For Park Gun-Mei that agonizing waited lasted almost three years. the 16 years old daughter has still not been found.
One of the nine bodies believed to be inside the ship. When the children were being found one by one she told me two years ago, I suddenly thought somebody has to be the last to be found. What if its Die Yeun? I'm still living in April 2014. As body after body was brought to shore, it became clear this was a manmade disaster. Investigators found cargo was grossly overloaded and unsecured, modifications made to the ship to increase passenger capacity made it unstable. And the captain and crew were poorly trained. Several company executives were charged, the CEO convicted, now serving 10 years. The captain apologized but was convicted of murder, given a life sentence, spared the death penalty. Much to the anger of bereaved parents. Choe Kyung Dueck lost his 16-year-old son who was posting on twitter as the ship went down.
CHOE KYUNG DUECK, PARENT: Last message is 10:20. Please save me. Please save me. Please save me.
HANCOCKS: Former president Park Geun-hye was criticized for her perceived inaction during the crisis, saying nothing for seven hours as horrified citizens watched live footage of the ship slipping beneath the waves. An accident that should never have never happened, a product of corruption and incompetence, a tragedy that broke the hearts of an entire country.
HANCOCKS: Now it is an ambitious plan to try and raise this ferry. It's very fluid, we're being told by authorities there are an awful lot of variable, very strong underwater currents here. Many things that could go wrong, but they are hoping to test at least is successful. For the families, they're hoping they go even further today. Isha?
[01:20:40] SESAY: Yes. Many broken hearts, people still grieving. Paula Hancocks, joing us there from Jeju in South Korea. We appreciate it, thank you. Now U.S. President Donald Trump is trying to shift the focus from the
F.B.I investigation of his campaign's possible ties to Russia to health care. House Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Republican plan, Thursday, but a significant number of conservatives are still opposed.
VAUSE: Mr. Trump says Republican Lawmakers who don't vote for the bill might not be re-elected. He says the American people gave him and Congress, clear instructions in November's election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: There really is a crucial vote for the Republican Party and for the people of our country. To finally repeal and replace the disaster known as obamacare. That's what it is. A disaster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Joining us now here in L.A., Democratic Strategist, Mathew Littman and Mark Vafiades, the Chairman of the L.A. County Republican Party. Thank you both for coming back. Mark, first, you. The president, he's charmed, he's strong armed, he has charmed a little more. He is still at least 20 votes short in the House and has no chance getting this through and in the Senate, the clock is ticking. It looks that this will not get through and that comes with a lot of consequences for the President.
MARK VAFIADES, LOS ANGELES COUNTY CHAIRMAN: It does. Well, not only for the President. I mean, really, people voted the Republicans in 2010. They did very well in 2014. We took the Senate. And then in 2016, Donald Trump was elected. Much of this was based on the fact that people were not happy with Obamacare, and they wanted it repealed and replaced. The freedom caucus is still standing tough. They don't like the bill the way it is now. They want some things changed. And hopefully, that will happen there is still some time to negotiate. They may be able the put the vote off. But we'll see what happens.
SESAY: Yes, Matt, this is the President's first major congressional test of his deal making abilities. Bearing in mind that was his campaign calling card.
MATTHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, part of the problem here is that Trump in the campaign and even more recently promised better care, cheaper care, and that seems to not be the case, right?
VAUSE: He promised universal health care.
LITTMAN: It's going to be - right, it's not going to be universal health care. They're going to kick about 25 people off of healthcare. It's going up 15-20 percent over the next two years. No one is really asking for this kind of health care bill. It's true that there are a lot of people who wanted health care - another health care reform. This certainly is not it and in the Senate, it's dead on arrival. And as for Trump himself, this is where he is putting all of his time in, instead of the focus on jobs, which may be more why the American people elected him. So I think this is a big mistake, ruins his credibility a bit.
VAUSE: Yes, Executive Orders are easy, you know. They're like autographed tweets. But actually dealing with Congress and making the deal, this is the really hard part. And you know, the implications for the rest of the Trump agenda and his administration for the next four years, if this doesn't happen are pretty huge.
VAFIADES: Again, this is the part of the three-legged stool. They really need to take care of fixing the health care system in America, they need to have tax decreases for businesses or individuals to help get the economy going again, and also deregulation. There is way too much regulation.
VAUSE: And now what will happen if doesn't get through, right?
VAFIADES: Well, that's the will but again, this is the beginning. What they're hoping to do is pass this first part of the health care -- of the American Health Care Act. And then supposedly there are two parts after that. The freedom caucus doesn't think that is going to happen. They're afraid if they don't pass everything now -
VAFIADES: That maybe the other two parts won't get done. So that's why they're standing strong. But you know, I think there still is a possibility. We can pass some of it now and then we really can go through with the next two steps.
LITTMAN: I think Mark may have accidentally told the truth there which is that this is really about cutting taxes for rich people in the health care bill.
VAFIADES: For everybody. For everybody.
LITTMAN: That's what this - that's where really it's actually a lot of people's taxes would end up going up in the long run.
VAFIADES: I know.
LITTMAN: But right now, if -- this is all about tax cuts. And they want to do more tax cuts further down the road, at the same time, poor people, middle class people, would end up paying more for less care. So in terms of the Trump agenda, how is he possibly going to do? He had a long list of things that he was supposed to do including infrastructure. Where is infrastructure and jobs?
VAUSE: And amidst all of this, trying to sell health care, trying to do all these other things, he is dealing with the fallout from, you know, the F.B.I investigation into the campaign's ties to Russia, alleged ties. Also with, you know, his own self-inflicted controversy. You know, accusing President Obama of wiretapping. The President has gone radio silence on all this, but the questions keep coming.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Administration and the President have repeatedly said that over the next few weeks though, they will present evidence that he was wiretapped. And last week, he said it would be coming this week, and he may speak on it this week. Can we expect the President to this week present evidence that he was wiretapped by Barack Obama, or will he speak about it? Because he didn't mention it last night in his rally.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Right. Let's see how the week goes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[01:25:29] VAUSE: Well, the week is not going real well so far, Mark. But how much difficulty have all these distractions caused the President? How much capital has he spent defending, you know, the wiretapping controversy and the Russian investigation?
VAFIADES: I really don't think that much. I mean, right now, there has been a crime committed. The only crime that we know of that is a felony is the fact that somebody leaked the name of General Flynn to the press and to the public. That is a felony. And that's what we know. There has been absolutely no proof of any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, and they've been investigating this for quite a long time now. So right now, they really should be investigating who caused the leak with General Flynn's name.
SESAY: Some people would say right now, the President and the White House really should be putting to bed this wiretapping situation and apologizing to the former President.
VAFIADES: Well, not necessarily. President Trump has access to information that we don't have access to. Probably some things that he can't talk about. So we don't really know what is going on with that. Something -- let me just say, there was an F.B.I investigation.
VAFIADES: The White House knew about it.
LITTMAN: Trump claims that he got his information off some internet source or from some guy who is on Fox News who has already been suspended from Fox News, not from some fantastic National Security source. So, and part of it -- but this is the problem, for the Trump Administration, he is down to 37 percent popularity. This is supposed to be when a President is at their most popular. A lot of this is because of the nonsense of these tweets. He spends more time tweeting about because Barack Obama is a guy, he is tweeting with Snoop Dogg, he is insulting Meryl Streep, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Spend time doing the job.
VAFIADES: I don't put any credence in his popularity poll.
VAUSE: Let me read this from the Wall Street Journal editorial which just came out questioning Trump's credibility. "If President Trump announced that North Korea launched a missile that landed within 100 miles of Hawaii, would most Americans believe him? Would the rest of the world? We're not sure, which speaks to the damage that Mr. Trump is doing to his presidency with his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence fee accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods." That is the Wall Street Journal, Matt. That is not, you know, The Guardian or the New York Times.
LITTMAN: The problem is that this wiretapping thing has taken on a life of its own.
LITTMAN: He accused -- he said Barack Obama was a sick guy who's wiretapping the phones to Trump Tower. The House, the Senate, they've all said none of this is true. It ruins his credibility with the members of Congress. This is a constant stream. No one can keep that Twitter thing away from Donald Trump. But he keeps lying about this stuff and everybody knows it. 37 percent popularity, two months into his presidency.
VAFIADES: Once again, his popularity numbers were supposedly very low right before the election, and he ended up winning. So I wouldn't put any in that -
SESAY: You guys could go on forever.
VAUSE: Mark and Matthew.
LITTMAN: We'll talk.
VAUSE: Absolutely. SESAY: Take to it the green room.
VAUSE: Thanks for being with us.
SESAY: Thank you. Time for a quick break now. New questions are surfacing about President Trump's former campaign chief dealings in Ukraine. What a Ukrainian lawmaker says about Paul Manafort. That's next.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN HOST, NEWSROOM: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
ISHA SESAY, CNN HOST, NEWSROOM: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour. The UK is joining the US in banning electronic devices larger than smartphones from the cabins of flights from some Middle Eastern and North African countries. There are fears that devices could be used to hide explosives. Instead, the devices will have to be put in the plane's luggage haul.
VAUSE: A North Korean missile test appears to have failed. US officials say it exploded seconds after launch. It's unclear what type of missile it was. This happened days after Pyongyang claimed it had successfully tested a new powerful rocket engine.
SESAY: Al-Shabaab is claiming responsibility for bombing, which killed at least 10 people in Somalia's capital. A minibus exploded near the presidential palace, hours after the new prime minister appointed his cabinet. The terror group has been losing territory and has claimed other attacks in Mogadishu in the past.
VAUSE: President Trump's Supreme Court nominee will be back in the hot seat in the coming hours. Senators grilled Judge Neil Gorsuch on Tuesday about his views on abortion, religious rights and whether he made any promises to Mr. Trump.
SESAY: Gorsuch says he's a fair judge, not a politician, and he refused to be pinned down on how he might rule in controversial cases. One Democrat asked about Mr. Trump's tweet criticizing a federal judge.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE NEIL GORSUCH, NOMINEE TO BE ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, US SUPREME COURT: I care deeply about the independence of the judiciary.
I can't talk about specific cases or controversies that might come before me. And I can't get involved in politics.
But I can say a couple other things about that. As you know, the first is, judges have to be tough. We get called lots of names all over the place. And when anyone criticizes the honesty or integrity, the motives of a federal judge, I find that disheartening, I find that demoralizing because I know the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Well, joining us here in Los Angeles, criminal defense attorney, former prosecutor Troy Slaten. So, Troy, good to have you with us.
TROY SLATEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Thanks for having me.
VAUSE: It seems Gorsuch arrived at this hearing with a pretty clear message for the lawmakers. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORSUCH: The bottom line, I think, is - that I'd like to convey to you from the bottom of my heart is that I am a fair judge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: There was a lot of golly geez and gee whizzes and homespun dad jokes and all that. But at the end of the day, did he do enough to make that case?
SLATEN: Well, he did. He seems like a very nice guy. He had his law clerks sitting behind him, a diverse group, who he talked about bringing them to the Denver rodeo. And so, he needs to portray that he's going to be fair, that any litigants coming before him will have a fair shot, that nothing has been prejudged.
And that's why he doesn't talk. And when the Senators were trying to press him, he refused to comment on anything that could even possibly be a case or controversy before him.
SESAY: Yes, I was going to ask you about that because our own Jeff Toobin, famed legal mind, feels that that's kind of ridiculous that there is this silence and this refusal to give any indication into his way of thinking when it comes to controversial cases. How do you see it?
[01:35:10] SLATEN: Well, as far as Supreme Court nominees go, this is called the Ginsberg rule because Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg famously, when she was up for nomination to the Supreme Court, made it clear that it is completely improper for a Supreme Court nominee to comment on anything that could possibly come before them.
So, this is an easy fall back for Judge Gorsuch to say, 'you know, that's something that I can't talk about.' 'It violates the canons of judicial ethics.' And also, that he doesn't want to get into anything political as well.
VAUSE: Yes. He was very careful about that. During the election campaign, Donald Trump made it very clear that he would nominate a judge to the Supreme Court who was anti-abortion, who could overrule Roe v. Wade. Judge Gorsuch was asked about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Have you ever met President Trump personally?
GORSUCH: Not until my interview.
GRAHAM: In that interview, did he ever ask you to overrule Roe v. Wade?
GORSUCH: No, senator.
GRAHAM: What would you have done if he had asked?
GORSUCH: Senator, I would have walked out the door. It's not what judges do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Despite the outrage on what he said, that actually doesn't give you any indication of how he would rule on an issue on Roe v. Wade if it came up before the Supreme Court, does it?
SLATEN: It doesn't. But what we do have is 2,700 opinions over the last ten-and-a-half years where he's weighed in on many issues.
And so, although he can't comment on something particular that these senators, particularly the Democratic Senators that want to grill him, make him look bad, make him look like he's constantly for the government, for big corporations against the little guy, we have this body of opinions that he has written, so you can get a pretty good idea of his judicial temperament by looking at those opinions.
SESAY: Staying with the Democrats, they say there should be no vote while the FBI is investigating President Trump and his administration. Take a listen to Sen. Chuck Schumer what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: You can bet if the shoe were on the other foot and a Democratic president was under investigation by the FBI, the Republicans would be howling at the moon about filling a Supreme Court seat in such circumstances. After all, they stopped the president who wasn't under investigation from filling a seat with nearly a year left in his presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Troy, is that a fair argument?
SLATEN: I suppose it is, if you are a person that's inclined to agree with Chuck Schumer. But as far as the law goes, the president is not under any kind of indictment. He is not currently facing any kind of impeachment proceedings and he is entitled to nominate anyone he wants to be on the Supreme Court to fill this vacancy.
And I think that if Democrats are going to put up a fight, now may not be the right time because he's really replacing like for like. If we think that Judge Gorsuch is going to be in the same ilk as the departed Justice Scalia, then this is not really the time to put up the fight.
If God forbid, someone like Ruth Bader Ginsburg were to die, then that would be the time to maybe put up a fight.
VAUSE: Yes. The theory is keep the filibuster for next time because this one doesn't actually change the ideological makeup of the courts. Troy -
VAUSE: Troy, great to have you with us.
SESAY: Thank you.
SLATEN: Thank you so much.
VAUSE: Well, a ranking member of the US Senate Intelligence Committee wants some answers from Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Trump, who is facing new allegations about his dealings in Ukraine.
SESAY: And it is happening just as the FBI announced that it's investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Atika Shubert has developments from Ukraine's capital.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Serhiy Leshchenko is Ukrainian journalist turned lawmaker, who staked his career on fighting corruption. He takes us for a quick drive to Kiev to show us where this man used to work, Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign manager now under scrutiny.
SERHIY LESHCHENKO, UKRAINIAN MP: This used to be office of Paul Manafort.
SHUBERT (voice-over): This, he says, is where a potentially crucial bit of evidence was found, a suspicious invoice that appears to be personally signed by Paul Manafort.
Paul Manafort worked in Ukraine for years, mostly advising former President Viktor Yanukovych, a leader backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and so deeply unpopular for his rampant corruption that he was chased out of his multi-billion-dollar palace and into exile in Russia.
Angry protesters set fire to his party headquarters in 2014, but not before a group of citizens saved some documents inside, including a handwritten list of cash payments that's known in Ukraine as the black ledger.
Manafort's name is scrawled 22 times for a total of $12.7 million. When the ledger surfaced in the midst of the Trump campaign last year, Manafort told CNN allegations of corruption were, "unfounded, silly, and nonsensical."
[01:40:08] He said, "I have never received a single off-the-books cash payment." But Serhiy Leshchenko now has this, an invoice that appears to be personally signed by Paul Manafort, stamped with the Ukrainian company registration number. The date 14th of October 2009, and the amount, $750,000, are an exact match to a Manafort entry on the black ledger.
CNN has not been able to verify the authenticity of the document. We asked Paul Manafort to verify the document and his signature. His spokesman told us the allegations were, "baseless" and sent this response.
"Paul Manafort does not recognize those documents and that is not his signature." We compared Leshchenko's scanned signature pages to Department of Justice documents filed and signed by Manafort, now available online.
LESHCHENKO: This is the first time we see Manafort signature in this Ukrainian side of his story.
SHUBERT (voice-over): The invoice shows 501 units of assorted computer equipment sold by Davis Manafort to a Neal Com Systems, a Belize registered shell company with a bank account listed in Kyrgyzstan. Leshchenko says the document was found last year in a locked safe by a cleaning crew inside the former offices of Davis Manafort.
LESHCHENKO: It looks like Manafort wasn't only political consultant, but trader of computer processors. But I'm sure that it's fake invoice. Fake contract. Just to establish - artificially establish legal basis for transaction of this huge amount of money.
SHUBERT: Do you think this is money laundering?
LESHCHENKO: I believe it has to be investigated, and this issue has to be checked during the investigation. In my journalist experience, it looks like money laundering and wire fraud.
SHUBERT: Has the FBI contacted you about this information?
LESHCHENKO: I cannot tell you about this. Let's say this, no comment.
SHUBERT (voice-over): We asked Leshchenko if the FBI now has a copy of this document. He would not comment. But for Leshchenko, the paper trail provides evidence that must be investigated.
Atika Shubert, CNN, Kiev.
VAUSE: And we would take a short break. When we come back, the deadliest act of terrorism in in Belgium's history. People hear from a survivor whose image became a symbol of the Brussel's bombing.
[01:45:37] SESAY: Hello, everyone. Brussels is marking one year since the deadliest act of terrorism in Belgium's history. VAUSE: 32 people were killed on March 22 last year when ISIS launched
a devastating attack on the capital city's airport and metro. CNN's Erin McLaughlin spoke to a survivor about her ordeal and returning to the city on the anniversary of the bombings.
NIDHI CHAPHEKAR, BRUSSELS BOMBING SURVIVOR: The crowd started running towards all directions, especially the exit was on the right side there. And those who couldn't find the exit in that chaos, they were coming - rushing towards us. The cries - the people started screaming.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You may not know her voice, but you'll remember her face. Flight attendant Nidhi Chaphekar, clothes torn, stunned, sitting on a bench. Her picture, one of the lasting images of the Brussels airport attack.
CHAPHEKAR: With the help of a person, I sat on that chair, then I was finding it very difficult because I wanted to stop the bleeding of my left leg because seeing so many casualties around, you knew it's going to be a tough task for everyone and I don't know how long it would take me to reach the hospital.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Nidhi's injuries, so extensive, she was placed in a medically-induced coma. She learned of the image a month later.
MCLAUGHLIN: That photograph has become an iconic image, a defining image of this attack. How does that make you feel that pretty much everyone has seen that and your vulnerability in that moment?
CHAPHEKAR: It was a very awful scenario to accept. It was a very horrible moment and it shows the pain you have, everything. And that was the picture which gave hope not only to my family, not only to my colleagues, not only to my organization, my friends and everybody (INAUDIBLE).
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Though she's still recovering, Nidhi says she feels reborn. Brussels is still one of her favorite places and she can't wait to get back to work.
MCLAUGHLIN: What do you want the world to know about being a victim of terror?
CHAPHEKAR: I want to tell people that alone you cannot survive. You need a person. So, our survival depends upon each other's survival. We need to plant the seeds of love and compassion. We need to water them with faith and relationship and reap the beautiful fruits of peace and prosperity because peace, prosperity, faith, relationship, love, compassion, they're not the luxuries of life, but they are the necessities of being human, and that's what I want to tell.
SESAY: And that was Erin McLaughlin reporting there. In the coming hours, Brussels will honor those lives lost with commemoration ceremonies at the Brussels airport and in the metro.
VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, flooding and mudslides that hammered Peru, some residents clinging to anything they can to try and avoid from being swept away. And the devastation can still get worse.
SESAY: Peru is preparing for even more rain after days devastating flooding and mudslides.
VAUSE: So far, at least 72 people have died, thousands have been left homeless. Lynda Kinkade has details.
LYNDA KINKADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An incredible reminder of the unforgiving power of mother nature. This is Peru, a country devastated by weeks of rain that's caused rivers to rise and forced people to flee.
Here, a man is able to escape from his vehicle just as the swollen river flips it, quickly filling it with water. He was one of the lucky ones.
The Peruvian government says dozens of people have been killed in the flooding and mudslides. More than half a million people have been affected by the heavy rains, like this woman in Punta Hermosa, a village south of the capital.
She managed to escape with her life after being swept away. These images of her struggling to climb out of the debris and walk to safety made it around the world.
Here, an overturned (INAUDIBLE) on the side of what used to be a road on the outskirts of Lima was involved in an accident, which killed seven people.
Homes, bridges, roads, schools and fields, all destroyed. Rescue teams are doing what they can to bring people to safety. Here, mother and her child slide into the arms of a rescue worker, below the raging floodwaters.
Authorities have set up several temporary relocation centers near Lima and volunteers have gathered to help children hit by the disaster.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): I'm helping here with water, food and other stuff as well as moral support, so that they can recover as soon as they can.
KINKADE: A state of emergency has been declared across much of the country. The worst is not over. These heavy rains have already delivered 10 times as much rainfall as usual. And the rainy season could last another two weeks.
Lynda Kinkade, CNN. (END VIDEOTAPE)
SESAY: Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now with more on this story. Pedram, these are the deadliest downpours in decades. We had Lynda saying that the forecast was that the rains would go on for another two weeks. What are you seeing now?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know what, guys, this is one of the most fascinating stories I've covered in several years, I would say, out here on CNN because when you think about this region of the world, it's among the driest places on our planet across Western Peru. And more on that momentarily.
But the image is looking something like this when we had roadways and bridges completely buckling across this region. And the rainfall amounts, as you heard there, between 10 times, some areas 20 times, more than what is normal for this time of year.
In fact, since the middle of February, almost 500 mm of rainfall has come down across one region across northern areas of Peru. That's equivalent to six years' worth of rainfall in about 33 days' time. That is an incredible number right there.
But if you were to ask me where are the driest places on our planet, one not too far away from you, John and Isha, that's in Death Valley, California, a little over an inch and a half of rainfall per year, about say 40 or so millimeters per year.
Work your way into parts of Peru, right along the coast, Chile, on into Peru, you've got about an inch and a half to two inches in some spots, among the driest spots on our planet. So, when you think about this particular region getting six years' worth of rainfall in a matter one month, it's an incredible occurrence across the area.
And here is why we think this is all happening. Look at the coastal region of Peru, the water temperatures, the sea surface temperatures are some 5 degress C above normal. That is the highest temperature anomaly for any location on Earth when you consider the sea surface temperatures right now.
So, that is what is setting up the stage here for incredible amount of convection and thunderstorm activity to take place. In fact, typically, coastal Peru and also down towards Chile, the reason it's arid is because we have very cool waters right off the coast there that inhibit a lot of the cloud formations that take place.
And, of course, we have easterly winds off of Brazil that bring all the tropical moisture, but the Andes act to really squeeze all that rainfall out on the eastern side of Peru, so the Western side remains among the driest places on earth.
[01:55:10] In fact, if you come down to Arica, Chile, across northern Chile, some areas have not seen rainfall since the early 1990s. So, it kind of puts it in perspective of how dry the landscape we're typically speaking of. But, of course, with that incredible warmth of sea surface temperatures in place, we're getting convection, we're getting the clouds that are forming along the mountain ridges and, of course, you're getting that easterly flow coming in as well.
So, the rainfall is very persistent in this very unusual pattern. Locals calling this almost a micro El Nino pattern across this region of the world developing. So, over the next couple of days, heavy rainfall again in the forecast across this region. And you look at the forecast potential, 80 percent to 90 percent chance of getting rainfall.
And, in fact, if you look at the month of March, I believe we're 22 days now into the month of March, one out of every three days in the month of March, guys, they have received a month's worth of rainfall - one out of every three days, all month, receiving a month's worth of rainfall. So, that's why this is all taking place in this region.
VAUSE: Yes. Obviously, made a lot worse by a country not prepared to deal with any moisture, let alone this much rain in such a short period of time. Pedram, thank you.
SESAY: Pedram, thank you very, very much.
VAUSE: You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.
SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. We'll be back with more news right after this.