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U.S. and U.K. Restricting Electronics on Some Flights; Neil Gorsuch Faces Grilling in Confirmation Hearing; Trump, Republican Push to Gather Votes to Pass Healthcare Bill; North Korean Missile Launch Appears to Fail; South Korea Testing System to Raise Sewol Ferry; Aired 2-3a ET

Aired March 22, 2017 - 02:00   ET

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


[02:00:08] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Banning electronics on flights as U.S. intelligence shows al Qaeda may be trying to hide explosives in laptop batteries.

VAUSE: Ahead of a crucial on health care the U.S. president warns lawmakers from his own party they may not be reelected if the bill fails to pass.

SESAY: Plus raising the sunken ferry, the Sewol, off the coast of South Korea.

Hello, and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Welcome to the third hour of CNN NEWSROOM L.A.

SESAY: New restrictions from the U.S. and Britain could affect what you can bring on some flights. Electronic devices larger than smartphones will be banned from cabins in some flights from Turkey, the Middle East and Africa.

VAUSE: That means tablets and laptops will have to be checked with your luggage. The U.S. and British restrictions differ slightly on the countries and the airports covered in the ban but both countries are concerned the devices could be used to smuggle explosives onto planes.

SESAY: Well, joining me now is CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is Istanbul and Muhammad Lila from Dubai.

Jomana, let's go to you first. The Turkish government is far from happy with this electronic ban. Why exactly are they taking issue with this?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, Isha, I think we've heard from the Turkish government, we've heard from Turkish airlines here who are impacted by this ban and they say that they will comply and that this will go into effect by that deadline of March 25th. But as you mentioned, they're obviously not happy about this. And that's understandable.

If you look at Ataturk International Airport, that is one of the main travel hubs in the world. It's one of the busiest airports in the world. And they've got several flights a day to U.S. destinations, and many people choose it as a connection flight to -- connect through Ataturk airport to get to the United States. We're talking about 18 million flights a year that go through this airport. So there's a lot of concern about what impact this is going to have on Turkey and especially on Istanbul's main airport, Ataturk International Airport.

Take a listen to what Turkey's Transport minister had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AHMET ARSLAN, TURKISH MINISTER OF TRANSPORT (Through Translator): However, our problem is not how this would be put into practice, but we are pointing out that this might reduce the number of passengers and reduce the comfort of our passengers. So we are talking to them about how they could back down or how this should be eased up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARADSHEH: And Isha, several Turkish officials say that they are talking to U.S. officials to see what can be done to try and revise this ban.

SESAY: Yes. Indeed. Muhammad, to you now. The fact that this ban as it is in place right now includes U.S.-bound flights from Abu Dhabi may strike some as surprising given as U.S. bound passengers already undergo strict screening by U.S. Customs officials before boarding.

MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isha, you know, out of all of the airports that are affected by this electronics ban, Abu Dhabi is perhaps the most interesting case. A few years ago the government of Abu Dhabi custom built a multi-million dollar U.S. preclearance facility. In other words, what that means is that if you're checking into a -- if you're boarding a plane from Abu Dhabi to the United States, you're actually clearing U.S. Customs in Abu Dhabi and not when you land in JFK or LAX for example.

So what that means is that effectively you're landing in the United States as a domestic passenger and you're going through the customs process in Abu Dhabi. That also involves a separate screening process both for luggage and passengers. So it's hard to make the argument, at least in Abu Dhabi that there isn't sufficient -- there isn't a sufficient security screening process in place because clearly U.S. Customs control and Abu Dhabi government feel that there is.

SESAY: Yes. And Muhammad, staying with you. There are some that are saying that this electronics ban is politically motivated. Some are trying to frame it in line as some kind of targeting of Muslims, Muslim majority countries. What is the view there in the region?

LILA: Well, what's interesting about this ban is that, you know, it doesn't matter what religion you are, where you're from, even what passport you carry. You could be any nationality, and you would still be denied, you know, being able to take your laptop or large electronic devices onto this plane. So on the one hand, I think people in this region here are seeing this not as targeting a specific religion or specific countries, but on the other hand there's a great deal of inconvenience involved.

I mean, we know that, for example, like every few minutes a plane is delayed, it costs the airline money. And now there's that very human reality on the ground where if you're checking in and you don't know about this electronics ban, it has to be explained to you.

[02:05:05] You've got to take that electronic equipment and put it on your luggage. And we're dealing with situations where these are some of the busiest airports in the world. And we all know that airports create a lot of stress and anxiety when people are traveling. How much more stress and anxiety is this going to create? And the worst fear economically and in the finance world is, will this just steer people away from flying on these Middle Eastern carriers and choosing American carriers, for example, instead or perhaps transiting through Europe on the way to the United States?

SESAY: There are going to be a lot of very unhappy passengers.

Jomana Karadsheh joining us there in Istanbul and Muhammad Lila joining us there from Dubai. My thanks to you both.

VAUSE: Well, for two days now it's been the subject Donald Trump has refused to talk about. The U.S. president made no mention during a speech in Washington of his unfounded claim that his campaign was wiretapped on order of Barack Obama.

SESAY: Instead, Mr. Trump is focused on getting the Republican health care plan passed. He told lawmakers they might not be reelected if they don't vote for the bill.

VAUSE: Meantime, the president's Supreme Court nominee is trying to convince senators he's a judge, not a politician. Neil Gorsuch faced a grilling from Democrats, question on abortion, religious rights and also on President Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) \ NEIL GORSUCH, U.S. SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: The bottom line, I think, is I'd like to convey to you from the bottom of my heart is that I'm a fair judge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Joining us here now in Los Angeles Democratic strategist Matt Littman, the chairman of the L.A. County Republican Party Mark Vafiades, and criminal defense attorney Troy Slaten.

Matt, let's start with you. It's a marathon long hearing. For the most part it seems Democrats couldn't really nail Gorsuch down on anything. He didn't seem to have any substantive answers.

MATT LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, but the thing for Democrats, and the thing you have to keep in mind is that he shouldn't be up there right now anyway, right? The Democrats had a nominee who couldn't even get a fair hearing, any hearing at all. So if I were the Democrats I'd do the best I could to filibuster this nominee. I don't think any constituency within the Democratic Party wants this to go forward. Everybody is against it.

The argument that the Republicans made about Garland was that Donald Trump was in the last year and a half or so of his presidency. So why should he get this done?

VAUSE: Obama, yes.

LITTMAN: Sorry. Wow.

(LAUGHTER)

LITTMAN: Donald Trump may also be in the last couple of years of his presidency in the way it's going with the Russian stuff. But with what the FBI said the other day about Donald Trump -- yesterday, why even let this guy have a nominee to the Supreme Court by that same token? So if I were the Democrats I'd push back on this and filibuster it all the way.

SESAY: Well Mark, Democrats tried to pull Gorsuch into the controversy surrounding Merrick Garland, getting -- trying to get to his feelings on what happened. Take a listen to how he responded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: Do you think he was treated fairly by this committee? Yes or no.

GORSUCH: Senators, I explained to you before, I can't get involved in politics. And there is judicial canons that prevent me from doing that. And I think it would be very imprudent of judges to start commenting on political disputes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: I mean, Mark, I doubt anyone on that committee expected him to wade into that issue. So is the question more about saying to them, we've got a score to settle here, this is more about the optics?

MARK VAFIADES, L.A. COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN: It probably is. And they shouldn't be doing that because they shouldn't be rejecting Gorsuch because of wanting to settle a score. The Biden Rule, which it is called, dictates that a president in his last year should not be nominating a Supreme Court justice. Biden made a floor speech in 1992. We had most of the other Democrats going all the way back, you know, from the time of Reagan and even before, saying that there shouldn't be a justice nominee in the last year of the presidential -- in the presidential term. So they're just following that.

VAUSE: OK. Troy, over to you on this. Gorsuch was asked specifically how he would rule if President Trump tried to implement a Muslim ban. This is what he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORSUCH: I'm not going to say anything here that would give anybody any idea how I'd rule in any case like that that could come before the Supreme Court or my court at the Tenth Circuit. It would be grossly improper of a judge to do that. It would be a violation of the separation of powers and judicial independence if someone sitting at this table in order to get confirmed had to make promises or commitments about how they'd rule in a case that's currently pending.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Troy, just purely from a legal point of view, is Gorsuch right?

TROY SLATEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He is. And this is sometimes referred to as the Ginsburg rule because Ruth Bader-Ginsburg during her confirmation hearings made it very clear that a judge during the confirmation hearings can't comment on any cases or controversies that may even possibly come before the court. So if he were to comment on something like the executive order regarding immigration, executive power, torture of detainees, abortion, he may have to recuse himself if he is confirmed and then a case like that comes before him. So Judge Gorsuch did exactly the right thing. It's consistent with the judicial canons.

[02:10:05] SESAY: Mark, I want you to comment on that. And Matt, feel free to weigh in. I mean, some would say the American people deserve to know the thinking of the Supreme Court pick. I mean, he waxed lyrical on judicial precedent on those issues, but refused to tip his hand in any way. And some people would say the American people should know something as to the way he would go on certain issues.

VAFIADES: Actually his answer is the perfect answer for somebody who is up to be a justice for the Supreme Court. They should not know on cases that are pending. A judge's job is not to -- you know, based on his feeling decide how he would go on a certain case. It's to take a case, to look at the evidence. And based on that, decide if it's constitutional or not. And it doesn't matter. He may sometimes as he has mentioned go a certain way that doesn't even go along with what he believes politically. But that's the way it should be.

VAUSE: If you go to the abortion thing just -- OK.

LITTMAN: No. There is no Biden rule.

VAUSE: Right.

LITTMAN: Biden never said that a person shouldn't get a hearing. Merrick Garland never got even a hearing.

VAFIADES: He did.

LITTMAN: What happened today -- Merrick Garland never got that. So if I were the Democrats and I think it's a fair thing to do, I'd absolutely filibuster this thing. The Republicans would not allow Garland to even get a hearing. This person -- until Merrick Garland is confirmed for the Supreme Court, of course --

VAFIADES: You know what, Charles Schumer also made a similar floor speech when George W. Bush was coming near the end of his term.

LITTMAN: I love that you're quoting Chuck Schumer because Chuck Schumer also said today that until we know what happened with the Russia situation, we should not allow --

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: Troy, I want to ask your opinion on that because, you know, this seems to be the strategy now by the Democrats; that there is this FBI investigation into the Trump campaign and alleged collusion with Russia. They believe that Trump should not be appointing anyone to the Supreme Court. Does that actually have any validity?

SLATEN: It doesn't have any legal validity. The president is the president. And it's his constitutional authority to nominate when there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court. So it's up to the Senate to exercise their responsibility to advise and consent. And that's exactly what they're doing. If the president was under some sort of impeachment proceeding, which he is not, then that could be a reason to filibuster. But I think right now if Democrats do try and filibuster, they're going to run into a situation where the rules of the Senate could be changed.

And with what is known as the nuclear option, which would change the rules to require only a 51 vote majority to confirm Gorsuch, which I believe is what will happen if there is a filibuster.

LITTMAN: And so what if that happens? I mean so then they would do it the next time when there is another nominee that the Republicans. So eventually it's going happen anyway that they're going to use this nuclear option. So let them do it now. I don't support filibustering.

VAFIADES: It was Harry Reid that made it possible.

LITTMAN: You really love to quote the Democrats.

(LAUGHTER)

VAFIADES: I thought you would like that.

SESAY: Well, OK, listen. On the very day the president's Supreme Court pick was being grilled for the president's criticism of the judiciary, the president was saying this. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're also taking decisive action to improve our vetting procedures. The courts are not helping us. I have to be honest with you. It's ridiculous. Somebody said I should not criticize judges. OK. I'll criticize judges. (LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: To keep criminals and terrorists the hell out of our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Matt, is he deliberately trying to make life difficult for Judge Gorsuch?

LITTMAN: Well, you know, it's not even about Judge Gorsuch. It's that this is where Donald Trump decided to spend his time is on the Muslim ban, right. And then the health care thing which nobody really seems to like. Instead of concentrating on the reasons where people elected him which are jobs, infrastructure, where is -- by the way, he is doing this Muslim ban, he is spending all this time.

VAFIADES: It's not a Muslim ban.

LITTMAN: The what -- it's not a Muslim ban?

VAFIADES: It's not a Muslim ban.

LITTMAN: So when Donald Trump was running for --

(CROSSTALK)

SESAY: I want you to get moving.

LITTMAN: He said that he wanted to ban Muslims. Rudy Giuliani said he wants to ban Muslims. You're telling me that he is not trying to ban Muslims?

VAFIADES: Absolutely not.

VAUSE: OK. Good.

LITTMAN: If you believe that, I don't think anybody --

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: Let's talk health care very quickly because Donald Trump making his final pitch to GOP lawmakers a few hours ago why they should pass Trumpcare. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The House bill ends the Obamacare nightmare and gives health care decisions back to the states and back to the American people. These are the conservative solutions we campaigned on. And these are the conservative solutions the American people asked us as a group to deliver. We are keeping our promises.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: OK, very quickly, Mark, for Donald Trump this is a lot more than -- about a lot more than health care. This is about defending his brand. He's great deal maker. If he can't get this through, he is in a lot of trouble, according to a lot of people. And it looks like he won't get it through. They're 22 votes short in the House and it's got no chance in the Senate.

VAFIADES: Well, Donald Trump is the master negotiator. It's not done yet. And the Freedom Caucus is not ready to sign onto this plan. There is going to be some negotiation between now and Thursday. And --

[02:15:04] SESAY: The clock's ticking.

VAFIADES: The clock is ticking. And they may even have to delay that vote if they want to get that through.

LITTMAN: Well, this myth of Donald Trump being a master negotiator. If he is such a great negotiator, why did he go bankrupt in Atlantic City so many times? But forgetting that, no one likes -- no one likes this health care plan. The Republicans don't like it. The Democrats obviously don't like it. They're trying to force it through by saying that Donald Trump is going to campaign against the people who vote against it. That doesn't sound like a positive health care plan.

VAFIADES: He said that?

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: If you're a 65-year-old and you're earning $26,000 a year, your premiums go up to $13,000. That's a pretty hard deal to sell.

VAFIADES: Well, you'd be on Medicare if you're 65 years old.

SESAY: Midterms are coming. It's going to be hard to sell.

VAUSE: We'll see. OK.

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: OK. Mark and Matt, as well as Troy, we appreciate you all being with us. Thank you.

SESAY: Thank you, all.

All right. A quick break now. The U.S. says North Korea's latest missile exploded seconds after launch. But that doesn't mean Kim Jong-un considers it a failure. Why even a botched attempt can help advance the regime's nuclear agenda.

VAUSE: And with victim's families looking on, engineers are trying to raise South Korea's Sewol boat.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: A North Korean missile test appears to have failed.

SESAY: It's unclear what type of missile it was but U.S. officials say it exploded seconds after it was launched Wednesday morning. VAUSE: Will Ripley joins us now from Beijing.

So, Will, this all just happened the last couple of hours. But any word on why the missile test failed or even what type of missile it may have been?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Those are questions that we just don't have answers right now, John, because obviously we're relying on data from spy satellites. And so the United States, South Korea and Japan, they will be looking at the imagery that they have to try to figure out where this missile was launched from. That could give them a hint as to what kind of missile it was. As to why it failed, it could be a number of things. There was that recording that the United States has attempted cyber attacks to disrupt North Korean missiles or it could just be a regular technical glitch that's very common as countries, you know, continue testing missile technology.

VAUSE: Yes. This comes just a few days after the North launched four ballistic missiles. Are these tests happening more often than they did in the past?

RIPLEY: When you think about the joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises that happened last year which always infuriate Pyongyang, they launched 10 missiles and rockets during that period last year. So far we have seen, by my count, I guess this would be number six. This was a failure but there have been five successes. Those four ballistic missiles that were launched simultaneously you mentioned. And then there was a solid fuel missile that was launched earlier this year that didn't happen during the joint military exercise, but it was noteworthy because it was it was the first missile launch of the Trump administration.

[02:20:03] VAUSE: OK. We also heard from the U.S. military on Tuesday essentially expecting this missile test to happen relatively soon. Do you know what sort of evidence they had to know that this was coming?

RIPLEY: And there's a lot satellite imagery that shows that there has been work not just on, you know, potential ICBM launch coming up, but also at the North Korean nuclear site. There was the director general of the IAEA, the U.N.'s top nuclear inspector who said that the Yongbyon nuclear facility has doubled in size. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said that at any moment they'll be ready to test a new perhaps more powerful type of nuclear weapon. We know they've been trying to develop a hydrogen -- a hydrogen bomb and because they have expanded their ability to produce plutonium and uranium, that's a very real possibility and then you marry that with the -- with this ICBM that they're trying to put together, that successful rocket engine test over the weekend that analysts say could be modified, made a little bit smaller, and fit on an ICBM. And you can see why this is such an alarming scenario for the Trump administration. Really they're most pressing international security concern right now.

VAUSE: OK. Will, we'll leave it there. Will Ripley in Beijing, thank you. SESAY: Well, salvaged team off the coast of South Korea is trying to

raise the Sewol ferry. More than 300 people died when the ferry capsized three years ago.

VAUSE: Most of the victims were students on a school trip. Engineers are trying to lift the ferry without cutting it into pieces and are hoping to find nine bodies believed trapped inside.

SESAY: Well, Paula Hancocks joins us now from Jindo, South Korea with the latest.

Paula, how are those engineering efforts going to raise the Sewol?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isha, the tests to try and lift the Sewol a meter or two have been underway for some hours. Now we haven't heard from authorities whether or not that was a success. The expectation was that if that was a success, then they would continue to try and raise this massive ferry. Now we know there are a number of families on boats around this area, about 25 kilometers away from where we're standing now who are watching proceedings, obviously not a day has gone past since April 2014 that they haven't thought about this tragedy.

But now we're getting close to the end of this raising of the Sewol, potentially many other people around the country are thinking about a very sad day in the history of this country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HANCOCKS (voice-over): It was a disaster that devastated a nation. April 2014, a passenger ferry sank off the coast of 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.

Torturous hours turned into days, weeks and months as family members waited for the bodies of their loved ones to be found.

For Park Eun-mi that agonizing wait has lasted almost three years. Her 16-year-old daughter Da-yun has still not been found, one of 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 it's Da-yun? I'm still living in April 2014."

As body after body was brought ashore 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 Deok lost his 16-year-old son, who was posting on Twitter

as the ship went down.

CHOE KYUNG DEOK, FATHER OF VICTIM: Last message is 10:20. 10:20, saying, "I love you, 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 happened. A product of corruption and incompetence. A tragedy that broke the hearts of an entire country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HANCOCKS: Now the salvage operation is an ambitious one. They are trying to put beams underneath this ferry. They're already in place. They're trying to lift it. That could take many, many hours if they decide to go all the way, it could then take a few days to tow that to a nearby port. They're hoping to do this without it breaking up so they can preserve the remains that could still be inside that ship -- Isha.

SESAY: And Paula, to that point, these families who are yet to be reunited with the remains of their loved ones have been grieving for such a long time.

[02:25:04] They have been waiting for such a long time. Why is this only happening now, this attempt to raise the Sewol?

HANCOCKS: Well, the decision to actually go ahead and try and raise the Sewol happened about a year and a half ago. There was some concern at the beginning from these families that the government might not even go ahead and try to salvage operation, but then because there were still nine bodies to be found, the government decided to go ahead.

It is a massive operation. It's unprecedented. A ferry of this size, 40 meters beneath the waves, it's been there for three years. So obviously erosion is a great concern. And it is an extremely tricky operation. The currents, the underwater currents in this area are particularly strong. So it's really a very difficult operation there they're undergoing at this point -- Isha.

SESAY: It certainly is. Paula Hancocks, joining us there from Jindo, South Korea.

Paula, appreciate it. Thank you.

Now the Trump administration is naming and shaming so-called sanctuary cities. Next, how some mayors defend their decision to protect undocumented immigrants.

VAUSE: Also ahead, with ISIS now losing ground in Iraq and under siege in Syria, a global coalition will gather in Washington to plan a future for the region once the terror group is defeated.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour.

North Korea's latest missile test appears to have failed. U.S. officials say the missile exploded seconds after launch Wednesday morning. No word on what type of missile it was. This comes days after Pyongyang claimed it has successfully tested a powerful rocket engine.

VAUSE: Engineers are trying to raise a South Korean ferry which sank three years ago. They want to lift the Sewol on to a floating dock to a nearby port. More than 300 people died when the ferry sank, most of the students on a class trip. Nine bodies are still unaccounted for.

ISHA SESAY, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: U.S. President Donald Trump is campaigning hard for the republican health care reform bill. He told house republicans they might not be re-elected if they don't vote for the plan, but a number of conservatives are holding out, saying the bill doesn't do enough to replace Obamacare. The house vote is Thursday.

VAUSE: Part of the executive order on illegal immigration which Donald Trump signed back in January was a directive of the Homeland Security to publicly call out local authorities which refused to detain undocumented immigrants. A naming and shaming of so-called "sanctuary cities". So now, for the first time, the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement tweeted out what will become a weekly list of cities and places deemed noncooperative. Places where undocumented immigrants have been arrested on local charges and ICE has then issued what's known as a "detainer", a request to hold that person for up to 48 hours but that request is denied. And the undocumented immigrant walks free.

Also, at a state level, Mississippi is one step away from actually banning sanctuary cities. The senate there passed a bill which the cities and state agencies and public colleges cannot be prevented from asking someone's immigration status. The very opposite of the policy in a sanctuary city. Jackson is the only sanctuary city in the state. And critics say these new law is not needed and it's pandering to an immigrant settlement and racism. So, in the flipside of that, the mayor of Los Angeles, Providence, Anaheim, Orlando, Seattle, and Denver declared Tuesday a day of immigration action. A day to embrace immigration and protest the Trump administration's crack down on illegal immigrants. Michael Hancock is the Mayor of Denver, and he joins us now from Denver. Mr. Mayor, thank you for being with us. Just to be clear -

MICHAEL HANCOCK, UNITED STATES MAYOR OF DENVER: You bet, John.

VAUSE: You don't see Denver actually as a sanctuary city in the legal sense, but local law enforcement there, there's still not expected to enforce the federal government's immigration policy, is that right?

HANCOCK: No, we don't believe in actually putting labels on the City of Denver. We believe in our values that we are an open and inclusive city. Our police department has always resisted actually doing the job of the ICE federal enforcement agency. When there are actual warrants, where they're actually needing to pick someone up, our police officers participate, but we do believe that having an open line of communication with ICE is important, so that we can keep violent criminals off our streets. And that's what we cooperate with them around, and we keep an open line of communication with ICE for those reasons.

VAUSE: So, explain to us, though, the benefits for not just the illegal immigrants but also for the wider community, the local law enforcement, not sort of having to enforce these immigration laws, essentially trying to create this trust between law enforcement and undocumented immigrants.

HANCOCK: John, I think you hit it right on the head -- the nail on the head from -- at that first statement, but the last statement you just made. It is important that our local law enforcement build trust with the local community. And in order to do that, we must be very strategic and smart in terms of how we enforce the law. Our officers have a lot on their plate already, with local law and state laws that they're called to enforce, and then to put the responsibility of enforcing federal laws on their backs is - will be way more than they can handle.

We recognize that while we're building trust with the local community, our law enforcement must maintain good relations and communications with the community, while at the same time doing the things necessary to keep them safe. And we're not going to implement or enforce laws that are not criminal in nature that don't render people unsafe. We'd much rather ere on the side of quite frankly building stronger relation with the community and making sure that we're able to keep lines of communication with our community going forward.

VAUSE: Well, the other side, I think, in some ways is what I mentioned, which is what is happening in Mississippi right now. They're taking a much harder line on illegal immigration, much more in line with the Trump administration. So, do you see this issue which it's dividing what is already an incredibly divided country right now?

HANCOCKS: Absolutely. First of all, let me say very clearly, it is stereotypes labels, threats, you know, all the things that are - the shaming that's going on, none of that is going to work. It's going to make us all less safe than we are or we believe we should be in our cities and across this nation. What we're looking for is leadership. The reality is that this is a great opportunity for America from the White House to Congress to state capitals to city halls across this country.

[02:35:02] For the elected folks to step up and say, "Instead of trying to threaten people, instead of trying to shame cities and urban or other municipalities from being a welcome inclusive place, what we need, really, is a strategy that does a couple things. One, create a sensible strategy to document residency in this nation, creates -- strengthens our borders so that we can, indeed, bring the latest technologies to our borders without necessarily - without building a wall, but the technology necessary so we can make surveil our boarders and make sure that we are doing what's right to properly vet people. Leadership is what's need. Threatening people, shaming cities, that's not what's going to work. If we want to remain safe in this nation, we need to make sure that we have leadership that steps up and says let's do right by everyone here and this enact laws that are humane and smart with regards to immigration.

VAUSE: Mayor, we'll leave it there. But, thank you so much. Michael Hancock, Mayor of one of the best cities; one of the greatest cities in the U.S. Denver, we appreciate you being with us, though. Thank you.

HANCOCKS: Thank you, John.

SESAY: Now, members of the global anti-ISIS coalition will meet in Washington Wednesday. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is hosting the meeting to discuss the next steps towards defeating the militants. ISIS has been losing ground in Iraq and Syria. Nick Paton Walsh traces the group's brutal rapid rise.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It began slowly from the ruins of brutal wars in Iraq and Syria. But when will ISIS truly be gone? As U.S. and allied fire power home in on that final stronghold. They may almost fall as fast as they rose when they emerged in 2014 and declared their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, head of their caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Their territory grew in Iraq exploiting the suffering of the city minority, and in Syria, offering a savaged sense of order among the indiscriminate murder of the civil war. Their brutality became ubiquitous, yet also appealed to warped minds globally. In Libya, a (INAUDIBLE) on the coast and Afghanistan in the east, in Egypt, around Africa, even Southern Russia, pledges of allegiance were made because to be part of ISIS, all you had to do was make a video or a phone call during an attack, and you were part of the global branded enterprise of horror. Paris, Brussels, Orlando, Nice, Istanbul, the list have to be a lot longer to include all those who claim to act in their sick name.

It's a wave in Iraq and Syria and lose their Libyan strongholds altogether, they're not over yet. Their idea lives on. The virus of their perverted version of Islam now contagious, perhaps forever for anyone on the internet. The challenge going forward, how do you make ISIS lose its appeal to those drawn to something so deliberately vile?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: While Russia will not be represented at the ISIS meeting in Washington, Clare Sebastian joins us now from Moscow with more on that. Clare, good to have you with us. Even Russia's critical role in events in Syria right now, you have to ask what a summit of which Russia is not a part, can actually achieve. CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. That's essentially a legislate question there. Ever since the U.S. set up this anti-ISIS coalition, Russia's role in the international peace efforts in Syria has arguably grown exponentially. And don't forget, at the end of December, they together with Turkey, brokered a nationwide ceasefire that led to several rounds of talks in the Kazakh Capital, Astana; talks that now seem to be driving the U.N.-led peace process that's happening in Geneva.

But, of course, the problem for the U.S. is that how does it work together with Syria in -- with Russia, rather, in Syria. That would lead to a fundamental realignment of its alliances. Not only because of Russian support for the Assad regime, but because Russia is collaborating with Iran in Syria, a country that the Trump administration only just slapped new sanctions on it. And, in fact, we heard from Defense Secretary Mattis just last month, saying that the U.S. is not ready to collaborate militarily with Russia.

As for Russia, though, it does still say it is willing to work with the U.S. in combatting ISIS. At what form that will take, we don't yet know, but we do know that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who is chairing the meeting today is expected to visit Russian next month. So, we may get more clarity on that then, Isha.

SESAY: Yes. I mean, the State Department has said that Russia will not be present at this meeting because they're not part of the anti- ISIS coalition. Nonetheless, it is being seen as a snub. What is Russia saying - what is Moscow saying specifically about not being present at this meeting in Washington?

[02:39:50] SEBASTIAN: Well, so far, we haven't got a sense, at least officially they're seeing it as a snub. The spokesman for the foreign ministry here (INAUDIBLE) saying when the news came out about the summit a couple of weeks ago, they are simply not part of this format of talks. There were many different talks on Syria, but this is -- on ISIS, rather, but this isn't one of them. But there was one interesting response to this one (AUDIO GAP) tweeted at the time. The 68 members of the western coalition we're discussing the fight against IS without Russia. They can meet and talk without Russia, but they cannot win without Russia. So, not being presented as a snub, perhaps more as a futile exercise, Isha.

SESAY: Clare Sebastian joining us there from Moscow. Clare, thank you so much.

VAUSE: We will take a short break. When we come back, we'll head to Brussels. This is the scene there right now, as the county remembers the victims of its deadliest terror attack. One year after the devastating moment.

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VAUSE: Wednesday marked the year since the deadliest act of terrorism in Belgium's history. 33 people were killed on March 22nd last year, when ISIS carried out a devastating attack in Brussels. SESAY: Two suicide bombs ripped through the city's airport, while another was detonated on a metro train. The commemoration ceremony honoring the victims is now underway at the Brussels' airport. We want to show you these live pictures. Another ceremony will be held in the metro marking the exact times of the bombing.

VAUSE: And Erin McLaughlin joins us now live from Brussels. So, Erin, it is an understatement, but this will be a difficult day for so many people.

[02:44:51] ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, it's an extraordinarily emotional day, and right about now, 7:45 a.m. local, they have ceased all departures from the Brussels International Airport; stopping all departures for the next 26 minutes or so to mark the anniversary part of a string of commemorations to take place across Brussels. The commemoration ceremony going on right now, here at the airport, involving some 1,500 people, including dignitaries as well as rescue workers who are here at the airport that day, as well as victims who flown in from around the world.

I spoke to one victim, (INAUDIBLE), she was 41 years old, a flight attendant, just walking through this departure hall that tragic day. She was caught by the second bomb blast, an iconic photo of her in the aftermath, sitting on a bench. Her clothes ripped off, a stunned look on her face, really becoming an iconic image of the attacks that day. I managed to catch up with her here in Brussels yesterday. She told me that she was so happy to be here. She said that it was an important to meet with other victims, to meet with the dignitaries.

She met the king earlier this week. She said it was an important part of her healing process. She told me that she was glad that that image was captured of her in the aftermath, because for nine hours, when there was very little information being disseminated on that day, that is how her family, her friends, her colleagues knew that she was alive. And she said that she was glad to share that image with the world because it was the kind of support -- because of the kind of support that she's receiving here today from other victims, from other rescue workers and dignitaries, that she was able to recovery -- a recovery process that is still very much ongoing for her, and so many victims affected on that tragic day.

VAUSE: Erin, thank you. Erin McLaughlin there, live in Brussels. Of course, hanging over all of this, is the fact that the man who plotted this attack has still not been caught. We will continue to follow things there in Brussels as they mark one year on since that deadly terror attack which claimed 32 lives, left nearly 300 people injured. We will go to break now, leaving you with the images from Brussels. You're watching CNN. Back in a moment.

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[02:49:36] PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Spring certainly has arrived. The Southern U.S. here, getting some strong thunderstorms in the past several hours, the Tuesday night hours there across parts of metro Atlanta, certainly parts of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and to even Charleston, South Carolina over the next several hours, where we know some 300 plus lightning strikes in a matter of several hours associated with these storms. At least one fatality around Jackson County in Northern Georgia from a tree coming down on top of a property, but you noticed 55 wind-related reports of your wind gust, hale-related reports exceeding 70 now.

So certainly a serious -- a serious storm system as it push through, but it is going to begin to taper off as we go in towards Wednesday. And the scattered storms really confined towards closer to the Gulf Coast communities. But cool air begins filtering in mainly around the northern portion of the United States, and it is going to be short- lived for that region. We think it'll moderate back out quickly.

There is a big storm system around the Western United States and flooding concern even as far south as Los Angeles. And the wet weather continues to come down across this region, but notice the heaviest, north of, say, Marin County into the San Francisco area where we think, well, some flooding concern will be in place. But some rain expected in San Francisco, same story out of Los Angeles. In Denver, spring has sprung, 24 degrees, Atlanta, a stunning afternoon up to about 22 degrees or so. And (INAUDIBLE) out towards Cartagena around 32, Malagua, around 36 degrees.

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[02:55:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. And it is a somber day in Brussels. As the city honors the lives lost during the deadliest terror attack on Belgium soil, one year later. 32 people were killed on March 22nd last year when ISIS launched an attack on the capital city's airport and metro system. A minute of silence at the Brussels Airport will mark the moment of the first explosion. There were, in fact, were two explosions at the airport, and then another one was detonated on the metro train. So today, we see people gathered. They're marking that moment of silence at this moment now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Thank you all.

CHURCH: A minute of silence there as the city of Brussels and (INAUDIBLE) people right across Belgium honor those who were lost. 32 souls lost on this day. Two suicide bombs exploded in the Brussels Airport, another one was detonated on a train.

I want to go to Erin McLaughlin now. She joins us live from Brussels. In fact, at the terminal, I understand, there at the airport. Erin, the people of Belgium marking one year since the bombings. What is the mood there on this day and what are people saying about this very sad anniversary?