Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Overturns Obama-Era Environmental Protections; Kushner Met With Head Of Sanctioned Russian Bank; Growing Concerns About Civilian Death Toll; Theresa May To Trigger Article 50 Wednesday; Trump; China Could Take Lead on Environmental Protection; Daily Mail Faces Backlash Over "Legs-it" Headline; Wife of Presidential Candidate May Face Charges; Abandoned Orphan Who Kept Smiling. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired March 28, 2017 - 15:00:00   ET





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


Well, years of efforts to protect the environment swept away in an instant all in the name of saving jobs. We begin with a new executive order signed

just minutes ago by the U.S. President Donald Trump.

It reverses a number of policies put in place by former President Barack Obama to reduce the impacts of climate change. Critics say Mr. Trump's

action endangers the health of Americans, but he says the regulations were in endangering American jobs.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: My administration is putting an end to the war on coal. We will have clean coal, really

clean coal. With today's executive action, I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse the government

intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations.


GORANI: Let's bring in White House reporter, Stephen Collinson. He's at an extremely rough week. His approval rating is at 36 percent, Stephen,

according to (inaudible) Gallup poll. So now he signs this executive order reversing Obama (inaudible) policies on trying to clean up the air and the

environment. What's he trying to achieve here?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: I think politically, Hala, this is giving something to the people who sent him to the White

House in the first place, those Trump supporters. Donald Trump repeatedly talked about how he was going to bring back coal jobs in the Midwest and

the rust belt during his campaign.

And I think part of that is by getting rid of these regulations on how much emissions power plants are allowed to get away with that sort of supposedly

is going to bring back the use -- more use of coal, and sort of revive the coal mining industry.

In some ways that is very sort of testable proposition because there are so many new kinds of sources of energy. We have had an explosion of the

natural gas in the United States, fracking and solar and wind power.

It's not clear whether those jobs are coming back so that is the political aspect of this, but there is a large part of the Republican Party and many

senior people in the Trump administration who believe that the government should not be in the business of regulating pretty much any business


So that is part of this as well. So it is a very political gesture. I think in some ways you can see this as the ultimate manifestation of the

America-first philosophy of the Trump administration.

He basically is saying, we don't really care about what this is going to do to the Paris climate accord and the causes of cutting global warming, it's

all about American jobs.

GORANI: And still an open question whether or not it actually would create jobs. We'll be discussing that a little bit later in the program, but all

the while, this Russia cloud is still hanging over the White House. We have some new developments and some big questions that are still

unanswered, Stephen.

COLLINSON: That is right. This is a story that just will not go away. It's overshadowed the White House ever since the beginning of this

administration. The cloud is now sort of looming over the president's inner circle himself.

We learned on Monday that Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of the president, one of his closest advisers is going to talk to a Senate committee over his

meetings with the Russian ambassador and the head of a big Russian development bank, which is very closely linked to President Vladimir Putin.

Kushner had that meeting with the head of that bank in December and has caused a lot of questions about why -- when he knew that he was going to go

into the White House he knew there would be these questions about the Russians interfering allegedly in the U.S. election possibly to throw this

to Donald Trump.

Why was he meeting with the head of a big Russian bank? Was it his own business interest that are at stake here? Was it something the

administration was trying to do? So Kushner is going to talk to a Senate committee.

[15:05:05]It looks like it's going to be in private, but it could be under oath. This story, the White House just cannot get rid of it. Sean Spicer,

the White House spokesman came out today and showed some real frustration about this.

He said to the reporters in the briefing, you know, if the president put Russian dressing on his salad, it would be construed by the media as a

connection, a nefarious connection to Russia.

So I think it's really starting to grate on the nerves of this White House which as you have say has had a very, very tough time so far in the first

100 days.

GORANI: All right. We will be covering more of that Russian banker story with our Matthew Chance in Moscow. Thanks very much, Stephen Collinson

live in Washington.

Let's turn now before we go to Moscow, though, to the battle to recapture Western Mosul, concerns growing about civilians trapped in the city as the

U.S. coalition pounds ISIS.

The United Nations Human Rights chief says more than 300 people were killed in Western Mosul in recent weeks. The big question is how do you get to

those ISIS fighters, in densely populated areas without hurting civilians and so many are suffering now?

Our senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, reports from the middle of the war-torn city.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The destruction here in Western Mosul appears to be significantly more vast and widespread than

it was in the eastern side. You'll also see that there are a lot of these really narrow alleyways that winding deeper into the neighborhoods, and

this is one of the main challenges of the security forces are facing.

You will barely see any civilians, but you will see the traces of the life that was, of how bustling these particular areas would have normally been,

and part of the challenge when it comes to trying to protect the civilian population is that even though the Iraqi government did, yes, encourage

people to stay put in their homes, even if they wanted to leave, they wouldn't have been able to, because ISIS would not allow them to leave

these neighborhoods.

ISIS was holding everyone that lived across the entire city as human shields.


DAMON: He's saying that ISIS -- as the forces were coming through really began to decrease its presence to at least this family felt that they could



DAMON: That is the other reason why they could not go obviously, because it's very difficult for them to try to flee. The day before this area was

liberated, ISIS took her husband away.

They had no food left and he went out to buy food, trying to get some food, and ISIS took him away. She is still here because she is waiting for her

husband, who is the little girl's uncle to come back. Now, she is just hoping that somehow he is going to return home.

People here are trying to get information as to which route may or may not be safe, and where there are possible sniper position. The sounds of

battle are still all around, and just in being in this one small part of Western Mosul, you begin to get a little bit of appreciation for the

intensity of the battle.

Just how terrifying it must have been for those civilians that were stuck here amidst all of this and just how phenomenally massive the task of

eventually rebuilding this city is going to be.


GORANI: Arwa Damon there with some powerful reporting. We want to update you now on the investigation into that March 17th airstrike on an ISIS

target in Western Mosul.

Now 112 bodies have been pulled from the site of the strike. The top American commander in Iraq now says there is a fair chance that a U.S.

airstrike hit the area, but General Steven Townsend says the munitions used should not have caused an entire building to collapse.

And he says the evidence suggests ISIS is connected to the high civilian death toll, but bottom line, we are looking at possibly hundreds of

civilian deaths in this battle against ISIS whatever caused it to people on the ground, as you can see there, are the ones burying their loved ones as

we all speculate on what exactly caused that building to come down.

All right, we'll have more from Iraq in a little bit, but now, well, it was the night before Brexit, a monumental few days here in the United Kingdom

are about to happen.

In a matter of hours, Prime Minister Theresa May triggers Article 50. It's happening officially beginning a tricky negotiation process of exiting the

E.U. In the last hour, she spoke to European Union leaders.

She spoke to Germany's Angela Merkel, but Britain's decision to leave has also triggered forces within the United Kingdom. A short time ago,

Scottish lawmakers backed Nicola Sturgeon's call for a second independence referendum. So they want to go ahead, try once again to break free.

[15:10:06]Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, the power sharing agreement is teetering on the brink of collapse raising the prospect of direct rule

again from Westminster. Why do all of these things matter?

Nic Robertson is here to explain. Hi there, Nic. So Article 50, it is not just the question of breaking away from the E.U. It's what it will do to

this country as well.

The Scottish members of parliament are saying, fine, we back your desire Nicola Sturgeon to hold another referendum. But that's not enough to hold

another referendum, is it?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's not because you have to have sign off from the government in Westminster and right now,

Theresa May is saying we are not going to talk about a date for this. We are not saying you can't have it. We are not going to talk about date.

We want to focus on the Brexit and Brexit, she says we will deliver -- do a good job of delivering, you know, a good package of new agreements for the

whole country, and that's her point. And the point for that is therefore Scotland needs to withdraw.

It's a long political gain that's going to flare up between Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May right now.

GORANI: All right, what about Northern Ireland? What's that about?

ROBERTSON: You know, for a lot of time, you know, we'd look to Northern Ireland and said, OK, Britain pulls out of the European Union so suddenly

there's a hard border, a physical border between the European Union and the United Kingdom, in which there wasn't before.

We were part of it. There is a sea border, but now the Republic of Ireland and the Northern Ireland, that border is one that both communities trade

across so there's concerns about what -- how that border, what are the border arrangements going to be. You can't put a wall up again to go back

to a physical border --

GORANI: (Inaudible) -- not in Ireland.

ROBERTSON: But this is the interesting point that the E.U.'s chief negotiator, Mitchel Bornier (ph) wrote in the "Financial Times" two days

ago for the first time bringing Northern Ireland into this equation.

He said he wanted three basic red lines to talk, one for Britain to settle its account, two, to take of the E.U. citizens living in Britain, but

thirdly, thirdly, that any agreement, Brexit agreement should not damage the prospects for peace and stability in Northern Ireland. The E.U.

negotiator has brought this into the equation, this is new.

GORANI: Now, let's talk a little bit about Article 50 because this is a procedural step, but it's an important one. The question is once Article

50 is triggered, what starts happening immediately?

ROBERTSON: Well, because everyone knows this is coming a lot of the groundwork has begun, but course, the first thing that is going to happen

is that the paper gets presented to the E.U, to the European Council president, Donald Tusk, and then he takes about 48 hours to provide what is

called the sort of guideline negotiating positions that goes to the European Union leaders.

They talk about it. Their ministers talk about it, and over a period of time which is going to be a month, a month and a half, and they will then

go to the European Commission with a sort of some specifics on how they would like the mandate to look.

And eventually by the end of May or June, we might get to a position where the European Union is represented the sitting down, but that the first

indication we are going to get of how this is going to go will be on Friday when Donald Tusk issues his rough guidelines for negotiation.

GORANI: Right. And we know that she spoke today, Theresa May, the prime minister, with the German chancellor. Here we have the read out. The

president of the European Council, and the president of the European Commission, and that they agreed on the importance of entering into the

negotiations in a constructive and positive spirit.

ROBERTSON: That is the way that both sides want it to be, but everyone is going to be looking at their national interest, 27 different countries

there and again, they have to come up with an agreement amongst themselves, and this isn't the most pressing issue to the European Union.

It's got other things on its plate, but I think that we can expect, you know, Theresa May to -- to do her best for Britain. This is what she said

she is going to do, but the reality is on Friday after nine months of British politicians talking amongst themselves about what Brexit means, it

changes -- the equation changes dramatically.

We begin to see the European Union position, and that could really change whether or not this is going to be done and continue to be done, and if we

are talking in six months' time.

GORANI: OK, the first day in two years of coverage. Get ready, Nic, you will have two years' worth of reporting.

ROBERTSON: I'm ready.

GORANI: Tomorrow, we will have a special show live from the Houses of Parliament. Theresa May is triggering Article 50 as we mentioned and

kicking off those vital Brexit negotiations. We will have Nic and our reporters as well as special programs. It will be tomorrow outside the

studio so I hope to see you there.

But a lot more to come this hour so stick around, a closer look at Trump's Russian connections. The president's son-in-law is the latest name on a

list advisers facing questions about links to Moscow.



GORANI: Welcome back, everybody. For months questions have swirled around relations between the Trump team and Russia and now for Trump it's getting

personal. His son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner is the latest name to crop up.

He met with the head of a Russian bank in December that has been under U.S. sanctions for three years. Kushner also helped arrange meetings between

campaign advisers and Russia's U.S. ambassador, and during the transition, Kushner, personally met with that ambassador, Sergey Kislyak (ph).

The White House insists Kushner acted appropriately. He has volunteered to testify before senators who are investigating ties between the campaign and


Let's get to Moscow now. CNN's Matthew Chance is tracking the story. So we are looking here at a meeting between a Russian banker with close ties

to Vladimir Putin, a bank called VEB under sanctions for several years. Tell us more about the banker himself.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the banker is named Sergey Gorkov (ph) and you're right, he is close to Vladimir Putin

in the sense that he was appointed personally by Russian president to head up this bank, the Vnesheconombank or VEB.

At a time when it was in crisis, it's been billions of dollars in debt. It's got exposure to foreign loans with billions of dollars. That's been

made worst by the economic sanctions that have been imposed on it by United States and by the European Union as well.

And so Gorkov was brought in by Vladimir Putin to turn the bank around. He is somebody who is obviously opposed to sanction, and has been talking

about the need for those sanctions to be lifted by the United States and by others.

And, you know, he is a figure -- this is the figure who Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of Donald Trump and the adviser of Donald Trump now met we think

in late 2016.

And so, it is the association between these two figures, why they would have met, what they discussed when they met that is, I think attracting all

of this new scrutiny.

GORANI: Yes, and what is the head of the bank is saying?

CHANCE: Well, the bank is saying that this was merely part of a routine road show tool that they were doing to discuss their strategy leading up to

the year 2021. It is a project that they've been looking at.

They said that they met with representatives from the largest banks and business circles in the United States including the head of Kushner

Companies who is Jared Kushner. And again, they were looking at, talking about areas, promising areas and industries were discussed.

It is interesting because it is a contradiction there with what the White House says because the White House says that Kushner was there in his

capacity as a member of the Trump transition team, and not a businessman and so there is a contradiction.

[15:20:10]GORANI: Right, certainly, those are two different accounts. Thanks very much, Matthew Chance, our senior international correspondent

live in Moscow.

What about other members of the Trump campaign team, Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, he lost his job over conversations with

the Russian ambassador that he did not disclose.

Flynn was part of a meeting with Jared Kushner and Sergey Kislyak in December. He also spoke by phone several times with the ambassador that

month. Flynn later was fired after failing to initially disclose that he had spoken about sanctions.

So it is not meeting with these operatives or individuals that is the problem, it is what are you talking about, and then there is former Trump

campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who once advised the former Ukrainian president, Victor Yanokovich (ph), a known are kremlin supporter.

An "Associated Press" report says he also worked for Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, but Manafort denies that he helped advance Russian

interest. Deripaska had this to say, "I want to resolutely deny this malicious assertion and lie. I have never made any commitments or contract

with the obligation or purpose to covertly promote or advance Putin's government interests anywhere in the world."

Denials all around. Let's try to unpack all of this with my next guest, Josh Rogin, joins me live from Washington. He is a CNN political analyst,

and columnist for "The Washington Post."

So on top of all of this, of course, we are hearing about Jared Kushner volunteering to testify on Capitol Hill about his meeting with the head of

that bank.

This cloud over the Trump White House, these Russian connections, and the investigations into possible collusion as well, this is not going away?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that is exactly right, and I think you hit the nail on the head. The real issue here is the total lack

of transparency from the Trump team about what connections they had, what meetings they had and why they had them.

And as all of these examples of the meetings come out in the press, the stories and the explanations are either change or aren't provided in a

transparent way.

Now many of these meetings are routine, some of them are very odd, none of them showed direct evidence of collusion, and a plot to undermine American

democracy, but that is the subject of the various investigations that are going on both inside the FBI and both chambers of Congress.

So while there is a lot of smoke, there is no fire, but as the smoke piles up, the entire administration is finding it hard to breathe.

GORANI: And how likely is it that these investigations on Capitol Hill, after all, both houses of Congress are controlled by the Republican Party,

that they will get anywhere in a transparent and independent way?

ROGIN: Well, each investigation has a different story as it's been well reported, the House Intelligence Committee investigation has suffered a

devastating blow to its credibility following the antics of Chairman Devin Nunes last week where he, you know, brought some shady evidence to the


But he would not explain it, and then it was revealed he was back and forth to the White House both to see his source, and then to brief the president.

So a lot of this is about what will give the public confidence that this issue has been adjudicated and looked into, and put to rest.

And there is very little chance that the House investigation will be able to that at all. The Senate investigation has a better chance. They have a

more better bipartisan tradition and they haven't been the grievous errors in optics that the House has.

And then there is the FBI investigation, which may or may not actually result in a lot of public information. So we are hoping that through all

these investigations will get some sort of clear picture about what happened and whether or not ethics or laws were broken. But right now, we

are not getting that, and that is a big problem.

GORANI: And one official who is not going to testify on the Trump team's links to Russia is Sally Yates. We are talking about the former acting

attorney general. She was set to speak to the House Intelligence Committee, but her hearing was canceled. The White House said that it had

nothing to do with that decision. This is what Sean Spicer said minutes ago.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have no problem with her testifying, plain and simple. The report in the "Washington Post" is 100

percent false. The letters that they frankly published on their website, all back up everything I just read.

All of the letters are available on their website, and I hate to give them the traffic, but the reality is that they specifically say if you don't

respond we will go ahead. We did not respond. We encouraged them to go ahead.


GORANI: So there is Sean Spicer criticizing your -- your newspaper, by the way, saying it's 100 percent false. They have no problems with Sally Yates

testifying, but what happened? Why was this hearing canceled?

ROGIN: Well, only Chairman Devin Nunes can answer that question because he is the one that canceled it and he didn't really explained it to anyone

including his committee colleagues. I mean, the most favorable interpretation is that he did not want another public airing of all of

these accusation.

The last hearing went very badly for the administration. What the "Post" reported was that the White House did not want Sally Yates to testify

because she was going to counter their public line about what happened with Michael Flynn.

[15:25:11]You know, that is a tough thing to prove in the phase of their categorical denial, but the conspiracy doesn't have to involve the White

House telling Nunes to do things. It is possible that he knows what is in the White House interest and he's doing things on his own that helps them,

and that is the nature of the problem.

GORANI: Can I just ask you, how is it -- I mean, obviously, I don't have intimate knowledge of how the House Intelligence Committee works, but

wouldn't the chairman have to share, you know, actionable, important information with other committee members or is that not required,

apparently it is not?

ROGIN: Well, one would think, I mean, it's required if the chairman wants to have a bipartisan investigation that is above board and meets the sort

of smell test where people take it seriously, and take him seriously. It's not required by a law. He has a lot of control over the technical workings

of the committee.

But again, it is not really about the technical aspect, but it is about whether or not the American public can get to the bottom of what happened

in our last election, and whether or not the Trump people were involved.

Chairman Nunes is no longer seen as a credible arbiter of that, and in essence that undermines his entire investigation, and the American public

will have to look to other places in order to get that reassurance.

GORANI: All right, Josh Rogin, thanks very much for joining us from the "Washington Post."

The cloud of controversy hanging over the White House is now darkening the skies over Congress and there is a name coming up time and time again.

Josh mentioned that it's Devin Nunes, but Nunes says he will not step aside from the Russia election probe. Even though his Democratic colleagues on

Capitol Hill are now saying they should. Suzanne Malveaux has more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chairman ought to recuse himself.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Leading Democrats calling for the embattled chairman of the House Intelligence

Committee to step down, arguing that Congressman Devin Nunes, a former member of President Trump's transition team is too close to the

administration to conduct an impartial investigation into the Trump campaign's potential ties to Russia.

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We have reached the point to after the events of this week

where it would be difficult to maintain the credibility of the investigation if the chairman did not recuse himself.

MALVEAUX: The uproar coming after Nunes acknowledged Monday that he made a secret visit to the White House grounds to meet an intelligence source in a

secure location.

REPRESENTATIVE DEVIN NUNES (R), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Nobody was sneak around, but it is a place that I needed to go to be able

to review this information.

MALVEAUX: Nunes denying any wrongdoing and defending his decision to brief President Trump and the press about incidental collection of the Trump

transition team's communications before informing his colleagues on the Intelligence Committee.

NUNES: I was not planning on going to the White House the next day, but after I was able to read what I read, I realized it had nothing to do with

Russia, but had everything to do with individuals who were, whose names were included into intelligence reports. I was very concerned, and I

thought that the president of the United States should know and that is why I went and told him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Devin Nunes has gone rogue.

MALVEAUX: A growing course of Democrats piling on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The actions taken by the chairman have compromised the investigation.

MALVEAUX: Calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan to appoint a new chair.

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: His actions are look like those of someone who is interested in protecting the president and his party, and

that does not work.

MALVEAUX: Both Speaker Ryan and the White House standing by the chairman.

SPICER: I think he has been fairly open with the press as far as who he was doing, who he spoke to, and why.

MALVEAUX: Amid ongoing questions about who granted Nunes access to White House grounds, who led him to the secure room at the Eisenhower Executive

Office Building, and who access the computer to view the files?

(on camera): Republican allies are recommending that Nunes give that information privately to the House Intelligence Committee to make things

right. In the meantime, Democrats are demanding that the White House make the visitors logs public.

And at the same time, President Trump continues to tweet calling the Russia story a hoax, and also urging Congress to investigate the Clinton's

relationship with the Russians instead. Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Capitol Hill.


GORANI: Still to come, the White House says it is possible to do both, protect the environment, and provide people with work, but critics fear

President Trump's new executive order could have devastating consequences.


[15:31:54] GORANI: Let's get you back to our top story now. U.S. President Trump says he's ending the war on coal and taking other historic

steps to cancel what he calls job-killing regulations. He signed an executive order at the White House a short time ago. It reverses multiple

Obama era environmental protections. Mr. Trump says he's eliminating federal overreach and beginning a new era of job creation.

We're joined now by our own Richard Quest, host of "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" and "QUEST EXPRESS" here on CNN. Want to add a third show to that?



GORANI: Right. There you go.

QUEST: Go, yes. Go.

GORANI: Quest travels the world.

QUEST: Right.

GORANI: OK, listen. I know you're eager to discuss this, the impact potentially on jobs, because here we have a situation where the U.S. does

not import coal, where, essentially, coal jobs might not even be created by this?

QUEST: No, and that really is the whole point.

GORANI: Right.

QUEST: Whether or not you can bring back an industry that went for valid economic reasons. And the view seems to be that he's promised the

Pennsylvania and the Midwestern coal miners that he will bring back the jobs. But realistically, yes, you can open up the mines and you can create

coal and you can look to energy, but it comes at a cost. And if you look at the numbers, American industry would not be prepared to pay the extra

costs of having energy from coal.

GORANI: But, also, why go to coal? I mean, this is not a high-tech solution. It's not clean.

QUEST: Well, they're all --

GORANI: Natural gas is cheaper.

QUEST: They're all derived using clean coal, yes.

GORANI: Using coal, sure, yes. I get that, but why go in that direction when you have so many other options.

QUEST: Votes.

GORANI: Right -- no, no. But I'm just saying, if you are going to make that argument, how do you make that argument stick? I'm creating jobs and

I'm keeping the environment clean. I just don't see how that makes sense.

QUEST: Well, he says that the two are not mutually exclusive. Let's put this quite to one send about the coal miners. He says that it is not an

either/or. You can do both.

What he wants is the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, to focus on clean air and clean water. And the view is, if you focus on those, then

the climate takes care of itself. But let there be no doubt about this, this is a policy change, one that says we're going to put jobs and the

creation of manufacturing --

GORANI: No, but it doesn't matter. You could open 10 coal mines, you have mechanization, you have robots, you have new technology. We're not going

to party like it's 1899 anymore. Those days are over.

QUEST: They are but the -- look, it really comes down to two fundamental points here. On the one hand, the critics say his policies will harm the

environment, and he's not focusing on the climate.


QUEST: He say, you're right, I'm not focusing on the climate. I'm focusing on clean air and clean water. And to do that, I'm also going to

focus on creating manufacturing jobs through energy, and that means coal. Now, they are two arguments that just diametrically oppose each other.

GORANI: Yes. And then you have the issue of the Paris agreement which we're going to discuss with our next guest. But we'll see you at the top

of the hour on "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS."

QUEST: You will.

GORANI: And I'm sure you'll be discussing this and the potential economic impact of this executive order.

[15:35:01] QUEST: Well, energy stocks were up. Energy stocks were up and certain companies were up, so clearly, parts of manufacturing industry like


GORANI: All right. Certainly, environmental groups don't, and we're going to discuss that in a moment. Richard, we'll see you in about 25 minutes.

QUEST: You will.

GORANI: My next guest says the White House is, quote, "failing a test of leadership" to protect America's health, the environment, and economy.

Andrew Steer is president and CEO of the World Resources Institute, and he joins me now from Washington.

Let me first thank you, sir, for being with us, get your initial reaction to this executive order today. President Trump says it's possible to

create jobs in coal and other energy sectors and also protect the environment. Why don't you agree?

DR. ANDREW STEER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE: Well, look, we are not an advocacy group. We are a research group, and the

analysis we do suggests that this is not a good day for United States citizens and it's not a good day for the U.S. economy either.

Look, what the private sector really is looking for is consistency of policy. And what they're being told now is, look, we're not going to tell

you whether you've got a high carbon or a low carbon future. And that's why 900 American companies have written to Mr. Trump, please, please, take

climate change seriously, just like 195 countries have done.

So too on the health side.


STEER: I mean, the best technical estimates were that President Obama's clean power plan would save 175,000 American lives by 2030. Every single

year, 200,000 Americans die because of air pollution and this would have helped deal with it.

Now, of course, we don't actually know how this will work out. I mean, what he's asked is for a review to be done. And, of course, there are

many, many law cases that will be part of that review process.

GORANI: Right. So when you say it's bad for the economy, how do you measure that? President Obama says, quite the contrary, this economy is

over regulated. We don't want to impose government regulation on companies that will be, you know, tied to them and therefore not able to create as

many jobs freely as they would otherwise. Does your calculation lead you to say the opposite?

STEER: Well, the best economic analysis today, if you look at the world economy, it's not in great shape. And you ask, what would it take to

really get the economy going? You need more efficiency in the use of resources. That's exactly what Mr. Trump is not doing now. You need new

technologies, and that's exactly what good climate policies will help drive. And you need consistency of long-term policies, and that's being

taken away.

The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, which is this internationally reputed group of experts, not environmentalists, they

concluded that smart climate policies actually drive more technology. They drive more competitiveness. They give more jobs.

In the United States, there are 65,000 coal miners. There are 2.7 million people working in clean energy today in the United States. There's just no

comparison. The coal jobs will not come back because, as you and Richard Quest were just discussing, coal is no longer profitable when it comes to a

new cap on.

GORANI: So you're saying President Trump --

STEER: There will be no more --

GORANI: But you're saying President Trump is essentially making a promise he cannot keep, cannot, because if, in fact, what you're saying pans out,

65,000 coal jobs versus millions in clean energy. But because, you know, there's mechanization in coal mines, even if you open more coal mines, you

wouldn't create more jobs. So basically, President Trump is making a promise he cannot keep during. Do you agree with that?

STEER: Well, the only thing he could do is subsidize coal so they could be exported to countries in Asia. That's the only way that you could create

new jobs. No one is going to build a new pipeline out of coal partly because it takes more than four years to build, quite frankly, and who

would want to take that risk? And no bank will make that kind of loan. So they'd have to be big subsidies involved in this.

GORANI: Lastly, the Paris Agreement. If the United States indeed pulls out, what impact will that have?

STEER: Well, if the United States would've pull out of Paris, it would join a very small club. Only Syria, Nicaragua, and Uzbekistan in the

entire world don't have plans for addressing climate change on the Paris. So the United States would join that club. And that explains why Secretary

of State Tillerson, of course, has been saying, look, I need us to stay in Paris partly because, quite frankly, it would severely undermine U.S.

diplomacy abroad.

Now, what the good news is, is that other countries are saying, look, we're sorry that we're losing a soulmate in the White House, but we're going to

keep going. In the same week that President Obama announced his policy, China announced the decision to not build 150 coal plants and announced

another $350 billion investment in renewable energy.


STEER: And that's because they believe it's good for their economy, and they're right.

[15:40:23] GORANI: Andrew Steer, thanks very much. You provided me with the perfect segue to our next story. We appreciate it. Thanks for joining


STEER: Thank you.

GORANI: When you think of China, you may think of smog and pollution, not clean energy. But people there are dealing with the question of growth

versus the environment in major ways. And you know, when we report from Beijing, you physically see the smog. You can practically cut through it

with a knife.

With that story, David McKenzie sent us this report.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): So this whole area is industrialized, basically.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Extending an invitation to Donald Trump.

MA JUN, ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST: Yes, it's called Capitol Iron Steel.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Ma Jun, one of the country's best-known environmentalists.

JUN: More people in China believe that we need to get rich first before we even think about the environment. But now, you know, we're suffering from


MCKENZIE (voice-over): Suffering on an enormous scale, chocking on toxic smog. In China, it's estimated that bad air kills more than 2 million

people a year, hostage to rampant economic growth.

Chinese officials have a history of misleading the public about pollution and harassing activists like Ma. Now, they are helping him, collaborating

on an app.

JUN: Tell me who the factories are not in compliance.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): It publishes real time factory emissions data, shaming the violators and harnessing the power of the crowd.

MCKENZIE (on camera): Another extraordinary thing about this application is that users can take photos of suspected pollution and load it up onto a

map of China. Just a few years ago, doing this could've put them at real risk from the government.

JUN: Now, finally, there's a real political will to try to control the pollution.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): In the U.S., the swing seems to be in the opposite direction. President Trump has signed off on a controversial Keystone XL

pipeline. The Environmental Protection Agency led by a fossil fuels ally.

That's making executives at this wind energy plant very happy. China is funneling more than $260 billion into clean energy, far outstripping U.S.

efforts. And they ship these turbines across the world.

CAO ZHIGANG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, XINJIANG GOLDWIN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CO. LTD (through translator): Donald Trump is definitely an opportunity

for us.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): A Chinese climate negotiator told CNN, they are dismayed that Trump's administration could roll back on climate

commitments. And the irony isn't lost on Ma Jun that China, the world's biggest polluter, to take the environmental lead.

David McKenzie, CNN, Beijing.


GORANI: Still ahead on the program, appalling sexism or a lighthearted humor? A headline in a U.K. paper makes headlines of its own.


[15:45:21] GORANI: Well, the U.K. is on the dawn of one of the biggest political events in recent history, the official start of Brexit. But one

tabloid's take on the story has stunned some people. It didn't stun me, I'll be honest. Let's get more from Isa Soares.

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has definitely stunned me, too, Hala. In fact, many people throughout the country really spitting feathers. And

this is the newspaper in question. It's the "Daily Mail," one of the most well-read -- most read newspapers, I should say, here in the country. It's

read by a lot of women, I should add. And it has this in its front page, "Never Mind Brexit, Who Won Legs-it?

Terrible pun, many would say that too. But this is the meeting between Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon, a meeting that, if you go to page six and

seven, is not about the content of their discussion just days before Article 50 was triggered. In fact, it was about what clothes they were

wearing, how much it cost, and in particular, about their lower limbs.


SOARES (voice-over): As Theresa May prepares to begin divorce proceedings with the European Union and as she fights to keep her own union together,

one British newspaper has reduced the pivotal talks between the British Prime Minister and First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon to their


Inside the "Daily Mail," one of the biggest newspapers in the country, describes their meeting. "Sturgeon's shorter but undeniably more shapely

shanks are also altogether more flirty, tantalizingly crossed, with the dominant leg pointing towards her audience."

Well, this front page has really hit a nerve, not just here in Westminster but really across the country because here you have two of the most

powerful women in British politics discussing one of the most pivotal changes in British history, and that is survival of the union as well as

Brexit. And critics are angry at the fact that all this paper can focus on are the cost of their blazers, the colors of their clothes, and the shape

of their legs.

TASMINA AHMED-SHEIKH, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, UNITED KINGDOM: Well, I'm not sure when, previously, men's legs made the front page of any newspaper, nor

indeed we had the term "Legs-it" used in the front page. I don't think it's funny at all. Many people don't think it's funny, either. And I

think, you know, of course, freedom of speech is a good thing. With that, of course, should also come respect.

SOARES (voice-over): The front page provoked outrage in social media, many calling it sexist, offensive, and demeaning. Nicky Morgan tweeted,

"Seriously? Our two most senior female politicians are judged for their legs, not what they said. #appallingsexism."

Leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, "It's 2017. This sexism must be consigned to history. Shame on the 'Daily Mail.'" Yvette Cooper had this

to say, "It's 2017. Two women's decisions will determine if United Kingdom continues to exist and front page is their lower limbs. Obviously."

The "Daily Mail" has hit back at its critics, telling them to get a life. In a statement, it said, "The piece, which was flagged as lighthearted, was

a side bar alongside a serious political story."

Speaking to Wolverhampton's "Express and Star" newspaper while on a visit to the area, the Prime Minister jokes that on this occasion, she was

wearing trousers.


SOARES: And, Hala, of course, by playing to people's sensibilities and outrage, what the "Daily Mail" is doing is making sure that people are

going to their Web site. They're clicking on their Web site and leaving comments and that's attracts, really, traffic. And that, obviously, brings

it money with advertisers, Hala.

GORANI: Exactly. Thanks very much, Isa Soares for reporting on that.

Speaking of political drama, the wife of French presidential candidate Francois Fillon could face charges over allegations her husband paid her

from state funds for a fake job. And it's certainly not the first time his campaign has faced issues. Here's Melissa Bell.


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For weeks now, protestors have greeted Francois Fillon wherever he goes. On Saturday, it

took an umbrella to protect him from their eggs, but he couldn't escape the sound of their banging sauce pan. A play on the French word which means

both a cooking utensil and a scandal.

FRANCOIS FILLON, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): These demonstrations are an insult to democracy. It's an insult to the many of

French people who support me, and the more they'll demonstrate, the more the French will support me.

BELL (voice-over): But even as he continued with his visit to this farm in the southwest of France, his position in the polls was at an all-time low.

[15:50:00] Francois Fillon emerged as the unexpected winner of the republican primary in late November. At the time, his campaign looked

unstoppable. His lead in the polls, unshakeable. But then, only two months later, the scandal, dubbed Penelope Gate, changed that.

Newspaper allegations that Francois Fillon's wife and two of their children had been paid for parliamentary work never carried out led to a judicial

inquiry and charges that include misuse of public funds. Some within the Republican Party ranks wanted a new candidate, but Fillon refused to stand

aside, saying he'd done nothing wrong, and maintaining that the investigation is an attack by political opponents.

But a steady drip of newspaper reports about expensive gifts now means the candidate's troubles and the inquiry go beyond the question of Penelope's

work. Fillon says the press reports are also part of a campaign against him.

FILLON (through translator): How do you explain the fact that there are hundreds, or in any case, dozens of journalists who go through my bins, to

take an interest in my suits and tomorrow, my shirts, and why not my underwear as well?

At some point the French people can see perfectly well that there is one person in this presidential race who is the target of every attack.

BELL (voice-over): Before his visit to the farm on Saturday, Francois Fillon was in Biarritz for a rally, keeping up a frenetic pace, that shows

a candidate determined to overcome the din of scandal. And many do seem to want to give him the benefit of the doubt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): To be honest, I think all politicians do it a little bit. So with regard to him, I think we need to

see what happened. We really need to understand the context to be certain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this stage, he hasn't been found guilty of anything, so therefore, there's always a question mark, a doubt. So I think he

should really go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was certainly the best candidate in terms of image for French people. But due to this very bad news story, now it's not

exactly the same Francois Fillon as four or five weeks ago.

BELL (voice-over): But damage has already been done, with Fillon trailing a distant third behind the two candidates now looking to make it to the

run-off. The far right's Marine Le Pen and the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron tied in their substantial lead of the opinion polls.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


GORANI: Well, check out our Facebook page, We'll post some of the show's content on there this evening. We'll be

right back.


GORANI: Every so often, we bring you the story of a person who's touched the life of one of our correspondents, whose positive impact on the world

has left a lasting mark. This week, Will Ripley tells us about his hero.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I've interviewed a lot of people, but nobody has ever inspired like Jia Jia, the Chinese orphan that

I mean while on assignment in Beijing. I was doing a story about Chinese abandoned children and I met Jia Jia at this orphanage.

He's nine years old. He'd been waiting for a family to adopt him. He watched all his friends go to homes and nobody came for him. What really

touched me about him was that he was a big brother to the other kids. He would take care of them, even though he needed to be taken care of as well.

And his dream was to have a family.

[15:55:10] When we met him, we found out that there was a family in the United States that wanted to adopt him, but they didn't have the money. We

did a story about Jia Jia and eight hours later, the family had raised enough money from our viewers to adopt him.

I knew that Jia Jia was my hero because he has endured things that I can never imagine, most people can never imagine. His birth parents abandoned

him. He had a botched spina bifida surgery, has no use for his lower legs, but he doesn't let the disability slow him down. He doesn't let his

circumstances keep him down.

He kept smiling. He stayed optimistic. And now, he has a family in the United States. And he's inspiring all of them too. So to see somebody

with that much strength, at such a young age, it's one of the most incredible things I've ever seen.

And recently, I was able to visit him in his new home in Kansas City, Missouri. To see him in his classroom learning English, out on the

playground during recess --

JIA JIA, CHINESE ORPHAN: How can he do that?

RIPLEY: -- with his family, with his friends, smiling and laughing, and to see where he came from, was one of the most powerful moments of my life.


GORANI: Great story there. This has been THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. I'm Hala Gorani. I'll see you same time but not same place tomorrow. We'll be at


Meantime, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next.