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Flynn Seeks Immunity to Break His Silence; Coalition Forcers Closing in on ISIS Capital Raqqa; Lack of Clean Water, Famine Threatens Millions in Africa; A Look at Trump's Habit of Moving Things Around. Aired Midnight-1a ET

Aired March 31, 2017 - 00:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:00:10] SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour, President Trump's former national security adviser, fired for not being honest about his connections to Russia, has a story to tell. And he says he will share it with investigators if he's granted immunity.

And what lessons can be learned from the bloody battles in Mosul as the fight against ISIS now closes in on Raqqa?

Plus, on the brink of famine killer diseases now compounding the largest humanitarian crisis in 70 years.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Sara Sidner.

NEWSROOM LOS ANGELES starts right now.

It is a potential bombshell in the investigation of the Trump team's ties to Russia. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn says he will talk with the FBI and congressional investigators in exchange for immunity.

CNN's Jessica Schneider has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: General Michael Flynn's lawyers putting the offer out there, telling congressional investigators that Michael Flynn will testify if offered immunity, putting it in somewhat of a tantalizing way in a statement saying this.

"General Flynn certainly has a story to tell and he wants to tell it should the circumstances permit." And going on to say, "No reasonable person who has the benefit of advice from counsel would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized witch hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution."

But the details really not coming out here on Capitol Hill. In fact, a spokesman for the House Intelligence Committee saying that there had been no requests from General Flynn and the Senate Intelligence Committee refusing to comment.

Of course, General Flynn did resign just after President Trump took office when it was disclosed he had not revealed his communications with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak to Vice President Mike Pence.

So right now, General Flynn's lawyers trying to strike a deal with some of the congressional investigators here.

But the question is will General Flynn's words come back to haunt him? In fact, it was just last year when he spoke on MSNBC about Hillary Clinton's staffers, and he basically said if you're granted immunity, if you take that immunity, it basically means you committed a crime.

So will those words come back to haunt him and will any deal be struck on Capitol Hill? That remains to be seen.

Jessica Schneider, CNN -- Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER: And my colleague John Vause spoke with CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem about Flynn's request for immunity.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: And Juliette Kayyem joins us now for more on this.

So, I guess you're not surprised by these developments last Friday. You were the one saying a deal could be in the works. So what were the signs?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: We have been coming to this moment, and for those of us who have been in the field for a long time, started to see some of the writing on the wall a while back.

I mean remember Flynn was fired only several weeks after the Justice Department warned the White House that he might be compromised. Then later on, we heard about Flynn in the context of him sort of cleaning up some of his paperwork as regards some of his foreign clients.

And then what struck me last weekend and why I said sort of let's anticipate the Flynn plea deal or immunity hopes was we heard a lot of people including the White House talking about Carter Page, Manafort and Roger Stone -- three of the main players.

But no one was mentioning Mike Flynn which suggested to lawyers like me in the national security arena that Mike Flynn was on his own, that he was trying to seek a deal. And we don't know what the nature of that deal is yet but it's certainly bad news for the White House.

VAUSE: Well, Flynn's lawyers say their client has a story to tell. And he really does; he's been at the center of the Trump campaign pretty much from the beginning. He was there for the transition. And he was also there for the first month of the administration. So if anybody has, you know, information to trade, it seems it would be Michael Flynn.

KAYYEM: That's exactly right. This is as close to Donald Trump as you could get. And so if there is something to tell, Michael Flynn will know it. If there's any questions or if there's any facts about a Russia connection or Russia collusion regarding the campaign, Michael Flynn was sure to know.

He had been with Donald Trump before anyone essentially, anyone in particular in national security. He was quite political and very sort of, you know, hostile toward Hillary Clinton.

[00:05:02] People will remember he stood on the convention floor at his speech and chanted "lock her up", which was unbecoming for a military person many people felt.

So there's no question that if Flynn has something to offer and if immunity is granted, that that story will impact the White House. What we don't know is, does it impact Donald Trump directly?

VAUSE: What can we read into the fact that so far at this point, officials have not made this deal for immunity?

KAYYEM: It's very interesting. I -- to be honest with you, there might be a couple of theories to this case right now. One would be that they were about to, and "The Wall Street Journal" got the story before the proffer, before there was an agreement. And so basically, you may see an agreement come relatively soon as people pick up the pace.

It may also be that what Flynn has to offer or what he's willing to offer is outweighed by potential illegalities that Flynn has done himself.

In other words, the committees may not want to grant him immunity because they may see him as someone that should go to jail if it comes to that.

So we don't know yet. I suspect just based on the order of things that the "Wall Street Journal" and various other media outlets like our own CNN got ahead of the calendar, so to speak, and that we'll probably see some sort of proffer and agreement relatively soon.

VAUSE: Ok. His lawyers issued a statement. Part of it read, "No reasonable person who has the benefit of advice from counsel would submit to questioning in such a highly-politicized witch hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution."

So they're arguing here that General Flynn doesn't need immunity because he's done something wrong, but rather that he could become the victim of politics. He could be treated unfairly. But , and this is speculation, if there is legal jeopardy for Michael Flynn, would it be related to his work as a foreign agent for the government of Turkey, or would it be more to do with his connections to Russia? KAYYEM: It could be three things. It could be his connections to

Russia, which certainly seem the most suspicious as regards who he was talking to, whether he was offering deals to Russians.

It could be the Turkish connections he had. Remember, he had to sort of admit that he had been paid for by -- or had been a foreign agent after he was fired.

I actually think that it's most likely the simplest thing, which is that he may have lied to the FBI in some of these communications he had with them earlier on.

The FBI does not like being lied to and many of these cases begin with the simple lie that is found out. And the FBI would seek to prosecute. And Flynn wants immunity from that.

VAUSE: Just very quickly, can you get immunity from lying to the FBI if you've done that?

KAYYEM: Absolutely. In fact, that's how Flynn -- that's how the FBI gets most of its witnesses to speak is that, you know, someone says something to the FBI. They later learn it's a lie. That's a criminal liability. And in exchange, for no prosecution the person will then speak the truth.

And you make a great point, though. You know, we don't know the substance of what Flynn is going to say. Or what he has offered to say.

And so while this is a very bad news day for the White House, and certainly something that is disconcerting for those of us who are in national security, this was a big day. We still don't know the substance of what he's willing to offer.

VAUSE: Ok. Julia -- thank you so much. Really appreciate you being with us.

And of course, if people are watching CNN on Friday, they would have known all about this ahead of time. Thank you.

KAYYEM: Thanks. Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER: Joining me now here in Los Angeles civil rights and criminal defense attorney Brian Claypool.

We're going to go through this it a lot more because there are a lot of questions that I think a lot of people have about this. Never mind the entire committee that's investigating this.

One of the things I wonder is about timing. Why is he coming forward now?

BRIAN CLAYPOOL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well Sara, one thing is for sure. We know that Michael Flynn is not going to be playing poker at a Las Vegas casino any time soon. And I'll tell you why. Because if these were the cards he had in his hand, he'd be laying them down on the table way too soon at a poker table. And that's what he did here.

He laid out his cards on the table way too soon. The timing of this is terrible. If I was Michael Flynn's lawyer, I would have told him sit back, wait, allow the Senate Intelligence Committee to do an investigation. Remember, they're not even that far along.

[00:10:00] SIDNER: Right.

CLAYPOOL: So why are you waving a white flag so early in the investigation to draw this undue attention upon yourself -- terrible timing.

SIDNER: Let me push back on that. Is it possible that the reason why he's come forward now is that they're worried somebody else is going to either find out some information about something that he did and have the goods that he has no bargaining chips? Is that a possibility?

CLAYPOOL: That's a great point. But put yourself in the shoes of the Senate Intelligence Committee or the U.S. Department of Justice. That's exactly what they're thinking, and all the more reason to not grant him immunity. Because remember the U.S. Department of Justice has to sign off on this -- the U.S. Attorney General -- regardless of what the Senate Intelligence Committee does.

And they are not going to grant immunity if the information that Flynn is going to tell them can be gleaned or gathered from another source.

SIDNER: Now, I want to ask you about immunity because a lot of things have been said about immunity. And a lot of people have opinions about what it means when you ask for it. I mean does it mean that you have information that you may have had -- done something criminal yourself, so you want to be protected?

CLAYPOOL: Yes. Well, I think there's a misnomer out there. There's never absolute immunity from any type of prosecution just because you've agreed to cooperate in a federal investigation.

Two instances where the immunity can fall apart: One is, you don't really cooperate. You say you've got this information that might lead to other culpable parties being arrested and you don't really have that information. Or you don't want to divulge that information.

A second example is, let's say Michael Flynn gets immunity down the road, and then we find out that he actually lied during the investigation. You are never immunized from committing perjury. So if he commits perjury during the investigation, even if he's got immunity, he can still be prosecuted.

SIDNER: I want to ask you about some of the language that was used. His attorney says he has a story to tell. Clearly there's information that he has that he wants to reveal. But then he kind of goes down this thing, talking about a political witch hunt and being so politicized. And he feels like there might be unfair prosecution.

CLAYPOOL: Yes.

SIDNER: Is that a fair thing to say? We're talking about a committee of people from both sides of the aisle. It's supposed to be nonpartisan.

CLAYPOOL: yes. The only logic that I can gather as to why Michael Flynn is inviting immunity so early on is because he feels like he's been impugned. He feels like he's been demonized and castigated by the public. So he wants to preempt any type of fabricated prosecution.

For example, he wants to try to get the immunity now because he's afraid that he might be prosecuted for something that is meritless. So he's coming out now and forging ahead and saying I want to preempt this right up front.

SIDNER: Ok. Brian -- thank you so much. Some good points.

We are also going to talk to the folks on different sides of the political aisle.

Joining me here in Los Angeles Robin Swanson, spokeswoman for the California Democratic Party; and Gina Loudon, Trump supporter and behavioral and psychology expert. Thank you both, ladies, for being here.

Gina -- I want to start with you. First, I just want to hear what your reaction is to this new revelation that the man who Trump initially picked out to be his national security adviser is now ready to testify but only if he gets immunity.

LOUDON: Yes. I think your legal expert was spot on when he said that my guess is, just because he used the word -- his spokesperson, his attorney used the word "witch hunt", I think that he's concerned about frivolous accusations, much more so than he's going to be. I wouldn't get very excited for this story to get any more wings than it's had in the investigations going on since July that have yielded absolutely nothing in terms of any sort of collusion between Trump folks and Russia.

And so I wouldn't get too excited about that, based on what your legal expert said. I completely agree with that.

SIDNER: Ok. To be fair, they really haven't dug that deep yet, and they are still looking -- have been very clear that they're nowhere near the end of their investigation.

Robin -- I'd like to get your take on these new revelations as well.

ROBIN SWANSON, CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Yes. I mean absolutely, things have just begun for this. I mean they -- you know, this is a bombshell opened up tonight. And, you know, this is day 72 that this new administration is mired in scandal still. And I think, you know, where there's smoke, there's fire. Clearly, you know, Paul Manafort didn't ask for immunity. Roger Stone didn't ask for immunity. None of the folks that have been brought to the committee yet have asked for immunity.

So why is it he asked for immunity? There's some there, there. And if he's going to be able to make a deal, it's because he's got some information that is very damaging to this administration.

[00:14:59] And I think we're going to see a lot of that revealed tomorrow. We're going to start to see things unfold. This is the story. It's the gift that keeps on giving. The Trump administration cannot shoot straight.

And it's the trail of broken promises because they're not able to deliver on anything in the midst of one scandal after the next.

SIDNER: Robin, you touched on this, that nearly every day something new is revealed about --

SWANSON: Yes.

SIDNER: -- the investigation into Russia, or something else. But usually Russia comes up quite a bit.

How damaging do you think this is to the Trump administration as a whole?

SWANSON: I think it's just a big distraction. I mean he's had one failure after the next.

You look at, you know, health care was a disaster. That was his biggest campaign promise. The wall has been a disaster, that's not getting built. The Muslim ban has been a disaster and mired the court.

So, none of the actual substantive things that he ran on -- he's not delivering on any of those. And this is going to be what defines the first 100 days of his presidency because nothing else has gotten done.

SIDNER: Very stalwart, strong Trump supporters have been standing with him through all of this, very fervent with their support for him. Gina -- as a Trump supporter, are you at least beginning to get a bit worried about where the investigation is going here?

LOUDON: Not even a little bit. I honestly can't believe that anyone is still talking about this. I am so unconcerned about this. I -- what I think is amazing is how many jobs he's created already.

He's in his first 100 days here. And of course there are going to be some -- a bit of a learning curve I think for anyone taking over the job of the President, which is a pretty significant one by all accounts.

I do agree with one thing that Robin said, and that is that I think this is a massive distraction. I think there is no there, there. And I think it's even sadder than that, and perhaps even -- it's sad to me, you think about that Stalin quote that -- when something like the enemies of America know that they can't destroy her via arms, that you can only destroy her from within.

And this sort of speculation that almost seems like story boarding for a fictitious movie, it isn't helping the American people. It isn't helping in the things that we agree on. I think it's fine to disagree on policy, and I get that a lot of Democrats out there don't like President Trump. I understand that. I didn't like President Obama either.

So disagree on policy, but to continue to focus on something where there's zero evidence of any collusion. And when -- remember, the ambassador, the same people we're talking about, went to the White House, dozens of times, this Russian ambassador in the White House with Obama, dozens of times.

Let's not forget that he met with Hillary. So all of these same things that we're getting all excited about, people knowing Trump doing with there being zero evidence of any sort of collusion, they also met with Democrats and nobody's saying anything about that.

(CROSSTALK)

SIDNER: Let me stop you there -- Gina because you keep saying there's zero evidence. Let me stop you there. You have Flynn who was basically told to leave, was asked to resign, because there was evidence that he was not truthful. And Flynn also had a habit of retreating --

LOUDON: There was no evidence that he was --

(CROSSTALK)

SWANSON: And Jeff Sessions and Devin Nunes.

SIDNER: Then why isn't he still in office is the question? So what I'm asking you is when it comes to --

LOUDON: There's zero evidence that Nunes is colluding with Russia. I don't know -- it's so funny, because I really -- I hear this, and I -- I don't even know, I can't even fathom where you're getting this.

SWANSON: Because people have interfered in --

SIDNER: But I think Gina -- I think what's happening here is that you are saying that there's no evidence. But there is still an investigation and to be fair, to be perfectly fair, the investigation involves both Democrats and Republicans. And as you said, it's not finished.

So there may not be any evidence, in the end of this there may not be, but there may be. And I think you have to let that play out, instead of just saying there's absolutely nothing to see here and that's what the committee's job is.

LOUDON: But your question -- your question to me was, am I getting concerned? And I just want to answer you with absolutely not at all.

I'm concerned with the things I think Americans are concerned about.

SWANSON: But the FBI is concerned.

LOUDON: You know -- jobs, the economy and our national security.

SWANSON: The House Intelligence Committee is concerned. The American people are concerned.

SIDNER: There's a lot of other groups that are also concerned. That is true.

Gina and Robin -- thank you so much.

LOUDON: But this -- and I understand concern, just facts. It will be good when we get facts.

SIDNER: I agree with you. I think everyone wants to see the facts --

SWANSON: And maybe not alternative ones.

SIDNER: -- in this particular case. But it t is only fair to say that there is an investigation, and everyone is taking this very seriously who is on that committee trying to find the truth at the end.

Thank you, ladies, so much for coming on the show.

Still ahead, an extra threat to millions of people already facing famine across countries in Africa and Asia.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.

[00:19:38] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SIDNER: Ok. Tens of millions of people in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen are at risk of dying from starvation. Now the United Nations says they're also facing another deadly threat -- lack of access to clean water. And the U.N. says combination of famine and noxious water sets off a vicious cycle. The United Nations says conflict and climate change are driving this slow moving monster.

Now to Syria. U.S.-led fighters in Syria are closing in on the self- proclaimed capital of the ISIS caliphate, Raqqa. But before they can get much closer, they'll need to retake a crucial dam.

Our Ben Wedeman reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These waters bring life to the dry plains of northern Syria. But should this dam collapse, they could bring death to thousands living downstream along the Euphrates River. The Tabqa Dam built with the help of the Soviet Union half a century ago now the scene of intense fighting between the U.S.-supported Syrian Democratic Forces, SDF and ISIS. SDF fighters control the northern half of the dam; ISIS the southern half.

Recently ISIS warned residents of Raqqa just 40 kilometers or 25 miles downstream to evacuate their homes because the dam was in danger of breaking. When the residents of the city panicked, ISIS denied there was danger, not wanting to empty their de facto capital.

"Thank God there's nothing to worry about", says this SDF fighter. Today several engineers visited and checked the dam, the open channels to reduce the pressure of the water.

Anti-ISIS fighters are closing in on Raqqa, assisted by a growing contingent of U.S. troops and Special Forces. This video obtained by CNN shows a convoy moving U.S. bulldozers, armored vehicles and other equipment.

As the Americans go in, civilians pour out; once more caught between the danger of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and ISIS who want to use them as human shields.

"The plane", says this man, "are striking ISIS positions, which are placed among the civilians, among us, so we left." They're coming to territory controlled by the SDF, but hundreds of thousands are still in ISIS territory.

"We've been out in the open for 11 days," says this man. "We're going around like the blind. We don't know where to go escaping the hell of war and the danger of high waters."

Ben Wedeman, CNN -- Irbil, northern Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER: Joining me here now in Los Angeles is Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. She is a senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations and a contributing editor with Atlantic Media Defense One.

[00:25:04] ISIS is really losing ground. So that's a clear signal and, I guess, good news if you will for many of the civilians there. But when they get pushed and pushed and pushed, doesn't that make them more dangerous in some ways?

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I mean you talk to people who have seen a whole lot of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. military officials. And they'll say they've never seen close quarters combat this kind, this deadly, this awful, this savage in terms of what they're willing to do, in terms of using civilians as -- not just human shields but putting entire families at risk and holding them hostage for endless days. Absolutely.

SIDNER: When it comes to what is happening, you know, there are some really atrocious -- some atrocities that have happened obviously throughout this war. But recently in Mosul, just the scale of what has happened in Mosul, what lessons can be learned from what happened in Mosul and the mistakes made by those who are trying to rid the area of ISIS? And what is going to happen in the future in Raqqa?

LEMMON: Listen, you've covered this region, right. I mean I think everybody thought, you know, the Mosul campaign will be difficult, but it won't be impossible.

SIDNER: Right.

LEMMON: And you talk to U.S. military officials and people say this is a long hard slog that does not look to be getting much easier, in part, because U.S. fighters are not the ones fighting it, right. This is the strategy of its Iraqi forces, with U.S. advise-and-assist, and in part, because of the way that ISIS is booby-trapping so many of these locations.

And this is the real issue then is the "and then what" question. What happens after Mosul? What happens after Raqqa? What is the plan? You know, U.S. generals are calling for more diplomacy, more development, more stability, at the same time we're seeing, you know, very strong likelihood of cuts in those.

So where is the hand-off? And I think that, the "and then what" question at some point has to be answered.

SIDNER: Must be absolutely terrifying. And then there's also the question of, when you say "and then what" -- there will be ISIS fighters who escape, who move on, who go somewhere else. What are the concerns of the surrounding nations who now realize that -- and this has been happening even before they've been pushed to the degree they've been pushed? What happens then? Who is going to police them, if you will?

LEMMON: Right.

And look, it's much easier to kill a terrorist than to kill an idea. And that is the real challenge that you have in the fight against ISIS, which is when folks, you know, then go blend in to wherever it is afterward, how do you go and find them? Right.

It's not easy, even when you have the best law enforcement officials globally, you know, focused on this. And so I don't think that anybody thinks that this is going to be easy or that the campaign to retake Raqqa would be the end of this.

SIDNER: When it comes to civilians, and you talked about the future, how do you rebuild a place like Syria which really has been -- when people talk about being destroyed, I mean city after city after city leveled?

LEMMON: In real-time.

SIDNER: In real-time.

LEMMON: We've all been watching.

SIDNER: We've been watching this.

LEMMON: Absolutely.

SIDNER: How do you do that? How do you go in and rebuild when there's still obviously such hatred that has been born out of what has happened, understandably, towards the regime, as much as towards ISIS in some cases?

LEMMON: Well, you know, I keep thinking about two things. One is, you know, spend time with Syrians who have been displaced by this war and one thing everybody tells you they want is to go home.

SIDNER: Go home.

LEMMON: Right. The first thing that everybody says -- I remember interviewing a Syrian mom who said, I have an illiterate son in 2016. She said, "Do you know what that feels like?" She said, "All we want to do is go home and rebuild. And we don't care."

On the other hand, you have this situation where what is going to be left, the level of devastation, and the number of military forces globally, that are playing in the Syrian battlefield is something we have not seen.

And so how do you go in, with what dollars, who's going to pay when nobody has even wanted to pay to feed children and families who are displaced?

SIDNER: People that are literally starving.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMMON: Absolutely. Let alone to pay for the rebuilding of this nation. And so I think we're going to see heart break and carnage for a while.

SIDNER: It's really devastating. The more you watch it, the more you can't see how it's going to get better. But it has to at some point.

LEMMON: That's right. And the one thing that gives you faith is Syrian moms and dads who say, we're committed to our country and --

SIDNER: We're going back.

LEMMON: -- we're going back.

SIDNER: Yes. Thank you so much for being with us and explaining that. Thank you for being here.

We will be back in just a bit.

[00:29:23] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:30:00] SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Sara Sidner. The headlines for you at this hour. Former U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn says he will talk with investigators looking into the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia. But he wants something for it. In exchange, he wants immunity from prosecution. Flynn resigned last month after misleading the White House about his contacts with Russian officials.

South African President Jacob Zuma has just fired a slew of cabinet members. This according to his office. The purge following days of speculation and opposition parties having vowed to respond. The country's respected finance minister is among those who was reportedly sacked.

Police have arrested former president of South Korea Park Geun-hye. She is accused of leaking safe secrets, abusing her position and bribery. A judge says the court feared the former leader could destroy evidence. Park was impeached after months of widespread protest over a corruption scandal there.

Israeli officials have approved the new settlements in the West Bank. The first on Palestinian territory in over 20 years. It will be built north of Ramallah and is intended for settlers from an outpost Israel destroyed. Israel's Supreme Court ruled that outpost was illegal.

Nearly three years later, the Sewol Ferry is being brought back to shore. The ship sank in April 2014, killing 304 people, mostly high school students. Several of those bodies were never recovered but now that ferry is above water and the hope is, that they will be found. The ferry's captain was acquitted of murder, but he's serving 36 years in prison.

It's being called the largest humanitarian crisis in the past 70 years. Tens of millions of people in Nigeria, in Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen are at risk of dying from starvation. Now the United Nation says they are also facing another deadly threat and that is lack of clean water.

Jeffrey Gettleman is "The New York Times" East Africa bureau chief.

Jeffrey is joining us now live from Nairobi, Kenya.

Thank you so much, Jeffrey, for being here with us. You make a point that you have covered hunger crisis in Africa before. And here it feels like we're in the same place and nothing has really changed. Explain that out a little bit for us.

[00:35:00] JEFFREY GETTLEMAN, EAST AFRICA BUREAU CHIEF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, it's very sad. There is a huge famine in Somalia in 2011. And after that, the aid industry had vowed to never let this happen again. I mean, how can you have a famine with people dying of hunger, lack of food, lack of clean water in the 21st century. It really frustrated people. But now we're back in the same situation.

Somalia is right on the brink of a massive famine. I was just in the area a few weeks ago, where I met many people who were starving. There's this problem of a lack of clean water that's leading to very preventable diseases like cholera and that's wiping people out in camps of starving people.

And at the same time, you have three other famines that are going on in Nigeria, in South Sudan and in Yemen. So I get the sense that the aid community is totally overwhelmed and on top of that, you have the U.S. government talking about cutting support to the United Nations and for foreign aide.

So it's, you know, to sort of use a cliche term, a perfect storm of factors that are really stressing people out and could lead to many deaths across a wide swath of territory.

AMANPOUR: You talk about the U.N. being strapped and countries not giving as much as they once did including the United States which sounds like it wants to pull back some of its aid to countries around the world for many different things.

Let me ask you what you think about the fact that, you know -- the focus really has been on the Middle East, on Syria, on Iraq and what has been happening there. And more worries about the folks that are in those situations.

Do you think Africa is often just left behind and forgotten?

GETTLEMAN: Well, I think that's a really good point. I mean, right now, there are so many crisis around the world. It feels like we're in a world of conflict and despair.

I think that really is pulling attention away from this part of the world, where I'm in. I don't know. I mean, Africa traditionally gets a lot of relief and gets a lot attention for humanitarian causes. There are enormous human peacekeeping missions in Congo, in Darfur and South Sudan. The amount of resources that are directed to this part of the world is quite substantial, but it's very difficult to respond to this different crises at the same time. And each is driven by its own dynamics, by war lords in one place or an Islamic militant group in another.

And I think there's just kind of a discomfort right now of how are we going to adequately address these different problems, get the food in, help people so they don't die of preventable diseases. And I'm not hearing any real, you know, positive answers so far.

SIDNER: Would you say famines are not just about food, but also about clean drinking water?

GETTLEMAN: Yes. This is like something that the aide industry is seizing upon this time around. Many of the deaths in Somalia are from the lat famine were not from people that were wandering around the desert looking for food.

They were from -- many people died in camps around cities, where there was a supply of food, but the people were dying of diseases like cholera and they had converged into these areas where diseases quickly spread because there was dirty water. And then they didn't have any water to wash with. There weren't many latrines. And you just had a very -- you know, kind of unhygienic environment that affected a lot of people.

So this time around, there's more of an emphasis of trying to bring in clean water, trying to bring soap, dig latrines, get everything ready in preparation for large groups of people that converge. And the hope is that will stop a lot of disease from being spread. And it's really - and most famine situations it's disease that tugs people down. It's not just starving from a lack of food. It's people who are very compromised because they don't have a lot of food, and then they get sick and they pass that sickness on. And then you have just this kind of outbreak of deaths in these places.

SIDNER: Thank you so much, Jeffrey Gettleman. You have done some excellent work bringing attention to this. We appreciate your time live for us, from Nairobi, Kenya. And we'll be right back. You are watching CNN.

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SIDNER: Papers, a glass, a coaster. There isn't much for new U.S. President won't ship around. It's a habit of Donald Trump's many people have noticed it recently, and, of course, it's been parodied.

Our Jeanne Moos does that better than anyone.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's your move, Mr. President.

Whether it's a glass or a coaster, President Trump has a habit of moving things. A few inches here, a few inches there. A viewer alerted Jimmy Kimmel to the President's quirk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's more of a mover than a shaker.

MOOS: Moving individual items and even an entire place setting. Apparently seeking the sweet spot.

A shorter compilation circulated online leading to comments like "This is desktop manspreading. He's marking his territory and trying to intimidate others with the space he takes up."

The President's moves inspired Web gags and armchair psychology. "He thinks he's the master of everything." "This is mine to touch."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I have to say is I hope the new healthcare plan covers OCD, because --

MOOS (on-camera): OK. So everyone has an opinion, but what does a professional think, professor of psychology.

(voice-over): While declining to diagnose, Professor Kevin Volkan weighed in on what may be behind this type of behavior.

KEVIN VOLKAN, PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY: They're feeling some anxiety about something and so they control things. They move things around. They make lists.

MOOS: Or more likely, the professor says, in someone with a narcissistic profile --

VOLKAN: They're just really bored. They get bored really easily especially when the conversation is not about them.

MOOS: Internet posters likewise couldn't resist moving things, like the President's head replacing it with a cartoon called "Business Cat" and adding a soundtrack.

(SONG PLAYING)

Funny, President Trump doesn't seem like the type to be a paper pusher.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live, from Los Angeles. I'm Sara Sidner. "World Sport" is coming up next. Then, our John Vause will be here with another hour of news from around the world for you. You're watching CNN.

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