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Show Of Force On Korean Peninsula; Rivals Clash On Streets Of Venezuela; Bill O'Reilly Out At Fox News; Venezuela Rocks by Protests, Violence; Police Investigate Aaron Hernandez Alleged Suicide; Professor Predicts Trump's Impeachment. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired April 20, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:10] ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Ahead this hour, a show of force on the Korean peninsula, coming at a time of heightened tensions with the regime of Kim Jong-un.
SESAY: Plus violent clashes on the streets of Venezuela as the supporters of the countries President came face-to-face with his critics.
VAUSE: Any doubt, Bill O'Reilly the biggest name on "FOX NEWS" no longer with the company, after allegations of sexual harassment proved too much for the bosses at the "21st CENTURY FOX".
SESAY: Hello, thank you for joining us, I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause, this is NEWSROOM L.A.
The U.S. and South Korea are sending another military message to Pyongyang, this time with a major drill known as Max thunder, it's the second largest military flying exercise on the Korean peninsula, with more than a thousand U.S. Personnel taking part.
SESAY: Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence says the U.S. and its allies would respond to any North Korean attack with overwhelming force. He's just arrived in Indonesia to meet with that country's President. Well, CNN's Mallika Kapur is following the Vice President's visit from Hongkong, but we start with our own Paula Hancocks at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea where this military drills with U.S. forces are under way. Paula, tell us more about this timely display of the U.S.-South Korea security alliance. What's happening?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isha, this is Max Thunder as you say, there's about 80 aircraft involved in this exercise between the U.S. and South Korea. More than 1,500 personnel, when you add the Koreans into that as well. It is annual, it is routine. We are being told it was planned months in advance, so the timing is not significant from the drill point of view, but obviously, the fact that the tensions are higher on the Korean peninsula put this into far more of the spotlight. Now, we know from the Lieutenant Colonel of this operation, I spoke to him earlier, he said when they're doing these kind of drills, there is no specific enemy in mind. They're just trying to make sure that they can coordinate and work well with their Korean counterparts, and this is as close as you're going to get to an actual war situation. But of course, it does come at a time when North Korea is blaming the United States for pushing the situation to the brink of war, saying nuclear war could break out at any time. As you say it's also when Vice President has been heading through the region. So obviously this is going to be focused on much more and this is not what North Korea likes to see. Isha?
SESAY: It certainly doesn't. Paula Hancocks there at the Kun san Air Base in South Korea, we appreciate it thank you.
VAUSE: Well let's go now to CNN Mallika Kapur for more on Vice President Mike Pence's visit to Indonesia. Mallika it seems the U.S. Vice President making some commitments already to the Indonesians on issues like security, but also wanting to rework that economic relationship. What's he been saying?
MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You know trade has come out as a one of the key message over here and the message is that the U.S. administration is committed to doing trade with Indonesia and with other countries in Southeast Asia, particularly after it walked away from the TPP, the transpacific partnership, which is, of course, a multi trade agreement between several countries in Southeast Asia. So the U.S. Administration wanting to send a message that it is continuing going to continue to build on the foundation that President Obama had set up, you know, the pivot Asia campaign. And one of the things that Vice President Pence talked about today was continuing to do trade with Indonesia. And one of the key campaign promises of the Trump administration was to reduce the U.S.'s trade deficit.
The U.S. does have a trade deficit and the President - President Trump ordered a review of several countries to see where things were going wrong. Indonesia is one of the countries with which the U.S. has about a $13 billion trade deficit. And this is has come up for review. But President Vice President Pence today saying that the U.S. is committed to continuing to do trade with Indonesia. That is a key message today. But really, the important message from Vice President Pence today will be a symbolic one when he visits a Mosque, Indonesia's largest Mosque later on today. That will send a powerful message to the people that perhaps the administration is trying to soften its image, which is perceived to be as largely anti-Muslim. John?
VAUSE: OK. Mallika Kapur with the very latest on the visit by Mike Pence in Jakarta, also before Mallika we had Paula Hancocks with the military exercises on the Korean peninsula, thanks to you both.
SESAY: Thank you. Well all right, the U.S. military says Syria has moved most of its warplanes to a safer location. The aircraft are now at an international airport close to a Russian airbase.
VAUSE: Well this is a defensive move, following a punishing U.S. missile strike on the Al Shayrat airfield two weeks ago. We got the latest now from CNN's Barbara Starr.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The April six U.S. tomahawks missile attack at a Syrian airbase, now reverberating inside the Assad regime. The regime has now moved the majority of its operational fighter jets to a coastal airbase Bassel Al-Assad airport, putting the Syrian jets under the protective umbrella of Russia's adjacent air base.
[01:05:32] CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It points to a much closer relationship by than we thought they had otherwise. And it may also be an indicator that they might want to protect some of the assets, potentially their weapons. Potentially their fuel storage areas and it could also mean that they may be facilitating the hiding of chemical weapons.
STARR: Something to worry about given the Trump administration's willingness to use military force in retaliation for the regime's attack in northern Syria, using what international agencies now believe was most likely siren. A finding now underscored by the international inspections regime of the organization for the prevention of chemical weapons. The U.S. retaliatory response to the siren attack took out 20 percent of Syria's operational fighter jets. 23 fixed-wing jets were destroyed, including seven S.U. 22s and 16 Mig 23s. Defense Secretary James Mattis traveling in the region, making the point the U.S. and Russian military are still talking about their combat air operations.
JAMES MATTIS, UNITED STATES DEFENSE SECRETARY: We are deconflicting with the Russians. We continue to deconflict with the Russians for safety of flight, to avoid any kind of misunderstanding or any kind of inadvertent running into each other frankly in the air.
STARR: And while Syrian aircraft are looking for Russian protection, Russian aircraft are getting closer to U.S. Shores. For the second time in two days, two cold-war Era Russian bear bombers were spotted flying off the coast of Alaska. At one point, coming within 36 miles of the mainland. But carefully staying in international airspace. U.S. military conducted routine intercepts and the bombers turned back towards Russia. Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
VAUSE: OK. We'll take a closer look at the day's politics in the United States. And to that, we're joined by Talk Radio Host and Political Commentator Mo'Kelly. Mo' good to see you. OK, so it looks like the saga of the Carl Vinson continues and did the White House actually lose the aircraft carrier, or did they mislead the public about where the aircraft carrier was heading? Was it heading to the Korean peninsula for a show of force, or was it heading the other way? This is what Sean Spicer said during the White House briefing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president said we have an armada going towards the peninsula. That's a fact. It happened. It is happening, rather. The statement that was put out, was that the Carl Vinson group was headed to the Korean peninsula. It is headed to the Korean peninsula. It all arrived there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's headed there now. Was it headed there?
SPICER: Sure, but that's not what we ever said. We said that it was heading there, and it was heading there. It is heading there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So it was heading there, but it wasn't, because it was heading away, but they never said it was heading there when they said it was heading there, what they say. What did he say?
MO'KELLY, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He said who's on first. It is unfortunate because messaging is not the administration's strong point.
VAUSE: I've noticed.
MO'KELLY: But at the same time, they've been given a free pass as far as ineffective messaging. It's almost like no they mean this chaos, they mean to mislead. They don't want to telegraph their intentions, but at the same time they're confusing the heck out of everyone in America as well, as far as whether they have a coherent plan to address Syria or North Korea, and anything else going on in a region.
SESAY: It does -- can this White House afford any more hits to his credibility? And that's the question here.
MO'KELLY: Well you're making the assumption that the White House is credible overall. But not to be flippant, they don't have a lot of time left, to your point. The midterms are coming. They have had a very aggressive and ambitious agenda, but at the same time, they haven't been very successful on many fronts.
VAUSE: Au contraire, (INAUDIBLE) I was listening to the President Donald Trump and this is what he said about the past 90 days or so.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days, that includes on military, on the border, on trade, on regulation, on law enforcement, we love our law enforcement, and on government reform.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: See, I hope you were listening. As a follow-up to that, again, White House spokesman Sean Spicer was asked to specifically talk about, you know which policy which achievement they're most proud of.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you say what single piece of legislation that you are proudest that you got through congress that was on the President's agenda? [01:10:15] SPICER: Well, a few things on that. Number one, we're not done. We've got a little ways before we hit the hundred day mark.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So there you go.
MO'KELLY: A few things, but we're not done.
VAUSE: Yes. So I mean what this is the thing, it's like, you know FDR in the first hundred days passed 15 major pieces of legislation. Admittedly, you know it was a different time. But these guys you have Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, and they ripped up TPP, and they had the regulation rollback.
MO'KELLY: But I don't know if everyday Americans understand the distinction between executive orders and also passing legislation.
SESAY: And better yet, I mean I know that Democrats are talking about it and emphasizing the lack of tangible achievements, but does Donald Trump's base care?
MO'KELLY: I think they care that he's trying. If it is one thing he puts up legislation and a shot down or he can at least make the argument that there's resistance, such as with Neil Gorsuch they were actually resistance. But at the same time, they're going to need to deliver the administration at some point. The last jobs report, 98,000 jobs. That's real.
VAUSE: Because when people hear the President talk and he said we've had this amazing time, we're getting all of this stuff done, and if that's what his base hears and that's all they hear, is that what they believe?
MO'KELLY: They believe it up to a certain point, but after a while, they are going to have to actually produce something. If you want cold jobs to come back he's going to have to produce some cold jobs. Boeing just made the announcement they'll be laying off even more people. So when he says Buy American, Hire American, people are going to want to see those job numbers represent his vision.
SESAY: To that point of needing to get runs on the board and do it that quickly, we're now hearing that they're going to make a run at healthcare again before the hundred days are up. You say what?
MO'KELLY: I would say good luck. I understand why they need to because that's what President Trump ran on, and just about everyone in Congress who's a Republican, ran on repeal and replace Obamacare. They need to get that done. I don't know if it will look like anything like what they want, but they need some sort of win -- run on the board or proof that they can push through legislation.
VAUSE: Just very quickly the Wall Street Journal has been reporting that Exxon Mobil wants a waiver from U.S. sanctions to, you know, go and drill for oil with the Exxon oil company there. As you know the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used to be the CEO of Exxon. Problem?
MO'KELLY: Not with this administration. Because these things were known in advance, that these might be conflicts of interest. I mean even with Scott Pruitt and the EPA, the history was known before the person took the position. So it's only a problem that people are willing to acknowledge which is already right there in front of all of us. I mean Rex Tillerson's history or his desire to remove the sanctions on behalf or benefit of Exxon Mobil is not new.
SESAY: Is this the kind of thing that the Democrats should be focusing on, that they should be flagging as we move towards midterm or this something that?
MO'KELLY: I'm not so sure that Democrats have any coherent strategy to negatively affect this administration. They fought against Gorsuch, that was a wrong time that was a wrong battle and they got nothing for it, and I'm not so sure that they'll be able to make any hay on this as well.
VAUSE: OK. Mo' good to see you.
MO'KELLY: Thank you.
SESAY: Thank you. Thank you.
VAUSE: We'll take a short break when we come back here on NEWSROOM L.A., the no spin zone now the no bill zone, O'Reilly's career at "FOX NEWS" has come to an end, what the network is saying about the exit of its biggest star.
[01:15:35] KATE RILEY, CNN WORLD SPORTS ANCHOR: I'm Kate Riley with your CNN WORLD SPORTS Headlines. Only one place to start, Champions League football, Barcelona needed another miracle comeback if they were to make it to the semis. They trailed Juventus three nail in their second leg of the quarter-final at the Camp Nou. But after coming back from four goals in the previous round, the magic wouldn't repeat. And it would end in a goalless draw and a three nail aggregate loss for the Catalans. Juventus advance to the semis.
Elsewhere on Wednesday and Monaco were at home to Borussia Dortmund a week on from the attack on the Dortmund Liga club bus this match delayed by five minutes as police held up the German side's bus reportedly at the hotel, the team were staying at. A.S. Monaco at Stade Louis only took three minutes for the home side to score one to Kylian Mbappe getting on the score sheet. And Monaco wouldn't let up with more goals from Falcao and Germain. Monaco went on to defeat Dortmund 3-1 and advance to the semis on a 6-3 aggregate.
And NFL Super Bowl champion New England Patriot, made a traditional celebrate visit to the White House on Wednesday, they gave President Trump a Patriot jersey and game helmet and notably a number of the players miss out on the visit including star quarterback Tom Brady he said in a statement, that he had personal family matters to attend to. And that's a look at all your Sports Headlines. I'm Kate Riley. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SESAY: Well, Fox News has severed ties with its biggest star.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA PERINO, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: Hi I'm Dana Perino, thanks for watching us tonight. Before we get to the other big stories of the day, we want to address a situation many of you may already be aware of. Bill O'Reilly, who hosted this program for 20 years, is leaving the FOX NEWS CHANNEL.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And his name has left the logo. O'Reilly's exit comes after several women accused him of sexual harassment. In a statement he denied the allegations, saying this. "It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims, but that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today".
SESAY: Well "FOX" made the move after dozens of companies, including BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz all pulled their ads from O'Reilly show over the past couple of weeks.
VAUSE: OK. Let's bring out our panel for more on this we have Senior Editor at Variety Ted Johnson, CNN Legal Analyst Areva Martin and Mark Geragos. Guys thank you for being with us.
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Hello.
VAUSE: OK, think we're going back. So we saw Dana Perino there, she was one of the temporary anchor of The Factor. This is how she went on to report the news that you know essentially the biggest name in cable and news have been fired. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERINO: Bill has been the undisputed king of cable news and for good reason. He is an incredibly talented broadcaster who raised the bar for interviewers everywhere. He's also held his stash to exacting standard in his quest to put the best possible program on the air and they are great and you his audience responded in record numbers, making The Factor the number one cable news show for more than 16 years. You have also been loyal and we can't tell you how much that means to every one of The Factor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Ted, their coverage did not seem to be feisty fair and balanced.
TED JOHNSON, VARIETY SENIOR EDITOR: Well I tell you that, that was especially carefully read statement right there.
MARTIN: Very little emotion. JOHNSON: Yes, very little emotion. I noticed that a lot of what was said on the air on "FOX NEWS" today really stuck to the script. Really stuck to what the corporate statement was they really didn't drift.
VAUSE: Which is typical of a company if they're in a crisis?
JOHNSON: Sure, sure. You can -- I wasn't really expecting much of anything.
MARTIN: Yes, I don't necessarily agree with that. What we saw was them praising Bill O'Reilly. We didn't hear much about the change in culture or how this marks -
VAUSE: Or an apology.
MARTIN: An apology to the women or anything that would, to me, suggest that they learned anything from this entire scandal.
SESAY: Or better yet, suggest that they did really want to do this. That they really didn't want to do this, I mean-
MARTIN: Not only did they not want to do it, But nor they didn't want to call it what it is.
MARTIN: Because he's been ousted for sexual harassment. He's not leaving the network because he has some great job waiting for him someplace else. So it's really an interesting spin on it.
VAUSE: There was also staff e-mail put out by the Murdoch family, again never mentioned the allegations or you know against O'Reilly praising him a great T.V. personality and they added this, "We want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect." Mark Geragos, there's still a lawsuit out there naming the current Co-President of the Fox News Channel. Bill Shine, he's been there from the very beginning. Could he be the next one facing some kind of problems here, for allegedly being part of some kind of systemic cover-up of sexual harassment at the network?
[01:20:46] MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: There -- look, they have decided that they're going to cut their losses, and their losses here are the loss of advertisers. It is - Rupert just said there isn't anything here, I mean, I know it sounds good and it's a great sound bite to talk about a change of culture. This has nothing to do with a change of culture. This has something to do with the fact that advertisers are fleeing, and you know they will probably cut their losses and settle that lawsuit as well, and try and get all of this behind them. Once they paid out $20 million to Gretchen Carlson, once they got rid of Roger Ailes and gave him a pay-out, the handwriting was on the wall. And once the advertisers stopped, they had to do something, and that's the -- if there's a change of culture, it's -- we're going to cut our losses.
VAUSE: So they'll continue to clean house, I guess, is the question.
GERAGOS: Yes. Unequivocally.
SESAY: And speaking of Roger Ailes, his sacking happened about eight months ago, and at the time, Bill O'Reilly was a staunch supporter of his. Take a listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O'REILLY, FORMER FOX NEWS HOST: I worked for Roger Ailes for 20 years, am I right? Best boss I've ever had. In this country, every famous, powerful, or wealthy person is a target. You're a target, I'm a target. Anytime somebody could come out and sue us, attack us, go to the press, or anything like that. I stand behind Roger a hundred percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Areva, the mind boggles as they would come out and support him knowing everything he had and these allegations that were out there, again.
MARTIN: Sadly, but pretty common to see in the workplace to see men supporting other men. We also saw the President of the United States make a statement in support of Bill O'Reilly. And his statement that everyone in the public eye is a target is absolutely false. There are lots of newscasters, lots of anchors, there's lots of high profile individuals who never had sexual harassment allegations made against them. Yes, they may have deep pockets, but we can sit here and rattle off hundreds of names of people who have not had $13 million in settlements for sexual harassment claims, who've not been ousted from a $20- 25 million a year job because of sexual harassment. So that's just a false statement and that just reinforces the narrative that we see so many harassers make.
VAUSE: Mark, you want to jump in?
GERAGOS: Well, I was -- only because I love Areva, but I have defended a lot of people who are targets. I have to disagree. I can't tell you one of the reasons you don't hear about it is because usually we have to make them go away, and there is some truth to his statement. I don't know if there's truth to the statement, because I'm not in the weeds on this particular case, but there are plenty of people who you see on air, in the movies, in the music industry, who I've represented, who you've never heard anything about, any kind of harassment allegations or anything else, because we make them go away. I mean, that's part of what you do, and unfortunately, yes, people are targets in this day and age. I mean that just is the reality of it and there are law firms that kind of.
MARTIN: But even in your disagreement -- I was just going to say, even your. GERAGOS: Areva, I get it. I'm saying, I don't know if that's the case. But he is.
MARTIN: Let me just say this, Martin. In the disagreement, I don't think you're saying that you've entered into $13 million of settlement with one client for five or more claims of sexual harassment without there being something there, more than just being a target.
GERAGOS: Well, look, I think that's precisely why once they hired the Paul Weiss firm and that article came out, there were $13 million in settlements, you knew he was history. I said it then. He's not going to come back from his vacation because they understood when you combine that with the advertisers fleeing, that they couldn't afford somebody else to come along him. Remind you this is not chump change. $13 million there, five lawsuits, Gretchen Carlson, $20 million. As a federal Judge once told me, 13 million here 20 million pretty soon that adds up to real money.
VAUSE: You know anybody who's been watching U.S. cable news for a pretty number of years and know about a feud between Keith Olbermann formerly of MSNBC, the liberal the firebrand liberal (INAUDIBLE) and Bill O'Reilly. Well, what's was odd in the past couple hours is that Olbermann gave an interview to Katie Couric on "YAHOO NEWS" he basically said that O'Reilly's career is not over. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[01:25:24] KEITH OLBERMANN, FORMER MSNBC HOST: I don't particularly want to say I would enjoy him continuing his career, but I think the opportunity for him to continue is endless, particularly if he did something extraordinarily positive, like saying, yes, I did some of these things, I don't want to go in details. I apologize to these women and the grief that I've caused them. America is really forgiving about almost anything, particularly if you say you're sorry, and you either mean it or look like you mean it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Look like you mean it. I doubt that you know, I doubt that Bill O'Reilly would come out and make an apology like that, but his career may not be over.
MARTIN: We agree on that.
JOHNSON: I don't think so either.
VAUSE: But there could be a second act for O'Reilly, somewhere like Netflix setting up a new streaming site. They need subscribers, they don't need advertisers.
JOHNSON: Yes. I'm not sure about Netflix. I would expect it would be some kind of new conservative news start-up that would make probably make most sense. Something like what Glenn Beck did. If Trump hadn't won the election, I think O'Reilly would have perfect for Trump T.V. I've just taken.
GERAGOS: I'll make a bold -
SESAY: Go ahead, mark.
VAUSE: Yes. Go ahead, mark.
GERAGOS: I was just going to say, I'm going to make a bold prediction. I don't even think he needs to go the way of blaze or anything else. He'll do a daily videocast. He'll have some kind of premium content. He's going to -- my guess is, there's a time-out period in his contract buy-out, and he's going to sit on the sidelines, but he's carved out some kind of, I can't believe they would have let him go without giving him a time-out or on what's called a non-compete, and he'll go into some other medium and he'll make a fortune and contrary to who Keith says, I don't think he has to admit to anything. In fact, I think that would alienate his base. His base is the Donald Trump base.
SESAY: So does he win?
VAUSE: So he wins?
MARTIN: He wins in a lot of ways.
JOHNSON: You're a winner.
MARTIN: Because he goes off the network, but he goes with we know it's going to be some money. So He just re-signed his contract. So there's probably going to be a huge payout on that contract and he gets another job where he makes a lot of money. But who loses in these cases are the women. The women who are afraid to come forward because they'll be retaliated against or they fear some kind of retribution, even though there are companies like Fox who have these hotlines. We know that women don't trust them, they don't believe that they can make an anonymous claim. And although some women like Wendy Walsh, you know Wendy is a big strong woman, she's on T.V. she came forward, but there are lots of women who don't have that same confidence and they suffer with sexual harassment every single day in the workplace.
VAUSE: The think about O'Reilly though, he's been around for a long time, he's very famous for having this really hot temper. Let's take a look back at his days at Inside Edition, take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'REILLY: I can't do it. We'll do it live. We'll do it live! Do it live! Don't write it, and we'll do it live! Thing sucks!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In five, four, three -
O'REILLY: That's tomorrow and that is it for us today. I'm Bill O'Reilly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: Was this before or after social media? VAUSE: I don't have any questions, I just wanted to see that clip again.
SESAY: He did, he did.
MARTIN: You just love that clip, John.
VAUSE: Areva and Ted thank you and Mark as well, thank you so much.
SESAY: Thank you for the conversation. All right time for a quick break. Next on NEWSROOM L.A., well a protest turns deadly in Venezuela. I'll ask a Latin America specialist what he thinks the country can do to pull out of this escalating crisis.
[01:32:20] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Vause.
Let's check the headlines this hour.
VAUSE: At least two people have been killed in protests across Venezuela. A teenager was shot dead in Caracas and a woman killed dead in a shooting near the border. Critics of the government say President Nicolas Maduro is ruining the democracy and the economy. But his supporters are saying they're trying to stage a coup.
Latin America expert Miguel Tinker Salas, I'm joined from Claremont, California, where he is a professor at Pomona College.
Professor Salas, welcome. Thank you for joining us.
MIGUEL SALAS, PROFESSOR, POMONA COLLEGE, CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA: Thank you.
SESAY: We've seen large-scale protests before in Venezuela. But when you look at what is happening now, does this moment strike you as different in some way, or more of the same?
SALAS: No, it strikes me very much as different. The fact is, he don't have Hugo Chavez anymore as the unifying figure on the left. Maduro has had some serious problems. The economy is in a nose-dive. Inflation is at 700 percent, if not higher. The price of oil has decreased significantly. There are serious structural problems, but I continue to believe that the only out in Venezuela really is dialogue, discussion, conversation, between these different forces, that have to recognize the existence of the other. Protests are fine, but at the end of the day, we hope they don't exacerbate tensions to such a degree that rational people can't engage in conversation about the very serious structural problems that Venezuela faces, no matter who is in power, whether it's the opposition or the current government. SESAY: What are the chances of that happening, both sides being able
to see beyond their own contested corners and actually meet for meaningful dialogue?
SALAS: In 2014, there was a window, a process that began, that was supported by the Vatican, that was supported by the union of south American nations. I think that process can be restarted and I hope that that's the only option, because in reality, if the tactic is simply street protests, and we've seen both sides measure their forces today in the streets, if it continues, the reality is, that's not going to resolve long-term, the serious problems the country faces.
SALAS: And that may exacerbate those problems.
[01:35:12] SESAY: Let me ask you this as we are showing our viewers pictures now of the two sides that came out in this mother of all protests, as it was called. Are the protests growing in terms of anti-Maduro forces? Is the demographic of protesters changing to include long-time loyalists of Hugo Chavez?
SALAS: I haven't seen the increase in terms of loyalists of Chavez, what I have seen is an internal protest vote. You hear much more criticisms within the left of Maduro coming from forces that used to support the Chavez government and that find Maduro's leadership is weak on corruption, weak -- starting to use undemocratic mechanisms, to stall regional and statewide elections, to stall the recall election, and they're very critical of that. In some ways, he's being criticized equally by the left and the right in Venezuela.
SESAY: He says the protests are a cover for a coup attempt. Is he right?
SALAS: I don't have any doubt that the U.S. Would like to see regime change in Venezuela. It has since 1998, but the reality is that there's a serious opposition within Venezuela. The problem is, if you use undemocratic means to oust Maduro, those means will be used against you once the government is in the opposition. We can't continue that cycle that relies on undemocratic means. We have to resort to Democratic means. The government has to free up the electoral process. The opposition should participate. If they want to recall Maduro, if there are elections for governors, which there are supposed to be during the course of this year, as well as for municipal and national elections in 2018.
SESAY: Are we looking at a sustained movement here? We know the opposition is in disarray.
SALAS: The opposition claims they're going to repeat the mother of all marches tomorrow. In some way, they serve to close ranks within the opposition, because they're united in trying to oust Maduro, but they're not united in who will replace him or what economic and social program will be used to replace him.
SESAY: Professor Miguel Tinker Salas, we appreciate the insight. Great conversation, thank you very much.
SALAS: Thank you.
VAUSE: Massachusetts police are investigating the apparent suicide of former American football star, Aaron Hernandez. He was serving a life sentence for murder and was found dead in his prison cell.
CNN's Deborah Feyerick has details.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not guilty.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Five days after being acquitted of a double murder, disgraced New England Patriots star, Aaron Hernandez, was found early this morning hanging in his cell in a maximum-security prison. The 27-year-old was serving a life sentence without parole for murder.
According to the Massachusetts Corrections Department, a bed sheet was around his neck, attached at the other end to his cell window. And Hernandez had tried to block access to his cell by jamming various items against the inside of his door. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead an hour later.
His death ends the meteoric rise and tragic fall of a $40 million NFL star. Once cheered by adoring fans, he died alone, the same day some of his former teammates and current Super Bowl champions were honored at the White House.
Despite being found not guilty last week of killing two men in a drive-by shooting outside a Boston nightclub, Hernandez remained in prison for the 2013 murder of his friend Odin Lloyd. In a high- profile trial, Hernandez was found guilty of shooting Lloyd seven times in an industrial park less than a mile from his Massachusetts home. A key piece of evidence, this surveillance video, showing Hernandez holding what appears to be a gun. Prosecutors say it was the same time Lloyd was killed.
News of the disgraced football player's alleged suicide rocked his family, friends, and legal team.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very hard for me to accept the fact that he may have committed suicide. We are keeping an open mind.
FEYERICK: In addition to winning an acquittal for the double murder last week, Attorney Jose Baez was appealing the Odin Lloyd guilty verdict and now says he will help the Hernandez family investigate the suicide.
A spokesman for the Worcester district attorney said, quote, "It remains under investigation but there's nothing to indicate it was anything but an apparent suicide."
Towards the end of his last trial, as Hernandez was being led out of court and back to his solitary prison cell, one of his last acts was to blow a kiss to his fiance and their 4-year-old daughter.
(on camera): The medical examiner is now conducting an autopsy. The results will be back within several weeks. But with all his talent, he couldn't get out of his own way. He was dogged by drug allegations and he seemed drawn to a street life which he couldn't or wouldn't escape. His dad died unexpectedly when he was 16. By all accounts, his dad was his foundation. Hernandez was 20 years old when he was picked in the fourth-round draft. About two years later, it all came crashing down.
Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.
[01:40:22] VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, the man who predicted Donald Trump would become president now says he may not actually finish his term. His reasons, in just a moment.
VAUSE: In the 240-year history of the United States, only two presidents have ever been impeached. Both times the lower House of Congress voted in favor of the lower Houses. Then came the trial in the Senate and both Johnson and Clinton were found not guilty.
Even before Donald Trump took the oath of office, a few Democrats were talking about impeachment. But that seemed a cathartic fantasy for liberals dealing with an unexpected and stunning election loss.
But now the professor who was mocked and ridiculed for predicting that Donald Trump would win in November has another bold prediction.
Allan Lichtman's new book "The Case for Impeachment" not only explains why he believes the 45th president will be impeached, but also why a Republican Congress will do it.
Professor Allan Lichtman joins us from Washington now.
Professor, thank you for being with us.
The Trump administration, they haven't even reached the first hundred days, isn't this a bit premature at this point?
ALLAN LICHTMAN, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: I don't think so. Because I think Americans even now need to be worried about our constitutional rights, our liberties, and even our national security under President Trump.
And what I did was, I wrote a book that would give Americans a guide to impeachment, going through the history of Donald Trump, the first couple of months of his administration, the history of impeachment, so that the American people can see when he might be crossing the line that leads to such a severe abuse of power that impeachment, the ultimate check on our democracy, would be warranted.
And I also went through the whole history of Donald Trump himself, his flouting of the law, his treatment of women, his proclivity for lying that makes him the most vulnerable American president ever to first enter the White House to be subject to impeachment.
[01:45:34] VAUSE: OK, so from what we know so far, all the scandals and controversies, which is the most likely here to lead to impeachment?
LICHTMAN: Well, I think the most likely is certainly possible collusion with Russia. If members of his team in any way colluded with Russia's reprehensible attack on our democracy in the last election and Trump knew about it, that's a serious crime, not reporting treason. Heaven forbid if Trump himself in any way was involved in collusion, he could be the first president to be charged with treason, an explicit ground for impeachment under the Constitution.
We don't know if any of this is true, however, there are three investigations going on, and we don't know what they're going to uncover. But so far, the administration's response has had all the hallmarks of a Richard Nixon-type cover-up. They say, we had no contact with the Russians. Then it turns out they did have contact with the Russians. Then they deflect, then they lie. And when they're caught, they say it's innocuous, much like the Nixon administration said the Watergate burglary was just a third-rate break-in.
VAUSE: You make the case that Donald Trump is a lot like Richard Nixon, who wasn't impeached, he resigned before that happened.
LICHTMAN: That's right. Richard Nixon was told he would have been impeached and would have been the first president to be convicted and booted out of office. The similarities are quite chilling. Both see themselves as beset by enemies. Both are constantly at war with this so-called establishment and with the free press. Both have this incredible penchant for secrecy. Both men lack guiding principles and don't seem to think beyond what is best for themselves throughout their careers. That leads to the kinds of transgressions that could be impeachable.
And remember, impeachment doesn't require a specific crime. The framers of the Constitution put impeachment in the hands of a political body of the Congress, not the courts. It's a process that includes political judgment, moral judgment, and legal judgment.
VAUSE: So with that in mind, looking at the politics here, the Republicans control both Houses of Congress, so you make the case that Republicans could go through with this. For many people, that doesn't make sense. Why would Republicans turn on a Republican president?
LICHTMAN: First of all, it doesn't take anywhere near all Republicans. Assuming the Democrats stand firm, it would only take about two dozen Republicans to join with them. That's only 10 percent of Republicans in the House. About a third of Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee, on at least one article of impeachment, joined with the Democrats against Richard Nixon. Donald Trump also has no deep relationship with Republicans or Congress. It's kind of like Andrew Johnson who was a maverick in his own time. And the Republicans may come to see Donald Trump as a liability, particularly if they lose that special election in that conservative district in Georgia. Remember, every Republican has to come up in the House for re-election in 2018. And also Republicans may see him as a liability for getting their agenda done. Finally, Donald Trump's a loose cannon. Many Republicans may well prefer to have Mike Pence, a reliable, down-the-pipe conservative as president. And few realize that under the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Mike pence, with the consent of Congress would then get to appoint his own vice president, and Republicans could have their dream administration of Mike Pence and Paul Ryan. That's why it's certainly quite possible.
VAUSE: It sounds like everyone gets a prize. The Democrats win, the Republicans win, everyone except for Donald Trump. I guess we'll wait and see how it plays out.
LICHTMAN: Well, he stays a billionaire and still lives in luxury.
VAUSE: There you go. It's not all bad.
Thank you, professor.
LICHTMAN: Thank you.
SESAY: We shall see.
VAUSE: We shall see. He made the point that he's not advocating for impeachment --
SESAY: No, just laying out the case.
Let's take a quick break. It may look like a simple sipping container, but this one is offering people a way to experience other cultures without ever leaving home. Coming up, we'll step inside.
[01:49:41] VAUSE: I like that idea about not leaving home.
SESAY: A public art project right here in Los Angeles is offering a link to cultures around the world.
VAUSE: On the outside, it looks like a very large metal box, but it's what's on the inside that counts.
Here's Stephanie Elam.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to talk to someone who has a really different life experience from myself.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Behind its 2k3w0e8den exterior, this shipping container in the middle of downtown Los Angeles is a portal to the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Robbie. This is Ahmed. We are from Iraq.
ELAM (on camera): Tell me a little bit about what life in Irbil is like.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are refugees.
ELAM (voice-over): Equipped with immersive audio-visual technology, the portal allows for casual interaction between people in different parts of the globe, without the restrictions of a computer screen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you enter it, you feel like you're in the same room as someone in an identical shipping container somewhere else on earth.
ELAM: Amar launched the first portal between New York and Iran.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're trying to create a global public space where people from all walks of life can come together on everything with a conversation with a stranger. The strength of the Newark is its diversity.
ELAM: There's two dozen portals permanently located around the world, from Afghanistan to Mexico. Every location communicates at some point with every other portal and all are welcome.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Each portal is staffed by a local curator. They maneuver the politics and the messaging necessary to operate on all these sites.
ELAM: It's the job of the curators to invite passersby to enter for a chat. They also schedule reoccurring events.
[01:55:16] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hear so many stories of people having the ability to be anonymous and to then express cruelty to others and this is the antithesis of that.
ELAM (on camera): What do people think of this portal there in Iraq?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can get new information about the cultures, about the life in other countries outside of Iraq.
ELAM: My new friend. Massa lama.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Massa lama.
ELAM (voice-over): Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles. (END VIDEOTAPE)
SESAY: I think that is awesome.
VAUSE: It's pretty cool. What a great idea.
SESAY: Using tech in that way to make the world smaller.
SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause.
And we'll both be back for another hour. Right after this.
Stay with us.
SESAY: Something to look forward to.
VAUSE: Stay with us. We're not going anywhere.
[02:09:01] VAUSE: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.