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WORLD RIGHT NOW WITH HALA GORANI

Newly Obtained Video Of Syria Gas Attack; Trump Authorizes Limited Arming Of Syrian Kurds; Moon Jae-In Declares Victory In Presidential Election; White House Defends Delay in Firing Flynn; Barack Obama Back in Spotlight; Kimmel Defends Monologue on Son's Health Crisis; Player Discusses Prevalence of Racism in Football. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired May 9, 2017 - 15:00:00   ET

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


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[15:00:26]

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

WORLD RIGHT NOW.

Welcome, everybody. We begin tonight with video from inside Syria that we must warn you is extremely disturbing. Last month, you might remember that

shocking chemical attack on the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhun led to America's first military strike against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

CNN senior international correspondent, Clarissa Ward, has this never before seen footage of the immediate aftermath of that faithful day, and

she joins us in the studio -- Clarissa.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is right, Hala. And I do just want to reiterate to our viewers that this is

extremely disturbing material, if you have children at home, you might want to have them leave the room.

When the chemical attack hit the city, some very brave journalists from the Aleppo Media Center went straight to the scene at enormous personal risk.

The footage that they shot offers an unvarnished, un-sanitized, up close look at the horror of a war crime which is why we felt it is very important

to show you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WARD (voice-over): The attack happened shortly after dawn. Cameraman Adam Hussein (ph) says that warplanes are targeting the town of Khan Sheikhun.

From his rooftop, he quickly sees this is no ordinary strike. They are using toxic gas, he reports.

Five minutes after the attack, there was a call for anyone with a vehicle to go to the scene to help, he says. I headed straight there.

But nothing could have prepared him for what he was about to see. We must warn you these images are shocking. It is a scene of unimaginable horror.

The immediate aftermath of a chemical attack.

The number of victims keeps going up, Adam explains, and many are women and children. All around him people are foaming at the mouth. Convulsions

racking their bodies. As rescue workers try in vain to wash away the chemicals.

Look at the kids here someone tells him. The limp bodies of small children lying next to those still gasping for life. Death for these innocents is

agonizing and slow.

Dr. Hassam is one of the first responders. All of the cases were suffering from suffocation, convulsions, narrowing of the pupils, increased sweating

and difficulty breathing, all of these is proof that a chemical agent was used, he says.

I asked the rescue workers to first wash the victims with water and take off their clothes. This was the only first aid that we could provide.

The 19-year-old Mohammad al-Dalal lies thrashing on the ground, one of the survivors. He later describes the moment the gas hit him. I fell down and

I could not feel a thing. I felt myself laying on the ground and my hands were hitting the ground and then I fainted, he says.

[15:05:10]It is as if I was hitting myself. I had no control. I could not see anything with my eyes. The casualties are brought to a nearby clinic

built underground to protect it from air strikes.

A man brings in his lifeless little girl. He is sure he has seen her chest moving, but the doctor says that it is just air trapped in her chest.

There is nothing left but to pray and say goodbye.

Suddenly, there is panic as the news comes in of more fighter jets heading that way. Local journalist, Yamin al-Fatid (ph), is in the middle of

delivering a report. The camera crew tries to escape the chaos, but once outside, another missile hits.

The journalists managed to survive. All casualties must now be taken for treatment half an hour away. At that hospital, body bags are already

piling up on the sidewalk from the attack. The dead are brought out to make room for the living.

The tiniest victims are carried in gingerly, one by one by one. Inside, medical staffs struggle to cope with the flood of patients and only a

limited supply of the lifesaving antidote, Atropine.

Most are treated hastily on the floor as the strong relatives look on powerless to help. The youngest victims are the most vulnerable. After a

quick check that the heart is still beating, the doctor moves on the next case.

Those who did not survive are taken to be buried before the end of the day in keeping with Islamic tradition. In all, 92 people were killed in Khan

Sheikhun, among them 33 children. Entire families were laid to rest in a single grave.

Kosei al-Yousef (ph) lost more than 20 members of his family. This is the grave of my cousin, Yaser, he is my friend and my brother. His son, Amar

is just 4 years old. What did he do to deserve this? His second child, Mohammad, may God have mercy on his soul, he says.

And this is my Brother Mullham's grave, Abdul Yousef, and Abdul Yousef, I am your brother. Abdul Yousef, you left me all alone, may God protect you,

my brother, and accept you as a martyr. Abdul Yousef, please God answer me.

In Syria now, the dead are considered lucky. Free from the unspeakable crimes of this brutal war and the agony of grief.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WARD: American, British and French intelligence as well as chemical weapons experts who we have spoken with all agree that the attack was most

certainly carried out by President Assad's forces. Samples taken from the scene have shown that the nerve agent was likely sarin gas, which has been

outlawed since the end of the First World War

[15:10:08]And in an interview shortly after the attack, Mr. Assad denied it had ever taken place, and Hala, he went as far to say that he was calling

it 100 percent a fabrication. It never happened, he says.

GORANI: Right. We have been hearing denials like this from the regime for quite a while. I want to go back to some of the victims, and there was in

particular, one 19-year-old, a young man who was gasping for air, foaming at the mouth, and survived this. How did anyone survive this attack?

WARD: That is actually one of the first questions that I had, too, and I spoke to a chemical weapons expert as well as some doctors who said that

the hospitals or a couple of the hospitals did have a limited supply of an anecdote called atropine.

Now they did not have enough at all, but they did managed to save potentially hundreds of people by administering this life-saving antidote.

And when you look at the statistics, 92 people died in this attack, hundreds of others were injured severely, you realized how many more people

could have and likely would have died if it had not been for that life- saving antidote, and you wonder how many others could have been saved.

GORANI: It is always the most vulnerable, the children and the elderly, it's the most difficult to help in situations like that.

WARD: Those heart-breaking images of those children and those babies that we have agonized over whether we should even show these, but they are the

most vulnerable and it is important.

GORANI: Let's talk a little bit about that U.S. strike against the Syrian airbase that the Trump administration said was used for the planes to take

off from to conduct this attack, has it made a difference that military strike?

WARD: Well, I mean, there are multiple ways of looking at this. There's the argument certainly that what this has done, this strike against the

regime, this punishment from the U.S. for this atrocious attack, that it is somehow served as warning that potentially the Assad regime would think

twice about using chemical weapons again.

But for the people who are in those rebel-held areas in Northern Syria, to be honest, Hala, I don't think it feels to them like an awful lot has

change. The bombardment is still daily.

The hospitals as you saw there, that hospital being blown up in the middle of treating the victims of that attack, those hospitals are still being hit

on a regular basis. So to ordinary Syrians, it doesn't feel like much has changed.

GORANI: And it is conventional weapons that have done the most damage, obviously, and those are still very much being used. What about what

experts and other observers are saying about whether or not the regime still possesses or making chemical weapons?

WARD: Well, there was this hope, right, after 2013, and the attack in the Eastern Damascus suburb of Hota (ph), and a deal was reached reportedly

that they had agreed to take out all of their weapon, quite clear from this attack that that did not happen.

It is difficult to get a sense of what is going on the ground in regime- held areas, obviously, international and impartial observers are not allowed to go in.

They do not have unfettered access to chemical sites, but what we are hearing from the chemical weapons experts that we have spoken to is that

almost certainly the Assad regime is continuing to produce chemicals and nerve agents like sarin, Hala, has a relatively short shelf life. So they

would constantly be needing to reproduce it.

GORANI: Which is one of the arguments against the notion that rebels could have been responsible that they were storing the chemicals, and stockpiles

in a safehouse or a storage unit, and that that was bombed.

WARD: And that is another conversation I have had with experts and they say it is preposterous. It's simply not possible. Sarin that has to be

created in a sophisticated laboratory. You have to have experience and know how in terms of how to handle it and how to store it.

And what is more if you blow up sarin from the sky, if you drop a bomb on a supply of sarin gas, you will destroy the sarin. You don't disperse it.

The weaponry that is needed to disperse a chemical agent is actually quite sophisticated. It is not something that rebel forces would have in their

control.

GORANI: So what do Syrians want? I'm going to bring in another expert guest in a moment, what would the Syrians want based on what we have seen

the regime doing or what it's accused of doing? Using chemical weapons and certainly using extremely powerful conventional weapons that have killed

tens of thousands if not more ordinary and civilians in rebel-held areas where civilians live?

WARD: They just want -- from the civilians that I have spoken to in those rebel-held areas, they are so just tired of the fighting. They just want

the bombs to stop. It is the aerial bombardment that makes any semblance of normalcy or normal life impossible in those areas.

It is the bombardment from the air that makes it impossible for the doctors and the lawyers and the engineers, who are going to be an important part of

rebuilding this country to come back to their homes. So the call that you will hear over and over again, is please give us a no-fly zone.

GORANI: A no-fly zone, even though they have been asking for it for a long time now, we know that Russia, Turkey and others are talking now about safe

zones.

[15:15:07]WARD: Safe zone, de-escalation zones --

GORANI: Those aren't no-fly zones.

WARD: They are not no-fly zones and no one can seem to come to an agreement about what these zones exactly are, who would monitor them. It

doesn't appear that since those (inaudible) peace talks that this idea has really moved forward much -- Hala.

GORANI: And Reza Alshar is a British Foreign Office Syria policy analyst, he worked formerly there and he joins us now from New York. Reza, I want

to ask you a little bit about news coming in today and then I will get Clarissa's take.

The Trump administration has now approved a plan to arm Syrian Kurds, the YPG against ISIS, what kind of impact could that have overall?

REZA ALSHAR, FORMER HEAD OF SYRIA POLICY, BRITISH FOREIGN OFFICE: Well, think that you have to look at it from the strategic perspective. I think

as your commentator just talked about, you know, the strikes that the U.S. launched last month potentially have changed the context in which this

conflict is unfolding.

But what is important now is to try and create the conditions in which you can solve the conflict writ large, and not try and deal with bits of it.

So dealing with ISIS in isolation is not going to solve the crisis of ISIS nor is it going to solve the conflict of Syria writ large.

So there needs to be an overarching strategy that deals with the conflict as a whole, and that will lead to defeating ISIS, and that will lead to

alleviating the refugee crisis. And that --

GORANI: What is an overall solution? You have a regime in place, no real civil opposition, you know, to speak of, fractured rebel groups, some are

absolutely impossible to consider dealing with, in any kind of ultimate solution like ISIS and others, what is a comprehensive solution for this

country?

ALSHAR: Well, you have to look what the driving factors are. You know, the overwhelming problem in this conflict is the indiscriminate killing of

civilians. That is what is creating the biggest problem in the country, and the majority of that is coming from the Syrian regime, about 90 percent

of the killing of civilians comes from the Syrian regime.

So the first step is to create deterrence against killing civilians, and that doesn't necessarily need to be done by complicated means no-fly zones,

safe zones and so on. You can create deterrence by exacting consequences for killing civilians much like the U.S. exact did consequences for the use

of chemical weapons. So that is step one.

Step two is then to go into political talks, the political transition talks, but within that new context where the regime cannot execute its

military strategy, and that helps a negotiation process work better.

We saw for example in the '90s how the NATO action against the Serbs enabled the Dayton peace process to come to be able to come to an outcome.

The same sort of thinking needs to go into how to tackle the Syria crisis.

And then the third aspect which people mustn't forget about is that there must be accountability and justice for the crimes that have been committed.

There have been overwhelming war crimes committed and the regime has itself documented those war crimes and incriminated itself.

So there must be justice for the crimes that have been committed if Syrians are to move on.

GORANI: All right. And Reza, I want to bring in Clarissa. Reza is talking about a comprehensive solution, obviously, dealing only with ISIS

is not going solve the problem and dealing only with the regime is not going to solve the problem. But can you do that without Russia?

WARD: No, you can't do it without Russia. Certainly, Russia has to be a part of the solution, Iran, to a lesser extent, and the U.S. and for a long

time, the U.S. leadership was very much absent, it was missing.

Donald Trump, the president of the United States potentially has brought the U.S. some real leverage at the negotiating table. What was still

absent at this stage is any semblance of an actual working Syrian policy and that will be a very important part of taking that leverage from those

strikes, and using it to build into something like the comprehensive solution that you heard Reza allude to there.

GORANI: Are we seeing Russia's sort of approach to Syria perhaps even the idea that it's willing to cooperate with Turkey on some of these zones

inside the country, shift a bit or not?

WARD: I think we have, but we have been at this moment before where we thought maybe the Russians would play a more productive role and maybe they

are not so attached to Bashar al-Assad, maybe they are willing to be more cooperative.

But at this stage, it is still really too early to say. It's very difficult to get into the business of guessing why it is that President

Vladimir Putin behaves in one way or another, but I do think there was a moment of shock when the U.S. hit that air base.

I don't the Russians saw it coming and I think they've made them reconsider a little bit how this policy needs to be framed.

GORANI: So Reza, do you think the strike against that air base inside of Syria took Russia by surprise, and if so, how did it impact its overall

approach to the Syria crisis?

[15:20:02]ALSHAR: I mean, I think Clarissa is right. I think it has definitely created a new element in the tools that are available to resolve

the crisis and that has certainly I think resulted in a slight shift to the Russian position.

But in order for it to be really successful, there needs to be a permanent threat there behind the scenes. You know, the Russians will get away with

what they can get away with and the Syrian government will get away with what they can get away with.

So they need to know that if they continue to behave in the way that they are behaving that there will be repeat consequences for the actions they

take. If that is on the table, then I think you might see a change in approach from the Russians because it will become in their self-interest to

do so.

GORANI: Reza, for that to happen you really need a Russia and U.S. agreement. They need to be on the same page here. It can't happen

otherwise, right?

ALSHAR: And I think what I'm saying is that sometimes when you are dealing with people like the Russians, you need to make sure that the context in

which you are able to reach an agreement is there, and that context I'm talking about means that they need to know that there are consequences for

the regime, and for the Russians if they continue to indiscriminately bombard civilians.

They need to know that that is on the table, and that might lead to a more fruitful negotiation process, and maybe it leads to some kind of deal with

which the Russians can be involved in further down the line. But at this point, I would characterize it as a minimal shift on the Russian front, but

much more needs to be done, I think.

GORANI: And also, it is a long-term effort, Clarissa, because on the other side, the rebel side, the opposition side, there is no organized, you know,

democratic force that is ready to take over.

WARD: No, there aren't.

GORANI: (Inaudible) the regime in place today.

WARD: And this is a conversation I have had with members of the opposition who I speak to all the time, because the reality is that in many senses the

rebels have been their own worst enemy. They have been divided. They have not had a coherent command chain or structure.

They have obviously ravaged by the growing problems of militant Islamist jihadist groups, who have pretty much taken over a lot of the territory,

specifically in Idlib Province, but the answer that you will get again and again from people who support the opposition.

But don't really support the jihadist is this idea that how can we talk about building up a credible force and a credible civilian of sort of

alternative to the regime when half of the country are no longer sleeping in their own homes?

Half of the country has been displaced and 4 million people living outside. Until you have people get to the stage where they feel safe enough, and

they feel willing to come back into Syria and participate in that process.

GORANI: Absolutely. And what do they come back to? Completely ravaged neighborhood blocks, no water, no electricity, no schools, and no

hospitals, this cannot support human life in some of these areas held by the rebels.

WARD: And President Bashar al-Assad has found that out for himself when he takes back Eastern Aleppo. What are you going to do with Eastern Aleppo

and Homs, there is nothing left there but the skeletons of bombed-out buildings. There is no life there. There are no people there.

It is going to take billions and billions of dollars in reconstruction and investment to ever try to bring Syria back to the semblance of its former

self.

GORANI: I want to get back to that chemical attack, and that harrowing video that we saw just to close off the segment that was just very

important to show our viewers exactly what went on with this footage that we have not really seen broadcast on television before. What -- the

people who live in that area, what is going on now there several months later?

WARD: Several months later, people are going back to their lives and you have seen the way they bury the dead, and they move on. This man takes his

little girl. He says I think that she is still alive and the doctor says no. He takes her and buries her that day.

There is a sense that the people in Syria don't have the luxury of taking a lot of time to grieve. They don't have the luxury of staying at home, and

trying to get their arms around the loss and the horror that they have witnessed. They have to get straight back to it.

At the same time, the psychological effects of a chemical attack are not to be underestimated, because despite all of the death and the destruction and

the devastation that the Syrian people have already seen, those who have not experienced firsthand what a chemical attack is like, and what that

does to the psyche afterwards.

Now any time you hear a big bang, there is a petrifying fear that not only that you are going to die, but that it is not going to be quick and

dignified, it's going to be desperate gasping for your last breath -- Hala.

GORANI: Right. It certainly spreads terror as well as fear for those left behind in those civilian areas. Thanks very much, Clarissa Ward, our

senior international correspondent with that exclusive report.

I want to thank as well, Reza Alshar, the former head of Syrian policy at the British Foreign Office. Thanks as well to you for joining us from New

York. We'll be right. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:27:05]

GORANI: Welcome back, everybody. Other news, a significant and important election in South Korea. Citizens of that country have elected a new

liberal president who wants more engagement with the North.

Moon Jae-In's victory could also shakeup the country's longtime alliance with the United States. His win follows months of political turmoil in

South Korea. Paula Hancocks profiles the president-elect.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The man of the hour, Moon Jae-In with all smiles Tuesday night clearly enjoying the crowds and the

moment.

MOON JAE-IN, SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT-ELECT (through translator): From tomorrow, I will be the president for all the people.

HANCOCKS: Rewind to the 1970s, Moon was a Special Forces commando, not by choice, but as punishment for fighting for democracy against the then

dictatorship. His former colonel, (inaudible), tells me Moon was thin with big scared eyes on first glance, but soon proved he was mentally tough

supporting diplomacy with North Korea at a time when such talk could brand you a traitor.

He told me we should punish the leader, but talk to the North Korean people. I was in shock. I told him do not talk rubbish and do not repeat

this to anyone else.

At the age of 64, Moon's opinions remain the same. The issue of North Korea is deeply personal for him. The son of North Korean refugees and his

parents fled during the North Korean war. He accompanied his mother to North Korea in 2004 for a rare family reunion so she could meet her sister

for the first time in decades. He is pro-engagement, pro-dialogue but against North Korea's nuclear program.

MOON: To get rid of the North's nuclear weapons, to prevent further nuclear provocations, trilateral cooperation between South Korea, the U.S.

and China is needed.

HANCOCKS: The question is how would President Moon get on with U.S. President Donald Trump, a former human rights lawyer versus a former

businessman, a longtime politician versus a political novice?

The president should not be a war maker, but a peacemaker, he said recently. Moon organized the last summit between North and South Korea in

2007 while he was chief of staff to the last liberal president.

He supports economic integration with the North, his critics say he is soft on Pyongyang and slam comments he would be willing to visit North Korea.

(On camera): Many voters are simply happy to see a fresh start for the country with former President Park Geun-hye in jail on trial for

corruption. But those who supported Moon throughout, they say that it is not just the national security.

It's about his pledges for boosting the economy, for creating jobs, and also promises to clean up politics, business, and pollution. Paula

Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: Up next, sounding the alarm about a top American security adviser being compromised by the Russians. Testimony on Capitol Hill reveals new

information about the fall of Michael Flynn, but there are still more questions than answers.

[15:30:00] Also, coming up, Barack Obama is in the spotlight again. We'll see what brought the former U.S. president to Italy for a rare public

experience and appearance, even.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: The White House is defending its handling of Michael Flynn after a hearing on Capitol Hill only intensified questions about its firing of the

national security advisor. Former Attorney General Sally Yates testified she warned the White House that Flynn had been compromised by the Russians.

He wasn't fired, though, until 18 days later, after details about his Russia contacts became public. A White House spokesman says President

Trump did the right thing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We did what we should do. Just because someone comes in and gives you a head's up about something and

says, I want to share some information, doesn't mean that you immediately jump the gun, and go take an action.

I think if you flipped this scenario and say, what if we had just dismissed somebody because a political opponent of the President had made an

utterance, you would argue that it was pretty irrational to act in that matter. We did what we were supposed to do. The President made,

ultimately, the right decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Yates herself characterized her warnings about Flynn in more serious terms and says she emphasized the point repeatedly. CNN's Jessica

Schneider has our story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SALLY YATES, FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: We felt like it was critical that we get this information to the White House. We believed that General

Flynn was compromised with respect to the Russians.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sally Yates testifying that she urgently warned the White House on three separate occasions that former

national security advisor Michael Flynn misled Vice President Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.

YATES: Not only did we believe that the Russians knew this, but that they likely had proof of this information. And that created a compromised

situation, a situation where the national security adviser, essentially, could be blackmailed by the Russians.

SCHNEIDER: Her testimony directly contradicting the White House's muted account in mid-February.

SPICER: The Acting Attorney General informed the White House Counsel that they wanted to give, quote, "a head's up" to us.

SCHNEIDER: Yates explaining that she stressed to White House Counsel Don McGahn that Flynn had engaged in problematic conduct just two days after

President Trump's inauguration.

YATES: We told them that we were giving them all of this information so that they could take action.

SCHNEIDER: But President Trump didn't take action, waiting 18 days to fire Flynn, only after Flynn's false statements became public.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Michael Flynn might still be there but for the "Washington Post" report that, in effect, shamed them

into getting rid of him.

SCHNEIDER: President Trump attempting to downplay the hearing in a tweet storm Monday night, pointing to former Director of National Intelligence

James Clapper's testimony that he has seen no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia before he retired in January.

[15:35:10] SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), CHAIRMAN, UNITED STATES SENATE JUDICIARY SUBCOMMITTEE ON CRIME AND TERRORISM: Is that still accurate?

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: It is.

SCHNEIDER: But Clapper noted that he was unaware of the FBI's investigation until it was announced publicly by James Comey in March.

Hours before the hearing, CNN learned that President Obama warned Trump against hiring Flynn just two days after he was elected when the two men

met in the Oval Office.

SPICER: President Trump made it known that he wasn't exactly a fan of General Flynn, which just, frankly, shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone,

given that General Flynn had worked for President Obama, was an outspoken critic of President Obama's shortcomings.

SCHNEIDER: Press Secretary Sean Spicer continuing to blame Obama for the Trump administration's failure to properly vet Flynn.

SPICER: If President Obama was truly concerned about General Flynn, why didn't he suspend General Flynn's security clearance?

SCHNEIDER: But Clapper challenging that assertion, saying Flynn's high- profile position would typically require extensive vetting.

CLAPPER: The vetting process for either a political appointee or someone working in the White House is far, far more invasive and far, far more

thorough than a standard TS/SCI clearance process.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: There you have it, Jessica Schneider reporting. Let's get more now from White House reporter Stephen Collinson.

So the White House had a lot to say about this today. They were asked a lot about it. What are we hearing about why it took 18 days to dismiss

Flynn?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, there doesn't seem to have been a lot of urgency once the White House got this warning from Sally

Yates.

Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman we saw there, said today that it took seven days for the White House to see the documentation about Flynn

that Yates warned about. And then it was going through its due process about what to do about this fact.

That doesn't seem to sit very well with Yates' warnings in the hearing yesterday when she said, you know, to state the obvious, you don't want

your national security adviser compromised by the Russians. There seems to be a bit of a disconnect here.

I think what this gets down to is the fact that Donald Trump didn't want to fire General Flynn. He was a close campaign aide. And Spicer sort of

alluded to that during the briefing a few hours ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPICER: I think he did have an honorable career. He started with distinction in uniform for over 30 years, and the President does not want

to smear a good man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINSON: There, Hala. You see what is going on there is that General Flynn was one of the closest aides to President Trump during the campaign,

one of his earliest hires.

And clearly, given the fact that Trump was warned that Flynn was a controversial figure in Washington circles -- he was fired as the head of

the DIA by the previous administration -- it doesn't look good for the fact that Donald Trump hired him in the first place and was forced to fire him

just a few weeks into his administration. So I think that is very much at the root of this issue.

GORANI: Well, so, we know that the firing came 18 days after the warning. But even after the dismissal, Donald Trump continued to say that Mike Flynn

was railroaded, that he's a good guy, et cetera. So the question some people have been asking is, would he have been fired had it not been for

the leak in the press?

COLLINSON: Probably not, but you know Washington. You know, sooner or later, that leak was going to come.

We didn't know at the time that Sally Yates had warned the White House that Flynn had lied to Vice President Pence about the content of his

conversations with the Russian ambassador. But, you know, it was going to come out sooner or later, and I guess that Flynn was on borrowed time. But

you are right, he probably wouldn't have been fired.

Both Yates and James Clapper testified in that hearing that they were not responsible for the leaks to the "Washington Post," by the way, that led to

Flynn's dismissal.

GORANI: You mentioned James Clapper, and it's a perfect segue for me, the former Director of the National Intelligence. This is what he had to say

during his testimony about possible Russian involvement in U.S. elections. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLAPPER: Russia's influence activities in the run-up to the 2016 election constituted the high-water mark of their long-running efforts since the

1960s to disrupt and influence our elections. They must be congratulating themselves for having exceeded their wildest expectations with a minimal

expenditure of resource. And I believe they are now emboldened to continue such activities in the future, both here and around the world, and to do so

even more intensely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: So there you have it. We're hearing it more and more from former intelligence officials as well from Sally Yates. What impact is this going

to have? Because these are very, very long investigations and probes that could go into next year. But tangibly, will they make any kind of

difference?

[15:40:02] COLLINSON: Well, I think what you're hearing there from Clapper is real frustration that is evident in the policy community and the

intelligence community in Washington, that Russia has taken these actions, has caused this disruption according to U.S. intelligence agencies, and

appears to be getting away with it. There doesn't seem to be any urgency from the administration, at least, to sort of punish Russia for what it has

done.

You are hearing more and more when you talk to people on Capitol Hill about what the outcome of these congressional probes will be, is that there is

still great division between the Republicans and the Democrats, even on the issue of Russian interference. And that is sort of raised the question

whether there will ever be a sort of a joint U.S. political effort to sort of censure Russia for what it has done.

And it raises the question of, if it succeeded this time for Russia, why wouldn't it not succeed in their future elections? And now you have U.S.

officials talking about how they believe that the Russians were behind some hacking in the French election, so this could go on and on without a

concrete response from the United States and the West.

GORANI: Although interestingly, that appeared to have no impact at all, so I guess it's not one size fits all when it comes to those trying to

interfere or influence elections. Thanks so much, Stephen Collinson. As always, great having you on the program.

The White House has delayed a decision on whether to remain part of the Paris Climate Change Agreement yet again. But an ocean away, global

warming was front and center Tuesday for the former U.S. President Barack Obama. He made a rare public appearance to talk about food security and

climate change at a conference in Milan.

It's clear that life after the presidency agrees with him. He looks very relaxed. He left the tie at home, unbuttoned his shirt collar, and looked

refreshed as he talked about escaping some of the burdens of being Commander-in-Chief.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So you don't have the freedom of movement to be able to just take a walk or to sit at a cafe

because there is always the security concern around you. I don't miss that.

Now, I am only captive to selfies --

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: -- so I'm --

SAM KASS, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR ON NUTRITION POLICY TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Which is basically a serious precedent (ph).

OBAMA: Which is almost as bad. I mean, I can walk anywhere as long as I am willing to take a selfie every two steps.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: There you have it, President Obama in Milan, Italy. We'll have a lot more after the break. Debates are playing out in the halls of Congress

and on late night television, but how much influence do hosts like Jimmy Kimmel wield when they get political? We will explore that with our Brian

Stelter, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:44:56] GORANI: Take one contentious political issue, add a fired-up late night talk show host, stand back, and watch the fireworks.

You probably remember Jimmy Kimmel's emotional monologue about his newborn son's health problems, coming just as Congress in America debated health

care. Now, some criticized the personal appeal. Now, Kimmel is taking on the detractors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE: And I would like to apologize for saying that children in America should have health care. It was

insensitive.

(LAUGHTER)

KIMMEL: It was offensive, and I hope you could find it in your heart to forgive me. There is some very sick and sad people out there. Here's one

of them. His name is Newt Gingrich. He is the former Speaker of the House.

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: When you show up at a hospital with a brand new baby and

the brand new baby has a heart problem, the doctors of that hospital would do everything that they can to save the baby. They don't say, well, we'll

take care of the baby right after you write a check. They will try to save the baby's life, and that is true across the board in this country.

KIMMEL: Yes, it is true that if you have an emergency, they will do an operation, and that's terrific if your baby's health problems are all

solved during that one visit. The only problem is that never, ever happens.

We've had a dozen doctors' appointments since our son had surgery. You got a cardiologist, a pediatrician, surgeons. Some kids need an ambulance to

transport them. That doesn't even count the parents who have to miss work for all this stuff.

Those details, Newt forgot to mention. I don't know if the double layers of Spanx are restricting the blood flow to his brain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Let's discuss the power of the late night host and the generally contentious relationship between politicians and the media. Our senior

media correspondent, Brian Stelter, joins me from New York.

Brian, what I'm curious about is someone like Jimmy Kimmel, is super popular. He gets great ratings on late night network television. Does he

have the power to influence people, to change opinion, do you think?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: He sure does. And we have seen that as a result of his monologue last week, and now this week,

talking about health care in such personal terms. You know, Hala, he was not intending to take on this issue. Certainly, he did not want his

newborn son to have to go through this health emergency, have to go through heart surgery. But now that his son is recovering, he is talking about

this, and it got the attention of at least some Republican congressmen.

Senator Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, said on CNN last week he wants the "Jimmy Kimmel test" applied to whatever health care legislation

comes out of the Congress, insuring that children are not in a situation where they cannot afford this kind of surgery.

Now, Cassidy was on Kimmel's show last night. And I think what makes this also notable is that Kimmel is asking really basic, simple questions that

are sometimes skipped over in the health care debate. He said to Cassidy last night, "You founded a bunch of clinics in Louisiana for the working

uninsured. Senator, why are there any working and uninsured people in the United States?"

So because Kimmel is not an expert, Hala, because he is not coming at this with a political axe to grind, I think his message has been well-received.

GORANI: Yes, and also, it was a really personal story. And as you mentioned, it would have been impossible for him to plan. I mean, this was

a health emergency. His little baby was born with a heart condition, and he choked up several times during that monologue.

But then he became political, whether he wanted to or not. This is one of the most political topics. It's not in Europe anymore. In Europe, it's

settled. You know, the government-funded health care is a thing. It's a given, you don't question it. In America, it is still one of the most

contentious political debates.

STELTER: And I think he is approaching it from a different angle, partly from his personal story and partly because he doesn't have the kind of

baggage that a lot of people bring to this, right? He hasn't been debating it years. He doesn't have a political identity the way, you know, even

some other late night hosts like Stephen Colbert has, so Kimmel is coming from a unique position on this issue.

He's got some detractors, no doubt. Some conservatives were saying he's making this sound too simple. He is promoting myths about health care.

But he has certainly engaged people in conversation who otherwise don't pay attention.

He's getting a lot of attention for it, and I think there's a lot Democrats on Capitol Hill probably very happy that he is talking about this, even

though, again, two or three weeks ago, he never would have thought he'd be talking about health care.

GORANI: And I can bet you we're talking about it on the international T.V. because of the internet, because of Twitter and Facebook --

STELTER: Look, let me say, that's --

GORANI: -- because that's been widely shared all over the world. But, Brian, we've been talking about health care and so has virtually every

politician in America. One Iowa representative convened a town hall where he got an earful on the issue. However, that wasn't the real controversy

for Congressman Rod Blum.

He emerged from a separate interview -- let me set the scene. Blum was verifying that attendees of his town hall were actual residents of his

district. He was asked about this in an interview, where, strangely, he was surrounded by children. Let's just watch the exchange, then I will get

your reaction off the back of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH SCHEINBLUM, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, KCRG-TV9: Well, I think some would make the case that you represent all Iowans. The decisions that

you make impact all Iowans. So shouldn't all Iowans have a voice at the table or at least have the option to?

REP. ROD BLUM (R), IOWA: Well, I don't remember all Iowans. I represent only the first district of Iowa. And that would be like saying, shouldn't

I be able to do, even though I live in Dubuque, go vote in Iowa City in the election because I'd like to vote in that district instead?

[15:50:02] SCHEINBLUM: Would you still take donations from a Republican in Iowa City?

BLUM: I am -- this is just --

SCHEINBLUM: We haven't even --

BLUM: This is ridiculous. This is ridiculous.

SCHEINBLUM: We --

BLUM: He's just going to sit here and just badger me? He just asked --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. All right.

SCHEINBLUM: We just ask why you wanted to do the interview. That was it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on.

SCHEINBLUM: Congressman, come on. Take a seat.

BLUM: That was your good example. Oh, wow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: So, I mean, Brian, this is really underscoring just how contentious the relationship has become between some politicians and the

media.

STELTER: True. And sometimes, it's Democrats, but more often right now, it's Republicans who are trying to avoid questions from the press and, more

importantly, from the public.

This is a sample of a town hall where there was preregistration in order to attend if you wanted to see your congressman. We've seen a lot of that in

various House districts. More importantly and more commonly, we've seen representatives just not show up at all, these legislators not holding town

halls at all.

Partly, it's because of smart phones. It's because people have cameras to this events. They are recording the criticism of these congressmen, and

legislators are not showing up. So I'm glad that reporter was trying to press the legislator on the issue. But more and more, we're seeing these

representatives not even showing up to take questions.

GORANI: Brian Stelter, as always, thanks so much for joining us.

STELTER: Thanks.

GORANI: Staying on the health care bill, a senior White House official says you'll see those optics addressed. The optics the official is

referring to is the fact that women are grossly underrepresented on the Senate health care panel.

This statement comes after backlash to the panel's lack of diversity. Not one woman is among the 13 Republicans crafting the Senate's new plan. Many

women are not taking this lightly.

Planned Parenthood's President, Cecile Richards, reacted to the all-male cast with, "When women aren't at the table, we're on the menu." And one

female Democratic senator tweeted, "The GOP is crafting policy on an issue that directly impacts women without including a single woman in the

process. It's wrong."

Coming up, "I could not take anymore." That is what one football star told CNN about the dramatic moment when he walked off the pitch because of

repeated racial abuse. A powerful interview next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: How would you handle being verbally abused every day at work? Footballer Sulley Muntari says that is the reality for him in his sport.

It was on full display at a match in Italy last week.

Muntari was initially punished with a one-match ban for leaving the pitch when he endured racial abuse again. That ban has been overturned, but the

trauma was still on the player's mind when he sat down with our Christina Macfarlane.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One week on from the racist scandal that shamed Italian football, emotions are still running high for

Sulley Muntari, which was visibly evident when I asked him to explain how he felt he's been treated.

SULLEY MUNTARI, CENTRAL MIDFIELDER, DELFINO PESCARA 1936: I don't know. It's really, really difficult to talk about it. I am really getting -- oh,

man.

MACFARLANE: Can you tell us about some of the experiences you've had in professional football that perhaps we wouldn't know about?

MUNTARI: A lot. A lot.

MACFARLANE: How bad has it been at times?

[15:55:01] MUNTARI: I'd just say that, on the field, I'm really a tough guy on the field. But when it comes out of the field, I really get

emotional sometimes. I'm human. I know.

I've had a couple, but then I didn't take them inside like this one. This one was really there. It was full. I couldn't take it anymore.

Talking about this, really, really, I'm beginning to feel everything back. It's like yesterday that it's happening.

MACFARLANE: How often do these instances occur in football?

MUNTARI: A lot. A lot. Recently --

MACFARLANE: Every game?

MUNTARI: A lot, every game. Yesterday, it was happening.

MACFARLANE: Even in yesterday's game?

MUNTARI: Yes. I was sitting down and it was happening. There was a player playing. It was happening in the stands. So how are we going to

the tackle this?

MACFARLANE: Would you support the idea of players protesting by going on strike?

MUNTARI: Yes, I am. Of course. And I will be number one. I'll be part of it. Anywhere I'll go. Anywhere I'll go.

The thing is that I'm not condemning Italy and other part, but look at England. Look at how English football is. It is totally different. It is

amazing. I have played there and I never had any chant like that.

MACFARLANE: What is the difference then? Why is it so bad right now in Italy?

MUNTARI: I don't know. I want to know the reason, but I don't.

MACFARLANE: Do you think that the broader socioeconomic climate at the moment in Italy and Europe perhaps is contributing --

MUNTARI: No doubt. Yes. Yes.

MACFARLANE: -- towards this racial sentiment?

MUNTARI: A lot. A lot. I think so. A lot. Because it's maybe sometimes frustration, frustration meaning there's no work, there's no job. So

whenever I see you coming, of course, you're coming in my country to work, or the little food that I have, you're coming for it, so, definitely, I'm

going to hate you. So it's part of racism, and that's part of it.

MACFARLANE: You've been playing in Europe for most of your career since you were 17 years old. Have you seen things get better or worse in that

time?

MUNTARI: It is getting worse. Italian football is one of the best in the world. We have amazing players here. We have amazing league. And this

shouldn't happen to Italian football.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: Well, that's just a really interesting conversation there with Christina Macfarlane. Thanks so much.

This has been THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. Thank you for watching. I'll see you tomorrow, same time, same place. "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END