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CNN NEWSROOM

Historic Mosque Destroyed in Mosul; Putin Directed Cyber Attacks on U.S.; How Kim Jong-Un Funds His Lavish Lifestyle. Aired 12- 1a ET

Aired June 22, 2017 - 00:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:00:23] AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour, a centuries old mosque is destroyed in Mosul. Both the United States and Iraq are blaming ISIS.

WALKER: Plus Donald Trump takes a victory lap. The U.S. President rallies supporters in middle America one night after a political win.

VAUSE: And Uber's brash CEO is out but the work to rebuild the company's shattered public image is now only just getting started.

WALKER: Hello everyone. And welcome. Thanks for joining us.

I'm Amara Walker.

VAUSE: Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.

NEWSROOM L.A. starts now.

One of Iraq's hallowed cultural treasures is gone forever -- a casualty of the war against ISIS. Mosul's famed Al-Nuri mosque where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his Islamic caliphate nearly three years ago was leveled by high explosives on Wednesday as Iraqi forces advanced against ISIS in the old city.

WALKER: Side by side photos show rubble where the mosque has stood for 800 years. Both Iraqi and U.S. officials blame ISIS for the destruction. ISIS saying the mosque was hit by U.S. warplanes but the U.S. says that claim is 1,000 percent false.

Our Jomana Karadsheh joining us now from Amman, Jordan with the very latest.

Jomana -- so conflicting claims of what happened although it's the U.S. and Iraq's word against ISIS. What are you learning about what exactly happened?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you mentioned there, Amara, this is a very significant, symbolic site for ISIS and of course, a devastating loss here for the Iraqis. This has been a landmark of the city of Mosul for hundreds of years. And it was this expectation the fight -- that ISIS will fight until the bitter end to keep hold of that mosque where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his first and only public appearance back in 2014.

And the Iraqi forces have been for months trying to get close to Al- Nuri mosque trying to recapture it, take down ISIS' black flag that has been fluttering over that mosque for three years. And it has been a very tough fight.

And what we understand, according to Iraqi commanders, they say yesterday when their forces were just about 50 meters or 150 feet away from that mosque, they say that ISIS militants detonated explosives destroying the mosque and that landmark leaning minaret of Al-Nuri mosque.

And a short time after that, these claims appeared on ISIS affiliated accounts claiming that it was a U.S. coalition airstrike that destroyed the mosque. Of course, we heard from the Iraqis and from the U.S. coalition denying this saying it was ISIS that did this. U.S. officials say that in recent days they did observe militants and explosives around that area.

Of course, did would have been a very symbolic victory. Iraqi forces were looking forward too, to recapture that mosque. They were aiming to do that by the end of the holy month of Ramadan, by Eid al-Fitr which is this coming weekend.

Now a bitter fight continues for control of Mosul's old city and of course, we cannot forget that there's an estimate of 100,000 civilians, about half of those are children who are trapped and many of them being used as human shields by ISIS in that old city -- Amara.

WALKER: Yes. 100,000 civilians -- that's obviously a steep number; a lot of lives being affected. I can't imagine what they're going through and just how terrifying it must be for the civilians who are trapped as the fighting continues around them.

KARADSHEH: Absolutely -- Amara. And we have seen this reporting from our colleagues who have been on the ground seeing civilians who have been trying to flee or who have made it out who describe ISIS holding civilians as human shields, ISIS targeting civilians as they try to flee.

You're talking about these neighborhoods that are so condensed they are packed with families, civilians who are living there and really finding no way out. And ISIS has booby-trapped so many of the homes around there. They have also, you know, used car bombs, snipers, mortars and you're talking about these civilians who have been trapped there for months.

[00:05:01] The battle for Mosul has been going on since October, since January the battle for this part of the city Western Mosul has been going on. And people are really running low on everything -- food, water and living absolutely terrified in part of this city -- Amara.

WALKER: Yes. Absolutely a desperate situation. Jomana Karadsheh with the very latest on the fight for Mosul. Thanks so much, live for us in Amman.

VAUSE: White House spokesman Sean Spicer won't say if President Trump believes Russia interfered in last year's election. But a parade of witnesses told Congress on Wednesday there is no doubt.

WALKER: And most agreed the problem will only get worse.

CNN's Michelle Kosinski has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Special investigator Robert Mueller on Capitol Hill meeting with senators on the Judiciary Committee who are tackling potential obstruction of justice by the President.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything is on the table.

KOSINSKI: And in both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, Russian cyber meddling front and center.

JEH JOHNSON, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: In 2016, the Russian government at the direction of Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyber attacks on our nation for the purpose of influencing our election. That is a fact, plain and Simple.

BILL PRIESTAP, FBI COUNTERINTELLIGENCE DIVISION: Well-planned, well- coordinated, multifaceted attack on our election process and democracy.

KOSINSKI: Homeland security officials telling lawmakers the Russians were aggressive and relentless trying to target not only entities like the Democratic National Committee but election related networks in 21 states.

In Illinois alone, the attackers were hitting five times per second 24 hours a day. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said he doesn't know if the President even believes this meddling happened.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: The one individual in America that still seems to not accept this basic fact is the President of the United States.

KOSINSKI: U.S. intelligence agencies concluding, though, that the Russians were never able to change votes, only gather data and release to sow distrust and uncertainty.

But there were plenty of questions too for former Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson on why the Obama administration didn't alert the American public sooner once they detected Russian activity last summer.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Why did we wait from July until October to make that statement?

JOHNSON: One of the candidates, as you'll recall, was predicting that the election was going to be rigged in some way. And so we were concerned that by making a statement we might, in and of itself, be challenging the integrity of the election process.

KOSINSKI: In the senate hearing, one member asked if Donald Trump was unwittingly acting as a Russian agent by calling the election rigged. Another asked if Hillary Clinton was by, as he put it, blaming her loss on things like hacking and fake news.

And one of the enduring mysteries that has cropped up here is the question what about the tapes? Are there recordings or not of conversations between President Trump and fired FBI director James Comey? This was originally something, of course, the President himself alluded to seeming to say that there could be tapes. And remember, it was Comey who said, "Lordy I hope there are tapes.

But the White House has not wanted to answer this question with a yes or a no. And since then, CNN has asked a number of government agencies if there's any evidence that these recordings might exist. So far several have said they got nothing. And the Senate Intelligence Committee asked the White House for the tapes telling them if they exist, they need to turn them over by this Friday.

Well, now a White House spokesperson tells reporters and quote, "I can tell you there will be something this week." So now we just have to wait and see what exactly that something is.

Michelle Kosinski, CNN -- Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Well, we've got something here right now. Our panel -- Democratic strategist Matthew Littman and Republican strategist John Jordan. Thank you for being with us.

You know, no stranger to a victory lap, the U.S. President, he held a rally in Iowa a few hours ago, spiking the ball, if you like after that Republican win in Georgia's special congressional election. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They have phony witch hunts going against me, they have everything going. And you know what? All we do is win, win, win. We won last night.

They can't believe it. They're saying what is going on? What is going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Matt. The President might think it's a witch hunt, even a phony witch hunt, which means that it's not a witch hunt. But clearly, the FBI, the special counsel, the congressional committees, they don't believe it's a witch hunt.

MATTHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, the President's in a lot of trouble because of the multiple investigations. People are reluctant to join his administration. That's another problem.

You know, this hasn't been -- he could be spiking the ball about last night but let's remember the Democrats have been doing better in a lot of these conservative districts than they really had a right to -- up to eight points better in these districts.

[00:10:07] But it's true the Republicans have won four of the five special elections so far. That's to the Republicans' benefit but in the long term, the trends are definitely favoring the Democrats for the House elections next year.

VAUSE: John -- you know, can the President just dismiss these investigations as a witch hunt?

JOHN JORDAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, until there's more, yes, I think that's not the choice of words that I would use. But until there's more, that's certainly what it looks like. There isn't even a specific allegation of a specific statute that has been violated or naming of individuals that might have committed a crime. Neither has there been identification of what probable -- probable cause might be.

So this is so vague, it seems like we're just having an investigation just for the sake of having an investigation without any -- without even specific -- the most basic allegations being made.

VAUSE: Well, the heat of that investigation seems to be turned up now on the first son-in-law Jared Kushner. He spent almost an entire day in Israel to bring peace to the Middle East. But back home in Washington, Democrats would like to know why his security clearance has not been revoked. The Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, they raised all the questions also about Michael Flynn's security clearance.

Here's part of the letter which they have written to the White House.

"Parallel concerns have been raised about the status of Mr. Kushner's security in light of his similar failure to disclose at least four conversations and meetings with Russian officials in addition, as with General Flynn. It appears Mr. Kushner allowed his colleagues at the White House and the American people to be misled about his multiple communications with Russian officials."

John -- now it seems that Democrats are trying to put Kushner in the same category as the fired national security adviser Michael Flynn.

JORDAN: Well, they'd like to do that. You know, again, when did these with conversations happen with which Russians? Before or after the election? You know, all of these accusations are merely being cited as concerns raised by unnamed sources. You know, you can't defend against the nebulous.

So you know, as somebody -- as a fair-minded American, I'd like to see who these meetings were with, who's making these allegations and what the underlying factual support for all of these charges are. And to date there really isn't any.

(CROSSTALK)

LITTMAN: Well, actually that's not true.

JORDAN: And even the Democrats on Capitol Hill are saying there is no real evidence --

(CROSSTALK)

JORDAN: There's two different issues.

LITTMAN: John -- that's not what people saying. John -- that's not what people are saying.

They're saying specifically who Jared Kushner met with -- right. He met with the Russian bank. He wanted to meet at the Russian embassy with Russian communication devices. He met with the Russian ambassador.

The problem for Jared Kushner is he didn't report any of these meetings which seems to be a tendency of people who are associated -- Jeff Sessions, Michael Flynn. Why did they have so many meetings with the Russians and why did they all manage to -- it's like they all had amnesia like you see on General Hospital. All of a sudden they just can't remember what happened.

Well, it's just with the Russians that they can't remember meeting with. It doesn't matter who the source is. They're not denying that they had these meetings. The question is why did they have these meetings?

And as for who's being investigated, we know Trump is being investigated for obstruction. We know Flynn is being investigated. They've got 13 lawyers working on this, working on something. They don't have to communicate that with you or with me but they're obviously investigating something.

JORDAN: Well, they're obviously investigating something. There's two different issues, right? There is the hacking, which nobody disputes happened. I mean obviously the hacking of the DNC files is enormously damaging to the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Another is the issue of the collusion. And even prominent Senate Democrats are saying and even the "New York Times" is saying there is almost -- there is no apparent evidence of any collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign. The Democrats are saying this.

VAUSE: Ok. Well --

LITTMAN: Go ahead -- John. Sorry.

VAUSE: Ok. Let's move on because I don't think we're going to resolve this.

But let's go back to Cedar Rapids because the President was talking about health care at that rally. He said that the plan coming out of the Senate will be a plan with a heart but there were no details. Instead he complained about a lack of support from Democrats. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If we went and got the single greatest healthcare plan in the history of the world we would not get one Democrat vote because they're obstructionists. If we came to you and said, here's your plan, you're going to have greatest plan in history, and you're going to pay nothing, they'd vote against it, folks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Matt -- why wouldn't Democrats support the greatest health plan in history that costs nothing?

LITTMAN: Well, the Republicans aren't proposing that. They're proposing the plan that will cost you more for less insurance -- right. So Donald Trump said earlier on that he wanted everybody to have better insurance. It was going to be amazing, incredible and it was going to cost less.

[00:15:06] So when he says that the Democrats won't support it, they're not even showing it to the Democrats and Donald Trump has described it himself as mean.

So what Donald Trump is saying about the Democrat -- you have to show us a great healthcare plan but they're hiding their healthcare plan which Trump describes as mean.

VAUSE: So John -- I mean, you know, there is this issue of secrecy --

(CROSSTALK)

JORDAN: Well, the plan is going to be unveiled tomorrow. The Democrats define success with healthcare as being how many people can the government support? We Republicans take a different view. It's how many jobs can we create, and how many people can they get on private health insurance where they get the best healthcare in the world.

It's not about -- the race shouldn't be to see how many people the government can put on healthcare. If you want to see a preview of what single payer would look like which a lot of the liberal base is demanding take a look the V.A. That's been a resounding success -- it's been a catastrophe from start to finish.

So the idea should be to try to create jobs, create economic growth, put upward pressure on wages, and get as many people as possible on private health insurance.

LITTMAN: But that's not what's happening here. We have less people according to the CBO -- we'd have 23 million less people on health insurance, right. So the idea shouldn't be that we have less people on healthcare, there is no private plan to cover these people. You'd have 23 million less people on healthcare and the average premium would go up 25 percent.

Now why is that a good idea to (AUDIO GAP)? It is.

JORDAN: Well, it all depends on how you do the counting. The idea is if you can get people employed and on employers' health plans -- if you hadn't had the job killing policies of the last eight years, more and more Americans would be working, there would be upward pressure on wages, and Americans would be on their employers' health plan and not being dependent on the government to spend money it doesn't have.

LITTMAN: John -- we've had the longest economic job growth in history under Obama. And by the way, we have less job growth and less wage growth now under Trump than we did under Obama with that healthcare plan.

VAUSE: Ok.

JORDAN: That is --

VAUSE: Let's continue this next hour. OK, last word -- John very quickly.

JORDAN: Under Obama, we had the weakest economic recovery in the last 100 hundreds because of the anti-business, war on the private sector policies of the Obama administration. The Obama administration -- yes, it's been long but I mean you tell you that if people weren't hurting so bad, we wouldn't be talking about wage stagnation and income inequality in the same way we are.

LITTMAN: Well, you know wages have been going down under Trump right?

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: Ok. And I'm going to take this break. We've got to squeeze in a break.

Matt and John -- there's still the next hour. So we want you to come back. Thanks, guys.

JORDAN: It's a pleasure.

WALKER: All right. Still to come. A deep dive into how North Korea's leader pays for his weapons programs and his lavish lifestyle.

VAUSE: Plus Uber looks to start afresh after its CEO resigned. How to try to get the company back on the road -- later this hour.

[00:18:13](COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Well, the U.S. President maybe taking another swipe at Beijing during a rally in Iowa on Wednesday. He suggested the Chinese have not applied enough pressure on Pyongyang to stop or curtail its nuclear weapons program.

WALKER: Mr. Trump's remarks coming just days after the death of Otto Warmbier, a U.S. student who died earlier this week after spending 17 months in detention in North Korea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I mean we've had a very good relationship with China in all fairness. And I do like President Xi. I wish we would have a little more help with respect to North Korea from China but that doesn't seem to be working out. But I do like the President a lot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: President Trump has made clear in the past that his preference was to work with China on North Korea, but he's willing to go after Pyongyang alone, if that's necessary.

VAUSE: Well, for more, joining me now is Matt Rivers in Shanghai and Alexandra Field in Seoul, South Korea. So Matt, we heard a short time ago from a spokesman of China's foreign ministry speaking about North Korea. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENG SHUANG, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY, (through translator): China has made unremitting efforts to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue and has been playing an important and constructive role. In a word, China's contributions are there for all to see, and China's role is indispensable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: I think we may have just heard the end of it. But essentially the spokesman was saying China has done a lot to try and resolve the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

So Matt -- the question is what exactly has China done?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, China says that it is doing everything it can to denuclearize this Korean Peninsula within the framework of the latest rounds of U.N. sanctions that were levied against the regime. And this is the kind of response that we get from China every single time someone, whether it's the United States and this administration or previous administrations accuses China of not doing all it can to curb the weapons development program in Pyongyang.

And to be fair, China did help draft the two latest rounds of U.N. sanctions levied against the regime. And because they hold veto power on the Security Council at the U.N. they do need to be a part of sanctions that go forward.

However, many, many critics will say, look, China is not doing all it can. It is exploiting loopholes in these sanctions. It is allowing North Korean companies to use Chinese banks. It is allowing trading companies continue to prop up this regime. And that total trade volume which isn't necessarily illegal under the sanctions -- but total trade volume with China to North Korea is up almost 40 percent year-over-year in the same period 2016 to 2017.

So there's a lot of room there to criticize China. They could certainly be doing more but this kind of response from the Chinese, very, very similar to what we've heard before.

VAUSE: Oh, yes, it is.

Alex -- to you the death of the American student Otto Warmbier has -- it seems to have raised the stakes here for the United States. And there also now seem to be pressure going to bring others who have been -- to bring them home, others who have been detained in North Korea.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it has certainly contributed to the tension that has been mounting really for months between North Korea and the U.S. you have seen that play out as North Korea takes on this unprecedented number of missile test launches, also as the uses flexes its military muscle in the region.

Just a day after Otto Warmbier's death was announced, there were USC1 bombers flying over the Korean Peninsula, part of a training exercise but certainly a warning message again to North Korea. And it isn't just the posturing between these two countries that's contributing to this tension here. Certainly this is being felt very acutely by the families of the other detainees who remain there.

You're talking about three other American citizens, South Korean intelligence officials estimate there are about six South Koreans who are being detained there. South Korea's President Moon Jae-In called this week for the release of those detainees while also expressing his condolences for Otto Warmbier's family. You heard President Trump condemning the North Korean regime earlier this week for the death of Otto Warmbier.

And now we're also hearing from the family of a Canadian pastor who remains in North Korea -- the family putting out a statement saying we are heartbroken at the news of Otto's passing. What has happened is tragic. We strongly urge the Canadian government to place more attention on Reverend Lim's case.

So these other family members seeing that Otto was returned in this very poor health and with his death now are certainly having mounting concerns about their own loved ones there -- John.

VAUSE: Yes, absolutely. Alexandra Field in Seoul -- thank you. And Matt Rivers in Shanghai -- thanks to you as well.

[00:25:00] WALKER: Let's dig deeper now on the high level talks between the U.S. and the China Wednesday and the secrets behind Kim Jong-Un's cash flow that allows the regime to in effect dodge international sanctions aimed at its weapons program.

Joining me now is Anthony Ruggiero. He is a senior fellow for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy. He's spent more than 17 years in the U.S. government as a finance expert. Anthony -- thank you for joining us.

ANTHONY RUGGIERO, FOUNDATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACY: Thanks for having me.

WALKER: I just wanted to first get your take on this annual meeting between U.S. and Chinese officials. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying that he urged his Chinese counterparts to rein in North Korea, to crack down on these illicit North Korean activities. This is something that has been said many times before by previous administrations to the Chinese.

Do you think anything notable, any notable changes may come out these meetings.

RUGGIERO: Well, Secretary Tillerson today did list all of the problems we had with North Korea -- money laundering, illicit activities -- but unfortunately, you know, the Chinese have heard this before. They've heard it for 10 years, frankly. Republican and Democrat administrations, the same tune and the Chinese know that we won't do anyting about it.

I mean the question here for the Trump administration is when are they going to go after the Chinese banks and the Chinese companies that are aiding North Korea's sanctions evasion.

WALKER: You know, when you look at the state of North Korea and the fact that so many North Koreans starve. They don't have any basic needs and their dear leader, in the meantime spending a huge chunk of the regime's money on luxury items. I mean we've seen Kim Jong-Un stepping out of a Mercedes limousine, a private jet he uses. He also built an exclusive ski resort for millions and millions of dollars. He also has a $5 million yacht.

I mean where is all of this money coming from?

RUGGIERO: Well, you know, they put -- they send their own laborers overseas into essentially what is slave labor. And they get at least $500 million a year just from that alone. They sell their missiles and conventional arms overseas. They recently were tied to the wanna cry ransom virus. They tried to steal a billion dollars from the Bangladesh bank but they got $81 million of that. So there's a bunch of illicit activities that they're engaged.

And that's what -- what's equally troubling is we see the South Korean president who wants to increase the inducements to North Korea but there's no evidence, no evidence that that will go to the Korean people.

WALKER: Right.

RUGGIERO: The will go to the North Korean nuclear weapons program and their missile program and to the elites.

WALKER: How much money in total is Pyongyang believed to generate annually through these illegal activities?

RUGGIERO: Well, we're talking, you know, at least billions of dollars. I mean they're able to sustain their essentially it's a, you know, black market economy for themselves. And the money does not go their people and this is where he's buying stability.

And the issue here is if we don't think this regime is going to give up its nuclear weapons why would we promote his own stability?

WALKER: Yes. As long as North Korea has this cash flow, I mean there's really no incentive for North Korea to end or scale back its nuclear weapons program. What is the best way to choke off these illicit funds and also, in the end it all comes down to China.

RUGGIERO: Right. I mean the game plan is the Iran game plan. We know it worked. It's the Iran sanctions plan. You know, what happened with Iran is the United States went after European banks even those -- the ones of our allies and fined those banks.

So when it comes to China, we have to have the exact same attitude. Go after their banks. Go after their companies. It's a small number of companies, only 5,200 of them. The Chinese have over 67,000 that they do business with, with South Korea. So we're talking about a small set there that they can go after.

WALKER: So are you talking about secondary sanctions because that's something the White House says it's considering going after these Chinese banks and other entities that do business with North Korea.

RUGGIERO: Right. I mean it's long overdue. We saw the network last year that was only designated by the U.S. government because a private firm really forced their hand, is that a North Korean designated bank was using four Chinese individuals and a Chinese company to do business around the world. And what it looked like to the business world was that the Chinese were doing the transactions. But what we know is that it was a North Korean bank behind that. And it was so serious that the Justice Department indicted those Chinese individuals.

WALKER: That's quite fascinating dive into North Korea's finances. Anthony Ruggiero -- former deputy director of the U.S. Treasury Department, thank you so much for joining us.

RUGGIERO: Thanks you.

VAUSE: It is incredible the amount of money and the amount of corruptions which is going on within that regime.

[00:30:01] Well, still to come here, as the battle begins to liberate the Syrian city of Raqqa, residents who have escaped are now talking to CNN about the sheer terror of living under the rule of ISIS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:30:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Well, still to come here, as the battle begins to liberate the Syrian city of Raqqah, residents who have escaped are now talking to CNN about the sheer terror of living under the rule of ISIS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Amara Walker.

I'm John Vause. We'll check the headlines now.

The FBI is investigating a knife attack at Michigan Airport as an act of terrorism. Authorities say a Canadian man yelled "Allahu Akbar" just before he stabbed a police officer. The suspect is charged with violence at an international airport and more charges could be added. The officer is recovering.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: In Mosul, Iraq, an 800-year-old mosque where ISIS declared its caliphate three years ago has been destroyed. The Great Mosque of al-Nuri was known for its leaning minaret. The U.S. and Iraq say ISIS blew up the mosque as Iraqi forces closed in on the area. ISIS claims it was hit by a U.S. air strike, but the U.S. say that's 1,000 percent false.

VAUSE: The fight to liberate Raqqah in Syria, the self-declared capital of ISIS is only just getting started. But we are learning more about the terror group's brutality from those who have managed to escape.

WALKER: Our Arwa Damon spoke to people who made it out, including a woman who is now leading the fight to liberate her city.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(GUNFIRE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The coalition-backed Syrian Defense Forces have managed to clear the first few neighborhoods of Raqqa. Outside the city, we ran into Clara Raqqa, one of the unit commanders here and a native of the city itself just back from one of the fronts.

CLARA RAQQA, SYRIAN DEFENSE FORCES UNIT COMMANDER (through translator): In the city, we can see that the city of Raqqa is above ground and there is another city below ground.

Raqqa was a city that was a mosaic of people that turned into a place of women's enslavement, the place where women were enslaved has to be liberated by the hands of women.

DAMON: It's a city whose brutality transcends our current vocabulary. Raqqa is the capital of the so called caliphate ruled by ISIS since 2013, where Yazidi Kurds and even Arab women were sold on the streets as sex slaves; where public executions and beheadings were a regular occurrence; where journalists and aid workers were held hostage and murdered.

These are the faces of those who lived in Raqqa now in a hastily put together camp, children who have little choice but to witness the stuff of nightmares. The lines of good and evil blurred for them.

This woman from Raqqa married an ISIS member; a foreigner from the Caucasus who she says had an administrative job.

[00:35:08] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): ISIS made a mockery of us. There is nothing else we can say. (on-camera): When they were running away, they say that they were also fired upon by ISIS fighters who were basically ordering them to return.

DAMON: And then there are also those who went willingly to join. It became a magnet for foreign fighters and others. This woman is from the Caucasus. She came with her husband and four children claiming they wanted to live in the caliphate. She says they were lured online by the promise of Islamic utopia and a job for her husband.

This Syrian woman is originally from Homs. She was an English teacher. She eventually married a Moroccan man who went through ISIS military training although she claims he never fought. ISIS, she says, never allowed the population to escape their brutality.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, when you walk on the streets of Raqqa, there are big screens that are showing beheadings. They have, you know, the projectors and we are walking in the streets and just watching these videos.

DAMON: How are you going to explain this to your children?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I pray for God to -- that my children forget this without asking me. They are all the time thinking about war, about killing and they see a video of cutting heads.

DAMON (voice-over): The battle for the ISIS capital has just begun and what lies ahead is unknown for those who are fighting to liberate it, and for the civilians who are still trapped inside.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Syria.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: OK. Help wanted. The search is on for a new CEO for Uber after co-founder Travis Kalanick resigned. That's not the only major position the ride sharing giant needs to fill either.

Several other top executives are also gone in the wake of what can only be described as a disastrous few months.

WALKER: Kalanick courted controversy in his time at the helm. His aggressive style took a no-name company to its current valuation of $68 billion. But his critics blame his leadership for Uber's repeated P.R. mishaps, legal issues and a troubled office culture.

Joining me now, Eric Schiffer, CEO and chairman of the Patriarch Group, a private equity firm in technology and media.

Eric, I don't think it comes as a surprise to anyone really that the CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, has resigned, and it's no good when you're the CEO, and you're the one who is creating controversies.

ERIC SCHIFFER, CEO AND CHAIRMAN, PATRIARCH GROUP: Yes, it's tough. And this is a visionary CEO. So he deserves his credit. I mean, he's created an amazing company, but the challenge is, is he's stuck in arrested development. He has not matured. He never grew up, and the board has known this for a while. And they've been too timid, way too timid. They finally took action because investors called for it. They wanted his head. They recognized that he was taking the company down.

[00:40:00] WALKER: So then what kind of leader does Uber need right now? Someone completely different from Travis Kalanick. You know, different from his brash and aggressive style?

SCHIFFER: I think choosing a woman, a female CEO, would send a very clear message to everyone, to investors, to the public that we hear what you said. We get it. We understand what we did wrong, and we're going to make changes. And they will be sensitive to building a culture.

It's not just about removing the toxicity. It's also about building a culture that people can feel safe in. They can feel protected and respected as well.

WALKER: Talk about a corporation, though, in major crisis. I mean there's no one at the top anymore. There's no CEO. There's no COO, no CFO, no CMO, no president, and just last week we were talking about the senior vice president of business stepping down as well.

I mean, how can Uber survive this?

SCHIFFER: They have an incredible platform. The technology does a lot of the work. It's already in play. The drivers are in play. So a lot of this is sort of running on its own. But to grow, to really stay competitive against Lyft, which is getting smarter, they're getting better, they took huge advantage of what happened.

They really then need a leader that can guide them, and I think that the board will be wise and hopefully they're going to pick someone that everyone can look up to and learn from and has the emotional maturity. That's the big piece here.

WALKER: How much does this bad boy, bad behavior reputation hurt Uber as a business, because as you were just saying, the valuation is still at, what, $68 billion.

Are the customers being scared away at all?

SCHIFFER: Well, that's on the private side. Look, I think consumers are being affected by this. I think the news, continual news, why do you want to give your money to a company that might treat women terribly, or break the law, or do things that are very questionable.

So Lyft has moved in from a market share standpoint. But Uber can get it back. They just need the right leader. They need to stop doing harm to themselves and begin to do the right things, bring in a more diverse board, get rid of some of the additional bad apples, and really look at ways to grow the business without having to have a culture where anything goes. And that's the big problem. They created this culture where there were no rules.

WALKER: Yes.

SCHIFFER: And they made sure that winning was breaking the rules. And unfortunately unless you've got the emotional maturity as a leader, you can't stop that kind of mentality.

WALKER: Changing that corporate culture is going to have to start at the top.

SCHIFFER: Starts at the top.

WALKER: They need to find someone to run the company. Eric Schiffer, great to have you. Thank you very much.

SCHIFFER: Good to be here.

VAUSE: Sounds like they can do with our H.R. department. They ran it very tight.

OK, you've been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause.

WALKER: And I'm Amara Walker. "World Sport" starts after the break.

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