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Scaramucci Takes Over as Trump's Communications Director; Trump Legal Team Trying to Undercut Mueller; Mass Protest in Poland Over New Judiciary Laws; Agadez, Niger: City at Crossroads of War on Terror; Scotland Promotes New Wind Projects. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 21, 2017 - 15:30:00   ET


[15:30:50] ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Robyn Curnow in for Hala Gorani. Let's get right to our breaking news.

A huge shake up is under way at the White House as Donald Trump pushes back against the Russia investigation threatening to undermine his entire

presidency. Not only is he reshuffling his legal team, but also, as you've been hearing in the past few hours, his communications staff.

Now, Sean Spicer, the public face of the administration since the beginning is out as Press Secretary. He is being replaced by Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

She finished speaking to reporters a short time ago, along with Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House Communications Director.

Now, the Wall Street financier is a long-time supporter of Mr. Trump, as he made clear a short time ago.


ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I would love to have Sean here. Sean decided that he thought it would be better to go.

And for me, as it relates to Sean, it speaks volumes to who he is as a human being and who he is as a team player. OK?

So he's attitude is, I mean, Anthony is coming in. Let me clear the slate for Anthony. And I do appreciate that about Sean and I love him for it.

But I don't have any friction with Sean. I don't have any friction with Reince.

This is the White House of the United States of America, and we're serving the President. And I want to make sure that our cultural template is that

we put the President's agenda first, which is perfect for the American people, and we serve his interests.

And so if we have a little bit of friction inside the White House as a result of that, it's OK. We can all live with that. I'm a business

person. I'm used to dealing with friction.


CURNOW: So all of these comes amid explosive reports by "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times" that Mr. Trump's lawyers are looking for

ways to undercut the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Now, "The Post" says they're also exploring how the President could use his

pardoning powers.

Well, there's certainly a lot to talk about. Our White House Reporter Stephen Collinson joins me now from Washington, D.C.

We've just heard Kate Bolduan also breaking this down with a panel. From your perspective, what is so key about this reshuffle? What does it tell


STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I think it tells us that something had to give, Robyn. This White House has been under siege on

multiple and multiplying fronts, from the Russia investigation, the Bob Mueller investigation into allegations that members of campaign colluded

with the Russians to meddle in the election, and in Washington itself.

The White House has been unable, in six months, to pass a significant piece of legislation. The President's approval ratings are in the high 30s in a

position where his base is sticking with him but he is losing independents and is becoming even more unpopular in the country.

So this is a White House, in many ways, in which the walls were closing in, and I think there's a real need for it to at least, for once, sell its own

agenda and try to resell its own narrative. The question of whether --

CURNOW: So is that the key thing here? Is it about just communications, as Anthony Scaramucci laid out? I mean, he was pretty smooth and he

certainly played the part, but is this bigger than just a communications snafu?

COLLINSON: Yes, it is bigger than a communications problem, but it's not clear that the President sees it that way.

It was very interesting listening to Mr. Scaramucci, who is basically arguing that President Trump was beloved among the American people and that

the problem was that the White House wasn't communicating his successes well enough.

Well, apart from some progress on stemming illegal immigration, for example, when the President came into office, some decent economic numbers

which were decent before he came into office, it's very difficult to point to significant achievements.

So people who are critical of the White House are going to look with disappointment and say, look, Mr. Scaramucci might be an urbane, smooth

talking New Yorker with the gift of the gab who's very close to the Trump orbit, is he really going to be able to fix what's wrong with this White


Now, the -- many people see that what's wrong with this White House is the conduct of the President himself, and it's unclear whether he will be any

more successful at changing that than anybody else has been in this White House.

[15:34:56] CURNOW: OK. So there are the optics of what is displayed out there at the podium in the press briefing room. Broadly, though, we've

also had quite a lot of other news today -- it's Friday -- and a lot of conversations about possible pardoning and also discrediting of the Special


You wrote an article on that, basically, is entitled "Trump Tests the Limit of Presidential Power." Beyond the drama of the Press Secretary

and the White House communications team, what else have we seen today and is that, perhaps, more important?

COLLINSON: Yes. And what is really fascinating about this President is it's sometimes difficult to know whether he simply doesn't have the

knowledge about the workings of the government when it pertains to departments like the Justice Department or the FBI. He appears to think

that both of those departments should report directly to him and be loyal to him.

We saw that in "The New York Times" interview this week where he said that wouldn't have named Attorney General Jeff Sessions if he knew he would

recuse himself from the Russia investigation. We saw how he fired FBI Chief James Comey after asking him for a loyalty pledge.

You know, the instruments of justice in the U.S. government are supposed to be at a distance from the White House, not loyal to the President. So

either the President doesn't know that, or he is stretching the limits of his authority by trying to those offices subordinate to him and in a

relationship of patronage with him.

And that's what we're also seeing with this attempt to discredit Bob Mueller's investigation and his investigators, to raise questions about the

credibility of that investigation and ultimately, although it's going to take very many months for that to wrap up, the conclusions about that

investigation, which is raising questions in turn about the White House has to hide that they need to do that.

CURNOW: OK. Thank you so much, as always.


CURNOW: Great to speak to you, Stephen Collinson. Well, as Stephen mentioned there, the White House turmoil extends to the President's legal


Reporting in "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times" also suggest Mr. Trump's lawyers are trying to undercut Robert Mueller. Now, he is the

former FBI Director leading that Special Counsel investigation into Russian meddling as we've said.

Well, let's dig deeper into the consequences of all of these with CNN Legal Analyst Paul Callan in New York.

Hi, Paul, good to speak to you as well. We just heard there -- I mean, how much -- how safe is Robert Mueller's investigation? I mean, how much can

the White House impact on it, even if they try and discredit him?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, the White House can have an enormous impact on this investigation. And I say that because you have to remember

that the President is the person in charge of the Justice Department and Mueller is a Special Counsel working for the Justice Department.

So there's no question that if the President wanted to fire Mueller, he would simply have to issue to the Justice Department. And if someone was

willing to follow that order, he could end the investigation by firing Mueller. It's within his constitutional power.

CURNOW: But isn't a special counsel like Mueller, based on American history, ring-fenced in some way from sort of interference from the White


CALLAN: He's -- he is in a lot of respects because he operates on a day- to-day basis independently of the structure of the Justice Department. He reports back generally to the Acting Attorney General, not Sessions but the

person who is under him, Rosenstein. But he could still be fired.

And Richard Nixon did it in the famous Saturday night massacre. There was a person named Archibald Cox who held the position of special counsel. And

when Nixon found out Cox was subpoenaing the tapes, the White House tapes, he ordered him fired. And three -- two people refused to do it and the

third, Robert Bork, executed the order and fired Archibald Cox.

Exactly the same thing could happen with Mueller, if the President was willing to risk the controversy and the bad political press --

CURNOW: The political consequences.

CALLAN: -- involved.

CURNOW: Yes. I mean, and certainly, history is often instructive but certainly perhaps not relevant to this White House, which is so unique in

many ways.

Let's also talk about a perhaps loose conversation. We understand from our Gloria Borger that it might have taken place with Mr. Trump, with the

President kind of questioning the limits of his authority and particularly the pardoning of himself and his family and friends. I mean, where can he

go on that?

CALLAN: Great question, Robyn. And constitutional scholars are really kind of split on this issue because if you look at the pardon power in the

constitution, there are really no limits on it. It doesn't the President has the power to pardon everybody, but he can't power -- pardon himself.

It's silent on that issue.

[15:39:55] However, never in American history has a president used the pardon power to pardon himself. And historically, if the courts were

looking at the pardon power going back to Great Britain, it's never been used by the monarch to pardon himself. So I think if he tried to do it,

the courts wouldn't allow it. That -- but some constitutional scholars might disagree with me.

CURNOW: OK. I mean, yes, certainly, precedent is always important in law, but there's always a chance to see it for the first time.

So, Paul Callan, underscoring all the legal complexities of all these, thank you so much.

CALLAN: Thank you. Always a pleasure to be with you.

CURNOW: Well, still ahead on THE WORLD RIGHT NOW, other news we're following. We'll tell you why thousands have taken to the streets in

Poland holding candles.

Look at these powerful images. Stay with CNN.


CURNOW: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow, and you're watching CNN.

And it has been a volatile week Jerusalem's old city. Clashes over new Israeli security measures at the temple mount known to Muslims as the Noble

Sanctuary have gone on for days now. And Palestinian officials say violence in East Jerusalem killed three Palestinians today, but it's still

unclear who fired the fatal shots.

Poland is gearing up for more protests after a raft of new controversial laws. Critics are calling them an assault by populist government on the

independence of the judiciary. Atika Shubert has the details.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dubbed the "Candlelight Revolution" on social media, tens of thousands of Poles

poured into the streets in recent days to protest what many are calling the death of democracy in that country.

A huge crowd gathered outside the presidential palace in Warsaw demanding the President to veto a controversial bill that would overhaul the

country's judiciary.

The Lower House of Parliament already the passed the measure that would force the removal of Supreme Court judges and give lawmakers control over

choosing replacements.

KAMILA GASIUK-PIHOWICZ, POLISH OPPOSITION LAWMAKER: It is something unusual in democratic countries that, through one bill, all judges

comprising of Supreme Court are dismissed.

SHUBERT (voice-over): Supporters say that changes are needed to make the courts more accountable, but critics call it a move towards authoritarian

rule and a power grab by the ruling Law and Justice Party.

Since coming to power in 2015, the staunchly conservative Law and Justice Party has tightened government control over the course, prosecutors and

state media, and introduced restrictions on public gatherings.

This latest bill has triggered warnings from the European Union, threatening the possibility of sanctions and suspension of voting right,

something never used before against an E.U. member.

[15:45:04] FRANS TIMMERMANS, FIRST VICE-PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN UNION COMMISSION: Recent measures taken by the Polish authorities in relation to

the judicial system and the judges greatly amplify the threat to the rule of law.

SHUBERT (voice-over): Recent protests have gone largely unnoticed internationally amid high-profile visits from British royals, the Duke and

Duchess of Cambridge, and from U.S. President Donald Trump, who praised Poland's government during his trip.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A Poland that is safe, strong, and free.

SHUBERT (voice-over): Many observers believe in Poland, one of the first communist nations to join the E.U., western democracy now hangs in the


Atika Shubert, CNN.


CURNOW: Thanks to Atika for that. And we understand the Upper House of the Polish parliament is debating that bill right now. We will keep you

posted on any developments.

Now, let's move to West Africa and an exclusive report from CNN's Arwa Damon. She recently traveled to the world heritage site of Agadez in


Now, it's a chance at point for human trafficking and also a strategic location in the war on terror. The U.S. is investing big money in a new

high-tech drone base there. All the while, migrants are making perilous journeys.

Here's Arwa and her team's report.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is no-man's land. There is the serious threat of kidnapping. But the real

danger? That is the very dessert itself.

We're on a mission to rescue stranded migrants.

DAMON (on camera): It really only takes a few moments in the back of one of these trucks to begin to gain an appreciation of just how tough it is

out here.

DAMON (voice-over): The Sahara is too vast for any army to control. And a recent government crackdown has meant smugglers are keeping off the main

tracks and away from water points.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The third day, that was when everybody was giving up one after the other. And I wanted to die.

DAMON (on camera): You mean dying?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, people were dying.

DAMON (on camera): Around you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, one after the other. With just one jar kind of water.

DAMON (voice-over): Beth (ph) somehow managed to survive for 24 days in the dessert. But most of those who were with her, they didn't. Out of 27

people, only three women survived.

We met her at a transit center in Agadez that's run by the IOM. She's waiting to return to Nigeria.

Agadez is the gateway for migrants en route to Europe. Last year, the E.U. pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to Niger to crackdown on smuggling.

But what the crackdown has done is drive the operations underground and destroy the city's economy. Just about everyone here lived off the migrant


Agadez is a world heritage site. It's been turned into a tinderbox. And it is also about to become the site of 21st Century warfare's most modern


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the largest troop laid project in Air Force history.

DAMON (voice-over): Just outside of Agadez, the U.S. is investing a hundred million dollars building up Nigerian Air Base 201. And it is from

here that the U.S. will launch its MQ-9 Repear, a hunter/killer drone with advanced intelligence gathering capabilities.

The Repears and AFRICOM Niger headquarters are currently based out of the capital, Niamey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a nexus area or kind of a focus area of multiple threats to United States, the Libya in the north, al Qaeda and the

Islamic Maghreb to the west, or Boko Haram to the south. Niger is a central location from which the United States can operate.

DAMON (voice-over): The American military mission to Niger is clear, but proposed foreign aid cuts by the Trump White House has thrown its long-term

humanitarian commitment into question.

In Agadez, a U.S. civil affairs team is already trying to reach out to the local population.

This is a dental hygiene workshop.

On site, we meet a group of women leaders, and their top concern is youth unemployment.

Gar Imbrahim (ph) says terrorism is all around them and that's why they don't want the youth to be idle, so that they are not recruited by

something else.

[15:50:14] But it's really only in the dessert that you begin to understand the innumerable challenges that come with physically securing this lawless

land and why the U.S. aerial presence is so valued by Niger's government.

Finally, some 10 hours after we leave Agadez, we see light signals. The migrants have been stranded here for three days after their car broke down.

They don't want their identities revealed. As we speak, one of the women starts praying under her breath.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Jesus Christ.

DAMON (voice-over): We hear the agonizing wails of another woman and go to speak to her.

DAMON (on camera): I heard you crying.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to see my babies.

DAMON (voice-over): She says that two of her four children were on another truck and the convoy just kept going towards Libya.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to go without my children. I prefer to die here if I cannot see my children. I can't.

DAMON (voice-over): It's only at daybreak that we truly understand the remoteness of where we are.

The migrants ready themselves. They pile into the back of the trucks.

They are reluctant to leave. They want to keep going to Libya and not back to Agadez.

This is the crossroads of the war on terror, of hope and despair.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Agadez, Niger.



CURNOW: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. And Scotland is proud to pioneer green energy. And many companies from around the world come to the

windswept landscape to test their projects as Nina dos Santos now reports.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR (voice-over): Ready for lift off in one of the windiest spots in the U.K. These kites are the next great

hope for the wind energy industry and have attracted more than $9 billion of investments.

DAVID AINSWORTH, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR, KITE POWER SYSTEMS: We see our first commercial deployments in the early 2020s, and that's when we

sort of see us actually making significant impacts on the energy mix in the U.K. and other locations.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Kite Power Systems is the U.K.'s first company to fly kites in search of energy, setting up an airfield near Stranraer in


AINSWORTH: This kite siting behind us around -- I think it's about 17 or 18 meters squared, and that's enough for around 40 kilowatts of


[15:55:01] So 40 kilowatts of electricity is enough to power around 60, 70 homes. But if it's scale is up to 500 kilowatts, 500 kilowatts is going to

get us close to 600, 700 houses.

BILL HAMPTON, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER, KITE POWER SYSTEMS: It's almost a limitless resource. Kites at the top, obviously, they're like the engines.

And underneath those, you have a control mechanism which physically stays them, which is the pod. And then there's a tether that then connects that

to the ground. And all the power is being generated on the ground by the wind.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): The infrastructure is small and cheap and easily portable. So cheap in fact that Kite Power Systems hopes to operate

without subsidies once up and running, a boon for any government.

AINSWORTH: When we look at the future, so our level of cost of energy will be such that they'll be significantly lower than half our price of

electricity. I know, at that point, we should be subsidy free.

LANG BANKS, DIRECTOR, WORLD WILDLIFE FUND - SCOTLAND: Well, I think it's really exciting what's happening with Kite Power in Scotland. I think that

Scotland is definitely a home of innovation when it comes to renewables. And it's not just in winds.

We've seen it in wave and tidal power. And even in solar power, believe it or not, in Scotland. And it's now a place where companies want to come and

test their devices.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Companies including Norway's Statoil, which is building the Hywind project. It's the world's first floating offshore

windfarm, cutting out the need for costly deep sea moorings.

Scotland generates over 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, according to the WWF.

HAMPTON: So this kite's the baby. The ones that we've just built in the - - are now roughly five times the size, like 70 square meter.

AINSWORTH: So we have enough funding at the moment to actually build the 500-kilowatt system and demonstrate the 500-kilowatt system and hopefully

take that to commercial readiness.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Philanthropist Bill Gates has invested billions in green technology, and he has identified kite systems like this one in

Castle Kennedy as a prospective magic solution to the world's energy needs. Kite Power Systems have their eyes on the skies and very much hope he is



CURNOW: Thanks to Nina for that report. Now, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are back home in the U.K. after their tour of Poland and Germany.

Their last stop was Hamburg in Germany where crowds of well- wishers followed the royals wherever they could greet them.

Friday's highlight was Prince George, little Prince George, following in his father's footsteps when he sat on the pilot seat of a helicopter.

Another model he tried later is the same the one the Duke flew during his work as a search and rescue pilot. Aren't they just divine?

Well, thanks so much for joining us. I'm Robyn Curnow. This has been THE WORLD RIGHT NOW.