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Zimbabwe Military, Not Taking Over, President Is Safe; Sessions Says He Now Recalls Papadopoulos Meeting; North Korea Defector Begs China To Free Wife And Son; CNN Team Investigate Slave Trade In Libya; U.S. Lawmakers Are Publicly Accusing Sitting Colleagues Of Harassment; Roy Moore Allegations Pose Problems For Republicans. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired November 15, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay, live in Los Angeles.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Vause. And our breaking news this our: Zimbabwe's military, denying it has taken control of the country despite widespread reports of a coup, and tanks and troops deployed outside government buildings in the capital. In the past few hours, a military spokesman interrupted state-run television to announce that President Robert Mugabe and his family are safe. The so-called criminals around him are being targeted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJ. GEN. S.B. MOYO, CHIEF OF STAFF LOGISTICS, ZIMBABWE MILITARY: The situation in our country has moved to another level. Firstly, we wish to assure the nation that his excellency, the president of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and commander in chief of this noble defense forces, Comrade R.G. Mugabe, and his family are safe and sound and that their security is guaranteed. We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, the military backs the former vice president who is seen as a likely successor to the 93-year-old president, but Mr. Mugabe fired him last week and the army chief threatened to intervene. Many analysts believe the president is clearing the way for his wife, Grace, to succeed him. Our Farai Sevenzo is following the story for us from Nairobi, Kenya. Farai, good to have you with us once again. So, again, set the scene for us as we understand it. The military says there isn't a coup, but we understand that roads are blocked, military vehicles on the street, and there reports of certain individuals being taken into custody. What are you hearing about what is playing out right now in Zimbabwe?
FARAI SEVENZO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Isha, what we know for a fact is that the military, as they've just announced in that statement, are kind of in control of Zimbabwe's destiny at the moment. They are keen, and it pains to tell us that the president and his wife are safe, and they are talking about criminals who they're not naming.
Just to read on, again, from that statement, they are very, very -- say both the people and the world beyond our borders, we wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover of government, or the Zimbabwe Defense Force is doing is to pacify a degenerated political, social and economic situation. Now, a rose by any other name is a rose, and a coup by any other name is a coup. The military is in control of Zimbabwe as I speak to you.
SESAY: All right. The military in control. What does this mean for the ruling party, ZANU-PF, that has held on to power all of these years, and has relied on military support to do so? I mean, where does the party go from here? Can we say wholeheartedly that it is a total military support behind the vice president or does President Mugabe still have some level of support with some factions in the military?
SEVENZO: Yes, that's a very good question. Of course, you know, there is the very feared presidential guard who is still in Mr. Mugabe's corner. But where ZANU-PF goes from now is that in the last two years the party has been disintegrating. They have lost some of their biggest revolutionary stalwarts. We're talking about people that came up with Mr. Mugabe through that liberation struggle of the 1970s where have been cast aside. Joice Mujuru, Emmerson Mnangagwa, great Didymus Mutasa, all of these names that were part in partial of this revolutionary party are now on the wayside. And we have to go back to the question: why is that?
Three years ago, Mr. Mugabe's wife, Grace, began her affront to join the political affray, and she did that by completely sidelining all of these people like Joice Mujuru -- she had her fight. They lost because you just said, Emmerson Mnangagwa left. We don't know at the moment whether Mr. Mnangagwa -- he's going back to Zimbabwe, given that the military is now in control and given that the military took over because of his sacking. And, of course, we also know that Mr. Mnangagwa was the head of the joint operation command. That is a whole umbrella of intelligence army and police that meets to decide Zimbabwe's fate.
So, at the moment, to answer your question, ZANU-PF is failing for some kind of direction. Especially, if those people perceive to be criminals or supporters of Grace Mugabe are currently being arrested. We have yet to verify that.
[01:05:15] SESAY: Yes. And the concern has to be whether or not this is the beginning of some kind of wholesale crackdown, whether this is something that could leave to violence. I mean, what are the signs pointing to right now?
SEVENZO: The signs are pointing to a military at pains to tell the population to carry on as normal, despite the abnormality of the situation. They are urging people where businesses in the center of town to go ahead. But as you say in your introduction, social media is awash with pictures depicting tanks in a major thorough way like Nelson Mandela Avenue in the center of Harare, a city that I know well. And they're talking in terms of containing the situation. And once they have delivered the so-called criminals to justice, then things can go back to normal, but I very much doubt that things will be as normal as they were 24 hours ago.
SESAY: Yes, indeed. And obviously there's also the question of what is justice, so to speak? Farai Sevenzo, we're going to check in with you in a little while. Thank you so much. Thank you for the reporting.
VAUSE: Well, the U.S. President boasts about his great memory; his attorney general seems to struggle. Even so, Jeff Sessions insists he has not lied to Congress about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. He testified for five hours on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, and said after seeing news reports he remembered a meeting last year with Campaign Aides George Papadopoulos, but couldn't recall specifics. Papadopoulos has offered to -- had offered to arrange a meeting between Candidate Trump and the Russian president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: In all of my testimony, I can only do my best to answer your questions as I understand them and to the best of my memory. But I will not accept and reject accusations that I have ever lied. That is a lie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Well, joining us now for more on this, Political Analyst, Michael Genovese, here in the studio with us in Los Angeles; and CNN Legal Analyst, Michael Zeldin, who is in San Francisco. Thanks for coming back.
Michael Genovese, it seems -- if nothing else, it's pretty safe to say that after hours and hours of testimony by Attorney General Sessions, he's not doing a lot to help clear up the questions about the Trump campaign's collusion with Russia.
MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the water was muddied, to begin with; he's making it even more muddy. The convenient memory lapses, even more convenient remembering of exculpatory information. At what point do we simply say enough is enough? And he's not helped this case. But you have to remember, he's under a tremendous amount of pressure by the president who's been criticizing him from day one all through up to today. He's been putting pressure on the attorney general, on the Department of Justice, so you've got a guy who's probably nervous not just about his job, but now there are questions about legality that he has to face as the attorney general. So, he's in a terrible position.
SESAY: Michael Zeldin, of course, Jeff Sessions' speaking there on Capitol Hill whilst we're all aware this special counsel investigation is underway. If you're Bob Mueller, who one would assume was paying attention to what was said today by the attorney general, was there anything said that might have picked his interest, at least as you listen to it all?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, so, there are two possible areas that I've been thinking about that maybe, you know, sort of, worth looking into a little bit further by Mueller. The first is when Attorney General Sessions became attorney general, he had to fill out this SF-86 form, that's the financial disclosure and security clearance form. And on that form, there's a question, I think it's 20.B.6, which asks you for all of your foreign contacts. He didn't list these Russians there.
He says, in leaving that blank, that he was advised by the FBI that he didn't have to fill that in because he was a member of Congress. Well, there is nothing on that form itself that says that. The form is silent as to that and therefore everyone has to fill that out under penalty of perjury. I can't find any evidence that there is an FBI policy about leaving that question blank. So, Mueller may want to look into whether that's a truthful answer.
Second is, when Sessions finally remembered that he had a meeting with Kislyak, the Russian, in his Senate office where his staffers attended to, he said that that meeting was not a substantive meeting. That nothing was talked about that related to Russia or the campaign or anything of that sort. It was a 50-ish minute meeting that was, I guess, of consequence.
However, Kislyak has been overheard to say in reporting the meeting to his masters in Russia that they did, in fact, talk substance and they did talk about the campaign. And so, there is two points where you have a direct statement of this happened or this didn't happen; this is what happened that Mueller could begin looking into. I think the other question of I don't remember, you know, is really for a neurologist, because he's got some amnesia that needs to be addressed.
[01:10:37] VAUSE: Well, you mentioned all, you know, the repeated "I cannot recalls, I cannot remember." Here is a highlight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESSIONS: I don't recall it. I do not recall. I do not recall. I don't recall it. I don't recall. I do not recall. I don't recall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: It can go on much longer than that. But, Michael Genovese, when someone continually says, you know, uses the "I don't recall," you know, answer, what's suspicions does that raise to you?
GENOVESE: Well, if the "I don't recall" is to a person's benefit, that raises questions. If all you remember are things that help your case, then there's clearly a question involved of your veracity, not just your memory but whether you're telling the truth, and whether or not there's something behind the scenes. And every day more comes out, and I think, you know, the attorney general and others around the president are wondering what more does Mueller have, what more is going to come, how do I protect myself? This is a case of trying to protect yourself by saying I just don't remember, which you can't get someone -- really, it's very difficult to get somebody for perjury if they just don't remember. SESAY: And Michael Zeldin, to that point, the whole "I don't recall,"
the whole refusal to answer questions when you don't claim executive privilege when you don't, you know, you don't cite, you know, fifth amendment right not to incriminate yourself. With none of those being brought into play, just saying I don't recall, being, I guess, you would say recalcitrant and refusing to answer, is there anything lawmakers can do to compel him to answer the question? Should they bring him back for a fourth try to get at his memory?
ZELDIN: Well, so, I think that as long as the Republicans control both Houses of Congress, none of that is going to happen. Were it, otherwise, were there Democrat in charge -- Democrats' in charge of one of the Houses, then they could compel him to answer those questions. They could hold him in contempt for not answering those questions because he's asserting the refusal to answer the questions to protect, prospectively, the president's right to assert executive privilege. But he's been there three times. The president has not exerted executive privilege, and so the Democrats are quite frustrated of this "I don't remember" and "I'm not going to answer" line. But until they control one of those Houses, they're not going to get their way.
VAUSE: You know, what was interesting about these hearings is that we got yet another version from Sessions about the circumstances surrounding that meeting with George Papadopoulos. You may remember him, he's the coffee boy who was at that meeting. He's sitting next to the intern and on his right, of course, that's the water boy as well. Also at the table, Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump. Papadopoulos was also on the foreign policy advisory panel, which is that is -- he admits to making contact with Russian officials during the campaign. This is kind of what Sessions did remember and then did not remember. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESSIONS: I do now recall that the March 2016 meeting at the Trump Hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said at that meeting. After reading his account and to the best my recollection, I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government or any other foreign government for that matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And Michael Genovese, that goes to your point, he remembers the stuff that helps, he forgets the stuff that may do some harm. And eventually, this has to wear thin, but --
GENOVESE: But the problem is there's the drip, drip, drip, drip, of information. Each week a new revelation: Don Jr., the attorney general, et cetera.
VAUSE: WikiLeaks, yes.
GENOVESE: And reminiscent of Watergate, that drip, drip, drip was a cumulative effect. And more and more as time went by, more -- people would say, maybe there's something there, and average citizens started to turn on the president. And you can easily see that happening, especially when Mueller comes out with more information, probably, next year.
GENOVESE: And that's when the other shoe may drop.
SESAY: And Michael Zeldin, I want you to weigh in on that point. Do you see it the same way?
ZELDIN: Well, yes. And I think, though, that area of greatest risk for the administration and for the president personally is that there's going to come a point in time where the Mueller investigators are going to want to put the president under oath. Nixon was put under oath, you know, or rather Clinton was put under oath and George W. Bush, and George Herbert Walker Bush -- in all these special counsel investigations, the presidents always get put under oath and questioned.
[01:15:25] And when this president goes under oath, the risk that he's not going to tell a truthful, coherent story is very large, because we've seen in the past his disassembling of the facts in a way that I think can only be viewed as untruthful. And so, if you've got this drip, drip, drip on the one hand, then you add onto it the possibility of the president may lie under oath, then I think you get close to the possibility that you could find the obstruction or an abuse of office, similar to Clinton and similar Nixon.
VAUSE: OK. So, we need to move on to Roy Moore, because we're running out of time. Sorry to interrupt, Michael, but this is all about Roy Moore, the Senate Candidate from Alabama. He's accused of sexual misconduct and actually sexually attacking minors. There's this continued pressure for him grow -- growing pressure, I should say, for him to drop out of the race. His campaign chairman, though, made it clear a few hours ago that is not going to happen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL ARMISTEAD, CHAIR OF MOORE CAMPAIGN: I think the question is: do you believe the man you've been seeing for 20, 30 years in public office or do you believe a couple of women that have come forward with some charges that cannot be substantiated?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Michael Genovese, who do you believe? You know, are these allegations unsubstantiated? Does it matter?
GENOVESE: No, they're more than unsubstantiated. You have several different women who, also, at the time told the story to others. So, it's not as if they're making something up today or just coming out of the story today. There's a lot of information from years ago. But, you know, you just wonder what's happened to the Republican Party? And would they be better off with Moore winning or losing? Is it better to have him there voting for all of the things that they want him to vote for or would he be the poster child for the 2018 midterms: this is what the Republican Party is?
VAUSE: Do they want a pedophile in the Senate?
SESAY: Yes. I mean, Michael Zeldin, that's the question -- I mean, what is the bargain here that they're making in being willing to stand by Roy Moore's side? And furthermore, what is the legacy here for the Republican Party?
ZELDIN: Well, these are essentially political questions which I tend to avoid, but it does seem a bit of a Faustian bargain here. And, you know, I think that Michael Genovese's observations about the risks that they create for themselves long-term by, you know, sort of, standing by their man to maintain their majority so that they can try to pass their agenda is probably not in their long-term interests, politically.
VAUSE: What is interesting, though, is that, you know, he is losing support, especially among the party establishment, but there's still support for him in Alabama and there's still support for him on conservative talk radio. Rush Limbaugh, in particular, he offered up another defense of Roy Moore, which was bizarre.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE TALK RADIO HOST: Did you know that before 1992 when a lot of this was going on, that Judge Moore was a Democrat? You didn't know that? How about all of these people now -- oh, yes, everybody here knew about Judge Moore. Oh, yes, good old boy, we've known about Judge Moore for a long time while he was a Democrat. Nobody said a word. When he supposedly was attracted to inappropriately aged girls, he was a Democrat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Michael Genovese?
GENOVESE: Well, that's it. That's case closed. I think we now know that there's no more to say. But, you know, raise your hand, how many people have been banned from a mall?
GENOVESE: Not too many people are going to raise their hands. So, whether he's a Democrat 30, 50 years ago, it matters not. His behavior was unacceptable. It was at the time illegal. It's immoral. You don't want him around if you're a Republican.
SESAY: Good to have people equivocating about it is --
VAUSE: Rastafarian or whatever --
VAUSE: You know, whatever independent or whatever, you know, Green Party candidate, it just doesn't seem to enter into the equation.
ZELDIN: You've got to, to pick up on our last segment, it is a pump don't work because the vandals took the handles. The whole system is broken.
VAUSE: OK. And that is a good place to wind it up. To our two Michaels, thank you both.
SESAY: We appreciate you both. Thank you.
GENOVESE: My pleasure.
SESAY: We're going to pause here and take a quick break. Gay rights supporters are celebrating a victory in Australia, and majority Australians have voted in favor legalizing same-sex marriage. So, what's next? Details ahead.
[01:19:46] VAUSE: Also, China detains the wife and young son of a North Korean defector. Now, he's begging the Chinese president for help.
SESAY: Australians are celebrating after two months national survey came out in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: At least 61 percent of Australians voted in favor of marriage equality.
VAUSE: And Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says parliament will approve the measure and should pass legislation by the end of the year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALCOLM TURNBULL, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: The Australian people have spoken. In their millions, and they have voted overwhelmingly "yes" for marriage equality. They voted "yes" for fairness. They voted "yes" for commitment. They voted "yes" for love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: This is now part of Turnbull's legacy because Australia is one of the few English-speaking countries where same-sex marriage is not legal, and now that changes.
SESAY: Now it changes. Well, U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is in Myanmar to urge its leader and military to resolve the Rohingya humanitarian crisis. He's expected to hold a joint news conference with Aung San Suu Kyi within the hour; she's facing intense pressure over her handling of the violent crackdown of Rohingya Muslims.
CNN's Senior International Correspondent, Ivan Watson, joins us now from Hong Kong. Ivan, thanks for joining us. So, Secretary Tillerson and his State Department are yet to use the widely-used term "ethnic cleansing" to describe what's happening to the Rohingya population. That being said, give us some perspective on the significance of these meetings that Mr. Tillerson is scheduled to have with Aung San Suu Kyi and the head of the military.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's Tillerson's first visit to Myanmar or Burma as the U.S. officially refers to that country. And it's clear that the human rights situation and the massive exodus of the Rohingya that that is at the top of the list of things that he wants to talk about. He did meet with Aung San Suu Kyi just a couple of days ago in Manila on the sideline of those regional summits.
And U.S. diplomats have made it very clear that they, on the one hand, want to support Myanmar's ongoing democratic transition, but they also want a credible investigation into the abuses that have led to this exodus, and they want the population there protected. Whether or not he uses the formal term "ethnic cleansing," that remains to be seen, but certainly he will be putting pressure both on Aung San Suu Kyi and on the commander of the Myanmar Armed Forces who arguably have much more control and say and authority over what's happening in Myanmar's Rakhine State than the civilian side of the government.
That will also be essential, and we'll be looking to see what kind of language exactly Rex Tillerson uses during that press appearance. Of course, Aung San Suu Kyi, she gave a speech last September about this. I was in Naypyidaw, in the capital, and listened to it. And in that speech, she denied any allegations, any accusations that the security forces had committed any of the vast lists of abuses against this Rohingya Muslim Minority Rakhine State. Isha.
[01:25:12] SESAY: All right. We'll be watching that news conference very closely. And, Ivan, we shall speak next hour. Thank you so much. Ivan Watson there in Hong Kong for us.
VAUSE: A North Korean defector is begging China's President Xi Jinping to free his wife and 4-year-old son. He has not seen his family since they were detained by Chinese authorities earlier this month, attempting to flee from North Korea. Paula Hancocks is following this story, she joins us live now from Seoul. Paula, the longstanding policy of Beijing is to send North Korean defectors back to North Korea. They haven't budged on that despite a lot of criticism. What are the chances they'll make an exception in this case?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, you can certainly only hope for the safety of this father who's waiting to see his wife and son. What we're hearing from human rights groups, is they believe that China's actually increasing the crackdown on North Koreans trying to escape their homeland. Human rights watch saying, 49 North Koreans were detained between July and September this year, but that's almost about the same amount for the previous 12 months. They see China being becoming more aggressive in their attempts to stop North Koreans.
HANCOCKS: A father begs for the lives of this wife and 4-year-old son. Mr. Lee is a North Korean defector. His family was detained in China more than a week ago while they, too, were trying to escape. We're concealing their identities to protect other family members still inside North Korea. China doesn't see defectors as refugees, but as illegal economic migrants and returns them to North Korea and almost certain punishment.
"When defectors are caught trying to go to South Korea," Lee tells me, "they're sent to political camps and never leave. From what I know, in two to three years, maybe less, you'll wither to death. Because my son is young if he's not sent to the camp with his mother, he'll wander streets like an orphan and die there." Lee breaks down repeatedly. He says, he defected alone in 2015 carrying poison in case he was caught.
In October, he ranged for his wife and son to escape, but on November 4th they were arrested by Chinese authorities along with eight other defectors. Lee says he phoned his wife, she said they were in handcuffs, then the line went dead. He's heard nothing since. "A 4- year-old child in a cold cell," he says. "How is he surviving? It's just horrible to imagine."
He makes a personal plea to China's President Xi Jinping, appealing to him to see his son as he would see his own grandson. The foreign ministry said last week it's unaware of the case but handles such matters in accordance with international law and humanitarian principles. Reverend Kim Sung-un says he and his mission have helped around 500 defectors to escape.
"20 years ago," he tells me, "for me to bring one defector to South Korea, it would cost $5. Now, it costs up to $20,000, which shows how much more difficult it's become. Chinese soldiers are all along the border." As the Chinese and South Korean leaders met Saturday, Seoul's presidential office said they've asked China to handle North Korean defectors from a humanitarian perspective.
Lee says another source of hope for him was U.S. President Donald Trump's speech to the South Korean parliament where he listed North Korean human rights abuses. He asks the U.S. president to intervene. "My son is my whole life. He's everything," he says. "Thinking of losing him, I'm devastated. I'm in darkness." A desperate plea for help, knowing the fate of his family lies in the hands of others.
HANCOCKS: Now, certainly we're hearing from official figures from the South Koreans as well that this dangerous, often deadly journey from North Korea through China into South Korea is becoming far more difficult, they say, because of the increased border controls by both North Korea and China. Saying, the number of defectors making it to South Korea has halved almost from last year to the year 2011. John? VAUSE: And the amazing thing is that China does not have to send them
back to North Korea because South Korea would happily take them. Paula, thank you. Paula Hancocks live in Seoul.
[01:29:29] SESAY: Quick break here. CNN channels to Libya after a tip about migrant slave trading there. Our disturbing and exclusive findings when we return.
VAUSE: Welcome back, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour, updating our top story for you, the military in Zimbabwe is denying taking over the country and have a political dispute over where's the President Robert Mugabe? A military spokesman says they're trying to avoid violent conflict and that the 93-year-old president is safe. Mr. Mugabe sacked his Vice President last week who is considered his likely successor.
VAUSE: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he did not lie about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. Sessions told the congressional committee it was -- on the afternoon news report that he actually (INAUDIBLE) the meeting with campaign adviser George Papadopoulos last year but he didn't recall specifics. Papadopoulos offered to arrange a meeting between then-candidate Donald Trump and the Russian president.
SESAY: Australians voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. At least 61 percent voted in favor of allowing marriage equality in the National Postal Survey. Parliament could begin the process of legalizing those marriages within weeks.
VAUSE: For years, migrants crossing the Mediterranean have shared horrific stories about beatings, kidnappings, even enslavement. Many make harrowing journeys from West African countries and those who make it to Europe often are terrified and traumatized they refuse to talk to officials about their ordeal. For the last year, CNN has been working to report these stories.
SESAY: Well, the CNN team comprised of Nima Elbagir, and producer Raja Razek, and photojournalist Alex Platt were able to travel to Libya to see unbelievable inhumanity firsthand. They got access to a migrant slave auction where a man was sold like commodities. Here is our Nima Elbagir.
NIMA ELBAGIR, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A man addressing an unseen crowd. Big strong boys for farm work, he says. Four hundred. Seven hundred.
Seven hundred? Eight hundred. The numbers roll in. These men are sold for 1,200 Libyan pounds, $400 a piece. You are watching an auction of human beings. Another man claiming to be a buyer, off camera, someone asked, "What happened to the ones from Niger?" "Sold off," he's told. CNN was sent this footage by a contact.
After months of working, we were able to verify the authenticity of what you see here. We decided to travel to Libya to try and see for ourselves.
[01:35:02] We're now in Tripoli and we're starting to get a little bit more of a sense of how this all works. Our contacts are telling us that there are one to two of these auctions every month and that there's one happening in the next few hour. So we're going to head out of town and see if we can get some sort of access to it.
For the safety of our contacts, we have agreed not to divulge the location of this auction, but the town we're driving to isn't the only one. Night falls. We traveled through nondescript suburban neighborhoods, pretending to look for a missing person.
Eventually, we stopped outside a house like any other. Adjust our secret cameras. And wait. Finally, it's time to move.
We're ushered into one of two auctions happening on the same night, crouched at the back of the yard, a floodlight obscuring much of the scene. One by one, men are brought out as the bidding begins. Four hundred.
Five hundred. Five-fifty. Six hundred. Six-fifty.
Seven hundred. Very quickly, it's over. We asked if we can speak to the man, the auctioneer, seen here, refuses. We ask again if we can speak to them, if we can help them.
No, he says. The auction's over we're told. And we're asked to leave. That was over very quickly.
We walked in, and as soon as we walked in, the men started covering their faces, but they clearly wanted to finish what they were doing, and they kept bringing out what they kept referring to in Arabic as albadayie, the merchandise. All in all, they admitted to us that there were 12 Nigerians that were sold in front of us. And I honestly don't know what to say. That was probably one of the most unbelievable things I've ever seen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) country.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): These men are migrants with dreams of being smuggled to Europe by sea.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): They come in their thousands from Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Ghana. It's hard to believe that these are the lucky ones, rescued from warehouses like the one in which we witnessed at the auction. They're sold if those warehouses become overcrowded or if they run out of money to pay their smugglers.
Of these rescued men so many here say they were held against their will. It doesn't take us long to find victory.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No food, no drinking water.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No food, no water, nothing.
ELBAGIR: Victory was a slave. We know that some people are being sold.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
ELBAGIR: Some people are being sold.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
ELBAGIR: Is this something you've heard about?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
ELBAGIR: Can you tell us about that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.
ELBAGIR: I was sold.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was sold.
ELBAGIR: What happened?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On my way here I was sold. If you look at most of the people here, if you check their bodies, you see the marks. They're beaten. Mutilated.
You understand? Most of them lost their lives there. I was there, the person who came to buy me, give them my money. They took me home. So the money was not even that much.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): As the migrants now start to come forward with their stories --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They took people to work by force. Even when we were at the seaside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you are working. When you are doing their work, they will be beating you. They will be maltreating us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I promise you, I will take care of your husband --
ELBAGIR (voice-over): Anes Alazabi is the supervisor here. With no international support, it's his job to look after the captured migrants until they can be deported. He says every day brings fresh heartbreak.
[01:40:03] ANES ALAZABI, ANTI-ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION AGENCY SUPERVISOR: I'm suffering for them. I am suffering for them. What they have seen here daily, believe me, it makes me really feel in pain for them.
They come and every story is a special case. A few, they were -- there was abusing them, a few is they stole their money.
ELBAGIR: Have you heard about people being auctioned off, about migrants being sold?
ALAZABI: Honestly, we hear the rumors, but there is nothing that's obvious in front of us. We don't have evidence.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): But we now do. CNN has delivered this evidence to the Libyan authorities who have promised to launch an investigation, so that scenes like this are returned to the past. Nima Elbagir, CNN Libya.
SESAY: Well, in addition to alerting the Libyan authorities about what we uncovered, CNN has also passed their evidence onto the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court.
VAUSE: And we'll be back right after this.
SESAY: If you just tuned to us here at CNN, a 5.4 magnitude earthquake has been reported in South Korea. It struck in the southeast about 270 kilometers from Seoul.
VAUSE: And the tremors were felt as far away as Seoul. Apparently, the aftershocks and the shaking continues. So far, though, no reports of any major damage.
SESAY: Now some U.S. lawmakers are publicly accusing sitting colleagues of sexual harassment and misconduct. Two female congresswomen spoke at a hearing before the House Administration Committee on Tuesday.
VAUSE: They claimed two male lawmakers are guilty of sexual misconduct. One a Democrat, the other a Republican, so it's bipartisan. Neither have been questioned about their behavior. California Democrat Jackie Speier did not name names but she did have this disturbing account.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: In fact, there are two members of Congress, Republican, and Democrat, right now who serve, who have been subject to review or not have been subject to review but have engaged in sexual harassment. These harass are propositions such as, "Are you going to be a good girl?" To perpetrators exposing their genitals, to victims having their private parts grabbed on the House floor. All they ask in return as staff members is to be able to work in a hostile-free work environment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Well, with us now for more, CNN Legal Analyst Areva Martin and CNN Political Commentator and Republican John Thomas. John, I want to start with part of CNN's reporting about this. The dozens of interviews that CNN conducted with both men and women also revealed that there is an unwritten list of male lawmakers made up primarily of House Representatives where there are many more members than the Senate notorious in inappropriate or predatory behavior. Some people simply refer to that roster as the creep list.
[01:45:00] This also talk, you know, stay out of the elevators if there's a guy in there. Yes. It's bad enough if it's in Hollywood which, you know, most people -- a lot of people look at as being kind of sleazy anyway in many parts. But, you know, this is Congress. This is -- this is where the country's laws are made. Is it so naive to think that this place should be free of this kind of behavior?
JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, you'd like to think so and it makes it even worse because it's our taxpayer dollars that is funding all of this. But look, it's a perfect petri dish, unfortunately, for this kind of thing going on. And you're seeing it even in California, out in Sacramento.
VAUSE: When you say petri dish, you mean like it's --
THOMAS: For the -- for this environment.
VAUSE: -- people traveling away, they're isolated? The, you know --
THOMAS: Well, first of all, you got a bunch of dynamics, that's right. You got congresspeople that are away from their spouses, oftentimes across the countries so they don't have to go home to their wives in the evening. There's no check, right?
Number one, you got the young interns that are rotating through. Oftentimes it's their first job, they're trying to work up their ladder. You got egotistical power-hungry elected officials. That's a -- that's a bipartisan problem that are looking to exploit the situation.
And then on top of that, if they're found guilty of harassment, they're not personally liable to pay the fine. We do as taxpayers.
VAUSE: I want to get to that in a moment, but Areva, you know, this started in Hollywood, it swept through the tech industry, business, sport, and now we're onto politics, especially on Washington. One of the big complaints we've heard, though, is the system in Congress which seems to set up protection for the harasser and makes it really difficult for a woman to come forward and make a complaint.
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I was pretty underwhelmed I would say by the hearing, although, I applaud the women that have come forward and told their stories. I wanted them to go further. What's happening in Hollywood is we were naming names and naming names makes a difference.
It's how you really start to break down the barriers that have existed that have allowed these predators to remain in positions of power. And I think the same thing needs to happen in the Congress. I'd like to see who is that male Democrat and Republican that Jackie Speier was talking about, because I think those two individuals apparently have not been held accountable. And that's t the problem.
VAUSE: Because under that system they have in congress it takes them --
MARTIN: Three months.
VAUSE: -- three months, but then you also have to sign a non- disclosure.
MARTIN: Nondisclosure and you have to go to mediation, you have to go to counseling and then you have this cooling off period. So it discourages women victims from coming forward.
VAUSE: So the (INAUDIBLE) said that in the Harvey Weinstein case, said other cases women signed nondisclosure but they just went through that and came out and went in public. So again, they could do this in Congress.
MARTIN: Well, yes, nondisclosures agreements have been under fire and under a lot of (INAUDIBLE) and we have a state senator in the State of California who is going to introduce the legislation in January to change the laws around nondisclosures. Again, the goal here is, make it easier for victims to come forward. Make it difficult for them to face retaliation and retribution and have swift and severe consequences for predators.
THOMAS: And makes the person liable in the process. The other issue is I think part of -- in Congress, you're supposed to sit across from your accuser in mediation? I mean, how challenging has -- can that be against somebody's perhaps much more powerful than you are?
I mean, there's just -- if the system is a serious issue, it will.
MARTIN: And it -- and they don't separate you. So even if you come forward, you have to remain --
THOMAS: Right, I can't --
MARTIN: -- in the office of that same person who has created the hostile work environment.
VAUSE: Very quickly, you talked about the cost of all of this. Again, here is Congresswoman Jackie Speier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SPEIER: We do know that there's about $15 million that has been paid out by the House on behalf of harassers in the last 10 to 15 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So $15 million, I mean, as you say, taxpayer money. Who authorizes that? Where does that come from?
THOMAS: Yes, it's one of the House Committees I'm sure.
VAUSE: And it's hush money, right?
THOMAS: Yes, that's right.
MARTIN: Well, it is because as -- the public were not allowed to know and there shouldn't be private settlements with the government. And the moneys that spent by the United States Treasury to settle these lawsuits should be a matter of public information.
VAUSE: Stay with us because we have a lot more to talk about after the break.
SESAY: Yes, we're going to take a very quick break here because Republicans face a dilemma over U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore who is accused of sexual misconduct. Top Republicans want him out of the race. Moore will not quit. So, the question is, what happens next?
[01:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SESAY: Hello, everyone. U.S. Republicans have a real problem with Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore. He's accused of pursuing relationships with teenage girls and in two cases sexual abuse while he was in the -- min his 30s.
VAUSE: Moore's campaign is losing funding. Top Republicans want him out. He's refusing to quit. So, what happens next and what's at stake? Here's Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here is the first question about any Republican opposition to his election, could Republicans block the December 12th election altogether? And the answer is, yes, they could. The Republican Governor of Alabama Kay Ivey could move it further down the line and delay it.
She says she will not. In fact, she says she's going to vote for Roy Moore, although she notes, "We don't have all the facts in the case yet." So that could change as well. Could his name be withdrawn from the ballot?
No, it could not be. That would have to happen 76 days before the voting and bear in mind a lot of absentee ballots have already been counted so that's off the table. Could Moore simply be beaten? Yes, he could. It could be a case where the Republican say we're going to have a write-in candidate and maybe President Trump gets behind that candidate and they create enough momentum. He has fallen some in the polls since all of this news has come out there, but bear in mind President Trump backed his opponent in the primary and Moore won anyway. But, yes, he still could be beaten in the process. Could they stop Moore in Washington if he wins in Alabama?
Yes, they could. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could get together with all the Republicans there. They would have to seat Moore. They would swear him in and say, "You legitimately won and you're here, but we have deemed you to be unfit to serve.
It would take two-thirds of the Senate to do that, but if that happens, then he would be sent right back home. And what are the biggest risks in all of this? Well, obviously here's a really big one. People like Steve Bannon and other very reverently antiestablishment people on the Republican side could start harassing and going after Republicans left and right over this matter.
But they're kind of already doing that anyway, so I'm not sure if that's bigger risk as people think. And then there is this one, maybe the Democrat Doug Jones would simply win this race. And if he wins that upsets the balance of power for Republicans who need that extra vote in the Senate here to hold on to power.
But bear in mind, Alabama may have elected nothing but Republicans to the Senate since about the mid-1990s, but before that, they had a long, long history in Alabama of electing Democrats.
VAUSE: OK. Back with us now, John Thomas and Areva Martin. John, just speak up on Tom Foreman's last point, chance of Democrat winning? Several chance and how?
THOMAS: Yes, and --
VAUSE: Because you know Alabama because you worked a lot --
THOMAS: I do, yes, I've worked at -- I've worked at -- a bunch of races in Alabama. I mean, they like the Republicans there, certainly statewide. However, we didn't -- in that example, we didn't talk about a potential write-in with the, you know, and that could potentially, if it's not a strong write-in candidate, it could split up the Republican vote which could conceivably allow a Democrat to win.
I think before something like that seriously happens, McConnell and their pollsters are going to figure it out. And they're only going to do it if it would work.
VAUSE: Right. Areva, you know, we heard Congresswoman Jackie Speier talked about two sitting lawmakers guilty of sexual harassment. If they can't find a way to stop Roy Moore, that number will be three and there's nothing they can do about it. MARTIN: Yes, that's what's so scary about all of this. This is a man who's been accused of sexually assaulting and molesting --
VAUSE: A 14-year-old.
MARTIN: -- five women have come forward.
VAUSE: A 16-year-old girl, yes.
MARTIN: One 14 and one 16. We heard that really difficult story from the woman who said that he tried to force her to give him oral sex when she was 16 years old. So this is new level predator conduct that we're dealing with. And I just can't imagine that the Republicans want the stench of someone like Roy Moore in their party.
THOMAS: But we can't forget the context of this race leading up to this point before these claims dropped. The reason Moore is even in a raw position is because the fundamental question in the race was, who did Mitch McConnell wants?
[01:55:05] And we're going to vote for the opposite person. And so if Mitch McConnell goes in with too heavy of a hand to block Moore and Moore is able to shift the way -- the dynamic away from his sexual predatory behavior and to Mitch McConnell, it may work in Moore's favor.
VAUSE: OK. Because we know that --
MARTIN: Well, that's the political issue. And I think the bigger issue here for, you know, millions of women and good conscience men is the moral question here. And I rarely agree with Mitch McConnell but he was one of the first Republicans out front of this.
He didn't say we need to wait to see the evidence. He said, "I believe these accuses and he's not fit." And that was the right thing to do.
VAUSE: But Roy Moore still has his supporters in Alabama. This is congressman Mo Brooks who told a local reporter, "America faces huge challenges that are vastly more important than contested sexual allegations from four decades ago. As an attorney, I know accusations are easy. Proving them to the satisfaction of a judge, a jury, or here, voters, is another thing. I don't know enough of the evidence to know with confidence what the true facts are." Areva, there is no due process in the court of public opinion.
MARTIN: Well, let me push back on that as an attorney. This isn't court. There's not the standard of reasonable doubt.
MARTIN: There, you know, we're not talking about convicting him. We already recognized the statute of limitation is long past. So this isn't about bringing him to court. Lawmakers should be held to a high standard of morality, integrity. So we don't have to use the same standard that we would use in a court of law to say he's unfit to serve to represent us in the United States Senate.
THOMAS: And he also hasn't handled it perfectly. He did an interview last week with Sean Hannity.
VAUSE: That's part of the -- yes, that's part of all the --
MARTIN: Well, even Sean Hannity is walking back now.
VAUSE: That's right, but also --
MARTIN: And saying, "You got 24 hours, convince me that you're not a predator."
VAUSE: Also you mentioned Mitch McConnell backing his challenger. Steve Bannon the former White House strategist was backing Roy Moore. "The Daily Beast" is reporting, "Over the past few days, Bannon has begun privately taking the temperature of those in his inner circle to see what they think of the Moore allegations and to get their sense of how to proceed, according to four knowledgeable sources.
Bannon emphasized, to both friends and colleagues that he is uncomfortable with the charges of sexual harassment and child molestation that have been leveled at Moore." John, so if Moore losses support from Bannon, is that a game changer and is a game changer in Alabama, though?
THOMAS: It's a -- it's a big deal. I mean, I think the final nail in his coffin would be if Trump turns on him publicly and we'll -- and well it does.
VAUSE: You mean the man accused by 16 women of sexual harassment?
THOMAS: I mean, sure, but the fact is, you know, remember, Trump didn't like Moore from the get-go. I don't think he wants Moore to be -- Moore's probably not going to be with his agenda 100 percent of the time. So if Trump thinks he can get him out, he'll probably try to get him out.
MARTIN: I think Moore is a big issue for Trump because every time Moore comes up in the conversation, the 16 women that accused, Donald Trump comes up in the conversation. So Trump has 16 reasons to keep Moore out of the U.S. Senate.
VAUSE: OK. And we'll leave it there. And John and Areva, thank you so much.
VAUSE: Appreciate it.
MARTIN: Thanks, John. SESAY: And that's it for this hour of NEWSROOM L.A. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause. More news after a short break.