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Military Seizes Control In Zimbabwe; Trump Puts His Spin On Asia Trip; Roy Moore Faces New Accusations; Mugabe's Future Uncertain After Military Takeover; Hannity Pulls Back On Ultimatum To Roy Moore; Rare Da Vinci Sells At Auction For $450 Million. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired November 16, 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] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour, the military seizes control of Zimbabwe in what appears to be a coup. What this means for long- time ruler, Robert Mugabe, is still anyone's guess.
VAUSE: Back home from Asia with lots to say. The U.S. president posting about a great American come back that has restored the U.S. standing in the world.
SESAY: And with new accusers coming forward against Roy Moore, the U.S. Senate candidate's legal team is stepping up its counterattack.
VAUSE: Hello, everybody, great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.
SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM L.A.
VAUSE: Well, Zimbabwe may be entering a new political era after a military coup and everything but name. President Robert Mugabe is under house arrest, and the 93-year-old, who've ruled for almost four decades is now facing an uncertain future.
SESAY: The streets of the capital are calm, but tanks and troops are surrounding key government buildings. One resident said, there's a sense of excitement in the air, and many are hopeful -- political change will help provide the country's economy. And as believed, the military is trying to prevent the president's wife, Grace, from succeeding him.
Well, our CNN's Eleni Giokos is following the story for us from Johannesburg and joins now live. Eleni, good to see you once again. So, what are we hearing about the situation on the ground in Zimbabwe, specifically as it relates to Robert Mugabe, his whereabouts, and what the immediate future holds for him?
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that he is currently confined. He's under house arrest. So, the story is may be from what we understand. We don't really know where this is taking place. We suspected it is at his residence. And right now, we're still seeing a military presence on the ground.
Interestingly, though, business as usual, it seems, where you've got people still selling their fruits and vegetables on the side of roads, most businesses are still in operation, grocery stores are also operational, flight in and out of Zimbabwe still seem to be on-the-go at this point in time. And importantly, the banks are still embarking on transactions. Remember you can't withdraw more than $50.00 at a time in Zimbabwe, so even if you wanted to go and find a flight to safety, it would've been way too late for over a year now.
But importantly, Isha, I think what we need to focus on is while -- is wait, too, from here, as you mentioned, and whether President Robert Mugabe is, in fact, still going to be president down the line. I was just looking on the newly created Twitter feed, the Zimbabwe government Twitter feed, and it says that President Mugabe is in good health, but he's going to be resigning and the installation, they say, of his Excellency, Emmerson Mnangagwa, as Interim President of the Republic would occur on November 17th. This Twitter handle is also talking about the fact that things are going to change, there's going to be a transitional movement, that is going to be put in place.
And it's almost like a stepping stone now on the movement to what we saw coming through from yesterday's announcement from the general where he says, this is not a coup, this is just us putting a transitional government in place. Remember that Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Vice President of ZANU-PF, was sacked by Robert Mugabe last week and opening the door for his wife, Grace Mugabe, too, of course, take over -- factionalism and division have been sown within ZANU-PF over the past year. And this has created a lot of concern on the ground, and that's why military say that they have to intervene.
SESAY: You read from that Twitter account as newly formed. They're talking about the vice president stepping in, taking the reign of power, where is the official opposition in Zimbabwe amidst all of this. Have we heard from the coalition, the MDC, Movement for Democratic Change, what are they saying about what's happening?
GIOKOS: Well, what we do understand is that all the opposition party is now united in some form or other that this is, perhaps, the time that we are going to see change occurring in Zimbabwe after almost 40 years of President Robert Mugabe's rule. We also know that there's going to be a summit of sorts, with the opposition party that is going to take place over the weekend to discuss the way forward. We don't know if this is going to result in some kind of coalition government or power sharing, something we have in Zimbabwe before, but it seems that it has created some kind unification.
[01:05:21] I guess that the overall voice is that there's hope, that there's going to be changed in the country. And hopefully, this is not going to spark violence. And speaking to some people on the ground and a lot of off-the-record comments that are coming through, even from the business community, is that they've hoped that things are going to finally change, and perhaps we're going to see the Zimbabwe economy finally take a turn for the better after over a decade of food shortages, high-pay inflation, and just general poverty on the ground.
SESAY: OK. And just to be clear, the Twitter account that you just read from, and we have -- CNN -- independently verified its authenticity. We will, of course, work to do so. But to make the point, it has appeared and provided this information that we're working to clarify. I just want to be clear, as we talk about the vice president or the ousted vice president coming back, potentially, allegedly to Zimbabwe to take over the reins of power. Is there any conversation about elections in the near future, giving the people of Zimbabwe a say in what happens next and who takes control?
GIOKOS: Well, I think that already depends on what the regional body of the Southern African Development Community, the intervention is also going to be. Remember that they have to tow a very diplomatic line. And South Africa is going to be integral to that because we are the chair, currently, the SADC.
Importantly, we also know that if there's any kind of mention of a coup, or if it is labelled a coup, we know that the union's head had spoken about it in that regard that things could turn very differently, and transitional government could perhaps be something that we won't see occurring anytime soon. And, of course, elections are perhaps will be something that won't happen in the near future. But importantly, I think, it's also going to be up to Zimbabweans whether they're going to have their voice heard, and how they're going to respond to all the intervention.
And importantly, how they're going to respond to any kind of transitional government that is going to come in to forth. Right now, Isha, it seems that people are calm, we're not seeing any dramatic messaging coming through from any party on the ground, especially not any kind of violence or people standing up against us. I think it's a wait and see approach. And I think even the diplomatic envoy that withstands to Zimbabwe by South Africa yesterday, we know they arrived this morning.
They are not saying very much, and they say that we don't know a lot about the situation, but they're holding their cause close to their chest, saying it is tentative and things could change at any moment.
SESAY: It is a fluent situation, one that we are watching very closely. Eleni Giokos, we appreciate it, thank you so much.
VAUSE: U.S. President Donald Trump is spiking the football after his five-nation trip to Asia. He says he's restored U.S. standing in the world, corrected the mistakes of his predecessors, progress is being made in the fight against terrorism, North Korea's nuclear threat is being reigned in, and he's restoring fair and reciprocal trade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everywhere we went, our foreign host greeted the American delegation, myself included, with incredible warmth, hospitality, and most importantly respect. And this great respect showed very well our country is further evidence that America's renewed confidence and standing in the world has never been stronger than it is right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: For more, joining us now: CNN Correspondents Andrew Stevens in
Beijing, Paula Hancocks standing by in Seoul, South Korea; here in Los Angeles, Democratic Strategist Caroline Heldman, and Conservative Commentator Alex Datig. So, thank you all for being with us. Caroline, what struck me about this speech by the president on Wednesday, how clearly taken he was -- not just by all the parades and the red carpet, but that dinner in the forbidden in Beijing. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: From South Korea, Melania and I traveled to China whereas, in Japan and South Korea, we were greatly honored by the splendor of our reception. Our trip included the first official dinner help for a foreign leader in the forbidden city since the founding of the modern China, where we enjoyed a very productive evening, hosted by President Xi and his wonderful wife, Madam Peng.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: A new foreign policy me, me, me, me, me, but, you know, this -- this seem like when your relatives come back from vacation, and it runs around and we'll get this lies.
CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, in terms of Donald Trump, foreign leaders have his number, right? They roll him every time -- every stop he made to use flattery, and it clearly works. But at the end of the day, this trip didn't net anything. In fact, he sent mixed signals in terms of trade; he initially starts of in Japan, and South Korea -- where he gives a reasonably good talk and he says we are going to stand firm and view this region as a whole.
He gets to China, and all of a sudden, we're back to the, you know, group of two where it's China and the United States, and the elevated stature in trade, which resembles the Obama policy. So, he's sent conflicting messages. At the end of it, we have no trade deal, right? No trade deal with folks in the region. 11 countries on the TPP, while he was there to send a message that the United States is not even in the running. And he -- today he's saying that he would do something, he did nothing. He said that he would get individual trade deals with these countries, he did nothing. So, at the end of the day, yes, it was a flattery tour.
[01:10:57] VAUSE: We will get to deals in a moment. But Alex, just answer that criticism that some people have made that the president has confused flattery for respect. You got flattery, but he didn't get a lot of respect.
ALEXANDRA DATIG, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that Trump voters, like myself, really want to see good relations in the world with this president, unlike President Obama who went around trashing the United States to foreign nations. It was really refreshing to that our president went to foreign nations and was treated with respect and represented our country with dignity. And I, for one, you know, I love America, and I think we have to stop destroying America from within. And just this constant shaming and bashing of a president who's really trying to put a new face on our country, and trying to have us treated with dignity and have the world respect us is wonderful.
HELDMAN: 22 percent.
DATIG: I'm really, really happy --
HELDMAN: 22 percent of the people in other countries --
DATIG: with the fact that these are the --
HELDMAN: -- think that our president will do the right thing. 22 percent according to a recent Gallup poll
HELDMAN: The globe is laughing at us. This is not a president who is respected.
DATIG: I respectfully disagree.
HELDMAN: Well, you disagree with Gallup polls then.
DATIG: I do disagree with polls very much, like I did in 2016.
VAUSE: OK. Obviously, trade was a big focus on this trip. Human rights were not the agenda, but President Trump said, you know, he did say that billions of dollars of trade had actually signed with China. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: In China, we also announced $250 billion worth in trade investment deals that will create jobs in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Andrew Stevens in Beijing, what more do we know about these deals because it seems that some of them have spread out over years, maybe a decade or more, and some of them are actually non-binding, right?
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: Yes, Memorandums of Understanding is a term that's used in some types of business deals -- they are generally, but not always non-binding. And one that strings mind Donald Trump was talking about was $94 billion deal with West Virginia and the China state energy company to develop a gas project in West Virginia. That is an MOU, that's $83 billion, John, but there's no guarantee that that is actually going to go ahead.
So, that $250 billion headline that we've seen over the past few days does not stand up to too close the scrutiny, certainly as far as new deals are concerned. I think Boeing was around 37-40 billion dollars, but some analysts have said it's showing that these -- some these deals have already been announced. So, look a little bit of paper, and the numbers don't look quite so good.
But what's interesting about the Trump trip and his resaid, if you like, and this respect that the Asian countries are showing is not walking -- it's talking the talk, it's walking the walk. And they haven't been, as your guest said, there haven't been any deals done. And Donald Trump, he's very clear, said we are open, the U.S. is open for bilateral deals; we will do trade deals with one other country.
But nobody seems to be in a great hurry to actually do those deals. In fact, the prime minister of Singapore, put it quite (INAUDIBLE) recently when he said, look, Donald Trump sees a bilateral deal most likely as where the bigger or the U.S. has more leverage, so it will get the terms of trade that it wants. The other country doesn't want to sign -- or there isn't a great hurry to sign up on those sorts of terms. So, we're not seeing these bilateral deals.
Meanwhile, the multilateral deals like the TPP, which Trump took the U.S. out of continues, while China also is setting up its very big regional comprehensive economic partnership with each at the center of a regional trade deal. So, it's really waiting to see how these bilateral turn out as to gauging the longer-term success of this trip.
VAUSE: OK. Andrew, thank for that. We'll head over to Seoul in South Korea because of the threat from North Korea was the other problem for the president. And Paula Hancocks is there, but, Paula, this was the president's assessment on progress made on North Korea, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[01:15:03] TRUMP: I called on every nation, including China and Russian to unite in isolating the North Korean regime, cutting off all ties of trade and commerce until it stops its dangerous provocation on, and this is the total key to what we're doing on denuclearization.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: To be fair, it's not have been a few days, but how is that moving forward, especially in terms of Russia and China?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's no indication, at least not publicly that it is at this point. In fact, bear in mind that, that a special envoy from China is actually heading to North Korea tomorrow, on Friday local time, that's also been announced by North Korean state media. So, they're making sure that their own people know that they have an envoy from China, coming to visit them in Pyongyang.
Now, we know they'll meeting officials within the regime, we don't know whether that special envoy will be meeting with the North Korean leader. But that doesn't seem as though it is coming tied, in fact, the exact opposite. And we've seen in recent weeks as well, we've seen North Korean officials traveling to Moscow and talking with Russian officials.
In fact, since the U.S. President, Donald Trump came to power, we have seen more connection between the Russian and the North Korean side than we have in previous, in previous administrations. And China and Russia are being very clear about what they want; they want dialogue, they want -- eventually, denuclearization, but the main thing that China wants is for the U.S. to sit down and talk to North Korea for dialogue to take over from where it left off with the six-party talks. So, yes -- I mean, as you say, it's only been a few days, but at this point, there's absolutely no indication, in fact, the opposite that China and Russia have any intention of cutting ties with North Korea.
VAUSE: OK. Paula, thank you. To get back to you Alex, you know, when American presidents travel overseas, they, you know, the tradition is they uphold American values, which is why they insist on travel with reporters, which is why they insist, you know, that the press will get access, you know, on these trips. What we saw on this trip by Donald Trump was, you know, The Philippine President Duterte, you know, calling out the press, calling reporters spies, and the president laughing along with him. It's a minor thing, but it does seem that the president, on a number of occasions during this trip, you know, didn't seem to uphold American values.
DATIG: Well, I mean, the good part is, he didn't call our president a son of a whore like he did Obama. So, you know, I think that was a step in the direction, but I would reserve my comments on the president of the Philippines because he's a little bit sideways, as far as I'm concerned. But I do think the president of United States, Donald Trump, his intention is to put public safety first and protect the United States citizens and have these talks about denuclearization. I'm not really sure if his intentions were to go to China and have trade deals, as a matter of fact I'm hearing from conservative outlets that they're quite upset that he didn't put their feet to the fire more in China, and they sort of accused him of playing footsies a little bit.
DATIG: So, maybe, some people wanted him to have a knockdown drag-out with China, and say, hey, you're ripping us off in trade deals and so on like he did in the campaign. But I think he prioritized the denuclearization and the diplomatic talks first to have good relations.
VAUSE: Caroline, I just want to -- did you think that at some point during the trip the president still looked on it with envy at President Xi, you know, the control he had over the state media, or, you know, some these sort of, you know, all the fact dictators have basically controlled the controlled, and didn't have to worry about the freedom of the press.
HELDMAN: Would be called dictator envy? It certainly felt that way, right? And matching outfits and chuckling along with Duterte who has, you know, murdered people -- his own people.
VAUSE: He admits to, yes.
HELDMAN: Right. So, it's -- I don't care what he thinks about our U.S. presidents, I don't care whether or not a dictator, who murders his own people, has respect. But, so, I don't see that as being a benefit or something that we got from that trip. I think that Donald Trump shows his heavy-handed tactics with the media, with the press in the United States are something that, you know, he feels a great kinship with people who are actually, really engaging in dictatorships in other countries.
VAUSE: We'd like you guys to stay with us and come back after the break because we have to switch gears to another big story in the U.S. at the moment. So, thank you for that, but stick around.
SESAY: Quick break here. And when we come back, and embattled U.S. Senate candidate is going on his offensive, how one of Roy Moore's accusers is coming under attack?
[01:19:42] VAUSE: And later this hour, how President Trump's search for a water bottle sent the media into a frenzy at the White House.
SESAY: Well, the political scandal in Alabama's Senate race is expanding. The Washington Post reports two more women are describing unwanted attention. Gena Richardson says, she was a high school senior when pursued her. She relented and went out with him.
VAUSE: According to The Post, they'd met that night at a movie theater in the mall after she got off from work. A date that ended with Moore driving to her car in a dark parking lot behind Sears and giving her what she called an unwanted forceful kiss that left her scarred. "I never wanted to see him again," says Richardson, who is now 58 and a community college teacher living in Birmingham.
SESAY: Meantime, Moore's attorney is challenging the credibility of one of his accusers. Beverly Young Nelson, alleges Moore sexually assaulted when she was 16. Moore's attorney says Nelson and her lawyer, Gloria Allred, false claim Nelson never spoke to Moore again after the alleged assault.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP JAUREGUI, ATTORNEY TO ROY MOORE: They both said that Ms. Nelson after the allegations had never seen nor had any contact with Judge Moore. As it turns out, in 1999, Ms. Nelson filed a divorce action against her then-husband, Mr. Harris. Guess who that case was before, it was filed in Etowah County and judge who sign was Roy S. Moore, Circuit Judge of Etowah County. There was contact.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: He just wasn't specific, though, on precisely how Moore was involved in that case. He also wants to have Nelson's yearbook analyzed to see if an inscription signed "love Roy Moore" is actually a real signature from Judge Moore or maybe it was forged.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAUREGUI: Look at the "1977" after "Merry Christmas," look at those two "sevens," and then look below at the "77." And I want to ask you: do you think it was written by the same person? I want you to look at "Hickory House," which they say Judge Moore wrote. Judge Moore said, there's no way in the world that's his handwriting -- and I want you to look at it. Look at some other writing of his, and make your own determination, that's what our expert will be doing. But for now, I'm asking you all to take a look. Use your judgment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Back with us now, Alex and Caroline to look at the politics from the all of this. OK. So, the issue now is: what can the GOP can actually do if Moore refuses to get out of the race, and there's a good chance he'll be elected to the U.S. Senate. Well, it seems, at least, according to Senator Collins, nothing. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: First of all, I've looked at the case log very briefly and at the constitutional requirements, and it appears that if Mr. Moore were to be elected, we would have no choice but to seat him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, Alex, is it more important for the country that Roy Moore not be elected to the Senate or is more important for the country that the Republicans hold their current margin within the Senate.
DATIG: I think it's more important for our country not to have Roy Moore elected. We just cannot take a chance on someone like this.
VAUSE: Then what do you do? Do you back the Democrat? Do you ride- in? Do you urge Republican, Moderate Republicans in Alabama to vote for the Democrat to stop this?
[01:25:09] DATIG: I would like to see a ride-in candidate myself. I would also like to see another option of having the governor put a hold on the election because that's an option that they could postpone the election and have an investigation and find out what really happened. And, you know, I mean, if we're going to be fair, you know, about, but the reality is that Roy Moore has denied these allegations. He says that he doesn't even know of the victims, it's really a despicable thing that he has done. And I think the entire country, eventually, will come to understand that we just cannot have someone like this.
VAUSE: I just want to, Caroline --
DATIG: Representing the people. I'm sorry, John, but, you know, I'm a sex trafficking survivor.
DATIG: I do not think Judge Moore can go into the Senate and represent me. VAUSE: But the which I think is surprising is that The Washington
Post interviewed more than 30 people for this story. Seven women have got on the record. Some of them voted Donald Trump, some of them, you know, all of them had everything to lose and nothing to gain, and yet you're still saying, well, you know, we need to prove that its true. I mean, what more is need to know that this happened?
DATIG: Well, everybody has a right to be innocent until proven guilty in the court of law.
VAUSE: This isn't a court of law, this is public opinion. There are no two persons of public opinion.
DATIG: Well, I understand, but I mean, this is what he's asking for.
HELDMAN: Well, then, unfortunately, the statute of limitations has --
DATIG: I would even last to support him, but we do have -- we do have, you know, laws that allow people to prove their case and be determined by a jury of the peers of whether they are innocent of guilty.
HELDMAN: Sure. But moving the election -- but moving the election is not Democratic.
DATIG: We're talking -- you know, the saddest part about Judge Moore is that Alabama couldn't do any better. That's the saddest part about it.
HELDMAN: I think they could've done better. I mean, I think they could've vetted him. I feel, actually, quite bad for the party because this happened right before or right after the absentee ballots have gone out. So, it was too late to put another person in. It is not democratic to change the date of elections because you know that it's going to favor one party versus another, that's not how we run our democracy, so that's not a good option.
I think the only good option is when he gets to the Senate, Mitch McConnell will immediately start ethic proceedings in order to remove him, this has happened before and that it will likely happen again. But this is terrible for the Democratic -- for the Republican Party, they should've vetted. This is Steve Bannon's influence in this election, that was his candidate.
VAUSE: I thought the problem for Mitch McConnell is that he can start that ethics investigation, but he can only focus on his -- on Moore's time as a senator. He can't look at all those other stuff, right?
HELDMAN: I am sure that -- you're absolutely right. But I am sure that they will find some form of a loophole if they want to do that, right? There's a party in control, they can, they can establish that.
VAUSE: OK. Apparently, so far, President Trump has -- what we know, is staying away from this at least publicly, saying nothing about Roy Moore. Our sources tell CNN's Jeff Zeleny, he's worried about the conversation moving to his past accusers. That would be past accusers like Jessica Leeds who said this last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSICA LEEDS, TRUMP ACCUSEE: He was grabbing my breast and trying to turn me towards him and kissing me, and then after a bit, that's when his hands started going -- I was wearing a skirt, and his hands started going towards my knee and up my skirt. And that's when I said, I don't need this and I got up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: I guess, Alex, the question is: does Jessica Leeds have the same amount of credibility as, say, Beverly Young Nelson, who we heard earlier this week throwing a very much look at what she went through?
DATIG: For one, I want to say President Trump offered a heartfelt apology for his actions --
HELDMAN: He's apologized to Jessica Leeds?
DATIG: He hasn't apologized.
VAUSE: I think he apologized for the tape.
DATIG: I think he did. He did. But, you know, I think, I think the best answer is change behavior for anyone. And as a matter --
HELDMAN: Doesn't she have behavior (INAUDIBLE) acknowledging at, though, there are 16 women, and he knows this.
DATIG: I have put out -- on my Facebook, I'd put out a question and I said: sexual harassment happens to men. And when it does, what do men think? And I thought maybe three people would answer. I had 73 men answering that they've came out, and they got fired. So, this is a pervasive problem in this country and the way we're dealing with it by dragging it into these political environments and calling people out. It's damaging to the victims.
HELDMAN: No, that's where it exists. It exists in political environment --
DATIG: We should --
HELDMAN: We're not dragged. No one is dragging it in there.
DATIG: We should create policies -- we should create policies that deal with these problems immediately. Sexual harassment, something happens in the moment. We need to deal with it in the moment.
VAUSE: And I think the president actually called all of his accusers, liars.
HELDMAN: And in fact, he has --
VAUSE: I don't think there's been any apology. HELDMAN: -- his wife -- Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said all of his accusers are liars, and that includes some children; a 12-year-old, and a 13-year-old.
DATIG: Putting words into Donald Trump's mouths, though.
HELDMAN: No, no. She said that on camera to a reporter.
VAUSE: I think he apologized on tape. You know, the Billy Bush tape. He has this Hollywood tape with the -- you know, with different language.
[01:30:13] HELDMAN: Well, I mean, I'm willing -- I'm willing to forgive Donald Trump.
HELDMAN: As soon as he acknowledges it and ask for forgiveness, that would be something you could forgive him for, but until that point, if he's not ask -- if he's not acknowledging and asking for forgiveness, how can you possibly --
DATIG: I mean, that only serves -- that only serves a certain narrative and I'm not buying into that narrative, OK?
VAUSE: OK. We have -- we run out of time.
DATIG: I don't.
VAUSE: OK. Good. Thanks, guys. It's good to (INAUDIBLE) appreciate you being with us.
DATIG: Thank you so much.
ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: When we come back Zimbabwe was once Africa's most promising country, critics claim President Robert Mugabe to face economic and political collapse, now his own political future is uncertain.
SESAY: Hello, everyone, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: And I'm John Vause. The headlines this hour, Zimbabwe is waiting to see if a military takeover will bring political change. President Robert Mugabe is believed to be under house arrest. The 93- year-old has ruled with an iron fist for almost four decades and was believe the military is trying to prevent his wife Grace from succeeding him.
SESAY: Flashflood have killed 13 people around Athens, Greece, others are trapped in their homes without power or running water. A state of emergency has been clear in the west (INAUDIBLE) region. Parts of the national highway system had been destroyed and many of the roads are shut down as well.
VAUSE: President Donald Trump says his trip to Asia has restored the U.S. standing in the world and made it clear, America is back. He's claiming progress on trade, fighting terrorism, and uniting the world against the nuclear threat from North Korea.
SESAY: One of the most dictator (INAUDIBLE) in Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's political future is now uncertain.
VAUSE: Our David McKenzie has more of the man who once claim only God could remove him from office.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: After nearly four decades in power, perhaps inevitable that it would come down to this in Zimbabwe. Troops on the streets and the dramatic freedom military statement saying that this apparent coup wasn't a coup.
MAJ. GEN. S.B. MOYO, CHIEF OF STAFF LOGISTICS, ZIMBABWE MILITARY: Comrade R.G. Mugabe, and his family are safe and sound and that their security is guaranteed.
MCKENZIE: But these words could be the end of an era. Robert Mugabe seemingly forced to side by his military after trying and apparently failing to turn his dictatorship into a dynasty. Grooming his wife nicknamed Gucci Grace for her opulent taste to succeed and a step too far for many powerful rivals.
[01:35:00] Perhaps now no more lavish birthday bashes for Mugabe who like to spend hundreds of thousands on gatherings while his people languish in poverty. He's legacy is dominated by violence and oppression. And then economic collapsed so bad money became worthless and millions fled.
For many Robert Mugabe could leave behind and sell the country.
ROBERT GABRIEL MUGABE, PRESIDENT OF ZIMBABWE: I Robert Gabriel Mugabe do swear --
MCKENZIE: So it's easy to forget that at first, many likened Mugabe to Nelson Mandela. Preaching reconciliation after a brutal liberation struggle that he helped lead. Repairing bonds with the former colonial master, Britain. He was even nicer.
The young Zimbabwe became the envy of the continent. Mugabe trained the teacher presiding over an education revolution and a thriving agricultural powerhouse. But Mugabe like to say he had a degree in violence and from the start he squashed political dissent.
MUGABE: We get our escape and get back by the (INAUDIBLE)
MCKENZIE: When his power became threatened at the (INAUDIBLE) he sanctioned violence attacks in white owned farms by so called (INAUDIBLE) to strengthen his hat. And he crushed a rising opposition using his hold on state security. Mugabe was abandoned by the west and its aid. And the country never fully recovered.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Robert Mugabe is here and during the last years all the people decide to change him.
MCKENZIE: It seems his military, if not, his people have finally made that decision for him. David McKenzie CNN Harare, Zimbabwe.
SESAY: Well, Zimbabwe's military is under pressure to deliver, so far, the apparent coup appears to be mostly peaceful and across the world leaders are hoping that things stay that way. South African President Jacob Zuma has (INAUDIBLE) to Zimbabwe to try to help resolve the crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACOB ZUMA, PRESIDENT SOUTH AFRICAN: We are very concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe. We would like to call for common straight particularly to the defense force and all security forces in Zimbabwe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Meanwhile, the U.N. has taken notice and is also calling for a peaceful resolution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FARHAN HAQ, DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL: The sector general has been monitoring the evolving situation in Zimbabwe. He appeals for calm, nonviolence, and restraint, preservation of fundamental rights including freedom of speech and assembly is of vital importance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Another journalist Redi Tlhabi has reported extensively on Zimbabwe and President Mugabe himself and then ruling Zanu-PF. She joins us now from Johannesburg. Redi, good to see you once again. One African analyst was quoted to say what is currently happening in Zimbabwe is the case of the old god reinforcing its authority. What's your read on this moment they way witness saying in the neighboring state of Zimbabwe?
REDI TLHABI, JOURNALIST AND TALK SHOW HOST: That's a very accurate description of what has happened. There are two people whose names we need to keep in mind, Grace Mugabe, the wife of Robert Mugabe who obviously wanted to succeed her husband. The old god of the Zanu-PF would not have that. Why?
She's young, she doesn't have what is called struggle credentials. Meaning, she didn't fight in the liberation walk. That's the first person. The second one is Emmerson Mnangagwa who was Robert Mugabe's right hand man for over four decades. Now he has this rich struggled credentials and that is the man that the old god would prefer. And so you have a contest between somebody whose legacy is not really positive, his legacy is contestable about Emmerson Mnangagwa. On the other hand, you've got Grace Mugabe whose ambition I would say has been very, very toxic. It's like being caught between a rock and hard place.
Who do you choose between Grace Mugabe and Emmerson Mnangagwa? Certainly many feels that Mnangagwa has earned his stripes in the liberation movement and he comes with that experience as Zanu-PF elder, but Mugabe really bit off more than he could chew by firing Mnangagwa. He must've known that that was a politically risky situation.
SESAY: Yes. One which he probably never hope would pay out like this or play out like this rather. On Monday when the Chief of the Defense and Forces General Constantine Chiwenga delivered that (INAUDIBLE) warning to Zanu-PF against purging, members with deliberation background Zanu-PF youth wing leader responded by saying the military can stay in the barracks, that youth leader has now apologized to General Chiwenga and other top military officials saying, "We are still young and we make mistake." What does this reversal signify to you?
[01:40:01] TLHABI: It's very significant, why? Because great Mugabe's constituency has been the Zanu-PF Women's League. He was the president of the Zanu-PF Women's League and the youth leader itself has co-lift AROUND Grace Mugabe.
So I think that the youth leader has read that the writing is on the wall. Perhaps he underestimated the influence of Mnangagwa and the determination of the military. There is no doubt whatsoever that the military is backing Mnangagwa and that there would be an interim leadership in Zimbabwe.
So obviously that is the youth leader, that's what he wanted in his favor within your leaders that are coming in. I would say that Grace Mugabe is done. Her political future is uncertain. I don't think that she's got any hopes of running Zimbabwe and Zanu-PF.
So I think that by experience of the youth leader to quickly align himself to the new leaders as it were that are coming in.
SESAY: So you're saying Grace Mugabe's political future is basically on the rock. And the general feeling if that goes -- that continually be said for her husband, Robert Mugabe, that his time in office is going to a close. But Redi, there's still the question of how can he be ushered from the political stage? Will this be a greater exit with a chance to retire or will he be ragged off in humiliation?
TLHABI: Well, it depends on whether he read the writing on the wall and he graciously accepts the offer to step down because that offer has been made to -- this is what I think will happen. I don't think Emmerson Mnangagwa or even the regional leaders who are meeting in Botswana today, the regional leaders of Southern Africa are meeting, you know, to agree on the way fort for Zimbabwe. I don't think that the exit plan will be combative or ugly as it were.
I think Robert Mugabe is respected by many in the Zanu-PF and Emmerson Mnangagwa was a comrade for many, many years. Now the problem with punishing Robert Mugabe is that many of his senior cabinet leaders who were also arrested by the military, many of them have to account for their actions and their deed.
And from where I'm sitting Emmerson Mnangagwa is just as complicit. So I don't think that he would have the confidence to be combative or, you know, enforce some sort of punitive exit strategy for Robert Mugabe given that he himself was (INAUDIBLE) in much of the repression that we see in Zimbabwe over the last few decade. So I do think that it will be a dignified exit that is planned for Robert Mugabe.
He does remain popular amongst many the many (INAUDIBLE) leaders and he's anti-west restrict. He's resonated with many of those who have not embraced constitutional democracy. So the old boys' club as it were, I think, will kick in eventually and offer him the protection that he needs.
SESAY: Well, yes, that old boys' club. We've heard of it and talked about it many times. Hopefully the day will come when we'll talk about it no more. Redi Tlhabi, we appreciate the inside analysis, thank you very, very much.
TLHABI: Thank you.
VAUSE: Still to come here, one of the biggest names in conservative media in the U.S. called out the embattled Senate Candidate Roy Moore and gave him 24 hours to prove accusations of sexual misconduct were not true. That deadline is coming on, we'll tell you what happen right after this.
[01:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VAUSE: Middle of the outrage, the anger, the growing number of women alleging sexually inappropriate behavior and the pressure to end his run for the senate, Judge Roy Moore has had one very high profile defender who despite everything is not only willing to give him the benefit of the doubt but question the honesty and the motives of the women who say they were the victims of inappropriate sexual behavior by Moore when he was in his 30s and they were teenagers. Well, on Tuesday it seem even Sean Hannity, one of the biggest names in conservative media was dabbed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: For me, the judge has 24 hours. He must immediately and fully come up with a satisfactory explanation for your inconsistencies that I just showed. You must remove any doubt. If you can't do this, then Judge Moore needs to get out of this race.
This country has way too many issues and problems.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: And Roy Moore was listening, writing an open letter begging Hannity to believe him. Here's part of it, "Are we at a stage in American politics in which false allegations can overcome a public record of 40 years, stampede the media and politicians to condemn an innocent man, and potentially impact the outcome of an election of national importance? I feel that it question the credibility of one of his accusers.
And closed with an adamant denial that he never dated underage girls and for Sean Hannity, that is enough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: We demand -- demanded rightly answers from Judge Moore. He provided them to the specific questions we asked. In my opinion, so serious, the people of Alabama, they need to know the truth and they've got to have all the facts that they need.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Well, for more, here's CNN Senior Correspondent and host of Reliable Sources Brian Stelter joins us now. OK. Brian, that was such an added climax, you know, let's face it, Moore didn't have any real new evidence and then no clarification, nothing else substance and Hannity kind of squint it.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: You know, let's -- "Let the voters decide" has been the cliche heard all over television, all over the web in recent days. Hannity seems to be punting over to President Trump and now I think heading into Thursday, this is -- raises the stakes and raises the pressure for the president to weigh in on this matter. You know, we all saw after that odd speech on Wednesday how President Trump walked out of the room without answering questions about Moore.
And the reporters going to keep asking now that Hannity is waiting and, you know, sort of -- sort of punted it over to the president.
VAUSE: But that raises the question because there were some reporting that maybe Donald Trump was waiting for Sean Hannity to know what to say.
STELTER: Exactly. And this is from our colleagues in Washington saying that the president's been -- has been very curious what Hannity and others on Fox were going to say on this matter. You know, Fox has not covered the Roy Moore scandal to the same degree that CNN and other news outlets have. I think Fox News does an embarrassing story.
Perhaps a story that conservative audience doesn't want to hear a lot about. So Hannity spent almost his entire hour rallying against Hilary Clinton and Bill Clinton saying it's time for a reckoning about the Clinton sexual harassment scandal machine. You know, Hannity would much rather talk about the Clintons all day than let's talk about Roy Moore.
VAUSE: Well, you talked about Sean Hannity and his obsession with pushing, so, you know, (INAUDIBLE) claims against Hillary Clinton. On Tuesday night he's spent 13 minutes and used a series of complicated graphics to try and prove a corruption case against Hillary Clinton. Here's part of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: And now take a look at this. It shows the entire scale of the Clinton's willingness to do anything and everything to gain power and wealth at all cost. Look at this, pretty amazing. There's so much to investigate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Yes, it's pretty amazing, Sean, but not how you think.
STELTER: He -- Hannity as it show is increasingly predicate on this idea that there is a vast plot. This Clinton conspiracy and it's very convenient for him because it gives him something to talk about to distract from all of the Trump presidencies foibles and scandals and controversies. You know, when in doubt, talk about the Clintons and that's the playbook for Hannity and for other right-wing media host in the Trump page.
And even though she's not president and Bill Clinton has not been president for 20 years it has been the easiest thing to do, I think, these days to go back to Clinton. And it's no wonder why President Trump and the Attorney Jeff Sessions talk about the possibility of a special counsel, talk about the possibility of new investigations.
[01:50:02] That's coming straight from right-wing media. When I saw that letter from Sessions the other day saying that he was going to have his staff look in to whether there should be a new investigation, to me that was a big win for Sean Hannity.
VAUSE: Yes, the Clintons add catnip for conservatives it seems. So, you know, when it comes to Hannity and conspiracy theories the liberal website Vox took a closer look and found, He takes conspiracy theories and gives them a platform, "He encourages his viewers to distrust their ears, because the media and liberals are collaborating to mislead Americans. But here's the kicker, there's evidence from Hannity's past that shows he's -- he doesn't even care if these theories are true. All he cares about is whether they feel true to his viewers because that's all that matters at the ballot box.
And I guess you can add to that, the ratings. If that's true it would seem to be pretty cynical at best.
STELTER: It's an excellent piece on vox.com and I find myself quite persuaded by some of it, you know, you think about last year Hannity was promoting these theories about Hillary Clinton's heath, about whether she was fit enough to be president. Now that a big swath of the American public doubts President Trump's fitness for office wonders about his wellness. You don't hear Hannity talking about that.
He'd much rather still talk about the Clintons as if the election hasn't happened yet. It is -- it, John, a cynical strategy and ultimately does a disservice to Hannity's own viewers when Fox does not focus on the real news that is happening in Washington but instead talks about these imagined scandals. It actually confuses and distorts the public debate.
And I have to wonder if Hannity's going to look back years from now and be embarrassed, be disappointed in how they covered the Roy Moore scandal in particular. You know, these are -- these are stories that are tests, these kinds of situations are tests for media figures. And we've seen a lot about standing journalism about Moore.
We've also seen some excuses being made, some people trying to avoid the subject and I wonder if Hannity will look back with some disappointment someday.
VAUSE: It's a question of, you know, will they be shame, I guess in --
STELTER: Will they be shame?
VAUSE: -- sometime in the future. Brian, I guess we'll see, but for now, thank you.
SESAY: And we shall see.
VAUSE: Yes. Shame.
SESAY: Next on NEWSROOM L.A., how President Trump search for water bottle stole the show at the White House on Wednesday. We don't want to miss that.
SESAY: Well, the 500-year-old painting of Jesus had just become the most expensive artwork ever to sell at auction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) and the piece is sold.
SESAY: And sold, causes a lot of money. Altogether, the Leonardo Da Vinci painting fetched more than $450 million including fees at Christie's in New York. The auction house did not identify the buyer who bid by phone, John.
VAUSE: Seems a bit much, doesn't it?
SESAY: Yes, it does.
VAUSE: I mean, it's a lot. I mean --
SESAY: I mean, it's --
(CROSSTALK) VAUSE: Do you like it?
SESAY: And I do. I don't think it's (INAUDIBLE)
VAUSE: It's nice. Best (INAUDIBLE)
SESAY: Four hundred fifty million, nice?
VAUSE: Yes. Let's call this (INAUDIBLE) it's one of the (INAUDIBLE) painting by Leonardo. Are we going?
SESAY: It'll be good in the dining room.
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) anyway.
SESAY: No. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio maybe having the last laugh at President Trump's expense.
[01:55:03] VAUSE: OK.
SESAY: Are we going to do this?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Right, OK. I'm carried --
SESAY: On Wednesday President Trump sent the media frenzy for visibly interrupting his speech to take a sip of water.
VAUSE: And the painting doesn't get any better, the one we just looked at.
SESAY: To be honest with you there's (INAUDIBLE) time.
VAUSE: Back to the water. OK. It's about Trump had mocked Rubio for -- during the 2016 campaign. Jeanne Moos has more on this political water fight.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump didn't have to eat his words, he had to drink them. Eleven minutes into his speech his mouth got dry.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The core principles of fairness and --
MOOS: A few seconds later.
TRUMP: Seventeen thousand jobs.
MOOS: The president disappeared. TRUMP: Can I have water if that's OK? What?
MOOS: Reporters pointed to a small table next to the left, "Turn to your right, sir," said one. Now the president stopping his speech to swing from a bottle of water would be no huge deal if he haven't done this back during the campaign.
TRUMP: It's Rubio.
MOOS: Tossing water around the stage, he imitated Senator Marco Rubio and then lobbed the entire bottle.
TRUMP: Ha, ha, I need water. Help me, I need water. Help. And he said -- this is on live television.
MOOS: Then-candidate Trump was mocking Rubio from the time Rubio desperately gulped down water while he was delivering the Republican response to the State of the Union. So, what did Rubio say about Trump's parched moment? "Similar, but needs work on his form.
Has to be done in one single motion and eyes should never leave the camera. But not bad for his first time." Pretty witty considering what Trump called him.
TRUMP: You're a choker.
MOOS: Rubio guzzled made in the U.S.A. Poland Spring while the president drank imported Fiji water. Noted one reporter, Trump drinks Fiji water while decrying trade deficits. This year, the U.S. has a $119 million deficit with Fiji. After Rubio ducked to drink, Trump imitated him.
TRUMP: I said where is he?
MOOS: Where are you? "The Daily Show" commemorated Trump's Rubio moment, tweeting "President Trump's official portrait unveiled. You are looking at proof that water is never under the bridge." Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
VAUSE: On a serious side, it does say a lot about White House and the organizations that they don't have water ready for the president --
SESAY: I mean, technically they did, it just wasn't where he thought it would be. Technically there was water close to the hands. I think the bigger issue is (INAUDIBLE) water was.
VAUSE: True. You're watching NEWSROOM L.A. I'm John Vause.
SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. We'll have much more news right after this.
[02:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)