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Zimbabwe Political Crisis; Sexual Harassment Scandals; Russia Investigation; Libya Investigating Slave Auctions After CNN Report; "Downton Abbey" Comes to New York. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired November 18, 2017 - 02:00   ET

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


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CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Zimbabwe's political crisis grows, the ruling party calls Mugabe to step down. Reports say the long time leader is resisting.

Libya launches an investigation after CNN's exclusive report of migrants being auctioned off as slaves.

The White House dismisses any similarities between the sexual misconduct allegations against Senator Franken and President Trump.

Hi, I'm Cyril Vanier, live from the CNN NEWSROOM live here in Atlanta. Thank you for joining us.

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VANIER: In Zimbabwe, new signs we could be witnessing the twilight of Robert Mugabe's rule. State media reports the president's own party wants him to step down following Wednesday's apparent military coup.

The party also called on his wife, Grace Mugabe, to step down from positions she holds. It seems the president's efforts to make her his successor led to this current political crisis.

Mr. Mugabe isn't leaving just yet, though. Even though he has been under house arrest a source says he is resisting plans to depose him. On Friday, he made his first public appearance since the apparent coup and attended this university graduation.

A source tells CNN the military gave Mr. Mugabe a deadline of Friday to reach a deal. Now people across the country are waiting to see what happens next. CNN's Farai Sevenzo went to the outskirts of the capital where, for decades, Mr. Mugabe drew much of his support.

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FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The streets of the capital, Harare, may be gridlocked by a military dragnet. But on the rural outskirts, though, it is calm and free of soldiers.

These villages have for decades been the bulk of Robert Mugabe's support base and now, with his dramatic fall from power, all but signed off by his army, the people who so often voted for him are watching and speaking quietly about the nation's drama.

SEVENZO: Even in rural areas like this, you get the sense that the news of the apparent coup has reached them all and, in general, people have come to accept it. And now they are waiting to see what the generals will decide for the future of Zimbabwe.

SEVENZO (voice-over): We meet Makunde, who served as a signatory for this village's branch of Zanu-PF, Zimbabwe's ruling party. The fate of his long-serving president and his politically ambitious wife is on Makunde's mind.

SEVENZO: What about Ms. Mugabe, what do you think of her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

SEVENZO: She's too young.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's too young. (INAUDIBLE).

SEVENZO: She didn't even to go to the war, you're saying?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, she.

SEVENZO: So, is this the feeling among Zanu-PF supporters --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. They want someone who is --

SEVENZO: With experience, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- with the experience.

SEVENZO (voice-over): It is a slow and unhurried life here, but they, more than the city folk, are feeling the pain of an imploding economy and the lack of prospects for their children.

We met Andrew (ph), who says he stopped supporting the ruling party a long time ago and last voted for them in 1980. He says Zimbabweans have suffered for too long.

ANDREW (PH): I support the army for what they did and they must keep on putting that (INAUDIBLE). But (INAUDIBLE). We love him. Whatever they want to negotiate with him but he must leave.

If he doesn't leave, that means we might suffer more than what he has suffered.

SEVENZO (voice-over): It is the young, though, like Petro Zanobic (ph), who feel no loyalty to Robert Mugabe. They were not even born when he came into power.

SEVENZO: Petro (ph), if the president goes, are you going to miss him?

PETRO (PH): No. SEVENZO: Why?

PETRO: (INAUDIBLE).

SEVENZO (voice-over): Nobert (ph) says they are too afraid to talk politics, but they are curious about what comes next.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are listening.

SEVENZO: You're listening --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- about what he says. We wait for the result what the -- comes from (INAUDIBLE).

SEVENZO: Well, do you think that the army did a good thing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's good thing (INAUDIBLE).

SEVENZO: Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

SEVENZO (voice-over): And it's not just the future for the young. Shadrach (ph) has lived in this village all his life. He's in his 80s and has seen the best and worst of an independent Zimbabwe. He says there's nothing to do now but wait and see what the future brings -- Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Romesha (ph), Zimbabwe.

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VANIER: And another word on Zimbabwe, this time as it relates to the U.S. President Donald Trump is suspending his administration's decision to allow big game hunters to bring elephant parts into the U.S. from Zimbabwe and neighboring Zambia.

Mr. Trump tweeted he wants to review the, quote, "conservation facts." The argument for removing the restrictions in the first place was that it would help finance conversation efforts in African countries because hunters would be paying --

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VANIER: -- for the right to hunt and kill animals.

Activists responded, the ban was created and still needed now, because the elephant population in Africa was vanishing at an alarming rate.

The White House says there is no comparison between sexual misconduct accusations against Democratic senator Al Franken and similar allegations leveled at U.S. President Donald Trump.

Mr. Trump took Franken to task after the senator publicly apologized for inappropriate behavior more than a decade ago. But when asked about the many women who have accused Mr. Trump of sexual misconduct, the White House brushed it off.

Let's get the details from CNN's Sara Murray.

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SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President's Trump reaction to sexual assault allegations and his own history of alleged misconduct with women under new scrutiny today.

The president ignoring questions about the allegations against Alabama Senate hopeful Republican Roy Moore for days, but quickly firing off a tweet attacking Democratic Senator Al Franken for a photo in which he appears to touch a woman while she's sleeping.

"The Al Frankenstein picture is really bad. Speaks 1,000 words. Where do his hands go in pictures two, three, four, five and six while she sleeps?"

Franken has apologized for his actions and welcomed an investigation, while Moore maintains he's innocent.

ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: "The Washington Post" has brought some scurrilous false charges, not charges, allegations, which I have emphatically denied time and time again.

MURRAY: But Trump's decision to weigh in on Franken immediately drawing comparisons to the president's past behavior. During the presidential campaign, a 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape came to light, showing Trump boasting about groping women.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. I just kiss. I don't even wait. (LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

BILLY BUSH, "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD": Whatever you want.

DONALD TRUMP: Grab them by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You can do anything.

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MURRAY: Trump apologized after the tape was made public.

TRUMP: Anyone who knows me knows these words don't reflect who I am. I said it. I was wrong and I apologize.

MURRAY: But, afterwards, more than a dozen women came forward and accused Trump of sexual misconduct or assault.

TRUMP: The stories are total fiction. They're 100 percent made up.

MURRAY: Taking aim at their looks.

TRUMP: She would not be my first choice.

MURRAY: And threatening lawsuits that he never actually filed.

TRUMP: All of these liars will be sued after the election.

MURRAY: Today, the White House dismissed any similarities between Franken's misconduct and allegations against the president.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think in one case, specifically, Senator Franken has admitted wrongdoing and the president hasn't. I think that's a very clear distinction.

MURRAY: When it comes to Moore, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wouldn't say whether Trump believes the women making allegations against him and said Moore's fate ultimately lies with Alabama's governor and the voters.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: The president certainly finds the allegations extremely troubling, as I stated yesterday. And he feels like it's up to the governor and the state -- the people in the state of Alabama to make a determination on whether or not they delay that election or whether or not they support and vote for Roy Moore.

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MURRAY: Now, the White House has said President Trump believes Roy Moore should step aside if the allegations against him are true, but it's pretty clear Trump does not want to intervene in this election.

Now the White House said that President Trump does believe Roy Moore should step aside if the allegations against him are true. But it's clear the president doesn't want to intervene in this race. As for the Alabama governor, she says she has no plans to delay the election and she does plan to vote for Roy Moore -- Sara Murray, CNN, the White House.

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VANIER: Political analyst Michael Genovese is with us now. He's president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University.

Michael, good to have you with us. Wicket an own goal (ph) for President Trump to even address this ongoing conversation about sexual misconduct, whether we're talking about Moore or whether we're talking about Franken, I mean it was certain to revive the stories about allegations against him?

MICHAEL GENOVESE, LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it wasn't wise, but the president can't help himself. He has no self-control where these things are concerned and he has to tweet out things that he should be silent about because the president wants to have it both ways.

He wants to be able to criticize Democrats while saying that Moore needs to have more time, let the people decide. We have to see if there's proof. And the same is true with Donald Trump. When you raise these things, your past history comes into play and Donald Trump can't afford to have that happen too often.

VANIER: The White House obviously was asked about this. We saw that with Sara Murray's reporting. The answer was essentially the American people knew of these allegations come Election Day and they still elected him president. So essentially the implication is that they're at peace with this.

Do you feel that that has indeed been baked into people's assessment of President Trump, so there's nothing for him to bring it up again?

GENOVESE: I think that's part of it. I think that's an important thing to remember. We knew who Donald Trump was --

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GENOVESE: -- before we voted for him. But these are the things that define us. These are the things that tell us who we are as a people.

When you take these kinds of issues and turn them into tribal conflict, Democrats versus Republicans, when Democrats do it, it's wrong; when Republicans do it, it's OK and vice versa.

When you start confusing principle with party, you're starting to lose your soul. That's where we are in America. We're so partisan that we'll forgive, if we're Republicans, Donald Trump and Roy Moore and condemn Franken and others, Bill Clinton.

But Democrats do the same thing in reverse. So we really need to come to grips with this and say this notion of male dominance and predatory behavior is just plain wrong. It was wrong 50 years ago. It's wrong today. Fifty years ago, women felt they were victims and they had little choice. Today women have more choices.

They're coming out and saying that these are the things that happened. I'm accusing you of this. X, Y and Z happened. So it's a very different world today than it was 50 years ago.

VANIER: I wonder if it's not even a very different world today than it was a year ago. The national conversation, certainly in the U.S. in a very different place today as compared to a year ago. There seems to be societal change, a lot more immediate condemnation of powerful men who are accused of assaulting or accused of sexual misconduct against women.

Do you think that might actually force sort of a new assessment of the allegations against Mr. Trump?

GENOVESE: I think you're right, Cyril. I think, even a year ago to today, there's been a big change. A lot of it has to do with Hollywood revelations. And it forces us to come to grips with something we really probably, as a society, would rather not face, which is we have a president who is an admitted sexual predator.

And we have number of males in positions of power who think they have privilege and they have entitlement. And that notion that position gives you power and entitlement over others is probably as ancient as the thousands of years of political power.

But it's healthy thing for us to confront that and to dismiss it and say it's wrong.

VANIER: Michael Genovese, joining us from Los Angeles. We appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

GENOVESE: Thank you, Cyril.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: CNN has learned that White House senior aide Jared Kushner testified to congressional investigators in July that he had no contact with WikiLeaks and wasn't aware of any contact with any member of the Trump campaign.

However, a report this week in "The Atlantic" and a letter from the Senate Judiciary Committee says that Jared Kushner received and forwarded an email from Donald Trump Jr. about his correspondence with WikiLeaks.

Kushner's lawyer downplayed that report. Russia vetoed a U.N. resolution on Friday which would have extended the mandate of an independent probe into Syria's use of chemical weapons.

It's the third time in a month that Russia has used its veto powers at the Security Council to derail the investigations. Moscow claims the probes would be biased against Syria. U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley simply answered, "Russia saw fit to waste our time. The investigators' mandate has now run out."

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VANIER: And coming up next, this?

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NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: $700? $800?

The numbers roll in. These men are sold for 1,200 Libya pounds, $400.

VANIER (voice-over): A CNN exclusive on the modern-day slave trade. CNN journalists risk their lives to document a human rights atrocity in Libya. Now the authorities there are responding. Stay with us. We'll tell you more.

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VANIER: Libyan authorities say they're investigating shocking instances of migrants sold as slaves. Officials in Tripoli were prompted to act by an exclusive CNN report that we are about to show you. The migrants reached Libya after harrowing journeys from other African

countries usually hoping to reach Europe. Those who do make it there are often too terrified to go on the record about their ordeals.

For the last year as part of the CNN Freedom Project, CNN has been working to bring these stories to light. A CNN team comprising Nima Elbagir, producer Raja Razik and photojournalist Alex Platt traveled to Libya to witness the true inhumanity for themselves.

They got access to a migrant slave auction, where men were sold like commodities. Here's Nima Elbagir.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

ELBAGIR (voice-over): A man addressing an unseen crowd. "Big strong boys for farm work," he says.

$400? $700? $800?

The numbers roll in. These men are sold for 1,200 Libya pounds, $400 apiece.

You are watching an auction of human beings.

Another man, claiming to be a buyer, off camera, someone asks, what happened to the one from Niger?

"Sold off," he's told.

CNN was sent this by 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 to see for ourselves.

We are now in Tripoli and we're starting to get a little more of a sense how this all works. A contact telling us there one or two of these auctions every month and there is one happening in the next few hours. We'll 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 say the location of this auction. The town that we are driving to is not the only one.

Night falls, we traveled through suburban neighborhoods pretending to look for a missing person. Eventually, we stopped outside the house like any other. We adjust our secret cameras and wait.

Finally, it is time to move. We're ushered into one of two auctions happening on the same night. Crouched at the back of the yard, a flood light obscuring much by the scene. One by one, men are forced out as the bidding begins, $400, $500, $550, $600, $650, $700. Very quickly, it is over.

We ask to speak with the man, the auctioneer, seen here, he refuses. We asked again if we can speak to him. "No," he says, "the auction is over with."

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ELBAGIR (voice-over): And we are asked to leave.

ELBAGIR: That was over very quickly.

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ELBAGIR: 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 on bringing out what they kept on referring to, of men as merchandise.

All in all, they mentioned to us there were 12 Nigerians that were sold in front of us. And I honestly don't know what to say. That was one of the most unbelievable things I have ever seen.

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ELBAGIR (voice-over): These men are migrants with dreams of being smugglers overseas.

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ELBAGIR: They come in the thousands from Niger, Nigeria and Ghana. It is hard to believe these are the lucky ones, rescued from warehouses like the one in which we witnessed auctioned. They are sold at those warehouses if the warehouses become overcrowded or if they run out of money to pay their smugglers.

Of these rescued men, so many say they were held against their will. It does not take us long to find victims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language). No food, no water, no nothing.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Victory was a slave.

ELBAGIR: We know that some people are being sold.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

ELBAGIR: Some people are being sold. Is this something you have heard about? Can you tell us about it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. Yes, I was sold.

ELBAGIR: What happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see me, the amount of beating with electric. So the money was not that much.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Other migrants now start to come forward with their stories. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I promise you, I will take care of your husband.

ELBAGIR: This man is a supervisor here. With no international support, it is his job to look after the captured migrants until they can be deported. He says every day brings fresh heartbreak.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am suffering and what they have seen here. They were abusing them.

ELBAGIR (on camera): Have you heard of people being auctioned off, of migrants being sold?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously, 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.

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VANIER: Now in addition to alerting the Libyan authorities about what we uncovered, CNN also passed on this evidence to the office of the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, the ICC.

Stay with us. We will have a lot more on the other side of this break on CNN NEWSROOM.

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VANIER: OK, fans of Downton Abbey, rejoice. You can live out your fantasy. An exhibition opens in New York on Saturday where Abbey addicts can immerse themselves in the British TV series. Robyn Curnow takes us inside.

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JIM CARTER, ACTOR, "CHARLES CARSON": It is my happy duty to welcome you to the world of Downton Abbey.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The family, the fashion and the house. Downton Abbey dramatized English aristocracy of the early 1900s like none other to become one of the most successful British television exports of all times.

MAGGIE SMITH, ACTOR, "VIOLET CRAWLEY": This mousse is delicious, Carson. CURNOW (voice-over): Now fans of the popular period drama can experience the elegant life of Downton first-hand when "Downton Abbey: The Exhibition" opens in New York on Saturday.

SOPHIE MCSHERA, ACTOR, "DAISY MASON": You really do feel like you are just thrown into the house. It's amazing. It's a recreation of loads of the sets that we filmed on Downton and it's such a beautiful exhibition. We got a bit teary.

CURNOW (voice-over): Sophie McShera, who played kitchen hand Daisy...

"DAISY MASON": I'm studying the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

LESLEY NICOL, ACTOR, "BERYL PATMORE": It'll be a glorious revolution down here if you don't watch it.

CURNOW (voice-over): -- and Lesley Nicol, who portrayed house cook Mrs. Patmore, were among the Downton actors to enjoy a sneak peek of the three-floor exhibition. It transports visitors with detailed recreations of the series' most recognizable and beloved sets.

MCSHERA: To be back on our set -- and this is our set. This is very much mine and Lesley's set.

NICOL: We spent hours here, hours.

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MCSHERA: Nobody did scenes in here except us (INAUDIBLE) the kitchen.

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NICOL: No. Yes, it was our place.

MCSHERA: Weeks in there. So it's really nice to be back on the set.

NICOL: Yes.

CURNOW (voice-over): The immersive interactive exhibit uses actual items from the television series, including the original costumes, hats and props, the full china set and the Crawleys' dining room, the bell board from the gossip-fueled servants' quarters and, of course, Lady Mary's ill-reputed bedroom.

The Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning drama aired for six seasons before ending production in 2015.

"VIOLET CRAWLEY" So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

CURNOW (voice-over): But Downton Abbey's glimpse of British high society is back for a limited time.

NICOL: They can go and visit Highclere Castle because it's a proper house in England. But they can't visit this because this was a set in west London in a film studio. But now they can because here it is.

CURNOW (voice-over): Robyn Curnow, CNN.

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VANIER: All right. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. I will be back with your headlines in just a moment. Stay with us.