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Zimbabwe Political Crisis; Russia Investigation; Sexual Harassment Scandals; Saad Hariri Arrives in Paris For Talks With French President; Migrant Women Laid to Rest; Military Dog Wins British Prize for Valor under Fire. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired November 18, 2017 - 03:00   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): Robert Mugabe sidelined in Zimbabwe, his party calls for him to step down and the military okays an anti-Mugabe protest in the capital.

And U.S. butts heads with Russia at the U.N. Security Council, as Moscow blocks chemical weapons inspections.

And allegations of sexual misconduct against U.S. politicians revive the accusations once leveled at Donald Trump.

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

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VANIER: In Zimbabwe, the armed forces are repeatedly pushing president Robert Mugabe to step aside. State media say his own party wants him to resign, too. Mr. Mugabe made his first public appearance since Wednesday's apparent military coup.

He emerged from house arrest on Friday to attend this university graduation. The U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson says he is monitoring the situation and calls it an opportunity for Zimbabwe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I know all of us are following very closely the events in Zimbabwe. And they're a concern to, I know, each of you and they're a concern to us, as well. We all should work together for a quick return to civilian rule in that country, in accordance with their constitution.

Zimbabwe has an opportunity to set itself on a new path, one that must include democratic elections and respect for human rights. Ultimately, the people of Zimbabwe must choose their government. In our conversations today, we have an opportunity to discuss concrete ways that we could help them through this transition.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VANIER: CNN's Farai Sevenzo joins us live from Zimbabwe's capital, Harare.

Farai, it's great to speak to you, it's hard to know what is going on exactly behind the scenes. I know that. There are reports of negotiations with the president.

What can you tell us at this stage?

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Cyril, I have to tell you that these negotiations which are supposed to ease the way for Robert Mugabe to finally resign the presidency after 37 years in power have been stalling and then picking up and then stalling.

But the events are moving so fast, there's now a complete unity of purpose between the opposition in D.C. and the sitting Zanu-PF -- that's the ruling party -- members in parliament.

To add to that, the complete absence of the police on the streets, meaning the military are in control, and as you mentioned, the military have okayed an anti-Mugabe march, it's being seen here as a final push march.

I have got to tell you about this, there's a palpable feeling in the air of something completely changing. It's as if a doctor has put a defibrillator on an ill and unconscious patient and people who have never been political -- I went out this morning -- people who were working in groceries and nuns from the Dominican convent, girls with their mothers and little daughters are all going to march, to join the war veterans.

It's unprecedented, it has not happened since independence. So really the forces are really against Robert Mugabe and indeed his options are very limited at the moment -- Cyril.

VANIER: Farai, until now, the streets of the capital and, I gather, around the country have been pretty quiet.

Are you able to gauge how people feel about this?

SEVENZO: You are right; they have been quiet. There had been no spontaneous feeling about people going on the streets or anything. And we went out to the rural areas of Zimbabwe, which is on the outskirts of Harare and this is how the people there were feeling. Because it was almost like the heartland of Robert Mugabe's support and there, that's also evaporating. Take a look.

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SEVENZO (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).

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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.

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SEVENZO: And there you have it, Cyril, that is the view from one of Mr. Mugabe's former strongholds of great support, the easy-going, country life people no longer want him, either.

VANIER: Farai, thank you for your reporting, because, I want to tell you, I have not seen or heard Zimbabweans speak freely and give their opinions about their country's politics as long as I've been a journalist. Now I have one last question for you.

Is -- at this stage, does Robert Mugabe have any cards left to play or have we already seen the end of the Mugabe era?

SEVENZO: Well, you are talking about a very stubborn 93-year-old man who's trying to tell the people forcing him to go that, look, he saw the president as long as the constitution says that the president, of course, they have not called it a coup, so he is still the president.

But the options are really, really being limited. And the parliament is talking about impeaching him on Tuesday if he doesn't go. And of course all his leftenants, all of the people that -- the press, yes, calling it a cabal around his wife, Grace, they have either been arrested or they are in hiding.

It's a very new dispensation in this country and the next 48 hours are going to be very interesting, especially with the army, allowing people to speak so freely. And for the Zimbabweans themselves, black, white, yellow, green, all coming out for this march, we will have more for you, Cyril, in the course of the day.

VANIER: Farai, great reporting, thank you very much. It looks like history is being made in Zimbabwe, after that country had been ruled by Robert Mugabe for almost four decades. Farai, reporting live from the capital, Harare, he will have more for us throughout the day. Thank you, we appreciate it.

And I have one more note on Zimbabwe, but this time, as it relates to the U.S. A day after lifting a ban on American game hunters bringing elephant trophies in to the U.S. from Zimbabwe and from neighboring Zambia, U.S. president Donald Trump suspended the controversial decision.

He tweeted, "Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke, thank you."

The White House had earlier defended the shift in policy, citing a review by the Fish and Wildlife Service that found that Zimbabwe and Zambia have met strict international conservation standards.

Officials also believe that legal sport hunting would bring more money into those countries for conservation efforts. However, critics say it would increase poaching.

Russia rejected another U.N. resolution to extend an investigation into Syria's use of chemical weapons. It's their third such veto in the last month against the joint investigative mechanism or JIM, as it's known in the U.N. charter. Russia gets veto power from its status as a permanent member on the U.N. Security Council.

It claims that the investigation is biased while ambassadors from the U.S. and the U.K. excoriated Russia for protecting the Syrian regime.

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NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Russia's veto, its second in 24 hours, shows us that Russia has no interest in finding common ground with the rest of this council to save the JIM.

Russia will not agree to any mechanism that might shine a spotlight on the use of chemical weapons by its allies, the Syrian regime. It's as simple and shameful as that.

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MATTHEW RYCROFT, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: This third veto in a month clearly exposes, if it wasn't already obvious, Russia's determination to protect their Syrian ally, whatever the harm that causes to the ban on the use of chemical weapons, to the wider international system of rules, to Russia's own reputation.

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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 was not aware of any contact with any member of the Trump campaign.

But a new report in "The Atlantic" this week and a letter from the Senate Judiciary Committee said that Jared Kushner received and forwarded an email from Donald Trump Jr. about his correspondence with precisely WikiLeaks. Kushner's lawyer now downplaying that report.

Embattled U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama vows to stay in the race for the seat left vacant by Jeff Sessions. It's a message reinforced on Friday by none other than Moore's wife, Kayla. Her husband was once up by double digits in the polls but now trails his Democratic challenger in a FOX News poll.

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KAYLA MOORE, ROY MOORE'S WIFE: So to the people of Alabama, thank you for being smarter than they think you are. They will call you names. They will say all manner of evil against you.

And I would say, consider the source. So let me set the record straight. Even after all the attacks against me, against my family, against the foundation and now against my husband, he will not step down. He will not stop fighting for the people of Alabama. In his words and I quote, "I will not stop until they lay me in that box in the ground."

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VANIER: U.S. President Donald Trump has not said much about Moore, a Republican, who now faces multiple allegations of sexual improprieties going back decades. Yet the president did not hesitate to go after Democratic senator Al Franken, who apologized for his own misconduct more than 10 years ago.

CNN's Sara Murray has the latest on that.

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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 --

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MURRAY (voice-over): -- 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.

(LAUGHTER)

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: So earlier, I spoke with political analyst --

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VANIER: -- Michael Genovese. I asked him why President Trump spoke out against Franken knowing that it risked reviving attention on his own alleged misdeeds.

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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 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.

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GENOVESE: 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: And political analyst Michael Genovese there.

Now the British army is recognizing a hero in its ranks. We will tell you about it when we come back. The incredible story of Mali's bravery in battle. Stay with us.

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(MUSIC PLAYING) VANIER: Media reports say that Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri

is in Paris for talks with the French president. Earlier this month Hariri abruptly resigned while he was in Saudi Arabia. That fueled speculation that he was being held against his will by the Saudis.

On Friday, while he was still in that country, he tweeted, "To say that I am held up in Saudi Arabia and not allowed to leave the country is a lie. I'm on the way to the airport."

He also called out Sigmar Gabriel, the German foreign minister, who made the original allegations. Now Mr. Hariri will repeatedly head back to Lebanon after France.

On to an exclusive CNN report, into shocking modern-day slave auctions in Libya which has promoted the government there to act. Our crew witnessed a dozen men being sold like commodities outside the capital, Tripoli.

Now Libyan authorities say that they will open a formal investigation to convict those responsible and return the victims safely to their homes. Here's some of the reporting from senior international correspondent Nima Elbagir.

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NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 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.

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VANIER: The International Organization for Migration is welcoming the investigation but actually warns that smuggling networks are becoming stronger and more organized.

And here's another reminder of the dangers that vulnerable migrants often face. Those that we just saw, that report by Nima Elbagir is about migrants that go to Libya usually to make their way to Europe. Those that actually embark on those boats to Europe don't often make it there alive.

A mass funeral in Southern Italy for mostly nameless victims of a disaster in the Mediterranean. That is what Barbie Nadeau has been covering.

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BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twenty six coffins, a mass casualty funeral, these victims are the latest in ongoing disaster that has seen thousands die in the Mediterranean Sea over the last several years. There is little known about these victims. They are all women likely from Nigeria and Niger.

Two were pregnant. One was wearing a T-shirt with the words "I'm super happy."

All were between 14 and 20 years of age. Their bodies brought to shore November 5th after their boat capsized off Southern Italy. Sixty-four survived. About 100 are missing.

NADEAU: These represent just some of the 26 victims of this disaster. Inside each of these coffins is a photo of the victim and information, like whether or not they had tattoos, their dental scans, anything that might be able to identify them one day.

In the meantime, those who have not been identified are known only by this ticket on the front of their coffin. This one, simply number four.

NADEAU (voice-over): Most of the young women fit the classic profile of those being trafficked to Italy for sex. Corrado Lembo, the prosecutor in charge of finding out who is responsible for the deaths of these young women, tells us they're working on the investigation with diligence and compassion.

He wants to clarify, not over-dramatize the reality of the phenomenon of sex trafficking, so he can shine a light on its complexity and, hopefully, help stop it.

Refugees and area students laid flowers on each casket at the end of the ceremony.

Representatives from both the Catholic and Muslim communities blessed each coffin. Monsignor Antonio De Luca told those who had gathered that these young women had died on their search for freedom. Instead, he said, they found death -- Barbie Nadeau, CNN, Salerno, Italy.

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VANIER: And all those reports are part of CNN'S global work, the CNN Freedom Protect, reporting on modern day slavery.

Now severe flooding has struck Colombia's Caribbean coastline.

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VANIER: Now real quick, the British army honoring one of its bravest, an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois named Mali. There he is. On Friday, Mali was given the highest award an animal can receive while serving in the military for his heroic actions in 2012 during a 7.5-hour mission in Afghanistan.

Mali, you see it there, was seriously injured in the operation by three grenade blasts but kept working, kept searching for insurgents and for explosives. Mali's injuries are an example of why many animal welfare groups argue that employing dogs in war is inhumane. But here is the other side of the argument. Mali's trainer says the dog's role that day was vital to the mission's success.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Cyril Vanier. I will be back with the headlines in just a moment, stay with us for that.