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Yemen Ravaged By Years Of War And Famine; Trump Touts Tax Plan After Stunning Senate Loss; Republicans Breach Tentative Agreement On Tax Reform; South Korean And Chinese Presidents To Discuss North Korea; Republicans Accuse Mueller Of Hiring Anti-Trump Partisan; Text Between FBI Employees Ignite Firestorm; Rosenstein Opposes Calls For Second Special Counsel; Putin's Annual Newsers Have Lasted Hours; Sandy Hook Five Years Later. Aired 03-4a ET
Aired December 14, 2017 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: It's the world's forgotten war, where death and destruction seem to be everywhere. CNN gets rare access inside Yemen.
And after a major loss in Alabama, President Trump tries to minimize defeat and turn the focus back to his tax agenda. And five years ago today, 20 first-graders never came home from school.
That day at Sandy Hook Elementary is still one of the most tragic mass shootings ever in the United States. We speak with a mother who uses her heartbreak to help others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church, and this is CNN Newsroom. A Saudi Arabia-led air strike in the capital of Yemen killed dozens of people on Wednesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: A Houthi defense official tells CNN at least 35 people died in the attack on the military police facility in Sana'a. Another 20 people are missing. Houthi officials say the building held hundreds of prisoners at the time. For the past two years, Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The Trump administration says it has evidence that missiles recently fired into Saudi Arabia from Yemen were supplied by Iran. Houthi rebels shot two missiles into the Saudi kingdom, one in July and another last month.
A U.S. official tells CNN the evidence to be unveiled on Thursday will include components from those two missiles that prove they were made in Iran. (END VIDEO CLIP)
And the Trump administration also said it will urge Saudi Arabia to immediately lift its blockade of Yemeni ports to allow humanitarian aid into the country. And Clarissa Ward got rare access to a hospital in the port city of Aden to show just how desperate the situation is there, especially for children.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yemen is unraveling. In the north, air strikes pound Iran-backed rebel strongholds, among their recent targets, the presidential palace in the capital, Sana'a.
In the south, the streets are run by a patchwork of militias, though it's unclear who is actually in control. Some are loyal to their sponsors in Saudi Arabia and the gulf, others to extremist groups, all vying for control of Adan's port and precious oil resources.
Life here is dangerous and chaotic, but surprisingly it's not the bombs and the bullets that are killing the most people. It's the humanitarian crisis that is growing by the day as Yemen edges closer to becoming a failed state.
Outside the Sadaqa hospital, medical waste festers in the hot noon sun. Al Qaeda graffiti still daubs the walls. Inside, the situation is hardly better. The hospital is in desperate need of everything from ventilators to basic antibiotics.
NAHLA ARISHI, DOCTOR IN ADAN: This is a more serious condition.
WARD: Dr. Nahla Arishi started working here 24 years ago.
ARISHI: This is the worst situation now. It's aggravated now.
WARD: Because of the war?
ARISHI: Because of the war, yes. We are trying. Our doctors are trying but this is our possibilities. This is what is in our hands.
WARD: Three-year-old Jadar (ph) has been sick with a serious lung infection for weeks. When did you come to the hospital? His mother, Jamal (ph), only brought him to the hospital three days ago. She says the journey from her village was too far and too expensive.
"Life is hard since the war. Disease has spread, she tells me. He's my only child." Chicago pediatrician John Kahler is here to try to help, a rare visitor from the outside world. On this day, he's visiting the neonatal ward.
JOHN KAHLER, CHICAGO PEDIATRICIAN: There is no soap?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: None.
WARD: There is no soap, just bottled water.
KAHLER: So in addition to being preemie, these babies are jaundiced. And so they're going to get phototherapy.
WARD: The newborns have to share an incubator, increasing their risk of infection. Doctors and nurses are also in short supply, leaving mothers to step in and lend a hand.
[03:05:00] KAHLER: At this point in time, even if we got more beds here to fill the numbers of patients, we don't have the staff.
WARD: When you look at doctors like Dr. Nahla, who could be overseas, are you impressed?
KAHLER: I'm not just impressed, I'm awe-inspired by them. This is a passion. The doctors that person these hospitals, those are the real heroes.
WARD: Heroes armed with little more than determination and resilience. What goes through your mind when you see a child die because you don't have the right equipment to care for that child?
ARISHI: I can't speak, as I am a mother. I'm a mom. I have three kids. But this is our -- this is what's in our hands. These are our facilities. We are daily speaking, but no one heard us.
WARD: A cry for help. But for Jadar (ph), it is too late. He dies the day after our visit, another death that could have been prevented in Yemen's forgotten war. Clarissa Ward, CNN, Adan.
CHURCH: And access for western journalists to Yemen is extremely rare. You can watch the next chapter in Clarissa's series at this time tomorrow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARD: (Speaking Foreign Language)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Foreign Language)
WARD: So they have some bread? (Speaking Foreign Language)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Foreign Language)
WARD: They said some onions. (Speaking Foreign Language)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Foreign Language)
WARD: No meat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Again, you can watch that next full report tomorrow at 8:00 in the morning in London, 4:00 in the afternoon in Hong Kong.
And joining us now from the Yemeni capital, Rasha Muhrez, director of program operations with Save the Children. Thank you so much for being with us.
RASHA MUHREZ, DIRECTOR OF PROGRAM OPERATIONS, SAVE THE CHILDREN: Thank you.
CHURCH: Just how bad is the situation for children in Yemen, and what's your organization doing to try to help them in some way?
MUHREZ: Just after watching -- after listening to your video, children sharing incubators. They're even in these incubators sometimes without power. There is no oxygen -- regular oxygen supplies to these incubators.
They're risking every day in their life, they're risking their lives. There have no access to food. We're talking about over 400,000 children are severely malnourished, and they're at risk of dying. We have 130 children dying every day out of hunger, out of starvation, have 4 million children are out of school today.
I mean children are amongst the most vulnerable victims of the Yemen conflict. We have over 1,500 -- 1,500 reported cases of violation of children's rights in Yemen in almost a year's time, so it's very heartbreaking. It's very difficult.
What we're trying to do is to reach out to those children to provide them with treatment, to provide them with food assistance, with clean drinking water, to try and contain outbreaks as much as we can, especially cholera outbreak.
And today we have diphtheria outbreak where over 2 million children are at risk of dying of diphtheria if aid agencies do not reach out to them at the right time. So this is what Save the Children is doing now in Yemen.
And also can be confirmed that aid agencies alone cannot cover all the needs in Yemen, which is increasing every day. Today we're talking about 22 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
And over 5.6 million children are in acute need, which means totally dependent on aid and on assistance of humanitarian agencies.
And at some point it's getting out of our hands here, especially with the increasing hostilities on the ground combined by air strikes, destroyed infrastructure, and it's just a situation that is beyond any imagination, bringing Yemen to be the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.
CHURCH: Yes. You explain a dire situation, and those numbers are horrifying. President Trump wants the Saudis to lift their blockade of Yemeni ports to allow humanitarian aid into the country. How likely is it do you think that that will happen?
MUHREZ: Well, it must happen. Otherwise, the crisis we're talking about today is going to become even worse. I mean the numbers I described, 11 million people are in acute need.
[03:10:00] And totally dependent on food assistance delivered by aid agencies. And if this aid did not delivered to them at the right time, they are at risk of famine. I mean we're talking about a large -- large number of people here.
This is not simple figures we're talking about. This is the whole country at risk of famine in a month's time if the blockade is not fully lifted, if aid is not allowed in.
Also we're talking about commercial supplies this is very vital to allow commercial supplies, commercial imports into the country. Yemen depends over -- between 80 percent and 90 percent of its food intake on imports.
So you can imagine how the markets look like today if commercial supplies, commercial imports are not allowed into the country due to this blockade. And to be -- I mean again, as aid agencies, we can cover as much as we can but we also depend on market functionality.
We depend, you know, the existence of these commodities in the market. And if this doesn't happen very soon, there will be again, as I said, the disaster will deteriorate even further.
The biggest concern for us as well is importing fuel. And today as well, we have a huge fuel shortage in Yemen, and the whole country depends on fuel to run the country since it's over two years since the conflict started.
CHURCH: Rasha Muhrez, it is a horrible picture that you paint, but we salute organizations like yours particularly for what they're doing for the children who are so in need there in Yemen. Many thanks to you. We appreciate it
MUHREZ: Thank you.
CHURCH: We're going to take a very short break just now, but we'll be back with more in just a moment.
CHURCH: The political aftershocks from Alabama's stunning Senate election are rattling Washington. One source close to the White House said Republican Roy Moore's defeat was devastating for President Trump.
Now he's trying to put the focus back on tax reform. Jim Acosta reports. All right, we are having some technical difficulties issue, many have assist for yourselves. We're going to talk a short break, and we will figure it all out on the other side of that. Do stay with us.
[03:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: Before the break, we were talking to you about the political aftershocks from Alabama's stunning Senate election, how it's rattling Washington. Our Jim Acosta has more on that.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This year, a wounded Republican Party back on message, President Trump touted the GOP's tax plan that appears to be on its way to final passage.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our current tax code is burden some, complex, and profoundly unfair. It has exported our jobs, closed our factories, and left millions of parents worried that their children might be the first generation to have lees opportunity than the last.
ACOSTA: The GOP plan is expected to lower the corporate tax rate to 21 percent, trim the top rate for individuals to 37 percent, reduce the mortgage deduction for homeowners and repeal the individual mandate in Obamacare. A holiday gift the president claims for taxpayers.
TRUMP: We want to give you, the American people, a giant tax cut for Christmas. And when I say giant, I mean giant.
ACOSTA: But the president received an early lump of coal in his stocking in the form of the Alabama Senate race, where Democrat Doug Jones pulled off a major upset of Mr. Trump's endorsed candidate, Roy Moore.
It was a defeat for the president who defied warnings from fellow Republicans who rejected Moore, instead listening to his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon.
TRUMP: A lot of Republicans feel differently. They're very happy with the way it turned out. But I would have -- as the leader of the party, I would have liked to have had the seat. I want to endorse the people that are running.
ACOSTA: President engaged in some revisionist history, tweeting, I said Roy Moore would not be able to win the general election. I was right. Roy worked hard but the death was stacked against him, but that ignores the fact that the president put his full weight behind Moore, who had been accused of child molestation.
TRUMP: He says it didn't happen, and you know, you have to listen to him also.
ACOSTA: Even touting Moore's candidacy just across the Alabama border in Florida.
TRUMP: This guy is screaming we want Roy Moore. He's right.
ACOSTA: Republicans who have clashed with the president were celebrating Moore's defeat.
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I know we're supposed to cheer for our side of the aisle, if you will, but I'm really, really happy with what happened for all of us.
ACOSTA: While Democrats argued the Senate should wait for Jones to be seated before any vote on the GOP tax plan. SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: I think that's the right thing to
do because the people of Alabama have spoken who they want to be representing them.
ACOSTA: Others in the GOP pointed fingers at Bannon, accusing the conservative fire brand of leading the party into disaster.
PETER KING, U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN: Means he is not -- even such is a political issue. Almost is a moral issue. This guy does not belong on the national stage. He looks like some disheveled drunk that wandered onto the political stage.
ACOSTA: Bannon's response to Moore's loss? No apologies.
STEVE BANNON, FOREMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: That's because the Democrats hustled. And you know, people have got to understand. You don't turn out. They're going to turn out. They did -- you know, had tip to these guys at the DNC.
ACOSTA: But the election in Alabama wasn't the only source of turmoil for the White House as top aide and former star of Mr. Trump's TV show, The Apprentice, Omarosa Manigault, abruptly left her position.
[03:20:00] A reminder of the mountain of melodrama that the president has brought to the west wing that feels like flashback.
TRUMP: Omarosa has to go. You're fired.
ACOSTA: Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.
CHURCH: And joining us now is Leslie Vinjamuri, she an associate professor of International Relations at the University of London. Great to have you with us on the show.
LESLIE VINJAMURI, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: Thank you.
CHURCH: Now, the Republican Party is pointing the finger of blame in the wake of that stunning win by Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama. Roy Moore and Donald Trump are in the crosshairs.
But the knives are out particularly for former White House strategist Steve Bannon who of course told the president to endorse Moore. What's his political future, and will Mr. Trump pave the warnings to stay away from Bannon?
VINJAMURI: Well, so far he hasn't. And it's been very interesting to watch that this president has hung on very tightly to that relationship with Steve Bannon, even since he left the White House. He hasn't distanced himself.
And now, of course, there's a lot of division within the Republican Party. The establishment of that party sees the cost of Steve Bannon's politics in Alabama and will be pushing very hard to distance itself even further from the inflammatory rhetoric and style of Steve Bannon.
But it's still unclear whether President Trump will follow a similar measure. He was unusually gracious, of course, in his first tweet responding to Doug Jones' victory in Alabama, which perhaps suggests that the president is aware.
He undoubtedly can see the ambivalence of even the white voters -- the majority of the white vote did go to Roy Moore. But nonetheless there was ambivalence, the turnout was low. There were a number of write- ins.
And it doesn't play well for the president to ignore that very clear signal that's being sent, a lot of that on the back of the allegations of sexual misconduct against minors. So it will be very interesting to see what he does though with respect to his support for Steve Bannon.
CHURCH: Yes, and there is another signal being sent to the president, is there? A national poll by Monmouth University has President Trump's approval rating down to 32 percent. Let's talk about the significant of that number and what Doug Jones' win in Alabama might signal for the 2018 midterm elections.
VINJAMURI: Well, that is -- that is a very low number, much lower than we've seen. And we've been -- it's been hovering at around 37 percent or 38 percent. So down to 32 percent is a very significant drop.
The Democrats did very well in Alabama, and they will have -- they were very successful, as we know, in turning out the vote, especially the African-American vote. Remember, we're looking at 96 percent or 98 percent of African-Americans who voted for Doug Jones.
It's giving a lot of steam to the Democratic Party. It was a very specific race. The politics there, the distaste and dislike for the Republican candidate can't be underestimated, can't be generalized perhaps beyond the state of Alabama.
Nonetheless, it puts the Democratic Party in a different position certainly within the Senate, and it gives them a lot of steam as we move into 2018. Now they can look at, you know, trying to grab two seats in order to really take the -- take the Senate back.
And so it becomes certainly something that's achievable, and it does change the politics now. It looks like tax reform is likely to get through, but I think any effort to push further legislation through is going to become increasingly complicated.
CHURCH: Yes. I wanted to talk to you about that because of course President Trump is trying to move beyond this humiliating loss for him and his party by focusing on his tax reform bill.
And he wants it passed before Doug Jones is sworn in. What might the consequences be if this tax reform bill is rushed through before the end of the year? VINJAMURI: Well, I think this has been the most disturbing and
unsettling thing for many Americans about this particular tax reform, has been the -- you know, it didn't see the light of day for a very long time.
It wasn't discussed publicly or deliberated for very long. It's been very significant proposals and rushed through very, very rapidly. It will have a very major effect on many Americans, and it's still not clear entirely how it will be paid for.
And I think this is what we'll be waiting to see, what the political fallout will be. The corporate tax cut is significant. There's broad support for that.
But the cost to the average American and especially to that core of Donald Trump's base supporters is yet to be seen. And I think that that politics could really shift the support that Donald Trump experiences over the next weeks and months.
[03:25:00] CHURCH: Yes. And Roy Moore's big loss in Alabama has put the spotlight back on the sexual misconduct allegations being directed at the U.S. president.
Bernie -- Senator Bernie Sanders is now joining a list of lawmakers calling for President Trump to resign. How likely is it that this will gain any traction, do you think?
VINJAMURI: Well, it certainly sheds a light. But unless these calls come from within the Republican Party -- the senior levels of the Republican Party, it's difficult to imagine that it will have a clear impact on the president.
Nonetheless, it casts a shadow. The election results in Alabama confirm that people do care. They absolutely do care about sexual allegations. There's a lower level of tolerance than we've seen in the past.
And so calling out the president for this undoubtedly begins to ask the public to rethink what it is that they're supporting. But, again, for any actual change with respect to the president, that would, I think, have to come from the Republican establishment.
CHURCH: Leslie Vinjamuri, thanks for your perspective and your analysis. We appreciate it.
VINJAMURI: Thank you.
CHURCH: Let's take a short break here. But still to come, South Korean President Moon Jae-in is on his first state visit to China. He's meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping and high on their agenda, ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Joining me now is CNN's Matt Rivers in Beijing and Ivan Watson in Seoul. Thank you to both of you for being with us. Let's start with you, Ivan. What's President Moon Jae-In hoping to get out of this visit to China, and what suggestions will he likely make for bringing to the Korean Peninsula?
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, this is a really important relationship for South Korea, Rosemary. China is South Korea's largest trading partner.
Of course the crisis, the tension with North Korea looms large over all of this, and South Korea looks to Beijing to try to help with pressuring the North Korean regime to stop nuclear test, to stop firing missiles.
But there's also been tension in the relationship over the past year between Beijing and Seoul over the South Korean government's agreement to host a U.S. THAAD missile defense system more than a year ago. It went into operation in September.
China sees that -- has said that it sees that as a threat to its national security and it essentially began imposing unofficial trade sanctions on South Korea that hit a number of economic sectors.
Fortunately for the bilateral relationship, at the end of October, both governments agreed to basically tried to move on past this disagreement, and the South Korean president has been trying to stress in the run-up to this visit that the THAAD missile defense system is not a threat and South Korea will not allow it to be a threat to China. Rosemary.
CHURCH: Thanks, Ivan. Matt Rivers, to you now. How far will China likely go on any initiatives coming from South Korea to help ease tensions with the north?
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean if there's one thing that you can count on with the Chinese, it's that its position on North Korea hasn't changed and likely won't change anytime soon.
And so, one thing that they do have in common is that Moon Jae-in, the president of South Korea, certainly wants no conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
And that is something that China is very, very much in agreement with. And both sides believe that eventually the way to solve this issue will be through dialogue.
And so anything that President Moon Jae-in puts forward in terms of promoting dialogue and negotiations, peace talks, the Chinese are going to be at least very receptive to.
Where there is a thorn in the side of that kind of agreement is how close the South Koreans are to the United States. And so in that sense, there's kind of a push and pull between -- for the South Koreans between China and the United States.
We know that there are big differences between the U.S. and China in terms of how best to move forward to try and solve this problem. And so you can certainly expect the Chinese side for their part to hopefully pull Moon Jae-in and the South Korea...
[03:32:20] JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Steve Chabot take list of contribution he say some member of Mueller's team had DERSHOWITZ: the Democrat over multiple election cycles declaring evidence of bias.
STEVE CHABOT, U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN: How, with a straight face, can you say that this group of Democrat partisans are unbiased and will give President Trump a fair shake?
SCHNEIDER: And Republican members pointed to newly disclosed anti- Trump text messages between two employees at the FBI. Agent peter Strzok who help lead the Clinton emails server investigation and FBI lawyer Lisa Page. The two exchanged hundreds of texts throughout the Presidential campaign in 2016 when they were allegedly having an affair. Page texting in March 2016, god, Trump is a loathsome human. Strzok responded, yet, he may win. Another exchange said, oh, my god, he is an idiot, and he is awful. Strzok had been assigned to Mueller's investigation but was removed this summer when he learned about the texts. Rosenstein stressed the inspector general is now investigating those messages along with the handling of the Clinton e- mail server investigation, pushing back on Republican calls to immediately appoint a second special counsel.
ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: If we believe there was a basis for an investigation or a special counsel, I can assure you we would act.
SCHNEIDER: Under questioning by Democrats, Rosenstein appointed out that Mueller was appointed FBI director by both Republican and Democratic President and confirmed unanimously by the senate, saying that political affiliations or opinions are different than bias.
ROSENSTEIN: We recognize we have employees with political opinions that is our responsibility to make sure those opinions do not influence their actions. Pardon me. And so I believe that Director Mueller understands that and he is running that office appropriately. Recognizing that people have political views, but ensuring those views are not in a way a factor in how they conduct themselves in office.
SCHNEIDER: But Rosenstein defend isn't (inaudible) Republicans and now the number two Republican in the senate, John Cornyn, he is calling for special counsel Robert Mueller to clean house of people on his team who have been politically active or who have made comments critical of the President. Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: In just a matter of minutes, Russian President Vladimir Putin will go before the cameras for his year-end news conference. In the past, this have become marathon events with Mr. Putin spending hours answering questions from the local, national, and international media. One topic sure to come up, alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. Election. Now Phil Black is standing by in Moscow. Phil, what's expected to come out of this marathon news conference, and how far might Mr. Putin go on the topic of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election?
[03:35:08] PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a great question, Rosemary. First let me begin by setting the scene a little bit because as we speak, some 1,600 journalists are filling a hall in central Moscow, waiting for the start of what has become really a big set piece event for the Russian president these big annual press conferences. Usually in December of every year. This will be his 13th such press conference. Now, there's nothing necessarily unusual about a head of state holding a press conference. But what really sets these apart are those marathon-like qualities you were touching on. The scale, the number of journalists in the room, and the duration. They tend to go for not less than three hours. One year he nudged very close to five hours.
So a lot of ground to be covered. Technically there are no rules in terms of the topics or the duration. There is no official time, basically it goes for as long as he is happy to sit there taking questions and still talking. So it very much depends on what his mood is on the day. There are some issues that we can be sure will undoubtedly come up. A mix of domestic and foreign policy. Look specifically for what he says about Russia's relationship with the United States. His relationship with the American President, Donald Trump, and of course those ongoing allegations which Russia has denied repeatedly that this country played some role in meddling with the rest of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. There is also the conflict in Ukraine.
Remember just days ago, Vladimir Putin was standing in Syria declaring mission accomplished. He is been fairly assertive in the Middle East recently, and be a topic to be discussed today as well. But you really have to view all of this through the prism of domestic politics, because in just three months' time, Vladimir Putin will be seeking re-election for yet another Presidential term. It will be his fourth, one that would take him through to 2024, becoming the longest service leader of his country since Joseph Stalin. It's a pretty big deal, of course one he is expected to win there is simply no other real option on the field.
But what he is really battling is voter apathy. What he is trying to do is ensure the turnout at that election will be as high as possible. Of course he wants as many people as possible to cast their vote for him. We'll be watching through the next three to four hours or so. These things are usually pretty interesting, but it comes down to just how he is feeling on any given day. We'll let you know.
CHURCH: Phil, of course you've seen these before. As you mentioned, they can go for five hours or so. How choreographed are they, and how relaxed does Mr. Putin tend to be? Does he ever say he is not answering a particular question? How much control is there over, who gets to answer the questions and ask the questions, I should say?
BLACK: His body language through these long events is always pretty relaxed. That is why sometimes you get these off the cuff comments that are sometimes more interesting than you would expect. He seems to enjoy this sense of holding court over this vast audience. As I say, technically there are no limits in terms of the topics, but there is no doubt that the Russian media, be they state owned or state controlled, tend to behave themselves and not ask anything to tricky. Sometimes he faces trickier questions from foreign media, and I think you will expect that today. Ultimately he'll answer each and every question as he sees fit. The forum is not one that really allows for follow-up questions. He tends to be asked a question. He gets to have his say. Then usually it moves on to the next question. It shouldn't be too difficult for the President. He is something of a veteran of these big annual events.
CHURCH: Indeed our Phil Black waiting to cover that. Watch what happens. He is joining us there for that live report from Moscow, it is nearly 11:40 in the morning. Many thanks to you, Phil.
This just in to CNN. Israel's parliament tells us the U.S. Vice President's scheduled visit to Israel has been delayed Mike Pence was set to arrive on Sunday and address parliament on Monday. Don't yet have a reason for that delay, but officials said it would likely be only a few days
We'll take a short break here. Still to come, it's been five years since the deadly shooting that shattered a small Connecticut town and shocked a nation. We remember Sandy Hook that is next.
[03:41:40] CHURCH: Welcome back. Five years ago a heavily armed man walked into Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut and began shooting. Within minutes, 26 people were dead, most of them children. Since that tragedy, there have been several mass shootings in the United States. Three of the deadliest have happened in the past 17 months. 25 people and an unborn child were killed last month in Sutherland springs, Texas. In October, 58 people were gunned down at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas. And in June of 2016, 49 people died in a shooting at the pulse nightclub in Orlando. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to loosen gun restrictions. It would allow gun owners with permits to carry concealed weapons to legally travel to other states with those firearms. James Burnett joins me now via skype from Charlottesville, Virginia. He is editorial Director of the trace, an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to gun violence in America. Thank you so much for being with us.
JAMES BURNETT, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR OF THE TRACE: Thank you.
CHURCH: Well, five years after 20 innocent children and six educators were gunned down at Sandy Hook elementary school, what has been achieved in terms of gun law reform? Has anything changed?
BURNETT: I think it's important to draw a distinction between federal legislation and state legislation. So we just tackle the federal side first. I think it is accurate to call it a stalemate. After Sandy Hook five years ago, with Democrats in control of the White House, there was a push to pass expanded background checks. Of course, failed in the senate. We've now seen another run of mass shootings in Las Vegas, in Sutherland springs, Texas, and the response with Republicans in control has been legislation that would expand gun rights or gun carry by requiring each state to accept the concealed gun permits from every other state regardless of a difference in standards. There's been some other things that have happened around the margins, but you're really looking -- I think it's again accurate to call it a stalemate. Now, the state level that is another story.
CHURCH: So tell us about, because I mean obviously each state is different. But in Connecticut particularly as a result of Sandy Hook, have there been changes that have been worthwhile?
BURNETT: There have been, Connecticut is among the states who he passed several types of gun legislation in the direction increasing restrictions and increasing -- with the goal certainly of increasing public safety. We can break them down into a couple of categories. These are laws that define what kinds of guns are legal to own. These are laws in Connecticut, and now we're looking around the country, that set the standards or set the rules for who can carry guns into public spaces and what public spaces are guns going to be allowed into. And then the more fundamental question perhaps, the fundamental question of who is allowed to own guns in the first place.
[03:45:06] So coming back to Connecticut that is a state that decided to pass a law banning assault-style weapons. The ar-15s are one of the popular models or platforms as the term is sometimes used. That is a state that is among many to take a look at universal back ground checks or to expand background checks in one form or another. There are states that have gone in the other direction and sought to expand who can carry or remove barriers to carrying guns, or where it can be carried.
CHURCH: So perhaps some of these states offer some guidance perhaps to the federal government to sort of help them out of the stalemate because one has to ask how is it possible that such a heinous crime such as Sandy Hook has not moved this country's congress to do something meaningful to stop the mentally ill, just as an example, having access to assault weapons or to change the gun laws to ensure that only responsible adults have access to guns. Do you have to ask if the Sandy Hook shooting can't move them, what can?
BURNETT: Well it takes 60 votes to pass this kind of legislation in the senate, and on an issue where there are strongly held feelings on both sides that can be difficult to do. I think one thing we may see over the long term is a change in the political calculus. NRA has led on the gun rights side to impose its agenda, particularly Republicans, conservative Republican prevention groups have said we can turn out voters too. We think this issue moves people.
CHURCH: All right. James Burnett thank you so much for coming on and explaining some of that to us. We appreciate it.
BURNETT: You're welcome. Thank you.
CHURCH: Five years later, mass shootings are still having a numbing effect in America. Sandy Hook promised a national movement led by family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook elementary school is determined to keep people paying attention and taking action to protect children from gun violence. The group's new public service announcement is a chilling reminder that mass shootings have become an almost routine tragedy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm here at the scene of tomorrow's shooting where a 15-year-old will kill four children, two adults, and then turn the gun on himself.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the shooting starts happening tomorrow, first I'll probably just think its firecrackers or a car backfiring or something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: In the ad called "tomorrow's news" a reporter covers a shooting that will happen the next day. Teachers talk about the signs they saw. Friends reveal comments the shooter made before the attack. And then this heartbreaking moment with a mother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So how will you explain the shooting to your daughter?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, I won't get to explain it to her because she won't make it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And Nicole Hockley lived that nightmare her son Dylan was one of 20 first graders killed at Sandy Hook elementary. Nicole is now managing Director and co-founder of Sandy Hook promise and joins us via Skype from Newtown, Connecticut. Thank you so much for being with us. I'm so sorry for your loss. I remember your story so well, heartbreaking details. On this five-year anniversary of that horrifying day, what are your thoughts about what has or hasn't been achieved in terms of gun reform in this country?
NICOLE HOCKLEY, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND CO-FOUNDER OF SANDY HOOK PROMISE: I think we are still approaching a tipping point in this country. I know a lot of people say if Sandy Hook didn't change things, nothing will. But I very much believe that things did change after Sandy Hook and are continuing to change. There is a growing number of voices putting their lives into the gun violence prevention movement. And no we are not seeing change at a federal or often state policy level, we're seeing a lot of behavioral shifts in a grassroots way, and that is how you start change in our country.
CHURCH: Yes. Some states he moved in the right direction, haven't they? But federally, as you point out, there has been a problem there. Why do you think it was that even the images of children being killed by an emotionally troubled 20-year-old seems not enough to move congress or the gun lobby to do anything about controlling who has access to guns in this country? What are the main obstacles here do you think?
HOCKLEY: Well, that is kind of the magic question that no one really has the answer to. There is definitely very loud special interest groups who are able to put money against campaigns and for politicians, and the politicians have been responding to the money rather than their conscience.
[03:50:05] But then there's also I think, the fact that if you look back at any polarizing issue in the United States it never reaches the federal change level until the pulse of the nation is changed. We saw that with marriage equality. We saw that with a lot of other programs like designated driver. You know, the federal laws passed after our behaviors were already changed as a country. So I think we've been going about this backwards. We've been looking for a top-down approach when we need to have a groundswell from the bottom, and that is the sort of work we do at Sandy Hook Promise.
CHURCH: The problem is we're still seeing these mass shootings, aren't we. Let us talk about your organization, Sandy Hook Promise, what it's trying to do to make changes, and what are some of the solutions to stopping these mass shootings that appear to have become the norm almost in America?
HOCKLEY: Yes, and I hate the fact that it's become the norm. We've become far too comfortable as a country with the notion that gun violence is just part of our price for freedom. And I think that is far too high a price. We've become comfortable that there are guns everywhere. We've become comfortable to say that it's too soon to talk about solutions and to just fight. What we do instead is say, ok, you know what? This is not a hopeless or helpless issue. There are things you can do in your community. What we learned is that these shooters, whether it's a suicide, a homicide or a mass shooting, they give off signs and signals in the weeks or months before they commit their acts. And if we can learn how to recognize those signs, then we can take action and intervene. So we teach students and teachers across the country how to recognize those signs and say something or reach out and get that person help. And we know this works. We know we have stopped lots of acts of violence, including school shootings.
CHURCH: And of course the National Rifle Association is one of the country's most powerful gun lobby groups.
CHURCH: It's against most, if not all, efforts to control access to guns. How do you respond to the NRA's view that if everyone has a gun, if everyone had a gun in a public place, then we wouldn't see so many of these shootings, because other armed citizens would be there to take them down? What do you s to that argument that we keep hearing every time there is a mass shooting?
HOCKLEY: I personally -- well, personally I don't think that NRA leadership speaks for their members. I think they're an extreme point of view. But I also think that their arguments are just empty rhetoric. There's no proof to say -- there's absolutely no evidence pointing to say that if there were more guns available, that we'd see less shootings. When there have been mass shootings -- and I'm thinking of, you know, even the pulse nightclub down in Orlando Florida. There were members there who were carrying weapons, but they didn't fire, because they didn't know who they were firing at. Police can enter a scene and not know, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. And if you're not trained like a law enforcement person is in how to use your weapon properly in a crowded, dark chaotic situation, you might end up killing someone else rather than actually helping the situation. So there's no proof to say that more guns creates more safety.
CHURCH: Nicole Hockley, we thank you so much very much for coming on to CNN and talking to us about the very sensitive matters. Thank you.
HOCKLEY: Thank you.
03:55:00] CHURCH: Ok. So asteroids zip pass earth all of the time, right? But one has some distinguished scientists investigating. It just may be it's an alien space probe. Jeanne Moos explains.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Asteroid or alien? What is this thing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Interstellar object.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is a very unusual shape.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very puzzling.
MOOS: Interstellar object meaning from another solar system, this is an artist's rendering. The object was first detected using a telescope at the University of Hawaii. And now the world's biggest steerable radio telescope, green bank telescope in West Virginia, will be point it for ten hours to see if any radio wave transmissions are detected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just like a fishing expedition.
MOOS: If by some remote chance astronomers heard something?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That would be remarkable. It would imply we are not alone in the universe.
MOOS: Professor (inaudible) Chief of Harvard's astronomy department advises a group called break through listen. Researcher searching for evidence of life in the universe. They know it is unlikely this is anything more than a piece of rock, but that shape so weird for an asteroid.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was never an object that is ten times longer than it is wide.
MOOS: It looks like a cigar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A cigar or a needle.
MOOS: A shape you see in Alien movies like "Arrival."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More objects have landed around the world.
MOOS: A shape thought to be most conducive to space travel, because it minimize friction. The apparent asteroid has a name, which in Hawaiian means a messenger from afar arriving even in their first. Even in their wildest dreams, astronomers don't think it's a spacecraft, because is not maneuvering on its own. But how about a probe sent out by another civilization to collect data or a piece of alien space junk? No harm in sending out feelers, looking for radio waves. Interested in political science, good god, please don't let Trump be the one to make first contact. Mr. President, please refrain from sending alien tweets.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't understand.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN New York.
CHURCH: Just in time for the Star Wars movie, right? And this last story is just in to CNN because these international space station crew members are just in to the earth's atmosphere. Three astronauts landed in Kazakhstan just a short time ago, and they were a part of expedition 53, which launched back in July. They haven't had much to do. Just your everyday astrophysics cellular biology, and a few spacewalks. Keeps them busy. Thanks for joining us this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. Stay tuned for more news with our Max Foster in London. Have yourself a great day.