Return to Transcripts main page
CONNECT THE WORLD
Terror In Kabul; Inside An Anti-ISSIS Raid; Israel's Naming Frenzy For Trump; Fit For Prince; Children In Conflict; Breaking Down Putin's Web Of Influence. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired December 28, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:15] HALA GORANI, CONNECT THE WORLD, CNN: Three bombs shatter a morning in Kabul. Dozens are murdered. Many more badly hurt. We'll have
Then we take you on an anti-ISIS raid on the dead of night in Turkey and Trump, Trump, Trump, they're naming a lot of stuff after the America
President in one Middle East country. We're on the ground there. Plus this place cost $300 million, but the person it longs to never seem to show
up. Is it, I don't know, a billionaire Saudi prince? We turn up at the front gates to ask.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess we're not going to get in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: There is a claim of responsibility as international condemnations pour over the suicide bombing in Kabul. ISIS says one of its militants
carried out the attack killing at least 41 people, at least 80 were wounded. A witness says the bomber infiltrated a cultural center where
people had gathered to mark the soviet invasion of Afghanistan nearly 40 years ago. After the fatal blast, police say there were two other
explosions, but there were no injuries. Arwa Damon joins me live from Istanbul with the very latest. Tell us what happened today and about the
claim of responsibility by ISSI.
ARWA DAMON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: You know, this is very much, ISIS classic modus operandi. They go after the so-called soft
civilian targets wanting to inflict maximum carnage and try to exploit the sense of fear that already exists among the population. You have to
imagine just for a moment that there were around 100 people that were gathered inside this cultural center that is also where the Afghan news
agency has its offices. So fairly confined space where a blast does not necessarily have to be that large to actually cause a lot of casualties.
That is sadly evident in the death toll and the toll of those that were wounded that we are seeing. Now, it's also worth noting that we have seen
relatively speaking an increase in attacks that ISIS has claimed responsibility for, especially since the devastating attack that took place
also in Kabul over the summer where 150 people, around 150 people were killed. We have also seen the Taliban carry out attacks although they tend
to specifically target the country's security apparatus. But for the population, they are exhausted. They are tired of time and time again
having to bury their dead.
GORANI: One can imagine it is years and years of misery and conflict. In Turkey, and speaking of ISIS, you were able to report on an anti-ISIS raid
inside the country in the dead of night, talk to us about that.
DAMON: Of course as we know only too well, ISIS does pose something of a global threat and Turkey is very aware of that reality. The security
forces here have been conducting numerous sweeping raids across the country.
DAMON: If we are ready, we are moving the officer radio calls to his men. It's just past midnight a few days before New Year's Eve and across
Istanbul the police force are getting ready for a massive raid. The cell they want to bust is larger than most of their previous ISIS targets and we
are briefed. Will they have the capacity to carry out an attack? Turks are weary and anxious this holiday season following the pain and shock of
last year's new year's eve terror attack when a gunman opened fire on revelers at a nightclub in Istanbul and the security apparatus cannot
afford to take any chances.
They're trying to move in as quietly as possible. This is part of a sweeping operation that is involving around three dozen targets and
hundreds of police officers. Residents peer down, but stay well indoors. This is as far as we're being permitted to go at this stage. There have
been instances in the past over the course of the last year where the targets have actually exploded suicide vests or attacked the officers with
grenades and guns.
[10:05:00] No one is authorized to go on camera and the information disclosed to us is scant. The unit we are with is targeting couple
believed to be the head of the cell that is also responsible for moving and housing fighters, ideological training and recruitment.
The search is still ongoing. The couple has been apprehended and it is believed at this stage that they are the ones that are the head of the
entire cell. There are no casualties on this night or any clashes. Video later released by the police force shows other targets. Their homes
searched and tossed for any grain of information. In all, 28 people were detained and there have been regular crackdowns throughout the country.
Over the last year hundreds of ISIS suspects have been taken into custody, but the threat level remains high and casts a looming shadow over what
should be a festive time.
DAMON: And Hala, as history has taught us, an organization like ISIS is not necessarily going to be defeated just by taking away territory that
they control or even by detaining their members. It's going to have to be a much deeper approach than that figuring out how to defeat the spread of
GORANI: What kind of intelligence do they act on usually? Because here these are quite pinpointed raids in residential buildings. How do they
operate in terms of how they pinpoint their targets in this case?
DAMON: You know, the Turks are very tight lipped about their specific operations about how they gather intelligence, but broadly speaking,
especially when it comes to this network in particular, this is a group, a large group of individuals who we were told they were tracking for a few
months at this stage. It was only when they determined that the group was actually at a level of readiness so carry out an attack when they had
actionable intelligence as they call it, were they able to then move in. Every single one of these arrest actually also requires a warrant. So
there is an entire judicial process when it comes to how Turkey operates within its own borders. But it is a massive undertaking, especially when
one takes into consideration how many potential ISIS operatives, ISIS suspects are actually trying to gain a foot hold into this country.
GORANI: Thanks. Arwa Damon, live in Istanbul.
Well Turkey's President is again lashing out at his counterpart across the border in Syria while on an official visit to Tunisia on Wednesday.
Erdogan said President Assad has no place in Syria's future.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (TRANSLATOR): Let me say it clearly. Assad is definitely a terrorist who has carried out state
terrorism. We cannot say this person can do this job. If we say that, it will be unfair to nearly a million Syrians who are killed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Syria's foreign ministry responded quickly and sharply said Erdogan's paranoia and the illusions of the past made him forget that his
old empire has vanished and that the free people of the world have the choice to make their national decisions and defend their sovereignty and
they will not allow Erdogan to interfere in their affairs. A war of words there between the two countries.
Israel appears ready to thank the U.S. President for his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. It plans on putting Donald
Trump's name right on a new train station there and just steps away from a holy site, the western wall in the eastern part of the city. But across
the region and at the United Nations Mr. Trump's decision on the divided city is seen as a major complication in the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
And now Israel's honor for Mr. Trump could inflame tensions even further. Oren Lieberman is following all of this right now in Jerusalem. I imagine
the reaction is as divided as the conflict is to this decision to name this train station after Donald Trump.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORESPONDENT: Absolutely. Look, there's no doubt about it. Israelis are hailing Trump as a bit of a hero here for his
recognition of Jerusalem as a capital of Israel. That is why you're not only seeing a plan high speed rail station, but also a park in northern
Israel, a street in Jerusalem. One council member has proposed changing that to Trump as well as a street in the city. That rail station is by far
the most sensitive, because it will let passengers out right in the old city of Jerusalem. You know exactly how sensitive anything that has to do
with the old city is. The station itself will be 50 to 60 meters underground, but it will let passengers out just a few feet away from the
western wall. In May, Trump made history when he was the first sitting U.S. President to visit the western wall. That was hailed by Israelis as a
diplomatic victory here.
[10:10:00] But as that planning goes forward and that will still take years, this has already come under criticism from Palestinians. Saying
naming this after Trump and building a high speed rail doesn't change the fact that East Jerusalem is occupied territory and nothing will changed
that. You're seeing the anger build up around this already. This will be a long process as it's still a year of planning and four or five years of
construction before the high speed rail line there and the stop there opens. But you get an idea of how sensitive this is, how much the Israelis
look forward to Trump and are praising him and how angry the Palestinians still are after that declaration.
GORANI: Absolutely. One of the other stories that is been making headlines in the Middle East over the last several days, in fact I tweeted
it out and I got a lot of response as a result, Saudi Arabia denying visas to Israeli chess players for a major chess championship held in Saudi
Arabia. The English Chess Federation is saying that Saudi Arabia should be stripped of its right to host the international event if it's not going to
issue visas to all the players. What is Israel planning on doing about this if anything?
LIEBERMANN: Following up in many ways on what the English said. It's not just this year that Saudi hosts the world chess championship. You host it
for two years at a time. At least as of right now they're next year's host as well. That is what Israel's going to try to fight. Leading up to the
world chess champions were essentially three countries that weren't getting visas. Israel, Iran and Qatar. About 48 hours before the chess
championship started, Saudi Arabia issued visas to Iranian players. Seven Israeli players to be exact that were left out and that infuriated the
Israel Chess Federation. Here is their head speaking about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They condemns the situation that the players from Israel, Iran, and Qatar cannot play in this event. We have to decide what
actions we will do in the near future with full power in order that this situation will not happen again in the future. We hope they understand the
situation that is very bad for chess, very bad for the Israel players, and very bad for sport.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIEBERMANN: There has been some suggestion that Israel would t to host an alternative event. That will be largely symbolic as it wouldn't have many
participates. There enough force with the countries that were angry to make sure Saudi doesn't host next year. For that we'll have to wait a
while and see.
GORANI: All right. We have to wait and see, if you host an international competition, you've got to accept all the international players. Certainly
that is the prevalent view online. Thanks very much. Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem. By the way, a programming note, I'll be on Hala Gorani tonight
speaking to a Ukrainian female chess player who's refused to participate she is standing in solidarity with female players and women in Saudi
Arabia. She is a top chess female chess player who has not traveled and will not be travelling to Saudi Arabia.
What does the Saudi crown prince have to do with the world's most expensive home? It's got everything from a moat to the latest technology. A
location just outside Paris. No one is really certain who owns the building. As Jim Bittermann finds, there are some pretty good clues.
JIM BITTERMANN, SENIOR EUROPEAN CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It's known as the world's most expensive house, but you'd think that if you had spent 300
million on a place to stay you'd at least want to visit it. Yet this high tech re-creation of a 17th century French chateau just outside Paris is
described by the locals as a ghost house. They said they've never seen the purchase who purchased the property two years ago. It was constructed by a
high flying property developer who spent six years bull dozing a tumble down manner house to create gardens. And a golden chateau complete with
swimming pools inside and out, a large wine cellar and kitchen, disco tech and private cinema. What every chateau with a moat needs, a room to keep
an eye on the fish.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a place where you go down in the aquarium which is very thick glass and you can look at the fishes around.
BITTERMANN: The local mayor who has toured the place says what the chateau does not seem to have is any residents.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know exactly, who was the I.D. of this person who bought the castle.
BITTERMANN: The apparent buyer, the Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia is currently leading a crackdown on corruption and extravagance in
his kingdom. The prince name is not on his mailbox and because of the various holding companies involved, it can't be said with 100 percent
certainty that he holds the keys to the front gate here.
[10:15:13] But those who have done the ownership paper chase say that in fact the manager of the prince's personal fortune runs the company that
bought the property. The local letter carrier has never seen at prince's name on any mail. Just the names of corporations. But it's not like
there's no one inside the estate. People are getting paid to watch over the place. Although they aren't exceptionally welcoming to television
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess we're not going to get in.
BITTERMANN: The neighbors who have looked on as the property was transformed and renamed the Chateau Louie 14 after the extravagant French
king who built (inaudible) think the whole thing is over the top. The mayor compares the chateau Louie 14 to the copies of other well-known
French icons in Las Vegas. But he does see one advantage to the chateau. Whether or not the prince or anyone else ever does inhabit the place on a
regular basis, in a town of 7,000, it will be a nice boost to the property tax base. Jim Bittermann CNN, France.
GORANI: A lot more to come. Is this the most powerful person in the world? Next we'll look at the cult of personality behind Russian President
Vladimir Putin and as war ravages countries across the globe, children are caught up in the conflict. How UNICEF is shedding light on this issue.
We'll have an interview coming up later this hour. Stay with us.
GORANI: The Russian President Vladimir Putin says Wednesday's attack in St. Petersburg was terrorism. We're looking at the aftermath. Authorities
say a homemade bomb packed with metal fragments tore through the crowded supermarket. 13 people were injured. If the attack underscores the issue
at home as Russia wraps up operations in Syria, here is Mr. Putin talking with military officers just back from the war which Russia helped turn in
favor of government forces inside Syria.
[10:20:13] He says they were also key in defeating ISIS there. All this has Putin prepares to glide into a fourth term in March. Let's get more
now from CNN senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen. He is live in Moscow. Let's talk about this blast. Terrorism. I mean initially
there were rumblings that it could have been a criminal act. Who are they blaming?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, at this point in time they haven't put forth any group that they're blaming.
Certainly no one's claimed responsibility yet. One of the things that Vladimir Putin said in that speech you were talking about in front of those
military officers is he strongly indicated that it might have been Russians who came back from Syria or in some way, shape, or form were linked to
Syria. One of the things he said to those officers it would be very, very dangerous for Russia if more of those people came back. At the same time
he also made some very strong statements. You said that he was running for President again. One of the big platforms he is running on is domestic
security and combating terrorism and he basically told the security services here in this country if they feel they're threatened when they're
trying to arrest terrorists to liquidate those terrorists. Let us listen to exactly what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (TRANSLATOR): You know that yesterday in St. Petersburg a terrorist attack was carried out. And recently the
federal security service prevented another attempted terrorist attack. What would happen if the thousands that I just spoke about, hundreds of
them, would have come back to us trained and well prepared?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: So there you have Vladimir Putin speaking in front of those military officers. Of course internal security a big issue here as he is
running for election. But in general in the run-up to the election security obviously a big issue for the Russians. You have that other major
event Hala that is taking place in Russia this coming year. The football world cup where you have tens if not hundreds of thousands of fans from
around the globe coming to many of these places in Russia. Their security of course also a major concern, Hala.
GORANI: Russia is unhappy with the United States. It's in fact accusing it of training former ISIS fighters in order to take over parts of Syria.
Saying we thought we were working together, we thought we were on the same page but clearly we're not. What's going on there?
PLEITGEN: Yes. That pretty much sum up. There were two things that have happened over the past 24 hours. An op-ed by the U.S. Secretary of State
Rex Tillerson where he criticized the Russians was exactly what the Russians did in the U.S. Election and other elections as well calling the
relations between the two countries very poor. Also saying that he believes there should be cooperation in Syria. The Russians have called
that op-ed believe it or not fake news in a press conference earlier today and said it was one of the things that was also inciting of anger between
Russia and the United States and trying to drive away between the Russians and the Chinese.
But to that issue of Syria, that is something that the Russians were specific on, we got in touch earlier today with the kremlin. The spokesman
for Vladimir Putin saying there is no cooperation between the U.S and Russia and Syria and a Russian general as you alluded to yesterday came out
and said that he believed that the U.S. was training former ISIS fighters in Syria regarding a base on the border between Syria and Jordan. The U.S.
says that is absolutely not true. They say yes, they're training fighters there, but those fighters are supposed to fight ISIS if indeed ISIS tries
to get back to some of the areas they were ousted from earlier this year.
GORANI: Fred, thanks for much. Fred Pleitgen is in Moscow now.
We were talking about Vladimir Putin running for a fourth term. And Russians ruling Syria, has helped raise his stature internationally which
is fine with President Putin. When the kremlin looks good, so does he. In fact, Mr. Putin looks good even when things aren't going so well for him.
CNN Phil Black looks at why he is so popular inside his owner country and so powerful.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some would argue Vladimir Putin could be the most powerful man in the world. What are the sources of his power?
Putin has three key tools, cyber power, military might, and a cult of personality. Together they form an often effective web of influence.
While Moscow denies its highly skilled hackers interfered in the U.S. Election, they've been accused of causing big disruptions in other
countries like Estonia, Ukraine, claims Russia also rejects. Russia's enormous hacking power isn't new and traces back to the USSR when its
universities were designed to produce world-class engineers. Putin's power is also hugely enhanced by his personal control of Russia's vast military
including the nukes is also a soviet legacy, Putin has been pumping extraordinary amounts of money into the modernization. But most experts
agree, Russian conventional forces have a limited ability to project military power far from the country's borders.
[10:25:14] One of the biggest sources of Putin's power is his own extraordinary popularity at home. The more his behavior attracts criticism
from other world leaders, the more Russians celebrate their President. His approval figures soared with Ukraine and spiked again with Syria. The
reason? Many Russians really care about their country's ability to influence world events even if it comes to sanctions and a hit to their own
quality of life. Putin also benefits from a political system and a media landscape with zero tolerance for criticizing the President. So no doubt
Vladimir Putin is powerful and unpredictable, but he is also limited by some pretty big problems. The Russian economy isn't going anywhere. That
is why there's another popular theory about Putin and his web of influence. He is someone who plays a weak hand very well.
GORANI: Vladimir Putin isn't the only leader with an eye on being in power. China's President is already shoring up control of the military and
he is poised to get sweeping new power in the coming weeks. You can follow Xi Jinping's latest moves on our website, CNN.com. And a lot more ahead
this hour. A losing candidate backed by President Trump is not going down without a fight. Disgraced Republican Roy Moore now says voter fraud kept
him from winning an election in Alabama. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Let us turn now to the southern state of Alabama. The losing Republican candidate there who was backed by President Donald Trump has
filed an election complaint.
He is not conceding. I'm talking of course about Roy Moore. He lost the election to a Democrat. And he's alleging that this is because of
potential voter fraud.
Alabama secretary of state, though, says the Democrat Doug Jones will be certified the winner today, even though Moore has not admitted defeat.
Boris Sanchez joins me now from Washington with the latest on this story and what it could many for President Trump. So, first of all, he's asking
for this recognition of the victory of Doug Jones to be delayed, but that's not going to happen, Boris.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Hala. The Secretary of State for Alabama, John Merrill is telling CNN earlier this morning that as
of 2:00 p.m. local time, he, the attorney general, and the governor of Alabama will certify the results of the special election in favor of Doug
Jones himself put out a statement a little less than an hour ago saying that this was a desperate attempt by Roy Moore to try to subvert the will
of the people of Alabama. There it is right there.
This desperate attempt by Roy Moore to subvert the will of the people will not succeed. The election is over. It is time to move on. This really
was a last minute hail Mary by Roy Moore to try to delay the certification of these election results.
He filed this affidavit late last night. And in it he claims that there was rampant voter fraud. Specifically he cites 20 precincts in Jefferson
County. This is an area with a large African-American population.
And the affidavit claims that the turnout in these are was so irregular, it was so high that the results should be deemed suspicious.
Further it makes the claim that people from out of state were bussed in to Alabama to vote for Doug Jones who ended up winning the special election by
more than 20,000 votes.
The allegations in the affidavit are attributed to three election integrity officials. One of them at least is a bit of a colorful background.
He's known for pushing conspiracy theories about the assassination of former president John F. Kennedy a well as about the death of former DNC
staffer Seth Rich.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about this affidavit though, Hala, is the admission By Roy Moore that after the special election, he took a polygraph
test to answer questions about the allegations of sexual misconduct that were made against him during the campaign.
You'll recall several women came forward alleging that he was inappropriate toward them when they were teenagers. And he was in his 30s as district
attorney. Moore says that this polygraph test clears him.
In fact, in part of the affidavit he included a statement that says, quote, the results of the examination reflected that I did not know nor had I ever
had any sexual contact with any of these individuals.
He goes further to call the allegations against him false and malicious attacks on his character and in a press release that was attached to this
affidavit, he asked his supporters to call the secretary of state's office to demand that the certification be delayed.
Clearly that is not going to happen. And very quickly, in terms of the implications for President Trump, shortly after the special election, he
made the case that Roy Moore should concede telling the press that he should give or acknowledge that Doug Jones won the race. We've not yet got
a comment on the White House on this new development though, Hala.
GORANI: All right, Boris, thanks very much. We'll speak with you next hour for the latest on this race and what it could mean for the president.
More stands could be embarrassing for President Trump.
Well, he's spending the holiday golfing in Florida. In fact, Mr. Trump has spent nearly a third of his days in office either at a property he owns or
one that bears his name.
Our senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, joins me live from L.A. I'm curious about what you think the impact of this Alabama race, what it could
have on Donald Trump.
He did in fact endorse Roy Moore. There are important midterm elections next year. How do you think this -- what effect do you think it will have?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first, those midterm elections really are the pivot of the Trump presidency, the hinge of the
They will determine really whether he has the kind of confederate hand that the Republican Congress has given him over the past year extending all the
way through his presidency or in effect whether his ability to drive legislation is cut in half which is what happened to Barack Obama in 2010.
Look, I think the Alabama election probably has two big effects looking forward to the midterm. First is to, and most direct, is just to confirm
among Democrats a sense of momentum.
One of the most important things that usually happens in midterm elections is the party out of the White House shows up in bigger numbers than the
party in the White House.
[10:35:00] We've seen that so far in the special elections of 2017 and the victory in Alabama of all places, a state that Donald Trump won by over
500,000 just over a year ago, I think gives Democrats the kind of enthusiasm that could produce higher turnout.
The other thing that it's done, Hala, is deepen a division among women. We saw African-American women move very sharply towards the Democratic turnout
in enormous numbers. We also saw a big movement towards the Democrat among college educated white women, professional suburban women.
On the other hand, Roy Moore still held really big margins among blue collar white women. And that divergence between the white collar and the
blue collar white women is what we saw in Virginia, is what we saw 2016, the widest gap between them in presidential elections ever. And that I
think will be another feature of 2018 that comes out of Alabama.
GORANI: Correct me if I'm wrong, I believe white mothers voted in their majority for the Democrat. Correct me if...
BROWNSTEIN: I mean, the big divide between the college and the non-college white women, the biggest single reason Donald Trump is president might be
was how many blue collar white women voted for him, particularly in the Midwest.
That kind of divide is really -- goes into the larger dynamic we're seeing looking into 2018 where basically Democrats in 2017 have been buoyed by two
big trends. Higher turnouts all year among African-Americans, and millennials, and huge markets -- I mean movement towards them among college
educated white voters.
All of which are groups that are disaffected from Trump. On the other hand, they've made much smaller in any inroads among rural voters, blue
collar white voters, evangelical voters, older white voters, the four corners of the Trump coalition.
And you play that forward towards 2018, if that is the pattern that we are going to see all of the way, it is possible for Democrats to win back the
House primarily through an upscale path in the suburbs but it is a narrow margin that would be a lot easy for them if they could also make some gains
on the blue collar side of the ledger.
GORANI: Yes. Speaking of legislative achievements, Mr. Trump in his usual style had this to say about his first year in office. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the things that people don't understand, we have signed more legislation than anybody. We
broke the record of Harry Truman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: So, obviously that's not correct. Why does he -- I mean, is he again, addressing his base, trying to get some sort of message across that
he's the best performing president? I guess perhaps with his poor base, this does work.
BROWNSTEIN: Well, but that core base is not enough to govern as we have learned. The core base is somewhere in the mid 30s. And Donald Trump's
victory depended on voters who were frankly, ambivalent about him.
And people who voted said they did not think he had a temperament to succeed as president. They wanted change. They didn't like Hillary
Clinton. They wanted something different from, you know, outside the political system.
And those are the voters that he is struggling to hold. Those are the voters that have moved away from the Republicans in these elections in 2017
and are showing ambivalence about them in 2018.
The history of American elections -- I think we have talked about this before, really over the last 25 years is the biggest single factor in the
midterm are attitudes toward the president.
And the consistently year after year, we see roughly 85 percent of the people who approve of the president's performance, vote for his party in
these midterm elections and roughly 85 percent or slightly more of those who disapprove, vote against him.
That is exactly the pattern we have seen in Virginia and Alabama and New Jersey. It's what the polls for CNN for example are showing us about 2018.
And if Donald Trump's approval stays where it is in the 40 percent or below range, there are going to be a lot of Republicans in swing districts who
despite his claims about a very productive 2017, are going to find it very rough going in the next 12 months.
GORANI: All right. Thanks very much. Ron Brownstein, appreciate it.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
GORANI: Now, both President Trump and Roy Moore have been accused of sexual assault and misconduct and the MeToo movement that grew out of the
Harvey Weinstein scandal has become one of the most significant stories of 2017. Now a CNN investigation has uncovered disturbing allegations of
sexual assault on passenger planes. Here's Rene Marsh.
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A man arrested last week accused of fondling two female passengers on board a united airlines flight from
Newark to Buffalo, New York. Katie Campos was one of them.
KATIE CAMPOS, UNITED AIRLINES PASSENGER: He grabbed my like upper thigh like -- like in my -- like the crotch area. And he grabbed it pretty
MARSH: A police report says that the man told the other woman he would like to kiss her. When she declined, he started stroking her leg. The man
now charged with disorderly conduct.
United Airlines told CNN, we have zero tolerance for this type of behavior and our pilot requested that local law enforcement meet the aircraft on
[10:40:00] Not enough for Campos who tweeted, do better, United Airlines. She says the flight attendant did not offer her to switch seats. She had
to demand it. She was then placed directly behind the harasser, the airline says because there were few empty seats. The touching continued.
CAMPOS: At the end of the day, they didn't protect my safety or those around me and I don't think that that's a good excuse.
MARSH: Like Compos, these three women tell CNN they were sexually harassed or assault on commercial flights. And all of them complained the flight
crew did little or nothing to help.
AYANNA HART, DELTA AIRLINES PASSENGER: He grabbed my -- my arm and my side right under my left breast, right next to my left breast.
MARSH: Ayanna Hart was on a Delta flight from Los Angeles to Denver in May. She says the flight attendant was of no help.
HART: The flight attendant said, oh, don't worry about him, he flies with us all the time. He's Delta Platinum.
MARSH: Hart has a pending lawsuit against Delta for failing to intervene and continuing to serve him alcohol. The airline would not comment on this
case citing pending litigation but said it takes these incidents seriously and with law enforcement investigates them.
ALLISON DVALADZE, DELTA AIRLINES PASSENGER: I was dozing off when I felt a hand in my crotch and realized that the man next to me was holding -- was
grabbing my crotch.
MARSH: Allison Dvaladze filed a complaint with Delta after her flight from Seattle to Amsterdam.
DVALADZE: There was not a clear procedure for what they should do. They asked me what I wanted them to do.
MARSH: A month later, she received an e-mail saying it's not fair when one person's behavior affects another, and as a goodwill gesture, offered her
DVALADZE: If somebody reports a crime to an airline, that it should be flagged. It should not be treated as if it's lost luggage.
MARSH: The airline told CNN, we continue to be disheartened by the events Ms. Dvaladze described.
JENNIFER REFIEYAN, UNITED AIRLINES PASSENGER: He started to touch my leg, stroke my leg, tickle it.
MARSH: Jennifer Refieyan was on a flight from Newark to Phoenix. She, too, says the flight crew did not move her away from her harasser.
Instead, the airline made an offer.
REFIEYAN: He gave me four $100 gift certificates for travel on an upcoming United Flight and he refused to let me talk to a manager.
MARSH: But shortly after a news article about her ordeal was published, United management called to, in their words, check on her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This message is for Ms. Jennifer Refieyan. This is (BLEEP) call from United Airlines executive offices. I can't even imagine,
you know, what you went through when you were on the flight with the gentleman seated next to you.
SARA NELSON, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: At thousands of feet in the air, you can't call for help, you can't remove the problem.
MARSH: Sara Nelson is president of one of the world's largest flight attendant unions.
NELSON: In my 22 years as a flight attendant, I have never taken part in a conversation in training or otherwise about how to handle sexual harassment
or sexual assault.
MARSH: The union surveyed nearly 2,000 flight attendants. One out of five said they've received a report of a passenger's sexual assault. But law
enforcement was contacted less than half the time.
CNN reached out to all of the major U.S. airlines and the industry trade group that represents them. None agreed to go on camera but all released
statement with a similar message.
Passenger safety and security is their priority and they say flight attendants are trained to handle these incidents, but none gave a detailed
explanation of the policies or guidelines.
No federal regulatory agency tracks how many mid-air sexual assaults happen nationwide, but the FBI does track how many it investigates.
Federal data shows a 66 percent increase from 2014 to 2017. The FBI says it's unclear what's behind the rise. But what is clear for these women,
flight crews need to do more, because at 30,000 feet, there's no escape.
(on camera): Well, I want to thank all four women for sharing their stories with CNN. The four women in this piece say they want three things.
One, flight crews should always separate the victim from the harasser. Two, do not allow drunk people on flights. Alcohol played a role in a lot
of these cases.
And, three, call law enforcement to report these cases upon landing every time. They also advise, try to avoid the middle or window seat if
possible. Sitting in the aisle allows for an easier getaway if necessary.
We do want to point out, several lawmakers have been pushing for legislation that would beef up flight crew training and mandate better
tracking of these incidents. Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.
GORANI: Coming up, a stark warning from UNICEF which said there are no safe place left for children who live in conflict zones. What the
organization says can be done to try to protect the youngest victims.
[10:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
GORANI: Well, our top news, the deadly suicide bombing in Kabul that has claimed the lives at least 41 people, including two children. And as
violence escalates worldwide, it is children that are emerging as the most vulnerable victims according to UNICEF.
It says children in conflict zones are at risk for abduction by extremists, forced marriage, slavery, provides examples. In 2017, 850,000 children
were driven from their homes, for instance in the Democratic republic of Congo, 19,000 in South Sudan were recruited into armed force forces, and in
Yemen 358,000 children are severely malnourished.
Joining me now from New York to discuss this is, Justin Forsyth, the deputy executive director of UNICEF. Let's talk first of all about some of the
findings of the report and then solutions to address some of the issues.
The number of children living in extreme poverty, that figure is rising and obviously any number is too high. Talk to us about that problem.
JUSTIN FORSYTH, DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNICEF: Well, actually the number of children living in poverty and the number of children that die in
the world from preventable diseases has actually fallen in recent years.
But within this story of progress, because of these conflicts and within these conflicts, we have these terrible situations whether it's in Yemen,
where over 11 million children need humanitarian aid and 300,000 nearly, 400,000 of them are severely malnourished, which means, imminently lead t
And in Syria, whether in besiege towns like Eastern Ghouta where children, only 30 minutes aways from a hospital are literally dying as we are doing
this interview or in Northern Nigeria, where I was recently, where 3 million children have been displaced and forced away from their
communities, but also missing out on education.
Many of those children, particularly the girls have been raped and pushed into forced marriage by Boko Haram. So the world is getting better, but
within that story of progress, because of conflict, we're dealing with these terrible abuses, violence against children on an epic scale.
GORANI: And you have children as well recruited as fighters, forced to fight in armed groups, used as human shields as well.
FORSYTH: Not just that. I mean in Nigeria and in some other conflicts, children are being used as human bombs, very young children, I mean only 11
I mean when I was in Northern Nigeria there were bombs going off in Bono state and there were children literally who were strapped up, made into
human bombs, were drugged and then were told to walk towards police stations or towards army check points.
Also children are being forced, are being recruited into armed groups. We've also seen children in Burma, Rohingya who have been made to watch
their mothers being raped, their fathers, shot their brothers and sisters killed.
[10:50:00] They then had to flee to Bangladesh. They are now living terrible condition. So they have malnutrition levels that are very high,
as well as in Yemen, in South Sudan.
So it's a terrible situation. And what we've seen is a particular targeting of children which seems to be growing, not just the scale of the
crisis, but the particular targeting of children.
GORANI: And it's interesting because you're saying it's within the context of a -- of a more or less positive trend, in other words, that the number
of children living in extreme poverty is declining.
But then you have these shocking, shocking examples in conflict zones of kids being used to fight, of kids being traumatized. What is the impact on
future generations? Because the impact isn't just the immediate one, it's what happens to these kids when they grow up.
FORSYTH: It's a lost generation of children in some cases. I think you have to fear now in the Middle East in particular that the millions of
children in Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen, in other parts of that region have not -- have been never out of conflict, have been out of school for long
periods of time.
And what that does to them, it not only traumatizes them, but at least an open also to radicalization, to extremist who take advantage of that
You have also got to fear in somewhere Myanmar with those children that have been forced out of their homes, seen their parents killed or raped,
that those children are also open to extremism.
So this not only affects these children, that terrible trauma that they experience, but it also threatens our societies. It threatens countries.
It threatens in the long term global stability.
GORANI: So what are the solutions then -- the realistic solutions here?
FORSYTH: Well, we need small solutions and we need big solutions. The small solutions are for places like Eastern Ghouta, just a few miles away
from the capital of Syria, Damascus where there are over 130,000 children that need evacuated, some as young as a few months old.
One little boy that has been shot in the head, has a broken scull, lost an eye, his mother was killed in front of him. He needs to get to a hospital.
And there's no reason why he shouldn't be getting to a hospital right now. But there are bigger solutions needed as well. We need humanitarian access
in places like Yemen within Myanmar, the state of Rakhine, where the Rohingya are from.
So we can provide protection and humanitarian aid. But that won't happen unless the Security Council acts together. And the real failing here is
that despite some of these conflicts being very difficult and complex is that even with that complexity the Security Council, if it united, could do
more to help protect these children. And it's failing in its obligation to do that.
GORANI: All right, Justin Forsyth, thanks very much for joining us. Appreciate your time to discuss this UNICEF report. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Check out this pretty incredible scene around one of Dubai's most famous skyscrapers.
[10:55:00] You've probably never seen the Burj Khalifa quite like this. The photographer captured the building in waves of fog in a time lapse
It was taken a few days ago. This is the world's tallest building. It's 829 meters. When you have a tall building, sometimes you get your head in
the clouds like in this case.
All right, we're going to have a lot more. And by the way, I'll see you at the top of the hour for a special 15 minute program. And later on Hala
Gorani Tonight live from London at 9 p.m. central European time.
Thanks for watching. We'll have a lot more news in the coming hours on CNN, on this Thursday. I will see you after a break. Stay with us.