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Trump Taunts Kim Jong-un In Nuclear Tweet; Iran's Supreme Leader Blames Enemies For Deadly Unrest; U.S. Withholds Millions In Military Aid To Pakistan

Aired January 3, 2018 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, Donald Trump's back and forth with Kim Jong-un about whose nuclear button is bigger and more powerful.

And an outpouring of anger in the streets of Iran. What exactly are the protesters' demanding and why now?

Plus, known for his online prank, this YouTube star now apologizing for a seriously unfunny video.

Hello and thank you so much for joining us. I'm Sara Sidner. This is NEWSROOM L.A.

South and North Korea are making tentative steps towards possible high-level talks with each other. That just happened in the last few moments, including the restoration of a hotline between them, set to happen in about a half hour. But the U.S. president is giving Kim Jong-un's recent boastful comments a saber-rattling response.

In a new year's address, the North Korean leader said he would move ahead with mass production of nuclear warheads, and that he could launch missiles at the U.S. with the nuclear button on his desk. Mr. Trump promptly tweeted back: "I too have a nuclear button, but it is a much bigger and more power one than his, and my button works."

For more on the story, Paula Hancocks is joining us now live from Seoul. Paula, we'll talk a little bit about what President Trump's comments may mean. But is this, you think, a response from North Korea, to those comments saying, look, we are going to now open this line to South Korea so that we can have some discussions.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's probably unlikely just because of the timing of this, the timing in between the tweet and the North Korean official statement was quite short. And North Korean television does not quickly broadcast things that have been taped; it's a very highly choreographed country, as you know, and anything that comes o of that country has to go all the way up to the top, all the way back down and has to be checked all the way along the way. So, I doubt that it's in response to the tweet itself.

More likely, it's in response to what South Korea said on Tuesday, that they wanted to have high level talks on January 9th, next Tuesday, and that they wanted to have them at the DMZ, at the Truce Village of Panmunjom. So, what we're hearing from this North Korea official is he says, Kim Jong-un has ordered the opening of this communication channel in just about half-an-hour. It hasn't been responded to, or the North Koreans haven't picked that phone up since February 2016.

Now, we know that the South Koreans have phoned twice a day, every single day since they stopped answering, 9:00 m. and 4:00 p.m. They did yesterday as well just after they had made that suggestion of January 9th. So, it's a positive development in the respect that they are taking to it the next step. That the North Koreans are now saying that they will open that communication channel. They will discuss the details of sending a delegation to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. And the South Koreans have welcomed the fact that they've opened that communication channel.

SIDNER: Now, Paula, let's go back to President Trump's tweet, and for that matter Kim Jong-un's initial tweet. Normally, there is some sort of response; are we expecting a response from Kim Jong-un after the president sort of one-upped him in a tweet about nuclear weapons?

HANCOCKS: We may. We certainly saw when the U.S. President Donald Trump was goading. I think you could say that the North Korean leader last year, we actually had a direct response from Kim Jong-un himself. He had a televised statement rebutting what the U.S. president said. We have never seen that before between a U.S. and a North Korean leader; it was quite staggering. We could well see another response. But I don't think it'll be quick, I think there will be some -- an awful lot of questioning what exactly the U.S. president had meant; was it a direct threat? Was it an off-the-cuff remark? And I think there's an awful lot of questions being asked in the corridors of power around the world about that tweet. It's not just going to be in North Korea. So, we could well see a response, but I don't think it will be in the next -- in the coming hours.

SIDNER: Paula Hancocks joining us now live from South Korea. Thank you so much for that great insight.

Now, joining me here in Los Angeles: CNN Political Commentators, Democratic Strategist, Dave Jacobson; and Republican Consultant, John Thomas. OK. We're in the second day of 2018, and we're already talking about nuclear war. I'm a little concerned, I think as many people are. Do you think that the president -- I'm going to start with you, do that the president matching the Korean regime's leadership is the right way to go? A lot of things have been tried and haven't worked; he's still testing nuclear devices, he's still sending out ICBMs. Is this a new strategy that's worth trying?

[01:05:19] DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I mean, I don't think it's a new strategy anymore. Like, we had the fire and fury comments back in August; we had the Kim Jong- un is short and fat comments; we have the tweet about the era of strategic patience is over. Like, none of that has worked. North Korea has only accelerated and intensified their nuclear program. And so, I think we need to look for another playbook, because this strategy has failed.


mean, it hasn't fully succeeded yet, but we see more movement out of allies like China, actually starting to talk a little tougher with North Korea that we've ever seen before, and the only common denominator is that Trump is talking tough. I also think it's just striking a different, dramatically different tone than the last eight years, which is President Trump saying you can't bully the United States. We're not just going to let you run your mouth without pushing back.

JACOBSON: But Donald Trump's bullying has become, like, reckless. Like, now, we're now on the verge -- if you look at the Twitter storm between the two leaders today, you would think that we're in the verge of war.

SIDNER: Are we?

JACOBSON: And here's the challenge -- it looks like it, if you look at the Twitter feed. Here's the challenge that Donald Trump recognize, though: 35 miles from the North Korean border is Seoul; 100,000 Americans are there.

THOMAS: And he's well aware of that. I mean, he understands there's really no good option here. But I think he also thinks that the only thing that Kim Jong-un will respect is somebody who pushes back.

JACOBSON: That's the issue, though, right? Like, we've had more acceleration from the North Koreans on their nuclear arsenal than we've seen throughout the last eight years of President Obama's presidency. And the last year --

THOMAS: Because they enabled him to get to this point. I mean, this is a bad situation, and it didn't happen in just one year, Dave. This has been escalating over time; and landed in Trump's lap.

JACOBSON: But there's no denying that you can't say it hasn't accelerated exponentially over the last year through Donald Trump's first year in office.

SIDNER: Let me bring this up, because just in the last hour, North Korea has put out a statement saying that they are now going to open a phone line to South Korea talking about athletes going over to participate in the Olympics. But it is a diplomatic line, if you will, that has been closed for many, many years now. So, what does that say to the U.S. and President Trump who has, you know, been trying to, again, sort of, broker a deal, if you will, in his own way.

THOMAS: It seems like North Korea is trying to cut off or kneecap the U.S. in this process by basically saying, look, we don't -- the U.S. is irrelevant in the conversations we're having within the region. We'll see if it's successful. I'm not holding my breath. If they do send athletes to the games, I was just talking to Dave in agreement, I think we're going to defections.

SIDNER: That has happened before in the past. JACOBSON: I won't be surprised. I think a bilateral move between the

South and the North is not in the best interest for the U.S. I think we want to be part of the t of the dialog and part of the conversation. But I think it's illustrative of the growing rift between the United States and the South Koreans, partially because of Trump's animosity when it comes to issues like trade. He hasn't been that embracing of the South Korean economy, of cutting deals with them. He is saying that they're ripping us off. He's gone on Twitter storms throughout the course of his presidency.

And so, there's a little splintering behind -- between the allegiance or the alliance that we have between us and our ally in South Korea. And look, if I'm South Korea and I've got millions of people within range of missiles from the north, like, at the end of the day, I've got to protect my own people. Like, that's got to be priority number one. So, I get that they want to have a conversation. As Americans, we want to be part of that dialogue, and it looks like right now, we getting shut out.

SIDNER: And I think Paula just mentioned that South Korea would treading lightly and really looking at the situation strategically for themselves as well. Thank you, gentlemen, both, and we will be back with you in just a bit.

Donald Trump is threatening to withhold future payments to the Palestinians who he says no longer want to negotiate a peace treaty with Israel. This was all a part of his Twitter storm today. On Tuesday, he tweeted we pay the Palestinians hundreds of millions of dollars a year and get no appreciation or respect. With the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?

We are now joined by Mustafa Barghouti, he is the founder of the Palestinian National Initiative and a member of the Palestinian Parliament. He joins me live from Ramallah. Thank you, Mr. Barghouti, for joining us. Let me ask you first, what is your response to the president's threat to stop giving aid to the Palestinian territories?

MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI, FOUNDER PALESTINIAN NATIONAL INITIATIVE: Well, I do not think that President Trump understands, really, what he's tweeting about. When he says he's taking Jerusalem off the table, he doesn't understand that Jerusalem is the most sensitive issue. And according to all peace deals, it should be negotiated between both sides. He's deciding unilaterally to take it off the table, and give it to the Israelis. And he is encouraging the Israelis to take unilateral actions on the ground, and this is destabilizing the situation completely. But second, he's participating in violating the international law. And third, he's killing the possibility of the United States playing the role of a mediator by being totally bias to one side.

SIDNER: I do want to ask you --


SIDNER: Mr. Barghouti, I want to jump in and ask you, because you just touched on a point there: is the peace process dead?

BARGHOUTI: Unfortunately, I would say yes. And it was killed because of the Israeli behavior of building settlements, of creating a system of racial discrimination and apartheid. Because of the laws that the Israeli has just passed, and because of the recent American positions, which are practically taking total bias toward Israel. And I want to say that his threat -- President Trump is threatening to cut the aid; he can cut the aid. By the way, most of the American aid to Palestinians is benefitting the Israelis because it is funding --

SIDNER: how so?

BARGHOUTI: -- security coordination -- because it is mainly funding security coordination between Palestinians and the Israelis. If he wants to take it away, let him take it away. But one message he should understand: we the Palestinians will not sell our land or Jerusalem for a few hundred millions of dollars. We have struggled for more than 70 years to get our freedom, and a few million dollars will not stop us from continuing this struggle for freedom, for equality, for justice. It cannot just take the side of Israel and dictate what Palestinians should accept or not accept. Jerusalem is the most sensitive issue, Palestinians are determined to have East Jerusalem as their capital and they will not give it up.

SINDER: The U.S. obviously is saying that they are going to move their embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing it as the capital of Israel. Can you give me a sense of, in the future, if the United States will have any role in your mind in trying to broker any kind of peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians?

BARGHOUTI: Well, unfortunately, since Mr. Trump came to power, there has been very serious and dramatic change in the American policy. First of all, the United States has not tried to restrain Israeli settlement activities which have increased by no less than 100 percent since President Trump was elected. Second, the declared American positions were very bias, and totally bias to the Israeli side. And now, this declaration about Jerusalem is practically killing the possibility and potential for the United States to play a role for mediator, and, actually, has led to a complete and total freeze of any peace talks. In reality, this action has destabilized the region completely. And in my opinion, destabilized the area here. And it has encouraged the Israelis to proceed with their illegitimate actions, including violating the international law and continuing settlement illegal activities according to the U.N. Security Council Resolution.

SIDNER: What is going to happen, Mr. Barghouti? My last question: what do you think will happen if the U.S. does stop sending aid? I mean, will the Palestinian authority do then? Will they look to others to help fund the authority and get aid to some of the people there?

BARGHOUTI: I don't think, again, I would say Mr. Trump understands what he's talking about. Because the Palestinians are not dependent on foreign aid. In reality, today, the total foreign aid that comes from the United States, from Europe, and from all Arab countries is not more than 16 percent of our budget. 84 percent of the expenditures of the Palestinian authority comes from Palestinian taxes; from Palestinian people. So, he can take away his money. This will not affect us. But he has to understand, and everybody should understand that Palestinians, I repeat, will not sell their country and their future, and Jerusalem for some millions of dollars.

SIDNER: Mr. Mustafa Barghouti, thank you so much for your time here tonight on CNN.

BARGHOUTI: Thank you.

SINDER: Now back to our political panel. John and Dave, you just heard from Mustafa Barghouti. He is a parliamentary member there in the Palestinian territories. And he basically -- well, he said the deal is done, and the U.S. can no longer, sort of, be the broker for this. What do you make of that, John?

THOMAS: That's what he's saying today. He's also saying, you know, we don't need your aid. I mean, $150 million or more -- I mean, that's a lot of aid.

JACOBSON: $250 million.

[01:15:00] THOMAS: $250 million. That's a lot of aid. And it's what Trump has consistently said, is you cut off the money; it's the same thing in the Iran nuclear deal. You hold the money. Use whatever piece of leverage you can in this process. Trump is waiting on Jerusalem. I think it's the right thing to do. Of course, it upset them. But that's what he's saying today. It's not going to be easy, Sara, but I think we've got to keep marching forward, and hopefully they come back to the table.

SIDNER: This peace process has gone on for decades. Many presidents have tried and failed to get something down on paper that everyone can agree upon. But do you worry that the bridges are just burned now, especially if the move is made to take away the funding that the United States gave to the Palestinian authority?

JACOBSON: Yes. I think money talks. And that the resources give the United States an ability to have influence on the process. And I think the president was looking at this holistically saying all these other presidents, all these other administrations haven't been able to deliver peace talks. I've got this guy, Jared Kushner, man of multiple trades, he's brokering this process -- by the way, has no experience when it comes to peace talks.

SIDNER: But we haven't heard much from him.

JACOBSON: Right, we haven't heard much from him.

SIDNER: We haven't.

JACOBSON: But, and so, he wanted to get something done, and so he labeled Jerusalem as the capital. I get that. I get he wanted to deliver something office in his first year in office. But for me, I guess the question is, like: what's the end game? What's the end goal? We know it's mutually beneficial to have peace between the Israelis and the Palestinian people. It's in both of their best interests to not have more bloodshed and more war. But the question is like: how does reducing your influence by taking away these resources increase your ability to get to goal and create peace -- and don't understand the calculus there.

SIDNER: I want to just last mention, there've been a lot tweets today about (INAUDIBLE), tweeted about resending funding for Pakistan, tweeted about resending funding for Palestinians. Talked about a bunch of other things, including internal issues -- the state. What's prompting this? What exactly is it? Was it that he's on vacation and now he's come back and, sort of, been hit with all these things that he's responding? Or did something happen with the investigation potentially? Any ideas?

THOMAS: You know, I don't want to speculate other than it's a new year and there's a lot going on, especially in world of international affair. So, he just has an opinion on all of it.

SIDNER: The question is, why tweet? Why not pick up the phone? Because you can pick up the phone and say these same words to different leaders.

JACOBSON: Yes, I think you're right. We know the presidents is the ultimate deflector in chief. And so, you raised a good issue like: did something happen with regards to the Russia investigation? Or perhaps now the president knows, I'll let you get in a sec. Maybe the president knows it's going to be a lot harder to get his legislative agenda through the Congress with the much more narrow Republican majority in the Senate now that Doug Jones from Alabama was sworn in.

THOMAS: Nikki Haley and Rex Tillerson, their talking points are fairly well synched up with opposition on Jerusalem. It wasn't just like he's just miscellaneously firing these things off. I mean, this is -- it's been on his mind. It's something that the administration's working on; it's just the difference between past presidents is they do it behind the scenes, on telephone calls, diplomatic envoys where Trump is doing some of that, but he's also doing it in, you know, 200 characters.

SINDER: All right. Thank you so much, gentlemen. Appreciate it.

Next on NEWSROOM L.A., Iran is bracing for a possible seventh straight day of anti-government protests. But this time, government supporters are expected to hit the streets as well. Details on that ahead.


[01:20:46] SIDNER: In Iran, pro-government demonstrators plan to take to the streets in the coming hours to show support for the regime. Iran's supreme leader is blaming outside enemies for massive anti- government protests. The U.S. calls that allegation nonsense and wants the U.N. Security Council to meet in an emergency session; at least 21 people have been killed, and hundreds have been detained since the demonstrations began nearly a week ago. They started in Iran's northeast and spread across the country. The protests are -- protesters are angry over Iran's weak economy, lack of jobs, and perceived corruption there.

Let's talk more about this with CNN's Fred Pleitgen who is live for us in Berlin. Fred has reported from Tehran numerous times. We're also joined by Hamed Mousavi in the Iranian capital; he's a Professor of Political Science at the University of Tehran. Thank you both for joining me, gentlemen. Fred, I'm going to begin with you. This is day of seven of protests that have turned deadly. It is the morning there in Iran. But we understand that they're starving. In your time there, did you hear discontent among people? And if so, what was the main point of contention?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, I do think that there was -- that there was some discontent among people, especially among the younger population. And it wasn't necessarily something at the time that was threatening to the power structure in Iran, but certainly there are a lot of people who felt they didn't have the economic opportunities that they wanted, especially younger people.

We have to keep in mind about Iran, Sara, is that it's a very young population; about 50 percent of the population is in and around between 18 and 21, and it's also a very highly educated population. And so, a lot of those folks didn't believe that they had the economic opportunities that they wanted. And, of course, a lot of them believe with the nuclear agreement between Iran, the U.S., and various other countries that the sanctions relief would bring them faster economic relief as well; that there would be more jobs, that there would be more foreign direct investment in Iran, and that's really been quite uneven.

In certain fields, like for instance the oil and gas sector, that has really seen a boom. But as far as manufacturing is concerned, as far as tech jobs is concerned, that simply hasn't happened yet at the pace that people want. So, when you look at internationally, some politicians saying look, these folks don't have enough to eat. They can't afford bread; that's true to a certain extent. But the other thing, and I think one of the big factors is that many people simply don't feel that they can unfold their entire potential that they have, because they are very well educated.

You have a lot of really good people in the tech and manufacturing sector that have been wanting jobs for a very long time. So, that discontent was something that we saw but not certainly were anybody we have believed that it could've been something that would lead to the kind of protests that we're seeing now, Sara.

SIDNER: I do want to ask you one more question while I've got you. I know you covered the protest, the Arab spring protest across the Middle East, are we seeing something similar? I know it's too early to sort of tell if this is going to break out into something bigger that they will change regimes, but are we seeing something similar? Because it is young people again who seem to be at the forefront of this.

PLEITGEN: It's young people again. One of the things that I think we have to keep in mind is that so far, the protests in and among themselves are very -- are fairly small. If you look at the crowd size in any of these demonstrations. However, the other thing about them, though, is that they are a lot, and they're on many, various, different parts of Iran.

And as you noted, they are young people who are doing it. And I think one of the things that's been very interesting in the responses to this; you obviously have the Iranian hardliners who are saying these are outside forces we're steering with all this. That is true to a certain extent.

The State Department has acknowledged that it's encouraging some of these protesters. The Iranians say the Saudis are doing the same thing as well. But there is that discontent among of the young people.

Whether or not that's something that could be threatening to the power structure, I think, at this point is too early to tell. And at this point in time, it certainly isn't threatening to the power structure at just yet looking at the size of the demonstrations. But I think that many of Iran's politicians are quite concerned about all this.

And you've heard that from President Hassan Rouhani saying, look, this is a problem in our family, I think was the way that he put it. And that there is this discontent and that certain issues do need to be addressed as far as food prices are concerned, and especially the economy and jobs, Sara.

[01:25:11] SIDNER: All right. Thank you so much, Fred. Let's talk now Hamed Mousavi. Can I can ask you about this? Fred Pleitgen just talked a little bit about the response from the Iranian government, the president. Do you think the protest will in anyway influence the government of Iran to make changes will there be any appeasement at all? Or will this just be a crackdown?

HAMED MOUSAVI, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEHRAN: Yes, so when the protest started on Thursday in the City of Mashhad; they were largely related to economic issue. And people have rightful economic grievances. When Hassan Rouhani came into power five years ago, his main agenda was that he would sign a nuclear deal with the west, and in return, Iran's economy would improve significantly. Now there has been minor improvements to the economy, but nothing significant.

For example, the unemployment rate in Iran is 12.6 percent, however, when you study the details, you see that unemployment for people aged 15 to 29 is actually over 26 percent -- and that's the official rate. Some people say the actual rate might be even higher. And I think a lot of people are angry with Rouhani and the way he's handled the economy. As far as your question goes, actually, there was a lot of discussion in the government before the protests regarding increasing the price of gas by 50 percent, and increasing tariffs of some import goods, and all of those have been put on the back shelf now. And the government has said it will only increase prices by very modest rates.

SIDNER: Can you give us a sense of how these protests are different than the protests that happened in 2009? Or are they different in anyway? MOUSAVI: Yes. Well, first of all, the ones in 2009 were much, much

bigger. And also, they had a leader. The reform movement in Iran was behind those protests. With these protests, there's no leader. And also, they're not really supported by the reform movement. Now, I think with these protest, we really should distinguish between the protesters and some riots. When the protest started on Thursday, they were to a very large extent, very peaceful. However, in the last two days, we're seeing a sort of rioting as well. The burning of banks, burning of cars, looting of shops, even some of the rioters have attempted to take down a police station. And as a result of that, the number of protesters has decreased, but at the same time violence has increased, unfortunately.

SIDNER: Can you give me a sense if what's going to happen when the pro-government protesters come out in a planned protester. Are we expecting to see clashes between the two, or will the government try to keep those separated?

MOUSAVI: There has actually been some major pro-government protests in the past few days as well, and usually these are separate. Where I work at, the University of Tehran, has actually been the focal point of protests in the capital, the City of Tehran. And from what I saw in the street is that the pro-government protesters and the anti- government protesters were -- there was a distance between them, so no major clashes between those.

SIDNER: When it comes to how widespread, we're looking at some of the cities. Can you tell just how widespread, and is that one of the big issues here that they may be small but they're in many different places where we don't always see protesting?

MOUSAVI: Yes, that's very true. And that's again one of the differences between these protests and the one in 2009. The one in 2009 was mostly political and the reform movement was behind it, or the green movement more appropriately, and they were restricted to Tehran. Whereas these protests, because of their economic nature, you're even seeing them in very small cities.

SIDNER: All right. Thank you so much, Hamed Mousavi, for joining us there from Tehran. U.S. President Donald Trump is ringing in the new year a lot like he spent the last one -- tweeting a whole lot. His various messages to start of 2018, coming up next.


[01:32:00] SIDNER: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Sara Sidner. The headlines for you at this hour: Iran's supreme leader is blaming foreign enemies for the mass anti- government protest. At least 21 people have been killed and hundreds arrested since the demonstrations began nearly a week ago. Pro- government demonstrators plan to march Wednesday. U.S. wants an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting on Iran.

North Korea says it will open its hotline to South Korea any moment now. It will be the first time the hotline has opened in nearly two years. The move comes a day after South Korea's President called for action to allow North Korea to participate in next month's Winter Olympics.

At least 48 people have been killed in a bus crash North of Lima, Peru. Officials say the bus plunged down a cliff onto a rocky beach after colliding with a tractor-trailer. An initial investigation shows both vehicles were driving too fast.

For all of 2017, one Twitter account captivated much of the world. And as we begin the New Year, @realdonaldtrump is off to a repeat performance. The U.S. President tweeted just a few hours ago, and here it is, "North Korean leader Kim Jong-un just stated that the nuclear button is on his desk at all times. Will someone from his depleted and food-starved regime, please inform him that I too have a nuclear button but it is much bigger and more powerful one than his, and my button works." And a bit before that, he suggested, "Cutting U.S. aid to the Palestinians." He claimed, "They were unwilling to negotiate a peace treaty with Israel after the White House decided to move its embassy to Jerusalem."

The feud between President Trump and Pakistan is escalating. The White House now says it will announce more actions against Pakistan in the next few days. On Tuesday, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. explained why the U.S. is withholding millions of aid money to Pakistan.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has played a double game for years. They work with us at times and they also harbor the terrorists that attack our troops in Afghanistan. That game is not acceptable to this administration.


SIDNER: Anti-U.S. protests are erupting in the country after Mr. Trump's tweet, accusing the country of lying and harboring terrorists. Pakistani officials held an emergency security meeting and have expressed quote, deep disappointment about the President's comments. For more on the story, we're joined by Christian Whiton. Christian is a former Senior Adviser to the Trump administration and the author of "Smart Power Between Diplomacy and War." Thank you so much for joining us, Christian. This aid package is about $1.1 billion that was approved by Congress in 2016. What they're talking about is a part of that, which is military aid, $255 million. Is this idea of using a stick rather than a carrot a good idea when it comes to the U.S.-Pakistan relationship?

[01:34:59] CHRISTIAN WHITON, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: I think it is at this point. It's been so long with Pakistan. Now, almost two decades after 9/11 where they have played this game. They are one of a handful of countries that uses terrorism and terrorist networks as instruments of state power. They use it to manage Afghanistan to their advantage. They use it against India. And frankly, the jig is up. We want different outcomes from Pakistan, we want our foreign aid to matter. And also, we want to focus more on India, and frankly don't see as much of a need to balance that with a relationship with Pakistan. SIDNER: I do want to ask you about whether though this could potentially push Pakistan into looking at, say, Russia or China to try and fulfill their military needs or what they would like to improve their military. With moneys from those countries, is that a problem for the United States or do you see that happening as a potential issue where the U.S. is getting more and more cut out of being able to use diplomacy there?

WHITON: That is always a risk anywhere in the world where if we're going to press a human rights issue or in this case a security issue that we may inadvertently push someone closer to the Chinese or the Russians, those are two countries of concern. The difference here is the amount of money on the line. China potentially could (INAUDIBLE) up that much, but in reality, they wouldn't and they're also just very different interest -- national interest at play. And Russia really could not fill that amount of resources. So, you know, Pakistan really ought to take this opportunity to take a different path rather than just to react angrily at the United States.

SIDNER: Of course, Pakistan unhappy with what has happened. But we did hear something from former Afghan President Hamid Karzai who actually welcomed the comments by Trump, saying that it will have an effect on the region. What do you make of those comments?

WHITON: It's very important because Afghanistan is landlocked country. Pakistan really is one of their key entryways to the rest of the world. So, you know, to side with the United States, to risk antagonizing Pakistan is a big deal. Now, Karzai, I think, like the United States and others wants a better relationship between Afghanistan and India, and less frankly, dependence on Pakistan. Also, Afghanistan can access the world through the Caspian Region alternatively. So, you know, it's a potentially big turning point in Central Asian affairs.

SIDNER: Now, the President has also -- he's been on quite a roll with his tweets -- quite a tweetstorm today. I do want to mention something else that he tweeted. He said it's not only Pakistan that we paid billions of dollars to for nothing, but also many other countries, and he brought up the Palestinians and talked about whether or not they should be giving aid to the Palestinians. First off, do you think that that's a threat that he will follow through with?

WHITON: I think so. I think he's very -- been fairly consistent. And I think, privately, the President is extremely frustrated at being someone who sees himself as a dealmaker of the Palestinian authority's unwillingness to negotiate, unwillingness to take offers, whether it's of negotiations or a final agreement, settlements, if you will, that are pretty advantageous to them. So, I think he is serious on this one. And frankly, a lot of Americans probably don't realize that we give a fair amount of money to the Palestinian authority which antagonizes Israel. You know, if you look at Gaza launching missiles even just yesterday, the day before into Israel. So, I think the President is fairly committed here.

SIDNER: All right. The Palestinian authority is not over Gaza; that is Hamas. One of the things that people, when they look at the region, say is, well, you'll further destabilize the Palestinian territories there by making it difficult again for Israel. And Israel does get a huge chunk of change from the United States for its military operations. Is there sort of unfairness seen by many in the world in this particular conflict?

WHITON: I'm sure there are outside of the United States, and Europe has a history of sort of being antagonistic towards Israel. But again, if you look in -- and Gaza is a joint agreement now between Hamas and Fatah, but it's -- I think a lot of Americans are just very fed up. Also, there's been a fundamental sort of received wisdom of foreign policy that if you settle the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, a lot of the other problems in the Middle East go away. And that sort have been part of a 40-year failed policy towards the Middle East. I think the reality is if you solve some of the other problems, then Israeli-Palestinian dispute becomes more solvable. And again, like Pakistan and India, what we see is Donald Trump sort of dispensing with a key pillar of the received wisdom of foreign policy.

SIDNER: Yes, it's definitely changed the game there, whether people like it or not. I do have one last question because I cannot not talk about North Korea and what the President did today on Twitter. North Korea saying we're going to mass-produce nuclear weapons. And the President responded today with a barn-burning if you will tweet, talking about having a bigger nuclear button that actually works. Is this a good way to have a relationship or at least to -- I don't know -- does it burn bridges as diplomats try to figure out how to deal with the North Korean regime?

[01:39:50] WHITON: If you're trying to get to the negotiating table soon with North Korea is not a good idea to do this. It makes it hard for them to negotiate. But I don't think that's what Trumps after. In fact, I think he might be trying to short-circuit a desire in South Korea with a left-leaning government to get to the negotiating table sooner. If your desire is to chair -- excuse me -- to scare China into basically treating North Korea in a way that they would have to give up their nuclear arsenal, I think Trump might be trying for that, to really try and scare people in the situation, and it was in response to North Korea also referencing their own nuclear button. But certainly, it's very unconventional diplomacy.

SIDNER: Thank you so much, Christian, for joining us. There's going to be a lot more to talk about when it comes to all three of these countries, and certainly, what the U.S. President does in the next few days or even hours. We appreciate you being on.

WHITON: Thank you.

SIDNER: A YouTube star's post gone terribly wrong. What forced him to apologize to the internet, next.


SIDNER: Superstar video blogger Logan Paul is facing a major backlash after posting a video on YouTube of what appears to show a body hanging from a tree. It's in a Japanese forest known for suicides. Social media users were quick to slam the video, which Paul has since removed. On Monday, he apologized, saying he hoped to raise awareness about suicide, but that did little to stop the anger now without showing the graphic part, here is some of that video.


LOGAN PAUL, YOUTUBE VLOGGER: Obviously, and now experiencing it in real life and firsthand, suicide is not a joke. Depression and mental illnesses are not a -- are not a joke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't -- I don't feel very good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I don't feel good either.

PAUL: What, you never stand next to a dead guy?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like we joke about seeing things in here. Like --

PAUL: It was all -- it was going to be a joke. This is all going to be a joke. Why did it become so real?


SIDNER: It was all going to be a joke. That part actually got him in trouble. Paul apologized again on Tuesday. Our Samuel Burke has more on the controversy.


SAMUEL BURKE, CNN BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: You may not know who Logan Paul is, but any young person you know likely does. The YouTube star who has more than 50 million followers on the platform apologized Tuesday after posting a disturbing video called, "We found a dead body in Japan's suicide forest." It showed a body hanging from a tree in what appeared to be a suicide. Paul posted an apology on Twitter saying he had been misguided by shock and awe, and later posted another atonement.

PAUL: I want to apologize to the internet. I want to apologize to anyone who has seen the video. I want to apologize to anyone who is in a matter of fact are touched by mental illness or depression or suicide. But most importantly, I want to apologize to the victim and his family.

[01:44:54] BURKE: The video was viewed millions of times before Paul took it down. Many commenters called Paul's original post sickening and disgusting. Some say YouTube is also partly to blame, though, in recent months, companies like Marriott and Etihad Airways began pulling their ads from the platform over concerns that their brands were being featured alongside hateful or explicit content. In response, YouTube promised to devote more resources to removing content in violation of its policies. They promised that the number of humans they have reviewing videos would grow to 10,000 people by 2018.

In response to this particular video, YouTube says, "it prohibits violence or gory content posted in a shocking, sensational, or disrespectful manner. If a video is graphic, it can only remain on the site when supported by appropriate educational or documentary information. In some cases, it will be age-dated." But it was Logan Paul, not YouTube who took this video down.


SIDNER: Psychoanalyst and author Bethany Marshall is joining us now to talk more about this. Let's first talk about what kind of psychological impact can it have on someone who is depressed, who is -- has had suicidal thoughts, who is going through a mental illness, who sees something like this on a -- on a site that is extremely popular with young people.

BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOANALYST AND AUTHOR: So, popular it has 15 million viewers. The psychological impact is profound and overwhelming. In fact, we know that with suicide, there's actually a social contagion aspect. Let's keep in mind, Sara, that children ages 10 to 14, suicide is the third leading cause of death for that age group. And then for young people ages 15 through 34, it's the second leading cause of death. And in terms of social contagion, which is something that we see on social media sites, somebody who is already vulnerable, depressed, had some kind of a psychiatric illness is thinking about suicide already will be more like to attempt suicide after viewing or hearing about suicide. And there's very robust research that backs this up.

SIDNER: Wow. When you talk about the numbers to it, it puts into perspective, I think, the number of suicides in the United States has risen to its highest level in 30 years.

MARSHALL: It's increased about 25 percent over the last year.

SIDNER: What advise do you have for parents whose children may have seen this, or whose children, a lot of whom, are YouTube watchers. They idolize the men and women on YouTube who have so many viewers. What advice do you give to parents when something like this happens? How do you talk to your kids about this?

MARSHALL: Well, don't attack Logan Paul because it only point to entrench their attachment to him. I think that you need to acquaint yourself with your child's cyber world just as well acquainted as you are with the playground, their teachers, their friends, the people they spend the night with, monitor how much time they spend online. If there is a computer in the house that's connected to the internet, make sure it's in a public area that it's facing outwards, so that you can monitor it all the time, be your child's best friend, use all the parental filtering devices, and let your child know that you are going to be checking in your chats, you're going to be looking at the browsing history, and that they can process anything they see and that they're never supposed to give out private information online.

SIDNER: Can Logan Paul undo the damage in some way? Is there something that he could do with 15 million viewers to try and help this situation and help people who have had these thoughts, because the numbers show someone watching most likely has had suicidal thoughts?

MARSHALL: Absolutely. Well, when you see his response, he sees the dead body, and then he says something like, oh, my God, there's a dead body, and then he laughs. And there's all this what we call inappropriate aspect. It's when you have one feeling and then you pair it with a response that doesn't even match up with the feeling. And I think that what he needs to instruct his young viewers to do is to talk to their parents, their priest, their minister, their teacher, their counselor, so that they begin a dialogue at home. He's become very self-referential by saying, oh, I've never made a mistake like this before. Oh, I didn't realize how influential I was. Logan Paul has to stop referring to himself, he needs to talk to his little viewers, and tell them to talk to their parents so that they can really get the appropriate support.

SIDNER: He talked about, you know, he's reaction, he said, oh, I was in shock. And I think the very first response that he wrote out, a lot of people were upset by it. And then he came out and he did another one. Do you think this is a case of someone who got caught and has never, he said, faced this kind of negativity, and suddenly, you have to do something because you don't want to lose that viewership as well?

[01:49:56] MARSHALL: Well, he's faced negativity but not that he's known about. He's only 22 years old. I mean, look at all the training you've been through to have this position to be in the anchor chair, you have journalistic standards, you're well aware of the impact on the viewers. This is (INAUDIBLE) like a psychic trying to do therapy. You know, somebody who wades into waters where they're really unprepared, they're uneducated, there's no guidelines, there's no state licensure for this. So, he has a very, very strong bully pulpit and he has to be aware of that.

SIDNER: Yes, he's an influencer --

MARSHALL: He's an influencer.

SIDNER: -- is I think what they call YouTubers and other people on social media that have such a large following. Maybe one of the things he can do is bring you on or bring someone on to give people some real help, professionals.


SIDNER: Thank you so much. I appreciate you coming on. Still to come, Southern California residents are facing new threats after making it through some of the state's largest wildfires in history.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SIDNER: The threat from Mother Nature not over yet for many residents

in Southern California after enduring the largest fire in the state's history. They now face the risk of mudslides, as Paul Vercammen reports.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Beneath charred hillsides, heavy lifting. Workers in fire-ravaged Santa Barbara, Ventura counties have mounted an all-out attack to clear out any debris basin, any channel to reduce the impact of a potential mudslide after the massive Thomas Fire.

With the Thomas Fire, it burned all of our front country rains here. All of these hills which normally have a very good, protective cover of chaparral, that's all gone. Almost 100 percent gone.

Firefighters saved Dave Peterson's two hilltop homes in Montecito. They're just under an ominous black in hillside.

DAVE PETERSON, MONTECITO RESIDENT: Underneath probably three, four feet, 10 feet of soil are just -- it's all rock. And so, when that soil gets wet, it just slides off the rock. It's a treasure of (INAUDIBLE)

VERCAMMEN: A tenuous potentially disastrous situation in a rainstorm. These counties have experienced slides after fire before. In Camarillo 2014, so much rock cascaded from an ashy mountainside, 13 homes got damaged. Little could be done to spare those houses. Now, after the Thomas Fire, protective measures are being taken.

Public works crews are working hard and have worked hard to clear dozens of these storm drains. In the case of a flood, that ashy silt, debris, even trees build up down in here, that water then rises up above my head and can keep rising if not cleared. And eventually, the water can go over the roadway. Officials say even residents several miles down slope could be vulnerable to flooding.

PAMELA LOCKHART, VENTURA RESIDENT: This seems too much to handle after everything that has already happened. And I feel really bad for the people who lost their homes. And for them to have to face any more.

VERCAMMEN: But there's so much to handle for work crews with the Thomas Fire being the largest in California history.

JEFF PRATT, DIRECTOR, VENTURA COUNTY PUBLIC WORKS: Generally, we're in the hundreds of acres that we're dealing with, not in the thousands or hundreds of thousands. This is an order or to a magnitude greater than anything we've ever dealt with.

VERCAMMEN: The National Weather Service predicts less rain than normal for Ventura and Santa Barbara counties for the rest of the winter.

TOM FAYRAM, OFFICIAL, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY PUBLIC WORKS: We're in a real serious drought here for the past seven years now. And we need rain. And we actually need rain to help these hillsides regrow. But we're kind of damned if we do and damned if we don't get it because we need the rain but we don't need a serious debris flow problem here either.

VERCAMMEN: Paul Vercammen, CNN, Ventura, California.


[01:55:08] SIDNER: I was in Ventura to see the devastation that caused many homes. Our meteorologist Ivan Cabrera joins us now. Ivan, it is the rainy season. But it's -- I don't see any. And then we may have problems from that.

IVAN CABRERA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. And as you recall last year, if we even just get a quarter of the rainfall we got last year, which busted the year's long drought, we'd be in a heap of trouble here. But as Robert mentioned in the piece, yes, absolutely, Weather Service predicting a below normal rainfall season. In fact, 40 percent chance of that being the case. And here, of course, not just the Thomas Fires or all the multiple fires that have burn and have left scartissue if you will across the landscape here. So, let's talk about that and what the potential is once you get some rainfall. And by the way, even though we are thinking that it is going to be below average as far as the rainfall, that doesn't mean it won't rain at all.

And sometimes, when the rain comes in, it comes in very heavily with the big storm off the Pacific. And that is what we're concerned with is the amount of rainfall in a very short amount of time that can happen because that rainfall would fall over this scar land here where we have been seeing the fires. And now, we have just incredible amount of acreage that has just completely burnt off. And so, what has been left behind as we zoom in a little bit more, by the way, this is what is normal, right, the top soil, the organic material, and then you have the subsurface oil. Why this is important is when you have the ash and all that material that lays on top of the subsurface oil, it lays right on top of it here, the material there actually acts as a water repellent.

So, think of it as we're laying tarps down across the soil. And as the rain hits it, you get yourself in a heap of trouble here, especially if it comes in heavily, that ash and that very shallow layer of burnt top soil doesn't stand the chance. And if the rain is heavy enough, it will slide down, and we would have mudslides and rockslides. And that's why they're setting up, Sara, of course, the fencing now there. And they're basically preparing what they -- for what they know is inevitable. I mean, we are going to have issues. There has to be rain at some point. And when it comes in, we could be looking at additional trouble. And it's just hard to imagine the people that weren't impacted by the fires would be impacted by this as result.

SIDNER: Ivan Cabrera, you outdid yourself with those fancy special effects. Thank you. That was very well done. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Sara Sidner. The news continues with Rosemary Church in Atlanta right after this. You are watching CNN.