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Outrage around the World over Trump's Slur; Trump and the Porn Star; Iran Nuclear Deal; Pakistani Girl's Murderer a Possible Serial Killer. Aired 12-12:30a ET

Aired January 13, 2018 - 00:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The White House engulfed in new controversy over the U.S. president's latest thoughts and language on immigrants from specific countries.

Plus the Iran nuclear deal survives for now but Mr. Trump warns this is the last chance to tighten the screws on Iran before he reimposes sanctions.

And the murder that has shocked the nation. Pakistani investigators now believe the murder of a 7-year-old girl Zainab could be the work of a serial killer.

Welcome, everyone. I'm Cyril Vanier at CNN HQ here in Atlanta. Thank you for joining us.


VANIER: So the President of the United States now denies calling some African nations shitholes. The comments were reportedly made during a closed door meeting on immigration in the Oval Office on Thursday.

But according to one source, Donald Trump is actually delighted by the controversy. Another source tells CNN that some White House staffers believe it plays well with the president's base.

The outrage is most evident on the African continent itself. The African Union, which represents all 55 African nations, is demanding both a retraction and an apology. Here's the text.

"The African Union Mission wishes to express its infuriation, disappointment and outrage over the unfortunate comment made by Mr. Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, which remarks dishonor the celebrated American creed and respect for diversity and human dignity."

And the president is denying using that vulgar term in reference to Africa but that's contradicted by others who were in the room and who heard it first-hand. Here's the whole story with Jim Acosta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today we gather in the White House to honor the memory of a great American hero, the reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a moment filled with sad irony. The same day the president signed a proclamation honoring civil rights hero Martin Luther King, Mr. Trump was dodging questions about his own racially charged rhetoric.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, are you a racist?

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president is running away from comments he made to a bipartisan group of lawmakers on immigration. On the subject of immigrants coming from Africa, the president said, "Why are we having people from all these shithole countries come here?" wondering whether more people could come from Norway.

Later, Mr. Trump questioned the need to protect Haitian immigrants from deportation, saying, "Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out."

MLK's nephew, Isaac Newton Farris Jr., told CNN the president talked to him privately about the controversy.

ISAAC NEWTON FARRIS JR., MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.'S NEPHEW: The president just simply said to me that I'm not the guy that's being described in the media.

ACOSTA: Do you believe him?

FARRIS: I think -- I don't think that President Trump is a racist in the traditional sense as we know in this country. I think President Trump is racially ignorant or racially uninformed. But I don't think that he's a racist in the traditional sense.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president tried to deny he made the remarks, tweeting, "Never said anything derogatory about Haitians, never said 'Take them out.' Made up by Dems. And the language used by me at the meeting was tough but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made, a big setback."

Democratic senator Dick Durbin, who was at the meeting, said the president is not telling the truth.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-ILL.), DEMOCRATIC WHIP: Said things which were hate-filled, vile and racist. When he said Haitians, "Do we need more Haitians?"

And then he went on, when we started to describe the immigration from Africa that was being protected in this bipartisan measure, that's when he used these vile and vulgar comments, calling the nations they come from shitholes.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Two other Republican senators, Tom Cotton and David Purdue, who were also at the meeting, issued a joint statement, saying, "We do not recall the president saying these comments specifically."

But GOP senator Lindsey Graham, who was also there, all but confirmed the remarks, saying in a statement, "Diversity has always been our strength, not our weakness."

The president has a long history of making racially insensitive remarks, from his comments on Mexican immigrants ...

TRUMP: They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists and some, I assume, are good people.

ACOSTA (voice-over): -- to his defense of white supremacist protesters...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are a people.

ACOSTA (voice-over): -- in Charlottesville last year.

TRUMP: You had some very bad people in that group but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president's latest comments raised questions about past White House denials, that its immigration policy is racially motivated.

ACOSTA: You're trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is one of the most outrageous, insulting, ignorant and foolish things you've ever said.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Now lawmakers from both parties worry the president's remarks could jeopardize talks to reform the nation's immigration system.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I read those comments later last night. So the first thing that came to my mind was very unfortunate, unhelpful.



VANIER: That was Jim Acosta reporting there. And as Jim just told us, President Trump ignored reporters' questions during Friday's White House event. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, did you refer to African nations, did you use the word shithole to refer to African nations?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, are you a racist?


VANIER: "Mr. President, are you a racist?"

That last question, that was from April Ryan. She's a journalist with American Urban Radio Network. She's also a CNN political analyst. Ryan spoke about why she asked the question on CNN's "THE SITUATION ROOM" earlier.


APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The question was looming and I had asked the NAACP, what is the definition of a racist?

And they said, when racial prejudice and power meet -- and that begs the question. So today, you know, understanding this was a momentous day for this proclamation and naming the Martin Luther King national site to a historic park, having the president speak about that and talk about the day of service for Martin Luther King Day and then Dr. Ben Carson speaking.

And then the nephew of Dr. King, it was hard but the question had to be asked. I mean, you -- it was such irony there. You had a celebration for a man of peace, who wanted inclusion, who wanted first-class citizenship for this nation.

And then I had to ask a United States president, "Are you a racist?

"Would you apologize for those statements?"

It was -- it's a sad day and it's hard. I mean, this is not anything to jump for joy about.


VANIER: That was April Ryan, speaking earlier to Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "THE SITUATION ROOM."

Democrats, for their part, are going on the offensive over this. On Capitol Hill, top House Democrats are planning a congressional resolution next week to censure the president for his alleged disparaging comments. A censure: that means formally reprimanding him.

Congressman Cedric Richmond is among those leading that charge.


REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D), CHAIRMAN, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: I think that Congress should state for the record that we find these statements to be horrible, to be disturbing and to be factually incorrect.

So we will introduce a censure resolution. I'm sure that the Republican leadership will maneuver so that we don't have an up or down vote on it.

But we think it's important, not only for America but for the world to know that Donald Trump is not speaking for America when he says statements like that.


VANIER: So how is all of this and Mr. Trump's comments playing out around the world?

Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I find him quite offensive; OK, actually very offensive because I think Africa, most countries in Africa are pretty stable and we are doing good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's not the right thing for him to do. He's the President of the United States of America. We expect more of him. We expect him to be an example. We are growing democracies and we don't expect such remarks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not agree because, first, it's a downgrade on humanity here because we're not any less of beings. Two is that the U.S. needs those immigrants to help fund the economy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no shit immigrants and there is no rich immigrants. I mean, there is immigrants all over the world, who are immigrating because they need to find a better future for them and for their child.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's clearly revolting. We know very well that it's not the opinion of all Americans. It's a racist part of America that is expressing itself more and more, which is unfortunate in the 21st century.


VANIER: Let's bring in political analyst Michael Genovese. He's president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Michael, April Ryan shouted a very important question to the president earlier on Friday. She said to him, "Are you a racist?" a question which, to be honest, under any other president in the recent past, you would not have expected would be warranted.

So my question to you, as a political analyst, is that a fair question and what do you think the answer is?

And just before you answer it, I want to play for you a compilation of Mr. Trump's past comments.


TRUMP: You had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.

Look at my African American over here. Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of

Muslims entering the United States.

I would like to have him show his birth certificate.

When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime.


TRUMP: They're rapists.

This judge is of Mexican heritage. I'm building a wall.

You were here long before any of us were here, although we have a representative in Congress, who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.


VANIER: So, Michael, your thoughts?

MICHAEL GENOVESE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I don't know if the president's racist. I do know he says racist things. And he invited that question because of not just the clips that you showed but his history of insensitivity and even action against African Americans and people of color.

What he said was vile and ugly and I hope and believe that most Americans would find it vile and ugly. It's sickening to hear a President of the United States who is supposed to represent our nation to the world humiliating the United States in such a way.

VANIER: The idea that it can play well to his base, that it could actually work in his favor politically, does that even make sense?

Does that even hold water, that this could actually be a winning strategy?

GENOVESE: I hope to God it doesn't make sense. It may very well be, though, that the president and some of his advisers believe it does. If it makes sense, it's because the president thinks so little of his base, thinks that they're a bunch of racists and they believe in the ugliness of racism.

And if that's the case, then he's playing into the worst of America intentionally. And we all know the great line from Abraham Lincoln. Let's try to appeal to the better angels within us.

This does not appeal to the better angels. And so to President Trump's base, especially the evangelical Christians in the base, they need to speak out against the president on this issue.

VANIER: Look, he says he didn't actually use those words. He said he used tough language but not the words that we said at the beginning of the show. And there's no need for us to keep repeating them throughout the show.


VANIER: This comes from somebody who notoriously does not like to backtrack, who prefers to own a controversial statement rather than seem apologetic or like he's kowtowing to the media.

So what do you make of that?

GENOVESE: It's true; Donald Trump loves to be center stage. He loves to be the hit of the party. He loves to be in the news. And he will say things that are intentionally flamboyant or belligerent.

But this goes much too far. You don't mess with these kinds of comments. This is the heart and soul of America, who we are as a people, who we aspire to be.

And so, you know, yes, he wants to be the center of attention and he does a great job. He has completely dominated the public space in America for a year and a half now; give him full credit for that. But if this is the depth to which he will go to do so, then there's something seriously wrong here.

VANIER: Now if we sort of set aside -- and I'm not sure it's totally possible but let's just do it anyway for a moment. If we set aside the words that have been attributed to the president and we stop trying to guess what's in his mind and we look at the policy, they were talking about immigration deal.

Is the policy that the president is pursuing, is that tainted by racism?

GENOVESE: Not necessarily. I think a reasonable, rational person could argue for the things that the president and the Republicans are arguing for. It's not an outlandish position to take.

Several countries, several of our allies have a similar position on merit. And so what it does is muddies up the debate. Instead of clarifying and illuminating, it brings us down into the gutter of racism.

And that's going to be the defining point of the debate instead of merits, which I think you could argue that it has some very significant merit to the proposal that the Republicans are making.

VANIER: Yes. And other countries around the world have had the debate about merit-based immigration. Numerous countries have actually implemented that and the debate hasn't always devolved into this particular conversation. Michael Genovese, thank you very much for coming on the show.

GENOVESE: Thank you.

VANIER: The White House doctor says President Trump is in excellent health. On Friday, Mr. Trump had his first known medical exam since taking office. So not many details have not been released yet. But past presidential exams have included reading on height, weight,

heart rate, blood pressure; in a statement, the White House doctor says, quote, "The president's physical exam today at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center went exceptionally well.

"The president is in excellent health and I look forward to briefing some of the details on Tuesday."

So we'll find out a little bit more in about three days.

"The Wall Street Journal" is reporting a story that might get President Trump's heart rate up a little bit, however. Tom Foreman has the details on this from Washington.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The big new claim in "The Wall Street Journal" is this. A woman was paid $130,000 a month before the presidential election to keep quiet about a sexual encounter with Donald Trump.

According to this story, Trump had this encounter with an adult film star, who goes by the name Stormy Daniels, in 2006 at a celebrity golf tournament. "The Journal" says this new report of hush money comes from people familiar with the matter.


FOREMAN: But the president's longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, is hitting back hard, saying, "These rumors have circulated time and again since 2011. President Trump once again vehemently denies any such occurrence, as has Ms. Daniels."

Cohen did not directly address the idea of a payment but he did give CNN a statement he says is from Stormy Daniels, saying, "My involvement with Donald Trump was limited to a few public appearances and nothing more.

"When I met Donald Trump, he was gracious, professional and a complete gentleman to me and everyone in my presence. Rumors that I have received hush money from Donald Trump are completely false.

If, indeed, I did have a relationship with Donald Trump, trust me, you wouldn't be reading about it in the news. You would be reading about it in my book. But the fact of the matter is, these stories are not true," she says.

CNN has tried to reach Ms. Daniels for independent confirmation. We've not spoken to her yet. And Trump's lawyer Cohen has not provided contact information for her.

If the alleged event did nonetheless take place, it would have occurred the year after he married now first lady, Melania Trump. The White House, however, is calling this old, recycled news, strongly denied prior to the election.


VANIER: That was Tom Foreman, reporting there for CNN from Washington.

Coming up after the break, President Trump keeps the Iran nuclear deal for now. We'll see what he says has to change in that deal for it to stay in place. Stay with us.




VANIER: A waiver plus a warning. That's what Donald Trump is issuing to Iran. He said on Friday that he will hold off on key sanctions on the country but vowed that this was the last time he was doing that.

The decision avoids upending the 2015 nuclear deal. But Mr. Trump is demanding changes to the deal. He wants immediate inspections and more limits on Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. That could be a problem for U.S. allies in Europe, because the missile program isn't covered in the current deal.

David Rohde joins me now, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and CNN global affairs analyst.

David, great to have you on the show.


Donald Trump has given the Iran nuclear deal a new lease on life, four months to make it better or else, he says, next time he will sink the deal and people really need to take him at his word. He said this is the last chance for the deal.

What does he want to change about this deal?

ROHDE: Well, there's several provisions he wants. He wants more inspections of military facilities inside Iran. And there's some sunset provisions, some elements of the agreement that expire after a certain amount of time.

And Trump has argued that that would allow Iran to potentially start developing a nuclear weapon after those sunset provisions take effect. European nations totally disagree. They say these changes aren't needed. But Trump, at least, he keeps saying, as he did today, that this has to change.

VANIER: So what can happen over the next four months, because President Trump is acting like the ball is no longer in his court.


VANIER: He's asking European countries and all the signatories to this deal, which includes Iran, to change the provisions. I mean, can this be renegotiated?

ROHDE: No. Frankly, you know, it was very clear, there was a meeting, I think, symbolically to coincide with Trump's announcement, of Iranian foreign minister and various European leaders and, you know, Europe very clearly supports this deal.

The British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, was very unequivocal. He said this is a good deal. This is good for Europe and good for the United States. And he directly contradicted Trump and criticized Trump for trying to do this.

So I don't see the Iranians moving. I don't see Europe moving and I think Trump's bluff will be called, you know, the next time this comes up.

Will he actually pull out of the deal, as he keeps threatening?

VANIER: So you say his bluff will be called.

You think he's not going to let the deal sink in four months?

ROHDE: I think he will have to. I mean, I think that -- I don't see the Europeans or the Iranians moving at all in four months. So I think it will finally -- you know, he's been threatening this since he became president, so four months from now will he actually pull the U.S. out of the deal?

VANIER: All right. I'm sure we'll be talking about this again in four months, David, and again before that, of course. Thank you very much for coming on the show.

ROHDE: Thank you.

VANIER: Police in Pakistan are racing to find the person who raped and murdered a 7-year-old girl there. As Alexandra Field reports, her heartbroken family is desperate for answers, as are protesters around the country.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Zainab Amin's family is demanding justice and they are joined by people across Pakistan, who took part in demonstrations that turned deadly, as frustrations were vented in the recent days since the death of this 7-year-old girl.

Her body was found dumped on a pile of trash. Police say, before she was murdered, she was raped, tortured and sodomized. It's a pattern that fits a number of other crimes in the city of Kasur in Eastern Pakistan. Authorities say there have been attacks on a dozen young girls.

Now one official from Punjab says it appears that there could be a serial killer and they say they've discovered DNA links between six of the murders. Officials say they are still trying to find Zainab's killer, though they have taken some suspects into custody. They say they're determined to bring this person to justice.

But Zainab's family says the police haven't done enough. They say they're the ones who went out and found the CCTV video that shows some of the last moments of Zainab's life. She's seen in that video with an unknown person on the same day that she disappeared from her family's home.

Zainab's family has also now released the final page in her journal.

It reads, "Myself, I am a girl. My name is Zainab. My father's name is Amin. I am 7 years old. I live in Kasur."

Zainab's death, the attacks on a dozen girls have gripped this country's attention. In a powerful move, a news presenter here in Pakistan appeared on TV, calling for justice for Zainab, calling for justice for all of the victims, with her own small daughter seated in her lap -- in Islamabad, Alexandra Field, CNN.


VANIER: And just a quick programming note as well. Do not miss CNN's Paula Hancocks' special report about the daring escape of a North Korean soldier into South Korea, how he managed to survive the ordeal against all odds and more. Here's a preview.



PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A desperate flight to freedom. A North Korean soldier, identified as Oh Chong Song, 24 years old, shot by his comrades, saved by those he was taught to see as mortal enemies.

MAJOR JEFFREY SCHMIDT: At least five wounds. Hemostasis has been achieved so actually stopped the bleeding. Obviously nothing on the lines of he's a defector or what his nationality is.

HANCOCKS: Major Schmidt had less than a minute to brief 1st Class Gopel Singh (ph); the priority: to get the patient airborne and to a hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the time the I saw him, I looked at him, I prayed.

VANIER (voice-over): For the full story, tune in on Saturday, 1:00 pm in London, 9:00 pm if you're in Hong Kong. That's only on CNN, of course. Join us again after the break.




[00:25:00] (MUSIC PLAYING)

VANIER: Another brutal round of winter weather slamming the northeastern U.S. and a bit of the South. It was a little chilly coming into work.


VANIER: I'm Cyril Vanier. Thank you for watching. I'm back with the headlines in just a moment. Stay tuned.