Return to Transcripts main page


Battlefield Syria; Outcry Over Abuse Allegations; Preparations And Politics; U.S. Troops Face Turkey's Wrath; Top Aide Resigns After Abuse Accusations; Pomp And Protest At Pyeongchang; Israeli PM Lashes Out At Police And Proclaims His Innocence; Poland Facing Criticism Over Controversial New Law; British Lawmakers Question Media Executives; Putin's Icy Election Battleground; Iconic Political Moments In Olympic History. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired February 8, 2018 - 10:00   ET



[10:00:15] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a strange new world in Syria and the end game of the fight against ISIS. NATO ally facing NATO ally here.


HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, CONNECT THE WORLD GUEST HOST: Syria's crowded battlefields are getting more complex by the hour. We are live in the

region as reports are emerging of a deadly clash between the U.S.-backed forces and fighters loyal so the regime. Also this hour --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He came and grabbed me by the shoulders here and pulled me out of a shower in a rage.


VAUGHAN JONES: A key White House aide steps down over abuse claims sparking questions whether what the chief of staff knew and when. Plus, on

the eve of the winter Olympics so we are looking at a thaw or a chill when it comes to the Korean relations.

Hello and welcome to all, this is "Connect the World." Hannah Vaughan Jones in for Becky I am here in London. We begin in battlefields in Syria

where the battle is just as messy as force over at the blood soak ground itself. There and the rest of the days, the American led coalition

launching a massive barrage of air and artillery power against the fighters loyal to the Syrian government. Killing the coalition says more than 100

of the fighters. We don't know exactly why it happened, but there are two are realities currently at play. On the one hand, Washington insisting it

was reacting to the assault by the pro regime forces against the nearby headquarters of the Syrian Democratic forces here in Husham. The SDF are

America's closest allies in Syria, Washington essentially works it will through them. In the other reality though, it was like not at all,

Damascus describing it as an acts of aggression and saying that forces are fighting ISIS. So there is a lot to get into here. CNN Ben Wedeman is in

Beirut for us, thousands of Syrian refugee have fled to over the course of the last seven years. Ben, we have just been hearing there that there are

two narratives currently swirling around, but what are the facts on the ground about this? What are you hearing?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, facts nobody really knows. We have two version, actually three versions of the event,

and now according to the Americans, a force of 500 are pro-Syrian fighters, it is not clear who they were, and some of them according to the Americans

weren't wearing uniforms approached a Syrian Democratic forces headquarters eight miles to the east of the Euphrates river near east eastern Syria, and

this force of 500 apparently opened fire with mortars and rockets and Russian made tanks firing somewhere between 25 and 30 rounds in the

direction of this SDF headquarters where there were American personnel. The Americans and presumably the SDF responded with artillery and air

strikes. It is not clear whether there were drones or manned warplanes and opened fire on the force of 500 killing according to the Americans around

100 of the fighters. And now, the Syrian Arab news agencies, and the Syrian news agency from Damascus reported that the scores of Syrians part

of a popular force fighting ISSI were killed in what they called this aggression.

The Russians on the other hand, and there were worries initially that there were Russians among the force of 500 say that this force was acting not in

coordination with the Russians, and that only 25 men were wounded. So it is not at all clear who did what and with what has happened. So we have

these three version of event, but it is certainly underscores the confusion on the ground within Syria where you have Turks, Russians, and American,

and Iranians and Hezbollah fighters in addition to the all the different factions within Syria itself, and the Americans maintain that there were

2,000 troops in Syria at the moment. They are there to fight ISIS, but here we find them now fighting the Syrian government as well. Try to sort

all of that out, Hannah.

[10:05:04] VAUGHAN JONES: And Ben, just briefly, describe for us or detail for us who are the SDF are and what the relationship or the reliance indeed

on the United States.

WEDEMAN: Well the SDF was founded in 2015. It is a predominantly Kurdish force with Arab elements and Armenian and other ethnic groups as well-being

part of it. They are supported, trained, armed, largely by the United States, and that United States uses them in the fight against ISIS, and

American officials will tell you that they are the most effective fighters in the war against ISIS, but of course, the SDF is problematic given the

fact that the Turks claim that the SDF is dominated by the YPG, the Kurdish popular defense forces which are they believe affiliated with the Kurdish

workers Party the PKK which has been fighting a war against the Turkish state since 1984 and the Turks consider the YPG a terrorist organization,

and the YPG of course is the focus of the current Turkish operation in Afrin north of Aleppo that began on the 20th of January, and of course, as

we hear later from Nick Paton Walsh, the Turks are a member of the NATO as well as the United States, and the Turks are talking about moving on the

area where the Americans has have a lot of their forces along with the SDF which is dominated by the YPG which the Turks say are connected with the

PKK. So it is a messy alphabet soup which the United States is up in its neck.

VAUGHAN JONES: All right. Ben, thank you for now. Ben Wedeman live for us there in the Lebanese capital of Beirut.

For some seven years now the war in Syria has dragged in big world powers and now with exclusive unprecedented access, CNN can take you along with

the U.S. special forces on patrol inside northern Syria that is pitting them against their close ally Turkey, and this is Nick Paton Walsh right

there on the emerging front line.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They have been trying to stay out of the dust and the chaos for years, but it has not worked. And now American

special force give us the first access of the daily risky patrols in Syria. They are here despite the unprecedented threat from a supposed friend

Turkey whose forces are just over the hill. A NATO ally whose president has demanded only hours earlier that the U.S. withdraw immediately. These

Syrian Kurdish fighters are the reason why. America fought with them to defeat ISIS across northern Syria, but Turkey thinks they are terrorists

linked the Turkish Kurd fighters and here they are, barrel to barrel.

This is a strange new world in Syria in the end game of the fight against ISIS and NATO ally facing NATO ally here, and American troops are very much

on the front line and after years of what you might say is trying to stay out of these messy civil war, and a new chapter which is now beginning.

This is a scramble for the land that ISIS built and lost, and in fact, in the last hour, the rebels over there are fired on the nearby check point as

if they heard the Turkish demand that the U.S. must leave. But still the Americans send their highest ranking officer yet a message that we are not

going anywhere. If you take fire from this direction three or four times a week?


PATON WALSH: That is from the forces supported by the NATO ally Turkey.


PATON WALSH: Which is by definition bizarre?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. You said that. That is exactly right. It is bizarre. I would say that the people who fought to take Raqqa back from

ISIS, no matter what nationality they were, no matter what their belief we are heroes. Turkey says that they are terrorists


PATON WALSH: That is the complexity of where we are right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is exactly right.

PATON WALSH: What is the biggest worry about what is going on here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Miscalculation. It could be anybody's.

PATON WALSH: And if this two sides ends up in open conflict, what do you do about that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We de-escalate.

PATON WALSH: But don't pretend this buffer role for America goes anywhere good fast. Turkish and Kurd hate each perhaps more than they did ISIS and

they won't fight ISIS, but they are fighting each other. The coalition's goal was to finish ISIS in the area, but Turkey with their action is going

ISIS life again.

[10:10:05] This is just the beginning. We drive past a huge convoy in support of the Kurdish fighters and nearby Kurdish enclave to the west

called Afrin, the Turkey has invaded despite the American please they don't. In the nearby town of (inaudible) America's special forces

commander strolls around the markets liberated from ISIS 18 months ago where life is just about the coming life again. Where hotels are trying to

open again, but the businesses are hamstrung by the Turkey will make good at its threat to send its NATO equip army to invade here to. They thought

that getting over the war here that it looms again. Another possibly ugly and ally against Ernst while ally is nothing new to Syria. Nick Paton

Walsh, CNN Syria.


VAUGHAN JONES: As you will see from Nick's report and Ben's earlier, this is an extremely complicated story and it does take some time to digest.

You go to and read at your own pace to get to grips at all. Again, that is

In Washington shocking allegations of abuse and concern over what the Trump administration knew and when. A top aide to President Donald Trump stepped

down following allegations of physical and emotional abuse from both of his ex-wives. The staff secretary reporter denies the accusation, and went

ahead anyway and resigned his post. Several sources tells CNN the chief of staff John Kelly knew for months about the claims, but despite that, no

action was taken. Let's bring in CNN White House Correspondent Abby Philip. Abby is following the latest developments joins us now. Abby,

what is the latest from the White House and who knew with what and when about Rob Porter.

ABBY PHILIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Hannah, this story continues to develop. At the White House we know that according to some sources that

Rob Porter's allegations against him have been known by at least John Kelly and several other senior staff members here at the White House, but for

months, they did nothing despite these allegations.


PHILIP: The White House chief of staff John Kelly is expressing shock over what he calls quote new allegations of domestic abuse against the White

House staff secretary Rob Porter, but sources tell CNN that Kelly learned about the accusations last fall, and continued to elevate Porter's profile

in the west wing despite also knowing that he had trouble obtaining a security clearance due to alleged abuse. Kelly is standing by earlier for

statement calling Porter a man of true integrity and honor even after the "Daily Mail" published these shocking images of Porter's first wife, Colbie

Holderness. Holderness tells CNN that Porter choke and punch her during a 2005 trip to Italy. Porter denies the abuse allegations from both of his

ex-wives, but he resign on Wednesday, saying in a statement this outrageous allegations are simply false. I will not further engage publicly with a

coordinated smear campaign. Two sources familiar with the matter tells CNN that President Trump only learned about the allegations against Porter this

week and was upset by the reports. A senior White House official blaming Porter for quote misleading the staff after the White House rushed to

defend Porter after the initial report.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President chief of staff have full confidence and trust in his abilities and his


PHILIP: Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also calling Porter a person with highest integrity and an exemplary character. Porter's second ex-wife

telling her story to the Washington Post.

JENNIE WILLOUGHBY, ROB PORTER'S EX-WIFE: I am no surprised that people see him as a model of discretion, integrity and character, as I mentioned I

believe that he is and in his personal life he is also abusive and angry.

PHILIP: Sources tells CNN that White House communication director Hope Hicks has been romantically involved with Porter and helped draft Kelly's

initial statement.

Politico reports that an ex-girlfriend of Porter's recently contacted White House chief counsel Don McGahn to voice her concern. After discovering

that Hicks and Porter were dating. The scandal another blow for General Kelly who sources say was at odd with the president last month. Kelly

already coming under fire this week for saying this about undocumented immigrants who did not sign up for President Obama's dreamer program.

JOHN KELLY, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: The difference of 690 and 1.8 million were people that some would say too afraid to sign up and others

would say too lazy to get up off their asses, but they didn't sign up.

PHILIP: And since taking the west wing, Kelly has also been criticized for falsely claiming that Congresswoman Frederica Wilson took credit for

securing funding for the FBI building.

KELLY: Even for someone who is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.

PHILIP: Kelly also sparking outrage by saying that it was a lack of ability to compromise rather than slavery that cause the civil war.


[10:15:00] PHILIP: Hannah, when Porter announced the resignation, he gave a sort of vague time on when he might be leaving the White House but CNN

has learned that the time line is being pushed up and it could happened as soon as today, as the White House try to contain the fallout over this


VAUGHAN JONES: Abby, standby first just for a second, I just want to show you and our viewers how CNN chief Washington correspondent reported this

latest revelation coming out of the White House. This is how Jake Tapper started his program on the eve of Wednesday.


JAKE TAPPER, AMERICAN JOURNALIST CARTOONIST: I just wanted to once again note a further erosion of standards for what I thought we had all agreed is

not OK, not acceptable or not moral, and white supremacist rally and child molesters, domestic abusers and now another moment when the White House is

no longer considered a place of the highest standards of the land, but rather a place where the national standards are being degraded.


VAUGHAN JONES: The damning words there Abby, from Jake Tapper, Abby, question now are being raise about the White House ability to look into

accusations against members of its own team.

PHILIP: That is right Hannah. I think there are people raising question about why it took so long for the White House to adequately address this

concerns and the concerns frankly of other women who had raise accusations including against President Trump. The White House continues to deny that

those accusations against the president himself calling those women who had accused them liars. And now this case they seem eager to give the accused

in this case Rob Porter an opportunity to defend himself without having adequately look into the accusations against him in this case, there is at

least we know of, one protective order taken out against Rob Porter, and yet, it took at least a day for the White House to change their tune about

whether or not those accusations had any merit whatsoever.

VAUGHAN JONES: All right Abby for us live there in Washington. Thank you so much.

So despite the doom and gloom, there is an apparent bright spots for President Trump, his approval ratings are on the up. A Quinnipiac poll

says that 40 percent of Americans approve of the job that he is doing. That is President Trump best score in this survey in seven months on his

handling of the economy majority 51 percent approve of how he is doing and that branch and that is the highest mark of the can question since the

inauguration last January.

Still to come tonight on the program, pageantry, and politics and protest, and it must be time for the Olympics. South Korea is hosting athletes from

around the world, and special guests from the north. Everyone is happy about that though. We will take you there next.



[10:20:22] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, to a massive show of military might. This was the scene in Pyeongchang earlier on according to the images on the

state media the parade feature a number of ICBM's sending a strong message that North Korea is indeed a nuclear power. Leader Kim Jong-un vowed to

protect his country as long as the U.S. continued what he called the hostile policy. Well, as North Korea paraded the military hardware, the

athletes raised their flag in South Korea where the Olympics opening ceremony is just one day away. The South Korean President is preparing to

meet with some of the north delegates including the sister of leader Kim Jong-un, and that delegation is likely to get a very different reception

from the U.S. Vice President. And meantime, the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has arrived in Seoul, South Korea, and bringing more tough words for

the North including the promise of more sanctions. CNN's Ivan Watson is following all of this for us, and joins us now live. Ivan good to see you,

let us talk politics and the significance of these high level talks between President Moon and North Korea while of course a very different tone has

been struck by Mike Pence of the United States.

IVAN WATSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, the talks have not quite began yet between Moon Jae-in and the high level delegation they

are scheduled to have lunch on the 10th that's is Saturday with the delegation which is led by North Korea's ceremonial head of state and will

include the sister of Kim Jong-un, that is Kim Yo-jong and that will be the first representative of the ruling Kim dynasty to be visiting South of the

demilitarize zone.

He will be breaking bread with them on Saturday and has been breaking bread tonight with Vice President Pence and his wife. I believe they have been

having chicken and another South Korean dish Bulgogi. Anyway the point being that Moon Jae-in is trying to straddle his allies, the U.S. , Japan

as well who had come a long side of the U.S. in denouncing North Korea, and the delicate diplomacy with North Korea which basically began in the first

of January with a speech of Kim Jong-un and led to a flurry of developments where two countries that did not speak face-to-face for two years now

suddenly, you got this high level talks coming together and all of the North Korean delegations running around whether they are tae kwon do

demonstration teams or orchestras or athletes or cheerleaders who have been invited in. This is dramatic when you consider basically the North Korean

flag is essentially illegal in South Korea, the two countries are still in the state war and you got flag raising ceremonies and calls from some

people for unification of the Korean Peninsula and what the U.S. had made clear is that they want to challenge this narrative. They want to

challenge the public relations campaign that North Korea is waging with the South Korean population to remind everyone around the world of North

Korea's history of human rights abuses. Vice President Pence will be visiting a memorial to the South Korean worship, a navy ship which was sunk

the South Korean say by a North Korean torpedo that is another way that he is trying to remind South Koreans of the long and bloody history that the

two countries share. Hannah.

VAUGHAN JONES: Ivan potentially thawing of the relations between the North and the South, but it is still icy cold where you are at the Olympics

themselves. Talk to us about the security, and the preparation for the opening ceremony.

WATSON: Well there are tens of thousands of security officers and some 60,000 security personnel including more than 13,000 police, and some

50,000 military and more than 2,000 private security. There has been a little bit of a challenge, and that has been the eruption of this Noro

virus also known as the winter vomiting bug that went through the residents of some of the civil security, and the number of cases has gone up

substantially to more than 120 cases, and this is the latest number today. That has forced the organizers to bring in 900 military to bolster some

1,200 security that they have moved out. It is a hiccup, and they are trying to quarantine this cases of this very contagious virus that is going


[10:25:06] But the biggest concern that was going into the Olympics was North Korea and the possibility ballistic missile launch or a nuclear

weapons test and many of the organizers feel that is has gone down dramatically now that the sister of Kim Jong-un is expected to be here at

the opening ceremony. Hannah.

VAUGHAN JONES: Ivan Watson live for us in Pyeongchang. Thank you very much.

As you heard from Ivan, the political games are already in full swing. Just four cell phones were enough to cause a massive problem for one of the

world's largest conglomerates. When the Iranians athletes got to South Korea a bag had Samsung phones especially loaded with custom software for

the event and they were told not to keep them. And the IOC thought that letting them take it home could breach sanctions on Iran, and Iran was

furious summoning the South Korean ambassador and threatening quote, dire consequences. Here is a sense of what people in the Iranian capital



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was shocked, because I have a Samsung too and I think it is embarrassing and insulting to the Iranian people, and the officials

should change their mind as soon as possible, because here, Samsung has many great markets, advantages, benefits and I think that it should be

changed as soon as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In my opinion sports and politics should not mix. They are unrelated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The government should support its athletes, this athletes belong to the country and they are not supported by the government

then they will never be successful. That is my opinion.


VAUGHAN JONES: After the first report the IRC now says the Iranian athletes can indeed keep their phones. North Korean athletes though have

to keep theirs right back. Just ahead on "Connect the World." The Prime Minister is making his case in the court can public opinion. And saying

that the police could soon recommend his indictment over allegations of corruption.

And new outrage of Poland new law that criminalizes certain remarks about the holocaust. We will speak to one historian who say the laws true goal

is to falsify the past.


HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. You are watching CNN and this is Connect the World. I am Hannah Vaughan Jones in London and in for,

Becky, today.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is going on the offensive, lashing out at police as local report say, authorities could soon recommend

his indictment.

Mr. Netanyahu took to social media on Wednesday night to proclaim his innocence in ongoing graft probe. He told his Facebook fans that qualified

legal experts will arrive at simple completion.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through a translator): There will be nothing because I know the truth. The State of Israel is a nation

of law. The law saw that the person who decides if there is sufficient evidence against the prime minister is the attorney general.

And he confers with the state attorney's office. The state attorney said recently in the Knesset that half the recommendations from police end in

nothing. So don't be under pressure.


JONES: Into fire, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu there. And let's get more from our, Ian Lee. He is standing by for us in Jerusalem. What are the

allegations that Bibi Netanyahu is actually facing, Ian?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hannah, there are two cases that have been investigated and they evolve around bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

First, you have Case 1000 and that is where the Prime Minister allegedly received inappropriate gifts from a businessman.

And then there is Case 2000 where the prime minister allegedly colluded with owner of a newspaper for more favorable coverage. In return, the

prime minister would allegedly reduce the circulation of a rival paper.

And there is an investigation that has been going on for many months, the prime minister has been questioned by police multiple times and what were

hearing is that the police could offer a recommendation for indictment sometime next week.

That then would go to the attorney general. It is up to the attorney general to decide whether or not to move forward and go into the court


Also, you know just because the police offer recommendation of an indictment, it doesn't mean that the attorney general has to take up, and

that is something that the prime minister said that, you know, about 50 percent of the time, the attorney general doesn't move forward with that


But let's say if he does. If he does, it goes to the court system, it's still could be a number of years before an outcome from the judges.

JONES: And, Ian, the Israeli public are no stranger to having their elected leaders being the subject of some sort of criminal investigation.

For example, a former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was indicted in multiple corruption cases including fraud and breach of trust.

He served more than a year and 27 months prison time, and was released last year. He was the first Israeli head of government to actually be sent to


Also are, Aryeh Deri was convicted of Fraud and taking bribes, while serving as interior minister back in 1999. And served two years in prison,

and now again serves as interior minister under Netanyahu's government.

Given that -- Ian, given the fact the Israeli public are used to this sort of scandal if you like, how is Benjamin Netanyahu's own problems playing

out amongst his supporters and his enemies?

LEE: Well, you bring up a great point, Hannah. Netanyahu's predecessor Ehud Olmert, when these charges were brought against him its attorney

general move forward with this case -- he stepped down to say, to fight these charges. Prime Minister Netanyahu says, even if the attorney general

does decide to move forward, that he is going to stay put.

And we went to a rally where he talked about this ongoing investigation and when we spoke to his supporters, he has a wide base of support and the deep

base here in Israel.

And when you talk to people, they say this is a witch hunt, this is just, you know, the politics at play here, that they believe he is innocent.

[10:35:00] Despite that though, if he is indicted by the attorney general, and this case does move forward, there will be political pressure put on

him by the opposition to stand down.

And we heard from the prime minister, he has even said that people will say that he is guilty before proven innocent, but he is defiant, he says that

he is going to move forward and that it is not going to stop him if there is a -- if there is an indictment by the attorney general, Hannah.

JONES: All right. Ian Lee, live for us in Jerusalem, thank you. Now dozens of Holocaust survivors are protesting outside the Polish embassy in

Poland base today, and they are furious over the Poland's new law that criminalizes some speech about the Holocaust.

People could face jail time now for using terms like, quote, Polish death camps to describe Nazi-run concentration camps on Polish soil. They could

be imprisoned for suggesting that Poland was at all complicit with the Nazi crimes.

Poland's president says the new law protects the, quote, historical truth, but our next guest says the laws goal is to falsify the history of the


Jan Gross is a history professor at Princeton University. He writes in the Financial Times, there are fears that the law would put virtually every

Jewish survivor of the Holocaust in Poland at risk of prosecution.

I have read hundreds of survivor's testimonies, yet I do not recall a single one where the writer has not described an episode of betrayal,

blackmail or denunciation on the part of their fellow polish citizens.

Jan Gross is joining me now from Berlin. Thank you so much for joining us, sir. Your argument as I understand, is that the language of this law has

been altered so much that it doesn't have the initial intent, just explain for us what you think this law does and why it is so damaging.

JAN T. GROSS, HISTORY PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Well, you have stolen my effective line, I am afraid. But I mean, let me do it very

quickly, the Polish government continually makes a statement that this is a law aiming that criminalizing and as a result of it making sure that nobody

loses it.

The expression of to Polish extermination camps, however such a phrase does not enter into effect of the law, and this is not by omission, the law has

been frame about two years ago, put so to speak on deposit.

The minister of justice had spoken about it, about two years ago and since then, the framers of the law from the justice ministry have had many

multiple feedback on this issue, both from Israel, from Polish ministry of foreign affairs.

And we have just learned that in Poland, the foreign minister made a statement to this effect, and all of the people were pointing after them

that the way it is framed without specifically banning the statement, Polish extermination camps.

The way it is framed is just extremely broad. It says, if anyone mentions anything about complicity of the Pols or Polish Government, or Polish names

in acts of criminality by the Third Reich is liable to prosecution or fine.

JONES: So are you concerned then that the polish government is effectively pandering to anti-Semitic xenophobic sections of Polish society in

introducing this new law?

GROSS: I'm afraid this is the effect on it, you know. And this is a government that actually, the party has been empowered now, the regime has

been established there. Law and justice partly identifies itself as the right-wing nationalist party.

And this is precisely the kind of the tradition that the right-wing nationalist parties in Poland had. Before the war over 3 million Jews

lived in Poland, and right-wing nationalist party, and there were several of them but one thing they had in common is anti-Semitism.

JONES: They may have gotten their own way -- sorry for interrupting you, sir. But they may have their own way of pushing this law through, but this

is potentially going to have huge foreign policy implications for Poland. What is the rest of the world saying about this law?

GROSS: The rest of the world is really frighten and outraged. Americans are making protest and lodging the protests, and everybody -- virtually

everybody makes or notices the fact that it is -- first of all, this is a gang on the freedom of speech.

And secondly, it revives this secular anti-Semitism, but what is going on in Poland right now is frightening. You have on public television,

important figures using terms such as kites, when they speak of about this hullabaloo around this law.

[10:40:04] And very important journalist and a director of one of the channel, and I must say, that the public televisions from this law and the

justice television are, the only public thing about it is that it is paid for by taxpayers' money.

JONES: Right.

GROSS: They are making -- of this whole debate by saying that whether it is Polish camps or German camps, these were really Jewish camps, and after

all the Jews were running crematoria there, and these commanders of Jewish prisoners were forced by the Nazis.

JONES: Yes, and then presumably the now huge questions of course, there are from the Jewish survivors and their families as well going forward if

they are talking about the Holocaust, referring to it or trying to bring any charges forward about as well. We have to leave it there, sir, I'm

afraid. But thank you so much for your insight into this story.

GROSS: Thank you, Hannah.

JONES: Jan Gross, we appreciate it. Coming up in the program, the world's biggest media giants are in Washington to answer questions about fake news,

and British lawmakers -- well, they are there, too.

Did misinformation on social media play a role in Britain's Brexit vote? That is coming up next. And Russian President Vladimir Putin is on the

campaign trail in Siberia. Will he receive an icy reception? We are live there, next.


JONES: You are watching CNN and this is Connect the World. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones. Welcome back. British lawmakers are in Washington to take

on fake news.

The House of Commons committee is questioning media and tech executives on the role that fake news may have played in the U.K.'s political system and

the Brexit referendum.

It is the first time a House Select Committee has been broadcast live outside of the U.K. CNN's Hadas Gold is there for us. Hadas, an unusual

that's in and off itself, but what has been said so far in this hearing?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So this an unusual event as you said, the first type of hearing of its sort outside of the U.K. And the members of

parliament are really pushing on these various social media and internet companies.

Because they say, there was a lack of transparency and information that they getting about really how much influence there may have been from

Russian or other foreign influence link account around Brexit referendum, and around other elections in the U.K.

And what they have found so far, YouTube ahs said, is that they found no evidence that are Russian linked accounts bought ads surrounding Brexit but

they are to do some more.

Facebook has said that they are working on another follow-up report that they are going to bring to the committee at the end of February that will

maybe shed more light on the influence of Russian accounts around the Brexit referendum.

But this is ongoing and it's very clear in this hearing is that, members of parliament are very frustrated with these -- with Facebook, with Twitter,

with Google, with YouTube, because they just don't see the information that they are hoping to see and they don't think that they are getting the full

picture of what is happening.

[10:45:06] JONES: That brings me on my second question then, Hadas, what is the objective of this hearing, are MPs from Britain just there in the

U.S. are tying to criticize all these tech bosses or are they trying to find a scapegoat perhaps for what happened with the elections over here?

GOLD: So this hearing is part of an inquiry that the committee is doing and they are going to release a report in the spring. But other than the

report, there is not much more that they can really do in terms of maybe legislation or anything to really push these companies to change.

Really, it is more of kind of a public pressure that they are putting on them by bringing them out here in Washington. It has become a big media

event, but there is not real action that is necessarily going to be taken other than this report.

JONES: And what about the administration there, you know, in Washington. Has there been any response to even more questions being asked about

Russian interference in elections.

GOLD: The difference is -- I mean, with the committees here in Washington, are still investigating this, and one thing actually that Facebook did just

say in the hearing was that.

While in the U.S., they have actually received direct information from the intelligence community here saying that there was Russian activity on

Facebook linked to the Russian government, trying to influence the election in some way, they have not received the same sort of information from the

U.K. side, and that might be helpful for them in terms of what to look for.

JONES: All right, Hadas Gold, we appreciate it, thank you. Live from London, you are watching Connect the World here on CNN. Coming up on the

program, Vladimir Putin is on the campaign trail ahead of next month's presidential election in Russia, but one stop is proving to be more than a

little icy.


JONES: You are watching CNN and this is Connect the World with me, Hannah Vaughan Jones live in London for you. Vladimir Putin seemed certain to win

the up coming presidential election in Russia.

But Mr. Putin faces an icy stop on the campaign trail, Siberia. It has a history of opposition at its largest town and just elected an anti-Putin


CNN's Fred Pleitgen is following President Putin on his campaign tour. He joins us now from Novosibirsk in Siberia. Fred, just how big and how new

is this cold front for Putin in Siberia?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, this place -- Novosibirsk, especially, there has always been a very difficult place for

those who are ruling in Moscow, and that certainly is not something that is not going on at the moment as well.

People that we spoke to on the streets here, Hannah, they are telling us that many of them were quite apathetic to the election that's coming up.

And many of them say, they feel that it's basically already been decided for them, because Mr. Putin is obviously so strong, and those running

against him are so weak.

[10:50:00] Here is what we saw today both on his campaign trail, and when we spoke to people here in the city.


PLEITGEN: Vladimir Putin looks to be cruising to another election victory, but even for Russia's powerful president, some places are tougher than


As Putin was handing out medals to scientists in Novosibirsk, on the street of Siberia's largest town, we found some indifference and even dissent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through a translator): Most of the people here think that the choice has already been made for them a long time ago, this woman

said. So many people just don't want to go and vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through a translator): I think Novosibirsk is an opposition town, she adds. There are a lot of young people who dive deep

inside the internet and follow Navalny.

PLEITGEN: Siberia has a history of opposition to the government in Moscow. In 2013, Novosibirsk voted against Vladimir Putin's candidate in a mayoral

election. And protesters organized by opposition figure Alexi Navalny often draw large crowds in the city. The head of Navalny's movement in

Novosibirsk says he knows why.

ANDREY GLADCHENKO, NAVALNY CAMPAIGN (through a translator): Novosibirsk is a tough place for Putin, he says. It is a city of Siberian exiles who

always had their own opinion. Different from what the authorities think.

PLEITGEN: Aside from few billboards generally advertising the upcoming election where seems to be very little effort by any of the candidates to

motivate voters. Election campaigning here in Russia is very different than you expect in Europe or the United States.

We have very little TV advertising. Almost no mass campaign rallies. And even for the main candidate, Vladimir Putin, very few posters here around

town. But while Putin's popularity might not be as strong here in Southwestern Siberia, he still has plenty of supporters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through a translator): I expect improvement in our lives, she says, because there is going to be credibility, good salaries

and good benefits.

PLEITGEN: Stability, Vladimir Putin's main selling point in an election where the outcome is almost certain. But excitement seems to be lacking.


PLEITGEN: And, Hannah, the poll that came out today about the election that said that Vladimir Putin is set to garner about 71 percent of the

votes that are going to be cast, the next best runner-up would get 6.9 percent, and that's a representative of the Communist Party.

Now of course, in all of this, you can understand why some people feel like the election, he has already decide before it began, but the authorities

say they still believe that turn out could be as high as 70 percent, but certainly speaking to the folks here in Novosibirsk, we will have to wait

to see whether that will really be the case, Hannah.

JONES: Yes, I was going to ask you about that because the stats at the moment are pretty shocking in favor of just one candidate. But are the

people that you have been speaking to there in Siberia, are they engaged or they just apathetic about this up coming election?

PLEITGEN: Well, that is a very good question. And there are certainly are people who are a bit apathetic about the election. There are certainly

people who came out and said, look, we are not even sure if we want to go vote.

There is many people who came to us and said that they would not vote at all, but as I said, the government here believes -- the research institute

that's close to the government believes that the turnout could be as high as 70 percent, that would be quite high, for this election. However, there

are who people that the turnout could be substantially lower.

And you know, one of the things that from opposition movement are saying, they think that they don't have a chance in this election anyway, but one

of the things that they say could be importance is what the turnout is actually going to be.

They say it is something that really could hurt Vladimir Putin if the turnout is very low. And this is one of the reasons also why you don't see

that many billboards for instance, for candidates, but you do see a lot of billboards that say, go and vote.

This is our elections. Those billboards say in an effort to try and drive election participation upset clearly something that Putin is looking at,

but at the same time, just speaking to people.

You can see that many of them believe that the election has already been decided and many, many here are not really feeling much excitement at this

point in time for the vote that's coming up on March 19th, Hannah.

JONES: March 19th, a busy camp trail for you as well. Fred, thanks so much. Fred Pleitgen, live for us there in Novosibirsk in Syria -- in

Siberia, rather. Thank you so much, Fred.

In our Parting Shots this hour, we are running, diving and taking a leap into the Olympics political past. Take a look at all this, 1968, this

iconic black power salute cost 200 meter medalist Tommie Smith and John Carlos their entire careers.

They were sent home from the games and stripped of their medals, their clenched fists held high were an unforgettable symbol of struggle for civil

rights at home in America.

And then on 1936, this is Germany, during the rule of Adolf Hitler and African-American U.S. track star Jesse Owens showed stunned the world when

he won four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics, defying the Nazi leader's attempt to showcase as opposed superiority over others.

[10:55:06] And we have been seeing displays of North Korean unity. This year, of course, would be Pyeongchang Olympics, the Winter Olympics just

about to get under way.

But actually it was 18 years ago when the two Koreas first marched together under a shared flag -- a moment of friendliness between two countries still

at the time technically at war as of course they are today as well.

Sports, politics, Olympics, breaking news and the list goes on and on, and here at Connect the World, we do not tire. We will go all out to keep

bringing you top notch journalism.

And you can check it all out on our Facebook page. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones live in London for you.

And that was Connect the World.

From the team here in London, in Atlanta, and of course in Abu Dhabi, thank you so much for watching. The news continues here on CNN, iDesk with Robyn

Curnow is coming up next.