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Kim Jong-Un's Sister Seated Behind Pence at Olympic Ceremony; Border Wall Battle Heads to Court; Awaiting Trump Decision on Democratic Memo; "The Radical Story of Patty Hearst" Premieres Sunday. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired February 9, 2018 - 11:30   ET



[11:33:57] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Thousands of the world's best athletes are marching together in one stadium this morning for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics. But the most talked about moment was happening in the stands. Take a look at this fascinating picture. You see the vice president there, Mike Pence, he's in the front.

But then look, just behind him, a few feet, sitting right behind him, that is Kim Jong-Un's sister. And this comes hours after the vice president called North Korea, quote, "the most tyrannical regime on the planet." And, of course, President Trump and Kim Jong-Un have traded strong rhetoric over Pyongyang's nuclear program, including a recent back and forth about the size of their nuclear buttons.

CNN's Will Ripley is live from Pyeongchang for us. South Korea, this is where the Olympics are being hosted.

So, Will, the picture is remarkable. You've been inside of North Korea many, many times, talked with officials there. Is this the kind of propaganda victory that they hoped to achieve?

[11:34:57] WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, to have Kim Jong-Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong, sitting nearly directly behind the vice president of the United States, it provides legitimacy. It is a way to showcase North Korea on a world stage. And keep in mind, yesterday, North Korea hosted a massive military parade where they displayed more intercontinental ballistic missiles at once than they have ever have before. If you think those optics, if you think that photo was dramatic, Vice President Pence, we're learning, switched seats. He didn't follow the official Blue House seating chart.

If you follow that seating chart, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of Kim Jong- Un, would have been sitting directly behind him and he wasn't going to have that. Still, obviously, very close. And incredibly awkward if they were to bump into each other, even though sources who were there, pool reporters who were there say there was no interaction between the North Koreans and the vice president. In fact, the vice president skipped a dinner scheduled earlier in the evening with the North Korean delegation and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in. He had a previously scheduled dinner with U.S. Olympians. But it has been a contrast. You have Vice President Pence using those words "tyrannical regime." You had Fred Warmbier, the father of Otto Warmbier, the student from the University of Virginia who died six days after being released from North Korean custody, they were meeting with North Korean defectors. There was a photo released of Fred Warmbier hugging one of the defectors. Vice President Pence saying he that stands with the North Korean people who yearn for freedom.

At the same time, you have South Korea's President Moon Jae-in shaking hands with Kim Jong-Un's sister and the North Korean ceremonial head of state, Kim Jong-Nam. And they're going to have this lunch tomorrow at the Blue House in Seoul where diplomatic sources tell me it is very likely that Kim Jong-Un's sister may pass along a message from the North Korean leader, may even invite him to visit North Korea at some point later on this year.

So, clearly, Brianna, she was sent here on a diplomatic mission that many believe was a mission to try to drive a wedge between the United States and South Korea, and to try to extend this buffer where it makes it pretty difficult for the United States to act in any meaningful.

KEILAR: Very interesting.

Will Ripley, thank you so much for that.

CNN's global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, is traveling with the vice president in South Korea. She's joining us now on the phone.

Elise, tell us what went on behind the scenes of the opening ceremony.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Brianna, as Will said, there was the reception in advance, and the vice president, he stopped by and said hello to a few people. Didn't have any interaction with the North Koreans. But wanted to go see some of the American athletes before the opening ceremony. He wasn't really at that reception.

But there is this kind of symbolism that the vice president knew what he was getting into when he sat in President Moon's box with Kim Jong- Un's sister right behind him. And his aides say that he wanted the North Korean delegation to see him, President Moon and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sitting shoulder to shoulder, that alliance being very strong. And so he wasn't, you know, necessarily uncomfortable because, while North Korea, yes, was, you know, sitting in that box and had the propaganda message that they wanted, he has been spending the whole week here in Asia trying to counter that North Korean propaganda, denying them that victory.

And, you know, there has been a lot of speculation this week about whether Vice President Pence would meet with the North Korean delegation. He's kind of coy this week, said, we'll see what happens. It seems to be that, you know, President Moon wanted this to happen. There is obviously a little bit of a split between the U.S. and South Korea about this kind of Olympic diplomacy. I think if you ask the U.S., they think that, you know, South Koreans

are a little bit naive that North Korea is just using this, as Will said, to continue to split South Korea and the United States. And so they, you know, haven't been so thrilled. Last night, at a dinner between President Moon and Vice President Pence, you could see they have two different, you know, tactics in terms of dealing with North Korea. The U.S. taking a much tougher message.

But I think, Vice President Pence, trying to do a delicate balance here, doesn't want to go too far in terms of meeting with the North Koreans, giving them that propaganda victory. Also doesn't want to offend his host, President Moon, who put a lot into this Olympics -- Brie?

[11:39:33] KEILAR: Elise Labott, thank you for that report, traveling with the vice president.

And up next, a major legal challenge to President Trump's border wall has ended up in the courtroom of the very same judge he disparaged with racist remarks during the campaign. The hearing is set to begin soon. We're going to take you inside the case.


KEILAR: The battle over perhaps President Trump's biggest campaign promise, the border wall, goes to court today where it could run into a legal wall. The state of California and several other groups are challenging the right of the Department of Homeland Security to bypass environmental laws to build it. And adding to the intrigue here, the judge that is hearing the case endured Trump's public wrath before the election in a separate case.

CNN's Sara Sidner is live in San Diego with more.

Sara, bring us up to date on this.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So we all know that there was widespread condemnation when Donald Trump attacked this particular federal judge. Now, as luck would have it, he was assigned a case that could have a major impact on building the border wall, about 14 miles of it, here in San Diego.


SIDNER (voice-over): This border wall battle begins where the ocean meets the land in San Diego and goes 14 miles inland right through a national wildlife refuge.

BRIAN SEGEE, SENIOR ATTORNEY, CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY: That area is an environmental hot spot. It has habitats for endangered species along its length. It has protected federal lands, national parks, national monuments, national forests.

SIDNER: The state of California and environmentalists sued the Department of Homeland Security saying it is using waivers to thwart environmental laws to build a border wall where a fence already exists.

(on camera): How many laws are being circumvented with these waivers?

SEGEE: More than 30. So no environmental impact study, no public outreach, no consultation with experts, no specific look at endangered species, they waived more than 30 other laws that aren't at issue in our lawsuit like Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act.

SIDNER (voice-over): In 1996, Congress authorized waivers to speed up the process of building border barriers by bypassing certain federal and state laws. DHS is arguing it has the authority to continue to do so.

That is how this fence ended up being built in the first place.

The agency would not comment on the current case.

Now, the case that could impede Trump's biggest campaign promise has been assigned to Judge Gonzalo Curiel.

[11:45:21] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump. A hater. He's a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel.

SIDNER: Then-Candidate Donald Trump launched attack after attack against the federal judge as he presided over the Trump University fraud case.

CNN's Jake Tapper questioned Mr. Trump about it.


TRUMP: I've been treated very unfairly by this judge. Now, this judge is of Mexican heritage. I'm building a wall. OK? I'm building a wall. I'm going to do very well with the Hispanics, the Mexicans --

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: So no Mexican judge could ever be involved in a case that involves you?

TRUMP: Well, he's a member of a society where, you know, very pro Mexico, and that's fine. It is all fine. But --


TAPPER: You're calling into question his character.


TRUMP: I think he needs to recuse himself because he also said--


TAPPER: Does he know the lawyer on the other side? Does he know the lawyer? And a lot of people say --


TRUMP: I'm talking about --


TRUMP: That's another problem.

TAPPER: You're invoking his race when talking about whether or not he can do his job.

TRUMP: Jake, I'm building a wall. OK? I'm building a wall. I'm trying to keep business out of Mexico. Mexico is fine. There is nothing --


TAPPER: He's an American.

TRUMP: He's of Mexican heritage. And he's very proud of it.


SIDNER: At the time, Trump's comments were condemned by many.

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Claiming a person can't do their job because of their race is sort of like a textbook definition of a racist comment.

SIDNER: We asked the White House for comment on whether President Trump has changed his stance on Judge Curiel as he hears arguments in another case that could seriously slow down the building of a border wall.


SIDNER: Now, we have not heard anything back from the White House as to whether Donald Trump still feels the same way about Judge Curiel. What we do know is that the federal judge has never uttered publicly a negative word about Donald Trump.

This case will begin in a few hours and we will have to see what happens in the interim. But for now, the fight will be going on here at federal court -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Sara Sidner, thank you so much for that report.

Now, we are standing by to see if President Trump is going to authorize the release of the Democratic memo, the rebuttal to the Republican memo that alleged surveillance abuses at the FBI. Will this new one change the story?


[11:50:53] KEILAR: President Trump is deciding whether to declassify the Democratic rebuttal to the Republican memo alleging FBI surveillance abuses. The GOP memo was released with the president's approval a week ago, and time is running out for him to do the same for the longer Democratic version. Sources they have told us that the White House is likely to authorize its release, and that that could come today, maybe tomorrow.

CNN has learned this memo's author, Congressman Adam Schiff, has shared a copy with the Senate Intel Committee, but it could be a while before its release because it's likely to have some redactions.

Joining me now is CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, to talk about this.

OK, Jeffrey, the committee -- and it's important to note this because there's actually more Republicans on it than Democrats -- voted unanimously to put up the memo. So if the president decides he's not going to release it, or if there's big changes, big redactions, what options does the House have here?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think they could go to the full House of Representatives, but it's very unlikely that much could happen there. If the president were to say that this document cannot be released, you know, usually, that is honored. What would make that so peculiar, as you point out, is that the Republicans on the Intelligence Committee thought it could be released. So, I mean, certainly basic fairness would seem to suggest that it should be released just as the majority Republican report was released.

KEILAR: But no matter what's released today, is this just a case of people who support President Trump are going to see what they want to see, Democrats are going to see what they want to see? Does this become very much a political document as sort of an addendum to the Republican one?

TOOBIN: You know, my sense is this is a sufficiently complicated esoteric area that only real junkies are following the details here. Other than that, it just looks like another fight between Democrats and Republicans, and people will fall into place as they usually do. So I think this chapter is mostly written. And the Republicans succeeded in having the chapter written based on their memo because they didn't allow the Democratic memo out at the same time.

KEILAR: While I have you here, I want to talk about what we're going to see on Sunday, the premiere of the CNN original series, "The Radical Story of Patty Hearst." You wrote the book on this, a phenomenal book, and now you're executive producer of the series. What drew you to this?

TOOBIN: Brianna, you of all people should be particularly interested as a proud alum --


TOOBIN: -- as a proud alum of University of California at Berkeley, where Patty Hearst was a student in February of 1974 when she was kidnapped. This is one of those iconic stories that people think they know, but, in fact, you have a whole generation, maybe two generations, of people who have no memory of this story at all. And the people who do remember it, I assure you, don't remember how crazy it was.

In part, it's a story about how nuts the country, and especially your beloved Berkeley was, during the 1970s. But it's also still a mystery about Patty Hearst, and about whether she was a captive who was forced to do all the crimes she committed, or someone who actually switched sides, and joined with the Symbionese Liberation Army.

KEILAR: That was really the question, right? I remember I was fascinated that she had been kidnapped a few blocks away from my dorm.


KEILAR: I mean, I graduated in the Hearst Greek Theater at Berkeley. But the question was, could someone be brainwashed? Was she really someone who sympathized? Could she be blamed for that? And that was the controversy.

TOOBIN: And it remains to this day. And the documentary will give both perspectives very clearly. You know, it's a complicated story. It starts 9:00 p.m. on Sunday on CNN. It's two hours on Sunday. But then it's two more hours over the next two Sundays. So it's a six- hour miniseries. But it's a documentary, it's not a drama. There is a lot of material there to absorb.

And, you know, one reason this story is so fascinating, I think, is that it's not obvious what side she was on. She, of course, has insisted that, you know, she was coerced, but she was convicted by a jury of bank robbery. So, you know, I promise it's an interesting story.

[11:55:30] KEILAR: I am looking forward to it, Jeff Toobin.

TOOBIN: It's not just for Berkeley graduates.

KEILAR: No, no. It is fascinating.

Jeffrey Toobin, thank you so much.

We are so looking forward to this. "The Radical Story of Patty Hearst," six-part CNN original series, starting Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN Sunday night.


ANNOUNCER: She was the victim of them most bizarre kidnapping in American history. Was she a hostage?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're in your apartment one minute, and the next minute you're in a closet, blindfolded. The fear must have been overwhelming.

ANNOUNCER: Or was she a terrorist?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four counts of robbery, five counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

ANNOUNCER: One woman.

PATTY HEARST, KIDNAP VICTIM: It was clear that I robbed a bank and there was really no denial of it.

ANNOUNCER: Two nights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now the heiress wants to join the kidnappers.

ANNOUNCER: Infinite questions.

TOOBIN: Is she America's most famous crime victim? Or is she the most famous rich turncoat?

ANNOUNCER: CNN takes you inside the extraordinary saga that gripped our nation.

TOOBIN: They were running from the law, running from what they regard as certain death.

HEARST: I am soldier of a people's army.

ANNOUNCER: "The Radical Story of Patty Hearst" airs Sunday at 9:00 on CNN.