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Eastern Ghouta Cries for Help; Illicit Affair Pull Barnaby Joyce from Power; Trump to Arm and Train Teachers with Guns; Additional Charges Filed Against Manafort and Gates. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired February 23, 2018 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Millions of children, women and men depend on meaningful action by this council.

NATALIE ALLEN, HOST, CNN: Leaders of the U.N. urged to act to help of civilians of eastern Ghouta who are being bombarded by Syrian airstrike.

GEORGE HOWELL, HOST, CNN: There are new charges in the Mueller investigation. What the special counsel's latest filings tell us about the status of the Russia probe.

ALLEN: And the American president, Donald Trump, suggest more guns at school, that's the way to avoid the next mass shooting targeting students. We'll look at that.

HOWELL: We're live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. CNN Newsroom starts right now.

HOWELL: Around the world good day to you. We start with a possible breakthrough at the United Nations focused on ending the fighting in Syria. The U.N. Security Council is set to meet in about eight hours' time to vote on a proposed 30-day ceasefire.

ALLEN: The move comes after days of debate. Russia has opposed the truce and the U.S. has accused Moscow of blocking efforts to end the bombing.

On Thursday, one U.N. official explained why a ceasefire is desperately needed.


MARK LOWCOCK, HUMANITARIAN CHIEF, UNITED NATIONS: What we need is a sustained cessation of hostilities and we need it desperately. A cessation of violence that will enable the immediate safe, unimpeded and sustained delivery of humanitarian aid and services. The evacuation of the critically sick and wounded and the alleviation of the suffering of the Syrian people. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: The calls like that for humanitarian aid come while the bombs keep falling on eastern Ghouta. The rebel-held enclave that's been hammered by Syria and Russia war planes.

On Wednesday, the Syrian military dropped leaflets over the area. Those leaflets warning residents to leave and blame the deaths of thousands of women and children on insurgence. But activists say airstrikes have killed scores of innocent people. Human Rights Watch says more than 400 civilians have reportedly been killed in just the past few days alone.

ALLEN: For more on this crisis, we're joined by Dr. Monzer Yazji, he's the chairman of the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations here in the U.S. That group works to bring medical care to places like eastern Ghouta. He joins me by phone from Edberg, Texas.

Thank you so much for talking with us. This is looking like another Aleppo, isn't it? People including children are being massacred. This war has going on for seven years and now this. What's your assessment of the situation these people are in?

MONZER YAZJI, CHAIRMAN, UNION OF MEDICAL CARE AND RELIEF ORGANIZATIONS: Thank you very much for having me. Yes, it is very sad to witness what's happening in eastern Ghouta. In Aleppo when we were working there, we were thinking that this is the worst could be, but now in Ghouta actually is much, much worse than what has happening in Aleppo.

I was just earlier with our team inside Ghouta and it's shocking when we talk to each other, the physicians there and he's telling me that that 36 hours he has not slept and the physician is like -- the hospital or the physician is almost 24 hours to 36 hours working continuously. They have endured so much stress psychologically and physically, the health providers.

They are receiving only one meal, even the hospital provider talking about physician. And they have because of their generators, their fuel in their generators, they are having even difficulty of operator work and sustain whatever they have injured people in there. And they are out of all the medical supplies, including the I.V. fluid, the basic I.V. fluid or syringe or any medication, anesthesia, therefore they are in real, real crisis. They never witnessed that in the last since the crisis started.

ALLEN: Yes. And you've got to wonder, you know, why Ghouta, you know, why now. It's relentless. Hospitals have been targeted. The children have been killed. The Syrian army, though, has dropped leaflets telling people to get out. But where could they go?

YAZJI: This is sad to hear that. I mean, what you're telling me, the ambulance, they target -- after they have the bomb and the air strike and the people injured on the street, when our ambulances go to pick them up, they target the ambulance. They are targeting the injured civilian. All of them children, women, and civilian.

They targeted the only bakery in that city which supplies all of this able to eat. We're talking about over 380,000 people there, we're not talking about few tens or hundreds. Thousands of people.

[03:05:02] And the sad thing is, you know, the families, they are now sitting there with one meal a day for some of them and they don't have meal others. And they destroyed the market. The market when they supply the food, they've been targeted. They have no place for people to buy their food. It's never happened before.

I've been working inside Syria myself. I went there several times, I just came couple of months. But in any area we never witness is going to get that bad. And the whole world is watching. It's a heart breaking, we are getting depressed. I'm working with my patient actually I couldn't work last night we just all night trying to support our teams there just to make them spiritually and psychologically to keep working to do their duties.

Therefore it's something, more than 26 hospitals or medical facilities has been targeted in the last four days. Some of them several times to get them out of work. That place several medical facilities are not working at all which the start they were short and the other big part of them is just doing basic, basic, you know, serving some basic care like hypertension or some medications just to giveaway. They cannot operate, they cannot do anything. Some of even mental health has been targeted. Mental health.

ALLEN: My goodness, it's just despicable that this is happening so many years into this war. Dr. Monzer Yazji, we'll think of you and your team. We hope that perhaps there is a breakthrough at the U.N. and there will be a cessation in this. Thank you for your time.

YAZJI: Thank you. Thank you very much.

HOWELL: Those pictures are just absolutely haunting.

ALLEN: It's just unbelievable.

HOWELL: It is. Back here in the United States, the debate over gun reform, it's front and center following the school shooting in Florida. And we're learning more about an armed deputy who was at that school when it happened.

Here's what we're learning, that the deputy did nothing. The Broward County sheriff says the deputy stayed outside the school, stayed outside while 17 people were being shot and killed with an AR-15-style rifle.

ALLEN: That deputy has since resigned. Sheriff Scott Israel says when he saw the security footage, he was devastated and sick to his stomach.


SCOTT ISRAEL, SHERIFF, BROWARD COUNTY: Scott Peterson was absolutely on campus through this entire event. He was armed. He was in uniform. What I saw was a deputy arrive at the west side of building 12, take up a position, and he never went in.


ALLEN: Well, the U.S. President, Mr. Trump is doubling down on his idea to arm some teachers. He's also talking about tougher background checks and raising the legal age for buying a semiautomatic rifle from age 18 to age 21.

HOWELL: We get more now from CNN's senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You come into our schools, you're going to be dead and it's going to be fast.


JEFF ZELENY, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: President Trump delivering tough talk on school shootings saying he believes arming teachers and coaches would stop more massacres.


TRUMP: We have to harden our schools, not soften them up. A gun-free zone to a killer or somebody that wants to be a killer, that's like going in for the ice cream. That's like, here I am, take me.


ZELENY: A day after listening to harrowing stories from students who survived the Florida shooting...


SAMUEL ZEIF, FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: How are we not stopping this after Columbine, after Sandy Hook?


ZELENY: And from families of those who did not.


ANDREW POLLACK, MEADOW POLLACK'S FATHER: And I'm pissed. Because my daughter I'm not going to see again.


ZELENY: Mr. Trump pledged to do what other presidents have not.


TRUMP: I want to end the problem. I don't want to have it where this happens again. And unless we're going to have an offensive capability, it's going to happen again and again and again.


ZELENY: After unleashing a string of morning tweets on gun policy, the president met with state and local officials at the White House where he proposed giving bonuses to trained teachers who carry arms.


TRUMP: You give them a little bit of a bonus, so practically for free you have now made the school into a hardened target.


ZELENY: That language echo the words of Wayne LaPierre, leader of the National Rifle Association speaking to conservatives.


WAYNE LAPIERRE, CEO, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: Schools must be the most hardened targets in this country.


ZELENY: The president signaled he could confront the NRA on other ideas they have rejected like raising the age limit to buy some weapons.


TRUMP: We're going to work on getting the age up to 21 instead of 18.

LAPIERRE: Thank you.


ZELENY: But afterward the NRA made its position clear on age restriction had not changed, yet overall the president insisted the NRA was a willing partner in finding solution to the plague of school shootings in America. Even though LaPierre blamed the Florida shooting on everything except guns.


TRUMP: They're ready to do things. They want to do things. They're good people. They're patriots, they love this country.

[03:10:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a terrible tragedy.


ZELENY: When the Florida commissioner of education said active shooting drills should be held in school across the country, the president said as a father he disagreed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I think that's a very negative thing to be talking about to be honest with you. I don't like it. I wouldn't want to tell my son that you're going to participate in an active shooter drill.


ZELENY: So, it is that specific term active shooter drill, that the president says he does not like. Now, a White House spokesman said he is for safety drills, but the active shooter drill they say is simply too scary for students, including the president's young son Barron. But it certainly raises the question, are those drills any scarier than a potential second shooting?

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.

HOWELL: All right. Jeff, thanks. The American Federation of Teachers represents 1.7 million educators in the United States. They're coming out strongly against the president's idea to arm teachers.

ALLEN: Yes, the head of the union said teachers don't want to be armed. We want to teach. We don't want to be and we'd never have the expertise needed to be sharp shooters. No amount of training can prepare an armed teacher to go up against an AR-15.

And here's how one teacher from Stoneman Douglas High School there in Florida reacted.


SARAH LERNER, TEACHER, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: I have no desire to own a gun carry a gun, shoot a gun, touch a gun. I don't think that my coming to school with a gun would have changed anything. I don't need to have a gun to keep me safe. I knew that the SWAT, the FBI, Broward sheriff's office, local police officers were here securing the campus and keeping us safe that made me feel safe.

If I had had a gun in my classroom with 15 students, I wouldn't have used it. I didn't see the shooter. I heard the shots when I went outside, but having a gun would do me no good. If anything, if I had a gun on campus, it would have been locked in my closet. And if somebody had come in the room and the time it would take me to get my keys and open my closet, I'd be dead.



ALLEN: Right, that might be something they have to still keep looking at. And there is one estimate that it could cost hundreds of millions of dollars to provide teachers with guns and training anyway. The White House says the plan is still being worked on.

HOWELL: Now to Australia, the deputy prime minister of that nation Barnaby Joyce is quitting his post after admitting to an affair with a staffer. Earlier this month, Joyce confessed that he and his former staffer were living together and also expecting a child. ALLEN: He said he'll also step down as leader of the national party.

Tim Lester of Seven network has been covering the scandal. Here's his report.


TIM LESTER, POLITICAL REPORTER, SEVEN NETWORK: For almost a decade and a half Barnaby Joyce has been the hero of Australian bush politics, a politician who was able to curry favor in rural towns like Armadale the one behind me and push up the vote of the rural based National Party of Australia, one of the key conservative parties in their politics.

He was a major vote winner until just two and a half weeks ago when news broke of an affair with his media minder and the breakdown of his marriage. The first that centered around there has finally brought him today to quit as deputy prime minister and to head to the back bench to make way for a new leader of the National Party and presumably a new front runner in bush politics in this country.

Barnaby Joyce's decision to stand down will likely be seen by the Australian government as a plus. It has simply not been able to get any other story into the newspapers in the last two and a half weeks and into the media including the visit of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to the White House. He's in the U.S. as I speak.

So, Barnaby Joyce has given the government some clear air, but also a major vote winner for the government in Australia has had to go to the back bench of the Australian parliament.


ALLEN: Thank you for that report.

Well, the U.S. Justice Department is bringing new charges against two Trump campaign officials. Coming up here, the latest indictment against Rick Gates and Paul Manafort.

HOWELL: Plus, stark warnings from the President of the United States. Or the president about the Russian leader Vladimir Putin from a man who knows all about the Kremlin's abuse of power. Stay with us.


ALLEN: During his presidential campaign Donald Trump repeatedly said he would surround himself with the best people.

HOWELL: Now two of those people are facing even more time behind bars for not paying taxes on tens of millions of dollars.

CNN's justice correspondent Jessica Schneider has details for us.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: More evidence special counsel Robert Mueller is not letting up. Tonight CNN has learned a Virginia grand jury has returned a new indictment against President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates. There are 32 new charges, and they separate from the charges the pair

faces in D.C. federal court, including money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent and failure to report foreign bank accounts.

In this new indictment, prosecutors describe a scheme where the two long-time business partners failed to pay taxes for almost ten years and then used real estate they owned to fraudulently secure more than 20 million in loans.

The indictment also alleges Manafort with the assistance of Gates laundered more than $30 million income that he concealed from the United States Department of the Treasury, the Department of Justice, and others.

The charges were announced just hours after Rick Gates was spotted leaving this D.C. federal court house with his long list of new charges, it appears any plea deal from Gates may have fallen apart.

CNN reported that Gates has been in plea negotiations with the special counsel's team for the past month. And if he pleads guilty, he could testify against Paul Manafort.


MICHAEL ZELDIN, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: I think these lawyers are putting so much pressure on these guys with so many high stakes that the ultimate decision is going to be, I've got to protect myself and my family and they're going to cooperate.


SCHNEIDER: In addition to tonight's new charges, the Wall Street Journal reports Mueller' team and federal prosecutors in New York are also examining up to 16 million in loans to Manafort from federal savings bank, a bank run by a former campaign advisor to President Trump, Steve Calk.

The special counsel is reportedly looking at whether the loans were made as part of a quid pro quo, Manafort got the loans and Steve Calk was promised a job in the Trump administration. While New York prosecutors are investigating possible money laundering.

Both Manafort and Calk have not commented. Calk did not get a spot in the cabinet but was a member of candidate Trump's economic advisory council in August 2016. Manafort, who served as the Trump campaign chairman until he stepped down three months before the election, sought in the past to distance candidate Trump from Russian money.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To be clear, Mr. Trump has no financial relationships with any Russian oligarchs?

PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: That's what he said. That's what I said. That's obviously what our position is. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: Manafort left the campaign amid questions about his lobbying work for the pro-Russian Ukrainian government and the payments he received.

HOWELL: That was Jessica Schneider reporting there. Now let's bring in CNN's senior legal analyst Areva Martin joining us this hour from Los Angeles. Good to have you with us, Areva.

Let's talk about now two separate cases that are in play against these men. This round focused on an alleged money laundering scheme involving more than $30 million. How much additional pressure would you say this puts on Gates and Manafort for one of them to flip?

[03:19:54] AREVA MARTIN, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: George, this is a tremendous amount of additional pressure on both of these men. We've been hearing for the last week or so that Gates was close to entering into some kind of plea arrangement with Mueller whereby he would plead guilty to the charges that had already been filed against him and in exchange he would cooperate with Mueller and possibly testify against Manafort.

Now, we never saw that plea deal manifest itself, but today these new indictments put an additional level of pressure. We know that Gates doesn't have an excessive amount of money. He's not a wealthy guy that litigating this kind of case in federal court is incredibly expensive.

And it raises the question about how will he be able to go the distance to trial if he has to defend now against not only the original indictment, but these indictments that now include tax fraud, defrauding banks for loan and just a myriad of other financial crimes.

HOWELL: Areva, let's talk more about those alleged crimes. Because according to prosecutors, some of the fraud was possible because the men disguised their income as loans from shell corporations that they ran.

MARTIN: Yes. Mueller describes in some level of detail in this new indictment, this whole money laundering scheme, this whole fraud scheme. He talks about how Gates and Manafort made a great deal of money as consultants to the Ukrainian government.

But how that money started to dry up in 2014 as there was some unrest in the governmental structure in the Ukraine and as that money started to dry up, they became desperate. And the way they dealt with this desperation, the way they dealt with this change of events as it relates to their access to cash and capital was by defrauding banks, by submitting fraudulent tax returns and fraudulent documents.

There is even an allegation that there is an e-mail that Mueller has his hands on where a banker says something to the effect that these documents appear to be doctored. So, there's some pretty damaging statements in the new indictment filed by Mueller and his team today.

HOWELL: All right. Let' take a look now at the latest statement from Manafort's spokesperson, essentially saying that he is confident that he will be acquitted of all charges.

Also from the White House, they declined to comment, though. Stating that none of the charges pertain to the campaign or to the White House itself. You see the statement here from Ty Cobb, the White House special counsel.

But for the president himself, what might all of this mean, Areva, given how close these men were to him?

MARTIN: Well, what's interesting, George, is that these charges have date back over several years, but the charges against Manafort and Gates include the time period that Manafort was working as the chairman of the Trump campaign. They go all the way to January 2017.

So when you think about the gravity of this, you have the chairman of the Republican Party's candidate for President of the United States being charged with fraud and tax evasion and financial crimes. So, you can't help but wonder that, you know, is this a ploy to get Manafort and Gates to start talking to Mueller about things that were going on in the Trump campaign?

I think Ty Cobb is right, he is right, there is nothing in this indictment that specifically addresses the Trump or the Trump campaign, but there is so much that we don't know about what Bob Mueller is doing, what his team is doing and these indictments get us one step closer to finding out what was happening during that campaign when chair -- when Paul Manafort was serving as chairman of the Trump campaign.

HOWELL: All right. Those around the president, they have signaled for many months now that the investigation, that it would wrap up soon, that the end is in sight.

But given what we've seen so far, not to mention, Areva, the 13 indictments that came out just a week ago against the Russians. How does this play into the breadth and the scope of this investigation? Do you see it continuing for some time?

MARTIN: I think we are far away, probably months away from Mueller wrapping up this investigation. And you mentioned the 13 Russians who were indicted. We can't forget the lawyer from the Skadden, Arps law firm who was also recently indicted.

So it appears that Mueller is following the money. And he is not done with this investigation. And I think the men around the president, his advisors that are telling him that Mueller is close to wrapping this up or that this would have been wrapped up by January, they're just wrong.

I think these statements are obviously being told to the president to ease his anxiety about the investigation, but there is no evidence at this point that Mueller is close to being finished. And if anything, I think we are going to see further indictments and continued investigation by the Mueller team.

HOWELL: CNN's senior legal analyst, Areva Martin, thank you much for your time today there in Los Angeles. We'll keep in touch.

ALLEN: One famous critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin says President Trump needs to crackdown harder on Russia before Putin's power grows unchecked. And he should know he was once the leader of Georgia. His presidency was doomed he says when Putin started interfering.

He spoke with CNN's Matthew Chance exclusively.


[03:25:00] MATTHEW CHANCE, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: This Mikheil Saakashvili latest fall from grace. A former Georgian president and sworn enemy of the Kremlin now expelled from Ukraine where he briefly emerged as an opposition force.


CHANCE: We met him in states and exile in Amsterdam, the man who backed by the west once fought Vladimir Putin, but lost.

SAAKASHVILI: I've been one of the first victims of Putin's election meddling in 2012, they listed fake news, this staged provocations, internet attacks all around the place, you know, trolls, trolls factories that descended upon us.

CHANCE: So you've expected what Russians can do.


SAAKASHVILI: I've seen it firsthand.

CHANCE: So you must be frustrated that Trump isn't also seeing and acknowledging it and taking action against it.

SAAKASHVILI: Well, I think on number of occasions Trump has acted. Would I like to see more of force, supplying Ukrainian Georgia with defensive weapons, with anti-theft weapons? It's a very important thing. And further one, they killed Americans have tried killed Russian mercenaries in Syria. When it happened last time when Russians get killed by direct strike of U.S. military? It's happening. It's happening on the ground.

CHANCE: It was in 2008 that Saakashvili led tiny pro-Western Georgia in a brief but disastrous war with Russia. Alarmed at the potential for escalation his western allies stepped back from direct intervention. A failure which Saakashvili now believes helped undermine faith in western support across the region in which he says President Trump should work hard to restore.

SAAKASHVILI: People say western model is not good for us personally because we are the rulers of our country. The next day we end up in Amsterdam or even worsen a prison or dead. So, better to look at Putin. He's eternal. He stays in power forever. He controls media. He -- there is no opposition in this country, nobody can touch him. He can even influence U.S. elections. So Putin is undefeatable. And everybody that likes to listen to heed

and western advice is defeatable, not only they are undefeatable, after awhile, the west will not say a word. You know, I've been keen...


CHANCE: So what should Trump do now to change that perception and change the situation?

SAAKASHVILI: Uphold U.S. values, because if somebody like me has been harassed unjustly and no western diplomat says a word because they don't want to like rock very fragile geopolitical balance, then you should brace for more trouble. This means they're going to multiply because what you are telling the local autocrats, want to be Putins, if you behave like Putin, we are going to watch silent.

CHANCE: Matthew Chance, CNN, in Amsterdam.


HOWELL: Matthew, thank you.

Two of President Trump's children are on two very different high- profile international trips right now. Still to come, why one trip is controversial and the other is not.

ALLEN: Also ahead here, Britain's royal couple possibly targeted in a racist hate crime. We'll go live to Scotland Yard for the latest.



[03:30:35] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: Welcome back to viewers around the world. You're watching CNN newsroom live from Atlanta. I'm George Howell.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: I'm Natalie Allen. Let's update you on our top stories this hour. The U.N. Security council will meet in the coming hours to vote on a cease fire resolution for Syria. The deal would allow for a 30-day truce to allow for humanitarian aid and medical evacuations. News of the vote comes amid an intense bombing campaign in the rebel-held enclave of eastern Ghouta.

HOWELL: A sex scandal has led to the resignation on the Australian Deputy prime Minister Barnaby Joyce recently admitted an affair with a former staffer and she is said to be pregnant. Joyce says that he will step down as leader of the national Party, but remain a member of parliament.

ALLEN: President Trump is vowing to do something about gun violence in the wake of the Florida school shooting. He told law enforcement an education officials he supports arming some teachers. Stronger background checks and raising the minimum age to buy semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21.

Two of the President's children are making headlines across the world right now for two very different reasons. Ivanka Trump, his daughter, just arrived in South Korea where she will represent the U.S. at the closing ceremony at the Olympic Games. And meet with President Moon Jae-in.

HOWELL: Donald Trump, Jr., visit to India for the Trump organization is being touted as all business, but some critics say he is profiting off his father's presidency. Our Paula Hancocks is following the story following Ivanka Trump's trip to Pyeongchang a CNN's Nikhil Kumar is on details of Donald Trump, Jr. in India. Let's go to start with you, Paula there in Pyeongchang. Surely the comparisons will be unavoidable. Following the visit of Kim Jong-un's sister to South Korea for the start of the games, what are the expectation and the symbolic significance of having the first daughter in South Korea for the close?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, certainly the South Korean media is making that connection. Obviously two women having come here to Pyeongchang who are very influential in their respective countries, and have a fair bit of influence on their family members. Obviously Kim Jong-un's sister coming and then the U.S. president Donald Trump's daughter coming. So, there will inevitably be those comparisons. But when it comes to whether or not there will be any substantive meetings between the U.S. and North Korea, we are told pretty much from all sides that nothing is being planned.

The South Korean side saying they're not going to try and facilitate a meeting between Ivanka Trump and the North Korean delegation. Remember, just a couple of weeks ago when U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was here, we understand from the Vice President office that there was going to be a meeting between the U.S. and North Korean delegations, but the North Koreans canceled at the last minute. You can't really rule anything out, but what we are being told officially is that nothing is being planned between the U.S. and North Korea. From South Korea's point of view, there will be banquet dinner this Friday evening, for Ivanka Trump and her delegation. And we know there will also the North, South Korean talks on Tuesday. The closing ceremony on Sunday, how close will the two delegations be sitting? Will it be the same case as we saw with the Vice President Kim Jong- un's sister sitting very close enough in the VIP Box, but not acknowledging each other? So, the optics will be watch, very closely this weekend. George?

HOWELL: Paula Hancocks live in Pyeongchang. Thank you for the reporting.

ALLEN: Now Mikhail Kumar joins us with details of Donald Trump Jr.'s business trip to India which has been criticized. What do we know about it, Mikhail?

NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI'S BUSINESS CHIEF: So, he is been here, Natalie, pretty much all week. He arrived on Tuesday. He was in Delhi. And since then he is been pretty much all over the place. He was in Calcutta, the financial capital Mumbai, Mumbai itself. Back in Delhi today and he has been promoting the Trump business. This is the biggest international market for the Trump organization. They have license their name to five projects over here and he's been promoting those projects. Later today in a few hours he is going to be giving a speech at a business summit were in an Indian Prime Minister Modi is going to speak. He faced a lot of criticism with the topic of the speech as it was put out by the conference organizers.

[03:05:00] Until yesterday, the official agenda said he was going to speak about reshaping in the pacific ties, the foreign policy. There was a lot of criticism, yesterday changed. Now they are told that in fact in a few hours at the hotel right behind me, there is going to be a fire side chat with Trump Jr. So, you know, it's coming for a lot of criticism. With the promotion of the business after the summit after he speaks, he is heading to a dinner, which was advertised with massive full page ads in the newspaper saying if you book one of the Trump condo in one of the Trump properties that is been built in Delhi, you get invite today this dinner and that is raised a lot of concern, because people are asking, are these buyers actually investing in a Trump branded product to access the Trump White House while the President's son? Natalie.

ALLEN: It's a very fine line, isn't it? Nikhil Kumar for us, thank you.

HOWELL: Still to come, a package sent to royal residence in London triggers a criminal investigation. A live report ahead from Scotland Yard. Stay with us.

ALLEN: Also thousands of people seeking asylum in France. We'll hear from an Afghan man who is living in a makeshift camp in Paris where he hopes to begin a new life.


HOWELL: Italy is seeing a rise in political violence ahead of its national elections on March 4th. On Thursday, riot equipped police in return fired water cannons and tear gas as they clashed with far left protesters marching against a nearby neo-Nazi -- a neo-fascist rally, I should say. Over the past month there had been series of political motivated stabbings and beatings in some Italian cities.

ALLEN: In France, opponents of a new proposal to tough in immigration laws are speaking out. Hundreds of people gathered Wednesday night to protest. The demonstrators included people who worked in the country's office to say the bill is harsh and inhumane.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (TRANSLATOR): The time for an asylum seeker today to submit his plea to a Judge who must rule whether he has to go back to his country is four times less than the time that we French citizens are given to submit documents for a construction permit. Is this coherent for a system that aims to protect people, to find itself in this kind of absolute imbalance? This really shows the human aspect has disappeared.


HOWELL: The bill propose tightening application deadlines a making illegal border crossings punishable by a year in jail. It will also make it easier to minors to get asylum and cutback on long processing times. France's interior minister said passing the bill is a critical move. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (TRANSLATOR): We must take people in, but we just properly take in those who must forge their futures in France. So that the illusions they may have do not turn into a nightmare and that for them the French dream becomes reality. That is the aim of the law we are proposing.


[03:40:00] HOWELL: And more than 100,000 asylum seekers are waiting to hear about their fate in France. And they aren't sure what's coming next.

ALLEN: One of them is an afghan man who fled his homeland seven years ago and is waiting to build a new life. CNN's Michael Holmes has his story.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: For an afghan refugee living in Paris, this is home. A makeshift camp next to a Paris canal. It isn't much, but he says he gets by.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's not good. Some days eat and some days no eat, no nothing problem.

HOLMES: Since he fled Afghanistan in 2011, he initially made his way to the infamous jungle camp in Calais. After two months he moved to Norway then Sweden, and now back to France again. His application for asylum was rejected in Sweden so determined not to return to Afghanistan, he has applied again in France.

The reason because which place I living, this place they have too much Taliban. When I go to for working, my work, he tell me you are no more work this one. You work again like that, maybe I kill you. I stop work. I come to Europe.

HOLMES: But as the French government moves to make immigration and asylum laws even tougher, he faces an uphill task in a country famous for its lob of bureaucracy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (TRANSLATOR): An asylum seeker becomes legal in France once they submit their request. Before that, they are illegal during their entire crossing of different countries. So, why does it have to be so black and white? Why does a person become legal in a country only once they submit an administrative request for asylum, but spend the rest of their journey in fear and total deprivation? HOLMES: The reality is asylum seekers like him can spend years in

France waiting for their claims to be processed. But he is certain that things will work out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So how many months you have to wait?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know maybe ten more, 11 months, 12 months, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are willing to wait?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, of course.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no other way.

HOLMES: Michael Holmes, CNN, Atlanta.


HOWELL: Michael, thank you. A package delivered to royal residence in London is being investigated as a racist hate crime. It has sent to St. James palace where Prince Harry and his fiance Meghan Markle have a cottage.

ALLEN: Markle is mix race and even before they were engaged Harry released an official statement decrying the racist taunt aimed at Markle. Despicable, of course, our Phil Black joins us from Scotland Yard in London now with the latest in this letter that was mailed and what they know about it. Phil?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not a lot, Natalie, at this stage. But what we do know, the facts as they are confirmed, they paint a pretty clear message of the ugly feelings and motivations behind this. It was the 12th of February when a package was delivered to St. James's palace. The package was found to contain a suspicious substance and note or letter of some kind. The substance was tested and found to be safe. The letter or the note, we don't know the specific contents, what words were used, but whatever was in it that is what has led the police to determine this a racist hate crime. According to British media, the powder or the substance, I should say, was a white powder of some kind. And they say the package itself was addressed to both Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Natalie.

ALLEN: Hope they can get to the bottom of that and figure out who is behind it. Meantime, Phil, the royal wedding is in May. Will this alter any plan for the wedding, will anyone comment or the couple's public appearances leading up to it?

BLACK: We don't know and we may never know. Security is obviously a real concern with the royal family. Generally it was always going to be a huge security operation around this particular event, the royal wedding. And as you touched on, regrettably, we've known from the outset there has been a racist reaction to Prince Harry becoming involved with someone who is mixed race. You mentioned that statement that he released back in November. That was not long after their relationship became public. He talked about racial under tones in newspaper column and racist comments online more generally. And there is a wider context here, too. The police, particularly the counterterrorism police are very concerned about the rise of far-right groups. There have been a number of arrests over the last year or so breaking up alleged violent plots. And in this particular case, we know that counter terrorism police are leading this investigation regarding this package. So, it points to police suspecting an ideological motive of some kind and they're clearly taking it very seriously.

ALLEN: They should. This couple should be enjoying planning their wedding. Thank you, Phil Black there in London.

[03:45:06] And coming up a showdown between teammates in women's figure skating will tell you who is leading Pyeongchang with the gold.

HOWELL: And a marvel comic's character who looks like them. It is a rarity for many movie goers. Why people are celebrating the "Black Panther" movie, more than just a superhero. Stay with us.


ALLEN: Well, if you haven't gotten your Olympic fix yet, better get going, two days left in the games in Pyeongchang and the fan favorite women's figure skating is in the bag.

HOWELL: CNN word sports Amanda Davies is live in Pyeongchang following the story. Amanda, good to have you with us.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN WORLD SPORTS: Yes, look at this, day 14, and it is properly winter Olympic weather. There's big snow flurries that just appeared within the last hour or so. It's very difficult to see on camera, but it is something like being in a snow globe at a moment which is great news, because today was (inaudible) yesterday, but the much anticipated battle for the figure skating gold as you said has more than lived up to the hype.

Two young Russians who share the same coach going head to head for one Olympic gold medal. No one else really had been given a chance in the buildup. Alena Zagitova, 15-year-old who set a new world record in her free skate up against her 18 year old compatriot training partner. Her training partner is giving the two-time world and European champion, after a really long wait, the rest of the field performed. It was Zagitova who went first dressed in a red tutu. As predicted she performed her jumps and moves with technical difficulty in the second half of the program to try and get extra points. It wasn't perfect, but it did produce a score just shy of her personal best and was enough to lift her into gold medal position.

Interestingly, she looked a little bit disappointed at her score. Maybe 2that is because she knew what was to come. And that was Medvedeva. She sets the ice and put in a near perfect performance. In some people's eyes better than what come before. But the scores came in, it was a bit of a shock, a stunned silence in the arena. Medvedeva was given exactly the same score in her free skate as her rival, but she missed out on gold because of their short program scores so, it is 15-year-old Alena Zagitova celebrating gold, the first gold for the Olympic athletes of Russia at these games. 18- year-old Medvedeva with silver, and Canada's Caitlyn Osmund taking bronze. The OAR men's hockey team looking to keep their hopes of another gold alive. As we speak, many people's favorites for victory here with the absence of the NHL players in the games, they are currently in the action of the semifinal. As you can see leading the Czech Republic by a score of 2-0, midway through the second period, Canada taking on Germany a little bit later on. Back to you guys.

ALLEN: All right. Like seeing the snow finally.

HOWELL: It is nice to see.

ALLEN: The Olympics are about over.

HOWELL: Amanda thank you.

ALLEN: Thanks, Amanda.

HOWELL: We're getting ready for CNN's daylong event to raise awareness of modern day slavery.

[03:50:00] It's called my freedom day and it is coming up on March 14.

ALLEN: And we're looking for your views on what freedom means to you. So, post a photo or video using the #myfreedomday.

We've also asked celebrities to join in. Here's South African actor John Kani.


JOHN KANI, SOUTH AFRICAN ACTOR: In 1994, I was 51 years when I voted for the first time in my life. Inaugurated Nelson Mandela as the first democratically elected president for the first time I understood what it means to be free. I could look myself in the mirror and be proud of what I see. Freedom means the greatest responsibility for peaceful coexistence among the peoples of the world and puts on my shoulders the responsibility to make sure that I will not rest until every living human being is free.


John Kani there, he is currently on movie screens around the world starring in the hit film "Black Panther." Many of its scenes were shot right here in our City of Atlanta.

HOWELL: That is right. And Atlanta's airport used that tie-in to have some fun on twitter with followers. Airport official and tweeted this digitally altered image of a flight taking off to Wakanda. For those of you that don't understand what Wakanda, it's a joke it is fictional African kingdom featured in the film. You'd imagine that tweet generated a great deal of response there. You see it. A lot of laughs from fans and travelers there. Now, jokes aside for black film goers quite frankly around the world, "Black Panther" is about creating positive energy, it is aspirational, it is a superhero who not only inspires, but looks the same.

ALLEN: Some feel the film is so important their raising money to take school children to see it. Our Lynda Kinkade has more.


LYNDA KINKADE, CONNECT THE WORLD, CNN: Welcome to Wakanda. This movie theater transformed with music and colorful costumes to mimic the fictional place where the film is set.



KINKADE: 750 students from 12 schools across Atlanta have arrived to see the latest marvel block buster, "Black Panther." A group of local charities raised $30,000 to create this experience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Images matter. Growing up, my superheroes were superman and batman and aqua man and wonder woman. But none of them looked like me.

KINKADE: Based on a marvel comic character from the 1960s, this is the first time a primarily black cast has starred in a big budget superhero film. It's also directed by an African American that co- wrote the scripts.

What do you think a film like this means for these young people who are seeing it today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is such an amazing event. It's going to change these children's lives. We're providing hope.

KINKADE: And the response from these students shows this movie hit the mark.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just speaks more so to the fact that there's nothing we can't do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It displays African Americans standing up for what's right.

KINKADE: What did you think of the film especially the fact a lot of the females were the intelligent powerful ones?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought that was really empowering for me being a young female. I can do anything I put my mind to and I am powerful just as they are.

KINKADE: This empowering film is also smashing records in ticket sales, proving that a movie created by and starring predominantly African and African Americans can garner critical acclaim, inspire young people and be a box office hit. Lynda Kinkade, CNN, Atlanta.


ALLEN: One more story about the Olympics before we go. Two members of team USA are making history at the Winter Olympics.

HOWELL: Not just for their athletic accomplishments, but for opening up about their personal lives. Will Ripley explains how these out and proud athletes are changing the culture of sports.


WILL RIPLEY, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: For the only two openly gay athletes on team USA, Pyeongchang 2018 will be defined not by medals, but milestones.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopefully it opens people's eyes, open people's hearts, changes people's minds.

RIPLEY: For free style skier Gus Kenworthy, a public display of affection for his boyfriend, he was too scared to make after winning silver four years ago.

GUS KENWORTHY, OLYMPIC SKIER: So many people in different parts of the world I face jail time, death and the fact that this kiss was beamed into their television is incredible to me.

I think that me using my voice has given my skating a greater purpose.

RIPLEY: For figure skater Adam Rippon, a political stand against U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence declining to meet with Pence at the games, the Vice-President a long-time opponent of gay rights.

[03:55:00] ADAM RIPPON, U.S. FIGURE SKATER: I could even get emotional thinking about it. I've gotten so many messages from young kids like all over the country that my story has resonated with them and it's incredibly powerful.

RIPLEY: Veteran sports journalist Christine Brennan has covered 18 Olympics. She says the games give athletes an unparalleled platform, with a rich history of cultural milestones.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: In 1968 you had the black power salute. And of course now we have Adam and Gus open the gay athletes talking about their lives. 50 years from now people will be looking back and talking about Adam and Gus.

RIPLEY: Brennan remembers a time not too long ago when gay Olympians had little choice, but to live secret lives.

BRENNAN: Several decades ago athletes could never have risked coming out. They would have lost everything, sponsorship. Think of Brian Boitano, everything he had come out of the Olympic Games, gone if he had come out.

RIPLEY: Brian Boitano won figure skating gold in 1988. He waited 26 years to come out in 2014. Boitano was a member of former President Obama's delegation at the winter games in Sochi.

BRIAN BOITANO, 1988 US OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: I felt great about supporting the President's message because it was such a powerful statement to go into Sochi and it was a powerful time. The focus on sexuality now, it's happening, because it needs to happen to promote open mindedness from, you know, the public and more people and once that happens then hopefully people won't have to talk about sexuality as much anymore.

RIPLEY: Today's out and proud Olympians are amplifying their voices on social media.

KENWORTHY: We may be the first openly gay Olympians, but not the last.

RIPLEY: Kenworthy says many athletes are still hiding in the closet. He is hoping to convince others there's no reason to hide anymore. Will Ripley, CNN Pyeongchang, South Korea.


HOWELL: All right, Will, thank you so much. And thank you for being with us for newsroom. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. After a quick break, more news with Max Foster in London. Thanks for watching.