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Losing Hope Hicks a Big Blow for President; Tusk Meets May amid Crucial Week for Talks; U.S. yet to Fill Several Ambassador Posts; Coping with Life After Slavery; Former Italian PM back in the Spotlight ahead of Elections; Theresa May to make Big Brexit Speech Friday; Communications Director Hope Hicks Leaving White House. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired March 1, 2018 - 15:00   ET


CYRIL VANIER, ANCHOR, CNN: Hi, everyone. Live from CNN HQ here in Atlanta, I am Cyril Vanier filling for Hala Gurani. Tonight Vladimir Putin

ups the ante, boasting about a new unstoppable nuclear powered missile.

Also, ahead, Donald Trump loses his right-hand woman as Hope Hicks announces that she`s leaving the White House. And a CNN human trafficking



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I was to come here to see that again, it is really emotional to -- it`s so I just have to face it on my own.


VANIER: Victory is his name. He was one of many rescued from slavery in Libya last year. Now, he`s back home. He is grateful, but still

struggling. We will have his story later on in the show. You won`t want to miss it. But first, we`re going to begin on Wall Street with a live

look at the Dow Jones big board. Markets just tumbled 500 points a couple of hours ago on the back of a controversial announcement from the US


Donald Trump says, his administration will start imposing tariffs on aluminum and steel imports. And this is how Wall Street reacted. You can

see where the dip began around the same time that Trump was meeting steel and aluminum executives in the White House.

This immediately raised concerns about how countries like China and India would respond. It is primarily aimed at them after all. Now, we`ve got

CNN`S Stephen Collinson in Washington first, though, CNN Money, Editor-at- large Richard Quest; Richard is in New York today. Richard, so the stock market presence is not doing the Dow any favors today?

RICHARD QUEST, ANCHOR, CNN MONEY: No, and it was the way in which it was announced in the middle of a meeting with steel leaders. We have been

specifically told that there would not be any announcement on tariffs today and then, just by the wayside, President Trump announced -- he would be

announcing his 25 percent tariffs sometime next week.

Normally, when tariffs of this nature, you would make certain that you have all the I`s dotted and T`s crossed. You would have a handout showing which

are to be affected, which countries are affected, what the effects are likely to be for the economy. None of that took place today.

Instead, all it has done is raise threats and worries and concerns over protectionism and the market, which had already been uneasy throughout the

course of the morning fell out bed.

VANIER: And to be clear, when the US President says he is going to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, this is basically a by word for --

well, it might start a trade war.

QUEST: Well, it effectively does start the trade war. Steel and aluminum are amongst the most controversial and significant parts of the economy.

The last time steel tariffs were used was by President Bush in the early 2000s, and those tariffs lasted just one year because they worked against -

- the put the price of steel up, they didn`t help domestic manufacturing. They were widely regarded by the then WTO the equivalent thereof as being


So, you don`t just launch steel tariffs on such a major important part of any economy in such a fashion.

VANIER: What do we think happens, Richard, once these tariffs actually kick in? Are we potentially weeks away from that yet? We don`t have the

details, but once they kick in.

QUEST: Well, what will happen is those countries that are on the receiving end of those tariffs, not necessarily China vis-a-vis, the United States,

China does not export that much steel to America. But there are other countries, Germany for example, with high-quality, very high-specialized

steel. You`ve got India, you`ve got Indonesia, you`ve got lots of -- Mexico for example, they will immediately complain to the WTO claiming that

this is unfair, then it will also perhaps find some tit for tat retaliatory tariffs that they can introduce.

And unless you are very careful, very careful on something that is economically significant as steel and aluminum, you are off to the races

towards a trade war before you realize it.

VANIER: You said something I wasn`t expecting. On the campaign trail, Donald Trump largely targeted China. When he was talking about steel, he

was saying China is just dumping all of its steel on the US, you are saying these tariffs wouldn`t primarily affect them?

QUEST: Now, China does dump steel, it dumps steel into the European Union, it dumps steel into other countries as well, it is a massive particularly

in the ship building industry, but as regards to United States, it is not one of the main culprits. It`s not even in the top 10, I believe. The

main culprits remain for example, Mexico.

And that`s another reason for this whole steel mess with tariffs. You`re now starting to complicate and confuse the NAFTA negotiations which are

already teetering on the edge, so put this together; you`ve got solar tariffs, you had various other measures taken. You`ve got TPP withdrawal,

you`ve got NAFTA negotiations, just about at the point of collapse, and now, you add in steel and aluminum.

This is creating a picture of uncertainty and unease and that is what the market is reflecting now.

VANIER: Richard, stay with me. I want to go to (Richard) sic Collinson -- he is at the White House, Stephen, I beg your pardon, I understand that

there was -- that the announcement of these tariffs was kind of rushed, potentially because of other bad news politically for the White House that

was going on since yesterday. What are you hearing about that?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, I think there`s a very strong suspicion that the timing of this announcement was brought forward just

because of the absolute turmoil that is swirling around the White House from multiple sources, from the Russia investigation to personalities, with

the resignation of the President`s confidante, Hope Hicks -- all sorts of other issues going on. It looks very much for a lot of people that the

President has had enough, wants to change the subject.

Now, of course, that raises the big question of whether the President is risking a trade war, global turbulence, economic fallout just to get

himself, out of a political hole. I would say though that the -- there`s been a lot of speculation about whether there was going to be this

announcement today. Whether there was not going to be this announcement, then you get this kind of half-baked announcement that comes up. That`s

very consistent with the way the White House is running right now.

It`s turning into a bit of a governing debacle and is very difficult to see how the turmoil and the sort of churn inside the West Wing is now not going

to reflect the United States on the world stage in a very sigficant manner.

VANIER: But Stephen, we should also point out that policy-wise, substance- wise, this is also totally consistent with what President Trump -- Candidate Trump said throughout his campaign.

COLLINSON: That`s correct. One of the key selling points for the Trump campaign, especially in the sort of decaying industrialized Midwest which

has been severely hit by the loss of steel jobs and manufacturing jobs to low-wage economies abroad, was that Donald Trump was going to stop that and

he was going to stand up to countries like China, like Germany and basically protect American industry. His political message was a very

protectionist one, and that was one of the reasons he was popular in those places.

Now, so nobody can say that this is not a surprise. I think it`s the way that it has been handled and it`s the potential downside for the President

too. He has talked a lot about how he believes that he is personally responsible for the rising stock markets or the fact that everyone`s

retirement plans are invested in stocks have gone up, the economy is one of the few things that are actually going well for this White House.

We have midterm elections coming up in November which are generally seen to be quite contingent on how well the economy is doing, so if the President

does indeed go ahead and trigger a global trade war with vast economic consequences, at home and abroad, he is also putting his political fate a

little bit on the line, but you balance that, as you said, against the fact that he is pleasing the people that sent him to the White House in the

first place.

VANIER: Yes, he is keeping his promise, but as you say, if you take the credit when the market goes up, you have to take the blame when it goes

down. At least, that would stand to reason.

Stephen Collinson reporting from Washington. Richard Quest in New York today, always a pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you both.

Vladimir Putin says the world hasn`t been listening to Russia when he talked about its nuclear weapons. Well, he says, now you`d better listen.

The Russian President today announced a new arsenal that he says can make NATO`s defenses completely useless. He says Russia has developed an

invincible missile that can deliver a warhead at hypersonic speed. Mr. Putin was speaking before Parliament today for his annual address and this

all comes just a few weeks before Russia`s Presidential election.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA: (Through a translator): No other country in the world has this kind of arsenal. There were absolutely no

secrets about it. We said it, absolutely publicly to all our colleagues. Russia still has the greatest nuclear potential in the world, but nobody

listened to us.

Listen now.


VANIER: A Russian commander says one of the new missiles announced today has already been tested and here is the early reactions from the Pentagon,

it says, "We are not surprised." Let`s talk to Matthew Chance in Moscow.

Matthew, if and this is an if, if the claims by Vladimir Putin are true today about what missiles they have and what those missiles can do or what

they will be able to do, what will Russia be able to do that it couldn`t do before?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, I think that it would mean that Russia is reestablishing itself, reasserting itself once again as a nuclear

super power. And of course, it already has. You know, newer nuclear warheads than the United States has, and so it`s title of super power may

have been dropped in other arenas, but in the nuclear arena, it`s always maintained it.

But it`s been bolstering its military, modernizing its military for several years now, and this would appear, to believe, if you want to believe

Vladimir Putin about the technological made, the pinnacle of that and the results of that hypersonic weapons, which up until now have been just

theoretical really that can travel 20 times the speed of sound, making them, in Putin`s words, invincible when it comes to the US missile defense


He talks about a cruise missile which is a subsonic missile, which was able to go on forever because it had a nuclear-powered system as its fuel source

inside, which meant that there was no target on the earth that out of its range, and it was also so maneuverable that it wouldn`t be able to be

tracked by US missile defense system.

And so, this is all the result on the one hand of Russia`s reaction to military advancements in the US.

VANIER: How much of this do you think is for domestic consumption? You`ve said this earlier today, we are three weeks away from the Presidential

election in Russia versus how much of it is meant for the rest of the world?

CHANCE: Well, I think there was a bit of both in it. Certainly, this was a message to Russia`s Western adversaries, to the United States, to Europe,

to those who it sees as a military threat, but yes, I mean, it`s what? Seventeen days now until the Presidential election.

Putin is going to win hands down. I think it`s pretty fair to say, but he still wants to take this opportunity whenever he can to present himself as

a strong leader, to present himself as somebody who has the military on his mind and his country`s national security on his mind. Not too far away in

fact to how Donald Trump in the United States likes to present himself as well.

And so, yes, this was aimed at the West, but it was also aimed perhaps predominantly in this election season at his domestic audience.

VANIER: Matthew Chance, CNN`s senior international correspondent in Moscow. Thank you very much. I want to bring in now, CNN military analyst

Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. General, you`re well-positioned to speak on this? You have served 37 years in the US military. You retired as the

Commanding General US Army in Europe and Seventh Army, what`s your reaction to this?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, we watched Mr. Putin even towards the end of my retirement in 2013 and what he was

trying to do. Some of these suggestions that he made in the speech are not new. They`ve been attempting to work on these things, these various

missiles, new technologies for several years.

The question is, are they real or just propaganda? I tend to believe right now that they are propaganda, that he is using it for both a domestic and

an international audience, based on your last question to Matthew, that he is trying to continue to intimidate not only others in Europe, and he`s

been attempting to break up NATO for several years, but he also sees himself I believe as having a free rein and with some positive momentum

right now because no one is calling Mr. Putin`s bluff. He has inserted himself in at least five frozen conflicts across Europe. He is using cyber

as an ultimate form of weapon right now to disrupt institutions both in Europe and in the United States and no one is calling on it -- calling him

on it right now.

So, again, looking at the weapons he described, they are really space-age kind of stuff. His military has been working on them, but truthfully, I`m

not sure our intelligence community has seen any evidence of any of them being built. A hypersonic missile, a hyper-glide missile, a cruise


VANIER: And General, let me stop you there. Let me stop you there, is it even possible for Russia to develop an invincible, next generation missile

and the US wouldn`t know about this or wouldn`t have heard anything about this?

HERTLING: Yes, it`s certainly possible, but I don`t think probable. I think we have some pretty good intelligence coming out of Russia. We have

a lot better intelligence out of there than in many other places in the world. And these are kind of things that you just don`t hide and suddenly

announced at an election campaign, which is what Mr. Putin did.

There have been indicators that some of our military intelligence personnel have seen the testing of several of these supposedly long-range cruise

missiles and in several cases, they have crashed. So, again, how much of this is true and how much is -- what he is doing in terms of propaganda and

primarily intimidation remains to be seen.

VANIER: Did the US indirectly create this situation because it`s just under 20 years ago, the US pulled out of a ballistic missile treaty and

then they started installing missile defense shields around Europe, which Russia has always seen as a hostile step.

So, didn`t the US actions kind of caused this counter reaction?

HERTLING: You could certainly make an argument for that. I have heard many people do that, especially those from Russia. I have had

conversations with some of my Russian counterparts when we were in -- when I was in Europe. They will even show you a map that says, "Here are all

our threats and here is how the Russian federation is surrounded by a bunch of evil people."

Mr. Putin has said repeatedly that he wants to create defenses and an offensive capability against that to limit that kind of incursion into what

he sees, his battle space.

So, yes, you could definitely make that argument, the ABM Treaty that President George W. Bush negated when he was in office, certainly did not

help. There has not been a lot of attention on the START Treaty. And in fact, our State Department doesn`t even have a director of the strategic

arms control that has been nominated or approved in place right now in the State Department, so these are kind of the things that would allow for

better dialogue with the Russians that right now we are not seeing.

And we also have seen the fact that they have in fact new cyber activities in both Europe and the United States to try and influence institutions and

to negate some of our democratic institutions, so there`s a tit for tat on both sides. Yes, if you are a Russian especially if you`re Mr. Putin, you

feel like the West and the United States is expanding into your area; and if you`re in the West, you think Russia is attempting to destabilize your


So, it does certainly go both ways, but I`ll tell you from experience, it is very difficult to talk to the Russians on an even basis.

VANIER: General, while we were talking, sorry, a couple of minutes ago, we got a reaction from the spokesman of t US State Department who says that

Putin`s weapons claims confirm Russia is in, "direct violation" of its treaty obligations. That`s the early reaction from the State Department

here in the US. General, always good to talk to you. Thank you very much.

HERTLING: Thank you, Cyril.

VANIER: Still to come tonight on the show, empty chairs, empty dorm rooms and footprints in the sand. That`s all that remains of more than a hundred

kidnapped Nigerian girls. We`ll be at the scene after the break, plus, a whiteout across Europe has sparked a red alert in the UK, we will update

you on the severe warning over the beast from east big freeze. Stay with us.

We go to Nigeria now with a story that`s chillingly familiar. It`s now ten days since suspected Boko Haram militants abducted more than a hundred

school girls. There is still no word on their whereabouts although the military insists it is searching for them.

And this comes almost four years after the abduction of the Chibok girls. We remember them, the hundreds of girls who were abducted also in Northern

Nigeria. CNN`s David McKenzie went to the scene of this latest raid. He joins us from Kano in Northern Nigeria.

David, I know you met the community in Dapchi where the girls are from and their parents. Tell us what it`s like there now and how they are doing?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Cyril, it is a community that is in shock. Most of those girls who survived were too afraid sometimes to

even go out of their house, and certainly too afraid to go back to that school.

As you say, 10 days ago, this horrific incident here in Northeastern Nigeria where militants stormed that school. They are still smarting from

that shock and Nigeria is dealing with this nightmare all over again.


MCKENZIE: These young girls in Dapchi escaped abduction, but they have already lost so much.

I have looked for her at the school, but I couldn`t find her, says Yagana Mustafa. I tried her number, but I couldn`t get through.

Their sisters have been taken.

My sister was sick in bed since (Arabaka), I took her medicine, but then the gun shots started. They took her right from her bed, she says.

The Nigerian military fell back from this town, saying it was safe. Just weeks later, gunmen stormed Dapchi`s Science and Technical College in three

cars and a flatbed truck. They wanted to load up as many girls as they could.

When the militants stormed the school, they came in and said to the young girls, "Come here, you`ll be safe," because they were wearing Nigerian

military uniforms. They made the girls sit like this, but some of the girls told us they noticed they were wearing flipflops on their feet, not

boots like normal military, so they ran.

The men attacked at prayer time. Many girls were in in the mosque. Their bare footprints still in the sand. In the terror, girls escaped over

fences, into bushes; others hid in classrooms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They will not go back to their school again.

MCKENZIE: ISIS-linked Boko Haram militants took 110 say parents, the youngest just 11 years old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My demand is to see our children back. That`s all.

MCKENZIE: The fathers who have missing daughters are asking how never again could now happen. After almost 300 Chibok school girls were taken

four years ago, they are helpless to a government that says, it has scrambled jets and choppers to look, but so far has achieved nothing.

Boko Haram forces girls into becoming sex slaves, straps bombs on their bodies and send them into markets. The girls of Dapchi are too terrified

to go back to school.

We are just afraid that if we return there, they will come back and attack again, says Sara, but mostly, she is afraid for her abducted sister.

I worry that I`ve lost her for good, she says.


MCKENZIE: Well, Cyril, years ago, the Nigerian government has said that it had technically defeated Boko Haram, the ISIS affiliated group, but in

fact, the last few months have shown an uptick in violence in brutal terror attacks in this region and now of course, more than 100 girls missing,

unknown where they are at this moment and no sign that the government is in fact succeeding in finding them. Cyril?

VANIER: Unfortunately, they don`t have a very good track record at finding girls who are abducted if you think about Chibok. David, reporting live

from Kano in Nigeria. David McKenzie, thank you very much.

Afghanistan`s President tells CNN that every war must end politically. That`s what he told our Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview.

This comes after Ashraf Ghan? says his government is willing to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate political party as part of a potential

ceasefire agreement and he says he has Washington`s backing for this. Take a listen.


ASHRAF GHANI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN: We have had full support and backing from the Trump Administration and it`s actually the salutations

strategy of the Trump Administration that is created, the enabling environment to move, to vote -- to have the strength to move forward with

security reforms and conservation of security, but also to put the ultimate political solution clearly.


VANIER: The Afghan President there, Ashraf Ghani speaking to Christiane Amanpour earlier.

The beast from the east is battering Britain. I`m talking about that monster winter storm that`s brought subzero temperatures to large parts of

Europe. The UK has been hit particularly hard with the storm burying it under a blanket of snow. The National Weather Service has issued a red

weather warning for Southwest England and Wales. That is its most severe warning. It is causing major disruptions at the moment.

CNN`s Salma Abdelaziz is in Central London. Salma, how bad is it?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Hello, Cyril from an absolutely bone- chilling cold, London, it is zero degrees Celsius right now and the snow is starting to fall, although lightly. These overnight hours in the UK are

supposed to be the most difficult in this storm. Let`s just go through what is happening here.

Now, that beast from the East, the one you mentioned, those subzero chills that were coming in from Russia and have swept across Europe and the UK

over the past several days, well, they`re being met today by Storm Emma coming up from the Atlantic. These two weather phenomenon together are

going to give the UK 48 hours of extreme weather. Now, that means, 70 miles per hour winds. That means up to 50 centimeters of snowfall, that`s

almost 20 inches, and that means of course, concerns across the UK about safety.

We`ve had that red warning issued for parts of Southwest England and parts of Wales. This is a risk to life alert, one that`s rarely been used in the

history of the UK, and it`s again, because of that heavy snowfall, the heavy amount of falling -- along with these really low temperatures means

that roads could be iced over. And we`ve already seen travel disruptions because of this storm.

Airports are reporting cancellations and delays in flights, road closures across the country. Commuters reporting up to 13 hours sitting in traffic,

trains not running and we were at Paddington Station just earlier today, just seeing how people were struggling to get to home or to get to work or

to whatever destination, and tomorrow is expected to be worst as the snow falls.

And what meteorologists are telling everybody, is if you don`t have to leave home, stay inside, stay safe and stay warm, Cyril.

VANIER: Hey, Salma, the British are known for their stiff upper lip. They don`t usually complain about bad weather. It kind of comes with the

territory. How do they feel about the beast from the east?

ABDELAZIZ: Well, that`s a really good question, Cyril. I mean, as you said they always try to have a resilient spirit. We were just at

Paddington as I mentioned earlier today, and although people have been waiting for hours, they weren`t sure how they were going to get home.

There were holiday makers who come from across the world, but people were still trying to say, "Okay, I`ll figure it out. It`s okay. I`ll sort a

way," but it is important to remember that this is dangerous and there are concerns of course, for example, one of the issues is gas. There has been

a gas deficit warning issued across the country to make sure there`s enough supply to keep people warm, to keep people`s homes heated over the next

couple of days, but maybe, one of the best examples of this stiff upper lip you`ve mentioned is, a woman nine months pregnant in North Yorkshire, today

she was ready to deliver. Her and her husband got in the vehicle and these bad weather conditions you are seeing here, got stuck and realized, "We are

not going to make it to the hospital."

The mom apparently knelt down in the snow and her husband delivered the baby. Baby Sienna, over 10 pounds was born. She was dubbed the

#a66snowbaby after the name of the highway she was born on.

Just a bit of good news in all this bad weather, Cyril.

VANIER: Salma, thank you very much for the update, appreciate it. Still to come tonight on the show, she was one of the most important people in

the White House that you may never have heard of, and now Hope Hicks is out.

We`ll explain why it could be a crushing blow to President Trump. Plus, he`s been counted out many times before, but now Silvio Berlusconi is back

in the thick of things as Italians prepare to vote. Stay with us.


[15:30:10] CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Despite being so close to the spotlight, she`s always been elusive, a bit of enigma. But Hope

Hicks has been a huge part of the Trump White House. And now the communications director is out. She abruptly resigned adding another layer

of chaos perennially influx. So what do we know about her?

Well, she first came into the Trump orbit in 2014, when Ivanka hired her from a PR firm. Just a year later, she became one of Donald Trump`s first

campaign hires as press secretary at the time. She was reported to have even steamed the then candidate`s trousers on the campaign trail. We also

know this. We know that her time in the White House hasn`t been without controversy. She`s drawn the scrutiny of Robert Mueller. And just days

ago, two days ago, she`s reported to have told Congress that she told white lies for the president.

Well, Hicks was much, much more than a communications director. She was one of the few confidants that President Trump had left.

Let`s bring on CNN`s Brian Stelter. He joins me from New York. Brian, do we know more about why she`s deciding to leave?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Certainly in the past few weeks were very, very difficult for her. That`s the one of her confidants

who said to me that the toll -- the personal toll of the Rob Porter scandal was a significant factor. She had been dating Rob Porter at the time when

the charges against Porter, in his past, came to life. These were charges of spousal abuse that he denied in his past. This was published by the

Daily Mail three weeks ago. It was embarrassing for the White House, embarrassing for Hicks personally. She does not want to be in the

spotlight. She`s never given a TV interview in her life. So to suddenly be the subject of international news headlines was troubling for her. That

was a big factor here.

Other factors included the general chaos of the White House, the exhaustion of the job. One of her colleague, Josh Raffel, another spokesman is also

leaving. She thought it was going to be harder there without him.

The number of factors here -- there`s a suggestion that maybe she`ll work with Trump in the future on the 2020 reelection campaign. But for now, as

you said, this is -- the president`s most trusted lieutenant, the person he relies on more than anyone else, other than his family of the White House,

who will now be leaving.

VANIER: And we know he likes having his people around him, loyal people around him. Do we know what he thinks of her leaving? And more broadly,

if one of the closest people to the president is leaving, what did that tell us about the White House?

STELTER: It tells us this White House remains in a state of chaos. And I was always a step further and say state of crisis. An ongoing rolling

crisis. If you think about the combination of out of control tweets, revolving doors, staff so many people that come and go. And then of

course, various scandals that this White House has embroiled in, the Robert Mueller probe, of course hanging over everything. It is a White House in

crisis in many ways. And you look no further than the tariff drama today about will he or won`t he oppose these tariffs. This White House goes from

scandal and controversy to scandal and controversy. And Hope Hicks was one of the people who was able to keep it a little more calm and otherwise

would be. So that`s one of the reasons why it`s a loss for President Trump.

[15:35:18] VANIER: Brian, I`d like you to listen to this. It`s a bit of an interview that was done earlier today on CNN with the former

communications director, Anthony Scaramucci. This is what he have to say about the atmosphere right now within the White House.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does that mean? What do you think is going on?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Morale, there`s fear, culture of fear, culture of intimidation. People are afraid

to talk to each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming from the president? They`re afraid of the president? No, I think it`s the chief of staff.

SCARAMUCCI: I think there`s a culture of fear inside the White House. If the current situation and the current culture inside the administration

stays exactly the way it is. There`s literally no change, there will be a lot more departure. Yes, the morale is at an all-time low, and it`s

trending lower.


VANIER: OK. This is coming from somebody who worked in the White House for all of 10 days. Look, he`s making it sound like departures are new

under this chief of staff, Mr. Kelly. But there`ve been departures, no matter who was chief of staff. And no matter what time of year it was in

the White House.

STELTER: Departures are one of the only constants when it comes to the Trump White House. This administration has been through four

communications directors, for example. Five if you count Jason Miller who was supposed to have the job who resigned before inauguration day. That

kind of chaos has not been seen in the Obama years or in any of the prior years dating back to the next administration.

So that`s kind of changed. It is a constant. Scaramucci has been part of it. I think what you`re hearing him doing there, he`s probably doing two

things. Number one, he`s trying to posture himself, trying to make himself look like a winner. Maybe trying to appeal for a job in the future at the

White House. And number two, he`s trying to send a message to the president that he thinks something is wrong with regard to chief of staff

John Kelly.

With Hope Hicks leaving, the questions about Kelly is going to continue to reign and continue to be loud. This is something Trump seems to like

sometimes. He likes rivalries. He likes infighting. He feeds off of it. But it doesn`t help him outside the White House. It contributes to the

sense of ongoing chaos and an ability -- inability to actually get things done.

As we`re talking about personnel problems of which there are many at the White House, it really points out the lack of actual accomplishments what

we`re seeing on a daily basis.

VANIER: And it`s interesting though that that message is brought to us by Anthony Scaramucci. Before talking to you, I reminded myself of how it was

that he was fired after 10 days in the White House, in the first place. He had called a journalist, telling them he would intentionally going to fire

anybody who cross this path.

STELTER: That`s right.

VANIER: -- will not be lost on our viewers who remember Anthony Scaramucci.

Brian Stelter in New York, thank you very much.

STELTER: Thank you.

VANIER: The U.S. ambassador to Mexico is also stepping down. Roberta Jacobson made the announcement on Twitter. She will leave her post in May,

saying she`s searching for other opportunities. This comes, of course, as relations between the U.S. and Mexico are strained over trade and President

Trump`s proposed border wall. Her departure means there will be yet another post for the Trump administration to fill.

All these countries in red there, it currently have no U.S. ambassadors. Countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, and the nations in yellow

like Australia have ambassador nominees. That means they`re yet to be confirmed by U.S. lawmakers.

Braving Europe`s freezing weather that we were telling you about earlier and his chilly relations with Downing Street. European Council president,

Donald Tusk met today with British Prime Minister, Theresa May in London and this comes at an important time as the date for Brexit nears, crucial

decisions need to be made. And Mrs. May is hoping to thaw things a little with a big speech on Friday.

Let`s go to Brussels. CNN`s Erin McLaughlin has been looking at this. Erin, it looks like Donald Tusk went to London to play hardball with

Theresa May.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All through that certainly seems to be an accurate characterization, especially when you consider what President

Tusk had to say in Brussels this morning prior to that Downing Street meeting that he planned on pressing Prime Minister May for her solutions to

the Northern Ireland issues if the U.K. was rejecting what the EU put on the table in terms of legal text.

Yesterday, a backstop solution that would leave Northern Ireland inside the customs union in the event of a hard Brexit. The UK was going to reject

that. Well, the EU wants to hear from the UK as to what it proposes to do about the Northern Ireland issue.

Now, it`s unclear if Theresa May provided any solutions during that meeting with Donald Tusk today, Downing Street in their readout of the meeting

saying that she simply reiterated what she said in parliament yesterday which is that there was a square rejection of that legal protocol. And an

EU source were also remaining tightlipped on that as well saying that most of the meeting had to do with the future relationship that Theresa May

actually went over her speech for tomorrow that focuses on the future relationship really seen as critical in all of this.

[15:40:26] And that Donald Tusk reminded Theresa May, once again, that British red lines, when it comes to the future relationship have

consequences. The EU source saying that it was a, Open and honest debate." So read into that what you will but what does seem clearer is that these

two sides are still very far apart on critical issues with really only six months left to negotiate.

VANIER: Yes. And we might find out a little bit more about what Theresa May has in store with that speech tomorrow. Expect more coverage of that

on this show. Here on CNN.

Meanwhile, Erin McLaughlin in Brussels, thank you very much.

One of the most colorful and controversial figures in Europe maybe staging a comeback. Silvio Berlusconi isn`t even allowed to run for office in

Italy right now. Yet, the former prime minister is still stealing headlines and the spotlight ahead of Sunday`s elections.

Ben Wedeman reports.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rested, tanned and ready to get back in the fray, thrice prime minister of Italy, Silvio

Berlusconi is back. An octogenarian with an advancing hairline, a weakness for beautiful women and a checkered political past.

At 81, Silvio Berlusconi, you might think, would be ready to withdraw from public life but even though he`s barred by law, because of a previous tax

conviction, from running for office, he`s very much part of this election.

WEDEMAN: He`s still the undisputed leader of his party, the center-right Forza Italia, which has formed a campaign coalition with the rabidly anti-

migrant Lega or the League and the neo-fascist Fratelli d`Italia, the Brothers of Italy.

It now represents the largest political bloc in the general election due to take place on March 4th.

ALAN FRIEDMAN, BIOGRAPHER: Berlusconi will make a deal with the devil as long as he gets to make -- stage his comeback, look on the economy out --

WEDEMAN: Berlusconi`s American biographer, Alan Friedman, recalls an Italian leader pursued by scandal.

FRIEDMAN: During all his years in government, Silvio Berlusconi was always distracted by 65 lawsuits and trials against him, criminal trials,

accusations of corruption, accusations of money laundering, accusations of tax fraud. And so he spent more time worrying about his own future than

about the future of his country.

WEDEMAN: Yet he commands a loyal base with an approval rating of almost 25 percent. In Italy`s fractured political landscape, that`s considered high.

"He`s an entrepreneur," says Hossam (ph), an Italian citizen originally from Lebanon.

"He wants to cut taxes for businesses. I`d vote for him."

One-fourth of Italians may support him, the other three-fourths despise him.

"Berlusconi`s really a thief," says Laura, studying to become an aerospace engineer. "He says one thing and does the opposite."

The ban on Berlusconi holding public office expires next year, which means if his coalition wins in next Sunday`s vote, he could be Italy`s once and

future prime minister.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.


VANIER: Still to come tonight, he`s hungry, he`s homeless, but at least he`s free. In our Freedom Project Report, we`ll meet a young man rescued

from slavery only to face an uncertain future. Stay with us.


[15:45:31] VANIER: CNN`s Freedom Project report is committed to exposing and ending modern-day slavery.

My colleague, Nima Elbagir has done some amazing reporting on this year. And you remember it, because she showed us auctions where migrants are sold

in Libya. The auctions were actual human beings are sold. Her reporting sparks protest in Europe and calls to action from the several African heads

of state. But more importantly perhaps, some of the migrants were being held at the time in Libya were flown back home.

So what happens after someone is rescued from slavery? Well, Nima caught up with Victory, a young man that she first met in a Libyan cell. She

joins us now from London.

Nima, where is Victory now and how`s he doing?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, happily, Victory has been returned back home. But the unfortunate reality is that

of course he has returned to the very conditions that he attempted to flee. Take a look at this, Cyril.


ELBAGIR: Benin City in Nigeria is the trafficking capital of the country. It`s one of the most trafficked from departure points in the whole

continent. It`s where tens of thousands of young people, men and women, head off for their dream of Europe. It`s also where tens of thousands of

them are returned to with that dream shattered. And today, we`re hoping to be one of those returnees.

The last time we saw Victory he was lying on the floor of a Libyan detention center just rescued from slavery, begging to be sent back home.

Now he is back in Nigeria, but has he found his happy ending?

How do you feel coming back here?

VICTORY, VICTIM OF SLAVERY: A lot of people lost their lives over there. I am happy that l didn`t lose my life. I`m back home now so I can take

another step. So I`m happy.

ELBAGIR: Victory is responsible for his mother and three younger siblings. His mother says she`s too embarrassed to show her face on camera. Too

embarrassed to admit her family was desperate enough that her son risked everything to try and make his way to Europe.

VICTORY: I also have the children to care of, so just to see what I can for myself. Even where I am working now, if I get 3,000 naira a day I have

to split it into three.

The money is not even enough to feed us. When I go to work I don`t even eat. If I eat from that money there will be nothing left for me. Maybe if

I want to eat dinner, maybe once, it should be in the evening so that is just it. If I was to come here and eat with them when there is no much

food to eat. So I just have to face everything on my own. So let me see what I can do for myself. So I`m happy to work even though the pay is not


ELBAGIR: Victory is homeless, afraid to burden his with his presence, another mouth for her to feed. If anything, Victory says their life now is

worse since his return from Libya, but that doesn`t mean he`s giving up.

[15:50:07] VICTORY: Because everything I do is because of them. I believe that I have to be somebody tomorrow. I have to do something with my life,

things will go well. Just move on with my life, that`s it.

ELBAGIR: After we did the interview with you in Libya a lot of people got in touch to say that they thought that you were a hero, for having survived

what you survived. Do you feel like a hero?

VICTORY: I am happy that my life (INAUDIBLE) face tomorrow to see what I can get for myself.

ELBAGIR: How many more like Victory will attempt the journey to Europe, thousands, maybe tens of thousands? Many returning to a poverty they say

is even more dehumanizing than the horrors they face down in Libya. Victory, though, is convinced that his will be a happy ending. That like

he did in Libya he will again find the strength to survive.


ELBAGIR: The Nigerian government has now been in touch with the sterile to say that they`ve enrolled Victory in some training programs and they hope

that the next time we go back to see him, he`ll be in a much happier place. And of course we all do hope that that does come to there.

VANIER: Nima, thank you so much. It`s so great to have the follow-up to that story which touched a lot of people, myself included. You want to

know more. I might add for that, you and your team for doggedly, courageously telling the story of Royal Television Society award, so thanks

for the follow-up on that.

And the fight to end modern-day slavery is important to use here at CNN. So CNN is partnering with young people around the world for a day of action

that will be led by students. This is on March 14th. And we ask a simple question. What does freedom mean to you?

In the meantime, there is a way for you to help trafficking victims like Victory. Just go to our website, You`ll find a link to

the Red Cross Libya crisis appeal.

We`ll be right back.


VANIER: Welcome back. CNN has been profiling young innovators who are changing the world of tomorrow today. Chief medical correspondent Sanjay

Gupta introduces us to a young researcher whose work may one day help treat brain injury and disease.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Every year, there are 10 million new cases of dementia diagnosed worldwide. That includes brain

disease like Alzheimer`s. It`s a massive economic and emotional burden on families.

In Tomorrow Hero Indrani Das is trying to find solution to these diseases by looking inside the brain itself.

INDRANI DAS, HARVARD UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Diseases that affect the nervous system just ruin a person`s quality of life. They take away from their

basic humanity. It was that impact I wanted to understand and to try to repair.

My name is Indrani Das I`m an undergraduate student at Harvard University and I`ve been doing research with brain injury for the last four years.

[15:55:06] What happens when there`s an injury to brain tissue, neurons, the main signal conducting cells the brain die. But then the supporting

cells around them respond to that injury. And oftentimes, they end up secreting toxic chemicals that actually further the damage done to neurons.

When I was 14, I started working in my high school cell biology lab, working with these supporting brain cells called astrocytes, growing them

in a petri dish. And one of my focuses was on how or these astrocytes contributing to the death of neurons in the area. One of the things I

found is signaling molecule, glutamate, actually piles around these astrocytes and the injury condition. Essentially, over-stimulating them

and then causing them to malfunction and die.

Once I found that problem, I wanted to find a way to stop astrocytes from poisoning neurons and their surroundings. So, what I did was I tried to

isolate this they called an exosome that`s found in the healthy brain. And when I gave this healthy signal to my astrocytes that were injured, I was

able to show that they would start recycling that chemical that otherwise piles up around the neurons. And this stopped neurons surrounding my

astrocytes from dying an injury condition.

It could potentially take people who are suffering conditions where their brain cells are dying and they`re losing all their humanly functions to

have a quality of life that these neurodegenerative diseases otherwise rob from them.


VANIER: That`s it from us. Thanks for watching this hour. As always, stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next.