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Trump's Top Economic Adviser Gary Cohn Resigning; Stormy Daniels Sues Trump over Affair; Two Koreas to Hold First Summit in a Decade; : U.K. Warns Russia Over Former Double Agent's Illness; Verdict Expected in Far Right Group Terror Case; Mother Seeking Asylum Separated from Young Daughter. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired March 7, 2018 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Ahead this hour, the White House senior economic adviser draws a line in the sand and quits over tariffs, a decision which spooked stock markets and sparked fears that protectionists now have the president's ear.
SESAY (voice-over): Plus a possible breakthrough on the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang says it's willing to talk about giving up its nukes.
VAUSE (voice-over): And the U.K. threatens retaliation if it can prove that Russia poisoned its former spy.
SESAY (voice-over): Hello and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE (voice-over): Great to have you with us for another hour here. I'm John Vause and this is the second hour of NEWSROOM L.A.
SESAY: President Donald Trump is doubling down on his decision to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to the U.S. It's already threatening to start a trade war and now it's prompted the resignation of the president's top economic adviser, the White House says Gary Cohn will be leaving his job in the coming weeks.
VAUSE: Mr. Trump says the tariff's unnecessary to fix a global trade imbalance but then he added, "Relax. It won't be as bad as many expect."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When we're behind on every single country, trade wars aren't so bad. We're going to straighten it out and we'll do it in a very loving way. It'll be a loving, loving way. They'll like us better and they will respect us much more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Well, U.S. stock futures are pointing sharply lower after the news of Cohn's departure. CNN's Andrew Stevens is live in Seoul.
And Andrew, the U.S. markets seemed rattled when this announcement came out. There was a big drop in the Dow.
Has there been much of an impact on the Asia markets?
And also I guess the concern here is that his departure could, in fact, have a ripple effect across on economic policy that comes out of the White House now.
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: Yes. I think if there was a doomsday clock for a trade war it would've taken a tick towards midnight with the resignation of Gary Cohn, John.
Cohn was seen as the -- as the free trade guy, the global commerce guy, the globalist wing of the Trump administration. And Wall Street liked that and many, many senior Republicans liked that as well.
And he fought a long and hard fight to try to dissuade Donald Trump from putting these tariffs on aluminum and steel in. We still don't know the full details of that yet but obviously in the end he's thrown his hands up because Donald Trump is committed to introducing them, which means that the ascendancy now in a Trump administration policy is being led by Peter Navarro and Wilbur Ross.
They sought to economic nationalists. Navarro wrote a book called, "Death by China," which gives you fairly clear indication of what he thinks of global trade imbalances.
Now they would be seen to be the people who are now leading Donald Trump and that can only spell bad news for new tariffs as we know and retaliation from Canada, who said they would and from the Europeans who said they would.
As far as -- very quickly, just as far as the markets here go, they're quite surprisingly calm so far, John. And I can only put that down to the fact that they're maybe waiting to see who will replace Gary Cohn. There has been talk of Larry Kudlow.
Now Larry Kudlow is a CNBC commentator and a confidant and sort of informal advisor to Donald Trump. But he's also anti-tariffs as well. So that will be interesting. Maybe Donald Trump wants to keep this yin and yang thing going on in the White House, where he gets two polar opposite views and he decides after listening to the (INAUDIBLE). I don't know.
But certainly at this stage, this looks a real, real concern as far as that move towards a trade war. VAUSE: It's hard to find anybody, who, at the very least, did not say economics at that high school who actually thinks tariffs are a good idea. So that could be part of the problem.
Andrew, good to see you. Thank you.
Well, joining me now for more on this, California talk radio host Ethan Bearman and California Republican National Committee man Shawn Steel.
Welcome back, guys. OK.
So, Ethan, with regard to the president's comment about doing this all with love and earning respect by doing this, what, we're going to have tender tariffs now, I guess that's the thing.
But that statement by the president on any objective measure is asinine.
ETHAN BEARMAN, TALK SHOW RADIO HOST: It's ridiculous. First off, I mean, we knew that he wanted to go this path because he did run his campaign on economic protectionism; that's how he's going to restore and make America great again and whatever dies that means.
But what's so ham-fisted is this approach. If it's really China, is the great trading issue for the United States, why are punishing Canada and E.U., our close friends and allies --
BEARMAN: -- and major trading partners that we don't want to start a trade war with?
It's insane to me.
VAUSE: Yes, and Mexico; I think China's like way down the list of steel importers for the U.S.
The president, though, despite what -- despite the resignation of Gary Cohn and whatever he's been saying, he's not backing away from this tariffs part. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The European Union has been particularly tough on the United States. They make it almost impossible for us to do business with them. And yet they send their cars and everything else back into the United States. And they can do whatever they'd like.
But if they do that, then we put a big tax of 25 percent on their cars and, believe me, they won't be doing it for very long.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And, Shawn, here is the reality: the United States is the third-largest car exporter in the world, sending almost 70,000 cars to Britain, France, Norway and Switzerland in 2014.
This according to the Commerce Department. There is a 10 percent tax on U.S. cars in the E.U. The U.S. taxes European cars here, 2.5 percent. So that's an issue. And if it is a problem, that can be fixed maybe with a flush cutter (ph), not a 25 percent sledgehammer.
This approach just seems to be destroying all before it.
SHAWN STEEL, CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: John, I got some good news for you. Not to worry. You're going to get a good night's sleep. The rest of the world is going to be fine, number one. This is Trump's master political genius. He is not talking to you. He is not talking to the wealthy elite. He is talking to the steelworkers in the Midwest, the ones that got him elected.
That's number one. Number two, notice that Gary Cohn resigning several weeks from now with a beautiful letter to Donald Trump saying it was a great pleasure serving you, if it was a terrible firing and a terrible conflict, he'd be out the door today but it's not.
Number three, you're right. It's either going to be Larry Kudlow or Stephen Moore. These are -- these are --
VAUSE: -- anti-tariff guys.
STEEL: -- and, by the way, I'm anti-tariff as a rule. Now here's the good news. There's negotiations right now with NAFTA. Everybody knows Donald Trump doesn't like it. A lot of Democrats used to not like it. A lot of Democrats used to like workers. They since have forgotten them.
Trump hasn't forgotten so he's softening up Mexico and Canada. I tell you one thing, no tariffs against Europe, no tariffs against Canada but probably something against the Chinese.
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) former White House strategist Steve Bannon, he has a very similar theory on what Trump is doing. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP CHIEF STRATEGIST: Donald Trump does not want to start a trade war. However, he is going to get on the table and the only way he can get it on the table -- because there's been enough happy talk. There's been enough WTO meetings. There's been enough of these conferences. There's been enough strategic economic dialogue with the Chinese. It's all happy talk.
Now President Trump has pulled the trigger.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK, so, Ethan, could this just be a clever strategy by the president?
Could he playing three-dimensional chess as opposed to "Hungry Hungry Hippo"?
BEARMAN: I'm going with "Hungry Hungry Hippo." And the issue here is just that is not how we approach the world. Everything is not a reality show negotiation, which is how he's approaching it.
Yes, I'm going to put a 25 percent tariff so now come to the table and we'll discuss whether it's a 10 percent or not. That's not how you treat friends. That's how you treat enemies. That's how you treat people you don't trust.
Are you kidding me?
The European Union, the U.K., Canada, these are trading partners. These are friends. These are allies. These are people that we want to be close to and we have shared values with.
We don't treat them like those that maybe have been abusing -- I mean, we might have some agreement here on how to approach China or may not how to approach it but that we have real abuses happening with China.
It is not --
VAUSE: -- dealt with but maybe not this way.
VAUSE: Shawn, if this is a strategy for this negotiating point, is it worth for the president to lose his senior economic adviser in the process?
STEEL: Probably so because this is -- the politics are much bigger and he's got hundreds of economic advisers. He's got about five really key economic advisers. And I'm predicting a free market person is going to probably replace him and he's not -- and I think Gary Cohn's done a good job.
As you know, it's been published. He lost $200 million for taking this job in the first place. So I think he's probably been one of the most successful economic advisers, certainly compared to Obama who had nothing but eight years of misery.
VAUSE: OK, yes. OK, with Cohn leaving, there is another high-profile job vacancy at the White House, which, according to the president, that's should be pretty easy to fill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Then I read where, oh, gee, maybe people don't want to work for Trump and, believe me, everybody wants to work in the White House. So many people want to come in. I have a choice of anybody. I could take any position in the White House and I'll have a choice of the 10 top people having to do with that position. Everybody wants to be there. The White House has tremendous energy, has tremendous spirit. It is a great place to be working. It's just a great place to work. The White House has a tremendous energy and we have tremendous talent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Ethan, I don't know anybody who wants to work at the -- I mean, there are a lot of people obviously but (INAUDIBLE) --
VAUSE: -- because they weren't on the Trump train early enough or because they're not ideologically pure.
But it's a very thin pool that they're pulling from.
BEARMAN: It's not just a thin pool, it's how long are you going to keep the job?
Who wants to go through that kind of psychological abuse?
Again, he is playing games. It's like your gladiators are in the arena fighting to the death for this man and there's hope -- I heard people talking about Hope Hicks when she left, that she was working 24 hours a day. She had four phones. This was an abusive position that she was taken advantage of.
And now, great, she's going to make millions of dollars probably working for the Republican Party upon leaving the White House. So for some of those people, it's a lucrative way to be abused for six months and then make 1 million bucks after the fact.
But I don't know a lot of people --
VAUSE: And Sean Spicer, the former communications -- press secretary, he's having a hard time. He's trying to get a second gig.
It's not just the (INAUDIBLE) it's the senior staff who also seem to be on the verge of leaving -- the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson; whether it's the national security adviser H.R McMaster or the chief of staff, John Kelly.
And what is interesting, the 10-day-long communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, the Mooch is back. He's been out -- (INAUDIBLE) Anthony has been out trash talking General Kelly, here's some of that reporting on that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's referred to him as, quote, "General Jackass." He's blamed him for the a low morale in the West Wing and he's also said he needs to apologize for the fallout from that Rob Porter resignation.
And we are now learning that the president has actually emboldened Anthony Scaramucci to continue making those criticisms of John Kelly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Shawn, this is like "Mean Girls."
STEEL: On the other hand, I don't believe it. I think it's false --
STEEL: -- Anthony is the greatest self promoter around. He is very articulate, loves being on TV. There is no proof that has put him up to this. First of all, that's the toughest job in the world and people just don't last long in the White House.
I've known this my entire political life and it keeps a staffer -- it wears you out and you've got the weight of the world working on you.
Secondly, Trump is a taskmaster but he's been that his entire life. So none of this worries me.
It's people searching desperately for a story where there's none to be had. But it's great drama.
VAUSE: You want drama, I got more drama. OK, stay with us because there could be more legal problems ahead for the president with a lawsuit filed by the adult film star, Stormy Daniels.
She says she had an affair with Donald Trump before he was president. She is now suing over a nondisclosure agreement she had made with Trump's lawyers, arguing it is not valid. Details from Sara Sidner.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, there are public court documents that allege Donald Trump knew all about the hush money paid to adult film star and director Stormy Daniels before the presidential election, 10 days before, if the allegations are true.
Now if they're true, it could mean that Donald Trump violated federal election campaign laws. The lawsuit alleges that adult film star Stormy Daniels was paid $130,000 in hush money and that Donald Trump and his attorney, Michael Cohen, knew about it.
The court documents say Clifford signed a non-disclosure agreement but that the agreement is, in fact invalid because Donald Trump never signed it. And there is a copy showing that his attorney signed it but that he did not.
The lawsuit also alleges that Stormy Daniels wanted to tell her story after the now-infamous "Access Hollywood" tapes that I'm sure you remember, where Donald Trump is heard saying that he grabs women in the most private of parts and kisses women without their consent.
The court docs say, in part, "The attempts to intimidate Ms. Clifford" -- that is Stormy Daniels' official name, Stephanie Clifford -- "the attempts to intimidate Stephanie Clifford into silence and shut her up in order to protect Mr. Trump continue unabated; for example, only days ago on or about February 27th, 2018, Mr. Trump's attorney, Mr. Cohen surreptitiously initiated a bogus arbitration proceeding against Ms. Clifford in Los Angeles. Remarkably he did so without even providing Ms. Clifford with notice of the proceeding and basic due process."
That is just one of the allegations in this lawsuit. Lastly, the lawsuit does explain why there is a signed statement from Stormy Daniels in the possession of Donald Trump's personal attorney denying that she ever had an affair with Mr. Trump in 2006.
The lawsuit says that, "In January of 2018 and concern the truth would be disclosed, Mr. Cohen, through intimidation and coercive tactics forced Ms. Clifford into signing a false statement, wherein she stated that reports of her relationship with Mr. Trump were false."
Some of these details are very important. There is a group that has already made a complaint to the Federal Election Commission, saying that he, Donald Trump himself, and his attorney violated election campaign finance laws. All of that will have to be figured out.
Right now we have not heard from Donald Trump though, all along, the White House and Donald Trump's personal attorney, Mr. Cohen, have denied that any affair ever happened -- John.
VAUSE: Sara, thank you --
VAUSE: -- for that report.
Back to Ethan and Shawn now.
For the record, I'd like to point out that Trump's alias, according to those court documents is David Dennison. I think we have the lawsuit to show you. We'll get it up there eventually.
Which is an interesting name for the president to choose. I guess he didn't know he was going to be president back then. There it is.
But, Shawn, the key here, this lawsuit is that Trump allegedly had direct knowledge of payment of hush money. We were told that Michael Cohen, his longtime personal attorney, just paid that money out of his own pocket out of the goodness of his heart.
But if Trump knew about it and it was a campaign contribution, that is an issue with the FEC.
STEEL: John, you're raising some very serious point. Did she actually cash the check and keep the money?
If she kept the money, is she backing out on the NDA?
If it's a nondisclosure agreement she took the money, I think Trump ought to be able to sue her. But apparently he's not part of the contract so the attorney that signed the deal (INAUDIBLE), this is salacious nonsense. It doesn't change the history of the fate of mankind. It is not nearly as interesting as having a 23-year old in the Oval Office with Bill Clinton, when the feminist movement died in America and went straight to heck.
VAUSE: You're 20 years back, that's where you -- ?
STEEL: -- and they completely abandoned and --
VAUSE: -- you had to go back 20 years to Monica Lewinsky?
STEEL: It's still on the table and at least --
BEARMAN: So if you're going back that far, then we're going to go back to Donald Trump cheating on his wife, Ivana, with Marla Maples and they had the confrontation.
Look, the history of Donald Trump --
STEEL: Nobody cares. That's the --
VAUSE: Maybe the FEC will care when it is proven that this 130 grand that was paid to Ms. Stormy Daniels was, in fact, you know, can be actually labeled as a campaign donation because it kept this out of the headlines and Donald Trump is in violation of --
STEEL: -- a campaign donation to pay a porn star to be quiet, that's nonsense.
VAUSE: A couple weeks before the election, that's not a campaign donation?
STEEL: Hardly. It sounds like it's an opportunity for Ms. Stormy to have a great life with $130,000 and then to run out of money in about a month. I mean, it's silly stuff but it's fun --
BEARMAN: -- we can't tell the intelligence chiefs to actually do something nor can the State Department spend their money to do anything about the Russians, either.
STEEL: I want you to be a man and tell me, this makes good TV. Let's face it.
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) as do both of you, Shawn, Ethan great to see you guys. Thanks so much. Cheers.
SESAY: All right then. Quick break here. North Korea seems willing to talk to the U.S. about giving up its nuclear weapons. There's (INAUDIBLE) the regime.
So what has changed? We'll discuss next.
VAUSE: And a U.S. aircraft carrier receives a very warm welcome in Vietnam. But (INAUDIBLE) China will not be so happy with the message that this is a (INAUDIBLE).
VAUSE: And welcome back, everybody.
Well, the White House is cautiously optimistic that North Korea is willing to talk to the U.S. about giving up its nuclear weapons.
SESAY: North Korea has broken similar promises over the year. So the U.S. wants concrete steps toward denuclearization before any direct talks. Our Brian Todd has more.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Not long ago. he said his country could wipe the U.S. off the face of the Earth. Now a dramatic turnaround for Kim Jong-un.
After speaking with top South Korean intelligence officials, meetings attended by Kim's wife and his trusted younger sister, the dictator says his regime is willing to talk to the U.S. about giving up its nuclear weapons.
He has also agreed to stop conducting nuclear and missile tests while his government negotiates with South Korea, including a just-planned summit next month. That's all according to South Korea's national security chief, Chung Eui-yong, who just returned from his meetings with Kim.
President Trump is cautiously optimistic statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The statements coming out of South Korea and North Korea have been very positive. That would be a great thing for the world, great thing for the world. So we'll see how it all comes about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD (voice-over): One of America's top intelligence officials is skeptical of Kim's promise.
DAN COATS, U.S. DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Maybe this is a breakthrough. I seriously doubt it but, like I said, hope springs eternal.
Robert Gallucci understands that doubt. Gallucci was the leading American negotiator in 1994, when North Korea agreed to freeze its plutonium weapons program, to eliminate its nuclear facilities in exchange for aid, for light water reactors and a normalization of diplomatic relations.
ROBERT GALLUCCI, 1994 STATE DEPARTMENT'S POINT MAN ON NORTH KOREA: We made a deal with the North and they gave up the program. They then pursued secretly a program using highly enriched uranium with the Pakistanis.
TODD (voice-over): At the time, Gallucci says, the North Koreans' excuse for cheating was that the U.S. was not moving fast enough to hold up its end of the deal.
TODD: What would you tell the lead U.S. negotiator in these talks, based on your experience, how to deal with the North Koreans?
GALLUCCI: The first thing is be clear about our objectives, what we really need to get. We should be clear as we can be about what we think the North Koreans are really after. Do not assume anything about compliance. Do not assume anything like trust is there. Look to monitor the deal.
TODD (voice-over): And, Gallucci says, even a deal the North Koreans might cheat on could still be good for U.S. national security.
Another promise from Kim Jong-un that observers are now watching closely, he says he'll work with the South Koreans toward reunifying the Korean Peninsula.
What does that mean to Kim?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Taking the U.S. forces off the Korean Peninsula, decouple U.S.-South Korea alliance relationship and then with nuclear weapons capability core South Korea to achieving unification on his own terms.
TODD: And reunification under Kim's terms, analysts say, means a unified Korean Peninsula with a North Korean regime ruling it, something the U.S. and South Korea would never go for. So practical reunification experts say is decades, if not generations, away -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) on North Korea under U.S. president Bill Clinton. He joins us now from San Francisco. Philip, good to see you again. So as we've heard from the head of the South Korean delegation, Pyongyang expressing this willingness to denuclearize but only if the military threat to the North was eliminated and its security guaranteed.
From where you sit, deconstruct that for us.
What is North Korea actually going after?
PHILIP YUN, PLOWSHARES FUND: Well, it's unclear; they have said that they are taking -- that they're willing to denuclearize for security assurances. In the past their opening position has been the end of the U.S.-South Korea alliance, U.S. troops out of South Korea and the nuclear umbrella, nuclear weapons removed or -- for Japan and other places.
So that's pretty much a nonstarter. But you know, right now, we don't know exactly what they want at this point in an actual discussion. So I think the first thing that we have to realize is, again, make sure that what the South Koreans are reporting is actually accurate. We've not heard a confirmation from North Korea and we also know that South Korea may be putting a more positive spin because it's something that they want to move forward, would like us, the United States, to move forward with.
So we have to verify that. And then from there it's certainly much better now. We're going to have reduction of tensions and going back to high tensions that existed several months before.
SESAY: All right, let's stay with South Korea, shall we. Moon Jae- in, of course, campaigned in the elections for president on improving relations with the North, restarting --
SESAY: -- a South Korea sunshine policy with Pyongyang. Is South Korea, is Moon Jae-in opening himself to charges of disloyalty, at least from the U.S. point of view, as it seems to work to actually engage North Korea and improve relations?
YUN: I think that's certainly what Moon Jae-in's critics are going to say and I think there's no doubt that the North Koreans are trying to push and work with South Korea to the point where they are -- that they think that South Korea and the U.S.-South Korea alliance could be broken. That is something that they're trying to do.
I think Moon Jae-in is very much aware of that and I do think that the alliance at this point is pretty strong. So I think they're wary of that and they -- I'm not really that concerned about it at this point.
We still have to see what the Trump administration and how they're going to respond to this. They could very well say no, which could cause a rift and we're just going to have to see because the U.S. administration's position, in my mind, is very unclear.
We don't know what their objectives are. SESAY: No, we don't. From where you sit, when it comes to the U.S.' next move, I mean, I would assume you think it's right for them to be cautious.
But what should they do?
At the end of the day, this is a moment, significant in and of itself.
YUN: Well, I think the whole notion of talks about talks is something that they should explore. They should see exactly what North Korea wants and then determine if it's something that we can -- we can move forward with.
I think there is significance in that the North Koreans have said that they're going to initiate a missile moratorium, long-range missile moratorium, as well as a nuclear test moratorium as long as there are talks between the United States and North Korea.
I think that's fairly significant in the sense that -- my personal belief is that North Korea does not have the capability to deliver an ICBM to the U.S. mainland. I think that capability is still a ways away.
And as long as we can prevent them from actually perfecting that, I think that's in our interest.
SESAY: Looking at everything on the table, looking at the moment as a whole, South Korea obviously working actively to engage the North. We know that there is going to be this inter-Korea Summit in April.
Where does all of this leave this international pressure strategy?
Is it altered by what we have heard from the South Koreans?
YUN: Well, if you listen -- Vice President Pence basically tweeted that the United States is going to continue maximum pressure. We will have to see if that continues. I do think that the whole notion of what the administration has been doing with greater defensive, greater deterrence, more pressure has actually been very helpful.
But what has been missing is this willingness to talk. Hopefully, this is the last piece and therefore we can start figuring out if, in fact, a solution is even possible. And at least for right now, reducing tensions so a miscalculation doesn't occur over the next several months, which is something that was much more likely or possible a few months ago.
SESAY: Yes, it certainly was. Philip Yun, joining us there from San Francisco, thank you.
YUN: Thank you.
VAUSE: OK. We will take a break. When we come back, Britain is sending Moscow a very blunt message over the mysterious illness of a former Russia double agent. We will have details in a moment right here on NEWSROOM L.A.
VAUSE: Welcome back everybody, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. We are live right here in Los Angeles and I'm John Vause.
SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay, the headlines this hour.
Wall Street could be in for rough day after where that President Trump's top economic advisor is resigning. The White House's Gary Cohn will leave his post, rather, in the coming week. He strongly disagreed with President Trump's decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
VAUSE: The White House wants North Korea to take concrete steps towards denuclearization before engaging in direct negotiations. According to (INAUDIBLE) the North is willing to talk to the U.S. about giving up its nuclear weapons.
SESAY: More than 1,000 children have been killed and wounded this year for Syria. That grim news from the U.N. comes as violence continues to rip across Eastern Ghouta. (INAUDIBLE) trying to bring in supplies on Thursday after heavy shelling cut short in delivery on Monday. More than 400,000 people are creating critical shortages of (INAUDIBLE)
VAUSE: The Kremlin is not talking about a former Russian double agent who is found unconscious on a park bench with his daughter in Southern England.
SESAY: But it is pushing back on a statement from Britain's foreign minister that seem to imply Russia was in on the apparent poisoning incident. CNN's Phil Black reports.
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This was the moment Sergei Skripal first knew Russia considered him a traitor. The military intelligence officer was arrested in 2006 and accused of taking money from British intelligence in return for information about Russian agents operating in Europe.
He was found guilty of treason in the form of espionage, the punishment, 13 years prison. But in 2010, a cold war-like scene played out on the tarmac of Vienna Airport. Skripal and three other men were swapped for 10 Russian spies discovered operating in America. After that, Skripal disappeared from public view, settling into a quiet life in Southern England.
That existence fell apart dramatically on Sunday. He and his 33-year- old daughter Yulia collapsed on a park bench triggering a huge emergency response. Investigators led by Scotland Yard's Counterterrorism Command are now working to confirm what deadly substance the pair was exposed to and how it happened. Police are studying this security video, believe to show the father and daughter shortly before they collapsed. And Britain's government is watching this all unfold very closely.
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: Honorable members will make the echoes of the death of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.
BLACK: Litvinenko was the former Russian spy who fled to the U.K., worked with British intelligence, and became a loud critic of Russia's government and its leader, Vladimir Putin. He died slowly and painfully after consuming tea that had been poisoned with a radioactive substance, Polonium 210.
A public inquiry later found the plot to kill him likely went all the way to the very top of Russia's government. Speaking in parliament about this latest spy mystery, the British foreign secretary tried walking a delicate line between warning Moscow while not directly accusing the Russian state of responsibility.
JOHNSON: If those suspicions prove to be well find then this government will take whatever measures we deem necessary to protect the lives of the people in this country, our values, and our freedoms. And though I am not now pointing fingers because we cannot Mr. Speaker (INAUDIBLE) point fingers, I say to governments around the world that no attempt to take innocent life on U.K. soil will go either unsanctioned or unpunished.
BLACK: Russian officials have always denied having any role in Litvinenko's death, they're now insisting they know nothing about how Sergei Skripal and his daughter fell gravely ill. Very little is known about Skripal's life in Salisbury.
But his experiencing suffering here before, his wife and son were buried in recent years in a local cemetery. Many of the details of Sergei Skripal's dramatic and shadowy life are still hidden. The Russian intelligence officer who is turned and betrayed his motherland seeking safety in a beautiful corner of England but never finding peace. Phil Black, CNN Salisbury, Southern England.
SESAY: Well CNN's former Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty joins us now. Jill, good to see you. As we heard the foreign secretary made clear, he wasn't directly implicating Russia in what happened to Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
But certainly Russia is a general working theory most people are going with, they're certainly at the center of the speculation. Does it seem plausible to you that a man who is pardoned and swapped with at a later date be targeted by Moscow?
JILL DOUGHERTY, FORMER MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: I think that's one of the big questions here. If he's been after a while, why do it now? He's been pardoned by Vladimir Putin, why would he want to get rid of him? And I think that it's helpful to kind of go through that scenario? I think who does it help? Who does it hurt? Obviously it hurts the president of Russia, it hurts Vladimir Putin, it hurts the image of Russia. Why they would want to get rid of him, whoever they are, how this happened? It's -- I think almost, you know, Isha, the real problems of Russia right now is that most people I would say in the West or at least people certainly in England, the United States tend to believe that it is Russia.
And it -- whether it is or whether it isn't, that is an enormous problem for Vladimir Putin because his image around the world especially in the West is so low that in -- and we're in this time of being described as kind of the new cold war that immediately people are going to jump to that conclusion. The Russians, of course, is saying, "Well as Dmitry Peskov who is the spokesperson for the president of Russia said it didn't take them long to point the finger at Russia.
SESAY: Yes. And Dmitry Peskov being typically Russian if you will in a sense of how they respond to these things being dismissive of what is being said and all the speculation, but to your point this speculation and this targeting of Skripal happening at the time where Russia's already coming under fire for its meddling in the U.S. elections, I mean, what's the cost here for Russia?
I mean, you talked about Putin's reputation but is there a greater cost that they stand on the brink if you will of experiencing?
DOUGHERTY: Well it's very sensitive time politically. You have on March 18th coming up very shortly the election of the Russian president. So domestically for President Putin, it's extremely sensitive around the world, there will be a lot of attention on that election and immediately the rumor mills are beginning on that as well.
Primarily among Russians saying this is aimed at hurting Vladimir Putin. There are many, many theories right now and I think number one, we have to find out what was the substance used? Why was Mr. Skripal, why were he and his daughter hit by whatever this substance was? What is it? Because remember with Litivnenko back in 2006, it was polonium and polonium is very rare substance. It was immediately -- the (INAUDIBLE) immediately was implicated with that.
What kind of a substance could this be? Is it a substance that is controlled by intelligence outfits in Russia? Is it not? Is it something that could be made by another party? There are an awful lot of questions but, again, I get back to why this is bad for Russia because it could -- there could be problems let's say with the -- more sanctions from the West because of it. It gets very, very political, very dangerous for Russia very fast.
SESAY: As you talk about it getting very political very quickly and sanctions possibly being in the offering, from the U.K. side of things, they have been criticized by some -- there in Britain for the response to the poisoning of Alexander Litivnenko, some feeling it wasn't strong enough, it wasn't tough enough, so effectively it didn't serve as a deterrent.
If indeed it is proven and the evidence emerges that this has direct links to Russia to Moscow and by extension, Putin, what do you see the U.K. response is being and more importantly, do you see this being tougher than the way they responded to Litivnenko's death?
DOUGHERTY: Well certainly I think if, if, if it were proven, they would want to be much more tough because after all if it happens once and then it happens again. But I think one of the problems for the British government is, what exactly do you do?
What would stop this? Because if -- again, the big if, but let's say the KGB did do something in London, the audacity of it for another time and there have been other people who have been killed under various circumstances, unclear exactly who did, the blame, of course, always assessed against Russia.
But if they did do it, how do you stop it? I think that would be the question because obviously what they've been doing isn't working.
SESAY: And how much is the U.K.'s position complicated by the amount of Russian money that now fits in the United Kingdom, in London in particular with some actually even nicknaming it "London Grad" these days because there's so many Russians or so much Russian (INAUDIBLE) and assets there in the U.K.
DOUGHERTY: Yes. Assets and people -- I mean really, there are awful lot of Russians in London, why they're there, some of their business, some have moved there, some have fled there.
That's another question. I don't know whether money in this case would be really connected to this particular incident? But does the presence of Russia makes it one place where you're going to have a lot of, let's say, response and counter -- charges, countercharges very quickly because it's a place with Russians have gone to invest, to put their money as a safe haven against the situation in Russia.
SESAY: Fascinating. Jill Dougherty, always good to speak to you. Jill Dougherty joining us there from Seattle. Appreciate it, thank you.
VAUSE: A verdict is expected in the coming hours in a yearlong terrorism trial in Germany. Eight people are facing a long list of charges including attempted murder and the creation of a terrorist organization after a series of attacks on refugees.
That issue here is the definition of a terrorist cell and the intent o the accused. More now from Atika Shubert.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're known as the "Freital Group" seven men and one woman charged with multiple attacks on refugees. Their trial sets a legal precedent in Germany. For the first time, far-right extremists are charged with terror offenses.
In 2015, the country was coping in an influx of more than a million refugees. Small German towns like Frietal were pressed into service by the government to provide refugee homes. While many welcomed the newcomers, others did not. Protests tried to prevent the entry of refugees and to the town unsuccessfully.
But according to the indictment, the suspects turned to violence including firebombing two refugee homes that left two people injured. Prosecutors argued the suspects had formed, "A right wing terror group." On Wednesday, the court is expected to deliver a verdict. Atika Shubert, CNN Berlin.
SESAY: That's something we'll be watching very closely for you. Quick break here, once it would have been unthinkable, U.S. immigration officials separated a young child from her mother with no explanation. Coming up, the legal battle that is still unresolved.
VAUSE: Right now, a little girl just seven-years-old is being held by immigration officials in a Chicago detention center. At the same time, her mother is at a facility in San Diego. According to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union when they crossed the border from Mexico, they presented themselves to border agents.
The mother explained they were fleeing extreme violence in the Congo and requesting asylum. The mother known as Ms. L was interviewed by an asylum officer who "determined that Ms. L did have a significant possibility of ultimately receiving asylum and therefore allowed her to move on to the next stage of the long asylum process."
In other words, they did everything right, they followed the rules, they passed the initial screening but then four days after that for no apparent reason, the ACLU alleges officials decided to send the little girl on her own to Chicago. And "When the officer separated them, Ms. L could hear her daughter in the next room frantically screaming that she wanted to remain with her mother. No one explained to Ms. L why they were taking her daughter away from her or where her daughter was going or even when she would next see her daughter."
That was four months ago, they're still separated and no one have seemed has explained why. Lee Gelernt is the lead attorney on this case for the ACLU, he is also the Deputy Director of the Immigrant Rights Program. So Lee, has there been any suggestions that maybe the mother here, the daughter who's only seven, there's a link of terrorism, that there's some kind of criminal violations, they're drug smugglers, have they done anything which would suggest why this is happening?
LEE GELERNT, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, ACLU IMMIGRANT RIGHTS PROGRAM: No, they haven't. This has been a horrific situation. The mother, there's been no allegation that the mother is in any way a danger to anybody much less her daughter. There has been no suggestion that she's been abusive or neglectful.
They just took this little girl away, the little girl was frantically screaming, "Don't take me away from my mommy." Sent her to Chicago, it was four days before the mother even could talk to the daughter. They've only talked a handful of times by phone, never even a video hookup so they could at least see each other. She would -- the mother was never told why she was losing her daughter, never given an explanation, to this day they've never given an explanation.
VAUSE: Given everything that they've already gone through making it all the way from the Congo to the United States and now this, what is their emotional state especially given the fact that they rarely get to see each other or talk to each other.
GELERNT: Yes. I have not been able to talk to the daughter but the mother is distraught, depressed, not eating, not sleeping. I think it's like any mother who's already been traumatized by having to flee potential death in her home country, make it to this country and then lose her daughter.
It's just unthinkable and the mother is just in a constant state of fear for her daughter. It's one of the -- I've been doing this work for more than 25 years, I think that discussion I had with the mother out there in San Diego where she is in a prison was a tougher discussions as I have ever had doing this work. It's just horrific. And unfortunately, it's not just this one mother and child, it's not a one auth case. It's happening in hundreds of cases across the country and what the administration keeps saying is, well we don't have "a policy" but that's just deflecting the fact that they in practice or doing it in hundreds of cases across the country.
So there are mothers and fathers sitting in detention centers and there are little boys and girls have been sent away for no apparent reason. What we're hearing from the administration is, it's a way to deter people from coming to this country. If people hear that they may lose their child, maybe they don't come here even if they have legitimate asylum claims, that's just flat out wrong.
VAUSE: Well with that in mind, I'd like to read to you a part of an editorial from "The Washington Post," "The only principle that work if it can be called that is the idea that future asylum seekers might be deterred if they are convinced that the United States is actually a crueler and more heartless place than their native country."
That seem to be incredibly harsh and incredibly difficult policy for anyone really to look at and think that that is what this country stands for.
GELERNT: Right. And there are a lot of people who disagree with the ACLU about a variety of immigration policies and we get that. And we know that there's a lot of people out there that may have different views on the larger immigration issues. But I think everyone, regardless of where they are in those larger immigration issues ought to stand up and say, "This is just one step too far." [01:50:16]
In the United States, we don't rip a kid away from their parent no matter what we think about the larger immigration issues. And I think the response we're getting to the lawsuits suggest that it's not just half the country who agrees that this little girl shouldn't have been taken away from her mother. I think everyone out there pretty much feels like this is just a step too far.
VAUSE: Yes. Lee, we are out of time. But please keep us updated because we'll continue to follow this story and I think there will be justice.
GELERTNT: I will. Thank you for having me.
SESAY: Now, the growing strategic relationship between two former enemies is on full display off the Coast of Vietnam. The USS Carl Vinson appearance is the biggest U.S. military presence there since the war end in 1975. And as Matt Rivers reports, the visit has a due purpose for the region.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. ship dominates the horizon as you get closer, lured a couple miles off the Vietnamese Coast. On this trip though, a symbol of U.S. ability to wage war has turned into a peace offering.
The U.S. Carl Vinson and its 5,000 sailors arrived in Danang this week for an official visit decades in the making, complete with a welcome ceremony on shore and people-to-people exchanges over four days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It means a tremendous deal to us to have a reliable strategic partner like Vietnam.
RIVERS: For Vietnam, this is primarily about strengthening a military relationship and aboard the carrier deck, you can see the appeal. Other navy ships have stopped here since 2003 but this is the first port call for a U.S. aircraft carrier since the Vietnam War.
This kind of ship more than any other shows the United States ability to project is military power to all corners of the globe. IT's the kind of ship frankly that can send a message if you want to other countries like China.
China has stirred up tensions across the South China Sea because of these, different sets of artificial islands that has built up and quickly militarized. CNN shot this video in 2015 but new photos published by a Philippine newspaper in January shows substantial developments since. New radar stations, new runways. Facilities analyst say could someday allow China to militarily dominate a crucial international waterway.
VICE ADMIRAL PHILIP SAWYER, COMMANDER, U.S. NAVY, 7TH FLEET: The militarization of the South China Sea is a concern, that that does not and will not impact the operations of the United States Navy. We will continue to fly, operating sail wherever international law allows.
RIVERS: Beijing claims sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea but other countries like Vietnam claim parts of that same territory. They call China's actions illegal under international law. The U.S. agrees and since 2015 has sailed navy ships like these within 12 miles of the islands to show that it does not respect them as sovereign. It's also making port calls China won't like.
ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, U.S. NAVY (RET), MILITARY ANALYST: So they have not been friendly to our warming relations with Vietnam. They will be particularly sensitive to the visit of an aircraft carrier to Vietnam.
RIVERS: U.S. Navy and State Department officials have stressed this week, if they show a force, it's all about deepening peaceful ties between the U.S. and Vietnam. And that's absolutely true but when you ask why the U.S. and Vietnam created this historic visit just offshore, part of that answer lies in a growing threat in the middle of the sea. Matt Rivers, CNN Danang, Vietnam.
VAUSE: OK. Well when we come back, a once in a lifetime fight, it was the world's oldest message in a bottle just found on a beach in Australia. We'll tell you why that bottle, not that one, maybe it was, was actually thrown overboard and what site (INAUDIBLE) but it's all a bit boring.
SESAY: Well that's not a great way to keep people sitting around.
VAUSE: No, no. Now stay with us. We have some funny bits too.
VAUSE: It took more than 130 years to wash up on a beach in Western Australia and the world's oldest message in a bottle was ultimately a bit of a disappointment.
SESAY: Well it turns out the bottle was tossed into the ocean by researchers aboard a German sailing ship --
VAUSE: OK. So now we know what, there's the set up.
SESAY: Reporter, Chenee Marrapodi has more on this discovery.
CHENEE MARRAPODI, REPORTER SEVEN NETWORK AUSTRALIA: Buried in the sand dunes a message from the past.
KYM ILLMAN, WIFE DISCOVERED MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE: It's a bit of a romantic thing, a message in a bottle.
MARRAPODI: Tonya Illman was walking along the beach two hours north of Perth when she spotted an old Dutch gin bottle very similar to this.
TONYA ILLMAN, DISCOVERED MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE: At no stage did we think it could have been 131-years-old.
MARRAPODI: Inside a tiny rolled up note printed in German with some (INAUDIBLE) handwriting, husband Kym started investigating.
ILLMAN: When you look at the year it said 1800, I thought well that's pretty significant and we looked up Deutsche Seewarte in Hamburg and realize that they were doing this as part of a research project.
MARRAPODI: Its believed thousands of these bottles were thrown into the ocean in the 19th Century to help scientists understand ocean currents.
Almost 133 years of (INAUDIBLE) of bottle was thrown overboard but researchers believe its journey with (INAUDIBLE) it's crazy to think but it probably washed ashore within its first year and spent more than a century underneath the sand.
The current Guinness World Record is held by a bottle that (INAUDIBLE) just over 180 years at sea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This one (INAUDIBLE) by some 23 years.
MARRAPODI: It will now be on display in the WA Museum. Chenee Marrapodi, "Seven News."
VAUSE: Ocean currents. I mean -- you know, it wasn't something like --
SESAY: It's not either a big romance too.
VAUSE: It wasn't romantic, "Oh, I love -- I love you my dear" if I say so. OK. So the Twitter had a little bit of fun on this, let's take a look. One of them said, "Breaking world's oldest message in a bottle contained this message, send nudes."
SESAY: Another replied, "Still quicker than Aussie post."
VAUSE: And that is true, (INAUDIBLE) is a little slow. And then this witticism, "Was it from sting? Ha, ha, ha." Because Message In a Bottle from Police.
SESAY: All right. You're watching NEWSROOM L.A., I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause. We'll be back.