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Saudi Crowned Prince Visits UK to Talk Trade, Promotes Diplomacy; Name Calling Escalates as Feds Sue over Immigration; 'Black Panther's for $80 Million Opening in China; Former Spy Poisoned in U.K.; South Korean Envoys Headed to Washington; Trump and the Porn Star; Russia Investigation. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 8, 2018 - 01:30   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Ahead this hour, British police reveal a former Russian spy was deliberately poisoned in England but they're not yet ready to point fingers at who might be responsible.

VAUSE (voice-over): Plus a secret message direct from the Hermit Kingdom. Two South Korean envoys are heading to Washington with a mystery letter from North Korea's leader.

SESAY (voice-over): And later "Black Panther" has already broken box office records and smashed stereotypes. Now it faces what could be its toughest challenge yet.

VAUSE (voice-over): You have to stay with us to find out what that is. Thank you for joining us. I'm John Vause.

SESAY (voice-over): And I'm Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM from L.A.


SESAY: British investigators are trying to figure out who poisoned a former Russian spy and his daughter with a nerve agent, an attack which has left them critically ill.

VAUSE: Right now there are strong suspicions of Kremlin involvement. Even so, Britain's foreign secretary has stopped short of directly accusing Moscow but he did have a warning. Here's CNN's Phil Black.


MARK ROWLEY, SCOTLAND YARD: This is being treated as a major incident involving attempted murder by administration of a nerve agent.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, now both critically ill, were deliberately poisoned by a nerve agent, targeted specifically, according to police.

ROWLEY: Our role is to establish who is behind this and why they carried out this act.

BLACK (voice-over): New video shows the former double agent at a shop in Salisbury, England, on February 27th. A simple life, far from this 2004 arrest in Russia, where the spy was thrown into a van, later sent to court and then found guilty of treason for selling Russian secrets to the British.

The convicted traitor was brought to a tarmac for a spy swap, an exchange of agents between the U.S. and Moscow in 2010. He lived quietly in Salisbury until Sunday. That's when police say he and his daughter were found unconscious on a mall bench. The mystery has prompted urgent questions and careful warnings in Parliament.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER: Though I am not now pointing fingers (INAUDIBLE) point fingers, I say to governments around the word, that no attempt to take innocent life on U.K. soil will go either unsanctioned or unpunished.

BLACK (voice-over): The case is reminiscent of another former Russian agent, Alexander Litvinenko. He was hospitalized and later died after drinking tea laced with radioactive polonium.

From his deathbed, Litvinenko called out Russian president Vladimir Putin directly, saying, "You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life."

Putin has denied all involvement in that murder, just as the Russian government has denied any knowledge of what happened to Skripal.

YVETTE COOPER, BRITISH MP: But what about the other 14 cases, that several members have now raised, of suspicious deaths?

BLACK (voice-over): Now MP Yvette Cooper is calling for an investigation into the deaths of people linked to Russia that were ruled suicides or accidents on British soil in recent years.

COOPER: There are serious questions about whether the police investigations were thorough enough.

BLACK (voice-over): She's asking about cases including Russian whistleblower Alexander Perepilichnyy, found dead outside his home in Surrey in 2012 and Boris Berezovsky, an exiled Putin critic, found dead on his bathroom floor near London in 2013 -- Phil Black, CNN, Salisbury, Southern England.


VAUSE: CNN's intelligence and security analyst Bob Baer is with us now.

Bob, good to see you.


VAUSE: As a former CIA operative when you look at what we know right now, does this seem like an open and shut case in terms of Kremlin involvement because there does seem to be a very big question about the timing.

Why now?

Skripal spent years in a Russian jail. If the Kremlin wanted him dead, he'd be dead.

BAER: Well, I think it's pretty clear that it was the KGB or a proxy that did this. I mean the fact that it was a nerve agent tells the whole story. And the Russians are very good at this.

There's dozens of assassinations they've committed between the Ukraine and Britain. And it certainly looks like it to me. And you also have the suspicious deaths of basically his entire family -- his wife, his son and now his daughter has been poisoned.

Look, here's what the Russians are mad at this guy and we're clearly mad at him because he continued to work with British intelligence, MI- 6 and MI-5, helping them on cases, identify GRU agents --


BAER: -- you know, tradecraft, the rest of it.

And under Russian law, Putin is allowed to carry out assassinations abroad. This is a law passed in 2006. And this man is vindictive, Putin and no question he'd go after this guy.

VAUSE: So that pardon Skripal was given back, what, in 2010 by Dmitry Medvedev when he was president, that doesn't count for anything?

Because back in the old days you might be so lucky on an all-clear, hands-off pass.

BAER: No, not at all. I mean he just wanted to -- he only let this guy go because the trade he made with the United States, with the Russian agents who were caught in New York City and Washington. So that was -- otherwise, he would have stayed in jail forever.

I mean he didn't want to let this guy out, but that was the terms of getting his Russian agents out. So no, it doesn't count. I mean this is an authoritarian regime and he acts with impunity everywhere he wants between U.S. elections to assassinating people in Britain.

And we don't know that he's behind this for certain, but I just can't imagine who else would be.

VAUSE: I guess that begs the question, is something this high profile that's attracted so much attention, it does, you know, sort of imply that there would have to be some kind of high level authority to sign off on an assassination like this. BAER: I do not think there's a rogue element inside the KGB that would carry this out without Putin's authority. I've never heard of that existing. These people would be removed immediately or worse. So this would have come from the Kremlin.

I think Britain has decided last year or the year before that Putin himself authorized the assassination of Litvinenko, the former FSB officer. You know, they had to provide the polonium. It came from a specific reactor. You had to get people to carry it to London. And the two assassins were rewarded afterwards.

So, yes, I mean, clearly, this would have been ordered by the Kremlin if, in fact, this was a Russian-attempted assassination.

VAUSE: Then comes the question what will the British be able to do about it? I mean what are their options here?

BAER: Well, I mean this puts them in a horrible position.

I mean what are they going to do?

I suppose they could put more sanctions on Russia.

Could they start expelling Russian diplomats?

They may do a symbolic expulsion, declare them persona non grata.

But other than that they can't do much about it and especially when the United States is refusing to retaliate against Russia for interfering in our elections in 2016. Putin is saying, you know look, I can get away with what I want to and no one seems to care. And what happened after Litvinenko after a commission decided that it was Russia and no doubt the Kremlin behind the murder of a Russian in London, downtown London and there was basically no repercussions.

VAUSE: A sample of the explanation for that, the amount of money that the Russians -- wealthy Russians have invested in London which is one reason why, you know, there is this accusation that the British have been less than enthusiastic about investigating past assassinations like this.

BAER: Clearly there's Russians all over London. A lot of money is laundered for London. They don't want to touch it. I mean, you know, with Brexit coming along, it's now the time to drive out the Russians or scrutinize the origin of this money.

If it's being, you know, property-purchased LLCs and the rest of it to get into it. It would do serious damage to Britain.

You've got British Petroleum. It's got investments all over Russia.

Do the Brits want to take this on and pull out of Russia?

It has enormous economic expanse.

So what do the Brits do at this point? You know, it's a dilemma.

VAUSE: Yes, to say the least. Bob -- thanks so much. Good to see you.

BAER: Thanks.


SESAY: Well, two South Korean officials are now on their way to the United States, carrying a secret message from Kim Jong-un. It is not clear who the message is for or, I'm fact, what it says. They met with the North Korean leader earlier this week in Pyongyang.

Our own Andrew Stevens joins us live from Seoul.

Andrew, few are saying much about this meeting.

What do we know?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: Well, officially we know very little, Isha. The head of the delegation, who's now on Korean Air flight to Washington, actually had a brief press conference and said virtually nothing toward it, said, I'm not going to release any details other than to say the most pressing issue for us is mainly between the U.S. and North Korea.

Now this message, they did not elaborate what was in the message. Remember these messages go back to when Kim's sister came to the Olympic Games bearing an invitation in the form of --


STEVENS: -- a message for the South Korean president.

He then sent a handwritten letter back with his delegation to Pyongyang, to present to Kim; we don't know what's in that. Now there's this Kim message on its way to D.C. We'll have to wait and see.

Certainly, we can work out who will want to be seen, the South Korean delegation, it will be the U.S. secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. It will be the Defense Secretary, Mattis. It will be the national security adviser, H.R. McMaster.

They want to get really a first-hand account of what happened.

What did Kim actually say?

The delegation actually would have been taking a lot of notes while they were talking to Kim, no doubt.

So what did he say about the security guarantees?

What does he mean by that?

North Korea says we won't denuclearize without security guarantees.

Is it the same? Is it the oft-repeated line by North Korea that the U.S. has to leave the Korean Peninsula?

Or is there something new?

What does this moratorium, that North Korea is offering, mean?

Does it mean that they just get a freezer (ph) test or either they're going to freeze their research, their, perhaps, ballistic missile research as well?

So there are a lot of issues there, which the Americans will be very, very keen to get some sort of clarification.

Of course there's also the other, sort of softer issues, what sort of a person is Kim?

Remember, this is the first time anyone senior from South Korea has actually met with Kim. So they'll have insights into how Kim acts, his mannerisms, all sorts of things like that, Isha, all of which will prove important or prove interesting to the Americans.

But at this stage, we don't know exactly what is going to come out of this, other than the fact that South Koreans want talks sooner rather than later between the U.S. and North Korea.

And that sign was actually echoed by the Chinese today, the foreign minister, Wang Yi, saying that the talks should begin as quickly as possible while this momentum is going on. The Chinese said that even though there is life at the end of the tunnel, it's going to be a bumpy road.

A bumpy road indeed -- Isha.

SESAY: It's a long one and everybody's strapping themselves in for what's coming in next. Andrew Stevens there in Seoul, South Korea, appreciate it. Thank you.

VAUSE: When we come back, new developments in the porn star sues president story. The lawyer for Stormy Daniels says there have been threats coming from Donald Trump's personal lawyer to try and stop her from talking.

SESAY: Plus, the man accused of killing a journalist on a submarine goes on trial. The bizarre and brutal case against an eccentric inventor.




SESAY: Well, the attorney for adult film star Stormy Daniels says Donald Trump's personal attorney continues to threaten his client. Daniels is suing the president to get out of a nondisclosure agreement so she can talk about her alleged affair with Mr. Trump back in 2006.

VAUSE: The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, says she's not aware if the president knew anything about $130,000 payment --


VAUSE: -- hush money, made to Daniels from Mr. Trump's attorney. Lawyers for Daniels says there's no question that Trump knew about it all.


MICHAEL AVENATTI (PH), STORMY DANIELS'S ATTORNEY: We have an ethical obligation to inform our clients at all times of all material facts. It's one of the basic tenants of what we do.

And the idea that somehow President Trump didn't know anything about this and that attorney Cohen was just running off doing what he thought was best, without any consultation with President Trump, it is patently absurd.


VAUSE: Joining me now for more on this Democratic strategist, Caroline Heldman, and Republican strategist, Chris Faulkner.

Chris, even if there was not this legal obligation for a lawyer to inform his client, as the attorney said just then, it does seem to be a really big stretch of the imagination to believe that Trump's lawyer actually covered that 130 grand out of the goodness of his heart and never expected it to be paid back and never expected the president to know anything about it because I want that lawyer.

CHRIS FAULKNER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I know and that's the thing as we in the media and in the press, we want to believe this, right, because it's the big lie, it's salacious, it's juicy.



FAULKNER: And so of course --


FAULKNER: -- taking her clothes off and has an attorney who's basically saying she's being defamed allegedly --

HELDMAN: Chris, are you attacking her character because she's a sex worker?

Are you saying that she --

FAULKNER: No, I stated the facts.

HELDMAN: -- because of that? Right, but how is that apropos?

This is a -- we do know that $130,000 transferred hands. That has been acknowledged in order to buy --

FAULKNER: Acknowledged by who?

HELDMAN: It's been acknowledged --


FAULKNER: Should we also acknowledge that if she was a waitress or an attorney, we wouldn't be covering this?

But because of her profession we are covering it.

VAUSE: Actually, it's kind of you to bring that up because we haven't really been covering this, even though it is so salacious and sort of only broken through with news that there could be violation of FEC, Federal Election Commission laws, which are --


VAUSE: Well, it could be an incredible stretch but there are already two complaints out there, which have been launched by watchdog groups, that this is a violation of federal campaign laws.

FAULKNER: Watchdog groups that are clearly aligned with the Democratic Party and people on the Left who of course are going to do anything to take down the president or --


VAUSE: -- John Edwards, though, during the last few, when he was running as the V.P. nominee for Democrats for John Kerry, he tried to cover up funds which were used to pay for a mistress. He stood trial. (INAUDIBLE) mistrial but that was a line in the sand by the DOJ.

And this is hush money to keep an affair secret.

FAULKNER: I think we're alleging that the president did something horrible, we know John Edwards did something horrible.


HELDMAN: Well, I don't know, at the end of day, it's she said, she said, she said with Donald Trump. And in fact -- but it goes beyond sex. Like I don't even have an issue, you cheat on your wife, whatever. Maybe that speaks to your character in public office. I understand.

But it doesn't seem to bother conservatives, who say that they are bothered by that. I am bothered by the 22 allegations of sexual harassment and sexual violence levied against Donald Trump.

VAUSE: Answer me this, Chris, if it comes down to character and who do you believe, the adult film star or the president who's on the record for lying 2,000 times in his first year in office and on an average of 5.2 major falsehoods a day?


FAULKNER: -- unbiased question.

HELDMAN: It's facts.


FAULKNER: -- that's cranked out by the DNC every day. The only reason we're talking about these things is because the economy is doing so incredibly well. We're in record territory for the market, record low unemployment, so of course we're talking about the porn star's allegation.

HELDMAN: No, it's because there was $130,000 transfer of money and an admittance from his fixer, Donald Trump's fixer, that this money went to hush a woman who works in the sex industry, who had an affair with Donald Trump. And there's also --

(CROSSTALK) HELDMAN: -- sure, except that, you know, add this to the pile of the people who are making a similar claims. Add it to the Playboy Playmate who is making a similar claim --

FAULKNER: And you're saying that just because someone's being accused of stuff they're guilty?

VAUSE: And this agreement came six days before the election, this nondisclosure agreement between Cohen and David Dennison, which was Trump's alias, on that legal agreement.

OK, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Wednesday, asked a very simple question by CNN's Jeff Zeleny about the hush money that Trump's lawyer paid to Daniels.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SR. WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Did you know about that payment at the time, though?


ZELENY: Did he know about the payment at the time?

SANDERS: Not that I'm aware of. There was no knowledge of any payments from the president and he's denied all of these allegations. I believe I've addressed this question pretty extensively.


VAUSE: You'll notice that she did not say no. And "not to my knowledge" is not "no." If she could have said no, she would have said no. It's a hedge. It's a non-answer.

I guess to you, Chris, this story is not going --


VAUSE: -- anywhere and the White House is going to have to come out with a better answer than "not to my knowledge," right?

They need to get a better handle on this.

FAULKNER: Let's (INAUDIBLE) the narrative. Either we're not covering this enough or it's a story that's not going to go away. At the end of the day, it's salacious. It's someone making an unsubstantiated claim.

And yes, sex worker or porn star, whatever we want to call her, that is one of the primary reasons why we're still talking about this. If she was an attorney or a doctor, this wouldn't be an issue. It wouldn't be something that we'd be talking about in this segment. It's a fact.

VAUSE: I really don't know if that's the case because I think that what this story has broken through now, not because of the salacious details of the alleged affair between an adult film star and the man who became President of the United States, but because there are other issues which go onto this, issues like the threats which are alleged, which continue to come from Donald Trump's personal lawyer to Stormy Daniels, to try and keep her quiet.

They had this private arbitration and a secret restraining order was issued. This was the response to that from Daniels' lawyer.


AVENATTI (PH): Well, he's actually, Anderson, attempted to do that by means of a number of steps, including filing this bogus arbitration against her, communicating through her prior counsel, making threats to her relating to what may happen to her from a legal perspective in the event she does not deny allegations of the affair.


VAUSE: So Caroline, to you, for a start, it does seem odd to have arbitration without the other party at the arbitration. But to go through all this trouble for something that, to Chris's point, never happened?

HELDMAN: Well, it certainly happened. We do have the admission from the fixer that this money was paid to this woman and we -- it's very clear that it was for the purpose, right before the election, to making sure that she didn't talk.

We have a similar allegation from a Playboy Playmate saying the same thing. So the idea -- we believe this because there's enough evidence there, the White House really isn't saying it didn't happen, they're kind of dancing around the issue. This is Donald Trump getting in trouble once again, trying to cover up

something that very clearly happened. I don't know how you would respond, you know, if you were a president who doesn't engage in these sorts of actions.

But I can certainly see advising him to come out and get past it. A third of Americans think that Melania should leave him. We shouldn't even be asking those sorts of poll questions of a president.

VAUSE: Because, Chris, in the past, other politicians have been embroiled in sex scandals. President Bill Clinton, the Lewinsky affair; Eliot Spitzer, the New York governor, Client Number 9. We mentioned Senator John Edwards, who was the Democratic V.P. nominee and the woman who's making a documentary about him was pregnant with his child.

Of course, who could ever forget congressman Anthony Weiner?

FAULKNER: Those folks all have something in common, though, right?

VAUSE: Yes, they're Democrats.



VAUSE: I'm just doing the high-profile ones. If you want go into the Republicans and bathrooms and --


VAUSE: -- senators and foot-tapping, we can go there.

But look, what I'm saying is these are guys -- these are very high- profile scandals which either destroyed their careers or seriously rocked their careers. Right now though, it seems Donald Trump is immune to this.

FAULKNER: The president is making news for lots of reasons. And the higher he goes, the more you're going to see such allegations. Clearly the winner in all this is Stormy Daniels. I'm sure whoever's doing her booking, the phone is ringing off the hook.

The amount of publicity we're getting, any of these conversations about how, oh, well, what she does for a living is not important.


Then every time I see her on television, is there ever going to be a chance we're going to not see the plunging cleavage and the giant fake breasts?

HELDMAN: But all of the women who've accused him of various things have been on television and they're not on television because of their plunging cleavage. VAUSE: One more thing, Caroline, is that the danger here for the president, if he's not being affected by the immediate fallout of the political scandal, is if Robert Mueller calls him in for an interview and then starts asking about this affair and the president has this tendency, this very loose relationship with the truth and lies about it, then he's open to a charge of perjury.

HELDMAN: It is --

VAUSE: Bill Clinton.

HELDMAN: -- it is a terrible idea for Donald Trump to go on record with anything because he does have this loose relationship with the truth. He straight up lies and he lies an awful lot and we all know it.

And it's something that we've come to accept but he told -- as PolitiFact, a Pulitzer Prize-winning source, found in the first year, he told over 2,000 lies in his first year in office, and it's almost made him immune, right. This scandal fatigue that we've had has somewhat made him the Teflon don in the sense that just this week.

We've got Kellyanne Conway being sanctioned for violations of the Hatch Act. We're not talking about that anymore. Cohn resigning, like that yesterday's news and we're only at Wednesday because he's had so many scandals already even this week.

VAUSE: And that all came out after he said that there was no chaos in the White House.

(INAUDIBLE). Let's finish with this --


VAUSE: -- new scandal, which is reported by "The New York Times" in the last couple of hours. Reporting the president has spoken with at least two key witnesses who gave testimony to prosecutors in the Russia investigation or (INAUDIBLE) by the investigators.

There was this exchange with the White House counsel, Don McGahn. In one of the (INAUDIBLE) the president told an aide that the White House counsel, Don McGahn, should issue a statement denying a "New York Times" article in January.

The article said Mr. McGahn told investigators that the president once asked him to fire the special counsel, Robert Mueller. Mr. McGahn never released a statement and later had to remind the president that he had indeed asked Mr. McGahn to see that Mr. Mueller was dismissed, the people said.

Chris, again, this is not quite witness tampering but it's not a good look for a president who says he's done nothing wrong.

FAULKNER: Isn't it advisable to speak to somebody after they've been deposed like that? Probably not, no. The president, in what we know in terms of the

conversations, it was completely innocuous. He asked him if it was tough. They were OK. It wasn't a, hey, did you tell them what I told you to tell them?

That is what we'd like to believe and I think that's what a lot of people really want to believe, that somehow he's witness tampering with that. I think that's assigning way too much paranoia, quite frankly, to the whole thing.


Caroline, last word.

HELDMAN: Oh, 63 of Americans think that Trump is responding very poorly to the Russia investigation and I think this is further evidence of his poor judgment.

VAUSE: OK, and not listening to his lawyers as well (INAUDIBLE).

Chris and Caroline, good to see. Thank you.

HELDMAN: Thank you.

FAULKNER: Thank you.

SESAY: Well, Thursday's International Women's Day and CNN's celebrating their achievements. After the break, women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to drive legally later this year. How they finally won a right the rest of the world takes for granted.




[01:30:00] SESAY (voice-over): You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE (voice-over): And I'm John Vause. We'll check the headlines this hour.


SESAY: We haven't had an easy time of it.


SESAY: No. We're hoping for a brighter new chapter.

VAUSE: At least having elections in is a democratic handover of power.

SESAY: Yes, yes. And it was peaceful. I heard from lots of people everything went smoothly. We hope that continues. VAUSE: Yes.

SESAY: Moving on, a convoy of U.N. trucks with food and medicine will try again in the next few hours to enter the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta near the Syrian capital of Damascus. Thousands of civilians are trapped there with almost nothing.

VAUSE: The trucks made it through on Monday but delivery of that much needed aide was cut short because (INAUDIBLE). More details now from CNN's Jomana Karadsheh.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There seems to be no place on earth where it's harder to dodge the bombs, right now than Eastern Ghouta. No security council resolution and no Russian promises have stopped the bombs or stopped the death toll rising every single day.

There's little to smile about in Eastern Ghouta where everyone has lost something or something, yet they still smile. Most of baby (INAUDIBLE) 28-day live has been spent underground, that's the only place families have left but then maybe, just maybe it will be enough to protect them from the bombs raining down on them.

(INAUDIBLE) says his family's livelihood, a little welding shop was destroyed, his children are out of school. They use what they could find to play and forget. Civilians are skeptical of offers to evacuate to so-called humanitarian corridors.

ABU RA'AD, EASTERN GHOUTA RESIDENT (through translator): We are waiting for God to help us. They talk about corridors (INAUDIBLE), what corridors? They haven't spared us the tanks, the artillery, and in Russian's (INAUDIBLE) and they want us to go and turn ourselves over.

KARADSHEH: In another basement, another family and another story. Five-year-old Lamar with a big smile speak of things most for age would not even understand. Her house was bombed by the planes she says, her toys burnt. Like others, they've given up on the international community saving them.

ABU A'ALA, EASTERN GHOUTA RESIDENT (through translator): Meetings, condemnation, concern, we have seen nothing from them over the past seven or eight years. No resolution they have passed has stopped the shelling. Give me one resolution the regime or Russia have abided by.

KARADSHEH: It seems like it's a matter of time before the regime recaptures Eastern Ghouta. Time but feels like an eternity for those trapped. Jomana Karadsheh, CNN Aman.


SESAY: Well Saudi Arabia's crowned prince is on (INAUDIBLE) in London. Prince Mohamed bin Salman met with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday. The countries could sign agreements during his visit that would ease visa restrictions and strengthen business ties.

VAUSE: But the truth is being told by human rights campaigners protesting Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen, most fighting 50 rebels. Thousands have died in a conflict and millions are facing malnutrition.

SESAY: Well while some debate the crowned prince's visit, others are celebrating the world (INAUDIBLE) allowing women in Saudi Arabia to drive legally beginning in June.

VAUSE: Well, this is significant considering today's International Women's Day and as part of CNN's coverage of that event, CNN's Becky Anderson reports on what is a big milestone for Saudi women.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A long fight and now a victory for change of choice. Saudi Arabia is the only place on the planet where women cannot drive a car.

In June though, that will all be history as women are set to hit the highway. The road to get here has been paved with decades of protests and petitions. In 1990, 47 women took the streets, forbidden from riding around Riyadh and was soon arrested.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love driving, I wish I can drive in the country, in our country.

ANDERSON: Her wish was not realized, the struggle went on. Women, thousands of them flouted the authorities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crime, driving. Why females?

ANDERSON: Fast forward to 2011 and prominent activist and author, Manal Al-Sharif was jailed for nine days after she posted this clip of her in the driver seat on YouTube.

MANAL AL-SHARIF, PROMINENT ACTIVIST AND AUTHOR: It's just a (INAUDIBLE) act of the women rise, we want to be full citizens. I'm educated, I have a job, and I should be able to -- I should be trusted to drive my own car.

ANDERSON: And last September, that trust was extended. A historic day for millions of women and their families here in Saudi Arabia. The royal decree issued by King Salman was celebrated by many in the Uber conservative country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't wait until June.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It feels great actually because we've been waiting for this for years.

KHOLOUD ATTAR, SAUDI BUSINESSWOMAN: I haven't slept from excitement.

ANDERSON: I've spoken to people here who say that they appreciate the change is necessary but they say, things are going so quickly, it's too fast to which you say was.

ATTAR: Which I agree it is going fast but I appreciate it. I don't think -- it's like a band aid, I think if you take it slow, it's going to hurt much more longer and would be harder for people to adapt. I think the fact that they realized that there's a realization that it's necessary to move fast really helps the development because the whole world is going fast. And the people who don't take these fast steps are really left behind.


ANDERSON: Something this man doesn't want to happen in his country. Saudi Arabia's young ambitious Crowned Prince, Mohamed bin-Salman is (INAUDIBLE) with driving this forward. All part of the road ahead for Saudi Arabia, a multifaceted vision to bring the Kingdom up to speed by 2030. And with this change, women will no longer be passengers simply along for the ride. Becky Anderson, CNN Abu Dhabi.


VAUSE: Well a legal battle over immigration policies has broken out between the State of California and the Trump Administration. The governor in California saying it is war, the lawsuit is filed and the insults are flying.


VAUSE: Well almost seven months ago Journalist Kim Wall boarded a submarine for a story and this is where it gets bizarre, she never made it back home.

SESAY: No, she didn't. Now, the man accused of killing her is expected to take the stand in the coming hours. CNN's Atika Shubert tells us more about the case against him.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here along the Danish Coast, the beheaded and mutilated torso of 30-year-old Swedish Journalist, Kim Wall washed ashore in August of last year, 10 days after she was reported missing.

Now, 46-year-old Peter "Rocket" Madsen, an inventor from Denmark is on trial for her murder in a bizarre and brutal case that has shocked the country.

TOMAS TROLLO, ACQUAINTANCE OF PETER MADSEN: Everyone was shocked. It could have happen and then not -- that was the first and in fact, nobody believed it. But more and more evidence came and -- so everybody was shocked about this story.

SHUBERT: Peter Madsen had a passion for ocean and space travel featured in Danish films, books, even children's TV programs. This was Madsen's latest project, the UC3 Nautilus, one of the world's largest privately built submarines. He invited Kim Wall aboard for a story she was doing, that was the

last time she was seen alive. The indictment charges Madsen with premeditated murder and indecent handling of a corps as well as sexual relations other than intercourse of a particularly dangerous nature. That legal language obscures the brutality of the alleged crime. Walls body had multiple stab wounds inside and around her genital area, her limbs and head were hacked off. The indictment also sites video evidence found in this shop where Madsen worked, films of the torture and execution of real women.

EVA SMITH, PROFESSOR CRIMINAL LAW, COPENHAGEN UNIVERSITY: I think the prosecution will try to not talk too much about that also because of her family and so on.


But, of course, if they are going to try to prove (INAUDIBLE) having enough videos is something that's sort of pointed that direction. So I don't think -- I think we will hear actually quite a bit about it.

SHUBERT: Madsen has denied the murder and sexual assault as well as any knowledge of the films. He maintains that Kim Wall died by accident but admits to dismembering her body and tossing it in the sea.

What really happened? Prosecutor say they will reveal details in court to prove how Madsen plan to commit the murder and dispose of the body. The trial is expected to last through the end of April. Atika Shubert, CNN.


SESAY: Truly awful.


SESAY: A nasty war of words is heating up between the State of California and the Trump Administration with top officials calling each other radical extremist and liars.

VAUSE: Yes. This is about a lot more than words, this is about the issue of sanctuary cities, the federal government is suing California of its decision to offer undocumented migrants sanctuary. We have details now from Miguel Marquez.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The State of California, they are doing a lousy management job.


GOV. JERRY BROWN (D), CALIFORNIA: We know the Trump Administration is full of liars.

MARQUEZ: -- and the California republic --

BROWN: This is basically going to war against the State of California, the engine of the American economy. It's not wise, it's not right, and it will not stand.

MARQUEZ: Now, a heavyweight bout.

JEFF SESSIONS, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: How dare you? How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of our law enforcement officers --

MARQUEZ: The federal government now suing the Golden State, its governor and Attorney General over its so-called sanctuary immigration laws. The president first threatened to pull ICE in border patrol from the state.

TRUMP: And we never said, "Hey, let California alone, let them figure it out for themselves." In two months, they'd be begging for us to come back. And you know what, I'm thinking about doing it.

MARQUEZ: Now, his Attorney General wants to undo three California laws limiting law enforcement cooperation and information sharing about immigration status on mainly law abiding immigrants.

SESSIONS: We are going t fight these irrational, unfair, unconstitutional policies that have been imposed on you and your officers, I want to have federal officers.

MARQUEZ: Several California cities already have sanctuary laws on the books. In January, the acting head of immigrations and customs enforcement called for arresting officials who passed and signed the laws.

THOMAS HOMAN, ACTING DIRECTOR, ICE: We got to start charging some of these politicians with crimes and these politicians can't make these decisions and be held unaccountable for people dying.

MARQUEZ: For its parts, California has already sued the Trump Administration five times on other immigration issues, the federal government now trying to reign in the Golden State and possibly hundreds of other states, counties, and cities nationwide, and their immigration laws.


MARQUEZ: Now, the president will visit the Golden State next Tuesday, that is notable. He is the first president since the Eisenhower years, the 1950s not to visit California in his first year in office. It does give one a sense of just where California sits on the president's agenda. Back to you.

VAUSE: And joining us now, the Attorney General for the great State of California, Xavier Becerra who is named in the federal lawsuit alongside Governor Jerry Brown. Attorney General good to see you. This legal action by the Trump Administration, is it about more than just immigration policy? How much of this is politics, how much is personal?

XAVIER BECERRA, ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR STATE OF CALIFORNIA: John, I suspect there's a lot that squirrels inside this lawsuit the way we've seen so much swirl around the Russia investigation. Who knows how much is implicated in this.

But I'm not sure why at this point the U.S. Department of Justice feels that it has to try to come after the State of California when the State of California has the right under the 10th amendment to decide how it's going to do its policing.

VAUSE: Well Attorney General Sessions, he delivered his remarks to a meeting of the leadership of the California Peace Officers Association. I want to play the end of the speech, here it is.


SESSIONS: You can make sure about this, we have your back, you have our back. Thank you all and God bless.


VAUSE: The reaction from the room, it seemed polite but it was muted. A handful as he stood up to clap but there wasn't a lot of enthusiasm what Sessions was saying and that seems to reflect the broad analogy among law enforcement officials, they don't want to be acting as immigration officers.

BECERRA: Well, I think most folks in law enforcement want to get down to the business than enforcing the laws and worrying about public safety.


They're not interested in being immersed in the politics of what's going on in Washington, D.C. I think here in California, they've had a lot of changes that they've had to undertake to try to deal with our new laws and I think what they'd like to do is be able to do what they got hired to do and that's enforce the laws, protect the public.

VAUSE: And there's been studies which show that when they do that, the law actually works a whole lot better than when the scene is acting as sort of unofficial enforces of immigration law.

BECERRA: Now doubt. The more that they're able to focus on going after those would commit crimes, the more that the community is working in tandem with them because witnesses and victims are willing to come forward. The greater the success that we'll have in going after those were committing crimes.

But if our crime fighters are busy trying to do things that are unrelated to their principle job of going after those who were committing crimes against us and if they're having to worry about whether they get the cooperation of the communities that are right now terrorized or feel terrorized and afraid to come forward with their -- whether it's law enforcement locally or ICE immigration enforcement federally, it makes their job a lot tougher.

VAUSE: And the legal issue here is the constitution supremacy law which says federal law takes precedents over state law, you touched on this earlier. But tell me, how do you plan to argue against that?

BECERRA: Well there's no question that federal law preempts state laws in the areas where the constitution gives the federal government the right to enact laws. But when it comes to public safety, the constitution reserves the right to determine how to protect the public to each and every state and therefore the issue is not so much preemption. Here, the issue is states rights into the 10th amendment.

And because California has the right to determine how it's going to have its local law enforcement officers engage in public safety, the federal government can't go in and coerce us to try to do federal immigration enforcement for them.

VAUSE: Ultimately though, could Jeff Sessions have done everyone a favor if this lawsuit actually clarifies who is responsible for what when it comes to enforcing immigration law.

BECERRA: Well maybe that's what it will ultimately do but it will come at a cost. It takes money to go to court, it puts a lot of our local law enforcement agencies on edge, anxious about what they should and should not be doing.

It puts the State of California in a posture where it has to constantly explain not just to our local law enforcement agencies but to our communities. How the laws will be enforced and certainly it puts our immigrant communities in a state of anxiety and fear because they believe that anyone who's wearing the uniform may come after them and that's not what we want here.

We want to make it clear that we want those who are victims of crime to come forward if they're immigrants. We want those who are witnesses to crimes if they're immigrants to come forward. And our local law enforcement agencies have done years of work to build that trust and respect an immigrant communities so that those immigrant communities will come forward regardless of their status. And to some degree, everything that the Trump Administration is doing and certainly what the Department of Justice at the federal level is now doing with this lawsuit puts a lot of that in peril.

VAUSE: Yes. And it seems like this could be a legal case which breaks on for a very long time. Xavier Becerra, thank you so much for being with us.

BECERRA: Thank you John.

SESAY: Quick break here, Black Panther has pounced into the theaters with a roar. You still haven't seen it. Setting all kinds of box office record. Now it's about (INAUDIBLE) China.

VAUSE: Will they be purring with delight?

SESAY: Or -- yes, will they? We'll take a break and we'll tell you. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


VAUSE: Black Panther has been shuttering box office records, its earned almost $1 billion worldwide since opening last month.

SESAY: And now, now it's about to face another biggest test when it releases in China on Friday. Analysts will be closely watching to see if nearly all black cars will play well with Chinese audiences.

VAUSE: It's got to be interesting. Joining us now, the Hollywood Reports, Rebecca Sun. Entertainment Journalist, Segun Oduolowu. OK, Isha.

SESAY: Welcome. Welcome to you both. I mean guys, we're not making this up. China doesn't have the best relationship when it comes to its portrayal of --

VAUSE: Now that I think of it.

SESAY: What? Of black people in its content, so obviously everyone's wondering how Black Panther's going to do and we've been looking to see how Disney would market it. Take a look at the trailer.

VAUSE: See if you notice something unusual.


SESAY: Segun, would you like to explain the strategy that play there with that trailer?

SEGUN ODUOLOWU, ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Well I think what they're doing is opening up the audience the fact that this is a Marvel movie. But this trailer is not unique. Like I've seen that trailer before and I understand it.

It's coming from the point of view of the CI agent and I don't want to spoil it for any of our Chinese fans that are watching us from the middle kingdom about what's going on in that trailer but it's not -- I don't think it's pandering. I think it's a tempest in a teapot. I think that Black Panther is a very unique Marvel superhero movie where there is -- there's more origin story, the cast is unique but the story that they're trying to tell, it's not just fight, fight, fight, Thor, fight, fight, fight Iron Man, there's more to it. And I think that they're trying to set the stage with that narration.

VAUSE: OK. A Chinese language character -- Chinese language first of all for Panther emerged online, it showed Chadwick Boseman's character, his face was concealed by the headgear, he wears in the movie as opposed to the U.S. one which showed him masked and unmasked as well.

So there was this assumption that Disney was trying to downplay the film's African origins. But not so, even though they've done this in the past, let's take a look at what happen when the force awakens. This was the -- you remember this, they have -- there we go. Well these posters isn't like the other. OK. But to see point of that, this time it had nothing to do with them, "The image was unofficial fan art generated during a pitching competition held by media agency in Taiwan."

I thought Rebecca this kind of gets to the point, Disney may not have been responsible but there is an issue with the fans in China when it comes to black people on films.

REBECCA SUN, HOLLYWOOD REPORTS, SENIOR REPORTER: I think that China definitely has problematic portrayals of black people and even as recently as last month with the spring festival, the big annual variety show that the entire country watches, included the skit with "Blackface" --

VAUSE: We're going to get with that.

SUN: Right. So --

VAUSE: Are you kidding me? Not "Blackface".

SUN: Well it's definitely problematic. However, with the case of the poster and things like that, I think that emphasizing the superhero aspect of it, both China and Japan and these cultures, they like masks. It's sort of like with Power Rangers which is a Japanese property.

And I think with that trailer which that was the intro, the rest of that trailer is pretty much exactly what we saw. I don't think they're trying to pretend that Thor and Captain America in the movie, they're just trying to tie it together and (INAUDIBLE)

VAUSE: They don't think it's safe to watch this movie because it's a white -- there are white people around.

ODUOLOWU: Well, I just -- I think we have to be very careful in the way we are judging a culture that is very different from an American one. And listen, if we want to point the fingers at the film industry for the way black people are portrayed on posters, let's go to "12 Years of Slave" where they put Brad Pitt who's in the movie for -- like they made him on the poster like he's starring and that was their way of trying to get people into the theaters, and that was in Italy.

So we have to understand that the movie industry, again, it's about business and money and if they feel that it's going to sell better in China by doing some of these different, I'll just call them tricks or pandering to this audience, I can't expect my sensibilities of the Chinese culture to place.

SESAY: True. That's true. Yes, I'd accept that but that doesn't mean we should say it's OK if you put a poster up, the thing about the "Star Wars" poster where (INAUDIBLE) case member and you basically erase him from it, that's not OK. Different cultural sensibility to the side, that's just not OK.

[01:55:20] ODUOLOWU: But are you more upset at the Chinese culture or more upset at Disney for doing it?

SESAY: I'm upset by everyone and anything that actually gave rise to that.

VAUSE: The question is, how's it going to be seen? How's it going to be greeted by the Chinese audience?

SUN: Right. I think that one thing that it's really important to keep in mind is that Chinese people's relationship to black people personally is very different from their perception of black people of pop culture where it actually for better or for worst, blackness is seen as synonymous with cool and hip and --


SUN: Yes. And it's kind of here too. I mean, with pop culture, whether we're talking about -- hip hop is huge in China, the NBA is huge in China. So they're understand -- there are sort of media portrayals of blackness. They're not I think as threatened by it as we in the West think that they are.

VAUSE: I lived in Beijing for four years and I can tell you that that maybe through a certain level but it's a whole different story when you get down 101.

SUN: Yes. Definitely --

VAUSE: I remember when Barrack Obama's half brother was married to a Chinese woman, some other comments online with that were horrendously racist and awful. But you mentioned the "Blackface" over the New Year's festival, I give you "CCTV," (INAUDIBLE), this is what they saw, have a look.


VAUSE: OK. So you get the idea. And look, to be fair Rebecca, "CCTV" pumps out hours and hours and hours of TV with those kind of really old fashioned variety shows and it goes for your (INAUDIBLE) period. So that was this whole part of it.

But there was outrage, of course, apparently a Chinese actress in "Blackface" was featured with a huge prosthetic buttocks representing an African woman. So it was stereotyping, this was meant to celebrate African-China relations.

SUN: Right. "Blackface" let's just say it here, "Blackface," "Yellowface," that's all problematic no matter -- where -- what country it's sort of perpetrating it. I think that China is sort of their understanding and portrayal of this is it's almost -- it's a distorted reflection of what they've been getting from the West for --

ODUOLOWU: So are you saying that if they're being -- it's like they're being more racist this -- or they're being prejudice before prejudice can be put back on them? SUN: No, no, no, no. What I'm saying is they're sort of parroting or echoing what they've seen.


SUN: The way do.

SESAY: What they've absorbed from the West.

SUN: And so it's absolutely problematic. They -- I think it comes out of a place of real ignorance. The nature of that skit, what they're saying in Chinese is just this in Africa they want to be Chinese, they're like, "Oh, the girl wants to study in China." The mom is like, "We want you to get married." It's grossed because its "Blackface" but there's a lot going on there.

ODUOLOWU: Let's look at this, (INAUDIBLE) I mean, let's just challenge the film industry to do better because American films will whitewash and take Asian actors and make them white and put them in movies where --

SESAY: I am always looking for people to do better.

ODUOLOWU: Thank you. So that's all I'm saying. Do better China.

VAUSE: It's also a very blunt culture, you can walk in a shop and say, "Nothing for you, you're too fat." That happened to me.

ODUOLOWU: Well I mean -- well that's a lot of truth.

SESAY: We're going to head wars here. And we're going to take a break.

VAUSE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause (INAUDIBLE)

SESAY: I'm Isha Sesay --

VAUSE: A little happy talk.

SESAY: -- we'll be right back with more news after this, stay with us.